School Daze

Nicholas Quirke was in a bit of a daze on 4 December 2020 as he was becoming more immersed in teaching. He had already done another evenings substitution work for the school on 3 December and his days once again had the monotony of regular work. Not that he was bored by it. In fact he felt the opposite. It was an enjoyable challenge finding strategies to engage and involve the children in their learning. In addition his own knowledge of English grammar was improving. He was learning too and it was very satisfying to discover (he may have known already and simply forgotten) homophones which, he had never actually considered had a name. It was more that his days were starting to have a regularity to them which for then past 11 months he had not experienced. Getting up, breakfasting, working around the apartment till lunch and then cycling somewhere for tea before making his way to Chaoyangmen and the school was the routine when he was working and other than changing his route and the location of his tea establishments it all felt a little bit the same. On 3 December he had tea at Galaxy Mall Soho and travelled there by subway. As he was leaving the station he bumped into Lily, another teacher who was on her way to teach. The class was with Willis, Harry and Zoe and proved to be excitable and noisy, particularly when he took them through a game of Hangman. The very enthusiastic reaction to the class drew the attention of the headteacher who was mollified once they realised that the children were in fact learning. He was meant to have a second class and be working till 8pm and Peng had arranged a supper out with his friends, but the one to one lesson was cancelled as the pupil was sick and he was home by 6.30. This meant he had a few hours on his own which proved to be oddly boring now he was used to 24/7 company. The sense of deja vu on Friday was overwhelming and if he hadn’t cycled to APM and visited Sheng Xi Fu Millinery to look at their winter hats which, were unfortunately all made from fur, and had tea at APM it would have felt exactly the same as his Thursday. It was however a different couple of classes and he realised too that he was becoming very fond of his students, particularly Yuda (who had made him a small plasticine cup) and the twins Anthony and Alexander who had all written poems for him for their homework . His second class, also with twins, though infinitely more difficult,; Tim and Jason who harassed their fellow student Sissi, felt a little more strained as they were tired from their week of schooling and consequently a little inattentive. He managed to get home before 9pm and there was time for a movie, ‘Let Him Go’ a drama featuring an ageing Kevin Costner. It seemed a long time since he had seen one of the 90’s biggest stars in a film and in this quiet drama of ‘grey haired people bidding farewell to black haired ones’, with its unexpectedly savage ending, his strong reliable presence reminded Nicholas of why he had been such a force before the disasterous ’Waterworld’. Although he was tired the movie had animated him and it was after midnight before he closed his eyes on the world for the night.

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