Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mrs L and the Jellyfish

I had a crap day, and for the last five hours I’ve trying to get to sleep but keep remembering last night’s nightmare. So I have got out of bed to blog about my profound guilt and Mrs L.

Mrs L was our English teacher for the first year at high school. She was one of the few people I have ever known about whom I would use the term sweet-natured. She was a small lady and the sort of person who would do anything for anyone, but in a rather naïve, unknowing kind of way like she had more compassion than sense. The sort of teacher you would feel guilty about mocking in her absence – a rare thing indeed. Later on she developed MS, which kind of aggravated this air of vulnerability.

During the first term at high school, I was flattened by the schedule and volume of prep. We had to catch a bus at half past seven in the morning and didn’t get back home until five. Then there were two or three hours homework to do. It was not easy when you've been used to being able to walk to and from school and be home before it got dark in the winter.

We had this novel to read, I can’t remember the name. It was set in Victorian London and the main character was a boy called Smith, in case that rings any bells. It was rather boring and I gave up a third of the way in, so when we had to write comprehension pieces I merely scanned through the text to find the relevant information as I need to refer to it. And I got an A+ and Mrs L applauded how thoroughly I had obviously read the book. She had actually used the word thoroughly in writing on my paper and then said it out loud as she handed it to me.

I felt so guilty that I almost confessed on the spot.

The second reason I feel guilty about Mrs L is because she really liked me in a way I didn’t deserve. She was so incredibly nice and thought I was too. I know I’m a bit nice, but not nice
nice, like someone who wouldn’t ever swear or tell a dirty joke. This was of course my child’s perception and I may have been completely wrong. She may have been a quite ordinary person herself.

The third reason I feel guilty about Mrs L is because later on she took over the Religious Education department and when I was hoping to come back to school and take A-Levels, she declared that she would willingly put on a RE A-Level course and teach it even if I was the only person taking it (which of course, I would be, because I was the only person on Earth who would consider taking an RE A-Level).

And so I feel guilty that I wasn’t able to do the RE A-Level, Mrs L had no excuse to teach it and thus I effectively condemned her to continue teaching RE exclusively to people who had not chosen to be there and weren’t really interested in the Five Pillars of Islam and all that jazz.

So this is why, ten years since I last set eyes on the woman, I had a nasty dream about Mrs L and a jellyfish. I can’t actually describe it in detail as, even though I remember it in detail. It didn’t make sense and is quite possibly beyond words. But it wasn’t very nice. And it involved a jellyfish.

Hopefully I have now exorcised that demon and I will be able to sleep.


Sally said...

Hello Goldfish

I hope you got to sleep and your blog exorcised the demon.

Perhaps a seperate private computerised 'notebook' just for your dreams and nightmares, would be effective. Once they are put 'out there', wherever out there may be, they have a different effect, are made conscious. Then the unconscious is so pleased to be taken notice off, it moves onto the next bit.

I did take notice of your earlier comment on your psychology studies, and hope my comments, from a Jungian perspective, are informative.

Jellyfish were my own childhood hell (I blame a holiday to Skegness, or was it Ingoldmells, or Scarborough !)but they took on the identity of adult anxieties in nightmares. Eventually, when taken notice of, they floated off.

Anonymous said...

I remember Smith, but not the author - wasn't there a convict who got hanged but survived, and didn't Smith escape from somewhere hiding inside his sister's crinoline?

Your teacher - I know/knew several ladies like that (not all teachers) and if it's any help, I think they all have a hidden ordinary side, too. You don't find out as a child but if you get to grow up around one of these sweet old ladies you see that everyone has a bad side.

kethry said...

Something very similar happened when i was doing my English Speaking Board examination. I had to choose abook, do a precis of the book, a lead in to the chapter, read a part of the chapter, then finish off what happened in the chapter and the book (in precis format again), as well as a number of other things. This was when i was 17, doing A Levels, but not A Level English. I chose "Sons and Lovers" by D H Lawrence, which my mom had done at English A Level and still had a "guide to" book as well as the original book, covered in tiny pencilled notes. I read through the guide to - you know the kinda thing, explains the book - and flipped through the original, picked out a chapter and did the job. Afterwards, one of the English A Level teachers (who had taught me at GCSE Level and bored the pants off me with "Far from the Madding Crowd" [To this day i cannot read Hardy]) said to me that it was a "great shame that i had not done English A Level" and that "that was one of the best readings of Sons and Lovers" she had ever heard.

In addition, I love Shakespeare and the school used to let me go on trips with the A Level class to various Shakespeare plays in the West End in my own time (I'll never forget seeing Daniel Day Lewis & Judi Dench in Hamlet) - the other A Level English Teacher said when i left school, that i was the "best A Level English student he never had".

huggggggsssssss - i hope blogging about it has been able to lay your guilt to rest..


The Goldfish said...

Thanks guys,

Thanks to Worrals' comment I have found that the book was actually called Smith and the book was by Leon Garfiled. The cover on the Amazon entry makes it look really quite exciting.

Oh the joys of English Speaking Board exams. I did a few when I was quite small (ten-ish) and did a talk on my hamster. The hamster was a lively fellow who insisted on making a racket through everyone else's exams; running on his wheel, chewing at the bars of his cage.

When it came to my exam he fell asleep and refused to be stirred...

Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell's editor not only sat an 'A' level in RE, but went on to obtain an honours degree in Theology, and a PGCE in RE.

But then, Lady Bracknell's editor is a trifle odd.....

Anonymous said...

Goldfish - I have a copy of Smith I'll lend you when I see you. I rather enjoyed it. And Worrals is correct about the plot involving hanging and highwaymen.

Anonymous said...

Hi Goldfish, I've got to remember this idea of blogging to exorcise guilty feelings. They always seem to strike me at night. Also all the most humiliating moments of my life come and hover at the edge of my bed, laughing at me. Maybe if I blog them they will go away already!

I dunno, all these Board Exams and A-levels sound kind of tough to this wimpy American!

Anonymous said...

Rather more years ago than I care to remember, I sat (and somehow passed) an A-level in RE, along with Biology and Economics.

Which is how I ended up in this fascinating office job...

Dude x