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2003-07-06Quite possibly the best fortnight of my life...

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It's over. In so many ways... waved Ellie and others off, packed up into a couple of bags, walked off campus with the knowledge I'm no longer a student.

As usual, I should back up. Start at the beginning. I haven't updated in a long time, and not because I've had nothing to say. Life online just came 2nd in the triage (a word not an infrequent addition to my coversational lexicon these days.) Busy, busy, busy. :)

Part The First; Departure

I've never liked goodbyes. In fact, that's probably two schools now in which I've left some pupils thinking that I was teaching them next lesson. Although this time around I didn't actually teach a great deal during the final week... I was asked to prepare some IT schemes of work for KS3 English, so much of my waking life was spent holed-up in an office with a colour laser printer. You can see the results here in shiny PDF format. Sitting here, thumbing this into my organiser, I find I've geared down into student mode so much that I'm positively incredulous that it was all done in seven days. The pure rush of joy as the last page came out of the printer... yes, project completions make it all worthwhile. I hope it works well in practise. :smokin:

The following is a few words of contribution for the next college newsletter, which I feel does as much justice as anything else I could write here:

"One of the first things likely to strike students visiting Llandovery is the sheer volume of activity going on. This is being written en route to a Cardiff showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with the sixth form, one of the massive variety of trips organised by the English and Drama departments.

"We arrived as the school was making Eisteddfod preparations, quickly followed by activities for National Book Week. Amongst all this, the staff found time to be extremely supportive and hospitable, smoothly easing us into the daily life of the college.

"Whether in sport, Shakespeare, speeches or song, Llandovery does not stand still, and it has been an honour and a pleasure to share in its sense of community. Thanks for everything, especially the fish."

Difficult, to spooge months of living into the Roman alphabet. What to include, what to touch upon—and an almost political desire to avoid causing offence to anyone by omitting due acknowledgement. Finding another way to slip in a fond sentiment purloined from Douglas Adams without overt pretension. I'll let you decide how successful it was...

Anyway, 'tis over, and I'm most grateful to everyone involved in what I felt was an extremely rewarding teaching prac. Similar thanks must also go to the people kind enough to put up with living with me... 'twas all very cosy and family-like, although that metaphor wobbled a bit when Ellie became something other than just my 'sister'. ;)

Part The Second; Hugs & Tea

Long story, of which this is considerable shorthand: when myself and an attractive female friend wrestle each other over furniture and stay up all night talking personal philosophies, I avoid reading too much into it. When we ramble across fields, sit on river banks for hours and chase each other down country roads stuffing grass seeds down each other's clothes, I still want to avoid any risk of stuffing up a good friendship. When said person is brave enough to ask me directly, I finally show some sense and say yes!

I know, I know, I'm something of a hypocrite. It's easy to say that's life is short and that we should tell people how we feel about them... and honestly, I don't think I'm that bothered by a possibility that my feelings might not be reciprocated. I just wouldn't want to take the chance and make someone else uncomfortable or avoid me, 'specially when things are so fluffy and cool already. I get very attached to a status quo like that, and am not very proactive. Hopefully I make it clear enough that I'd never react badly if approached, even if I'm quite unlikely to to be more forward myself. Oh well... :|

So, the last week in Llandeilo passed with a big grin plastered across my face. Also with a lot of frantic typing and packing and comparatively little sleep, but anyone aware of how disorganised I am anywhere I don't have to be knows that was expected anyway...

Part The Third; Delta Ystwyth

In the vicinity of Rummers on Tuesday evening, to be precise. Fast-forwarding the days of Rocky Horror and travelling and you find us returned to Cwrt Mawr halls, in a block which doesn't have 2 amp fuses. The cynics amongst you will note the scaffolding enclosing the block we would have been staying in and the fact that the swipe-card doors still don't work properly after three years... but it's still very nice, especially the showers. Wow. They must waste soooo much water, but damn, do they feel good. Proper sized desks. Multiple plug points. A shame we were all travelling so light, really...

Ellie beat us there on Sunday and signed known people down for the same flat, showing more presence of mind than I would have managed first thing in the morning. Later on we did a knocking tour of the Theological College halls, eventually discovering Richard / Denis / Emma / and others in Varsity. No-one else knew what we were supposed to be doing in uni during the week either. Monday is rather a blur, though I do remember sun, sea and meeting Owen and Elli properly for the first time. I think there were lectures on Child Protection (my notes, like much else, are still waiting to be unpacked.)

Tuesday was five hours of first aid course (for those of us who signed up)—thereby giving the lie to the notion that the other lectures scheduled for everyone else were essential, unmissable stuff. Owen bunked to spend the day on the beach and the rest of the week making sure that his sunburn didn't dry out. In the evening, everyone (including Dan & Gaz) came out to Rummers and stood on the sidelines of the growing argument between Elli and people who were variously politically suspect or trying to wind her up. Things got slightly messy after that and by the time I registered time again, it was gone 2am and I'd been standing in the street having a long philosophical conversation with her for a couple of hours. Acting in a responsible manner befitting my role as a teacher I taxi'd it up the hill, made tea, chatted to Ellie and Owen until about half-three and bunked most of Wednesday. When I eventually showed up in the Old College (for the subject meeting supposed to precede a staff-student committee meeting), I found Claire downstairs frantically scribbling her Career Entry Profile and Shane in a darkened room. There was no sign of Margaret or anyone else, so I played the percentages and went and found Ellie, Elli and Owen out on the end of the pier.

The sea. I want to jump briefly into the future to mention a conversation I had with Gaz a few days later. He was making newspaper cuttings of England sport victories and players. These would, he felt, motivate him to work his way to the Rugby World Cup in Australia. If he could be there as England won a final it would be a 'Zen moment' to look back on any time he got stressed. Previous 'highs' (in relationships or other things) he considered to have been cancelled out by equivalent 'lows'. Incidentally, I am still talking about the sea. Bear with me. This all got me thinking, and I reckon I already have some strong contenders for my own collection of 'Zen' moments—it's not an ordered list:

  • Simultaneous orgasm.
  • Being surrounded by rippling waves.
  • Explaining to someone and watching their eyes light up as things connect.

That second one had been within the last week—on a gorgeous summery day, sitting on the last piece of pier with the others, just watching and listening to clear blue water swooshing around and underneath. The nature-fest didn't end there, though! After three-and-a-half years in Aber, I made it up Constitution Hill! :smokin: Well, some of it. :p

Yes, Thursday being our last course day, having spent some of the previous day at one end of Aber at the castle, we conscientiously hiked up the cliff face—where we settled down, the female members of our contingent sang and there was much harmony with nature. I feel I've appreciated the surroundings of the town more since I've been away and returned in this company than every before—and thank you for dragging me out out of my own head and sharing it with me, Ellie. Thanks for everything! *hugs*

Seriously, and I apologise for waxing soppy, a large part of the coolness of the last few months has been the open conversations, tea-quaffing and play we've partaken of, and for which I'm extremely grateful. I found this in a book I finished reading in Aber, the season seven novelisation of Buffy:

"I'm not asking you for anything. When I tell you that I love you, it's not because I want you, or 'cause I can have you. It has nothing to do with me.

"I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your strength, and your kindness."

There are some people you just feel happier about the world knowing that they exist, y'know? And I'm lucky enough to know many, some due to this course. :)

More photos of the last week in Aberystwyth, including the 'ball' which Sally organised and we gatecrashed late into evening, can be found here. In the end, many of us were so exhausted the day afterwards that we ended up staying in Cwrt Mawr an extra night. It was a lovely finale to a wonderful week, and I thank you all muchly!

Stay in touch!

Right, I think that's a nice place to take a short break, so I'll pick up on what I got up to last week and my thoughts on Poland in another entry. Gonna go get sleep now... :yawn:


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