So all change this week; no more idleness for me thank goodness! I mean, it sounds wonderful, especially when you have been staring at the same spreadsheet for hours without being any the wiser as to what it actually means, but in reality it’s quite unmotivating. I always suspected that being able to write full-time would not work out very well and I don’t know whether it’s the sudden abundance of time or the constant anxiety about money – anxiety is generally a constant companion anyway, it’s part of having an obsessive brain (handy for historical research and character development but a total nuisance otherwise) while you can get to the point where you can sort of tuck it one arm and carry on almost regardless, anything financial, sadly does not fall into that category – but I haven’t been doing much writing. Of course it might just be the fact that, at 164 typed pages (single spaced) and a very sharp awareness that there’s a lot of writing yet to do, it’s simply a bit daunting. Still the best way to galvanise myself in that direction is to give myself less time.
This morning I kicked off with a 9.30am telephone call from one of the companies I work for to brief me on my first lesson tomorrow. I am still a bit concerned that the material I need for the lesson hasn’t arrived. Anyway, briefing went well and, at the suggestion of the person I had spoken to, I e-mailed the appropriate people and they e-mailed me the first chapter of the book. This meant a trip into town to print it out but I was able to write a lesson plan for 2 hours and 15 mins. Of course, while I was cooking dinner – for some reason I had bought a kilo of plums at the market in Bonn Well the reason was they were 1 Euro for a kilo and I didn’t like to be mean and ask for a half kilo not realising just how many plums a kilo would contain – so I was experimenting by adding plums to my chicken, potatoes, butter fired carrots and tomatoes in a white wine source (I haven’t been able to find cider here) when at 7.15pm my flatmate walked in and handed me a parcel. The long-awaited course book for my lesson the following day. Cue another hour or two adjusting the lesson plan.
On Tuesday I finally found the footpath to Bonn-Mehlen. I knew there was one but had turned off too early and found one that didn’t really go where it was supposed to. This one, however, is fantastic and very, very beautiful. As my camera appears to have retired from public life – claiming it just can’t focus – I had to resort to using my mobile phone which though it carries the name of no autumnal fruit it actually turns out to have quite a decent camera. Hoorah! So here are some pretty pictures of the Rhineland for your delight and delectation.
At 4pm I had my first lesson. “Get there 30 minutes early” they said, “Get into the classroom 10 minutes before the lesson begins”. Well I got there early and then had to sit in reception until 4pm when my student came to collect me. Oh well, it was fine. The student was very nice and, apart from the CD not working, the lesson went very well. Onwards! On Wednesday I had a private student. The only problem with him was that his English is already rather good; I will have my work cut out with him, no one is going to pay me simply to talk to them but another nice chap so a pleasant evening. However, as my last bus leaves Mehlen at 8.23pm I had to run across Bonn to get the 8.08pm train to get to Mehlen in time – such is my dread of the Night Bus. Still, made it! Lovely as the footpath is, I didn’t fancy trying it in the dark.
On Thursday I had my second lesson via my company, but the company phoned to say that the student had cancelled due to illness. However, as he cancelled late I still get paid so I went into town (using the footpath, hoorah!) to post a parcel for my brother-in-law’s birthday (yep, it’s on its way!) and then spent the rest of the day working on “The Lost Son of Ambrose Garfield”. Now the English Civil War is hugely complicated but having as a hero a character who survived the war but has had almost total amnesia since his involvement at Burford, does make my life (if not his) somewhat easier. Having said that, if it is a political novel (there’s possibly a vague whiff of socialism hovering in the background) it comes from another character and has little to do with who hacked what from whom on a battlefield. Still, it’s an interesting period – it has fascinated me since I was at primary school. Then I would have declared for King Charles, I shouldn’t now.
So Friday morning, still no letter from the bank. I opened an account online; they will then send me my paperwork and I then present that, and myself, at the Post Office to prove I am who I say I am. I am hoping that I will get to do this before I move otherwise it’s all going to get very complicated. I even e-mailed the bank yesterday to find out what the problem was (if I had a printer I could have done it all on the same day, as it is it has been over a week!) Patience! Well I must have slept in a weird position last night for one side of my neck is really painful – I need to support it with my hand just to be able to sit up in bed. I am tempted just to stay in bed today – it is past midday now so why not – but I do need to go into town to withdrawn my deposit and first month’s rent for the new flat. Less than impressed to discover yesterday that the company I am currently working for won’t actually pay me until the end of next month. Oh and they sent me a new book today, not a word of explanation. It looks like a work book to go with the course book I already have but I have e-mailed them to find out whether this is (a) for the student (b) for me to use with the student and (c) can the student write on the book or am I to make photocopies? These questions probably sound silly but as I have to return or pay for the books at the end of each course, I thought I’d best find out before I handed the student a pen.
It has also occurred to me that I had a job interview today. In Berlin. They told me they’d provide details as to where & when exactly the interview was once I had confirmed availability. I arranged to stay with friends in Berlin and confirmed my availability, late sending another e-mail to ask for confirmation of the length of contract on offer (I think it was a summer camp thing – about two weeks – but the train fare from Bonn to Berlin was about 100 Euros. I did think I might cancel the interview if the response came back and I decided it wasn’t worth my while to make the trip but they never replied. Well, just as well I didn’t spend all that money on train fare. Much as I’d like to go and see my friends in Berlin, I need to see some wages first. October is going to be a lean month; it turns out that my current company won’t be paying me for this month’s work until the end of October. Once I’ve got a few months’ work behind me this shouldn’t be too much of a problem but right now it is a bit dispiriting. I’ve just had a look for cleaning jobs in Bonn but found another ad for English teachers – duly applied for, might as well build up my hours and here’s hoping I’ll get a few more private students. I’ve just spent 25 Euros on a course book for one of them so I’m going to have to insist that any others are also at the upper-intermediate level to save me from having to buy another book any time soon.
Right, my trip to town is now behind me and the day is wearing on. I’m finishing this early today because, well, let’s face it, I’ve written quite enough to be going on with, and because I am going to start the rewrites on The Lost Son of Ambrose Garfield. I really like the beginning of the novel; the feel of it is ambiguous and slightly magical – in a seventeenth century / natural philosophy sort of way. By the end commerce and romance have taken over. Now that won’t be going anywhere but it’s got to be part of the embroidery and not the warp and weft itself. Lot’s to do. But in a good way.