At last! The end of a 40 hour week. Phew, I am schrecklich mude (apologies if I’ve mispelt that but I am too tired to pick up a dictionary – cue Tony Hancock joke). Anyway, week two of classroom teaching completed and I have discovered the following things:
1. I like teaching (in addition to tutoring – I always liked that)
2. I really like my German students
3. I’m not great at explaining grammar
4. I really miss teaching literature and history.
So, now I have everything I could possibly want; a nice place to live, regular work and a bike, I must confess to being… bored. I mean I’m shattered as well which, I must confess, does explain why I’ve set myself a strict programme of study: theology for this week (for the next novel) and I’ve still got the current novel to do – agrarian communism there.
It also means that, just as I’m getting settled and beginning to look around for more social pursuits, now I shall soon have the funds for them, I am beginning to think about returning to England. The thing is I don’t really miss anything about England. Apart from my immediate family I hear from all those I left behind so rarely that I have no sense of missing anything and I know beyond all doubt that I am not missed. And yet, how long do I want to stay in Germany and, assuming I will at some point return to England, what will I do when I get there?
I have been looking at qualifying for FE teaching – I still can’t face the thought of going into a school – and trying to find out whether I can qualify while in Germany, using my language school teaching practice. It does look like, while EFL teaching is fine for the teaching experience element, it needs to be done in the UK. My gift to myself, if I go, is to go back to Warwickshire / West Midlands. I did my first degree at Warwick and, perhaps more to the point, I once spent a week’s holiday at Bidford upon Avon. The owners of the cottage were market gardeners and I still can think of little that is more beautiful that rows of growing vegetables. This garden also backed onto the Avon – complete with narrow boats – and the image has stayed with me ever since. And that’s another problem; I am very susceptible to the idea of England – the image rendered by C18th oil paintings (ironically, the closest I got to the realisation of this was the Englischer Garten in Munich) but the reality is rather different. The reality is rather more expensive.
I am not talking just about London – that city is closing in on its expensive self and, as a result, is quite irrelevant in any discussion of England – but even in the south east the cost of living outweighs the wages. When I went back to publishing for 4 months this year, I was on the same rate of pay I had been on as a new graduate – albeit I had since acquired another degree and 11 years of work experience. At the same time I finally abandoned my attempt to buy a house having seen the price of the houses I was after increase by about £20k in just under two years. But when I think of living in England, there’s a house, a proper fire and some patch of land – basically, Miss Marple-dom. Sadly the reality is more likely to be a studio apartment in the middle of town. And that would be ok if one were billed accordingly but we all know that is not the case. Yet I don’t feel that I am doing quite what I should be doing, still. I am running out of life and I still haven’t done anything worthwhile – that’s probably a prideful complaint and is most likely some sort of sin but there it is. I am fond and yes, proud of “Healed” but no one wants to read it which feels disastrous when my true vocation is writing. I am beginning to understand how women priests must have felt – a sense of vocation frustrated because someone said no. I never liked the idea of women priests (though I’ve met some terrific ones since) – not a theological position, but I went to a girls’ school and, before that a primary school run by women and it was always rather a relief to come into male company. I went almost a year at primary school without hearing my own name because my primary school teacher would not trouble to distinguish me from my sister and instead called us only “twin”. In fact the young curate who prepared me for confirmation is forever beatified in my memory for being the first person in Chichester to take the trouble to view us individually. I would even go so far as to say that, had I never met him, “And I Shall Be Healed” would not have been written. I won’t mention him by name as I think he went into the Home Office / government. It is very unlikely he would remember me. The important thing is that I remember him.
I digress, as usual, so, England or Germany? Well, I have to be here until March – my minimum stay requirement in my contract – and I have much to stay for. There’s the Anglican Community in Bonn, the Bonn Players (newly joined) and the surrounding area to explore now I have a bike. I have also had a surge of from a couple of other companies – including two day-long workshops back at DHL. It’s getting to the point where the difficulty is going to be fitting it all in and, once I have amassed a bit of money, I need to knock out a couple of days / afternoons to allow me to work on my books as this week I’ve been too tired to do very much at all. I also suspect that the key to whatever I do next is to improve my German A LOT. At the same time I am looking into the teaching quals (prob CertEd) and even found myself googling PhD options at Birmingham University this evening – dangerous territory; I could do an MA for fun but a PhD requires a specialism and that’s where I fall down I have a C17th approach to learning – I have a degree in Literature, an MA in History of Medicine & Science and a Diploma in Employment Law – specialism? Moi? Nevermind, I have a couple of novels to write and those must be the priority. So, if anyone fancies writing a PhD thesis on The Church of England and the Rise of (British Fascism), do get on with it. I’m going to need to read it.