I've started more than one book this month for the year in books, only for them to be abandoned along the wayside. Darwin was a library book, and I couldn't renew it as someone else had requested it, I started Northanger Abbey and read a few chapters sitting in the sun on a wall in between work times, but I found myself struggling to love it, and time is too precious to read something just because you should finish it.
Which makes my final choice feel fortuitous, as time is a central theme.
"In 1972 two seconds were added to time. Were they to blame for what happened next?"
"two seconds can change everything,
and if your world can be shattered in an instant,can time also put it right?
I shall be honest and admit I was looking for another book by the same author, but this one, with a cover of spirals and dandelions which I both adore was definitely a case of choosing a book by it's cover. and you know what? it was a good choice.
a clock, a basket of envelopes to collect in any phones, patience, important notices (especially the one for outside the door that says "SILENCE - Exam in Progress", even though no-one reads it............) exam papers, continuation sheet, invigilator record, seating plan, spare black pens (and no we don't have a spare pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, ruler, scientific calculator or a partridge in pear tree) improvisational skills (for when something doesn't go to plan....), patience, counselling skills (for the student in tears as she can't find where her exam is supposed to be and now she's going to be late and is all in a panic......) patience, tolerance, eyes in the back of your head, patience, the ability to prowl quietly between rows of desks without tripping over, patience, sanity (optional).
I stand at the back in the exam halls and write lists. There are shopping lists, lists of who is doing what and when this week, planning lists, packing lists for scout camp, lists of gardening plans, lists of quick and easy dinners, lists of photos to take, and heaven forbid to print, lists of cakes to bake, and meals to cook, lists of phone calls to make (including the plumber Again, who still hasn't come to mend the hot bathroom tap....) I write lists of the lists. Some of them are on scraps of paper, some are in my head. All of them are to distract me from the fact that I really want a cup of tea.
The caretaker comes to see if it is too hot, and do we need some fans. Several of the students are wearing thick sweatshirts. I decline the fans but open another window. These are AS level students, sixth formers don't wear uniform and so are dressed in eclectic attire. Two of them have taken off their shoes. I avoid walking near their desks. One girl is wearing some kind of laced up corset over her shirt. I can't decide if it's a back brace for medical reasons, but it looks too stylish for that, and yet it looks far too uncomfortable for a fashion item. I decide that perhaps as she is a history student it might help her to be in character, as far I can tell we've moved on from the dark ages, but who knows.
Is it so wrong to notice that the students doing child development are wearing a LOT more make up than those sitting the history exam.
This exam is in the sixth form common room. Someone thought is was a good idea to paint one wall lime green and all the woodwork and window sills purple. It was not. It is a recipe for a migraine. It must be a rite of passage for common rooms though, I recall our's had a giant Danger Mouse mural on it. No one ever had to sit an exam in there though.....
Social media, twitter, facebook, instagram, and the rest get a bad press sometimes. Over sharing, trolls and time wasting are all downsides to the social media world. We complain about it, even though we live in it, and as bloggers participate in it. Sometimes though social media proves it's worth in the world, as it allows stories to spread that make a difference beyond the possible expectations of those who wrote them.
I've been following the story of Stephen Sutton for several months now, he posted on facebook and twitter about his life since the diagnosis of terminal bowel cancer at age 15, and amongst other things on a bucket list he set about to raise £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Sometimes it is possible that a person who you never met, and hardly know anything about can touch something inside you, your heart? your soul? whatever it is that makes you human? This person can make you stop, think, reflect on the meaning of what we do, acknowledge that indeed 'life isn't measured in time, it's measured in achievements', and occasionally reach for your wallet. Through the world of social media Stephen wrote about teenage cancers and the special needs of a teenage patient and what he learnt from his cancer and what he wanted to achieve, and the world of social media listened, and spread the word, and as I write this now his just giving page is recording contributions of over £3.45 million. Sometimes one person can do so much more than it can seem possible.
Stephen passed away this morning in hospital, he leaves behind a family mourning for his loss, and a legacy for the future.