I always like the onset of autumn: "tea and a toasted buttered currant bun can't compensate for lack of sun," Ray Davies said, but I think he was being a little unkind. I think there's plenty to compensate, particularly this year for me. Autumn isn't a season of decay and death, but a season of new beginnings: with autumn comes the autumn term, and return to school. For me, return to both school and university, and I can't wait to get stuck in as a student teacher.
I said once before, when I was unemployed, that being in that awful state of neither-one-thing-nor-the-other made you a stranger to the seasons, someone who was detached from time, and absent from real life. Life is just something that goes on without you, sometimes. Sometimes you have to put your hand up and want to be a part of it. It's not always that easy, I know, but sometimes it is, or it can be. At other times, you just have to wait, and wait, and wait, for things to return, and go your way.
So, here it is. Since June 28, 2011, I have been without a permanent job, scratching around for work to keep me busy. There were rejections, disappointments and failures, and very little hope. I took one full-time job, but hated it so much that I had to leave after just a month. In the meantime I've been kept going by my good fortune at being able to work for the New Statesman and occasional bits and bobs of work that good people have been kind enough to send my way. There have been a couple of part-time jobs which have kept me busy, and which I enjoyed: I worked at Waterstone's over Christmas, which was hard work, but fun; and I had a long-term temping position on 20 hours a week for the past four months, which just about kept everything afloat.
You don't forget the people who take a chance on you when you're down. You forget the ones who don't.
So, tomorrow there begins a new life. A world of Comic Sans and crayons, and chairs that are too short to sit on. Who knows whether I can do it or not? I don't for sure. But sometimes you just have a sense in you: wait a minute, I can do this, I can be good at this. It's something I never felt with journalism, where I always felt like a bit of a fraud. With teaching I feel like I can actually do something, sincerely and well, and to a high standard, and actually end up doing something good at the end of it. I wish I'd found it earlier. But at least I found it at all.
I only really realised this morning, when I woke up. I'm not unemployed anymore. That feeling of anxiety and helplessness has gone. Something else is beginning.
There are some implications about blogging. There might be less blogging here for one thing, and I won't be blogging about what happens in the classroom, obviously. I'll still be writing for NS as often as I can, which will hopefully be as often as now. Maybe less, but maybe better. And yes, as I keep banging on to anyone who'll listen, there will be a second book, which is coming together right now, and which will - real work permitting - be finished around October time, all being well.
But, there it is. For the first time since halfway through 2011, I can say I am something, and someone. I feel like I've managed to slot back in to the real world, to step on the travelator that was moving past me all this time, to hop back on the bus and get back with the rest of you. I am a student teacher. I am.
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