To Learn Something New/Evening Course
(AKA Get my husband home early to do the bedtime routine)
I’m flicking through the college brochure and reading out the options to my husband, who is nodding supportively at all my suggestions. It’s only when he shouts, ‘YESSS! GET IN!!’ when I ask him if I should do an over fifties fitness course (I am struggling with fitness aimed at people in their thirties), that I realise he’s not listening to anything I’m saying. He is, in actual fact, watching a ‘Top Gear Challenge.’
‘What about Pole Dancing?’ I’m ACTUALLY looking at a knitting course. Equally as unlikely.
‘SORRY. WHAT??!!!’ he reacts predictably.
‘I thought that would get your attention!’
I dismiss an Art Class (I’m still at stick man level of drawing). Textiles and Cake Decorating? Who has time for that?
And then I spot ‘Creative Writing’.
YES! That’s it! I can totally visualise myself as a successful author. I shall transform myself from a ‘blogger’ into a Creative Writing Literacy Genius in just eight weeks!
I shall sign up for the course immediately.
I walk into a grey, claustrophobic room filled with intellectual looking writer types. No one is talking. This was a BIG mistake. I sit in the only chair not already taken. It’s right at the front of the room. I look around nervously. WHY OH WHY didn’t I just give up alcohol like everybody else?
‘Welcome! Let’s learn a little bit about each other shall we? (I die a little inside)
I’ll go around the room. Please tell everyone your name, a bit about yourself and the last book you really enjoyed. Let’s start with you on the end.’
I breathe a big sigh of relief as she gestures towards a man sitting on the opposite side of the room. This has bought me a few precious minutes to delve into the depths of my tired brain and extract an impressive sounding title, but I can’t think of a single book, impressive or otherwise.
Oh Fuckety Fuck! It’s nearly my turn. My empty mind goes blanker still as I hear someone introduce themselves as a screen-writer, whose favorite book is by a Russian surrealist with an unpronounceable name.
It appears I’m next as the whole room is smiling encouragingly at me. P-A-N-I-C!
‘My name is erm … err … mm …’
The tutor glances down at a piece of paper on her desk. ‘Lydia??’ she offers, helpfully.
‘Oh yes! Hahaha, that is indeed my name.’ I then turn my increasingly red face towards the woman sitting next to me and cross my arms defensively. I’m hoping that my body language is speaking for me and the teacher will move on to her. She doesn’t.
‘So Lydia, please tell everyone the name of a book that you’ve really lost yourself in. One that really inspired you?’
I say the first thing that comes into my head … ‘The Gruffalo?’
I here several sniggers, and then the room goes silent. This is worse than School.
The rest of the class doesn’t improve, and as an exercise we are given the word ‘Hello’ and told to ‘write’ for ten minutes.
I have already decided that creative writing is not for me. I have a much more achievable goal in mind, starting with reading a book. Anything, just as long as it’s not Grazia. Or the Gruffalo.
With this in mind I spend the exercise doodling, looking at the clock and writing nonsense, assuming that we will be keeping it to ourselves. Or handing it in.
I was wrong.
Right! Let’s start on this side of the room this time! Lydia? Please read it out to the rest of the class.
Oh my good God. NO!!
‘I really don’t think you would want, erm, I mean I haven’t written very much …’
‘I know it’s difficult to be the first, but have faith in your creativity and enjoy the process …
‘I really can’t, I mean I…’
‘Come on now, we are all in here to learn.’
Right then. Here goes.
I tentatively start to read, trying to ignore everyone else in the room.
‘Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything. They say that time’s supposed to heal you, but I haven’t done much healing. Hello? Can you hear me? I’m in Calif … Twickenham? Dreaming about who we used to be…’
I grimace and wait for the laughter.
‘Wow! That was really beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.’
‘Thank you Adele’, I mutter under my breath.
Everyone nods and smiles in agreement. Except for one woman, who looks like she is desperately trying to remember something.
Luckily they move on to someone else before she busts me.
I get the hell out of there as soon as I possibly can.
So, eight-week Creative Writing Course? DONE
Right, what’s next on the list?