In a room full of strangers
anybody could have picked him out.
He looked exactly the combination of his two names
accessible and sensible.
The sort who probably cut a few classes
just enough to know about the other side
to be sympathetic and wary of the devil.
The first training placement
he mentor and marker.
Welcome he said, meaning it.
There was something winsomely outdated about him
even coffee break. He drank tea
from a conical cup
rim twice the diameter of base
with a saucer
slow thoughtful slurps
thinking about lessons finished … and to come.
I remember that cup forever
yellow and old-fashioned
it paused with perfect symmetry
exactly half way from table to mouth
rigid with attention – a witness.
The staffroom swarmed around us
bundles of photocopying
deans with punishment lists.
In the desperate way people look for survivors
I had asked the question.
Expectation and hope.
Hope expected a well intentioned lie
expectation hoped time be proposed as solution.
Teaching really couldn’t be taught he said
“Its largely innate, either someone can . . . or can’t”
after 27 years of trainees he just knew
said anybody of similar experience would.
“it’s not for everybody
I don’t think it is for you.”
For the back story click Backstage
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