Wednesday, 17 June
Walking past a huge cemetery to get to work creates a rather somber atmosphere for the day. It was sobering and, in a way, helpful to be reminded that life is short and each day is a gift that is not guaranteed. After that revolting school, with the vile wretch and the fence-climbing monkey boy, I do believe that the East of London is not my favourite place in the world. I had to suck it up and get on with it.
The Leyton Scheme happened in a very small community hall and it occurred to me that in doing all these Schemes I was also being shown the vastly different levels of wealth throughout this diverse city: from a tight squash in a small hall to tennis colleges and Manor Houses, from supplied full course lunches, to bring your own. Exactly the same Scheme with exactly the same aged learners, yet such different set-ups and such obviously different levels of funding. Thank goodness all the volunteers genuinely care about their communities and making an invaluable contribution to the lives of the youth, regardless of the funding situation.
My fellow SLO on this Scheme was Chris, a laid back, chilled out Canadian who was in London saving money to go on a world trip with his girlfriend. Chris had been supply teaching for the year and welcomed this break from the supply circuit. He told me that the only way he handles supply is by leaving the school grounds during his breaks. He said he can’t handle being in the staffrooms and chose to walk during his lunches to check out the area of the school and see a bit more of London in the ‘fresh’ air (Note: If you are in Zone One, there is no ‘fresh’ air; The London Paper 28 April 2009: The capitals poor air leads to the early deaths of at least 3,352 people per year, according to the London Assembly’s draft Air Quality Report… The Square Mile is one of the most polluted areas, with three times more pollution than allowed under EU rules.”) He kept up his routine and invited me to join him on today’s lunch walk. He wanted to show me a pet shop he found the day before in the High Street. Ok, if I was passionate about fish, then it would’ve been entertaining, but I’m not a fishy person, so when we got there I smiled and enjoyed his enjoyment. I stuck very close to him as I didn’t feel very safe in the High Street and I decided I wouldn’t be joining him in future as he wandered the area. I figured out I’d prefer to sit in the staff room with my newspaper. Nevertheless, totally random: Go into a pet store in Leyton High Street - √ Tick.
The Scheme started later than the others due to the time tables of the schools in the area. There were more learners too, so the sessions took longer. At the end of the day we had to pack up everything because the hall was used for something else in the evenings. By the time we had finished packing up and carting the equipment in the lifts to get to the storage area upstairs it was late. This was turning out to be a long week!
I had evening drinks with Jonn and Dan in town and found that the week was taking its toll; so after the drinks I went for some retail therapy and spent a few too many Pounds at the Tottenham Court Road Sports Direct Closing Down Sale. I bought walking shoes, casual shoes, an anorak and a backpack for traipsing around London. The backpack became my portable teacher’s desk. It was great to get the things at a really low price, but I was finding it disturbing that the recession had hit so many of the High Street shops. Literally every fourth store had “All Stock Must Go!”, “Closing Down” in their windows. What was going to happen to all the owners and staff working in those stores? Even though we all survive somehow; I never got used to the horrible feeling of walking past shops that were empty except for mounds of unopened bills piled up behind the abandoned glass shop fronts.