Posts Tagged ‘teacher’

Things I have said to famous people whilst making coffee for them

Simon Callow

Now you must bear in mind when reading this, that I had not had a television since leaving home when I was 18 and had not really been absorbing anything I did watch, even then. This is attested to by the fact that I have no idea whether I have watched loads of really classic films that I’m guessing I probably did watch at some point in my childhood. That is my defence.

This incident happened about six years later, when working in a little coffee kiosk in a train station.

A man came in one day and got an espresso and an orange juice. His face looked really familiar. When he left, I asked the others if they recognised him. One was Portuguese and the other Polish and they hadn’t recognised him at all. I’m not sure how well he is known outside the English speaking world but neither knew his face.

The next day he came in and I decided to be brave and asked him.

“Sorry, I don’t mean to sound over familiar but I recognise you from somewhere and I can’t think where. Are you off TV?”

Yes. I said that. Those exact words – “off TV.” Are you off TV? Like some chav who can’t speak properly. Me. I said that. To Simon Callow.

Simon.

Callow.

What an insult.

He good-naturedly said, “Well, some of the things I’ve been in have been shown on television, yes.”

After he left, a poster on the station wall caught my eye. A poster for a pantomime showing at the nearby theatre. The man was on the poster! I quickly googled his name on my phone and realised, with a sinking feeling, that it had been Simon Callow. The famous Shakespearean theatre actor, Simon Callow. Yes, him.

And I’d asked him if he was “off TV.”

The next time he came in, I apologised and he was lovely and gracious about it, obviously. He asked my name and every time he came in, most days for the next few weeks, he always popped his head round to where I was tucked away making coffee and said, “Hello,Laura.”

Thank goodness he was so nice about it!

Gita from Eastenders

This one is from the same coffee job. A lady had been in every day for a few days and I had a real feeling that I knew her, or had known her, from my childhood in Liverpool. Now Liverpool isn’t the whitest place in the world but in comparison with London’s ethnic make-up, you just do notice people of different ethnicity a bit more because there are fewer of them.

This lady obviously had an Indian background and a slight Indian accent and, for some reason, my first thought was of my Maths teacher at school, who was also of Indian origin but had a Liverpudlian accent. So the picture didn’t match exactly but I couldn’t think of anyone else Indian I had known during my childhood. Other ethnicities, yes, but not Indian.

But she was really familiar so I knew I knew her somehow.

“Hi, I hope you don’t think I’m being rude but I feel like I know you somehow. Did you ever live in Liverpool, I grew up there. Have you taught before?”

“No, I’ve never lived there. I was an actress about ten years ago though. You might have seen me in something?…”

It started to dawn on me and my face started turning red.

“I was in Eastenders. My character was called Gita.”

And there it was. That was how I knew her. My mum used to watch Eastenders so I’d been peripherally aware of her via TV. And then, years later, I’d seen a face that I knew from my childhood and asked her if she used to be my Maths teacher! What a let down for someone who spent a significant amount of her life doing a job she presumably loved, being recognised at the time and being in a well established television series which has won awards. Then you go for coffee ten years later and someone says, “Did you used to be my teacher?”

Big fat fail by Laura. Oops!

My new yoga enemies

Today, I was going to finally deal with a Leibster Award I was given a few months back and was looking forward to it as I remember the questions being quite good. I had also planned who I was going to pass the award on to. It all promised to be very exciting. As I have the morning free, I was going to sit here and dedicate myself to it with gusto.

So I went back to the day I was given it, in early September, rifled through the comments and found the one which said I had been given the award. And I clicked on the link, all excited. And the link went to a generic WordPress start-up page with nothing on it. There was one post from 13 November which said Welcome to your new WordPress site. And nothing else. It totally threw me. I know I took a few months to deal with the award… but enough to make her pack in her entire WordPress career?

Hence, I am now a little stumped. I don’t have anything prepared for a post. But never fear! In my massively exciting world, in which I am constantly doing and saying really interesting things, I shall serenade you (serenade?) with a tale of what happened at last night’s yoga class.

I have been doing yoga on and off for about ten years now, sometimes at home from a DVD, sometimes at classes, sometimes just from a book. So I’m familiar with the yoga ‘scene.’ My friend (the one mentioned in this post) and I decided to go to a beginner’s yoga class last night, as she has never done it before. I called up that morning and booked us in and at 5.50pm, we arrived, legging-clad and ready to go.

We walked into the room and saw a bench in a corner, which had a few bags on it, so figured this is where we were supposed to leave our stuff. We approached the bench, put down our bags and were chitchatting while we took our socks and shoes off.

“Are you new to the yoga class?” an older lady asked, as we were taking our shoes off.

“Yes,” we said, thinking she was perhaps the teacher and about to welcome us in a friendly manner.

“Ok. It’s just that usually we go here.”

We were confused. Did she mean that the yoga class was happening over the other side of the room and she and the man standing next to her were doing something different there and we had accidentally left our stuff in the bit where they have a different class? But they had mats down as though they were about to do yoga.

“Sorry, what’s… Is this bit not the yoga?” I asked.

“Yes, this is where we have our mats.”

Let’s just get this straight. An older lady, one who should have known better, perhaps in her fifties, was telling us, in a rather condescending manner, that as ‘new’ people to the class, we should learn that this is ‘their’ corner. Like the naughty boys who wanted the back seat of the bus and woe betide anyone who sat there mistakenly!

I was clearly quite annoyed as we had not even made any moves to give the impression that we were trying to stay in that spot for the class. We were clearly just putting our stuff on the bench next to everyone else’s stuff and taking our shoes off. We weren’t even trying to put mats down or anything. We hadn’t picked mats up yet!

“Yeh, we’re just taking our shoes off,” I said, irritated.

She sensed my annoyance.

“O, I’m not being rude or anything, I just, it’s just that we usually go here. I’m not being rude.” And she smiled politely. As though I wouldn’t notice that she was being rude, simply because there was a smile on her face. I’m not fooled, lady! You’re still being rude, even if you’re saying “I’m not being rude” and smiling! You’re still being really bloody rude!

So we said, “Yeh, we’re just taking our shoes off,” and pottered off to get mats. We put them in the other corner of the room but we were still quite near them as the room wasn’t that big. Everyone else was sitting or lying down, doing a bit of relaxation before the class, being very quiet and concentrating on their breathing. The rowdy ‘naughty boys on the bus’ older couple stayed standing and discussing something or other quite loudly, considering everyone else in the room was silent. I caught snippets of conversation.

“…had sex for the first time in six weeks…. yeh, six weeks…. yeh, she’s not been well… had that fall….”

I mean, really now? You kicked us out of the corner spot that we weren’t even trying to go in and now you’re discussing sex at an unnecessary volume in a room full of silent people, trying to be silent and relax prior to their yoga class. What’s wrong with you people?

So the teacher comes in, she greets us and is saying that she can see a lot of new faces and doing the general ‘hello’ stuff and this silly couple, the ‘naughty boys at the back of the bus who love talking about sex’ couple, keep talking, right over the teacher. As if they’re trying to show everyone who’s really in charge here. It was honestly ridiculous.

So I shushed them.

That’s right. I shushed them.

ssshhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

It started small but they didn’t take any notice so it built until I was almost hoarse from shushing. It felt good.

The teacher joked that it was like a cinema. I presume she meant people shushing other people for talking through the film or being loud with popcorn. So I admit it. I am a shusher. I also used to do it at uni if people were talking through the lecturer’s teaching. That’s just me, ok? I’m a shusher!

So then the class started and I forgot about my new yoga enemies but as I’m writing this, I’m remembering all over again and am re-flabbergasted. So my friend and I have made a plan. Next week, we will arrive really early and TAKE THEIR SPOT IN THE CORNER! Mwah ha ha ha ha! We live on the edge. And if they say anything to us, we will say, all innocently, “O, sorry, we’re new, we didn’t realise. Well, we’re here now. That space there is just as good, try going there.”

Things I have been called

Pragmatic (by a teacher)
A goddess (after a brief encounter with another student at uni)
Lucille Ball (a fellow blogger)
Bill Bailey (my secondary school drama teacher)
Oops-a-daisy Maisey (all the boys at primary school)
The hostess with the mostess (guests for dinner)
An athlete (an old boyfriend)
A maverick (as above)
A slut (my mother, when she saw me in a short skirt one day)
Mayonnaisey (boys at school again)
Stubborn (most people who have spent a lot of time in close quarters with me)
Manipulative (my mother)
Sexy (a man I went on one date with)
Inspirational (an old friend from uni)
Extra rarge (by a Chinese woman on Beijing, trying her best tactics to persuade me to buy a t-shirt from her. Surprisingly, being told she had extra rarge which would fit me didn’t work.)
A grandma (most of my close female friends, at one time or another)
Nanny Maisey (my friend’s grandchildren)
Crazy (colleagues)
Talkative (most people, probably)
Patient (new staff at work)
Angelina Jolie (a local Namibian guy, whilst trying to persuade me to buy something from him)
Fat Legs (some young boys in the street, when I was about 17)
Uncaring (my mother)
Naufiku (the African name I was given when living in Namibia, it means ‘born in the evening’)
Hilarious and probably the funniest girl in the world (me, suggesting to other people the words they might use to describe me)

The time I got into a fight

Are you ready for this story? I bet you thought I was quite chilled out, not the type to get all excitable? Well, if that is what you thought about me, everything is about to change. Get ready to hear the story of My Big Fight.

There was a girl at school called Gemma Williams. She had fluffy hair and a slightly nasal voice and that’s all I really remember about her. O, I also remember some silly stories she told. For example, she said her hair had been dyed at the roots just after she was born because she was ginger and her parents hated it.

One time, when everyone was in the playground, we disagreed about something. I’ve no idea what. We were all standing in a group and she turned and walked away from me while I was in the middle of saying something. This infuriated me. I lifted my right foot and whipped it against her leg. Who knows why I did this?! I never punched or kicked or anything.

Anyway, I kicked the top of her leg. She looked taken aback and scurried off.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was My Big Fight!

It’s still the most violent exchange I’ve ever taken part in, apart from when I went to karate classes and kickboxing classes but that doesn’t count.

After The Fight, she ran off to the toilet and was apparently seen rubbing and punching the part of her leg that I had kicked. She then ran off to the teacher and told her and showed off the reddened leg. I was duly told off and my lesson was learned.

And I have never had a fight since then. I am a reformed character and have turned my back on violence.

I bet you’re all relieved to hear I’m back on the straight and narrow after all that… um…. fighting…

PS. I googled the name of the boy I wrote about the other day in The Boy I Once Loved and he’s doing a lot of acting now. He lives in London and was in a musical I went to see a few years ago! How strange.

The time we defrosted a freezer

I was 18. I was living in Africa. I wasn’t that good at being a grown up but I was good at convincing myself I was.

One time my friend Lucy and I had noticed that we couldn’t fit stuff in our freezer anymore because it was full of ice. We thought we should defrost it but just made a vague guess about how exactly you did this. We had a fridge freezer thing so left the door open for a while but in the stifling heat of the coast town where we lived, all our milk and butter was having a bad reaction. We sat and puzzled for a bit about how to go about defrosting in a shorter time.

Then Lucy had an idea. Lovely Lucy, one of those people in life who you want to be like, who’s so easy to love. Lovely Lucy. She picked up a hammer and approached the fridge freezer. I stood by, a little uncertain about what she was going to do with it…..

Then Lovely Lucy used the hammer to smash all the ice to bits and get it out off the freezer. Mid-smashing session, me hovering nervously around, there was a noise. A hissing sound. Ssssssssssssssssss….

On. And on. And on. Went the hissing noise. Until, eventually, it stopped.

We didn’t know what it was but I had the distinct impression that my being-an-adult attempt had failed miserably.

There was a funny gas smell and we giggled nervously as I ran off to email my Dad about what we should do. That’s right. I was in Africa, holding my own as a teacher in a classroom, running the local town newspaper, making my living as an editor/journalist, and at the first hint of something electronic that I couldn’t figure out, I was running off to email my Dad.

The return email essentially said, “GET THAT THING OUT OF YOUR HOUSE NOW!”

Obediently, we unplugged it and got it into the garden and consumed everything which had been in the fridge, to save it going off, not because we’re greedy. Honest.

And there it sat for a few days while we pondered what to do. In those few days, the maggots found it. That’s right. The maggots. We opener the door one day to see if it still smelled gassy, and there they were! Whoops! We quickly shut the door, pretended we hadn’t seen anything and called a friend to ask him if we could put the fridge freezer in his car to take it to the repair shop. He said he’d come the next day.

That evening, something happened. Something which only happened three times the entire year we lived there. Something that pretty much never happens in a desert so you wouldn’t even think about it happening (we were basically living on the edge of a desert). Something that when it did happen, was so much worse for only happening a few times a year.

It rained.

The most torrential rain we’d seen since arriving. The wind and rain whipped the fridge door about furiously. It banged and crashed all evening. The rainwater got into every nook and cranny on that fridge. Inside, in the back, into the plug. Everywhere.

The plus side of this rainstorm was that the gassy smell and maggots had disappeared. Yehhhhh!

The down side, however, was that the fridge was SMASHED TO PEICES. Noooooooo…..

Our friend, George, arrived the next day and looked at it in shock. We pretended all was fine and piled it into the car and off we went to the repair shop. He also looked at it in shock and we just smiled a bit and convinced him to try and fix it.

A week or so later, Lovely hammer-wielding Lucy was passing by the repair shop with another teacher from the school and mentioned that they’d had our fridge for a week and we hadn’t heard anything from them.

“O yeh,” said the other teacher, knowingly. “They’ve had my dishwasher for about four years now.”

We spent the rest of the year without a fridge or freezer.

My first bikram yoga class

I went to bikram yoga for a little while last year. Hands up who’s been to bikram yoga? So you guys know exactly what I’m about to tell you. For those of you who don’t know what bikram yoga is, it’s like yoga on acid. The first few classes, it’s mental. It’s a yoga class in a heated room, something to do with relaxing the muscles so you can stretch further in the poses. I thought I’d share my first experience of bikram yoga to make you aware of exactly what is involved in this intriguing new exercise class.

All I knew on my first class was that it was yoga in a heated room. Sounds interesting, I thought. I’ll go along for a trial class. Little did I know.

I was in a t-shirt and leggings, suitable attire for a yoga lesson. I entered the room, found a space for my mat and sat down. I noticed everyone else was dressed in barely anything. All the men were just wearing swim shorts, no t-shirts. The women were wearing little crop tops and tiny shorts. It was like being at a swimwear photo shoot.

I was wearing more clothes than anyone else in the room and suddenly was like, ‘What is wrong with these people? This isn’t a fashion parade. Why are they showing off their bodies? Have these people got no discretion?!’

And then the class started. The teacher entered and turned up the heat and for the next hour and a half, I was a complete mess. If you’d have asked me my name, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you it. My thoughts during the class went something like this….

OMYGOODNESS I’M GOING TO PASS OUT! What is she asking me to do with my leg? I think I’ll fall into a heap and disintegrate if I attempt that. Just keep control of yourself, keep control. I might have to sit down. Water! Water! Ok, let’s get involved again, whoops, stood up too quickly! Head rush. Sit down again. TOO HOT! I wish I hadn’t worn so many clothes now. O no, I think that tickling on my elbow is a bead of sweat which has run all the way down there from my armpit. Ugh, there is a sweat patch on my mat where I’ve been sitting. Ok, get up. Doing some kind of twisting leg and arm thing. Try to concentrate on one spot and keep my balance, the teacher is saying. How can I concentrate?! How can I concentrate when I’m melting? I THINK I’M GOING TO DIE! Can you die of too much heat? If no-one has before, I’ll be the first. I feel like I’ve been in here forever. How long has it been? Omygoodness, only 15 minutes. 1 hour 15 minutes to go still. I can feel delirium setting in. I think my brain is actually sweating. I’m starting to fear FOR MY LIFE. I’m being asked to balance on one leg and hold my hands in prayer position. I can barely concentrate on standing up, balancing is asking a bit much, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll just stand here, not fainting, and that will be my main achievement for my first class. Nope, not standing, sitting. I’ve never been this warm in my entire life….

After the class, I left the room, went into the corridor and leant on a window sill, trying to remember who I was. When I eventually stumbled into the changing rooms, I got into the shower, ran it on the coldest setting and stood there with trembling legs, holding onto the wall, trying to regain my composure.

My next two or three classes were similar to this but a little less messy each time. I eventually got to a point where I could go to a class without having to stop and sit down at all and I could still remember my name when I left the room.

For those of you who are thinking of trying a bikram yoga class anytime soon, let this post serve as a warning to you. Be prepared…!