I have 450 exam scripts to mark and have just done number 130. That will tell you everything you need to know about why I am taking a break to write a blog post.
I thought I'd tell you about my desk, the one I've been using while I mark my scripts.
When I say the word 'desk', are you thinking along these lines?...
Don't worry. It's not your fault. You are a normal human being and have nothing to be afraid of. It's my problem, not yours.
In our house, 'desk' means this.
As I said, it's not your fault. Did any of you study Saussure and his ideas about the completely arbitrary link between the signifier and the signified? If you did, you'll know why that's relevant to this blog post. If you didn't, be grateful. I found those lectures so confusing that my brain was like a knitting bag that's been ravaged by three cats.
This art book is what they call a 'coffee table' book. Only, in the case of this one, it's not because it can go ON the coffee table, but because it is the size OF a coffee table. And this is why I have been using it for years and years as my 'desk'. It sits on my lap, I pile a teetering Leaning Tower of Marking on top of it, and off I go. Tick, tick, tick. Cross. Tick, tick. Cross. Tick. Cross, cross, cross. Cross, cross, cross. "E grade. Were you listening at ALL in this lesson?'
I also use the desk when I am teaching private pupils at home, which I do regularly, both of us sitting on the sofas in the living room. I prefer teaching like this; they feel more grown-up, I think. It takes them a while to get used to my unusual approach to furniture, but after a couple of lessons, when I say, 'Help yourself to the desk' they reach for the Art Book without a hint of the fear and doubt they experienced in Lesson 1.
Only one pupil took a few lessons to get used to the idea; at first, when I offered him the Art Book to put on his knees, he frowned and then shrugged before complying. To be frank, I was surprised to find he asked for a second lesson.
I told this to a girl I'd been teaching for a couple of years - someone who'd been fully integrated into the Fran-Hill-way - and she said, 'He does go to quite a posh school, though, Fran. Perhaps your shabby copy of Robert Cumming's Annotated Guide to Art with its torn cover isn't what he's used to leaning on when he writes up his essay about Faraday's law of induction.'
I thought that a little harsh.