A Lesson

I jumped at an opportunity. Not something I do often. I tend to be a thinker, a muller, a procrastinator, a finder of excuses. My default is ‘yes, but’.

Aside: I had a boss once who asked me about my degree, and on being told that I got a 2.i with Distinction said ‘Ah yes, I thought so. People with 2.i’s are very good at knocking holes in ideas. I got a First. People who get Firsts are very good at coming up with ideas.’ Intended as a put down, it felt like one.  Blue sky thinking has its place of course, but coming up with ideas that don’t need to be realistic or workable is not the only worthwhile occupation. (There’s me, yes-butting again.)

I was in my car waiting for the recovery vehicle, and someone I don’t know posted on FB to ask if anyone would cover his Alexander Technique class in London the following Thursday. I posted ‘I’ll do it’. He said I’d be paid £25-30 for a 90 minute class. Good experience though: my first class, without having to sell myself; no need to have a course of 8 classes planned; an excellent toe in the water. Fresh from my CPD in Germany, I was raring to give it a go.

Not so fast, sunshine.

The venue manager wanted to see my insurance documents, and it turns out I have none. STAT, which certifies and insures its members, knew perfectly well who I was and that I had graduated. But the free automatic membership for a year post-grad turns out to be a myth. I found another company to insure me, but they wanted my certificate, and when I couldn’t find one from STAT it turned out it had never been sent. Nothing STAT could do about certificate or insurance before their next meeting, in two months. Luckily the other insurance company took the certificate from my school, which, astonishingly in all the mess from the move, my son located straight away. So for £20 I bought two months’ insurance. Given transport to and from the venue was going to cost me the best part of a tenner this was not what we were taught at business school to call a positive NPV project.

I planned what I’d do with the half dozen or so participants in the class. Felt OK about it, which is a good thing, since, sitting at my desk the day before and hearing a rustling, I looked down to see a rat at my feet and that put an end to my preparation.

The children helped, but we lost the rat somewhere in the property. None of the pest control companies I called would send anyone the same day, so I arranged for someone to come at 8am – about an hour before I was going to have to leave for this momentous teaching experience. Cost: £300. (While I realise I cannot bill the rat catcher to the AT account, it does sting.)

That night lots of rat like noises added to my usual insomnia.

The rat catcher did not catch the rat, but eventually succeeded in chasing it back into the garden and all I can do now is hope the rodent didn’t like it here much and decides not to return. Not a great result for £300.

Arrived at the Buddhist Centre. Friendly people working there. They have all changed their names to things I find hard to remember. Two of them join the class. Nobody else turns up.

All of the activities I had planned are unsuitable for just two Buddhists. I was prepared for a class, and am experienced in one-to-one lessons; this was neither. I was conscious of having to give them both equal airtime and draw them both in, and not as confident as I would like. After an hour and a bit, I asked them if they wanted to do constructive rest (lying down), which is how the class usually ends. Then it was over. The two men thanked me and seemed quite pleased with the way it had gone.

I’d not had breakfast, it was lunchtime, and it would take me over an hour to get home, so I treated myself in the Chinese restaurant where I often went as a child for a slap up family feast at weekends. I had roast duck and was transported back to my days living in HK, where that was a lunchtime takeaway staple in the office. With service and some green tea: £10.

Got home exhausted, having nodded off on the tube.

A couple of days later, I was about to contact the chap for whom I covered to say: hang on, I didn’t give anyone my bank details, what’s the drill? when I got an email from the studio manager. She said that my earnings ‘for the month of July’ were £10. She asked me to ‘check the numbers in a yellow folder by the till’ (that would be a three hour round trip and about £10 in fares) and send an invoice.

I’ve sent a reply saying I am disappointed as I was expecting minimum £25, but part of me does find the whole thing quite funny.

Until I reflect that I have bills to pay and no obvious other means.



Photo is of the very bright lino in the loo of the Buddhist Centre.  I love lino, and especially when it curves up the wall like that.  Which reminds me, as a young consultant I once had as a client the largest Belgian carpet manufacturer.  Did you know that Belgium is (was?) the largest exporter of carpet in the world?  I used to fly there on business and noticed that the airport walls were carpeted, too.


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Florence Feynman

I am a middle aged, middle class woman, thinking.

One thought on “A Lesson”

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