Friday, August 18, 2006

Education for life?

It was one of these afternoons when I hoped not to meet a soul - or at least not one who knew me. Could have been because I was wearing shorts, a cagoule and a black baseball cap - oh, and walking boots. It had been raining in the forest and I was wet. Mrs Heathbank looked similarly juvenile. The dogs lolloped wetly around, occasionally excoriating my bare legs with the sticks they insist on carrying.

And then we met a young woman, walking home up the hill with a supermarket bag. We smiled, as you do in these parts whether you know the person or not. And she beamed. "I know you - I knew you at school!" Turned out I had taught her, long ago when all the world was young and Edublogger was five. Now, at 39, she was a grandmother. She seemed to remember me fondly - "You had short dark hair" she kept repeating. I showed her that the hair, though pink at the edges, is still short and fairly dark. This pleased her. She seemed not to notice the absurdity of my appearance, though she herself was dressed in a seemly fashion suited to adult life.

She had left school at 16, married a guy whose name I could recall as having bad connotations, and been beaten by him for 20 years. Now this gentle soul has found a new life with a new partner. She has lived through all this stuff and she's still only 39. She told me she'd been "rubbish at school". What did we ever do to prepare her for the life she faced? I felt somehow young by comparison. We parted affectionately. She had brightened my afternoon.

I hope life treats her better now.


  1. If she remembered you fondly, you must have done something right. We all grow up at different rates - possibly she was a 'late developer'.

    Stories like hers do make you count your blessings though.

  2. Maybe I'll pop round in 20 years time and say "hey... what happened to your pink hair?!" I think that's great! Just goes to show you that sometimes, when life seems difficult, it can all work out good in the end :-)

  3. It was such a sweet encounter. I can imagine that although she insisted she was 'rubbish' at school, she was, in fact, one of those wee souls who never give you any trouble, struggle to do their best and stay behind to tidy up the classroom.

  4. Feeling seriously dewy eyed after reading this. But then, you know it does not take much...!