Occasionally, people come into your life who are inspirational and, as a bonus, make you laugh, too. Of course, there are some people who come into your life who you eventually realise you can never please, or who drain you of all energy by their sheer presence, or who will never hear what you say despite you saying it on a regular basis since before Christmas - like one of my sixth formers yesterday.
'I am a bit concerned about your preparation for your Speaking and Listening exam,' said I, to aforesaid student who had just delivered a practise run that would disgrace a five year old. He looked at me with an air of blankness.
'But it's not until the 18th,' he said.
'Which is next Wednesday,' said I. 'Less than a week away next Wednesday.'
There followed what I could only describe as a dread silence. He said, faintly, 'Next Wednesday is the 18th?'
'Indeed it is,' said I.
A certain paleness enters the complexion of the student. His voice dropped to a whisper. 'I knew the exam was on the 18th,' he said. 'But I didn't realise the 18th was NEXT Wednesday.'
I tried not to sigh. 'I have reminded you every week since Christmas,' I said.
'I know,' said the student.
I know you know, I thought. Just do your flippin' preparation, will you?
I think perhaps I worry about these things more than my students. And I don't even need a Speaking and Listening qualification. But then my fear is school league tables and value-added data and the retention of my job, none of which concern students. Ah well...
Back to inspiration! It was with a certain sadness that I heard the news yesterday of the death of the writer, Terry Pratchett. For those of you who don't know, Terry Pratchett is the inventor extraordinaire of Discworld and the writer of all the stories therein. There are few novelists I really enjoy enough to read ALL the books they write, but Sir Terry is one of them. He is also a novelist whom both Andy and I love (which is a rare thing) - indeed, Andy met him on a few of occasions and went off to work today armed with a signed copy of 'The Colour of Magic' to read in honour of the passing over.
Which got me thinking about my favourite Pratchett novel. There are so many, but I think my favourites are the ones that feature the three witches - Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. And from those, well, it has to be 'Witches Abroad.' Until I think of another one and it'll be, 'Oooh yes - that was a good 'un, too,' as always happens when one is pinned down to selecting a favourite of anything. (Don't get me started on nuts - I still can't decide who'd win in a race between walnut and Brazil.)
I shall leave you, then, with a couple of Nanny Ogg wisdoms in honour of Sir Terry Pratchett - one of my very few life inspirations - and I hope one or indeed all might raise a bit of a titter.
'It's not worth doing something unless you were doing something that someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing.'
'Nanny Ogg looked under her bed in case there was a man there. Well, you never knew your luck.'