There’s a saying that dates back to Elizabethan times about ‘Every dog will have its day.’ This means we all have a chance to shine, if given the opportunity, or we are determined enough to overcome any obstacles that may block our way.
Here’s the next instalment of my time as a mature student at a local college in 2006, when I first set off on my writing journey to become a published author.
Day 5 of 32 Weeks: The Day of Reckoning
Once again, I arrived early to find two of my classmates already there. They were deep in conversation about holidays. I left them to it, and sat by the window on my own while we waited for the door to be opened.
The next to arrive was Ms Bright Smile; I asked her why she had already spent a year on this course. She explained she had a problem with reading, couldn’t read the questions quick enough, and to add to her problems the computer crashed on the day of her exam. Therefore, they had allowed her to take the course again. I asked her what she thought of Mr C’s abilities to teach.
“He’s laid back, isn’t he?” she said.
“I’m finding it unnerving when he tells us he doesn’t understand grammar. How on earth can I possibly understand it all, if the teacher can’t?”
She laughed. “Yes, I know, what you mean.”
Then Mr C arrived. “I’m two minutes early,” he said brightly.
“How very unlike you,” Ms Bright Smile said laughingly.
“This week I’m more organised,” Mr C said as he sat down at his desk. Then he started telling us about a class he took on Tuesday. They had talked about what were the most important things that had been invented in the last two hundred years.
Ms Bright Smile interrupted him and said. “What has that got to do with us?”
“Oh, I just thought it was interesting. We decided it was the plastic shopping bag. It’s just something you don’t think about.
“And?” said Ms Bright Smile.
“I thought it was interesting, that’s all. Anyway, okay. To start with we’ll look at prepositions,” he said as he handed his ubiquitous BBC Skillswise worksheets to the class.
“Now prepositions are quite simple. They tell you where things are. The time as in for, since, ago and before, and there’s not a lot more that you can say about them. They are not as exciting as nouns. Right now, here’s an exercise you can do, if you want to. It’s up to you. Can anyone tell me what an adjective is?”
Someone said, “It’s a describing word, isn’t it?”
“That’s right, it’s a describing word. You couldn’t write anything without them. Now I would like you to write a short… Err, no, err, right think of a person, and then describe them, using adjectives.”
Mr C made his way around the class asking each of us to describe the person we had thought of. He then stopped and started to talk about Claire having a new car. Then stopped again and started talking about where you needed to place the adverb. He changed the subject again, and said, “No, you can’t say that… mmm, right okay. I would like you to write a description without adjectives.
We all looked from one to another quite unsure what was going on.
Mr C laughed. “Okay, that was a trick, you can’t do it. Writers use them all the time. I’ve a short story I’d like to pass around for you all to read. I didn’t like it. Maybe I should have made more copies. Okay, I won’t do that. Right, here’s a list. I’ve not heard of this before. It’s known as ‘The Dolch List’.”
Mr C handed out another sheet with two lists on it. A list of important everyday words e.g. On, off, salt, sugar, Tea, Coffee, Front, Back etc. A list of important words e.g. A, I, It, the, All, be, for, his, on, so, etc.
Then he talked about poetry, telling us they are important and they use adjectives. “Poems don’t have to rhyme, though they do have to be written in a certain way.” He handed a sheet with a poem written by Spike Milligan. “I’m sure you all know who he is,” he said brightly.
We read the poem, and Mr C told us he found writing poems difficult, but if any of us would like to have a go, please do try.
“Right, I would like you all to write a paragraph using adjectives. From one of these three: (A) A lady going upstairs.
(B) A man crossing the road.
(C) A bottle of milk falling down a step.
(D) A Cat drinking milk.”
Yes, I know there are four in the list, but he said three and wrote four. After we all sat writing out our short paragraphs we had to read them aloud. When he worked his way around the class and finally got to the Lady G who was sitting next to me. As she started to read hers out aloud, I noticed instead of using adjectives she had been using words from the list of prepositions.
Mr C gave out some exercises for the class to do, and gave me a short story to read through. I gave him my synopsis in exchange; he smiled and said it looked interesting.
While the rest of the class disappeared for the smoke break I asked, Lady G what she thought of Mr C? She sighed and said “I can’t keep up with him he’s all over the place.”
The young man called M join us in our chat, and said the same. I said “I was glad to know that it wasn’t just me.”
Once the class had returned and Mr C set everyone to work. He came to me to see what I thought about the short story. I told him I hadn’t finished reading it, but I did have a complaint. He breathed in deeply and said “Oh no.”
I told him, I found it hard to keep up with him as he leapt from one thing to another. I got confused and explained that when he was talking about adverb at the end of the last lesson I thought you just added ‘–ly’ to the word. However, when I worked through the notes, he had given us at home, I understood far more.
When Lady G, Young M, and I had been talking in the smoke break, Young M had explained to us that where you placed the word within the sentence also changed the word and meaning.
Taking the sentence: The girl smiled beautifully.
The girl had a beautiful smile.
The girl is smiling beautifully
Verb = adverb
Noun = adjective.
Once Mr C wrote it out on the board it made it a lot clearer. Even the classroom assistant said to Ms Bright Smile, “This is what you need to understand too.”
By the end of the lesson, he said he would slow down and make sure that we were all keeping up. I’m glad I told Mr C what I thought. Though, he did say on our first lesson he didn’t like writing things out on the white board. I do find I understand things much clearer when I can see how a sentence is constructed.
After everyone else had left, he went through part of my synopsis with me. He was very helpful, and I can now see I have a lot to learn about writing.
Mr C said, “Don’t you worry, we’ll have you winning the Manbooker Prize in no time at all.”
(I’m not sure whether this was said in jest or not🤷♂️)
Next week is half term, so I’ll be working back through everything I’ve learnt so far. Yes, I know, not a lot.
I hope you are keeping up with all of this 🙂 Be warned, I might start asking questions soon. Though this might just be my cry of desperation 😦
Have a great day Everyone. I’m off for a walk now.
I look forward to reading your comments.