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It’s the time of term when things naturally — or rather, normally — start to disintegrate. All of the best laid plans, the thought-through teaching objectives, the pastoral care (you really do care, after all) look distinctly frayed. And not just around the edges. Monday saw me very nearly just put my head down and ask for a nap — in the middle of class. Times like these students really are worth more than I can give them. Forgive me.

However. After a morning in heated discussion over Sharon Olds and Michael Laskey — lots of heat — and an afternoon rather revelling in student accomplishment in the form of MA portfolios, I am exhausted yes, but more than that, somewhat disoriented. I look to small things again to keep me focussed: the fine new threshold that Wonderful Builder put in the outer lobby today, the way that E set to his homework without being reminded, the way that M went for kitchen towel to clean up the milk the cats spilt — without being asked.

And now I remember with unadulterated pleasure the highlight of a short hour’s last minute wander around TK Maxx on Sunday:

M high-tops

Sometimes the shoe fits. Really fits. And so there’s a bit of a toehold.


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.