Tuesday, 27 March 2012


10.00 am -rush to appointment with Posh Agency in Piccadilly. There are brochures for Eton and Gordonstoun in reception. 'The difference with independent schools' she says 'might be the hours. You could be starting at 7.30 am and finishing at 6.00 pm...' I stifle a smile. Wonder what hours she thinks people work in state schools.

12.00 pm - killing time. Go for a coffee in Waterstones 5th floor cafe which has a beautiful view over London. I eavesdrop on a girl being interviewed at the next table. It's rotten having to sell yourself. But kind of reassuring to know we all sound the same when we're doing it.

The agency rings to say they might have a tenant. (This is good news as it's been empty nearly a month and I've dropped the price three times already.) Have lunch in St James' churchyard in the sunshine. Visit Fortnum's beautiful perfume department and squirt on Acqua di Palma. Wander down the Royal Arcade and spy Barbara Windsor at the end (tiny, smiley, blond hair piled high like a pineapple.)

2.00 pm tube to second not so posh agency in Cannon Street. I've inadvertently posted my CV on Reed. Thought I was just applying for a specific job, but it seems I've circulated it to the entire world and every agency in London has been calling.

I was a bit short with them on the phone but they've pursuaded me to come in. I don't want to because it's sunny outside, I'm having a nice time in Piccadilly in the sunshine. One of the benefits of doing part time supply is having sneaky days out in the sun like this. I'm so ambivalent about the teaching I must come across strangely in interview.

But the man I meet does tell me something useful about tax. 'You shouldn't be registered with two umbrella companies, there's no point and the tax man will think you've got two jobs. Nobody ever explains this properly... I get quite angry about it.' He tells me he used to teach in Barcelona too and we bond a bit. It also strikes me afterwards (I'm in professional work mode) that he's hot. HOT. This cheers me up and makes the trip seem worth it. They promise me lovely jobs in lovely schools, rainbows & kittens, etc etc. We'll see.

4.00 Back on tube, killing time in Angel. Admiring embroidered tat from India, the hippy stall holder tells me I smell like patchouli. I think she means it as a compliment. (NB Acqua di Palma should not smell like patchouli.) I'm in a lovely vintage clothes shop in Camden Passage when I feel a tingling sensation that I haven't felt since a teeanger... Whoosh. Sudden dramatic nosebleed. The lovely shop keepers come and bring me tissues and usher me to a chair as I try not to bleed all over their wooden floorboards. I feel as embarrassed as a kid wetting themselves in public. I can never darken the doors of Fat Faced Cat again.

4.30 pm Celebrating my nearly-have-tenants and nearly-have-work by clothes shopping. What? That's female logic.

4.40 pm - In Waitrose, (darlings) buying Heston's earl grey buns, the tingling returns. Another bastard nosebleed. This time two lovely shopkeepers hasten over and sit me down with tissues. They hover over me with concerned expressions until I wave them away.

5.00 pm. Open evening at a college for postgrad studies. They have wine and olives and Japanese rice crackers, I am impressed. I guess with admissions down they are treating potential students like customers these days, and trying to woo them in.

The course director talks about previous experience. "You don't need any" she says. "Why would you? You're here to learn about it..."

This makes me feel foolish when I've done all this chasing after voluntary placements. But they can't hurt, I guess. I speak to a current student. "They need people to do the course," she whispers. It seems easier than I thought it would be to get in. I thought it was another hoop to jump through. But it's just the funding I have to think about.

So will it be this autumn? Or next year? Will it be part time? Will I have to sell the flat to fund it? Will I get a job in the primary version of Eton as an art teacher? Will I give up on the idea of arts education, or printmaking, or library work?

My life is a kaleidoscope. I think about the different versions I've told to the different people I've met today. All the different aspects knocking into each other and forming a completely new pattern. I guess it was worth leaving my job and all the anxiety just to feel that.


  1. Whoa. Heavy. Please go to dr about nose.
    ps) tomorrow supposed to be hot - maybe hold off until Thursday before more interviews.

  2. I'm working tomorrow, but it's at the nursery, so it will be mostly outside...

  3. Oooo will you have to return to Cannon St to find out more about...tax?

  4. Nosebleed - get it checked, if you can.

    Once you've stopped randomly bleeding from the face, ask out the hot man.

    I love that strip of Islington High St / Camden Passage as much as I dislike upper street.

  5. I had a run of nosebleeds recently and I think it was nothing more sinister than a combo of allergies and my nose and everything in it being dried out (and subsequently scratchy). Do investigate though.

  6. Arabella,I've a feeling he is married. But I'm so dopey about these things, I didn't check.

    Miscommunicant, I think it's fine. It's just mortifying it happens in shops. I like that old pub in the Camden Passage, must check out a play there sometime. I left a comment on your post about Bathsheba but Blogger ate it - glad you were a gent & let her know, onwards and upwards...

    B - I think it's the same thing as I have a cold. Happened again in my local corner shop as I was at the till (again!) The woman on the counter said 'Can you go outside please.' !!! Henceforth I shall take my custom elsewhere.

  7. thanks. I try to be. I was trying to explain it to a (male) friend, who doesn't see the point - I said there's very rarely any reason to be cruel to someone. He still didn't agree.

    Blogger has been preventing me from leaving a comment on cultural snow, too. They keep giving me gibberish to type out and then blame me for not being able to read the fecking hieroglyphs in the picture.

  8. It's always good not to leave someone hanging. And to leave them with their dignity intact.

    Ah yes, the word verification. You know you can click it to get a new one, or you can click to hear an audio version, if it's unreadable. It is a faff though.