“What do you do, then, if you don’t watch TV?”
One of my opening gambits with new classes every year is the simple statement that I don’t do TV. ‘We might as well get it out of the way, folks.’ I loathe, truly loathe, the way it commands all my senses, to the exclusion of anything else. I usually read with mood music, I can type listening to something too (it’s Pink Floyd‘s Brick In The Wall at the moment), but I simply dislike TV as a way to spend my precious spare time. Reading, no, reading is NOT the same.
The response to my statement varies, usually according to the age of the students, but often there are gasps of horror, and invariably I am asked what I do with my time – almost as if there can be nothing as fulfilling as staring, slack-jawed, at a screen, passively consuming whatever dumbed-down crap is being served up.
Usually, the question is answered by some bright spark in the class – something along the lines of:
“He’s an English teacher – he reads, don’t he!”
Which may sound like an obvious answer, but in my experience often isn’t. Not all English teachers are into books, it has to be said. But I am. Despite the sniggers from the students.
And now, I find increasingly that I don’t just read, but I am beginning to write, too. It’s a bit of a surprise to find myself 100 not out on this site. It’s satisfying, and cathartic, to write – I miss my uni days, and would be writing in a more academic style if I had time and access to the same research materials as I once did, but this will do, for now – and I get twitchy when I’ve not paid attention to the blog for a while. I’m enjoying the challenge of the Ponytail Shakespeare project, even though I get frustrated when my writing can’t keep up with my reading of the plays.
Reading is the thing and pretty much the whole of the thing, though – always has been, and always will be.
What do I get out of it? This.
For years I’ve lived a double life.
In the day I do my job,
I ride the bus,
Roll up my sleeves with the hoi polloi.
But at night I live a life of exhilaration,
Of missed heartbeats and adrenaline,
And, if the truth be known,
A life of dubious virtue.
I won’t deny I’ve been engaged in violence,
Even indulged in it.
I have maimed and killed adversaries,
And not merely in self defence.
I have exhibited disregard for life,
And savoured every moment.
You may not think it to look at me,
But I have commanded armies,
And conquered worlds.
And though in achieving these things
I have set morality aside,
I have no regrets.
For though I’ve led a double life
At least I can say,
I have lived.