“I have a few extra things”.
Not a surprise, really. He doesn’t understand the meaning of the bookmarks I made out of torn-up paper, nor my notes that I have written in pencil. Nor do I in all cases.
He can’t really see the screen. He wants to see what I have done. He wants to check. That’s OK. Almost certainly I’ve missed some things. I wasn’t going to go through it all again to check – with the problems I had had.
>However, the whole thing takes 3 hours. Half way through I ask if I can go out onto the balcony to have a cigarette. I can’t. There is a problem. “I will go downstairs”, I say, “I will be five minutes”.
“Would you like something to drink?”, he asks me. I say that I’ll have some water. “I have some very good juice”, he suggests. I say I’ll take the juice. I really don’t care – I just want a fag!
I come back. The juice, with ice (bless him) is on the counter where there is also one of those independent, 2 hob, electric deals. I notice there is no real cooker nor oven. I remind myself that, however crap my cooker seems to be, I don’t live like this. For the first time, as I drink the quite extraordinarily ordinary juice I can look around his kitchen. Of course, I SAY kitchen. In fact, apart from the very small workspace that holds the two-ring hob, the sink, the drainer of the sink and the fridge – there is nothing else. Well, there are the shelves to the left of the workspace which are open and contain, well, little. Some olive oil is all I actually notice. But there are other foodstuffs, just not much. There is a bowl containing what I assume to be salad on the drainer, covered by a plate.
He is there, at the only window (french doors, really), with one open, trying to explain to me why I couldn’t use the balcony. There’s one of those mesh screen to keep out zanzare. It is broken and won’t open. He is getting it fixed soon, apparently.
We go through the book, page by page. Even he doesn’t always understand the notes he made and so we argue for a bit until he realises that I am right. It’s difficult.
F phones me half way through. He’s going home; where am I? I explain. We didn’t see each other last night. I’m hoping that he decides to go round to mine and take the dogs out or something – I’m going to be here a while.
There are several bins under the kitchen sink and drainer – none with lids – but I guess it’s not a problem if the flat is only really big enough for you!
We continue through the book. I become a little frustrated by the time it is all taking. We find I made one mistake or, rather, did not correct one mistake of his. Damn! But I don’t think he really noticed. It is not baking in the flat but it is warm. Still, we don’t dislike each other and, I think, he is rather liking me. After all, I have done quite a good job on it. He was impressed that I remembered some of his ways of notation. I explain that he had explained it to me once – and that is usually enough.
It’s a little like my experience of the English teaching world. There are so many really crap people out there giving, at best, mediocre lessons, dragging down the prices and leaving people with an unhappy taste in their mouth and assuming that this is what all English teachers are like. Or, maybe, I’ve got it wrong – maybe I just put too much work into it and people really want mediocre at best?
Still, he’ll complain about my work at some time, I’m sure. That’s what people seem to do these days. I’m glad I’m a bit older really. Wouldn’t want to be 19 in this world. I know it sounds a bit depressing to read but I don’t mean it to be like that. Just stating a fact.
I find myself getting really tired. The ‘having one cigarette’ making me want more. He offers me a sweet from a jar. Beady eyes all lit up as if with excitement. I decline. I only chew gum because I can’t smoke. Otherwise I wouldn’t really bother with sweets at all.
He has a list of the pages on which there are to be other alterations. He forgets to check as we go through and so keep going back. Then he remembers and then he forgets. I try my best to explain the problem with the pages. With all the additions and deletions, the pages are all screwed up. The problem is that he references pages within the book so I don’t know if they will be the same. He isn’t bothered.
We reach the end and he triumphantly turns the last, blank, page. He has no idea how I feel but it’s OK. He asks about money. I explain the hours. The extra job of putting it onto the USB key I am to do at home as I have to wait for some woman to send me the font (it uses special Greek letters and so you need a special Greek font). Then I am to come and deliver the key to him. Another hour out of my way.
However, he pays me immediately. OK, I think he trusts me. I think he could see what I had done – and I made some suggestions – English phrases, which he seemed to like.
However, it is past 10 by the time I get home. I make a cup of tea and F texts to say that he has a headache so isn’t coming and am I coming to him. Ummmm. No, I’m not. I’m tired; still have to take the dogs out; I’ve had enough for the evening.
Still, in some inexplicable way, I quite enjoyed the job I have done.
And it’s another skill to add to all the others. And I get paid.
I fall into bed after midnight. Tomorrow I will be exhausted but that is life and one has got to get on with it and make the best of it for there is no other. Just like F, really – even if he does annoy me by not being there – he’s been working hard too so I should not complain – there is no other.