Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Week 5...Nostril Nightmare...

Week 5)  Nostril nightmare.

A greatly reduced turnout greeted my soggy appearance in God's Waiting Room today, despite the fact that much objection was made previously regarding taking this Wednesday off.
As I’m the only person directly affected by having to think of alternative activities for my offspring during a significantly damp October morning I was suitably peeved at this mass absenteeism.
Needless to say, Space Invader and Know It All (sporting his latest t-shirt promoting his unrivalled knowledge of the Kariba Dam) were already in attendance.
A trudge through the millenniums accompanied by Neanderthal man was the treat in store for today's intrepid exploration.
Phrases like Homo Erectus (or Homo Ewectus, as the afflicted one put it) failed to raise an eyebrow with my ancient and humourless classmates, but I confess to having to contain a rather juvenile snigger.
It was while I was inspecting Homo Decrepit on centre stage for any obvious signs of evolution that I noticed it……
What, I asked myself, is the correct protocol for informing a senior lecturer that he has a bat in his cave?
This awkward condition, although nowhere near as potentially embarrassing as a flying low incident, provided me with somewhat of a dilemma.
To enlighten him directly would appear a tad familiar. "Excuse me Sir but are you aware that you have a bogey up your nose?" is, I imagine, not something by and large expressed aloud in polite circles.
Sniffing loudly and deliberately only drew attention to myself, and away from the genuine nostril nightmare, especially as I inadvertently inhaled enough old people particles to set off a rather distracting sneezing episode.
Once serenity had been restored to its former glory, and all tutting had ceased, I decided to attempt to ignore the matter in the hope it would go away. However, I found myself inexplicably drawn to this nasal nasty and for the life of me I couldn’t avert my eyes.
Coffee break couldn’t come quickly enough.
The lads duly joined Space Invader and me at the furthest table in the hall, as it has now become apparent that the other females in the tribe have curiously rejected us.
I was somewhat dumbfounded to witness Know It All top up his Nescafe with an extraordinarily generous slug of brandy! Noticing my stunned expression, he commented that he "couldn't possibly drink the awful coffee here without it".
"Try the tea", would've been the overly obvious answer, but I chose to ignore the tedious old lush.
Back in class I was thankful to note the absence of any bats in any caves.
The irony of hearing about the evolution of speech from one who had not sufficiently evolved himself in order to pronounce his R's, was not lost on me.
I could hardly contain myself at the mention of the Cewebwal Cawtex let alone modified lawynx.
The term hunter-gathewew was equally entertaining.
Predictably this week's visual extravaganza consisted largely of maps (in the absence of any actual photographs of pre-historic man) and numerous close-ups of old bones.
I’ve now arrived at the milestone that stands a quarter of the way through this self-imposed punishment, and am left to speculate if, by the end of the course, I will indeed be four times more jaded with the subject matter than I am at present.
Only time will tell…..

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Week 4.....Time Flies...

Week 4) Time flies.

No it doesn't!
Pterodactyls fly (or more accurately flew)….. time comes to a grinding halt at 10am on Wednesdays.
I inadvertently bumped into space invader as she arrived this morning, and immediately the old bat chose to engage me in conversation about the weather (wet!). "Jolly good for the garden" she chirped.
Bearing in mind my complete inability to photosynthesise, her over-enthusiasm was somewhat lost on the cold and soggy peroxide blonde that stood before her.
Know it all was attired in yet another absurd t-shirt bearing worldly advertisements of far flung continents, and boring everyone to death with his talk of badgers (by way of a change from his past voyages of discovery).
My eager anticipation of dinosaur talk was marred by further plate tectonics, but we did finally hear about “Bolide” …..allegedly a giant meteor that brought about the demise of the dinosaurs. It made a welcome change from `earth rock` at any rate.
For reasons best known only to himself, the lecturer likened the more belligerent beasts that roamed the planet, to Norman Bishops! This surreal comparison threw me considerably, and my mind rapidly wandered off into BBC comedy shows in the genre of Monty Python.
It was at this inopportune point, that I could no longer ignore the lecturer's minor speech impediment (manners generally forbid me to mock the afflicted) and phrases like "Gweat Bawwiew Weef" and "Afwican Wain Fowest" left me in mortal danger of hysterics.
In a futile attempt to suppress a giggle I chose to cough. Not a particularly wise move as it turned out, as before long the entire class were alarmingly spluttering out of control in some sort of psychologically-induced mass bronchial fit, and the only realistic solution was to head for the canteen for a premature Nescafe.
With a somewhat guilty conscience, I opted to share a table with a quiet and unassuming gentleman in a rather desperate attempt to avoid attracting any more gratuitous attention to myself. Unfortunately, for my solitary companion, space invader, know it all AND the lecturer all followed me like a bizarre and geriatric version of the Pied Piper. Before the poor unfortunate soul had the opportunity to beat a hasty retreat, the canteen rang with the booming "When I was in Africa..." and our gang had unenviably become the class bores.
Suitably revived, and back in class, we raced through the Triassic period with somewhat alarming speed, and out through the Cretaceous period, all in a matter of minutes!
Darwin would indeed be turning in his grave.
Much to my immense irritation, our very own fossil spent Act Two noisily hunting through her gigantic handbag for boiled sweets, wrapped in the noisiest cellophane I have ever heard, in an effort to curtail the remnants of the cough I’d inflicted upon her earlier. This resulted in me missing so many important dates and facts I eventually gave up on the biro and notepad idea altogether.
There is something mildly comforting in the space beneath a big blue brolly, and while I trudged home, cautiously avoiding the ponds that were once mere potholes, I couldn't help but ponder upon the fact that somewhere on this largely uncharted planet dinosaurs probably do still survive.
It's a wonder that know it all hasn't seen them.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Week 3...Brian...

Anyone who has in his, or her, possession such a vast quantity of slides demonstrating the continental drift is clearly in denial of some underlying personal anguish. (Purist Freudians may even be so bold as to suggest a leaning towards something profoundly maternal and faintly sexual). Obsessions with Pangea and the subsequent creation of Laurasia and Gondwanaland surely can’t be healthy, even for hardcore geologists.
I conclude, therefore, that my tutor requires urgent therapy before he drives us all to distraction.
And what, in Gods name, were the WEA thinking of issuing the trembling old fart with a laser pen?
Pointy sticks are dangerous enough in the hands of over enthusiastic pensioners, let alone retina-destroying weapons of dubious legality.
Know it all was decked out in his finest t-shirt of Malaysia, should anyone be left in any doubt at all as to his well-travelled past and therefore infinite worldly expertise.
Bored utterly rigid by the endless stream of references to tectonic plates, or perhaps merely hypnotised by the flickering red light than flitted across the Atlantic Ocean ad nausium (as opposed to the rigidity of PCP or Plastic Chair Paralysis), I managed to somehow survive the first half and reward myself with a much-earned 40p Nescafe.
Unfortunately the blue rinse brigade in the canteen had neglected to furnish the hall with any tables and chairs, much to the disapproval of my distinctly peeved classmates.
Not remotely fazed by the lack of such home comforts I chose to park my weary behind on some steps at the far end of the room. Unfortunately my space invader had taken it upon herself to follow my lead, and unsettled me further more by endeavouring to strike up a conversation.
Her opening line of "I'm almost 80 you know" admittedly threw me a little.
I still remain uncertain as to whether she assumed her advancing years would automatically endear me to her. It didn't.
Clutching at straws for an appropriate retort all I could come up with was "I'm 41". Not exactly riveting stuff I confess. Clearly my lack of conversational prowess failed dismally to impress space invader, as she chose to ignore my reply and directly wandered off I the general direction of the nearby lavatories.
Back in class, and with the ominous prospect of even more slides of maps, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the company of a new best friend in the shape of a bug. It appeared on my notepad from an unknown direction, brown in colour, and no bigger than an ant, but it was love at first sight. Hindered by the lack of a microscope I was a tad gender-confused, but chose to call `him` Brian.
Brian and I played for what seemed hours. I drew him a wobbly blue path and encouraged him along it very gently using the non-inky end of my biro. He appeared to enjoy this very much, and encouraged by his positive reactions I added some little blue houses and a blue tree. We laughed, we cried (she's losing it....!) in fact so distracted was I, that it wasn't until I heard the words "single celled organisms" that I realised that we had finally reached recent history (well, 3,500 million years ago anyhow). Hurrah.
My joy was, however, short-lived when the word "glacier" put paid to my delight, and yet again talk instantaneously returned to Supercontinents.
By the time I had remembered my chum and his enchanting new two-dimensional world, he’d vanished. I was devastated. Brian and I were no more.
It was with a heavy heart that I left Castle Methodist Church today, but I shall return, if only on the questionable promise from my tutor that we shall without a doubt have dinosaurs next week (presumably something all my fellow WEA colleagues have first hand experience of). I can now innocently spend the rest of my week fantasizing about enormous mammals devouring octogenarians.