Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tried it once and then liked it, and tried it again

January 2007.

A spectacular personality clash with a new boss (and by that I mean that I am great and she was an atrocious cuntgoblin) leads to me being laid off from a TEFL job in a horrible school in Dublin. Dumb luck means that I get a new job very quickly that pays double what I was getting before. This also means teaching in a secondary school. Dealing with teenagers every day. Being accountable for my actions. Not being hung over in class any more (or at least not openly talking about it). Moving out of my theoretical 'lad-flat' in Ranelagh and moving home. Driving to work.

These days I cruise around the place like Lewis Hamilton after popping his cherry, but back then I was only learning, and had to drive to work in 'Little Red', my mother's Nissan Micra. I'd drive the ten miles of nasty, meandering, narrow roads every morning, then park up the road from the school and try to find the balance between nervous nausea and too-much-fucking-nicotine-nausea. About two and a half cigarettes at that time of day, I found. I won't name the part of the world I was in, but they were strange, resentful little inbred mountain children I was teaching, for the most part. Sometimes it was fine, but for the most part I returned home with my white knuckles gripping the steering long after I'd parked at home, unable to get out of the car for another five minutes, inhaling and exhaling loudly to myself. Then, ashen-faced, I'd sneak around the back of the house for my last smoke of the day.

I've now spent too long setting the scene.

Point is, the music that soundtracked this time in my life. Little Red, being from the nineties, had a tape deck rather than a CD player. I can rarely stand the crap tunes and witterings of daytime radio, and the place I taught was so remote that you even lost reception from the mainstream stations once you'd reached the point of no return in your journey. So cassettes were really my only option. Unfortunately, most of my tapes had perished when my sixteen year-old misadventures with Bacardi and Coke on a school night had taught me that yes, that feeling in my stomach was the impending return of that evening's spaghetti bolognaise and yes, next time a toilet would be a better receptacle for it than a my tape collection, which included a prized copy of Now 29. My mother's collection in her car consisted largely of Sting and, shudder, Phil Collin, so that was about as useful as a cock-flavoured lollipop.
Fortunately a couple of decent tapes of mine had survived the eruption, including REM's Out of Time. So, I cruelly overplayed this album morning and afternoon, and it became the soundtrack to nervousness, fear of the roads, and fear of the kids. Music often takes me back to a certain periods of my life, and this provides a particularly strong example. I hadn't been able to listen to it since.

I'm a sophisticated fellow who now has such gems on CD, too. I've no stereo of any kind in my car at the moment, but it dawned on me the other day when I was about to undertake a longish drive that I could now play music off my new laptop. Out of Time needed to be reclaimed, to have new associations with better things. So I played it for a stint of my journey and now, just like that, instead of nerves and nicotine it sings to me of the Naas road and new beginnings.

21 comment(s):

Helen said...

Hey Andrew

Long time no see but I felt compelled to leave a comment all the same. I came across your blog through bebo and find it very interesing reading...Anyway getting back to the point and why I had to comment was that every time I hear Gold Lion from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs I can clearly picture you in a skirt (which left little to the imagination, lovely hairy legs etc) at Katie and Mat's Tarts and Vicars party doing a stellar bit of air guitar! I don't think I could get anything to replace that image even if I wanted to.

C'est La Craic said...

Thats why I don't tell my friends about my blog.
Out of time is a great album but I prefer Automatic myself.
I've never understood how people could want to be a teacher in a secondary school. If I found myself in front of a class containing myself as a teenager I would promptly kick my own ass. It's the same with all the lads who were thugs and bullies in school, they all joined the Gardai.

jothemama said...

Ahh, I made my husband come rescue me when I nearly drove onto the motorway on a huge roundabout near Walkinstown.

White knuckled, indeed. And I backed into another teacher's car first day of teaching practice.

Learning to drive and learning to teach. Sometimes when I'm cruising along on automatic, doing my make up, eating cereal (joke) I can't believe I made it to that point, remembering thinking I'd never get out of a car not covered in sweat.

Please god I never have to teach TEFL again, pah!

Sarah Gostrangely said...

Beautiful post Andrew.

Never saw the Naas road as particularly epic and hopeful but glad you did.

Excellent word in "cuntgoblin". I shall be appropriating that in my daily speech, if at all possible.

Also, what is wrong with cock-pops?

She Likes It Loud said...

My car is a 2003 but it came with a cassette/cd player. I got a cassette adapter/charger for my IPOD for like $14.00. It's flawless. I have kept most of my '90s cassettes though. Jesus and Mary Chain, Stone Roses, Teenage Fanclub, Sonic Youth, Ride, ahhhh...remember the new cassette smell? Like perfumed tortillas.

Andrew said...

Helen - Hey, good to hear from you. I was quite the air guitar queen that night, i can't imagine why anyone would want to replace that image.

CLC - yeah, i'm more of an automatic man myself, but didn't have it on tape. Or if I did, it perished in the Bacardi incident.

Jo - I dunno, I think if they paid more I'd happily do TEFL instead of this stuff. Marginally less chance of being assaulted, i think. You certainly get told to fuck off less. or, at least, you don't understand when they tell you to fuck off.

Sarah - Thanks. Nothing epic or hopeful about the Naas road but plenty of those qualities about the person at the end of it.
As for cock-pops, they're just not my bag really. But you go right on ahead.

SLIL - Nice collection! But, see, I always favour the unscented tortillas so I've no idea what oyu're talking about.
as for the cassette ipod adapter, I did actually have one of those, it just suited my story better not to mention it. I found it far from flawless though, and there's always a danger of veering off the road when you're changing track.

Rosie said...

there's only one thing to listen to en route to Naas...

CHOON!

me glock's like me cock, shootin' bullets double-time...

quality.

Rosie said...

(be sure to watch to the end for the Barry Scott skit. fried gold!)

jothemama said...

Wow, I never got told to fuck off!

Maybe my granny was right...

Darren said...

90's tunes are still a huge part of what I listen to on a regular basis. Love 'em.

Ah, glorious glorious REM.

sineadkeogh said...

Ah, I remember my micra. I drove it to Glendalough once with 4 people from college and had to go uphill in 2nd gear at a crawl. God love you going anywhere near a mountain or even a small hill in one.

Andrew said...

Rosie - Em, yeah, no speakers here but I'll give that a bash. My glock is a lot like my cock...

Jo - You're not a bona fide success in the field of education til you've been told to fuck off at least a dozen times.
And grannies are always right.

Darren - Sure i know that, remember our 90s evening after the Jay Z gig?

Sinéad - Yeah, 2nd gear is your best bet for most of those hills on the way to Glendalough. In any vehicle. i'm surprised you weren't down to 1st gear and a bit og old-fashioned pushing with 4 in a Micra.
Still, they're dependable little bastards.

Radge said...

This is great, a fine post to read when I should be working. Out Of Time always recalls the book Flowers In The Attic. Read it as a kid with the cassette playing. Strange. Especially 'Country Feedback'.

Tessa said...

I spent most of the 80s driving a red Mini from my flat in Dun Laoghaire to my sister the skinny cow's farm in the Wicklow Hills, listening to cassettes of Joan Armatrading along the way. And I never remember having to change down, no matter how steep the slope. Ah, they don't make singers or little cars like that any more ... wipes her rheumy eyes with gnarled knuckles.

B said...

That's a ?!$$-poor REM album though... especially in comparasion to murmur, reckoning, fables of the reconstruction, life's rich pageant, document, automatic and new adventures in hi-fi

jothemama said...

Hey, your nasty boss didn't begin with a K did she?

Andrew said...

Radge - Cheers, you're very kind. I haven't read Flowers in the Attic, must give it a look. I adore country feedback, it's not only the best song on that album, it's just one of the best songs by anyone, ever.

Tessa - Hey. Sounds like good times. But nowadays Minis are all sexy and desirable (and expensive) again.

B - I was listening to Reckoning only this morning and thinking how bloody brilliant it is. out of time is far from my favourite album of theirs, but nothing that contains Country Feedback can ever be dismissed as piss-poor, even if you did come up with a really clever way of writing 'piss'.

Jo - Y'know, I can't for the life of me think of the cuntgoblin's name right now. I'm generally very good with names but sometimes the mind spares you life's more unfortunate details. It'll come back to me in a nasty dream, no doubt, so I'll let you know then.

narocroc said...

Atrocious Cuntgoblin... I love it. So poetic and full of bile all at once.

?!$$
Brilliant B'Dum, I shall certainly be borrowing that!

MJ said...

Been away from lots of blogs lately so missed this (great) post! Everyone's right, cuntgoblin's a fantabulous word which I plan to steal.

And as for those crazy mountain kids, I'm intrigued...dying to know which school you had the "pleasure" of learning to teach in... I think I can narrow it down to about 3 possibilities...

Andrew said...

Thanks, MJ. do you know the inner parts of Co. Wicklow? It's a little town that begins with an R.

MJ said...

Moowah ha ha I love it when I'm right.