Friday, 12 October 2007

musings and observations

Another full day at the nearest college. I hadn't met this tutor before and he'd phoned in saying he'd be late, so one of the others started off the class with some ten minute short poses for their sketch book. Meaning that I met this slim young chap in rather unusual circumstances, standing naked in front of his slightly embarrassed class of mixed adolescents. I think we both coped admirably, most professional of us. Later he told me he was late because he'd witnessed a major pile-up on the drive to work and had stopped to administer first aid and give a witness statement.
So after this dramatic start the rest of the day withered away into boredom. A half-hour standing pose challenged my muscle control a little, not aided by the stuffiness of the room and my rather late night, which meant I was trying not to fall asleep on my feet as the time went on. This was followed by a sitting pose until the end of the morning session, with a five minute break every half hour. Humdrum stuff, just hard on the muscles.
In the lunch-break he accompanied me to the personnel office where I handed in the first lot of forms (applying for the job I was already doing), realised I had forgotten my photo ID, and picked up the new form - how to get paid. I went back to the Art building for lunch and filled it in, followed by some musing...
I'd forgotten how much I like being in places where people learn - colleges, universities. Even schools I suppose. People learning fires me up, in a slightly different way to people creating, but roughly similar. At the next table a woman is doing her homework, consulting a Spanish/English dictionary. Lecturers breeze in and out in their moments free from responsibility and (useful) stress. Students chatter in groups and discover themselves anew - a lifelong journey indeed. And I am here too - neither one nor the other, privileged observer who is here to be observed.
Did the C19th anthropologists ever wonder how much their studied tribes learnt about an alien culture? Observer and observed are not always separate. All human interaction is a two-way flow.
The afternoon session was with an exclusively female class. The tutor told me they were very relieved to have a female model this week. They'd found it difficult to be faced with a naked wrinkly old man. The format was exactly the same as the morning session though, and equally as boring and taxing for me. Never mind. I might get paid soon.
Thursday dawned with very thick mist and a golden sunshine trying to break through. I had to find a new venue so left very early and joined the ghostly lines of vehicles snaking their way across the Levels. Turning off towards the village I stopped for a while by a bridge to observe swans and the multitude of spider webs glistening with water drops. Birds sang continuously and the water roared over a weir. I got out my diary with the scribbled directions. As I continued on my way it became apparent that I'd taken the wrong turning towards the village, and was in fact approaching from the opposite direction, but after some confusion I did enjoy the drive and the discoveries, and was still early enough to read an article or two in my new writing magazine.
The group and their tutor were like old friends already, they'd simply moved venue to a smaller,warmer and more modern hall. They are having an exhibition together soon and are going to send me an invite for the private view, which I'm already quite excited about. I might even see some drawings or paintings of myself exhibited, properly, on a wall, for all to see... success of a sort, I suppose.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

new term, new college

Not a very exciting heading, is it? Sorry, bit sleepy still, overslept this morning, after going to bed at 10.30 last night too... must have been overdoing things... new man in my life, that sort of stuff.
I did 2 hours last week at a new venue but with my favourite tutor, and started a totally new job this week - at the nearest college, the one I said I wouldn't work at because my son goes there. He could do without the embarrassment. But I had a desperate phone call from one of the tutors, they were having great difficulty finding models, could I possibly do a whole day (6 hours)... or two...
Well, the first whole day was cancelled due to a flood in the Art Dept, but this week I turned up bright and early on a Monday morning to meet him at Reception. After checking with son to make sure none of his mates are doing 2nd year Art courses.
We walked across the entire college (fortunately it had just stopped raining) to the newish Art block and I was introduced to the dedicated Life Drawing room. Ah, what luxury - compared to my usual working conditions. No battered toilets or poky dusty stockrooms to change in, but a little cubicle with shelf and chair and box full of (clean) material for draping etc. The class had only seen one real live model before - male - as the previous week they'd been drawing mannikins, so I did my usual 'total nonchalance, gaze out of the window' act while they got used to me. Nice easy session - ten minutes standing so they could sketch proportions, followed by a long pose sitting upright in a chair, with breaks. During the long break we went to the staff room where I met other tutors and had coffee.
At the lunch break he took me over to the Admin block and we started on the tortuous procedure of giving me a job... the first two lots of forms were a formal application and a police disclosure form, which I am to return next time I'm in and we'll start the second round... wonder when I might get paid then - in time for Christmas, perhaps?
Talking of money, I'm still engaged in the delights of re-applying for Housing Benefit - for two weeks last April and the period from the end of May until September. I managed to send off two letters last week and a completed form yesterday, and am now awaiting Round Five (hoping I have the stamina to stay in the ring until I can achieve the knock-out blow and regain some semblance of sanity). I've discovered that I need to limit my income, basically - can't do too much work in one week. Ah well, I suppose the Universe is trying to give me a message in all this...
Monday afternoon was a repeat of the morning session, but with a different tutor and class. I went home quite happy with the day and looking forward to returning next week. I think this could become my favourite college work. Better conditions AND higher pay than the previous one (slightly...)
Tuesday evening I went off for two hours for a session with the inspirational tutor - the first of the term, as they'd had to re-schedule due to their new Art block not yet being ready... so it was back to the Annex where last year's evening classes had been held. Very cold room, she'd brought two heaters which helped, but I was still cold by the end of the evening - car heater on full as I drove through grey drizzle. Lots of forms for everyone to fill in of course - except she hadn't brought any for me to claim my wages, so she'll get someone to send them to me. I met another Model, who appears to be the partner of one of the artists; she asked for my phone number and wants to call me for a chat, and to pass on work we can't fit in. Friendly woman.
And tonight (Wed) I'm off to see my favourite tutor again for Adult Learning and Leisure. Hmm, too much work this week, better do a lot less next week then - I think they average out four or five weeks to work out your 'usual' income.
Apart from work, I went to a private view on Sunday of a textile art exhibition, wrote two new poems, and attended a poetry reading on Monday night. Thursday I'll be reading my winning entry at a conference and picking up the cheque - which covers expenses and a bit more, but is hardly riches. Good chance to network though.
And next week my Diploma course begins.
What it is to be lazy. Where's that novel I was losing myself in earlier, it's time for another session...