Tag Archives: student

Hurdy Gurdy, Bork Bork Bork …

hurdy gurdyI am teaching The Teenager how to cook.

He’s quite possibly flying the nest next year and bit by bit, I’m teaching him valuable life skills, such as:

  • If you hang your towel up after a shower rather than leaving it in a heap on the floor, it will dry!
  • If you lock the door after coming in late, we might not be burgled!
  • If you bring the tower of bowls and plates down from your bedroom, you’ll make your long-suffering mum very happy!

It’s taking a while and we still haven’t cracked the loo-roll dilemma (i.e. replace an empty one) or the milk carton angst (when it’s finished, it doesn’t go back in the fridge, d’uh).

But I live in eternal hope.

Today, he was deep in thought, sprawled out on the sofa, fingers flying across his iphone keypad as I was trying to type up some uni notes for my first dissertation meeting.

‘Mum. Muuum. Mum. How many calories in an egg?’ he asked.


‘Four eggs?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Three eggs?’

‘I. Don’t. Know. Why?’

‘Well, I went to the gym this morning – see, look, muscles (obligatory muscle flex), I’ve got 1367 calories left to eat. Minus the protein shake. Plus the jelly snake I ate on the way home from school.’

‘That’s nice dear.’



‘You busy?’

Noooooo, why?’

‘It says here on my app that I should cook scrambled eggs with four slices of brown bread, no butter. How do I make it?’

I talked him through it. Twice.

‘I hate cracking eggs.’

‘Most people do.’

‘Can you help? Pwwwweeeaaassse?’

I abandoned my not-going-anywhere proposal, sighed deeply for dramatic effect and joined him in the kitchen. A carton of eggs lay decimated on the counter. There were four left un-bashed.

I demonstrated what he had to do and he massacred the remaining ones into a bowl.

‘Now whisk.’

‘Am whisking.’

‘Put your bread in the toaster. Heat your frying pan up, put in a drop of oil and wait for it to get warm. There. Now!’

‘Use the spatula. Spatula! Not the ladle. No, and not that one, that’s a potato masher.’

‘Mum, spatula is a funny word, isn’t it?’

‘Erm, yes, I guess so.’

I showed him how to sweep the eggs gently around the pan, then handed control to him. The eggs were pummelled into submission, not daring to become anything else but scrambled eggs.

Finally, all was assembled. He splattered the resulting meal with tomato sauce, grabbed a drink and ate it all within two minutes.

‘Mum! Mum. That was ace (a surprising, new word in his vocabulary). And it only took two minutes! Result.’

And with that, he tapped his food stats into his app, put his empty plate in the kitchen and sauntered upstairs.

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What Have I Done?

scooby snackWell, my MS-versary passed without major incident. I ended a very pleasant evening out still talking fairly intelligently to my friends rather than random trees or street signs (it has been known).

Life was looking good. I was in a good place, feeling, um, good.

Until an email pinged on my phone. A weighty document from the university, detailing a reading list, term dates, rules, regulations, how to get a student ID card (yay!) and plagiarism warnings.


Have I been a bit too hasty in signing up for an MA? Will my brain have the last laugh? I scanned the book list, the phrases ‘developing effective analysis and argument’, ‘critical thinking skills’, ‘Harvard referencing’ leaping out at me. Assignments include a 6,000 word novel chapter, a 3,000 short story and a 10,000 word dissertation.

Perhaps my expectations have been a little on the low-expectation side. I imagined Creative Writing to be, well, creative and artistic. I had a vision of myself scribbling important thoughts in a battered notebook with a lilac pen. I would be sitting in a dingy cafe wearing fingerless gloves and studenty clothes. Me and The Teenager would cook beans on toast and lentil curry on alternate nights, warmed by the glow of our last candle. Perhaps we would visit the market at the end of the day to pick up plums and turnips that had fallen on the floor.

The last time I critically analysed anything, it was a letter from my neurologist detailing the sorry state of my brain, and even then I had to Google the long words. This course would be a whole different brain-game. Am I really up to it?

In a bid to calm down, I listened to my ‘You Are Intelligent and You Can Do It!’ relaxation thingie. Unfortunately this left me more stressed as I couldn’t count down my Stairway To Success without losing track of where I was. And when the American voice told me I was a worthy and special being, all I heard was ‘you are a special bean’. I snorted with laughter and missed the next bit about creating compartments in my mind where I could store important information. Gah.

In a fit of optimism,  I ordered everything from my reading list and I have a pot of freshly-sharpened pencils on my desk. Am I ready for September? About as ready as I was for my lumbar puncture….

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