Today is a momentous day…Aideen has organised me to teach some of my pupils online! Those who know me well, know how significant this is and will be unsurprised to hear that I was feeling a degree of apprehension. To fill in those who do not know me personally, I do not possess a mobile phone, laptop or computer. There is an Ipad somewhere on my desk, last used when I first got chickens (6+ years ago) to look up pictures of chicken poo (I was worried about the chicken at the time). There is a microwave in the shed but I do not use it, we do not have a dish washer and my kitchen gadgets (which do not amount to much) include an electric whisk which belonged to my mum and must be at least 40 years old!
I’ve never used a cash machine and when I had to do some class room music teaching, I would stick any music I wished to use on the computerised white board with blue tack! I am not like this for any political or ideological reason although I do believe in a simple life. I have just been fortunate enough to be able to do my job and live my life with limited technology. I do not like the idea of social media, I do not want to be contactable all the time (my phone has an answer machine). I’ve never played a computer game and I prefer to talk to people properly, face to face. If anyone is wondering how does the blog happen – I write it by hand, someone (usually Aideen, thank you Aideen) types and posts it. I am a strange creature who would probably have fitted in very well working in a walled garden in the last century! Luckily only three of my 33 pupils wanted to try an online lesson, the rest felt it would not be the same as having a ‘face to face’ lesson and were happy to wait until September. Aideen (marvellous girl) set me up on Skype and now I also have an Email address, however, I’m only intending to use this in a very limited capacity because I also do not approve of the way sending and answering Emails takes up so much time, which can become crippling for a business (as is experienced by poor Patrick).
The pupils have sent through copies of their music and I tried not to think too much about this new enterprise into the virtual world and try to distract myself with some gardening. Unfortunately, Grandad has had a difficult few days and got me up three times during the night and I was feeling quite tired. A district nurse arrived to change his catheter, which was quite a lengthy visit but probably a good thing for him to be checked out. Sadly, he is becoming increasingly confused and will buzz his buzzer repeatedly because he cannot remember when he last saw someone (even if we have only left him 15 mins previously!).
Today, due to these many distractions not much gets done in the garden. I plant out some beautiful New Guinea impatiens into containers outside the front door. Whilst I am out there I am thoroughly scolded by a wren who has decided to nest in the base of one of the organ pipes that are set sculpturally in this front bed. There is a neat round hole at the back of each pipe about 18” above the ground, which Patrick drilled to feed in cement to secure the pipe to its supporting rod. The wren was treating this as the entry point to a giant nesting box. The worrying thing is that the bed is full of big leafy ferns and hostas, perfect cover for one of our cats to hide and then pounce on the birds. I will have to pray for their safety because there is little else that can be done about either the natural instincts of cats or the unwise choice of nesting sites of birds. I plant out the ancient metal bucket that resides by the back door and realise it is time to make myself look presentable and organise myself for my first foray into the world of online tuition!
Aideen, very kindly, stands by as my technical advisor and to my amazement the three lessons go by relatively smoothly, only one suffered from a delayed connection. I was pleasantly surprised that my students did appear to find the lessons helpful and wanted to have a lesson next week. It was lovely to see and hear them, I have missed them, but it is fortunate that it is only a few students requiring this option. It would be very hard to teach all my pupils this way.
At the end of this online adventure, I am very relieved and I walk around the kitchen garden to check on all the newly planted seedlings, luckily it is still quite cool and they look OK. I feel rather unsettled, seeing my pupils has reminded me that I cannot stay cocooned away for ever and I will have to try to return to work at some point. (At the moment, you are not allowed to teach privately at home). Presently only Patrick (in a shielded capacity) and James are working, covid19 has decimated the work of the rest of the family and we are all unemployed. Thank goodness we are as self-sufficient as we are, we might have to survive on honey, jam, eggs, fruit and veg and maybe mushrooms…we are lucky, it could be a lot worse!