Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Creature

Wow, this is GCSE English Coursework from 1993 that I have just found! I have only corrected missing words, apart from this piece is entirely as the sixteen year old me wrote it! I'm pretty pleased with this short take to be honest, although I have no idea what I was getting at with the last paragraph!

I met him at a parents and teachers meeting actually, he was worried about his daughter. He came over to me after we had been served refreshments and introduced himself,
"May I introduce myself?" Certainly I said and he continued,
"My name is Bernard Butler, Burgess's father." I was fooled by his charm early on in our relationship,
"Ah yes your daughter is in my form," I looked up at him to make sure he was listening to me. This reflex came from teaching pupils with difficulties listening. At that moment I was hoping that burgess wasn't one of the awkward few. After feeling satisfied that he was listening I continued by enquiring as to what his problem was in the politest way possible. "How can I help you?" I asked with a well trained smile on my face. He frowned at me. I could see that he was mentally quizzing himself over my false smile. He consulted a piece of paper that he was holding and then looked up at me to continue,"She seems to be coming home with the same problem every evening." He paused as if he didn't want the next thing he said to spoil the first impression that I was getting of him. "She seems to be coming home every night very tired," he continued with a note of caution in his voice,"I was just wondering." He stopped and looked down at his scruffy piece of paper as if for some kind of childish comfort or security. I urged him on,
"You can discuss anything with me, a eight year old's education is very important and if things are not cleared up now then it could have a serious effect on Burgess's later education." It didn't seem to help and I felt snobbish for grabbing the chance to show off my public school education. After a while he continued but only then first putting in a apology for as what he probably saw as an insult to me and my teaching methods,
"Please don't think I blame you too much but," he stuttered again, "I was just wondering if it was if she was having any problems with you or any other members of staff or if she is being given to much work or anything," he concluded by looking up at me in a sorrowful fashion.

I could tell that he hadn't really said everything that he wanted to. It was as if he had sat at home for a long time thoroughly thinking out what he was going to say but when it came to saying it he failed terribly and surrendered to the pressure of the situation. I tried to help him out in the short time that was left before I had to be on my way home. I thought for a while and then said,
"Well I am afraid that I can't at the moment think of anything that is happening in my lessons that could be affecting her by making her tired but I will look into it for you." I felt as if I had been no help at all but he seemed satisfied. At the time I thought that this was because he genuinely contented with my reply but I was later to find out that it was because he had a heart cold as stone and the concern for his daughter Burgess wasn't genuine and the only problem was that it was keeping him awake or causing some other hassle that his ego considered damaging to himself.

I didn't think about him at all for at least the next two weeks and apart from the occasional check on his daughter Burgess it never crossed to think about him. A few days later it became clear why Burgess had been losing sleep. She had been out late at night and presumed that her father Mr.Butler didn't know this fact so I phoned him up to invite him in for a chat.

Anyway the matter with his daughter was soon sorted out and he invited me out to lunch as a sort of thank-you present. I kept putting it off but he seemed determined so in the end I submitted. He took me to a lovely restaurant and we had a nice chat and the topic of converse soon drifted far from that of his daughter and her academic abilities. We talked about past lovers and about the sort of people that we liked although we never actually got as far as using words as strong as love or romance. It was a pleasant meal and as I drove home I thought about how compatible we seemed. I couldn't help but feel a little bit attracted to him as he was the first man that I had met in a long while outside the school due to the new national curriculum coming into force. He seemed a nice enough eligible man but I decided I wasn't going to make the first move and if he never did then too bad.

For about two weeks he kept me waiting. For two weeks I was thoroughly going through everything that he said to me that evening. Every look, every piece of body language came under close scrutiny. My mind was trying to sieve out all the useless bits like the please and thank-yous and trying to decipher and pull out any hidden meanings that could be crucial to the next meeting (if there was going to be one that was). I was starting to decide after a while that there was going to be one. The reason for my subconscious deciding this was probably because being away from someone you totally forget all the bad things about them and just focus on the good things. I think that it had been made worse by me deciding that it didn't really matter if nothing became of it because frankly I didn't think anything substantial would. So I just sort of fantasized and dreamed about times that we could spend together or how we would look good together. But then there was the common sense side to my thinking considering things like if we did get together then it could be difficult with his daughter Burgess in my primary school class. Then the common sense side really took hold and reminded me that we had only met a couple of times to I was rather making some broad hopes that could to easily be smashed to smithereens so I tried to forget him.

I like to think that I have good will power so after putting Bernard to one side of my conscious mind you can imagine my surprise when he phoned me asking if I would consider seeing him about something totally unconnected with school. I of course agreed too quickly, I didn't even stop to think why if he was so interested what he had been doing for the last two weeks.

He took me out quite a few times but never confirmed my fears that he wasn't interested or my hopes that he was. This troubled me so I rang him up. To my horror I found out why he had always shied away from giving me his home number. When the phone was finally answered by an overjoyed Burgess she bubbled with excitement an thankfully she didn't recognise my voice,
"Mummy and Daddy are back with me," she blurted out. Assuming she was confused I asked her to get Bernard for me. Without prompting she explained her earlier outburst,"Mummy went but now she's home dad is really happy so am I, so is mummy!" Shocked and confused I hung up and sat down to think.

It later turned out that the reason for Burgess's tiredness and the reason that Bernard seemed to have no knowledge of her late nights was because she had been staying at her mother's temporary home. Her parents had split up and Bernard seemed only to have become interested in me when I was the only person showing him any affection. The two weeks that I didn't worry about was a period time when Mr and Mrs.Butler had been trying to sort out their differences.

Falling in and out of love can be traumatic enough but being played with is like being let down before you have been picked up.
I was heartbroken and I felt that I had to get away so I applied for temporary teaching in a small town in the Yorkshire Dales. In this town I became familiarised with an old lady that I felt I could confide in. She was always referred as The Creature by the townspeople, the dressmaker for whom she did buttonholing, the sacristan who used to search the pews for her on the dark winter evenings before locking up, and even the little girl Sally, for whom she wrote out the words of a famine song. Life had treated her rottenly, yet she never complained but always had a ready smile, so that her face with its round rosy cheeks was more like something you could eat or lick; she reminded me of nothing so much as an apple fritter.

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