Semi Naked Gnomes and Exams

I’ve been away. I can hear it now, “What again?”

Yes again, but this time I was learning things. Bettering myself, you might say, as well as being bemused by “people.”

“Nowt as Queer as folk!” We’ve all met some strange people, and there are none stranger than me, and I don’t mind, I know my strangeness, I embrace my strangeness and I have no problems what so ever in sharing my unique brand of strange.

We were in one of those training rooms, and if you have never been in one before I will briefly describe it. Big bright and white. The tables are always set in a horseshoe shape, which I must admit is a bit disturbing. Especially when you are allocated a seat rather than being allowed to sit where you please. The table at the front is for the tutor, which always has a couple of chairs behind it. What did I study? Sorry can’t tell you. In fact, I can’t tell you much at all.

I can say that my daughter supplied the comic relief, even in her absence. I was seen as being totally off my rocker but I was not the strangest person there. A fact that I’m not sure about. I mean I pride myself as being totally outside the box. If I ever find the box that I’m supposed to fit in I’ll burn the bugger because there is nothing worse than the threat of fitting in.

We looked at diversity on the course and equality. And boy did we all need a lesson in understanding and being judgemental. No, that’s wrong, I don’t need to know how to be judgemental I need to learn how to put my judgements in a zip locked bag, in a locked brief case, in a safe, in a bank, on an armed barricaded street, on a dessert island, on any planet where no one would ever possibly be able to understand me. I might then feel safe with my own thoughts. Because like everyone on this planet I thought about and judge the other people on the course. It’s human nature. I only have one prejudice and that is I can’t tolerate idiots. I don’t mean those that the term was originally coined for.

Interlude: A bit of history Jenny style.

Way back in that place called Athens, think white toga and women with perfectly curled hair and lots of sandals and grapes. That sort of thing. Well, way back in the day the Greeks were a right political bunch. They had taken democracy to the highest level in that every woman and man… (do you like that equality bit) Everyone, had a political point of view but also exercised their right to be heard. I don’t mean they did what I’ve been up to of late, marching in protests, but that’s another story. What I mean is that it was rare for a person not to be seen at a political rally, not the other way around. Those that kept themselves to themselves and never got involved with politics were named Idiotes, and it was claimed that these people were self-centred, which led to them being called idiots, uneducated and apolitical. Which when you think about it, with only about 68% of the British public voting at any one election, makes one in three of us, idiots.

We battled through the mine field of handouts, the plastic folders, uniquely unidentifiable but extremely tasty sandwiches. I recognised the cheese and pickle and ham salad and egg mayo, but there was one, it was sort of sandwich spready. That jar you get from the supermarket, with opaque creamy stuff in. You know what it is supposed to be, and you can always identify the pickled gherkin, but not much else. I tried it, and was not disappointed. There was definitely something pickled it in.

I got through my panic attack, on the second morning, with as much fuss as I could draw attention to. Well you don’t think I would have done it without style. Short of being brought a bunch of flowers and a foot bath, the staff did everything to help me back to reality. Well done that team, that I cannot mention.

We got through the awkward introductions, some more awkward than others and settled into the intensive course. My phone was on silent, so in the break I checked if anyone had been stupid enough to call me.

What part of….DO NOT CALL ME UNLESS IT IS AN EMERGENCY…. does my daughter not understand. Why on Earth would she think that asking if her dad would want a t-shirt with, get this, a trio of semi-naked gnomes on, was an Emergency.

I’d told the man sitting next to me about myself and included the snake charming, dragon whispering and arse kicking martial arts, as it was part of the “get to know your neighbour” exercise. Why did I have to explain my daughter sending me this?

gnome Now you may say I didn’t have to tell anyone. But just as I opened up the image I looked up and burst into hysterics. There is always one that asks, “what are you laughing at?’ And who am I to be selfish and keep the joy of life to myself.

Adding to my strangeness I was judged. I was proud. My place at the top of the Strange tower was restored.

The next day under way we looked forward to the final exam. I’m not an academic and whatever I had written in my folder was there and wasn’t getting changed, so being told that one of the students had been up at 6am rewriting her work, after all it was going to be marked, sort of irked a bit.

We listened to the lecture, we interacted and we argued. It’s a well-known fact that the longer you spend in a class room with the same people the more comfortable you feel when arguing. Finally stopping for lunch. The tension ran through the room as we sweated. Some internally at the thought of an exam, some physically as the heat increased, then freezing when the air conditioning imitated the cockpit of a B777 with the window open.

The silence was beginning to turn to ice, ready to fly around the room and poke anyone that dared to mention the “exam.” I picked up my phone, tutted at the fact that Mandy had sent me another message and tentatively opened the contents.

“Mum, I haven’t got a wok nor a large saucepan, my life is over how can I cook chilli con carni at Matt’s?”

The woman next to me leaned in and quietly asked if everything was Ok. There must have been a shock wave rippling outwards as I tried to decide whether to scream or cry.

“I’ve got a bloody exam and my daughters world is at an end because she doesn’t have a Wok.”

Those around us laughed and the ice melted. Relaxation threatened and the woman (I’m withholding these names, it’s not that I’ve forgotten them) laughed as she said, “Bloody kids, her life is falling to pieces and she thinks that and naked gnomes are crucial to the Universe.” We laughed some more.

I’ve done my exam, still waiting to hear if I’ve passed. Home now and looking forward to the t-shirt for Mark with the Beach Ready Gnomes. Mandy has a found a Wok and I’ve calmed down.

Judgement is an amazing thing. In my judgement the most import thing about the last three days is proving I can pass this exam, all I wanted was my family to respect how important it is for me. However, it seems that my daughter’s life was over for the sake of a large saucepan or Wok. The moral: Everyone’s judgement, not of each other, but of our own situations are all different, and sometimes things that are trivial to one, are crucial to another.

I must admit, when I do see Mandy, I am going to throttle her, how dare she make me laugh when I’m trying to be normal!

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