Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Tuesdays are different

The routine I've described on previous posts does not apply to Tuesdays. On Tuesdays I tend not to go in to my studio. I often have to finish my weekly Payne's Grey strip for the New Statesman. I also take an after-school art club at my son's school so I have a disrupted day.

Every week follows the same pattern. I set off to the art club muttering to myself that I will try not to be so grumpy or shouty; that they are just children - lovely, gifted, bright, delightful children, mostly. But like a horse knows you can not ride as soon as your foot is in the stirrup, children know you are not a real teacher. They smell the fear.

At the beginning of each class I try to inject as much enthusiasm into the new project as I possibly can, but within seconds I am growling and as jaded as Jack Black in School of Rock before he discovers the kids can play instruments.

Then I see what they are drawing. Suddenly I am transformed into Jack Black after he discovers the kids can play. Life seems full of possibilities - one of them being that I have the ability to enthuse and to pass on practical skills. This lasts about two minutes before I am once again threatening to throw various children (including my son) out of the class.

I nag my son all the way home, because he is the only one I can get at. This makes me feel small and spiteful. In art club I was just a bad teacher; now I am a bad father. It is all I can do to stop myself going back to bed with all my clothes on. I am tortured by my inadequacies as a teacher, as a father - as a human being.

Then I show my wife some of the drawings and we marvel at the ability of some of those children and I wonder if I did not, after all, play some small roll in the making of those drawings; that maybe I had encouraged them to do more than they might have done had I not been there. Maybe art club is not a total waste of time after all.

I'll do one more week, I think. And see how it goes.

As of today I have a new agent. I am now represented by Philippa Milnes-Smith of LAW Ltd and I am very excited about it. Philippa is great and she has promised (in a charmingly non-committal, not-in-so-many-words kind of way) to make me rich and famous. And frankly I'd be more than happy with rich, so it should be a piece of cake.

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