Because science into life doesn't go

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Right Words

Yesterday, for the first time since June, I went back to the state school to pick up my teaching timetable for this academic year.

My contact at the school is Briggy, a middle-aged Hungarian woman, who, although not possessing the most dynamic of personalities, has bent over backwards to make me feel welcome (last year she drove me around the suburbs of Budapest trying to find the right immigration office where I could get a resident's permit, and gave me her own home-made lunch on the way).

Anyway, on the way to the school, I was trying to think of small-talk I could offer before we got down to business, and I remembered that she'd been unwell recently and had an operation. So, I thought, I can ask her if she's recovered. Then, I thought, wouldn't it be better to ask about the particular trauma in question. Trouble was, I couldn't remember exactly what the problem was.

It might of been an arm, it could of been her hip, in short it could've been anything. Should I gamble, I thought, and ask how's the leg, hoping the ailing part was localised to this region. What if it wasn't? Would that be worse than not asking at all? To my mind, it would. It'd be like saying I can't be arsed recalling the exact nature of your serious and debilitating condition, but I've mentally file it under sort of unwell.

Not good.

So then, I thought, is there a way of phrasing the question to seem specific but actually only be general. Was I trying to square the circle? Perhaps so, because I couldn't see how it could be done.

How's the muscle? How are the bits recovering?! (That might actually be safe, as her informal English is terrible and she wouldn't know that bits is the lingo old ladies use for their...well...private parts).

I conceded defeat and let my mind drift to something else.

In the end, all the speculation was for nowt, because I only got to talk to Briggy in front of her Year 12 class (a strange scenario where she pretends there aren't fifteen teenagers silent as mice watching me and her 'chat' at the front of the class) and kept the talk to business. Timetable looks pretty similar to last year with Weds and Fri free from the tyranny of kids!