The Adventure of Starting College (again)

I have a question: When you are reading a book, do you underline passages with a pencil? This is something I am struggling with. I am struggling with many things actually, but this is currently the most irritating.

My M.A. course started at a local theological college, and I drove there for the first time in September. This alone was scary enough. I’m not a ‘natural driver’ and mostly I pootle between my house and my mother’s, and use public transport if I need to go much further. But Spurgeon’s College is not easily reached from my house, so driving is the only sensible option. I did a practice drive first, with encouraging Husband cheering me on from the passenger seat, but this did not prepare me for the first day of term.

Spurgeon’s College

I set off in rush hour, when obviously the traffic was heavier than when we did our practice drive, so clever Satnav created exciting new routes to beat the traffic. I didn’t know the route well enough to do anything other than blindly follow, which was incredibly scary. We turned off the main road fairly soon after leaving home, and dived through a hedge, along a footpath, over a field and back onto the road. Okay, I am exaggerating, but not by much—most roads were not even wide enough for one car, so not sure what would have happened if I had met someone going in the opposite direction. (I didn’t.)

Then we joined the ‘London traffic’ I am a country bumpkin, anything bigger than a small town is ‘London traffic.’ Satnav continued to guide me down side roads, back onto the main road (always turning right across the traffic) then back down another side road. Pretty sure we crossed someone’s garden at one point.

There were speed limits designed to catch out the unwary driver, encouraging you to travel at 40 mph, then dropping briefly to 30 mph in the widest sections of road. There were pedestrian lights, which you thought you could nip through on orange, only to discover they are actually tram lights and you are about to be squashed under a tram. Teenagers stepped into the road on their way to school, grannies opened car doors without checking for cars, buses—well! I could write a whole article on the driving manners of whoever drives those big red buses that swoosh past you and then brake suddenly to collect passengers, blocking the road while they chat, read the newspaper, eat their lunch, phone their mothers and take a nap. Meanwhile, you sit behind them, wondering whether you can inch past (into the path of another swooshing bus) growing ever more worried as the car behind honks, and streams of boys walk between you and the bus, and a motorbike skims past and away down the road. Just as you decide to ‘go for it’ and edge past, the driver finishes his lunch/phone call/nap, indicates (briefly) as he glides away from the stop. You sigh with relief, enjoy a few yards of actual movement, and then he stops and it all starts again.

However, I made it to college in time and with very few casualties. (I will need to check the post for a few weeks so I can collect all the speeding fines before anyone sees them.) I walked into college, collected my student pass (wish I had tried a little harder to find a better photo now, I have the image of ‘Aunty Ethel on a bad hair day’ hanging round my neck) and I joined my fellow students in the chapel. Felt I had probably prayed more than most other people before the day had even begun!

The course is mostly fun. There are some good discussions, and the people seem nice. Much of the learning is through reading, and this is where my earlier comment is relevant. I bought a couple of books, second-hand, from Amazon. They have arrived with lots of underlinings. I find this very irritating. I tend to read in my own voice, pausing, thinking, absorbing. Passages that are underlined feel like I’m being shouted at, and it’s hard to absorb what is being said. I have so far spent longer erasing the lines than I have reading the passages. Not sure if they will give me any credit for that, probably not. I even found underlinings in a library book. Terrible! They should bring back hanging for things like that, then people would stop.

Hope you have a good week. I will tell you more about college in my future blogs.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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