Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wizards and Muggles




My son has got his results for the end-of-first-year philosophy and maths exams. He has got a first, which means he can now switch courses. Does this make sense? No, it’s a strange catch-22 situation he had to get himself out of: he went to Oxford to study philosophy and maths which he has always loved, found that once there he no longer loved maths, or the kind of maths he had to do, and, with parental encouragement, decided that life was too precious to spend time (especially when you are nineteen years old) slogging at something your heart’s not in. He applied to change to study P.P.E. and, after interviews and faffing about, was told that yes, he could do that – but only if he did brilliantly at the subject he wanted to ditch. Well he did, through sheer hard slog and determination, which means I don’t have to go up there and shoot them all. One can’t, of course, do that kind of thing anyway once kids grow up and have to fight their own battles. But one is tempted. Because of getting a first, he now has the status of being a “Scholar,” gets awarded the princely sum of £300, a special kind of Scholar’s gown (costing £150, so that’s half the money blown) and the honour of speaking a Latin grace at formal dinner. I said that it all sounded just like Hogwarts school for wizards in the Harry Potter books. My son said yes, where do you think she got all that from? And later many of the Hogwarts scenes were filmed in Oxford colleges, especially Christ Church hall, where son will be having most of his meals next year as his own hall is up for refurbishment.

Meanwhile, Muggles here plods on with her own tasks, still not sure whether to go for idea a) or b) in the novel-writing project. And what about sending off a few poems, she often asks herself, as clearly they won’t publish themselves just lying around in a disintegrating file, not to mention the computer Word thing, where she often can’t find them because of forgetting the titles. Application and determination. I sometimes wonder how I produced these high-achieving kids. Where did I go right? Certainly not by setting good example, in that department at any rate. But better late than never, even if I’m several decades behind; and I take heart from hearing about female writers well past their supposed prime who publish their first novels and go on to write many more.

I will keep lighting the candles. Have I said about the candles? When someone has an interview, exam or something similar, I find out the time of the event, light one and keep it lit for the duration of the event. After my son’s first exam he asked me when I had lit it and blown it out. When I told him he said I had got the time wrong by half an hour and that this accounted for how he had struggled at the beginning and end of the paper. Which was ok, he said, because if he did badly he could tell the examiners it was because his mother messed up with the candles. I said this was fine, because now I would make sure I got the times right and all would go spectacularly well. And it did. So perhaps I have a bit of wizardry in me after all.

8 comments:

Anna MR said...

Signs - not only are you a kolmio, you are also a tähti.

So there.

xx

cusp said...

OOh Signs, I always knew there was a bit of the old mystic about you.

Great news about the son --- bet you're proud.

You sound brighter and I'm glad.

Reading the Signs said...

I've googled it, Anna, and I'm either a star or a board game - or perhaps both.

Some might say there's a bit of the old witch about me, Cusp. I take it in the right way, naturally.

Glad for him, I am. Proud that he's come through this challenging year, intact.

Anna MR said...

I needed to come back quickly and say yes, you need to start getting those poems out of their hiding places and into a collection. Very fine thinking, Signs.

x

NMJ said...

Signs, lovely news about your son.

x

Reading the Signs said...

Encouragement is appreciated, Anna.

Thanks, NMJ - he has worked very hard.

Gael said...

Good to 'see' you back from your brief sabbatical.
Kudos to your son. I hope he enjoys his change of direction, shame they made him jump through hoops though.

Reading the Signs said...

hi Gael, nice to see you again here. Yes, it's all been a bit of an eye-opener. There is intense pressure on everyone to excel, anything but the best is kind of seen as failure. Me, I hope he keeps singing, playing and enjoying life.