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Friday, 20 April 2012

Twentieth letter: Living with slow processes and Mr Sunshine

My lovely hire car
Well, I finally went and did it, I took the test that will define me for the rest of my life. I arrived excited and breathless, after a crushing and bad tempered flight from the Nederlands to East Midlands airport. Hired the American equivalent of a Fiat Panda, contended with the British driving on the other side of the road, a malfunctioning satnav, and the terror of getting lost in Nottingham city centre. All so I could be informed that I’d undermined my own intellect for the last 40 plus years.  In an embarrassingly honest way, that’s almost what I expected to happen.  You see it’s a dreadful thing, to be told by your parents that you’re wonderful as you’re growing up, because you spend the rest of your life waiting for someone else to confirm their opinions. Maybe, just maybe a dyslexic assessor.

Once at the Open University regional centre, I was greeted by a lovely male receptionist who raved excitedly about the merits of living in the Nederlands.

                ‘What did you enjoy most?’ I asked, making polite conversation as he unlocked the toilets.

‘Oh everything, it is simply an amazing country, the people, the culture, the architecture, the landscape and food.’ He said beaming and following me into the toilets. Was it unisex? I hadn’t noticed.

Ummm, something didn’t sound right- the landscape and the food? ‘So - how long did you live there?’ I asked, wondering if he intended to follow me into the cubical.

‘Three weeks (ah), but I’d go back in a heartbeat.’ He said, and then pointed to a giant green button by the door. ‘You need to press this to escape.’

Alarm bells should have started ringing then – why did they need a giant green escape button?

I found my assessor five minutes later in one of the conference rooms, two grey hospital crutches propped up against the table.

‘I’ve just broken my ankle, but I’m controlling the pain with my mind.’ She announced reassuringly.

Great! My assessor was not only a bit peculiar, she was also in agony, this didn’t bode well. The next four hours, yes four sweat inducing hours, were spent in a nightmare of puzzles and impossible bizarre tests. Too quickly I grasped the idea, that my well hidden genius wasn’t about to be uncovered. I decided I would accept whatever she told me, as long as she didn’t say I was slow.

The first test: putting together a dissected Rubiks cube(well similar), and my idea of hell, I wanted to go home, especially when she muttered ‘slow processes’ under her breath. She followed the dissected cube with an assortment of questions and tests, the worst of which was a page of colours which she asked me to read out within a time limit. Simples? No not bloody simple, and slow processes was muttered again. By the time we got to the spelling test I was frustrated, but ready, I would show her!  Watching her face, I thought I saw a flicker of pity as she looked at my answers.

‘How was that I asked?’ I asked hopefully, ignoring the flicker of pity.

‘Well diabolical obviously, it’s to be expected with your slow processes, but then you know that don’t you.’ She said. I didn’t know whether to cry or kick her broken ankle.

Clearly I spent the next few days brimming of confidence. All I wanted, to go home, hide behind my laptop and pretend to write. Five days later, back in Breda, Andy and Alfie were waiting at the train station. This time I didn’t stop Alfie’s inappropriate greeting and scooped him into my arms and allowed his wet kisses to rebuild my confidence. 
Dogs understand how to repair a broken self-confidence.
‘I’m not kissing you now.’ Andy snapped.  Ah, of course.
‘For God’s sake what have you got in here?’ Andy said picking up my bag. Just smile.
‘So how’ve you and Alfie been?’ I asked, trying to change the subject.
‘He’s been a &*’@-ing nightmare.’ Alfie the canine rug? Really?
‘He won’t listen to me.’ This is my fault obviously?
‘I haven’t had time to do anything I wanted.’ Oh dear.
‘All I’ve done is work and walk the dog.’ Oops
‘Do you know how much time it takes out of my day walking the dog?’  I have no idea.
‘I can’t find my &%$@-ing black top.’ Wardrobe or wash basket.
‘I’m sick of the Hijgend Hert(cafĂ© next door to us) all they play is @%$&-ing  jazz music on Sundays.’ Ah, my Mr Sunshine, how did I manage the last five days without him.

Need to rush off now, got to find a cheap flight back to the UK and make peace with my slow processes.

 p.s. Right, I’m going to try and slip this one under the radar, and hopefully my Mr Sunshine will be too busy looking for his black top to notice. 

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