Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Uncomfortably Numb: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Uncomfortably Numb: Comment

Article excerpt

Callan is like Garfield's hapless companion Odie: always in trouble, but it's impossible not to like him. The teenager occasionally bothers to show up to my film studies class. And he owes me coursework. He owes everyone coursework.

The other day he strolled past me returning from smoking a fag. He bundled over to say hello. I considered berating him for the coursework, but I have a rule: try not to discuss the issues of the classroom outside it. That way, you remain able to see students as more than just blank spaces in your assessment spreadsheets.

"Before you say it, I nailed it, Thornberry! Fucking nailed it!"

"Nailed what?"

"I was up till 4am last night buzzing. Three pieces of coursework down. I even got round to making a start on yours. I was unstoppable."

"Except you did stop at mine."

"Yeah, well, you know, I had to be fresh for today and that... "

Callan's pallid face is not fresh.

"How do the excitements of tourism and leisure coursework keep you buzzing till dawn?"

"A little pick-me-up, innit," he continues. "I swear you should have seen me, Thornberry. Hardly blinked and 1,000 words, BOOM!"

"Are we talking plant fertiliser?"

Callan guffaws and launches into the history of his drug use. He is largely still in the honeymoon, pre-comedown phase. Largely.

"Check it. Gnarly!"

Callan tilts his head back to reveal a sinewy lump of gristle embedded into the side of his septum. I am genuinely shocked - a rare occurrence these days. I stay silent for a while, mulling my options.

"I'm not going to tell you not to do drugs, but watch yourself. …

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