Who remembers Potty Time? Hands up now… OK, a few of you. In case you don’t, Potty Time was an utterly bizarre and Goon-like children’s programme with Michael Bentine cackling madly over a series of home-made puppets. That makes it sound really crap, but oddly, it wasn’t: and I think it was Bentine’s character and his evident enjoyment of what he was doing that made it watchable.
My own personal potty time took place a few years ago in a wonderful building called Manor House Neighbourhood Centre.
It was closed for a few years and has now thankfully reopened as an Adult Ed centre: however in the years I knew it, Manor House was a haven for creative parents, and particularly mothers. It had a creche and laid on sessions in pottery and other crafts as well as hosting yoga, karate and a whole spread of classes. The creche was the key, and when my children were small I spent many happy afternoons creating pots. I preferred to hand-build rather than use the wheel, and the house is still littered with my creations – pinch-pots, coil-pots, slab-pots and frankly slap-dash pots which hold dental floss, jewellery, fruit, candles and until recently, bread. The bread-bin was the pinnacle of my potty achievements: large enough to hold two or three loaves, it sat on our dining-table for years – until a bizarre glass accident (see previous post) caused the bread and bread-bin to become studded with tiny shards of glass, like some Damien Hurst creation. It now sits by the back door and holds the shears and secateurs which would otherwise be eaten with rust.
One of the classes now offered at Manor House is ESOL, a subject which I myself taught for several years. Teaching ESOL is very interesting, not least because it makes you aware of the kind of mistakes students make – and forces you to try to explain why the English language works as it does. This is something to tax even the most linguistic of brains: how do you explain, for example, the difference between ‘thinking about’ and ‘thinking of’. If you – er, think these are the same, think again. The difference between, say, ‘I’m thinking about buying a car,’ and ‘I’m thinking of buying a car’ is a subtle one, but nevertheless real. Thinking about has the sense of reflecting on, whereas thinking of conveys more of a plan.
That’s just off the top of my head – there are a million more examples and most of them have no logical explanation. You just have to say, ‘that’s the way we talk,’ and leave it at that. Not satisfactory. But it does provoke you into thinking about (!) the language in a new way.
Holly is taking me for a beer tonight at the Western. We were supposed to go yesterday but she couldn’t get back because of the snow.
I’ve had enough now.