RAY Addison’s Real life
Adult education? my Wife is Far braver than me…
Ray considers a return to education
I think something must be wrong with my brain… despite having plenty on my plate, for some reason i have a self-destructive urge to add quite a lot more.
Sitting at my desk, with deadlines hammering against my head like Mcgregor v Mayweather, i’ve found myself browsing websites, checking out diplomas, degrees and other higher learning options, with a view to gaining a new qualification.
And although this sounds like a fairly benign thing to do, it would actually be incredibly dumb for two main reasons. Firstly, i don’t need it, and secondly, i hated earning the first one. So why is my own brain trying to sabotage me?
Well, firstly, i’m getting on a bit… At 38, i can hear the hands of time tick ticking towards my 40th birthday, sending a shiver down my spine. now i’m looking around wondering, “is this it?”, but instead of girls and cars i’m attracted to stress and debt.
So what does my wife think of all this nonsense? Actually, she couldn’t be more supportive, despite her own chequered history with adult education. Emma and i have fairly different educational backgrounds and while it was always assumed that i would go to university, Emma’s family barely even mentioned it. And although she didn’t go on to higher education the first time around, she has since thrown herself into a number of courses, both out of necessity and as a way of ‘improving’ herself.
Adult classes were also a way for Emma to expand her social circle. Years before she met me, one woman kept trying to set her up on blind dates with her male friends, which is how Emma found herself standing in the pouring rain for over an hour waiting for someone called Harry who played the guitar in a bookstore. luckily, Harry eventually arrived on his bicycle and ‘drove’ Emma to the cinema on his handlebars.
Along with a sparkling social life, adult education gave Emma an insight into the types of people who were driven to improve themselves. They were people whose education had at some point gone wrong, got waylaid or simply been forgotten, and now they were back for a second attempt.
There were no lawyers here, no teachers and no doctors. instead there were administrators, care workers and cleaners. They were the class clowns and school dropouts forced to learn how to wax in the darkest corners of the night in exchange for a tantalising glimpse of the exciting new life their freshly acquired skills would bring them.
And however elusive those dreams may actually have proved, at least they were giving it a go. Each mature student was standing strong, ignoring the fact the classroom had traditionally been their nemesis, swallowing the anxiety of being laughed at for answering a question wrongly and pushing off the invisible dunce’s cap to give it one last shot. like the eponymous hero of 1983 film classic Educatingrita once said, “i don’t want to be funny, charming and delightful. i wanna talk serious with the rest of you. i don’t wanna come to your house to play the court jester.”
That’s certainly what pushed Emma to return to education. like Rita, she wanted to talk confidently and knowledgeably, to feel she had something to offer the world.
So was it worth it? Well, yes and no. The older my wife gets the less she cares about what others think of her. She’s realised that, no matter our qualifications, we’re all just fumbling along no better or worse than anyone else. But that’s also why she champions all of the Ritas out there – and will champion me too, should i decide i want her to.
“THEIR DREAMS MAY PROVE ELUSIVE, BUT AT LEAST THEY ARE GIVING IT A GO”
Ray Addison is a broadcaster, comedian and writer, who can be found at rayaddisonlive.com