Sunday, 27 September 2015

Multi-tasking

G
This morning I tried to brush my teeth at the kitchen sink whilst waiting for spotify to download and pick cabbage out the plug hole from last night's dinner. One voice was shouting "do one thing at at time", another "no she won't" and another "you must be more efficient!" and yet another " leave her alone" "give up give up"everyone was arguing and trying to get their point over as the winner of the situation.

Then like a blinding moment I travel back to boarding school and it was Wednesday. On Wednesday we had to change our sheets on our beds. We all panicked on a Wednesday morning 5:30am rushing to add an extra job into our already tight schedules.

Each dormitory had about thirty iron beds in it. In the mornings we used to take a quick walk to the toilets and back again (running forbidden and toilets being outside at the end of the dormitory blocks) then we would quickly march back to make beds with perfect hospital corners (exact floor to top of counter pain height). The fold under our pillows a certain depth and our pillows evenly plum flat on the lumpy mattresses. After that we had to dress perfectly in our uniforms. Socks were folded three times down our legs to create the perfect ankle and  shoes had to be shining collars folded at the right height at our necks. Our legs and arms had to be creamed to stop dry skin and our hair brushed so as to not let any touch our collars. After that our lockers and foot chests had to be pristine and neat. We would all then stand at the foot of the bed and wait for inspections. 


Now the hard thing about inspection was two fold. One was the ability to hear he matrons working there way through the other dormitories dolling out the daily punishments and ridiculing those who had not met expectation or had wet the bed. The other was the absolute panic to have your own dormitory ready. Did you risk helping those that were slower or unable to get the sheets flat and folded and be found away from your area. Did you try and help someone who clearly had hair loose, after all we did not have individual mirrors we only had a small 12x10inch mirror situated at the furthest end of the long rectangular room.

Then there were Wednesday when not only did you have to cope with all the above but you also had

to strip the bed and change the sheet. As  I have said before the majority of us struggled with Wednesdays. This morning however as I tried to be an octopus, getting cross with the toothpaste I had swallowed and the sliminess of the cabbage making (its so hard to grip), I realised what drove so much of the panic. I realised that although our whole day at boarding school relied on time; being on time, doing things in time, waiting for time to be over or a new part of the timed day to start. Nowhere do I ever remember seeing a clock except in the prep room and school hall, everything else was communicated by bell. I realised how much power that lack of clocks gave the teachers and matrons. After all what better way to put the fear of God into several hundred 5-11 year olds than to hold them accountable to something that they have no ability to manage. It meant that we never stopped working towards the aimed piece of everyday and if you did take a breath or had a little day dream it could come back and mean horrible consequences.

So back to the present day I say to myself it's now ok to do one thing at a time. Brush your teeth then get the cabbage out the sink and then download the album you want to hear. Nothing is chasing you anymore. You are now aloud to know time, manage time and plan in time.