I'm in deepest Devon this whole week in a house with thirteen women and three men. Tonight’s full moon viewed from the top of the hill amongst sleepy whisps of cloud isa bit gorgeous. It happened on the late night walk. “Look” bridget said. I couldn’t see a bean, but with a little more investigation the silhouetted copse on the horizon didseem particularly defined. Behind it a finger of light filtered through. Bridget issixty year old painter sharp as a pin and wittier than most. “If we wait” said Naomi “if we wait we can watch it rise”. One by one our night torches, which we had been using to guide our way back from Sheepwash, disappeared. And so silence fell and six of us watched the moon wind its way through the silhouettes and climb up up and above.The light poured onto the rolling hills and washed over us. It was everything this week has been.
I don’t come here, to this eleventh century house in the colour bone of female reclining hills to watch moons rise. These things are the bonus shedding light on how well the course has been. The alertness of the student shows the alertness of the course. There’s lot’s of laughter, lots and lots of it. But none is relevant, the laughter or the moon, without the structured concentrated adherences to the work and the process throughout the week.
Wednesday night, last night is when the author travelled here to read. The author was Malika B. She shone and the students and us tutors basked in her poetry. It was then thatI knew the course would be a success. We were half way through and the group had gelled with their work, the house and each other. If this stuff isn’t working these students will know. They nclude the PA to the head of entertainment of one of britians largest Television Companies, a scientist, a phsycotherapist, a journalist, the manager of a famous restaurant, a painter, a scientist, an English teacher, the list goes on. If any group of people could see artsy bullshit a mile away, it’s them.
I have, as I will often say in my workshops, two criteria for the teaching experience: one is to work hard and the second is to have fun. These are the criteria for my working life as awriter and these are what I offer as a teacher on an Arvon course. The fun happens as a result of the work not the other way round and in much the same way the moon becomes apparent. As it shifts, we continue our walk down the hill to the house, make tea and sit outside on a bench. Laughter curls above the thatched roof as shadows slink quietly away to bed until all is peaceful.