I don’t have an English degree and I didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder about it. But in my head, books are always the answer. And I want to know everything. My cousin has kindly lent me the books from her English degree and I am reading all of them. I’m having fun, and knocking that chip off my shoulder at the same time. I might not be able to afford to go to Uni a second time, but I can definitely be “well-read”.
The trouble is I feel a bit like Educating Rita without Frank, or Leonard Bast without the Schlegel sisters. Why is it important to have a teacher, a mentor? I don’t know what I’m supposed to understand sometimes. I want to talk to other people about the books, but I don’t even know how to have that conversation. Sigh. I’ve not only got a chip on my shoulder, I’m having a pity party.
My brother is a few years younger than me. When he was a teenager he came into my room one day, uncharacteristically subdued and said,
“I’ve just finished Of Mice and Men.” (WARNING – next bit contains spoilers)
Brother: “I didn’t want it to end that way. I wanted them to get the farm and be happy.”
Me: “Yeah, I think that’s how you are supposed to feel. You got it.”
Brother: “I’m supposed to feel like this?”
Me: “I think so. I think that’s the whole point of the book.”
I basically want someone to tell me, “Yes, you got it.” That’s childish isn’t it? I want reassurance that what I’ve understood is correct. I am embarrassed to write this, but I think I feel lonely. I don’t want to write essays or sit exams, but I want fellow students, I want a teacher. I really, really want to learn.
For now, I’m just going to keep on reading.