Our eyes met across the pavement. She glanced towards me and I recognised that certain smile. The memories came flooding back. Yes, it was that girl who used to be one of my students. It was about 15 years ago when I last saw her. She was now pushing a pushchair and had another child in tow, but she didn’t look significantly older or worse for wear for the passing of those years.
For the life of me I couldn’t remember her name. So much time has passed it would have been difficult to strike up a conversation but we acknowledged each other and moved on. For a good half hour I racked my brains for her name. I know she was a decent student who got either an Upper Second or a Lower Second Class degree in Criminology. But I do remember her very well. I was her personal tutor and I used to pride myself on remembering the names of all my students, or at least those that turned up the majority of the time.
Early on during her final year, she asked me to look over her c.v. since she was starting to apply for jobs. One interesting aspect was in her previous employment, that she was a “professional dancer”. I thought hard and then thought better of asking further details. I mentioned it later to my office colleague and he laughed. Apparently he had seen her outside The Dell handing out flyers for a local lap dancing club. She was one of those female students who was naturally flirtatious and always seemed to have a twinkle in her eye. No doubt that gained her a few extra marks here and there across her degree, but not from me. I was always very conscious of not favouring any student on the basis of anything other than the quality of work, and though there were one or two other staff who had reputations for taking advantage, I was certainly not one of them. I had my Pammy and that has always been my commitment. If I had been 15 years younger, single, unattached and not her teacher, then perhaps, except I would probably not interest her in the slightest!
It must have been really hard for young students to make ends meet and I never judged them if they decided to work in slightly dubious employment to put food on their table (and beer in their glasses). It’s really annoying though, not remembering her name. I’m sure if I had asked her today, she wouldn’t have said, “Ooo, Keith, anything you want it to be” and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t quite that type of girl! Even if I could recall it, I wouldn’t be telling you it here, since she clearly lives (or has connections) locally and has two children. She probably wants to put that particular piece of her past behind her.
Anyway, that was an interesting first hour or so of my walk today. Fairly straightforward until a little bit of aching in the last couple of miles, but almost 18 miles. A day too for just a base layer, t-shirt and thin hoodie – I hope that will be the score for most days on the walk, even the first walk for some time with a cap rather than the woolly hat. Four weeks today, I’ll be off, and I do feel I’m ready physically, though 19 miles with a rucksack might be tougher than the 18 miles today without.