This is always exciting, as it allows me to stop work, read the email, think about the email, reply to the email, then do another little bit of work until the next email arrives. I scrutinise it with interest.
Later, I am chatting to Short Tony.
“Did you know,” I ask him, “that on the twenty-first of December 2004 you perpetrated a contextually affected shared joke?”
He looks at me in some bewilderment.
“That means in essay language that you shouted at the Cheerful Builder when he was on the roof. My Private Secret Diary is being studied by some students as part of their mock A-level exams.”
“They are writing essays about us.”
“No. I received an email from a boy called Zach. He got an A-minus, you know,” I added, proud of my new friend’s achievement in a fatherly type way, and conscious of my responsibilities as a role model. “I have already replied to him to advise not to take knives into school.”
“And they say A-levels are dumbing down.”
I am very pleased with my new status as a literary figure in the classroom. I have always regarded myself as a bit akin to people like Wilfred Owen and William Golding (without all that stuff about the flies), and now my work is regarded by one of the government’s official English teachers as being just as good as them and Shakespeare etc.
I exchange a couple of emails about this with my new friend Zach. But am a bit careful as there is a fine line between ‘engaging in email conversations with people still at school’ and ‘grooming’ and I would not like people to get the wrong idea – although I am hardly one of those dodgy people who hides behind a fictitious identity and is coy about giving out their real age.
It is a bit of an odd experience to be studied. But it is quite nice, and if it carries on then it will make it very easy to help Baby Servalan with her homework. I did not do very well in my own exams at school, and I am proud that by going to the Village Pub, playing bowls etc. I am helping to educate the youth of Great Britain.