‘The lesson in filing stories about love’

I have entered a seminar or tutorial about some subject I am not very interested in, and a strange teacher—well, let’s be generous and say that he’s more like a salesman—makes a few remarks in his odd-looking check trousers and then arranges everyone in a great circle, men forming one half of the circle and women forming the other half of the circle. He tells everyone to start picking off participants they don’t like. I have adopted the strategy of positioning myself at the cusp of the male and female semi-circles. It doesn’t seem to be working, until I realise that I am being ignored—so, in this particular case, it is working. I do not get chosen to be excluded. Understand? I don’t really understand what happened, but it’s too late and the next part of the lesson has started. The horrible man in the strange trousers has written something on the blackboard: a long sentence about sexism against women. It ends up being a very stupid question. I do not want to write about it. However, everyone else has already started, so I am behind. I go up to the blackboard to get a closer look. The writing is tiny and I do not have my glasses on. The teacher tells me to sit down. While I am up I get some nice yellow paper to write on. When I get back to my desk I realise the paper I have chosen is deep red and very difficult to write on. I write on it anyway, completing something that is pretty good, I think. I have been writing in pencil. I search through a satchel for a fountain pen that I think will enable me to write on the red paper in a way that is easier to read. While I am doing this a young version of my mother enters the room and starts talking to me in a loud voice so that everyone can hear the conversation. We exchange remarks about the subject and the man in the check pants, even though he is getting quite annoyed with us. When I have found my pen I have to find the couple of paragraphs of writing that I have done on the seminar’s stupid subject. Where are they? I look through all the files, satchels, bags, boxes and even filing cabinets that are nearby but cannot, despite my increasing frustration, seem to find them anywhere. Jeff Klooger, who appears from nowhere, tells me that I never was very good at filing. Yes, he’s right. But I don’t need to be good at filing now they’ve invented ‘tags’: I just put everything in Evernote.

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