I had just come back from camping with lots of home educated children and their parents. I was sunburned (yes, in 2009!), ached from head to toe from clinging to a slowly failing airbed parked on a slope, and was grubby the way kids get grubby. Ground in mud, socks that had done 48 hours because I had to double up with the cold night, hair tangled in the wind. But warming me through the worst of the cold was the thought that my materials for A215 were being dispatched. Sadly, they arrived when I was away, so I found myself looking at a DHL card, on a Friday afternoon, with no real prospect of seeing the magic box until Monday.
Needless to say, in our house true love is defined by one of us as apple crumble, sex without the palaver of a shower first and always being allowed to take a guitar on holiday; and by the other as getting back into the car after a hot, slow journey with 5 children who haven't had a shower for days, and picking up a parcel from DHL. Anyway, he did, so I sat on the sofa, and we opened the box like the two OU addicted children that we are. We Ooohed and Aaahed at the study guide, the assignment book and the Big Red Book. They even smelled good. He's just finishing A214 (the music course) and has his last TMA, the really hard one that's compulsory AND you have to get at least 30% on it, and he has an exam 3 weeks later. The pleasure of leafing through an assignment booklet you don't have to do is intoxicating.
Anyway, two days on and smugly 7 weeks ahead on the course, I looked at the first TMA. And something in me just stalled. I went from having a writer's notebook for the first time in my life, full of inspiration and ideas, to being eleven years old and facing the old battleaxe that taught me English in my first year of secondary school. 'Learning to swim' was one of the first stories I had to write for her, and as she had no sense of humour and I was too young to realise that, I wrote a story about jumping into the pool, losing my swimsuit and so on. I got a C. It's from that position, clutching my shiny new maroon exercise book already scarred with a C and a lot of red ink that I am facing TMA01.