top of page

Life Lessons

Trini raised her glass.
    ‘I think a toast is needed. Here’s to Life. May it be all it can be, and to you, Molly, and your new career as an enlightener of young minds.’
     Trini’s gravelly voice sounded like she’d spent a month hanging out in a kipper-smoking hut. Damn, it was so sexy. She shifted sideways on the sofa, tucking her long, glossy black hair behind her ears, which Molly noted with some guilty satisfaction were a little bit ‘wingnut’. She was secretly glad that there was the tiniest imperfection in all that glorious Latin flawlessness.    
    Molly nodded. She’d qualified as a teacher in June and had successfully passed her interview to be the new Design Technology teacher at Wyndham High, a big comprehensive in Hove. It would be the first ‘real’ job she’d ever had.
    Molly tried not to guzzle her wine down. There was just the small matter of chronic nerves and she hoped she wouldn’t bite a chunk out of the lip of the glass.
    Trini was Spanish and the Head of the Language Department at a neighbouring school in Brighton. She lived with Nicholas, who taught maths at Wyndham High. Strangely enough, Molly had met the both of them via their other flatmate Stevie, when they’d been working shifts together in their local pub, the Star. Copious amounts of alcohol later, that’s when Trini suggested that she should train as a teacher. It seemed like a solid idea at the time, and at least it was good to know she had someone to blame for all this.      
    ‘Look,’ said Molly, ‘I think I might’ve got it all wrong. You remember the day of my interview I said the school seemed laid back and quite informal?’
    Trini nodded. ‘Modern and progressive were the words you used. I was well impressed as I’ve never heard those particular words linked to Wyndham High before, more…well, I won’t go there.’
    ‘Now you tell me? What if the fact that most of the staff were in combat gear was because they needed to be in combat gear to survive. There was no one in a power suit and high heels, they were in camouflage trousers and Doc Martins and now I’m wondering where they were hiding the Kalashnikovs. What if it’s that kind of school? Is it? Has Nicholas ever told you what it’s really like?’
    ‘Whoa, whoa, hold on now!’ Trini held out a warning hand. ‘This sounds like you’re going into panic mode. It is just nerves, Molly. You are allowed to have them, you know. You’ve never done a job like this so it is all going to be new and strange at first. You’ll get used to it. Then you’ll be complaining that it’s boring and monotonous, and that is what Nicholas says so stop worrying.’
    ‘I wish I could but I forgot to check in the cupboards in the workshop to see if there were any sharp tools in them. We were all told, if there are no sharp tools then to get out as fast as possible without causing offence.’
    ‘Why on earth would they tell you that?’ said Trini.
    ‘Because it means the kids have already stolen them or they think the kids so untrustworthy that they have to lock them up to stop them stealing them. Do you have any idea what damage a set of spring dividers can do in the wrong hands?
    ‘What are spring dividers?’
    ‘A set of metal spikes on a spring for scribing circles onto metal or plastic. On my first placement I saw a kid thrust an open pair at his friend's face, just for a laugh, without considering that if the boy had moved or been pushed they would have punctured both eyeballs!’
    There was silence for a moment. Trini’s eyebrows rose as if pulled on invisible threads. She took a sip of her wine.
    ‘I am so glad the only damage any of my kids can do is hit each other with their vocabulary books. Anyhow, the school may not have the best reputation but at least you have a job. So many people get their qualifications and then end up working in MacDonald’s.’
    ‘I’m not complaining, I’m scared.’
     ‘I know. We’ve all been there, carida. Tonight, just forget all about it. We’ll have a laugh and not say one more thing about school. On that note, I’ll go and get dinner on.’ Trini stood and stretched. ‘Grab the bottle, Molly.’
    Molly realised early on that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ and that’s exactly what she had in certain areas, a very little knowledge.
    ‘I’ve got a GCSE in Spanish,’ Molly had told her when they’d first met over a year ago.
    ‘That’s maravillosa,’ said Trini. And then she reeled off a load of words that sounded like, ‘qithaspdemohabladeveenquando?’ Molly knew it was a question because Trini was looking at her intently. Oh, and her voice went up at the end.
    ‘Yes?’ said Molly, hoping that she hadn’t just agreed to donate her body to science or worse.
    ‘Are you sure?’
    ‘I don’t know. Am I?’
    ‘You have no idea what I just said, have you?’
    ‘Absolutely not.’
    ‘I asked you if you’d like to meet up every so often to practice your Spanish with me?’
    ‘Oh great! Phew! I did wonder if I’d agreed to marry your elderly, hirsute boss-eyed cousin.’
    Trini looked confused. ‘You’ve met him?’
    ‘What? No…I…’ Molly rolled her eyes. ‘Is that a joke?’
    They were still friends, despite the fact that Molly had asked her, ‘Why are you named after a Caribbean island?’
    ‘I’m sorry?’
    ‘Well, you told me your full name is Trinidad?’
    ‘Yes, while Trini is short for Trinidad, in Spanish it actually means ‘the Holy Trinity’
    ‘OH! Right.’
    She was also from a place called Extremadura in Spain. Molly had scratched her head and then dared to ask, fearful of offending again.
    ‘So you live in a place that’s called ‘Extremely Hard’ then?’
    ‘Yes?’ Trini replied. Her black eyes sparked like she’d licked a teaspoon and then jabbed it into a plug socket.
    ‘And you’re all right with that?’
    Trini had merely looked bemused but now, come to think about it, she did have the sort of husky voice one associated with smoking forty Gitanos a day and looked like she could punch as hard as a mule could kick. So, perhaps, until her linguistic skills progressed further than “two beers, please” and “where are the toilets?” she should think before she opened her mouth and found her size six pie in it. This had resulted in Spanish lessons once a week around Molly’s flat, where she provided the wine and cheese and Trini the vocabulary and tenses.   
    Molly had asked her why, if she was earning a good wage, she’d chosen to live with Nicholas and Stevie? It was a sensible question to ask if you knew them like she did. They both had their predilections.
    ‘I thought I could experience first hand all the vagaries of living in a foreign culture, which includes putting up with Nicholas and his heavy drinking.’ She scratched at her nose, a sign of embarrassment. ‘If you want the truth? I thought that Stevie looked like a young Bruce Willis and I was attracted to him…’ She started to snigger. ‘More fool me, eh?’
    Molly tried to scrape the look of incredulity of her face. ‘But he’s as camp as a pink feather boa!’
    ‘Indeed. Listen, I come from a small town, barely more than a village in the mountains. I didn’t recognise the signs-‘
    Molly nearly spat her mouthful of Rioja over Trini. ‘You can’t get gayer than Stevie.’
    Mind you, it had worked out very well. Every girl needs a gay best friend, so it was convenient that her gay best friend shared a house with her new ‘girly’ best friend. He was an ‘illegal alien’ from sunny California. He’d over shot his visa by about three years and was limbo dancing to avoid detection. He loved it in Brighton where they all lived, he’d told them, as it reminded him of home but with a lot less blue sky and warmth.

bottom of page