Crazy to learn

By this time, I had reached the point where I wanted to learn everything I could. I was going to night classes every weekday.

The first year I had attended because it was a condition of the job. The second year I attended because I went ‘learning mad’.  I joined courses on a whim and tried everything -- woodwork, judo, pottery, car maintenance…

I had a bash at them all, even ballroom dancing!  I’d moved from Anfield Commercial College to Lister Drive School and their wide range of courses was just what I needed.  I was, of course, hopeless at most things.  It was all just for fun.

I loved car maintenance, at least for the first year.  That year it was all practical -- stripping down engines, changing fan belts … I loved all the dirt and grime.  There were not many women involved in the mechanical subjects but I didn’t care even when the men looked at me oddly.

I passed the first year without a problem, but the second year was different. We had arrived at the theory.  I found it was a case of away with the engines and in with the books. I lost interest quickly and not just because it stopped being fun.  Despite the learning of the previous two years, I was still not confident of my reading ability.  All the long technical words and the complex structure of the sentences scared me.

So I resorted once again to the practical subjects, but my teacher told me: “Stick with it Chrissie, it’ll all come together.  You’ve no faith in yourself.  You’ve passed the first year…and half the men have left. You can strip an engine right down to the valves…”

He was right.  I had no confidence.  I couldn’t even bring myself to tell him that (as far as I saw it) I could hardly read.  Still, those nights were mostly fun, even if I was never able to square the corners at woodwork!

It was all very much escapism.  I was mixing with lots of people, but I still had as few real friends as I had when I sat in the Jewish graveyard talking to the headstones.  Finally, I gave up night school for two reasons:  I decided that we didn’t do much pottery or moulding plastics where I came from and, more important, I had discovered I was a teenager…

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