My colleague called in sick, so I offered to take his class. My instructions were first to collect his teaching materials from the print room. These comprised: a selection of peer-reviewed journal articles, each in a buff folder; a special device to read the articles – this looked like a cross between an old-fashioned typewriter and a mangle; several sets of pretty stones, such as gravel-sized shards of pink quartz; and a hand-written letter.
I took all this to a house where I found my sisters, my boy cousins, and the boys’ children. SA’s son J (aged about 10) couldn’t keep his hands off the stones. He was so annoying that I had to leave the room where everyone was enjoying my sisters’ home baking. Away from the rest of the family, I had peace to prepare to deliver my colleague’s class.
The most interesting artefact in the collection of items that I picked up from the print room was the letter. From this I learnt that my colleague was leaving our place of employment to become the director of a research centre at the University of Nowhere – just as soon as the pandemic was over.