Competency.

Have you ever woken up, knowing what was wrong?  Or right?

I don’t mean in the normal excessively late middle age things of having a sense of which bits have dropped off in the night, assuming, that is, that you’ve got your brain working, don’t have cramp in your leg that gets the cramp, aren’t exhausted from trips along the landing in the night or triple digging a flower bed yesterday to find and exhume the rhizomes that seemed such a good idea by post in the lockdown but are now invading the entire neighbourhood and every pot, bed and hanging basket you possess.

Or even just being knackered from reading long sentences.

No, I mean globally.

Well, to be fair, globally locally.  You know, in general with you.

I woke this AM and realised that competency had arrived with me and was lying there with me, in my summer pyjamas, one leg out of the duvet, wondering if half past six is too early to get up.

You may be thinking (people do, readers especially, politicians almost never) ‘Competency, Jane, competency?  Should that not be competence and does the fact that you are thinking the wrong noun show that you haven’t got it?  Eh?  Eh?  Hahaha.’

Well no because competency is the ability to do something measured against a standard.  Aha!  It is also being fit enough to give evidence in court, but I wasn’t in court, I was in bed one leg out etc.

Yes, I realised that limited competency had arrived in the night.

As a young teacher I was taught that you can’t teach children anything.  I had already suspected this to be the case from observation of some of my cousins, one or two in particular.  But no, there it was, lecture ONE, you cannot teach anyone anything.  This did not lead, as you might expect, to a mass exodus of putative teachers to sign up as road sweepers (lift up the corner of the zebra crossing, sweep the leaves underneath, put it back, carry on up the road – not that anyone can teach you this, you’ll just have to find out by trial and error.  Don’t try to lift a traffic roundabout, they glue them down and then put plants on with really long roots.)

What they taught (given that they couldn’t) was that you stuff the information in, like worms into baby robins and sometime later, usually in the night when the nestlings are asleep (apart from the one with its head over the edge – indigestion) connections are cemented in the brain and learning has taken place.

Lateron, studying der brane I loined dat there is opun endid elektrik cunnekshins in der brane wot joins up if yew do it offen enuf.  Der prossess is assisted by der amygdala, der hippocampus what is named after seahorses, and what have you.  Ther stuff gets chucked eround between ther bits until a shortkut is made and nekkst time you knows how to do it.

So, you are saying, Fatso, (showing what you have not learned) so, Tubs, what is it you learned, Oldie, and did you forget it instantly, hahaha!

It was THER computing, grasshopper, ther computing.

Well, a bit of it.

In the beginning, about 1981, the OH wanted a home computer.  As it had only been about twenty years since pundits had predicted the possibility of as many computers in the UK as a whole five, he was right on trend.  He wanted a keyboard that you connected to your little boxy television with a wire and, excitingly, later, to your cassette recorder with another wire, so you could record all the steps it had taken to get the word hello’ on to the screen.

He wanted it so much he sold a sword to get it.  It was an inherited thing, from his father, in WW2.  I was glad the sword had gone and not very interested when the keyboard arrived.  I didn’t see the point when you could write ‘hello’ with a pen, or indeed, a pencil.

Boys toys, I thought.  Stupidly.

But a mere 40 years later and several laptops of my own I find myself quite interested.  I can do the words (slightly),  I can print off pictures of the grandchildren to send to SMIL, I can foolishly order stuff I don’t want and cannot afford late at night, in the usual way, I can watch stuff, I can answer emails from you.

But I cannot do the fancy stuff.  Teaching me (impossibly) the S&H had instructed me to ignore vast swathes of symbols arranged in various locations on the screen.  I was more than happy to ignore them.  Ignor – ance bring it on!

But yesterday I had a thought (second this week, hippocampus up and running like nobody’s business).  What if, I put an indication of the existence of this blog in with the bookmarks that I put in the bags of books in the lockdown library on the end of the drive.  Hmm? Then readers who had finished a book but couldn’t get another because it was raining, or night, or summat, would have something else to read for free.

Since the beginning of the lockdown library on the end of the drive there have probably been hundreds of books on and off the cart.  How could I get hundreds of notices into the book bags?  Well I could buy more business cards which is expensive when I am currently skint, due to late night online shopping.  I could write a screed and print it off numerous times or.

Or I could use one of the mysterious symbols on the top of the screen in the programme where you write things, to get a little message replicated many times on one sheet of paper.

I have done this previously, not using the little symbols.  I just typed it out repeatedly.

Der.

But this time, all on my own, like a three year old, I experimentally wrote one message and then replicated it by prodding other electronic buttons and filling a page with the same message, little and able to be cut up and popped into a book, with the bookmark.  I did it just as if I were computer literate and not guessing.  (I was just guessing, don’t tell anyone.)  And then, even on my new computer, I managed to save the result and and I even know where it is and where to find it again.

And woke this AM knowing I could do it all again if necessary because learning has taken place and my hippocampus is swanking around all over the place.

I woke in stunning competency with a cold leg.

Fabulous.

And to think all I once wanted was thinner thighs.

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