I see Irish Craig reading Macbeth in the staff room – the other Craig is Welsh – and I think, great, that’s a way in, he’s been here six months and we haven’t had a conversation about anything.

Then I stop and think, and what are you going to say? You’re a chemistry teacher. If you say something about the Scottish Play, he’ll say he’s Irish. And, anyway, he’s not an actor, he’s an English teacher, there’s no reason for him to be superstitious.

You could mention is-that-a-dagger-I-see-before-me, make a joke, but I don’t know if he’ll laugh, or see that I’m taking the piss out of my lame joke as much as making a lame joke. He might say, no, it’s a book, and go back to reading. Or laugh in that scoffing way, and barely look up. I don’t know what he’s like. Some say he’s lovely, others monosyllabic.

I consider telling him an anecdote about the time I went to see Macbeth in Birmingham on a school trip, but then realise that won’t work either. In the Temptation Scene or whatever it’s called, Lady Macbeth trying to get Macbeth to kill everyone and become king, the fire alarm went off. But it wasn’t a fire alarm. It was a bomb threat. And if I tell him about that, he’ll say, why are you telling me this? Because I’m Irish and a terrorist? The son of a terrorist? Because all Irishmen are interested in bombs and terrorists? Can’t you think of a better way to try and be my friend?

When I was at university I knew this guy who was my flatmate’s boyfriend. He was ten years or so older than us – every few weeks he drunkenly revealed he was two years older than he’d said he was two weeks earlier – and at this party we had in our flat I put this CD on thinking he’d like it, because it was Bobby Gillespie singing, and I knew he liked Primal Scream and The Jesus and Mary Chain. He told me to turn it off. It was shit. He said I put it on just because he was Scottish and therefore must like it, Bobby Gillespie being Scottish too. Couldn’t I think of a better way to make friends with someone from a different country?

The next day, hungover, he’d forgotten about it completely, but I hadn’t, I thought about it for days. Had I chosen it because he was Scottish and not because he liked Bobby Gillespie? Maybe I had.

In the staff room I say nothing to Craig, just a quick hi. He says, oh, hi, how are you? I say, fine. And that’s as far as we get.


12 thoughts on “Twice Shy

  1. I know how that feels. I do this too I even do it when blogging. Typing a whole paragraph one letter at a time on my tablet. Then think they don’t care and delete the whole thing. And just leave a generic compliment. We have to just take the chance some times.

  2. I love that all of the action was inside of the narrator’s head, and you really captured how people can feel in that type of moment. Thanks for another excellent read.

  3. Again, another real life example of how we all make simple things so complex. Like at the end, both people said hello to each other, a start to a conversation which had nothing to do with politics, nationalities, or beliefs. Why do we make life so complex when it is so obviously simple? Great work.

    Peace & Love

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