A job is something you do 9 to 5. A career is different. It permeates every cell of your being, every second of your existence: waking and sleeping.
Teachers have a hard time switching off. We cannot walk down a beach without looking for shells that might form a future classroom display. We can’t casually thumb through a magazine like the rest of humanity without carefully tearing out pages that illustrate sequence, or shades of colour or growth.
Today I got the opportunity to attend a meeting held at West Ham’s football ground. West Ham are my passion. I often describe following the club as my mistress. So needless to say, I was thrilled to attend the meeting in the hidden, carpeted bowels of the stadium; a part I get to tread rarely despite having spent most Saturdays in the stadium over the past 24 years.
At the end of the meeting, it was arranged that I would get the chance to visit the changing rooms and walk down the holiest of holies; the players’ tunnel that leads to the pitch.
Needless to say, the preceding meeting became more than insignificant to me as a result. I must have stood up to draw the proceedings to a close at least three times only to find someone had something else to say. When we eventually finished I bounced at the door, like a Labrador waiting to go to the park. As we moved down the corridor I pulled at random door handles and got a buzz at the simple act of finding a room full of electrical equipment. You have to be in love with your team to understand.
Once inside the changing room, I didn’t know where to look first. I pictured my heroes, preparing for battle. Our number 11 sat there, number 8 getting strapped over there. But my eye was drawn to a large motivational message painted on the wall. It appeared freshly painted, the message specifically chosen for the current crop of West Ham elite and thus reflecting their dismal season.
In large letters it read
ITS WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR
I froze. The beach. The casual glance at a magazine. The teacher took over.
It was the same feeling I get when I look at a supermarket sign that says
APPLE’S 5 for £1.
Here in a place which to me equates to heaven on earth I was hit with the evil that is Inappropriate Use of the Apostrophe. This evil surrounds us daily, it can be seen everywhere, on any high street, formal letter, in any advertisement. No, the world doesn’t tilt on its axis as a result. No one dies ( at least I don’t think so). But just like my wasted time on the beach I had to stop enjoying the moment and think, “Actually it should read IT’S WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR.” There was no point remaining another minute.
A few hours later, I find the mistake somewhat comforting. West Ham have had a terrible season. This weekend I will endure a 12 hour journey to some god-forsaken corner of Northern England to watch my club play in what is likely to be our final away game before relegation. We are perennial under-achievers. Even our theme song rings with the promise of disappointment; Fortune’s always hiding, I’ve looked everywhere. Inappropriate Use of the Apostrophe seems somewhat appropriate for my West Ham. We can’t even get the motivational slogans right.