Here at The Bates Motel yesterday was warmish.


A writer’s yesterday

Helen Garner has a rather lovely unsent letter to a former teacher in the Fairfax press Sunday Supplement today.

One day you listed the functions of the adverb. You said, "An ad­verb can modify an adjective." Until that moment I had known only that adverbs modified verbs: they laughed loudly; sadly she hung her head. I knew I was supposed to be scratching away with my dip pen, copying the list into my exercise book, but I was so excited by this new idea that I put up my hand and said, "Mrs Dunkley. How can an adverb modify an adjective?"

You paused, up there in front of the board with the pointer in your hand. My cheeks were just about to start burning when I saw on your face a mysterious thing. It was a tiny, crooked smile. You looked at me for a long moment – a slow, careful, serious look. You looked at me, and for the first time, I knew that you had seen me.

"Here’s an example," you said, in an almost intimate tone. "The wind was terribly cold."

I got it, and you saw me get it. Then your face snapped shut.

I never lost my terror of you, nor you your savage contempt. But if arithmetic lessons continued to be a hell of failure and derision, your English classes were a paradise of branching and blossoming knowledge.

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