1. Widdershins

Against the way, contrary to the proper direction.

Middle Low German weddersinnes: wider, back (from Old High German widar; cf. Indo-European wi-) + sinnes: in the direction of (from Old High German sin, direction; cf. Indo-European sent-). Found in Middle Lowland Scots.

Not to be confused with widersonnis, withersones,etc.: clockwise, counterclockwise, left. 

Wiktionary/ Jon Hanna, english.stackexchange.com, 30.05.2014


It’s four days later and I’m still in recovery.

Day one [18.09.18] of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh’s Diploma in Herbology was a shock to the system. The start of the autumn term always is, but this one not only marked the end of the summer’s luxuries, but a particularly intense 28-day phase of dramatic personal shifts and constant income generation. I had trundled my suitcase through my front door at 1am that same morning, just back from four days of conference work in Dubrovnik.

And thereby hangs the tale.

Herbology is a sea change for me, after almost thirty years as a professional translator/interpreter. And in the classroom, amongst peers who have already completed the Certificate course, I am all at sea. As they nod with familiarity at Latin nomenclature, suggest the correct herbological solutions to given problems, and insightfully comment in the blind testing exercise, I feel more and more adrift. I am panicking. I lose my horizon. I begin to wonder what I’m doing here. I can’t now recall why I have been so anxious to get on this course, was so very delighted to be accepted. As my colleagues reveal their areas of special interest, I am unable to recall any single skill I may once have possessed. My eyes aren’t only red from lack of sleep. And as the tears prick, I question why I’ve been working so hard to pay the course fees, and then panic at the knowledge that I will have to continue to do this whilst attempting to catch up with the rest of the class. Now my heart also sinks.

I begin to clutch at lifelines. My random answers and comments flail clumsily across the quieter and more considered utterances of my colleagues. To my horror, I realize that not only is this a language I do not yet speak, but that I am importing a foreign culture to this classroom.

I am unused to being with people who do not speak a sign language. I am unfamiliar with classroom conversations that run on linear principles. In 3-dimensional, spatial languages, the custom is to co-construct utterances collaboratively; interjections and cross-talk are understood as offers of additional furniture in the room of conversation. This is not the case here. This insight comes to me a little late. My peers are already beginning to wonder whether they can tolerate this classroom boor for the next two years. The tutor, who must have taken a huge chance in accepting me onto the course, looks as if she is questioning her decision. And I don’t blame her.

On the bus home, the only thing sticking me together is the prospect of my daughter’s visit.  

I can’t bring myself to consider what next week will look like.