Letters from Thailand

{January 23, 2008}   Heath Ledger

10things_ledger1.jpgI knew it was going to be a shit day when I woke up half an hour late because I’d forgotten to set my alarm. Usually when that happens, the day just goes down hill. I had made it into work just in time (thanks to the brainwave of putting on my make-up in the taxi) and had settled down with my first dose of caffeine, when a colleague broke the news that Heath Ledger had died.

Now, normally I wouldn’t bother commenting on the death of someone I’ve never met. But, this is different – I have good reason to thank Heath Ledger for saving my sanity almost every Friday for two years.

Between 2005 and 2007, I worked at a language school in the UK where it was common, during the winter months, to have to teach groups made up entirely of French teenagers, usually from the same school. Very often, the students came from ‘special’ schools they attended because they had been excluded from regular schools. They were nearly always accompanied by disillusioned teachers who looked like they were taking one last holiday before they succumbed to a nervous breakdown. The students themselves found the process of learning English – like any other subject – completely irrelevant. They had already been labeled as non-achievers, so what was the point in doing anything to change that perception? As a result, no matter how interesting we tried to make the lessons, we didn’t get very much out of them and waited desperately for Friday to arrive. Friday mornings were good – we could do DVD lessons. One of the most fought over (among the teachers) was ’10 Things I Hate About You’, so, if we were lucky, a couple of us would grab the DVD, combine our classes and distribute some comprehension questions about the film. There was Heath as the rebellious outsider, someone the students could identify with, and who we just found gorgeous as hell. So while they paid attention for the first time all week and answered the comprehension questions, we just sat, ogling Mr. Ledger, as memories of the earlier part of the week drifted away.

A sad loss. My condolences to his family.  May he rest in peace.


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