Middle Class Problems: Self-improvement courses are a meal ticket to the new, improved us. If only it wasn't raining...


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The Independent Online

We are exhorted throughout our lives – from our schooldays on – to be the very best we can be. "I should like to be a potter," we might have said to our careers adviser, who would lovingly respond, "Tsch, child, don't be so ridiculous – now here's an idea: the world always needs lawyers and accountants, so why not be the very best at lawyering or accountering you can be?"

And so, head hanging, we traipsed from the room, hopes, nay, dreams dashed. But still, that pottery spark lives on in the heart.

Lives on until later in life, when we realise there is no officious official holding us back any more. Why, if we can't throw pots for money, we can still follow our ideals, thanks to the magnificence that is the endless choice of self-improvement courses running in each town and hamlet. In eight to 12 weeks, we could be an expert glassblower, illustrator or ceramics glazer – everything and anything is open to us.

And there's the rub: it's a bit like having a pathologically incomplete New Year's resolutions list mentally stalking us. "Throw yourself in at the deep end," it whispers. "The world of craft is at the end of your inert fingertips, so put aside the Beaujolais and sally forth.

"You'll learn new skills, meet new friends, maybe build a small start-up when you get really good. Could this be a new career?"

Ah, the meal ticket to the new, improved us! Our urban eat-pray-love moment. Until we realise the dog needs washing, weaving starts in 10 minutes, and it's raining.

Maybe we'll miss this one. We'll go next week, honest…