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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Damp Doubts



Perhaps because it was raining I looked at my pay information with a jaundiced eye. I am getting almost exactly twice what an unskilled production line worker would get. I can’t help feeling that there is something radically wrong with the financial priorities of the country in which I am living.

If I work it out in detail, my monthly salary just about pays the rent with the extras connected with running a dwelling. So I am in the strange position of having a job which just about covers the expense of living next to the sea. But, for the greater part of the day, I am not in a flat but in a classroom. The view, which from some classrooms is fairly spectacular, is not one which I can enjoy as I have demanding customers clamouring for my attention. It is one of those ‘nice’ problems (in the nice sense of the word) where the work takes you away from the thing you are working to enjoy! Ah the taxing paradoxes of life!

Enough of this maudlin self-pity over a couple of days of rain! What if the skies are as dull as a Spanish television advert break; what if the rain hammers down causing the route from building to building to become even more hazardous; what if the pay is derisory; what if I carry on depressing myself and forget that the summer is almost upon us!

Ah, the promise of lazy days of sunshine! And a holiday which lasts two whole blissful months!

Which is the case in point. What happens for the two months of the summer and the month before pay? There is little likelihood of the school paying for the summer even if they employ me to start teaching again in September. Contracts are contracts and mine only stretches until the end of June. The School That Sacked Me recommends to its hapless workers that are effectively sacked at the end of the school year that they apply to the employment office and ask for unemployment money to tide them over the lean months and then they will possibly be re-employed by The Owner at the start of the next school year!

Anything is possible. Even, I like to dream, being paid over the summer. Fond, I’m afraid, hope!

Three more days to go to the holidays and staff and students are more than ready to succumb to vacation inertia now. Unfortunately it is all systems very much go in our place with new initiatives about to be sprung on us.

The class of the youngest pupils I teach has now changed to another group; my second class has been relocated; my oldest pupils have been joined by others; one of my other classes is about to be enlarged and who knows what other delights await me. Although all this sounds unkind and directed it is not: classes have been rearranged to cope with the demands of examination classes and change of pupils is to facilitate knowledge of pupils’ names. I am no longer consigned to a windowless classroom in the depths of the building and all is well with the world.

Talking of wellness on our entry to the staff room this morning we were greeted by a plastic tray of sugar glazed donuts next to the tea and coffee making facilities. Next to the donuts was a pile of chocolate covered waffle-type confections which were not to be resisted. Maybe not resisted, but certainly unfinished as their sucrose packed nature was explored by the tea sodden tongue. I managed half before I gave up!

I have been searching for the last couple of days for the alleged marking from my oldest pupils who maintain that they have given me the work that I am berated them for forgetting. A salient detail divulged by one of the workless pupils convinced me that I had seen these elusive papers and therefore instigated a thorough search. Alas! All my best efforts seemed to be doomed to failure until I looked in a multi pocket file labelled with the names of the classes that I teach. And there they were, all the missing work, in the section marked ‘marking’ together with the name of the class. With my sense of organization it was the very last place that I would have expected me to file them!

I have now subscribed to the very excellent magazine ‘The Week’ for the next three years. This invaluable magazine is my window on the world and its sometimes idiosyncratic view of what was important during the last seven days is always invigorating. Although there are no articles in any real depth, the gobbet-like approach appeals to my thoroughly dilettante soul and, as a confirmed snapper up of unconsidered trifles it is purpose made for me.

My previous weekly read some years ago was The Guardian Weekly which incorporates a digest from Le Monde and The Washington Post – but it was altogether too grown up for me and it often remained unread at the end of the week. The Week is never unread as anyone could tell by the smudges of the slippery type which disfigure its well thumbed pages.

The approaching holiday will give me an opportunity to catch up on my reading which has sadly reduced itself to normal term time levels – where the last book I read would truly be flattered if I called it pulp fiction. It was an anti German rant concerning attempted Hun beastliness from the pen of the creator of Tarzan. Something of historical interest only – though I have to say that I read it avidly!
Early start tomorrow and a long day; but I intend to take my two early ends of the day that I am owed.

A fine descent into the expanse of the holiday.
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