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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's the season I suppose


A glorious day which started with bright sunshine and yet another car crash and ended with thunder and lightning and torrential rain. I do wish the long expected consistent summer would get here and shine its months away!

People in school are now getting progressively more panicky as the examination season proper gets under way. Tomorrow I have a meeting with the head of English to discuss the oral examinations which all the students will have to take. These are external examinations and over the next month or so we have to complete a series of practice tests the form of which is going to be explained to me and then I will have to implement. Such larks!

I am finding much innocent pleasure in deciding what short stories to give to the pupils and then designing covers for the little booklets that I am producing. I know that such activity is merely displacement activity to push the necessary marking into the background where it belongs, but I cannot resist it.

Most of the stories that I am drawn to are all out of copyright and are available somewhere or other on the web. Project Gutenberg is a very useful source of texts and there are other sites whose legality I have been seriously questioning – though, it has to be said, using.

Having committed the ultimate literary blasphemy of ‘lightly editing’ (May I be forgiven!) a Chekhov story, I decided to do the same to a short story by Saki, ‘Sredni Vashta.’ Don’t worry, every change that I made seemed like cutting a chunk of living flesh and watching vital blood drain, so I gave up by paragraph two! I have limited myself to creating new paragraphs as Saki’s vocabulary is taxing for English learners and they need the slight respite of smaller sections to have to cope with.

They may miss (but then most do) some of the more subtle passing humour of Saki’s style, but the story is strong enough to stand in its own right and most will be able to appreciate the true nastiness of the vengeful writing that Saki uses in that bitter story. I hope!

And the school has bought me a long armed stapler for my little booklets.

Who, reasonably could ask for more!
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