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Monday, May 18, 2009

The early worm has got it wrong!


I set off for school extra early to avoid any chaos which might result from the opening of the new terminal in Barcelona Airport. The new terminal is a major work with roads being extended and rerouted; reclamation of protected (huh!) wetlands, and much building. Acres of tarmac have been spread (over the aforesaid protected (huh!) wetlands) in preparation for the extra cars expected. Slip roads have been built which join onto the road that I take to school each day – and thereby lays the rub.

Any deviation from normality for the main arterial roads around Barcelona means, because of the density of traffic using them, total and utter chaos. Rubber necking produces astonishing delays and length tailbacks, so my leaving extra early was a wise precaution.

At least it would have been a wise precaution if the information we Castelldefels dwellers had been given was in any way accurate. I arrived in school with over an hour to the start of my classes to be informed that the terminal is actually opening in a month’s time, in June not May. At least I was early!

The Spanish do not listen. That may seem like a racist remark but in the majority of circumstances in which you could expect discussion it does not take place. A Spanish discussion is one where everybody speaks at once in a loud voice which quickly gets louder.

The political shouting match which developed in my class when discussion of the allegations about the corruption of PP (the right wing party) started was laughable. It was a caricature of how we think foreigners behave when they start talking. One boy started well explaining his point of view to me but, the instant there was a sneered interjection from a slouching girl he snarled back an instant response and then it was all shouting, raised shoulders and splayed hands! It was only by my staring steadily at him and saying, “Oriel, to me! Calm!” that I managed to get a coherent statement from him. The slightest suggestion of a contrary point of view and he was ready to jump. In fact getting him to put forward his point of view was a bit like I imagine it would be talking someone in from the outside ledge of a tall building!

It was a relief to get back to the topic in hand which was an article on stalking. You can imagine the sort of vocabulary that I had to explain!

I have returned to the task of rewriting the short story of Saki called ‘Seredni Vashtar’ – a charming tale of cousin killing by proxy and all written in Saki’s priceless prose. I have only re-written a single page and I feel positively unclean with the outrages that I have committed in the name of comprehensibility for English learners. I tell myself that it is a good story, not only in terms of the writing but also in terms of the plot. I have used the original story with a year 10 class and they found it impenetrable, so I feel that I am justified in making the basic story more accessible. Having already ‘lightly edited’ a Chekov short story I feel that I am ready for more deliberate evisceration.

Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!

Apart from the dirty great planes roaring overhead the scene at the moment is one of idyll with the sun beating down and a light breeze cooling the reddening brow. To hand, a glass of Rioja and a bottle of Gaseosa while other fingers play on the keys of a computer with a screen bright enough to read in reasonable sunlight.

Who could ask for more? (Rhetorical.)
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