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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Failure in the exams in our school comes with the delight of a ‘recuperation’ examination. The period from the time of failure to the taking of the recuperation examination is supposed to be filled with frantic revision.

Not so the children in our school. One boy failure has offered me (only half jokingly) money to pass him and the others all look for extenuating circumstances to explain their failure: lack of effort, of course, is not one of the elements which they take into account.

One boy has asked to see his examination papers and I have given them to him and also given him a print out of his marks in the elements of the examination so that he can see clearly where he has lost the majority of the marks that he should have gained. Unsurprisingly the highest mark deficit is in those sections in which he had to use a word or phrase in a sentence to show that he understood its meaning.

As this examination was ‘English as a Foreign Language’ the use of vocabulary is an essential component and to gain good marks there is a simple matter of hard learning to be completed before success can be achieved. This is not rocket science, but to this boy the concept of hard work is anathema. Instead what he looks for are mark anomalies and is prepared to argue the toss on each and every mark, sometimes even questioning my use of English! This takes the concept of blasphemy to a level not achieved since his Infernal Majesty had that insulting chat with the Galilean carpenter’s son in the wilderness!

It shows what a corrupt place I consider this school to be that I took the precaution of photocopying the boy’s examination paper before I gave it to him. There have been instances of subtle transmogrification of disastrous examination papers so that they rise from the intellectual ashes of idiocy into the balmier regions of mediocrity. It will be interesting to compare the ‘before’ and ‘after’ if he tries to increase his terrible marks! Or perhaps I am being simply too suspicious.

Today is Marc’s first birthday. He has made remarkable progress in all areas of his development and remains a disturbingly advanced small person. He still looks at me in an oddly unsettling way and so I have bought him a squeezable caterpillar with illuminated cheeks as a peace offering. I thought that its incongruity and surrealistic potential might hold him back for a few seconds.

As we have to go up to Terrassa for a Family Meal this is going to throw our whole schedule out of kilter in the packing department and I will be able to use this lacuna as a weapon against Toni when we reach the point of total hysteria and recrimination closer to the 26th June.

Another unsettled day in school where everything appears to be waiting for something else to happen. The days are clearly running out for the pupils and the atmosphere is almost unbearably fin de siècle and decadent – but without the sensual excess! Day staggers into day and the dissolution of the timetable conveys itself to the work ethic of the staff. The kids are 80% on holiday and the days remaining are an intolerable burden. We only have to make it to the 22nd of June and then the proximity of Sant Juan (a day noted for the Catalans to throw off their usual restraint and behave like the British) means that the summer has started in earnest and, to put it another way, I will shortly be out of work.

In spite of my best insinuations, suggestions and doe eyed inarticulate pleadings I will not be employed by the school for the two summer months and I will have a new contract in September. I do not think that I actually qualify for the governmental handouts which are common at this time of year as many (unscrupulous) firms and organizations take advantage of the social security system and sack their workers for July and August and then re-employ them in September!

I am not relying on the government for any help over the summer period but I am expecting my aval to be given back to me. This money is now the constant topic of conversation at home and our low expectations of The Owner have almost driven us into the arms of a Voodoo Witch Doctor to aid our cause!

Meanwhile I have to draw out another sum of money from the hole in the wall to attempt to get the cash amount for the deposit. Such things pass the time as school continues is slow imploding progress towards the end of the school term.

The Black Hole approaches.
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