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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peel me a grape!



Well, it hasn’t rained – but by god it wants to.

We have had one of those humid or ‘close’ (as my mother would have described it) days which encourage little rivulets of sweat (sorry, perspiration – I was forgetting my ‘First Aid in English’!) to flow across the furrows of a brow wrinkled in disgust at the incessant crying of the infuriating small child which is gifted to every neighbourhood.

The Girls have gone and should now be back in Reading checking that the paddy fields of the city are still in working order after the generous supply of water that they have missed during their weekend when we were all galvanized into a strenuously inactive round of doing nothing. And very enjoyable it was too!

The Culture Club that I was invited to help found by the American art teacher in my school is going to illustrate the differences between state and private education.

Our original idea was to take small groups of students to various art events throughout the year and by pre and post event meetings with the students give them context for what they were going to experience and get a feedback of their reactions by encouraging discussion. We thought that two visits per term would be about right and, after a year we could assess the success or otherwise of the venture and take it further or give up!

The Good Idea had to be written up into a fairly formal proposal and then The Powers That Be had to make a decision. I couldn’t really see any problems apart from the obvious bureaucratic horrors of ‘risk assessment’ – and even that is not as highly advanced into the realms of inane stupidity as it is in the UK.

The Powers That Be have spoken and said that we will be ‘compensated’ for our joint efforts; the small group that we had in mind must be expanded to a larger one; a year’s programme must be submitted as soon as possible with all costs estimated; this could be a course for which a payment would be demanded from the parents . . . and at that point I knew that I was in a different teaching institution from the ones in which I have been up to now.

The art teacher and I will have a meeting in the first fortnight back (which is without children) and have to come up with something pretty concrete before the arrival of the pupils on the 14th or 15th of September. We have been told that opera does not meet with the full approval of whoever has considered our proposals and that any cinema going must be thoroughly vetted to see that there is nothing ‘inappropriate’ for the pupils’ viewing.

I shall wait for more information about the precise detail of what restraints there might be on our ideas but I have a suspicion that I am going to experience another, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” situation that sums up a lot of my response to some of the more odd ways of doing things that I have found in Catalonia.

Meanwhile I look forward to a series of cultural jaunts with intelligent and articulate students. And I will try and keep my pontificating to an absolute minimum!

The most pressing problem facing me at the moment (apart from my toothache and the lack of a dentist, let alone an English speaking one) is what to do with the bike. The new un-stolen one, that is.

At present our bikes (all three of them) are securely locked in the space under the first flight of stairs. This space has been made into a sort of lumber wedge with the door opening to the space under the house. The bikes are stacked together in a limited space and securely padlocked together behind a locked door.

This is wonderful security, but the sheer fuss of getting the bike out is certain to mean that I never (and I mean never) use it.

I have therefore looked at other possibilities. Clarrie and Mary have a bike ‘safe’ which seemed like an idea solution until I was told that it came flat-packed and fiddly and that its construction took an entire day and almost ruined a relationship. It also cost four hundred quid. I am therefore looking for an alternative solution.

I thought I had found one in a sort of plastic garden shed thing in Lidl’s until Toni poured scorn on the idea saying that the macho thieves in our area would merely carry out the whole caboodle and put it into the ‘van’ that Toni is convinced is prowling around waiting to scoop up expensive possessions.

My counterblast to luke-warm contempt is fatally weakened by not being able to find one of the five or six tape measures that we have to find out the dimensions of the bike and then compare those with the Lidl shed. As the shed costs €60 I am understandably keen on the idea.

Meanwhile, until a tape measure turns up, I will settle down and start reading Sarah Waters’ ‘The Little Stranger’ which was left with me by Clarrie so that I could (according to Clarrie) enjoy a writer whose work I have not read or (according to Mary) take a heavy book off Clarrie’s hands which would push her hand luggage over the limit!

In either case I have gained a book which is, as all right thinking people know, A Good Thing!
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