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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It was still dark!





Today did not start well. I leaped out of bed at some ungodly time of the night to prepare myself for the early start of school. When I was fully awake I realized that it was tomorrow that asked for the unnatural break in my usual sleeping patterns and not today.

It did mean a fairly leisurely breakfast and cup of tea and a reasonably free flowing drive to school, but I begrudge my lost hours!

As I sipped my tea and debated with myself about whether I could profitably use my gained time to put some more of my books in order (a though that was soon dismissed) I pondered one of the great truths about battery operated toothbrushes.

As battery operated toothbrushes are, by the very nature of their power requirements, classed as gadgets and as they are relatively inexpensive, I am a bit of an expert of their variety and use.

My latest model is from Carrefour and is by far the noisiest of all the examples that I have come across. It has a removable head and seems to brush in every conceivable direction giving plaque and bacteria little or no chance. The extra noise also galvanizes one into wakefulness as it does feel as though one has inserted a serious power tool into your mouth!

But my question and observation concerns the battery life. Why is it in battery operated toothbrushes the battery suddenly fails? It doesn’t die a slow death: one moment it is working and the next it isn’t. And how unsatisfying it is to have to remember the old skills of actually having to move the brush in the ‘up and down’ style advocated by your parents and all those healthy eating films.

And why have I delayed putting a new battery into the damn thing? What is stopping me from completing a simple battery exchange? And why don’t I use an ordinary one while I am waiting? These are searching questions and it seems entirely odd that I can type about what I need to do and not actually do it!

The school day may have started badly, but it ended reasonably enough because I had a free period and decided to slip off early.

This may appear to be unprofessional, but you only have to try and get away from the school at its official end time to see how essential escape before the kids are out can be.

The school is situated on a broad avenue – though not so broad that it can accommodate triple parked cars on one side and double parked cars on the other. Parents believe that they have a Divine Right to park exactly where they want to and some double park and then leave their vehicles unattended. They stop and block; they manoeuvre without indication; they ignore other road users – car drivers and pedestrians and lastly and most annoyingly they show no guilt about their appalling behaviour.

The top road along buildings 1, 2 and 3 may be broad but all the other roads which surround the site are narrow and winding. Our school is situation on one of the hills of Barcelona and has panoramic views of the city.

This extraordinary location does mean that there are road approaches which mountain goats find difficult. And if there were any mountain goats making their sure footed nimble way to our school they would all be slaughtered by the hordes of Merc, Audi and BMW driving parents as they make their furious single minded way to school to deposit their kids in our tender care.

This morning, for example two parents stopped their cars on the corner of a 1 in 1 hill on a busy junction, thereby bring the whole traffic system to a halt and causing people to complete hill starts which is always a little hairy if you are behind the car attempting to pull away as it rolls backwards perilously close to your bonnet before the driver finds the gear to propel the car forwards.

I waited with the patience which is a characteristic of our noble nation (I’m not kidding, compared with the Spanish drivers we still preserve the old fashioned virtues!) while a woman parent in a sporty new Merc beeped her horn. Probably because she had to do a hill start!

When the children had been allowed out of their respective cars we drivers in the traffic jam were allowed to continue. I will the woman parent in the Merc on my tail. At the top of another 1 in 1 hill I stopped to allow a mother with her child to cross on the zebra crossing and was beeped by the ludicrous Merc driver!

When I had parked in an available space I walked towards the main school door and lo and behold the Merc driver was parked in a space which was not a designated parking space and she was obstructing others! Don’t you just love it when life throws irony at you! I tried to get a glimpse of her pupil passenger so that I could persecute her if she was in one of my classes. Unfortunately the reflection of light on the windscreen made it impossible to discover the face of the progeny and stopping there and waiting for a better view might have opened me up to comment!

Drivers like that mother make the traffic situation at the end of school one long nightmare. The roads to the motorway become impossibly blocked and travelling a few yards can take an absurdly long time.

My sneaking off a few minutes early was especially fortunate as the traffic lights at the junction leading to the slip road of the motorway were out of commission.

I don’t think that I need to labour the point about the chaos that was already building up and that was before the torrent of cars that mark the end of school. As it was I was home in little more than twenty minutes with a slow smile playing around my mouth as I thought about the homicidal situation I was leaving far behind!

Tomorrow a meeting with the powers that be about our Culture Club. The programme for the year is roughed out and the school will now have to decide on the practical aspects of the running of the club - like how much to charge the parents. Such things have not previously been a concern of mine, so it will be interesting to see how the meeting proceeds

Always something new!
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