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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who knows what's true


Today is one of those days whose fabric is permeated with a sense of unreality.  It’s sunny but unreal.  There is a patina of fantasy that is colouring our actions and nothing seems quite as it should be.

This might be a hang-over from the cheese I ate late last night or a mild case of dyspepsia or even the tail end of my illness but it is there nevertheless: a sense of other-worldliness.

I sometimes think that this attitude is a teacher’s response to the enormity of the task which we have to face every day: five new performances with a hypercritical audience and one’s standing only as good as the last show!

Tomorrow exams start and the self-induced chaos and stress that come with this season starts.  It has an almost biblical ring to it and it puts one in mind of the words of the New Testament that “A decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be examined” and each child will have to go to his or her own classroom and, well, you get the general idea – though I do not think that our burst of activity, though of stellar proportions, will presage the birth of another messiah. 
 
It is more likely that as the last examination is taken that the Four Educational Horsemen of the Apocalypse will descend: Photocopying, Cheating, Marking and Meetings. 

“And Meetings shall ride upon an oval table borne high by soulless managers and he shall be surrounded by chairs piled high with the empty shells of people who have imploded from despair.  And he shall look around and see that all things are good and he shall say, “Shall we open diaries and schedule a quickie to talk about this?” and great will be the groan and lamentation thereof and he will look upon the desolation that he has wrought and he will be satisfied.”

The exams do not work out very well for me and much of my marking will be right at the end of the period which links into the long weekends.  Still, it should not be too much trouble and I am sure that I will be ahead of the game by the time we are able to take our couple of days off.

What is more interesting is what is going to happen during the Fiasco Week when we few (we precious few) are left back at base while our more enterprising colleagues are taking school trips right, left and centre.

Over the past couple of months I have heard the refrain, “We can discuss that during the Fiasco Week” for a whole variety of problems and possibilities.
 
One of the more interesting ideas concerns our participation in a student UNO meeting in Lisbon next academic year.  I am more than prepared to get involved in discussions about who to take and how to prepare the students for this enterprise, but I am not prepared to accompany them anywhere on a trip that involves overnight accommodation. 

I have tried to make my travel restrictions clear to anyone who will listen and I do hope that they will not be foolhardy enough to encourage me to break a rigid rule which I have never broken in all my years of teaching.  A subsidized trip to Lisbon is not likely even to reach the outer borders of vague temptation!

But I jump the gun and I am hoping that there will be others eager to go off on a jaunt that they may see bolstering their employment prospects and be a further step to advancement.  Good luck to them!

Just the thought of escape from school has made me turn my mind to the “tasks” which are a natural element in any free days.

There are some tasks connected to finance which are just too important to be interesting and there are boring letters that I must write which by their essential nature continually get consigned to the back of the queue for completion.

The real pressing problem and therefore the most urgent task is one which I am sure is taxing the resources of people all over the world.  This is, of course, where to find a decent transparent toilet bag to take the little bottles of not more than 100 ml each that is the stated essential holder if you only take hand luggage with you.
 
I have bought ready-filled packs with miniature toothpaste etc. in them and they self-destruct after a single trip.  The worst part of these transparent holders is the plastic zip type fastening which breaks before the holiday has really got started: even if it is only a weekend!

I have found something that looks more substantial and could well last for more than a single trip, but this container is filled with expensive liquids already, one of which is a large professional looking bottle of hair conditioner – something which, for reasons I prefer not to go into, is not an essential purchase in my world!

As I do not need it until April I have a substantial amount of time to mosey my way, with purpose, through the supermarkets in our area!

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