There was something so quintessentially bourgeois about my Thursday morning.
I got up, appropriately, at the time I would have started teaching: 8.15 am, giving me a lie-in of one and three quarter hours! I started by Day of Action by making a cup of Earl Grey tea and taking it and an Internet radio to the Third Floor where I sipped my tea listening to the dulcet tones of the presenters and guests of the Today Programme.
As the sun grew in warmth I decided to put my years of English expertise to the test and I wrote a poem appropriate to the occasion. It now follows:
SONG OF THE STINKING SCABS
(To be sung to the first part of the tune of “Lead Me O Thou Great Jehovah”
Stinking scabs deserve our loathing!
Stinking scabs deserve our hate!
Stinking scabs deservèd low life!
Stinking scabs deserve their fate!
Can you see him sitting pretty?
Safe, self-satisfied and smug,
Letting others take the action
Proudly thinking he’s no mug!
Suddenly he’s found his “ethics”
Moral codes to “do what’s right”
Pity that he can’t apply them
To a real in-house fight!
He has “higher duties” pressing
To the kids within his care
Couldn’t ever think of striking
Such a crime he could not bear.
Loss of money’s not important,
Or the frowns of management
He’s prepared to be upstanding –
But he has to pay the rent!
He has family commitments
Food to buy and kids to raise;
These are real, pressing problems –
Strikes put off for “other” days.
Days that never come for someone
Who can’t think beyond today;
Men whose fights are fought by others -
Those on strike for better pay!
Just for us the bigger picture,
Grime of politics, the fight.
Just for us the risks and struggle
And the prize for doing right.
Scabs are quick to take what’s offered,
No compunction, guilt or pause,
Strikers, though, they should remember
Won’t forget their selfish flaws!
I may be a tad childish but it did give me some pleasure, and there was something so totally bizarre about singing such a thing to the tune I have heard reverberate (and indeed help reverberate) around the National Stadium, to sing the thing sotto voce as my small votive offering to the Power of the Strike.
We had lunch out and then it was time for me to go in to Barcelona to join the procession. Lunch was on the beach looking at hordes of children with their parents, reminding me that there were some schools which did have the strength of their convictions and did the right thing.
My plan to go into Barcelona by train was frustrated firstly by the fact that the station was closed until 4.00 pm and then secondly by discovering that the first train into Barcelona (on the strike approved minimum timetable) was at 5.30 pm – the same time as the start of the march.
Plan B meant that I drove my car into the city and at the top end of the Diagonal I met a small group of workers marching and effectively closing the road. I think I was the only driver held up who lowered the window to give a thumbs up sign to the marchers.
I got down the length of most of the Diagonal but had to turn off before the junction with Gracia – which is where I was supposed to meet my colleagues. I did manage to find an underground parking space and then made an unsteady and hesitant way towards the meeting point as my direct route had been frustrated by police cars blocking off certain parts of the road.
I did, eventually, get there well before time and found none of my colleagues there. As a march of an associated union set off (the UGT) I set off with them until my nerve broke and I went back to the original meeting point to find the right union.
I never really did find them, but at least I found other people who were part of the Union the CCOO and that was good enough. I acquired a plastic flag and a couple of stickers and I was ready to destroy the system! Well, I walked a bit and then decided that, as I had become a statistic, it was time for me to go home.
After paying an extortionate amount for my shortish sojourn in the underground car park and making my way through road blocks to the motorway, I gained my home and entered flag-waving and filled with delight at the thousands upon thousands of people men, women and children I had seen marching peacefully towards something or other.
This was not the way that the demonstration was portrayed on the television. They hadn’t been very many of us and we had smashed bank windows and violently threatened shopkeepers strike-breaking!
I did, I have to admit, take a few pictures of banks with broken windows and regretted having passed a branch of BBVA which had been splattered with paint without taking a lasting memento of this more than justified act of contempt!
FRIDAY – THE LAST BLOODY DAY OF THIS BLOODY TERM AT BLOODY LAST
Coming into school this morning I first looked at the substitution list and saw that all my classes had been covered by my colleagues. Thank you very much for that act of support! I felt strangely distanced from those colleagues – let’s fact it, most of them – who had shown themselves to be nothing neither more nor less than scabs. I felt, more than anything that I simply didn’t fit with these people. It is at times like this that I begin to despair. But, this is nothing new. How many times have I felt like that in schools in Britain! Nothing changes. Nothing.
I have, however, taken a photocopy of the substitution list and I will speak with the other colleagues who went on strike, to find out exactly what they want to do. Their classes too, were covered with no expression of hesitation as far as I can tell.
The email we were sent asking if we could inform the management if we were going on strike, prefaced, as it was by a statement that the school would stay open, can now be taken as intimidation. The school has behaved abominably and we have to decide if we take this further and report the school to the relevant authorities. I will be all in favour of taking more action because I think it is important that the management of the school realizes that they cannot act with impunity as a completely separate entity from the rest of the world in education!
We are finally, at last, at long last coming towards the last period that I have to teach (or at least be around for) in this impossibly long term. And, as is traditional I have been informed that the glorious weather that we have been luxuriating in inside the school will not last beyond this weekend outside the school! Nothing changes.
SATURDAY – THE FIRST GLORIOUS DAY OF THE SUPERB HOLIDAY
I reverted to British Tourist Mode today and the first thing I did this morning was look out of the bathroom window to see if the sun was shining! It was and I consequently spent the rest of the morning lazing on the Third Floor.
My “little rest” yesterday afternoon extended its way through the night until this bright morning. If only the rest of the weather during this holiday could be relied on to be as good as today, it would be perfect. But we have been told to expect a change in the weather after the weekend, so I am making the most of it.
Toni continues ill, so I went to have a start of holiday celebratory lunch alone – though it did give me the opportunity to sit in the sun, something Catalans will not do by choice!
I am still waiting for the English version of the handbook for the car and I am also hoping that there is something simple I can do to get more information on the display when a CD track is playing rather than simply the number. This problem does seem to be intractable. But I live in hope.
I have made my traditional list of things to do during the holiday, though this list is even more unrealistic than my usual ones! This one includes the equivalent of writing two books and those are just the first two items on the list!
Ever the optimist.