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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

End of yet another era!


Today I told the head of department that I would not be teaching in the school during the next academic year.  She had the good grace to look as though someone had put a bullet through her forehead!

She had, as I would have expected, the good grace also to sympathize with the demands of my questionable health and agree that it was more important to be healthy than soldier on and gradually subside into coughing absence.

The school hasn’t quite agreed (I think) to one of my perfectly reasonable requests for a gentle financial decline from fully paid employment, but I remain optimistic (I think.)

The reaction of my colleagues was one of shock and disbelief – which was touching – but it was also noticeable that the breaking news of the morning had given way to disinterested acceptance by the afternoon.  A school is a very good place to learn the transitory nature of things; generations change with bewildering speed in normal school life and there is always something new to replace the recently interesting.

It will be revealing to see how long it takes the kids to find out that I am going; which of the teachers reveals information that the kids do not need to know – and of course the reaction of the kids.

I do feel different having said irrevocable words to the Powers That Be, though perhaps not quite as different as I thought I would have felt.  Still, as one of my colleagues pointed out to me, I am now “untouchable” and it is up to me to work out how to use this illusory power!

Toni and I went out to collect my Amazon goodies which, of course, have not been delivered by our local non-delivery delivery service. I have discovered that I have ordered two copies of Peter Watson’s “Ideas – A history from fire to Freud” well, one of the copies will be an excellent present for Suzanne.  Lucky girl!

The rest of the Amazon order is CDs of various sorts to harmonize the journey to school each day.  I have added to my already incomparable (at least to my knowledge) collection of Carl Nielsen.  I think that my recordings of that Great Dane now outnumber the recordings of my first Scandinavian love, Sibelius!  Though possibly not quite.

Celebrations of this auspicious day were held in La Fusta, our tapa restaurant of choice.  We have decided that their patatas bravas and ensallida rusa are the best in Castelldefels and we had a chilled bottle of Cava.

I did want to buy a summer watch to commemorate the day but the model that I had seen and wanted had been sold and I had to order another one which I will have in a week or so.  It will be rather different from the other watches that I have worn recently – but perhaps it is time for a change.

Yesterday was one of those days for which a new word for the concept of “tiredness” needed to be invented.

As well as frantic marking of the odd examination papers that were sat late, a full time table, preparation for my epic day today when I have six periods to teach, a two hour meeting after school and a trip into the centre of Barcelona to go to an opera which did not finish until 11.30 pm, the worry about the non-arrival of stuff from Amazon thanks to the idiot incompetence of the delivery people at this end, my inability to learn French quickly enough for a holiday in July, the economic situation in Greece, finding somewhere prominent to fly my second CCOO flag in the garden, being in school when the sun is shining provocatively outside – there is also the problem of life in general.

There is going to be another strike and I have been talking to those activists (or “normal” people as I like to call them) who took action last time and we have been discussing the almost pathological, eyes-closed rejection of action to the disastrous situation which is unfolding around them.  For Christ’s sake, their bloody pay has been cut and they do nothing, nothing at all.  They fear to take further (ha!) action from the absolutely nothing that they have done in spite of the fact that they are in a situation that demands their active demonstration of rejection!

The Opera was Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea based on an 1849 play and first performed in 1902.  I must admit that I had not heard of either the composer of the opera and I must further admit that I have done not a single second of listening to get to know the music of the production and I don’t even know the libretto – even after watching the opera I am not convinced that I fully understand what went on.

The thing that strikes one about the production is the sizzling animosity between the two lead female singers.  I was irresistibly reminded of “Dynasty” or was it the other one where two of the major female stars ended up in one episode wrestling in a lily pond – not quite mud wrestling but near enough.

The music was odd and reminded me of Delibes and at times was vulgar beyond belief and sounded like the most sensationalist musical type production.  The storyline was risible – poisoned violets forsooth – but the magnificent set and the powerful singing made the evening one which kept me awake in spite of my almost overwhelming tiredness

That was the last of the operas this season and I look forward to the next year in rather more relaxed times!

We shall see who has just found out about my departure tomorrow.
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