Life certainly does have a way of interfering with the civilized pursuit of writing, especially if you happen to be involved in the specific type of education that seems to be staple fare in our place: chaos.
As usual, the examinations are to blame – as when are they not?
The timetable for the writing, sitting and marking of these odious intrusions into the life of the kids and staff have been (as they were last year, and the year before that, and the year before than and . . . well, you get the idea) timed so that there is not enough time between their sitting, marking and meeting.
The meeting to discuss all the results is on Monday. The last examination was on Wednesday. The deadline for getting results, comments and class descriptions into the computer system was Friday. Oh yes, and we have a more than full timetable to teach as well!
Why not, I hear you ask, mark during the examination time of another class? Alas, our kids are so finely attuned to all the different forms of cheating (good and bad kids alike) that eagle-eyed invigilation merely keeps the cheating down to acceptable proportions, it does not eliminate it. No time then to mark. And of course one of the examinations was held last period on Wednesday, which was also Toni’s birthday during which The Family came down to celebrate and arrived before I had had a shower after returning from work.
Thursday was, therefore, a day of frantic marking as was Thursday evening so that I could have the marks ready to put in to the computer system on Friday in the “free” periods that we have in our absurdly long day.
But that, of course was not possible because the lists which were in the computer system did not relate to the actual classes that we were teaching this term. In spite of the fact that the “changeover” dates have been known since the start of year, nothing had been done. As I was the one making a fuss about this and trying to get the groups changed it also followed that I was the only teacher of these groups who was trying to put the marks into the system - ah hem! So, out of all my classes, I could only put in two sets of results on Friday when I had a "free" period.
I personally and physically took sheets of paper with teachers’ names and pupils’ names to the secretary to get the system updated, traipsing uphill on the infinity of steps which links our vertical campus.
As Friday is my “early” finish (at only ten to four in the afternoon) I left school with the entry of marks having been impossible. My mood was not subdued in any way by listening to La Stupenda shrieking her way through The Girl of the Golden West, so it was only when I found the usual note from our local Non-Delivery-Delivery service that Amazon uses that my mood lightened.
Skipping back into the car I drove into town and parked audaciously in a Blue Zone to get my parcel from the harassed little man who looks as though he is doing compulsory Car in the Community work in the office. Anyway, clutching my suspiciously light parcel I rushed back home and ripped it open.
“Simple French”, 100 Classical something or others and Messian – The Collector’s Edition (13 CDs!) was the varied fare inside. The Classical Thingies are for the car, the French is for my trip in July and Messian is for indulgence – so putting on the first disk of the Messian which was, unsurprisingly The Turangalila Symphony I settled back prepared to be swamped by the music. And I was until the fifth movement when the bloody thing stuck. I cleaned and tried again and again it stuck. I tried it in the computer and there was no problem, so it must be Toni’s music system. I hope!
However the mood had been broken so I turned to the French book and was mildly gratified to discover that many of the words were at least familiar, even if their exact meaning was sometimes elusive! I do, after all, have an O Level in French – even if, as I now realize, it was sat more than 45 years ago! How is this possible?
The charm of French soon fading I turned, resentfully, to the school work that I was unable to complete in school and found that the list had been changed at last and so I was able to put in the marks. Then I thought I would have a little lie down - and you can guess the rest.
So, on Saturday morning, Saturday morning mark you (I can hear the cadences of Neil Kinnock ringing in my ears) I settled down to write the class descriptions that we had been told by management had to be completed by Saturday afternoon!
I am still trembling with anger at the grotesque assumption of management that they can commandeer our weekends by their own incompetence in not getting groups changed while, at the same time, reducing our wages. And I am the only teacher who seems to be furious about it all. I despair! I really do!
And another thing. The Classical Thingies is ear rottingly awful. I had expected a few disks of all the favourites to hum along with but this grotesquery includes “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Sarah Brightman, as classical! And Our Bryn (may god forgive him) singing some sort of Benedictus whose syrupy vulgarity makes the theme music of “Muffin the Mule” seem like High Art. I have already skipped forwards over a whole range of tracks and I think that the whole nonsense will have to be given away or repackaged as a present for somebody – anybody. I wonder if Messian is suitable car journey music?
Mu schoolwork had to be done quite quickly as I was called to Terrassa to celebrate Toni’s mum’s birthday. I did leave in good time to get there for 2.00 pm but I had not counted on – what is the collective noun for magpies, or rather for magpies with dysentery? – because my car was covered in bird shit and pollen. One window was quite odured over with the stuff. And I couldn’t park anywhere near the bank to get money to pay my share of the present, so I admitted defeat, came back home, hosed off the car so that it looked a little less like a medieval night-soil collecting cart and started on my journey.
Which was relatively uneventful, even if I did start off on the wrong motorway. In Spain, or at least in Catalonia, they like their motorway links: why travel on one when you can pop over to another and sample the delights of another road. This is useful if you have made mistakes in your navigation because you never need to retrace your steps there will always be a portal to another universe to bring you back to the straight and narrow.
The disadvantage of these links however is that they have obviously been designed in an office by someone who doesn’t drive. If you want to experience the reality of Yeats' “Second Coming” then I suggest using a Spanish motorway link road. You will find yourself “turning and turning in a widening gyre” and unless you are driving very carefully the whole of history will flash before your eyes as you tackle yet another eye-wateringly tight bend on a spiral going who-knows-where.
Lunch was delightful and the present (a red Casio touch-screen camera) was received with delight.
Back in Castelldefels I returned to the French book and have now ploughed my way through some sixty pages desperately hoping that at least some of it will stick and even hoping, hope against hope, that it might activate some lost memories of the language so I can stagger my way along in a non English speaking environment – as I am assured I will meet in the remote part of northern France that we are going to visit.
Today I am on the Third Floor. In spite of some flimsy cloud I am confident that it is warm enough to lie out. Which I intend to do.
Tomorrow: school, meeting and opera. A varied day.