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Saturday, February 23, 2013

What is that white stuff!
















A truly shitty day!  Cold and very wet with snow on distant hills and those a bloody sight nearer to Castelldefels.  As far as I can tell it has been raining all night and the sky looks determined to continue the nocturnal emissions throughout the day.  The skyscape is a truly British looking phenomenon and I can feel the familiar, easily remembered resentment building up because it doesn’t look as though I am going to get my statutory glimpse of the sun during any part of the weekend.

I hope that the unrelentingly depressing day does not really extend itself to the full 48 hours of escape from the School on the Hill, and that I will be writing with gushing enthusiasm about golden gleams touching my pallid skin before too long.  But I do not have much confidence in such optimism.

Toni will have to be taken to Terrassa to visit his aunt as she recovers from her heart attack and hopefully learns the lesson about giving up smoking for once and all.  I also have to get down to work on the Dickens essay and start roughing out ideas to include in it.

I am beginning to see that the “trick” with the Open University is to do precisely as you have been told to do.  My examination advice to generations of school kids is coming back to haunt me: “Read the question carefully and answer what you have been asked.”  I have now discovered that I have been giving good, solid advice throughout my career in education.  I now have to apply the lessons I have taught to myself!  Not always easy.

The essay on Hard Times is centred on ‘education’ and ‘family’ and we have been directed to specific parts of Chopin’s introduction to the Penguin edition of the text and to one specific chapter of the novel.  And we only have 1,500 words to complete the essay and that includes textual quotation and references.

By far the most difficult part of the assignments I have completed so far has been trying to keep to the word limit.  I suppose that I might have to admit, grudgingly, that I can be a trifle verbose de temps en temps, but the compression which is demanded of OU students makes the finished essays sound as though they have been composed by a literate version of Tarzan, with the compression needed to stay within the word limit while conveying all the information necessary necessitating a stilted form of expression worthy of that noble savage!  However, I am sure that what I am doing is good for the soul and it soon become second nature to me as I am drawn further and further into the OU Brotherhood!

I have now almost completely developed the illness which has been enthusiastically distributed through The Family.  Toni’s nephews, who I am convinced, are born-again Plague Annies or Typhoid Marys as illness invariably follows their visits!

The tulips on the table have now lasted almost ten days.  The light coloured ones are still relatively vertical, but the pinky purple ones are bowing down towards the wood.  Even in their dying state they do form a pleasingly harmonious arrangement though each move of the vase scatters more of the petals.  I must admit that I had forgotten how much I like flowers in the house – the moments of transient beauty are deeply satisfying and I fully intend to buy more.  The only problem is the source of the flowers.  We do not have a Tesco store near and the florists charge and arm and a leg for their wilting blooms.  We do have a Carrefour but the way that they keep their plants is inconsideration little short of criminal ineptitude.  The tulips came from Lidl but their horticultural moment has passed and there are no flowers for sale at the moment.  I will, however, find somewhere and keep up a splash of colour on the dining table.

Toni is now in Terrassa (which actually had snow on the ground, thought not on the roads) giving comfort to the sick and to the irritated – as his mother is now unable to go on a planned holiday as her sister is in hospital.  Things appear to be well and his aunt is in no immediate danger.

With everything that I could have chosen to do in an empty house, what I actually chose needs some explanation.

I sorted my first day covers.  Well, they needed to be done and I have a grandiose plan to set them all out in a different way so that the information contained on the stiffener card can be displayed.  I was shocked at how much sheer time it took to make a fairly small start on the reorganization, but I think that what I have decided to do is the right thing for me.  Each page will have a cover and some information to go with it.  This is really an extension of what I did with the Olympic stamps and I think that they look better for it.

I think, perhaps it is a nod in the direction of the teacher in me that I want more information than just the covers themselves.  It will result in a 100% increase in the number of pages that I will need but the good old Post Office has given me a boost by the unexpected gift of an album specifically to display the Olympic covers.  As I had bought albums and pages already it does mean that I have a surplus but not sufficient for my grandiose plans.  I have used up virtually all my spares and I have only managed to sort out five years or so.

I am also going to concentrate on filling up the remaining gaps that there are in my collection of Queen Elizabeth commemorative first day covers.  Unfortunately these are the early ones which are, by far the most expensive. 

I am also inclined to stop collecting if and when the Germanic dwarf ever decides to abdicate or die.  Stamps are becoming a more and more antiquated part of modern communication and commemorative stamps which one only sees on first day covers and rarely in “real life”.  If I am truthful they seem to be a simple money making enterprise now and little more.

Now that it is evening my throat and nose are getting blocked up and promise another night of discomfort.  I think a call into our local 24-hour pharmacist and getting a representative selection of the remedies which fill the advertising slots (and there are many) on Spanish television and get them into my system before the early start on Monday.

Sniff!

Oh, and the weather, in the best traditions of this place, did produce some sunshine before the day died!
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