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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Work and War!







Different tutors, different approaches.  The OU tutorial the day before yesterday evening was markedly different from the ones that we had for the previous course.  This one was much more explanatory with a limited amount of student participation – even so yours truly had a disproportionate time expressing his opinions!

It was a good experience and, together with the exhaustive documentation that had been provided by our “real” tutor (we were guests in the tutorial yesterday) we have a considerable amount of information to take in for the first assignment.  There was part of a description to give us an idea of what was required and I must admit that I am more than somewhat daunted by what we have to produce.  I think that they are expecting virtually curatorial professionalism from we neophyte Greek vase connoisseurs!

The time of the first assignment coincides with a period of examinations (!) in our school – as when does anything not – so I will be marking and writing, learning and praying for that swift death beloved of all teachers caught in the soulless tedium of putting marks on the puerile ravings of our hapless charges!

And then there is the “workshop” with our RT (real tutor) on Saturday on the First of the Month of Leaving for which we have had copious information to prepare ourselves for the intellectual onslaught.  And then, still reeling from the unaccustomed early morning academic endeavour, I will propel myself into Barcelona for lunch with Suzanne!

God I hate cats!  Nasty creatures with those tiny, ugly, vicious looking teeth!  Disgusting!  And the slob-like cat from the menagerie next door has dragged its carcass over the intervening roof element and scratched open the cloth on the sun bed which I inadvertently left out.

This little piece of destruction is probably a direct reprisal for my actions a few days ago when I caught the thing in our garden and threw a plastic container of water over its revolting length.  It tried, and failed frantically to claw its way up the wall, but avoirdupois and gravity combined to drag it crashing to the ground.  As I rushed back to the outside tap to refill the container the cat rushed past me and attempted to climb the back garden wall – and failed there too. 

Having refilled the container I merrily slopped more water on the unwelcome piece of filth and, in total desperation the creature managed to squeeze its way through a hole far too small for it to get through – in the way that these unnatural beasts have, showing their direct association with the Black Arts and all things inimical to normality!

I sincerely hope that the thing is totally traumatized and will not attempt any appearance when I am around, though its wonton destruction of my sun bed shows its sneaky vindictiveness!  I will be further revenged on it!  By god I will!

To a certain extent I am getting money under false pretences as very little of my mind is on schoolwork.  I feel as if I have already left and I resent the time that I am not spending on the OU assignment.  Although, to be fair, virtually everybody else on the course is having to cope with working full time and doing their academic work at the same time.  I remember my last brush with the OU all those years ago when, admittedly I was doing a higher-level course, but the time constraints and the information I had to take in were almost impossible given the job that I was doing.  This time round it is more feasible, but the approach is more demanding and the academic standard is higher.  There is more tension because you do not feel as isolated as you did when there were only those early morning BBC2 broadcasts and the course material!  Now with the Forums and the greater use of the Internet there is more pressure on you to respond to the course as an all-consuming part of your life rather than a mere part of it!

The next few weeks are going to be tight with what I have to do in work and what I need to do for a decent mark in the course.  I am no longer in my comfort zone and there is a great amount of simple learning to do and a whole new vocabulary to learn and more importantly, use!

The stimulus (and fright) that the tutor has given us demands a far more polished form of writing than I had realized was necessary and it is something towards which to strive!

So why am I writing this and not getting down to the learning that I need to do?  Good point!

Another day, another examination.  With me sitting at the front looking sternly at pupils who only need the slightest encouragement (or rather distraction) on the part of the teacher to indulge in the Spanish national habit of cheating.  It is only because I can touch type that I can do anything at all in front of a full class of putative deceptionistas!

In a startling break with what I have come to accept as tradition, the powers that be have actually had the temerity to put me down for a substitution for a colleague who is in Madrid attending a conference!  This is a very disturbing deviation from what I thought I had established as my sacrosanct free time approach!

As the examination season reaches its examinational frenzy at the end of the year, I fear that even more of my supposed free time will be claimed by unscrupulous management!  I will have to strive to ensure that this is not so.

Meanwhile: cameras!

A colleague has had the misfortune to experience the mind-of-its-own telephoto lens syndrome and has been truly daunted by the amount that the camera company has said that it would charge merely to think about doing something to repair the camera, let alone actually taking some form of physical action to make it better!  And she has the incentive of a husband who has offered to buy her a new one as a present.

As is usual with all things cameroid, I am the first port of call for a chat, as my acquisitive proclivities in the lensial area are widely remarked.  As I feared, she has done her research and has come up with a number of alternatives one of which she rejected out of hand, and which consequently attracted me with all the force of an expletive in the Convent of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence!

The USP of this particular camera is its x50 optical zoom.  Once seen, once smitten.  The “falling” was the easy part; the real difficulty only arises when you try and pay for the damn thing.

To justify the expense, I made a real effort to find the best price – checking web sites here and in the UK.  At one point I actually phoned what I think may have been Hong Kong, only to find out that the firm did not deliver to Spain – only the UK and Australasia!  After much hunting and converting pounds to euros and vice versa (and getting thoroughly confused in the process) I finally found a firm that seems to be based in Spain and which gave a price (a very reasonable price) in euros.

They wanted to be paid by invoice and the money by Pay Pal.  Everything seemed to be going swimmingly when an abortive attempt to get a Pay Pal account in 2010 rose from the archives to stymie me.  Whatever I tried (in two languages) came back to my finding the exact details of a small transaction three years ago.  And nothing I did worked!

Phoning the company again led to a further suggestion that I buy the camera on the web site.  But there was no stock left when I attempted that.  Back to the company (using the school phone) and in a complicated arrangement involving cancelling one transaction and transferring the camera from one account to another I can pay by Bank Order.

I have a hazy memory of attempting to do this some time in the past and the crucial element in my frustration was actually getting myself to an open bank when I was available to be there.  I am hoping that with my more flexible approach to attendance in school that this may not be as difficult as it was in the past.  Time and intention will tell!

Why am I typing?  Why, because I am sitting in front of a class who are busily typing away with various degrees of competence at their machines.  The one good thing about the computers being used next year is that they are all iPads and the students will not be able to lift up the lid of their machine and hide the “work” they are doing from the teacher.

Actually one boy, a notoriously naughty boy and therefore placed directly in front of the teacher, rather engagingly tried to hide his lack of effort on his appointed task by placing his book on end and crouching away behind it.  The inevitable happened, of course, and the book fell over revealing his crimes for a totally uninterested teacher to see.  It was punishment enough to observe the comical horror etched on his podgy face and all it needed was gentle admonishment to get him back in line!

This lesson is a supervision taken from a bone fide free period.  Never mind that I slope off on every available occasion – how dare they stoop to take a free period from me, especially as my “gained” free from not teaching the 1BXT was taken up by supervision of a previously mentioned examination class.  And I have yet a further class after this one!  Just one damn thing after another!

Still, Wednesday is my last “full” day (actually it is the only “full” day in the sense that I am in school when the final bell goes) and I will not have to put up with the double-parking inconsideration of parents.

My attempts to get to a bank when it is actually open continue with tomorrow being ruled out because all my teaching time is taken up and what isn’t teaching time is invigilation time!  And all that time added together ensures that I cannot get out of the school before the two o’clock deadline for banks being open.  It is now summer time and the banks feel even less inclination to show any thanks towards the poor bloody taxpayers who bailed them out after their insane bout of gambling with other people’s money and the general dragging down of the economy of the entire world than at any other time.

God rot them all!


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