Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You are never alone with Radio 4

Strange as it must seem to many, it was only as I was getting into my car to go to work at the unearthly hour that I need to depart to get there to start teaching at a quarter past eight in the morning that I realized that I was still listening to the same Today programme on Radio 4 that I had been listening to while getting ready to depart.

The answer to this conundrum was, alas, not that Spanish radio had decided to broadcast Radio 4 (the best radio station in the world) to all the benighted citizens of Castelldefels through strategically placed loudspeakers so that I might have a seamless experience of the early morning drug that is the Today programme. That was not the solution.

The blame rests securely on the shoulders of Ceri and Dianne who, with a totally inspired Christmas present gave us (aka me) a pair of wireless free headphones. These came together with a niftily designed gadget that, plugged into any media device allows the signal to be picked up by the headphones.

Wandering about getting ready in the unfriendly early hours is only made bearable by the comforting cynicism of your average Radio 4 interviewer.

It is a mark of the competence of the headphones that they relayed crystal clear reception to my ears as I left the flat, walked down the stairs, out through the door and towards the parked car which I had left on the street overnight. It was only at the point of unlocking the door of the car than I became mildly bemused by the continuing presence of the British radio programme.

I then felt a complete fool, resplendent in my suit and sporting a large pair of headphones, though obviously impressed by the range of the device! As the school secretary is apt to remark, “A senior moment!”

School was a succession of chatty classes and a free period devoted to the drama production of a colleague who has been beavering away for the past two months to get our youngest secondary kids to put on a series of plays.

The one I observed was a reworking of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice updated to modern times with a sax playing musician and a wife given to drugs. Not a bad little piece. What I was watching was supposed to be the last rehearsal before the performance.

It was appalling. The person who spoke the largest number of lines during the ‘performance’ was the teacher – and she wasn’t supposed to be in it! I was there to give the “you cannot expect an audience to sit there and listen to this sort of thing” speech and try and galvanize them into learning their lines. They have nine days. Orpheus has now become my special charge and I am going to have special sessions with him to ensure that the production is not cancelled.

Anything, of course, to help a colleague. But, I find myself asking ‘cui bono?’

I couldn’t help feeling that as I passed from building to building as I taught in the upper and then in the lower school I seemed to pass and re-pass the directora. The head of English has said that she will remind the lady that I am waiting for my interview (which the directora appears to have given to the rest of the department) which will decide my future in the school.

I may be over sensitive and a touch paranoid but I did not sense the warm camaraderie that I have experienced in the past and I fear that the school is working towards a negative response. This will complicate matters, but at least the paper work is in place and I am ready to begin an assault on the other establishments of learning in the region.

The weekend, which still seems a long way off, will culminate in the joint birthday party in Terrassa for which I still have not purchased all the necessary presents. At least that means one or two after school jaunts to the shops with the vain hope that inspiration will strike!

Two classes have had examinations in the past two days and two others will be examined soon; all of which will need to be marked. A truly depressing outlook and one which is close to the assessment heart of the institution in which I am now working.

Today has been very hot (according to the Spanish teachers) and rather pleasant for me. There is a definite feeling of the summer and I dread the amount of conversation which will flow directly related to the climatic conditions. Let no one say that the British are fixated on their weather; when we are compared with the Spanish and Catalan we only seem to give our climate a fleeting thought.

The weather is a constant topic of conversation here and, given the diversity of the regions of Spain there is always scope for showing snow or rain or hail (a real favourite this) or wind or clouds or sleet or sun or anything else the skies can throw at us.

I need to splay my limbs and let the sun do its soothing work!
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