Saturday, June 13, 2009

Long Fridays are bad for the health

Friday 12th June 2009

Somehow the magic of teaching does not reach into the late, late afternoon when the class that you are taking has spent the day in front of their expensive laptops doing the Lord only knows what.

I have made one exploratory journey into the far recesses of the classroom but I am obviously not fast enough to catch the miscreants looking at thoroughly unsuitable websites. I can comfort myself with the thought that, if there was anything which should have been restricted from view then the school should have bought an expensive enough program to ensure that it was stopped. I truly think that this is one of those not-my-job type situations.

The day started with me in a thoroughly relaxed mode. My marking was done and all my results were safely lurking in the electronic innards of my wonderful little computer. My feelings of quiet calm were soon rudely shattered.

The Catalonia wide computer intranet was slow to the point of stasis. Any attempt to gain access was frustrated by the sheer plodding nothingness of anything happening. It reminded me of the bad old days when I had my trusty (ironic) Sinclair QL. Those were the days in which a page of A4 could take up to 45 seconds to save to the infamous ‘micro drives’ – if indeed it saved at all!

The programs on the QL were wonderful but the hardware which drove them was well below the expectations of the program writers and processes could take an inordinate time to complete.

I well remember typing my way through some sequence or other on the QL and realising at some point that I had made a fatal mistake and then had the pleasure of watching screen after screen inexorably change following my earlier instructions.

It was one of those times when you speak to inanimate objects. “Please!” I pleaded to the ever changing screen, “Don’t do this!” But, like so many inanimate objects in my experience it seemed to have little fellow feeling when it came to human needs.

The intranet today was not attuned to professional requests so what should have been a fairly simple mechanical process turned into something akin to nightmare.

Needless to say, in the way that these things happen, everything was sorted out but with maximum wear and tear to my nerves!

And I lost a free period. And to make it worse, a free period at the time when I am usually allowed home early as ‘payment’ for my starting early two days a week. I soon discovered that this early departure was a privilege and not (emphatically not) a right.

Friday 12th June

Talking of my permanent contract (what else would have kept me quiescent when faced with such clear injustice) I have, at last, picked up an important communication from the ministry of education in Madrid.

After working in no fewer than three schools in the Barcelona area in what can only be described as a professional capacity, I have now received the official certificate from the ministry which allows me to work as a teacher in schools in Spain! If you think that the tenses in the preceding paragraph do not make logical sense, then I can only say that you have not worked in Spain!

People have been amazed that the process of rubber stamping my full documentation of qualifications etc. has only taken four months. One person in the school has been waiting for two years for the official notification to be given: she had a letter after six months telling her that things were ‘not in order’ and she has heard nothing since.

Saturday 13th June 2009

IKEA has run out of the handy sized cardboard boxes and will not have a new stock for another two weeks.

This means that the neat wall of identical boxes which I have been assiduously building in the middle of the living room will now have its symmetry broken by strange shapes. I have been driven to go back to Bluspace (the prison of my books) and get some of their highly expensive boxes to pack the larger books. I am afraid that I will have to go further down market and go begging in our supermarkets – there is still all the china to pack!

It is likely that the new contract for the new ‘house’ will be signed on Friday the 26th of June and we will not have to be out of our present flat until the 30th so that gives us a reasonable time to transfer the ‘stuff.’ But there is so much of it that I am inclined to hire in muscle and a van. I only hope that the small ads or the Catalan equivalent will turn up trumps.

Today is Toni’s name day which has been celebrated in Terrassa at a rather good fish restaurant. Its USP is a rather fetching rubbish bin in the centre of the table. Actually it is stainless steel and countersunk, and is a totally sensible solution for what to do with all the shells and exo-skeletons from the various creatures that we consumed. They also have personal beer pumps – but not on our table!

The two youngest members of our group aged one and three respectively were frightening throughout, especially the one year old whose look of total knowledge thoroughly unsettles me. He also seems fixated on me and totters towards me with what I can only describe as a maniacal gleam in his eye. I am punctiliously polite to him at all times: my eye is towards the future – he is after all only going to get more knowing!

Meanwhile there is more time to ponder on the sheer mechanics of getting from one flat to another dwelling. We are still thinking that the 13th of the month is nowhere near the 26th of the month and so we have plenty of time to get everything organized. I know that this is false and in real terms we have only one more clear weekend before things have to start happening.

I think that I will set aside a small part of tomorrow to a planning session to try and work out a realistic timetable towards the move.

It’s better than packing anyway!
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