Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cruel or kind?

First day back in school.

The institution had an opportunity to show that it was somehow different from the other schools in which I had started a term. I was all expectation.

And apart from the language nothing was unexpected. The expressions of horror that we were back in school – with some of my colleagues even telling me that they had trouble sleeping the previous night worrying about the start of term!

Let me explain to my colleagues in the public sector in the UK that we have returned to a school which is mercifully devoid of pupils. These benighted creatures do not return until the 14th of September. Until then we have a school day which starts at nine and finishes at two after meetings and courses. Lunch is provided for those teachers who need it. You can then go home.

And for this they stayed awake! God knows what they would have done had they to go to a typical secondary school in Wales!

The meetings were like any meetings at the start of school: boring and inconsequential. People talked who should have remained silent and difficult topics were avoided like the plague. Nothing changes.

When I asked about a timetable it was as if I had committed a social gaffe – obviously it will ‘emerge’ in the course of our time without the kids. I was encouraged by the head of department giving me at least some of the names of the people in my classes.

The great excitement of the day was the ‘bagging’ of the new lockers in the staffroom of Building 1. I was unnecessarily early and so I started moving books into a well placed locker at once. This was later beguiled from me by a female member of staff who pleaded her dwarfish height as an excuse. As usual limited resources and unlimited demand showed colleagues in their true light!

Tomorrow we have a course on the whiteboards which we were assured last year would be in every classroom in Building 4. I was informed (sotto voce) by a cynical colleague that this was the course that they had had last year. As I say, nothing changes.

When I arrived in school one of the first people I met was the bursar. I was able to give him the details of my new bank as I am gradually leaving the worst bank in the world aka BBVA. He then said something which was either very encouraging or a mistake or a piece of nastiness. “Oh,” he said, “It may not be in time for the August pay!”

I have written that my contract with the school was a temporary one which took me up to the end of June. My promised permanent contract was to be started on the 1st of September. There was a period (as I thought) of July and August when I would not be paid.

My June pay was double (as is apparently traditional) and I did not expect to be paid until the end of September. This comment by the bursar sent me scurrying (when I got home) to grab my bank book and go to my old bank and see if indeed August had been paid. I was buoyed with hope and was thinking very positive thoughts towards the school.

Positive thoughts that evaporated when my bank book showed that no money had been paid in! Another dream bites the dust!

Toni tells me that I was lucky to get the two pays in June and I should shut up. Perhaps he’s right.

I enjoyed my swim after work but was dismayed to see that our repulsive neighbours have still not returned to their non-summer residences. Their departure will rid us of a half dead yapping dog; a dog like daughter (and I don’t mean in terms of looks) and a cigarette smoking harridan and her abusive shouting matches with members of the family. We can hardly wait.

As I now drive off into the smog and hard slog in meetings, Toni has stated his intention to go to the beach every day to get some sun.

Something to think about as I try and work out the most absurd interpretation to some of the rapidly spoken Catalan in the boring meetings ahead.

And with no pay.

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