Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Day of the Books

Toni has gone off to do his good deed for the day and babysit for his sister – and may the good lord have mercy on his soul!

Meanwhile in the rarefied reaches of education we had the continuation of the computer course today. Our hapless tutor did not know his way around the software that the school has decided to use for the whiteboards so some fairly basic questions left him floundering. It has to be said that it was not entirely his fault as the copy of the software that he had been given earlier in the summer with which to familiarize himself did not work when he got it home and tried to play it on his computer. Pause, while the entire world expresses astonishment about this unprecedented happening!

The tutor ploughed on regardless but did not engender any sense of confidence by saying “You probably know as much about this software as I do!” I found it all faintly embarrassing and I was glad when it was all over.

As someone who has used a whiteboard I found most of what he said of little use, but the others on the course were grateful that they had been introduced to at least some aspects of the new technology and they were duly grateful – and at least it wasn’t the other course which was grinding its laborious way onwards in spite of the numbness of the bottoms of the participants in the course and the fact that their brains must now have the consistency of a Wonderloaf left out in the rain for a fortnight.

It is now Tuesday and with Friday being a bank holiday we have two half days left before the pupils arrive. A sense of barely concealed panic has now begun to inform the attitudes of the staff and they are starting to rush around from meeting to meeting emerging looking more harassed by the second.

The school has decided (when? by who?) that pupils will now produce all their work on sheets of A4 paper. The logistics of this fairly fundamental change in the way the school operates are still shrouded in mystery and it has led to dark mutterings and sage shaking of various heads.

One of the reasons for the change has been the weight of material that the poor students have to carry to their parents’ car from their homes as they are ferried to school. There is then the fearful ordeal of getting out of the car and dragging their bags to their teaching areas. While there, we teachers move to them. Then, at the end of the day they have to struggle with the bags to the waiting car to take them home. My heart bleeds!

Also, of course the real weight is not in the paper on which they write but in the textbooks and workbooks that they have to use. The real difference in weight is going to be marginal.

The real delight is in the fact that the students will have to be more organized than they have been before. Some anal students are already at a stage of organizational perfection that approaches bureaucratic Nirvana, but the others – or ‘boys’ as they are known – are going to find placing the papers from a day’s work in the appropriate compartment in their work folders akin to synthesizing amino acids using a ball point pen and an acid drop! I only hope that the maids will take on extra responsibility and ensure that their young masters and mistresses keep some hold on their new style studies!

I think that all this bitterness comes from the fact that the school did not pay me for August. Toni informs me that I should have had no expectations that I would have been paid as it was made quite clear that my temporary contract was up to the end of June and my permanent contract would begin with the start of term in September. But, morally, I think that I was entitled to it; but there again if employers had been moral then there would have been no necessity for Trade Unionism.

I have decided to make another visit to Bluespace to look at what remains still in storage. The Christmas decorations will, I think, fit into the long cupboard under the eaves but there are still boxes of books which need to be brought to the house. There is no way that they are all going to fit and so I will have to make some serious decisions about what is to stay and what is to go.

Toni’s sister gave a leaflet about an English language second-hand bookshop in Barcelona. I will have to investigate and see if there is a market for some of my books. I am steeled to the reality that, even if the shop is prepared to consider buying my books then I am going to be offered a sum which will bear no relationship to their value – either monetary or emotional.

I have been looking through what I have on the shelves already and I can give the back story of so many of the volumes that I have. I can remember where I bought them and which ones were the best bargains; I can remember the ones whose purchase made me feel guilty (‘guilty’ in my sense of the word I mean, don’t go overboard with the ramifications of that concept in the real world!) and the ones whose purchase was sheer self-indulgence. There are books that I have not read and probably will never read – but that doesn’t mean that I want to get rid of them. There are books in tattered editions that I have read and re-read and will read again and those are volumes that I could never throw away.

I suppose that I seem maudlin and sentimental over things which, after all, are just things – but, as I have said before, I never fail to be amazed that a rectangular slab of reprocessed rags or wood pulp with their little black marks can be so powerful.

To Bluespace and the rescue of more books!

(Don’t tell Toni!)
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