Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to get there

Living where I live at the moment is like being inside a three dimensional Pac man game.

The local council (in its infinite wisdom) has decided to “do something” to the roads in the immediate vicinity of the house.

There doesn’t seems to be any rhyme or reason to their destruction as in some roads a trench like section has been excavated for no other reason than it looks logical and tidy. The holes seem to have no relationship with subterranean services or sewerage but they are at least geometric.

We have, of course, of course, naturally been told nothing about what is going on. We have had no information about which roads might be fully closed or might be partially inaccessible. We have been told nothing.

This means that every journey is one at the end of which you have no idea about how you will get back to your home. Sometimes barriers are left tantalizingly open to tempt the bold driver into a labyrinth of further barriers and trenches where a single false move will entail very expensive extrication.

A few days ago I found that all access roads to the house had been blocked off so that the only way to get home was by driving the wrong way down a one way street: backwards.

Roads look as though they have been “treated” by French student revolutionaries who are cutting off access by the police. Barricades have been erected and are more than effective in confusing the population who are only trying to find their own little domestic security.

And it looks as though there is no end in sight. The area of operations seems to have extended itself to neighbouring streets and driving anywhere is fraught with exciting horror.

As the excavations increase so the incomprehensibility of their purpose becomes more glaring. I tell myself that there must be a reason and then I hear the sage advice of my colleague reminding me that I am not in Britain and my expectations should be consequently modified!

Who knows what will be a no-go area tomorrow – or even this evening!

This afternoon: Culture. And perhaps a little refreshment before the return to the dark depths of the rubble strewn neighbourhood in which the re-arranged living room invites calm contemplation after the rigours of being part of the transport “video game” which is our transport system at the moment.

I sometimes fantasize about what would happen if, at the end of a Language Control, which is what we call the regular examinations that the pupils have to take, I told the pupils to put their pens down and wait for their papers to be collected.

In fact, of course, I know exactly what would happen: they would not put their pens down and they would whisper to each other answers which they would then scribble down in a last desperate effort to gain a few extra marks.

All their papers would have to be cancelled and I would have a much easier marking job.

If you take your eyes off the kids for a moment: they cheat. They twist in their chairs to show their papers to a friend or they twist their bodies and their necks to look at someone else’s paper. They consult scraps of paper or furtively look at hidden books. Whatever tricks there are – they use!

We even had a case of a Tipped bottle with a specially prepared label which, although it looked normal, was packed with scientific information where manufacturing information was on the original!

This thought comes about after the depressing display of vulgarity at the end of an exam today. I got the class settled and started before the other two classes had begun; I gave clean instructions as to the time limits and gave warnings throughout the exam about the time remaining. With ten minutes to go I urged them to check and gave a five minute warning. At the end of the time I attempted (!) to collect the papers. In as childish a display of petulant selfishness the kids (because kids they are) begged me to “start at the other end” to give the individual more time; they started writing desperately and winged when I tore their papers away from them; they began (Oh the old story!) to complain of unfairness. A few of them even had the temerity to walk to the door to see if the other classes had finished – conveniently forgetting about the extra time they had had at the start.

As you can probably tell, I was furious with their juvenile behaviour and even the blessed thought that I can, if I so choose simply walk away was not enough to placate me.

As if to exacerbate the situation it appears that we are an examination short and so will have to construct a new one tomorrow. Sometimes the money I earn in this place seems far too expensive.

Then calmer, possibly more mercenary, councils prevail and I subside into my jovial acceptance of the vagaries of the clientele with which we have to deal.

The only trouble is that I am still left with a sheaf of examination papers to mark.

Never mind Culture this evening: it’s the only thing keeping me going.

That isn’t strictly true but I rather like to emphasise the “saving” nature of the arts – it justified the amount of reading I do!

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