Monday, November 15, 2010

Money and machinations

Our school has scheduled a meeting lasting for at least two hours after school on Friday.

And this is being greeted with delight because it was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday morning!

I will be there in spite of the fact that I should have left the school over an hour before the meeting is scheduled to start as my payback for an early start for two mornings and will also have stayed in school on Thursday for a presentation evening. It is at times like this that I look again at my salary statement at the end of the month and wonder if it is all worthwhile.

There is talk (I suspect breathed abroad as a worst case scenario so that the reality will seem much better – see Friday late meeting instead of Saturday meeting above!) of a further cut in governmental salary by some 8% next year! I assume that this is merely a typical horror story thought up after half digesting governmental gossip – but if it isn’t then there really will be riots in the streets!

In the complex way in which we are paid part of our salary is paid by the “Foundation” which runs our school and the rest is paid by the Generalitat. The proportions depend on the level of teaching of the individual working in the school. All Junior and ESO teaching is paid by the Generalitat while the nursery staff and teachers who take the equivalent of the sixth form are paid by the foundation. I therefore have two pay slips to reflect that my pay is made up of contributions from both the Generalitat and the Foundation. As the proportions differ from teacher to teacher it would be divisive if the teachers with a higher proportion of teaching in the Generalitat funded areas were to suffer a pay cut while those in the Foundation were to be paid in full.

As it is, the Foundation is paying everyone as if the cut had not been made – but it does mean that there has been no pay increase this financial year and it looks as though that pay freeze is going to continue for the foreseeable future. This is a state of affairs which is not acceptable and eventually the strains will tell and the whole situation will far apart.

With something approaching 20% unemployment we are constantly reminded how lucky we are to be in a job. I keep telling everyone that compared with the pay rates for teaching in the UK the amount of salary that we get is laughable and we should feel no real gratitude for preserving a pay rate which is little short of contemptible.

However, in comparison with the majority of jobs in this country, teachers are not badly paid. I have no information about the pay rates in the state sector, but I am told that within the private sector our pay is par for the course.

I fail to see that the cost of living is substantially cheaper here than in the UK so the diminished salary lowers the standard of life that a teacher can expect.

I realize that I am in a slightly (!) different position from that of the majority of my colleagues but even so I try and understand what might be happening in the economic and political sphere of my adopted country – and I worry!

As far as I can see (and don’t forget that I am myopic) there appears to be a great deal of turning a blind eye to the realities with which we are surrounded. Life seems to be going on in a fairly even sort of way, but I do not feel that there is much reality behind the complacency.

Ireland is presented as the country (after the fiasco of Greece) to pose the most potent threat to the stability of the Euro Zone – but Spain, in spite of its economic “miracle” in the past, is not so far behind.

Well, all I can say is that I have done my bit by offering to invest in the Catalan Government’s Bond Issue – I only hope that my money is a damn sight safer than it was in the “safe, steady, unspectacular” funds that I was recommended to invest in a few years ago!

But, when all is said and done, it’s only money! And this afternoon I have the delightful task of spending some on one of those items which brings no delight to the hardened spendthrift – a cordless vacuum cleaner!

There are some things which shouldn’t count as “spending” or should be classified as “bad spending” in much the same way as Anthony classed calories as “good” and “bad” with good calories found in things like chocolate, cream and alcohol and bad calories found in foods such as cabbage, carrots and tofu.

For me, for spending to be good there has to be an element of frivolity to it. There is no excitement in paying the electricity bill in spite of the fact that it powers so many of my essential gadgets; but the buying of gadgets is in itself a noble, nourishing and wholesome exercise of financial control.

The only way in which buying something as everyday as a hoover could be considered as anything other than a chore is to lash out on a robot version of the cleaner – but even I regard that as an extravagance too far.


The hoover has now been bought and, even as we speak, is on charge for the 16 hours which is necessary before its first use. Given the number of stairs and the paucity of power points in the house, it is necessary to buy a cordless machine. On the advice of Toni’s sister I have purchased a Rowenta Air Force 24V machine which, the label informs me, gives the (highly qualified) “equivalent performance” of a 2200W cylinder machine.

Given its price it ought!

This is one gadget that I will not be rushing to try out!

The hysteria is already beginning to build about the forthcoming Barça-Real Madrid match. My response to this eagerly awaited event is to go to Britain to escape the worst of the vitriol that will be spilled in the psyching out which goes on before the whistle blows to start the match!

The silence from Britain about my birthday present (the treated laptop which will allow me to see British TV programmes) is a little worrying. I am expecting to pick up this “magic” laptop on my trip to England programmes having been, as it were, programmed into it which will allow viewing of the first decent television I will have seen for some years in this country!

Now, at last for some reading.

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