Sunday, December 12, 2010

A true Sunday

A day with marking!

Admittedly there was plenty of displacement activity up to and including hoovering! But, nevertheless, marking was done!

As part of the displacement activity a phone call to Dianne “reminded” me that Ceri’s significant birthday was in January and that, given the generous length of the Christmas holidays, I would be able to pop over and celebrate.

It is always envigorating to discover that with a few key strokes on the internet flight and car can be booked and, paid for this far in advance, it will appear that the trip is free by the time I go on it.

The actual celebration will take place in a Michelin Starred Restaurant in Monmouth, The Crown in Whitebrook and is certainly something which gives a warm comfortable light to the dark days of early January.

With any reasonable luck the snows will fall and I will be stranded in the UK unable to take up my duties in the institution on the hill in Barcelona. There must be a personal premium from global warming somewhere along the line!

The date on which I am leaving is the celebration of The Kings in Catalonia which allows children to get a sort of second Christmas as present giving is an essential part of the festivities after the kids have been pelted with sweets from the street processions which are also part of the spectacle.

I must admit that the possibility of taking part in the consumerism rush known as the British January Sales is more likely to engage my interest rather than an assault by boiled sweets!

The History of the World in 100 Objects continues to bemuse and stimulate as I strip, what are for me, shreds of fascinating knowledge from the pages. It also makes me want to revisit the British Museum and find some of the objects described in the book. I wonder if there is a “100 Objects Pathway” through the museum now, or if some of the cases have a sticker pointing out the individual article’s inclusion! I do hope so; virtually anything short of armed kidnapping is worth trying to get people through the intimidating portals of our museums.

In Spain all museums have an admission charge, although there is a cultural identity card that teachers can get which gives free admission to some, though not all, of the collections that are held by the state.

I think that the idea behind the “100 Objects” is something which should be taken up by other institutions and they could tailor the title to the strengths of the individual collections. As one of the foremost institutions of its type in the world the British Museum can easily accommodate the grandiose “History of the World” designation, but something more domestic in terms of Barcelona would be a great way to get people into the galleries of the city and it would encourage us to look more closely at what they contain.

There are ten days left in this term (eight, if you take out the next weekend) and then we are supposed to get our pay for December and also the “extra pay” that is an odd feature of the way the salary is considered in this country.

At Christmas and in the Summer you are paid an extra month`s money with your normal salary.

Disturbingly, I have heard from other people that the amount of this extra pay has been cut (The Crisis! The Crisis!) by up to 30% for some teachers. Nothing has been said in our school and so I am assuming that the pay will be as normal.

You have to understand that the Generalitat has cut the salaries of governmental employees by 5% as part of their “brave” approach to compensate for the criminally reckless activity of some callously selfish bankers. Part of our salary is paid by the Generalitat and was therefore cut by 5%. Our type of grant-aided school has taken the government to court saying that such action is not justified in our particular case, but, in the mean time (while we wait forthe equivalent of a Daniel come to justice!) our school has made up the salary to its normal amount. I hope that they will do the same for the “extra pay”.

Please note that even factoring in the so-called “extra” pays (surely just a way of delaying proper payment throughout the year) I have to go back a number of years in the UK to find a salary as low as the one that I am now paid! In terms of Unions and professional pay Spain has a considerable way to go before it reaches parity with the most mean of the more northern countries!

I do most solemnly swear that I will do something (leaving that word carefully undefined) about the chaos of my books this holiday.

I have attempted to find a few books over the last few weeks that I know that I have and they are mislaid as surely as the books from the 1970s that the British Museum Reading Room used to say were lost and unable to be produced “due to enemy bombing during the war.”

A library, if it is to be anything more than a random collection of vaguely interesting artefacts, has to be organized so that the aspiring librarian at least has a reasonable chance of finding a volume that he knows he possesses. “Froth on the Day Dream” still has not surfaced and that is an ongoing irritation which is a prod in the direction of order!

However before any books are “sorted” I am presented with two decisions that will have to be made: shall I put up the Christmas tree this year, and if so, where can I put it?

These are weighty considerations and something to think about before I drift off into oblivion.
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