Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dark days!

The one disadvantage about having a satellite dish which will beam British TV programmes into your home is that you might be tempted to look at them.  And if those programmes include The News and Newsnight then your night’s sleep is totally screwed.

To say that their coverage of the latest Spanish crisis was depressing was rather like saying The Hull librarian was not noted for his jolly limericks and his up-beat take on life.  There seems to be no hope in sight and the Nobel Laureate economist that they had in the studio said that there were two impossible solutions to the financial mess – but one of them would have to happen!

By the time the programmes had ended I had virtually written off all my savings and my future life in Spain.  I feel a little more composed this morning, but I don’t really know why.  Except, I suppose that it is difficult to keep up nerve twanging panic for very long before the self protection system built in to the human system kicks in and a wash of improbability softens the keen perception of impending disaster!

I have followed David’s advice and shunned the temptation to see how much of my savings have been light-fingeredly filched by rapacious thieves and salted away in pension funds for bankers, though I suspect that I am back in the situation where I now have less than I put into that “unspectacular but steady” (sic) growth fund five years ago.  I am not insensitive to the deep irony of the fact that the only time that I have savings is the time for the entire world to go into recession and precipitate a global financial crisis which means that saving is the one form of financial activity in which only an idiot would indulge at the present time.

I think that it is increasingly likely that we will have to become increasingly financially conscious and retrench.  Quite what that means in real terms I am not sure; but that the present situation is likely to continue without adjustment seems unlikely.  It is just the definition of “adjustment” that worries me.  As T S Eliot rightly remarked “Humankind cannot bear too much reality” and who am I to gainsay that particular ex-pat American!

Because many of the courses I teach do not have an end-of-year examination I am not approaching complete dissolution at the moment.  I have two examinations pending and that will be it.  I do, however, have to face the almost impenetrable intricacies of our computer system to put whatever fantasy seems appropriate on to the database, but that is some time in the future.

The future is a funny thing in this school.  We know that things are going to happen.  They are timetabled.  They are in the calendar.  We know the present date.  We are numerically literate.  We can do the sums.  Yet every time something happens it comes as a complete shock.  Then there is the wild panic which is a defining characteristic of this school!

Bottlenecks in administration, examination, visits, teaching, you name it - are all foreseen, but their reality is only theoretical until the actual day when things happen when everything comes as a complete shock.

The usual cause of much hilarity is the timing and content of our notorious meetings.  These are of an evaluationary nature and rely heavily on examinations which are the life-blood of our institution.  The timing of the most recent examinations are usually hard upon the date of the dreaded meetings so there is a period of even more than normal frantic marking to provide the raw material for our inconsequential discussions.

Last year examination papers seems to shower upon me from all directions and even I, with my relentlessly and legendary mechanistic approach to marking deathly examination papers found it difficult to keep up.  There seemed to be simply insufficient time to get everything done by the self-imposed deadline.  It was done of course, but it was a thoroughly unpleasant time and, in spite of having fewer papers to mark, the timing of the meeting means than I will again be forced to mark as if for the end of days!  Ah, happiness ahead!

Toni is well into his final battle against the much-feared mosquito.  His homemade mosquito screens have been something of a success and so he is extending their extent to cover virtually every opening in the house.  As we do not have air-con open windows are essential in the hotter days of the summer and such are, of course, an open invitation for the well-bred insects to come and make their annual feast upon the blood of a true Catalan.

I have to admit that, while I do not get off scott (or bite) free during the season, the mosquitos certainly have a pronounced inclination to feed on home grown meat and consequently Toni is a much more delectable and refreshing drink for our winged visitors than Welsh beef.  I am phlegmatic about the bites that one has to accept during the summer, but Toni takes each mosquito incursion as a personal insult and reacts accordingly.

Watching Toni hunting the source of a vague insect sound as he prowls around brandishing an electrical racquet and gloating over the pzzzt! sound of frying flesh as the hapless stinger meets its fate on the electric filaments of the racquet head is not a pleasant sight!

Our house will soon be a shimmering fortress with each opening sheathed in small mesh material whose only aesthetic appeal is that there is a slight moiré effect as the breeze moves the screen and the light catches it in the right way!

Tomorrow is the alleged opening of my sports centre pool.  Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's the little things that count!

They say (who e’er they be) that when three planets align then it is a sign of something or other.  In a purely domestic sense this mystical alignment is more prosaically achieved by a few seemingly unimportant coincidences changing one’s view of life.

For me this occurred recently when three small, but important elements in my existence were renewed: the brush in my electric toothbrush; the blades in my razor and a fresh towel.  Not important in themselves but a whole new world of renewed experience when taken together. 

One suddenly realizes that one had been trying to clean one’s teeth with a stunted and splayed array of abused filaments that had all the cleaning power of a worn down and long dead porcupine; one’s razor had all the cutting power of a corroded strigl recently unearthed from some archaeological dig and the less said about the marsh-like consistency of a towel when one finally decides that one has to walk three steps to a cupboard containing a plethora of crisp fresh pieces of material to replace the flexible petri dish that one was using ostensibly to dry oneself.

I never fail to be impressed by how little it actually takes for a massive change to be effected in day to day living – I call it the “Tea-Towel Effect” after the fact that tea-towels cost virtually nothing, but people cling to old ones with passionate intensity until they are holey and tattered before they can even bring themselves to consider parting with the pittance to buy a new one and thus transform their lives!

I am considering writing a short monograph on “The Power of Little Things” and then distributing it to the less fortunate (most of the world during this crisis) so that they can change their domestic world even if they cannot afford to eat.  It is the modern take on “bread and circuses” to distract the minds of those who should be rising up in wrath and fury against the incompetent thieves who have brought us to this situation of desperation and hopelessness.  The thinking would be that with a new tea towel revolutionizing the look of the kitchen area who could possibly think of armed rebellion! 

Thus, judicious distribution of interestingly coloured tea-towels and bright new toothbrushes could calm and distract an enraged crowd at a much cheaper cost than the deployment of police and water canon!

My continuing frustration with my new Sports Centre (still unvisited since I joined at Easter!) is about (allegedly) to be ameliorated by the swimming pool (the only reason I joined) to be opened on Friday.  I have been told this by a member of the sports centre staff - but I have been living in this country too long to take an unequivocal statement at face value as if it had truth behind it!  On Friday (my early end) I will make an effort to visit, for the first time, my new swimming paradise!

I have marked the official beginning of summer by the purchase of a summer watch.  In honour of my adopted city I have chosen a timepiece with the mark of Cuesto on it and a flamboyantly wide white leather strap.  Unusually for me I have decided on a digital watch with a display which gives time, day and date.  I am assured that it is waterproof and I have carefully preserved the guarantee which lasts two years against the incursion of water into the mechanism.  Its shape is a squared off oval with blue and sliver trimmings.  I like it, though it has not met with unalloyed approbation in certain quarters.

Although this is a week shortened by the delight of a bank holiday on Monday we will all be suitably exhausted by Friday as if the phantom day of delight we had was just as work orientated as any other.  I suppose that we should consider ourselves lucky that we didn’t have two days off because, in the odd, contrary world of teaching, a week shorted by two days is exponentially, ontologically and existentially longer than any normal week - with the concomitant exhaustion at the end of the week sufficient to drain pleasure from the succeeding weekend!

I have noted that I am getting more and more lax with my writing as day slips by and I think that tomorrow is fine for the entry.  Perhaps the relaxation of future escape is working its magic on me at the moment and I am going through some form of release-syndrome lassitude.

This must end.  It is part of my concept of twisted professionalism that things must be as they must be and no minor change (like retirement) can be allowed to influence the important elements of life like wittering away on my computer!

Writing must go on!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Culture, Cava and Coping!

My only attempt at “external” Culture this week was an abortive attempt to go to the Picasso Museum in the centre of Barcelona.  The permanent collection here is not noted for the range and quality of the artist’s most iconic works but they compensate for a rather idiosyncratic range by holding very inventive exhibitions to bolster the scanty offerings.  In was on the basis of an exhibition that I set out at the end of the day with Suzanne to boost our flagging Art Quotient.

The trip to the centre from our elevated position in school is always a frustrating one as calm driving is impossible with the constant swarm of pesky motorbike riders.  They buzz about the traffic lanes like suicidal mosquitoes and my only regret is that it is apparently illegal to swat them.

They drive with almost complete and total disregard for their own and other drivers’ safety.  Almost.  There is a sort of breath-taking obliviousness to death and injury that would be amusing were one watching a TV programme of “Mad Drivers!” – but which is chillingly frightening when one is part of the performance.

Astonishingly, after one more than mad manoeuver by one of the death-head motorcycle brigade, I saw a trailing hand twitch in an unmistakable gesture of apology!  Unique!  It makes one doubt one’s sweeping assumption that all motorcyclists are the direct spawn of a debauched and defrocked devil, too evil even to be tolerated as a part of Satan’s true cohort.  Might it be that they have humanity? 

This is too radical an opinion to be held for more than a few nano-seconds.  And I am not going to allow it to influence my long held opinion on their debauched breed!

In spite of the infestation of motorcyclists we managed to get to an underground car park beneath the Cathedral and then started our Cultural Expedition.  Suzanne bleated that she needed “a little something” and, as we were passing an ostentatiously city-rustic, bare brick, organic laded shop I suggested that we have a coffee to sustain us on our artistic Odyssey.  Our foray into the shop revealed lots of attractively presented good-for-you edibles in frighteningly un-priced containers.  So unnerved were we by this “buy now and worry about the price later” philosophy than we fled in some disarray. 

And when I suggested that we have a glass of wine instead of coffee Suzanne almost wept with relief that the character that she knew had reappeared in my guise!

I therefore followed her to a charming little summer courtyard location where metal seats and tables were set out for the knowing to partake of Cava and tapas.  A bottle of Cava was duly ordered and much lubricated conversation followed.  Indeed so much conversation followed that by the time we got to the Picasso Museum it was literally about to close.  One could not, however count such a delightful end to the day as anything less than an authentic cultural experience, especially as we could see one of the early twentieth century Gothic towers of the Cathedral from where we were sipping.

Return from Suzanne’s house (after I returned her home like the gentleman I am) was courtesy of my Tom-Tom in which I have an absolute trust.  And it was repaid by delivering me to my street in double quick time.

A home which is now threatened by the appearance of The Scumbags – our worst neighbourhood nightmare – who have returned to watch The Match.  At the moment their proximity is tempered by the fact that Barça is winning by three goals.  Barça dominated the first half in all departments and the game should be a “Perfect Goodbye” for Pep as he leads the team in his last attempt at yet another cup!

I do hope that our pool will not now be haunted by cigarette smoking harridans – one of the many curses of the summer season – whose constant smoking will be accompanied by the dire sound of the television left on at full volume outside the house.  To make matters worse The Scumbags are fixated on the unutterable tedium of Formula 1 racing so Sunday will be accompanied by the sound track of the intrusive whine of rich people burning petrol for the enjoyment of other rich people while stupid poor people (who actually pay for it all) look on.

At least it is supposed to be fairly sunny during the weekend. 

That is something.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Slack work!

Mondays are often “nothing” days.  The misery of re-starting work after the weekend is not conducive to joyous thinking and the blank wall of the rest of the week tends to limit vision.  Routine usually takes over and the day is completed in a stumblingly resentful sort of way which gets you to the slumping relief of the armchair at home eventually.  Geldof got it right.

But what is much more exhilarating is that I have only three more Mondays to go before the departure of the kids – this low number is courtesy of an occasional day holiday next Monday – which somehow puts into perspective the horror of this tediously long year.  The end is in distant sight!

I may bemoan the number of days still left for my sojourn in this school, but they seem to slip away quite quickly when it comes to putting finger to key to write.  Days have now gone by and I have written nothing.  This is because of the easy coma into which I can fall at a moment’s notice when I sink into my armchair.  I do, of course, expect this state of affairs to change magically when I finally knock the dust from my shoes and turn my back on education – at least in its city institutionalized form.  I expect to emerge like a vibrant butterfly from the cocoon of fatigue that envelopes me at present.

I have a half worked out (how poetic) timetable for physical exercise that will come into play as soon as the shackles of school are shaken off.

I blame my newly acquired sports centre for my malaise of course.  If they hadn’t had to contend with the reams of red tape before they could allow actual swimmers to enter their newly constructed dome which covers the swimming pool, then I could have been swimming there twice a day.  As it is, it remains tantalizingly out of splash as the stern guardians of public wet safety scrutinize such a radical structure (in use all over Spain) as a retractable roof before giving it the imprimatur of our pettifogging local authority.  It remains, like so many publically funded unnecessary airports throughout Spain, shiningly empty.

I am hoping that I will be able to use it in the same way that I used the pools at home and have an early morning swim and one later in the day before the small humans start shrieking their clumsy way through the water and across the lane that I am using.  I will have to start growing my fingernails again so that any obstruction can be sliced away!

As the centre is near the house I am hoping that it will become a regular haunt of mine.  There is also a café/restaurant next to it which looks interesting.  I have noted that they often have barbecues which look like good value for money.

When I last called into the centre, having been a member since Easter and never used the place once, on yet another fruitless visit to find out when the pool was going to be available for use rather than contemplation, I was told that it would be open in June with or without the “dome” – which I took to refer to the retractable roof.  As long as the water is heated I don’t much care as the only thing that concerns me in the heart jolting horror of immersion in delicious looking but potentially glacial water.  In my experience the sea in all its rough, natural, heat-loss majesty is often much warmer than the ill-heated communal pool.  It is only in the torrid days of the height of August heat that plunging into the waters of the outside pool is anything other than a way of finding out if you heart is strong enough to survive cardiac shock!

The reality of being without work is beginning to strike me, as is the dramatic decrease in the amount of money I will be living on!  I think that this is a circumstance which should provoke a change in how I live – though the practical difficulties of getting a mortgage at my age are considerable.

I do, however, look forward to traipsing through Castelldefels – map and camera in hand – searching for the elusive bank sell-off residence going for a song.  It should be possible to find something within my price range which should tick all the boxes that have to be ticked for somewhere reasonable to live.  I keep being told that now is the time to buy somewhere taking advantage of the crisis and using it to my advantage.

These things always seem more reasonable in theory than in concrete and glass, but it will be interesting to see what is on offer and it will be fascinating to see how the system works when you actually want to buy somewhere.  I have been told that you have to allow about 10% of the asking price as administration and legal fees – and that could be an essential factor!

The search is on!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Days slip by

The day before yesterday was, at last Friday.  It was not the usual joyous day because there was a meeting scheduled for yesterday (Saturday!) (sic.) to discuss kids in the 2BXT so a pall was spread over the day which poisoned all delight at the end of the week.

It was only when the joyous news that I didn’t have to attend was at last relayed to me that I was able to regard my surroundings with anything other than repugnance.  And just to add that little bit of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy and depressing day – we had a film in the afternoon, which took me nicely up to my early departure time and home.

It is now just over a month to the departure of the kids after their end of course fiesta and then there is just under an extra week of preparations for the next term.  There is a definite sense of winding down – but it is not unravelling fast enough for my taste!

The news of my departure is now an accepted fact and to my delight it does not seem to have percolated its way to the students so I have not been subject to the impertinent questioning that our kids think shows interest and concern.  Or it may be that the information is simply not interesting enough in their fun packed lives to have any real news value!
This weekend I have to write my resignation letter and start the formal process rolling of organizing my financial life AS (After School).  I am still quietly confident that I will get the necessary paper work to allow me to claim unemployment for a few months and that should see me into the new year when the new financial regime will have to start.

Meanwhile the annual battle to pay my taxes has been joined.  The tax people know who I am; they know where I live; they know where I work.  I have been in to see them and take my tax forms.  They have assured me that I am on their system and that my tax papers will automatically be sent to me.  Not! 

I have tried to register on line and the system rejects every attempt to prove my identify.  Using passport, address, name (in various orders), Spanish identity number, date of birth, tax number, previous registration number – all are rejected with impunity.

What adds insult to injury is that when I use the hole-in-the-wall a little logo of the tax people comes up on the menu screen asking me to click on it to “Confirm the draft”!  A draft of my tax affairs that they have not seen fit to send to me either physically or electronically – in spite of the fact that they know my address and email details.

I have made further abortive attempts to get my tax affairs into some sort of order and have been stymied at every turn by the system.  Trying to storm the electronic battlements has been futile and I have, in effect, given up and will accept whatever the bloody tax people take.  Because take they will.  I am the only person I know who does not get some form of tax rebate at the end of the financial year.  Oh no, not I.  I pay the blood sucking bastards even more money.  This is especially galling this year as the government has stolen 5% of my wages which they are going to sequester from my so-called “extra” pay in the summer.  But that does not hinder them in asking for even more at the end of the financial year.  The actual amount if just over €100 – but paying it will be less than trying to wrestle with the unfeeling monolith that is the tax system.

And in the Spanish system the onus in on you to pay!  If the tax office fails to send you information that is no excuse for non-payment.  Even if they make a mistake it is still up to you to make sure that they don’t!  In Spain you are obviously guilty until you have paid and then paid more!  I am a bitter boy at the moment and I am going to crumble in the face of the system.  With bad grace!

Toni has one of his usual bad tummies and therefore cannot eat even the restricted diet that his culinary prejudices force on him – so lunch is going to be a charming experience.  I no longer comment on potential menus because, with the exception of tripe, I can eat anything – so the choice is left to the nit picking of Toni.

We went to our usual weekend restaurant which has the widest range of first and second courses in Castelldefels for their menu del dia.  I chose scrambled egg with garlic for my starter and chose another starter as my main course, which turned out to be a similar size to the roundel of egg that I had for the real starter.  This was a potato and spinach with added greens melange which tasted good.  A light lunch though, as Toni had arroz a la cubana and couldn’t eat his fried egg I added it to my scrambled eggs, a lunch not noted for its lack of cholesterol!

Talking of food, our usual lunch on a Sunday is chicken from our favoured take-away grill, but recently the food has not been of the required standard and we are defying the weather forecast and are planning a barbecue.  This has two advantages: it allows us to strike at the very financial stability of a restaurant that is clearly trailing off in quality and also to provide Toni’s temperamental tummy with food which it can accept!

Today, Sunday, we are trapped in our house as there is some sort of Fun Run (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) where the main roads near the sea are blocked off to allow the masochists publically to exhibit their vile proclivities.  Their reserve is protected until 11.00 am and then I assume that stragglers are fair game for frustrated motorists.

After thunder and lightning throughout the night, the day has dawned with hesitant sunshine - so our projected barbecue is a possibility after all.  The cloud cover looks fairly complete with only a few opportunistic holes to allow the precious shine through, though I have had faith rewarded in darker seeming days and I put my hope in the unrivalled ability of a hopeless day in Catalonia to turn into something sunny!

I am now counting the days to my escape with growing desperation.  There are two end points: the day the students leave and the second the actual end of term.

It is deeply ironic that my leaving should be also the time that the government steals money from the so-called “extra” pay which we get in June.  This 5% theft of what is in effect a backdated tax disgusts me but, alas, does not encourage my colleagues into the sort of reaction which such a despicable action should produce.  I will, at least be paid up until the end of August. 

This is not something which is as automatic as it is in the UK and in private schools teachers spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about how much is going to be and when.  In The School That Sacked Me all (and I mean all) the teachers who had started there in September were worried about their summer pay.  Not one of them had total confidence that the money that they were legally owed would be paid.  Not one.  Which leads on to the question of Unions, or rather their scarcity in the private sector and I begin to lose my temper again.

Toni says that I am growing into a Grumpy Old Man, and I reply that not to be grumpy at the present time is to ignore the circumstances which surround us.  Pay cuts; rising inflation; growing unemployment; the growth of the right wing; currency fluctuations; teaching; noisy neighbours; the end of the opera season; dogs; high blood pressure; dog poo; clouds; lack of reading time; rain; motorcyclists; lack of book space; no I-phone and a touch of athlete’s foot – what is there to be joyous about?

Nevertheless, day by tortured day, we creep, broken bodied towards the first of the Days of Release – the day the kids go.  To my way of thinking there is not a great deal of sense in my being in school for the last week, as that is preparation for the next term when I won’t be there.  I suppose that there could be some point in my using that time to produce a series of lesson plans for the two credit courses that I teach: Making Sense of Modern Art and Media Studies.  We shall see.  I am sure that the school will want to get its last drop of blood out of me and I will want to get a place in the last meal of term when we have a mariscada out of them!

Give and take!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When is Friday?

Although the last tatters of rain washed me on my journey to school, the bulk of the water had obviously descended during the night and left a tide of what looks like sawdust but is actually the result of the continuing storm of pine pollen which continues to cloud our neighbourhood.

The new batch of CDs has now been loaded and is ready to be played. The first has already been inserted and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, followed by Barber’s Adagio for Strings saw me through the dampish trip to school and who knows what pop Classics will waft me home again. 

And this is what I want: hummable tunes to build up to the more challenging CDs that lie in wait for me.  What I have now got should see me through to the summer and then the psychological need for music first thing in the morning and at the end of the afternoon will be substantially lessened!

It’s odd, but I reckon that I can see the invisible chains that are binding my colleagues to the school; their heads are bowed over their own or the school computers and there is a sullen look of weary resignation about them.  Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!

I have not yet decided when to get de-mob happy and start (!) behaving disgracefully.  There is an opportunity on the 22nd when there is another strike in the educational sector targeting private schools.  I know that our status is somewhat anomalous but we are still basically a private school no matter how much public money is inexplicably pumped into our coffers.  My chatting with the other “activists” does not give me much hope for a concerted thrust of militant action!

Julie may, or may not, have bought a flat in Sitges now.  The price was (for Sitges) absurdly cheap and it is the sort of flat to which value can be added fairly simply.  Her purchase has sparked off in me a lust for property of mine own – especially if it is a bank repossession sale where the blood-soaked, grasping banks are looking for instant liquidity rather than making the swingeing profits for which they are justly reviled. 

Toni will have to get his property-searching mode up and running and find a similar absurd bargain in Castelldefels.  If everything goes according to plan then there might be the possibility to look around in the summer – though that is not necessarily the best time to be searching for property in a seaside resort.

This Wednesday is feeling like a Friday – which is a bad thing.  There being more days left in the week than one’s body calendar has recognized and which therefore makes the “extra” two days almost unbearable.  Especially when Saturday is going to be rainy.  Just one damn thing after another!

As I have decided that this is a pseudo-Friday I am acting to preserve my essential Fridayness and take it relatively easy.  My class of 2ESO are now studying for their examination and that gives me a breathing space to get on with other work which is waiting to pounce on me if I am not careful.

My next lesson is with 1ESO in which I have to attack relative pronouns and subdue them to my will so that I can try and explain their use to guileless students who have happily been writing sentences with the new vocabulary we have learned.  The lesson after (yes, three lessons on the trot) is one of my Making Sense of Modern Art lessons where the kids themselves have to give a presentation – this time on Cubism if I am not mistaken.  This is not as relaxing as it could be as the pupil talk lasts only a few minutes and I have to stimulate debate for the rest of the time with the hapless pupils taking some sort of notes.

The last lesson of the day (for the third day in succession) is with the 3ESO and they are now groaning and muttering about the load of work that they have to do for the final assessment in June.  But, in a very real sense, I couldn’t care less and they are going to be someone else’s problem next year.  As, of course, is everything else that I am doing now.  Ah, ‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

The swimming pool next to the British School of Barcelona which I joined under false pretences continues not to be open.  Which is not quite the same thing as closed.  We are still waiting for the council to give the OK for the thing to be opened.  At the moment the water is glinting seductively and everything is spick and span and new but without the safety certificate (I assume) the pool remains tantalizingly not available for swimming. 

I joined the Sports Centre at Easter when I was told with a light laugh by the girl at the counter that the authorities would “not even in a matter of weeks” be giving the certification.  Now that months are beginning to pass I realize that the ambiguity of their statement should have struck me much earlier and I should have used my experience of living and working in Spain and Catalonia to hold back from recklessly spending money on the naïf presumption that something which they told me was being done was being done!  You live and learn.  Or not of course, in my case.

As the weather is sullen I do not feel like throwing myself recklessly into the icy communal open pool and need the comfort of warmer water in an enclosed environment to lessen the shock to the system.  This is one of the times when I wish that my Spanish was much, much better so that I could lose my temper in the nuanced way that I find most beneficial when dealing with recalcitrant shopkeepers and service providers.

The weather improved in the afternoon and the evening was sunny and delightful and just the setting for a caña y tapa which we had in a new location our usual café having eschewed such low value crisis-friendly fare; our loyalty however is money dependent and we will desert ungainly entrepreneurs at a Euro’s notice!

A secondary purpose in going into town was to purchase yet another CD holder to take the new Amazonian discs that have finally been picked up (one cannot, after all expect the delivery firm in Castelldefels actually to deliver) and are now being played in the car.

I have devised a system whereby I will undergo a varied selection of music to keep me sane as I am wound about by the kamikaze spiralling gyrations of motorcyclists and the inane discourtesy of single-mindedly bigoted car drivers as I make my sedate drive-controlled way to work.

This morning was Nielsen and his first symphony conducted by Bloomstadt.  To me the sound sounded slightly muffled and the tempo at which he takes the opening of the first movement was ponderous but it certainly grew on me and I was happily humming along by the time I reached the turnoff from the motorway.  This music certainly took away the unpleasant taste of the classical pop shit that one of the other purchases left in the ears (so to speak) and I look forward to other delights.

One of the major purchases has been a British Symphonies box set which is notable for not being exclusively composed of symphonies.  The ten discs seem to cover a fair amount of musical ground up to, and including the rubbish which Hoddinot produced!

The weather is again threatening and depressing with cloud cover which is supposed to get thicker as the day progresses.  The flattening atmosphere appears to have transmitted itself to the staff who are subdued and colourless at the moment.

For me the lack of enthusiasm is easily explained as the notorious predilection for Saturday morning meetings in this place which is about to claim another weekend - and my fury at my enforced participation does not lessen with each infringement of my sacred weekend time.  

My startled yelps of “Lower wages and more impositions!” (not quite as catchy as “Not a penny off the pay not a minute on the day” or whatever was the actual phrase used by the strikers of yore) seems to fall on employee ears closed by the very real fear of what lack of work could mean for anyone rash enough to speak out and consequently be shown the door.  It is very lonely being a trade unionist in this sort of environment!

Meanwhile the day limps on with disruption to our normal timetable through the arrival of a choir from Scotland which is going to sing to us and the general entropy which is a delicious morsel of happiness consequent upon the ragged attendance of the second year sixth or 2BXT and the relishable free periods which follow in their absence.

This is the second day which has felt like Friday without actually being that sacred day.  Yesterday also felt like Friday and I am assuming with Sod’s Law that tomorrow, Friday, will feel nothing like it.  The threat of the Saturday meeting is still there which adds to the sense of grotesque unreality – as does the weather forecast which predicts the same cloudy weather into next week with the only difference being it will rain on Sunday.  So much for the weekend!

At least I can get on with some of my reading if the allure of the Third Floor is lessened by cloud!