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.

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