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!