Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Last Trumpet


OK, that might be the word to describe the eventual death of the universe, but when it is applied to education, one of the many meanings is surely the positive one connected with retirement.

Today is the last day with the kids – and, yes, I do understand that a true school teacher does need that volatile semi-human substance to justify his pay packet; without kids there is, after all, basically no job – but who of the didactic persuasion can fail to rejoice when realizing that the paid obligation to implant ideas in the young is drawing to an end.

I have often felt like some sort of Russian spymaster during my career carefully nurturing concepts like “sleepers” placed in the minds of pupils hoping against hope that they might be “activated” at some hazy time in the future.  This is all self-interest of course as pupils are the financial guarantee of my pension!

In Spain this comforting logic goes awry.  I have not worked here long enough to justify a pension; my time here cannot be added to my British pensionable years; I get nothing back from my efforts and therefore, the kids will be working for other peoples’ pensions.  I did not enter the profession to have a study in selflessness!  But I trust that my colleagues

The day is bright with a morning haze and, on cue, bizarrely, just as I typed the word “morning”, “Morning Mood” from the Peer Gynt suite issued forth from speakers around the school playground as the “Voice” of our fiesta tested the sound system with music!  Coincidences like this simply do not happen in real life!  What are the chances?  Though, thinking about it, perhaps I have a magic computer and I should now type something about “money” and hope for the best.  On a more sombre note the music has now changed to “The Death of Ase” so perhaps I should move on!

It is now half past twelve and the Tombola stall has been sold out mainly due to the frenzied efforts of two possessed students in 2ESO who took aggressive marketing to new levels – especially when encouraged by me!  For the second year running while I have been involved in this stall we have got rid of everything that we were given to sell.  And I am now able to sit in the staffroom and wait for the other, less fortunate aspects of our fiesta to catch up with us!

I have been speaking with another teacher who is leaving this term and she has been quite emotional about the experience.  This makes me feel like a complete fraud as I too feel emotional, but not quite in the way in which she showed!

I am a little disturbed by the fact that everyone assumes that I will be going home and leaving Castelldefels as soon as I can.  They fail to understand that I have an internet radio and am able to listen to the weather forecast for each day in Britain and, like any reasonable person I do not choose to be there in the anything but clement weather which seems to be getting worse as we go further into the summer.

And, by the way we’ve had the longest day, so the nights will be drawing in from now on!  And I’m not even in the holidays yet.

The much awaited seafood meal at the end of the fiesta in school yesterday was, it turned out, a bittersweet affair.  The meal itself was excellent and, fortified by the “punch” that is also a feature of this lunch we all settled down to listen to the traditional end of year speeches.

Those people who had been in the school for 25 years (dear god!) were given their bunches of flowers and a teacher who has been ill was listened to with enthusiasm.

Then we came to the other teachers who were leaving and in an uncharacteristically mean-minded way we were all dismissed in the second half of a sentence!  I cannot pretend that I did not feel slighted – who wants to be a muttered reference at the tail end of a meandering platitude?  What must have gone through the mind of a female colleague who had been there for almost a decade invites speculation!

In the strange way in which these things are done, although yesterday was the official end of the course, it was not the end of term.  We have a further week of school in which various pieces of administrative tedium (including a marathon five hour mind bendingly moronic meeting on Tuesday) are spread through the week of long, long mornings which lead up to Friday and my final departure from the school. 

A departure made much, much easier with the casual dismissal of our years of service yesterday.

Today has been taken up with a visit to Barcelona with Irene who needed the time to have some “her” time to make up for the stressful week that she has had.  We both found something to buy: in her case a few English learners’ books filled (hopefully) with ideas for her summer classes; I found a modifiedly (and yes, I do know that the word doesn’t exist) great bargain of 52 CDs for €39.

I was not allowed to purchase this collection of Classical Greats by the lady in charge of the till in El Corte Ingles because there was a special offer of 21% off.  This turned out not to be a simple sum to do and it necessitated a further purchase for the reduction to take effect. 

When I tried to buy a fairly expensive double CD I was told, in no uncertain terms, that this was not the most cost effective idea.  I was directed towards a bin of CDs where Engelbert Humperdinck was not the composer of Hansel and Gretel but rather the woeful failure of Eurovision.  I eventually ended up with a double disc of Rolling Stones music which I got free and got a reduction in the discs that I actually wanted to buy.

The end result is that I got 52 discs for about €33!  That’s about 50p a disc.  Bargain!

There is, however, a catch.  Some of the recordings date back to the 1940s and the most modern disc dating to 1974 – making it a spritely 38 years old.  As there are conductors like Sir Adrian Bolt I will regard the recordings as of historical interest and enjoy them at that level.  There might also be something to appreciate in the background noise which I have now almost got used to doing without on modern recordings!

Spain’s win has been accompanied by a rumbling of explosions which are continuing to celebrate St John’s Night.

Sleep is going to be difficult to impossible.

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