Nothing is slowing down in school and there is the usual air of barely supressed panic motivating all the members of staff to work, mark, fill in, fill out, prepare, mark, assess, set, mark, conflate and confuse and, of course, mark.
We are building up to the final (!) set of examinations of the year; these start on the 15th and work their way through the next week and then, though I hesitate to breathe the idea, I am truly “marked out” and Poe’s raven can sing its heart out reiterating the single word that can bring unutterable delight to a teacher’s soul: “Nevermore!”
To my utter horror there are still eleven working days left to the fiesta at the end of the course – and then the week without the students. This is too long and difficult to imagine. Double-figure days left is more than human flesh can stand! Honestly.
Each day is slow torture as there is no guarantee, given the time of year, that the day will follow the pattern that you have been used to. At this time of year anything can happen: sudden trips; collapsed classes; spontaneously generated meetings; films; talks; changes without rhyme or reason; swapped classes - events which swoop onto the timetable like rabid eagles ripping, rending and tearing, leaving the teaching staff gasping and hollow eyed.
OK, perhaps because I am not returning (let me pause for a moment to savour that statement!) these last days are even more intolerable than for the rest of my colleagues who seem to me to be giving a pretty good impression of stir-crazy junkies at the moment as they lurch spasmodically from task to task with the fevered intensity of prisoners working towards their parole!
I have attempted to discover exactly what the arrangements for the final days of term with the pupils are, but with little success, so it will all have to stay as a seat-of-the-pants approach.
My swimming (a much more agreeable subject and one which imposes itself on my imagination when I look out of the windows and see sun streaming down) continues in a more than satisfactory way with my routine almost being established. I have almost given up trying to describe the taste of the water in the pool, although I suspect that I would have little difficulty if it were an undertone in a cheap red that I was drinking! The nearest I can come is that it has the memory of something vaguely metallic mixed with a suggestion of light fuel. It is the sort of taste that coats the tongue but which the brain soon filters out of the objectionable part of the taste spectrum.
I still have not had to share a lane with any other sentient being and I continue to worry about the correct etiquette when it finally does happen. I have only been using the pool since last Friday so my swim this afternoon will mark a week of daily use.
My cup of tea at the end of my exertions is also becoming something of an institution and both of the people who work in the café know how to make a half way decent cup of British-type tea after my careful instructions. It is very pleasant sitting outside watching the world go by while drinking a cup of tea and reading my mobile in a fairly desultory fashion. A calming end to the day. Most satisfactory.
The “Mafia” who live opposite, in the large and impossible to afford house with pool, are doing something in the corner of their extensive garden which backs onto the front of our house. To facilitate the work rate the guy deems it necessary to open all the doors of his parked car and turn the music system up to its loudest volume. This is irritating. Toni informed me that the music had been going on all day yesterday and as I arrived home the last thing that I wanted to be subjected to was the blaring music of some ill educated oaf.
I shouted some sort of imprecation as soon as I got out of the car indicating my feelings of displeasure at such a wonton disregard for the normal civilities of neighbourly living.
I got out some of my stuff from the boot of the car and then marched disgruntledly over the road and began stacking the goods that I had purchased near the school bag and my swimming kit. On my second trip to the car and back again I heard the dog-woman of next door cackle some sort of whimpering moan about the music being too strong. Barely resisting the inclination to snort with derision at her hypocrisy I continued my transporting.
On my third journey back to the car something inside broke and I marched resolutely towards the big automatic metal gates behind which the open doors of the blaring car were clearly visible.
Taking my courage in both fists I tapped irresolutely on the metal producing a weedy clicking sound. Kicking the metal car doors did go through my mind but then I heard the unmistakable sounds of man-at-work emanating from the new construction rapidly rising, though all but hidden by the luxuriant greenery, in the corner of the garden.
My first “Señyor!” lacked authority and projection, but my second had command and the right degree of the peremptory to insure a reply.
In Spanish made fluent by fury I indicated that I was a close neighbour, that the noise was insupportable and that it had been going on for too long. An indistinct reply seemed to indicate some sort of guilt and by the time I had reached the gate there was blissful silence.
The dog woman (the curses of an irascible Cerberus fall on her head and his fangs savage her kidneys) was going through her gate and behind it I heard mutterings of appreciation. There is a certain irony in the fact that that the woman who cares not a jot that her cantankerous curs bark themselves hoarse in their cells under her house is sensitive to noise!