Sunday, October 14, 2012


Let’s respond to the important things first: the weather was good enough for me to lie out on the Third Floor.  It was not, it has to be said, summer. 

Lying there I was reminded of my stoical sunbathing which characterised some of my winter visits to Gran Canaria and the “sun” beds of Maspalomas trying to convince myself that the gusting breezes were not uncomfortable and that I really was warm.  And considering it’s the 1th of October one cannot grumble about being able to divest oneself of clothing and lie out in the open air without frostbite!

I have had the feedback on my “story” from Irene and in the nicest possible way she has told me to rewrite it.  I even managed to slip a passive in, when everything was supposed to have been written in the present tense.  She also asked me to add more modal verbs. 

I wonder how many of the present heads of English in Cardiff secondary school would actually know what she meant.  A few years of teaching English as a foreign language and lots of stuff that I sort-of knew when I was in Forms 4 and Five (or Lower and Upper Modern as one of our headteachers insisted on calling them - well, we may have been a state school, but we did go to school on Saturday mornings!) all that sort of stuff does eventually come back to you. 

And, it also has to be said, you learn a few other terms that did not exist when I was studying (or rather copying from the scientists) the grammar work that we had to do.  “Phrasal Verbs” for example are known by all language teachers, but not by ordinary humans. 

The English language is rich in phrasal verbs which are used as a form of cattle prod to keep the more obstreperous students in line by desperate teachers. 

Imagine that you are learning English and you come across an innocuous little word like “set”; you then make the stupid mistake of looking up this three letter scrap of language.  You find to your absolute horror that there are sixty or seventy meanings of this word and then you find the phrasal verbs: to set up; to set in; to set out; to set in; to set over; to set by; to set under; to set down; to set on, etc etc.  English speakers hardly think about using these verbs but to foreigners they seem wilfully vicious.

So my story should have been written with a little more care and attention to detail.  So, it’s back to the writing.  I think that the exercise that I said I was going to complete by the end of the week is going to be a little more difficult than I thought.

I have just heard that one of my hard done by colleagues whose dismissal from school was little short of scandalous has now, at last, managed to find a temporary job for a couple of weeks.  I wish him well, but I wish much more that the labour and union organization was more on British lines than the sometimes inexplicable forms that they take.

I am waiting for the arrival of my material from the OU and the first day covers of the Paralympic stamps – such are the future delights that I have to look forward to!

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