Sunday, February 17, 2013


Crying kids, angry parents

There must be a formula for working out how much pure noise a pair of young children are capable of making; something like lung capacity times inclination plus the sum of space and reverberation to the power of adult irritation!

I have noticed more and more in recent times how much I am growing towards the living embodiment of a boring old fart that I used to turn my eyes to heaven about when I was a cynical schoolboy. 

The real paradox of life is that the seemingly ironic schoolboy and the superficially staid adult are both right and have total justification on their sides for their particular view of life and how it should be lived.  The difficult thing is that they cannot co-exist, even though they obviously do in my memory and experience!

Isn’t it in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe that when the children come to the professor’s house they are told that he doesn’t want to be disturbed by childish noise and they have to amuse themselves quietly.  But the professor is invigorated by the sound of the young enjoying themselves. 

I am probably conflating a couple of novels here but I do understand the contradiction between the youthful vitality and more placid contentment.  I also realize that irritation could have been eliminated by the use of a decent pair of headphones that presumably were not available for our harassed professor, and certainly not with the quality of music that I am able to access at the stroke of a computer key!  And behold the hysteria of kids being bathed is suddenly lost in a brilliant performance of Concerto for Orchestra by Bartok (with or without the accents!)

At some point or other I am going to have to do some marking.  I made the fundamental mistake of not doing a single script on Friday evening.  That omission means that the probability of my completing the marking that I have to do falls from the level of “high probability” to “vague possibility” at best.  There is more likelihood of my reading the first five chapters of Hard Times and submitting my thoughts about the presentation of the landscape through Dickens’ writing than there is of my putting a red mark on a hapless student’s paper.

And that is another thing.  I have decided not to use a red pen when marking.

There is of course real research to back up my disinclination to splash red on a student’s script.  We are told that red is the colour of failure and the more we write on a script the less a student values it.  We are told that it is a disincentive for a student’s improvement – and all sorts of other shit.

None of the foregoing makes the slightest difference to me.  I am not marking with a red pen because I cannot be bothered to buy red disposable fountain pens and I don’t like marking in red ballpoint.  Even with my disposable pens there is a difference in the flow of ink between the red and the blue and the black.  The one which I feel most at home with is the blue and therefore I have decided to mark in blue not matter what colour the kids have chosen to write in.  I can justify it in all sorts of educational ways, but it is basically because I prefer writing with a blue Pilot disposable pen.  So there.

As you can tell, I am working up to a prickly assertiveness because we are getting ever closer to a plethora of meetings to which I am disinclined to go.

The first test will be tomorrow afternoon when there is an overlong meeting to explain why we are changing our results electronic platform yet again.  Although I may not have to go to this meeting I may well be asked to cover other colleagues’ lessons to allow them to attend as, for a wonder, the meeting has been scheduled in school time.  I think.

I have delayed getting my password for school e-mail for as long as was decently possible – and beyond – but now I am firmly on the system and therefore I will have been official informed about the things that I will have ignored.  It therefore follows that some things I will be expected to grace with my presence.  This is obviously not my intention.  I teach: at all other times I am n/a and that should be respected.  I am only hoping that they are grateful enough that I am there to deflect the ire of parents who, not unreasonably expect their kids to be taught with a generous degree of continuity.  Which is what I represent.  God help us!

As a chunk of what I have recently purchased in terms of CDs I am now the proud possessor of “The All-Baroque Box” which represents an exhaustive selection of the Baroque holdings of a considerable number of recordings that I could not afford when I was in University.  Such labels as Archiv and L’Oiseu-Lyre were the ultimate in authenticity and high priced exclusiveness.  Now, at bargain price I have 50 discs of which the first two are of a recording that I bought in a record sale some thirty odd years ago! 

The records are long gone – their last place of residence being in the loft of the Pauls’ house where they lay for some time until the ceiling in the bedroom began to sag with the weight of the records and they were unceremoniously sold off to a grasping bastard in the indoor market for a fraction of their value!  Now, the crystal clarity of the sound (as it never really was on the records) delights anew!  And there are 48 other discs waiting to delight and instruct me!  Sooner or later the record companies are going to realise that they can get much more for what they are offering that they are being paid.  Until then I will take great pleasure in expanding my holdings of decent quality discs and gloat the while!

We are now beyond that magic time on a Sunday which takes up the school day.  The time left is equivalent to the normal time during the working week when things have to be done.  This is also the time where one realises that one has done nothing of what one proposed to do at the other end of the weekend when time seemed to stretch endlessly into the future.  It is yet more proof, if any were needed, that it is essential to do something on Friday evening if you expect to get things done before Monday and the start of school.

There is still time, of course, for me to get something done, but I think that I would rather type about the possibility rather than make possibility reality.

And I have put the new (and markedly more successful) chocolates into plastic containers ready for their being taken to school tomorrow to extend the Chocolate Week into its second week.

And now marking.

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