Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Rain and fish

It has now been raining for over twelve hours and, while it is not cold, it is wet and I am not happy.  Not happy also with the edition that I have been sent of Hard Times which is the wrong one.  On the other hand, with my instinctive mercantile approach to problems, I have decided to buy a luxury hardback Penguin edition of the novel to compensate for my disappointment – and I have ordered it with an express delivery charge as well.  Never let it be said that I was behindhand with my attempts to stimulate the economy by the injection of hard cash!

We in the staffroom are all of a mind that we should have stayed in bed this morning, and disturbingly, from the fact that only three of us are actually in at the moment, our other colleagues seem to have taken the advice!  Though I have to admit that I sincerely hope it not the case as this is one of my “short” days and I have no intention of staying beyond my appointed “time” - especially as there is a meeting this evening and, under no circumstances whatsoever am I going to be drawn into that!

To my absolute horror I have been roped into invigilating an examination at the end of my “short” day!  This means that my short-est day becomes merely a short-er day, which is not the same thing at all.  At all!  And this 'extra time' will produce even less time for me, because this will be the start of my marking.  Marking which has to be finished in double-quick time because there is a meeting (which unfortunately clashes with a tutorial for me, so you can tell which one is going to have preference) on Saturday (!) and all marks have to be in and noted in the various ways that the school deems appropriate.  Sigh!  And, indeed double sigh!

On the other hand I am almost at the stage when I can begin to count the days left.  Almost, but not quite.  I think I will wait until after the Easter holidays before I revert into man-in-cell-marking-the-days mode.  I feel that I should have “The final Countdown” playing in the background!

My sixth form examination was something of a disaster with the kids whimpering with horror at the questions that they had to attempt.  I do have some sympathy as their examination is based on a random photocopy with a series of unrelated words and phrases and a smattering of odd clause structures.  Just the sort of thing to keep them interested at the fag end of a long, long term.  And please to remember that we do not have a half term holiday as such.  Still, this is very much what Spanish kids are used to: vast piles of fact-heavy material which needs to be memorized and regurgitated at regular intervals.

I have completed my marking, ironically during the time when my colleagues were incarcerated in school experiencing another (!) two hours of lecturing about the new “platform” that has been installed on the school computer system to allow the easier (!) input of examination results.  I think that I may have used the time a little more usefully!

Tomorrow is a “long” day and I will be thoroughly grumpy by the end of it, but it will be a day nearer to the arrival of the “proper” version of my book (at great cost, but I don’t bloody care) and the weekend can be given over to writing the next draft of The Essay.

My notes have now reached a ridiculous level of complexity and I am no nearer getting a clear overview of what I hope to write.  I could follow the outline given to us, but I am still hoping to find my own way of 'seeing' to give some life to what could be a fairly arid exercise.  During the more deadly moments in exam supervision I even thought of a good opening for the essay, but I couldn’t write it down because that would have meant taking my eye off the kids and given their propensity to cheat that would have been disaster! 

This weekend really does have to be the time when I break the back of this assignment, because the marking will come thick and fast in the following week as each sullen examination room empties and the paper detritus is shoved towards the unwilling pen-wielding hands of we educational hacks!

Ever since the Great Winds and Lashing Rain of a few days ago which stripped the pines in this area of their surplus needles (which look like thin, joined chopsticks) one of them lodged under part of the windscreen wiper arm meaning that it smeared a path across the screen every time it rained.


The solution, you would have thought, was easy.  Take the needle away.  Yes.  But this is where the “Goldfish Effect” comes into play.  It is a well known, though alas specious fact, that goldfish have an attention span of five seconds (or 70% longer than the average school child) and therefore they forget with an ease unmatched except for members of the ruling class here in Spain who use their faulty memories to cover all their obvious misdemeanours in a way which would embarrass a forgetful carp.

For the last few days, as I get behind the wheel, I cannot fail to notice that the irritating fronds are still there.  Each time I drive I resolve to remove the offending vegetation just as soon as I get out of the car.  And the next time I drive, I note that it is still there.  This has gone on for so long that I have become more frenzied in my determination to remove it, and to remember to do it, that it has become more and more difficult.  And each time I get behind the wheel, there it is again!

It had become so ridiculous that I even began formulating philosophies and sociological explanations for my seeming inability.  But you will notice that I used the past tense in the last sentence and that is because today, at last, memory and action came together in a triumphant affirmation of human capability and I actually picked out the tree dirt and felt somehow refreshed and reformed!

Unfortunately it is only Tuesday and there is much of the week left.  Too much.  Still, one examination down and two more to go.  Not an unbearable burden.  At least not until the essay becomes a pressing necessity and trembling fingers will try and pick an electronic way through the verbiage of which I am capable to find a cogent expression of OU acceptable description to fulfil my academic obligation.

Or to put it another way, just get on with it and stop talking!
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