Tuesday, June 18, 2013


The axe has fallen!

In a pleasingly ambiguous and confused conversation I was “asked” if I “wouldn’t mind” staying on for Thursday afternoon to help cover classes which were going to be teacherless because of the evaluation meetings that would stretch their weary length along through the periods before the end of school and for a considerable time afterwards.  I could hardly say no.  Well, of course I could, after all I am virtually untouchable with only four days to go, but professional etiquette demands a certain restraint!

Friday is the fin de curso and is a day of general chaos.  I suppose that I do not need to be there, but again it would be expedient for me to give formal goodbyes as I finish my time in the School on the Hill.

Looking back it seems like an unbroken time that I actually spent there, in spite of the fact that my teaching is actually divided into four or five distinct contractual periods.  It remains to be seen if this last stint of work actually entitles me to anything of the money that I have paid in to a scheme from which, in the ordinary course of events, I am going to get nothing. 

Unfortunately I am not (and indeed never will be) a member of the odious ruling PP party and they are the ones, according to a television programme last night, who spend vast sums on the purchase of ham, trips, booze, private jets, helicopters, ties, suits, and lots of “presents” while publically they preach the sort of austerity and retrenchment that they flamboyantly do not practice themselves when they think that the gullible fools (as they obviously consider the electorate) who voted for them cannot see!

The pension payments that I have made in Spain will produce nothing for me, as you have to work for at least 15 years before you get anything.  Irene is finding this out and is now self-employed in order to boost her years of countable service.  I, however, get nothing.  Pay, yes – but pay out, no!

I am still waiting for my first TMA of the new OU course to be returned, and am a little apprehensive about the tutor’s response.  There was little opportunity for originality and it was far more a question of arrangement than research.  I am, however enjoying this course more than the first, but my enthusiasm is going to be tested by the immanent participation in the Wiki where a group of we students have to work together to produce a finished piece of written work which is composed on the Internet in the form of a web page. 

The obvious difficulties of trying to get a very disparate group of students to produce something which is coherent is exacerbated by the problem of language where not all of us are native English speakers and tactful rewriting is not always possible.

The work will also take place during the height of summer when half the people may well be elsewhere and not be in the frame of mind to do something academic.  The cut off date is the 1st of August, which gives you some idea about how difficult it is going to be to coordinate and execute.  Ah well, something else to worry about in due course in the course.

I think that my final grade for TMAs has already been compromised by this first one and the Wiki is something in which it is notoriously hard to gain a decent pass, so that only leaves me with the last TMA to recoup my status.  Sigh!

We have now got on to relics and reliquaries and, this being the OU, their wider significance.  Philip II gets a high place not only because of his almost unrivalled collection of religious bits, pieces and odd body parts (including El Escorial which itself might be regarded as a giant reliquary) but also because of the way he is perceived to have used them.  They became a way in which he could give material form to an abstract vision not only of himself as a king but also to his House as a dynasty.

It is strangely comforting to consider that there are probably around a thousand people musing on the same sort of ideas at the same sort of time up and down Britain and across the continent.  A coterie sharing increasingly esoteric knowledge – I love it!

I have finally changed my shower curtain: shamed into that action by the presence of various petrie dish clutching scientists asking for samples from the more extravagant and unsavoury mould colonies established on its lower fringes.  As the mould was about to be granted nation status by the UN I thought it was time for a little bacterial genocide.  There is now a new curtain in place and the old one has been consigned to the washing machine for a “last chance cleansing opportunity” before being consigned to oblivion.

We have taken the opportunity to purchase two other curtains for the other bathroom and for the living room as well as a multi-coloured set of plastic drawers for the “tea room” – I am always amazed how spending a relatively small amount of money has a disproportionate effect on the look of things!

I do have to do some work this evening to get the remaining results into some sort of order so that I can get them into the system tomorrow.  Somehow.

My drama classes continue their chaotic way with four or five memory sticks doing the rounds for kids to download their film clips and make something of them with the programs they have on their computers.  My star pupil is fanatically devoted to producing something and assures me that I will get something soon.  It would be nice to see some sort of end result from all our efforts – but, as I keep reminding them, “process is all!”

Three days to go!

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