Saturday, January 31, 2004

Am feeling smug, proud and exhausted from nervous tension: my House won the harmony competition, and really camped up the unison, getting better-than-expected comments from the adjudicator. This was followed by a party involving pizza, cake and Tangfastics... what more could any girl wish for on a Saturday night?! (Don't answer that, please!)

Tonight is the night of the house music competitions; nothing, of course, to do with house music, and all to do with singing in unison and harmony. Every member of the school will be representing their House in a unison rendition of a song of their choice, whilst a select, tuneful few from each House will be competing for the harmony cup. Every year this competition causes all sorts of stress; every year the performances in the unison prelim round are less-than-perfect; every year the kids pull out all of the stops and sing their hearts out for the actual event. I'm looking forward to this evening.

I feel as though a brick wall has jumped out unexpectedly and hit me hard. Bleurgh.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Drug of the day: Neurofen Cold and Flu tablets
Drink of the day: Tea, by the gallon
Delivery of the day: Learn to Love your Moles via Amazon


Thursday, January 29, 2004

Eurgh! (via me-ish)

I've been pondering the authorities' lack of foresight regarding this 'ere weather, and note that Anna expresses her thoughts on this matter far better than I could. This village is riddled with pathways and jitties, all of which have been covered in a thick sheet of ice since yesterday because no-one had the forethought to put down grit until it was far too late. The pavements were treacherous, and - whilst carefully picking my way down to my classroom - I overheard the following:

Girl 1: Look at all this black ice.
Girl 2: Isn't that the ice you shouldn't eat?
Girl 1: No - you're thinking of yellow ice.


This morning the sun shone on the village, reflecting off white snow. Everywhere was bathed in the pale blue light that comes with cloudless midwinter days. I walked to my classroom admiring the effect of the snow on trees, roofs, hedgerows. Everywhere looked different.

It took me two minutes to realise that this was because I'd forgotten to put on my glasses.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The snowballs have started: teenagers shrug off their usual facade of cool and run squealling down the lane, gloves and scarves flying.

The snow continues to fall and shows no sign of abating.

Why am I stuck indoors marking?!

Good Idea CMT! So I'm guessing Mad's study will start in the metropolis of Burton... but where will be her next destination? Caz (who feels of the Pompey ones S/sea Waitrose top & Comm Rd Tesco bottom on the totty scale)

A mystery indeed. Am currently negotiating all sorts of jaunts to all sorts of places, both near and far, so will draw up a more detailed methodology as time progresses. After all, it's far more exciting than marking! :-)

Sensible suggestions of our time - am very excited about the prospect of this:

How about you do the remaining 83 miles in supermarkets comparing the talent. Your readers will wait eagerly for your conclusions CMT

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

We came 4th in the pub quiz, then walked out to discover snow! Am very excited.

Late night shopping at Tesco... you may as well hang a sign around your neck saying "Single and desperate"... I'm speaking from my own experience. Ash.

Oh. Is wearing that sign a bad idea...?!

Blimey - comments-a-plenty!

Agree with Mr Pink on the poshness of Waitrose shoppers (but they do good Carrot Cake, my southsea weakness). As for Mr Avacardo he may have a number from the original Mr Avagadro. Arrh the curse of the rest of my chem group was mole calculations (but I got them pretty much first time). Caz

So what is Mr Pink's view on Tesco/ Safeway/ Aldi & lidl? It sounds as if he's been going shopping for ladies! Caz

We don't have Waitrose up north. Do I have to move south in search of totty?

Perhaps this is where I'm going wrong too, although I'm not sure I could cope with being any further south - I thought that moving from Darlo to Derby was bad enough!

Pinky lives! And what's more, here's what he wrote:

Of course different supermarkets have different qualities of talent. Morrisons' is for a bit of rough, Sainsbury's, in my experience, is quite studenty and new mums, whilst Waitrose, posh totty galore! Pinky

I shall bear this in mind when planning the next shopping expedition!

Supermarket totty-spotting is obviously more common than I thought:

Don't forget the frozen meal section for eyeing up suitable males - Caz

I'm not allowed in the frozen food aisle: I drool too much when passing the ice-cream section. On a food-related thread:

6x10^23 bits thats avacardos number......................

Blimey. I didn't know anything about Chemistry at the start of this term, and now... why, my life has been revolutionised!

Sadly it's not snowed, and the sun is shining down, so I'm doomed to umpire netball this afternoon, followed by walking (gotta get those miles up soon!), a meeting, tea and then a pub quiz: busy, busy, busy!

Monday, January 26, 2004

The whole idea of supermarkets is to go through a checkout with a fit person.

And there was me thinking that supermarkets were the place that I could buy milk, ribena and Private Eye. Obviously I was wrong!

Tim writes:

A mole is an easy way of saying 6x10^23 bits. Thats a lot of bits, so mole is a good word.

See - if I were let loose on the sciences, I'd just be tempted to call it a whopper, or a squndlerun, or maybe a flibbletigrob; naming a big number after a garden animal is not something that would cross my mind. I suspect this is more evidence that I'm destined not to be a scientist.

From the box:

Walk him up the stairs...

I assume this refers to Fatso, not the Sainsbury's employee; chance of either would be a fine thing!

You know you're plumbing the depths of desperation when you catch yourself eyeing up the check-out blokey at Sainsbury's.

As I loaded up my blog page, I though, "Hmmm, better get walking: I'm falling behind." (and yes - I do use colons in my thought processes). And then, lo and behold, this appeared in my inbox:

Walk more miles!!! Then drink more port. Or can Fatso run your miles for you in his wheel? Love CMT

I consider myself told good 'n' proper, although I'm not sure I need any encouragement to drink more! Sadly Fatso-miles are unable to count towards the total, and I have netball every day this week, so quite when I'm going to walk is a little challenging at the moment!

Burns' night: wine; food; poems.

Walking home: frost; glistening; crunching; steaming breath.

Now: sleepy; bed.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

A mate of mine is a teacher at a comprehensive in the middle of Birmingham. We often chat about school, and the differences between her place and mine. I think it really sank home today, though, when I told her I was off to serve dinner in the House. All she could say was:

God - it's all very oxbridge at your place innit?! Serve dinner? It's more of a greasy spoon diner at our place!

And the more I think about it, the more I realise she's right. Not about the greasy spoon diner - although I'm sure she could be right - nor even about Oxbridge in particular, but certainly school is a microcosm of Durham.

There's a strong loyalty to one's House, and the Houses all have a different atmosphere and stereotype. Teaching is done in departments, and the streets are heaving in the five minutes between lessons as people scurry from place to place. The village is small enough to recognise and greet people as you see them on a daily basis, even though you have no idea who they are. The school is tolerated by the locals, but very occasionally trouble rears its head, usually from those who resent this transient population taking over the village for 35 weeks a year and acting as if they own the place. It's a place steeped in history, and removing the school from the village, or vice versa, would destroy much of the atmosphere. There's a sense of history, of tradition, of purpose; perhaps this explains why I feel so much at home here.

Sunday duty in the House begins with cooked breakfast, and then 45 minutes in chapel. This is made bearable because I get to wear my academic hood and gown, and therefore get envious looks from the girls who'd like to be allowed to wear fake fur to chapel.

Today, it's a nice morning to be up: clear, pale blue sky; a smattering of frost; birds tweeting their little socks off (well - no birds here are wearing socks: QED). Shame I've got a whopper pile of marking to complete.

Seems I'm damned, after all. Hey ho!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

After a non-stop day that's included teaching, marking, a parents' meeting and a one-to-one tutorial session, and with the prospect of a day on duty tomorrow, I'm ready for some excitement. My only problem will be finding someone to be excited with: everyone here seems to be busy. All I want to do is some dodgy dancing to some cheesy music, and I'm damned if I'm going to stay in and recreate disco scenes in my own living room. Pah!

Friday, January 23, 2004

Someone writes:

Chemistry isn't hard :)

Maybe not for you, but it's too much for my little brain to cope with: I once picked up an A-level Chemistry paper when invigilating an exam, and recognised no more than three of the words on the page. I struggle with maths and equations, and anyone who can manipulate formulae to work out moles* gets my respect!

* This is - I assume - a sort of pet for chemists. Must play havoc with their lawns though.

Via the box o'er there:

So how's your reputation after the chemistry homework? Intact?

Possibly not suffering as badly as I expected. The conversations went summat like this:
Girl: Please can you help with my Chemistry?
Me: Errr - no. I know nothing about Chemistry
Girl: That's OK- nor do I!

And about Fatso, Tom says:

Take a picture of him, with flash: that ought t' sort 'im out. Tom

Are you suggesting that I flash at my hamster?! I hope not! No innocent animal deserves that sort of torture!

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I'm being stared at by Fatso, and he's freaking me out. Weird wee beastie!

I wandered round the House at the start of tonight's duty; the first two girls I spoke to asked me to help with their Chemistry and the third wanted a hand with some quadratic equations. The braincell's feeling very battered now!

Many, many years ago I was a regular gig-goer, heading off to the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton as frequently as my £2.50-a-week pocket money would allow. We watched all sorts: loud bands, quiet bands, big ensembles, solo acts, unknowns and big names (well - biggish names - after all, Wolvo's Civic Hall is hardly the number one stopping point for the giants of Rawk Moosic). One memorable night we watched the Sultans of Ping - very loud, raw, bouncy, drums-and-banging-bassline, great lyrics - and ever since then I've been after a copy of Teenage Drug, the album they were promoting at the time. I only ever saw it in shops when I was broke; they'd always sold out when I was flush. Eventually it slipped out of print (well - the CD equivalent) and I was left bereft. Reluctant to part with 25 smackers (the asking price on ebay) I thought I was destined to remain alone. The other day, however, I found a copy whilst mooching through amazon, for the most reasonable price of £14. It arrived today, and it's on repeat play very loud and I'm grinning like a maniac and dancing very wildly. Waaaaaaa!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I've been on duty this evening, and - as ever - I got asked to help with homework on business studies (which I know a little about) and physics (a subject about which I know nothing). However, with the aid of a textbook and some logical thinking, I solved even the physics questions. Although I feel smug about accurately using portions of the braincell that haven't been troubled for 11 years, I worry that this has laid me open to all sorts of other subject requests on duty nights, with the girls believing that I am invincible at solving all types of prep work riddles. One day that reputation will be blown to shreds with the innocent words, "Miss, can you help with my Chemistry, please?"

Today's things that make me go mmmm...

  • The waft of aftershave that eddies past three seconds after a bloke walks by
  • The way that Boasters have huge chocolate chunks in really crispy crumbly biscuit
  • The smell of coal being burned on an open fire
  • Meetings that are quick but productive*

* Not quite in the same mmmm category as Boasters or aftershave, but pleasing nonetheless, and equally as likely to lead to grinning-induced cheekache

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The singing obviously wasn't loud enough or good enough, so it stayed dry. The match, however, was good, and the coach journey painless, so perhaps there's a demi-god somewhere who's taking pity on me.

Prayer of the reluctant netball coach

If there's anyone up there, in charge of - y'know - important things, then, eurm, please let it carry on raining. I'll sing if that'll help.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Bloody computer's having a spaz-attack. All I want to do is print off some worksheets and it keeps freezing up. Grrr...

I am turning into the sort of PE teacher I've always hated - all whistle-blowing and shouting. I feel out of my depth on the netball court, and it shows in coaching sessions. The sooner I can find a reason to drop girls' games, the better.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Yesterday: teaching, coach journeys, a netball match, an unplanned sortie to the pub for a couple of cheeky pints, cat-napping on the sofa, a dinner party with lots of wine and good conversation (so much for my early night!)

Today: sleeping.

Feel much better now.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Have laughed 'til my tummy hurts at this. Mua-ha-ha!!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Just as I thought...

Marmite is a gift from the gods. Mmmm...

Tomorrow I shall be part of The Sex Team, spending all day delivering sex education (or PHSE when using the correct terminology). It's a little late, so I'm off to do some background reading...

So where is Port Mad? Hope its somewhere warm and sunny that needs me to do some work. - Caz

I'd like it to be somewhere sunny too. Or with torrential rain. Or very snowy. Just not a place where the weather can't make up its mind and faffs about being grey and cloudy.

And should I ever be installing a harbour, I shall be sure to ask Caz's advice first!

You're port mad, you are. Haha! See that? I made a joke by accident. Port Mad? Geddit? Ah, never mind.

I won't.

A few days ago, the Madmobile went off for its annual wash, valet and poke-around-under-the-bonnet-with-an-oily-rag. It was - as ever - full of debris and fallout from the past 6 months, so those boys in overalls had quite some job facing them. I've only driven a couple of times since then, but there has been a distinct rattling noise coming from the vicinity of the boot. Uh-oh, I thought. A bit of investigative driving later, and I realised that the rattling was more of a chinking: turns out to be two bottles of port that had been found nestling amongst the rubbish. Perhaps this is a sign that I should clean out my car more often.

First up, sage words from the Doctor:

Principles are like ethics: People often describe others as having none, when what they mean is that they are different from theirs. "We intend to sell arms to any foreign government that can pay us" IS an ethical foreign policy. Tom

Indeedy: am agreed with that one! Cheers for this

You go girl! Sounds like a fab challenge. If you succeed I'll, erm, applaude!

Cheers! And this too:

Hmm, is the milage being independantly verified? If not, the old "One, two, skip a few, ninety-nine, one hundred!" springs to mind ;-) If it is being verified - you fool! (for signing up)

Ah - 'tis the demon drink - it makes me do things I'd never normally do. Mind you, I am feeling better for a few hours out in the fresh air, so maybe it's a blessing in disguise! And finally:

Glad to see you think Marmite is evil too! Its Urgh! Caz

My thoughts exactly, although I'm sure there are others out there who'd disagree.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I am a woman of principle.

No - don't laugh. No - not even you, Mrs Johns. It's true:

I won't ever refuse food (unless it's got marmite in it), and I don't run. Ever.*

However, in a foolish drunken moment at Sunday's staff party (like, I don't have many of them) I agreed to do the Parker 100 with a colleague. The Parker 100 was established in memory of one of the teachers here, and is awarded to anyone running 100 miles in the course of Lent Term (that's the time between Christmas and Easter, for those of you who don't have silly names for your time periods).

Obviously the "running" aspect left me concerned for a while, until I negotiated a compromise - I'm going to walk it. It's day 2 already, and there's a tally o'er there... please give me a kick if it's not going up quick enough!

* Except when coerced to play netball

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Today's just been made better by a delivery from my credit card's favourite online shop. By now, they've built up a pretty good picture of the sort of stuff I like (chilled funky jazzy CDs, coupled with an unusual and eclectic taste in books) and the times at which I purchase them (late at night, often after a drink or two). Based on that information, they make (generally) good recommendations, some of which I buy, but many of which I already own.

Today's parcel will have upset all that: a script of Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters, a video of Rex the Runt, a CD called Sounds from the Verve Hi-Fi compiled by the Thievery Corporation, a CD of Round the Horne and a copy of The City of God against the Pagans by St Augustine. How could any recommendation system predict anything meaningful based on that jumble? Apart, that is, from that epic, well-known bestseller Become A Jazz-Listening Theologian With A Penchant For Clever Animated Plasticene And Old Radio Shows In Just TEN Days...

Over the past 24 hours the new term has settled gently across the village. The Houses have turned from hulking shadows to vast sources of light and noise; the smell of school food lingers in the streets; the pavements are filled with kids clutching files and books. The morning began with an abrupt start, with the nasty realisation that hitting the snooze button would only lead to tears, with the hunt for suits and shoes not worn since last year. At the moment, everyone is fresh: the beginning of term colds have yet to descend; the teachers are still smiling; the kids yet to complain about the excess of homework that they've been given. It's good to be back.

Monday, January 12, 2004

The early night didn't arrive quite as intended but I spent the time cooking magnificent pasta-n-slop for Jen, so they were hours well-used. I suspect that I'm now too full to sleep, but I'll give it a damn good go anyway...

Working hard went well (after a computer reboot and some nice words and gentle caresses to the ADSL modem to get the radio playing again!), as did the meetings and post-holiday catch-up. One more meeting to go, at 9pm, then an early night methinks. My, this term's going to be mighty exciting if it continues in this way... < /irony >

Have finally dragged myself from the Pit of Duvet and Pillows, with the intention of working hard in the 2 hours remaining before the staff meeting. However, I can't get Secret Agent radio to play on this damned computer, and I'm in severe need of aural stimulation... eeek!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Oh dear. 'Tis late, but feels later; am drunk, but feel drunker. Parties for the teaching staff are a good idea, but SOOO not a good idea. It has been an evening of contradictions, but of obvious truths. Have been wearing my lovely plum-coloured jumper but am now too hot: it went beautifully with my hair but now clashes with my wine-reddened face. Tomorrow, I get to sleep in: our first official engagement is at 5pm. However, I still have my Upper 6th planning to do, and marking to complete, so may contemplate getting up earlier; but maybe not.

It's late, sooo laaate. Or early, depending on your perspective. Have eaten, drank and been merry. Now am sleepy. Off to bed...

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Over at Mal's, I read this story with concern. Having read pulp friction, I feel far more at ease.

I went out in Birmingham last night, and although I used the cunning ploy of driving so I don't feel hungover now, I'm still pretty sleepy. Which is why, when my mother phoned me at 8.30am, the conversation went something like this:

Mum: Oh - you're awake
Me: Eurgh
Mum: I wasn't expecting you to be up this early
Me: Eurgh
Mum: It's just your dad wants to print something in Publisher and you've not installed it on my computer. You've still got the CD there haven't you?
Me: Eurgh... eurgh...

And so on for another five minutes, which included talk about printer drivers, installation of the aforementioned programme and her friend's son's A-level choices. Eurgh. Am off to drink tea.

Friday, January 09, 2004

There I was, innocently mooching through the internet - as one does on a Friday afternoon when one's not excited about the prospect of planning lessons - when I discovered this. It's very amusing, but probably not work safe.

Not chocolate, as it turns out, but port, port and more port... a 9am start tomorrow is looking doubtful. Have fun...

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I feel very crap. There are lots of things that I should be doing that I'm not doing. I think the rollercoaster of life has just taken a plunge towards the ground. Perhaps this calls for chocolate...

I currently have a man. In the kitchen. Admittedly he's a temporary fixture, and he'll disappear just as soon as he's finished fixing my gas boiler, but he's a man nonetheless. *And* I'm not going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning, so that's an added bonus. Hurrah!

(It sort of makes up for the fact that I "forgot" to wake up until 11am. There goes another productive morning - sorry, Ian!)

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Achievements of the day:

  • Writing three schemes of work for this term, and associated prep-sheets
  • Balancing on the work surfaces to create dust-gunk-free cupboard tops
  • Using a silly voice to answer the phone - and scaring three of my colleagues in the process
  • Persuading someone to go out on the lash with his mates, even though it's a week night.

Of the four, I'm most proud of the latter, although I suspect it didn't take much persuasion. Maybe I could become a full-time corrupter?! :-)

Before disappearing off on my Christmas holiday jaunts I promised Ian, a colleague, that we would spend this last week of the holidays being 'normal' people: working 9 to 5, having lunch together in a designated lunch hour, going out to pubs n clubs at the weekend.

I'm beginning to regret this.

Admittedly I've done lots of preparation and have eaten more sensibly than normal, but I'm struggling with the 9am starts and I'm finding it hard to resist the lure of Private Eye/the newspaper/tidying up/the internet/wandering aimlessly/gazing out of the window. I've become addicted to the Secret Agent radio station, I've cleaned the top of my kitchen cupboards, I've procrastinated in nearly everywhichway possible. I guess I'm just not cut out for working in the mornings.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Fkin hilarious (found via Wherever You Are)

Amy writes:

Mad, thats as bad as me wearing a bra under me bikini! Aims xxxx PS are you sure you didnt corrupt the undergraduate?!

Quite sure - after all, you know me: would I do such a thing?! ;-)

As I thought, photos from New Year are starting to emerge. The beach party took a little imagination, given that we were staying in a youth hostel in the middle of Dartmoor, but was a resounding success (helped, in part, by the barrel of beer thoughtfully provided for our consumption). It was a tad nippy, even with the wood stove burning merrily, so I opted to wear my thermals under my party outfit.

One of the current undergraduates there introduced me to Dooley's - a toffee drink not unlike Baileys; it's not often I get lead astray by young boys, but here's the photographic evidence!

me being corrupted by young boys

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Ever been to Italy? It's one of my favourite countries, and I have another two Italian trips organised this year. This will be an essential part of my preparations. Bua-ha-ha!

I am a firm non-believer in New Year Resolutions. I fail to get excited about New Year's Eve as the start of an All New And Improved Time Period. I do, however, get carried away by the prospect of parties and social gatherings. I often get carried away at parties too, and start suggesting things like playing Trivial Pursuits at 3 in the morning,* or doing impressions of a giant, butch guinea pig. Luckily I have a very tolerant group of friends, who also appreciate being taught the art of drinking Port through Cadbury's Fingers. Photos, no doubt, to follow.

* Needless to say, I was on the winning team. The braincell's currently feeling very full of useless but interesting information, especially about binturongs.