Thursday, May 27, 2004

I've just finished marking. I suspect that the gallon of tea consumed in the past ninety minutes will not help my sleeping any, although judging by my late-night stagger and squinty eyes I'm about to collapse.

This time tomorrow I will, all being well, be tucked up in bed in a bunk house in the Forest of Dean. I'm skiving Speech Day at school to go to Ian and Laura's wedding, and from there on to Sunny Cheltenham for a bit of a snog, and then maybe back to the Forest of Dean to see Mr and Mrs J on the Monday. Blimey - my holiday appears to be as busy as term time! Pah!

Balls! I have lots of them! 200, to be precise, courtesy of Mr Cohen's finest late-night shopping emporium and its wonderful purchasing economies of scale. I also have Private Eye and then biscuits, cakes, sweets, chocolates... I got a tad carried away whilst buying provisions for my late-night marking session. By the end of it, I might be sleepy but I'll be well-fed!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I have written my To-Do list and life planner for the next three days. It doesn't make pretty reading.

Mornings, I have decided, are not my forte. Bleurgh!

Monday, May 24, 2004

Snooker. Potted a red followed by a black: a break of 8. Am very chuffed - that's probably my highest break all year! Don't know now whether to go to bed or do some more marking.... I think that bed is winning. G'night.

At the end of a long, hot day in school, what better game to play than "Try To Make Miss E Embarrassed"? Marketing was the topic of the day for my GCSE group, and the discussion got round to the choice of appropriate media for different types of product.

Me: Of course, there are some things that you wouldn't advertise on TV
Boy 1: (whispering to friend sitting next to him) Like Dildos
Me: Absolutely. Dildos are a niche market product - which of course is another way of saying that they have a very specialist target market. Mind you, Ann Summers is trying to take the product into the mass market through careful use of place and promotion. Of course, that doesn't mean that sex toys aren't promoted in other ways - think of the Rabbit vibrator in Sex and The City...

....and on and on for another five minutes, explaining the world of sex toys using the theory of marketing. Ha ha - that'll teach 'em to play that game!

On Saturday I went to my first wedding of the year (out of a grand total of four or maybe five.... I'm obviously just that age). Village organists deserve to be shot. If the Queen of Sheba had arrived to music played like that she'd have turned straight round and left again. Dull and disinterested vicars should be the next in the wedding-cull. I was not, you may have noticed, impressed with the service itself. On the other hand, the reception was another bouilloire des poissons.

I first met the groom and his sister when I was 10, and we've been in touch ever since. Every year we went to camp with the St John Ambulance; I would only see them every twelve months but things didn't seem to change and the time-gap made little difference. I stopped camping with St John when I was 16 and, although I have photographs, I can remember precious little detail of the camps or the people who went.

This weekend changed all that.

The groom is still an active member of St John and the guest-list looked like a Who's Who of the camps I attended 15 years ago. People haven't changed. They look the same, have the same mannerisms and turn of phrase. What's worrying is that I remember them exactly as they looked on Saturday night. This leaves me wondering - how can I not have accounted for the passage of time? Have they just aged well? When I was young, did I assume that they were all sixty-plus because they were leaders, even when they must only have been forty? How come they all realised that Saturday's smartly dressed woman with short curly hair and glasses used to be the long-haired 16 year old wearing tatty jeans and walking boots? Have I really changed that little?! I'm not sure I want to know the answers.

It was lovely to catch up with them all: I've had invitations to join them on camp this year (although I think time will conspire against me) and next year (tempting); I've caught up with everyone's life story; I've been offered a job making teas when they're on duty for pop concerts at the Britannia Stadium. I laughed and sang and danced my little socks off, got home at 2am and then slept until nearly 3 on Sunday afternoon. I now have aching legs and a raspy voice, but it was worth it. I think I'm off now to find my old photo albums...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Them there Bangles decided that it was only Mondays that were Manic. Today has - quite conclusively - proved them wrong. I didn't stop working until I heard the siren call of the pint at 10.35pm, at which point my fate was sealed. I should have opted for an early bedtime, but decided not to. Whoops.

Today/tomorrow (depending whether you consider this to be today or yesterday) is my brother's birthday. I'd forgotten this fact until I was asked the date in class today/yesterday, at which point I did a teacher-swear ("PANTS!") and was asked his age. "Ooh, I normally think he's about 13," I replied, "but I suspect he's actually about 25. Or maybe 24. Hmmm. He's two and a half years younger than me, so that makes him... hmmm... maths is hard... dunno. That sort of age." I made up for my ineptness by phoning him just gone midnight; I'm sure that pleased him. Although he has webspace, he's filled it full of pictures of pussy (that'll be photos of his two cats, then) and has no webpage as such, so I can't, therefore, direct you in his direction, but I will say "'Appy Burfdy".

Drunken ramblings ought to stop now. G'night...

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My fingers hurt from too much plucking. Damn these composers who write pizzicato!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Just like getting caught between two mirrors, this is The Infinite Cat project. It amused me, anyway! :-)

A man in a van has been and cleaned my windows! I can see!!

Today bodes goodness: the sun is shining, my hair is curly and I have only three lessons to teach this morning. Admittedly this afternoon I have D of E, tennis, tea in the House then junior pub quiz; but hey - nothing's perfect!

Monday, May 17, 2004

This evening I printed Guide forms, explained the intricacies of evaluation, taught marketing and found Nemo. I could do with another couple of hours now to do some marking. Please can someone arrange for evenings to last a little longer?

Today I have mostly been feckful, to make up for a weekend spent hungover doing very little work. The sun's quite nice too.

Friday, May 14, 2004

My AS-level Business Studies groups are preparing for an exam based upon a pre-released case study. This means that we can use the context of this business as a vehicle for revision. This year, the case study is about Screw Loose Ltd, an online retailer of nails, bolts and other DIY materials. Today's discussion centred around stock management, and the implications for Screw Loose if they run out of stock.

Me: Well, it's important that they don't run out of stock because it's a quite competitive market, and there are lots of substitutes.
Boy: (looking up from his notes) What? For screwing?!

Needless to say, there was a fair amount of smirking going on!

Thursday, May 13, 2004

After duty, blogging and faffing, I set off for a spot of people-watching at Tesco. OK, so I also picked up a copy of Private Eye, a bottle of milk and a knife sharpener, but I was more interested in observing the life going on around me.

There was the lady wheelchair user, waiting patiently for the men crowded round the 'reduced to clear' chilled shelving to move; she said, "These men, they're worse than women when there's a bargain on offer."

Two men had just finished their shifts at work. Their high visibilty jackets, security badges and steeel toecaps spoke of heavy labour and aching backs.

A couple were arguing next to the split peas: a domestic over who paid the mortgage. It continued right to the checkout, and spilled out into the night air.

The old man with the missing teeth and two-day stubble was perusing the baked goods, searching for cheap bread, whistling under his breath.

The professional classes were represented by a young man, smartly dressed in a snappy suit, creased with thought-lines around the eyes and forehead.

And in the midst of all this normality, where was I? I wandered the aisles in a random fashion. I muttered under my breath as I investigated hair dye. I sang while I browsed the CDs. I laughed with excitement when I saw the new Terry Pratchett book. I fondled the croissants, debating out loud the relative merits of chocolate and almond pastries. I tried to catch the eye of the good-looking bloke at the next queue, but he studiously avoided my gaze.

People-watching, my arse. I was more of a spectacle than all of them put together. I hereby declare it to be "people-baiting".

It's been another good evening on duty in the House. I've done some Business Studies and some Economics (hurrah, questions I could answer!); I helped J prepare for her Spanish GCSE oral exam (although a Spaniard would have killed me for the way in which I murdered the language tonight); and I helped someone with some biology...

Girl: It's no good - I just can't do it!
Me: (Kind, caring tutor mode) Why not? What have you got to do?
Girl: Write something about why leaves give off water.
Me: (consulting the inner-geographer) Hmmm... evapotranspiration, eh?
Girl: That sounds sort of familiar but I can't remember.
Me: Have you got a text book?
Girl: Oh, I'd not thought of that. Here you are...
Me: (flicking though index and muttering under breath) hmmm... page 67... transpiration... stomata... nutrient transfer... diffusion gradient... OK, OK, I think I've got it: are you ready for this?
Girl: Go on...
Me: Leaves give off water because it's the tree weeing!*
Girl: You're not a biologist are you?!

I knew there was a reason that I'm not allowed in science labs; I think I've just remembered it.

* Which technically is true, as the leaves transpire water through the stomata as a way of maintaining the diffusion gradient to suck water (and accompanying minerals) from the soil into the roots. If the trees didn't get rid of the water somewhere then they'd burst. See - it's just like humans weeing, but upside-down: we take water in at the top and it goes out at the bottom; trees take it in at the bottom and get rid of it at the top. Simple, huh?!

This is all very well, but wouldn't it be nicer if we lived in a world where education was fully-funded and the army had to fundraise and hold jumble sales to cover its expenditure?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Wendy writes:

personally I'd try vodka - wendy

Sage advice, but it's a suggestion that I am unable to act upon under the terms of our spangly-new alcohol policy; drinking vodka on duty may cause the girlies in the House to be concerned about me. Mind you, I think they're concerned enough about me as it is - I've just sung the Prune Song to two of the juniors and they looked very, very scared! Whoops!

Caffeine is the only way I'm going to get through today.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

You know the story: a girl goes out, gets a haircut, and is suddenly abducted by aliens and whisked off into a nice shop that sells exciting yet expensive gadgets and is forced to hand over her switch card in return for a small bag. I always thought it was an urban myth, but it's just happened to me. Bye bye curls; hello new watch. Life's hard.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Mental note: when spending an evening doing the hoovering, accompanied by the finest 80s disco classics played somewhere near the top end of the volume scale, remember to close the curtains before doing silly dancing.

After a weekend of yomping up hills, spying on kids from a distance, and then driving a minibus containing the semi-walking wounded (all in the name of D of E, yer honour) there are few pleasures more delightful than getting into a warm shower and massaging fruity-smelly shampoo into your scalp until it looks like you're wearing a foam hat.*

The only down-side to this is the fact that the tan you acquired throughout the weekend, and are feeling quite proud of, will wash off. Bah!

* Although this sight was not verified by an independent observer, I did check it out in the mirror and it looked both foamy and hatty to me. QED

Friday, May 07, 2004

Tea was a lovely vegetable curry, Guides was fantastic, and hopefully there's a pint waiting in the pub with my name on it. It's shaping up to be a remarkably fine evening.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Rainbows? You? - Jon

That's the price you have to pay for being a fat bottomed commissioner: I had boxes to deliver and forms to collect. I try not to go to Rainbows because they bring me out in a nasty allergic reaction. Besides, I always get told off for winding them up and making life hard for the Rainbow Guider. Me? Wind up small children?! As if!!

For a day that's included report-writing, teaching, a lunch meeting, inter-House swimming and some marking, and still has the promise of House tea, Rainbows, a Guide training, duty and lock-up to come, it's going fair to middling. Waaaaah!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Tim asks:

Do you like your countries then?

S'pose so, although I'm not quite sure why I need them. Mind you, they do provide entertainment, in true computer fashion:

It's confused, I'm really in England somewhere, sorry. Si

Be not sorry, m'dear, just smirk at the supposed ineffability of computers!


how come you don't go on jabber anymore? And why is your jabber address not on your blog?
you've stopped using jabber! *complain* :P

It's not just Jabber I've been avoiding, I've been steering clear of any instant messaging thingy for at least six weeks - ever since the frantic end of last term, in fact. This term I've been inundated with work (exams loom ever closer, and that creates marking like nothing else) and I've not had the time to get back online. This evening I have two lots of U6 work, three sets of L6 work and 2 sets of GCSE answers: there's certainly no time for sitting back and catching up with friends. Pish!

BRRRRR-fuck!-BRRRRR-fire alarm-BRRRRR-open eyes-BRRRRR-grab jeans-BRRRRR-find jumper-BRRRRR-get to door-BRRRRR-grab fire list-BRRRRR-WAA WAA WAA WAA-fuck, intruder alarm!-BRRRRR-WAA WAA-hurry back and turn off alarm-WAA WAA W.... - BRRRRR-out-BRRRRR-go back in to rescue scholarship candidates-BRRRRR-BRRRRR-BR... blessed relief as the fire alarm gets silenced.

Living in a communal school building has its drawbacks.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

It all started at the end of last week, when I checked my mail at midnight and then discovered (at 7am the next morning) that I had 14 new emails from that box o'er there. On further investigation, I discovered that they were all from Tim, who'd obviously been having a late night spodding:

I'm very spoddy. See if you can work it out :)
Your name is only 3 letters. Even I can remember that.
I wonder if Fatso can spell Mad?

Well, I tried to get him typing but he couldn't get the hang of the mouse. Some time, when I have a spare few minutes, I'll get the pictures up here. And still he continues:

Having read Charl's comment, I wonder if there could be such thing as a cookery novel. Sort of like a story but with plenty of recipes slotted in.

Sadly it's already been done by several people. I'm sure I have many books with recipes in, although I'm not going to go and look them up now. However, Tim's spoddy project was the tweaking of my blog-comments-thingy so it tells me which country people are from. This came in useful with these two comments:

Cor, you were one of the rare people who got rain on the weekend.
Planet Mad welcomes visitors from the Netherlands?

Why indeed we do: all welcome here! And in my bestest Dutch: hallo. (And that's about where my knowledge of Dutch deserts me, although I can still remember the words for cyclist, car, tractor and pancake. Mrs J might be able to do better than I can). The rain was inconsequential, although still enough for me to whinge about! And finally:

How close do you have to be to the rumbling diesel generator for it to bring a smile to your face? Sat on top? ;-))) Aye aye! (Sorry... filthy mind!)

How rude! It'd be more likely to lull me to sleep: I always enjoyed napping in the lorry cab during my breaks from work because of the gentle massaging effect of the wobbly lorry. And before that's misinterpreted too, I'm off. Tarra!

A general plea...

OK, OK. I know I like a joke as much as the next person, if not more so, especially if it's rude or clever, but this is getting silly. We're four days into May now - you can stop pratting about and pretending it's still April. Yes, it's you I'm talking to; stop trying to look innocent. I know your scheme: you've been taunting me with glorious sun and then saving up that especially heavy rain for times when I'm walking round school. Just stop it! Besides, haven't you heard? April showers are just sooo last month. We'd like some sun that lasts for more than 10 minutes: get it sorted!

Monday, May 03, 2004

nice to know it wasn't just me getting foiled on the bread and milk run!

Phew! I am not alone! To make up for my appalling shopping disaster, I had to go to the Legion and there encountered an appalling snooker disaster. It's not been a particularly productive or scintilating evening, so I'm off to bed, alone and sober. How rock 'n' roll of me.

Pah! I tried to make good use of my free evening by heading off to the bustling metropolis, for staples such as bread, milk and whisky. It was only as I pulled onto the supermarket carpark that I realised that Bank Holiday equals early closing. Bastards. They could at least have warned me.

The rain passed all too quickly, whilst the teaching dragged on and on and on. I'd like to be on holiday today.

Bank holiday Monday. It's raining and miserable out there, and I'm almost glad that I'm going to be stuck indoors teaching.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

you know I said 'yes please, write a novel'? Can I take it back? Your writing makes me hungry. Charl (300 words to go. Woo Hoo!)

OK, I'll put the novel on hold. Probably a good job as I was struggling to schedule it before... oooh... 2006 :-)

I never knew you work on fairgrounds.

Well, there you go: another bit of random information to clog up important storage space in your brain. Later on in life, when you'll be struggling to remember your name, all you will be able to recall is the fact that I loiter round fairgrounds in a professional sort of way. Sorry!

After a Saturday consisting of teaching, parents' meeting and duty in the House, what better thing to do than grab an overnight bag, jump in the Madmobile and head off to the coast? The seaside in particular was Llandudno, where the whole town centre is shut down and turned into a massive street fair. I went out there to visit Mr Jack and Judith, who own the gallopers and the chair-o-planes that I worked on during my university holidays.

I loved working on the fair. The colours, sounds and smells are indelibly etched into my soul, and even now the smell of fried onions or the rumble of a diesel generator can bring a smile to my face. Llandudno's street fair is one of the busiest weekends of the season; the last time I worked there was the weekend before my university finals. I've spent today rediscovering skills I thought I'd forgotten: walking the platforms as the ride turns; lifting children onto and off of horses; behaving in such a way the the customers' perceptions of fairgrounds are challenged and altered. More than once my accent caught people unawares; several expressed surprise that I was a teacher.

The gallopers were built originally in 1887 and, despite modification and restoration, are still driven by a steam centre engine and music is provided - in a somewhat out-of-tune way - by a Gavioli organ which runs off cardboard books of music. I'm at risk of sounding like a real anorak here, so I'll let the titles of these (slightly blurry, camera phone) pictures do the talking instead:

The best part of today has been seeing everyone again. I've not really been out on the fair for six years, but - apart from a few more wrinkles round the eyes, or a slightly fuller boilersuit - no-one's changed. The jokes are still the same, the quips and comments haven't altered, the same people are always the topic of conversation. It felt like I haven't been away for a week.

I feel relaxed, invigorated and not a little sunburned. Perhaps I should get out more often.