Monday, April 05, 2004


I have had quite the adventure since last I wrote, the adventure in question being the adventure of visiting Chessington World of Adventure. More of that adventure later. Adventure.

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of umpiring some matches in the school's House sports badminton tournee, which was as comical as it was underskilled. The level of play was feeble- they attacked the shots like school kids, for heavens sake- and there was a constant need to inform the competitors whose turn it was to serve and from where they should be doing so.

Apart from an incessant desire to shout 'leave it!' when the kids tried to return serves that were patently not going to land anywhere near the right place (an action that mattered little, as they almost invariably failed to hit the shuttlecock in any event) the highlights were mostly confined to children judging the flight of the shuttlecock and then closing their eyes tightly as an immediate prelude to swiping wildly at thin air, performing one or two graceless pirouettes and, as consequence, flinging their racquets hither and thither across the court before collapsing to a dizzied heap on the ground. At one stage, two outraged team-mates accused the opposing side of cheating for hitting the shuttle cock downwards, as is customary in the sport. Jeepers.

Back to Chessington, and the day was great deal of nothing. The rides are all fairly small- the most dangerous being a reasonably rickety affair called the rattlesnake which had the defining feature of lurching to an abrupt halt after every drop and ramming the 'protective' bar into the abdomen of the luckless occupants. On top of that, I missed both the FA Cup semi-final and the Grand National (even worse, the family fun park appeared not to number a betting office amongst it's varied small-scale attractions).

So befuddled was I by the lengthy coach trips that, upon my return, I managed to startle a cashier at Asda by responding to his request for payment by brandishing what I had thought when groping around my jacket pocket was my bank card, but on closer inspection proved to be a paperback edition of a Kingsley Amis novel.

Still, at least school is finished for Easter tomorrow and I can look forward to plaguing my brother next weekend, treating his home like a fourth rate doss-house and making constant and rudely phrased demands for a less modest selection of breakfast wines to be presented.

And now, to the smoking car-park . . . .

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Very little to add today, as I have to swot up on the rules of badminton for my umpiring session tomorrow. I thought I'd just tell you all how much I enjoyed the Frasier that was on last night on Channel Four. For those of you who know it, it was the episode when Niles decides it is time he did something rebellious and attempts to get stoned on some hash cookies. He fails to eat the cookie (Martin does), but believes himself to be battered in any case.

At one stage, he is in the apartment spouting fulsome gibberish about being baked, toasted and so forth . . . .
Frasier: I take it from your liberal use of the smokers language that you have been doing some research?
Niles: Indeed. I'm especially looking forward to something called 'The Munchies'. Apparently, one indulges in the most bizarre combinations of food. I'm planning to pair this sea bass with a particularly aggressive little zinfandel.

Further on, Martin is fully wasted and comes up with the following excellent line: "I've been having the greatest ideas all day- Here, I've been writing them down (reads note book). Now, what do you think this means . . . dog-army?"

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I, it appears, am little more than a liar- there are a couple more things to say. Firstly, thanks to all those who voted in the site name poll. Silly result, but I did promise.

Secondly, and far be it from me to criticise a member of the clergy, but we had a minister come in to school today (it's a Church of England Foundation School, meaning it gets some money from the church in return for . . .well, very little as far as I can tell). He began his sermon by addressing the pressing religious matter of the day, namely the recent release of Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ. To begin with, he asked how many people in the audience had seen it to date, a perfectly normal question, except that the gathered throng was composed entirely of Y7-Y11 school kids, aged between 11 and 16. The film, as I'm sure you are aware, has an 18 certificate in the UK. Silly man.
Nothing entertaining today, I simply wanted to say that- once you get the hang of keeping a measure of discipline- it is immensely satisfying to here kids who can scarcely write a sentence producing ideas that exceed the expectations you had for them in regard to grasping what you were trying to teach them. That is all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Tra la la, and so forth. This uncharacteristically buoyant greeting is by way of announcing that I think I might be finding my feet in my new school.

For those of you who pay close attention, the news that I have switched from an all-girls Grammar school to a mixed high school (from which the top 20% of kids, ability-wise, are siphoned off to the local grammar schools) will come as no surprise. Likewise, the fact that this has seen quite a dip in behavioural standards and performance (from the students I teach, not me.)

However, I am beginning to adapt. Gone is the more jokey side of Sir (not entirely, but quite a bit) to be replaced by a less tolerant and more starey version. I have also found that sitting the children where I want (oh, how they love it) not only shows them who is boss, but also allows me to break up troublesome groupings. Furthermore, I can formalise my seating plans, enabling me to learn names a good deal quicker.

This last facet has come as quite a surprise to some of the kids. For a nasty little Y9 group today, I set their folders out in the desired places and wrote up a seat/name diagram to match. Then, after I had let them in- four at a time- I was able, by way of a sneaky glance at my diagram- to call kids by name at will. No less than three of them asked me how I knew their name, which then lead to some of the rest of them asking me who they were. As these were some trouble-makers and I thought it would do them good to know that I knew who they were, I played along, producing correct names at will. They were apparently astonished- they seemed unable to see me casting lightning glances at my cheat-sheet. Ha ha.

As a consequence, after some pretty rough lessons last week, this week is running much more smoothly. I think I could be getting the hang of this discipline thing. Hurrah. Now, coats off, sit down, open your books and, IN SILENCE, write today's date and the title from the board.

Monday, March 22, 2004

The new poll is going swimmingly, although somewhat unfortunately the current leader is also the current name of someone else's site (see the new link under 'Friendly Little Blogs'). The reason for this is that I suggested that name to this new blogger, in jest, only to see it adorning the top of their page within moments. If Mr Flossie . . . wins then I will have to start some sort of campaign to reclaim the name and . . . well, just reclaim the name really.

On the plus side, a girl ran out of one of my classes today (apparently some nasty young ladies had accused her of 'smelling of piss') and I, due to various positioning intricacies too detailed to go into here, didn't notice her leave. It was only when I went to the table on which she had been sat that I noticed she was gone ("How are you lot gettin . . . Hang on- didn't there used to be more of you people?"). This was not my finest hour. Oopsie.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

I have instigated a new poll (see down there on the right). Please vote the dickens out of yourselves and whatever is winning a week hence will be the new site name. Yes it will.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Ahoy-hoy. Encountered a strange regional delusion today when, upon hearing that I'm from 'up north', kids in my class asked me, repeatedly, to say 'bubble', apparently in the belief that the results would be hilarious to a near fatal degree. I refused. Idiots.

Excitingly, I have the day off tomorrow to go to Canterbury and engage in a course on teaching multiculturalism and diversity through music, to be run by a couple of civic-minded DJs. I know, I'll let you know. This finds rather neat synergy with today's discovery, having spent, oooh- let us say, twelve hours untangling my headphone lead, that I can maintain their position atop my head anywhere within my tiny little room- even in the en-suite bathroom/water-logged cupboard. Handel would be proud.

Another consumer complaint. I bought some extra-strength Beecham's sinus decongestant capsules today in order to rid myself of this dreadful runny/stuffy nose that has plagued me for the last week. Little did I realise the true extent of this' extra-strength' until, minutes after taking the medication, I began to leak blood from my nose in quantities sufficient to emit squelching from my carpet and squeaks from my frightened mouth.

These tablets would appear to be taking their 'decongestant' role about as far as is it will go- they've really cleared up all that pesky blood that was congesting the dickens out of me and, not unincidentally, supplying my brain with enough oxygen to prevent me fainting like a (swoons, highly un-swan-like, on to the keyboard with a resounding and strangely hollow thud)

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