Tuesday, 24 May 2011

once again

A year later and some things don't change.  For one, the menu at the hotel  I stayed in.  I had the pike perch again last night followed by the cheese board.  The biggest difference compared to last year is that the wine cost about two quid more!

Oh, and my friend the entertainer wasn't there fiddling with his organ.  Thankfully.

As I wandered about the place it really seemed so familiar; this is about the fifth year in a row that this hotel (The Danubius at Regent's Park) has been home to the  marking conference. I was well behaved and went to bed quite early - usually I stay up at the bar for a while and go to bed after a good chat, plenty of bottled beer and a  much lighter wallet.  However, I went up to catch the news and listen to the old iPod for a while.  Very sensible.  Very mature.  Very boring.

Ah well.  Mind you, I can't see the point of taking much notice of the news at the moment.  Call that news?  Footballers who can't keep their trousers up and the latest communication fad.  The British Media is so pathetic at the moment.  Don't get me started on the End of the Worlders.  I went to see Ade Edmondson on Saturday night.  As he came on he said, "Oh you're all still here.  The Rapture didn't get you, then.  They're making up jokes about it as though there's no tomorrow!"  Great.  I can't believe why so many people are wishing for the end of the world.

I did notice that the bloke ( I can't be bothered to either remember his name, or even look it up)  bases his theory on calculations from "hidden messages" in the Bible.  Er, does he not realise that the Bible has been translated and filtered through several different ancient languages before being written into English? So that might be why there are quite a few discrepancies in those calculations.

Plus the fact that it's a book of stories to explain Life, the Universe and Everything to uneducated shepherds.

Oh well, happy birthday Bob.  I suppose I should play Blood on the Tracks or something to celebrate it.  I probably won't, though.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

time past and time passing

Whoosh! There goes another year (almost).

I really can't believe that it's May and next week I'll be off up to the big city for my annual jolly - the Film Studies marking conference. Was it only a year ago I was sat in a swanky London hotel being "entertained" by a solo organist?  How much water has swept under how many bridges since then?

As we stand on the brink of an uncertain future, I find time rushing by like a puppy with two willies in a forest.  That was an epithet that took about two seconds to think of - one of which was whether to use a more common synonym or not.  I must admit that having spent most of my life "swearing like a trooper" as my dear old mum used to succinctly put it, I have tended to be careful about my language on this blog.  Ssh! you never know who's reading . . . I kid thee not.  All these kids (and older ones who should know better) who fill their social networking sites with photos of their debauched escapades don't seem to realise that employers are watching and taking note.  Big Brother is not only here but he didn't have to do much more than wait for Google to turn up.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, "Time Past and Time Passing" as good old Michael Chapman says.  We (that's my colleagues and me) are facing an uncertain future due to the fact that we are about to become an Academy - that last gasp of stupidity by a morally and intellectually bankrupt government. Our school will close at the end of August and reopen the following morning like a butterfly emerging after a long dark sleep wrapped in its cocoon.  It will emerge into a bright new future of excellence for the local children and along the way attempt to jettison old, expensive lags like me asap. 

Ah well, let's enjoy the moment.  Early summer ( and NOT an "Indian Summer" as the Independent called  it this week - that is an extended summer in Autumn) and the joy of being here and now. 

Last night I went to see Tim Vine live - good with the one liners and visual stuff, not quite sure really about the songs and surrreal stuff - and Mrs Dave and I are off to see Ade Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds on Saturday which should be fun.  We also went to see Thor last Saturday.  Who would have believed that Kenneth Brannagh would make such an excellent fist of a super-hero film? Good fun.  All this and marking too.  What an exciting life it is.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

the seventh wave

Back in 1976, Steven Georgiou, aka Yusef Islam or Cat Stevens (for it is he) was swimming off of the coast of California  and found himself in trouble.  As he began to drown, he called upon (a/any) god to rescue him.  It is reported that he cried out, "oh God, if you save me I will work for you" - or at least, something like that.  Of course, a huge wave came along and pushed him to the shore and everything else is history.

Now, being a product of the 1950s and doing most of my growing up during the 60s-70s (I stopped bothering to grow up after that), I tend to lean towards the agnostic rather than the atheist path.  Hedging my bets,  I suppose. Anyway, you've got to be pretty confident to be a total atheist.  Especially if you live in a house full of left footers as I do.

So there I was yesterday morning, driving back from the supermarket with the usual conflicting conversations flying about inside my head about the future - it's an uncertain one, for sure.  Becoming old in the tooth and hoping for a steady happy decline into retirement has all been upset recently with the news that a ghastly Academy is  taking our school over and all that that might entail. My mind began to wander over future possiblities. All those wonderful things I could do - writing, opening a studio; walking hills - oh, it would be a wonderful end to it all. Feeling all at sea - and there was definitely that feeling that occasionally surfaces of drowning - my thoughts turned to Mr Islam's words.

"If only the numbers come up on the Euro Millions (a sort of English School teacher's pension gamble) I will actually start to believe in God and I'll even go to church occasionally".  Okay, it's not quite CS's declaration of faith but I would stick by it.  I'm an honest bloke.

When I got home and having finished unloading the hunter/gatherer stuff from Sainsbury, I thought I'd better check my emails.  And there it was - a message from the National Lottery, "great news about your recent ticket".  At last.  I'll need to get up early on Sunday, then.

So I opened my emails with some trepidation, and sure enough I'd won on the Euro Millions Lottery. Two pounds and sixty pence.

Two pounds and sixty pence.  That's an insult, isn't it? The ticket cost two pounds.  So, sixty pence profit there, then. I know full well that the words "million" and "pounds" were there in my original proclamation. 

Oh well, back to school tomorrow and I guess I'd better start contemplating "mindfulness" about next year as I don't think a modest retirement of writing and late mornings rising out of bed are going to be happening. I'm not sure where god is in all this but I don't think he was there in the car yesterday.

Oh, and I didn't get up too early today, either.

Monday, 9 May 2011

summer is icumen in

A busy time - it always is at this time of year. Exams and marking.  I intended to sit and write a lengthy blog tonight but tiredness and the ITV series Perspectives has taken up my time.  More on that another time.

The wonderful weather that we've been having recently has meant that our tiny garden is getting a lot of attention. It always amuses me when books about "how to grow your own in a small space" still manage to assume that a "small space" means Tardis proportions.  Our garden really is small - about 20' by 15' for growing purposes.

We seem to have managed to plant a lot of food stuff this year.  Besides all the usual herbs, we've got some potatoes, runner beans, onions, garlic, blackberries, broccoli, lettuces of various varieties and mini apple and cherry trees.  We have plenty of tomato plants waiting for another week or so to be put out into the summer air.  All this and a barbecue area too.

I say Summer, and I mean it.  Today I saw the first Swifts of the year.  I thought I saw a Swallow last week up in Southwold sitting on a telegraph wire, but today as if by magic, about five Swifts came and performed their air show for us high up in a beautiful blue May afternoon sky. Simon Barnes claims that a young Swift may stay on the wing for up to three years after it first leaves the nest.  They fly constantly; sleeping, eating and, yes, copulating on the wing.  Surely they are the original members of the Mile High Club.

Eat your heart out, Icarus.

NB: This post was originally written on Sunday evening.  It should have included a short video clip of the garden yesterday but blogger appears to be so crap at the moment, it can't cope with a simple upload.  Welcome to the digital world: great while it works but basically it doesn't.