Saturday, 15 June 2013

after rain

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse.  Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen:  may it happen for you.

Ah . . . back in the room again. I've decided that I should reconfigure myself as the Sisyphus of the Dishwasher. What is it about bloody dishwashers?  Every time I come down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea I have to empty the damned thing. Am I forever condemned to the meaningless task of emptying it and endlessly refilling it? Anyway, on to more important matters . . .

I can't start to explain how ridiculous the last few weeks have been. Honestly, I can't.

We seem to have finally got the house in order after the fire but it wasn't until this week that that happened. I spent most of the half term break fighting the demands of wandering through a building site and marking exams. The anomie created by the builders/decorators/Bogey men won out. Little really got done. However, one student cheered me up completely by writing an essay about a film called I, Robert which evidently was about a time when the world got tired of all the Roberts and wanted to get rid of them all. Can't wait for my friend Robert to come back off of holiday . . . 

Last weekend we spent the whole weekend painting all of the bits of woodwork that the Insurance decorators weren't going to paint. Which was most of it. Let's face it, I live in a three storey Edwardian town house, so that's a lot of stair spindles, dado rails and skirting boards. I lifted the carpet ready for Wednesday's visit by the carpet fitters. Tuesday night, I lifted* the underlay which meant I spent all of Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning trying to extricate my slippers from the grippers (poetic, eh?). The three o'clock visit to the bathroom involved some swearing. However, the biggest surprise of all was . . .  Ofsted decided to inspect us on Wednesday and Thursday. Okay, so now I'm behind in exam marking, the carpet people are coming tomorrow and now Satan's representatives on Earth are paying a visit? What else could go wrong?

Well. After my first lesson on Wednesday morning on the other site (our school - sorry, Academy - is on two sites) I went out to the car in a hurry assuming that I'd probably be observed next lesson. The car wouldn't open. When I put the key into the door all Hell broke lose. Whilst, in truth only the lights were flashing on and off (with the extraordinarily loud beeping), it seemed as though the roof and doors were opening as in some surreal dream of the worst clown's car in the worst circus your wildest nightmares could conjure. Real Ray Bradbury stuff.  Whilst I stood there in absolute disbelief watching the seconds tick by like Rod Taylor in the 1960 version of The Time Machine watching ladies fashions changing every few seconds, a friend came to my rescue. Evidently, these modern keys don't even have batteries - you need to alternate the keys if you have more than one as the car charges it (or some such rubbish).

I wasn't observed. Not at all. Over both days - which is enough to decide whether after all the years of training and actually doing the job - Ofsted deemed it unnecessary to see me. Well, I've no time for Ofsted and, quite clearly, they've no time for me. However, as I drove home that evening hoping that the carpet fitters had been and that it all looked okay.

The pile of carpet offcuts and underlay lying on the front garden suggested that they'd been. Opening the front door suggested that they'd also decided that they didn't have to clear up after themselves either. A quick trip to the Tip and an hour with the Dyson soon sorted it all out. Most of the hour was spent trying to work out how to work the damned thing. The last time I'd "hoovered" the stairs was, literally using a Hoover. What's going on with all that Space Age Dyson stuff? They look like drawings from a D&K cutaway book.

Anyway, Ofsted have gone leaving only the smell behind them. Life goes on - we survived. I won't go into any boring detail except to say that we can get on with life now. No Damoclean Sword hanging over us for the last few weeks of the academic year (not forgetting that this has been hanging over us ALL YEAR).  We can get on with our marking (I'm exceptionally late this year with it but the Exam Board have kindly given me an extension). 

In the meantime, I've reacquainted myself with Clive Gregson & Christine Collister's ouevre, watched most of The Eagles' documentary and am looking forward to seeing John Etheridge and a pickup band on Sunday night 200 yards from my house. So, life's not all bad. The weather isn't great but after the rain this afternoon, the garden seemed fresh. However, whilst out foraging, I've not been able to find any elderflowers yet. I want to make some Elderflower Champagne. For once, we've got loads of stoppered bottles but no bloody elderflowers.

Oh well, I'd better go and empty the dishwasher, it seems to have finished its cycle . . .
And the sky never leaves me
I couldn't find the words to say
First we take it easy
Then we take it day by day 
After rain, after rain
We can walk in green fields once again
And all my life I'll read the sky 

* I mean, of course, tore up and pulled all tacks, nails and staples.
PS Blogger is playing up again. The amount of time I've spent trying to stop it putting white bands around every line is ridiculous. And as for re-ordering the labels . . .well!


Rob Fuke said...

Not sure I want to see the Roberty film. We had the British Institute at the place where I used to work. They observed every class and then interviewed each teacher. All the others were in and out in five minutes. Lynton, the head of dept, started getting twitchy after I'd been in for 20 mins. I got involved in a conversation with the BI guy about the football on telly the previous night.

Dave Leeke said...

Hi Rob,

The best thing about the essay was that it wasn't a one-off spelling mistake. He'd written it all the way through, both as title and the use of "the Roberts". Brilliant.

Ah, twitchy management . . .long may they continue to twitch. We had a Head Teacher at our place a few years back that was obviously a bit Tourettes. Not as bad as "Noddy" Foulkes though.

Zouk Delors said...

First Law of Robertics:

A Robert may not harm, or through inaction allow harm to be caused to, a Hugh man-being.

Andy Wright said...

Interesting comment about the dishwasher Dave and you should know that you have(once again) given me reason to carry on. I was pretty certain, nay, convinced that I was the only man in the universe who had been sentenced to 35 years 'Hard Dishwasher emptying and filling' (Incidentally I have also been sentenced to taking bottles,plastic and glass,which have been strategically placed by the Domestic Authorities by the back door out to the recycling bin. Some months ago as a sort of 'Dirty Protest' I just let them pile up. By the end of day 23 there were over 70 bottles and rather than gaining some sympathy and being offered support in the future I was just told to 'Deal with it' and I got another five years for my trouble. I guess the moral of this story is that you can't beat the system. A bit like bloody OFSTED and the bloody HMIC. Not sure about all this Robert stuff........'Whatever would Robert have said?'

Dave Leeke said...


I love the idea of a "Hugh Man-Being". My long-lost fellow traveller Hugh will be chuckling, I'm sure.


Well, "Every step appears to be an unavoidable consequence of the proceeding one". Interestingly this week I was told by a very well-informed, and intelligent, friend (a Physics teacher)that most of the quotes attributed to Albert Einstein are made up.

Like 87.3% of statistics.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, Rob, you've got the title for your autobiography: "I, Robert".

The self-emptying dishwasher would be the greatest boon the middle classes could ever receive.


Dave Leeke said...


I'll gladly test run one.

Meanwhile, have you ever read "In Search of the Perfect Pub"? Admittedly, you're not referenced in it but the last few chapters are well worth a read. I'd be interested in your opinion of J D Wetherspoons. We may be getting one in our High Street (if Trinity College allow them - it's like Letchworth used to be around here)and after reading the interview with Mr JDW himself I'm not sure how I feel about them anymore. Guidance please!

Brendini said...

I had that Sysyphus once. Absolute agony!

eeyorn said...
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eeyorn said...
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eeyorn said...

Being a single gentleman of a certain age, and without the aid of automated assistance, i favour the Quentin Crisp approach to esshing up.

I suspect you missed the elders flowering while the chaos was engulfing you. They've been and gone a good couple of weeks ago here. Ken Fisher (Ted's father) introduced me to the delights of Elderflower Champagne - he was a keen winemaker. We all got so hammered that on my return home i got stopped by the local bobby and warned that if i didnt dismount and walk home that he'd do me for being drunk in charge of a pushbike.

eeyorn said...

That should have read washing up, though eshing up might be fun too. My computer died and I'm a klutz on my phone's keyboard.

Dave Leeke said...


Yes, you can get some cream for that.


If I've missed it then que sera sera but maybe it's just late here. Nothing else much has grown either!Bikes, drink and me (good title for a song) don't go together well. Whenever bikes get mentioned Mrs Dave always brings up the time (the one and only, please note) that I crashed into a lamppost on the way home from the Ferry Boat Inn in the village a mile or two away. That's Adnams for you.

By the way, Quentin Crisp is mentioned as a visitor of George Orwell's when he lived in Wallington (near Letchworth) in "The Search for the Perect Pub".

It all comes round again . . .

Zouk Delors said...

Why do you need to empty the dishwasher anyway? Just take out the glass you need, pour your beer, and let the person who wants it emptied empty it.

PS I think esshing up was outlawed in the Sexual Offences Act, 2003.

Brendini said...

I didn't mind the cream so much, it was the intrusive nature of the metal instruments I resented. Now, I'm not a medical man and tend to trust the white-coated practitioners of that profession without question. But, a trombone?

Dave Leeke said...


Our dishwasher is in constant use due to the amount of food that is consumed in our house. And there's only three of us living here nowadays! But I take your point.

I'm a bit concerned that "esshing up" involves Quentin Crisp, so it's probably not something I'd want to do.

Talking of which, Brendan, how do you know the white coated gentlemen were of the medical profession? Perhaps you've been subjected to an example of "esshing up" from some sort of Hellfire Club?

eeyorn said...

It seems we had early flowering elders in my little neck of Symonds Green. On venturing around Greater Stevenage yesterday there were plenty of flowers visible though quite a lot of bushes are set already.

Brendini, i hope you learned your lesson. I'm currently under threat of being given a Rigid Endoscopy, which if I understand it correctly will involve the sertion of a Tuba

Dave Leeke said...

It sounds like you're being bullied by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

Anonymous said...

'In Search of the Perfect Pub" is either on my wishlist or I've bought it - can't remember which. (Hey, I'm 6,000 miles from my bookshelves ... although not for much longer, thanks be to Tin Hau, Chinese goddess of the sea.

Quentin Crisp was working as life drawing model at St Albans art college in the 1970s - have I said that here before?


Dave Leeke said...


No, that little gem seems to have passed us by. Interestingly, Karen Picton was there then so he quite probably modelled for her. She's an artist now so it didn't scare her off.

I take it you're returning to Blighty from what you say - I'm happy to buy the first round when we finally meet again.