Sunday, 29 June 2014

tonight the bottle let me down

I've always had a bottle I could turn to
And lately I've been turnin' every day
But the wine don't take effect the way it used to
And I'm hurtin' in old familiar ways

I've been absent without leave recently. After several years trying to get the Welsh Board to let me mark A2 Film Studies exams, they've only gone and asked me totally out of the blue to mark the damned stuff! Blimey, I thought I wasn't up to standard. Or they're that desperate. You choose.

Anyway, whilst the World© has continued to revolve, I've continued to do what I do. Now, that generally seems to be: go in to work, teach a few lessons, mark exams, cook, drink slightly more than the (safe level) figures the government pulled out of their various orifices of the air and generally laze about pretending to be and er, fantasize about retirement. Anyway, all is well. I have too much to do now but can just about cope.

A pleasant trip to London last week allowed me to relax a bit although marking actual A Level work is slightly more daunting than AS. After the last trip, I realised that wine was too expensive to buy in the restaurant so I went next door to Sainsbury and bought a 50cl bottle of red in their sale for £2:40. Probably as good as the Hilton's plonk. Still, a good day.

It was great to realise that most of what I teach day-to-day is on the right track. I have some scripts of Centres that have taught Surrealism and Early Cinema so a learning curve awaits. I used to teach Surrealism on the old syllabus so it's not all new. It seems that Svankmajer's Alice is still a go-to film. If you're not aware of it, try it out.  If you fancy putting the absolute sh*ts up yourself, watch his Little Otik and try to keep smiling. I've silenced a few classes showing that!

Anyway, just touching base really - it's that time of year. Hopefully, next year will seem easier going as it looks like a three day week looms. Funny that a three day week was a problem all those years a go - now it seems like a preferred option.

Still, Robert Plant was great at Glastonbury -  a great set. Most of what I've seen has been very ordinary and showy - well done, Bob!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

rocket science

he's sitting back of the classroom
a million miles away
he's listening to the rock star on a cd
up front the old teacher
she's too tired to snag his mind
he's looking to the future, she's looking
way behind

Those 'messages in a bottle' suggest a few problems really, don't they?

As far as I know (and, indeed, what do I know?) a sailor of whichever Country/Empire/small fishing village off of an undiscovered island near the coast of Paraguay becoming stranded on a desert island - or indeed, a Hebridean one - many years ago managing to find a pencil and banana leaf/piece of paper would send a  message out for someone out there to find and, indeed, respond to. Imagine if a Robinson Crusoe type relied on someone finding his message. Or, imagine if we had personally found one. We would respond, of course, wouldn't we, gentle reader? We'd rally round and try to rescue the poor devil. Unless, of course, we had realised that we were at least 100 hundred years after the fact.

Anyway, my point here is that we would be able to read the aforesaid article. If we were able to at least recognise a word or two, we'd find an expert to decipher it.  All would be well.

Well, I have just spent the last three weeks marking AS Film Studies scripts and I can honestly say that it has proven to be the worst set of scripts I have EVER marked, and I've been marking for some twelve years*. I have had to spend hours deciphering poorly scribbled scripts. For my own sanity, I have realised that it is, of course, because students now write everything they do on iPads or laptops and never have to handwrite a damned thing. Oh, just one thing . . . the way they are examined and assessed is through . . .  wait for it . . . hand-written scripts. The lack of caring is what I find so disconcerting.

So, if we had found a message in a bottle, we'd assume that if we couldn't read it, it would be worth finding out what was written within. When we send out messages to outer space, we assume that an intelligent race would try to work out what might be being said. They, of course, may have a problem with Chuck Berry or Blur, but still, an effort would be made, and I hope that they'd earn a little more than £4.50 for their trouble.

* not this particular set, of course.