Sunday, 18 November 2012

Qatar Airways and fat religious women

Oh dear, I am getting slack in my mithering, moaning and whinging, life is obviously too good here or something. Catch up time which after re-reading and re-editing still sounds borderline Daily Mail. Oh dear.

Yes, the half-term break here known as Eid was pretty good unless of course you happened to be born as a  goat. Tens of thousands of the gormless creatures were mercifully slaughtered by elder sons wielding traditional curved knives which glinted and gleamed in the midday sun as the point descended (in slow-motion of course) ceremonially and mercifully piercing the carotid artery of the beast in a feast and fountain of symbolic (unless you were the poor goat) spilt blood, representing one of the nomadic desert religious nonsense from superstitious goat herds back in  the Dark Ages. Sure,  I really ought to take more interest in such things but....I suppose the local equivalent of the Daily Mail, were such a rag to exist,  would have me down as one of those cursed foreigners who just won't integrate... but having lived overseas before they don't tend to expect or say such things...still live and let live and all that.

However, I wasn't around to see the bloodshed as I had headed back to Broadstairs and the ancient and reinvented tradition of Halloween resurrected gratefully by Tesco circa 2004 beginning the displacement of the  tradition of burning effigies of a catholic terrorist. It was a good break despite the comparative cold and not seeing Tottenham win a single game. I caught up with a couple of old colleagues from Kent's crappy coastal academy. Not a single cell made me wish I was there.

The return journey was an eye-opener. Qatar Airways, the airline of a tiny but crazily, obscenely, rich state which by rights ought not to really exist. A bit like Dubai and Saudi they got blessed with geography. Good luck to them - what to do with all that cash? Well they splashed the cash by 'buying' the 2022 World Cup as well as Harrods and large swathes of London and support now given to various Syrian and Palestinian 'brothers.'  Yes, Qatar Airways is comparatively cheap and as the self-declared 5 Star Airline of the world provides an  otherwise excellent service. However, the seating arrangements seemed to highlight the confluence of extreme wealth and stupidity. The airline seems to have a seating policy designed by religious fat women sharing huge amounts of Celebrations across the aisles and bizarrely travelling in pleb class with the likes of me. Travelling through the Gulf before it had often seemed that Business Class had been bought out by whole families which makes sense as the flight was delayed by more than an hour as the cabin crew spent time asking various male passengers to play non-musical chairs to assuage certain passengers a row in front of me who didn't want unrelated men sitting next to them. I had never experienced that before and  all the while various take-off slots were being missed which would inevitably mean a missed connection.

I had angry time to kill in Doha Airport (a hole) as my onward connection had been missed so along with a few other irate passengers, questioned the seating policy which was naturally denied by the harassed Qatar Airways drone who tried to buy us off with free use of the closed lounge, and free use of the Qatar Airways phone (to wake up various lifts at 3.00 am)  while continuing to deny such a policy existed to the tune of 250 dollars in compensation.

February 2014 - update

Well since being delayed by stupidity I have travelled on a number of airlines and indeed it is the national careers such as the much vaunted Etihad who also pander to dumbwittedness. I have been handsomely compensated immediately to the tune of airmiles and a meet and greet and welcome champagne. KLM however have no truck brusquely handout a complaints sheet which will doubtless be filed under i for ignore. What still gets me though is why with such wealth these women are forced to sit away from hubby /  brother / uncle travelling up front away from us plebs. Ah well....all pre-ordained by Allah I guess.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

In the Gulf

Now, it's been a few weeks I've been away from the stupidity of the  exam fixing Academy which was once a school in which I worked and lost my skills. I'm sure the AQA would have been concerned about the way exams went home with some teachers, I did inform them, but there was never any response from the gutless tossers.  Anyway that's foul, soulless  and sordid mismanaged history, well, it was MFL (among others I believe) actually but now I'm now happily ensconced down by the warm seas and white beaches of the Arabian Gulf - a strange and amusing place far from familiar people and places and far from the rot which  passed as a professional life working in a reprehensible self-deluding factory for that is what it was - with the head and assorted pointless lickspittles leading by fearful example grubbily begging the question as to whether teachers do make the best heads.

In terms of teaching it's great here- I have my courses to teach (free periods abound), one short meeting a week, voluntary PD to which you actually want to go, no tutor group (which I do miss ) but it is compensated for, but only just  mind, by paying no tax a bit like Starbucks, Amazon and various overly rich folk. Now there's a rarely made comparison.  Importantly, I am treated as a pro who will, like my new shiny multi-national colleagues, get on with our jobs in a professional and happy way. Everyone appears to get on and there do not appear (yet?) to be any politics not least as politics tend to be somewhat discouraged in the Gulf. 

There are no threatening misnomered learning walks from pointless over-promoted but insecure self-important HoDs (with personalised school number plate) or grunting unimaginative beardy SLT.  (Apologies to decent HoDs and SLT).  A once yearly appraisal is all along with supposedly anonymous student feedback. There will be observations but they are not in that slavish imagined box ticking way Ofsted would do...and marking in green ink is optional. We take turns to observe one another for differing practice which is what we used to do not so long ago before imagination and initiative were stifled by Ofsted inspired damaging neurosis and fearful paranoia, in the days when education, for me at least, was threat free and well,  fun.

For sure there are some downsides - no unions and any form of collective action is outlawed, the press self-censors, the driving is appalling (Allah's will and all that pre-medieval goat herd cack), and the call to prayer does bring to mind some kind of 50s horror zombie film. Then again back at the academy in coastal Kent the unions were moribund with people only joining them in case they were called for being a paedo and younger teachers were very Daily Mail in their view of them, so perhaps I'm not missing anything. Well, I'll know if ever I need one.

So Eid approaches which, incidentally,  is Arabic for half-term - the mythical work-life balance is back, balanced more in favour of life, the sun shines every day. Even better  my students, who have no idea what Lynx is, want to learn, kids don't stare at their crotches and smile as they don't dare text in lessons. My fellow colleague is not ground down by useless unsupportive management and boundaryless kids.

However, my inner cynic, honed by too long in my last coastal Kent crap academy, says that there can only be one way  from here when things seem  so initially good they can only go down...

...or not...?

Monday, 17 September 2012

Three Mobile's can't do culture

Now, it's not often I need to moan, mither, whine and foam... well, actually I do, but have tried to keep things limited  to the sunny world of education. However, while everyone was loving up in a warm self-congratulatory way over the summer, I sloped away while no one was looking from smiley, happy, England. Yep, I am contentedly plying my trade overseas once again avoiding, among other things, the worst of slimebag Gove down to the idiot Northern Nazi fool of a HoD and the obligation to mark in green lest we hurt some over sensitive mummy's darling's feelings.

Anyway the last left-over moan from home is that about bloody mobiles. It was a world into which I was relatively late entering. My needs were always simple text, and being a bloke minimal speech so I was happy to be a humble 2G pay as you go drone.  It worked perfectly well while on my previous stretches abroad not least as there was usually only one company and one easily digestible tariff. How lovely. On return a few years back the horrors of competitive capitalism and leaps of technology dragged me blinkingly and happily into 3G world. I discovered a whole new world of things I didn't know I needed or wanted but the clincher is that  it ended up being cheaper than PAYG, so the brave new 3G world was for me. Which company? Well, in a haphazard unthought  through way I ended up with useless fucking Three Mobile. Why? A nice bloke in the shop sold me a contract I wasn't really looking for while idling away some time waiting for a friend. I also naively thought it would be good to break away from the iron embrace of bloody Tesco.

However, most terribly dumbly I hadn't read a simple review about the crap company I was signing up with. Sure, many review sites just post moans and whinges but at least you get an idea of what you might be letting yourself in for and would know to avoid useless Three Mobile as it should be rebranded. Now, the service, coverage has been fine, no problems had so long as you stick within your limits there is no way to get stiffed. How can anyone go through 5,000 texts in a month? However, the customer service has been unbearably crap. It is now more than a month that I have been trying to secure a code to unlock the phone so that I can use it over here in the Gulf. I will spare the details suffice to say that call centre culture, or Three's anyway, does not lend itself to initiative and is a prime example of a can't do culture. Phone calls from the UK, multi-emails going over the same thing from here and no-one taking on any responsibility to deal with it. Part of it is corporate culture, I suspect much of it is down to the use of  outsourced cheapo initiative free call centre culture that the useless, money sniffing crooks in Three Towers use.

The terrible and angst inducing moral of this story is that I should have stayed shackled to those corporate good citizens at bloody Tesco.

Update: July 2013

Thinking I would never have to deal with the incompetent  scammers again, I am now receiving mail saying I owe them for a contract that is long terminated - how fucking useless can you be Three Mobile ?

Friday, 31 August 2012

Burned and Frazzled: an update

Update 31/08/12

Had a quick exchange of email tennis with Dave (see previous posting), he's better but not coming back just yet while considering his few choices. Fortunately, he has an understanding GP. Stacking shelves at Tesco seems a more worthy option for him than dealing with scrotes but more importantly teaching to numbers and marking in green. Very important that. Trouble is I think he is serious about the supermarket option and will have a fight with all those unemployed graduates and pissed off NQTS, to get one.

Interestingly, and unsurprisingly, get well cards which were written by some of the kids, especially his form group and given to the Northern Nazi to pass on were never received. Neither was anything received from the collection made from the staff in his mini-community, nor the caring sharing Wise Head via the do-it-all PA.

Not a person, just a resource.

Teaching - a caring profession? It still is I am sure in some areas, with decent managers who allow expression of individuality and personality, who are not constrained by bloody Ofsted, getting into the local press (which is just ads for houses, cars and dating anyway) or fearful of it.

Glad I'm gone and off somewhere way better....

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Burned and frazzled

In perfect unblemished, glittering and glowing hindsight it was of course no surprise that my funny, helpful and wise colleague, let's call him Dave, finally flared, fizzled and frazzled out of work. The husk of a professional is off until the end of term now. He had been holding on, keeping his head down, doing the right thing by his students not that many of the them would appreciate it. Dave was quietly waiting to get to early retirement in a couple of years. However, under the new uptight joyless siege regime of ever tighter lesson planning requirements, supposedly supportive 'learning walks', unannounced unsupportive observations, new dangerously flaming hoops to jump through, random checking of planning,  book checks (are you marking in green?), incomprehensibly inconsistent SLT application of the risible Behaviour for Learning (once known as discipline policy) something was going  to give in someone who entered teaching when it was, well, mostly teaching and a real vocation.

Not needing nor caring even less for this new Ofsted inspired total bollocks (my mortgage is paid) I would question much of it, the way it is being interpreted in our department and make various comments that others were thinking but deemed unconstructive by the HoD who will swat any questions or gambits for discussion away. Therefore, happily,  I am generally avoided by the much younger HoD and her eunuch puppy of a number two who is a slippery grinning Arsenal fan - not much more need be added.  However, others fearful of not towing the line for whatever reason do. For example, Dave has been a stalwart of education, the department and school who had been dragged under by all the new bullshit happily, poorly, and ignorantly applied by the Northern Nazi and her equally useless and inconsistent (that word again), line manager an ambitionless time server (with a love of civil war recreations) who, like the Wise Head, has only ever worked in one school. They rose the ranks from trainee teacher to their current positions which is not especially healthy, or redolent of much of a wider vision.  Some might say Dave was being picked on, that faults were being found where there were none. A possible view of the future as we now have to work longer hours, prepare more to fit the latest mould or risk being found wanting, or worse, in need of support,  unless proven otherwise.

There were many moments when Dave spoke uncomplainingly and wistfully to me about how things had changed, I sometimes took this for the whinging that all teachers make.  I now assume this to have been his way of saying it was becoming difficult to cope and possibly asking for a bit of help or just an ear. Blokes don't generally do that especially those of a certain vintage, they will cope, or pretend to, laugh in a hollow way and talk too much of drink, wine usually, as if it is a pleasure well earned after dealing with a problem when it has also become a creeping problem in itself.

Dave's classes - the 10s and sixth form have been sort of divvied out among the rest of us. The vile 9s all claiming his scalp go to whichever poor sod gets cover and the sevens are left to mutate into Year 8s who have already undergone The Change and are now Lynx/BO odourful gobby midget 9s. What fun they will be next year.

Within the department there are false words and no suggestion of sympathy with attempts to get the student teacher to take on more. He is good and willing but there is a sniff of filling not quite a dead man's shoes which mingles well with the odour of bullshit from the appalling self-justifying Miss W****** and SLT  and the passing of retrospective blame for all the multi-shortcomings of the department which sailed along nicely until they chose someone who looked good and interviewed far better than her evident sub- mediocrity and over-opinionated view of herself should have allowed for.
I am not the person to tell her that being orange is not cool and that a personalised number plate may be a sign of arrogance or inadequacy.

Education a caring profession? It was once, I remember it well and doubtless it is considered so in other places, but not here, not in coastal Kent with the divisive 11+ and residual schools, and unfinished / started BSF buildings, nor in many other places either, and definitely not with G*ve and Ofsted and heads more concerned with playing the destructive league tables.  If an education system were to be designed from scratch it would look nothing like it does.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

God save the Queen etc

Yes, the fat women with cake issues were busy hanging up the bunting, puffing on balloons, and sticking up pics of Brenda, Phil and the corgis for tomorrow's end of term Big Jubilee tea at break / lunch with free cakes with cash from the staff fund.  Nice to be consulted on where my tenner went.

Ah well, from what I can see and to misquote the far more worthy Pistols - she made us all morons so I'm off to France for a week, a place with a far prouder record of celebrating unelected hereditary heads of state. It really isn't a grown up way to run a country. Kings, queens, princes and princesses are for fairy tales...but from the slavering going on I guess I am in a very tiny minority.

Hard at work serving the nation

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Secret Teacher

From the Guardian last week - how many of us could have written this...?
The Secret Teacher writes a devastatingly honest letter that can never posted

Dear Mr and Mrs Parent,
I'm sorry I have to write to you, but it is important you know that your daughter is not progressing as well as she could at school. This isn't her fault, it is the school's.

I only teach your daughter one subject, RE, which she is forced to do and she isn't terribly interested in it. I see her once a week for 50 minutes. As there are 30 other students in the class this means that, if I did nothing else all lesson, I could spend about 100 seconds with her as an individual a week. To teach her, to get to know her, to understand her as a young person. But, as you well know, there are some children in her class who demand much more of my time. This inevitably means that some students will be left with nothing. Unfortunately, that applies to your child. I'll be honest, I haven't held a proper conversation with her in weeks.

I teach 400 children. Slightly more, actually, but we'll call it 400. That means your daughter counts for 0.25% of the children I teach. It is difficult for me to honestly and accurately tell you anything about her, so please forgive me if I speak in vague generalities at parents' evening and try to avoid using your daughter's name. I might have forgotten it.

I teach twenty five lessons a week. Despite my best intentions, some of these lessons are boring. To plan an outstanding lesson can take hours. I can't do that for every lesson I teach. Sometimes I stand in class delivering a lesson I know isn't as good as it could be. I know how to make it better. I just didn't have the time to do it. I don't think the children notice, they are used to this.
Schools are full of middle-management types. They like to take "learning walks" around the school and "quality control". They sit at the back of my class and want to know if the students have been told their "learning objectives" and if they are sat in a "seating plan". They believe that learning simply cannot take place if the students haven't been told what to do and where to sit.  What you might consider real work: comprehension, creative writing, silent reading or a class questioning the teacher about the topic being studied is considered hopelessly old-fashioned and slightly abusive by my superiors. Instead they like almost anything involving power-points, scissors and glue. All work for students needs to be scaffolded. That means be done for them. The very notion of giving a student a task they might fail is considered child abuse. Every task must be completable within about ten minutes.

The school needs to improve, but I'm not sure it can. Common sense and trust in human communication is being forced out of the profession. A lot of teachers seem to like being told exactly what to do and how to do it. The status quo is just fine for a lot of middle and senior management too. It allows them to wield power, justify inflated salaries and be recognised by their peers as being "outstanding" teachers. A recognition the children in their classes would never give them. Never mind. They never really liked teaching children that much anyway.
I'm sorry to have to write to you like this and tell you that your daughter is under-performing. But I'm part of this system. And I had to confess.

Secret Teacher

• Today's Secret Teacher teaches at a comprehensive school in England.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Bloody Facebook meets Richard Littlejohn

Bloody Facebook

What a great thing Facebook is - it has been used to help overthrow the corrupt, nasty, western aided and abetted Arab despots. It allows people to find each other and stay in contact if they so lovely...but it allows brainless scumtwats to continue their foul and fruitless dumb vendettas and vapid argument after school. Typical of the intake at our er... once outstanding school are the Year 9 harridans (Kaylee, Chelcee, Beyonce, Peach and Chlamydia) who have taken a small but bitchy insult  yer a fat minger directed to one of their fellows, Slappella, who is both fat and a minger, and gone global with it threatening all sorts of street justice (theatre?) that your average Somali lynch mob might find extreme. The girls from the large slapper community across the school are all fully involved and ready to take up cudgels and broken bottles - they sit through my classes texting and Facebooking one another. The culture of the school is such that only Year 7s and 8s take school rules on phones seriously.

The barb thrower has been kept off school for real fear of real violence.

We are an Academy

Yes, lucky old us - The Wise Head beamed at briefing that, in respectul tones a year ago, that the Arch Arse Michael Gove had deigned to throw Grimmouth off the books and allow us to go Academy.  TWH said there would be no changes to anything - thought bubbles appeared among our unimpressed heads asking what the point of changing status then was. Sceptical chins rubbed all round. It has proven to be a power and ego trip. It has made the only school in Grimmouth now the only school in Grimmouth that can use the word Academy. There is rumour that the Mission Statement Committee will after a year unveil the new mission statement for the backs of local buses carrying out ads - it will be Fuck around and Carry On for consequences for acting the nob, being aggressive, rude and dangerous are minimal and nobody is scared of anything. Why should they be when even the Year 8s walk past TWH or her acolytes in senior management ignoring demands to sort out their uniforms or pick up litter they have dropped.

Richard Littlejohn speaks

Well, there’s hope for the future, there always is, there has to be or we should all give up. Now The bright shining future in which we invest all our hope must be resident in is The Kids, the little ones that we love and adore so much. And now, one of our former young proto-criminals at the social cesspit that is Grimmouth breached his Asbo, met a species of Grimmouth girl, a toilet mouthed six-fingered cousin...probably... and spilt his toxic seed into her. A being spawned thus providing us with a future inmate and more guaranteed employment for the social workers until PM Flashman cuts them that is.

Of course every child does matter, really, but this shit-for-brains 15 year old from a, let's be generous and say, ultra dysfunctional background, refusing school most days (sighs of relief all round) before he could be excluded, with a long record of threatening behaviour, violence, and drug record has now spliced DNA with one of Grimmouth’s 14 year old finest slappers, it says so on Facebook, and they have the scrote they apparently wanted - yes, it has initials for names and the 30 year old doing mother impersonations is now a grandmother. Earlier on I once might have thought that with support it may be the making of still might inner-Melanie Phillips thinks otherwise and it hurts me to write them off and dismiss them in such appalling language. Maybe my time is done.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Golden balls

It would be cruel, immature and deeply unsupportive as well as profoundly unprofessional to take small pleasures in the Northern Nazi's cringing discomfort but what the her bumptious know-it-all wisdom, she decided that all Year 7s and 8s including those forced into the straitjacket of the tragically misnomered Golden Groups should sit their end of year exams with the rest of the cohort. Those of us blessed with the Goldens raised a skeptical eyebrow,  expressed concern to Those Above, that they would not be able to sit  two hours in silence for them to be put in an unacceptable position of failing spectacularly a subject that  will likely never be useful to them nor will they ever get...

...and lo, inevitably, kind of amusingly, did it come to pass...

Through abject  boredom, frustration, avoidance and for a bit of a consequence free laugh, for that is what it was, the Goldens felt they could disrupt the others and amuse themselves in the smart new BSF multi-purpose hall... It was prefaced by a  number of frustrated sweary exam paper ripping stomp outs occurring at the start  which was followed by a rousing session from the multi-pen tap percussionistas, followed by dropping of said pens (all borrowed as they never have any), the asking of  bewildered / silly / pointless / needy questions, the wrong kind of coloured paper for the bloody IRLENS kids,  outbreaks of bogies and its close cousin bollocks, the contagious cough which rose to TB pandemic hospital proportions. All a terrible blight on those students wanting to get on and the  pension supplementing civilian invigilators who did not have a clue what to do until the shouty fat SLT came down to impotently shout and purge the hall of the tarnished grinning and gurning Goldens.

What bothers me more than the HoDs blindness and ignorance towards the Golden Groups (average CAT scores around 70)  which she does not teach is the damage done to the kids who could not possibly sit an academic exam, in strict exam conditions as well as upsetting the exam chances of those who could. Possibly a more heinous act is the one allowing her to do it.

Well done Miss W*******,  well done SLT...Golden management guys...

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Northern Nazi, edicts and house cats...

Now, having slithered up to the ranks of HoD as it was once called and of course having always worked with one, I think I can say I have a fair bit of experience to judge our new Head of Learning as the turd polishing jargon these days has it. Whilst I have been too easily descending into the world of moan and mither I shall for once focus on what there is to admire not  least her self-described direct no-nonsense northern bluntness. Thudding emails, missives,  directives and stern notes written in the imperative with too many exclamation marks are left around the once happy smiling department. Perhaps us wussy southerners have missed something as her staff management seems based on the philosophy of losing friends and alienating people. Done within a term. Well done miss.

She who must be obeyed
Not just myself but three other members of the department have opted to look elsewhere leaving The Northern Nazi, as she has slackly become known,  and her ball free French Number 2 to sweep the tumble weed along with the time server holding out with his eyes closed and fingers in his ears for another two years for his increasingly meagre pension.Yes, the silly woman is enamoured of said bollock free zone as evinced by the placing of most unwise pics and dedications worthy of an over-sentimental 12 year old girl placed on his Bloody Facebook wall along with those of her fat house cat.  House cat! House cat? Who in the name of the revolving head of Ray Winstone keeps a Bloody House Cat?*

Anyway NN and the  BFZ and the pensionista will be the sole survivors of a once relatively stable and happy department which will lose continuity and school knowledge and be staffed with cheap and eventually soon-to-be cheerless NQTs who will be put off teaching after a year and seek a welcome challenge at Asda with all the other angry graduates.

The failing school from which she was hooked for her first middle mis-management position allowed her to reach and exceed her own levels of torpid mediocrity while desperately trying to play her imagined management role-play fantasy.  A person who cannot listen or delegate, deluded of her own abilities bringing in a divisive siege mentality with no talk, explanation or sharing of ideas or experience. Communication is by edict and her hostility, or fear, of listening means that there is widespread muttering beyond the department.  A shame really as we are all easy going grown ups.  She has even  instigated break and lunchtime lockdown of the department - so extra curricula bollockings of oiks and extra support of various waifs, strays and quiet students and misfits are now by appointment only.

Along with the new heads of two departments, these are the  pliant members of middle management who are eager to ingratiate themselves with whatever bonkers new ideas descend from the Wise Head and her eunuch lickspittles. The newbies are definitely them rather than us and trying too hard in their efforts to impress invoking the kind of Stakhanovite ethic which gives HoDs - the squeezed middle? - a bad name with the people with whom they are supposed to work most closely thus encouraging them to look elsewhere. Back in the day it didn't use to be that way...or maybe that's the false memory kicking in?

Anyway Keep Dumb and Carry On as the really annoying schtick might have it.

* Who has a house cat?

Well according to the female French teaching assistant (who can say such things politically correct men ought not)  terminally single women in their mid-30s with an unhealthy relationship with food. Hope that's clear.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The lizards have taken over...

Now, like most normal civilized middle class Brits, I have always liked a bit of France. I love all the usual cliches about the place, have some good friends there who I can impress by still speaking, arguing and schmoozing in the language pretty well and these days in many circles you can get by generally well by saying that Sarkozy is une tete de merde. I can also effect a pretty good Gallic shrug too. The result of too many good holidays as a kid, campsite work following an old fashioned A' level which has served me very well to this day.

On a good day I can wave to my Gallic pals from the beach here and am close enough to breath in the fresh fragrance of a delicious Pastis and Gaulloise combo. For me France is a place where smoking seems to be right. I did enjoy the odd toke in my times there which never transferred elsewhere. It was something you did in France.

Now having been living so close it seems strange that I hadn't been for a number of years not since accompanying a relative over for a new hip which by way of detours are much cheaper than the private queue jumping option in the UK and you get wine with your meals too...

Is this  the real face of Carla Bruni?
I recently went over for a long weekend to Le Touquet  to celebrate the handing in of my notice - what a hppay day that was - the disingenuous platitudes from the head and northern Nazi. Anyway, it was the first proper visit in a few years but something terribly sideways and askew. Almost as if some parallel France had been created by skin-donning lizard imposters. Many would argue that the high heel wearing, short-arse posturing of the unlamented grumpy late president was that of some kind of lizard creature who, for  a moment hypnotised part of the nation into something it wasn't. On the outside it still looks as fine as ever, the women as wonderful, the shops and food great but... but... but....where were the smokers? Where were the long lunchers? Had the fat bloke drinking his red at 10.00 and pulling on his filterless coffin nails been abducted?  Why wasn't driving any more thrilling than a trip to the shops in Milton Keynes? And, who were these Health and Safety fools in the ubiquitous High Vis jackets that seemed to have spread like eczema across the landscape during my gap decade in Asia? What had happened to the impatient raging French drivers who were now stopping at zebra crossings or amber lights? I was in shock but the True Horror finally kicked me in the throat, the foul truth was driven home like a metallic shard through the eye -  the lizard people  really had donned skins and taken over. I knew this finally when I saw a finely turned out femme d'une certaine age  gracefully bag the garlic fragranced shit squelchily spawned by her equally well turned out dograt.

In all the many commentaries I have been reading about France in recent weeks why am I the only person to have noticed this takeover? Doubtless the journo lizards are involved in the conspiracy.

For me some soul had gone missing. Perhaps things have moved on, adapted, improved on those things I remember fondly. To misquote that  well-known educationalist  Dr McCoy:  It is France Jim, but not as we know it.

The late- Monsieur Sarkozy

Saturday, 14 April 2012


Great - the kids got me to take them to the appallingly misnomered fun fair on a desolate piece of out of town scrubby pylon flecked edgeland on the way to the rubble of the former redundant power station. You get the picture. Well, it was the last few days of the holiday and it was a choice between the Horror and trauma of said  fair or the Horror and trauma of the DIY shop / gardening centre double header as Mrs B has got it into her mind that the house was looking all lived in and the neighbour had passed comment on the maturity of the garden.  No argument - it's a holiday, time off, getting away from the chores or helping out on the desperate Easter revision needless to say the supposed fun fair won out as the nagging of the kids was more powerful than the call of Homebase or holiday revision for Year 11s ever could be. There is plenty of time for that stuff and nonsense when I retire at 75 or get receipt of  my P45.

I did use to enjoy amusement parks as a kid and enjoyed the Year 7 jollies to the money extraction themed Thorpe Park  and Disney on a spurious French trip - all of dubious educational value but Space Mountain was worth it. It's been a while though since I have been to one and it must be accepted that Grimmouth, like all past-it seaside towns, is to Disney as a Greggs pasty warm or cold  is to decent food. It's a marvellous mixture of patched up seedy rickety wooden 1930s style friendly rides and some shiny noisy ones with epilepsy inducing strobe effects,  movement designed to induce nothing but bubbling bladder boiling fear, blackouts and copious amounts of fun fair fast food themed lumpy steaming vomit of which there was much...and of course, bless 'em, there were several packs of the Academy's Most Outstanding  who had made it away from their screens and out, pale faced and blinkingly, into the sunlight. I always like the reactions of students when they see you out as a civilian. Some are very friendly and genuinely pleased to see you in the way they would be if a (very) minor celeb hit town - not that they ever would find reason to. Some are embarrassed, others look your children up and down suspiciously - you  can see the thought bubble develop: are they really his or is that twatty tosser who tries to teaches me a kiddy fiddler? Why else would a mostly middle aged man come to fair runs the logical logic? Indeed, why would one? It's like going to a kids film without kids.

Other studes,  as happened yesterday, come up to you smile, manage to articulate a cheery hello  (because you have small children with you)  and ask in Oliver Twistesque faux humility whether I could be possibly lend them a pound until Monday to which the only to the tutor group now sod off rule is strictly enforced.

My kids then whispered things about the money bludging scrotes around daring to murmur that  they aren't as bad as you make out dad  and asking lots of curious questions recognising them to my dismay,  as members of their fellow species after all a bit like early explorers encountering new and definitely lost civilizations...although civilization in south east Kent may be pushing it.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Where's all the fun gone?

Well, the term is nearly done, it needs to arrive in a warm and friendly, liberating way for it has been a bit of joyless Stalingrad of a term. It will come as relief not so much from the  largely pointless Year 9 classes and to be chemically coshed kids from Year 8 whose specialty is hitting each other and making senseless noises. That's been almost enjoyable. No, there has been little relief from the plethora of edicts and diktats from the new HoD who has  brought a siege mentality with her from a failing school in Darford. One minute all pally and flirty, next minute an email, copied to some SLT drone, lands with a thud of foreboding. The biggest one was the one demanding lesson plans for each and every lesson - Union says no, as does Ofsted. Colleagues reckon the Stasi will of course back up the HoD, now known as Rosa Kleb, as we suspect that she is only obeying orders following the recentish inspection in which SLT crapped themselves mightily. Lots of other little annoyances too which have taken away from the occasional pleasure I did get from coming to work. Balancing work and home is increasingly difficult, it never used to be. At present stacking shelves on the night shift at Tesco seems more pleasurable than working for the Joyless Division.

Head of learning - one of us or one of them?

Sunday, 29 January 2012

How things have changed

You have probably seen this but what the hell...too many mind-numbing wheel reinventing meetings and late nights to write anything new insightful or rude...and it made me smile.

HIGH SCHOOL -- 1957 vs. 2012

Scenario 1:

Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.

1957 -
Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2011 - School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1957 -
Crowd gathers. Mark wins.. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2012 -
Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:

Jeffrey will not sit still in class, he disrupts other students.

1957 -
Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2012 -
Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The school gets extra money from the state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt..

1957 -
Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.

2012 -
Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

- Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.

 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6:

Pedro fails high school English.

- Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.

 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher.. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7:

Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.

1957 -
Ants die.

 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents -- and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated.
Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:

Wally falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Nancy. Nancy hugs him to comfort him.

1957 -
In a short time, Wally feels better and goes on playing.

2012 -
Nancy is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison... Wally undergoes 5 years of therapy.


Monday, 2 January 2012


Well, that was fun...the glassy corpse of Xmas taken and deposited at the local recycling centre. The festive time was indeed festive there were many highlights aside from catching up with the old friends, and excessive consumption which I have long stopped feeling slightly guilty at, and the 'bad' behaviour of adults which got pursed lipped censoriousness from sanctimonious bloody children.

However, the surprising highlight was a long day out, ironic of course, to Margate for some fresh sea air at this foul and rotten cadaver of a place. Like  so much seaside squalor it needs a bit of a clean up, makeover, rebranding or whatever kind of bollocky marketing terminology is used to hide the fact that it a turd in need of sharp polishing. Queenie was hired for the day before xmas for some fawning, creeping by the end of empire local dignitaries and glad handing of the flag waving plebs which probably set off the Duke's ticker.

Ever at the cutting edge of 1980s  transport technology we meandered down on the High Speed train which of course is not high speed until you get back to Ashford and beyond towards civilization.

Despite attempts to make try to redesign it as a kind of New Brighton it still richly deserves its high rankings of the Crap Towns book / website, and mostly very well-deserved too. Yet signs of life do  appear with the white and shiny new Turner Centre currently hosting Rodin's The Kiss sculpture and a great exhibition on Youth with lots of references to my own not so wasted youth in the 80s...Class War and The Smiths anyone?

It also has a great cafe and is  not far from a nice little pub in the Old Town called The Life Boat, it is cosy,  dark, wooden, sawdust on the floor a top selection of alchobooze, no children (always a bonus) or TVs and  only lacking a haze of smoke which I guess I will always associate with a proper pub. There is also an odd little 'gallery' with a dozen or so vintage pinball machines including one allegedly played by Roger Daltry in Tommy. 

That said wondering around it is still a depressed slum of a place, left to fester by a useless and apparently corrupt council,  frequent  suspicious fires at the once famous Dreamland amusement park and the appalling social dumping and fellow travelling problems associated with down at heel seaside towns which will undoubtedly get worse as the consequences of the housing benefit cap and bedroom tax kick in.   A slow high speed link, shiny new (free) gallery, a couple of decent pubs, and a visit from an ageing celebrity monarch won't bring back the good old days or give it the kind of kudos that Brighton to start somewhere though.

Fun times over and back to the winter drudge, the season of observations, mostly pointless meetings, reports and generally mellow fruitlessness, looms a few hours away. Ho hum and so on...

Have an amusing and interesting 2012.