Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Milk and honey

Need to get this out of my spleen. You know. This UKIP shit, the Tory twats, the legitimising of racism, arseholes in their millions about to shoot themselves and 50% of the rest of the population in the foot? For what? Some spurious and largely abstract notions of 'freedom', 'sovereignty', 'control' about which I am fairly sure the vast majority have very little idea about beyond vacant, empty meaningless words used essentially for the vanity of that appalling over-rated conman, Boris Johnson - a vicious right winger who has got this far surrounded by sycophants not least in the media, and by having an alleged shambolic 'personality' which has helped him to be voted in, twice. Why the success, the populism? Simple really, you know vote for Bojo  '  'cos he's a bit of a laugh, innit?' A sadly successful ploy to win the support of the hard-of-thinking.  And we are supposed to believe that this highly educated and articulate opportunist is now for Brexit based on 48 hours of weighing up the pros and cons of the EU rather than his own sordid career advancement.

Farage, the genial racist-in-chief,  of course has had to have a purpose to his life, I can see that and whilst deploring the poisonous bigot have slightly less disrespect for him than Johnson. Not that either of them would ever really care I dare say. Gove at least has a little more intellectual clout about what he says; however, the results of his education policies show that such intellectual clout leads to badness. It comes to something when I end up agreeing whole-heartedly with John Major's summation of the ideologues pushing Brexit.

Now, back to the EU - I remember being taught about the process of European integration as part of my history A level. Doubtless it must have been nefarious EU propaganda as it seemed pretty reasonable given all the horrors of European history and the great post-war advances in western Europe which have since cemented democracy in the post-Soviet east.  Moving forward, when teaching in secondary schools, Europe, what it's for and how it functions hardly got a mention. So little wonder that folk no so little and depend on a one-eyed septic press which has been nearly all hostile, passing misinformation as fact for as long as I can remember. One Alexander B. Johnson was involved in that - making up facts got him the sack from I think  The Times. The Great British patriot Murdoch sacking a liar - it must have been bad.

So, it should be no surprise that most people have little idea of what the EU is for nor what it does; nor do I suspect most politicos really know either. Out of curiosity, I attended a few Labour meetings to see what was happening after a thirty year absence. Not a lot. Dispiritingly, I stopped attending as, among the youngest,  I felt like I was in the last days of a near extinct species - that may just have been Thanet where the local Tory MP, Craig McKinley, is being checked out for fraudulent election expenses. Ultimately, aside from Plod and C4 news, who cares?

How does it affect me? Well, I suspect many of those bringing in nearly 50 million quid into the area through its language schools might choose to give their money to somewhere less overtly racist. Why stay with a host family who hate, without really knowing why,  where you are from? Yes, racist, white on white racism.  Ironic really, if it wasn't so sad. Yes, blame fellow Europeans for taking advantage, as many Brits also do, to travel and improve their lives taking advantage of often shit wages that British employers, perhaps donors to the Tories, choose to pay them.

Democracy and sovereignty - yes, on the doorstep many I spoke to in Thanet anyway,  have little concept of what either of these two concepts mean.  I had one muppet say that she wanted Britain to remain so that 'we' could stay in the Eurovision Song Contest. I tried not to wince but at least she was for Remain if for perhaps not the right reasons. Others talk frequently of dictatorship without being able to name a single example of it. That said when you talk of pooling sovereignty people take that in. No war between major states since 1945 also resonates. Free movement of people still though does not do much against the once dog-whistle migrations.

Freedom, sure there will be. There will be lots more. Lots more for the extreme right, the loony neo-liberals,  running the Tory party. Freedom, even more deregulated, unfettered freedom for companies, not-necessarily with our best interests at heart,  to buy parts of the NHS which we allegedly own, and then sell it back to us for inflated prices.

Of course it may all turn out to be milk and honey but I very much doubt it and as we queue up in the lines for non-EU passport holders, pay a premium for access to a club we were already in and have to accept free movement of people half the population supposedly don't want. And, further down the line perhaps when the milk has turned sour and the honey doesn't taste quite so sweet, under a Gove / Johnson / IDS government,  50% of the population might scratch their braincell and ask' why did we do that?'

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Twiddling thumbs

Whilst I am extremely happy at not having to teach dying languages to horrible, or even unhorrible English teens, the fickle world of EFL means, like so many on the poorly paid and tenuous EFL treadmill,  that I am forced every so often to take an obligatory extended unpaid holiday. It's great really apart from not being able to swan off to say the Caribbean, nice bits of Asia, or even France which is a mere 11 hour swim from my back garden. Yet, at the very nice school to which I am attached the paltry pennies do not roll in and the old staffers do not retire or die - some have been there since well before the turn of the century on nice (for EFL) contracts so they will not be heading off to the garden centre soon. People from another arguably more decent age of employment -  so why should they make way for an eager young upstart? I know I wouldn't.

So it is back to twiddling thumbs and finding imaginative ways of not going for a £6.50 an hour job that I am far too qualified to take on and conversely way too unqualified or experienced for.

Forklift truck driver, copy analyst (whatever that is), auditor, legal secretary, plumber and various others on offer at the local temp agency. None saying EFL teacher.

Picture the scene:

Over made-up, power-dressed, stiletto wielding temp agency hackette, biting curiously on the end of her pen as she takes 0.000025 of a second to size me up and realise that there is no finder's fee to be made from the badly smart-casually dressed epitome of a bored EFL teacher who has darkened the doorway and interrupted her coffee, anti-social media and gossip.

''Yes sir -  (may I call you Prentice - hmm,  that's one BA, two x MAs a plethora of certs and training...oooh a Certifcate of Kindness -  excellent now what else are you able to offer...? Oh, yes, er...the present perfect. ? OK, thanks so much for coming in, it's been so lovely to meet you, we'll most certainly be in touch....'

However, the local refugee club has got back in touch and offered me some voluntary teaching (we'll pay your fares) with those young kids who really do want to be here and to leave behind the Horrors of war and make a contribution to their new country that is holding its nose at them but political expediency and perhaps a smidgen of racism, won't allow them.

So the fickle finger of fate is luring me back to supply teaching which is a particular circle of hell into which I really do not wish to desperately descend despite the relatively reasonable rates.  It has happened before and although the money was good for teaching it is a form of prostitution too far at my age. The kids love it of course as it is yet another opportunity to give grief to someone, the micro-staffrooms offer no chance to mingle or break into cliques of overworked, whinging teachers drowning in management -  the supply teacher is ever the outsider until some desperate head offers you a contract as a bum in the seat to help him or her with the staffing problems brought about by the latest staff member to go on the sick. Sticking plaster is what you are but it can be OK taking it for what it is - glorified babysitting with, if you are very lucky, some lovely kids who are grateful for the sticking plaster and the possibility of being taught. Be too good you may be offered a longer-term contract and sucked into the vortex of targets, bollocks and bullshit that moved me on out of the state system and back into the less uptight and rigid and targeted-filled world of EFL where the money, security and opportunities are crap especially if you failed to get out when you were younger or faiedl to be the owner of the school raking in profits and paying disposable human resources a pittance.