Sunday, January 30, 2011

Women whose names begin with M.

I am starting to think Wordsworth is a bit of a bore. A bit Wordsworthless really.

All afternoon and evening I have been struggling to put together lessons about one of his poems entitled 'The Affliction of Margaret'. Affliction is an apt word. For 11 stanzas it rambles on about the pain of a mother who wants to know the fate of her son disappeared for seven years. Not that I am trying to make light of lost children, but this really is drab. The rhyming structure admittedly is alright, but the crux of the lament arrives and departs in stanza one. Stanza two gives some background info and there's a nice bit at line 34, but the rest is just dribble. And exclamation marks. Why does a poem with such a sombre tone need three exclamation marks I ask you. My class of sixteen year olds were just starting to see that poetry could be beautiful by last Friday (thank-you Mr Yeats), now alas the word boring is going to crop up again sometime around 9:23am tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile I have been listening to 'So long Marianne' and I think it would be much more wonderful if we could teach Leonard Cohen lyrics. Not poems two hundred years old.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A guide to youth slang in East Sussex: Part Three

Now I know I can be a bit gullible sometimes, but I don't think I am being taken for a ride here. They seem genuine, without much sniggering. Or maybe I'm being fooled too well.

My Year 9 class inform me that 'boofing' (rhymes with woofing) means being nerdy or geeky. For example 'Why did you sit me at the front of the class miss, everyone will think I'm boofing', or 'Can I try your glasses on... I look right boofing'.

This is ever so slightly isolated rural Sussex, but even so I think they are fairly attached to the world. Yet this evening a quick search on google and urban dictionary tells me that boofing actually means inserting drugs up ones backside for prolonged effect, or other such anal acts. The fact that it is also a term used in kayaking saved my google images search from being too explosive.

I think this will need a bit more investigation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This week she'll be my idol

Quite a few years ago I walked into The Warehouse in Gisborne with the prospect of a long drive ahead of me to what ever other part of New Zealand I was desperate to escape from there to. I went over to the bargain bin and pulled out a handful of CD's that looked interesting. One was a recording of Bo Diddley live and I got it for $1. I'd never heard him before, but it was cheap and my constricting environment was making me feeling experimental. Two days later as I drove the windy roads I placed the CD on. From the first track I was fixated, the rhythm seemed so simple, yet was complex enough to be masterful. It was John Lee Hooker upbeat. This was somewhere in the mist where blues became rock and roll and I wanted to know more.

A couple of days ago a documentary on Sister Rosetta Tharpe gave me that. This was a woman who suppossedly influenced Elvis. This clip is from a disused railway platform just outside Manchester, UK when Rosetta was aged 49.

The story of her life is incredible, being slamed between the twin forces of the church and the music industry from the age of six (mostly by her mother), never knowing anything other than a life on the road.

I'm not going to tell all it to you here, but I thought I'd make a note of it anyway.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Brief History of This Week.

Went to a bike shop upstairs in an outdoor shopping alley and had it repaired. The mechanic reminded me of why I think I am living in the friendliest part of England. I talked to the owner about Japan- he went there with his Japanese then wife a few years ago (he's got a Russian wife now the mechanic told me).

In the evening met with some friends dressed all bright and shiny for our 'discotec' evening. This was a pre-arranged event from last week at the Horse and Groom when the five of us had decided it would be neat to investigate the clubbing scene of Hastings. We arrived at the 'discotec' venue sometime after 11pm only to find it almost empty and a niggling sense we could almost be mothers and fathers of half the clientele and all the staff. We waited for some dance music to kick in but the DJ seemed a very big fan of medium to heavy rock. The basement venue next door contained all of the above plus a strong smell of bleach and nothing but black decor. But the company and a stroll home along the waterfront in the early hours made it good.

A swim and a listen to recently acquired music. Lovely.

I don't like my job that much. But did get a message to say that my muffin recipe is being successfully used in the best cafe in St Leonards on Sea. Participated in a bit of culinary boasting on facebook.

I hate my job, I wonder if I can get out of this contract?


Ok, maybe I can just last until the end of the contract.


Spent half a lesson with my most unmotivated class practising our Australian accents. A small progression helped by having a common thing to take the piss out of.

Had a debate on the train with a middle-aged banker who works at Lloyds. I have a degree in Anthropology which gives me, I believe, enough authority to argue that we did not all descend from Seth; Eve was actually ten women in Africa 2 million years ago and NO- not all New Zealanders are of Welsh heritage. "But," he said, "I've got a book in my bag that proves it". Ummm, this is my stop.

I am quite happy the weekend is here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday is put asside for such decisions as whether to fly to Ireland in the mid term break, or take the ferry. And of course a few hours of school work.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

For now you may call me... Nicola... of (RBB)

I have been given an honourary title...for now. It's a small honour with a lot of meaning that comes on top of a bit of a rough week.

I've been told a lot this week how brillant the teacher I replaced was by several of the students, and tonight by one parent. But I think this is true (or maybe not) of most teachers trying to take over a class mid way through the year. My favourite in the 'I wish we still had Mrs Y' camp is one little boy in Year 9. He has taken theatrical sulkings to such a level that I now have to walk away to stop myself from sniggering. The week has gone something like this:

Y9 student (with bottom lip protuding): "I want Mrs Y back"
Me: "Tough. I'm going to be your teacher, forever"
Y9 student buries face in folded arms on table

Y9 student (in a whinging voice): "Why does Mrs Y have to have a baby. Babies can look after themselves, she should be here"
Me: "Would you like a cuddle to make it better?"
Y9 student buries face in folded arms on table

WEDNESDAY: A very special day in which I taught 'Y9 Student' three times and suggested the electical tape in my bag could come in handy.

Y9 student (in a whinging voice): "Why did you ring my Mum, she made me do my homework. And anyway, she hates Australians."
Me: "Well isn't it just as well I'm from New Zealand"
Y9 student: "Er... well she hates all New Zealanders then"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It is important your hairdresser gives you a style most beneficial to learning.

In staff briefing yesterday we were told of a child who had come to school with an 'extreme hair style'. Negotiations were continuing with the child's mother about getting it removed, but in the meantime he would be wearing a hat around school and in classes.

This afternoon some of my students showed me a letter that was handed to students to take home. It included the specification for what constituted an extreme hairstyle (mohawks or very spiky hair; bright colours; words or images shaved into hair; anything less than a Number 2). Anyone considering an extreme hairstyle was to consult the school before going through with it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A stranger to these parts...

...the sun makes an appearance.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Top Five of Two Thousand and Ten: The Brief.

Shortly before Christmas and shortly after spending hours on a train just trying to get to London, I spent time with friends watching High Fidelity. It was cosy inside while outside the snow was turning from white to polluted black on the curbs of Edgeware Road. Even though this must have been my up-teenth viewing I still laughed loudly at parts I'd missed before, and gained appreciation of the music that hadn't sunk into my consciousness earlier.

So in honour of this film and an all round adventurous year, I present (in forthcoming segments) my own personal Top Five Experiences of Two Thousand and Ten. After some rough thought I give you the following:

1. Nepal and the Indian Himalayas
2. Northland, Aotearoa with Rachael
3. Enchanting Japan
4. Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
5. Live Music (worldwide)

Number one is definitely the most important and memorable. The rest all seem to come second equal. As the thoughts on experiences 1, 3 and 4 are currently in journals in an attic in London, we'll start with numbers 5 and 2.

Being that 2010 was the year I also read more books than ever before, there will at some point be a Top 5 related to that. But for now I just want to see if I can follow one of my 'posts in multiple parts' ideas beyond the first gasp.

So... start the countdown.