Monday, 30 July 2012

Moving and Lavender and Stuff

'I am going to move the greenhouse,' Andy announced on Saturday morning. Immediately, I wondered if this was a good idea, firstly because we were awake until 1 a.m watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony Extravaganza on the telly and were tired, and secondly, because Andy's lack of spatial awareness plus glass PLUS tiredness was unlikely to be a good combination.

But, when a man says he's going to do a manly job, it is never wise to stand in his way.

'No blood, please,' said I and retreated to the front garden to tackle the hedge which had gone wild with all the rain.

Andy's plan was to move the greenhouse to where the garden table was, and move the garden table to the space vacated by the greenhouse thus bringing it further into the garden to a more amenable 'let's-sit-out-and-have-a-barbeque' kind of way. I wondered why we didn't put the greenhouse up against the fence in the first place, but then remembered that when the greenhouse arrived, the fence was further up the driveway, and has since moved further down the driveway thus vacating a space which we filled with garden furniture, if you see what I mean. We've been here almost eight years, which is five years longer than I imagined, and the garden has taken on many transformations in those years, some of which have become a bit of a distant blur (but not the ones involving swarming bees!)

Anyway, as I wrestled the front hedge into submission, and managed to pull a muscle in my side by thinking it would be a jolly good idea to scrape all the moss from between the block paving with an unsuitable trowel, I could hear Andy whistling away to himself, occasionally singing, and sometimes saying things like 'Ouch!' but as no blood trickled its way under the fence 'twixt me and him, I guessed everything a la maisonvert removal was going spendidly.

I was called upon once, to help move the frame. The glass was laid carefully on old duvet covers on the patio and the entire contents of the greenhouse and the rest of the garden was piled in the middle of the now recovering lawn, and we looked like Steptoe's rag and bone yard. I dallied around, and pruned the herb garden which has also gone wild with all the rain. I uncovered many, many slugs which made me heave a bit, and every now and then, Andy and I would meet in the middle of the chaos and try to form a bit of order.

'I thought we could have a path running up there,' said Andy.
'Yes,' I said, 'that would look nice.'
'And maybe some decking behind the willow arch. We could pop a wooden gazebo up there,' said Andy.
'Again,' I said, 'it sounds like a jolly good idea.'
'What have you been doing out the front?' said Andy.
'Cutting the hedge and digging up everything in the front border,' I said. 'I'm going to fill it with lavender. Not the hedge. The front border.'

Lavender has definitely become my new favourite thing. During the week I visited Downderry Nursery in Hadlow, and if you are ever in the middle of Kent during the late spring and through to summer, I urge you to visit too, because it holds the RHS national collection of lavenders and when you walk through the walled garden, 'tis truly a sight and a smell to behold. I ended up buying many plants. I had immediate visions of lavender loveliness here at MMM.

BUT, I hear you all shouting - WHAT HAPPENED ABOUT GETTING NEW CHICKENS? What indeed...

...the thing is, the reason the chickens are gone and the bees have been moved and we are in 'let's get the garden done proper-like,' mode is that we both feel the Universe is prodding us towards a house move. We both said it. At one point we said 'Should we be doing the garden for us, or to sell the house?' Of course, it is always wise to do things because you like them, so that has been the driving force, but a nicely turned out garden sans rampaging hens and swarming bees is a positive selling point , too. Can you imagine us showing potential buyers around next May, bees misbehaving all over the shop, picking our way through dollops of chicken poop?

No, neither could we...

...but when we get to our forever house, the REAL Much Malarkey Manor, there will be more hens and bees and probably ducks and geese and a goat or two.

So yesterday we meandered through garden centres, eyeing up cobbles and edging, and water features and gazebos, and we bought a new parasol umbrella which got rained on as soon as we put it up, sod's law. By the end of August, the garden will be pretty much buyer-friendly. It will lack the personality brought to it previously via the medium of hen 'n' bee but that doesn't matter because it won't really be our garden any more.

And no glass got broken and no fingers got cut. No tempers were lost and no idea discounted.

Garden Project Number Lord Knows What is underway.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Who, who, who?

Well, the tension is mounting over who will be the person who will light the Olympic Cauldron in the opening ceremony this evening. There has been much speculation - will it be an athlete, a celeb, an ordinary bod from the streets?

I can tell you who it won't be, and that's me or Andy. Although Andy did disappear earlier on. But then he came back with ice cream, and as far as I know it takes a bit longer to get to the Olympic stadium than the 20 minutes he was missing.

Anyway, we've been having a bit of a guess. Personally, I reckon Her Maj the Queen should do it. Tog her up in a white tracksuit, have a stairlift fitted to the steps just in case she gets a bit puffed halfway up. Yes, the honour should be hers. She's in her eighties for heavens sake AND she hasn't stopped since her Jubilee celebrations started back in June. If it's Olympic stamina you want, the Queen is your gal.

Andy favours a re-run of a Doctor Who episode when David Tennant lit an Olympic Cauldron, and I think that's a reasonable idea only because watching David Tennant is always very entertaining for us ladies.

Other people who have received the MMM seal of approval are Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson and Prince William but only if he brings along Kate. We'd also like to see Wallace and Gromit, or Morph.

To represent the ladies I think Julie Walters or Penelope Keith, Jennifer Saunders or Miranda Hart, but only if she does a comedy trip up just as she's about the light the cauldron.

We definitely DO NOT want David Beckham, Katie Price aka Jordan because we fear for her implants melting/ bursting, Princess Michael of Kent aka Princess Pushy, Chris Moyles. We are ambivalent about Boris Johnson, and whilst we are being political, Andy does not want David Cameron because, and I quote 'he is an idiot' and I don't want Tony Blair because he is, and I quote, 'more of an idiot than Cameron and very sinister to boot.'

And Bruce Forsyth will be a very disappointing choice for us because he will only shuffle about pretending he is dancing and hold up proceedings by making very old and very pathetic jokes, then expecting everyone to laugh.

Andy has just put in a vote against TV vet Steve Leonard. This is because Andy was at vet school with some of his brothers and every time Andy goes to a conference or lecture, Steve is there dressed in either shorts or an orang utan outfit and for some reason this annoys Andy beyond belief. Plus he is on TV and Andy isn't.

However, we must be careful about thinking unkarmic thoughts because earlier this evening, a magic fairy posted a lottery ticket through our front door. It had the words 'good luck!!' written on the top, and I spent a very excited ten minutes thinking we had an ethereal beneficiary who was in the know about the outcome of the hundred millionaires lottery gig this evening, and then Andy said it was Gemma (thank you , Gemma!) but even so we don't want to scupper our chances by dishing out unkind thoughts towards Brucie et al, especially as I have found a guest house in Wales that has fixated me with thoughts of purchase this week.

So whoever carries the torch on its final leg this evening, good luck! Break a leg, well, not literally of course - how ironic would that be?

And if we are destined to become one of the hundred new millionaires, then everyone is welcome to come and stay with us in our REAL Much Malarkey Manor for a big old party - HURRAH!!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Mayor's Tail

'So what is a Manx cat?' says Tybalt, who has been obsessively researching the tale, or should I say, 'tail' of Stubbs, the Mayor Cat of Talkeeta, Alaska.

'It's a breed of cat which has no tail,' I say.
'What's the point in that?' says Tybalt. 'I mean, how can he tell humans he is angry if he can't do a bit of warning tail twitching?'
'Presumably by doing some warning claw twitching?' I hazard a guess.
'Seems abit unfair on the human,' says Tybalt.
'P'raps that's why he is Mayor,' I say. 'Position of power, you see. You have to be a bit cut-throat when you are in a position of power.'
'Like a pirate?' says Tyablt.
'If you like,' I say. 'For example, the pirate in 'Nearly King Jimbo' who was called Nancy Jim. I believe she was very cut-throat.'
'Are you plugging your book?' says Tybalt. 'At the expense of my mayorial campaign?'
'Sales are slow,' I say.
'Sales are non-existent,' pipes in Andy from his study next door.
'So no hope of you sponsoring my campaign then?' says Tybalt.
'Oh, I can sponsor it,' I say, 'provided you don't expect more than a six foot stretch of bunting and a couple of 'Tybalt for MMM Mayor' T-shirts. And then we might be pushing it for the T-shirts.'

Tybalt sighs. 'How else am I going to raise funds and ultimately my profile?'
'You could try standing on a chair,' I say. 'Ahahahahahahahaha!'
The look on Tybalt's face tells me he is unappreciative of my pathetic joke.

'Okay,' I say. 'How about writing your life story. People like to know a bit about who they are voting for.'
'Or I could start a blog,' says Tybalt.
'Oh no,' I say. 'Because you know what will happen there, don't you? It'll be guinea pig syndrome all over again.'
'What's guinea pig syndrome?' says Tybalt.

'Parents all over the world will know of this,' I say. 'It's when a small child of say six or seven years old begs and begs their parent for a pet, making wild promises that they will look after it forever and forever; clean it out, feed it, play with it, make sure it's got plenty of water, and then, despite the well-documented evidence of guinea pig syndrome, the parent (fool that they are) will capitulate, purchase a guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, lizatd...okay, p'raps not a lizard, and the child will look after the newly acquired pet religiously for two and a half weeks, then at the first sign of rain/ snow/ a new series of Waterloo Road, they will abandon the pet and the parent will end up looking after it.'

'So are you saying that if I start a blog to advertise my mayorial campaign, I will keep up the writing of it for less than three weeks and you will end up writing it for me?' says Tybalt, somewhat sniffily.
'That's exactly what I am saying,' I say.
'Well,' says Tybalt, 'I think you are being a bit optimistic that I'll keep going for more than five days to be honest.'
'In that case, definitely no blog,' I say. 'Just go away and write a mini-biography, and we'll take it from there.'
'Okay,' says Tybalt.
'Remember to keep it mostly true, but embellish it a little, just to keep it exciting,' I say.
'You mean, lie?' says Tybalt.
'I didn't say that,' I say. 'Just go and write what you can and I'll look over it and see where we can jazz it up.'

'I may be gone some time,' says Tybalt, comandeering my i-pad.

On another note, yesterday I went and stood under the willow arch in the garden. It has grown HUGE with all the rain. It's more like a willow stadium. About 15 feet high. And I noticed a lot of ladybirds in there.
'Willow attracts aphids,' said Andy. 'I expect the ladybirds are after them.'
'I see no aphids,' I said.
'You're not looking close enough,' said Andy, and so I did look closer and then wished I hadn't because I've been itching ever since. Gazzillions of aphids, all over the place. And the ladybirds were chopping away on them like it was the best feast ever.

Whether the ladybirds will overcome the aphids remains to be seen. All I now is is that it was quite, quite revolting and not romantic as I think willow ought to be.
'It's the marvel of nature,' said Andy, as I pulled faces to show my revolt. 'The circle of life.'
'Well, it can go and circle of life somewhere else,' I said.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mayor of Much Malarkey Manor

Let this be a warning, dear reader: Never Allow Your Cat to Google.

Because if you allow your cat to Google, they will start to develop ideas way above their feline station, and given that the cat in question has already decided his station is lolloping around on my mini-chaise longue, Googling is the last thing that should be encouraged.

'Look at this!' says Tybalt (for 'tis he, baggy pants and all). He is sitting at my desk, surfing the net, scratching up my bumblebee mousemat with overly-enthusiastic use of the mouse (probably an inherent cat thing and another reason not to let them near your computer).
'What?' I say. I look over his shoulder at the screen. (I have discovered I can now read the screen WITHOUT my glasses, which is a) very exciting but b) means my eyeballs are stiffening up with age - a double-edged sword indeed, but is it the silver lining to the cloud? I don't know - it's all very confusing.)

'This!' says Tybalt. He, conversely, has discovered he now needs to wear glasses to see the screen. In the cat/human years ratio, we are of a similar age, me and him. 'There is a cat in Alaska who is mayor of a town called Talkeeta. His name is Stubbs, which is stupid, but he has been mayor for 15 years, and I want to be a mayor, too.'

'Okay,' I say, 'how do you propose you go about becoming mayor?'
'Put all the mayors in England in a boat and cast them out to sea?' says Tybalt.
'It would certainly create a gap in the market,' I say, 'but I think they might suspect something odd is going on.'
'Not if we say it's a special mayors-only cruise,' says Tybalt. 'A free mayors-only cruise.'
'Nice one, 'I say. 'But I'm still not sure it would work. Mostly because we don't have a boat.'
'Okay,' says Tybalt. 'How about we go and live in Alaska? And then I could usurp the current Mayor Stubbs. I have youth and beauty and a full-length tail on my side. The people of Talkeeta are bound to adore me.'

I look at Tybalt. He certainly is a very good looking cat, and at the age of nine-and-a-half is developing a nice little paunch that I believe is requisite if one is to become a mayor - something to balance one's medallion on.

'It's called a chain of office,' says Tybalt, crossly.
'I'm sorry,' I say. 'Did I say that out loud?'
'You did,' says Tybalt. 'And it is not a paunch. It is simply relaxed muscle. Once I start my mayorial training, it'll be flat and hard as a ship's biscuit in no time.'

'You're going to start training?' I say. I find this very hard to believe. This is the cat who spent most of yesterday lying in the sun pretending to be dead. In fact, he did such a good job that I had to poke him at one point to make sure he wasn't really dead.

'I have engaged the services of a personal trainer,' says Tybalt. 'I start my training campaign tomorrow.'
'Why not today?' I say. 'No time like the present. Carpe Diem, and all that jazz.'
'Seize the fish?' says Tybalt. 'My trainer said nothing about fish.'
'Carpe diem,' I say, 'means seize the day. Not the fish. You'll need to brush up your Latin if you're going to be a mayor, you know. For a start, you'll have to come up with a motto. All mayors have a Latin motto.'
'Such as?' says Tybalt. He has turned his attention from Google and is now poised with a pen over a large notebook opened at a fresh page entitled 'MY PLAN TO BE A MAYOR.'

'Well,' I say, 'something like 'There's More to Life than Mice.'
'Is there?' says Tybalt. 'Actually, I think you might be right there. There's tuna for a start. You don't have to chase after tuna before you can eat it.'
'No,' I say, 'but you need a set of prehensile thumbs to use the tin opener.'

Tybalt glances at his furry cat paws. He writes in his notebook in an elegant copperplate italic.

1) Develop a set of prehensile thumbs. Mayors must be able to open their own tins of tuna.

It's going to be a long process, this 'Tybalt for Mayor' campaign.

This blog was brought to you by, for all your making-an-idea-last-as-long-as-possible writing needs.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Flamin' 'eck!

I had no intention of getting up at the crack of dawn last Friday in order to nip to the park at the end of our road and see the Olympic Torch flash by. Why would I? I don't like watching sport, I rarely participate in sport other than bopping around the kitchen to the radio when no-one is watching (can be embarrassing if one is bopping to Radio 4 Gardener's Question Time - the tempo is very variable) and as you all know, I am crowd-phobic and spending half an hour in the company of the screaming masses at 6.30 a.m is about as far from my idea of fun as it can get.

But then I kept hearing reports of people who'd seen it go by in other parts of the country that it was a 'Once in a lifetime experience' (except for the oldies who had seen the torch in 1948, so for them it was a twice in a lifetime experience) and I thought, 'C'mon Denise. Don't be such a curmudgeon. Go see the torch! Have a patriotic 'hurrah!' It's the 'Lympics. In G. Brit. Hurrah!'

At 5.50a.m the crowds started streaming past our house. And when I say 'crowds' I mean 'crowds. Masses of people. Old people, young people, people carrying their own torches fashioned from the finest crepe paper and cardboard cones. School children with no idea of how to walk through a street quietly because some people might still be asleep. People parking their cars all over the pavements a la 'Race For Life' debacle two weeks ago.

The torch was due to leave the park at 6.37. Andy and I left home at 6.20 and joined the throng. Past the convoy of Olympic buses 'n' police cars 'n' police motorbikes 'n' sponsor's vehicles. The Coca-cola bus was very loud and whoopie. The Samsung bus was giving them a run for their whoopiness. The Barclays bus was quieter, but then given the Libor scandal they probably wanted to keep as low a profile as possible.

We got a good position, in the front row by the park gates. Some security men in yellow high-visibility jackets were clearly enjoying their temporary position of power by telling people to 'stand back on the pavement please,' and marshalling small children around in an unnecessarily officious way.

And then a ripple of excitement made its way along the line of crowd. The sponsor buses moved off. The police outriders moved off. The Official Olympic Camera Bus tried to mow down a swathe of crowd that had spread into the road despite the best efforts of the security guards.

And then a little flame could be seen in the distance, bobbing up and down through the trees, but with no great speed because the young man carrying it was walking and not running. I wasn't surprised when I saw who the torch bearer was. One of my ex-students. He must be 17 now. He was a little sod when he was 11. If you asked him to do something, like 'Can you close the door please?' his response would be 'I don't see why I should. I wasn't the last person to come through it. Why should I shut it? If you want it shut, then shut it yourself.' I imagined one of the officials saying to him, 'So, you're young and fit - are you going to run with the torch?' and him replying, 'I don't see why I should. If you want it to go fast, carry it yourself.'

Anyway, the torch ambled by. We cheered. Well, I didn't. Too early for cheering. And then the ambling torch 'kissed' the torch of the next torch bearer who proved more motivated by the spirit of the Olympics because once the photo was done he shot off like a greyhound to the next torch bearer who was waiting at the roundabout at the next junction.

A small child standing next to me looked up at his parents.

'It had real fire on top!' he said, much awe in his breathy little voice.

And for that reason, and that reason only, it was worth seeing the torch go by.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Firsts For Kayleigh

In a moment of what can only be described as Granny Madness, I agreed to have the Small Child aka Kayleigh to stay overnight for her first ever away from home experience. In fact, I went even further.

'Drop her off at 9 on Saturday morning,' I said, brightly. 'We'll take her out for the day!'

So, yesterday, Kayleigh arrived with all the accoutrements required by a Small Person in Transit which generally weigh more than the small person involved and take up four times the space. 'We're going to the beach,' she announced, because I'd already said to Chris and Leane that we were going to the seaside and they had clearly been prepping her about what to expect. For this was to be Kayleigh's first seaside experience. I had already anticipated various potential disaster scenarios e.g screaming at the sight of the sea, refusing to put feet on the sand/ eating the sand/ demanding visits to all the tacky and expensive seaside entertainments. And that was just Andy. And as such I had come up with the ultimate diversionary tactic to overcome these potential disaster areas and that was The Promise of Icecream.

'We're going to the beach,' said Kayleigh, again.
'You have no idea what you're talking about,' I said.
'No,' said Kayleigh.
At least she is being agreeable, I thought.

Anyway, we loaded ourselves into the car along with seaside equipment - picnic, towels, rug, bucket and spade, baby wipes, sunblock - and off we went to that glorious stretch of land on the south coast known as Camber Sands.

Now, there are two approaches to Camber Sands. One is to park in the first car park you find and then have to haul yourself up sand dunes with a 1 in 6 upwards incline to get to the beach. This is vitual suicide WITHOUT a small child in tow - two steps upward, one step slide backwards on quicksand - so we went for the second option which was to go to the far-end carpark where you might pay a small fortune for parking but at least you walk across the flat to the beach and you don't lose the feeling in your calves.

'Look at the sea!' said Andy. The sea at Camber is VAST. Kayleigh smiled and made all the right noises.

She enjoyed walking on the sand. We located a good spot to park the picnic rug upon. We hired a windbreak. We unpacked the various buckets and spades. Kayleigh looked on in disgust as Andy and I monopolised the equipment and built a sandcastle.

'Let's go and paddle,' I said.
'Okay,' said Kayleigh, like she knew what I was talking about.

Off we went towards the sea which was quite a way out, but not as far out as it can get at Camber which is about 25 miles or thereabouts.

I waited for the scream as Kayleigh ran confidently towards the waves, which were heading towards Kayleigh with even more confidence because waves are brazen like that.

As the first waves met the until-now unbaptised-by-sea-water toes Kayleigh grinned. And promptly sat down. Fully clothed.

Pisces, you see.

Anyway, the seaside experience went well. We made sandcastles. We trotted back and forwards to the sea, collecting buckets of water, and shells and pebbles. The sea was coming in so the trips became quicker and quicker. We relocated our beach camp as the sea came a little too close. We ate our picnic. I told a couple of overly-bold seagulls to go away. Andy took photos. We watched yachts and kites. We moved the beach camp again, because despite my optimism that 'surely the sea won't come in any further,' it bloomin' well did.

Then this massive black cloud loomed overhead and it got rather chilly. So we packed up and went on to another well-known attraction on the south-east coast - the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Miniature Steam Railway. Another Kayleigh First.

Now the RHD miniature railway is a proper railway, only miniature. And full of steam. Proper Ivor the Engine stuff - kerche-chuff, kerche-chuff - I remember going on it when I was a small child. And yesterday we got to travel on one of my favourite childhood trains 'The Green Goddess.' Yes, they even sold the same metal souvenir badges in the gift shop! See - things don't always have to change to stay fantastic. Must remember to tell them that at school when I return in September.

Any hoo, We got on the train, we chuffed off to Dungeness, Kayleigh screamed and laughed like a crazy child every time the steam hooter hooted which was quite a lot, and when we got back to the station we bought icecream and most of it dribbled down Kayleigh's arm because the sun arrived for the first time since, oh, February.

And then we came home, had tea, inflated the newly-purchased teeny inflatable bed and because we didn't have a stairgate, Gran (aka moi) ended up camping on the living room floor with the Small Child overnight.

Things I learned:
1) small children have more energy at the end of a sea-side day than Grans do
2) small children enjoy waking at 1.30 in the morning and retelling the entire story of the previous day to their Gran in minute detail and in a very loud voice
3) Grans are not very good at sleeping on floors - not without feeling like they have been lying on boulders all night the next day
4) Gran's faces can acquire a whole selection of new and interesting lines overnight
5) small children can squirm their way off inflatable beds and end up in very odd positions between the sideboard and the hearth
6) living room camping is an activity for under-10s only
7) glo-in-the-dark bears are very scary when you aren't used to them
8) the amount of time it takes to recover from overnight weekend granddaughter adventures is disproportionate to the amount of time spent on the actual event itself when one reaches a certain age
9) any woman in her forties who decides she wants another child before 'it's too late' is clearly mad and should understand there is a very good reason why your hormones start going haywire at a certain age and it is wise to pay heed to that reason if you want to preserve your sanity.
10) it has NEVER occurred to me, in nearly 47 years, to sit, fully-clothed, in the sea.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Do the Maths

Here's a reason why teachers give up being teachers:

My school has decided, in what can only be described as a scared-of-Ofsted frenzy, that from September, every teacher has to write a lesson plan for EVERY lesson they teach. They have even developed a new lesson planning sheet for the use thereof, which succeeds the one developed last September which itself succeeds the one developed the September before that.

The new lesson plan is full of little boxes to be written in and ticked and cross-referenced in order to accommodate all the initiatives that have gathered momentum in the last 2 academic years : High order questioning, low order questioning, driving questions, key questions, personal learning and thinking skills, Kagan, learning objectives, learning checks, assessment criteria linked to progress, social, cultural, spiritual and personal development, extension activities for bright students, scaffolding for not so bright students, how many have free school meals, who has special needs and what are they, who has English as a second/ third language, what happened last lesson regarding absences, where the lesson comes in the medium term plan, who is a foster child, who is gay/bi/ lesbian(I kid you not - and what makes them think I'm going to ask?? Way too much information) and, oh yes, what you actually want the blighters to learn in the space of an hour and how you are going to go about establishing that they've learned it and not sat there on their mobile phones updating their Facebook/ Twitter status with 'I am bord. I hate skool. Skool is boring. Ryan is a nobhead.'

Oh, and how many in the class, are they boys or girls, what's the date, what's your name, which class are you teaching and what time is it? And what's your literacy focus, your numeracy focus, and your IT focus?

Luckily, there is no box to insert my bra size, which is surprising as this form was constructed by a man with too much time on his hands. Give it time - he'll realise his omission soon, I have no doubt.

Anyway, I have started filling out these lesson plans for my Sixth Form lessons because they are the only scheme of work that isn't being tampered with at the moment because I did it properly last year and no-one else in the department knows what its about.

And it has taken me 15 minutes to complete each plan.

Now, I am going to be teaching 22 lessons out of a possible 25 a week from September. Which means I am going to be spending five and a half hours a week writing lesson plans. Which is 214 and a half hours over a year. Which is the equivalent of working ten hours a day solidly for three weeks, give or take a panic attack or two just to write lesson plans. And that doesn't include putting together all the fun and games activities and resources needed to run these lessons.

Nor the marking of the exercise books. A set of books takes me 2 hours to mark if I mark once a week. I will have six sets of books to mark. That's another 12 hours a week. Or 468 hours over a year.
This does not count mock exam marking.

And here is the number crunch. My school allows me three hours a week to do planning and marking. Which is 117 hours over the year.

214 + 468 =682 - 117 = 565 extra hours above and beyond what is called in the trade 'directed time.' Or, as us lesser mortals call it 'my time.' Or an extra hour and half on my day every single day of the year.

You do the Maths!

Monday, 9 July 2012

What can I say?

It's been a long time since I've been lost for an idea about what to write upon this here blog. What can I say? Every day for the past couple of weeks I've logged in, stared at the screen and tried to think of something witty and interesting to say. But it's been a bit of a hopeless case, this activity. Had me worried, too. What sort of a writer can't write? Ah, that'll be Katie Price, won't it? Ahahahaha!!

I thought I had something yesterday. Yesterday, the park next to which we live, was full of ladies dressed in pink attending the 'Race for Life' event which, for those of you who don't know, is an annual occurence in Britain where ladies are encouraged to don pink clothes, and funny little headbands decorated in pompoms (if one feels so inclined - I understand these are optional forms of attire) and run and/ or walk either 5 or 10 km to raise money for a cancer research charity.

And as usual, because our road is near the park, it gets clogged up with people trying to park in places they shouldn't be parking and chaos reigns for three or four hours, not helped by the road being fairly narrow and people ignoring the yellow line parking restrictions.

Any how, I stayed in and did the ironing and marvelled at the irony of it all (the running event outside, not the ironing) as I watched a succession of women wander away from their freshly parked cars, puffing away on cigarettes (presumably to get rid of their pre-race nerves) and then returning to their parked cars puffing away on even more cigarettes, presumably in relief of having made it all the way through their race without falling over and breaking a leg.

Smoking? Cancer charity? Come on! I wanted to shout through the front window. Don't you GET it???

What else can I say?

It's been raining a lot.

'Let's go to Hastings and eat chips,' I said to Andy on Saturday, which was really a thinly veiled excuse to go out for a ride in our new car which has an enormous space-age windscreen which extends way over your head and means you can see all the trees silhouetted against the sky as you pass under them, which is fab!

So, despite the ominous looking clouds and the slight chill factor, we scooted off to Hastings, parking in the furthest away beach car park we could find which meant after we'd had a spot of lunch and headed into the Old Town, and got caught in a complete stair-rod of a storm, we were sodden as we arrived back at the car and it wasn't that funny really, especially as we had taken a brolly with us but left it on the back seat as I'd had a burst of optimism and said, 'Oh, we won't be needing that,' when actually, we did.

And Hastings was full of Morris dancers, which freaked me out, because I hated them as a child ( all those clashing pig bladders and scary wooden horses clacking their scary wooden mouths in your seven year old face) and clearly I haven't got over the horror some forty years later.

But the chips were nice.

I'm not going to mention work because work has been hideous and does not deserve any more of my time than is necessary.

Lord knows what the bees are doing.

Still no chickens.

The apples are plummeting from the tree like plummeting is going out of fashion. There are two beetroot that need pulling up and I predict we shall be swamped with courgettes in ten days' time.

And I got bitten by some hideous insect, right on my collar bone, and it swelled up and was feffing painful.

But I have done two hours of novel writing this evening. Which always cheers me up and really I ought to do it more often and maybe, just maybe, it would stop me from being such a miserable old bat.

What can I say?

Nothing much else, really.