Saturday, 28 November 2015

Just keep swimming...

I have some catching up to do - sorry. In my previous post, I wrote that I'd got an interview for a prison librarian job. That didn't lead to anything; the job was only temporary because of a huge lack of funding and, the thing that actually ruled the job out for me, I'd have to use the phone. Almost anyone with a stammer will tell you that phones are their nemesis. The Husband makes my appointments for me; I have a special arrangement with the Open University which means he can speak on my behalf. It's annoying and I don't know why I'm so bad with phones. I'm okay with family and some of my friends - I have a caller display on my phone, and if it's not someone I'll be fluent with, I just leave it to the answering machine. Technology is kind of on my side - most official things can be dealt with through email; some friends prefer a text to a phone call, but if the phone rings at work, it's no good looking at me to answer it. Or Ms Titian, because she's fairly deaf and wears hearing aids. Once, dire circumstances left us both in charge of the school office, and we were next to useless. All the forms got filled in, and money got counted, but phones? Nah!

So, no prison job. Which is kind of okay, especially as The Husband's friend, who is a warden at said prison, saw his partner beaten up last week by someone who was fuelled up on drugs. The worst I've ever had is a chair thrown at me by one of our past Year 6 students, so maybe I'm better where I am... I have got rid of my library duties, though. For a job that needed two or three hours a week timetabled for it, I was given no time at all, and the piles of unfinished jobs and the feelings of guilt were getting to me. I couldn't manage much overtime to get things done. Actually, that's a lie. I could have managed it, but if this year has taught me anything, it's 'make the most of the time you have with your family.' Sadly, I've also learned some lessons about my friends. When I said I was going to give up the library, most said, 'Good idea - that'll be one less thing to stress about,' but two friends stopped talking to me. When I asked them if they'd be interested in taking it on, they refused to discuss it and I caught the exchange of, 'See, I told you...' looks between them. I think they believed I was giving up something I used to love in a fit of pique. Thankfully, The Boss Lady was on my side and relieved me of the burden immediately. 

Things are getting better at work, I have to admit. Yesterday, I was given a regular Friday afternoon slot in my favourite class. They have a new teacher who I get on really well with, and have known vaguely for years and years, as he's the father of my son's best friend. He's a great person to be sarcastic and irreverent with, so that's a big plus. We also have a new teaching assistant who is an old friend, and that I had forgotten that I loved so much, so things are on the up. I have taken a leaf out of another colleague's book, and have started saying what I think a bit more. Agreeing with people and doing everything I was asked to just got me walked over, I found. 

Anyway, enough complaining. I should be writing a script for my next assignment, but it's not due until January 5th, so I'm thinking I can leave it until the school Christmas holidays and get it done then. Deluded? Maybe. I'm still waiting to hear from Roehampton University about whether I've been accepted on their Masters course. Apparently, when they said I'd hear within the week (3 weeks ago), I'd been sent the wrong automated email. I should hear within 6 weeks. Meanwhile, I've got some reading to catch up on. I've just bought the second in a series by Terry Goodkind - all magic and ridiculousness, but very enjoyable. The new book is 1027 pages long (rubs hands in gleeful anticipation). Unfortunately, I've forgotten what happened in the first book, so I've got to go back and read that again first. And there are 17 books in the series, so this could take some time, and a lot of bookshelf space. 

Better get the coffee on... 

Saturday, 7 November 2015


Being between assignments, I rashly signed up for this year's National Novel-Writing Month. I've wanted to have a go at writing those 50,000 words for a couple of years, but have never found the time. So I created my account on 31st October and have now typed the grand total of 501 words. The stats page on the website says that, at my current rate of writing, I will have completed my 'novel' by October 5th 2017. It started off well. I had the idea of something I wanted to write, but it took me all evening to write 200 words I was happy with. I then decided that, actually, I wasn't happy with them, deleted everything and started again with something totally different. 498 words-plus-a-title later, and I've got a page of rubbish. The NaNoWriMo website says that the idea is just to write, and you'll probably end up with 50,000 words of sub-standard stuff, and that's okay. But that's not how I write. I write a couple of sentences and re-read them, twiddle about with them, delete them and re-write them. I then read through past paragraphs and change bits. I constantly have a thesaurus open on Word and I spend more time editing than writing. I did try to 'just write' and not edit, but found it resulted in mild panic that I may have mistyped something or used the same word in two consecutive sentences. I looked around on the internet for tips on how to manage Editing OCD and found a good blog-post (which, predictably, I now can't find, so can't link to. Sorry.) which said that, actually, it would be of more use to aim to write one amazing paragraph in a month, rather than 50,000 words of crap. (To illustrate my problems, I have just spent ten minutes looking up whether it should be 'aim to write' or 'have the aim of writing' in that last sentence. I tried both, to see which looked the least clunky. I'll probably change it again or decide on something completely different before I publish this. If anyone knows of a self-help group I can join...)

I have just deleted my NaNoWriMo account because I'm fed up with it sitting on my desk-top nagging me. I very nearly cheated, I have to admit. I was tempted to copy and paste a year's worth of blog posts, a few shopping lists and all of my RE assignments, call myself a NaNo-Rebel (i.e. not writing fiction or sticking to the rules in any fashion) and say 'Yes, I did it!' on November 30th. But I didn't. Mainly because I couldn't be bothered. 

So, what to do to fill in all that time that I'm not writing? I should be reading about how to write a script, but...nah. I'm checking my emails a lot. I applied for my Children's Literature Masters last week, and the university replied, saying I'd know within the week whether I'd been accepted. I thought I wouldn't be told until about June or something, so that's an added bit of 'Oh Blimey' I could do without at the moment. I'm expecting the mark for my assignment as well, so I'm wearing out the refresh button on my keyboard. 

To update you on the prison librarian job I've applied for: I've got an interview on Wednesday. I'm hovering between, 'Hey! I've got an interview!!' and, 'Oh bugger, I've got an interview...'. I am wearing people down with my indecisions about my life. Do I actually want another job? Am I being an idiot? What do I want to do? Can I just go home, please? On a school library conference, Ms Fab and I went to a motivational thing by Andy Cope, which was actually really good, as these things so seldom are. He reckons that about 2% of the population are truly happy, and some people are what he called 'Mood Hoovers'. I am aware that, after ticking all the boxes as a two-percenter, I have now turned into a mood hoover and am risking losing friends because I am pissing them off so much with my whinging. The Boss Lady wants to talk to me on Monday. I need to get through a whole meeting with her without crying, which I'm not good at. Not because she's horrible or anything. She's actually been incredibly supportive over the years and wants me to stay in my job and has asked how she can help me. So, what I need to do is go in there, say that I don't feel challenged any more and not just say, 'I'm fine' and burst into tears, because she's probably expecting that. We'll see. 

How do I start doing this?

Friday, 30 October 2015

Secret agents and prison libraries

Nearing the end of the half term holiday, I have used my time kind of constructively. The first creative writing assignment has been sent. We had to choose from 1500 words of prose or a poem of between 30 and 36 lines. Because I wanted to make a good first impression on my tutor, I didn't opt for poetry. I started writing about one thing that kind of changed halfway through and ended up as something totally different. I don't know why my writing does that. It's like I make my start, and the story says, 'No, no, that's not how it goes. Write this instead...' I just need for my tutor to mark and return it and then I've got to use it for my second assignment, turning it into a script. Cue slight hysterics. The guidance says the adaptation should be 15 minutes, with each sheet of A4 averaging one minute of performance time. This, obviously, does not include time that hypothetical actors would be convulsed with laughter at the script, or storming around having dramatic tantrums and saying, 'How the hell are we meant to work with this material?' 

The assignment after that is a critique, the next is a proposal for our final piece, then comes another piece of fiction. I've decided I'm going to write about Special Operations Executive, which was the organisation that sent spies into France and Holland during the Second World War. I've been fascinated by the subject for years, and a load of new information about it is now available, so I've ordered some books. I scribbled the title of one on a piece of paper in front of me: How to be an Agent in Occupied Europe. I then realised the paper was being used as a 'jobs I'm interested in' scribbly sheet I'm compiling. It now looks like I'd like to work with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, as a bookseller at Waterstones, or as a secret agent. It might be worth a try, although life-expectancy is only six weeks and I can't speak French, which is a bit of a hindrance. 

I am job-hunting. A bit more seriously than my past half-hearted efforts. After nearly 14 years in the job, I now find myself back in the role I last had nearly 9 years ago, which is frustrating to say the least, so it may be time to move on. One job stands out for me, and that's as a library assistant. The on-line application form took two and a half hours to fill in, and regularly failed to save what I'd just written, so goodness knows what they've actually received. Applications close on November 1st, so we'll see. Did I say it's at a prison? No? Oh well, we'll kind of gloss over that bit. It's only Category C and the last time someone had a roof-top protest was a couple of months ago, so... Hmmm. Anyway, I like a challenge, and I no longer get that in my present job. It's either a new job or stop caring so much about the one I'm doing at the moment, which I'm not sure I can do. I'll keep you posted. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Chocolate cake and chips

I have spent the afternoon in the reception class and I will never complain about the Year 6s again. Where do these little, bouncy people get all their energy from? 

Many years ago, when I started as a teaching assistant, I worked for two years in the reception class and loved it. I felt fulfilled and enjoyed the company of thirty over-enthusiastic and slightly leaky mini-humans. Truth be told, I found the Year 6s a bit scary, with their noise and back-chat, hanging off each other as they crashed down the corridor. Today, I spent two hours in reception and am in dire need of alcohol. Their welcome was lovely. They all wanted me to sit with them and look at their drawings. I was ordered to read a story about an elephant by a girl who clambered into my lap and helped me with the voices and sound effects (you can't do sound effects and animal stories with the Year 6s). I had to make an order from a girl with a notepad and purple felt-tip. I asked for chocolate cake, and she asked if I'd like chips with it, so I thought, why not? 'You can order anything from my shop,' she announced. 'What else would you like?' I thought that asking for Jake Gyllenhaal would be inappropriate, so I added some ice-cream to my order, and she wandered off to put some sand in a bowl for me. 

Can I have chips with that? Cheers. 

I suppose one good thing about the reception class children is that you can get really silly with them, (although there have been times when I've done that with the Year 6s). A crowd of them started making a Duplo house for me, and I helped by sorting through the bricks. 'Can I have a polar bear in my house?' I asked, finding one in the bottom of the box. 'You can't have a polar bear in your house!' they told me. 'What about a zebra?' 'No!' I was ordered. 'You can have a baby.' I'd rather have had a zebra...

Oh well. It was kind of fun, but exhausting, and I'm thinking about how I've changed from the days when I loved working with four year olds. At least I can remind myself of this afternoon the next time the older children are winding me up. Yes, they may try answering back at times; they may be a bit cheeky and hormonal, but at least they don't sneeze all over the tables. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Learning to take criticism

I'm beginning to think that the only time you get new posts on here is when I'm trying to avoid doing other stuff. Today, I'm avoiding the Open University forum. We've been asked by our tutors to post some of our work so other students can tear it to pieces critique it. During my last creative writing course, I managed to avoid posting on the forum completely. Well, I did the 'introduce yourself' bit, then fell silent for a whole year. Others shared their work and had intelligent responses, but I don't take criticism well. My response is usually to think I'm totally awful at something and hurl whatever it is in the bin. For this course, however, we have to critique work - it's one of our assignments. So, when the tutor asked us to submit our work to the forum, I quickly copied and pasted my morning's work, typed 'Please be gentle with me,' and signed off. Now I'm hoping I've not been seen as a swot for being the first to reply. I thought it was easier to be the first, because then I wouldn't already be feeling inadequate after reading other people's clever work.  

Now I've got as far as opening the OU forum page and can see I've got a response, but I don't want to read it. We've been asked to tell each other two things we like about their work and one thing that can be improved, which is exactly what the children at school have to do. So, thinking back to what some children have written on their friends' work, I could put something like: 'You've used interesting words. You used a metaphor. I can't read your handwriting in the second paragraph.' 

I really should read that comment on my work, and stop being so wet. Hang on... Oh hell, there are now four replies... 

Phew. People have been very kind. They've said my description is good and there are no negative comments, only a question on how I'm going to adapt it into a script for the next assignment. And I've been very good and commented on someone else's work. Maybe this won't be so awful after all. 

I'm having to get used to a new keyboard, which is making writing extra tricky at the moment. It has a different slope and the keys are a bit further apart, so a lot of this post has been deleted and re-typed as it's been complete nonsense. My old keyboard had half the letters worn off, which was fine for me because I learnt how to touch-type at school, but it drove The Husband crazy. He is a one-finger typer, and it takes him half an hour to write a short email. The fact that the R was so worn out it looked like an I, and the L was completely missing, used to lead to great bouts of swearing and noisy deleting, so we now have this new keyboard. It's a gaming one, which I got because they're more robust (according to various websites) and I liked the bit at the front that you can rest your wrists on, because I type so much that I've got painful bits on my wrist-bones, or whatever they're called. Of course, the way it can cycle through purple, blue and red lights is rather good, although I do have to switch that off because it's distracting when you're trying to think of un-clich├ęd ways to write about dust motes in the sunshine. Son Number One is predictably scornful about my choice in keyboards, and points out that I only ever play Candy Crush, so why would I possibly need a gaming keyboard? 'Because I want one,' is the childish answer. The same reason that Son Number Two owns about twenty different watches. The same reason that I really wanted a fire-starter, even though I knew I'd never use it (and Son Number Two bought me one for my birthday, because he understands). And the same reason that I'd like a really expensive fountain pen, when a cheap biro will do the same job. 

I'll point out that I didn't want a fire-starter for any sinister reason. I just watch a lot of survival programmes and you never know when the zombie apocalypse will start. I'll be fine, because I now have a fire-starter and a craft-knife in my handbag (which I have to take out when we go to concerts and there are bag-searches, just in case I'm arrested. I only use it for putting up school displays, honestly, but if the apocalypse comes and you need someone to gut rabbits, you know where I am.).

And now, I must go and do some more work on my assignment, now that I know it's not a total load of rubbish. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Blue doughnuts and choosing quotes

Many, many months ago, The Daughter and her boyfriend came up with the idea of buying a travel-package-type-thing, in which they could tour the world (or part of it, anyway) changing flights as and when they liked, depending on how much they enjoyed being in that particular country. Plans were made, and I didn't have to worry as it was ages away. Except, now, it's last Thursday. They stayed with us for a few days, then The Husband and Son Number One drove them to Heathrow and waved them off.

They're in Dubai now. Daughter and boyfriend, I mean. Tomorrow, they fly to Sri Lanka, then it's Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand (for Christmas), then back to Dubai, before returning to the delights of a shivering and dismal England in early January. I know they'll have a marvelous time. They're going to Buddhist temples and elephant orphanages and tours around New Zealand on a minibus, but I can't stop doing the mum-thing of worrying. Will they forget that they're not allowed to hold hands in the street in Dubai? Will they appear on the news after some elephant-trampling incident? I've seen photos, and they're both still smiling, and neither of them are behind bars; so far, so good. Actually, I have been pathetic (in the eyes of my eldest son) and bought myself a tablet (The computer-type. I'm not on the other sort yet.) just so I can get Instagram and follow their progress. I've seen some pictures of amazing buildings and waterfalls and, strangely, some bright blue and green iced doughnuts, which look as if they'd be banned in the UK for being too much fun and containing too many E-numbers. 

Alarmingly, I got an email from The Daughter this morning, with the heading 'Ur gent' (yes, it was spelt like that). I opened it, wondering if we could afford the bail, and whether I'd be allowed six months off work to argue with UAE lawyers and do BBC news appeals. The email was an advert for a weight-loss programme. I warned The Daughter that she was spamming all of her friends, and then had a quick lie-down while my heart went back to normal. Mind you, too many of those blue doughnuts, and she may be needing the programme herself. 

My mother has just finished jury service. A couple of years short of her 70th birthday, after which she would have been excused, she had to travel by train every day to Ipswich and listen to a rather nasty court case about child pornography. Unfortunately, she came down with a virus which made her lose her voice and cough so much that she had to be escorted out of the court-room and sat down with a drink. She had to miss the final day, during which the defendant absconded, causing a man-hunt which was all over the local news. He was found guilty and captured, but my mother feels rather peeved that she missed all the excitement.  

I have done some OU work. I've replied to my tutor's post on the forum. He asked us to choose a quote we liked, say why we chose it, and discuss its genre. I waited and waited but no-one else replied, so I thought, bugger it - I'll write something and all the intelligent people will then get motivated to rip my ideas to pieces. How to choose just one quote I liked? I ended up cheating, and copied out the whole of the first paragraph from the children's book Tuck Everlasting, about the first week of August hanging at the top of summer, like the highest seat on a Ferris wheel. Predictably, people followed that up with quotes from Jane Austin and the like.  

And now, I'm meant to be doing my assignment, so I must get off here and make some coffee and have a biscuit and read a book. I am justified in doing this: reading extensively makes you a better writer, I've been told. So, reading a Ruth Rendell murder mystery is actually homework.

Think I'll just check Instagram first, though, and make sure I don't have to do any prison-visiting. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Fiction and flint mines

The new OU course (creative writing) starts in a couple of weeks, so you can probably expect more regular posts on here as I try avoiding real work. I'm only on the first chapter of the course book, but it's already irritating me. A chunk of the book is put aside for short stories and novel extracts, so we can 'get a taste of different genres'. I don't get that. Why would you take a writing course if you don't already read a lot? Surely students don't have to be taught how to recognise mystery or science fiction? Oh well, I'll skip that bit and read a book instead. And then there are all the 'activities' you're meant to do ('Add another couple of paragraphs to this story,' or 'Change the genre of this extract'). I'm glad someone else in the OU Facebook group admitted to ignoring them all. 

'Magic' by Shel Silverstein

My first assignment is due at the end of October, and I think I'll be writing fiction based on the local battle-area, which swallowed up part of a village and several little hamlets in the early 1940s. People who lived in that area were given around a month to leave their homes before the area was taken over by the Ministry of Defence, so I think there may be some 'scope for the imagination' there. 

I was getting a bit worried about the end of my OU degree. I could see a future in which boredom would start to creep in. My spending on books would go through the roof, and I would get sucked into watching Strictly Come Dancing and soap operas. Thankfully, The Husband has said we have the finances for me to do a Masters degree. I think he, too, is envisaging a future in which I become bored and impossible to live with. 'A Masters will keep her busy for another few years,' he's plotting, 'and then I can go to lots of football matches while she's busy writing assignments.' So I've emailed Roehampton, and they've said my study record is good enough, and my job is 'brilliant preparation' for a Masters in Children's Literature. They start taking applications in November, so I must start thinking of things to write that'll make them realise just how amazing I am. It may take some time. 

School-wise, we've just taken the year 5s and 6s to Grimes Graves, a local area where there are Neolithic flint mines. It was, surprisingly, a rather good day. I say 'surprisingly', because school trips are often days of continual head-counts and stress before you go home and down an entire bottle of spirits in a bid to forget the whole thing. We had talks and guided walks from local wildlife experts, during which we saw a lizard and the children became obsessed with different types of animal poo. We also went down one of the mines, got to see flint tools and had multiple trips to the very far-away toilets. I'd have been quite happy to have been left behind when the children returned to school. One of the guides was an ex-archaeology teacher and was a source of amazing information: did you know that 10% of Neolithic people were left-handed? Apparently, they can tell from the deer antlers miners used as pick-axes to get the flint. Sadly, we were only with this guy for an hour, but I felt like sending the children off for a long walk - with a warning not to fall down any deep holes - and just do more listening. 

I was kindly invited to share a table with some of the girls at lunch-time, during which they quizzed me on whether I like Marmite and how many times I'd had my ears pierced. Then we had more toilet trips. Why is it they only decide at ten minute intervals that they need the loo, but if you shout out: 'Who needs the toilet?' the whole class comes with you?

Well, I suppose it's time to get on with some proper work. I've just been assigned my new tutor. Poor guy. I wonder if he knows what he's in for?

Saturday, 5 September 2015

On becoming mature and sophisticated

September already, and I need to get back on track. Last month, I only updated the blog once, for which, as it was the school holidays, I have no excuse. We did manage get away and see The Daughter in Cornwall for a couple of days, but apart from that, we didn't really do a lot. (Well, The Husband was working - I was the one who wasn't doing a lot.)

So, now the new school year has begun and I've just received the books for my final Open University course, ready for an October start. Because I'm halfway through a rather good book (Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson), I've not really looked at the course book, other than to read the introduction. Worryingly, the aims of the course include being able to write 'with a mature and sophisticated style'. Hmmmm. Just as well this course won't change the final result for my degree...It also says that I should end up being able to contribute to group discussions and 'be supportive, yet appropriately critical'. I am useless at group discussions; I'm usually the one that's passed the pen to record things ('because you have nice writing') and that means I can look busy whilst contributing very little. As for being supportive and appropriately critical, I take it that's not the usual thing that happens on courses, when we all sit around nodding wisely, before complaining on the way home that it was all absolute bollocks. I think, for this course, we have to read people's work and critique them on a forum. I tend to avoid forums as everyone else appears far more intelligent than me (I?) and uses long words. I'd probably get thrown out and returned to pre-school for writing, 'Well, I liked the ending.'

Actually, I did learn a new word, whilst reading Angelmaker (which I mentioned in my last post): 'myrmidon'. A word, like 'serendipity', which I love the sound of, but can't fit into my work without sounding pretentious. Or would such words add the maturity and sophistication I'm striving for for which I am striving? Nah, I can't do it. I will aim to develop an individual style, known as 'uneducated country-dweller'. If Cormac McCarthy can write whole books without speech marks, I'm sure I can dump the sophistication. Mind you, he is a lot more famous than me (I?). Sigh... Perhaps I should have gone with Art History. 

As proof of a total absence of maturity and so forth, I am getting ridiculously excited about going on the Harry Potter studio tour next month. And there's a special Dark Arts exhibition specially for Halloween. If I was mature and sophisticated, I wouldn't be able to have my photo taken pretending to push a trolley through a wall on Platform 9 and three quarters (how the heck do you do fractions when you're typing?). 

And I need a Hufflepuff t-shirt because I did the official quiz and that's my house team, apparently. I'm so unsophisticated, it scares me. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Rescuing books and Polish motorcyclists

We're a good couple of weeks into the school holidays, and I have to confess I've done barely anything apart from catch up with my reading. My next OU course doesn't start until October, so there's nothing to be done there. It feels very wrong not to be reading text books or preparing for an assignment, but I guess I'll have to get used to that for when my degree comes to an end next June. 

I have managed to rescue a couple of books from a pile that's destined to be taken to a charity shop. This consists of books that I've started several times but just can't get into, or ones that include irritating, pathetic or unbelievable characters. The third Bridget Jones novel fits into the latter category, sadly, as I rather liked the first two, but when a character has said, 'Gahh!' about seven times in the first few pages, I know that I'm going to spend the whole book counting, rather than reading, and getting more and more irritated. So I got to page 15 and added it to the pile, thankful that I only paid a pound for it in the first place. The rescued books were ones I've had for a long time, started reading, but couldn't get interested in, but I was obviously in the right mood for them this time. The first was The Godfather. Yes, I know it's meant to be a classic and all that, but I couldn't get on with it before. Now I've read it, seen the film, recorded The Godfather Part Two, and know what the quote used in You've Got Mail, about going to the mattresses means. Book two was (is, because I'm still reading it) Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway. It's brilliant, quite mad and I have no idea why I couldn't get on with it before. Thank goodness I rescued it; I nearly missed a great book. 

I need to go to the bookshop and buy my annual 'holiday book' - the longest book I can find by an author I've never read before - because we've managed to arrange a few days in Cornwall. We didn't think we'd be able to get away this year, what with funerals and the non-stop paperwork that comes with sorting out probate, but we've got four days with The Daughter next week. Not long, but we've not seen her since Christmas, and she and The Boyfriend are off hostelling round the world in October, so a visit is important. It's a long drive, and I was tempted to get some audiobooks for the journey, but I think I'd get so involved in the stories that I'd forget about traffic. Never a good thing on the M25. 

And on that subject: we had a bit of a day, yesterday. We'd planned a relaxing, middle-aged trip to the Sandringham food and drink festival but, instead, got halfway there, stopped at some crossroads and got hit up the arse by a motorcyclist. So, after picking him up off the road and exchanging details, we turned round and came home again. There's nothing like having a large, Polish biker slide the length of your car and just lie there in the road, to put you off an afternoon out. He was very nice, very apologetic (he hadn't been looking and was too close behind us - confirmed by both him and the car behind him) and he came to see us in the evening to try and sort out a private arrangement so his third-party insurance didn't get clobbered. We were more worried that he was hurt than about any damage to the car, but apart from shredded trousers (please wear leathers if you ride a motorbike. It gives me the shivers to see bikers going 60 mph and wearing jeans.) and a few bruises, he was okay. We just got a broken rear light-cover. Which, of course, isn't just a cover: it's a whole light unit, so for a tiny bit of smashed plastic, there's over £100 worth of hardware to be replaced. Oh well, hopefully he's learnt something that will stop him having a bigger smash in the future. After determining that the guy wasn't hurt, we all stood there, not really knowing what to do, as none of us had been in an accident before. We have learnt that we need to keep a copy of our insurance documents in the car. Thankfully, a phone call to Son Number One at home got us our details.

Hopefully, our journey to Cornwall will be far less eventful. I'm really looking forward to the part where we drive past the 'Welcome to Cornwall' sign at 2mph in a 35 mile queue. Always my favourite bit. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

I'm sure I left my sanity around here somewhere...

School finished on Tuesday, and the 'Let's-celebrate-the-end-of-a-really-crappy-year' vibe was strong. Tuesday evening, staff gathered at Ms Titian's house, because she's used to entertaining and knows how to do so in style. Food was eaten, wine glasses were broken and occasional insults were not particularly well-hidden. Never mind. We have six weeks to forget that we've really got on each other's nerves lately. 

Last night, we had a smaller meeting, when The Sozzlers went to the village pub. Usually consisting of Ms Fab, Mrs GSOH and me (I? Whatever. I have six weeks away from school. I don't care.), we had an honorary Sozzler in the shape of Mr Chaos. A welcome addition, and hopefully a permanent one, if he hasn't changed his phone number and moved out of the village since last night. 

For the first year in many, there were no tears from our departing Year 6 children. In fact they looked so happy and relieved to be on their way, that I was very tempted to join them. I think there are some feelings which can only be summed up by teenagers, so I'll say that this school year has been very 'Meh'. A word which here means 'We got really fed up and complained a lot, but did nothing about it but slump around and sigh.' (Apologies to Lemony Snicket.)

I have looked for another job, and got all hopeful when Ms Fab told me about one at a local high school, but looking into it this morning, it's for someone to work in the Special Needs department, especially with children with behavioural problems and that play truant a lot. I currently have enough of a challenge working with staff with behavioural problems, but at least they can't swear at you or hurl a chair in your direction. (Well, they haven't as yet. We'll see...) I wrote myself a list of the pros and cons of applying for the job. Pros were: a change of scenery, working with older children, more money, it was a nice school, and I'll know some of the children there. Cons were: working with especially badly-behaved high school children and their parents, longer hours, I'd miss the nicer people I work with, I'd no longer be able to walk to work (not that I ever do), and I'd have to give up the school library. I think it was the library that did it. That, and not being able to have a good bitch with Mrs Secretary. So, I have told myself that if I'm not going to change my job, I must shut up and stop moaning. I think The Husband is getting fed up with my complaints about work. He had to go to the dentist this morning for a filling, and he looked relieved to be leaving the house, so I think I've overdone the whinging. 

Speaking (writing) of the school library, I have kind of jumped the gun and chosen next year's librarians already. The criteria they have to fit is to like books and be nice people to be around. In fact, the latter is more important because I have to work with them. Noisy or argumentative children stand no chance; the meek shall inherit the library. I have shiny new badges at the ready.

Anyway, I must go. The Husband and I are having a rare evening out and are going to see Jurassic World. I promise I'll be good and try not to mention work, so we can just have a nice time watching people being eaten by dinosaurs.