Monday, 31 October 2011

the C word

As a last twist of the knife before I'm released from torture, have just found out I have to produce the traditional Xmas * extravaganza before I go. Yes. The end of the year, final production, an all singing, all dancing version of A Christmas Carol. (I know it doesn't sound that big a deal but honestly, Francis Ford Coppola having a breakdown filming Apocalypse Now in the midst of the jungle and the war in the Phillipines did not experience the stress of putting on a primary school end of year musical.)

I've just been searching desperately for some good Xmas tunes we can cover. There is nothing. Nothing. They are all too soupy. Too slow. Too corny. Too seventies. Too religious. Not religious enough. Too... heinous. The only possible contender is Dean Martin doing Let It Snow, but I just can't shoehorn this into A Christmas Carol.

Suggestions, if you please.

* sorry

Sunday, 30 October 2011


The folks insisted on sending me for a health check. It's good to have an MOT when you get to my advanced age so I went along with it.

Reasons to be smug:

Good cholesterol levels, despite the addiction to crisps. Rah!

Less lardy than I thought ("You have a lovely pear shape" cooed the doctor. Great, thanks.)

Relatively fit, though I take no exercise whatsoever. At least this hateful job is good for something - I run up and down 6 flights of stairs at least 10 times a day.

I have EXCELLENT LUNG CAPACITY, despite smoking since I was 13 and working everyday in the most polluted part of the worst polluted city in Europe. (Have never felt more foolish than sitting on an exercise bike, plugged all over with ECGs and with snorkel-like mouthpiece, holding arm out for a blood pressure cuff, peddling for dear life.) My lung age is 29, apparently.

My lungs are younger than I am.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

On striking

There's another coming up on 30th November (which is very welcome as this term is an 8 weeker with no bank holidays in sight - most of us will be the walking dead by Christmas).

Much as I like the odd day off, having breakfast with my colleagues in E Pellici's (they took the piss out of my homemade banner last time - "You're a teacher, I thought you were s'posed to be good with the Blue Peter stuff?") and walking around in the fresh air for the day instead of cooped up in school with lots of smelly germy children, I have my doubts about strikes, especially in education.

In the olden times, like with the Ford Women's strike, going on strike would hit the management where it hurts. When the factory closed, the business would lose profits.

Going on strike in education pisses off the parents, affects the kids, but most importantly, does not impact in the least on the people you want it to - ie, the government. They could give two shits, most of their kids are at private schools anyway. Striking is becoming an exceedingly blunt instrument. It's like a relic of past times.

I think we've got to be a bit more smart and wily over the protest actions we take.

One of the teachers at meeting I went to had a good idea - at least I thought it was a good idea, but they dismissed it without considering it much. Maybe I'm naive, but I thought it would work much better.

"The only thing they take notice of is money. So we've got to hit them where it hurts. Why don't we withdraw our money from the state pension and set up our own? The whole public sector pensions scheme would break down and they'd have to take action."

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Don't follow me, I'm lost *

Half term holiday. Thinking...

The next resignation date is 31st October at the latest. Maybe now is not the best time to be walking away from a guaranteed permanent job, with the world going into financial meltdown and all, but in everyone's life there comes a time when you have to say... fuck this shit.

I'm half anxious, half euphoric. Whatever happens in January could be better, could be worse. But it will be different. And that thought brings a teeny tiny spark of hope.

* I saw a kid wearing this t-shirt today. I want one.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

On traffiking

"The officers who arrived saw that the 3 bedroomed house was no regular property. Steel bars shielded its windows, an iron gate guarded a reinforced front door. Inside, a generous network of CCTV cameras monitored its corridors. The solid steel entrance 'looked like a police cell door'. Whoever owned the place was either paranoid of intruders or keen to keep people from escaping."
from utterly depressing article by Mark Townsend on child sex traffiking in the Observer today

Fucking hell, who are these men who are happy to visit brothels like these? If you have to go through reinforced steel doors to a room with bars on the window to have sex, chances are the woman (or kid?) is not there through her own free will. Could you even call them brothels? They are more like prisons.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Tinker, tailor update

Still reading the book, and getting irate...

The film excised all the women out of it. In the film, you can just about see Smiley's wife, out of focus (I don't think you see her face.) But in the book there are definitely scenes with her talking to Smiley. She's a vital character. And Kathy Burke's character is much older and more knowledgeable in the book. Nor does she say (as in the film) "I'm desperate for a fuck." Totally out of character. And the Russian woman is an agent herself in the book, not just an agent's wife.


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Black dog vs Cakes

I am trying very hard not to be depressed at the moment, but things are really fucking awful. (This is the external world as much as my internal little world that no one else can see - was it always this bad, or did I just not notice? I grew up in the 70s, there were bodies unburied, 3 day weeks, power cuts, the National Front, Margaret Thatcher, disgusting food - but it didn't seem as bad as this...?) My personal stuff, I can't even talk about.

I have retreated this weekend to my bed and have watched the Great British Bake Off, series 2, back to back. Ah, baking. It's so... so civilized. In this world, the worst thing that can happen is that your ganache fails to solidify. Your eclairs are a bit wonky. Your Battenburg is assymetrical.

But no one will be horrible to you, not like on other reality shows. Paul Hollywood will lay down some harsh but fair criticism, borne of professional knowledge. Mary Berry (3000 years old and looking amazing) will just say "What a pity" and look just a bit disappointed, but mention that it still tastes gorgeous. And Mel and Sue are warm and comforting. They'll say something nice and cheering to the crestfallen baker, and swipe one of their rejected efforts, and that will stop them feeling like a hopeless miserable failure...

The insane level of detail and polish, to go into something that looks so pretty and perfect, that will be snaffled up in about a nanosecond. The tears of joy when they get voted Star Baker that week. The pure, English niceness of the whole enterprise. Nothing bad can happen in Mary Berry World.

It's way better than Prozac.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy*

Despite the Vast Obscene Array of British Acting Talent (John Hurt, Toby Jones, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Cieran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, honorary boy Kathy Burke) it didn't blow me away as expected.

It was very classy, very slow burn (a weirdly zen & meditative pace for a thriller, we all confessed to drifting off at points and losing the plot).

But the book is wonderful. I'm kind of glad I didn't read it first, I think I would have found the film frustrating.

* Overheard in the cinema afterwards "I didn't get the tinker tailor bit."
"Well they didn't have a sailor because it sounded too much like tailor. And the other three were tinker, tailor & soldier. And none of them were called spy because, well, it would've been a bit of a giveaway."

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Radio 4


6.00 am - 9.00 am John Humphreys shouting at someone in Westminster. Something about Michael Gove which will make me hurl the radio out the window.

9.00 am - 12.00 pm The Archers.
Join us on the farm in Ambridge as Wurzel & Peg worry about the sukebind crop. Something about pigs. Something about 'A' levels. Something about fraud, rape, incest, and arson which will somehow end up sounding unbelievably tedious.

1.00 pm - 1.30 pm. News.

1.30 pm - 2.30 pm More The Archers. Middle class couples worrying about something boring. Comedy working class country accents of no fixed location for comic relief.

2.30 pm - 3.30 pm An interesting, brilliantly researched & produced documentary on something unexpected, which you'd never have thought could be so fascinating.

3.30 pm - 4.00 pm Just A Minute. Nicholas Parsons (3000 years old) sounds more sprightly than any of the middle aged comedians.

4.00 pm - 5.00 pm - Desert Island Discs, this is great, when Kirsty Young lets the interviewees get a word in edgewise, and when she doesn't miss interesting cues they drop by interrupting them or cutting them off mid-flow.

5.00 pm - 6.00 pm A 'comedy drama' of such breathtaking unfunniness it was surely commissioned by the author's mum or dad.

6.00 pm - 12.00 am - The Archers. Apocalypse visits Ambridge. It's still tedious. Giles and Hermione worry about takings being down in the Farm Shop.

12.00 am the Shipping Forecast. Hurrah!