Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Sunday, 28 September 2008


I don't know if you ever saw this show but yesterday/last Saturday, as I traversed the suburbs of Sydney by rail, I was taken back to the classic scenes of Dom Jolly as he hauls out the largest mobile phone in history and hollers down the line...


Perfectly normal, respectable people seem to feel the need to SHOUT when answering mobile phones on a train! What is that about? I mean, I learned all about the couple two seats away and their up coming nuptials. In fact I could probably draw their seating plan for you, but that was because I was close by and I am basically a Nosy Parker.

But when the phone rang...BOY! The whole TRAIN could tell you about the plans for the hen's night and the colour of the bridesmaids' dresses etc. But these guys were small change. They were by no means the only people on the train whose mobile phone caused them to speak as if to the deaf. It seems to be a Sydney (?) problem of epidemic proportion.

The best one however, was Charles Atlas sitting across the aisle from me.

(CAUTION: this story involves risque concepts and more information than you probably need about anyone in your lifetime. Read on at your own risk. This means you BA!!!!!!!!!)

Charles Atlas was a well built man. A VERY well built man. You know the kind. Tanning studio tan, muscle tank top, thick neck, huge jaw and a crew cut. LOTs of bling.

His phone had exactly the same ringtone as the guy on Trigger Happy TV and it was set to the same volume. It rang a lot. If it wasn't ringing, he was dialing. Most conversations went like this.....


Each 'conversation' also included reference to why he was on the train.


Now, the first time he said this I thought I had misheard. Difficult given the volume but hey!
Then I thought....cyclist? Leg wax? Back wax perhaps? Strange.....
But as each conversation fleshed out the details of his 'flat hunting day' ("IT'S DOING MY F***ING HEAD IN MATE!!!!") his break up with 'Miss Stay Out Of My F***ing Life' and the BBQ he was planning for the evening, the frequently mentioned waxing became more and more intriguing.

Finally, we were enlightened. Whether we wanted to be or not.


All ears are craned.


All the surrounding commuters looked at each other with eyes agog and lips buttoning down a massive explosion of laughter...........



And that dear readers was the information you perhaps didn't wish to have!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so it was, in Seven Hills, that I arrived at the understanding of a 'sack, back and crack' wax. Let's just say you learn a lot on trains..........

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A Glimpse of Something Good....

Well, well, here we are at Wednesday (strike that) Thursday (strike that)Friday already and finally I am getting around to blogging.

I shouldn't be of course. I have many other, more important, more financially productive things to do.

I've had plenty to blog about though. Firstly, I'm off to Sydney on holiday on Friday night! I haven't been to Sydney for a visit since 2003 when we came back from the UK. I am so excited, although I think I will spend a lot of time on trains.

I'm staying with the Baby Angel's Dad and his lovely wife on Friday night, then 'training' out to Parramatta to see The Good Witch and her Cuddlebun for Saturday and Sunday. Sunday night I'll train back into Sydney to stay with Miss Perisher 1992, then back out west again on Monday and down to Picton to see the Valkyrie. An overnight stay there and then another train trip back to Parramatta to stay the final night with the Good Witch and her lovely hubby*. Finally, I fly out back to Adelaide on Wednesday morning! Phew!!!!

So why the picture up there I hear you ask? Well, that goes to a story about school this week.

We have been studying the Second World War in History which has meant we have been able to watch a few terrific films. We saw 'The Battle of Britain' and numerous documentaries on D-Day; but this week we have been watching 'Schindler's List'.
I first saw this movie many years ago and remembered it as being powerful but very difficult to watch. When I knew I had to teach The Holocaust I was sure there were many other films out there on the subject, 'The Music Box', 'Playing For Time', oh......there were hundreds, surely.
Well, there may be many documentaries, there may be many made for TV mini series, but there was no other feature length film which showed the breadth of events over the years of Nazi dehumanisation with such grace and power. If you know of one, please enlighten me.

The picture at the top shows Oskar Schindler with some of his Schindlerjuden after the war. For those unfamiliar with the story, Schindler was a charismatic war profiteer whose basic humanity was challenged by what he saw unfolding around him. A complex character, he was a drinker, a womaniser and a shameless black marketeer. His enamelware factory in Krakow, Poland made him phenomonal amounts of money as an employer of slave labour and he acted as an intermediary in the illegal sale of confiscated Jewish art works and antiques. He was a member of the NAZI party and fraternised regularly with the sadistic Kommandant of Plaszow, the local forced labour camp.

Oskar Schindler was no angel.

But what he did was to shelter Jews by employing them in his factory as 'skilled workers'. Even the aging, 68 year old parents of a worker became 'skilled workers', essential to the Reisch. When the tide of war turned and the Nazis sped up their program of extermination, the population of the camp at Plaszow was scheduled for transportation to Auschwitz and certain death. At this point Schindler made a remarkable and ultimately life changing decision; if not for himself then certainly for the workers in his factory. He began to use his wealth to buy because of what you have done people to work in a new armaments factory he was setting up in Czechoslovakia. He bought 1100 Jews. By this act he was responsible for saving the equivalent of a quarter of the Jews left in Poland after the war. As one of the characters says to him at the end of the film, "There will be generations".

Phenomenal stuff.

For me, one of the most powerful moments in the film was Schindler leaving his workers on the night of the German surrender. As they thanked him for what he'd done, he looked around and began to question himself. He wondered how many more he could have saved. He looked at his car and his gold NAZI party pin and he wondered how many more people they could have bought. In the sight of the 1100 people whose lives he had snatched from the teeth of the beast, Auschwitz, he cried for the thousands he did not save, for the one he did not save.

Year 10 were mesmerised.

Now my Year 10 History class is my only mainstream group and much as I appreciate them, their enthusiasm and their general interest in history, I am aware that they are all incredibly boisterous, cynical, 15 year old boys (indeed there are only 8 girls in the class of 22) whose hormones and razor sharp wit run at fever pitch.

Just how much of the film they could cope with before descending into sniggering and snide comments was a worrying unknown; and of course the film is rated M and I hadn't had time to send home permission notes to all the parents before we watched it so..........

I did a lot of pre-screening and censoring based on what might challenge their adolescent comfort zones; however, in the end, there was only one or two scenes that drew the censors 'skip' button! :-) One was the moment where Goeth (sadistic Kommandant) feels up a Jewish girl's breast. I knew that would challenge their testosterone levels. There was also a particularly gruelling scene where inmates were stripped and sorted for transportation in the camp yard. There was quite a bit of nudity, particularly of older, rather grotesque figures, picked no doubt to highlight the ravages of starvation and also to emphasise the dehumanisation of the victims; so while I thought we could cope with the long shots, some of the close ups later in the scene were probably skating on thin ice.

I did choose however, to leave 'in' the scene where the women stripped and were herded into the 'showers'. I actually stopped the film first and explained to the kids why I wanted them to see it. I pointed out that there was nudity but that I trusted them to look at this maturely and to think instead about what would have been going through the minds of the women as they waited in the shower room; huddled, shivering, virtually paralysed with fear; all dignity stripped from them as they waited to see what would spew forth from the malevolent, mushroom shower heads poised over them.

Not a single comment or wisecrack was heard. The kids were enthralled. We're talking 'pin drop' here !!!!!!!!

But even more amazing, and certainly illuminating, was the conversation which followed the film.
As it finished, one of them commented
"He wasn't really a very good man was he Mrs A.?"
Before I had a chance to comment another pupil chimed in,
"Of course he was good, what about all the Jews he saved?!"
Then another,
"But he was an adulterer. Look at all the women he slept with."
"Yea miss, he won't go to heaven will he?"
"Of course he will, saving all the Jews would make all the difference."
What amuses me is that these are all kids from 'church' families who go to Youth Group and have presumably attended Sunday School all their lives and yet still the myth that you are saved or damned by your 'works' persists. In particular, the young man who objected to Mr Schindler's morals was very difficult to 'shift'.
"No one's perfect Andrew, " I said to him, "everyone has weaknesses and makes mistakes."
"Yes, but how hard could it be? I mean all he has to say is 'I'm married'. Hello?! "
"Ah, I'd like to ask him about that again in 10 years time :-)
So there was much discussion and the idea of an imperfect hero was tossed around. The fact that Schindler had claimed that 'war brings out the worst in people' and yet, in his case it seemed to have brought out the best, was aired and we speculated about how we, as people, would have faired had we been in the shoes of either Schindler or his Jews.
Unfortunately the bell went way too soon as I felt there were so many more ideas and themes to examine. Of course on the following day, all sign of the mature, thoughtful Year 10s of the previous lesson had vanished and instead, I found my class once more full of jabbering, slobbering, ferromone ridden 15 yearolds.
Still, it was nice to see the kind of people they may eventually turn out to be :-)
Post Script: After this encounter with The Holocaust, I clicked over to Maggie's site to find an amazingly beautiful piece written on just this subject. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

* I hope they like their pseudonyms :-)

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Stage Three is in place! My youngest Sister and her two children arrive on December 30th and stay until January 20th. This means there is a cross over period of only 3 days when they are all here together. Rats. I have only just figured that out.

Oh well. Better than nothing and we get to see them all individually anyway :-)

Roll on December. (doesn't hurt that that's the end of school too!)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

You Teach Your Daughters

This is my Dad.

He is awesome.

Not only is he world renowned in his field but he also co-wrote this book.

He built this pergola.

He recently won this trophy!
(Novice Bowls Champ)

He may be assisting the passage of
these people to Australia in January.

And tonight he sent us THIS!

For those of you who missed it, we were avid followers of 'Battle of the Choirs' this year in Australia. Dad's DVD (recorded no doubt off his new fancy schmancy DVD recorder) shows us the last two episodes of the UK version of the same, 'Last Choir Standing'.

Well, we loved it.

The Baby Angel and I sat and watched it tonight (probably both had other things to do but hey...) and did the whole smiling, clapping, crying thing! Thank you, thank you, thank you Dad. You sure know what we like!!!!!!!

By the way. Who were your pick Mum and Dad? I think, once again, that song choice played a huge part. I mean how can you compare 'Ain't No Stoppin Us Now' to Carmina Burana??????
I also thought it was appropriate that there were two Welsh choirs in the final. Prove me wrong people, but I don't think there's a country in the world that can go past Wales for choral singing!

Thanks so much beloved and dearly missed Dad. You gave us such a lovely night together. With all the London/Wales shots the BA looked over and said "This is making me miss England Mum!"

I know just what you mean BA.

One thing I did notice was the quality of the advertised programs before and afterwards!!!
BOY I miss UK TV!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Two Thirds Accomplished

Email just received:

Hi All - just to let you know that I have now booked my ticket and have had it confirmed. I arrive into Adelaide at 0905 morning of the 17 January 2009. Depart around 1300hrs on Sunday 1 February 2009. Can't wait!!!! Lots of love - xxx

Stage Two of Operation: Family Reunited, is complete!!

Mum and Dad get here in early December so they are Stage One.


Sssssssh! I don't want to jinx anything but in January I might just have ALL my family here, altogether at the one time!!!!!! No brother-in-laws unfortunately but I guess you can't have everything. And anyway, that way my dad gets all his girls and all his grandchildren to himself :-)

Oh boy. I can hardly believe it! I don't want to get too excited though. Oh wait! Too late! I AM excited.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Weekly Wrap as Another One gets Going

I think I will borrow an idea from the very lovely Brittany over at
Mommee and Her Boys today (get well soon B), and have a 'Weekly Wrap'. There has been lots happening but not much time to put together polished blog posts.

Monday: celebrating the purchase of my new toy to replace my beloved ipod. OK it doesn't have shuffle or playlists, no LED readout so I have to remember the titles of songs myself and it is only 1GB but it is very cute don't you think? I got it at the airport whilst waiting for the Baby Angel to arrive back from Sydney after Father's Day. At $55.00 (with tax) and with volume and fast forward controls on the ears....how could I resist?

Another frustrating day in the salt mines.

Wednesday: Yet more frustration in the salt mines. Yr 9 in particular are doing my head in.
In the evening I attended a lovely Baby Shower for our friends Rachel and Paul who are expecting in 3 weeks. All the girls were given a dummy(pacifier) on a ribbon as we entered and told that the forbidden word was 'baby'. If we heard anyone say it we could take off our 'necklace' and give it to them. Conversely, if you said it and anyone heard, you could end up wearing a bunch yourself. I think I had 6 on at one point!! On a positive note I won two contests. The first was naming the 'baby' animals. Did you know that a baby alpaca is called a 'cira'? Neither did I, nevertheless I still topped the game with 14/18 and won a nice bottle of bubbly. The next game was a series of scrambled words around children and childbirth. I managed to unscramble them first and again got the highest score. Another bottle of bubbly!!!! Oh boy. Actually I felt a bit bad at getting two so I 'auctioned off' the second one by asking a tie breaker trivia question: what is the gap where the baby's skull has yet to knit together called? Any idea? Yes! The fontanelle. You may have a bottle of bubbly :-)

When I got home, apart from my outpouring of baby nostalgia, I had to do a voice over for Himself. Some government promo DVD for a new Indigenous Festival. My gravelly, emotion ridden voice must have gone down a treat because they've totally rewritten the script to make it longer and more emotional and I have to do the whole thing again :-( On the positive side, I get paid for it!!! On the negative side, I seem to have acquired a case of spring hayfever complete with ropey throat and blocked sinuses. Perhaps it will make me sound even more sincere.

Thursday: an horrendous day in the trenches. I was forced to go and vent my anger and frustration to the Deputy Principal after the Year 9 lesson. I vented so much that he was forced to go home sick afterwards. :-) There are some days you just shouldn't get out of bed.

When I got home I took the BA to pieces for having 'no homework' AGAIN and nothing written in her diary. >:-( Is it not bad enough that I have to chase kids at school without having to come home and start all over again. As she retired to her room, slamming the door behind her and I collapsed onto the couch near desperation at my inability to acquit myself successfully in any area of my life, Himself rang to say he was at the Small Boy's football presentation night and was bringing him home for a sleep-over as he had a 'Show Day' (more about those later) on the Friday. At this point I seriously considered leaving home.

Fortunately, when I went through to tell the BA I was considering de-camping for the night, she was overcome with remorse and admitted that she needed to work harder and stop slacking off and threw her arms around me and told me she loved me and suddenly, I could cope with everything again. I put away the car keys and started dealing with life again.

Friday: The BA and the Small Boy both had a Show Day. These are pupil free days given by the schools to provide kids with a chance to go to the Royal Show. Those of you who have read The Flaming Sword for a year may remember how much Himself loves this
annual family event; so much so that he decided to give it a miss this year. To tell the truth we were all probably relieved that we wouldn't have to grit our teeth through his 'losing it' in; the car park, the showbags hall, the food court and the car park again on the way home. Small Boy went with his Mum and the Baby Angel went with a school friend with plans for me to meet her there after school.

In the meantime, Friday was the day of the Great Year 8 Ice Rink Excursion.
I got to go with them hooray hooray. I LOVE ice skating. I'm not particularly good but every time I go I come away wanting to take lessons. This is the BA and I several years ago in the UK doing one of our fave things which is skating in the open air! No chance of that here in Adelaide. (photo by my beloved Unka Dick)

Nevertheless, one of the two ice rinks in our fair town is but a block away from school, a fact which has hitherto escaped my notice. I mean, I knew where it was, I just hadn't put together how close it was and how easily I could get there oh, say...after work!!!

But I digress. The Y8 excursion was met with great excitement and as we walked all 80 of them down the road to the rink there were many inquiries as to whether I could skate. Here at last was a chance for me to gain some street cred, something sadly lacking for those of us who are over 30 and maths teachers!

And gain it I did!!!! One of the coolest boys in Year 8 asked me to ice dance with him!!!! Well, at least to skate around the rink in a ballroom hold to the squeals of delight from other students. I am so easily pleased nowadays. The only downers of the day were the fact that the canteen was not opened in time for lunch and we had hordes of ravenous teenagers ready to gnaw the blade off an ice skate in hunger. A couple of the other teachers left in search of a shop which might be able to whip something up quickly for the mob as those of us remaining toyed with calling for pizzas. Turns out there was a strip club style hotel on the next corner and our two intrepid teachers braved the bar and ordered $100.00 worth of fish and chips 'to go'!!! Let me see, hordes or hungry teenagers or a strip club? I'd go with the strip club any day!!

The only other event to mar the otherwise delightful afternoon was the all out, full on, tooth and fist brawl which unfortunately broke out on the ice between two young, testosterone ridden lads vying for social supremacy. It had apparently been building at school during the week with much bravado and threats and, in the environment of the rink where both lads were pretty impressive skaters, they had been bumping each other, cutting each other off and the like until one of them took it too far, slammed the other into the wall and punched him as he went down. Well, it was on for young and old. It took two of us to hold the smaller one back. He was beside himself. The air was afire with the language, much of it involving how 'dead' the other one was now. Phew.
The cocky 'winner' was hauled off by the male teacher and I was left the calm and console the injured party with the anger management issues.

Nevertheless, once they had been escorted (separately) back to school to meet with the Deputy, the afternoon proceeded with minimum fuss. I was even beginning to master the art of the transition between skating forwards and backwards! I think the BA and I will be back for a skate soon.

After school it was off to the Show where I met a very excited Baby Angel who was waiting for me to accompany her on The Big Dipper, for the fourth time! I made her work for it though. She had to accompany me through the gadgets hall where we had our hands exfoliated, sat on massage chairs, tried out exercise machines and finally had the pleasure of watching an electric steam mop demonstration. I really lusted after that steam mop. I couldn't afford it though so I booked a 'Show Special' Chemdry carpet clean at the next booth instead. The BA says I have reached a new low in lameness.

Finally I could put it off no longer. We queued for 'The Big Dipper'.
This (see right) is a similar device and as you can see, you get to go upside down which was actually not the worst part! I think the worst parts were the low tight turns where you were thrown over on your side. I am still trying to decide whether the crick I am currently suffering in my neck was a result of holding back the furious Yr8 boy, sleeping badly last night, or the Big Dipper. I am getting old.

To counteract the excitement we watched the dog obedience display before packing into the arena for the looney idiot boys on motocross bikes throwing their legs in the air at 80mph whilst clearing a jump. For God's sake! What is wrong with these people????? Why leave a perfectly safe ground? The fireworks were soothing in comparison.

Saturday: Great excitement as we attended the birthday of Boy Z (not a baby anymore) at the home of A Free Man and the lovely Dr O'C. Now, I cannot say why, and the BA agrees with me, but Baby Z is the only baby in the world who does not love me! In fact, he bursts into tears whenever he sees me. All I have to do is smile and say 'Hi Z' and his face crumples. Is it the glasses? I have started taking them off when I am around him. It is beginning to give me a complex.

Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time meeting some delightful people and feasting on sensational BBQ and a rather dubious duck cake.
Well, it was probably not that dubious until it fell over in the car on the way back from the shop, and until Dr O'C, in deference to a request from a cousin, cut its face off. Mind you, it didn't alter the taste as evidenced by my two large pieces....mmmmmmmm.

I did manage to get a couple of nice shots of Boy Z 'opening' his presents....with a zoom lens so I wasn't close enough to provoke the inevitable hysteria. I blame the balloon that unfortunately burst just as I picked him up. I will be forever connected with that loud unpleasant noise. The BA however seems to be a big fave with him. Humph. I intend to resort to bribery.

So that was our week. Tonight I am writing reports (See me write. Write arizaphale, write.) and we have finally had a visit from No 2 Son. He spent the afternoon clearing out his room and packing everything into boxes. Looks like we may get that guest room after all.

After an initially awkward period we managed to speak to each other quite cordially although there was no discussion as to the nature of the rift or anything of any depth. It just didn't seem to be the right time. Who am I kidding, it will never be the right time.

Have a lovely week everyone.

image credit: big dipper

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The B Word

Does anyone else come home from baby showers and cry for that time in their lives that is gone?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Pachyderm is: OUT

The thing they don't tell you about the elephant in the room is that when it leaves, it leaves an elephant shaped hole.

This doesn't change the fact that nobody talks about it. It's still the big, uncomfortable thing that we pretend not to notice, only now it's the hole instead of the elephant that drags at your heart.

You'd think I'd be glad that there was no more elephant crap to pick up around the place; no more feeding the elephant or listening to it howl like a wolf and pretending that this was perfectly natural elephant behaviour.

You'd think that I'd be relieved and freed up to enjoy life a bit more. What they don't tell you is that the elephant shaped hole is a black hole of resentment and anger
and still
talks about it.

I talk about it of course. I talk to anyone who'll listen: at school, at church, on the end of a phone 12,000 miles away but all these hollow words do is feed the elephant shaped hole. They feed it until it is a dragging, stabbing mass of sticky, black anger and resentment beckoning me to swim in its warm, comforting, sucking morass. Because anger can be comforting. Self righteousness, indignation and martyrdom are a thin, brittle shell around the heart. They protect you from the hurt and rejection and they allow you to wallow in the unfairness of it all.

What I really need to do is to talk to the elephant but elephants have a nasty way of shifting suddenly and stepping on you and to tell the truth, I ain't fast enough to get out of its way nor strong enough to hold it on my shoulders. And anyway, it's not even my elephant. I expect we'll all just go on stepping around the hole for a while.

image credit

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Puck Wars

We went to see the Small Boy play his second game of in-line hockey today. I wanted to try and get some shots for him but we were up on a balcony in the gym and I had to use the zoom on my pathetic 3.2 mp PAS and I was shooting through the safety net. Still, I got a lot of photos.

Look at no 19!!!!
There he is again! That one's a bit blurry but hey! It's a fast game, hockey, you know!

I could pick him out though because of the blue bottoms on his trousers.

For those who are interested in that sort of thing, the team is called The Wild Hogs and their motto is'100% Ferral'. Hmmm

Look, there he is again!
Not sure what he's actually doing in any of these. There seemed to be a lot of whacking at a puck with sticks.

I really like that one on the left. It's a great action shot. He tried really hard but he wasn't really fast enough most of the time. Still, he was all over the court.

We were waving frantically from the balcony but he was waaay too cool to wave back. Totally absorbed in his game.
Boy we cheered though. When his team scored, even if he was nowhere near the puck we cheered and cheered.

Here he is again. I got quite a few half decent shots really didn't I?
There are more too.

Which is a shame really because, this isn't actually The Small Boy.

We didn't make this discovery until 5 minutes before the end when his Mum arrived and filled us in. I think this is someone called Matt.

The Small Boy, it transpired, wore No 35 and played for the opposing team. Here he is.

That's him side on, smack in the middle at the back. Once you know you can see it's him right? I was a bit shocked by how small he looked really. Considering he's 10. That little girl playing on the right? She's 6.

So I can't really tell you about how he played. We had a quick look at him for the last few minutes but it was difficult to tell what he was capable of in that time. I did get a few shots of him though. Before the siren went.

Oh well. There's always next week.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Alles Ist Besser Als Mathe

The German Fairytale thing was yesterday. In a stroke of brilliance and luck I had discovered that there were two performances: lessons 3 and 4. I negotiated with the amenable (and talented) German department to bring my small group in the second lesson, thus giving me time to administer the mini test that I need for report writing (coming soon to this computer). They would work hard for 35mins and have a fun second lesson followed by some well earned cake.

That was the plan.

Of course all the other maths classes told them we were going in lesson 3 so after recess I had to go and extract them from the rabbling hordes assembling outside the recital room. After marching them back to the classroom, we then engaged in 10 minutes worth of argument.

Firstly I had to convince them that we WERE going to the play (after all I am JUST the sort of teacher who deliberately prevents them from having fun), they would just need to wait for the next lesson. Actually, I found it quite interesting that they assumed they were being prevented from going altogether. Some sort of Freudian guilty complex perhaps? I'm still not sure if that's a good thing because it means they are acknowledging their current poor behaviour, or a bad thing because it once more indicates their poor self image.

THEN came the argument that all their friends were going in this lesson and it would be no fun going with the next group (whoever they were) cos they didn't have anyone to talk to. After pointing out the obvious fact that one does not need to 'talk' to anyone through a play there were more protests about the unfairness of it all. Of course I went down the usual parent/teacher road which was 'if you don't stop complaining we won't be going AT ALL'........aaaand eventually we settled to our test.

The bell went. Not one of the them moved.
Miss 'I have nothing better to do with my time than argue with you' looked up from the front row and said,
"We don't have to rush. It'll take ages for the others to get there and get organised," and bent her head back down to her test.
Mr 'I can't do anything and stop asking me and hit the back wall and swear at everyone', looked up and said,
"Do we have to go to this thing? Can't we just finish the test?"


For the record, the plays were very cute: Frau Holle and Konig Drosselbart(I think). I'm not sure how much the kids followed as they were unfamiliar stories but the German cake afterwards was GREAT!!!!!

And today is a pupil free day*happy sigh*

image credit

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Stand Aside: Low Quality Verbal Flushing Imminent

I don't know where I first heard the term 'brain dump'. It may have been my first husband's army reserve jargon or one of those cynical 'in joke' expressions people working in the same department use. It certainly emerged around the time that IT was becoming a major part of the education coalface, back in the days of Dinosaur Discovery and Granny's Garden when we all used real floppy discs, discs that were floppy, and had to back up systems nightly. I think it was related to the dumping of unneccessary data in order to increase speed and efficiency. Perhaps nowadays a defrag would be the most useful parallel.

A brain dump most frequently occured on Friday nights after school, at the local pub . When we worked in the bush, the local pub was the meeting place and the one across the road from the school offered all teachers their first beer free on a Friday. Thus followed many more far from free beers and a brain dump. These could be painful, and messy.

I actually met my first husband during a brain dump at the local pub. He worked at the primary school in the regional centre and I drove in, like a bat out of hell, on Friday afternoons to get away from the tiny hamlet some 80km out in the donga where I spent the week rubbing shoulders with people like this.
Not that they were all like that of course but there were enough products of overly friendly inter-family relations to make it essential to vacate the area on a Friday afternoon.
But back to brain dumps.
Today I feel a bit like the chap here. My head is being pulled in a number of directions by a number of issues.
There's the general aggro of working in Support Classrooms compounded with the lack of continuity and resulting chaos that is afforded by my having days 'off' to attend courses. This has happened twice in the last two weeks and renders the following two lessons alopaecia inducing as pupils wallow in the luxuries of misdirection and missing work.
Today one of them brazenly announced,
"Well, you can't expect us to do work when a relief teacher's here! "
Strangely, I also can't expect them to
* arrive on time
* bring a pen, pencil or ruler
* bring a book
* visit the bathroom prior to class
* speak to me or any of their classmates in a civil manner.
Then there is the business of arranging assessments for pupils within the school: phonecalls, schedules, distribution of information and collection of same. Fill in this form please. How often does the pupil pick his nose or attack other pupils in the course of an afternoon. Record the frequency of interactions with other class members.
Then there is E. For any of you who remember her from the post I did before I deleted it for anonymity purposes, you may remember that she is hard work. High maintenance would not cover it. Today she holed herself up in a classroom where I was giving pupils homework support at lunchtime (yes, lunchtime...I have no need for relaxation.....didn't you know that?) and refused to leave when the bell went. Wouldn't go to class, wouldn't go and discuss it with anyone else.....Ended up I had to go up to the office and fetch someone to coax her out as I had a lesson to babysit oops I mean teach. *sheesh*
Now I have to document all this. >:-( Just what I need.
So I guess this little blogging sojourn is a bit of a brain dump for me at the moment. I guess it's better for me than gin.
Don't mind me folks. I'll be fine in the morning.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Hail The Not Quite Conquering Heroine

I know many of our friends and family are wondering how the Baby Angel went in her netball finals. Well, firstly let me say that she has a wonderful group of friends. Look at the card they made for her on Friday!

It's quite amusing that they all call her Bee. I love the persona she's created for herself. Her catch phrase (email, MSN etc) is 'Bee is for beautiful' which kind of makes me well up and also suggests a reasonable level of self esteem I hope.

For some reason, somewhere along the line she has also become known as 'The Mexican' at school. Apparently she once said something in a funny accent and was accused by a friend of sounding like a Mexican. In the way these things evolve, she ended up buying a sombrero and coming home from a friend's party the other day with 'I am not a Mexican' written across her shoulder in felt pen! The running gag has become so entrenched that this is what the inside of her card looks like.

'Ace Gang' is the name her friends have given themselves after the fashion of Georgia Nicholson and her gang.

So, the match. Ah well. The BA played very well. Unfortunately in the first quarter she was about the only one playing and that little debacle ended after 15 minutes with things decidedly (12-2) in the other team's favour. The second quarter saw a massive comeback by The Parkers, outscoring the opposition 10-8 but of course that needed to be consolidated in the third quarter and this just didn't happen.

There were some great moments and a lot of the match was well fought with the BA playing like a cracker for the full 4 quarters. Unfortunately it ended rather lamely at 41-25. The goalies who had been brilliant the week before seemed to forget how to find the goal ring. *sigh*

So once more The Parkers were the bridesmaids. This is the third Grand Final the BA has played and the third they have lost. It would be nice to win one but after all we have to be proud of the fact they even made the final this season as they finished No 4 on the ladder!

Anyway, here she is, none the worse for her disappointment, enjoying a Swiss Shake at
The Pancake Kitchen (We never close: Lovely!)

We went on to enjoy a fun night at the Presentation Dinner where the girls got to dance the night away with a disco and practise looking pained and detached when their mothers got up and took over the dance floor!!! AC-DC forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The big excitement of the night was The BA putting her name down for umpiring next year. She will do a course through the club and be eligible to umpire games at a lower level as well as making $10.00 a game!!!! This coupled with the fact that some of the sailors from Himself's racing team have asked her to baby sit their little 2 year old on the beach during the race season means she will be earning nearly as much as me. This is a good thing though as it's about time she started thinking about savings and income, a skill which will not go astray in the years to come.

So now we have a blissful few weeks off before the summer season starts . Well done BA. You are the netball Queen!!

In Which The Tables Are Turned

"How could you write that about your daughter?" enquired the Free Man at coffee yesterday, "BA, have you seen what your mother has written about you?"

She had.

"Mother," she sighed, exasperated,"You are such a hypocrite. ALL the things you did when you were young! Not to mention wasting your time blogging when you're meant to be working and then telling me off for not doing my homework!"

It's true. I cringed sheepishly accepting the full weight of her accusation squarely on both shoulders.

"Ah, but BA, being a hypocrite is part of being a parent! We know what it was like but time and experience have taught us to know better!" the Free Man came chivalrously to my rescue.

Yea BA, that's right! That's just what I meant to say; thank you A Free Man!

(So why am I sitting here in my free lesson blogging now?)