Mind Games

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The cure was discovered at 3.05 am whilst wandering during an interval of sleep.

His episodes follow similar patterns. He wakes, he walks, he leaks, he checks his blog. On the way back to bed, he has an idea. He tells himself not to forget the idea before falling into a shallow sleep.

In the morning, the idea has flown.

Not tonight, he told himself. Tonight he would conquer the forgetfulness of sleep. Tonight he would remember. He should have put some writing paper at the side of the bed. He could have sent an email to himself that he would wake up to in the morning. He could even have carved the idea into the skin of his arm. At this point the reader must be reminded that the subject has only just come off Prozac.

No, he thought. No.

‘I will write the idea on the wall opposite the bed.” Again this was a lack of Prozac. “I will imagine that I will write it on the wall. Then, when I get up in the morning, I can look at the wall and read the large print that was made with black paint. Simple.”

Some time later he slept. Some time after that he woke. The morning chorus was doing its rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

“Is this the real life,” he thought before something dragged him out of the moment. “The wall,” he thought, “The wall has writing on it.”

He looked at the wall and it had no writing on it which was a good thing as huge letters in black paint would be very difficult to erase. Indeed, his snoozing wife would have probably killed him as an act of mercy. Still, he gazed at the wall, but there was nothing to read.

Frustration began to fill him. His mind had been playing tricks. Whatever he had thought about during the night had now flown off with the Queen-tweeting-chorus of birds. Yet something in his mind told him that his nocturnal self had placed another trigger for him to use.

“Touch the letters, one by one, trace their contours.”

He wasn’t about to climb out of bed and start stroking the wall opposite his snoozing wife for fear that she may wake. He could imagine, all too well, the expression projecting from her face. “Perhaps a home for him,” he could hear her thinking. So he merely sat there, next to his still snoozing wife and imagined stroking the wall.

In a matter of seconds, the idea reappeared.

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Mind Games. 

 

The Royal Weeding…

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The most unusual thing is happening today.

As we are out in the garden, mowing the lawn, tidying the borders, and pulling up the  weeds, the church bells are sounding as if in recognition of our travails.

The sun is shining, my wife is smiling, our youngest daughter is watching some state event on TV as she is totally unaware of what moment of significance is taking place at the rear of the house.

Together in matrimonial splendour, me and the important She are making sure that the future of our great garden is protected for another year and that upon the union that we have formed, peace and harmony will rule alongside justice and intolerance for flowers and weeds alike.

And now I must be off as I hear the sound of trumpets hailing my reappearance on the lawn.

The Missus is now sitting with the youngest watching some reality TV thing on the old Goggle-Box. 

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God Save The Green (Lawn)!

Hades And Hull…

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A little After-Lesson Feedback. 

Not for some time have I had a day such as this.

Indeed, if such days became common currency then I will never set foot in such a circus that I have been setting foot in for these last twenty five years. 

When students decide to bully teachers by undermining their every word, not following instructions that have to be repeated time after time after time, and other teachers purposely seek to destroy one’s professional reputation by taking it upon themselves to purposely conduct clandestine interviews with students and support staff alike (as to the effectiveness of one’s teaching), hey it’s one Orwellian scenario too far.

Big Sister has been watching me. 

The problem with teaching these days is that it has strayed too far from any creative or instinctive approaches; well that’s the case in many to the schools I have recently worked in. One would have thought that the essence of excellent instruction lay in one’s ability to photocopy resources accessed from the TES or to stand by and activate a powerpoint (purchased from the TES) whilst reading out what it says, point by point with a little emotion.

I truly thought that powerpoint-teaching had had its day.

I am a good teacher. Some students and fellow staff think that I am an excellent and inspirational teacher. I am just happy with good. I am not searching for outstanding, neither do I wish to be adequate as my ego could not handle that. The Big Brothers and Sisters of this new world order are seeking to create all teaching in their mould; a plastic one that will serve to reproduce infinite teachers and ‘Learning Episodes’ in the Model T manner. Every one exactly alike.

I stand my ground with all who wish to drive me into the realms of the robotic instructional drones. I do not rebel against them, but I do not conform. It has been, and will be, my downfall. Bring it on!

My cry for something better than the monocrap that is being served to a whole generation of students and my attempts to give them good and wholesome fair, will most likely fall on deaf ears. I will be a crank and a cynic and they will attempt to place me in the school stocks for liberal ‘rotten-vegging”. But I will never drink from the well that these buggers have to constantly dip into. I will never allow bullies big and small to make my world a worse place.

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I shall have my plenary in this life or the next.

The Waking Dread…

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A pulse of excitement ran through me yesterday as I looked at my phone and saw that an email had arrived in my inbox.

RE: English Position, it promised. My heart raced as I saw the thing that I wanted for the future offer itself to me; with the slight obstacle of an interview.

As another teacher was talking to me, I was nodding my head as if I was an active participant in her conversation. As she continued, my mind struggled to focus in the same manner that my fingers were struggling to open the attachment.

Disappointment fell on me. It was one dreaded moment of my new reality that I never wished to meet.

My invitation to interview was for the school that I am currently doing supply at. I had popped the letter of application in a number of weeks previously and had not heard anything since. I thought I was safe. My initial excitement had been for one of the schools in Spain that I had applied to, but I am obviously an old log, trapped in a lumberjack’s log-jam whilst slowly rotting away with the other old logs.

So there I was being invited to interview at a place that I have been teaching at for almost six months. I was asked to bring my passport, police checks, and qualifications. I was asked to be there at 8.30, prompt. I was told that I would be teaching a sample thirty minute lesson and would be observed. I don’t quite know how many Fs their are in HOOK, but I felt that I had been landed.

This morning, I woke at 4am and stayed awake. My wife was not speaking to me for something that I inadvertently said before we went to bed. When I got out of bed, I knew that this was my last chance to be abnormal.

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Dread is sitting beside me as I write.

It’s got a dark smirk of victory wiped across its face.

“Welcome back, boy.”

 

 

On Being ‘Bang’ Out Of Order…

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When I was leaving school today, as the rest of the staff were going into a whole-school meeting (lucky devils), there was not a soul on reception. There was no cheery goodbye or wearied statement of half-intent to see me again tomorrow.

As I was signing out on one of those digital wonders of a singing out book, I noticed a mother and her daughter waiting outside of the external glass doors. She obviously had things on her mind as the thundercloud above her head testified to.

In all my time in teaching I have tended to avoid these natural disasters and have chosen, instead, to find different routes of travel. Here, unfortunately, I was trapped. I had my bicycle gear on and was pushing my bike which made it almost impossible for me to fake a different exit. Instead of putting on a poor RADA performance, I thought that I may as well face the bull with the horns (I think that’s it).

“I’m afraid that they are all in a staff-meeting and there is nobody on reception,” I offered as apologetically as I could.

She growled.

“I can’t let you in, I’m sorry,” but I was not telling the truth.

“Dun’t matter, I’ll wait here all night if I have to.”

I believed that she would wait a while, but not all night.

Bang out of order,” she exclaimed. “Bang out of order.”

I gathered that she was talking about something rather than rehearsing for a role in a play or television soap.

“Bang out of order!”

She was a well-built lady so I chose not to disagree. But I was interested.

“What is out of order?” I just could not help it. It was like lighting the fuse to a firework. Light blue touch-paper and retire. As I was semi-retired, I thought that this was good advice. I lit it, watched the flame catch, stepped back a little, and waited for the explosion.

“Teachers take away her phone,” she pointed angrily at her daughter. “Last lesson of the day, they take away her phone and tell her that she cannot have it back until tomorrow. Bang out of order those bloody teachers. Who do they think they are?”

“Bloody teachers,” I wanted to answer. “Bloody teachers who have to deal with your offspring on a daily basis. Bloody teachers who have to try to educate your kids, give them an idea about the world where perceived rights come freely without any responsibilities. Bloody teachers who try to do their best to unpick the worst of what poor parenting has managed to instil. Bloody teachers who are supposed to be skilled professional educators and not bloody babysitters.

Bloody teachers who are all in a meeting right now and will be for the next hour and will therefore not emerge from the mind-numbing consumption of their free-time in time for you to ambush them at the gates. You will, I am sure, have gone home by then…”

I didn’t say any of this. Instead, I climbed on my bike and rode off.

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Bloody teacher, eh? 

 

Slightly Warm Turkey On The Frontier…

images-28 No, I didn’t!

They had been with me for two years; sitting at the side of the bed, waiting for the moment when I stumbled out of sleep.

Their presence was comforting and, even though I was not experiencing the immediate cavalry-charge of relief from hostile attacks, I was grateful for them being close-by in this wild landscape where each wrong move could be rewarded with deadly consequences.

I had made the decision to go on without them a year ago, but after a couple of weeks it became obvious that I needed their companionship. Travelling through hostile territory alone is difficult and often dangerous. Yet, I had been there before and had survived, neigh, I had thrived. This time, however, was different; I was back to where it had all begun.

There were many old faces that greeted me. They knew me from the past when I was unafraid and virtually impossible to best. The returning me, unfortunately, had been whipped like a cur and driven from the frontier lands. I was older, hopefully wiser, but I was gratefully defeated.

“He used to be…” I thought I heard them say.

Yes I used to be, but that’s not me any longer.

Somewhere along the trail they had been waiting. It was a spring morning with the early promise of warmth breezing through the trees and nothing was further from my mind than the idea that this beautiful wilderness would rear up and bite me.

They had been waiting in ambush. They had waited such a long time and now was their moment of revenge; and boy did they take it. Others told me later that I was lucky to escape with my top-knot. Without their intervention, it would have been hanging in someone’s trophy room as I speak (write). But I did get through it. I did come down from the mountain and I did return to the things I once knew.

The dreams left me after the first year.

They had been ushered away by the drugs that I religiously partook of: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Prozac. But after a while, I did not feel the Prozac. I had stopped feeling anything but the cold snap of fear when placed in front of groups of hostiles waiting to glory in the torment that they wished to inflict.

The Father, The Son, and The Holy Prozac… 

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The continued…

Words With Mr Middle-Rabbit…

There is absolutely nothing better for a confirmed soloist than to discover other soloists who share some of the same ideas on not being members of the herd. I am definitely in luck with a guy working in the same school as me who has similar thoughts about the herding aspects of human intercourse and social cohesion.

As a famous Hannibal Lecter may have said, “I Like people…

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but I couldn’t possibly eat more than one, in the evening.”

When I first read Mr Middle-Rabbit’s blog, it was something that started to ring bells.  He was writing about things that I knew and thinking in ways that I was thinking. Even the cover of his blog-site reminded me of my childhood (he had kids drinking school milk before Margaret Thatcher was able to snatch this little lifeline away).  When I found out that the ‘bloggist’ was a colleague from my place of work, I was suitably impressed as here was a fellow that I was suitably impressed with anyway.

Being a loner and a bit of an ‘against the tide swimmer’ generally means that I can quite easily fall through social situations. I like nothing better than rather risqué humour, incredibly extending existential conversations, being cynical about the shit that happens in the everyday shit that happens, and being really very happy about the little things such as the early evening exchanges of songbirds. My particular form of social lubricant does not include many of the mundane interactions that are often essential to normal human behaviour.

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I know that it is me, but I am not likely to change me just to fit in…