Thursday, November 30, 2006


Work at the school is going well. The dodgier it gets the more I seem to enjoy it. Muggings outside the gates, knives, fights... bring it on! My students are all fantastic so it's not really affecting me.

My feelings on living in London are similar. Sure, armageddon may have started early here, but I like feeling that I'm in a place where things are happening. The dysfunction (of everything) can be infuriating. But once I stopped expecting things to work or go right, the challenge started to make life interesting.

Anyway, back to the school - the principal sent out a memo to all teachers last week saying that despite requests from students, no religious groups or meetings will be allowed on campus. I was surprised by the harsh tone of the memo until I read the last sentence: 'We have all had a close experience of the tragedy that can result from fundamentalism'.

I went straight to google and searched for "(the name of the school)"+terrorist. An ex-student was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay! Suddenly, muggings are not such a big deal.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A little busy

It's incredible how little extra busyness it takes to distract me from blogging.

I've been covering shifts for a sick colleague at my adult teaching job and I've also had the dreaded 'observation week' with both my bosses watching me teach.

I explained to all my students in advance that I was having a test. They did a fantastic job of looking engaged. 'Sally' even stood up at the end of the lesson and gave a little speech to my boss about how much they are enjoying themselves :)

My classes are also getting bigger, meaning a lot more preparation. My beginner men's class now has thirteen students aged 19-82. They have lived in the UK for anything between 3 months and 36 years. The pace and abilities of the learners are so varied that I basically have to plan several simultaneous lessons to keep everyone involved and suitably challenged.

My hourly rate of pay for this job is really good but when I factor in all the preparation, admin and tidying up, it's about equal to minimum wage. Less, if I consider all the travel time and expense involved in working 2 hour shifts!

I've been looking for a third job but I'm not sure how I would fit one in. It would be much more manageable if I was offered some additional hours from my current workplaces.

It's lucky I love my work!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Day

Quite accidentally, a war theme ran thoughout my Remembrance Day.

After work in the morning (11 students aged 19 to 76!). I headed over to Blackfriars to meet PGL and K. It was the Lord Mayor's Parade and we had turned up to see Jason playing in the army band.

As one of only two non-white bagpipe players, he wasn't hard to spot. We tried our best to embarrass him by running alongside, stopping every couple of minutes to take more photos.

The weirdest thing about the parade was this tower of what seemed to be polystyrene buns. They must have climbed the tower before I saw it because it was looking kind of tired. Nothing like seeing the real thing on Cheung Chau last year!

The bun tower put me in the mood for dim sum so the three of us headed over to Baker Street for several hours of eating.

And in the evening, I went with friends to see that classic WWII tale, Andrew Lloyd Webber's new stage version of 'The Sound of Music'. Connie Fisher, who plays Maria, was chosen in a contest on the BBC called How do you solve a problem like Maria?. She was my favourite contestant and she was fantastic on stage. .

I was delighted that the start of 'The Lonely Goatherd' seemed to have been tweaked to sound like Gwen Stefani's 'Wind it up'. I love this clip. The part where Gwen makes curtain outfits for the Harijuku girls is genius.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Scotch fingers

I've started work at the school and finished at the farm. It's weird not being the only teacher and I'm enjoying the staffroom. My department has its own little room so it's not the intimidating experience I expected.

I seem to be the only male teacher working in learning support and I get the sense that I've disrupted some kind of equilibrium. For a start, I'm the only one who eats more than salad and fruit for lunch. My colleagues seem to be competing for some kind of self denial award.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying a kitchen without stinky litter trays. So far I've taken curry, meatballs and caldo verde for lunch and witnessed the suppressed envy of the salad eaters. It's weird that until last week I was the health freak, the only one at the farm who never ate chips for lunch.

Weird things happen when women get together. At a meeting today someone went to put a scotch finger in her mouth and everyone watched. Just as she took the first bite, someone said, 'I hate it how the school refreshments always means scotch fingers, they're just so fattening!'.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


The best part about having a stats counter is getting to find out the google search terms that refer people to my blog.

Many of these search terms confirm (as the song from Avenue Q goes) that 'the internet is for porn'. Despite the wholesome language on my blog, I get frequent hits from people searching for hairy businessmen, wet sari and many things inbetween.

The most frequent search in my stats counter, however, is for a song that I once wrote about. I complained about the daggy lyrics to who put the cold in the snowflake, a song we sang at my church in HK. I never dreamed that a couple of years later I would still be averaging one hit per day from people looking for the lyrics!

Occasionally I have become an authority on a 'hot topic'. When I wrote about Vanessa Feltz a couple of weeks ago I had over fifty searches for variations on 'Vanessa Feltz kissing new boyfriend' over the following few days.

Only rarely, however, do I get a search for a topic on which I am a true expert. A couple of days ago someone searched Hong Kong ladies interested in asylum seekers. I am sure that the search was done by a client using one of the free computers at my old work in Hong Kong.