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July 26, 2006

Why Warwick isn't the worst university in the world ever

Sometimes you may feel frustrated with the University of Warwick plc ltd inc. But after completing my teacher training at another university (nee poly) I can assure you that there are worse places to go.

When I got sent a letter in June inviting me for an interview on the 21st April I should have known something was up, but I ploughed on regardless. Alarm bells really started to ring when after being offered a place on the course it took about four hundred and fifty six phone calls – four hundred and fifty five too many in my view – to confirm that, yes, I would be taking it up.

And this set the tone for the rest fo the year. Being sent on placement to a school that had a completely different name to the one they told me – and yes, it was the right one. Trying to hand in an assignment and finding that there was no one in the building to collect it. No one visting me on placements and no explanation being offered for this, leading to severe abandonment issues.

So it was appropriate enough that yesterday I received a letter from the university saying that they hoped to send out my results within the next couple of weeks. These being the same results I got two weeks ago. Even when they get it right they get it wrong.


March 27, 2006

Cross Sexual Area

Due to a slight speech impediment I have a rather inconvenient inability to pronounce the words 'cross-sectional' without saying 'cross-sexshunal'. As a future teacher of mathematics I can see I slight problem forming here.

During a rather fraught year 8 lesson (more to follow) I found myself stood at the board trying my best to get the pronunciation right, but the more I thought about it the worse it became – like some kind of nightmarish self-fulfilling prophecy.

Curiously the speech-therapy I had a child never picked up on this and was more focused on my lack of aptitude with the word Skwoo-el (Squirrel) or my tendency to say dis and dat. How frustrating.


March 11, 2006

Taking over

'Teaching is more than just a job – it's a way of life.'

I scoffed when I first heard these words, but after completing six months of a PGCE I think my cynicism may have been premature. I now finding myself wanting to shush people talking too loudly in pubs, asking my friends if they have any questions when we arrange to meet up, and last night at a gig I was sorely tempted to tell the bassist of the support act to spit out the gum he was chewing. If only there'd been a bin handy.

There's no escaping it, I'm becoming a teacher. All that's left is to start moaning about marking and calling children 'oiks'.


March 06, 2006

The story so far…

After graduating from Warwick last summer I started out on a foray into the world of teaching. Boldly going where so many have gone before (but not so many that they don't pay you £7000 just to train), meeting friends and oiks, driving away from school bashing my head against the steering wheel after hearing the words 'I don't get it sir' for the hundredth time inside five minutes.

My first placement was filled with adventure: students turning up drunk, telling me to 'Just Leave!', alliterating my surname with another word with which it shares five letters (not walked), blowing kisses at me, pretending to have Tourette's Syndrome, feigning punches and generally being little sxxxts.

Now, however I find myself at a successful Catholic School. After not having been to church since longer than, oh being at school, prayers have become part of the routine, the mundane, not something crazy people do on Sundays. And even though they're that bit politer the kids are still kids.

And so the adventures continue.


September 16, 2005

The History of the University of Warwick

Foundation

The University of Warwick was founded in 1965. A common misconception is that the university takes it name from the town of Warwick whose district council put forward funds for the institution at its birth. This a myth put about by those pompous people who like Warwick to sound grand and impressive.

In actual fact the university was founded by four militant candle makers from Coventry with the proximity to Warwick town being a mere coincidence. They invented a special candle wick which when lit reacted with the candle wax and exploded, these wicks were known as War-Wicks and became common place. It was on the back of this success that they founded the university, giving it the name of their invention. The hyphen was dropped and the second "w" made silent to confuse Americans.

Notable moments in Warwick History

When the university was first built it was upside down due to a clerical error. Someone mistakedly ticked the "build upside down" box on the plans. This issue was corrected by getting a few thousand people to stand at one of the far edges of the university and jump up and down, thus causing it to flip over. This caused a big mess at what became the top (previously the bottom) of the university. This mess was named Canley.

Officially no UFOs have ever crashed at the University, however unofficially the story goes like this:

In 1972 a spaceship crashed in the heart of the campus. Rather than attempting the cover up the crash, denying the the incident ever occured in the face of the crashed spaceship clearly being outside the Arts Centre, the powers that be in a rare move of genius unveiled the craft as a piece of modern art known as the Koan – more commonly known as the cone by clever scientists or that bloody weird thing with lights that makes a noise by foolish artists.

Hauntings

Supposedly the Cryfield residences are haunted by the ghosts of people hanged at Gibbet Hill, however more recently a much larger and more sinister spectre has appeared: the ridiculously pointedly mentioned ghost of the British Higher Education system. An entity brutally slaughtered using the money gained from tuition fees.

Also the Union is supposedly inhabited by ghosts. From time to time they possess students on nights out and make them behviour strangely, such as pulling odd people, dancing like a twat and in extreme cases losing the ability to walk.


September 01, 2005

Leeds Festival 2005

Sunday

At festivals you get plied with freebies – evidently they’ve done a bit of research into the sort of things students like: free things is of course the top answer. Amongst this is lots of condoms – what on earth am I going to use them for? I might be over crediting a condom’s emotive capacity but they must despair once they get handed to me because the chances of them getting used plummets to somewhere between zero and nil. The extent to which this is true is easy to seen in the fact that I now have a sizeable collection of condoms in a draw that have been handed out at festivals and around university by well meaning types trying to protect the well being of festival goers and students, but unwittingly wasting the earth’s rubber supplies.

With the onset of the last day comes a desperation to watch as many bands as possible in order to get your money’s worth. This meant spending a little time watching the Unsigned Bands Stage. We saw The Last People On Earth, or at least they claimed to be. They’re from Hull. Cue the inevitable jokes about how if the last people on earth are from Hull then we’re all screwed. More to the point I wonder how we’d end up with such a scenario. My best guess would be that anyone hell bent on destroying the planet would take one look at the place and reckon somebody else had gotten there first.

We took a quick trip to the Carling Stage where we caught Youth Group, who apparently feature the bassist from the Vines. Any hopes that Youth Group might have more in common with them than a member were short lived as they very nearly put me to sleep.

Another stage and another band as we went to watch The Cribs in the NME tent. I’d seen them play last year and they were brilliantly energetic, so I had high hopes of a repeat performance. And again they managed to put on a good show. Next on the bill was Nine Black Alps – supposedly the new Nirvana. Seeing as how I can’t stand Nirvana I’m not really sure that there was much point in me checking them out. The comparison was fairly accurate, which meant I didn’t enjoy it all. However for fans of depressing, moaning music they’re probably very good.

I chose the moments after Nine Black Alps had finished to demonstrate my incredible abilities of getting lost and separated from my friends. After a ping-pong match of text messages we were reunited and went to the Carling Stage to watch Mystery Jets, I can’t say I was particularly bothered about seeing them play – the main reason for watching them was in order to get into the tent for the Arctic Monkeys who were on after.

The NME in their infinite wisdom had put them in their list of fifty-one reasons to go the Leeds/Reading weekend. Given that Leeds is just up the M1 from Sheffield the impending crush and lack of oxygen that came with the band’s presence on stage hardly came as a shock. My friends moaned that most of the people there were just trying to be part of the scene and that the music isn’t even that good. Which is all very well, except why were we there? It was the second time I’d seen the band play inside a month and I enjoyed it. At least I would have done if I hadn’t had someone’s elbows in my back. And ribs. And stomach. And my own elbows. And pretty much any part of the human anatomy you’d care to mention.

Our trip to the comedy tent for the day was to see Ed Byrne. He raised a few laughs but his whole act seemed to rely upon his: being Irish, being skinny, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. His best moment was:
Ed Byrne: “I was at the Reading Festival yesterday”
Crowd: “Boooo”
Ed Byrne: “You do realise it’s the same festival just in a different place?”
Which is fundamentally true, but Leeds is much better.

It was a short hop from the comedy tent to the Carling Stage after Ed Byrne had finished to watch the end of Yeti’s set. They’re the band fronted by the Libertines bassist. I was told not to expect anything like the Libertines, but I’d dispute that. They did have a similar sound, except – and you’ll find this a bizarre statement – with a bit of a country vibe in there. Whatever it was it worked okay.

I must take a few moments to pay tribute to the great freebie my friend Chris got from the V festival: an inflatable beer holder. You know how it is. You're drinking a can of (warm) beer and you want to pick something else up. You put the beer down on the ground but gravity's having none of it. Before you know it half your beer is on your jeans and everyone's pointing and laughing.

The evening run was kicked off by Arcade Fire in the NME tent. They were most notable for the fact that they seemed to have enough drummers for all the bands at the festival. I counted at least three. Perhaps Oasis ought to get in touch – they get through drummers at a similar rate to most people get through milk cartons. It was an interesting performance largely because it was so different from anything else I saw all weekend.

Due after Arcade Fire was Babyshambles, would they or wouldn't they turn up? Would they be any good? Does anyone really care anymore? As it happens they did manage to make it onto the stage, albeit ten minutes late. You could argue that they were fashionably late, but everyone else managed to get there on time. What's so special about a band who have only managed to release two singles? We didn't stick around for long as we wanted to get in position for the Foo Fighters in good time but what we saw wasn't exactly spectacular.

However the Foo Fighters more than made up for any inadequacies of the other bands. There's something extra special about the last night of a festival especially when it's to see a band as uttely brilliant as the Foo Fighters.

Dave Grohl really knows how to play to the crowd, unfortunately when I've seen them play in the past there's been a little too much chat, when all you want them to do is get on with rocking. On this occasion though he managed to keep the talking to a minimum and stuck to blasting out great song after great song. Up in Arms and The One were particular highlights.

The one criticism would be the sucking up to the crowd. "I gotta tell you guys something," someone stod behind us figured out what was coming and pre-emptively shouted out "bullshit!" Dave Grohl then proceeded to tell us that he loves Reading (crowd boos) but people in the north are more "f*ked up" and that he likes f*ked up. I think it was a compliment though I'm not entirely sure.

For the encore we were treated to Grohl taking up the sticks behind the drums and Taylor Hawkins singing on one the tracks from the acoustic album – I'll be damned if I know which one.

Back at the tents and the campsite nazis, or security as they call themselves, were out in force stamping out fires. We saw one instance of a festival goer being brutally thrown to the floor and handcuffed, all because of a fire. Cue us stamping frantically upon our own, though thankfully much smaller fire. I got the impression that the person in question had given the security guards a bit of lip but the response was slightly over the top.

The only trouble with festivals – except for the massive crowds trying to get everywhere at once, the over priced food, the idiots parping klaxons at 4am, the litter created by over a hundred thousand people, all the bands you don't want to see hogging the bill, occasionally poor sound quality on the main stage, mud, getting there, not showering, getting back and, of course, the terrible smell from the toilets – is the people running them.

Traditionally you're allowed to take in empty bottles as you can fill them up at taps inside. On the first day I was stopped trying to take an such a bottle in to the arena. The pea brain at the gates stops me and tells me that:
"You can't take in opened drinks."
"What?" I failed to see the point he was trying to make.
"You can't take in opened drinks."
"It's empty" (At this point I took the top off and turned the bottle upside down – just to display the moron what empty meant)
"Is it open?" (How else would it be empty?)
"Well technically, yes."
"You. Can't. Take. In. Opened. Drinks."
I really had no idea if he was saying this for information or whether he wanted me to bin the bottle. Okay, okay, you can't take in opened drinks, but I didn't have an open drink. I had an opened bottle, it ceased to become a drink when the last remaining drops of liquid were poured out.
"So you want me to bin it?"
"YES!"
There's very little you can do to argue in these kinds of situations so resignedly I chucked the "opened drink" into the bins. I wonder which asylum they get their staff from.

Monday

We left early in the morning, around half seven, in order to beat the traffic queues on the way out. It worked and we were soon blasting down the M1. The first thing I did upon getting home was to take a shower, if only you could accumulate cleanliness from consecutive showers. I'd take five or six before for good measure. After that there's only one thing you want to do. Sleep.


August 31, 2005

Leeds for your needs: Leeds Festival 2005

Saturday

This was the best day for the main stage with Queens of the Stone Age and the Killers on in the evening. However there was plenty of time to kill until then. Half an hour of this was dealt with by having to queue to get into the main arena at the start of the day. Or rather having to shuffle along at approximately zero miles per hour. It would be quite impossible to go so slowly if there wasn’t a wall of people also going at approximately zero miles an hour directly in front of you. Naturally there are always a few bright sparks who have figured out what would help, yelling “Get a f**king move on!” expecting it to improve their position by a few metres just because they’ve got a big gob. Genius. I don’t know why more people haven’t got that one sussed; I thought we were all stood around just to piss everyone off.

The upshot of this merriment meant we missed about ninety percent of Goldie Lookin’ Chain. As it happens we’d seen them when they played last year so it wasn’t such a big disappointment as it would have been. We did manage to catch a new song with the lyrics “If you leave me now can I f**k your sister?” As ever GLC hit the nail on its lyrical head, pity we didn’t see more of the set.

Next was another trip to the comedy tent to see Hugh Lennon and Hypno-dog. Before anyone gets carried away I’ll bring down your expectations of Hypno-dog. I was really excited about the prospect of a hypnotic dog but all that happened was the hypnotist, that is the man hypnotist not the canine one, hypnotised the people on stage to sleep when they looked in the dog’s eyes – I did warn you that you shouldn’t get carried away. The show was mildly interesting featuring some excellent ballet dancing and people thinking they were the Spice Girls, but I find hypnosis seriously creepy – I’d never want for someone to be able control me to their will. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll have to read the NME to remind me of which bands I enjoyed at the festival.

There was a bit of gap until the Subways were on in the NME tent so I (my friends weren’t interested in the Subways) wandered to the main stage and saw a very small portion of Graham Coxon: his left arm. No I jest! I mean I only caught a few songs. As an Oasis fan I’m not allowed to say anything nice about Blur or anyone who’s been in Blur so he was really terrible.

The people we were camped with decided to nickname me Coxon on account of “looking like him”, rather more accurately it was because I wear glasses and have dark hair. I’ve had this all my life, being compared to David Baddiel and even Adrian Mole – a character from a non-picture book.

The Subways were worth watching, not least because the bassist is really fit. Musically they’re fairly competent and blasted through their big songs Oh Yeah and Rock n Roll Queen. The singer even showed off his climbing skills by clambering to the top of the speakers and playing a guitar solo. I thought all that movement was a little over the top for a mid-afternoon slot. Now if they’d put a pole on stage for bassist Charlotte to dance around, that I could have understood.

The typical festivalgoer, students, was reflected in the number of university hoodies on show. Every other person seemed to be wearing one emblazoned with “Sheffield Hallam”. I may have noticed them more because that’s where I’ll be next year doing a PGCE but I’m convinced there were more there than you would have expected, or maybe I kept seeing the same person over and over.

After a quick trip back to the campsite for a beer or two it was back out to watch the Coral. I’m not a huge fan even if this was the third time I’d seen them play, indeed it was the second time in less than two months. I find them the sort of band that’s kind of just there – they won’t blow your socks off but they’re not so offensive as to have you running away from the stage screaming “I can’t take it anymore!”

Next was Queens of the Stone Age, or rather Josh Homme and some nobodies. We went reasonably far forward, though kept a sensible distance to the inevitable carnage at the front. Even if technically they’re not the same band as they were it was still a good show. Josh Homme is a great front man but not the sort of person you’d want to spill beer over, though I guess that’s what makes him such a great front man.

The Killers followed to complete a main stage three-in-a-row. This was one of the main reasons for buying my ticket yet I couldn’t get all that excited about it now they were here. I’d convinced myself that they were going to let me down so didn’t want to get my hopes up. I needn’t have worried as they put on a good performance, unfortunately we’d moved a long way back after Queens of the Stone Age so the sound wasn’t as good as it might have been.

There was no way on earth I was going to stick around and watch the Pixies, even if the NME were making out their slot to be the best reason for going to the festival. The irony is that in avoiding them we went to watch Kasabian in the NME tent. As we expected they were bloody fantastic. We were only at the back but the crowd was crazy for it. They sounded incredible in the tent, added to that there was the sense of sticking two fingers up at the (trying to be) in-crowd watching the Pixies by snubbing the main stage. It was the highlight of the weekend so far.


August 30, 2005

Fest is Best: Leeds 2005

Thursday

Last year we made the grave error of setting off for the Festival after lunch. This resulted in waiting for four hours in traffic queues usually reserved for smartly dressed business people commuting in busy city centres, not scruffy students/miscellaneous misfits sauntering along in what would be quiet city suburbs. Not to be caught out again we were off by 9am. On the approach to the junction off the M1 were braced ourselves for the sight of a long line of traffic, but to our immense relief found none. We continued on the same roads that a year ago had been so full with ease. It was a huge shock to the system and a hushed awe set upon us out of fear of jinxing it. This worked and we were in the car park before midday.

We set off to find base-camp: my friend Chris ringing up our camp-mates to try and find it with no success. However as is often the case in such scenarios we bumped into them purely by chance – it’s amazing how this happens at festivals. It’s as though there’s some sort of psychic connection brought about by the music.

No sooner had we put up the tent than Leeds treated us to extreme weather conditions, Glastonbury may have been all but washed out, but did they have hail? It may have been a festival – such events aren’t subject to the normal weather climate, almost anything goes – but ice falling from the sky during August came as a surprise.

We went for a wander around the festival site to check out the lay of the land. Naturally it looked the same as it had done the previous year. On this wander came an example of utter stupidity: people asking me for directions. I don’t understand why but you could put a hundred people with maps stood next to an information desk and a lost person would still ask me, possibly staring at my feet wondering why one hundred people with maps need to be stood by an information desk, for directions. I must look like the sort of person who knows where they’re going. Members of the University of Warwick Orienteering Club will tell you that this is emphatically not the case. In this case the directions I needed to give were simply “keep going and you’ll find it”, which I always find by far the easiest to give. I do wish people wouldn’t ask me as I always worry I’ve sent them to some frightening place like Baghdad, Mordor, or in this case: the centre of Leeds. I do like to help though – I don’t smoke but I’m sorely tempted to start carrying round a lighter just so when someone goes “Got a light mate?” I can go “Yes!” and make myself useful.

Friday

I woke up typically early and seeing as lie-ins in tents aren't half as much fun as their bed equivalent I got up and went for a walk around the site. As always with festivals there were lots of people about – though it was impossible to tell whether they were up late or up early. I walked past the Samaritans tent and was asked how I was. This is all well and good, you'd hope the samaritans wouldn't tell people passing by the go fuck themselves, but it made me a little paranoid that anyone might think that I'd have a less than acceptable well being. As an aside when i first went to Leeds in 2000 I got dumped during the festival so if anyone had asked me how I was I'd probably have broken down in tears.

Friday was the "rock" day on the main stage, ergo an opportunity to spend some time in the NME and comedy tents. The first bands we saw were The Rakes and Sons and Daughters. Unfortunately both were very poor so halfway through Sons and Daughters we went and plonked ourselves down in the comedy tent. As luck would have it we managed to catch the exceptionally funny Reginald D. Hunter.

Then it was back to the NME tent to watch Maximo Park - a band I'd heard very little of but was impressed by. Well, thank goodness for that. I like comedy (why wouldn't I?) but I didn't want to have to keep plodding into the comedy tent every five minutes because the bands were so bad. Apply Some Pressure naturally was a real highlight, possible because it was one of the few songs I'd heard but was performed nicely.

A quick trip back to the tent to cook some, soon to be rather black, sausages on a disposable barbecue was followed by a deliberate and unusually planned outing back to the comedy tent to see Toby Foster – Les from Les Alanos on Phoenix Nights – ripping into the police, southerners and had the audience been different I presume students would have been next on the list. It was fantastic! It's horrible but there's nothing funnier than hearing a good slagging off, especially with such well chosen subjects.

We wandered across to the main stage and caught the end of Marilyn Manson. Unfortunately it was only the end of the set and not of the band itself – it brought back memories of 50 cent from last year, a combination of bemusement and general what-the-hell?

The headliners were Iron Maiden which meant my appeals to watch the Futureheads fell on death ears. Unpertubred I went to see them on my own. It was a great show, much better than Maiden of course. During Hounds of Love they split the crowd down the middle for the "oh, oh-oh" and "oh! oh! oh!" bits at the start. Unfortunately I couldn't actually see the band so had no idea which side I was on, neither it appeared did anyone around me.

After the Futureheads I found myself at something of a loose end. Next up on the NME tent was Bloc Party – a band that I find incredibly dull. On the other hand we were camped near the fairground so perhaps something so completely mind numbing might help compensate for the terrible wailing of mixed up crazy frog gibberish being blasted out and help me get some sleep. On the Carling Stage was Echo and the Bunnymen, of whom my knowledge is limited to knowing that they once did a song with Liam Gallagher on the backing vocals. Though his contribution was only singing “Yeah, yeah, yeah” a few times.

In the end I opted to watch the rest of Iron Maiden on the main stage. Well, it would be foolish to not at least check them out. I proved my rock and roll credentials by standing at the back with a nice warm cup of tea trying my best not to shiver in the kind of cold that can only be found out of the crowd at open air concerts. The band didn’t particularly amaze me though I could appreciate that they were probably quite good if you like that sort of thing. I don’t much go in for gigs with giant devil/monster puppets. As it happens I was once accused of looking like I was an Iron Maiden fan. I can only presume the accuser was blind seeing as a typical Iron Maiden fan is fat with long greasy hair and a menacing miserable expression on their face, compared with my scrawny frame, short well kept hair and permanent slightly nervous grin. I left before the end in order to avoid the dull trudge out of the arena in the huge crowd.


August 20, 2005

Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It?

This song means so much to me because it reminds me of a special time in my life. I can really relate to what Bob was singing about; I think we'd get on well if we met.

The song is much deeper than most people realise. I think the building and fixing in the song is actually a metaphor for how we live our lives. Especially the part where Bob sings: "Building and fixing till it's as good as new". To me this means rebuilding ourselves and our lives after things go wrong.

The chorus is so anthemic too. I love the positivity of "Yes we can!" It's the kind of spirit that lifts the soul. When I'm about to do something really important like being a pretentious show off I'll listen to this song before to motivate and inspire myself. I challenge anybody to not be inspired by such lyrical genius as "We can tackle any situation. Look out 'cause here we come".

Another point about this song is the subliminal communist messages: "Working together, they get the job done" is actually a modern take on "workers of the world unite". The bit about the "sun goes down" is about the impending fall of capitalism.

This really was Bob's finest hour, a few months after this came the scandal involving Bob and that servant girl and later his problems with drink. At the time when this was released though, Bob was a true superstar and hero.

Bob the Builder - Can We Fix It?

Take your places
Can we fix it?
Yes we can

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Scoot, muck and Dizzy
And Roly too
Lofty and Wendy
Join the crew
Bob and the gang
have so much fun
Working together
They get the job done

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Time to get busy
Such a lot to do
Building and fixing
'Til it's good as new
Bob and the gang
They can really be found
Working all day
'Til the sun goes down

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Wow!

Oh dear,
Can you fix it?
Right, left a bit, right a little
Okay, break down
We can tackle any situation
Look out 'cause here we come

Can we dig it? Yes
Can we build it? Yes
Can we fix it? Yes

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Digging and fixing
Having so much fun
Working together
They get the job done

Can we dig it? Yes
Can we build it? Yes
Can we fix it? Yes
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder
All together now

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob!
Fantastic! Yes, Yes, we can
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

We'd better get some work done


August 11, 2005

How to be a Great Blogger

Surprise, surprise, I don't actually know how to be a great blogger. Do you really think I'd have written entries such as this if I did?

In a fit of boredom I – typically behind the times – ended up stumbling across the Guardian's 2003 Best British Blog Awards . The categories were:

  • Best Design
  • Best use of Photography
  • Under 18s
  • Best Specialist
  • Best Written

So how can we, Warwick Bloggers, go on to be great bloggers?

Design

I think winning a best design award might be a little tricky here as there's not any room for creativity. As someone who breaks in to a cold sweat every time my computer asks me anything more complicated than if I want to log-off or shut-down I'm most grateful for this.

I'm not sure what makes a blog well designed anyway, they all look the same to me. Perhaps they're like babies, only their parents can tell the difference between their own blog and somebody else's.

Best use of Photography

This is one for the "arty" bloggers out there, though make sure the file's not too big. There's plenty of Kodak moments on Warwick Blogs, but I'm not sure that's what's meant by good photography, being something more like this sort of thing rather than this sort of thing. Though there a few proper photographers out there, such as Steve Rumsby and… and… I'm sure there's plenty more.

Under 18s

I find it hard to envisage anyone on Warwick Blogs winning this category without cheating so let's move swiftly on.

Specialists

In a way all Warwick Blogs are specialist by virtue of being related to the University of Warwick, but as a subject goes it's pretty dull. One of the blogs mentioned in the article is about travelling on the London Underground even if it didn't actually win, so perhaps there's potential for an X12 specialist blog.

The winner of the category was someone posting The Diary of Samuel Pepys over the course of ten years. Which if you're of a certain intellectual bent you might consider clever and artistic, but as I am not I'd call it a bit of a cop out. We've all been there: Blogger's cramp. If you've got it pre-written by someone else it's easy to get around. In all fairness, what the heck do I know though, so if someone has a copy of Anne Frank's diary to hand you might be onto a winner.

Best Written

This is one that's got to open to everyone. At least, everyone who can type coherent sentence. usrs of txtspk might b best 2 frgt bout it. The winner was belle de jour – the diary of a London call girl. Let's face it, that's a bit grittier than anything likely to be seen on Warwick Blogs. Warwick Blogs are written by either bratty students or people who work in a university – a place full of bratty students.

Less gritty, but probably still beyond Warwick Blogs reach was Call Centre Confidential . I've taken a quick look and anecdotally it's much funnier than any of us here could hope to achieve, making me think of The Office at a first glance.

You won't need telling that there are well written Warwick Blogs though. By default I'd rate anyone on my favourites as being worth reading (duh!) To pick some out I'd say Fluffy Pink Shit by Elizabeth Jenner is especially well written and humourous, and of course, as everyone knows, the bloggiest blog has to be Sam Hates... .

Conclusions

To summarise the above, to be a Great Blogger, you need to:

  • Make your blog look pretty, I'm going out on a limb here, but the "glassdog" theme is unlikely to do you any favours.
  • Blog on a specific theme, flitting from one topic to another doesn't seem to win awards.
  • Be from London! With blogging, as with just about everything else, the rest of us may as well not exist.
  • Have an interesting job or lifestyle or…
  • Have a boring job or lifestyle but use it for humour.

August 09, 2005

Bloggle is here!

Follow-up to Bloggle! from Bloggle

The rules are:

  • Make a word from the grid using adjacent (including diagonally adjacent) letters.
  • Each cube can only be used once.
  • For each grid come up with one word.
  • Slang, Proper Nouns etc… are all allowed.
  • The words don't even need to be English!
  • The length of the word is the number of points you get.

Bonus Points on offer:

  • x3 Finding a blogger's name.
  • x2 Finding an insulting word.

Grid 1

Grid 2

Grid 3


August 01, 2005

Arctic Monkeys at the Leadmill 31/07/05

For a band who have yet to make an album, the Arctic Monkeys sure receive alot of hype. Nowhere can it be truer than in their home city: the mighty Sheffield – home of many other musical giants, such as Pulp, the Human League, Joe Cocker, the tramp with the accordian in the subway under Arundel Gate…

The Leadmill was sold out, meaning the best part of a thousand people were crammed into the venue, which I might add always appears in the top ten venues in the country – see how wonderful Sheffield is?

Support Bands

I can't remember the first band's name. This can be a problem if they're really good and you want to recommend them. Fortunately then, the band were poor. Featuring 3/5s female members they were never going to be anything else. I don't mean to be sexist (though I'm going to be anyway) but as a rule female fronted bands are rarely any good. My friend Chris described them best, suggesting they sounded like the soundtrack to a teen romantic comedy.

The second lot were much better – Stoney I believe they were called. Breaking the mould for support bands (Come on stage, don't say anything, stare at feet, strum guitars, thank main band) they were lively and energetic. I, along with everyone else in the place, thought they were rather good and I think the lead singer shared that view. He finished with a big rock outro, picking up the microphone and jabbing it in the air.

The Arctic Monkeys

True to the hype they rocked the place out. They're music's often compared with the Libertines and on this occasion such a comparison is fairly accurate. Though it doesn't hold entirely, some riffs even verge on ska (thankfully only verge on), meaning they sound perhaps slightly like the Ordinary Boys (terrible new album btw).

The singer played to the audience nicely, realising he could get away with requesting more applause. This reflects the incredible hype surrounding them. The fact that they're from Sheffield surely had nothing to do with it ("Is anyone here from Sheffield?" *Huge cheer* Where else?). They even managed a few sing alongs.

Particular highlights were "Mardy Bum", a very Sheffieldy titled song and… some others, don't ask me their names. All in all it was very good, plus the gig was helped by standing near to a fan (of the cooling appliance variety, not the "fan of" variety).


July 27, 2005

Blogging Statistics

It has come to this blogger's attention that in general the standard of blogging decreases as the amount of free time increases. This is particularly true of the following blogs:

And also:

Here are overlapping graphs showing this over the past six months:

Clearly this is obeying the old adage of "More time than blogging capabilities."

For the record here are some statistics

  • I have 1 (one) blog.
  • I have around 100 entries, around, oh, 97 of which are crap.
  • Poisson Distribution.
  • That joke was precisely 100% terrible.
  • I have a huge readership. At least two people will read this sentence.
  • 93% of vans are white.

July 23, 2005

Bloggle!

Are you lacking intellectual stimulation over the summer holiday? Do you need something challenging and fun to keep you mind going?

Don't despair!

Play Bloggle! It's the new craze sweeping the nation.

You've heard of Boggle, but Bloggle is different. Where in Boggle you could choose any permeable word from the grid, in Bloggle you have to choose a word that is either pretentious, superior or a feign at wackiness. For example:

  • Tory Party leaders aren't bald, they in fact suffer from alopecia, along with numerous psychological defects.
  • When you go to bed you aren't sleepy, you are somnolent.
  • The women on Big Brother aren't sluts, they're bawds.

It's the perfect game for students to show off and make everyone else feel fatuous.


July 21, 2005

Don't read Day of the Triffids and Harry Potter in succesion

It really screws you up.

Day of the Triffids is by John Wyndham and is about a vaguely apocolyptic scenario. Added to the mix are these nasty walking plants (Triffids) that go around killing people. Nice.

Harry Potter is by… oh, some woman, I forget her name – it's not like it's plastered everywhere. I don't think any explanation about the books is needed somehow.

My Dream

The setting as with the Day of the Triffids is an apocolyptic scenario. In my dream it was brought about by a nasty disease (Bird flu?) spreading throughout the world. I'm lucky enough not to catch the disease, well it would've been a short dream if I had, wouldn't it?

I'm running around trying to get away from some nasty-pasty people who are intent of destroying the remnants of the human population. Why? Who knows? Perhaps they need an ASBO. Whatever their motivation they chase me into an empty swimming pool.

This is where the Harry Potter bit comes in, don't worry it's not specific to the HBP so is spoiler-free. It's simply about doing magic – you did realise Harry's a wizard, right? – I use magic (woohoo!) to get out the situation.

Next I'm running through a school looking for some crystal. There's a whole bunch of these and I need to unite them in order to… save the world? I don't know, if it was I wonder what that says about my personality that I think I have to save the planet. The idea is that on their own these crystals (Chaos Emeralds? I was looking at Sonic the Hedgehog games the other day) are fairly useless, but put together they're really powerful. Not that anyone wants to give up the individual crystals anyway. sigh.

I eventually get hold of the crystal I was looking for. And now, lo and behold, her are some Triffids. T'riffic! Or more precisely, here are some plants that look alot like the ones in our back garden, but with the minor difference that they're murderous.

Unfortunately I woke up. Although seeing how you only remember dreams if you wake up during them I guess it was fortunate, or the rest would have been a blank.

Still, it beats dreaming about bus journeys/going to Tesco.


July 11, 2005

Earplugs are Great

Follow-up to Make Poetry History from Bloggle

Earplugs are great,
Of noise they do sate,
So I'm hard to discombobulate,
Lots of people wear them, but not a girl called Kate,
Her neighbour watched TV really late,
So Kate cut off her legs and spoiled her gait,
Using steel which was corrogate,
She ended up in A&E where she had to wait
for four hours, give or take
in a place called Horsleygate
Where Barry and Rebecca did mate,
and gave birth to a chimp who could skate,
for our heroine called Kate
and they went to the wake
of Kate's legless flatmate
who died in a crate
when stabbed with a stake
by the girl called Kate
because the noise she did hate
and could no longer wait
to get to sleep; it was late,
if only she'd realised that earplugs are great.

July 07, 2005

My first blog entry: Enhanced and including Author's commentary

Follow-up to Guide to the Laundrette from Bloggle

I was feeling particularly sarcastic when I wrote this entry. I wrote it between going back and forth to the launderette near Rootes, even thoguh I lived in Hurst and the Hurst/Refern launderette was much closer. the trouble was I could never find it.

Guide to Using the Launderette

My main aim was to stick it to "the man". Doing laundry pisses me off because it's quite costly. Those capitalist pigs!

Sunday mornings mean only one thing for me. Rather than going to church to cleanse my soul I go to the launderette and clean my clothes. It's a slightly tedious but necessary job, I find its best to get there early before it gets busy. For anyone who's not sure how to use the launderette this is what you should do:

1. Get everything ready the night before, but make sure you forget at least one item otherwise its no fun.

This was perhaps a mistake to write because it reveals how utterly neurotic I am. I made a similar styled comment in a later entry about tieing ties the night before I wear them.

2. Forget to set your alarm and lie in well past when you intended, grumble something about the alarm turning itself off again.
3. Go to the kitchen and have breakfast whilst wondering why no one else seems to be up, its Sunday morning where can they be? Wash up but leave your tea towel behind so that it never gets cleaned and ends up all crusty.

Of course, this never actually happens to me because I'm perfect. I was merely using my artistic license

4. Shower, brush your teeth, shave, put on make-up or whatever else you need to do in the morning to make yourself look pretty, I find a paper bag helps best on Sundays.

This is true, I often wear paper bags on Sunday mornings.

5. Set off for the launderette, get halfway there and remember you left your money behind.
6. Go back home and pick up wallet, discover you have no twenty pence pieces for the drier. Moan to yourself about the stupid university trying to con us.

It was even worse two years ago. The washing machines used to cost £1.80, so to get the exact amount you need four twenty pence pieces. Though you could pay with two one pound coins and be no worse off than this year. It almost makes you glad pints of Carling cost £1.80 as you can virtually guarantee getting a 20p in your change.

7. Head off to the launderette again, get halfway there and remember you forgot to bring your pyjamas, think: "screw it".
8. Get to the launderette and find an empty machine, put your clothes in, discover that the bit where you put the detergent is all scummy.

I'd really like to know how they get so scummy. There's every reason to believe that it's a deliberate ploy.

9. Take clothes out of machine and put in a different one, after checking the detergent hole.
10. Try to put money into machine – discover it won't take it. Swear and curse under your breath. Aggressively throw your clothes back into your bag and make sure you slam the door to the machine so everyone knows how annoyed you are.
11. Find another machine, check the detergent hole, put your money in first, if everything works put clothes in and select cycle.

These points could probably have been summarised by saying "The machines in the launderette are crap and seldom take your change. This makes them the only things on campus to ever refuse money."

12. Leave to launderette to wait at home and forget to check your watch so you don't know what time to go back for.
13. Go back to the launderette find your machine and discover it still has 11 minutes left. Stand around looking like a moron.
14. Wait for the requisite 11 minutes and then remember you left your bag at home, run home looking rather silly, pick up bag and run back to the launderette.
15. Separate clothes that can de dried and put in machine, follow a similar procedure to that which meant you had to try three washing machines.
16. Remember the lack of twenty pence pieces, ask someone if they have change, they don't and look at you like pond life for asking, the fact that you're sweating after the run supports this view.

This is a slight at rude students. In a recent survey 90% of Warwick students were found to be "mildly snooty or worse".

17. Accept defeat and put a pound in the drier, get overexcited with the buttons and set your machine to dry for 70 minutes, make a note to yourself to be back after 45 so your clothes don't get cooked.
18. Go home and hang up the washing that won't go in the drier, get distracted and only make it back to the drier after an hour.
19. Take clothes out and put into the bag – if you remembered it this time, good for you. Burn yourself on any metal buttons on your jeans.

Getting burnt by buttons pisses me off. If there's no one looking I'll shake my fist at them.

20. Go home for the last time with good intentions of folding your clothes immediately so they'll iron easier. Put bag on bed and can't be bothered.
21. Go into the kitchen for lunch, afterwards wash up and find that the only use your tea towel is to unclean your plate, sigh and promise yourself you'll remember it next week.

I think I got my "University=Evil" point across quite well. The foul swine!

July 04, 2005

Oasis at the City of Manchester Stadium

As a music fan there was only one place to be on Saturday 2nd June 2005… The City of Manchester Stadium watching Oasis. I hear there was some little gig down in London Village at a park somewhere with 8 people watching. I didn't quite get the details but I hope none of the kiddies swings got damaged.

It was actually a close call for me to make it to the gig. i'd thought it was on Sunday and only realised when my friend texted me at 11pm on Friday telling me to be ready at 11am. Whoops.

There were five bands playing including Oasis:

The Redwalls

No, I hadn’t heard of them either. They’re from Chicago apparently and seemed heavily influenced by the Beatles, which I suppose explains their presence on the support at an Oasis gig. One of the singers bore a resemblance to John Lennon and they did the two-people-singing-into-one-microphone trick. For a band appearing fifth on the bill they were pretty good.

In between bands they showed highlights of Live 8 on the screen. There was a muted response to Coldplay with some members of the crowd showing two fingers to the screen. I presume they either weren’t about to rush out and buy X&Y or were really big fans of poverty. I got a bit confused by it when the director kept showing pictures of a blonde women and a baby, not realising it was Gwyneth Paltrow holding Apple. How would I know? Its not like I’ve not seen Sliding Doors four times or anything like that. Heh. What I’d like to know is if she’s a fair trade apple.

The 22–20s

I really like them so thoroughly enjoyed seeing them, though they didn’t get a great response. They kicked of with Why Don’t you Do it For me, and blasted through their big songs (hits?) including Such a Fool and 22 Days, favourites of mine. Unfortunately I think the size of the stadium may have been too much for them. Their sound didn’t really travel that well, so I think I’ll have to see them again sometime.

I’ve discovered the perfect woman. They had people barrels of Fosters strapped to their back – they were mobile bars. A woman with beer on her back? Surely that’s what every guy wants.

The Bees

I’m not a huge fan, but they did okay. They got some booing from the crowd. I’m not entirely sure why. The thing that puts me off them is that one song they have that sounds a bit like the theme from Grange Hill.

The stage was bedecked round the edges with what looked a lot like fairy lights. All it needed was a few photos of Oasis’ friends and you could’ve confused the City of Manchester Stadium with a girl’s bedroom. Indeed, during the live 8 highlights thy showed Richard Ashcroft singing Bittersweet Symphony so I guess you could have done.

The Coral

I’m fairly indifferent to the Coral, they have a few highlights like Pass it On and Dreaming of You (Which they managed to play, when I saw them at V2003 they somehow didn’t play it I think they ran out of time) but they don’t do much for me. In an attempt to piss Scousers off with the obvious, tedious and pointless comparison I prefer the Zutons. However they were worth watching and as support bands go they’re quite worthy.

The problem with Oasis is all the Chavvie fans. 90% of the crowd was lager louts. At any other gig the throwing of beer would be seen as a sign of dissatisfaction with the artists on stage, but with Oasis it’s a sign of appreciation. It’s quite disgusting. At one point there was a huge empty circle on the pitch. I’m not entirely sure what its purpose was but there seemed to be a convergence of beer at that point. Bloomin’ Lancastrians.

Oasis

They came on to Fucking in the Bushes playing over the speakers. They started with Turn Up the Sun from Don’t Believe the Truth, which by the way, I think is a stupid name. It doesn’t even make sense. The screen went all blurry, I think this was an effect but the Irish woman in the seat next to me had been smoking a pipe with stuff coming out if of that didn’t smell much like regular tobacco, so I’m not sure.

Before they’d even gotten properly into the first song they had to stop as a security guard came on to talk to Noel. After a brief discussion Noel informed us that a barrier at the front has broken and they couldn’t play until it had been sorted. The band stood on stage patiently waiting to play. They looked as bored as us. Liam then requested some tits. Naturally he got them, the cameraman sought out any women on peoples shoulders. The first few were reluctant, but Liam’s wish was granted, not that he could see the screen. It was funny at first, but got a bit tedious after a while. I think the rest of the crowd agreed too. Who’d have though that breasts could become dull so quickly?

After a twenty plus minute wait they got under way again. The followed Turn Up the Sun with Lyla. It went down a treat and from there they did some older stuff like Bring It On Down and Morning Glory. Noel tried to get the crowd at the front to cam down a bit, requesting they turn it to nine and a half tenths. Liam undermined him by saying “Fuck that, let’s have it!” Noel gestured Liam over to discuss it with him. Cue aggressive shrugging by Liam and an eventual and inevitable two fingers being shown right up to Noels face. I’m never sure how much they put it on. I mean, both of them are well into their thirties now and are fathers so in theory should be calming down a bit.

Most of the gig was plugging the new album, which I suppose you might expect. Highlights were Mucky Fingers and A Bell will Ring. For The Importance of Being Idle, they put up some phrases on the screens like “Workers don’t think”, and “Thinkers don’t work”. It was almost like being at a dumbed down Manics gig. I was disappointed at the lack of Let There Be Love, on account of really liking that song.

They included a little (by little) from Heathen Chemistry, but steered completely clear of Be Here Now and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, I suppose that’s understandable. They were the obligatory emotive moments with Live Forever and Don’t Look Back in Anger, here I noticed a real sign of the times. Cigarette Lighters appear to have been replaced by illuminated mobile phone screens. It was surreal looking across towards the stage and seeing this sea of Nokias and Siemens. I just hope nobody had the Crazy Frog ringtone because I think they’d have had to make a trip to Phones 4U today.

Also included was Acuiesce, a song that I’ve not heard for a while so I appreciated beign reminded how great it is. They “finished” with Rock and Roll Star, which still sounds fantastic after all these years. Of course this wasn’t the real finish, because they did an “encore”. The actual finish was My Generation.

It was a reasonable gig, but there were too many technical problems. As well as the barrier problem the sound wasn’t quite right. It seemed to shift from full-on to being a bit weak now and then. Shame, but I enjoyed it anyway.


July 02, 2005

Teaching

Follow-up to Friday from Bloggle

I’ve just finished my last week in school. Unfortunately I went W.I.A (Without Internet Access) this week so was unable to blog daily reports. But here are the highlights:

Monday & Tuesday

I taught my last two lessons on these days, the lesson on Tuesday being formally observed by my mentor. This week I had a new partner in school who was a bit of a personality clash, seeing as I have one and she doesn’t! Haha. She didn’t endear herself to me from the off by shouting at the class I was trying to teach only a couple of hours after having met:

  1. This undermined me.
  2. Was unnecessary as the class weren’t causing trouble.
  3. How dare anyone be mean to my lovely year 7s?
  4. Fuck Off!

The lessons I taught actually went quite well, not perfect but in the words of my mentor it was satisfactory. Though seeing as lessons are rated as satisfactory, good or better, it’s a little worrying. I mean, I effectively scored the lowest mark possible. If I’d started throwing chairs and tables around (my best friend nearly had his head taken off in such a scenario where a teacher kind of lost it) would that have still been satisfactory?

Being observed was a little like taking my driving test again, the teacher kept making little notes, just like an examiner marks down minors. I have to say keeping control of a car is much easier than a class of pupils. As a rule cars don’t jump out of their seats and go for walks to the other side of the room or say “I don’t get it”. Well built ones don’t anyway.

The best bit I managed with the lesson was the entry to the room. I made them wait outside (This included a conversation with pupils who had eaten pizza and curry for breakfast. As in two individual pupils, one eating pizza the other curry. Not one pupil eating pizza and curry together, that’d just be weird) until there were enough of them there to make it worth letting them in. The idea is that you don’t get dribs and drabs so the start goes smoother. So I can make the first minute go okay after two weeks teaching experience, give me another 98 and I’ll sort out the other forty-nine!

Wednesday

There was a “Year 7 Maths Challenge Day” which I thoroughly enjoyed it because the pupils were relaxed because of being out of lessons and as a rule of thumb pupils in a good mood are pleasanter than grumpy bored ones. Not that my school partner agreed:

Her: “I don’t like that sort of thing.”
Me: “What? Fun?”
Her: “Well no, I mean I prefer discipline and respect.”

This sparked a whole row about teaching methods, she said she didn’t think (actually she didn’t use the word think, she just stated it as a fact) it was possible to be a good teacher without being a complete fascist. Or words to that effect.

Eventually I just said, “Let’s stop this conversation”, because it was about to go nuclear. Her response was “You started it!” Oh good Lord! I’d get more maturity out of the year 7s. I tried to take the opportunity to diffuse the situation by turning it into a joke by echoing, “You started it” back at her. She didn’t get it and repeated what she said. I was forgetting she has no sense of humour. Eventually I just gave up, I suppose the “fun” comment might have been slightly inflammatory, but how could I possibly resist?

That nearly spoilt the day but the pupils were being funny enough for it to merely be a minor blip. They had to complete some quick mathematical puzzles and were offering bribes; I got offered Twenty Pounds, a fiver and a dinner card with ten pounds of credit on it. I refused of course, what would I want with ten pounds worth of school dinners?

Thursday & Friday

These were my final two days and there wasn’t much going on. Thursday was quiet because I’d run out lessons to teach and Friday was a “payback day” for the staff, which meant an opportunity for them to catch up on some administrative type bits. In short it meant nothing for me to do! I did make a nice wall display of some of the work I’d done with the year 7s. Though there’s only so much cutting and sticking I can take without getting bored. I also caught up with my own administrative bits, but it was pretty dull.

I’ve enjoyed the chance to go in to school. It’s been a nice situation to be in because I’m halfway between a pupil and a teacher so I kind of got the best of both worlds: being treated like a human being, but not having to be too serious and teacher like. Whether or not I should have been like that I’m not sure. Afterall we were there to get some genuine experience not to just piss about.

I’m pleased with how I’ve got along with the pupils. I’ve definitely managed to come across as a good guy with them. It’s not about popularity but it’s nice anyway, and I really do believe that you don’t need to shout (at most pupils) if you develop a good relationship with them from the start. It’s very encouraging. Naturally there are some key areas I need to work on, such as being more authoritative, but there’s a limit to how far I’ll go with that. Teachers are famed for being bossy and I don’t want to end up like that. If I find I can’t teach without changing then I won’t teach. It’s as simple as that.


June 25, 2005

Guide to being a good–for–nothing–lay–about–student

  1. Turn the difficulty of your subject into a bidding war:
    "I have 16 hours of lectures a week."
    "Well I have 16 hours and four of those are nine o clocks!"
    "I'm a lazy arts student who doesn't have to do anything but I'm going whinge about reading even though we get a whole week to catch up anyway."
    "I have to go to all my lectures standing on my head because the lecturer is a bat."

  2. Be crazy possessive of the food you have in the fridge:
    "Hey you f&%£ing w$!^er, get off my cubic centimetre sized piece of f&"%ing ch&$se! F%&$ing pikey!"

  3. Pretend to be an alcoholic:
    "Hey I was sooo wasted last night. I'm such an alcoholic!"
    "Why? Are you completely dependent upon alcohol to function? Would you find going anywhere impossible without a drink. Is your name Larry? Do you sleep on a park bench every night?"

  4. Turn having bad taste in music into a competition:
    "I love cheesy music me."
    "Yeah well I love Living on a Prayer so much I can accurately make the waa-waa noises in my sleep."
    "I like Girls Aloud… for their music!"
    "I'm stalking the Proclaimers."
    "I am one of the Proclaimers."

  5. If something really interesting is on television stare out of the window. In there's nothing interesting on television watch it.
    "Hey there's a programme on about how someone in Colombia has found conclusive evidence of alien life… Oh wow look at that squirrel!"
    "Hey there's a reality TV show on about people feeding squirrels. Let's watch it."

  6. Brag about how useless you are with the opposite sex:
    "I've only pulled twice since getting to uni."
    "I've never pulled."
    "I'm so useless I've now pulled less in my entire life since coming to uni than when I started."

  7. Whinge about everything:
    "£1.80 for a pint? What a rip off!"
    "Our cooker takes a whole minute longer to heat up than the one we have at home."
    "I have to get up at 10am tomorrow."
    "I have four hours of lectures today. No one in the world has it worse than me!

June 24, 2005

Friday

Follow-up to Thursday from Bloggle

Another week over and a second consecutive slightly unhappy day. Ho hum! The trouble today wasn't from the kids it was more general exasperation. I really don't know if I can shout at kids, so may be I'll never be able to manage behaviour properly. It's a bit of a worry, my mentor in school keeps encouraging me to raise my voice more and be more authoritative, I don't know if I can and more than that I'm not sure I want to. But then, if given an aptitude test, who when asked "I like to yell at kids" would tick anything other than "strongly disagree"? I certainly wouldn't want to meet anyone who enjoys yelling at people half their size.

It's frustrating because I'm good at the other stuff. I get on well with the pupils (surely that's a necessity, why would you become a teacher if you don't even like kids?) and I can explain the maths really well. In the lesson my partner in school, Kar, was teaching one of the pupils said to me "Mr Walker. How come you're so much better at explaining things than Miss Low?" Seeing how I didn't want sound offensive about Kar I sort of muttered something about Kar having to try and manage the class whereas I didn't have to worry about that part and sort of trailed off. Inside I was beaming of course, that really made my day. This comment was followed up by a number of pupils asking hopefully if I'd be teaching them at some point. So at least someone thinks I'm doing a good job!


June 23, 2005

Thursday

Follow-up to Wednesday from Bloggle

The main event today was helping out in an ICT room with some year tens using spreadheets to analyse their coursework with graphs and such gubbins. I did thiss for two lessons, the second class were what I'd come to expect from the kids at George Eliot; polite, friendly and generally pleasant. Unfortunately the first class were absolute horrors!

There was one kid who upon entering the classroom started jumping up and down. Clearly he was very enthusiastic about his coursework or has ADHD. I think he's in the habit of calling everyone cockers so decided that I should be renamed appropriately. His attempts to get my attention from then on consisted of shouting "cockers" across the room. My response was to ignore him until he called me "sir" or "Mr Walker". That might sound kind of arsey but it's no good the pupils thinking they can call me what they like. And you know what? It worked! He cracked and resorted to calling me sir, okay so he followed it up swiftly with "cockers" but I think that was a point to me.

To be fair to the guy he wasn't aggressive or nasty, he just had too much energy and in his own way was probably trying to be friendly. One of the other kids though was the nasty little sneery kind, you know the sort. He just asked rude (and rather stupid) questions to try and embarrass me ("Do you know what a heterosexual is?" "Do you like males or females" etc…). It didn't work. I just answered straightly (haha) as if he were asking what the weather was like. I guess the way to deal with it would be to shout "HOW DARE YOU ASK ME THAT YOU LITTLE SHIT!" (well maybe minus the "little shit" bit) but I'm not quite there yet in terms of volcanic-esque explosions, so managing to not let him get to me was probably a decent enough outcome for the time being.

The next thing I had to deal with was a load of trick questions from the first kid, for instance "how many months have 28 days", the obvious answer being one – February, but all the months have 28 days when you think about it. I managed to get the correct answer, I couldn't tell whether the kid was impressed that I was smart enoguh to figure it out (I knew doing stupid online quizzes would pay off one day!) or disappointed to not have had his pound of flesh.

Some of the other nonsense was the "guess his age game", someone suggested I might be twelve, I just sarcastically replied "Yeah I'm twelve", which in other circumstances would be a quite rude response because sarcasm implies the person asking the question is a bit dumb, but I think it worked as a get out because his mates laughed at him.

I suppose it's inevitable, some teenagers when they see a student teacher get blurred vision and confuse them for easy meat but I survived intact. Admittedly my responses weren't great as teacher responses but as a human being I think I did okay. The best piece of advice I've received since going into school is to not take anything a kid says to you personally. Remembering that today was a massive help otherwise I might have crumbled.

Waiting in reception for my taxi home a pupil started asking me if I were a student teacher (I say "yes" because to explain that I'm just on a scheme to get some experience before starting teacher training would be too complicated). The thing was that he was really polite and friendly but he was saying that he was to be excluded. Often these kids only get in trouble because of problems at home. It made me a little sad, because like I said he was really polite, yet gets the same treatment as the horrors I'd put up with in the morning.

After a rather less than happy day I had a real highlight still in reception. The fax machine sounded very much like the T.A.R.D.I.S. Superb! The Doctor saves the day again.


June 22, 2005

Wednesday

Follow-up to Tuesday from Bloggle

The taxi this morning was another Mercedes. I could get used to that sort of thing. I think I'm an anomoly amongst students because the taxi driver said that he'd been told he could go early to pick me up because I'd be there waiting, rather than the usual ten minutes late scenario. It would never occur to me to be late for anything, I get twitchy if I'm not on time.

The morning was fairly dull, I was planning the lesson I would be teaching in the afternoon and did a huge batch of photocopying, mind numbingly dull but it was nice to do something useful for the school, they should at least get something out of me as compensation for my miseducating of their pupils.

The lesson I taught was frantic. It's so hard trying to get them all to pay attention, I'm still not entirely comfortable with raising my voice though it was necessary in places today. I'm much better at the explanations and generally getting on with the kids. The whole nasty shouting bit seems a mystery to me thus far. Foolishly I made some question sheets for them to do. I say foolishly because now I have to mark them.


June 21, 2005

Tuesday

Follow-up to Monday from Bloggle

I actually taught a class today. Beforehand I had magical visions of everything I planned fitting perfectly into the exact amount of time I'd expected it would and all the kids sitting listening to me with big smiles on their faces desperately waiting to hear the next mathematical gem I would tell them.

Naturally the reality wasn't quite so film-esque but it was fun anyway. It's quite overwheliming asking questions and half a dozen hands shooting up, each attached to a twelve year old who looks like they may explode if they don't shout out the answer within three seconds.

I think I manage to do more or less okay, though I'm still not sure I can imagine myself as an authority figure. The trouble I have at the moment is that I'm too worried about getting along okay with the kids so I'm too easy going. I'm sort of in limbo between being a pupil and a teacher, it's not such a bad place to be I guess but it can't last.

Tomorrow I have to do it all over again. Well not exactly I don't think I shoudl teach the same class the same thing twice, though seeing how there were a great deal of confused looking children leaving the room at the end maybe it's not such a bad idea.


June 20, 2005

Monday

Follow-up to Friday from Bloggle

It's come around really quickly to Monday and off to school again. I invigilated yet another exam this morning. I'm getting really bored of them – possibly more so than of my own exams. This time it was a mental maths test, so my function was to press play and stop on a tape player. You need a highly trained operative for that, I don't think just anyone could manage it.

Later in the morning me and my partner in school, Kar, were helping with some Year Seven thing which for some reason I can't remember the name of. It was all about feelings and how to cope with them, not really the terrain of a mathematician. I had no idea how to really do anything, but it was okay. I think I even learned some useful stuff myself! Part of the activities was the pupils making a poster. It was fairly anarchic. One of the interesting things was that the girls took control and bossed the boys around. I suppose some things are the same whatever age you are.

In the afternoon we were doing the same but for some reason the kids got on with the work better. I think the sun had drained their energy, if this is true perhaps schools ought to consider boiling the children into submission before each lesson. Or perhaps not. The bizzarest thing today was someone asking me – in all seriousness – if I was French. I checked me head for a beret but didn't find one so I have no idea where that came from.

I've had a number of exchanges with pupils along the lines of:
"What's your name sir?"
"Mr Walker"
"Do you support Leicester?"
It was cute at first but now it's getting tired and dull. The whole crisps connection is especially boring. I suppose they're only kids so can be forgiven, but isn't it annoying when people say things about someone's name they must have heard hundreds of times as if it were some brilliant insight? Though it is always tempting to be one of those people.

Tomorrow sees me teaching a class for a whole lesson for the first time. It could be crazy but I'm well prepared, I just hope they don't ask any quetions I can't figure out how to explain.