1+1=3

This morning I shall finish procrastinating.

It’s time, I feel, to tackle what is weighing and waiting to be done.

I had thought I would do it on Friday night but I knew I was kidding myself. Friday evenings are not for doing work. That, surely, is a universal given.

I did think I would begin on Saturday. Jump right in and just get it out of my way. But. There was shopping. There were washings. There was cooking. A little bit of taxi service. And a lot of, ‘But it’s Saturday. It’s the freakin’ weekend.’

So, I didn’t.

The worst thing about being a teacher is the volume of paperwork that has crept in over the years.

No, that’s not the worst thing.

The worst thing is the number of subject areas that now have to be taught. And planned for.

My speciality is literacy and numeracy. Every aspect of the two, woven into interdisciplinary learning. You know, plan a theme, incorporating many facets of learning. Drive your lessons through that. Easy peasy, once you know how.

That’s no longer good enough.

As a result of the neglect of some sections of society, and a political scene that will not tackle the root causes – or cannot- it is now incumbent on primary school teachers to incorporate, within their remit, a host of subjects that parents used to do. Some of them still might. But, just in case they don’t, we have to.

This term I will have to make time for the kitchen in school. Yes, the children will be learning how to cut up bananas, make smoothies, try their hands at washing up and, hopefully, keep their fingers intact in the process. They will be charged for this. I’ll have to pay for it first and then collect the money from them. That’s not going to happen. Not doing that. I should go to the shops, buy a variety of fruit that they probably won’t like or eat and then hope they reimburse me? Nope. Cheek.

In addition to exploring the wonders of the kitchen, perhaps using one of the microwaves that now sit on the worktops of what was once the teachers’ conference room, some bright spark suggested that the children would benefit from running five miles per week.

An area in the playground has been duly measured, to the mile, and the panting of both teachers and children can almost be heard, through my window on the ground floor, as they bust a gut not quite belting round the yard. I don’t think I’m going to be doing that. I don’t run. Now and again my nose does. But that’s usually because I’ve not been careful with my fruit consumption and have succumbed to a trivial cold. Bring on the vitamin C. I can peel an orange because my mum taught me how.

Health and wellbeing is the thing, you see. Not content with having teachers supervise teeth brushing – I mean, have you ever! – we should take on the role of parental responsibility in every field.

There is now toast on offer in the morning, a couple of days a week. Why not every day? Don’t children need breakfast every morning? Why not serve dinner too? Get the kids into their jammies, a bed time story and the parents can pick them up around nine.  A good twelve hours at school should solve all society’s problems.

What else? Ah, yes, drug awareness, massage (no fecking kidding!), and the thing that is pending this week for me and mine. The showcase.

On Friday coming, the whole school, together with parents of the children in my class, will gather in the hall while my children take to the stage and perform some highlights from the book study we have been working on. I spent last weekend writing parts for them all and burning music to a disc. It’s been a while since I’ve done that – the disc part – and there was some swearing involved until I remembered.

This week, all the work that adorns my walls from the topic, will be removed to be displayed in the hall for the perusal of the parents. Then it will have to be put up again in my class because, in a week or so, we’ll have visitors – pretendy inspectors from the education department will descend to see if we know what we’re doing.

Quite frankly, I’m no longer sure I do.

Once upon a time, my job was to make sure that the children in my care could read and write and count. I was good at that. Still am, if I get the chance. We’ve always taught P.E., Drama, Music, Environmental Studies, R.M.E., Social Studies, Art, Science and whatever else escapes me right now. But, the focus was always numeracy and literacy. The essentials.

The time now available to do justice to those subjects is being eroded by the additional responsibilities that were once the privilege of parents.

I made lasagne and crusty bread with my two youngest recently. All of my kids can cut a banana and know which buttons to press on the microwave as well as how to turn on the cooker and make something for themselves. I’ve always been under the impression that that was something I had to do so that, one day, I could wave them goodbye knowing they wouldn’t starve or set themselves on fire. So far, so good. Touch wood.

In the interests of not procrastinating further, I will end with one last thought. Why is it that the only subjects the children are tested on is numeracy and literacy? Simple arithmetic, that a moron could work out, but not, apparently, the powers that be, (bit worrying that), makes it plain that less and less time is available for the essential PRIMARY subjects. I’m a primary school teacher.

As wonderful as I am at integrating the essentials into multi subjects – and I’m really not too shabby at that – I’m no wizard with time. There are only so many hours in the day to achieve planned aims. There are just too many aims now.

I shall now go and spend the rest of Sunday planning for the current term and trying to bend the parameters of time. Someone’s got to do it.

P.S. (still procrastinating) I just discovered, this week, that my salary, for doing all of the above and then some, has been eroded in the region of £13,000 in the last six years. So, that’s nice. Very motivating.

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In A Cloud Of Great Unknowing

pyroclastic_flow

(source)

Fell ashes, in a cloud of great unknowing,

Flaken debris settled where it touched,

Seared the skin and edified the temples,

Encased, engulfed the living truth in dust,

Magmatised the mantle in a grey shroud,

Displayed treasures, lost in hearths of stone,

Embers died, the light, a distant mem’ry,

Crushed by mortar, pestled into bone.

Fell ashes, in a cloud of great unknowing,

From the heavens, from the centre, east and west,

Built and buried, bona fide, forgotten,

Climactic, pyrrhic victory, at best.

Excavations, earth’s enduring history,

Discovered worlds, through ages’ hidden signs,

By life and death, revealed, in ashes fallen,

Cloud of great unknowing writes the times.

 

Paul’s wonderful poem, Imagining Atlantis, set me off on one.

Birthing Words

I feel obliged to write you with my reasons,

though they wane and wax with time, there’s constancy,

nothing can surpass the words 

if, even sleeping,

they drift and drone and beg, oh, please, choose me!

I shush them when, in real-life mode, I’m enacting

fulfillment of the roles I must obey,

I try to shun them, tell them, wheesht! I’m working

Do they listen? Not a word that I can say.

They tease, torment and test me with their pullings,

This way, that, o’er here, oh, Anne-Marie, please look at me.

Dismissal doesn’t work, I’ve tried, they never listen,

I jot them down for my posterity.

I’ll come to you, I say, when I have finished, 

the workload that demands so much of my time,

I’ll hear you better when the pressure’s off me,

Like children, they just sulk then whine on constantly.

I must admit, I’d miss them if they left me,

They start my day and end it with their charm

And even though they tug, torment and taunt me,

They never really do me any harm.

I love them, they’re my children, 

Add to seven,

the words that birth themselves and beg me, please,

feed me, fill me, love me, never leave me.

I resign myself to mother of all these.

You’ve got to love this place. Even when I’m ignoring it as much as I can to do what I have to, it sneaks in. Checking through a bunch of emails that I’m also trying to ignore till I’ve, at least, wrapped the feckin’ presents, I come across this one, leading to this one that takes me back to this one and spawns this one.

I can be accused of many things – a tendency to leaving things to the last minute being chiefly noticeable at this particular time – next year I’ll start in September, like some of the folks in my school. Who wraps Christmas presents in October? Does this mean that they have Easter sorted too? Booked their summer holiday?

I seem to remember that my essays always got in on time. But usually after an all-nighter. Each to their own comes to mind. But this might be why I’m still shopping, haven’t wrapped a single present other than the lucky dip for school, will hit some stores tomorrow, god-help-me, and enlist the help of my fourteen-year-old wrapping elf.

I can’t, however, be accused of being short on words – check my posts. Haiku? I wish. I’m missing my writing time so badly that I’m dreaming the bloody words again. Noted for future reference. Driving to work has become a memory test. Repeat, repeat, repeat till I can note.

Ain’t it great though, that words demand of us? That’s kind of what Charles was talking about, I think. It’s like words are truly born – and I know what that’s like! Including one emergency caesarian with the last. Some are easy, some not so much so, some require intervention. But, after the birth, you look and say, I know you. I’ve always known you.

My kids – my real babes – are sorted for Christmas. I just have to make sure to take time to tend to the ones that keep on crying. Love takes many forms.

Merry Christmas all you lovely folk. I may be back before you know it. Or I might be burning the venison, cursing the carols (don’t you just get sick of the same ones?!)

Feck it! When my crew are all sated, from too much of me, I’ll be loving my orphans.

Won’t we all! Mothers and fathers to words.

Your words are a gift. I thank you for them.

They’re also your gift to yourself. Open them every day.

Christmas-gift-certificate-template a

Words are made flesh and live among us.

Second Revolution

Record Spinning on Turn Table

(Play It Again AM)

– the record is not broken –

– though rift in operation –

– jumps along –

– every groove –

– its own peculiar nuance –

– deny –

– to disbelievers –

– it was ever –

– just a piece of plastic –

– he sang my song –

– self-effacing –

– to newer models –

– deemed superior –

– to me ’twas special –

– he played my dreams –

– in words and rhythm –

– found my soulful heart –

– the record is not broken –

– though he’s quiet –

– residing on some shelf –

– time turns the tables –

– i play his tunes –

– sadly –

– nowadays –

– i play them for myself –

It appears I cannot resist the rhyme even after the free.

When I Come To It

creek-and-bridge

I thought I’d cross that bridge when I came to it. And now I had. It didn’t look so rickety up close. Even had a certain look of strength about it. And it wasn’t exactly crossing a ravine. Somehow, having approached it leisurely, in my own time, I was ready to cross it. I didn’t break stride and put to the back of my mind what lay ahead on the other side. For all I knew, the path might open to the valley of the dolls. Or perhaps another bridge. But I’d cross that one when I came to it.

I like to take my challenges when the time seems right. This flash fiction challenge appeared in my inbox today and appealed to me on a number of accounts.

I’m on holiday from school for a week, which also means so are my kids. You know how weans can nip your brain with, ‘what are we doing?’ Well, that doesn’t work too well with me. I’m not a big planner, having learned years ago, to go more with the flow. As a result, we’ve done something different each day, more on the spur of the moment than through any planned itinerary. I like it that way. Crossing my bridges when I come to them.

The challenge asks us to include a little about our week, a song to sum it up and to include, within the body of exactly 100 words, a favourite childhood toy.

Tick. Tick. Ticking more below.Looking out from Largs

Looking out from Largs. The sun does shine in Scotland sometimes. October’s good with me. 🙂 I headed off for the day with three of my daughters as everyone else was working. Poor buggers.

My eldest

My eldest, Claire. She’ll kill me!

My youngest

My youngest, Anna. She’s too wee to. 😉

Louise and I were camera shy. Which is surprising for her but not for me. I’d had three hours sleep the night before – it having been the first day of the holiday and sitting up Twittering politics and drinking whiskey and coke. Somebody’s got to do it. Occasionally. I just kept my sunspecs on and nobody was any the wiser. Except maybe the girl who took our lunch order and wondered why I was wearing them indoors. She never said though.

Inverkip Marina

Inverkip Marina. No, I don’t have a boat. But I like looking at them. 🙂

Last night was a quiz night with all of my crew and a few and a pile of fajitas. My team came second but I had the two youngest which I thought was a bit unfair considering the game was for over 16’s and they’re 8 and 14. And I was up against umpteen universities and an auld guy called Frank. Love him to pieces but he doesn’t half know shit what with all that age on his side. His team won. Sods. Do you know from which film the following statement comes? ‘There is no spoon.’ Well, I didn’t. Till after I heard the answer and then I was fuming. I don’t watch all that many movies so I was rubbish at those questions. But I love this movie. I blame the noise and everybody telling everybody else to wheesht. My excuse. Sticking to it.

Yes, so, going with the flow. Today I’m a lady of leisure which is brill. Everyone has something on. So have I right enough. I got up and put clothes on. Had a coffee. Ate some grapes. Had another coffee. It’s hectic.

Tomorrow we’re thinking – not planning – on the East Coast. I love St. Andrew’s and the area all round. Beach, sea. Loads of craft shops and book shops. Coffee shops. City with a country town feel. I always try to get a wander around it every year. Kinda late this year. But I’ve had a lot of bridges to cross.

Oh! Song!

This one. Because ‘I’m On Top Of The World’. Yass!

Chasing Significant Amounts

There goes a second – whoosh!

and a minute

and an hour

and a day

and a week

and a month

there goes time

in all its incrementals

haven’t counted

but I have a hunch

that time spent in counting

would be a dreadful waste

what with how counting

just goes on

and on

and on

very much like time

in the infinite of space

it keeps tocking

while I’m singing my own song

it delves along

through the worm holes

and the black

it delivers and recovers

whether I am here

or there or not

time in all its measurements

regardless of how long

keeps on marching

even while I seem to stay on spot

noticed how the time goes

when I’m busy

and I work

I stop to look

and wonder

where it went

up to my eyeballs

barely stopped to see

but I know wherein

my time has all been spent

Whoosh!

goes another

of Chronos’ little blocks

as I write

before returning

to my tasks

no time to explain

what is taking all my time

you’d be sorry

if you took the time to ask

I have a scythe

and I’m cutting

up a storm

gathering

my chores

into haystacks

crop’s almost harvested

blade is nearly blunt

the bearded bloke that lent it

wants it back

once it’s been milled

and we’re both returned

to sharp

I’ll be counting

nano-seconds

stilled on pause

grey-beard guy will laugh

at my efforts to control

while I acknowledge

every past imperfect clause

stopped for a breath

and a fag

and a break

and some caffeine

to fill

my time cup full

ticky, ticky, tocky,

it’s passing while I talky

got to rush now

against the time-held rule

back in a while

note the use of while

abstract

notation none

to govern

or account

see you in a spell

sooner, later, all is well

just chasing time

in significant amounts.

Arrested

dust of seemed swallow secured on grey slate

risen dessication its fate

forever entranced, disabled by time

flightless now ever in state

dust of arced angel arrested alone

ached by stillness in stone

nary the one nor other may move

struck in time, brief and long gone

impressions imprinted, immobilised

impossible gifts to new eyes

cast by creation then clefted to wait

separated from life ‘mid soft sighs