Tuesday, October 30

Something I learnt today

It is very hard to teach children to concentrate when you are playing host to your monthly 'visitor'.


Monday, October 29

Playground madness

Drama and excitement aplenty in East London today. I was sitting in the staff-room, merrily eating my pasta salad when I heard an enormous bang from the direction of the playground, accompanied by a few screams. 'Oh it's just some youth out in the street with an air rifle', I thought casually, and continued to consume my food with aplomb. None of the other teachers had even heard the noise, and if they had then they certainly weren't exhibiting outward concern. They have more experience of these things than I, so I deferred to their wisdom and ignored alongside them. Until another, much louder bang, accompanied by more frantic screaming. We all rushed to the window and pressed our faces against it like children eagerly witnessing the winter's first snowfall. What could possibly be the cause of all this noise?

No, it wasn't a gun (but I wouldn't blame you for guessing that). It was a couple of scallywags sat on a roof, chucking fireworks into the playground. Several teachers had run outside by now, and were behaving like a bunch of brooding chickens when they catch a whiff of a fox outside their pen. Their futile and panicked attempts at herding the children inside were laughable. Cluck-cluck-cluck. BANG! Cluck-cluck-cluck. Wheeeeeeeeeeee... BANG! What clever little criminals our pesky pyromaniacs were, climbing to a perfect vantage point enabling them to pick off children in the playground like tin cans at a shooting range, a vantage point that also offered the protection of a 10 foot high wire fence. I can see them early this morning (0600 hours), with scale models of the school buildings, pointing at possible obstacles with the aid of a stick. It was all just so fucking perfect. Who could possibly challenge their exploding missiles?

Poor, poor powerless teachers, who could do so little. All they could do was, slowly, get all the children inside the school amid a shower of rockets and call the police. I can imagine their blood burning, Yosemite Sam style, at the evil child genii that had defeated them. How could they? They probably haven't even got any GCSEs!!! Obviously it was extremely dangerous and irresponsible, but the whole episode had a simplistic beauty about it. The fact that a couple of kids in scruffy parkas could create such chaos among a school of over a thousand kids in just under five minutes was completely mesmerising.

Thursday, October 25

It's a mystery

For some reason totally unbeknown the number of hits for this blog more than tripled today. What could possibly be the reason for this sudden upsurge? Perhaps people are genuinely interested in the fact that I grate Spicy Nun onto baked potatoes. Perhaps they enjoy my 'witty' insights into the world of the trainee teacher. Perhaps they googled 'dinosaur love' and came here completely by accident, vanishing as quickly as they arrived.

I thank you regardless of how you stumbled upon me.

Monday, October 22

Spicy Nun

One of my favourite weekend pastimes is to visit the Alexandra Palace farmers market on a Sunday morning. The organic veggies are cheap and BARE tasty, and the Giggly Pig man sells the tastiest hickory smoked sausages I've ever had. I can leave James in bed and nip out on the bus for an hour to buy food that doesn't taste processed and full of chemicals. It is also, as far as I'm aware, the only place in London where you can purchase Spicy Nun cheese. Ahhhh... Spicy Nun. What did I do with potatoes and nacho chips before I discovered you? It contains chilli, garlic and peppers and is AMAZING on jacket potatoes. I urge all Londoners to get down there next Sunday tout de suite (ignoring the Sloany idiots pushing unused overpriced bikes around) and support local produce.

Wednesday, October 17

From the sofa of The Convalescent

Everybody has a celebrity crush that they're a teensy bit embarrassed to admit to. My best friend Anna loves Dave Grohl who, in my opinion, looks a bit like Mr Ed the Talking Horse. I tease her mercilessly, of course, whilst harboring secret lust for my inamorato de jour, daytime television host and 'bear-baiter' of the working classes, Jeremy Kyle.

Today I have spent the best part of four hours bundled up on my sofa with the blinds closed gleefully watching chat shows whilst nursing my awful head-cold. The highlight has been the Jeremy Kyle double bill this afternoon, which I am seriously considering signing myself off onto benefits for, so that I may enjoy it every single day, and perhaps participate in.

If there was ever a man to bring order among Britain's working men (and women), Jeremy be thy name. It's not his face, which is slightly below average. It's his ability to go from 0-100 in under ten seconds. Scowling upon his latest proletariat prey, Jeremy can reduce wife-beaters to gibbering wrecks in under five minutes. Here is an example of my armchair armpiece at work.

JK: I like you sweetheart, I'm going to give you a chance to talk to me now.
Teenage girl: (wiping away tear)
JK: Aww, I know it's been hard, darling.
Teenage girl: My mum wuz nevver there for me, innit.
JK: I know, so you gave your own daughter up too, didn't you?
Teenage girl: (sniffs) Yeah.
Teenage girl: Oi, I...

The man is brilliant. That's how I like my crushes, they build 'em up to knock 'em down. Today he swore that 'by God I will pop up when you least expect it darling', which gave me a pleasant ripple of lust.

Even though my brain feels like it's covered in alien-goo, my bones ache and my eyes are watery and red, I kind-of hope that tomorrow I'm not feeling any better, because then I'll get to spend another stolen few hours of forbidden love with my bear-baiting beau.

Tuesday, October 16

An actual post about actual dinosaurs

The light at the end of today's miserable snot-ridden tunnel is coming home to the news that archaeologists in Argentina have discovered the remains of a new titanosaur (aka super-dinosaur), a Futalognkosaurus dukei (pronounced foot-ah-long-koh-sohr-us), which was 35-40 metres long. It ate leaves, had a tiny brain and would have looked a lot like this:

They've only found a few bits of him so far, because his remains show signs of being mauled by predators. My favourite quote regarding my NEW FAVOURITE HERBIVORE is this one: "I'm pretty certain it's a new species," agreed Peter Mackovicky, associate curator for dinosaurs at Chicago's Field Museum, who was not involved with the discovery. "I've seen some of the remains of Futalognkosaurus and it is truly gigantic."

Now, did I mention somewhere on this blog that I love dinosaurs? I think this one is especially special, because not only is he enormous, but he's also really, really stupid, his brain would still only have been about the size of a large human fist. He'd be easier to confuse than a cow, and they're so stupid that they gather around rosebushes for shelter.

He'll never be able to top the T-Rex, who stole my heart as a child, but he's definitely in my all time top three dinosaurs now, behind the T-Rex and Velociraptor.

Monday, October 15

The glamour never ends

Coming home from my brother's bands gig in Brixton on Friday night I found myself at the bus stop sitting next to character actor and favourite of Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis. Now, for those of you that are not au fait with THE BIGGEST FILM TRILOGY OF THE LAST 10 YEARS won't know that Andy Serkis played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (the guy who looks a bit like Morph with an eating disorder). If you don't believe me about that bit in brackets I will present the evidence at the end of this post.

He topped off a star-studded week in which I rode FOR TWO WHOLE STOPS on the tube next to EastEnders stalwart Natalie Cassidy, and James had a heartfelt twilight conversation with ex-Blue Peter presenter (now peddling a comedy drag act) Stuart Miles.

One of the kids from placement on Wednesday has given me their fucking cold. I am going to have to go to Boots when I feel better and purchase some of those massive tubs of mega-vits, because I think I'm going to spend a great deal of this school year fighting off various viruses. Having the flu jab this week, though, so at least I'll be immune to something.

This morning I had to get up at twat o'clock again to get to Enfield. We taught some more poetry. It went reasonably well. We left early. I went home. I washed 2 paracetamol and a decongestant down with a hot cup of Tetley, enjoying the burning sensation as the boiling, brown liquid passed my ailing oesophagus. The life of a trainee teacher cannot always be glamour and rubbing shoulders with A-LIST celebrities, you know!!

I have two QTS skills tests this Thursday in Literacy and Numeracy, which I have not revised for and have no idea what to expect. And if I don't pass them before August then I don't get to be a teacher next September, so now pressure, or anything...

Algebra... what's that all about?!

Gollum from LOTR

Morph from Tony Hart's 'Heartbeat'

Friday, October 12

A kooky little story that I wrote in class today...

So, the task was to take a fairy tale and give it our own twist. Mine began thus:

Small plumes of fog emerged from the mouth of the yawning policeman who stood, tasting shocking cold air with each intake of breath. The freezing stagnant mist penetrated his nose, ears, lips and any other part of his body that wasn't covered by multiple layers of wool. There our sleepy centurion stood, silently steaming beneath his helmet and boots.

A ring of a bicycle bell marked the arrival of the newspapers, and brought with it the morning, a herald that the day had begun. Big Ben chimed six times, drowning out the distant whirr of a milk float returning to it's depot.

That imposing black door, that famous door, that had seen and heard too much readied it's hinges, anticipating the usual daily flood of press officer, aides, VIPs and household staff. The black, uninviting railings held steady, confident in their ability to weather whatever scandal might pass their posts that day. Expensive, yet conservative curtains remained closed, they were not open for business, yet.

A blanket of damp cloud enveloped Downing Street, avoiding number ten and rendering it's neighbours hazy and insignificant. Birds began to chirp bright harmonies into the dark skies. The traffic groaned, joining the dawn symphony and a wizened old janitor swept the pavement, with the delicacy and pride of an artist at easel.

A black car swished past the armed gates and stopped outside number ten. The door thudded closed, accompanied by footsteps. Westminster was waking up.

So that was just the beginning of a modern version of Robin Hood, which I have briefly outlined in bullet points below. I wrote it in conjunction with Alice from my course, whose writing was equally good (if not, slightly better than mine)! See if you can guess who Robin Hood is. The winner gets a prize of 50p.

  • Robin Hood is a renowned 'revolutionist' Celtic politician with some power and influence.
  • Robin Hood disgraces himself by impersonating an animal on reality tv with the beautiful Maid Rula.
  • This angers the Blair, the Sheriff of London, who exiles Robin to Waltham Forest.
  • Robin Hood rebels, and gathers around him men of similar political ideology, and forms his own party to rival Sheriff Blair's.
  • The party cause minor political mischief and get on Sheriff Blair's nerves.
  • Robin Hood gets his own radio show on 5live, and his following grows, antagonising Sheriff Blair further.
  • Robin Hood has the strange idea that he may one day be Sheriff of London.
  • King Bush comes back from his Holy War to try and restore order to London, accidentally blowing up Waltham Forest.

Yes, that is what I do at university on taxpayers money. Har har har.

Wednesday, October 10

Is it right, I arks you?!

Is it wrong to correct my East London pupils for using the term 'arks' instead of 'ask'? I maintain that 'arks' is incorrect, but I hear it so often nowadays that I fear it has become too deeply ingrained into the London 'street' dialect to be undone. They don't realise they're doing it, and their parents probably say it at home. I have also heard some pretty well-educated Londoners using it, teachers, lecturers etc.

I am so interested in the patois that my kids use that I might research it further. My first port of call, as always, will be Wikipedia.

also known as Tikkiny or less commonly "Hood-Chat" is part accent, part dialect, from around the mid-1990s, and influenced not only by British black urban culture, but by American rap music. This variant is used by the youth of all races as a 'street' patois, with clear U.S. influences (such as the greeting "Yo!"), but also Caribbean patterns such as "arks" (rather than "ask"). This dialect is used by all races. It can be heard in many parts of England, but especially the south."

I think they need to update their references to include 'innit', 'bare' (as in 'dat is BARE sick, blood!') and my new favourite 'issit'.

Tuesday, October 9

PGCE Update

So yesterday I managed to get to Enfield, finally, at 8am. We taught our poetry lesson (the theme was 'School Poems') and it seemed to go down well. It was a pretty unnaturally nice school though, but I compare most places to my old high school, which was a 60's concrete horror-academy. Hopefully next week will be the pay-off, when the pupils get to create their own school poems, and we can read them out in class. Today was a one-hour lesson on behaviour management strategies and a REALLY TIRESOME seminar where we basically flogged the techniques we had just learned to death. I like seminars where we work through what we've learned, I don't like seminars where we repeat what we've learned OVER and OVER and OVER again.

The PGCE is going ok, I seem to be up-to-date with all the work, but there is MOUNTAINS of it. We start our block placement after half-term, so that's when the shit hits the fan and we have to start applying all of these lectures and seminars to real-life situations. Luckily I have been teaching for the last couple of years, so the idea of standing in front of a class doesn't terrify me like it did in 2004. I'm also used to making all my own resources, so it'll be really ace to have some ready-made ones to use.

I feel guilty for pretty-much neglecting my friends since I started this course in September, I just hope they understand how hardcore it's been. I have hardly had time to talk to my boyfriend, and I live with him! Don't hate me!! I'm going to try and get all my written work finished so that during half term I can loaf around and go visit all the people that I've abandoned.

*Apologies: Sorry Elin! Sorry Steve! Sorry Anna! Sorry Tash! Sorry Kaff!

Monday, October 8


Look, I am writing a blog AT SIX AM. Here's why, my lecturers have arranged a 'poetry day' for trainees at a school in Enfield. What chump created Enfield? It's not even in London. You can't get to it by tube.

So I have to leave my house just before seven to ensure that I reach this godforsaken hamlet in time, or my mentor will tut at me. It's ok though, if I'm still grumpy by the time I start teaching I'll have 30 fresh faces to take it out on!

Monday, October 1


I just wanted to share with you this picture of pint-sized performer Danny Devito that my father took in Times Square.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

His face and body language clearly say 'don't mess with me', but my Dad got up in his face and took his picture anyway! I love it.

Do Google searches and that...