Posted on 2012.04.22 at 18:14
How lovely you are
Dancing under the moon.
For love of your beauty
This epic I croon.
(next verse coming up soon)
(la la la la loon)
Posted on 2012.04.22 at 17:48
Eggs in pots.
Eggs in pots.
Eggs in pots!
Posted on 2012.04.14 at 18:43
The ceiling carvings in the Nazrid Palace hand from the ceiling like stalactites as if generations of ambassadors, far from home, have looked up and dreamed of hill cities carved into desert rock.
Granada heaves with people. Shrieking, laughing, shouting and staring in perplexion at impenetrable maps. Mine has a third of the streets and a tenth of the road names. Today I walked through the same square seven times looking for the one museum. I never found it. Each time through the people would change, but the movement and noise stayed the same.
In Seville everyone dressed up. Ties and jackets and dresses and heels. The crowds hissed and cheered with the movement of the procession, hushing when it moved past them and reaching out to touch the drape of cloth round the edge. The Madonna always looks the same: crystallised tears and blue or cloth-of-gold capes. Banked around the edges of the float would be white flowers and tiers of candles constantly guttering in the wind. In Cordoba two women burst into tears as the Cross left the Mesquite; but the Costaleros crashed the head of Christ into the lintel of the church and the procession had to stop while they bent his halo enough to get him through.
The statue paraded past the hostel at seven and ten, then again at three in the morning. Each time the brass band played the same two pieces of music. One of the trumpeters had inhumanly pretty eyes and at least a third of the audience forgot to focus on anything else.
The scent of the orange trees in Seville hangs over the city like a pall. Even the incense from the churches doesn’t drown it out. Like spice it’s everywhere – in the soap and the cakes and the coffee. In the breaks between storms, as sodden Nazarenos with drooping hoods wade barefoot through the flooded alleys in search of the right church, the scent redoubles, heavier than the rain, until it outweighs the smell of damp.
The cobbled streets and alleys in Cordoba and Granada are horse width built for the passage of bought Reconquista and Moorish soldiers. Christian since the inquisition, the streets ring instead of with grinding echoes of scooters. The one push bike I see comes a cropper of a waiter with a tray of glasses. Judging from the way the waitress hugs the cyclist, the waiter’s shouts are nothing unusual. Granada’s new mosque sits quietly above it all, the garden looking over the valley of the town to the Alhambra and the shadow of the Sierra Nevada and past glories.
Each of the processions in each of the cities is followed and interspersed with crowds of children. Three days into Holy Week each child has a fist-sized ball of wax. Waiting for the floats to stop as the Costaleros switch out and run for beer, the children run between the Nazarenos who tip their candles and contribute to the both the children’s balls of wax and the scalding of their hands.
The gardens of the Alcazar in Cordoba are meticulously linear. Filled with statues like chess pieces it’s difficult to resist hunting for kittens and rabbit holes. In Seville the Alcazar’s courts and patios create a sense of wilderness despite the constant flash of cameras. In brief patches of sunlight peacocks appear, lying among fallen oranges and ignoring the tourists. In both gardens the cobbled irrigation system lies unused, the only sound of water coming from the fountains and pools that haunt each corner. For an hour or two we wander about, searching out the occasional flashes of fuchsia amongst the green and white. Most tourists stay close to the central courtyard, but even out by the walls you can’t hear the city’s traffic.
Posted on 2012.02.06 at 18:15
There’s a moment during any parents evening when you realise that you’re losing the plot. That moment, twelve hours into what looks suspiciously like become a sixteen hour day, where every comment you’ve made in the past three hours, each in itself a repeat of comments you’ve made once a week in writing for the last twenty-three weeks of term, turns to gibberish in your head. The moment when six months of trying desperately not to hear your teenage charges elaborate, monotone revelations about their sex lives makes you stop suggesting Bronte as a viable read for a fifteen year old girl and start suggesting Colette.
It’s a moment that strangely few parents appear to pick up on.
I never intended to be a teacher. I wanted to be a vet. Or a tragic but noble victim of circumstances. Sixty-five hour weeks as a glorified baby-sitter-come-social-worker did not figure highly on the agenda. I have met people who started out wanting to become teachers. Usually they’re over fifty. Most of them went to grammar school. They talk about social mobility a lot and have a shaken, manic look behind the eyes.
I do not have manic eyes. I have a dead look. This is because there are no tea-making facilities in my building and without caffeine my life is empty. I console myself with the fact that, being dead inside, I can only ever churn out students who are more vibrant than myself. Things cannot possibly get any worse.
Talking of which, this month I have taught Macbeth. I say “taught”. What I in fact mean is this month I have paraphrased Act 1, Scene 5 thereby fulfilling both the Conservative government’s Literary Heritage curriculum but also its mandate of crushing the poor. It is good to know that I too can do my little bit for the decline of society. I plan to tell my grandchildren, before they eat my still twitching corpse.
Incidentally, other books currently on the syllabus include A Handmaid’s Tale and The Road. Most discussions in the English office currently revolve around whether McCarthy’s ending is ultimately hopeful or doom laden. As of close of play on Friday we’re seven against one in favour of the small photogenic boy being horribly abused then devoured. We had made the mistake of reading the Guardian education pages over lunch though, which always leads to a certain aura of desolation.
Still, there’s always the thought of Saturday teaching to get you through the week.
Posted on 2011.10.29 at 18:12
Cuthbert the Librarian.
It was after a much-publicised uprising in the Restricted Section resulted in the disappearance of the previous incumbent that Cuthbert Embrey was offered the librarianship. The implication during Pince’s inquest that someone had carelessly mentioned that Seventh Year students had taken up the muggle custom of burning their books upon finishing their NEWTS meant that it was widely felt soft-shoe approach would be advisable when considering her replacement.
Whilst her body was never discovered, it is generally assumed that she perished when Hagrid’s short-lived Sixth Year study text escaped from its cage. A memorial fountain was constructed in the school grounds. It’s bespelled to hurl abuse and small fish at any students that approach it without first wiping their feet and lowering their voices. As a result, it is usually haunted only by lovelorn Ravenclaw Sixth Years looking for somewhere quiet to weep over ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’.( Read more...Collapse )
Posted on 2011.10.07 at 16:51
She liked the park in the early mornings. ( Read more...Collapse )
Posted on 2011.08.26 at 15:09
Over the past few weeks of "marking" I've spent alot of time on Tumblr. Has anyone else come across the "Look left" zombie meme? Apparently you your token weapon in the impending zombie apocalypse is the object immediately to your left.
That leaves me with a pile of mispelt and poorly punctuated witterings on Much Ado About Nothing.
I assume that I'm supposed to throw them at the zombies. Once they realise that this world is bereft of brains they will no doubt give the whole thing up as a bad job.
So, you'll all be right behind me, yeah?
Posted on 2011.06.12 at 12:11
Richard II sold out within two days of tickets going on sale. I've had a reminder to buy tickets up on livejournal since February or something. I'm so filled with woe. I actually cried.
However, this does bring me on to more important matters that were brought to mind by yesterday's Trooping of the Colour. And that is that I'm really not convinced that either Charles or William should be king.
You see, I've been thinking carefully about what made this land great. And I have come to the conclusion that sweet, vaguely charming bourgeois monarchs are not it. Elizabeth II is regal, serene and, aged twenty-five, looked like a character from a fairy tale but what did she do? Lost us an Empire.
All things considered, I don't actually want an Empire. It's a bit like having minions. You spend your life chasing after them, making sure that their faces are clean and they don't fall asleep in the butter and then you find you're the one getting the blame when they try to chew the neighbour's cat. But I'm not entirely happy with the status quo either.
Some may insist that it is better to be feared than loved but I will maintain to the end that what you really want to do is to bemuse your enemies so much that you can waltz in through their front door in a feather boa and heels and occupy their senate while they're searching for the strait-jacket.
The fact that we do still have a monarch does go some way towards this, although executing the lot of them would probably have greater effect, certainly in terms of striking fear into the world's elite. Still, no-one is going to defenestrate Charles for babbling on about organic farming, so we're going to have to go with Plan B.
What we really need is the sort of guy who'll rip the staff out of Black Rod's hands, whack him over the head with it, then lie sprawled across four pews in the House of Commons throwing back the Talisker and bawling the Skye Boat Song.
Only on the day that the French start sending us sporting equipment as taunts should we rest happy. Safe in the sure and certain knowledge that we are about to be restored to our true place in the world.
Posted on 2011.06.04 at 21:23
Begin with Happy Ever After.
Because where "ever" begins and ends is up for debate and "happy" is never anything but a relative term. A child bride, "too soon brought to knowledge of the world", will never waltz smiling through anything beyond the wedding feast. And what truly compassionate step-daughter could watch complacently as red hot shoes danced the night away.
Only mirrors pretend that history can be foretold without a shadow, and trusting a mirror is as foolish as trusting yourself. Mirrors only predict the present.
End with Once Upon a Time, and pretend that every story is unique.
Posted on 2011.06.01 at 20:36
I have tickets for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I'm so happy I might explode!
I look like a crazy person because I keep stopping to hop up and down and squeak. But seriously: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.