Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Theme For This Week Has Been Insomnia And Sobriety

Tuesday again!

I didn’t quite tell kids that Father Christmas was dead, but they did do a pretty good job of learning how to describe him as a “fat old bastard with an alcohol problem and an unhealthy interest in children”.

I jest, I jest.

However, during the class one kid (who was stalling for time to be away from the teacher – why the hell do these kids like my PowerPoint presentations so much? I’m turning into my Business Studies teacher…I digress) asked me if I had a BlackBerry.  I told him no, I didn’t, but my sister does! He understood this perfectly well, and proceeded to ask me if it was an English word. Yes, it is.

“Et ça veut dire quoi en français, BlackBerry?”
“Euhhhh, en fait c’est un fruit”

Shut the fuck up.

Other than that, Tuesday was pretty uneventful. As was Wednesday, although my 5ème class were nice to me after the group of boys who cause all the trouble decided to sit in two smaller groups after what I can assume was an argument.

I can assume this because their argument continued when one boy threw a pencil case at the head of the boy who had got them all into trouble last week by writing “Suck My Dick” on the chalk board (don’t call me out on political correctness, it wasn’t even black) after they’d planned it between themselves. The boy responded by throwing it out of the window (from the 2nd floor – lol) and calling his classmate a pédé. No doubt they’ll be best buds once more by the time I see them again tomorrow, reunited to give me grief. I’m so just showing them Mr Bean videos.

Thursday, I got into work slightly late and very stressed to discover that my teacher was absent for my first lesson at 9.30, and in my next lesson at 11.30, my presence was not required because they were going over some things that just…well. I’d have sat there doing nothing. So yeah, I turned up at 9.30 to essentially do NOTHING until 2pm.

Which was when things got interesting.

That teacher was absent too, so I was slightly irritated at the waste of my day (and very irritable at the lack of sleep I had been experiencing all week – managing 4 hours per night, interrupted by nightmares, if I was lucky) and was about to tell the kids to go to the “permanence” which is where French kids have to go if they don’t have a teacher. Suddenly, one of my students delightedly informs me that the CPE told them I can take the lesson on my own!

Gee, thanks CPE! So nice of you! No keys, no lesson plan, no form of preparation WHATSOEVER, added to the fact that I am COMPLETELY unqualified to take a lesson on my own, and I can take the most difficult 6ème class I work with without any semblance of supervision? Oh, you are so KIND to me!

Now. I want you, the reader, to think back to when you were in school (or to the present time, if you are still at school) and you had no teacher, and a supply had been arranged last minute. They don’t know what you’re working on, they haven’t been given any work for you to cover and to be perfectly honest, they don’t have a clue what they’re even doing.

What was the natural course of action that the class didn’t have to even discuss with each other? To sit down quietly and be respectful of the poor soul at the front of the room who resembles something along the lines of a rabbit stuck in headlights? To open your textbooks to the section you’re working on and give the substitute some idea of what you’ve been doing recently? Or would it be to run riot, throw pieces of paper all over the classroom, pull each other’s hair, shout at each other, argue across the classroom, ignore anything the substitute says, refuse to do anything the substitute says, generally make the life of the substitute Hell for the next hour?

And remember how much BETTER it was when the supply teacher didn’t understand your language properly?

The only reason I haven’t reported these ARSEHOLES to somebody superior is because I know it’s karma for what a little shit rag I was in school. One kid called me a bastard for telling him to move, then claimed not to understand me, and asked if he wanted me to move towards the hospital.

(You’ll fucking need to if you don’t stop being a little prick any time soon, mate.)

Another girl who is normally a sweet little thing got the right raving hump when I told her that she could indeed play hangman, but as long as it was in English and she was to play it on a piece of paper. She spent the remainder of the lesson sulking and defacing Father Christmas on the drawing I’d asked them to do.

One boy drew a really good picture including all the English things I’d asked them to include (improvisation at its best, in my opinion) but decided to include the message “Merry Christmas, bande de cons” (WordReference tells me that “cons” can be translated into an English word that also begins with C).

At the end of my tether, I gave this class a categoric “TAISEZ-VOUS!!!”  louder than I ever imagined my voice could have been. And you know I can be loud when the mood takes me. Some of them gasped in shock. Some of them looked straight at their paper and carried on working. The bonus is, none of them laughed at me. I’d probably, nay, definitely, have laughed at a teacher shouting BE QUIET at the top of her lungs. (Miss LeGoff, anyone?)

They were quiet after this. Bunch of wankers, but it gave me a sense of nostalgia and made me miss being a little Year 7 dickhead myself.

On Friday we had an amusing (yet tragic) situation. There was a stink of burning in the classroom that nobody could locate. None of the kids could concentrate on how bad the smell was (you know when it’s not really that bad but 13 year old kids will do anything to get out of doing some work) and so the teacher went to get the caretaker and the headteacher. The secretary came along for the ride, and we were moved into another room just in case it was a gas leak or a terrorist attack or something. The caretaker came into the new room armed with a different English teacher and informed the class that the smell had gone from the room so it must be one of the kids. The pair of them then started to sniff around the classroom, coming to one young guy and blaming him entirely. Apparently the smell was like some cold remedy that you put on your skin that helps to clear your throat. The boy had put on nothing of the sort. They blamed his hair gel.

He looked like he was going to cry.

This would never have been allowed in an English classroom. I remember the uproar when a teacher brought up the problem of smelly armpits to an A-Level Biology class.

However, poor kid, it wasn’t him, as when we got back to the initial classroom after the lessons, the stink was still there.  We managed to find where it had been coming from, incidentally right next to where the kid had been sitting. Poor kid sat next to a bad smell and it latched onto him.

He’ll remember Friday morning for the rest of his life, definitely.

Not much to report about the weekend, except that Louise now eats cat food and I stayed sober!  I also got some well-deserved sleep after the Hell I’d been through all week. Christmas shopping in Paris on Friday afternoon was the worst. I was so tired I could cry, and people kept trying to con me into making another donation to the “deaf, dumb and blind” fund.

Monday it was back to work for my final week before going home on Friday, and it was rather uneventful except for the boy in English Club who gave me a massive dossier of verbs that he’s been working on to improve his English vocabulary. He’s spent two years working on it, and it’s definitely going to help me with my French. This kid’s a legend. I just wish the other boy in the club wasn’t such a cock to him.

So we’re back to Tuesday. I’ve had my timetable swapped about to give me Thursday off work, so I’m going to spend two days shopping and throwing rubbish out of my flat and gutting the place before I go get drunk before my Eurostar on Friday evening. I have taught my first lesson with a teacher who has just returned from maternity leave, and I showed them “I Know What You Did Last Christmas” which went down pretty well. Unfortunately, my Christmas Cracker jokes didn’t go down so well. Except for the last one, which the teacher found quite amusing;

On which side do chickens have the most feathers?
The outside.

I’d like to note, section européenne, that English humour is normally better than “what’s black and white and noisy? A zebra with a drum kit!”

I’ll tell you what did go down well though. My desktop background. Here it is;

I didn’t realise that the kids would see that when I closed PowerPoint (well….at least I’m not making them copy it like my Business Studies teacher did). But it’s funny how they understood this and not what a Christmas cracker is.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Alors on sort pour oublier de GARDER NOS VERRES


I thought I’d write you a blog, seeing as it’s been a while since the last one. Well, about a week, to be exact. Feels like forever though.

Wednesday, after a hangman game with Year 8 turned into my wanting to physically hang them after they decided that “suck my dick” was an acceptable phrase to write on the board, I headed down to the consulate to get my new passport and discovered that the picture wasn’t as horrendous as it looked when I got it taken. Result! After this I wandered about Paris aimlessly, hunting for Christmas presents for people.

Thursday and Friday were a bit boring, Went out Friday night and my card got declined, Santander took three months to realise that my card was being used in France you see. How clever! Not like I’d have noticed the few thousand quid that has disappeared from my account since 20th September or anything, thanks for realising after THREE MONTHS, Santander’s Fraud Team.

Luckily, I have a few awesome friends who looked after me and got me a few drinks so I just danced and had a nice time, then got the night bus home, missing my stop and being lucky enough to get to walk through Corbeil Essonnes at half past three in the morning in the bitterest of bitter cold I think I’ve ever experienced (apart from playing rugby in the snow in year 8 without a jumper – teacher was a bitch).

Saturday, I went out to Paris again after ringing Santander and being told my card was now fine for use. I got to the cash machine outside the bar and BAM! Your bank has declined this transaction, sorry pal! So I rang the bank again, and stood by an alleyway whispering my security checks down the phone like I was enquiring about a very substantial international drugs deal.

Turns out, the guy who had been condescending about me not informing the bank of my departure to France, had decided not to tell the computer that all France-related withdrawals were okay and that the machine should GIVE ME MY MONEY. Now who’s the dickhead?

The very nice woman on the phone fixed it for me, and I took some money out and went out.
The last thing I remember was buying a beer and sitting down.

I have a vague recollection of being very very ill, I just thought I was pissed, until I left the bar after realising my bag had been stolen whilst I was throwing my guts up. All my puking did not sober me up, even slightly, and I then proceeded to spend well over three hours trying to get to Chatelet from TWO METRO STOPS AWAY. I don’t know. I could have got on the wrong train and ended up in Amsterdam and then went all the way back. 

Eventually found Louise on the platform where our train was going to take us home, she took one look at me and said “You got spiked.”

It suddenly made sense, how my words were not slurring but I had forgotten the conversation we had just had, how I was still walking in a perfectly straight line but feeling all over the place, how I had been so sick and not sobered up, how I had spent NEARLY FOUR HOURS trying to get to a station that was about 5 minutes away. I didn’t even sober up on the train.

When I got back to my building, the realisation really and truly set in that I was a bit F’ed. My bag had been stolen in the bar after someone gave my beer some added extra and made me very sick. I therefore had no key to get in the gate OR into my apartment. Over the gate and in through the window it was, then!
The next day I felt absolutely disgusting. I couldn’t face the essay that was due in Monday so I had to finish it in my broken bits of spare time over the course of Monday, before the 4pm deadline. It was tight, but with a slightly shoddy bibliography and VERY questionable grammar I managed to submit it at 15.59.

French time, that is.

Silly me - didn’t realise that I had until 4pm GMT to get it submitted, so I could have taken a bit more time on the bibliography and correcting the grammar. And I wanted to actually do well this year.
Oh well... It’s done now, right?

Now it’s Tuesday and I’m about to go and teach kids how to describe stuff. Father Christmas today. I’m gonna tell them he’s dead. I’m cool like that.