Category Archives: Work

Didn’t quite go to plan…

The summer, that is! I was going to do lots and lots of piano practice,  finish the decorating, give the house a thorough clean and do a certain amount of gardening. Maybe even beginning to tackle the Bottom of the Garden. Normally, we do not speak of this. I keep muttering it is all a good security device.

I did do lots of piano practice. I think it’s fair to say I’ve re-established the habit of practising again.. maybe not as strongly as it should be, but it’s getting there.

The decorating, frankly, didn’t happen. It can wait a little longer.

The garden did sort of happen, but my landlady had other plans. Unfortunately when was convenient for her, was not for me, but what she wanted doing had to happen, and I worked around it. (It’s mostly why the decorating didn’t happen – when I’d planned to do it was the only time she could do what she wanted in the garden,  Not aided by the fact I wanted to finish the gloss work in the kitchen, and access to the garden only happens through the kitchen…And, of course, it all took longer than she’d optimistically kept telling me it would……. oh, you get the idea.)

The house did get a jolly good clean, mostly. That could have been for two reasons. The first is because I lost a bank statement, and in turning the house upside down to find it, cleaned various places out. The second  is I’ve had several house guests.

On the other hand, I got away a couple of times, I slept lots, I have the most detailed spreadsheet for dealing with work hours next year. (The hours debacle is, again, one of those matters of which we do not speak. It did not make for a restful month of July. Suffice it to say, I was right. )

I am deeply miffed that the weather is now glorious, when I return to term time work.

In many ways, the new timetable is a lovely one and gives me some leeway when I’m likely to need it next year. There is a huge amount of practical work, and a lot less classroom based work. I will be returning some PPE to the office. I’ll need aprons, but have decided I’d rather use my own, as I do with boots and overalls, as I will use them at home. I have some reservations about some of the work, but need to see how it goes.

But, I am going to have a lazy rest of the weekend now, and enjoy it!

Wherein I have surprised myself..

Goodness me. I have been gardening for much of the day. I have quite enjoyed it. When I say gardening I don’t mean anything complicated, I just mean tidying the front hedge, attacking the third of the grassed area with the shears (it does not deserve the name of lawn at the moment) so that when a dry day comes along and I can get the grass cutting machine out, it won’t die of exhaustion (it is on it’s very last gasp anyway) and weeding the paths.

This odd state of affairs may have come about because I have been office bound for weeks now, and it really doesn’t suit me. I know this, my team know this – the team I’d been lent to for two days a week now know this. So, a day of relatively strenuous activity has been very pleasant.

I have also been enjoying  the Olympics. I was staying with friends the opening weekend, and really loved the Opening ceremony, and the events we watched. Now I’m back home in my TV free zone, I’m enjoying the occasional on-line clip of the best bits, and catching the news about it on the radio. It’s sufficient. Actually, I surprise myself every four years by enjoying it more than I think I will!!

I have also, after taking nearly a month to calm down, claimed a most satisfying victory.

I’m also giggling at myself, after realising several truths about me and church. Dear me, I am a slow learner. But, I’m getting there, which is what matters, and, more to the point, I’m getting to where God wants me.

Plan? What plan?!

It’s serious “go with the flow” time at work now!

The Plan for today was – have a lie-in, have a quick housework whirlwind half hour or so, go sick visiting, do three hours of paid employment, and relax for the evening.

What I actually did was – have the lie-in,  get an apologetic message to say the visit would have to be postponed, dealt with the front hedge and area grandly known as the front garden, cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, went to paid employment via the recycling,  found out it was a wasted journey from doing any work point of view as there was none to be done, but an excellent journey as I’ve discovered I’ve accumulated enough over-time hours for another week off! (Normally I claim the extra, but for once, I’d rather have the time to get caught up with a few people, and chores.) Then I did some serious piano practice.

It’s also come to my attention it is very difficult to buy a purse. Not helped by the fact the excellent bag stall in the nearest little market area has closed down.

Just when I thought things were going to wind down…

For most people in my place of work, in my department, that’s true. I, however, am in that privileged minority with a bit of of a reputation to uphold. For, I am known to achieve the seemingly impossible, for  dealing with miracles on a daily basis, and a capacity for coping with crises that is unparalleled in my sphere of influence.

So, the list of those who get my undivided attention between now and the end of their course work is being created. There will be anguish, tantrums, and possibly tears (but I won’t let on…) but there will be completion.

I think I’d better go and stock up on the chocolate.

It’s that time again…

One of the few things I do catch up with on iPlayer is the bi-annual BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. Probably 2010 was one of the few years I missed the whole competition, since it began in 1978. I think that may have been the year it was shifted to BBC 4, and I just didn’t register it had happened – no matter, I’m back on track with it this year.

Back in the beginning, it was what kept me inspired to keep practising, kept me believing I could get better – though, well aware that as a late-starter, comparatively, as a musician, I was never going to get to the required standard (if memory serves me correctly, at that time, it was Grade 8 with Distinction. The current rules state Grade 8 with no mention of classification.) to even think about entering the competition, let alone be that good! However I’ve since passed Grade 8 on all my three instruments as an adult, and am getting back to where I was after a enforced few years without access to a piano, and when I first left uni, I earned my way as a music teacher, church organist, school pianist and accompanist for non-piano playing teachers for their exam candidates. I used the competition as inspiration for my own pupils, and on at least two occasions, organised trips to concerts where past winners were playing locally. No, none of my pupils ever got to that kind of stage either, but they learned a lot!

In the intervening years, I watched out of interest, I was always pleased to note I rarely got it wrong as to who was going through to the next round in the various categories, though not always correct as to the over all winner. I had occasional wistful moments of wondering what my life would’ve been like if I’d stayed as a working musician, though no regrets. I continued to play for church, and occasionally for schools if they needed a pianist.

Most recently, I’ve been working with teenagers of the opposite end of the spectrum. I think I may have deliberately missed out on 2010 as the contrast between those I work with and those who appear in the competition was much too strong… My students struggle with basic numeracy and literacy, with social skills, with basic day to day living.

However, this year, as I’ve been much more relaxed about many things, I’ve not been hiding the musical side of myself at work. It began last year, when I was timetabled into a room with a piano in it! (For an English lesson… ) With two students who were drawn to it like a magnet. Like many, they’d taught themselves to pick out tunes they knew, but had neither access to piano lessons, or a supportive home life. We struck a deal. If they completed their English work, I would start to teach them a little more, and would play for them occasionally as they worked at their English.

This year, I have different students, but for whom music has also been very important. It’s been the best way of helping them learn to respect other people’s ideas, tastes, views – and that they might like something new! It’s helped two young men to articulate ideas, it’s helped calm others. We’ve introduced each other to music that we like, learnt to listen to the choices of others, and it’s been great. Far more importantly, they are all just beginning to realise there is so much more to them as people than the “failures” they have been throughout their school lives, and that they don’t have to be limited to education as defined by their skills in numeracy and literacy.

So, I’m watching to see who wins the BBC  Young Musician of the Year this year – and will be showing some of it to my own students during the next few weeks. No, none of us will ever be there, but we will enjoy it! I will also be saying to my students at the end of this year that they have worked just as hard, and achieved just as much in their own ways as these young musicians., and I’m every bit as proud of them for it. If not more so!

8 days and counting

I am so thankful I’d already decreed I was having the whole of the Easter break as annual leave, because right now, I’m about as exhausted and wiped out as I’ve ever been in my life, but still tottering on until the end of next week.

Educational Establishment Inspection is all over and done with, and as an added bonus, I’ve also had my annual appraisal, and remarkably we seem to have come out with the same “good with outstanding features” grading. It was a more  interesting appraisal process than last year, and I got a lot of commendation for my realistic view of life!

I am thoroughly enjoying what passes for normal!

I interrupt the silence…

to ask for your prayers and sympathy for the upcoming Ofsted. (Inspection of the educational establishment in which I work.)

Hopefully, next weekend,  a more normal life will resume.

I really chose the wrong year to give up chocolate for Lent.

That was… unexpected

Work was very unexpected… I will be signing a new contract this week, which is working massively in my favour. Not something I expected at all on being summoned to meet the head of department and her sidekick. (My boss’s boss was how I described it to my students, who wanted to know where I was going, leaving a lesson five minutes early. Outrageous behaviour.)

So, I’m staying put until a more ideal job comes along, and as I’ve no clue what that is, I’m taking this as a Sign I’m in the right place, doing the right thing for now. I’d been half heartedly job hunting, as I do want to have a job closer to home, but maybe this is how it’s meant to be.

Then, yesterday dealt me the interesting blow of a problem in the roof space, one that I don’t think is going to be solved easily or quickly. I think it’s been a problem for a long time… then there was the frozen pipe, but I’ve learnt my lessons very well there, and with the help of three hot water bottles and a hairdryer, that one was solved.

It being Education Sunday (no, I’d not really heard of it either, but it exists) we were in the interesting situation of being a very full church, lots of children, teachers and parents from the church primary school, with very few regulars. I was moved to think it was just as well, as there really wouldn’t have been enough seats otherwise… I may have gone to the Quakers next door in that case! I was charmingly entertained by a beautifully well behaved toddler, who responded well to smiles, and peek-a-boo when it was all getting too boring up front… I think I have a new friend. The intercessions were entirely predictable – prayers for teachers and pupils in schools and universities. I prayed fervently for all the support staff and admin staff, of any kind,  and those in FE and higher education establishments that are not universities.

The weather has brought unexpected entertainment. Well, it was much more interesting watching cars struggle and fail along the little hill, and unexpected bend outside my house. No damaged parked cars, fortunately. Locals know not to park this end of the road, if it can be avoided, in the snow.

We won’t discuss the Rugby. I despair.

Here’s hoping the snow doesn’t freeze overnight. I’d rather work this week, than have to make up hours during half term! I’ve got plans for half term!!

It’s not been what I thought it would be, but there are bonuses.

It’s been a bit of a manic start to the year, but nothing  like the stress of the previous two Septembers. So far, I can cautiously say I am enjoying the new timetable, apart from the three mornings extra early start, (and the corresponding wilting by 9.00 p.m., which I dislike intensely) though I am missing the department I mostly worked in last year. (And, they have been kind enough to say they miss me!)

So, the bonuses? It’s less physically tiring work this year, but there are more stairs to climb. I get home slightly earlier two days a week, to compensate for the hideously early starts. So far, I’m not working to my limits, either mentally or time-wise.

In fact, this might be the year, if this continues and (I’m under no illusion that it will remain this way), that I begin to get a bit of a life outside of work during term-time. In a lot of ways, the summer of three days a week in work and two days a week painting/decorating, meant I kept to a good pattern of work hours and it’s been less of a shock going back to full time work three weeks ago.

In the meantime, I’ve had sufficient energy on Sundays to test out a few theories… which have been interesting.

Scary thought..

My line manager wishes to clone me!! Several times!! Eeek! Personally, I think one of me is quite enough for this world to be coping with, however, on the grounds this was spoken during my annual appraisal, I guess I can take it as a compliment.

Mind you, I got to thinking this morning, as I was moving furniture, and pondering the arrangements of my upstairs rooms yet again…(just where does my prayer corner work best, and can I have my keyboard and hymn books adjacent to it without it feeling like a work space…) several of me could be quite useful.

I could send  one of me off to church to be the social, cheery person that appears to be the only acceptable kind of person at this church. I’m keeping going, because I quite enjoy being the Awkward So and So who does not fit in…

I could leave a Domestic Version at home, doing the housework, cooking, gardening, and even getting on with doing some painting, decorating,and general de-scruffyfying of the whole place. I’m slowly making up for the neglect of years, but it’s a slow process.

I could send one of me off visiting all “friends” who are whinging they never see me any more, (but who never actually make any attempt to visit me).

I could send one of me off to do all the academic courses people are trying to talk me into, and for which I have no inclination.

And, the several of me apparently needed at work.

Leaving Me to enjoy me and my life as I’m meant to!!