Exam responses

I mark exam papers, some of the things the kids write can be … creative…

For example a few of them like to draw me nice pictures

Some of them seem to have a bit of a crisis in the middle of the exam

Then we have those that started writing with good intentions, but then they seemed to sort of lose their way which is a thing you can very easily do in an exam when the pressure is on and you forgot the question, it’s a bit like in an interview where they ask a question and you just start speaking and half way through realise you have no idea what you’re talking about but cannot stop yourself without sounding daft…


Some also seem to forget that creative writing isn’t required in all exams…

automated backups

all die

Some of them haven’t quiet mastered spelling things, I blame spell chequers personally.

There are those brave souls, who in the absence of sound knowledge (or making any attempt to actually revise for their exams) have a damn good go at making stuff up that sounds right.

And then there’s people that are destined to either be computer programmers or doctors…

chicken scratches no beabel to read peopel hand wigting bad hand writing

Kids are good at irony, although they don’t realise…


Remember folks, the next time you’re using the self service checkout in a store, this is how it really works…


Configuring Service Pack…

Please wait while we inconvenience you...

So I’m back at work next Thursday (no, don’t ask, nobody knows why) and since I have a bit craploads of work to do before then I figured now would be a good time to start.

So I boot my work netbook containing my files. And it boots, then happily informs me there are updates being installed. This is fine, it’s Windows, being irritating is usual. The updates finish and the machine starts pestering me to reboot so deciding I’d like to get my work done instead of watching PCs reboot I figured I could just copy the files onto a USB stick and use my Mac instead. The netbook can go off and do its thing, I can do some work.

But no, instead the computer is so obsessed with these new updates it has that it won’t stop fiddling with its HDD, making even the simple task of wiping a USB stick impossible. It’s like someone replaced my PC with a 286. Fine, Windows wins, let’s reboot.

And five minutes of installing updates later, it reboots. Then five minutes of configuring updates later the desktop is back… where Windows informs me it’s found an update to install. Twenty odd minutes later Windows 7 SP1 is downloaded and installing, and that only takes about quarter of an hour.

Oh yeah, and the batteries in my mouse on my Mac went dead, and my USB stick has a virus on it.

I think I’ll give up and try again later.

Snowpocalypse, Winter 2010

Due to the rather cold and snowy weather last week I was unable to go to work. We were open on Monday, but then it snowed hard Monday night. Our valiant ground staff managed to clear qthe site …

However then it snowed again and undid all their hard work…

So we remained closed while the bad weather passed over, and after hiring a JCB for a few days the site was declared safe to return today on Monday.

Here are some huge icicles hanging over one of the glass porches at work.

While trying to take those photos I tried an old Canon A85, however I think there’s something wrong with its image sensor…

Today was a good day

My day went comparably well; I tried to shoe-horn 27 kids into a room containing 24 PCs – hilarity ensued. Then I discovered I have a nice group that are quiet and moderately sane, followed by my A-Level group who have been gifted with brains! They didn’t look confused at me when I told them stuff! And to top this off I had a spot of schadenfreude when a kid who drove me bonkers last year was having a small paddy in the bus turnaround because he’d lost his phone and missed his bus. 😀

Behind the Irony curtain

So, work has a filter to prevent us looking at unsuitable content. This is fair, it’s a school full of children and they really shouldn’t be looking at dodgy websites or chatting on Facebook.

However, the filter applies to everyone in school and it is a bit “over protective”, using a rather rubbish keword system. Sometimes it bans news websites if they mention too many key words. After reading about China’s internet firewall I tried to do a bit of research, you know it might be interesting to tell my students about – they think it unfair they can’t go on Bebo in lessons, well at least their entire country isn’t sealed off.

However… the Great Firewall of China is so secretive and dangerous I wasn’t allowed to view its Wikipedia page at work!

Trying to view wikipedia page about the Great Firewall of China

I need drugs

So, it turns out I have oral thrush, which is interesting. In the mornings it feels like someone has carefully dried out my nose, mouth, throat and then rinsed the whole thing with some stale beer. It’s quite unpleasant really, but in a non-specific way; nothing really hurts, but it’s just … not right.

I went to the doctors and after poking a torch in my mouth he happily told me it was thrush, and that some lozenges will sort it. One prescription later … I don’t have any lozenges. The local pharmacy has none and says there are “manufacturing problems” so they can’t get any either. Tomorrow I will try the Tesco across the road from school.

Today at work it was decided that a fire drill would be a good idea… five minutes before morning break. So the whole of break was spent stood on the astroturf with some rather irritated children. There were also quite a lot of worms, quite a lot of screaming girls, and lots of boys playing with the worms.

There are now less worms.

School holidays and working conditions

Aren’t school holidays wonderful? I am enjoying a week off from being a government sponsored child minder. So far I’ve been ill, done some tidying and random housework and marked four boxes of students’ work.

It’s quite a change of work style going from “normal” work conditions to teaching. Previously I was used to working in a shop five days a week with a token amount of holidays per year. The two days I was entitled to could have been together, or spaced out depending on the week and situation. The holidays had to be booked in advance and negotiated with other people to make sure it all fitted. And before that I used to work twelve hour days and get one day off a week with no holidays whatsoever because it was seasonal work so we had the entire winter “off”. Before that I used to work in an office doing whatever hours we needed, with the only guaranteed holiday being at Christmas.

Go into a school and suddenly there’s all these laws and regulations about how and when work is done. If you’re not a teacher, here’s how life goes:
Continue reading School holidays and working conditions

Finally back home, also full of curry

Today’s been a bit of a weird one. Since my car was in the garage being repaired, I was fortunate enough to have a lift to work with someone I work with. During my first lesson nobody turned up because they were in an exam, which was nice. By half twelve the garage had rung to tell me my car was ready, so as soon as my bus duty at 3pm had finished I was off to catch a bus into town to collect it.

And there I learnt a handy, but annoying fact; there are several local bus companies, they all issue some form of ‘Day Saver’ or ‘All Day’ ticket. And since I needed to catch two buses to get home (the garage is a half mile or so walk from my house) I bought an ‘All Day’ ticket. Did the second bus driver even understand what this ticket was? Did they buggery. Did I have to spend more money? Yep.

Personally I don’t think the second bus driver understood English, my stop has a very ambiguous name – it simply being the name of the road – and I have yet to find a bus driver that understands what the hell I’m on about. I end up pointing at his destination card and finding something recognisable. It’s a right farce.

Walked to the garage, which was fairly pleasant. It’s a long enough walk to count as mild exercise, but not so long you want to give up half way. I collected my car and drove back to work, arriving in time to do a bit of marking and then go for parents’ evening.

And parents’ evening should finish at 8pm, so why was I still there at half past? I think I had nearly all my students from one group come to talk to me, and even weirder I actually had meaningful stuff to say to their parents. Rather than some vague made up stuff I could say “They have done x, y, and now need to do z. After z we do u and v, followed by p and q”. It was all very specific and structured. Quite odd, I normally prattle drivel for a bit before abruptly stopping and getting bored.

After work we went out for a curry, which was very nice and is now digesting inside me. I think I might burst.

Tomorrow I’m leaving the instant the kids have gone, and not a second later.

Car seems better, it makes what I hope are normal clunking noises and I hope the mild paranoia I have about holes in the road goes away soon. Your car contains big metal springs, they can go at any time without warning. They can go when you’re driving, or when the car is safely locked in your garage. They can also go without giving any outward signs until something Serious breaks off.

Tales from the late shift – £3/hour and all the books you can read

Back in my college (that’s what we English do between the ages of 16 and 18) days I used to have a part time job. Like most students the part time job was suitably easy, requiring no real skill beyond the ability to stand upright and appear at work when required.

My part time job was working in the local petrol station at unsociable hours during the weekends. So in response to people asking me “what did you do in your student days” I can reply “I sat in a small room reading books, watching people put petrol in their cars”. I didn’t need to go out drinking, the petrol fumes were enough.

I have many tales of weirdness to share with you, so this might become a regular thing until I run out of vaguely amusing anecdotes to tell.

My shifts used to run from 5pm to 11pm, 3pm to 11pm or the horrendous Sunday Morning shift of 7am to 3pm (or was it 8am, I can’t remember. I just remember it being nasty). To pass the time I had a variety of duties, the main one being extracting cash from customers in return for our extortionately priced petrol. We charged 80p/litre back in 1997 which made people grumpy. For the most part they willingly handed over the cash, and few tried to get away without paying.

My other duties included staying awake, watching the local teenagers steal things, talking to taxi drivers and spending three hours mopping the floor. And reading. I did a lot of reading, I think I read most of the sci-fi section of my local library. For this I was paid £3 an hour and it paid for my brand new Internet connection and mobile phone.

Taxi driver came banging on my window one night just as I was closing, evidently in some distress so I opened the door. “Quick mate, need a bucket and some water… some f*cker’s just spewed in my cab!”. People used to wait until I’d just closed up before running across all flustered asking for green rizlas, 10 B&H and a money bag. I wish the local potheads could tell the time and planned their munchie runs a bit better. You know, it’s not like many people want to buy petrol at 10pm so coming then to talk bollcoks at me would be much better.

Same in the morning with the dimwitted types who’d arrive on the forecourt before me and try filling up their cars. Hello! The shop is closed! You will need to hang the pump up or the computer won’t switch it on. No, you don’t understand do you? OK, I’ll go into the shop, turn on some lights and then vanish for fifteen minutes for a crap and a cup of tea while I wake up. You just stand there like a lemon.

And don’t even think of trying to buy your morning fags with that £20 note as you’re my first customer and I have no change!

Where were you when Princess Di died? I was sat in the shop serving customers, it was a Sunday morning and quite sunny. We didn’t sell newspapers so I found out by customers telling me.