Friday, December 05, 2003

Yesterday I delivered one of those lovely (and rare) lessons in which everything goes right. The lesson went to plan, the students all learnt something, they all left more confident with their English and I left with the smug glow of job satisfaction.

There’s a new student in the class and seeing her nervousness about English made me realise how far the other students in that class have come in the last couple of months. I remember reading in the summer that the UK Government was dumping its “Those who can, teach” campaign – in which teaching is presented as a series of challenging situations that need overcoming – in favour of playing the job satisfaction angle; my present experience can only back up the truth they would be telling. I’ve mentioned before that our memories are remarkably good at remembering good times and forgetting bad times; just as we would like it. It’s therefore worthwhile me trying to remember how slowly the hours pass when doing a job you’re, at best, only marginally interested in. (It’s also worthwhile me trying to forget how much better the pay is doing a job that you’re, at best, only marginally interested in.)

I ended up in the same bar as last Thursday where I discussed courting rituals with Italians. It’s a lovely rustic little place, dimly lit with candles, simple decor and wooden furniture. The selection of wines is, I’m told, excellent. (I don’t know myself. Whenever we go the Italians all confidently order particular wines by the glass without having to look at the wine list; in contrast us English folk all glance at the wine list before deciding to share a few caraffs of the house red. Philistines all.) And, inevitably, it serves a fine bruschetta. In amongst all that you’d expect the background music to be some mellow jazz or classic guitar rifts from back in the day. But instead, somehow, it’s full on disco: The Bee Gees, Jackson 5 and Earth, Wind and Fire. This makes me happy – very happy – if rather wistful for a good night’s boogie (the opportunities for which are sadly limited in these parts).

Finding places like this is one of the pleasures of getting under the skin of a foreign land. Unfortuantely there always seems to be something else around the corner that’s gonna make you swear. I didn’t have a single incident of any sort in 18 months cycling around London. Less than 18 days cycling around Verona and an idiot threw his car door open without looking as I was cycling by. His lights weren’t even on. I ended up on my arse in the middle of the road. I did, however, take the opportunity to unleash a stream of invective safe in the knowledge that he didn’t know what a “Fucking stupid cunt” was.

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