Mind you, I did feel a little sorrowful and lonely yesterday, but at least I had The Killing to look forward to. I may not have had a salient conversation with an adult for 48 hours, but who cares? Lund's sleuthing jumper was just the tonic I needed. (It is the knitwear equivalent of Miss Marple's brogues). Then, ABOMINATION, the phone rang. I despise the telephone, almost to the point of phobia. I love emails and texts but a CONVERSATION. Dear God NO! I answered because I thought (hoped) it was Rochester. It wasn't. It was my nutjob Aunty Joan, who was quite obviously high on a cocktail of blood pressure medicine, Night Nurse and cooking sherry. She had called to hector me about:
1. The general illiteracy, aggression and ill manners of young people today. (I am a teacher, therefore it is my fault).
2. The fact that I have not visited her since last year.
3. My inability to find a husband. She attributes this to my affection for jeans, my filthy, slattern-like approach to housekeeping and the fact that I buy, rather than make, Yorkshire puddings.
4. The woman next door, who she believes is a prostitute.
Miss Underscore: Why do you think she is a prostitute?
Aunty Joan: She's got SORTS going in and out at all hours of the day. Oh, and the noises through the anaglypta, they're enough to make Blackie's hair stand on end. (Blackie is her decrepit, one-eyed cat). AND, she leaves her wheelie bin out all week.
Miss Underscore: How does that make her a prostitute?
Aunty Joan: Too busy on her back to bring it in! She's lazy. Her SORT wouldn't help a lame dog over a stile. And, (triumphantly) when I look in her recycling box, all the bottles are BROWN!
Miss Underscore: (innocently) Marmite?
Aunty Joan: BEER!!! For her fancy men, no doubt. Some of them are even (pauses for dramatic effect) BLACK!
Miss Underscore: The bottles?
Aunty Joan: NO! THE MEN! The men are BLACK!
Thank you Aunty Joan. One conversation with you was enough to reaffirm my belief that a weekend of quiet solitude is not actually a bad thing.
Oh, I must tell you my FAVOURITE ever Aunty Joan quote. Some years ago she was droning on about 'young people' again, and how they all need a good thrashing.
Aunty Joan: I was on the bus and there were some girls sitting at the back. Skirts like belts, roots black as their souls. I asked them to be quiet. I was quite polite too. I said 'Dear me, you should be acting like young ladies, not wanton hussies. Could you mind your language please?'
Miss Underscore: What happened?
Aunty Joan: Well, they said something to me. I don't quite know what it means, but I think it might have been rather rude.
Miss Underscore: What did they say?
Aunty Joan: They said 'Oh shut up you dripping cunt.' What does it mean Elizabeth? Was it terrible?
Miss Underscore: No, not at all, Aunty Joan. You could even start to use it yourself, to the ladies at your poetry club. (Aunty Joan goes to a poetry night class, where she writes truly terrible Pam Ayres style rhyming couplet poems about cardigans and battenburg). I am sure you could even write a poem about it.
Aunty Joan: There's a thought, I could! There are lots of rhymes for 'cunt', after all: hunt, punt, stunt . . .
School of Hard Knocks Update
I've got post-OFSTED syndrome. I just can't be fucked. I drove to work on Monday with a vague notion of doing digital time in Maths and ghost stories in literacy. I had no plans written. My afternoon lessons would be decided at lunchtime. We're all feeling very demoralised. Most (not all) of us work incredibly hard and yet, according to OFSTED, we're not good enough.
The report is out. I haven't seen it yet, apparently it is worse than anticipated. I think Pompous shot us in the foot. In his first telephone call with the lead inspector he (apparently) droned on about how we work with the most challenging kids in the city, how our estate is the most deprived in the North East, how our first job, before we even can start to teach, is to deal with horrendous behaviour issues. Those, Pompous blustered, were the reasons our results were so poor. There is an element of truth in that, but, to an OFSTED inspector I am sure it sounds like a trite excuse. Then, of course, when the inspection team were in, the kids were all perfectly behaved and well-mannered. They saw no evidence of challenging behaviour at all.
The good news though, is that Pompous Pilate, the beetrooty buffoon, took last week off. The atmosphere around school was much more relaxed. Even the kids seemed to be a bit more mellow and content (and for once, this was not due to their Ritalin).
He is back tomorrow. I expect we'll be shown the OFSTED report at Monday's torturous after-school meeting. I shall let you know how we fared.
Interweb Dating Update
I am sorry to say my interweb dating experiences are not improving. Let me tell you about two of yesterday's emails. This one was surprising for several reasons,
i saw your profile and thought you sounded really nice, sort of in vogue with a hint of elegance, also confident with an unpretentious perspicacious side, i also thought we may have a bit in common, hence my decision to ask you how your weekend is going so far?...
Here is a cove who can't be bothered to use an apostrophe, or capitalize his 'I's (if he truly is that tardy then what chance of him putting the wheelie bin out, or indulging in foreplay?). BUT he used the words 'hence' and 'perspicacious' in his email. Very unorthadox. I must confess, dear reader(s), I didn't have a clue what 'perspicacious' meant. My first instinct was to assume it was related to perspiration, and that I was being insulted. I had to look it up in the dictionary.
Next I got an email from an awfully handsome Italian chap. He is something of a swarthy rogue, I can tell. He had posted about 80 pictures of himself on his profile, he is obviously terribly vain. It was an endearing email though,
Hi !!! I was reading your profile...you are very charming with a sweet smile! Also if we are a little too far, i'd love to meet you!!! I 'm italian single man with some hobbies(theatre,atletics and cooking). Meanwhile i send you my greetings from Rome!! P.S: sorry x my English because isn't very good also i've been in England last year!
I did like his 'greetings from Rome!' he sounded like a presenter on the Eurovision Song Contest. I generally, as a rule, only accept one exclamation mark in a dating email. As you know, my preference is for dour and sardonic men. I don't want to end up with Keith Chegwin (shudder). There were other reasons to discount Claudio though. Firstly, he is too far away. Secondly, he specified he wants a girlfriend who weighs between 8 and 9 stone (the only time my bathroom scales read a single-digit number is when I am weighing Cecil, the Maine Coon, for his worming tablet). Thirdly, the cove enjoys 'singles parties'. I am not sure I know what a 'singles party' is, but I have visions of the tawdry horror of Eyes Wide Shut. 'Singles parties' will undoubtedly involve nudity, Venetian masks and Ferraro Rocher. The very thought has me reaching for the Rescue Remedy.
I was tempted to reply to Claudio though. I noted, with interest, his comment about visiting England last year. I started typing a response,
Did you make it as far North as Newcastle? We have a greater number of Greggs per capita than any other city in the world. Pretty impressive eh? Put that in your Spanish Steps and smoke it!
I didn't send it, of course. My so called humour is frequently lost on English men. Italian rogues, with pidgin English and an love of gratuitous exclamation marks, stand no chance of 'getting it'.
I still have neither heard from Rochester, nor rang him. I think about ringing him every night. Sometimes I pour myself a large single malt and sit with the phone in my hand for hours. It is a agony. But, my phone phobia is too severe. I just can't do it.
I was reading I Capture the Castle yesterday (possibly my favourite book of all time). I found this line of Cassandra's very moving.
Everything in the least connected with him has value for me; if someone even mentions his name it is like a little present to me.
I started the blog, exactly 2 years ago, because although Rochester and I had split, I still felt brimming with love, warmth and affection for him. It was an affection that I needed to talk about. I couldn't talk about it (I am too reserved) but I could write about it. That is the heritage of Parma Violet Tea. When I read the Rochester posts on here, especially the accounts of our time together, it strikes me that they're my best pieces of writing. I think I capture him very well; his sardonic and ramshackle charm. They're written with love. That's the reason. It is both ironic and tragic that, two years down the road, I am in exactly the same position I was when I started this blog.