Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Bits and Pieces

I am still alive.  Just.

Everything is a bit muddled at the moment.  2013 is proving to be an utter cunt of a year.  Would you mind if I whinge a bit?  Howay,  Liz Jones gets paid thousands per column to whine about recalcitrant imaginary rock star boyfriends and bearded collies with dermatitis, you're getting this stuff for free. Indulge me.  Please.

1.  I HATE my job.  Loathe it.  I have to accept that leaving School of Hard Knocks was possibly the worst decision I have made in recent years.  Yes, even worse than my short-lived dalliance with Margot Leadbetter palazzo pants in 2012. For the first time since moving into teaching, I dread getting up in the morning.  The atmosphere in the school is toxic.  The Head is a bully and utterly untrustworthy. My confidence in my own ability has been totally eroded. I must find a new job next term, but generally feel so inept and depressed that I doubt I'd manage to persuade any school to take me on.

2.  The Local Authority  I worked for at SOHK have realised they have overpaid me for quite some time, and apparently I owe them several thousand pounds.  Sigh.  This has come as quite a shock.  I could do without this sort of  problem.  For heaven's sake, I am in my early 40s.  Why do I still have money worries?  Shouldn't I be buying a holiday home in the South of France by now, rather than struggling with a mortgage on a crumbling Sunderland semi? (My house and garden are now so poorly maintained that they resemble those pictures of Chernobyl 25 year on).  I have offered to pay back the amount owed monthly, leaving me approximately £2.50 per month in disposable income.

3.  I have felt, for most of 2013, permanently under-the-weather.  I am plagued with viruses, colds, sore throats, aches, dizziness and upset stomachs.  I suppose it's all stress-related and work related.  Despite this, I have never missed a day of school.  I wouldn't dare.

4.  Rochester is not speaking to me.  He has sulked since I posted the videos of him on my blog in May. Did you see them?  They were only available for a few hours. I was mad at the time.  My dander was up when the oaf forgot my birthday for the third year in a row.  I didn't think he'd even have noticed the films, as my blog has never interested him in the slightest.   I was wrong.  He saw them.

"You crossed a line.  You know you did. I am pissed off with you.'

He gruffly retorted, 6 weeks later.  And that is pretty much all I have heard from him in the last 4 months.

I sent him a birthday present in June.  He was turning 45.  I felt he was at a crossroads in his life. He could amble casually into a dignified and distinguished  middle-age (Tony Benn, Cary Grant, John Le Mesurier) or strut like an arthritic peacock into an mid-life orgy of cocaine,  twenty year old flibbertigibbet girlfriends and pouffy leather blouson jackets.  Rochester's gifts were designed to nudge him gently in the right direction.  They included:

A Harris tweed tie: (from here)  Rochester, since entering the tawdry world of double glazing sales, has sported an irrepressibly brash range of silken, pastel-hued monstrosities. He's become some sort of South Shields Donald Trump.  I felt the need to stage a tie intervention.

A pipe and tobacco: For moments of sober, fireside contemplation.  Pipe-smoking is a dying art. That saddens me.

Chocolate Gingers: Is it just me, or are chocolate gingers the ONLY choice for men of a certain age?  I cannot remember my dad, uncles, male headteachers ever been given any other sort of confectionery.  Let us face it: any other chocolate choice is too frivolous and fey for a real Northern man.  What red-blooded man of the male gender would welcome a box of Dairy Milk? It would be an insult.  It would be castration by confectionary.

Nick Cave:  The Assassination of Jesse James soundtrack: Those of you unfortunate enough to see the Rochester films will have noticed that the rogue (who I painted as a dour and surly misanthrope) has taken to listening (and dancing) to soft jazz.  This can not be allowed to continue.  IT. CAN. NOT.

The whole gift was lovingly wrapped in  home-made Tony Benn wrapping paper.  Gentlemen, wouldn't you LOVE to receive such a gift?

Rochester did indeed send me a new film on his birthday.  Sadly, it was not of him smoking the pipe (he claims never to have received the gift I sent).  It was a film taken of him zip-wiring over a quarry in Wales. Dear God. Interestingly, the film appeared to be narrated by an unknown female voice.  I expect that is why it was sent.  Still, my dear reader, if Rochester chooses to spend his time with a giddy lass who buys him zip-wiring birthday experiences, rather than worldly woman who sends him chocolate gingers and Harris tweed ties, that is his choice and his business.

I shall sign off here.  I am re-reading my favourite book, in an attempt to raise my spirits.   It is a joy.  An absolute joy.

Later I'll do a bit of pottering, maybe fold some laundry, walk the dogs, flick a duster over a coffee table.  I am setting myself small daily goals for the holiday:  get up, do something productive, go to bed.  Oh, and tonight I shall chortle my way through Luther on BBC1.

Swarthy Irish Nemesis:  You think you're the whirlwind. . . I'm the whirlwind!

Luther:  You're not the whirlwind. I. AM. THE. WHIRLWIND!

I do enjoy Luther.  Have you seen it? The dialogue (not spoken, but growled) is sodden with sweaty, swarthy testosterone and peppered  with cliches as clunking and inelegant as a smack in the face with a granite filled rugby sock.  The script IS ghastly. However,  the program still manages to scare the shit out of me every week.

Attempts have been made to soften Luther's tortured grizzly edges: he has a penchant for the sort of tweed jacket rarely seen outside of the Waterloo Road Geography department and he pootles round the mean, litter strewn streets of London in a Volvo that is possibly the vehicular reincarnation of Michael Foot.  He keeps a picture of a dead lover (or wife maybe) in his flat, seemingly with the sole purpose of looking mournfully at it whenever the empathy klaxon goes off (which is approximately every 18 minutes). The pain, loss and bewilderment in the angst-ridden detective's eyes at these moments have rarely been captured so movingly.  Well, not since Greyfriars Bobby lay down with his head on his paws on his master's grave.  Luther is a man who would appreciate a chocolate ginger.  I just know it.


  1. I do hope you got some legal advice before offering/agreeing to pay back your overpaid salary. I'm not sure they can legally expect to get it all (if any) back.

    And, really, you are worth so much better than that horrendous man.


  2. Luther, a fictional character, is so much more deserving of your gifts.....what on earth stops you from drawing a line under this weird relationship? Perhaps it suits you and is of course your business only, but my my woman.....get a grip. As for hating your job? then be brave enough to alter your life now.....you will hate yourself in later life if you bottle it now.

  3. (Blogspot ate my comment, gah. I can only hope both comments don't pop up and make me look like a complete eejit.)

    Where was I? Yes. Luther! Only last week I revealed to the entire internet by weakness for Mr Elba. YOU ARE ONE OF ME, Miss U. Sorry about this.

    Also, I am really sorry about the job-, money- and Rochester-related woe. Any one of these would have been sufficient on its own. Together they are a bit much. However, Miss U, I have Every Confidence in you. Things will get better.

    Keep on, Miss Underscore.

  4. Aw, thanks for the mention (though you spelt my name wrong). Next, I suggest the kaftan and the turban, but not both at once.

    You deserve a lot better than you get, you know. Give yourself a break for the summer hols, and then if everything hasn't just magically improved of its own accord, you can get cracking on it yourself.

  5. Jayne: I haven't had legal advice. I suppose I should have. I have stopped opening correspondence about it all. I just can't face it.

    Libby: A line has been drawn, I think. Gifts were bought long before his recent twattish episodes.

    Elastic Girl: I too am smitten with Mr Elba. Let's face it, the program would be utter shite without him.

    Margot: Damn you! I KNEW as I was typing your name that I should check the spelling. I just couldn't be arsed.

  6. It does seem grossly unfair that you have to give them the money back. It might well be worth talking to a lawyer.

    Yes, that's a horrible run of bad luck, and thank goodness the holidays are here and you can take a break before deciding what to do next.

    I dunno, Ms. Underscore. Why not submit your Rochester screenplay to the BBC or something. It was uncannily good. Maybe teaching isn't your only talent.

  7. I know exactly that feeling of being so utterly demoralized by shite (mis)management of what should be a great public service that
    1) you lose faith that anywhere good would take you
    and 2) you lose faith that there is anywhere good in the public sector.
    and 3) the only way you can cope is by being at work, because the immediate stresses stop you from standing back and seeing the awful, bigger picture, as you do when you have some holidays.

    Of course you articulate this with a lot more humour and better grace than I could; thanks Miss Underscore XXX

  8. Just to say, do take legal advice. It's very unlikely they can just demand return of payment without at least some kind of compensatory system in place for you. Also I love your blog - you write brilliantly. People are probably always saying this to you but you really should consider a novel or something. Rachel

  9. Sorry to say this, but Rochester is just a stupid c*nt. So is Luther.

  10. Luther is a fabulous show, completely and utterly unrealistic, and revelling in it (love it when he smashes his office up); there are around 10 times per episode (minimum) when you think 'are they really allowed to do that?...' The answer is undoubtedly no they are not, but Luther he cares not a fig. They're making a film of it next! Lovely Luther on a giant screen; nom nom nom, his grizzly grey beard...Even the name Idris Elba is indicative of his MAJESTY. Rochester, on the other hand...sigh...a waste of space I think, completely unworthy of your kind thoughts and attention. Sounds like you're starting to feel like that too. I would actually like him to get his comeuppance, but I don't know what that would involve...Luther would sort him out; no, ALICE could sort him out...even better!

  11. Nellig: Oooh. Miss Underscore at the BBC! What a thought. What would Aunty Margaret say? Still, I suppose they've commissioned worse (Yes, I'm looking at you Miranda). I'd love to do a novel, Rachel. I would LOVE to try.

    TSB: You are back! Hello.

    Mimi: Luther was preposterous last night. Seriously, the plot had my head spinning. Of course Idris was majestic in his tweed jacket of justice, but imagine how magnificent he would be in something subtle and well crafted like The Fall. He needs a better script.

    And yes, maybe I should have had legal advice. I've been avoiding the whole issue somewhat. And, having only worked in the public sector for 6 years, I absolutely agree, mismanagement and empire building is rife. I can't decide whether that makes me want to have my own school or whether it makes me want to leave education altogether.

  12. HELLO. The world has been a little poorer without your writing. That is all.

  13. Idris Elba has only had one truly great role where the script matched his acting ability. I refer of course to the mighty Wire, the tv show that spoilt me for tv shows..... and I believe that Lester sported a tweed jacket in that same series.

  14. I'd be inclined to offer them a very small monthly repayment which wouldn't make a dent in your pipe budget.

    Could we not all collectively arrange for a proper man, his arrival heralded by a slight odour of cherry tobacco, to dashgingly cross your path?

  15. I'm so sorry you're having such a terrible year. Since the excess pay was someone else's mistake, they should be bending over backward to accommodate you in fixing the situation. I agree with those who suggest you get the advice of a lawyer.

  16. Stupid Rochester didn't deserve that wonderful collection of gifts. Nor does he deserve you. I actually managed to catch one of the videos (sheer luck, that) and I found it absolutely hilarious. I only wish you had left it up forever for everyone to weigh in.

    I agree--hire a lawyer! Will be worth every penny to feel you have someone arguing and fretting on your behalf, and you will feel properly fortified and defended. Which you deserve.

    I am rooting for you.

  17. Arrgh, I'm so sorry this job move has turned out so badly. And Rochester makes me shake my fist at the sky. HATE THAT GUY.

    Idris Elba, though. If he ever smiles or speaks above a growl, his face might fall off. Despite (because of?) this, I find him unbearably sexy. The ultimate fate of Luther's coat amused me.

  18. Tired Dad: Thank you. Now get back to your own blog. You may have perfectly ripened Gardener's Delight at the moment, but your loyal readers are withering on the vine.

    Looby: BE MY GUEST. Please DO locate a 'proper' man for me. Don't make me suffer the indignity of mismatch.com again. (No Lib Dems, vegetarians, limp academics or owners of staffordshire bull terriers please).

    IB & Patience: Oh, thank you so much. Nice to know that someone is rooting for me.

    Robin: Hello. That coat metaphor had me perplexed. He took off his dusty tweed overcoat, chucked it (with a swagger) in the Thames, only to reveal an almost identical dusty tweed jacket underneath. What can it mean?

  19. I think it means Idris Elba is made of onion-like layers of tweed. No matter, I still want to get sexy with him.

  20. Very sorry to be reading about your difficulties, but delighted to be reading your writing – please keep it up.
    BTW, it's always dodgy recommending books, but “The Journal of Edwin Carp” could help cheer you up.

  21. Oh how I love your writing, and how I despise and curse Rochester and all who sail in him. Tch.
    I am truly sorry that 2013 has been crap so far. I would say that things can only get better, but am afraid it would make me sound like the Sedgefield poltroon. The BBC would be lucky to get you, you know - you really do have a lot of talent. I'd echo what pretty much everyone has said about getting some legal advice about the over-payments too. (It isn't your fault the council can't count so let them whistle for it.) Keep ahaad.
    J x