Friday, April 28, 2017

Check for Pigeons

So the pigeons are back with a vengeance, trying to make a nest on the balcony. I don't think so. The amount of times I have to bang on the balcony door, I swear one time I'll go through it. I mean, granted, we've got a lot of crap on the balcony. It is a dumping ground for things we need to take to the big recycling - that could remain there for up to two years - old plant pots, the paint that we still need to finish the kitchen with, and all a tiny 1.5 by 2.5 metre space. So I get it pigeons, it's cosy. It has all these cool places to hide your nest away, and you'll feel safe with your little ones. But it's my bloody balcony. It's not a nesting ground and you're turning me into a paranoid person. With every sound I'm rushing to the window to shoo them away and sometimes they're not even there. But then other times they are proudly patrolling the small bit of clear walk space, like it's their territory. They are certainly getting cocky. Sitting on the railing, looking in, nosy little buggers. Ever get the feeling you're being watched? You probably are. Check for pigeons.

Does anybody else do the egg panic? When you've got four eggs left and the use by date is in two days, but you're really busy and don't think you'll have chance to use them? No? Anyone? But then you get home exhausted on a Wednesday after eight very full music classes, having pulled something in your shoulder, which makes up your mind that you definitely won't be going to Swing Dance. And then, your mind remembers those four eggs: I can bake things so I won't waste the eggs. No really, does anyone else do this? I ended up making a batch of cranberry and white chocolate cookies, most of which went in the freezer, for a rainy day, or a day when you just want to eat cookies. Either way. And I also made two small apple tea cakes. Again, both in the freezer until needed. Unfortunately, I then ran out of flour, butter and caster sugar and so one egg did go to waste, but at least I managed to use three of them. Ah, the good old egg panic.

So you may or may not know that I actually joined this modern technological century we're living in, granted several years behind times, but I'm there so stop complaining.  And I now own a smart phone. I'll wait a moment whilst you pick yourself up off the floor. I know, it's quite a shock. *Waiting*

Okay, are we all up now? Good. So his name is Gilbert and he's been mine about two months. It was tough to change over as I had issues with getting my PAC code, but he's officially mine - adopted from A of course, there's no way I could have afforded an iPhone. And we've already had a slight mishap. I dropped him last week during a long walk in Epping Forest, and despite his tough look, he crumbled like Madeira cake. Luckily, A knew of a fabulous place behind Goodge Street called Lovefone. They replaced the whole screen in about 10 minutes. Bish, bash, bosh. Job done. And Gilbert is renewed to his former self. I highly recommend these guys if you're in central London and in need of a phone repair. You can ring them or book online for a slot and they will fit you in when they can. All parts, except batteries, come with a life time warranty. And they saved the day because I was absolutely gutted with a completely shattered screen, and then a few hours later, they fixed it. Thank you Lovefone.

Whilst writing this I have been beating the door to shoo away the pigeons. It is a constant barrage. But I will not be defeated. I will stand my ground. I was here first and the balcony is mine! (Well technically ours, I mean A lives here too, but for the purposes of this blog, mine sounds better.) I don't even want to leave for a run, as I'm convinced I'll come back and they'll have moved in with their extended family, maybe a few cousins and an elderly aunt or something. What exactly are the squatters' rights of pigeons? Or is this just me trying to get out of a training run?

Hmmmm, Definitely time to post this and get my ass off to Hampstead for a run. Thanks for reading.
Happy long weekend to you all.


Friday, April 7, 2017

It's Just One of Those Weeks

'It's just one of those weeks,' is a phrase used often to convey all the shitty things that happen, that really squash you down in the quagmire. It's usually accompanied by a sigh and a head tilt down. You know the movements. You've done it hundreds of times, I'm sure. I find it quite a useful phrase because whilst the reasons behind your week will be different to someone else's, you don't need to explain further. Those six words are enough. 'It's just one of those weeks.' Bam. Done. Sentiments conveyed. 

Alternatives to this phrase are of course the shorter time period: 'It's just one of those days.'
And of course the ones no one really wants to experience: 'It's just one of those months.' Or even worse, 'It's just one of those years.' Though of course there will be some form of hope or light or silver lining within these longer time periods, otherwise life would be a constant sigh. 

So as you might have guessed, this week was one of those weeks for me, and whilst I don't need to explain further, it wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't. But alas, do not fear, the week wasn't a total disaster and so this rant will be split into two sections: 
  • The things that killed my week
  • The things that saved my week. 

The Things That Killed My Week
  • Monday
On Monday I was forgotten. I was an inconvenience. I ruined people's plans. On Monday I was shat all over. On Monday I was livid!

I arrived to teach at my newest school. I have been there 10 weeks. I go every Monday unless I am on half term break. And so, I arrive on an unusually sunny and warm Monday morning to find half of my Toddler class leaving the premises for a trip to the park. Now, I have no problem with the children taking trips and I think they should have lots of outdoor play, but not in the half hour window that I have to teach them, and not when their parents have paid for a service which I am supposed to provide. The looks on the faces of the staff were incredible. Like me turning up on time, for my lesson, when I'm supposed to, was such an inconvenience to them - not me, but them! - and that I'd ruined their day. 

But as always, I couldn't lose my shit, because the children were there and it's not fair on them, and I would never subject them to an angry, or even heated discussion with the staff whilst they were in ear shot. However, I was particularly angry and peeved because this is not the first time they've 'forgotten' I was coming. Their only comment was: 'We were just going to the park.' I mean, what can even you say to that? You shouldn't be going to the park right now. I need these children in music class. Are you morons? And ultimately, why didn't the manager or upper echelons - another incredible word - stop them from going out?  

Anyhoo, I put on my Little Miss Diplomatic hat, and told them they had to be back in half an hour and I would see if I could teach the Preschool class first. It didn't give them long in the park, but really they should have offered to bring the children back, which of course they didn't. So, I enter the school, I ask if the Preschool class would be ready for a lesson now and I am told they are going to the park. At this point they're lucky I'm still wearing the hat because there are no children present and I'm seething. Needless to say, I persuade them otherwise, possibly through the look on my face, and it all works out. But I keep thinking: the new term starts at the end of April, we'll probably be having lots of nice weather. Are they going to do this every week? And so I sent a rather heated email to the managers to explain my thoughts on this matter. 

Sadly, it doesn't end there. The child I teach on Monday asked me to fill in a form for him, for school and in the past his mum had commented on how I should have filled it in because it's quicker, and I thought oh, okay, this must have come from her. And I filled it in with his help, but of course I got something wrong and then I felt terrible and really I shouldn't trust the nine year old to give me all the information. 

And finally, what should have been a bright spot in the week, my final Italian lesson, was a bit of a dirge. I worked really hard on this written homework and she didn't even ask us to read them out, or collect them in to read herself. I spent a lot of time on it and being me it wasn't a short piece of writing. And nothing. Boo. Okay, enough of Monday. Shitty all round. 

  • Tuesday
Tuesday morning I was super productive. I was up early and working and sorting things for music class. I left on time and was excited for my last class of the term, when the bus decided not to come for 25 minutes. So I called to say I would be late. I HATE BEING LATE! Then the bus did that annoying thing where it stopped to change drivers and got stuck in a mass of traffic at King's Cross. So I arrived 20 minutes late for my lesson. I have never arrived 20 minutes late for a music class in my life. I also had the rest of my morning and early afternoon cleverly planned out because I still had 8 reports to write for Wednesday. But of course everything was then delayed and I only managed to get 4 of the 8 reports done before my afternoon work. Bollocks.

  • Wednesday
I seem to be increasingly in the way. I seem to be an inconvenience everywhere I go. And so, another day of teaching, another bought of shit. The schools I work at use a particular educational philosophy - I won't expand on that only to say that the teachers of this educational philosophy often tend to be very rigid. They have little flexibility in their ways and times and I find flexibility is essential when working with children of all ages. That's all I will say on that matter. But, I was essentially booted off the nice large carpeted area in order for the children to be able to take their activities back and forth from the table and, essentially I'm in their way. I was shoved in the book corner which meant the children sitting on a small rug and me sitting on the hard floor. Yay

Now what really kicked me in the teeth was the fact that all morning, and I taught three classes in there, none of the children were using the equipment from the shelves around the carpet area. None of them were doing their work cycle, and most of them were standing behind me, climbing over me, walking through the circle where I was teaching, and running around screaming. So I spent most of my lessons asking the other children to go away, screaming over the din in the room and longing for a carpet to sit on. Why I am getting a numb bum on hard floors when you're not even doing what you said you'd be doing? Knobs.  

Now these were my last classes before my Easter break. I take two weeks off at Easter, mainly for my sanity after writing 60 reports, and every year I get these comments: 'Oh, two weeks, it's alright for some.' 'That must be nice.' 'I wish I had two weeks off.' *Takes deep breath before launching into a rant that's been brewing for some time*

I am self-employed. Yes, two weeks off is amazing, but in those two weeks off I am not paid. I have no money. I will earn zilch! Whenever I take a holiday, I have to pay for that holiday but I get no holiday pay. Again, earning nothing when paying for things. I think some people just don't get it. They go on holiday and they are still paid for their time away. I am not. If I don't work I don't have any money. I don't get sick pay so I have to work even if I am sick, or I have to refund, so I lose money. Everything that happens is reliant on me. There is only me. I am a one person operation. Anything goes wrong, it's on me. Etc. Etc. So whilst there are some perks for being self-employed. Holidays whenever you want, are not really one of them. And I would appreciate less comments on the matter. 

The final catastrophe was when the hoover broke down, again, whilst I was half way through the hoovering and A's parents were on the way for a visit. And I still had to clean the kitchen and prepare dinner for everyone........ And breathe. 

  • Thursday
New tax year. Urgh. That means I need to start thinking about my self-assessment tax return. Again. How does it come around so quickly? And you know all those things that you think you're going to do through the year, like keep up with your expenses list, and working out your travel as you go along? This is the point where you realise you didn't do anything of that. Oops. 

I also had 40 parent emails to do, which took forever because my mind was doing that thing where it wanders around and acts out scenes from my novels, and just generally severs ties with concentration. It was painful but I got them done. 

Things That Saved My Week
  • Monday was a total write off. Nothing saved my week on Monday. Nothing!
  • Tuesday was saved by my good friend Claire, amazingly exciting pizza and a large glass of wine. Thank you Claire. Also, I had started reading 'Is It Just Me?' By Miranda Hart, and it was just what I needed. You really have to hold back the laughter on public transport. 
  • Wednesday was saved by A arriving home just before his parents arrived so we could all eat risotto together. 
  • Thursday was saved by a conversation with an adult, buying a gorgeous dress in the sale, and Mexican food. A truck load of Mexican food.
  • Friday was saved by a 7.5 km run, hopefully burning off some of said Mexican food. 
I think my point is that whilst you may be having 'one of those weeks', there will always be a bright spot. There will be something that can reconfirm your faith in humanity or simply make you smile. And even if that moment is gone too soon, it happened and it's there for you to hold onto through the shitty quagmire. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you're having a better week, though granted it was mainly Monday to Wednesday that whipped me into a frenzy. I hope you can enjoy a relaxing end to the week and soak up some sunshine. 

Rants out.