In the first week of October I went home for a few days. Wow, did you see that? ‘Home’ - I went home for a few days. I haven’t lived there since 1995, and haven’t lived there permanently since about 1986. But still there is something ‘home’ about Ringwood. Is it because I grew up there? Or because I was born there? Or that my mum and dad still live there? Or a mix of all those reasons. Anyway, I spent a lot of quality time with mum. I spent a great evening with my brother, Dougal, who’d come all the way from Birmingham to spend a night at mum’s and an evening drinking in the Elm Tree and and later in mum’s dining room with me. I had a lovely evening at Alex Pilley’s catching up with her and Ian, Harris and Elsie - her partner, son and daughter respectively. All in all, a lovely few days.
I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned this, but we’re going on holiday. Me and Ann. Just the two of us. Yes, just the two of us. Never been done been before. Never been heard of. Of course, we went to Peebles overnight a year or so ago, and we went to Dalhousie Castle for a night about 15 years ago. But, this will be 7 nights away, 7 nights overseas - a real bona fide holiday. We’ve got a week in Budapest booked. From the 15th to the 22nd of October, just me and my beloved in an Air BnB flat in downtown Pest.
I can’t wait. Roland was here only last week and he loved it. He sent photos of the beautiful spa in which he spent a couple of days. Looks perfect. I think you’ll agree.
Equinox weekend - the last weekend of the summer? Certainly autumnal weather. I got out and mowed the lawn for the last time in 2018. Well, I hope it’s the last time this year! Ann & I spent an hour or so in the garden tidying up the grass and flower beds. It looks quite nice. Photo should be here somewhere.
The rest of the day involved drinking cider, as usual, and watching football: Fulham v Chelsea and Arsenal v West Ham. We also started watching Black Mirror - never seen it before. Excellent drama - appropriately sick, disturbing and amusing in turn. The first episode involving a British Prime Minister blackmailed into fucking a pig on live TV was especially good. Apparently, it was released before the scurrilous rumours about David Cameron, who had actually put his cock in an (albeit dead) pig. Charlie Brooker (the writer) must have thought that was gold dust!
Another thing I haven’t mentioned, or only in passing, is Hannah’s 19th birthday party at the Slug and Lettuce. We (that is the family - Ann and I, Hannah and her fella, Andy, and Carrie, Ella and Faith) went to the George Street branch and had a slap-up meal. Very nice food. Less impressive service and atmosphere. Full of tarts and heroes, as Jordan would have said.
Feeling pretty good about my progress today. I completed the task for the second module, which was to create a reading comprehension lesson from a passage of my choice. I went for an article from The Metro about the struggle for supremacy between Teresa May and Boris Johnson and their open argument over Brexit. The lesson went pretty well and I sent off the article, the comprehension questions, a student feedback sheet that I designed and my evaluation of it all to my tutor, Ian McIntyre. I got an almost immediate response which was very positive in both its tone and the detail. Very happy!
Next task is another reading lesson - I've got to create preparatory tasks for a reading passage which will prepare students for the structures and vocabulary they will meet in the text. Looking forward to it really.
A wee slump over the weekend. No studying, but plenty of tv football.
I got an email from Ian McIntyre today - he's my tutor on the Dip - in reply to my first cache of written work. Generally speaking, it was well-written but had missed the point to a certain extent. I need to concentrate my thoughts much more on the development of teaching skills, a detailed response to an issue that can relate to how I could improve my teaching. So, that's what I need to consider. Next task - find a passage of writing that I can use to deliver a reading comprehension lesson. I will spend an hour or so tomorrow doing exactly that.
I have now done two days in a row of spending at least an hour's study time on the Diploma every day. Today, when I arrived home from work on the bus, having met Ann in Lidl in Dalry and then walked from there to St Michael's church to get the bus, I reached my folder down from the top of the bookcase, opened the laptop, and dived once again into the modules. Today, I had a good look at the guidelines for the Observational Instrument and broke the back of Module 2. Module 2 is the first of two about reading comprehension lessons.
So, now, the work has to go in two directions: 1) I've got to look further into the art of lesson observation and come up with a rationale for my Instrument project, which I think will be something to do with error correction and gender; and 2) I've got to find a reading passage that I can use for reading comprehension lessons and from which I can cobble together comprehension questions which I will then use in a class and evaluate.
On the domestic front, the house is a bit empty - Hannah is away at Andy's, which is south of Glasgow somewhere - Lanarkshire, a place called Forth. Ella is staying tonight so she has decided to move into Hannah's room. She may claim squatters' rights. Ann is still not fully well - been ill for about 3 weeks. Three weeks of stomach ache, constant discomfort, regular episodes of pain accompanied by sweats and shivers, and taking terrifying amounts of laxatives. Poor Ann - she seems so down. Hopefully she'll get better over the weekend. I'm working tomorrow but she is going to HMP Shotts to visit Stephen with Carrie and the kids.
Long time, no see.
It's almost two years since I last posted on here, but I feel inspired to as a way of keeping a record of my progress on my diploma - the Trinity TESOL Diploma. Until now I haven't exactly been pulling up trees with my study programme. Quite the opposite - planting trees, perhaps?! Progress has been painfully slow due to my general laziness and a genuine lack of time. And then, at a tutorial a month or so ago, I discovered that everything I had already done (admittedly a rather unimpressive amount) was redundant. The modules I'd been working from were out of date and longer met the assessment criteria of Trinity College, London. So, they had to bring the start date of my diploma forward to July 2018 and I've had to start all over again.
This should have been a huge disappointment, but down to my slow progress, it was in fact a huge bonus. And hopefully I can now crack on with the new modules and get the bulk of the work down in 12 months. That's what this blog is in aid of: to monitor the progress. I've told myself I should do an hour a day, usually after work immediately after I arrive home. That's what I did today - module 1 of the course and the accompanying personal development tasks.
See you tomorrow.
Saturday's here again: football and cider, I guess, I hope. Though today, and it's only 10.30am, I've been out to the airport with Ann to drop off Carrie so she could catch an early flight to the Midlands somewhere - Nottingham maybe, what's that East Midlands Airport? That would be the same for Dougal's. Carrie is renting her flat out for Saturday night and the rent will cover the cost of her weekend away. Not a bad idea, is it? Ann and I did have to spend two hours this morning cleaning her flat though to make it visit-worthy. Mind you, Ann's got her car for the weekend so it's a good deal all round.In the words of Errol Brown, "Every one's a winner, baby, that's no lie!"
Being a nerdy kind of man, I downloaded an English dialects app yesterday. If anyone's interested it's called EN English or the English Dialect App and it was developed by linguists at the Universities of Bern and Cambridge. According to the app, which attempts to guess where you were brought up from a number of pronunciation questions, my accent is from the north-east of England. Now, that is incredibly inaccurate, 100s of miles out, which, I guess, goes to show how much my accent has changed since I left Ringwood in the 1980s.You might say my accent has been stretched northwards. Perhaps that, being the nearest part of England to Edinburgh, is the closest the app could find.
Anyway, looking at the details was quite interesting. The app's predictions are based on the Survey of English Dialects which was conducted in the 1950s. In that survey they interviewed hundreds of older people from the English regions, mostly farm workers, in order to make a map of dialects and accents as they were in the first part of the 20th Century. There was an entry for Burley in the New Forest to which I compared my responses to the 26 questions. Mine only differed to that original 1950 New Forest accent and vocabulary on a few key points. Most crucially, perhaps, I don't pronounce the 'r' in arm, where the Forest accent does, I say 'himself' instead of 'hisself,' and I would say "Give me it" rather than "Give it to me." Another couple of differences were the pronunciation of the 'i' in 'five': I say /ai/ and the original accent is a longer vowel; and I would ever say, "He do feed the ducks" while, in Burley at least they do (or did).
So, if your interested in the app, you can find it at the AppStore or Google Play. It's got loads and loads of information in it. And you can record your own voice and submit it to the latest survey. Apparently, when hey released a similar app in Switzerland over 80,000 people took part in the research. Very interesting stuff. To a nerd like me, anyhow.
Second edition - I lost the first one two minutes ago. So frustrating. Bastards!
So, the first post for a long time. Almost two months in fact. The reasons for that are quite simple. One, life has been incredibly hectic: housing crisis - impending homelessness due to the callous nature of capitalism and the heartlessness of Linda, the landlady; the chaos of the festive season - trying to ensure that Hannah and Ella have a memorable and happy Xmas; health worries - Hannah's continual tummy problems and ever-incipient cold symptoms and, much more urgently, Ann has Bell's palsy, complete paralysis of the right side of her face. And two, the site was taken down as I hadn't paid the monthly fee to keep it live. Typical, both.
So, I guess I'll be adding to this a bit more regularly in future.
Have finally signed up to SquareSpace and am now the proud owner of a website. Yes! My own website, a public platform for my endless ramblings, extreme views and drunken revelry. Well, probably not that so much. If only, eh?
Anyway, I'm just going to sit down and get over the shock of committing to an online presence, drink a couple of glasses of ScotMid cider, celebrate Scotland beating Japan in the rugby World Cup, and reflect on my electronic future!
What a day! The ups, the downs.