Monday, February 26, 2007

Down with the Sickness

Today I am ill.

Today I am getting better.

Me being me, I stand in being responsible. And Conversations with God kind of says the same thing.

I can't help thinking that I'm confronted about something, or avoiding something. It may be the wedding? (That's a serious business). Or perhaps I'm just burning the candle at both ends - which is what my sister, fiancee, and mother would say.

I actually don't like being ill. This is the first time I've been ill enough to be off work in a while. We know schools are breeding grounds for germs and viruses and all sorts of nasty things.

But I'm a dutiful teacher...I have sent the work for my classes today into school via email, (technology is wonderful) only to find that the deputy head is ill...but knowing him, he'll still be in school with a temperature of 102 degrees, aches and pains...

I've also discovered - I really do like my job! I want to be at work - not ill. Partly because of the routine, partly because I don't like being ill, but also partly because I actually enjoy being at work.

Yes I'm proud to say it.

I was talking to someone yesterday who was thinking about their job and how fulfilling it is...and everyone always seem to have the thought "oh I'd like to be a teacher." I've met quite a few people over the years who say that they thought of being a teacher, or always wanted to do it but never did.

I think there are quite a few people doing a job they don't enjoy, just for the money. And then they wonder why they're getting drunk all the time...well that's my theory!

It's easy to crave security, get safe, avoid risks and then stay a dreamer.

Someone close to me is always coming up with some business ideas but never follows through. I think he should either: i) write a book or, ii) go on the Dragon's Den. It's not easy to take risks, but it means it keeps us alive...right?

There are some of my other friends (they know who they are) WHO SHOULD BE WRITING BOOKS...and then credit me for inspiration, and give me 1% of their royalties for life...

Here's a quote from something I like:

The Dilemma

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvment.

To expose feelings is to risk rejection.
To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure. But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. Such people may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn feel, change, grow, or love. Chained by personal certitudes, they are as a slave, who has forfeited freedom.

Only a person who takes risks is free.

Author Unknown

Enjoy!

J.

This post has been brought to you by Disturbed

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It Takes Blood and Guts To Be This Cool But I'm Still Just A Cliché

Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Being the internet whore that I am, and having far too many online profiles, I'm appalled at the usage of English I see everywhere.

Actually, it's not just online...

OK, so maybe I'm becoming one of those annoying punctuation zealots, (Lynn Truss anyone?) but bad spelling and usage of English pisses me off.

What really gets to me is the bastardisation of the language for the 'street'.

Now I teach in a public school. It's a good school. It does well for the boys there, and I'm proud of what they achieve.

But it's full of pupils who wish/ think they are from 'da ghetto'.

I've had conversations with a few, and said things like:
No you are a nice middle-class white boy from Banstead
or
New Malden is not 'the ghetto'

Now I'm not totally unrealistic. I understand that younger people will want to communicate so their parents can't follow a word they're saying.

But the spilling over of this way of speaking into writing and the use of 'txtspk' in writing and email just gets to me.

Someone I know even said to me that posh-boys go and look at the Urban Dictionary and then start using the words so they are 'gangsta'.

safe
neek
seen
skeen
blud
bro
bruv
innit
wicked
truss
man
keepin it reel
ya get me
fo sho
chillin
relaxin
wot
hangin wiv m8s

What a load of shit.

For fuck's sake - learn to spell and type English properly.

Oh yes - people using these words are from the 'street' and they have grown up in deprived circumstances - that's why they can't write and speak properly...yet they have an internet connection and can post on bebomyspacehi5ringofriendster...

I even had a related discussion with some people I went to secondary school with. I'm able to understand the parts of speech: subject, object, verb, adverb etc. But my contemporaries didn't really know them, and we're considered to be the intellectual elite of the country as grammar-school-educated old-boys.

Even more ironically, my roots are quite clearly (to those who know me) not English.

I learned my English from my grandfather. This is a man who didn't even pass his GCSE equivalent. A man who arrived in Uganda from India barely able to speak English - and went on to be a Hansard reporter and work for the U.N.

He taught my sister and I, about the parts of speech, about spelling, and introduced us to the wonders of the English language.

I think language is what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Language allows us to communicate and create. Humanity can conceive things that don't even exist in reality.

And how it has been abused, diluted, damaged, re-appropriated and mangled. Perhaps there's a link to the state of the world, and our (ab)use of language. (Hang on, someone famous said something like this...)

What is almost frightening to me, is the way language is used in the media. It could be likened to Newspeak.

And yet, some say our language has the power to create our world.
All I have in this world is my word and my balls. And I don't break them for nobody.
J.

PS Post a comment if you know who said that last quote!

This post was brought to you by the group Skunk Anansie (who no longer exist)

Oh and where would I be without wikipedia?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Midlife Crisis


I'm beginning to think that there's such a thing as a quarter-life crisis.

It's one of my (many) pet theories and explanations about life, the universe and everything. (See one of the joys of having a blog is getting to spout my opinion on it all and people will read it...right?)

It seems to be a conversation I've had with a few people now. I mean, it really hit me when I met up with a few of my friends from secondary school over the Christmas/ New Year period.

We're all beginning to turn thirty, and becoming a lot more reflective about life. A mid-life crisis was (I think) supposed to be around fifty - assuming we'll live to 100 - so around twenty-five there's this time I think we all go through of self-doubt and introspection.

I think it culminates in turning thirty. Entering my thirties made me look back on everything I have and haven't done.

Either that, or the crisis begins at thirty (which I think is the more likely). Everyone's living until they're older...so a quarter-life crisis means I'll live until I'm 120...yay!

Whatever it is...I think everyone goes through this down period after finishing studying/ starting work.

And I think it's because of how much lifestyles have changed. By the time my dad was the age I am now, he had a four-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. He owned a house, had a car, and a job.

He had a family. He had arrived.

Does that happen by the time people are thirty now?

Not for my generation.

I'm sure that simplistic, jingoistic, narrow-minded paper the Daily Mail would have some lament about people staying at home longer, and the breakdown of young people wanting to commit their lives to each other, and the rise of hedonism blah blah blah...

But is it just me or is everything harder now?

Falling in love, buying a house, getting a job, eating right, keeping fit, having sex, talking to people, avoiding offending people, earning money...

Is it just my generation that feels this way? It's the anti-thesis of "when-I-were-a-lad" - more like - "you-had-it-so-easy-then" type attitude.


And you know what? We're pissed off.

Because it feels like my generation is the one that's going to have to deal with the climate change, the lack of resources, the overpopulation, the pace of technological change, the never-ending race to get ahead in life (well it's not never-ending - it'll end when I pop my clogs).


I'll leave to someone famous to capture the mood.
I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.
Reply to this post if you know who said that.

J.

PS: This post was brought to you by Faith No More

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bullet In Your Head

Ok.

I have finally...finally...at long last written something here because of an online friend (who shall remain nameless to avoid embarrassment).

They keep asking if I've updated it...and it's been a month or more since I said I would...

Not very good eh!

I gotta say though - what a 2007 already? After returning to school, everyone seemed to be totally out of it. I mean exams are enough to send anyone loopy, but with the government introducing new initiatives...well it's enough to drive any teacher up the wall.

Today - a revamped curriculum for geography emphasising global warming for 11-14 year olds. Um...well I teach that...and guess what I'm teaching all about right now? Humankind's effect on ecosystems. Does our government in its infinite wisdom think it can tell us stuff we don't know?

Everyone has an opinion on education because everyone has been a consumer.

But don't teachers get enough stick?

That's not enough for the first month of the year...

...no there's the nightmare of Celebrity Big Brother.

Now don't get me wrong - there's a place for pointless entertainment for the masses:
No escape from the mass mind rape
Play it again Jack
And then rewind the tape
Rage Against the Machine, Bullet in your Head

But that's exactly what Big Brother was. Wh
atever I saw, I felt like my brain was oozing out of my ears and dribbling over the floor. The producers probably do a psychometric analysis of the people going into the house, and pick the most-likely-to-cause-confrontation combinations.

It's put racism right up high on the agenda - as if terrorism hasn't already made people paranoid enough about people with brown skin.

We're fuct.

And you know what? The so-called multicultural society of the UK came out looking bad.

Is Jade Goody a reflection of the UK? And Danielle and Jo?

I actually think it is.

Not so much as racism, but ignorance.

Shilpa handled herself with such grace, and class. Jade, Danielle, and Jo didn't.

I don't think it was racist. It was bullying. It was nasty. It made wonderful television and got Channel 4 increased ratings (even my parents watched it to see what the fuss was about!) But it's a reflection of the ignorance of (some of) the population.

I have this ongoing debate with my year 11 at school about football (their favourite sport) being racist. They point to how many of the players, and fans are black.

But where are the Asians? Where are the black managers? Paul Ince is the only black football manager in this country.

Football is institutionally racist.

Like the police...some say even teaching...

Racism in this country is so transparent, people don't think of it as racism (my year 11 don't know who Stephen Lawrence was).

Perhaps I'm being extreme. But I experience it all the time. Purely because of the colour of my skin, I get all sorts of assumptions made. Scratch the surface and people are surprised: my music taste, style of dress, and opinions are sometimes different from many other people who originate from India.

Where are the head-teachers and senior teachers from ethnic minorities? When will the young black men see their own community members in positions of leadership? The 'House of Commons' is an oxymoron. It doesn't represent the society I experience around me.

And all this provides the backdrop to my day-to-day scene.

To think - someone like me is influencing the young minds of tomorrow.

Is that scary?

J.

PS This post was brought to you by Rage Against the Machine