Saturday, 19 December 2009

More work

Yesterday I received a letter from the college that teaches students nursing.

Way back in the year I had written a letter on spec to them, as I had been alerted that a change in policy meant that all future nursing staff needed to be able to speak English to a level that they could greet and register patients. Over three years this builds up to a level where they have to be able to read and understand medical articles in journals, medical letters and also write on the subject of medical care of patients.

I had a meeting with the director of the college. Next contact was months later, when I met with one of the teaching staff. There would be three of us teaching. Her, me and a former student of the college who had also been an English teacher for several years. She would be in touch by email and would send me a copy of the minutes of our meeting etc. Our next chat would be on the 17 December, when the three of us would meet up to plan the course etc.

No further info was received until yesterday when I received a letter from the director of the College reminding me of Thursday’s meeting between 1 and 2pm. There was also something about meeting the students and teaching.

I arrived and I met the other 2 teachers. Next thing I knew, I was in a room with 55 students.

Apparently I was going to introduce myself, then I was going to go the female teacher to another room with half the students, to start their course.....

So that was fun then. Fortunately the other two had decided to concentrate on greeting new patients with page 1 of the patient registration form, and a sheet with a conversation which had gaps in. They had to slot the correct phrase into the correct gap.

The teaching is for 20 hrs per term. Most of them have done some English at school. For some of them that would have been 20 years ago. One or two have done no English but as far as I know they weren’t in my group.

Future sessions will last 3 or 4 hours, but there will be a 15 minute break......

Meanwhile on the school front. Just as I was leaving on Tuesday, the head teacher told me that the class would be going skiing every Tuesday for 5 weeks, and could I teach them on a Thursday instead. I said I would get back to her once I had found out my nurse teaching hours. So tomorrow, I have to unravel and negotiate, because if she still wants me to teach the CP/CM1 class on Tuesday, I would have to hang around somewhere from 11.45 until 3pm to teach them...

Well that's it for this year. Unless something startling happens, I'm blogging off until a few days into the New Year. So a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my reader. Ho!, Ho! Ho!
p.s. Dad, If this red bit comes out green, try cleaning the nozzles on your ink-jet printer .

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The rope

Last Tuesday I was sitting in my car in the public car park next to one of the primary schools that I teach at. Two mini buses arrived and after some manoeuvrings finally switched off their engines. There were two adults per bus and about 13 children aged around 4 years old, in total.

The tots wandered around aimlessly while the adults looked at a map, and waved their arms vaguely towards the town centre.

One of the adults then went back to one of the buses and came back with a length of blue nylon rope which was joined to a length of green rope. There were knots at regular intervals along the length of the rope.

Now I was parked with a fast flowing river behind me and on my right there was a bridge crossing the river.

Were they going to tie the children together and throw them into the river?

Everyone milled around a bit more, arms were waved and pointed and there was at last a feeling that something might actually happen.

Two adults each took the hand of two children. The remaining 2 adults took one end of the rope each and stretched it to full length, one at each end. Children then deployed themselves between the knots, on alternate sides of the rope. The convoy then moved off with no soundtrack from the Jungle Book. Progress was slow. It was okay for the adult at the back end of the line, they walked forwards. The adult at the front of the line walked backwards, facing the children.

By the time I returned about an hour later, the mini buses had gone, so I can only assume that the pushmepullyou had successfully completed its mission.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The old contes

Last night our local resident’s amicable society put on a storytelling evening.

A group of 5 storytellers travelled down from Toulouse to entertain us with an hour and a half of stories.

The event took place in the local primary school main hall. Tickets were 2 euros per adult and free for the under 15’s. I got there 10 minutes before kick-off and installed myself in the third row from the front.

The scene was set with a black velvet cloth strung across the end of the room as a backdrop. There was a table with a propped up, open book. Pairs of socks hung from the top edge of the backdrop and there was a small Christmas tree.

The hall filled up rapidly and children outnumbered adults about 3 to 1. The youngest children there would have been about 4 years old and would prove to have a limited attention span for this sort of thing.

The lights were dimmed and 2 portable spot lights lit the “stage”. Out trooped 4 women and a man, each carrying a small stone lamp with a candle burning inside it.

There followed a mixture of carols, rhymes, mottos and of course, stories.

Being that this was France, none of the stories were in English, but I understood most of what was said.

They tried their best. They spoke rather quietly, so I don’t know if my 87 year old friend Rene who was a few rows further back than me, heard it all.

One of the ladies “froze” occasionally as though she had forgotten what came next, but just as I had decided that I had had enough of concentrating, the stories finished. The hour and a half was actually an hour.

I had never heard any of the stories before, but C the mother of my French family, said that she had heard all of them except one.

I now know that spiders were responsible for today’s custom of hanging garlands on Christmas trees. How St Nicholas brought three lost children who had been butchered by a butcher and their body parts hung to cure in his cellar for 7 years, back to life. No body knows what happened to the greedy mother and daughter who had demanded strawberries, violets and red apples in January. They lost their way in the snow and were never seen again...... The Cinderella type daughter that they left behind them got their cottage and a year later she married a handsome young man who was passing by, looking for work. There was also a tale of a teddy bear who was mistreated by the girl who owned him, ran away into the snowy night and ended up helping the Santa Queen to deliver presents. Of course the presents ran out just as they reached the house of a very sick little girl. Of course it was a far far better thing and a far far better place etc and teddy made the ultimate sacrifice, jumping into the little girl’s stocking which was hanging in the fireplace.

I chatted to Rene and his wife afterwards and he said that it brought back his childhood.

The next event will be in 2010 with a drink and galette to celebrate the New Year. The round galettes contain one or two small china figures, so you have to watch when you bite into a piece. If you find one of the figures you will have good fortune, and / or a broken tooth. Who says I’m not a romantic?
What? all of you?       Bast****ds!!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Pussy whipped?

I thought that I would take a moment to bring you up to date with the lives of Bee Boy and Madame.

Longtime readers may remember that Madame’s youngest cat was knocked down and killed earlier this year, and now lies buried in my garden.

A month or so later, she acquired another stray cat, which was living on the streets of a nearby town and was being fed by the staff working at the Secu.

He was given the name Romeo and was as black and shiny as coal. Aged around 3 years old, it took some time for him to get used to return from his roaming to Madame’s flat for bed and board, but eventually a routine was established. Old cat, small dog and Romeo lived together in relative harmony, although I did not hear them practicing much.

Then, one day, the tear-stained face of Madame informed me that Romeo had disappeared. She was sure that someone had stolen him. She had had a cat stolen previously. She does not believe in putting collars with name and address on her pets, in case they get trapped in something by it. I suspect that as small dog and Romeo like running across roads in front of traffic, that it would not lead the injured parties to her door, but I do not know this for sure.

Moving swiftly some months and she now has another stray. A kitten of about 3 months, I wonder how long this one will last. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen it for a few weeks....

Early summer saw Bee boy sidelining his ladyfriend and her small boy child. This made way for the trickle of young ladies who came to him for bee-keeping training. One day I could smell burning meat and popped my head out of my window. There was Madame cooking on her BBQ while David and his disciples lounged around her terrace table eating their aperitif fare.

He has now got another young lady, so we will see what happens. He isn’t spending many nights here at the moment. He was 30 this summer so perhaps he will settle down with this one.

He rented the flat here a few years ago and left to set up home with someone. Unfortunately the relationship didn’t last.

My tiny studio is still unlet, so financially that is a bit of a bugger and Bee-boy is looking for a house with a garage or grange for storage.