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Teachers are Humans. Who Knew?

28 Dec

Teachers are human beings. When I was a kid I had no idea. I’ve been travelling back in my mind to my school days a lot lately, replaying interactions teenage me had with certain teachers, and seeing things in a completely different light to how I did back then. I can step into the heads of those old teachers of mine, see where they were coming from. Because I am them now. I’m a teacher. How that happened I do not know, but it did, and it has been my profession on and off for ten years this year. And yea, teachers are human beings. Flawed. Unhinged. And with a beautifully twisted and well articulated sense of humour. That last sentence is open to accusations of writer’s bias. So be it.

I know that teachers are these things not only because I am one, that would be too small a sample section, but because I am also surrounded by them. Most of the things I do I do with teachers. I hang out with teachers, I drink with teachers, I get stoned with teachers, I discuss life with teachers, I argue with teachers, I sleep with teachers, I watch football with teachers, I get my advice from teachers. The woman currently the object of my attentions is a teacher. I even have a teacher for a flatmate. My living-room has a massive whiteboard on the wall and a fold-up table used solely for giving evening lessons. My living-room is a classroom with settees and a telly, for fuck’s sake! So I feel I am qualified to speak about teachers.

I was, for want of a better word, a challenge to my teachers. A pain in the arse. Although they must have liked my company, because they chose on an almost daily basis to spend an extra hour (sometimes two) of their time with me after the final bell had rung for the day, in detention. Man, in the winter I rarely got home before dark. And I only lived up the road. Detention. How is that allowed?

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The Hippie Hugger

7 Oct

This is a topic that I never really expected to come up. I have met a man who gives the perfect hug. A hug that feels as though it is filled with the love of the whole planet and leaves you feeling the same kind of blissed out that you get from nice shrooms.

Juan is a long-time friend of my flatmate and a short-time friend of mine since I moved in here four months ago. He is in his mid 20s, has long shiny brown hair, a Californian smile, olive skin, is about 6ft tall, wears beads, smokes weed, works as a masseur and is always smiling and positive. He is a true hippie. Make love not war. And he’s nice to everyone. And no, despite the tone of my description, I don’t fancy him. I know that’s what you were thinking.

My circle of friends in this city consists almost exclusively of hippies, so hugs on greeting are not unusual. It did take some time for my English sensibilities to allow me to feel comfortable with this level of human touch with everyone, but after a month or so I had come to embrace it. But with one rule. I would always keep the hug just manly enough. A pat or two on the back. A tensed up torso at times.

And then I met Juan in the park one afternoon and was introduced. We shook hands. He held my hand for a few seconds longer than is protocol. I didn’t feel awkward. Well, obviously I did a little bit. But not much.

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How Does This Type Of Ancient Sexist Attitude Still Persist? (Alternative title: The Boss Of London Idiomas Language School)

21 Sep

‘Take her for example,’ he said, peering over the top of his cheap, mirrored aviator sunglasses, whilst nodding in the direction of a dark haired woman in her mid 30s as she casually strolled past our table, taking her dog for a walk. ‘Back when I was single, whenever I was feeling down or stressed like I am now, I would go out to a bar, pick up a woman like her and take her home to do dirty things to her,’ he smirked before continuing, ‘I don’t know her, I don’t care about her, she’s just another woman for me to let it all out over. I would disrespect the shit out of her and then once I’d shot my load she’d be kicked out the door. And to be honest, that’s all I can think about lately. I just want to forget my worries by fucking all these Spanish sluts. What’s the point of living in a place like this, where the women look so good, if I can’t use them to service my needs? I’m a man, they’re women, they know what they’re here for.’

I didn’t say anything but just looked at his face to try and work out if he was being ironic. He wasn’t.

‘The thing is, Em knows this is how I am and she knows that this is what I need to do, she understands. She knows what I was like. I was literally shagging little whores like that one over there every night of the week. The fact that I can’t do that now is just making me tenser.’

I subtly attempted to switch the direction of the conversation by asking after his wife. ‘How is Em today?’

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Gently Poking Fun At A German’s Name

24 Apr

You know how some things are funny because they’re not meant to be, and that if they had intended to be funny then they actually wouldn’t be? Like some time a couple of years ago I was sat at home watching athletics on the telly when this distance runner’s face came up on the screen, and underneath his face was written his name, and at the exact same time that I looked down to read it, the commentator said it out loud, as if my subconscious had the exact same voice as whoever it was that was commentating that day, and as I simultaneously read and heard the two words I realised that it was the greatest name belonging to anyone on the planet. Gaylord Silly. It’s fucking genius, isn’t it? Course it is! Gaylord Silly. Gaylord. Silly. Do you reckon he ever introduces himself in the style of 007? The name’s Silly, Gaylord Silly. The name is silly. But it isn’t meant to be. I truly believe it was an honest mistake on the part of Gaylord’s parents. The Sillys. Or maybe they pluralise their name to the Sillies. No, that would make no sense. But anyway, before I lose my trail of thought, I am stoned by the way, if that name Gaylord Silly had been made up by someone trying to be funny, it wouldn’t actually be that funny. Like if I said ‘Oi John, quick, come up with a funny name for a bloke on the spot,’ and he blurted out ‘Gaylord Silly,’ it wouldn’t be as funny would it? Actually whatever way you look at it, it’s always going to be a funny name. But if me and John had had that conversation a year ago, the one where I told him to come up with a funny name on the spot and he said Gaylord Silly, if we had had that conversation a year ago, I am almost certain that I wouldn’t remember it now. The name would have popped up, made me laugh, and then gone away to die somewhere. Because it would have been made up with the intention of being funny. Which would make it not as funny. Whereas Gaylord Silly’s name is not meant to be funny. So it is. In case you were wondering, me and John didn’t have that conversation about funny names a year ago. There is no John. I am rambling. Big time. I may have lost a couple of readers along the way there. Which means that I am now only left with the one.

The reason for that pointless introductory paragraph was that a couple of days ago I encountered my own Gaylord Silly. In a metaphorical sort of way. And it made me laugh enough that earlier this morning I had to go out walking for two hours just to find it again, this time with a borrowed camera in my pocket, as I am one of those weird people who don’t own a camera-phone, nor a camera, nor a phone. Which is annoying when you come across something that you either want to photograph or tell someone about. But I would say the positives of not owning a phone outweigh the negatives. I digress. Yea anyway, my metaphorical Gaylord Silly. I was out in the Spanish countryside, but could see the blue sea over the hills, which meant that I had wandered closer to the coast than usual, which also meant that I was in an area home to British, Dutch and German retirees, and before anyone accuses me of showing favouritism to any of those countries, you will notice I listed them alphabetically, and I came across this house, and as I passed it I couldn’t help but notice that the name of the occupants was engraved into a plaque by their gate. My initial reaction was to think ‘Oh look, a novelty name plaque, and not an overly funny one at that. What was the point in buying that? I bet the bloke who lives here is a riiiiiiiiiight laugh. I was being sarcastic there, that was what all the iiiiiiiiiiis were meant to convey. Basically I wasn’t impressed with this attempt at humour, and was convinced that it was the work of a dull Englishman, the kind who calls himself the office joker and who owns a mobile disco. I was just about to walk on, when I noticed that although the male’s name was an attempt at comedy, the woman’s name underneath wasn’t. At least, it didn’t strike me as such. The woman’s name was Uta Fischer. That would only be funny if an uta was something you could go fishing for. And even then it wouldn’t be very funny. It wouldn’t be funny at all. When I read the name Uta Fischer I didn’t think comedy attempt, I thought German. It was just a standard German name. And then it clicked that Uta Fischer’s companion’s name was almost definitely also just a Standard German name, and not a crap attempt at being funny. Which now made it fucking funny. In fact, my first reaction was to blurt out ‘Good grief, that’s his real name!’

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Don’t Call Me ‘Mate’

4 Apr

‘He’s English. From Kent, I think. I’m not sure he’s a very nice man, though, cos when your sister was out here Matt passed him on the road and said ‘hello mate’ to him, and he got the arse, didn’t like being called mate, told Matt not to call him mate, said he wasn’t his mate. He really didn’t like being called mate! So if you do see him, I wouldn’t call him mate.’

That was my mum describing her middle-aged next door neighbour to me the first time I’d walked past his gated off property. As she told the story, the little pair of hands that reside inside my head rubbed themselves gleefully together. The first time I saw him I was gonna call him mate. It goes without saying, doesn’t it? I mean, come on. Well that was two months ago. I never saw the bloke! Until this afternoon, that is, when I was walking down the dirt path that constitutes the road here, on my way out, and he happened to be out collecting his post from the outside box.

Before I tell you about our encounter earlier this afternoon, I’ll just tell you a couple of other quick things about this guy. His house is the ‘big one’ in the area, the luxury pad, you know. It is mostly hidden from view by the huge fencing and walls he has had put up around the land, which have been painted black, he has a massive electric gate, and unlike every other household within a 10-mile radius, he doesn’t have any dogs. This is dog country out here. Everyone’s got dogs. They serve two purposes, that of pet, and that of guard dog. But this bloke doesn’t like dogs. Instead, his ‘fortress’ is protected by a thousand and one different security cameras, whose images are monitored 24-hours a day by some bloke in an office somewhere. If you believe all the massive stickers the guy’s got plastered over his gate and fences, that is. If you look through the gaps in the fence, you can see his grandiose patio and inviting-looking swimming pool. A few times I’ve glimpsed him through the gaps as I’ve been walking past, sitting poolside on a luxury sun lounger, in his Ferarri baseball cap, sipping a cocktail that Del Boy would send back for being too colourful, with his English ‘lady friend’ on a lounger next to him, reading what I can only imagine is the Daily Mail. Just blocking out the world. Erecting barriers.

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Fuck the Daily Mail!

27 Mar

I’ve got the urge to write but I don’t have anything to say, I mean, I have shit to say, but nothing that would be interesting to anyone who doesn’t live inside my head. But I have got the urge to write. I just read this story about Alan Partridge having a go at the Daily Mail, comparing it to paedophilia, and I thought ‘Yes, Partridge!’ for no other reason than I hate the Daily Mail with a passion. One of the reasons I hate them is because their existence means that I have to walk around with the burden of hate in me, if that makes sense. Here I am at a point in my life where I am trying as best I can to harbour no resentment, anger, envy or hatred to any individual on the planet, and yet I can’t shift this overpowering loathing I carry about with me for the Mail. And it’s not that I hate the Mail because it’s cool to hate the Mail. In fact I find that idea ridiculous. I don’t believe there’s anybody who hates the Mail because it’s cool to hate the Mail, that’s just some silly remark the Mail’s supporters will throw out there.  People hate the Mail just because they hate the Mail. It is as simple as that. It is in our human DNA to hate the Mail, just like it is in our human DNA to hate rats. And I don’t even hate rats. But I am shit scared of them. All rodents. I don’t even like being in my sister’s place when the hamster’s running around the room in his ball. Every time I see a hamster running in one of them balls I remember the Crystal Maze. Remember when the surviving contestants would have to go into that big hamster ball at the end and collect the golden tickets? When I say ‘surviving contestants’ I don’t mean the ones that hadn’t died during the earlier segments of the show. I’ve completely lost my trail of thought here. Writing shit again that is only interesting to anyone that lives inside my head. Which is just me. And whoever the other four voices belong to. One of them is German. And shouts instructions to me at night. But until now I have never acted on them. Not because I know better, but because I don’t speak German, so can’t understand what the person in my head is telling me to do.

That last bit is not true. I just made it up. Entertaining myself. I’m writing, at least. He’s actually Swiss.

 

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More Stoned Musings From The Spanish Outdoors

19 Mar

*Taken straight from the notebook

I’ve learnt two new things about myself today. The first is that I enjoy the sensation of exchanging pleasantries with complete strangers. Who knew? I certainly didn’t until a few minutes ago.

Out here I don’t see many other people and can sometimes walk for a couple of hours at least without coming across another human, not when I’m wandering about in the fields anyway, but occasionally I slip away from the fields to cut across the only road for miles around, that connects the city of Elche with the coast, and although the road is more often than not dead, it is still the place of work for prostitutes, who sit by the side of the road on a little chair under an umbrella, reading a book, and when they’re ‘busy’ their book awaits their return on top of their empty seat. There is one of these girls approximately every mile. Eastern European or South American. And these girls know not to take me for a potential customer as I approach them – I haven’t got a car, for a start. Plus I like to think they recognise me as someone who wouldn’t have to pay for sex, ha! he says modestly! More likely they take a quick look at me and come to the conclusion that I couldn’t afford it – I’m just a stoned bloke out for a wander about. And I have to squeeze by these girls at the side of the road, and I always do so in silence and with my eyes averted to the ground. And just the same, these girls completely ignore me. It’s as if we don’t acknowledge each other’s existence. But obviously we do, or at least I do, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. I carry on walking. She carries on reading. Even though we’re the only two people for miles around, seemingly we would rather be the only person singular for miles around. And I passed one of these girls a little while ago, South American woman, and we said nothing, standard, and then I took another path that led me back into the wilderness, and I started thinking about how sad it was for two humans to just blank each other like that out here in the middle of nowhere, and how a simple ‘Hola’ wouldn’t take too much effort at all. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted desperately to exchange greetings with someone. Just briefly, passing in the day. I don’t want to disturb anyone’s life with idle chit-chat. Just to say hello, to acknowledge someone, to have someone acknowledge me. But it’s not like I could go back to the road now. That’d just be fucking weird. If I walked all the way back to that particular spot of road where that South American woman sat under her umbrella, reading, and I went up to her and simply said ‘Hola.’

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