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Friday, 9 December 2011

The Last Day

We did it.

We survived another 365 days at the chalkface.

The timetable is mostly set up for next year and we have a lovely 6 weeks of holiday to relax and unwind, girding our loins for next year.

Actually, that is an odd phrase. GIRDING MY LOINS.

I could understand Guarding my Loins, as my loins are very precious to me.  I could understand Guarding my Lions as those wild and ferocious felines are quite valuable.  But what actually does Girding mean?  Girt does mean encircling with a belt, and loins are usually a reference to a cut of meat "The Loin" approximately between the pelvis and the rib cage. eg A Sirloin Steak.

So does it mean tie a belt around my steak?

I think not.

My son ((he of the pierced earlobe and tattooed forearm showing a delightfully rendered image of the Mexican Day of the Dead with the addition of a Chinese script which he was told meant "May the Lord Bless You" but which really says "I've got a Bastard of a Cold" and who is incapable of remembering to put f*cking oil in an engine even when the little red light comes on) always grew upset if I used the phrase "Fruit of my Loins" as a reference to him, so I think we can say that Loins is a euphemism for the genitalia, with probably a bias towards the male genitalia.

So I'm getting ready for next year by tying a belt around my balls?

Doesn't seem right somehow.

However, all around the school, teachers are celebrating their survival and are preparing for next year in their own different ways.

The Music department is moving large pieces of equipment and many metres of cables back and forth between the Auditorium and the Music room.  Nobody actually knows why this equipment migration takes place, but it seems to keep the auld fella happy, so we don't ask.

The English department is filled with teachers (in the last throes of exhaustion) busily building little piles of folders and used resources.  We think that after school has finished, they sneak back in and set a bonfire for the burning of erroneous marking schedules, examples of badly parsed report comments and effigies of their least favourite pupils.

The Science Department congregate in their laboratories and partake of communal solvent sniffing ceremonies.  (Smoking or naked lights are strongly discouraged within 25 metres of the Science block of rooms.  We don't want a repetition of the "barbecue incident of 2002"  There aren't as many Science graduates available these days
It's what they do.

The PE department normally stand about throwing weights to each other, or kicking a ball about.  We used to think they were just either showing off or practising for the new Level 3 Standards coming out next year.  Then we realised that they're just f*cking mad.  (And they can't do it this year, as half the PE staff have just resigned)

Hours of fun for a Social Scientist

Our Social Scientists sit in  big group and practise filling in maps with coloured pencils.  What is it with Social Science and coloured pencils? Do they develop some sort of fetish at Teacher's College?  AND while we're on it, why is it called Social Science (SOS).  Science to me has to be quantifiable, reproducible and follow the basic rules of the other sciences, but SOS just seems to be a range of opinions, with no real proofs. I think they should rename it "The Generator of Political Correctness".
Don't mess with our Ladies of Food. Especially after the brandy

Our ladies in Food Technology are finishing their annual clean, after which they make delicate little fairy cakes and gossamer brandy-flavoured sugar sculptures and pastries of almost translucent delicacy.  Then they get completely pissed on the remainder of the cooking brandy, it helps to settle their nerves.  They have the second-worst job in the school.  How would you feel with having 30 hyperactive, voluble and in many cases borderline psychopathic teenagers, running about with lots of very sharp knives?  Give me the Willies.

The Art Department Dog

The Art department just float through this last day as they float through life.  We reckon they're permanently stoned.  It would explain a lot.  It would explain the modes of dress in that department.  It would explain the weird sounds coming from the darkroom.  It would explain some of the weird and positively horrifying sculptures being produced.  I kid you not, I have nightmares about some of the shapes they produce over there.  Maybe it's not weed, maybe they're on the Magic Mushrooms, but it's definitely something.
We're looking for pictures like this
Or this

Or if we're very lucky, like this

My Computing department just start deleting all of our confidential files, and cleaning up our directory structure for next year.  This takes about 10 minutes.  The rest of the day is spent trawling through the students files, searching for pictures of uncertain decency.  These are either deleted, copied for future study and then deleted, copied for future prosecution and deleted, or for the really bad ones, copied into the staff directory for common perusal and deleted. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Nobody knows what happens in the Maths department, but we think it involve black candles, inverted crucifixes and lots of geometry, and our caretaker swears he found lots of black cockerel feathers in their office last year.


The Technology department stand about polishing their lathes, milling machine and jigsaws.  Of course their first job is to make sure all the bloodstains are off the walls and ceilings. I said earlier that the Food ladies have the second-worst job; these guys definitely have the worst job.  They don't just have psychopathic teenagers running about with lots of very sharp knives, they have psychopathic teenagers running about with lots of very sharp chisels, drills, all sorts of power tools, access to thicknessers (imagine two long cylinders which have razor sharp tungsten carbide blades embedded in them, and rotating at about 30,000 rpm) and of course that ever reliable finger remover, the large circular table saw. So after they've mopped up the blood and swept up the sawdust, they get as completely pissed as the Food ladies.

Well that's it for another year, and we're all looking forward to the next intake of kids for 2012.

*Takes deep breath and screams NOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo*


  1. LMAO! Happy break! (and I agree about the art departments...)

  2. Yes TSB you could be right with the art dept. When I was at High school (the one I releive at now) in the 1970's my Form Teacher was also HOD Art, and my Art Teacher for 3 years. He was always stoned. He dealt dope from his office to students. He was a real hippie(By hair, dress, and hygiene standards). He swore like a trooper, and he was living in sin withthe female art teacher as well as doing many senior girl students. Would play Led Zep and Pink Floyd all day on his stereo to inspire our art. Eventaully he got sacked after crashing his mini into the school bus when driving to work from his home in the Akatarawa Valley. Turns out - yes- he was stoned! The Principal had had enough. So he cut him loose.
    Such a character would never be allowed to teach in today's schools or be registered. I'm sure this guy is long dead now or he got deported.

    As for PE staff - what is it with them? A lot resigned from my school too, including the HOD. It can't be that hard a job surely? And they just opened them a lovely state of the art new gym this year! Most kids I have ever taught rate PE as their fav subject (Well mostly the boys but many girls too). Just don't understand.

  3. "We survived another 365 days at the chalkface."

    OK, that's over the last TWO years. How many over the last one?

  4. One can get in a lot of trouble in six weeks ...

  5. Having read Valley Girl's comment above, I'm thinking of retraining as an art teacher.

  6. Austan: Thanks, every school I've been in, both as pupil and teacher has had something odd in their Art department. I don't know for certain what it is, but it does look very relaxing.

    VG: The HOD you refer to is probably now head of Art (and substance abuse) moderation at the NZQA.
    You won't believe this but our HOD is becoming your HOD, and one of our PE girls are heading to London with their partner. I hated PE as a kid and still do now. It shouldn't be compulsory.

    TC: OK nitpicker, its exactly 202 days actual teaching per year, but I can assure you. It feels more like 600.

    Laoch of Chicago: Yes one can, but it is not deemed as an essential component of the break. Gentle boozing, sunbathing and sex are in the plan, but I'm happy to wait and see. For instance, today I'm off to Johnstonville to view a Tai Chi convention. Who'd have guessed?

    Looby: Well, after reading many of your posts I wouldn't recommend it. I think you may be overqualified.

  7. Well done TSB.
    ps. all the gear is back safely in the Music Dept - every lead rolled up and in the right cupboard.

  8. Richard [of RBB] : Well done. You must feel very proud.

  9. Yes TSB another thing I share with you - a hate of PE. Hate it at school, have hated having to teach it - which I did in my teaching degree tarining and practicums at primary schools (I am trained in both Primary and Secondary). I am not a well physically coordianted person. Never have been. But you know this from my hap hazard typing. My fingers jsut get carried away. Bugger the spelling. Got dropped from the netball team when a kid as I would drop the ball a lot. Also got kicked out of gymnastics because I had a fear of jumping the vault. I used to freeze with fear after the run up. Was terified of smashing my face if I missed or even worse. Then I had to give up hockey after I did get smashed in the face by a hockey ball. I told my DP this year I can relief teach any class barr PE. Please don't give me PE. I will take health and theory but not practical PE. SO what did he do one day? Gave me a PE class with Y10 boys last spell (Bastard). We were in the weights room thank god and the boys were fine dong their own thing with the permission from me to put the Music on nice and loud to motivate thier exercises. They also enjoyed displayed their muscles too me. Not that I was very impressed, but I told them to go hard as girls liekd muscle rippled bodies in their men. Needless to say we all survived. Still don't like PE

    BTW I am sure my old art teacher would be dead by now. He was such a dope head. Was same age as my Dad and he's gone now but would be 80 if still alive. If he is still around he would have advanced dementia by now for sure. His former art teacher partner died a few years back from cancer. Lung I think. Not surprised. She tried to get all the girls to join Womens Lib moevement and had copies of the "Broadsheet" Womens Lib magazine around the art room. She gave up wearing a bra and the boys loved her! (Wonder why?). Yep Art teachers are usually weird.

    How could you hate PE TSB if you were in the military?

  10. VG: I tend to give PE relief to the teachers who piss me off, those who takes days and days off sick for no real reason. Similarly I try and give the "nice classes" to the teachers who always go the extra mile, who are probably the last to leave school at night and first to arrive in the morning.

    Oh, BTW, Lois is off to Oz as well as Brent.

    My PE teachers at my HS were not exactly weird, just odd.

    One was an ex-Royal Navy PI. He was a mean bastard, always happiest when sending us fro a long cross-country run in hte snow, which he observed from behind, driving slowly in his car and puffing Capstan full strength while bellowing "Faster, faster boys"

    We found out (from his assistant HOF who was ex-Army and hated the old bugger as much as we did (he made him run with us on the cross country) that he'd been on the Murmansk convoys and had been dive-bombed out of his ship twice.

    We found that a roomfull of boys imitating the siren scream of a Stuka would put him into a quivering mixture of fury and fear as the flashbacks hit.

    He had to go off and have a cup of tea to settle himself.

    As to the military and PE, yes we had to do it, but I remember this question form a memberof my first (unsuccesful) commisioning board.

    "Why do you want to join the Artillery TSB?"

    "Because the ride around in trucks Sir" I replied with a mischevious yet likable grin.

    "What a tosser of an answer" the Major commented, and failed me.

    The next year.

    "Why do you want to join the Artillery TSB?"
    "Because my Grandfather was in the Royal Horse Artillery in WWI Sir, and I want to join the same regiment as he did"

    "Splendid fellow" commented the Major, and recommended me for a commision.

    Thus I learned a splendid lesson in life.

    Lies often work better than truth.

    It works for Ringo.

    ABTW. We're looking for relievers for next year, would you like to go on our list?

  11. "Why do you want to join the Artillery TSB?"

    "Because the ride around in trucks Sir" I replied with a mischevious yet likable grin.

    I like it.

    I am re-reading Spike Milligan's war memoirs.
    He was in the 54th Heavy Artillery Regiment of the R.A.
    and has some great stories and observations in his 7 book series. I find them particularly interesting as my Dad was in the same area in North Africa and Italy with the NZ Divisional Cavalry at the same time. The places and actions Milligan talks about are the same ones my father experienced. Well worth a read if you haven't already done so.

  12. "Why do you want to join the Artillery TSB?"

    "Because the ride around in trucks Sir" I replied with a mischevious yet likable grin.

    I like it.

    I am re-reading Spike Milligan's war memoirs.
    He was in the 54th Heavy Artillery Regiment of the R.A.
    and has some great stories and observations in his 7 book series. I find them particularly interesting as my Dad was in the same area in North Africa and Italy with the NZ Divisional Cavalry at the same time. The places and actions Milligan talks about are the same ones my father experienced. Well worth a read if you haven't already done so.

  13. TC: Thanks for reminding me. I first started to read his book (Adolf Hitler; My Part in His Downfall) in my first job in Glasgow in the early 70s.
    As the series progressed it got darker and darker, and you could feel the damage the horrors of war were having on the sensitive Milligan.

    It's sad he's no longer with us.

    Did you know he's credited as author of the World's Funniest Joke?

    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?". The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?"

  14. Do you have cleaners?

  15. Yes I have heard many stories about ex military teachers. My elder daughter ahd one at intermediate. Nice guy but OTT about doing PE. Everyday come rain hail or sun they had to do it. I went on a one week camp with his class and the syndicate. I respected the way he go the boys to shape up and had them well disciplined byt he end of the year. Then they went to High School adn all his good work became unravelled sadly.

    Will you still be organsing relief next year TSB? Sad to hear NLHS have lost Lois and Brent. Good sorts. Would decimate the English Faculty somewhat.

    I will consider releiving at NLHS as long as you promise not to give me PE classes.

    Hey TSB have you ever seen the series Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby? You would love it.

    A new idea for 25th hour - Drill class. Could be character building.

  16. TSB, I hate to nitpick, as you know, but...

    The Ministry or "Education" website states schools must be open until "a day in December which ensures that the school has been open for instruction for 390 half-days in 2011."

    Using the mental arithmetic skills beaten into me by a liberal NZ education in the 1950s, I divided 380 by 2 (assuming 2 half-days = 1 full-day - I know it often seems much more) and got 190. I couldn't be bothered digging out my 1980s TI-30 calculator with the cute red LED display, and finding and inserting a 9 volt battery, but I'm fairly confident that's right. It's a bit less than your 202.

    Obviously you're working much harder than your colleagues (we won't even mention he-who-must-not-be-mentioned). I know I didn't teach that many days, but I taught lessons up to the very end, not even showing videos for the last 2 weeks. (OK, so I was off sick for a month earlier in the year, but that doesn't count.)



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