Saturday 22 September 2018

Weeknote: 22/9

This week I have been...

The blue sleeve continues. I am nearly finished with the increases, which means I am nearly up to the cap. I got quite excited today, thinking that the end might be in sight. My FO count for the year is dismal, though, so giving 2018's form, I will probably finish it in December.

Going to:
On Wednesday I trekked north for five hours, after a very fraught journey to the train station in the rain that involved an Uber u-turning metres before picking us up, the heavens opening, a begging conversation with the behaviour manager who was just driving off for the day, some use of the knowledge of the backstreets around Temple Meads I've built up since knitting group moved to the vicinity, and a short run. We barely made it, but since it was the last train of the day that would have got us there on time, thankfully we did.

I was travelling, with my colleague C, to Llandudno to intern with an organisation doing some training in a school there. I did the course for this training in January and this is the final stage of that. The trainers were inspiring and the staff enthusiastic and energetic, so it was already off to a good start, but what I didn't anticipate was how outrageously beautiful the north Wales coast is. Looooooook....

We finish the training in November, so I have already booked to go back to the same B&B, in the same bedroom with the seaview, but for an extra night this time, since the training is on a Monday. I'm going up on the Saturday. The train away revealed a wealth of pretty places I could visit; I might have to actually go back for a holiday some time. Give me a pebbly beach in driving rain any day. Reminds me of basically my entire childhood.

I've been reading a book about black people living in Tudor England, which is very interesting, both from a history point of view and thinking about how we construct history and what records we have available to us.

Entertained by:
There's some cracking TV on at the moment. I have mostly been enjoying Bodyguard (who hasn't?), Press (Ben Chaplin is so good and in general it is so darkly funny I wish it was on several times a week) and Killing Eve (Sandra Oh ordered a G&T for breakfast in tonight's episode, confirming that this is basically written for me). I've also been watching Bake Off and Black Earth Rising, though I'm behind with both, and I have episodes of Trust and the new Princess Margaret series waiting for me to get to them. And Strictly is back.

But the re-marks have continued to roll in, so there hasn't been too much time for TV watching. I was nostalgically remembering my former life this week as we cleared out the old CDs and DVDs and I came across a boot-legged copy of every season of Teachers. I remember binge-watching it across a series of holidays while I played Zoo Tycoon on my laptop, cuddled up in my armchair for days at a time. That never happens now. At best I can manage a couple of hours before a deadline levers me out of my bum groove and back to my desk.

Accomplished, but a bit jaded. I was asked to keynote at a well-established and popular history conference this week, which prompted a couple more people to ask me how I get asked to do such things. It's always awkward when people ask that because I don't think anybody wants to know the answer. It's at least ten years of never saying no, not missing deadlines even if it means working on holiday, taking work into hospital with you, doing certain jobs for much less than you think they're worth, doing other jobs that are mind-numbingly boring because you hope they'll lead to better things, being super-accommodating and basically giving up any semblance of work-life balance in favour of a work-work balance, where the first work is your teaching job and the second work is everything else. There was also, I think, a fair amount of being in the right place at the right time that helped me considerably. Do you think people want to hear that? I don't think they do, and I'm afraid to say it anyway, for fear of seeming to suggest that I work harder than they do.

It was also interesting to be in the position of intern trainer. I have run quite a lot of training now, but it's all been specific to my subject. It was interesting going back to the bottom again, and offering training that wasn't subject specific. I was quite out of my depth. The trainer I was shadowing wrote the entire training package and has been delivering it for at least a decade. It was humbling to watch him work and I'll never be as good as he is at it (unless they let me rewrite the training pack, anyway). However, he was very complimentary about the sections I delivered and that was nice to hear.

Incidentally, I had to pay all my own expenses to intern. Essentially I was paying to train other people (hence I stayed at the B&B with the sea view and not the Premier Inn with the rest of the trainers - if I'm paying, I'm getting a sea view). If I get picked to go out and deliver the training in the future, they will pay me back then. This is the sort of thing I mean: playing the long game. It's unpalatable.

Now I'm counting forward in weekends until the next time I don't have a deadline. I'm into December. The box sets might have to wait a bit longer.

A rare moment of reflection. Please expect the usual diet of selfies and knitting pictures to resume tomorrow. I've got a particularly good selfie to share.

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