Sunday 2 June 2024

2024 Weeknote 22

Yeah, I skipped a week. I was away last Sunday and I meant to catch up but then, who wants to read another entry where I whine about not enjoying my job? It's a bit entitled, isn't it. And boring. Happily things picked up a bit last week and on Thursday - one day before the half term holiday - I finally found my stride and made big headway on the projects I had been procrastinating all term. This makes me feel quite hopeful for the coming term, busy though it will be. 

I did have a trust meeting on Tuesday that enraged me. Lots of disagreeing, which I had to try to manage professionally, with not much success, leading to the comment of the day to me: 'I find your point uncomfortable, but I think you're probably right'. More patronising. I had to come clean about my experience with assessment at the start of the day because, when you're disagreeing with people, it helps that they know you do actually know what you're talking about. It helped a bit, anyway. However, it just highlighted to me again what a lovely bubble I live and work in and how different the status quo is out there. It's a bit depressing, as I move away from working exclusively in my subject community, but I expect I will still find ways of interfering. I love a bit of interfering.

Onto nice half term things. On Saturday there was a quarry swim and lunch. On Sunday, I drove down to see Sib, Sib-in-law and the niblings. We went to Horrible Histories at Hampton Court and then, on Monday, a walk around Richmond Park. All very lovely as long as you take out the long and uncomfortable argument Sib and SIL had for much of the time I was there. I'm always at a bit of a loss when this happens - should I wade in? (Undoubtedly no, this is not the interfering I like). Should I just pretend it's not happening? (This is what I do but it's really awkward). 
Anyway. The small ones are very cute and fun, so that's good, and we saw lots of cool things - ducklings and beetles and lots of deer. 

Sort of understanding why people have children now, if they can make them do amusing things like this. 

On Tuesday, I'd arranged to go for a walk in the Mendips with ex-colleagues and so of course, the weather was abysmal. At one point I put my foot on what looked like a solid piece of ground and sunk into it up to my knee. Thankfully my walking boots are, it turns out, really waterproof. We squelched around for about 3 hours and then ate our sandwiches under an oak tree, sheltering from the rain. The dog companions loved it and we saw lots of wild horses.I came home and fell asleep in the bath, then napped most of Wednesday as I fought off a cold, which thankfully has failed to materialise. 

On Thursday I went into work for a bit, which meant I could visit the good bakery, and then went to a book talk at Toppings in Bath in the evening. It was Marlon James, on the anniversary of him winning the Booker for A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I have not yet read and so of course bought. Marlon James wrote The Book of Night Women which I read a few years ago, while I was studying teaching about slavery. What a book. It really has stayed with me. The interviewer naturally asked about Miss Isabelle and I really wanted to ask James, Do white interviewers always ask you about Miss Isabelle? But of course that's not really a question. The book deals incredibly well with the multiple layers of racism that slavery created in the Caribbean and Miss Isabelle, white but born in the Caribbean, is a victim of this system - not to the extent that the enslaved characters are, but occupying an uncomfortable place in society. I've a theory that people who read this book latch onto her character because it's not often that you read something that indicates that some white people were also scorned for not being the right kind of white, and that many people won't have really known this before. There is a really notorious scene in the book that she is at the centre of, I suppose, so that might also be why. 

That book! Not for the faint-hearted but I can recommend it highly. 

My favourite thing about Marlon James is that he is a massive book nerd. He kept going off at a tangent to talk about the dozens of books he loves and reads. It made me feel quite underaccomplished with my 20-30 books a year, I get the impression he'd manage that in a week, but then he does sort of read for a living, as a literature professor. I wrote down some favourite quotes but I think this one was the best: 'If I have to read one more story about some mediocre white man who has a wife and two mistresses and can somehow still get it up...I mean, come on dude.' 


On Friday I did many errands. I went to Landrace bakery in Bath, finally, and bought All The Things. I took some clothes in to be altered and finally went to the dentist - our old dentist ditched us in January (this being partly our fault as we didn't read his letter carefully and missed the narrow window provided to avoid such a ditching) and I've had to wait eight weeks to get an initial appointment with another dentist, and I had to prepay over the phone when I made it, and that's as a private patient. NHS places are like hen's teeth, if you'll pardon the pun. Luckily the new dentist seemed nice. I've got to go in for a filling and a filling replacement (I am not lucky with my teeth, in spite of all my careful cleaning and flossing) so I guess we will see then how good she is. 

I finished Still Life - very glad I stuck with it. I haven't managed to pick up anything else yet. I read a bit of The Dice Man, after referring to it in conversation and remembering that, although I knew the premise well, I had never actually thumbed through it, thanks to Father Hand banning me from it as a child. I have read about a fifth of it but that's enough. It seems to be a 500-page wank. I'm sure plenty of people in their 30s have found themselves a bit bored and not resorted to handing all agency over to chance, with disastrous consequences for seemingly everyone except the narrator. I tried it, I understand why I wasn't allowed to read it aged 11 (I was a precocious reader as a child and he actually had to hide it from me but, on this one, I have to say I agree with Father Hand), I'm sorry I bothered to waste an hour on it. 

I've tried the start The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and of course I've got A Brief History of Seven Killings ready to go, but I did also pick up the new Thursday Night Murder Club yesterday and I think that seems the most realistic read for the month when marking begins. 

On The TV front, I have managed a lot. I finally finished The Crown. I finished Mary and George - enjoyable, I love Julianne Moore, but the swearing was so anachronistic I found it quite jarring. I binged the whole of season 4 of True Detective which had a deeply satisfying ending. I love Jodie Foster. I have made a start on season 2 of Bridgerton. 

So all this TV has supported the almost-finishing of Toplino, which is about two inches of sleeves away from being ready to wear. I still fear it's going to be a bit short so it needs a good blocking. Hopefully I can get those sleeves finished today. 

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