Monday, June 26, 2006

In the shit

So, you need some background.

A couple of months ago, when reading the Travel section of the Guardian, I read about someone couchsurfing during their stay in Barcelona. If you're travelling and need a place to crash, you can contact willing hosts at the CouchSurfing website. We already have someone coming to stay with us in August for three days -- a vet student from the US who's arriving before her dorm's ready. He was kinda ok with that, though I told him, didn't really ask.

I love the concept: you can meet other people from different places, show them around your fair city (or not, you can be involved in as little or as much with the people as you'd like to be). Mostly, I like it cos it's cheap and travel is very expensive. I like the philosophy behind it, as well: learning from others, sharing. It's very socialist, which I don't think is a bad thing.

I don't think Boy is so down with it. I was looking for a place for us to stay during our French trip (particularly when we visit the Alps). He was happy at the thought of spending his holiday on someone's futon. I think he sees a holiday as a time for indulgence, and I can get what he's thinking. I, personally, think of it as a time to see as much as I can. So I don't want to spend money on accomodation. Well, it's like this: I'd rather spend nothing or everything on accomodation. There's nothing worse than a motel: the beds are all hard, never enough pillows, the bathrooms are usually very ratty. So I'd rather be in a very nice place, or someone's spare room. We share not the same philosophy.

So, how am I in the shit? Well, some guy was saying that he was going to come to Scotland for a visit, but coming in to Glasgow at midnight, would there be any place for him to stay? Offhandedly, I told him I was in Edinburgh and, if he was welcome to make the drive, he could stay. It's something you say! Now this guy's contacted me, saying thanks for the offer and he'll be at my house at 3 am on the 17th. Boy is going to kill me!

How do I get out of this one?

So... what are you doing this week?

Last week of school and I feel more huff-and-puff than chuffed. This time I didn't think I left things to the last minute, but apparently I have. And it doesnae help when your co-workers ask you what your up to this week in a "You're not doin' shit cos you're not seeing buy pupils" tone of voice. I needed to finish a videoed assessment of a pupil and asked if I could use the general meeting area for it. I was informed that it was being used by the pupils to wash toys. That should be alright, I replied, if the washers were quiet. "Look, it's got to get done," she said, breezing out of the room, instantly letting me know my place -- at the back of the queue. Suddenly, despite the mountain of work this week brings I'm mighty glad to be gone.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Why kids grow up too fast, or The weddings and sex

The two P2 (first grade) classes in my school are studying weddings, for some reason. This gives the adults in my school an excuse to lose their minds. First, all married teachers are bringing out their wedding albums and/or dresses. I refrained... barely. I don't have an album, so that wasn't hard, but the dress bit was. I love my wedding dress!

The second way in which the adults have completely lost it was by having mock wedding ceremonies. In a word: why? They went all out beyond the normal things of bride, groom, wedding party: parents of the bride and groom, making of a cake, a reception, invitations sent out. One teacher went even so far as to contemplate having the village vicar marry the bride and groom! Thankfully, the more sensible of the P2 teachers said no fucking way.

I find the whole process disturbing. I don't know if it is the job of schools to teach children these types of things. This thought, though, is strictly American, for we have adverse reactions to any thing of this nature. Schools over here teach religion, which I find bizarre, even as a believer of God (aka, God Botherer). We have our end of year service in the village church on Wednesday and they have been practising "Give me oil in my lamp" for three weeks straight. Anything remotely religious taught in schools give me the tics and I am supremely grateful that I have nothing to do with any of that as a support, or resource, teacher.

Plus, it was poorly done, only looking at western, Christian weddings. Now, teaching religions in schools mean that the schools teach about Hinduism and Islam (the two biggest religions outside of Christianity worshipped in the UK), and they actually do that well, to be fair. But this study of weddings featured no discussions of non-Christian weddings or non-traditional services. And as a person who had a fairly unconventional wedding, I was a bit offended. For me, it seemed to say 'This is the only way to get married. You must have bell ringers, you must wear a hat, etc., etc.' In our ever changing and diverse world, their little ceremony was a bit archaic and racist, if you ask me.

The other thing that bothered me was that I don't think adults should be encouraging children to think of such things. There is nothing wrong with supporting children in play; if children were interested in weddings and then thought to have their own mock wedding, I think it would be great to support them in whatever way they needed to do this. But this was a teacher-led unit. I has many adult connotations associated with it (What about 'gay marriages', which are sanctioned over here, I asked one teacher) which a teacher has lead herself and her pupils into. It's an adult event and should not be recreated for, frankly, the enjoyment of adults. Love to hear what you think.


Well, I shouldn't bitch so much. One of our teacher's son, attending another school, is in P2 as well and is receiving sex education. A bit of reproduction education on a very general basis might be all right, wouldn't you think? Like "Mummies and Daddies love each other and that's where babies come from." Oh no, my friends, it gets worse. They are learning vocabulary like 'clitoris'. "He doesn't even know what that is or where that is!" his mother lamented. "Don't worry, neither does my husband," I replied. Hey -- it's only a bit of quid pro quo, cos I know if someone would set up Boy in such a delicious manner, there is no way that he wouldn't knock them down as well.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Good riddance

The US are out of the World Cup; what a surprise. I say this last statement with an intented double meaning: considering they went to the quarter-finals in the last World Cup, this is somewhat of a shock. And considering how shit their form appears, this is not so much as well. As with Landon Donovan's rapidly receding hairline since 2002, so was his team's chances of scoring this time around. My suggestion to get better is to recruit more Argentineans to the team -- good start with Pablo Mastroeni.

An afternoon's worth of sights

The man in front of me regulates everything, even when he wasn't the first person in the queue. When anyone tried to go to the next self-service till to the left of us, he put his hand out: "The queue's back there mate." The people he confronts are quite apologetic (meaning very) and humbly go to the end of the line. I'm not sure how it's been determined that where we stand is the queue for the two self-service tills with long conveyors, but not for the other two tills without conveyors. I think this guy has just made this shit up, but I'm too scared to defy him.

He is now ringing up his things and it's my role, being the most senior in this queue, to handle any situations. I deftly manage two queue jumpers with similar authority. Then this girl appears. Somewhere between the age of 12 and 22, she's on one of those razor scooters, plugged into her iPod, with a basket hanging from the crook of her arm. I motion to her. She looks at me. Authority is waning. I motion again. She ignores me by forming her own queue. I am me, again.

I step in front of her to signal my disapprobation. Somehow, I don't think she gives a toss. And as I am bagging my things, her items come kareening down the conveyor. Off-brand Frosted Flakes, two packets of twisty pasta. How old is this bird?


The bus pulls into the stop, but before it got there, I see him. He's wearing a smart, but trendy pinstripe suit. His large briefcase has a shoulder strap and is sitting on the ground beside him. He looks off, wishing he could be far away. He looks exactly like Roy Keane, the recently retired, very scary footballer. Exactly. Could be twins. But as I am now looking at him, head on, he looks like Colin Firth. Or maybe Mark Viduka. Yeh, more like Mark Viduka, because of the hair, not at all floofy (as Colin Firth's would be) and it kinda looks like Ross's in the first season of Friends. But thicker.

I look at him again. Now Roy Viduka (or Colin Keane, whatever you fancy) looks like some very scary eastern European mobster. Not that I have knowingly met an eastern European mobster. But if I had, he would look like just.

And I laugh hysterically at the thought of the Roy Viduka mobster, as the bus moves on. Several people on the bus try not to look at me.


A man gets on the bus and makes his way to the first seat. Another guy is sitting by the window, legs akimbo, knee propped up on the wall in front of him. He makes a face as the first man moves to sit beside him, making him adjust his position, slightly. Now with room, the man does sit, and I notice his mouth is gaping open, as if in a smile, his teeth seem unable to be contained in his gob. He has very large ears and wears a suit coat, though it is quite warm outside. He sits in his seat poker straight, though slightly leaning forward, in contrast to the guy seated next the window who is slouched, elbow leaning on the slight window ledge next to the "Please make way for elderly and people with small children seats" sign attached the pane. His mouth is still open. He is seated in the aisle and has very large ears.

The man reminds me of what Peter Crouch would be like when he gets old, for, whenever I see Peter Crouch on telly, his mouth is open. And you're not sure if he has trouble breathing through his nose, or if he's smiling. And Peter Crouch will probably have enormous ears as well, as does this old man, along with the old man sitting in front of me and the old guy who went upstairs to sit on the upper level. What is the deal with old guys and huge ears? Again, cue my laughter. Again, cue their stares.


The bus pulls right beside a woman trying to get out of her car. She checks to see if she has enough clearance, then opens the door slowly and gingerly. She does not hit the bus, and she manages to get out. She is a large woman, larger than me, no muscle, but still probably somehow wears a 12 (I wear a 16; I console myself knowing that the sizes are two sizes bigger here than in the States). She's wearing a black trouser suit with a yellow top and sunglasses. She looks like the woman who used to give me jobs and take my time-sheet at Acorn: a woman, no matter what she was wearing, should not be wearing that. She looks like she should be called Nicola and holidays in Benidorm. As Nicola gets out of the car, I notice her enormous bosom and the inverse lack of chin. Sad, I think. She goes to the other side of the car. Nicola makes a face, a cross between happiness and disgust. She opens the car door. And pulls out a baby. I think it's a boy; he wears a white and blue top and baby blue baby trousers. He's adorable, his little baby hair going in all crazy directions. Nicola cuddles him sweetly, so sweetly it makes me smile. So sweetly I feel the little baby in my arms and smell he's sweet little baby smell. And I think, gosh. Which would be worst - no chin, but big tits, or a chin, and no tits? As I am a girl with the latter, I was thanking my lucky stars for my chin as the bus pulled away.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The difference between me and you, take 2

Here's another thing that is clearly different from here (the UK) to there (wherever you are): the sporting chants. Sorry, this is my obvious topic of choice as the footie is on (2, 5, and 8, y'all -- 2, 5, and 8). People, please understand that this is the biggest sporting event in the world -- even bigger than the World Series. Amazingly, they allow teams from other countries in this crazy competition they call the World Cup. In the States, you have this chant and a variations of it, such as the second one.

But this is what it sounds like over here -- a chant of the name of England's most popular player, Wayne Rooney:

This is now become my chant of choice, as it has huge comedy value and can be applicable to any name. Go ahead, try. Loudly.

Monday, June 19, 2006

World Cup woes

The US World Cup team are terrible. Not in some charming Mighty Ducks sort of way in which there's some really awful fat kid (cos he's always fat) playing in goal who lets the opposition score 1000 times, thus making the coach comically slap his head in despair and even disgust. Oh no, they are not even that good. It's more of the fourth best in the world and still haven't won a game. Americans, console yourselves with the knowledge that your mortal enemies, the French, haven't won either. They have, however, manage to score all by their little lonelies. Amazingly, these knuckleheads still have a chance to make it to the next round despite their non-winning ways by some very convolute route. Then if they do make it, they will meet Brazil. Wait a minute, isn't this the plot to Mighty Ducks 7:Die Mightier?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Suddenly, everyone's a friend

Rather sheepishly, announced to the staff my new position today cos I didn't know how the lot would take it. It was completely bizarre. I have spent the whole of this year really disliking one of the teachers, really having to force myself to not punch her in the face at times. Well, the Bitch, as she was previously called in other entries (yes, I have moaned about her on more than one occasion), was the first to congratulate me. And she asked me loads of questions about the post -- surprisingly very interested. And these other people were really chatty with me -- I mean I spent the whole of the year never saying a word to them and never being entirely sure of their names. Good news is my colleagues were genuinely pleased for me. The bad news is that I'll be having to endure being the new girl again at a totally new place. Maybe it will take my new colleagues less than a year to warm to me.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Reasons for excitement

Boy says I majorly down played my latest achievement in my last entry with all that synchronicity stuff. Thing is I am very pleased to be in full-time employment. I finally get my own room! My collection of children's books can finally be read by little people, not littering the flat in boxes. I'll be able to play music to my pupils again. More reasons for celebration: yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary. Naturally, we forgot. Well, it's not like the 3rd one is major! We made up for it in the end by having a nice meal out at the Shore. And England play again today in less than an hour. I'm following the country of my husband as mine own is so disappointing. And there you go -- a triumverate of reasons. As Dave Chappelle (as Rick James) said, "It's a celebration. Enjoy bitches."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I've been doing some reading of late and have come upon this idea of synchronicity -- essentially, answered prayers. The things you ask for, you desire, happening to you. Some people consider it luck -- I usually do cos I don't really believe much in it. I feel that most of the desires of my heart have gone unanswered. I'm trying not to believe this, as it cannot be true. It's just not possible. I'm trying to ignore the negative person that I am. Really hard to do.

Anyway, how synchronicity has manifested itself in my life: As long as Boy and I have been living together, we have been skint. Really, a combination of unemployment and underemployment by the both of us. It's been preventing us from doing what we want to do -- get the flat finished to the standard we want, going on nice holidays, saving, paying some bills, the such. And things haven't been exactly working out at work... well, not the way I was expecting. Essentially, I needed a different, full-time job. A tall order over here.

A position like mine, full-time, opened up, a rarity in Edinburgh. It's closer to home as well. And so, after faffing about with the application, I completed it and sent it in. Found out earlier today that the position is mine. I'm feeling might chuffed about it, but scared at the same time. As I'm starting to know myself more, I realise that I really dread change. It's hard for me cos I recognise that my first year in anything is shite. So I've just finished my first year in my current school and was looking forward to the second, armed with some serious knowledge. Now I'm going to start my neophyte status all over again. But there's me being negative again. Let me just appreciate the 'synchronicity' of today's events right now. I'll think about that later.

Now, if only synchronicity could apply the the US World Cup team. They desire a win, so they get it?


Can you be too early for an interview? I'm here nearly 30 minutes early. Don't want to appear tom desperate so mulling around outside, not gone in yet. Maybe not a good idea, outside a primary school?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Summer festivities

The summer in Edinburgh is filled with possibilities. June is full of World Cup fever -- as I type, I watch the amateurish Americans play against the very solid Czechs. The score is 2-0 to the Europeans, who are running circles around the US. August is all about the festivals -- the Edinburgh International Festival; the Edinburgh Fringe; the book festival; the jazz festival; the film festival...

    No! For fuck's sake, the Americans have conceded another goal! The defence is absolute shit! Fuckin' Eddie Lewis! There is no coming back from 3-0, you fuckwits!

I apologise -- I digress. There are a great number of festivals that bring visitors from around the globe to Edinburgh. I hope you've booked your ticket...

    Yes! No! How can you break past him, Bobby Convey, then just give a shite cross like that!?

Cos there is so much to do. I've already chosen what I want to see at the Fringe -- nearly £200 worth of tickets (for me and the Boy) and about 10 tickets. Lots of comedy shows -- loads of free ones at that. There are so many good comedians and you'll never be able to see everything. That's probably the hardest thing about the festivals: you will never see everything. And you're always on the back foot about seeing things...

    Why, US? Why? You can't score from a header on the edge of the box, Josh Wolf! You amateurs!

But all of it pales in comparison to the World Cup. We spent the whole of Saturday out with pals watching games. It's very simple: 2, 5, 8. There are three games a day, one at 2 pm, 5 pm and 8 pm. Unfortunately, there was a lot of drinking in between as well for us on Saturday.

    What are you doing?! It's only you! There is no one to support you! Go for the fuckin' ball you dumbass!

I apologise for the expletives. That will be me for the rest of June, dying as I watch the World Cup.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Come on lads!

It's a lovely Saturday here, absolutely gorgeous. Currently 61°F (16°C) and expected to get to 72° (22°), sunny, with a light breeze. Here, people will be outside, soaking it in. South of the border in England, there won't be a single person outside, a car on the street. In fact, the streets will be deserted.

It's England's first World Cup game and they will not be cheered on by the majority of the Scottish population, despite the close proximity and both being in the United Kingdom. This is because, generally speaking, Scots have negative feelings toward the English, ranging from indifference and ambivalence to derision and pure hatred. It's historical and too much to get into right now. Instead of supporting England, many are going to support either the team England is playing against (a Scottish pal yesterday said he needed to go out and get a Paraguyan flag) or are going to support Trinidad and Tobago. Why Trinidad and Tobago? Because they have a player called Jason Scotland. I kid you not -- about his name and about their support of him. There is even a song out for him. Here's a verse:
    “The World Cup Finals are on their way
    With all the teams off to Germany
    Brace yourself cause on every screen
    There’ll be nothing but the England team
    But wait!
    There’s hope at hand
    We can still support
    Scotland, Scotland, Jason Scotland!”
Newsflash: Boy has found what has to be the world's best pub. It has a giant screen showing the game in the beer garden outside! Nirvana. The game begins in 20 minutes and the pub just that far away. But there's something with the buses. I told Boy I'd probably be late because of it. His response? A very hurried, "Well, you can take a taxi to get here." This is how much my man loves England, to let me take a taxi so I'm not late for the kick-off. Awww. I'm just wanting them to win now. Only part of me; the other part is rooting for the US. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Well, I'm off. Here we go!

And it all comes crashing down

So today, I see a teaching pal that I haven't seen in more than a year. She says, very effusively -- TWICE -- "You look great!" And I take that to mean "You've lost weight." I can't be the only one with this shorthand -- okay, I know I'm not the only WOMAN who thinks this. Obviously, when I hear this, I'm right chuffed. And then I go shopping for bikinis. A thousand "You look good"s will never erase the image of the (previously unnoticed) cellulite on my right thigh. There, mocking me: "You better think about a swimming dress this year girlfriend."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Me blethering

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I (heart) people of colour

Man, do I miss coloured folks. Particularly Black people. Far East Asians -- I'm okay. And there are plenty of Indians and others from that part of the continent. (Who, by the by, are confusingly called Asians -- my questions is whadya call Japanese and Chinese and Korean folksisees?)

I'm not sure how the hell this works, but the British recruits native people from the UK's former colonies and commonwealth states to be in their army. It's well-known that there are many Nepalese serving. They also have a fair number from Fiji. The second school I work at is very near an British army base and there are some Fijian kids at the school.

Today there were a few brahs out playing rugby and I just loved it. I never get to see any Pacific Islanders and so, to be all the way over here and see folks, it's a cool thing. They must be buggin' out over the weather though. 68°F (20°C) and peeps actin' like it's a heatwave. Folks gonna be fallin' out on Friday -- 73° (23°).

Here are a few more stories about race and British folks. Be amused.


My boss at school has got some serious frizzy hair. She puts me to shame with her nappiness and she ain't even black. Or she's not admitting to it.

My school is in the process of packing up and moving out of their building so that we can build a brand new school on site. As a result, they are cleaning out all the cupboards that get filled with crap in a school and they have pulled out all these pictures from the past. My boss has been at my school for years, so there is nearly a thousand pictures with various heights of afro. Sometimes it's JJ Walker, in other pictures, Diana Ross.

So she tells us a story of when she was dating her husband. She was, as many of us are when we are younger, a bit tanner. They were walking hand in hand when, I'll let her words continue the story:

    When two big NEGROES jumped up and toward me. They said, "What island are you from sista?"
    I mean, two NEGROES!
And I wasn't even watching Driving Miss Daisy. Did you think there were people in the world that used that word? Here's another story of inappropriate terms for people.


A young girl I worked with was telling me a story. At one point she said,

    "And these two coloured people..."
    Skeeeeert. (Sound of car braking to halt) "What did you say?" I said.
    "Coloured people."
    "Uh, dear. You really shouldn't call people coloured people. It's offensive."
    "Really? I'm sorry... I just... that's just... that's what... "
    "You can say Black, if you like. Who told you to say coloured people?"
    "My coloured friend."
I wish I were lying.


When I first arrived, I decided to get my hair cut. Why, I don't know. Well, I was lured to one particular hair salon (one of the 17,000 in the city), Ebony and Ivory. Hey, this can't be so bad. Plus, I was missing seeing some Black folks.

In the shop was the proprietor, an older Afro-Caribbean woman, and a younger African girl. The young woman was particularly fascinated with me. It was like my sister's reaction when meeting Boy: "Wow, a real-life English person." I was the Black American on display. I was asked loads of questions about my American life, which was making me slightly homesick.

    "Wow," she said, "I can't believe you're from American. Can you tell me... is it true that all Black people like fried chicken and watermelon?"
What, you don't? I guess I would have been less shocked with the comment if she hadn't been Black as well.

Monday, June 05, 2006

My kooky new adventure

So I didn't actually get to read this article until after I made this vow, but I saw the headline in the paper. Something like:

We're told to eat 5 fruit and vegetables a day for a healthy diet. So how come it's 7 in France, 10 in Norway and 17 in Japan?

Okay, so I'm just like you: "Whoa! 17? Day-um!" There's a statistic that get bandied about quite often: the Scottish get less than 1 portion a day of fruit and vegetables. I know seventeen is massive to you but over here, it's madness.

So I start thinking to myself: could I do this? Could I eat 17 fruit and veg a day, every day? And so, my friends, I have been at it since the first day of June and will continue until the 1st of December. Yes, 6 months of eating as much fruit and veg as I possibly can. Honestly, I haven't made it to 17 yet -- 13 being the most I've done -- but I'm desperately trying.

Anyway, I'm starting a blog (another one) for this (mis)adventure. Just really a list of all my fruit and veg and some observations. You can check it out if you want:

And no, my poo is not all liquidy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Another signal that I am clearly into adulthood: I don't have enough time. I never have enough time to do the things that I wanted to do. I have loads of grand schemes in my head, only for them to be dashed.

Yesterday, for example, this was my planned schedule:
    10.00-10.30 Check out saleroom
    10.30-11.00 Walk the dogs
    11.00-12.30 Go for a swim
    12.30-2.00 Go shopping
    2.00-3.30 Play volleyball in the park
    3.30-5.00 More shopping
    5.00-6.00 Go home to prepare for dinner party
    6.30 Meet Boy at bus stop to get to dinner party
    7.00 Dinner party
I only managed the dog walk (but got a row from Boy cos the walk was too short), the volleyball, and a very hurried shower before the dinner party. I did meet Boy on time, but not without a lot of growling "Where are you?"s on the mobile.

Sometimes I still plan my days and time as if I still were in the States. Meaning I still think I have a car and I can get places quickly. If I miss the bus, it takes me 10 minutes to walk out to Leith Walk to get it. Then I may or may not have to wait for a bus there as well. All this travel time -- it all adds up. And it's something I have no control over. So I can plan to my heart's content, but if the driver's stuck in some jam, there are my plans out the window. A lot of times, I walk, cos things are relatively close. But a twenty-minute walk there and back to the shops certainly adds up.

I also think I should have my schedule jammed packed. That's what efficient people do. I remember this one friend in the States who was so efficient with her time. She always pulled out her diary before she made any plans. I remember one day she had two extra-curricular activities (non-work things) planned and still had the time to meet with me! I know that I spend lots of my time idle -- look at this blog. And I feel guilt for my laziness. And so I try to fit everything in.

The thing I'm realising is is that I'm not a bad person for not being able to fit loads of things in my day. This doesn't mean anything about me, nor about my very efficient friend, save that she must have some German stock in her family (actually, she's got Irish roots, but if you ask me, she should delve deeper cos there's got to be some German there). I know I get bogged down with unimportant tasks. So now I'm trying to order my activities. Things I need to do. Things I want to do. Things that would be nice to do. Maybe this way, I'll feel less guilty. And feel good about the things I get done.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

An observation on deadlines

this is an audio post - click to play