Friday, 30 September 2011

The price you pay.................

Are you sick of highly paid teachers? Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - babysit! We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right. Let's give them £5.93 an hour and only the hours they work; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after......... school. That would be £ 41.51 a day (8.30 am to 3:30 PM with 60 min. off for lunch and play -- that equals 7 1/2 hours). Each parent could pay £ 41.51 a day for these teachers to babysit their children. Now how many children do they teach in a day...32? So that's £ 41.51 x 32 = £ 1328.32 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any holidays . LET'S SEE.... That's £1328.32 X 180= £239,097.60 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries). What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage (£ 6.90), and just to be fair, round it off to £ 7.00 an hour. That would be £ 7.00 X 71/2 hours X 32 children X 180 days = £ 302,400.00 per year. Wait a minute -- there's something wrong here! There sure is! The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is £ 25,000.00/180 days = £ 138.90 per day/ 32 children = £ 4.34 / 7 1/2 hours = £ 0.58 per hour per student--a very inexpensive babysitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

I love this quote - it puts into perspective just how undervalued teachers really are. I absolutely love my job but we DO get a bad press all the time - smart comments about holidays and the hours we work in a day. I've heard from more than one person, " What a great job you have" to which I reply, "Well if it's THAT great a job, why are YOU not doing it?!!!" - SILENCE from the dissenter - yeah I thought so! 
Stand in a class of 32 kids every day from 9-3pm and you'll realise how much it takes out of you. My voice is now subject to "vocal abuse" as my doctor has diagnosed. It could cut short my teaching career - it's definitely cut short my singing career because I don't have the same vocal range any longer -  and I LOVE to sing. But preserving my voice is now my top priority to allow me to see out the years till my retirement, still being able to do the job I love.

So, before you comment, come try out my profession. Try it for a week. The teaching, the planning, the pastoral care as well as the educational commitment. Sort out the fights, mop up the tears, find friends for the lonely and allay the fears of the nervous. All in a day's work...... but it's the price you pay.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

It's Wednesday evening. It's quarter past eight - and I am ready for bed! I am absolutely shattered tonight probably because I've been burning the candle at both ends since the weekend. Not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips - and I seriously am telling the truth about that - but I have been constantly on the go and now all I need is wrapped in a tartan shawl and cuddled.
It's been a great few days and nights but I am getting too old for consecutive nights out with no time to rest in between. I've met up with special long standing friends, partied with folk in my community and dined with the man I love - what more could I ask for? I lead a very varied life and love everything about it but, sometimes, for sanity's sake, you just have to rest!
Tonight is that night. I could actually really go a double cheeseburger from McDonalds and a cup of coffee but I can't be bothered getting dressed again to go and get one. So I'll sit and dream about it (might actually go downstairs to make the cofffee - that would be too lazy if I didn't!) but a trip to Coatbridge's Drive Thru McDonalds isn't appealing to me one little bit although I would enjoy the end result I'm certain.
It's time to head off now - I'm rambling cos I'm goosed, done in, oot the game, knacked!! Nite nite xx

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Get to sleep!

It's late - or early - depending on which way you look at it. I've had a really good night and it's time to rest my weary head and dream of ............. well THAT would be telling!!
At church tonight, my family were superb and I was so proud of each and every one of them. There is a plethora of singing talent in my family - I'm not just saying it, EVERYONE says it - and it was seen tonight in Airdrie ward's LDS Church. My nephew Ben produced a show called Trek:The Journey of the Pioneers and I have to say it was amazing. The singing was wonderful. My family's contributors were my brother Jim, nephew in law Drew, niece Tracie, great nieces Amber and Hollie and great nephews Logan and Jacob (or Cubby as he is universally known). My sis-in-law Margaret was one of the narrators but it was Cubby who stole the show. He's nearly 8 and he has a great singing voice. He brought everyone to tears. The performance lasted nearly 2 hours and all of this held together and produced by a 15 year old!! Ben is amazing - a talent which I'm certain will take him far in the future. He has it all - the singing voice, musical direction, can write songs, play the piano - and he just happens to be gorgeous. He has the looks of Justin Bieber although he won't thank me for saying that at all. Even my friends want to take him home and keep him - my niece Tracie, his mum, says she would seriously consider it for a bar of chocolate and a bottle of Irn Bru!
After the show I met up with the special one! We get on so well together and I love the time we share. Poor soul has to work tomorrow but he's coming to me for his dinner afterwards. Then I'm off to see my friends, Daniel and Loretta. I know there would be a ton of women wishing they were in my shoes tomorrow but he has always been a very ordinary man to me but with a rather unusual job. And that's how I treat him which is why we get on so well. He says I just treat him normally when everyone else flaps round about him. He trusts me and I'd never let him down.
So a busy day will be upon me before I know it. A visit to my niece Emma and my great niece Ava, dinner prep for Ross no.1 and Ross no. 2, a trip to a hotel to see my mates then home and in bed in time for work on Tuesday morning. Geez I'm exhausted already. Maybe add another blog during the week sometime. Until then - TTFN xxx


Love is wonderful. To be loved is the most precious gift anyone can bestow on you. It happens, not because it's expected or out of a sense of obligation or duty but because it's a desire to do so by the person passing on that gift.
To love somebody back is easy - if they mean the world to you then it's a given. Unconditional and unwavering. When you're IN love? Tricky and fantastic all at the same time.
 It makes the world go round, is blind, it hurts, is a many splendoured thing, the power of it - all of these are attributed to love (and many more). It's written about more often than any other subject I know. Nobody has found a formula to make it work easily and smoothly 100%.
But we still all look for the perfection, the wonder, the thrill of it. We work at finding it all our lives in which ever way we choose to do so. Sometimes you have to go searching it out. At times, it simply falls from the heavens and lands right underneath your nose.
Most people want a "one and only" - a soulmate - someone to share EVERYTHING with. And, if you're very lucky, your wish just might come true.
I think (no, I KNOW) I've found mine. He IS my everything. He makes me smile, laugh and we share all sorts of things together. He is my confidant and I am his.
Men are so slow sometimes (not meaning to be rude!) but they definitely inhabit another airspace than us females do. I think it was quite some time before he realised how I really felt. But he knows I love him. My life would be empty without him in it. And that's what the power of what love can do.

The perty!!!

Craig's party was brill. I was there with loads of my mates and the evening went fantastically well. I left my poor brother gigging in our local while I climbed the hill to the higher echelons of Chapelhall's society - to the Parochial Hall! I felt a little bit guilty leaving Jim down there playing probably to himself (not the case as I later found out) while most of the pub regulars were at the party.
We had a ball. The hall was full to capacity and Craig was really overwhelmed with the turn out. The music was great and Jinty was busting out all the shapes and moves with my pal, Chris - he is soooo cool on the dance floor! My old knees are suffering for it today. Even without the effects of alcohol (remember Saint Jinty was driving?) why do I think that bopping about the dance floor in heels that I don't normally wear is not going to have an adverse effect the following day? When I tried to crawl from my bed and stood up, I knew today was not going to be a comfortable one - my knees are bloody killing me!! Old age doesn't come itself and, quite obviously, wisdom doesn't come with age - I didn't give a toss last night when I was up shakin my very ample booty to J-Lo or "Twistin The Night Away" - never considered that today I would have the body of a 47 year old and the knees of a geriatric! It's sore to walk - but I'll suck it up and get on the go.
Not satisfied enough with the party antics, when I returned to my local and to my brother's gig, what did this moron do? Yeah - you've guessed it - hit the dancefloor once again! Now if I had been drinking I could see the point. But I had 2 cans of Sprite and a diet Irn Bru - not enough alcohol in there to warp my mind - so the fact that I thought I was back to being an 18 year old is, truthfully, beyond me. Maybe it was wearing the high heels that caused the problem........ maybe not......
Anyway a good night was had and I promise I've learned my lesson - just smoochin on the dancefloor from now on - no busting moves like MC Hammer on a good day! So I'll suffer in silence - I know a man who will slag me today when he sees me limping - I love him - he'll get away with it - this once (who am I kidding?  He gets away with it EVERY time!)
I am out tonight at an event in my brother's church. My 15 year old great nephew, Ben, is a musical genius and has produced a show called "Trek- a tribute to the pioneers" - he has even written one of the songs for it. I so love my family - we are a close knit bunch. And there's loads of us. A man once told me that he's never met a family like us - we are unique. It's the nicest thing he has ever said to me - and I've known him 14 years!
But I am glad to say I am merely a spectator tonight and not a participant. Thank goodness cos maybe Ben would want his old auntie to bust out those dance moves..................

Friday, 23 September 2011

What to do today...

It's nearly noon - and I'm bored already! Don't get me wrong, I'd rather be bored at home than working in school. But when the housework is done, everything's in order and your other friends are at work - there is damn all to do! I could go all square eyed and watch television but what would I do tonight then? I could go shopping but, to be honest, there is nothing I need to buy right at this moment in time. Having a gastric band fitted does not allow me the pleasure of going out for a hearty lunch cos I wouldn't be able to eat it. It's a waste of money for me. So I'm bored. REALLY bored! Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no ideas in my head as to any fascinating feat that I should try to accomplish. Maybe I should just stay in bed all day............ but that would be boring too! Think I am just going to get myself organised, get out in the car and take it from there. I would say the sky's the limit but then I'd need to fuel up my rocket instead of my car. A bit pricey for rocket fuel these days so the car it will be - destination ANYWHERE! Wonder who is at home........ maybe some flying visits will be on the this space...........

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The enemy.............

Insomnia is my enemy - it creeps up on me like the proverbial thief in the night and robs me of, not only my sleep, but nearly my sanity too (YOU? SANE? I hear you say......). It's hard to function on 3 hours or less sleep when you are facing a class of 32 nine year olds who crave your attention on a perpetual but continual basis. I'm not the type of person to be grouchy all day - no, I can actually still function reasonably well on so little shut eye. But there comes that time - around 2 in the afternoon - when I feel like lying in the corner and have the kids sing me a lullaby. Snoring at that very moment in time nearly becomes a reality. But not quite. The professional in me - as well as the noise level resounding through a completely open plan school of an afternoon keep my peepers open just long enough to see the day out till 3pm.
When I get home, I decide to come upstairs for a rest. Will my eyes shut now? Nope. So I get back up again, thinking that I'll have an early night just after dinner. Sated and feeling ready for a visit to Noddyland, I climb the stairs once more, get into bed and PING - eyelids are refusing point blank to droop - not for no one, nobody, no thing! Up I get again, watch some tv, read a book (always good for getting the eyelids ready for shut down!) and, with a few yawns, weariness and definitely no spring in my step, I'm finally ready.......
2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours later - I'm still ready.....and willing........... tell that to my eyes cos they have now gone into overdrive and are staging a protest - "WE WILL NOT CLOSE"!
So I see every hour on the clock, frustration building to boiling point ready to overflow like the lava pouring venomously down the sides of Krakatoa until - eventually - they can take it no more and close in sweet repose.
For around an hour or two!!! It's time to get up for work so, with the alarm ringing out the death knoll, it's up I get, into the shower, dressed, out the door and back to the round of torture once more. Will I fall asleep today on the job? Not likely............ but there's always a first time!


Just a quick blog about the Zumbathon - I survived! You have never watched anything so funny in your life. The gringo from Colombia who invented this craze must've been crazy himself. I have often thought of myself as reasonably well co-ordinated in terms of feet, arms, legs etc - Well - NO I'M BLOODY WELL NOT!!!!!! Octopus arms all over the place and moving one way as the legs are being ordered to go the other in time to some fast paced South American music - I couldn't keep up. I was more "bollocks" than "Bollywood" I can tell you. It was an experience not to be repeated but the Zumba teacher, Sharon, was so enthusiastic and terrific with the children that I felt I had to at least give it a try. Ok - so I gave it a try - time to move on and try cross stitching or bird watching or train spotting...... or just drinking, eating and sitting like a big couch potato watching CSI Miami............  Half hour of torture - oops I mean fun - took place from one till half past by which point the weans were the weirdest shade of beetroot red and needing to be hydrated from the toes up! Me? Once I realised I could end up like a big spangle on the floor in a tangled mass of body parts, I took to turning myself into David Bailley (photographer extraordinaire!!). At least from the behind the camera, I looked busy and focused so Sharon left me alone to do my teacherly job of capturing the moments (or half hour!!)
Actually it was really fun, all joking aside. The kids loved it, I toyed with being serious about it then decided there was no fun in that but it put in a half hour this afternoon and it's not something we do every week - thank the Lord!  There are no photos of me, J, sorry about that, but I would not have your stay in hospital due to loss of breath through excessive merriment and hysterics on my conscience.
Try it out - good old Zumba - if I ever meet that bloody Colombian, I'll ..................

Old friends.....

Apart from family who usually have very little option, the people who stand by you through all the trials and tribulations in your life are your friends. Not just fairweather friends who are around when the times are good and everything is going "swimmingly" but the real friends who walk in when all the others are walking out and leaving you to your crisis. Now these aren't just any friends - these are the "old friends"  who have known you forever and spent nights mopping up your tears when you've needed consoling and mopping up their own as they howl with laughter along with you at some crazy thing or other you have both found amusing.
It's been said that friends are the family you choose for yourself - how right that is - and I have made some wonderful choices over the years. My best friend from school is still in my life today. We have known each other since we have been 8 and 6 respectfully. For a time we went our separate ways - me to college and her to having her family. No bad feelings in any way. Just life taking us in opposing directions. She knows all about me, has imparted some good advice over the years and kept a watchful eye over me when I found myself living alone after my dad moved into a nursing home. She made sure I ate regularly and has fed me on too many occasions to count.
Then there are my 3 friends from college. We also have a special bond and, although we don't keep in contact too regularly, when we meet or pick up the phone it's as if we have never had a minute pass since the last time we talked. If anything goes wrong - they are the first to be there with support. We do that for each other - that's why we have been friends for so long. That's all that matters. I hope I do the same for them. They may not be blood related but they are most definitely family! I love them dearly and I make sure they know it.
There are old friends that you lose contact with over the years for one reason or another - who you think have left your friendship circle for good only to find them returning many years later in some surprising way to add their lustre back into your life once more. No regrets about years gone by - no apologies required - no bad feelings felt: just the pleasure of reconnecting once again.
When you have good friends who don't let you down, take my advice: cherish them and hold them close to your heart. They are your rock, your salvation on occasions, your allies when you feel you have none, your unwavering support when others fail you - and they are the most precious gifts you can be given. Trustworthiness, loyalty, friendship - these are not always a given for everybody. So if you have old friends who bring a sparkle to your life, let them know it and sparkle right back for them. Life is not complete without the closeness and the bond of old friends. I love them all and will cherish their friendship always. xx

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My holiday weekend

Yeah I know we are only back to school a few weeks but we are already having our first "break" - September weekend. I love when we are off (much as I love my job). It allows me to just be "me" again  - to chill out, relax, catch up on some sleep and gather myself for the next onslaught of long and short term plans and any curve ball that will inevitably be tossed my way.
So what's on the horizon this weekend? Well I have a 30th birthday party to attend on Saturday night. One of my former pupils who, unusually for me, has become a really good friend after leaving school and growing up. There are only a handful of former pupils who fall into this category out of hundreds that I have taught but Craig is one of them. It makes me feel really old when I hear that they are in their 30s but it's lovely that they want me to help celebrate it with them. So I shall trot to our local hall and shimmy on down with the best of them. I'm not drinking - I'll drive instead (saint Jinty is among you in the village of Chapelhall!)
Sunday I'll spend with "the crazy man" of which I'll say no more then on Monday I am going to the Premier Inn to meet up with my Irish friends.
I have the good fortune to be friends with a well known Irish singer and his entourage. My friend and I toured with him for years and helped sell his merchandise. Because of him, I have travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles and been to places I would never otherwise have been in my lifetime. One of those places is Ireland - north and south of the border line. A country which I love and miss dearly because I haven't been for a number of years now. We stayed in Co. Down many times - at the Slieve Donard Hotel - and it was wonderful. My whole summer break from school would be spent touring Ireland , often taking up his hospitality and staying with him in his home. I know the real man and he is lovely. So I look forward to a hug from him and all the others on Monday night. Then on Tuesday he plays the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and I'll be there - probably sitting backstage in the dressing room chatting with his PA, with one ear honed to the monitor that allows you to hear what's happening onstage with him. The best of both worlds.
So my weekend is busy. Unusually so for me on a holiday. But I'm looking forward to all of it. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Music - my passion.

Since I yet cannot comment on the Zumba as it doesn't take place till Thursday (are you listening, J?!!) I am about to tell you about my main passion in life  - music.
Music is what I eat, sleep and breathe. It truly is a universal language and can heal wounds and mend broken barriers as well as broken hearts. It has no language barrier. It speaks to the world. It speaks from the heart of the composer, the lyricist, the musicians who put together an infinite work of art to be enjoyed throughout generations. There are songs which last as long as an ice cream on a scorching day and there are songs which will continue forever because the words have meaning in people's lives, says the things you wished you were poetic and lyrical enough to have dreamed up or touches a place in your heart for the most personal of reasons.
Then there are songs that just have that great beat - that "I can't keep my toes from tapping and my body swaying" kinda song - rythmically perfect.
It might surprise you to know that I'm a bit of a rocker too with Def Leppard, Guns n Roses and Bon Jovi among my eclectic collection of music. I like all styles of music. Some more than others I must admit but I'll give most genres a try - at least once (ain't that nice of me!) Come visit me and you might find Michael Buble crooning in the background - or Axl Rose screaming out "Sweet Child O' Mine. You just never know what to expect. I'm not keen on heavy opera or jazz which is quite shameful because my singing voice lends itself to the jazzy/bluesy style.
Anyone from the village knows how I love to sing. I ran our local karaoke for about 8 years and, although I didn't always enjoy the "working" aspect of the job, I ALWAYS loved the singing. I also sing a variety of songs. In my repertoire are such songs as "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson, "Make You Feel My Love" by Adele, "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner, "Heaven" by Bryan Adams, "Old Time Rock n Roll" by Bob Seger (are you getting my drift?) These are but a few. As varied in style as in lyrical composition.
I also have sung in a band put together by the landlord of my local. He plays sax, my cousin on electric guitar, 2 other guitarists and the drummer. The style is very "jazzy" but it is fun to do and, I have to say, live music is "the bomb" - I love it. I cover 2 numbers, amongst others, with them that I had never done before - "Summertime" and Carole King's "Too Late Baby" so I am experimenting all the time. I am more "Alison Moyet" than "Dame Kiri Te Kanawa" with a strong, powerful voice inherited by my paternal grandmother. It cures all ills for me. When I'm sad, I sing to cheer myself up - when I'm happy, I sing - when I'm angry, I sing to get rid of the frustration - hell, I even sang with my niece to my wee auntie last week on request from my cousins, before she passed from this life to the next! It's not only a passion for me. It's a way of life. And I'll keep loving it............

It's been a busy old term already!

I feel as if we have been back to school for months and months - like the 7 weeks holiday never existed (poor you, I hear you screech sarcastically!)
The children in my new class have settled well and we are all getting into a routine. It's like a group of strangers being thrown together and told that you must co-habit for 5 hours each day Monday to Friday in joviality, good humour and peaceful bliss for a whole year - aye right!!!! Not always the case no matter how hard you try! Don't get me wrong - I'm a seasoned veteran when it comes to teaching (26 years of experience) but sometimes things go pear shaped. And we all have off days - or sometimes off weeks!! I include myself very much in this mix. Little sleep this weekend has not made me the jovial character that normally sits in the "teacher's chair" but I'm not apologising for being a little less than perfect!
Already we have had to plan every subject area till November, start new weekly short term planning sheets, write evaluation sheets of our current week (plan, plan, plan - do you see the pattern here?),  prepare for an Open Evening, organise a school allotment visit resulting in a coleslaw making bonanza from the fruits (veggies) of our labours, consider and discuss the idea that Nessie is for real and take part in a Zumbathon. Yes - you heard right  - a sponsored Zumba delight - a half hour of dance, movement and exercise to Bollywood style music where, no doubt, the good old croc of a teacher will be asked to "bust out some moves"! Much to the delight of her 32 children but not to the delight of Miss Bryce!! I  hope the ambulance is ready and waiting outside the school door with gas and air to revive this poor old codger who, through choice, has dedicated herself wholeheartedly to her profession. 100% commitment - even if it bloody kills me - I will not be beaten by 9 year olds - and I certainly want to maintain my superteacher/superhero status in their young and innocent eyes. So, suitably attired, I will show up on Thursday and "give it welly" during my Zumba half hour of torture (oops, I mean fun). My status as "head of the clan" will not be tarnished and I can leave for September weekend holiday knowing I have done my bit for the school and community. As for me on Thursday night? I'll be soaking in a hot bath to soothe my aching muscles, ponder on the day's trials and tribulations and get my breath back. Yeah - it's been a busy old term already!

Monday, 19 September 2011

My World!

I have been encouraged by an old friend to try out this blogging malarky. And, although it is unlike me to share my life so publicly, I have a sneaky suspicion that I may enjoy the venture. Doubt very much if anyone will be interested in what goes on in my world (hell, sometimes I'M not that interested!) but I am willing to share.

My world consists of - mainly ME (not entirely through choice). And my wee bunny rabbit who is allowed to share my house with me. He is rather anti-social - probably because I have him spoiled rotten but we co-habit quite peacefully. My close family live near me but not WITH me and this is a fact that I can live with! I enjoy my own company. I have many friends but, when I come HOME, I like my own space. There is a special someone in my life but we keep things completely quiet and private - just how we like it. Village mentality has propogated many a scandal between him and I but we just grin and avoid those probing questions that get fired our way.

My family is dwindling and I've suffered many losses over the years. The latest tragedy was the death of my sister at the young age of 52. Nothing prepares you for the loss of a sibling. In the evolution of life, somewhere in your head, you prepare yourself as best you can for the loss of your parents. But nothing - and I mean NOTHING prepares you for the death of your sister 6 years older than you. It's off the scale, incomprehensible and something from which we will not fully recover. It's a life now being lived without her presence and I miss her greatly. We had many a laugh in our time together as sisters.

We used to have cocktail nights at her house only a few hundred yards up the road from my own house. We would gather together all the "alcopoppy" style drinks of the day and some pretty tasty treats like Midori, Malibu etc  Jinty, in the kitchen, became your talented bar tender - mixing, shaking, shimmying to whatever music Helen would have chosen. With drinks poured, we'd settle on the 2 couches - her flat out on one and me on the other. After a few hours and many sips(!!!!) of our exotic delight, we would decide it was OUR turn to burst into song. At this exact moment, my brother-in-law would decide that he was so tired, he would need to go to bed. With goodnights said, Helen and I got stuck into more drinks and thought up more songs. No song was off limits - from the latin song we learned at primary school (which we sang in harmony I may add) to the most popular tunes of the day. We (in Scottish terminology) "gave it laldy!!"  But when we hit a particular set of songs, we knew we had run out and it really was time for me to head home and hit the sack. Yes - the Disney songs!! Under The Sea was a particular favourite even though by that time we could barely remember the words and would gently banter over which verse came next. But Zippiddee Doo Dah got a good airing too as did songs from Jungle Book, Cinderella (sung in falsetto voices!) and The Lion King. What a talent we thought we were. I'm sure the neighbours would not have agreed at 2 or 3 on a Sunday morning. We loved it and enjoyed each other's company.

I miss my sister so much - from being able to tell her funny and amusing anecdotes from my school day to shopping on a Saturday morning and popping into a cafe for tea or coffee before we came home. My sister was a real class act - a lady - with a warm welcome for everyone. I miss her presence dearly but the memories of all the good times we shared sustain me through the many moments of grief that etch their way coldly around my heart. We will meet someday again "over the rainbow". Welcome to my world!