Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Street Fighting Man

I just got a new computer. When I say just, that’s a lie. I got it about 2 weeks ago. I can’t get the wireless card in it to work. Fenella is happy about this because she couldn’t get on my wireless network a while ago, and now I am similarly inconvenienced. The crazy thing is that my ISP only charge £25 to hardwire another point through the wall so I go live on this computer on Wednesday. I can’t help the nagging doubt that by the time I get this computer online, it’ll no longer be worth having, as technology races on at such a pace these days.

I don’t want to blog about my computer though. I want to tell you a story.

Today I was driving home from work. It’s always difficult to pull up outside my house after work because it’s a main route to Addenbrooke’s hospital, and everyone is either driving there to pick up their dose of MRSA or driving back to spread it all about a bit.

I have to drive past my drive, then stop and reverse in. I usually hit my indicators nice and early and slow down, but it appears that no matter how early I do so, people always sit behind me and badmouth my driving. Today was no exception.

As I pulled up I checked in my rear view to see a pair of children in a turquoise hatchback sitting there swearing, chewing, making hand gestures and generally being very nasty and obnoxious towards me for having the audacity to attempt a parking manoeuvre outside my own house.

I know that I shouldn’t have done it, but my Neanderthal brain took over and my right hand was reaching for the door handle before I had time to engage. The next thing I knew I was standing in front of their car saying, reasonably aggressively “Perhaps you should drive a little more slowly…”

This resulted in a lot of incomprehensible garbling from the female half of the couple. I wasn’t too sure what she was saying, but luckily her male counterpart got out of his side of the car for a quick chat.

This is the moment at which I should have run away. I could have hopped back into my car and sped off. I could have pretended to get my shopping out of the boot. I could have.

Instead, somehow, I could feel that I was squaring up to him.

Hmmm. Why was I squaring up to him? Why were we now standing nose to nose? This didn’t feel good to me. This man was taller than me. He was significantly older than he appeared to be in the rear view mirror, despite his adolescently pustule decorated face. He also appeared to be rather angrier than I was, and rather more keen on physical violence than I was.

Suddenly a blinding flash of realisation hit me – the world is not an extension of my classroom. I cannot tell people off and have them say “sorry Mr Trent” and then get on with my life outside of school – it doesn’t work like that. They get cross and want to hit me. This wasn’t comedy wanting to hit me like my friends and family when I’ve been silly.

This was real wanting to hit me, like Grant Cox wanted to when he was new to the school 18 years ago, and felt he had to assert himself. Except this time I didn’t think that a well timed kiss on the lips would get me out of this situation.

I can’t remember what this man said to me. It was something about me not signalling, he saw me, he had been watching.

I blathered something pathetic about this being where I lived (well done me – presumably in case they didn’t know where to come back and post a jiffy bag full of poo through the letter box) and it being a really difficult road to stop on, and this happening every night, and how I just didn’t need the verbal, to which he replied “Don’t be stupid. I drive a fuckin’ bus on this road every fuckin’ day,”

Brilliant – can’t wait to hop on a bus next time I need to visit someone at the hospital then. He continued breathing down on me for a couple of minutes.

Now I really couldn’t figure out why I’d got out of the car in the first place. What had I been hoping to achieve? For them to say “Oh, sorry David, you are right, we are wrong, sorry we swore at you. We’ll never drive on Queen Edith’s Way again as a penance, here’s £100, please forgive us”. No. The only reason I got out was because I was childishly angry and I wanted a fight. I guess I got what I wanted then.

I didn’t know what to do. This chap obviously wasn’t averse to hitting or being hit, and he wasn’t backing down, so I started to apologise.

Except, for some reason, the adrenaline in my body prevented me from apologising in anything but the most insincere and irritating way, maintaining eye contact whilst doing so and actually closing in on my aggressor whilst so doing.

Have I gone totally insane? I’m leaning into somebody who fancies himself in a fight against me, and I’m leaning into him saying “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, really really sorry” in my best ’77 vintage Johnny Rotten on the Bill Grundy show voice. I’m also thinking to myself “I’m no longer a big, intimidating bloke, I am small now, Ollie regularly wrestles me to the other side of the hall these days,”

But I’m also, somewhere in some insane part of my brain, thinking “I can run pretty well these days, I could probably be a really good fighter. Maybe I could kick him really hard – my thighs are really muscly.”

He doesn’t do anything, so I make things even worse.

“Please don’t hit me, Please don’t hit me,” I start begging, although, once again, whilst the intent is totally sincere, I am coming across like a man asking for a fight. I seem to be unable to open my mouth without getting myself in deeper and deeper. Finally I realise that it would be a very good idea to walk away now and get back into my car. I don’t do this though, I just stand there staring at this bloke until – by some miraculous stroke of fate - he turns away and gets into his car.

I wait for them to overtake me, shooting looks of pure hate at me, and reverse into my drive. I climb out of the car, stumble into my kitchen, sit down and shake for about 30 minutes. Polly keeps trying to talk to me and I keep saying “Sorry Polly, I’m not listening to anything you’re saying,”

I don’t want to have a near fight again for a while. Maybe next time I should just have a fight and then I’d not sit around thinking how I should have hit him for 2 hours like I just have. Even if I did kick him, I was only wearing trainers – it wouldn’t have hurt so much. I could have kneed him.

Or maybe thigh’d him.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


First read this.

Then read this.

Everyone loves Kylie today.

Except me.

This is the first time I've hit blog this for a long time...

An evolving exhibition of Found Tapes

This is a great website for listening to in those "getting the paperwork done" moments.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


I am letting my children do their own display boards. I have given each child half a display board and a choice of topics, and told them that I want a complete display by half term, which is next Friday. They get 30 minutes a day, plus a couple of afternoons a week. It's good for them to get some experience of totally unguided work and they are really enjoying it.

But look what Charleston and Jordy did...

Whilst I think this is hilarious, I am scared what my Head Teacher will do when he walks in and sees it. He thinks I am a bit too lowest common denominator and don't aim high enough. Should I make them change the F for a G?

Or should I just wait for the normal bollocking and then have something to blog about - yes, that's a much better idea. Expect to hear more on this one...

To C.E.O. of Supermarket X

Sent today -

Dear Sir,

Last week I brought an organic chicken from your store. When I came to cook it, 2 days before the use by date, it was stinking and dangerous.

I returned it to the store where they gave me a refund.

I was going to eat it that evening. I had to get in the car and drive to your supermarket to get something else. I had planned to eat chicken that night. My drive to the supermarket meant that I was 1 hour late to start cooking. This was too late for my family to eat. The whole situation was very inconvinient.

Whilst I was given a refund, I expected a refund and a new chicken, as Waitrose do, and as Tesco have done in the past when this happened to me. This was refused.

Why did I not get a free chicken as a gesture of goodwill? I now feel very angry with Tesco. I feel as if Tesco do not value my custom . I also wonder if Tesco will fine their supplier £25 as I have read is common practice with supermarkets, and if they will actually make a profit from the whole deal, whilst ripping off the supplier and shortchanging and inconviniencing the customer.

Yours sincerely,

David Trent

DAMN - should have been faithfully, not sincerely. Let's see what happens.

Take 10 minutes out of your day to annoy a CEO too - here's a bunch of addresses...http://www.connectotel.com/marcus/ceoemail.html


Got a reply:

Dear Mr Trent

Thank you for your email addressed to Sir Terry Leahy, our Chief Executive.

Please forward me your full postal address, I will ensure that Sir Terry
responds to your email in writing in due course.

Kind regards

Linda Kelly
Customer Service Executive to the Board

I sent her my full postal address. I hope they send me something nice. Maybe a suicidal chicken farmer's flat cap?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

New Office

We moved the office. It is now in the front room, so I compute from in there. I was reading Fenella's foul mothed blog and tapping on "My Flickr" again and again, picking my nose and eating it, when I realised that I'm now on display to the whole street.

I hope no-one saw me picking my nose and eating it.

I'd hate for anyone to find out that I like to pick my nose and eat it.

I don't mean eat my nose, I mean eat the contents of my nose, eat my bogey, my snot, my nasal mucus.

You've all done it. You all do it. You all LOVE it.

10 minute blog

I have ten minutes to write my blog, starting from - now.

This weeek has been dreadfully boring. It is SATs week. After a year of teaching loads of really good stuff - how to write a persuasive argument - my kids wrote brilliant pro and anti windfarm and wristband arguments, how to write an explanation text, how to write mystery stories, how to write factual explanations and reports using technical language, how to use complex sentences, the difference between a compound and a complex sentence, the right way to punctuate a sentence according to the placement of the main and subordinate clause and loads of other stuff that I'd be able to list if the school caretaker wasn't standing in the doorway of my classroom shouting "Bye," and "See ya!" like a wally - where was I? Oh yes, the SATS, so after a year of all this hard, high pressure work the writing tests were...

1) Describe your favourite food - 20 minutes.

2) Write a playscript where a boy is trying to persuade his parents to let him stay up - 45 minutes.

Oh what an insult. What a monumental shift of goalposts from last years bonecrushingly difficult tests.

People who write the SATs, if you are reading this, you suck. You suck big time. I hate you all.

So, SAT's all morning, then PE for the rest of the day. Rounders this afternoon - always a bit of a hoot. 2 kids in tears and one child in a massive stroppy sulk because someone caught him out - surely that's fair? He threw his bat on the ground as hard as he could, and then, monumentally, threw the rounders bat at his team.

I bet he does it again before the end of the year.

Nothing really funny happened today. I hid Ollie's chocolate bar in my pigeon hole and we had a contest to try and spin the lid right off the coffee jar at lunchtime, but that's all a bit old hat and none of us really got into it like we used to in the olden days.

I have to go and pick up Elly from Nursery soon.

I read more about supermarkets this morning. I read all about the buyers and how they shaft the suppliers like mad in a power crazed mad menace. My sister is a buyer.

Polly brought a bottle of french wine because she'd heard on the radio that the french wine grapes are being decimated and re-planted with "industrial" grapes, whatever that is, so she thought she'd support our french friends and buy some wine from them. Reduced from £7.99 to £3.99. Good old supermarket X.

Your ten minutes are up. Please put down your pencils.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Rural Commuter At The Computer

I was disappointed to see that it was 8:04. I make it a rule to have left the house by 8:00. Between 7:54 and 8:00 is good. 8:04 means that I'm running really late. To make matters worse, I promised to fill up the green car with petrol, after the light came on last night as I pulled into our road. This is bad news. Deciding to deal with this problem later, I got on with the most important thing in the world - what will I eat today?

With mounting dissapointment I remembered that my lunch is left over carrot and coriander soup that Polly made yesterday using the first recipe we found after typing "carrot and coriander soup" into google. After blending it last night it looked thin and tasted of carrot water, so I added a pint of lentils and simmered it for 10 minutes. It then looked like this, so we sat down to eat it. At this point, Polly and I admitted to each other that neither of us like carrot and coriander soup - but at least we used all those carrots and all that coriander. I chucked 2 capfuls of tamari into it and placed it into a box. Now it looked like this...

I like this green box. I use it every day. When I say every day, I mean once a week. It was an absolute miracle that the box was in the box drawer ready to use. Usually the morning rush involves a 20 minute shout about getting the boxes sorted out. I have 4 boxes at school at the moment, so it is all my fault.

Piece of luck no. 2 - all my pocket stuff was lined up and ready to go. I must have elves.

We are running low on apples and grapefruit at the moment, but have loads of rasberries, so I decided to take a couple of punnets to munch on at work, knowing full well that they would be unsatisfyingly slight.

Other assorted junk that I needed to take - notes from a meeting, my book to read during the SATs and a cd that I got out of the library last night to listen to in the car.

I want to you to imagine me now. I have in my hands two punnets of strawberries, a box of carrot, lentil and coriander soup, a book, some papers, and a cd. When I say in my hands, I should be a little more specific, I have this all balanced in my left hand. With my right hand I am holding my camera, taking pictures of everything I'm doing so that I can blog. I've been looking at my a-list pal's blog and been thinking "how exciting life is on the subway commuter belt," and then realised that maybe my journey is exciting too, so I'm going to document it today.

I left the house and walked towards the car, using my free right hand to rummage in my right pocket. Of course, my car keys are in my left pocket.

I have no idea how I got the door open - some sort of right hand left pocket reach around action going on - and I chucked everything on the front seat of my car.

I looked at the pile of stuff on my front seat and realised that I couldn't struggle into school with all that stuff balanced in my hands, so I ran back to the house, when I saw this sitting on the doorstep. Quickly I ran to the fridge and out to the back kitchen to get a plastic bag from our plastic bag collection.

And I picked one which I considered to be suitable.

Running back to the car, I slammed the door.

I slammed it so hard that it bounced back open so I had to go back, take a picture of it and then run to the car. Now I am starting to get a little frantic, as I seem to be trapped in an endless loop of not quite being able to set off, which is being worsened by the pressure of having to photograph everything.

What a filthy, horrid car. Never mind. Quick time check.

Great. I've been going so fast I've managed to stop and reverse time. Either that or the car clock is running a little slow.

The car clock was running a little slow. It was now getting late. I did that thing where I stand there looking like nothing is going on. If you were to pass by this morning you would have seen me, paused between the two cars with a slightly confused look on my face. Inside, I was burning with inner turmoil, my mind batting around the question or whether I should try to fill up with petrol this morning or whether I should annoy Polly by leaving her the petrol deficient engine and driving off in the auto.

I decided that I would be able to make it to the petrol station and jumped into the car. Took out the cd that I've been listening to all week and

pushed in the new one. It took three goes to get the car started, but eventually I managed to. I drove to the end of our drive (about half a meter).

Cars only sit outside our house if the traffic is queueing, and if the traffic is queueing then there's no way I'm going to get to the petrol station, fill up, pay, take pictures of the whole thing and get to work on time. I ran back into the house to explain to Polly that I was going to take the silver car, not the green one.

First though, I had to bag everything up to transfer it to the silver car. I put the soup at the bottom of the bag and started to get worried about spillage onto the papers, so I put raspberries on top of the soup, then papers on top of raspberries. Still paranoid about the raspberries making the papers go raspberry stained, I made the snap decision to put up and shut up and went over to the silver car.

First and most important thing to do was get the cd changer out of the car and sort out today's listening, as I've only got it out of the library for a week, and no way would I be able to ever listen to it again unless I rented it out again, so I wanted to maximise my enjoyment.

Whoops - got so carried away by listening to the right music that I forgot to take a photo of me opening the boot, so this will have to suffice. Look at the cool accessory on my key ring. It is the most fashionable thing for kids aged between 7 - 11 right now. I'd make a pretty cool 10 year old girl.

Laugh like a drain. Why? Because look - in my haste to get the cd out of the green car, I accidently put the key to the silver car in the ignition of the green car.

Aaaah, that's better.

Switch ignition to "on". Now I can get my cd out of the green car...

and put it into the silver car.

In my haste to get all this done, I had forgotten to lock the green car door. Whilst locking the door I checked to see if I had a car seat to bring Elly home from Nursery, and this led me to remember that I needed my security card key to pick her up. Not having a card key means either knocking on the nursery office door and annoying the staff there, or hanging furtively around outside, pretending to tie shoelaces etc. until someone starts walking towards the door, then breezily walking over and waiting while they unlock the door, murmuring "thanks" and smiling a bit too falsely.

Polly asked me what I was still doing here, then tried to give me the passports and the bank forms for opening a family benefit account. This needs to be verified by a professional, so I thought I'd ask a teacher. I like to think she was delighted when I said "no, hang on, I need to take a picture of you handing that to me," although it's more likely to have been a look of horror or exasperation on her face as she posed for this photo.

I couldn't see the card straight away, but stared into the key drawer for a while longer and it appeared in front of my eyes.

I managed to get into the car, get the car started and pulled out into the road. Then I saw this guy. He is bin liner bike man, and every now and again I get stuck behind him on the very narrow hill road behind my house. It is a pain in the arse because I can't overtake him, and the bin liner enclosed whatever it is - I always think it looks like a rabbit cage - wobbles most precariously. To add insult to the whole matter my CD was badly inserted and won't play, so I am having to listen to the new great white hope 19 year old folk singer, and I'm not loving him as much as the old new great white hope slightly older but not much emotional us folk singer who does the odd digital thing who I wanted to listen to this morning.

I think that this is a good time to check my watch - behind a totally vulnerable cyclist on one of the most hellish roads in Cambridge. V. Ethical.

Eventually I manage to overtake the cyclist and stick carefully to the speed limit all the way down the hill. Once I drove down the hill at 80 mph to impress my friends Jon and Jo as they drove behind me in a mini cooper. They said they were well impressed and that they thought it was a "very eco" way to drive.

There's lots of farms round between my house and my work. This morning I didn't get stuck behind a tractor, but lots of people did. I'm sure they didn't mind. Their misfortune cheers me up and I am starting to enjoy my music, although I'm still a bit gutted that I messed up loading the cd player.

Polly always says she can tell when I am driving tired, and I always get cross and shout at her for saying anything. When I see how I look when I am reasonably alert, I can understand her naked fear. I was driving nice and fast now, and getting excited about getting to work.

As I drove past this truck I thought about Willie Gough, who used to be in my class at school. He was a terifically funny chap, but we never really got on that well. I wonder what he is doing now? It's a bit of a lie that I thought about him, I actually thought "Get a shot of that truck, then say that I thought about Willie Gough". He used to hang around with David Jackson, who lived up my road but was the kind of child who would strangle kittens (or seven puppies) and there was a bit of a joke involving his name and the probability that he would fart (will he guff?).

Eventually I passed this sign and knew that I was safely at work with plenty of time to spare. Stupidly I forgot to photgraph the time again. That would have sealed the whole thing off nicely.

Well, I had great fun doing that on the way to work and I hope you all had great fun reading it too. See, pseudo rural commuting can be fun too people.

Whilst thinking of fun things, here is a funny thing that happened last weekend.

Polly, Elly, Mick and I went for a 2 hour walk from Wandleberry Park to Babraham Village to eat in the pub there. It used to be our all time favourite place to eat. It was very cheap and absolutely fantastic tasty unpretentious food. Then it burned down.

It has recently re-opened, hence the walk. When we arrived we were starving.

The place used to be really cosy and homely. Now it looks like a service station. Children appear to be running it and the food is awful. We got very depressed and had to take a taxi back to Wandleberry as it was heaving with rain too.

To cheer ourselves up we went to Saffron Walden for a mosey around. We parked in the big car park and walked into town. I put Elly up on my shoulders and recited our current favourite rhyme which goes "Me Daddy tickle me feet, he call it finger treat, me scream and run each time he come me Daddy tickle me..."

Elly is supposed to shout "FEET!"

Instead, she shouted "PENIS!"

I thought this was rather funny so tried again, hoping she would say "PENIS!" again and thinking that I could then move on. This time she shouted "PENIS!" once more, then began a rising chant of "penis, penis, penis, penis, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS"

I was in hysterics, uncontrollable, tears running down my face hysterics. The approaching hordes of car drivers returning to their vehicles and Polly's displeasured urgings to "Disract her David, DISTRACT HER," just caused me to crack up even harder. Then, amongst the crowds surging back to their cars, faces wrinkled in disgust at our antisocial child, I spotted two children from our school, one of whom I teach for Literacy.

"Hello Felix,"


"Hello Jemima,"


"Hello Mr Trent,"


If you go to Saffron Walden, don't miss going to cafe cou cou. It is the most brilliant place ever. Worth breaking the rules for.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Nothing Funny

By 2020, if things continue as they are, there will only be 3 supermarkets. This will be the only choice available to us. Our supermarket will be our record shop, our dvd shop, our diy shop, our food shop, our chemist, our butcher, our greengrocer, our newsagent, our tobacconist, our post office, our clothes shop, our garage - oh, it already is.

I go to the supermarket about 3 times a week. Once for my weekly shop, once to buy more fruit for school and once again for stuff I've forgotten or a card or something small.

How many times a week do you go to the supermarket Polly?

"Well, anytime between one and three, but we have had some ridiculous weeks,"

What do you mean by ridiculous weeks?

"Well, I have had like, you know, when I feel like I've been going in every day,"

What sort of things do you find yourself going in to buy when you go in on days other than the weekly shop?

"Something that I've forgotton or, or like for example I didn't buy toothpaste or tissues today, so I'll probably go back to SUPERMARKET X to buy tissues later this week,"

Toothpaste and what?

"Tissues, I'll probably go back to SUPERMARKET X to buy tissues later this week. Toothpaste I'll probably buy from HEALTH FOOD SHOP."

There are two shops within 10 minutes walking distance that sell toothpaste and tissues - 2 chemists in cherry hinton, a post office that sells lots of other things and a mini market up the road on Wulfstan way as well as a chemist there too. Why will you go to SUPERMARKET X to get tissues and toothpaste?

"Well, I wouldn't go to SUPERMARKET X to get toothpaste now, because I want to get the HEALTH FOOD SHOP one, the eco one. Are you blogging this?"


"You are. In terms of tissues, I would go to SUPERMARKET X because it's cheaper."

Is it that SUPERMARKET X is definitely cheaper, or you think it is cheaper?

"In the past when I've compared it's been cheaper but I'm talking about when it's compared to CHEMIST or something,"

And what about the cost to your lifestyle to not give a local business the impetus to continue selling at a cost difference of 10p?

"Well, let's think, maybe...I don't want you to expose me here, how are you writing all this? are you putting our conversation on the web? I don't want you to do this..."

You will, you don't come off badly at all.

"Aaah, god, I think I need help on this bloody tax return..."

So, Polly,


What about petrol, how much do you think it costs to drive to SUPERMARKET X just to get some tissues?

"God knows, but I wouldn't drive out there, I'd probably just pop in on the way back from driving Elly to nursery or somewhere. But I might not even go. I found a packet of tissues in the back of the car."

So you usually drive past SUPERMARKET X to get home do you?


Do you?

"Yeah, I never come Lime Kiln Road 'cause it's queuing,"

Oh, I come that way every night.

"I know, but everyone's queueing to get into Cambridge in the morning."

So in that case it genuinely is more convinient for you to pop into SUPERMARKET X just to get tissues?

"Yes, but I have to admit, it has been known in the past for me to go in just to get something,"

Yeah, I have too...

"A croissant or something,"

Well, I never get a croissant...

Parcel Force Offices, Cambridge

Look at this. It is great. It reads "Only when Hatfield forest has died and the River Stort is poisoned will you realise the cost of cheap flights from Stansted"

I'm flying to France soon. It only cost thirty nine quid.

Monday, May 02, 2005

In London they get these stuck on properly. I saw stuff stuck on using blu tack yesterday.

Career announcement

Looks like Fenella is right - there is an election.

A Number