Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bluebells and Demon

If I were online properly and chez moi, I'd be posting a pic of bluebells. I've just been to Kilmun Arboretum, where there are millions of them scattered among the trees, with the embryonic bracken fronds pale green and delicate arching above them. The scent is elusive yet magical, and mingles with the pine smells from the forest - you want never to wear perfume again after smelling such perfection. I have taken many photos, and they will eventually - God and Demon willing - appear on Flickr. (I had to put that parenthesis in - too nicely antithetical to miss. Even though I am trying not to be a bore, it's a bit like touching wood - I don't like to assume anything at this point.)

While on about Demon, I'd like to note that they "Don't support wireless connection". Why not? Does any other ISP take a more enlightened view? Or is it just a complication too many? These are not rhetorical questions, so any answers would be a help - though it'll be a day or two before I can see them.

Signing off from the world of borrowed dial up ......

Friday, May 26, 2006

Blogless blues - or greys

Today it is raining. The temperature is 7 degrees. The sky is a uniform grey and the sea looks … lumpy. But none of this would matter - well, not really - if I could get my broadband back. At the moment I’m satisfying my cravings by using yet another friend’s PC (all these PCs ..) on dial up, because her modem was also fried. Same storm. Demon are still trying - they rang an hour ago to promise that a BT person would either phone or appear at the door. Maybe it will have happened by the time I go home. Meanwhile, dearly beloved reader(s), don’t forget me - it’s bad enough that the line is dead without feeling I am dead too!

And in Crete the sun will be shining, and the wind blowing the wine-dark sea into white foam, and it will be hot. The white roses at my bedroom door bloomed and drooped within days even though I watered them. Nothing is drooping here except under the weight of rain. Everything is fiercely, aggressively green. But my internet holiday has gone on too long.

And now I must go home and make the lunch.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Still alive .. still offline

Blogging in a neighbour's while their dinner smells delicious, I'm posting this only to show that I'm still alive and back from wonderful Crete. Photos and stuff will follow if Demon and BT ever manage to get us back online; at the moment Demon think it's a line fault and I'm harbouring a secret suspicion that it'll turn out to be a fried modem after all. Right. You saw it here. I'll be honest if/when we find out.

Meanwhile being offline is like having a hitherto unrecognised limb amputated. I keep trying to use it and it's not there. And wonderful though my pix may be, it's not the same when you can't share them.

Think of me, brethren - I shall return!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A parting shot

As I prepare to leave Inverness (I'll have my breakfast first!) a last word before the silence falls (dramatic, huh?) I survived my stint as guest speaker - people laughed, no-one made spit balls (as if they would - this is Hillhead, darlings), and a man whom I remember as an object of considerable adulation when I was thirteen (he was in the First Fifteen) said more than once that he'd enjoyed it. It's extraordinary how strong the memories of school can be - or is it only of a school like this, one where the pupils were part of the "Hillhead Family" and went on after S6 to wear their old blazer with the FP badge sewn over the school one? I don't know. It was a jolly evening and the food was good. And the wine - though mine had to wait till I'd spoken.

And now we're off south again - via Perth, for a Cursillo weekend Closing. And then I'll have to face my poor dead whatever it is. I know my laptop is using the Airport (because I managed to print using it) and Demon tell me the modem is connected to the Internet. So, for that matter, does my laptop. Clearly, something is not being entirely truthful. I may be able to find help - but blessed is she who expects nothing, for she will not be disappointed. Look for me in a month or so.

Besides, Crete beckons. I may never return. And now breakfast smells wonderful.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blasted off

Well, that was a wee trauma! I was blogging last night while Mr Blethers made the dinner when a mighty lightning flash seemed to come into the study; there was a great "crack" as if someone had hit the metal music stand at the window and I fled - taking my laptop with me. However, since then I've had no internet connection and don't know what particular bit of equipment has had a heart attack. And now I'm in Inverness, borrowing yet another PC to fill in the gaps in my online life.

Why Inverness? Well no, I'm not just running away from the storms. I'm here to speak at a dinner organised by the FPs of my old school, Hillhead High in Glasgow. Seems there's a bunch of them up here who still get together and remember the school in its glory days. And yes, in many ways it was indeed an extraordinary school, and I have many happy memories of it. Thing is, it's the extra-curricular activities I remember - the orchestra, the madrigal group - rather than the teaching. Some of it was well done, but far too many of my teachers in these days relied on the industry and background of the pupils and much of the teaching was, frankly, boring.

We were a well-behaved bunch on the whole, and any badness was of the civilised, sophisticated variety - no spit-balls on the ceilings. Nowadays if kids were as bored as I was they wouldn't just doodle on their French text book - they would be creating mayhem in some form or another. I don't yet know if I'll talk about this with any degree of frankness; I'll try to suss out how rose-tinted are the specs worn by my hosts. But remembering this in preparation for my speech has remeinded me of it - and it's a salutary lesson for any teacher. The biggest crime of all is to be a bore.

Once I leave this computer, it may be a while before I blog again. Treasure my words, gentle readers - I'll be back!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Not again!

I was at it again yesterday. Calmly sitting at a meeting, not actually thinking about blogging at all, and suddenly we were off. The word came up, someone else asked what a blog was, and the resident geek (me) was called upon to lighten his darkness (It was a church meeting – hence the language) Because it was a church meeting, I managed to restrain my own language when the ignoramus in question dismissed the whole idea because it had “such a silly name” and the internet as “the biggest waste of time”. I merely pointed out that it was an even bigger waste of time to career the length and breadth of the diocese delivering information which could travel perfectly effectively via a blog. I was proud of my self-control, but despairing somewhere deep within.

It’s not that I ever did think blogging was the answer to the whole of life – simply an effective tool for teaching and discussion. Ewan has a great post over at edublogs – I’ve pinched a wee bit just to make me feel better:
"The man who doesn’t believe that blogging is a revolution or is educationally sustainable is one of many sceptics and countercultural poseurs who like to preach certainty where the only certainty is that there is none. The problem the sceptics battle with is that there is no viable accountability model, still, for much of what happens on the internet. Or so they think - and this particularly applies to traditional teaching models."
You can read the rest of it here

Thing is, I end up on these occasions feeling like a twenty-something who’s strayed into a pensioners’ party. Why should I have to answer for sexagenarians who refuse to have anything to do with email, let alone any other more advanced form of communication? As far as I’m concerned, if I can do it so can they. End of story. The willingness is all.

On a brighter note, I believe the Standard Grade Writing exam was fine for at least one of my students from Progress Report - so that’s good. Let’s hear it for yoof!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Parting is such sweet sorrow ...

Although we're not actually parting from our Rector, Hugh, the congregation of Holy Trinity Dunoon gave him a great send-off yesterday in the estimable Chatters restaurant where we had a splendid lunch, some heartfelt speeches and some singing: a psalm detailing Hugh's achievements and a parody hymn which you can see over at Di's blog

When you live in a smallish place for long enough, you begin to realise that you say "goodbye" to a great many people. Some of them are people who have played a significant part in our lives, and Hugh is one such. We're delighted he's staying in the area, and hope he has time to do more than cut grass and attack the hedges. As he travels the diocese in his role as Synod Clerk and supernumerary priest, we wish him well.

A speedy recovery for his ailing motor would be a good start!