Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer School Saturnalia [Revisited]

In my previous posting about the sheer folly of committing yourself to a six-week sentence on a residential Summer School, I promised (threatened?) to spill the beans on those other clowns in the equation, your ‘professional’ EFL colleagues. So, here it is, the uncut version. By the way, if you think you can recognise any of your former colleagues here (see picture alongside!), or yourself even, you’re probably right.

Your crackpot colleagues, that mixture of the innocent and the despicable, who have all been mad enough to make the same stupid commitment that you did, will very probably come in three general types: the frequently drunk, the seriously alcoholic, and the totally psychotic. While you’re far more likely to meet the first two types, it’s the third that you really want to look out for, as he (it’s always a bloke) is by far the most dangerous.

Anyway, let me explain in historical terms, as I describe the very first Summer School that I ever did, somewhere near fashionable Folkestone, back in 1990. Our Director of Studies there was a diminutive Scottish guy called Derek, and while he seemed alright at first, it soon became clear that our Derek had a few, erm, ‘medical’ problems.

For starters, he was often a bit unsteady on his legs by lunchtime, and tended to disappear during the afternoons. Then, some time between six and seven o’clock, he would make a spectacular reappearance, usually by crashing into the photocopier, or falling down the stairs. His character would often oscillate between being overtly pally to bawling at people for minor misdemeanours, like leaving a window open, or a door unlocked.

Of course, poor Derek was a sad alcoholic, but did his darnedest to try and hide it. He would even tag along with the teachers to the pub in the evening, as if he hadn’t had enough during the day, and usually rounded off the evening by abusing a few staff members, who meekly accepted it as if it had been written into the job-description. Some nights he would come charging through the teachers' quarters, all lit up on liquor, bellowing that he’d been let down again by a bunch of no-hopers who couldn’t teach a baby to shit.

One night we’d all had enough of our dearest Caledonian Del-boy and his unwanted attention, so we slipped out of the Friday night end-of-course disco one by one, at two or three minute intervals, with the intention of reassembling at the local curry house. And so we did. Only, Derek turned up too, just as we were tucking in to the steaming vindaloos and tandoori chicken, and proceeded to abuse us again for being ‘a fine bunch of mates, leaving me alone like that’.

Well, I’d had enough – in both senses. So I stood up and told him straight that we didn’t like him, didn’t want to be with him, and he could fuck off back to the school right there and then. But he didn’t. Amazingly, he just plonked himself down at an adjacent table, ordered himself a meal, and sat there all by himself, cursing us roundly between mouthfuls of curry. Oh, you poor abandoned soul, Derek!

Then there was Ipswich man, a few years later. Now, he wasn’t so much the alcoholic, more the psycho type – but with a drink habit on top. I saw him ranting one day, his eyes rolling as he was telling some unfortunate Spanish kid of about 10 that Ipswich Town were the best team in the world, and England too, because Alf Ramsey had been their manager. Thrilling stuff, I thought, I’m sure Pablo will appreciate that nugget of wisdom. But it was his habit of rolling fags and ‘prowling’ around the school grounds after dark that marked him out as a true weirdo.

Then one day, on an excursion, Ipswich man abandoned his charges and disappeared for a couple of hours. When he later re-emerged by the coach, he had a few cans of Stella in his hand, and plenty inside him, obviously. On the ride home he started singing, all by himself, and bawdy footy songs, no less. Another clearly disturbed chap, in this case he just had to be given the push.

The saddest thing was that he abandoned his room in such a rush that he left most of his personal belongings there, including his degree certificate (not bad – a 2:2 from Sheffield University) and letters from his parents, indicating their concern for his mental health. Another poor sod – I do sometimes wonder how he’s coping, or whether he’s still alive.

Look, I could go on with similar tales, but I’m sure you get the picture. However, I have left the worst to the end. It’s a case of a guy who, upon arriving on site, appeared to be a bit of a bible-basher, what with his habit of lifting quotes from the Testaments old and new. However, the staff started to become more than just a little agitated when he decided that the building, along with some of its occupants, needed exorcising. This one was clearly not the average Tefl nutter.

Just as our Loony Lord was in the midst of terrorising all the teachers, the cavalry arrived: four burly coppers, who managed to pin him down in a back room, and then carted him off to the local nick. I can’t recall if it was actually true, but somebody did mention there’d been a full moon that night, too.

Again there was the painful task of gathering up his belongings and sending them on. In this case, there were several doses of anti-psychotic drugs, a well-thumbed copy of The Bible, and, strangely, some First Aid manuals. A very sad business indeed. Later that week we phoned one of the people who had given him a reference, and told them if they’d known he was on medication. The woman sounded apologetic, although not enough, and merely informed us that, when he’d worked for her the previous year, he’d been ‘having problems with his sexuality’. Obviously he’d moved on to more serious matters – God and the Devil.

So, have I managed to put you off doing a Summer School this year? I certainly hope so, for your sake!

First Published: Monday, 9 May 2005


Anonymous said...

Ooh, am I the first? How exciting. Anyway, just to say that I have decided to forgo a summer school this year. I did a couple when I first started and have since found dossing and driving jobs, or even the odd private lesson, more lucrative. I notoce on another forum that gardening jobs - great in your verdant English summers - pay £15 an hour!

I'd agree on the drinking. I'm no angel myself, but I do keep myself fit (last footie game of the season today, hence the beers) but I've been amazed at the capacity (or lack of it) in certain summer school colleagues.

I've got more local school work next academic year, so sod the summer schools, but on behalf of naive teachers everywhere - cheers mush.

Big S

Darren Elliott said...

Many years ago, I actually secured a summer school job via telephone interview from Australia, then decided not to take it when I realised that I could earn more for doing less as an office temp. In a way I regret not doing it as one of those painful but character building rites of passage. Do I get any points for doing night shifts in a cake factory?

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Good move, Darren. I don't think you missed out on a great deal by passing up the chance to be humiliated on a summer school.

As for the cakes job - come on, spill the flour! There must be a scandalous story or two in there, no?!

Nice blog of yours, by the way, Darren. Just dump the serious boring bits and you'll be some cool competition...

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Ooh, I forgot, Big S - thanks for dropping by. Is that true - 15 quid an hour for gardening?

I'm surprised, because I used to work as a gardener, many years back, and if they're paying more than the average Tefl scrotebag wage, I'll vote with my feet (and my lawn-mower, of course).

Darren Elliott said...

Thanks for the advice. I just put up another po-faced, pseudo-academic entry with no laughs whatsoever.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

That's it Darren - just do what you do best, and ignore the critics! I've been doing exactly that for years now, and look where it's got me...

Anonymous said...

A propos the subject of TEFL numpties,Sandy,I wonder how many of them worked for Windsor Schools?
Or have applied to work at Pained Paul's much-vaunted pile of shit summer school?
I mean,Paul employed that toe-toucher Robert Weeks and that creepy,sweaty little sexual pervert Simon Groin...sorry...Green!
Like Tolkien's Sauron,Paul Lowe drew [and probably still draws]the dregs of society to him to carry out his foul trade.

William Frederickson

Anonymous said...

Wait a bloody minute...Sandy,this post isn't based on Paul Lowe's 'Windsor List'is it?

Anonymous said...

In any case,a job at Pained Paul the Windsor Wanker's summer school would be just the ticket for that other convict called Paul- Paul Gadd aka Gary Glitter*...It really would be par for the bloody course, wouldn't it?

William Frederickson

*What have Kodak camera film and Gary Glitter both got in common?

They both come in little yellow boxes!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see that one-trick Pony called William is back. Can't you vary your thematic approach a little, dear William?

And where's your alter ego The Baron these days? Is he off to the Swat Valley to defend the faithful there - or did he undergo a 'transformation' at Ladbroke Grove tube station one night?!?

Anonymous said...

What 'faithful'are you referring to,Oliver? Surely not those Saudi-influenced bastards in the Taliban?
For the record,I am not an Islamic extremist,as I hate the Deobandi/Wahabbi bastards for very personal reasons,as well as the fact that their behaviour in Luton led to an Islamic centre being torched-a centre that was used by law-abiding Muslims.A few people caused trouble and the whole community suffers-how civilised!Every community has its arseholes-we've got the twats who follow Bin Laden and you lot have got the BNP.
Additionally,I and a few others in London are in the habit of sabotaging known extremists'lives.If enough evidence cannot be got to nick them for incitement to racial/religious hatred,then evidence of benefit fraud or VAT offences can be dug out and phone calls made.

William Frederickson

Todd said...

Re: the teacher who turned out to be "something of a Bible basher"

Recall at a school in Finsbury Park, after I left (I lasted a month) one of my colleagues told me they had a Nigerian EFL teacher who locked his students into his classroom and started ranting to his class about "Sin!" until the break, when someone noticed and came and unlocked the class, and all the terrified students piled out.

Curiously, my source said the teacher in question was back teaching the next week (at £10 an hour in 2002 money) as if nothing had happened.

Couldn't make it up, eh?!

Anonymous said...

Most Nigerian Christians are Islamophobic/anti-fucking-semitic bigots and if they weren't black,would be members of the bloody BNP.What, Todd,do you bloody expect from 'em?

William Frederickson

William Frederickson said...

When they're not trying to nick your identity,shagging pre-pubescent girlies coz its supposed to be a magic prophylactic against AIDS/HIV or butchering small boys' corpses for ingredients for 'magic bloody potions!

The TEFL Tradesman said...

William, I am beginning to find your contributions to this site coarse, uncharitable and plain vulgar.

Please keep up the good work!

William Frederickson said...

Is that Paul Lowe's mum in that phoeo,Sandy?

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Well, he assured me it was his wife, William, but I think he might have been telling a porkie - she looks much too attractive to be married to a cunt like him!

William Frederickson said...

Must be his sister or summat:maybe Paul Lowe wants to breed a super-race of people like him-but slightly more spasticated owing to the effects of inbreeding...Fucking syphilitic green hellfire,Paul Lowe's family dinners must be like summat out of 'Deliverance,'for fuck's sake...