Decisions Decisions

Time is ticking relentlessly onwards, and I still have no decision.

At the moment, my thoughts have turned from academia to the hugely significant choice that faces me at the moment. I have filled in all my application form for teacher training… except the rather important section about where exactly I want to apply to.

I’ve been having significant problems with this issue the past few days. For a long time, my idea has been that I would apply to do the PGCE course in my home city. But suddenly circumstances have gone against me, and the possibility of going slightly further afield is now very real. I am thinking about how I might instead apply for SCITT courses… and these are somewhat limited in terms of where they are located. These will also lead to me qualifying as a teacher, but they will give me more practical experience.

But taking this decision at this very late stage is massively risky. Should I stick to what I know? Or take the gamble? In any case, I might get into neither of these institutions. I had a chat with the careers advisors yesterday, who told me that I may have to specialise in history in order to be accepted (since primary school teacher trainees need to have a certain subject to specialise in). If things get that desperate, I’m really not sure I’d enjoy the course.

The search continues. If I stick with my number one choice, it will be very inconvenient to go to in the mornings, but not impossible. Maybe another option may come up next year which will change my circumstances. Perhaps I could still live in my own place back at home, as I have a friend who is looking to house-share back at home. But he’d have to wait a whole year, when he wants to get out of his parents’ house now.

This is an extremely delicate choice. It’s beginning to make me a bit depressed, as I can’t ever see me taking a decision and being satisfied. At first you think it’s just a case of where you want to go… then suddenly you realise there are a multitude of other factors, not least how far my parents would want to drive to take me there. It also seems a bit bizarre that no sooner have I moved into my new property, I’m having to think about where I’m going to live next year.

But this is my life at the moment. It’s only been fresher’s week, so there has been no work to do. Ideally, I wanted to have all this sorted by the end of this week, so I could concentrate on my proper work (I’m supposed to be in the final year of a degree here) but it hasn’t worked out that way.

Still, I now have all weekend to make my mind up. Gotta use it wisely…

Re-establishmentarianism

It’s been remarkable just how quickly I’ve settled back down to life in Hull. Everything around me seems very familiar, and it’s almost like I haven’t been away. I walked back from a football game on Sunday, and got lost on the way… well, I was briefly lost as I soon managed to work out where I was. Hull is not that big a place, and when you’ve noted the major roads, and the position of the sun in the sky (to establish your direction) it’s pretty straight forward.

My new house is OK. Better than the one I was living in for the first two years here. However, it is three floors, and the kitchen is on the middle one. Which is predictably annoying. It is also next door to my bedroom, which means I can’t escape the continuous smell of cooking that pervades the house in the evenings because of the culinary talents of my housemates.

The room itself is… fine. It’s bigger than the room I had in London, but the facilities for a computer are somewhat inadequate. If I hadn’t got my new flat screen monitor, I would have been in trouble, because right now everything is perched on a dressing table. I have the PC itself on the floor in front of me, and it makes typing a little awkward. This would not normally be much of a problem, apart from the fact that I will soon be typing 15,000 words for a dissertation in this position. I could go out and buy a new desk from Argos… but then I have no money at the moment, courtesy of the fact that my loan won’t be released until I have registered at University. And my registration day is Friday. Which means next Wednesday at best before the funds appear.

I have also yet to sign the contract on my house. Mainly because I can’t be bothered. I have a spare key at the moment, which is doing me fine. But going to sign the contract will make me moan to the agency that we’re letting off about the state of the vacuum cleaner. It’s crap, really crap. It also stinks. But because it’s working, they won’t replace it. I’m sure I’ve noted on here before that things working despite being extremely crap are terribly annoying to me. Why can’t they just break properly, and then replacements can be found? The perils of renting “furnished” houses… reliant on the landlord, who takes £12,000 for this yearly tenancy, and won’t spend £30 on a new hoover.

Otherwise, it is good to be back in some ways. It’s nice to be living with friends again, and it’s already a lot better than living with only one other person. And as I’ve observed a few times before, I’m already feeling somewhat more positive about life now that I have a purpose and a direction again.

However, that’s not going to last very long as this morning I have a two hour study skills lecture. Joy.

Reflections on a Summer That Never Was

Well, here we are. The 17th week of my summer holiday will be my last, and it will soon be time to get back to down to business. Well, sort of, as even next week is a bit of a non-event. Though most students around the country will be partying for fresher’s week, mine might encompass a trip to the quiz night, but probably nothing too exciting.

I’m a bit torn about this. While, on the one hand, I seem to think it’s gone by too quickly, on the other it seems that it’s actually been a hell of a long break. It seems so long ago now that I was working in school. In fact, that was less than half of my time back here. The rest of it has been idle time like this… although the summer holidays for my brothers, sister and the rest of my family did mean that there was always something going on. And I did go away to Cornwall for a week. It’s not been too bad.

It’s just the past couple of weeks that have been depressing. I blame Hull University. They changed their year so that it now starts two weeks later, forcing the Christmas exams now into the New Year. Which is a terrible change, but it brings us in line with most other unis. Normally I’d only be here for one week on my own while everyone else is in work or school. This year it was three, which has meant a much longer process of resigning myself to getting back to work again.

But the process is nearly complete. As Saturday approaches, I begin to say goodbye to things around here. I’m doing a little bit of packing each day, a little bit of preparation and a little bit of eagerness returns. It is boring doing very little all the time. It will be good to have some purpose to life again.

There is still a depressing thought though. And that is the weather. Yesterday was a cold day, almost wintery. This filled with me with negativity. We barely had a summer worth mentioning, and it almost seems we have skipped from spring straight into the winter. There are still leaves on the trees, and it is a little warmer today… but my mind is struggling to comprehend how close it is to being dark by 5pm again. I hate it with a passion.

Soon it will be back to the winter jumpers, though this time I have some more stylish clothes to deal with it. My jumpers are beginning to look a little granddadish. They’ve served me well during the long, cold Hull winters so far (less necessary in London though, because it always seemed to be warmer there) and maybe they’ll be called upon one final time this year.

It’s been fun, but it’s time to stop slacking and get on with the job in hand. There is a fascinating year on the cards now. In any case, I’ll be home again in two and a half months… such is the stupidly asymmetrical academic year…

Follow The Instructions

The week started well, with a flurry of activity. On Tuesday, I knuckled down and managed to reel off my teacher training personal statement within three hours. And I’m quite pleased with it as well. If that doesn’t get me into teacher training… well, they don’t deserve me!

It then continued. Also on Tuesday, my dad had an operation on his eye to remove a chalazion in his eyelid, which went well and it meant he’s had the rest of the week off work. So he’s been around the house, which has meant we’ve been doing lots of things to tidy up and get the house in order. Because it’s a bit of a mess around here even at the best of times. The activity continued, with grass cutting, vacuuming, cleaning, tidying… it’s nice to help out as I know I won’t be here after next Saturday.

But the biggest test of the week by far came yesterday, when I went with my dad to my new sister’s house to help him build my sister’s new flat-pack metal shed. Thinking this wouldn’t be that difficult was a foolish, naive idea. As soon as I opened the box it was clear just how horrendous the process would be… and I wasn’t disappointed.

Five hours later, we had managed to put up the frame of the building. You’d think it was a big shed, but in fact it was just 1.8m by 1.2m. There were many false starts, many mistakes, dozens of “one step forward, two steps back” occasions, and a lot of swearing. At one point the instructions were so unclear about the orientation of a certain, crucial part, that if put in incorrectly you would only find out much later, and then have to go backwards to fix it… that we nearly gave up to go and drive to the shop we bought it from to see how they’d done it.

What is it about flat-pack assembly that seems to bring out the idiot in everyone? Even the greatest spatially aware person can struggle to explain what the incomprehensible language and dodgy diagrams are trying to get at. Sometimes, there’s no substitute for trial and error, but then again, when the error results in you wasting your entire day, it might just be easier if the instructions were better…

But we got most of the way there in the end, and now we just have to put the roof on today. Though that’s probably still another five hours of work. Which is soul-destroying. This is my last weekend here. But then again, I can’t actually think of any other way I could spend it.

Like I said at the start, at least I’m doing something useful. I could be sitting here on the computer all day, listening to the neighbours retiling their roof… which is amazingly annoying. Smash. Bang bang bang. Smash again. Since 8am.

More Action Required

The date is now set. I will return to Hull on 22nd September. It’s good that I now have a focus, as it means I can get myself properly mentally ready for getting back to work. I decided against going back this Saturday, as I actually think that I’ll be even more frustrated there with nothing at all to do.

What pains the most is having sod all to do in the evenings. I’ve always hated 9pm onwards, because there’s just a feeling that all I’m doing is killing time until going to bed. I’ve really noticed this in the past few days though. But I remember this feeling very well in Hull in the first two years of being there, and again in London last year… so I can’t even say to myself that it will fix itself once I’m back down to business. It’s just a fact of my life.

But there must be something good I can do in these final few days left back at home. I rack my brain but I just can’t think of anything feasible. I can’t exactly do anything dissertation wise, as I need to see my supervisor to plan the next line of attack, plus I don’t have the software to do the data input/analysis. I could, possibly, think about what I’m going to write for my personal statement on my teaching application form… but I’m going to have to motivate myself for that one.

The last thing is the joyous arrival in the post this morning of the Laws of Association Football 2007-08. £4 for this beauty, and I guess that if I want to be a referee, I should probably digest this one Real Soon. Ideally I should do this before I go back, because I will have less time for such leisurely pursuits. Annoyingly, I have tried to get in touch with the people in the East Riding County FA to book my place on the forthcoming training course, but no reply even after five days. I’d been waiting to do this all summer, and then it’s been hit by this snag. I’d be a bit upset if there ends up being no places left on the course.

Though if I do go on it, I’m going to have to break the habit of a lifetime. I have no sporty clothes any more. Haven’t since I was about 17. No proper trainers. No appropriate things to wear to play football. Jeans are not ideal, and I wouldn’t want to ruin my good t-shirts, after spending this summer doing a pretty good job of updating my wardrobe. It’s always sad when you have to retire old favourite clothes, but the colours were so faded on some of them it was almost embarrasing to wear them any more…

Anyway, another fine day begins to emerge. It’s quite entertaining how the weather has been really good since the schools went back. It happens every year with boring predictability. Spend all the summer trapped indoors because of the rain, then go back to school, trapped indoors, looking out at what might have been…

Here’s to a more productive week!

Resignation

There have been two types of resignation lately. The first of which is the process that I tend to go through at this time of year, during which I slowly but surely accept that I really am going to go back to work soon. I noticed it begin earlier this week, when all of a sudden I noticed how little time I’ve got left here, and how I need to start preparing myself mentally for the boredom challenge ahead. I’ve already noticed how busy the coming year is going to be, and it is now only just a little further away…

The other resignation is one that gets me slightly more angry. Me and my parents put ourselves out for the youth football team that we run. People seem to think that it is an easy thing to do, but it’s not, not by a long way. The hassle that some of the kids create because of their endless bizarre decisions is par for the course, but it doesn’t make it any easier each time something like this happens…

One of the players decided last Sunday that they’d had enough. The reason, allegedly, being that they were being played in defence when they want to play in midfield. That was it. And yet, they played so well in defence, and whenever we’ve played them in midfield, they’ve been pretty anonymous. It seems some kids would rather play poorly in a position they like rather than brilliantly in a position they don’t. And so, such an attitude led to them quitting on the spot.

Then, later on through contacts, we discover that the player spent most of their day in school bad mouthing my dad to all his mates, saying he’s a crap coach, and all that. All this because of a little hissy fit over where he thinks he is best on the pitch. There is no shortage of similar kids playing football who all think they’re the next super striker, or the next expansive, creative attacking midfielder. Yet most of them are anything but. Tell them that you think they’d be a better defender, and watch the tantrums fly.

It’s disheartening really. We struggle as a team because we can’t convince kids that being in defence is a crucial job, and that being there doesn’t mean you have any less value to the rest of the team. Even if they accept it and say they’ll play in defence for today, they will then go about deliberately playing poorly, not running, not putting any effort in, just to spite you for daring to oppose their wishes.

And so we lose yet another of our good players because of this inexplicable attitude. It’s becoming harder and harder to justify the effort we have to go through to make this work when all around no one seems to care or be willing to put in their share of commitment. But it then makes it worse when such players go off and start spreading insults about you because you didn’t bow to their prima donna ways, even though they know they couldn’t walk into any other team and dictate where their position is. This all coming despite the fact that when he signed for us in January, he had apparently been waiting to join us for ages – been really eager to play for us. How quickly that changed.

This player has wrecked our chances of a good start. It was all starting to come together, and then within a few weeks of the new season we have to deal with this.

We try really hard, but we can only work with what we’ve got. I’m beginning to wonder why we put so much effort in for the flak we receive in exchange. When you’re doing it for the kids, and the kids don’t actually care, or worse, insult you, then why bother at all?