No Time To Catch Breath

It’s all been a little bit too much for me of late.

Last weekend, I did my usual complement of two refereeing appointments. One went very badly (due to poor attitude from the players) and the other went pretty well. Either way, they keep the money ticking over.

But they have also caused me to get somewhat injured. Normally the injuries are just stress and tiredness, and they go away in a week so I’m OK next time. But this time, I’ve had almost no chance to recover.

On Monday I had to walk back and forward from the University twice. This was painful in my condition, but it was compulsory. I had lectures to attend, and an essay to submit.

Tuesday I had to catch a train at stupid o’ clock. I was up at 4am getting everything ready for my trip home. I hauled a heavy bag through the streets of Hull and the streets of my home city until I finally got back.

Wednesday I had the interview referred to in my last post. It went as well as I could have hoped for, which is excellent. Though I don’t know what the competition is like, and I don’t know what they were expecting. So I’m not confident. I’d rather be surprised if the news is good. I will find out in the next weeks what the outcome is.

But on the day I had to walk around a fair old bit, probably to the tune of several miles at a quick pace.

Today I have returned to Hull. More walking to and from train stations carrying heavy bags. My legs are still hurting me, which is very unusual.

And there is not much sign of it stopping. I simply have to go shopping tomorrow morning, which is yet more mileage, and carrying heavy bags too. Then on Saturday and Sunday there is more refereeing to come. Though my Sunday game is in the boys’ league… which is something new for me. Will have lots of parents nagging me, though it is, at least, only 35 minutes each way. This means I might not be so badly injured come next week.

So this week has been a bit of a whirlwind. It was nice to be home for the past couple of days, but I would rather it hadn’t happened. It’s disrupted the “flow” of my life here, in the sense that I’d completely forgotten about life back at home. I was just getting on with things here. Now I’m wishing I wasn’t here.

Still. Only two weeks to go. Then I can have a break. Of sorts.

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The Big Day Approaches From Nowhere

Yesterday arrived the dreaded letter, the one I had not been expecting.

The university who I’ve applied to to do my teacher training PGCE had finally got back to me. I have an interview.

Next Wednesday.

Unbelieveable. The issue was totally out of my consciousness. I’d been concentrating so hard on my essays and dissertation research that it was completely at the back of my mind. I know I had mentioned it in previous posts, but that was just in passing. I thought I’d find out within the next few weeks, but I expected to have an interview early next year.

How wrong I was. The news led to panic. How am I supposed to get to my destination cheaply next Wednesday? I called them up to ask if they could change the date. They were very helpful and said yes… but the only problem is that if the date is changed, the chances of me being offered a place are reduced because of the fact that other people will now be offered places ahead of me.

So I had no choice but to take the advice offered. Luckily enough, it turns out that I can get to the place for £31 return on the train. Managed to get hold of an advance ticket. Which is a bit odd, because I can’t get hold of an advance ticket in a month’s time to go home. They’ve obviously all sold out.

With the travel sorted – I’m now going to go first thing on Tuesday morning and return back to Hull on Thursday – my mind is put at ease a little. Apart from the fact that I have an interview! I have never done a proper interview. All the jobs I’ve had were very informal interviews, and the placement with my MP last year had an informal interview too. So this is brand new. Plus, there are also some other bits attached to it, including a short writing exercise, an ICT test and a reading from a children’s book to four other candidates. That will be a bit odd. I’m researching feverishly this weekend to work out which book I should pick. Crossing my fingers to get hold of a copy of “The Snail and the Whale” at the moment, though “Aliens Love Underpants” would also be a good one.

It’s all come at a very fortunate time. Yesterday, before my mind was totally distracted by this issue, I managed to finish off my essays. Well, they’re 95% complete, all three of them. They just need the final once-over, printing and submitting. That’s easy enough, nothing to worry about. So I have the next few days free to sort everything out. I have to work on some stock answers to the standard interview questions… and I have to try to relax. The nerves are going to take over at some point; I really can’t afford to let them on the day, some people manage to channel their nervousness to their advantage, but I can’t. I have to be calm.

I’m delighted to have been offered an interview. I was beginning to feel that my application was poor. Not everyone gets an interview… so to have come this far is a good sign that they think I have potential. So I’m really pleased about that. Plus, in a strange way, it is probably good to get this all over and out of the way now. If I’d got a date months into the future I would have been worrying about it for ages and ages as it loomed large on the horizon. Now it’s just going to happen and soon. I would put my chances of getting offered a place, right at this moment, at 50/50. I hope I can improve those odds at the interview.

Meanwhile… in terrible news, the weather has turned against me this weekend, after the forecast all week saying it was going to be OK. Unfortunately, I’m going to be refereeing in the freezing cold wind and rain again. Bollocks. But it will, at least, take my mind off this situation. Instead, it will be wondering if my fingers are going to fall off…

Preparation Day

The greatest symphonies always have a crescendo in there somewhere. In music and in an every day speech, there’s always a great deal of attraction to a really passionate section, usually at the end, which builds you up a finish, or perhaps a refrain.

Life is filled with them too. So are the Laws of Buses. You wait ages for one, then three come at once. But right now, everything is going along smoothly. And yet, just around the corner, the crescendo approaches.

I have finished two pieces of work now. One of them is finished finished – meaning I don’t want to look at it ever again. That often happens with essays, you work on them so much and for so long that by the end you feel ill every time you think of the 20 hours of your life you’ve wasted on it. At least, that’s what the statistics page of Word tells me about my dissertation research design. “Total editing time: 1177 minutes”. Ugh.

The other essay is finished unfinished, meaning I need to go through it with a fine tooth comb to bring it up to scratch. But the necessary argument is in place, meaning that it is no more than an hour job.

I have one more essay to write. I have done all the research and the reading. It just needs to be turned into wonderful flowing prose. This will happen on Thursday and Friday. I’m utterly confident of that. I have to be. I am so bored of academic work, and feel like I desperately need a break. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… but we’ve still got a little more to go.

Today I need to book my train tickets for the trip home for Christmas. Very much looks to me like I’m going to be having a five week holiday this year, thanks to the newly extended holiday for my University, and the convenient placement of my two exams in the second week of the exam period. Awesome. The less time I spend in the Hull January cold, the better.

And it has been cold lately. On Sunday, I refereed a game in the rain and the wind. By the end of the match I could barely move my hands. I couldn’t write down the score, and a couple of times I struggled to get the whistle to my mouth. I do have gloves, but they are too thick for writing with… so I’m going to have to try to buy a thin pair today.

Because today is my Preparation Day. If I’m going to spend the next two days locked up in my room writing an essay, I need to be ready. I need to have food in the cupboards. I want to clean my room so it doesn’t annoy me while I’m working. I don’t want to be distracted. I have to be able to focus…

Another week feels like it’s flying by. Scary.

Pining For The Porridge

Since I’ve returned to Hull, about the biggest disappointment has been surrounding one of my housemates. He used to be a really great person, lots of fun to talk to and hang around with. He used to be a little bit zany and funny, and a really considerate, thoughtful person.

The transformation in him now is amazing. The difference is, of course, that he now has a girlfriend (who is also one of my housemates). She is… well, I can’t really think of anything nice to say about her. But now my housemate is a lot more serious, lot more sober, and very rarely hangs around with the rest of us, who still consider him a friend. Understandable, I suppose. Who needs friends when you have a girlfriend?

But the worst of it is that his normal good-nature is fast disappearing. His girlfriend enjoys gossiping and bitching; they often have conversations about other people, including people I know, which are never glowing with enthusiasm. The amount of times I have extracted myself from a conversation because they kept on plugging me for nasty things to say about my former housemate from last year is now getting a little bit silly.

There is also the entertaining factor known as the “zeal of the converted”. This housemate of mine, I lived with him in Year 2 of University. He was never a tidy person. In fact, he often made a mess wherever he went, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. These days, he is now extremely neat and tidy, and cleans up after him all the time. Nothing wrong with this, of course. The reason why it’s amusing is that, having been influenced by his girlfriend to be a tidy person, he now spends his time writing notes of complaint on the whiteboard about the “mess” in the house to the rest of us. How quickly he forgets his past.

Life is plodding onwards, otherwise. There was a moment of mourning this morning (I like that) because I finished off my cheap Oatibix honey-flavoured porridge that was on offer for a bargain in Tesco. It was so nice. But now it’s all gone, and the offer is probably finished. Was good to have a break from my normal breakfast of Weetabix. Or Wheat Bisks as the cheap variety are known.

Yesterday, another of my housemates baked some bara brith cake. I’ve had this cake before, but only commercially made stuff. This one, however, is far better. Truly excellent. And there is lots more to eat today. That oughta keep me going as I start my next two days solid of work…

I can’t believe how quickly this week has gone. Seems only five minutes ago I was doing my usual Thursday hard work day.

Advancing The Plan

The Plan is going well and remains on track. I worked my arse off on Thursday and Friday, which allowed me to have a busy, yet relaxing, weekend. My dissertation research design is now, I’d guess, 2/3rds complete, and it now must be completed by the end of this week in order to keep everything going well.

The weekend itself was good. Two games of football to referee, one good, one not so good. But it all helps build up the experience which improves my performance. And fitness, which I’m pleasantly surprised about. Seems I’m doing well.

Overall, I’m quite content with this current arrangement. After all, weekends are meant to be for doing something slightly different to what you normally do. In the past, weekends were just another day for me. I would often use them to do work, spreading it out just a little each day of the week. It meant every day was pretty much the same, apart from what was on TV that night. But now, there is a little bit more structure. Something to look forward to giving me a reward for my hard academic work.

And I also think it’s making the weeks fly by. I can’t believe we’re in the depths of November already. In a month’s time, I’ll be heading back home for Christmas. Which means thoughts will soon have to turn to presents and other such capitalist delights.

Meanwhile, housemates are continuing to annoy me. There is a sly note left on the whiteboard this morning demanding people clean up after themselves. Of course, I agree with that, and I always do. But literally, the mess I make is incredibly small. There are some benefits to a life of never properly cooking. About the most I ever do is boil water or warm things up in a saucepan. The odd thing is, the note has been left by the girlfriend of the housemate who actually makes the second most mess in the house from cooking.

The target of the note is, quite obviously, my other housemate who really does make the most mess. But by addressing it to everyone, it lessens its insulting consequences. Public admonishments don’t always work, either. They can have the opposite effect.

I was thinking about asking this housemate to stop washing his dishes at midnight and either do it earlier or save them till the next day. I’ve been woken up by the clattering of pans and plates a few times now at stupid hours of the night. It’s not very considerate. I’m sure a quiet word will have a much better impact, unlike writing a note of my anger on the whiteboard.

House politics is an entertaining but ultimately pointless affair. We all have to live with each other. Though the way the time is flying, it won’t be for much longer…

The Plan

It’s been a busy old week… which explains the absence. Each day I kept saying, “you oughta do a blog post today” and within seconds I’ve forgotten my pledge and moved on to something else.

Last week was used well and in accordance with The Plan. I now have one completed essay, with one more to go, plus my dissertation research design. So we’re a third of the way through the dreaded purge of work. On top of that I’ve also composed my two tutorial presentations coming up in December, so things are looking pretty good. I’m quite impressed with myself for the discipline I’m showing on this this year, and all with less time in which to do it in.

The one problem has come from a change of mind I’ve had. I was originally going to do my second essay on the thorny, but probably tedious, issue of NHS reform. On close inspection of the reading material, it was very complicated. It might be easier to plump for the other essay on the even more thorny of issue of what it means to be British. So that’s today’s plan. A trip to the library shortly to check out the books available. Plus, see what I can find for my dissertation literature review. I suspect very little: which is excellent.

In any case, I’ve discovered the wonderful Google Scholar. A way to search through vast quantities of journal articles that was previously not possible. In the past you’d have had to go round all the journal archive websites individually, using rather imprecise search engines. But now, Google has delivered the goods once again. And all without having to visit the university library. Woohoo.

So academic life is going well (though it needs two days of hard work from me to keep it that way). Life in this house is OK at the moment… there is a now perpetual awkwardness that exists between my friend and his girlfriend. She’s just not a nice person. She doesn’t engage in conversation. Though she does with him. As soon as anyone else enters the room, she returns to her silent, demanding state. I’ve tried to talk normally with her, but it’s like trying to get blood out of a stone. It’s not worth bothering. After this year, I might never see her again.

The wind is rising. The temperature is dropping. Perfect. Just in time for my next games to referee this weekend. I’ve just washed my kit, and noticed that the socks have virtually disintegrated after just two washes. Pathetic. There are lots of thread pulls all over them. And I followed the washing instructions, cool wash, slow spin. Seems quality ain’t what it used to be.

Still no word from the teaching institutions I’ve applied to…

Enough. Time to get to work.

£25

Of course, refereeing is not just for the money. It is for the love of the game. But it sure as hell is a nice reward for running round a football pitch for 90 minutes.

I did my first game yesterday, and it went really well. Quite a few decisions to make, nothing too controversial, thankfully, but those will only be in a matter of time. Enjoyed it a lot. Apart from the fact that I’d ordered referee kit and equipment and it didn’t arrive in time for the game. So I had to rush out (making myself tired before I’d even started) and buy the stuff again. Oh well. I suppose it will come in handy in future if/when my equipment needs replacing.

Glad it’s over and out the way though. I wasn’t originally anticipating doing a game on a Wednesday, but the call came through from the appointments secretary, so off I went. Was better really, rather than spending lots of time worrying about what is to come this Saturday. Now I have got rid of the “first game” syndrome. Not that I told any of the players yesterday. That would be stupid. Now it will probably become quite routine…

So, with that out the way, life must resume. I have today and tomorrow off, and I must make significant progress with one of my essays. On top of that, I need to piece together my dissertation research design. There’s lots to keep me busy, that’s for sure. In some respects it’s good, because it ties me here and stops me doing any more exercise. I need the relaxation today; my legs are quite sore. But essays are still boring…

This Saturday I will have been back in Hull for six weeks. Half way through the semester. How time flies. Soon I’m going to have to consider booking my train tickets for the trip back home for the Christmas break. Which is four weeks long this year – an extra week so we can revise. Urgh. Exams. Not had one of those since June 2006. Well, not a proper academic exam. Don’t really think the referee exam’s multiple choice papers count.

In July once my birthday had passed, I kept annoying people by saying “it’ll soon be Christmas!” Look, I was right! Some shops are already playing the usual tedious music. The adverts are kicking in. Though it’s not been all that cold just yet. Only had to put the central heating on a few times so far, which is very good.

But there’s still plenty of time for that…