Friday, September 23, 2011

It could only happen to me

Today I had to deliver a micro-teach. It's part of a course I've been doing to upgrade my qualifications. So I got up early, made sure I had everything prepared whilst feeling slightly excited at the prospect of a new challenge. I showered, put on my make-up and selected my clothes and made myself ready. I decided to veer away from my usual casual attire of jeans or trousers by going for the professional look by slipping on a skirt, petticoat and tights. After a spray of perfume, I checked myself in the mirror and thought I looked (passably) like I knew what I was doing...

Anyway, I delivered my micro-teach at the front of the class and all seem to go reasonably well. I felt a little rushed due to the time constraints and a bit uncomfortable - a fact I put down to my tights which, as all women know, are a woman's worst enemy - after stockings.

So, after a round of applause I made my way back to my seat at which point....

I noticed my petticoat was around my ankles.

I was not destined to live a dignified existence. I think my life should be a film. It would probably make a very good disaster movie...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I am not a Student Advisor! (Mrs T's search for Employment II )

Yep, I am not a student advisor. Well, I'm pretty sure I'm not as the interview date was today and I haven't heard anything.

The problem is, when you haven't worked in the conventional manner since 1998, it doesn't matter how much voluntary work you've done; you've still not been employed. It's a competitive world at the moment and there's a lot of people who tick all the right boxes fighting over very few jobs.

Anyway, I think the University is missing out. I would have made a fantastic student advisor! I mean who wouldn't want Mrs T dispensing her pearls of wisdom to the student fraternity?

I admit though that Young Sam, who has just started his second year at university, was not quite so impressed with the idea...

Mrs T: Sam, I've applied for a job as a student advisor at the University. Ask me some questions, will you? Just in case I get an interview.

Sam: You're kidding?

Mrs T:  Umm...no. I think I'd be a wonderful student advisor!  I have a son at university, I've been an almost perpetual student myself and I'm great with young people. I'm the the ideal candidate!

Sam: Mum, get real. You'd be the worst student advisor ever. I can just imagine it; some young, tentative girl comes in with a question and you'd say "Oh for God's sake. Can't you work it out for yourself? Just get on with it! Oh, and by the way have you learnt to spell yet?"


His exact words, Readers.


Cue Mrs T looking somewhat downhearted. Really, am I that bad? (Rhetorical question - no need to answer.)

You know, I can't remember asking for any help when I was a student. Maybe I just read the pamphlets and got on with it. (Please notice correct spelling of the word "pamphlet." I'm using it a lot lately - this is because I discovered last week Ben's teacher had written in his book "Some good points in your phamlet." I'm afraid I haven't got over it yet. In comparison, the PE teacher spelling "lesson" with only one "s" looked like a genuine typo.

Hey ho.

Anyway, eventually I managed to persuade Sam to give me a few questions to which I came up with the following answers;

Q: Where can I get free condoms?
A: Oh come on! I'm  Your parents are paying your fees! Surely you can afford a rubber or two? Blimey, how tight can you be?  Okay, okay...you can get free ones at the family planning clinic. Alternatively, if you don't mind second hand you can pick up some behind the student union bike shed.

Q: How do I use the washing machine?
A: Oh for God's sake! Just read the pamphlet. That's pamphlet spelt P A M P H L E T.

Q: I 'm running out of money. My mother is a miser and won't send me any more cash. What should I eat?
A: Hmm. Tricky. When I was a student I ate Weetabix spread with jam. Might be a bit tricky with your braces. Pot Noddle?

Q: (By email) My tutr says' i cant spell. im gutted evrone told me I wuz god at schole. Wot schwod i do?
A: Give up now or email your MP and tell them you've been fed a load of bullshit. Fingers crossed he understands you.

Q: I want to switch courses. What's the procedure?
A: At last! A proper question. Right, fill out this form.

Q: Can I borrow a pen?
A: Oh for God's sake...

Q: I'm living in a student house which doesn't appear to have any fire escape. What should I do?
A: How much pot are you planning to smoke? If you're planning to smoke a lot I suggest keeping it under your hat - the lack of fire escape not your pot. The pot might catch fire to your hair. Hmm...bearing that in mind I suggest jumping.

Q:The student restaurant doesn't offer enough vegetarian choices. Who should I complain to?
A: Now that's difficult. Let me think....The Vice Principal? No. Not really his area. Your tutor? Hmm... I see you're studying Media with Dr Flighty so maybe not. I know, I know! How about... the head chef or the restaurant manager?

By the way, can you spell pamphlet?

Q: Why are you a student advisor? You don't seem very helpful.
A: I'm not. I'm pretending to be an advisor. I made this badge following instructions on Blue Peter. I'm actually a brain surgeon masquerading as an advisor for a bet documentary for media studies department.

So there you have it, Readers. I am not a student advisor and the search for employment goes on. Should all else fail as a last resort I'm thinking about setting up my own telephone "chat" line. Could be entertaining.

Hmm... an afterthought. Have I mentioned about setting up a chat line before? I think I have... Hmm, me thinks the reality of unemployment is dawning on me. All options must considered. I haven't tried being a political speech writer yet though. I reckon I'd be good at that. Could be some fiery vitriol but hey, I haven't heard a good speech since Tony Blair resigned.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Princess and the Thief (Flash fiction)


Mummy ran out the back door, Daddy went out the front door.
I think they forgot me.
Daddy’s a banker. He travels a lot. Mummy said this time he’d gone too far. She threw the earrings he’d bought her in the bin. Then Daddy threw his briefcase. It hit mummy’s china.
I took my parcel into the lounge and cried.
The string is too tight. I need scissors from the kitchen. It’s messy in there and too quiet. Perhaps Mummy will be pleased if I tidy up. I pick her earrings out of the bin and put them in her special cookie jar and I put Daddy’s briefcase back on the table.
Daddy calls me his princess and Mummy calls me her angel.
I collect the big pieces of broken plates and drop them in the bin. There’s a shadow on the floor, I look up and see a man staring through the window. I know him but I can’t remember his name. I saw him outside the school gates last week. He waves at me. I wave back.
He opens the porch door and smiles.
“Can I help? You don’t want to cut yourself.”
“If you like.”
“I saw your parents leave, so I thought I’d better check on you. I was right to be concerned; I see there’s been an accident.”
“I don’t think Daddy meant to break Mummy’s china. He was cross because Mummy said he loves money more than he loves us.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t.”
He finds the broom and starts to sweep the pieces into little piles.
“I think your Daddy knows how important money is to live. But your Mummy knows other things are even more important. Like children.” He pushes the little piles into one big mound and I brush it into the dustpan. “It’s a question of finding the right balance.”
He smiles again and I smile back.
“Daddy brought me a present. It’s in the lounge.”
“Well, we’re just about done here. Shall we go and take a look?”
I shake the pieces out of the dustpan into the bin and take the scissors from the drawer.
“Lead on my merry mistress! Let’s find the hidden treasure!” he cries.
He smiles and laughs all the time. He reminds me of Santa Claus, only he doesn’t have a beard.
I cut off the string, rip off the paper and open the box.
“Wow, look at that!” he says. “It’s the biggest book I’ve ever seen! The Princess and the Thief. That sounds exciting.”
I trace my fingers over the large, gold letters.
“Daddy always buys beautiful presents.”
“Shall I read or do you want to?” he says.
“I’ll read.”
He closes his eyes. He looks peaceful and content like Daddy does after Sunday lunch. Sometimes I don’t know a word, so I spell it out loud and he tells me what it is. He would be a good teacher as he is very patient. I read on until the story ends.
He opens his eyes and smiles again.
“You have a lovely, soothing voice and read so well.”
“Will I meet a prince?”
“Every girl meets her prince.”
He holds out his hand and leads me to the window. The sky is blue and sunny but he tells me how clouds are made and why rain falls.
“Shall we go for a walk?” he says. “While the weather’s good?”
“What about Mummy and Daddy?”
“We could leave a note.”
“Can I bring my book?”
“That’s a wonderful idea.”
              He laughs and smiles.

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Okay, so that's a bit of flash fiction I wrote for a competition and which bombed out. If anyone has any useful feedback please feel free to leave a comment. I'm never quite sure what these judges are looking for and thought something depressing/arty farty might work this time - clearly I was wrong -or maybe it was just simply not good enough!

Update 02/12 - I have now rewritten this piece adding another 130 words. The story above was the original one which was written to a limit of  600 words. This is obviously a worthwhile challenge for any writer as it concentrates the mind and makes you focus on the effect of each and every word.. However, now that I have fleshed out the piece a little more and improved the ending to make it more rounded I feel it is a much better piece of writing. The updated story can be found on my story website.