Tag Archives: education

Burnt offerings 2014

The return of Qingming.

Nothing kills of the anticipation of a long weekend like a pile of exam papers, and once again this year, there are piles to be marked in the after­math of the mocks this week. I’m already a little ahead on the marking, having dispatched the A2s’ reading papers in a day, although that’s not quite the feat that it appears to be. I also made deep inroads into AS1’s reading, and that is a feat because there are five texts, and the paper is a bulky, clumsy thing to handle.

The exam this time has also been different because we included a writing paper. Normally, to spare ourselves a good deal of bother, we set some recent text type as the writing so that we can mark it beforehand. Although I like splitting things in this way, such exercises are only partial tests of the students’ ability to produce the text type correctly because they’re only dealing with a single type and don’t have to do it under exam conditions.

Although I told the classes to focus on the topics which we have covered in class (Health and Cultural Diversity), A2(2) mostly chose the Cultural Diversity topic or the Science and Technology one. The popularity of the latter was because the text type was blog/diary entry, which is no doubt regarded as an easy option because of its supposedly amorphous nature. A2(1&3) split themselves roughly evenly across four of the text types, but had the brains to avoid Leisure, which was a pamphlet giving advice and thus something akin to guidelines or instructions.

AS1 favoured the nature vs. nurture question about homosexuality; the blog entry reacting to newspaper reports alleging that Justin Bieber is gay; and the review topic (“review the film of the book”, meaning To Kill a Mockingbird; answers – anything but). The other two topics got a smatter­ing of attention.


A musical interlude.

When I saw that the exchange rate had improved in my favour, I went on a music-buying spree.

  1. Garden of Early Delights (Pamela Thorby and Andrew Lawrence-King; Linn Records) – this is an album of early Baroque music which includes some fairly familiar pieces (in fact, the only name I don’t know is Johann Schop), and combines the recorder with the harp.
  2. The Nightingale and the Butterfly (Pamela Thorby and Elizabeth Kenny; Linn Records) – Thorby unites with a lutenist on an album of French pieces from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This is mostly new music from composers who I have previously not heard of (e.g. Charles Dieupart, Louis Caix d’Hervelois) or who were only slightly known to me (e.g. Robert de Visée).
  3. Locatelli, Concerti Grossi, Op. 1 (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – I don’t often go to Hyperion because they charge VAT regardless of your point of origin, but the exchange rate was a little more benign than it has been. I had previously had a single example of Locatelli’s output prior to this and bought several albums all at once.
  4. Locatelli, L’Arte del Violino (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – This is Locatelli’s Op. 3, which is the composer showing off his technical skills with the violin. It is not, though, one of those works of this nature in which all sense of musical quality is abandoned in favour of some clever screechy sound which very few violinists – apart from Locatelli – could achieve.
  5. Locatelli’s Op. 4 (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – This is a combination of six Introduttioni Teatrali which, according to the accom­p­anying booklet, have an obscure history. The remaining six Concerti are just as obscure with no clear reason why they were included in this publication.
  6. Locatelli, 10 Sonatas Op. 8 (The Locatelli Trio; Hyperion Records) – Like Op. 4, this is a mixed bag, being a combination of ten violin and trio sonatas which, as the notes say, was contrary to the usual practice of six or twelve pieces of the same genre.
  7. Marin Marais, Pièces de Viole du Second Livre (Markku Luolajan-Mikkola et al.; BIS Records) – Having quite liked Marais’ Pièces de Caractère, I thought it was worth trying some more music from him and filling in a gap in my musical arsenal.
  8. Marin Marais, Pièces de Viole du Cinquième Livre (Wieland Kuijken et al.; Accent) – This album includes a piece which was inspired by the oper­ation in which Marais’ gallbladder was removed (Le Tableau de l’Oper­ation de la Taille). I was listening to the album when I heard what sound­ed like someone speaking French. I thought it was coming from outside, but it was commentary accompanying the music.
  9. Rameau, Pièces de clavecin en concerts (London Baroque; BIS Records) – This is an album of six concerts which are largely character pieces, although it’s often impossible to tell who in Rameau’s circle they refer to. The first concert is probably a tombeau, a genre of which the French seemed to be particularly fond. There is some overlap with Rameau, Complete Works for Harpsichord (Trevor Pinnock; crd).
  10. Italian Lute Music G.G. Kapsberger – A. Piccinini (Konrad Junghänal; Accent) – Lute music always gives me a sense of warm summer afternoons when the sun is setting, the light is just so, and the world is quiet and comfortable.
  11. Telemann, The twelve Fantasias for Transverse Flute without Bass (Bart­hold Kuijken; Accent) – This is another album in which “fantasia” has been misspelt in the file name. Probably it’s just a typo, but it smacks of a lack of attention.
  12. Telemann, Trios & Quartets (Epoca Barocca; CPO) – What is says on the box. Unfortunately, the accompanying booklet (an occasional inclusion from CPO) is cut off at the end of the first page of the German section, which means there. The CPO website is barely any more enlightening. This seems to be chamber music for the musically inclined burgers of Hamburg to bash out of an evening.
  13. Telemann, III Trietti metodichi e III Scherzi (Parnassi musici; CPO) – These are light pieces which Telemann published in 1731. The CPO website says they are “full of dancy swing”. CPO must’ve been on a budget because the cover for this album is the same as the cover of Telemann’s Complete Violin Concertos Vol. 4.
  14. Hotteterre, Complete Chamber Music Vol. 1 Suites Op. 2 (Camerata Köln; CPO) – This is a very recent release from CPO and marks the first in a series of four CDs from Camerata Köln. I haven’t listened to the album properly yet, but it is very chamber music in style.

My attempt to acquire Boismortier, Flute and Harpsichord Sonatas Op. 91 has been unsuccessful. I downloaded an album from Presto Classical, but what I got sounded late 18th century. I then had a listen to samples of the album on line, which confirmed that what I had was probably something by Haydn. I’m waiting for Presto Classical to let me know when the actual album will be ready for download.


The Sekkereterry of Stayte for Edgercayshun.

Last year when the PISA report came out, much was made of the results which showed that Asian school children were geniuses and British school children were barely able to hold a pencil without stabbing one other person (including themselves). As was observed at the time, the quality of life for Asian children is generally dreadful and, in the case of China, the results were based on children in Shanghai. Michael Gove wants GSCEs pegged to results in China and other successful economies from 2017.

As I’ve observed in the past, Chinese school children are good at anything a computer could do, but rarely good at anything else. Maths – tick that box; Physics – tick that box; Chemistry – tick with less certainty; Biology – don’t tick it at all because the language is beyond them. Arts and Humanities subjects? Not likely.

Even the dimmest students here can still do maths with a reasonable degree of competence, but only a few of them are capable of doing Further Maths according to the Head of the Maths Department at school. While they may be good at maths, that doesn’t make them intellectual giants. Anything requiring imagination and creativity is beyond all of them unless they’ve been taught some sort of procedure for mimicking something just as they are taught procedures for writing TOEFL and SAT essays.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Gove’s favourite sci-fi characters are the Borg from Star Trek and the Cybermen from Dr Who, both races of soulless cyborgs who can solve maths problems in the blink of an eye, but haven’t got a milligramme of creativity or joie de vivre among the lot of them. The man seems to want Borg school children rather than human beings.


Bloody China Mobile.

I’m regretting the recent switch to China Mobile. The latest wheeze is that all .co.uk websites have been blocked. I’d been on Presto Classical the other morning, but couldn’t get on it in the afternoon without Astrill. The same block (or, impediment) seemed to be affecting music sites in general, but I found, for example, that The Register was also out of bounds. .org.uk sites seemed to be partly affected. At school, which I assume goes through China Telecom, there were no problems with any of these sites. Great­fire.org claims no blocking, either. I suspect this may be some sort of filter­ing cockup. Something to do with a DNS update?


But at the end of the day…

I need to get on with some marking.

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You turn your head away for a moment

And the next thing you know, the heir to the throne has vanished.

The prolonged disappearance of the heir apparent has resulted in Freegate being given a right royal going over this week. At best it works for a brief period of time before Nanny obviously swamps the server withe requests, thus preventing anyone else from getting through. There are rare occasions when a connection is made, but it seldom lasts. I’m writing this offline because I may only be able to access WordPress long enough for a copy-paste-post job before the shroud of ignorance reasserts itself. Until his majesty reappears and things calm down, activity here will be minimal for the foreseeable future. One thing I do note. The Internet seems to be whizzing along. Does this apparent increase in speed have something to do with Freegate being out of action? Is this indicative of just how many people are using Freegate?

There’s still no news about the old boy, There’s now been a sighting of Prince Frog Face, but it seems less and less like that some sort of back injury was to blame for his absence. As one story mentioned, the heir apparent might be back in the saddle tomorrow with not a whisper of why he was away. (As it now turns out, but I didn’t see the information until later in the morning, he’s back today, thus proving that tomorrow never comes; and after such a long absence, he’d better bloody well have a note from his mum.)

In other news, after seeing the exchange rate with the US dollar has been going seriously in my favour, I bought some more Avison: the Concerti Grossi after Geminiani and Scarlatti, and Opp. 9 and 10. The problem, though, is that the amount of information about the albums is minimal. There are covers and track listings, but no information about the date the albums were released (recent years is my best guess) or about their composition. I like to know something about the background to the works although my eye glaze over when it comes to the pretentious nonsense that the tracks often attract from some overexcited musical luvvie. (Phantasm, I’m looking at you.)

Another week of school has gone by. I like PAL 1. They’re a lively bunch who are interested and get involved. PAL 2, on the other hand, is like PAL 3 a couple of years ago with a solid core of immature boys on the right-hand side of the classroom who are unable to concentrate or sit still. Once again I say, “Do exercise three” and they hear, Lark about. Don’t mind anyone else. Yet if it wasn’t for them, I think PAL 2 would also gain my unreserved seal of approval.

We had some horrifically heavy rain at lunchtime a few days ago. I thought I’d go to Subway to get something for lunch, but by the time I got out, water was beginning to stream down the steps into the the Parkson building, and there was a curtain of water at the entrance. The streets were a combination of lakes, rivers, and springs. There were some huge and very deep puddles (the biggest I saw being on this side of the intersection where 县前街 meets 解放路); at one place there was so much water in the drains that it was bubbling back up through the manhole cover; and in several places there were swift-flowing streams. The surface flooding was extensive and even if the city had decent drainage, it probably couldn’t have coped.

Since then, the weather has been predominantly grey although the sun is shining at the time of writing. I shan’t be at all surprised, though, if the cloud comes over sooner rather than later.

The latest supercar sighting was a white Aston Martin just up near the bridge. A Vantage, I suspect, but I passed it by too quickly to see. I also saw the Panamera called Connie again a couple of days ago. If you’ve got the money, why buy a Panamera in the first place and why call it Connie? The car is ghastly enough as it is, but giving it a name like Connie just makes things worse.

The free orange bikes have continued to appear around the city apart from outside 远东百货 where everything is in place apart from the bikes.

The worst feek

And it is feeking worst.

The first week back at school seems to have outdone itself this year, being more tiring, it seems, than any other commencement to the first term that I can recall. I can’t even blame jet lag. My timetable seems to have got worse with classes at the beginning, in the middle (inconvenient for buying lunch) and at the end. Fridays are especially bad with teaching all afternoon.

PAL 2 seems quite promising [Initial impressions aren’t always reliable. –JH 13.12.12], but PAL 1 seems a little more diffident [Again, initial impressions. –JH 13.12.12]. Fred and I have split the AS classes into HL and SL for English B and, I think, so long as there’s no EAP flying about, things may well be a bit better this year. There aren’t so many new AS students, and the majority of them seem to be all right, but we have one who can barely string two words together and ought to be in, well, a school where he understands the language. He can’t even be shifted to PAL because there are students in those classes whose English is already a few parsecs beyond his.

Today a bunch of books turned up. These would appear to be books I ordered a couple of years ago, but they’re now mostly of no use because of the delay in their arrival. I’ve tried to avoid ordering books which will never be used, but two years ago, it seemed that more copies of the teacher’s manual were likely to be useful. As it is, unless we get three PAL classes again, the manuals will languish on the shelves in the library. We also got the CDs for North Star 3 Listening and Speaking, but I don’t think we have the book itself and I don’t think I ever ordered either item.

Speaking of books, I discovered that it’s possible to get a copy of Morris Jones’s (1913) Welsh Grammar. I have a old, old photocopy of the part on phonology, but this is the whole thing. I found it via Lexilogos via archive.org. I always grab the pdf, but such files can’t be read on a Kindle as I found recently.

I saw an Audi R8 today, which demonstrated just how fairly wealth is divided among imperial citizens. Speaking of cheap cars, I saw pictures on the Wrecked Exotics site of the F430 spyder which crashed in Beijing a few months ago. This story has just popped up again because of the demotion of one of the emperor’s allies.

Anyway, I see it’s time for me to take my F430 out for a turn around the park.

Term, gentlemen, please

Everybody out, again.

I didn’t rush into school yesterday, but spent the morning buying more music. This time I added to my tiny collection of 18th century English composers who are not called Handel. My sole representative of the period had been Boyce’s Eight Symphonies (Op. 2) to which I’ve now added the complete trio sonatas. In addition to that, I bought Arne’s Trio Sonatas played by Collegium Musicum 90 (he’s Mr Rule Britannia, I believe), and Opp. 1 and 5 to 8 by Charles Avison played, but not ironically, by the Avison Ensemble. Boyce seems to be the most Baroque of the three whereas Arne and Avison have hints of the galant style even although the three were of the same generation. Bits of the latter pair’s music will suddenly sound like the Bach Boys (who wrote California Girls [What a fine example of the academic quality of this blog. –ed.]) Haydn or Mozart in short bursts. That’s another reason for buying this music. The style is slightly different.

I also bought an album of sonatas for violoncello and basso continuo by Geminiani, who was in London at the same time as Handel. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything by him before.

I went and bought lunch and then went to school where I watched people playing musical desks, a game which I played early, but almost no one joined in. I can understand why we should be grouped by department, but I liked things mixed because it gave the office variety.

And then it was time to go and babysit PAL 2. Well, that didn’t happen. I got up to the classroom to be told by their form teacher that she’d told them to go and play outside. I’ve been trying to get them to do that for the past two or three months, but at the end of each class about 95% sit there inertly. We ought to have them move from one room to another between periods although that’d just be an invitation for the dim bulbs to forget to bring anything each time.

The temperature and humidity have soared over the past two days. We’ve actually had some blue sky and sunshine, which is a relief after weeks of predominantly grey weather. But even as I write the haze and cloud is building up and we may yet have the thunderstorm which qq originally forecast.

The orange bike scheme which has appeared around Wuxi does seem to have been being put to use although I’ve yet to see anyone riding one. There are bikes outside Walmart, but the scheme hasn’t got as far as Baoli. I noticed that outside Houcaller, someone had parked their electric scooter beside one of the orange bollards to which the bikes are locked. I’m expecting other people to follow suit until the orange bikes have been displaced by scooters.

I’ve never really surveyed the park outside Baoli, but I note that the vast majority of vehicle parked there are electric bikes and scooters. As for bicycles, I’d say they’d count for less than 5% of everything in the parking area. What will happen when clowns on their electric scooters graduate to cars?

I’ve also heard, but cannot confirm, some story that the Metro may never see the light of day because of instability in the vicinity of the 360 building. Why Wuxi even needs a Metro is beyond me. If it went out to Tesco, Auchan and Metro (the German supermarket) in the New District or out to the airport, it might be useful. But as far as I can tell, it’s merely going to circle the centre of the city.

In the end I bought Faarlund’s Syntax of Old Norse and Volume 1 of Ringe’s A Linguistic History of English. From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic for my Kindle. I decided that two reference works were better value for money than a bunch of novels which I’d probably never read again.

I note that I’ve ended up being disappointed with quite a number of authors over the past ten years. Stephen Clarke’s Merde series wore a little thin when he seemed to depart from the semi-autobiographical stuff into the world of pure fiction. Stephen Hunt should never have been published. Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series stopped being any good two books ago (and, sad to say, I see another volume will be out soon). George Martin also lost the plot and his compass. Brandon Sanderson dragged on so much that it made Martin look like a model of succinctness. Alexander McCall Smith, I can take or leave, but would generally leave. Arturo Pérez-Reverte has never ultimately sustained my interest in the Captain Alatriste series.

I do need to see the inside of a real bookshop to have a decent look at what’s available. Trying to browse Amazon is a painfully slow experience and a lot of the time I’ve scanned the titles before any of the cover images have even appeared. I suspect that the usual Forces of Darkness are to blame for the tardiness of the site because opening channel D does seem to speed things up.

The recent news about the puerile fuss about the girl in the see-through dress on the Shanghai Metro puzzled me. As I’ve noted before, a large proportion of the female population is now in short skirts, shorter shorts and prostitute shoes. This doesn’t seem to excite any comments from the pundits, but some twentysomething in visible granny knickers does. Linda noticed a lot of staring when she was here, and, by coincidence, I’ve seen quite a bit of that over the past few days.

I’ve been reading about the reddening of the South China Morning Post over the past week or so. I like the SCMP – or did –, but there’s something distinctly unsavoury about the paper’s apparent shift towards Beijing and the way in which a respected, award-winning journalist was treated. I didn’t know the SCMP’s owner was Malaysian, either. The recent news from Hong Kong seems fairly gloomy, but is that because of the imperial government’s interference or because of economic problems or some combination of both? Several years ago I concluded that the fifty-year period of grace after Hong Kong was returned to the Empire was not because the latter would become more like the former, but rather the other way round. One morning the people of Hong Kong will wake up and find that much of the Internet is unavailable because it upsets the feelings of the Chief Executive; that the maternity wards are full of mothers from the Mainland; that the posh shops won’t admit locals; and that all the signs are in simplified characters.

The Decline and Fall of the Veneer

by Mr Bamboo.

The weather continued to be <insert adjective here> last night. The wind came up, and as I was chatting to Linda on qq, a crash, which sounded like thunder, came from outside. On my initial investigations, I couldn’t see anything, but while I was having a shower I heard another crash and realised what had fallen off the side of the building.

Opposite the annex, the veneer on the outer wall has been bowing outwards ever since I’ve been in the building. Last night it lost the will to live, and cast itself into the void.

This morning the world was grey, but the rain seemed to have stopped. I could see no visible sign of precipitation, but the ground was wet. I stuck my arm out of the window, but could feel nothing. It was only when I got outside that I found it was drizzling.

Since then, the world has dried out. The forecast is for cloud tomorrow, but I suspect the forecast doesn’t know what’s going on because it was meant to have reached 19° today according to earlier prognostications.

At the start of lunchtime, our conversation was interrupted by the sound of drilling and I stepped out of the door to the office to find a pile of evacuation maps (with a garnish of Chinglish) leaning against the wall. This will be being done as part of the run-up to the final visit by the people from the IB programme, which will determine whether the school gets accredited or not. Most of that seems to depend on adhering to some rather finicky regulations.

On its side, the school has dragged its feet about implementing the requirements of the IB programme. The library is a bit of a fiasco with the school desperately trying not to spend money on the book that it needs. (You try writing a 4,000 word essay based solely on a couple of wikipedia entries.) There’s a computer room in the old classroom that has generally been part of the school museum, but I can’t see anyone being fooled by some tacky red velvet table cloths covering ratty old wooden desks.

I suppose the school will probably get its accreditation and then like the aftermath of the Beijing Olympics, everything will be blocked again and the pollution will start rolling back in. Well, it’s all about the money.

Another week of fun and excitement

Well, not really.

Things seem to have settled down since the start of term, which means the boring routine of getting up far too early and then teaching the same stuff I taught last year. However, this year’s new project is vocabulary. Among the books which turned up were ones on intermediate and advanced vocabulary, and since the little darlings love those TOEFL and IELTS word list books from which they learn nothing at all, I thought that some proper vocabulary exercises would be much more useful.

Meanwhile, Mark has taken newsademic off my hands to use with the reading club which he and Fred hold after school for the IB and A-level students.

I see that things have changed slightly here on WordPress with a revised menu bar.

The weather has gone from horrible and cool to pleasant and mild, and, fortunately, not as hot as it was about a week and a half ago. The word on the street isn’t encouraging with autumn allegedly arriving early in Shanghai, which coincides with claims by one weather forecaster that Britain is in for snow in October. Another dire winter for the northern hemisphere in the offing?

Anyway, the weather is mild and comfortable, and the conditions are right for an adventure; or aimlessly roving around the streets with nothing better to do.

Summer’s last hurrah

I’d prefer a little something for the weekend.

Last weekend, the long weekend, the weekend of Teacher Appreciation Day (official), the tenth anniversary of the 911 attacks, and the Mid Autumn Festival, the weather was grey, dull and sticky. Today, it’s been almost nothing but clear and sunny with a few sheepish clouds milling around the edge of the city and hiding in the bank of grey filth which the late afternoon sun is revealing.

I saw a nice new white Porsche Cayman a few days ago, and a pink BMW, an M3 I suspect, to go with the pink Bentley and the pink BMW Z4. What’s the bet they’re all owned by the same taste-free 太太. I’ve seen the nice yellow Z4 a couple of times recently.

Odd encounter as I was on my way to Yamazaki. I’d stopped at the intersection with 五爱路 and as I was waiting for the lights, some local clown on a bike stopped a few metres from me and started babbling about, er, something. It seemed to be related to the clearness of the sky and possibly my attire, but having ranted at me, he toddled off.

I had been up for HoD of English, but with only three of us teaching the subject on the A-level programme, it’s not going to happen. I’m not bothered, much preferring my status as a semi-autonomous province with irresponsibility for PAL and two of the AS classes.

Turn on, tune in

Book out.

To my surprise, (most of) the missing books and discs turned up this morning. The teacher’s manual for the NorthStar TOEFL book turns out to be just about useless because there were no transcripts and no answers, which I then found were in the textbook. It does get a little worse because we have somehow ended up with the manual for the intermediate level NorthStar TOEFL book (I’m sure I didn’t order it) even although we’re not using the corresponding textbook.

Turns out that because Suzhou got a few too many books, I’ll probably get a copy of Listen to Learn Book 1 after all. However, I did borrow a copy off a student only to find that the book probably isn’t suitable for the PAL students because it’s pitched at too high a level. I didn’t order it on a whim, but our previous AQM had it down for PAL, and because they need extra listening, which is where Lucantoni falls short, it seemed like a good idea to get it.

We also have a second copy of the big fat TOEFL book.

Since the discs for Listen to Learn were my main concern, I forgot to check whether there were any teacher’s manuals to go with it, but as I’m not using LTL immediately, it doesn’t really matter too much. I was also more concerned with getting things sorted for Monday. I now have a stack of books to put to use.

I’ve been enjoying riding my new bike, which is nice and light compared with my old machine. Not sure what to do with all the gears. 21 does seem rather a lot.

What? Read a whole book?

But… but… but…

Certain matters have been resolved. First, I tracked down the CDs which go with the official TOEFL book.1 It then turned out that the NorthStar TOEFL book was over in the library being processed. The CD for Listen to Learn was never ordered. My theory is that because the CD was listed after the title of the book, the person ordering the books never read as far as “audio CD”, and thought that the title had been doubled up. We’re going to switch back to the second edition until the CDs for the third edition arrive – if they ever do. Mind you, I still don’t have Listen to Learn 1.

The AS classes have been quite mixed together. AS3 contains some students from PAL 3, and a lot of apparently new students. AS4 has a lot of PAL 3 and some PAL 1s and 2s. I quizzed last year’s little darlings as a means of introducing myself to the new students in the class.

I had PAL 2 this afternoon. I think the word “shell-shocked” would describe them quite well, but I fear that with the advent of the IB programme, we’re now back to being vegetable gardeners. I’ll have a word with them tomorrow about getting used to listening to the other teachers, and that it’ll take them a little time to get used to the range of accents they’re hearing. I’ll see PAL 1 tomorrow.

The Australians have found the remains of Ned Kelly who, I thought, was a notorious bushranger who liked dressing up in armour. But now it turns out he was some Irish freedom fighter. The BBC, trying to be impartial, says in its article, “Ned Kelly was seen by many as a cold-blooded killer and others as a folk hero of Irish-Australian resistance.” Irish-Australian resistance? Huh? I’m getting images of German soldiers guarding top secret radar installations and signposts with French place names.

Notes.

1. To further my rant from the other day, anyone doing TOEFL or IELTS knows that the books can be horrifically expensive. If you just learnt English and read a summary of what happens in the TOEFL exam, you could save a lot of money. The publishers of those big fat American books are banking on you mistaking the obesity of their material proportional to your success in the exam. The book is enormously overweight, you think. How can I not succeed?

Hic transit another academic annus

So much for the formatting. Where the hell’s the rest?

First the formatting buttons refused to appear. Then when I tried to switch between tabs to add some HTML tags, the tabs got stuck and there was a mismatch between the tab and the text. When I saved the text as a draft, only the first line remained and the rest of the text was gone.

End of term today. Do I have an end-of-term feeling? Like last year, no. I am off, but not for a couple of weeks, which means that life continues as it normally does, but without school to interrupt it.

The Queen, because she’s rather important, has two birthdays, her real one and a Bank Holiday. Here in the empire, the ruling junta also has two birthdays, one of which is today, and then there’s the real one later this month. I guess that the Party decided to celebrate the big anniversary today because by the 23rd they’ll all be on their summer hols (works outing to Zhuhai, I believe).

China Dully has the exciting headline “Searching for reasons behind the success of the CPC”, which can’t have been hard to write. For one thing, without any other benchmark, the Party has to be a success even if it makes a complete bollocks of everything. If they built a car with gull-wing doors that opened downwards, it would still be declared a success. For another thing, with the imperial hand up the editorial posterior, you’ll never see the headline, “The Party: Ten things they’d rather you didn’t mention”.

I’m surprised that we haven’t been bombarded with fireworks, although that may happen this evening. In truth, though, there’s no real sign that a bunch of swollen-headed hypocrites are celebrating anything here.