The annual plunge.
The week started out with some of the heaviest fog I’ve ever seen, and has ended with a very sharp drop in the temperature. When I looked out of the annex window on Monday, the outside world was grey and initially I thought that there was condensation on the outside of the building. But when I looked out of the main window, I could just see the cars on the lane about 50m below me, and I could see that a couple of the lights on the island were on, but I could see nothing else, not even the lights on the building site which illuminate my room so well.
It was mild for a couple of days and then the temperature dived after that, thinking that single figures were the height of fashion. It’s meant to be a bit warmer again tomorrow, but it’s been a shock to go from highs in the low 20s to a high of 9° in the space of a few days.
Overall, November was actually not too bad this year; better than two years ago. I’m hoping for a benign December: not so cold, preferably dry.
I’ve taken to visiting the Commando website using Frεεgαtэ to speed things up a little. Although issuu doesn’t seem to be blocked, there’s definite interference which seems to be intended to deter users because of the length of time it takes for documents to appear. Even although the timing on Frээgαтε is in four figures, I’ll still see a Commando issue much faster than I would if I wasn’t using it.
Having finished marking the PAL classes’ monthly tests last weekend, I’ve started on the AS classes’ writing. If I was marking it as an exercise in proficiency, they’d all be getting IELTS 7; but I’m not. We’re using the EAP mark scheme again, but not bothering with the Neat Handwriting Bonus. The results might seem a little cruel, but students really do need to face reality in that they can get all the As and A*s they like in Maths and Physics, but the actual academic quality of their writing, and thus their ideas, is mediocre.
Yet I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. The problem for students isn’t what I try to teach them (which they seem to ignore anyway), but what they get from New Oriental or English First. If they could unlearn the asinine drivel they get taught in those places, then they might actually make some progress. If they could focus on the topic instead of the bombast, I’d possibly be seeing some decent responses.
In fact, they’re writing like undergraduates, which means that they believe they have to write in a sophisticated, incomprehensible style. The result is that their writing is often unclear, obscure, and devoid of meaningful content. That sounds like an undergraduate essay to me. I say, “Never assume the reader knows anything.” They hear, “Assume the reader knows everything.” (I should add, “…and doesn’t want to know what you’re talking about.”)
Jeremy Clarkson has allegedly done it again with comments about shooting striking workers. I see this morning that the number of complaints has passed 21,000, but this article on autoblog UK puts the whole thing into some sort of perspective. The joke was weak and feeble, and the disproportionate reaction seems to have brought the Bash Clarkson Fan Club out (probably via Twitter). While Clarkson has been an ass down the years, he’s merely provoked 21,000 other asses. “Wake up, Britain, you can’t be that stupid,” writes Alex Goy. Unfortunately, I think the country can be that stupid. (In a Language Log post [here], Geoffrey Pullum also makes some critical observations about the idiotic reaction to Clarkson’s comment. Since the One Show, Jezza has also gone on to insult people who commit suicide. Cue more outrage. Whether you think Clarkson is an enormous plonker or not, Swift’s Modest Proposal would probably cause utter apoplexy if it was published today.)
Speaking of motoring, I’ve seen spate of BMW Z4s about the place recently. There was a brand new dark grey one parked outside the 红豆 Building yesterday, and there have been quite a few others besides. I also keep seeing Porsche Panameras. Hideousness from £59,746. “I’d like a 911, but I have a family.”