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LH 1113

As my scheduled departure date to Spain was drawing near I grew increasingly frantic. Perhaps it’s because my sense of adventure is starting to resemble Keith Vaz’ reputation for probity or my gut instinct warning me that something was terribly wrong. Whatever it was, once my nerves had recovered somewhat and my mind was passingly clear it was apparent that Spain was not exactly an ideal country for me. I remember feeling as if my hearse arrived when I see the Iberia Airbus A321 pulling into the gate at Kastrup in February.

The extreme heat and stress of Madrid made a German and British summer, generally a pleasant enough time seem positively idyllic in comparison. I even fell into a new habit – frolicking about the woods in Germany foraging for fresh berries. There was always something reassuring about watching traffic go by in the distance or seeing trains crawling in the valley beneath me like metallic caterpillars, glowing at night.

I found a solution of sorts. I could use the qualification obtained in Spain to find better-paying jobs elsewhere. That qualification was never intended to be a long-term solution, just something to hold me over until I could scrape enough together to settle down; after all, TEFL work might well not be glamorous but it can be remunerative. My Spanish nightmare was brought to a sudden close last week. My primary position was transferred to a new instructor less than a week before I was set to resume after summer hols. The company where I had given lessons demanded I be replaced after finding out that my contract was set to expire within three months.

Leaving Spain was no great loss. In fact, after the initial shock of having been ordered replaced twice within a year passed I was relieved to be out of the place. Parting ways with my Bolivian flatmates was the only thing that was hard. We’d grown very close to each other with much mutual respect and fondness. There was nothing else for it, though. One can’t let sentiments undermine one’s well-being. When I left Usera for the final time, the escalator was broken yet again. I had a loud moan, “Bloody wogs can’t keep anything in proper working order”, as I carried two heavy pieces of luggage down a long flight of stairs.  I could almost see CO, decked in ermine and pearls, looking down on me with a wry, but approving, smile in a pose somewhat reminiscent of Jan Marienhof’s “the Virgin of the Cloud”. The Wogs of Dodgydagoland did not easily let me go. On my flight to Frankfurt-am-Main I had the misfortune of having to choose between sitting by two amorous Wogs, across from a pair of self-obsessed Wog businessmen or by a Russian woman travelling with her two-year-old son. I chose the Russian. I can happily inform you that the two-year-old Russian, like most German animals, behaved himself with an infinitely greater sense of decorum than the wretched spawns of Dodgydagoland.

At the moment things are once again highly uncertain. My quality of life has improved dramatically. I was able to move into my old flat in Germany. I have my own kitchen, my own bathroom and, of course, a large bedroom – all to myself! At the same time, I’m now entirely reliant on the income I receive working as a professor’s assistant. I’d hoped that my application to work for the South Korean ministry of education would be accepted, but the recruiter dropped me after having strung me along for five weeks.

The reason? I work and study online so at first glance things don’t entirely make sense. The majority of courses where I work have been transferred to an internet-based platform so I no longer need to be in California. Major assignments for even those courses taught in person are now submitted online as well. The professor is chuffed as she no longer has to commute five days a week. I’m chuffed to bits because I can live in more civilised parts of the world without losing that income. The college is positively ecstatic because they can increase their enrolment and tuition revenue without having to build new classrooms. This change has allowed me to take advantage of one of my position’s greatest benefits – free courses, online, of course. This has allowed me to complete a few more qualifications. However, the recruiter saw this has clear proof that I was dishonest. I’ve since asked a new recruiter to consider my case, applied to go to Japan and even been forced to re-consider just how adamantly I am opposed to ever returning to China.

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Categories: General
  1. sheona
    September 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    There are moments, Christopher, when your life seems to be a chapter of accidents. Bon courage!

  2. September 11, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Sheona: At the moment my life’s a bloody train wreck. I have a few firm job offers, but they’re in China and I’m trying to exhaust all other reasonable possibilities before accepting one of them!

  3. September 12, 2016 at 7:41 am

    We’ve all been there – commiserations. My job from Hell was in Austria in the ’70s. I couldn’t anticipate the Kafkaesque culture or the gross inefficiency, not to mention the back-stabbers! Hang in there!

  4. September 12, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Janus: Austria is a strange country. It’s beautiful and rich in culture, but it has this uncanny ability to synthesise Germanic pedantry, Slavic disorder and Magyar bigotry. Spain was just Italy without the food, culture or fashion sense!

  5. September 12, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Yes, my boss, a non-Austrian, said Austria is too close to the Balkans.

  6. September 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    German Austria, what’s now considered Austria, was said to be as Balkan as it was Germanic. Bismarck wanted nothing to do with it — even the German part. He found it more problematic than it was worth. I merely see Austrians as Bavarians with class pretensions.

  7. sheona
    September 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Christopher, I think there may shortly be a job vacancy in Berlin. It’s quite an important job with a lot of disentangling and undoing, not to mention bridge building.

  8. September 12, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    😃

  9. September 13, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Sheona: I fear that my tendency toward looking after the national interest and not concerning myself with Euroblahblahblah would disqualify me for that! I am, however, open to becoming prime minister of Sweden.

  10. September 14, 2016 at 12:14 am

    As ever, Christopher, I always enjoy your posts, especially the ‘travel’ posts. I have recently applied for a voluntary position at University College Hospital, London, as Ward Musician. I kid you not! They are expanding their bank of volunteers (generally) and certainly encourage volunteers onto the wards to engae with the patients. I have been through various interviews and assessments (none of which involve playng the piano) and have finally been accepted subject to DBS clearange. I was at the hospital yesterday and handed a rather fetching pink T shirt, as worn by all UCL volunteers. Its a bit poncy but the main thing is that staff on the Wards know who I am. My manager escorted me round a ward on the 7th floor with good views of the London Post Office tower. I was shown the Reminiscing Room! A small room within the Ward itself, and furnished 1950’s style with old telephone, radio and three flying ducks on the wall, except the middle duck had fckd off or had been stolen by a patient. The idea is that I can entertain from the Reminiscing Room or take a small portable keyboard to each bedside in the hope that my music might spark some intersests among the patients. But I do have a trump card up my sleeve – I will also use a blue tooth speaker and play tunes I have downloaded from Spotify so that I can bring Gracie Fields, or Marlene Dietrich or even Tony Bennet ot anyone’s bedside. Watch this space all Charioteers for some interesting exchanges. I’m especially looking forward to the run-up to Christmas.
    Best wishes Christopher in your current situation.

  11. September 14, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    PG: Please, please write posts about this! You would be amazed by the stories you will hear, especially from the elderly who are now at the point in their lives when they feel most comfortable opening up about their lives as they feel they have little to lose. My grandmother, the tiny, air-headed thing she is, has proven to be far more interesting, insightful and witty than anyone had ever considered her to be.

  12. September 14, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Hear hear!

  13. O Zangado
    September 14, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Hello Christopher and specifically PapaG a couple of comments above. In a similar vein there is an marvellous organisation called Pets As Therapy which encourages volunteers to take their (approved) animals into hospitals and hospices to interact with patients. There is something uplifting watching a sick child or a dementia patient tickling the ears of upwards of 40 kilos of a PAT registered German Shepherd Dog with both enjoying the experience.

    OZ

  14. September 15, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    OZ – yes I think I overheard someone talking about this at University College Hospital London. Until two years ago we had a dog coming in to our school (for autisitic kids) and one could readily see how some difficult and challenging boys would become all gushy soft and gentle, though I think doggy was a labrador!

    and Janus/Christopher I WILL be putting pen to paper following my excursions into the ward (with keyboard). In all probability from November onwards.

  15. O Zangado
    September 16, 2016 at 12:57 am

    PapaG – It is not so much the reaction of the kids to the dog (and I defy anyone not to go gushy over a Labrador) it is more that the the chosen animals radiate an inner calm which can have the most beneficial effects on the patients they encounter.

    OZ

  16. September 16, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Yes OZ, I agree. There IS something the animals have that the adults/teachers would do well to replicate!

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