Friday, 8 January 2016

Life begins again as a University teacher

It all went well.Fears of getting back to lecturing after years of political harangues unjustified. No sneezing or coughing attacks. No false teeth falling out or clicking aimlessly. Class seemed to understand what were jokes and what was serious and laughed at most of the jokes. They seemed to take it in and some even took it down on their computers. Which may be unnecessary because it was all on video. The one thing which didn't work was my invitation to heckle and ask questions ( I need some practice there) because when one man did I couldn't hear what he was saying  being as deaf as a post. He had to come down and shout it in my ear and even then I didn't really understand. So much for interaction. Deafness is a virtue in politics a nuisance in universities.

It's a bit different to what it was in days of yore. I was miced up. There's a loop in the lecture theatre so when I put my hearing aid in I could actually hear, the students listen  and they are more articulate. They want to discuss it afterwards rather than just sitting there writing it down. The class is 28 strong-good for a summer school they say-most about to graduate and picking up a final unit some trying to finish in two years while working. No oldies like the part timers who used to be far more numerous -if only because so many of them were AMP salesmen trying to sell policies to university teachers. I would say brighter. Certainly more inclined to talk and ask questions.

Format is one hour of me yammering (I manage to overun) Break for tea provided by the department.Then small group discussion on an issue arising. Then groups report back (and I sometimes manage to hear what they're saying) Then wind up by me re-iterating what I've already said. 

I could get to enjoy this. Pity they don't have an employment policy for geriatrics. Government should impose one because we come cheap. Bronwyn Hayward organises it all and sees that I turn up at the right time and place (by taking me there). No one carps or criticises because no one else is around the university being closed. It comes back next week.

Then at the end they have to write something which they say is put through the Plaigarism detector  to ensure that they aren't taking chunks out of text books. Good job they don't do that with the lectures. Jonathan Hari would go undetected here.  I don't see however how this could stop employing people to write essays and reports for them. There must be thousands in some Bangalore bungalow who'd do that for a small fee.The best safeguard is the fact that no one's written the kind of coverage I'm giving or combining Poms and Kiwis in the same unholy mixture, though recent NZ stuff is better covered by Bridget Williams little books than back in the UK where there's only Ian Dale to publish the big stuff.

Lectures Tuesdays and Thursdays and after Thursdays I invited everyone back to the house which is just round the corner and most came for a drink. Me for several to recover. That was a university tutorial as they should be sitting round in the sun though no one could do the old New Zealand trick of taking off crown corks with their teeth. Which makes me think that dentistry is now unsubsidised.(though note that the Press reports a case of a man biting the head off a live chicken) Nice group-the students not the headless chickens. . But very non-political There is they tell me a Labour club (we founded one in 1965) but it must be stored in a basement somewhere.

Now I'm two lectures down 10 to go and several of them still to write. It's going to be a big job. In between we've not been out much though we did go yesterday to Governor's bay then Sumner (where I didn't fall down) and finally Taylor's mistake. Linda asked  someone what was Taylor's mistake?"Coming here!" was the reply. Where all the other beaches are pretty empty this was crowded with huge surf and flocks of lifeguards trying unsuccessfully to get people to swim between flags. It was a bit like Blackpool with waves-and a nice blue sea instead of a grey sludge."the most dangerous beach in the world" one person told us. It also had the most dangerous toilets with no lock on the door and no seat .

Weather good. In fact too hot for Poms pale and pinkly loitering. 

Linda tells me she understands Christchurch's street map because it's a grid pattern though that hasn't stopped us going through the Lyttleton tunnel three times because we took the wrong direction. 

I don't mind Lyttleton is lovely . A bit of old NZ perfectly preserved in a time warp. The tourist information centre had some nice paintings by a local artist but the lady in  charge hadn't the foggiest idea how much they cost "She'll be here this afternoon. Can you wait?" Couldn't tell us much else either. Like walks or where roads went. Perhaps no one wants to leave Lyttleton so there's no need to know.Perhaps the same attitude prevails in  Christchurch because the street signing is awful Always gives you distant destinations like Timaru when you want to get to Riccarton but not go via Timaru.

Gloomy note to end on. I've just read that if you have more than nine glasses of wine a week you're dead. I can feel rigor mortis coming over me already. Must now have two or three boozeless days a week. Can I manage more than a couple of hours?

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