Do Not Disturb!

31 08 2012

I think the title speaks for itself but in case you were in any way unclear…

We arrived safely in Mexico on 16th August, and had a fabulous time appreciating the tropical paradise in which we found ourselves.

Therefore I did not have access to the internet and havent been posting for the past fortnight, I was out and about soaking up the local culture, customs and ambience. I will be sharing some of my experiences in due course but having endured a 10hr flight and experiencing jetlag for now I will offer only the following:

Beam Me Up Scotty

16 08 2012

Today I am flying to Mexico with my husband.

He is super excited. We booked back in January and not a day has passed that he hasn’t updated me with his daily count-down of the days left until our departure – as this has lasted for 6 months it became tired really quickly.

Mexico does look like paradise. It’s an adult only hotel, which is a major plus given my job role, with 6 restaurants and as many pools. There is an excellent entertainments programme and fantastic reviews splashed all over the internet. As excited as I am about the holiday itself I cannot stand long flights. The idea of being cooped up in a plane for 10hours is excruciating!

No matter how hard I try to read, watch movies, chat to my other half or even sleep, I can’t seem to settle. The half way point is the worst, when you realise that you have as much of the flight ahead of you as have passed. It is not helped by the fact that I never fully relax on holiday until the moment I walk through the doors of my hotel room.

My husband seems to cope better on planes. While he cannot cope with travel in a general sense (as it brings him into contact with the general public – with whom he has little tolerance) the flight does not seem to pose the same challenge for him as it does for me. He can easily read a book at home for 10 hours straight so the fact that he is on a plane is not a major inconvenience.

He relaxes into the holiday much earlier than I do and has an uncanny ability to have his first can of beer snapping opening with the familiar popping sound at the moment the bellboy walks us into our hotel room. I honestly don’t know where the beer comes from only that there always is one that magically appears in his hand while I start the process of unpacking.

I am looking forward to the next two weeks of enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Mexico but yearn for the day when I can simply teleport to my holiday destination at will.

Money makes the world go around

15 08 2012

Watching the lunchtime news yesterday I saw a report about a British couple who won £148 million in the lottery. Gillian and Adrian Bayford looked a little overwhelmed but were beaming at each other as they spoke about their win – the second biggest jackpot ever meaning they are now the 516th on this list of the richest people in Britain.

Their plans to spend the money are fairly modest given the amount of money involved. They want to spend more time together with their family and take a trip to Disney Land. He will stay at work and expand his business whereas she plans to give up her job as a care worker at a children’s hospital where she does shift work. They are also going to buy a new home and car and share their winnings with close friends and family.

Their immediate plans are fairly similar to what I would place on my own wish list and I started thinking about what I would do with a staggering £148 million in the bank. It is a fantasy we all must indulge in from time to time. Money does not bestow you with magic powers but it can open up a world of opportunities. Being without it can be a major source of stress when bills are mounting up and can tear relationships and families apart.

The Bayford’s desire to share their winnings with people they care about is certainly admirable and will hopefully mean that they will not only benefit personally but can provide their loved ones with a better quality of life. They have the potential to touch so many lives and will no doubt receive countless begging letters with requests for a share of their winnings.

Not all lottery winners live happily ever after. I discovered the following blog listing 10 winners whose experience was less than positive:

I would love to win. I hate lottery winners who say it won’t change their lives, if that is genuinely true, GIVE IT BACK!!! The immediate and somewhat predictable things I would like to do are buy a house, pay off my car, go on an extended luxury holiday with my husband and send extremely large cheques to my immediate family.

I would also in no particular order: Leave my job, travel more, see more theatre, films & concerts, own lots of expensive footwear, learn to ballroom dance, visit spas for pampering days and eat at upmarket restaurants.  I am not sure if I would invest in expensive toys like my own private jet or yacht but I would indulge my husband’s love of technology with a new computer, IPAD and as many games consoles as his heart desires.

Another appeal of winning is the ability to make a difference in a larger sense. I could donate to charities of my choice, set up a scholarship fund, donate money for a purpose built Drama Studio in my school and provide a trophy recognising achievement in my subject area on awards evening. Following my own experience of the quest for home ownership I could buy property and rent our affordable homes or set up a program to help people get onto the property ladder. I could put money into projects in my local community.

The possibilities are endless and that is the appeal of winning the lottery.

I’m off to buy a ticket and who knows maybe the next draw will be the one and I can start ticking off some of the things on my list.

Petition: Barry Weiss to host his own Reality Show

14 08 2012

For those of you who have never heard of Barry Weiss, he is known as “The Collector” on American Reality TV show Storage Wars.

The premise is simple; TV cameras follow a group of people who make a living selling second hand goods that they buy in abandoned Storage lockers. It is a bit of a lottery. The contents of the lockers are sold by an auctioneer and bids are made after a 5 minute inspection from the door of the locker. No one is permitted to enter the locker before bidding starts. Bidders must use their judgement based on years of experience to evaluate the worth of the contents and take calculated risks about how much they are willing to pay. Some of the things they find are extraordinary but most commonly it is household furniture and bric-a-brac.

It is an extremely addictive show. The main buyers featured do a show and tell for the viewers as they investigate the contents of the lockers they have purchased and evaluate how much they will make when they sell the goodies they have uncovered. Occasionally they will consult a specialist to authenticate an item or tell them it’s worth to a collector.

Barry is in a class of his own. Unlike the other buyers the eccentric millionaire is not hoping to make a profit on his purchases but to find any antique items he can add to his personal collection. There is one thing he has in common with the other buyers and that is a range of strategies to distract the other bidders to increase the likelihood of winning the auction. But like Barry himself they are far from conventional.

He arrives at each auction in a different vintage vehicle and often brings friends with him such as psychics to help him decide if the locker is for him, he also brought a remote control plane along to one auction with a camera attached to peek inside the locker. His fashion sense is equally unusual; in one episode he donned a disguise and became a hobo for the day. He seems to lose more often than he wins in terms of the value of his purchases but it is all part of his charm.

I would love to see this wonderfully weird man host his own reality TV show. Camera men could simply follow him round and record his daily antics. The Barry Weiss show would definitely be worth watching.


13 08 2012

I do not expect as a general rule to post twice in one day; however, earlier I wrote about my frustration at having to wait for the results of my LAMDA exam. I have been waiting anxiously for almost 6 weeks to find out how what grade I and my students achieved and was starting to worry that I wouldn’t hear anything until September when I return to school after my holiday to Mexico.

It looks like the Academy may be following my Blog because my prayers have been answered and less than 2 hours after publishing my post an email from LAMDA appeared in my Inbox.

It seemed to take an eternity for the attachment to open.

The results are in and I passed!

Score: 92/100


My students also received fantastic results and have made me extremely proud.

I couldn’t be happier  🙂

Exam Results

13 08 2012

It is that time of year when thousands of children are spending a torturous summer waiting for the results of their GCSE or A-Level exams.

For a number of reasons I was always going to be fairly nervous about the 2012 results. I have taught two sets of exam students this year, my gorgeous Yr-9 LAMDA students and an equally fabulous GCSE class and I am anxious to find out how they got on, but it is also my first ever year of taking students through to the exam stage.

However I have the added pressure of waiting for results of my own. Back in the summer 2011 my Head of Department decided, in her infinite wisdom, that it would be a great idea to put me through my LAMDA Gold Medal exam. The premise was that it would enable me to empathise with my students, give me firsthand experience of the process which would in turn help me to plan my future delivery of this course, and it also had the added bonus of providing me with good evidence for my annual performance review demonstrating  my commitment to my ongoing professional development. It seemed a long way off at the time and I would have lots of time to prepare so I agreed.

However the time went very quickly and in the weeks leading up to the exam I actually felt physically sick. It was an acting exam in which I had to perform 3 monologues from different periods of theatre history and then be interviewed at degree level about my characterisation, knowledge of the social, political and historical context of the extracts and how I engaged with the work of a theatre practitioner during the rehearsal process. This is enough to make anyone nervous but as it has been over 10 years since I last took an exam I felt a little out of practice and as the first candidate to be examined I would have nobody else’s experience to draw upon.

I was also the centre co-ordinator and had to spend a lot of 1:1 time with the examiner including some very awkward lunch breaks during the three days he visited my school as well as making sure my students were in the right place at the right time in costume and not losing the plot due to their own nerves. The great thing was how this enabled me to build rapport and empathise with my students as it was one of those rare occassions when the expression “I know exactly what you’re going through” rang true.

Following my exam I had hoped that the examiner might take pity on me as a member of staff and give me some indication of how I had scored but he was the consummate professional. When the only thing we had in common was LAMDA it was difficult to find topics of conversation.

The results are due to be released within the next week and will be posted to me at my school, but as I leave for Mexico early on Thursday morning it may be a while still before I find out if I passed.

So like thousands of 16-18 years olds across the country I wait with baited breath and I just have to hope that I did enough on the day…

Toaster ovens and silverware

12 08 2012

Back in 2004 my wedding was fast approaching and my fiancé and I decided to register our gift list with Debenhams.
The process was very straightforward. After our initial registration my fiancé and I had to book a time to go to our local store and were provided with a scanner. This little piece of technology was enough to keep my husband happy as we then visited all the relevant departments and he was able to scan all the items I, I mean WE thought we would need to help us set up a home together.
As we the first couple in our friendship circle to get married this was a new and unfamiliar process and our best man was horrified by the idea that we would ask for the gifts we wanted instead of letting our guests chose something themselves that they thought we would like.
I made an extremely bad decision that day. I explained to him that this was now common practice and it avoided the embarrassing situation where you received 17 toasters. These words should never have left my mouth. If only I had said 4 toasters. My friend has a quick wit and is keen to jump on any opportunity for mischief. On the day we left to fly to my birthplace of Northern Ireland with the bridal party, he arrived at our flat with a glint in his eye clutching a wedding present – a toaster.
Every year close to our anniversary he arrives with the most up to date flashy toaster he can get his hands on to add to our growing collection – this year we have received our 9th toaster. If nothing else we feel obliged to remain together until we receive the 17 he initially promised us and then I suppose we should invite everyone we know round for breakfast.

If this has amused you you can read about it from his perspective as well.