Monday, April 24, 2006


Am in the middle of a Karin Slaughter thriller…haven’t gone back to Captain Corelli yet. Got quite a little stack of books here to read, but only a week left now so I won’t begin anything big, like ‘Wild Swans’ or the Umberto Eco. I’ve become a reader of anything in the past couple of years; when you live in a country where books in the English language are a little harder to get you don’t care about genre, practically anything will do to get your fix. One day I arrived in Alicante to find that my flatmate, Lulu, was reading the same novel, Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres…so we kind of raced each other. Actually, if it wasn’t for that I might’ve given up half-way through. I’ve read three of his novels now and every one of them does that; drives you out of it in the middle. I love history, but he’s doing something wrong, and I can’t just put my finger on it. I’ve never come across another novelist who falls into this trap.

I met Lulu on a TEFL course in Barcelona two years ago. I saved up to pay for the course by doing the work I'm doing now; working straight seven and eight weeks at a time, 24/7 with only a couple of hours off a day. I thought that I could work my way around the world teaching English (better than barmaiding it) but I had conveniently forgotten that I hate teaching! Also that I hate kids!

So, sometime in May 2004, I arrived in Barcelona to spend four weeks in really intensive study. Over the four weeks there were tears and tantrums from most students; we had people from, Australia, USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, including: Glaswegian, Mancunian, Barnsley, and God knows what else. The Pheonetic Alphabet class was hysterical; we just couldn't standardise our vowel sounds.

Lulu was the Barnsley Bird. We are exactly the same age, but she's still a party girl, so we didn't see a lot of each other at night; we were in different flats. I shared with Ausie Girl.

After the course ended I went back to work in Devon and began looking for teaching work. I always fancied working in Eastern Europe, so I got a job in Poland, in a little town in the north east called Elk. It was all very interesting, but, the thought of trudging through the snow to the school was not, and I didn't like the teaching methods they were using. Although I had seen a lot of evidence that it worked, it was intensely boring. I almost fell asleep observing my first two classes! I sent an email out to all of the group and told them that I was going to Spain to find a job. I got one back from Lulu, 'Come to Madrid. I've got a car and we can trawl the country looking for work. It'll be fun.' I went straight out and bought a flight to Madrid.

The next day an email arrived from Lulu to say that she'd got a job in Alicante. The strange thing is: I had already chosen Alicante earlier in the year, and had bought a flight which I then cancelled because I got the job in Poland! So, it looks like I'm supposed to be in Alicante.

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