Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy St Andrew's Day!

No haggis for us tonight, unfortunately, but I hope you are all having a lovely St Andrew's Day!

Just thought I'd make a list, not of what I have to do, but what I have done since yesterday!

I got up around 10am yesterday morning.

I cleaned the bathroom, put the washing on, did the shopping, hung up the washing (grammar???), put the shopping away, made the lunch (spatchcock poussin) and washed the dishes. By noon.

For the rest of the day, I washed those dishes, made dinner (lamb steaks with rice and squash), washed those dishes and cleaned the kitchen. I also produced two and a half powerpoints (I have just finished the third now) for our big RE day. That was quite a big job.

Today, I have been to church, made lunch (beef stew), completed all the admin things for the RE day, including sending some emails, written my A Level mock exam paper, and made a GCSE revision checklist for my Year 11s. That has taken some time, but I'm pretty pleased with my progress.

I still need to do the dishes, make dinner, and mark three sets of books. Will see how I get on ...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wish List!

Around this time of year, sometimes people ask what I'd like for Christmas. So I thought I'd make a wish list!! Don't worry, I don't expect to get any of it really, but thought I'd think about some of the things I'd really like!!

A new mobile phone, that takes good pictures. Don't mind about music etc since I never listen to it on my mobile. I'm not an earphones type of girl. And that tinny sound annoys me.

A new pair of nice shoes that I can wear to school, so are not too high but not flat either.

New pair(s) of trousers, smart enough to wear during the evening but also suitable for school.

New tops that are not too revealing.

Casserole dish.

Richard Hammond autobiography.

The new Malorie Blackman book (Double Cross, I think).

Red pens! (Gel type flowing ink pens for marking.)

Hmm. May add more later - have to go and get some work done now!


Wii Fit

Digital camera that will fit in my handbag and may even record video. Good quality.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I spent all weekend planning an A Level lesson for an observation on Monday. Then I was told that the person who was supposed to be observing me was not in; however, it had also been arranged (inadvertently, mistakenly, I think) for another senior teacher to observe me later this week. The teacher who told me this then agreed to stay and watch my lesson, which I had prepared, as long as he was not needed elsewhere. Which turned out to be all but the final ten minutes.

Later, I asked if that would count as my observation. "Terrific lesson!" I was told. But, no, it would not count as an observation because he had not written anything down!! But it would be used to help write the report about the sixth form ...

Gee, thanks! Terrific!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Martin Creed

We went to Martin Creed's flat yesterday. A bit more crowded than that sounds, though! He is using his Brick Lane flat as a mini gallery, and the small front room was packed. I had arrived later than H, and was wondering where to find the flat. However, as I paused on a corner and looked around, I noticed a light going on and off just above me, and knew that I had reached my destination! Other than that infamous work, I could not see Creed's other painting - the works on display in the front room were all by other artists. However, the highlight of the evening was first of all recognising, and then talking to, Martin himself. I hadn't realised that H had met him before, although I am sure that he would have been just as pleasant, down to earth and friendly if we were only all meeting him for the first time. It was very tempting to tell him that he was one of my favourite conceptual artists, but I didn't, even though he is. I think that I particularly like his work since I discovered it first not in a gallery but in the house of a friend, before he won the Turner Prize. I remember trying to explain his work to other teachers at school when he won that! Nice to have finally met him.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Quantum of Solace - Warning: Possible Spoiler Alert!

First of all, I'm not sure if I'll give anything away, but my parents have been known to comment that I may have said more than necessary ... so read on at your own risk!

We have just arrived back from an enjoyable evening out at the O2. To begin with, we had a tasty and satisfying meal at Gaucho. We started with a rectangular glass plate of scallops. This time, the scallops arrived as a heap of white, tender and cold baby scallops, mixed with sweet little orange segments, chilli, coriander and thin circlets of roasted purple carrot. Very different from our warm, seared scallops at Cafe Des Amis, and perhaps not quite as delicious, but succulent and tasty nonetheless. The chilli in particular meant that although the dish was cold, my mouth was quite hot by the end of it. However, Gaucho is not best known for its fish dishes; its speciality is Argentinian beef, which is brought to the customer on a wooden board, so the waiter can explain the cuts and show the amount of beef you get for each weight. I decided to have a Bife de Ancho (ribeye steak), while H had sirloin (Bife de Chorizo). Both medium on the rare side. I had a Bearnaise sauce; H had peppercorn. We shared chips and spinach. Absolutely delicious. My steak melted at the slightest touch of my knife, with the barest of blood oozing from the barely pink insides. Succulent, tasty, mmmmm. I think I had the best deal, although H made short work of his, too. We finished by sharing a pancake with vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce. Highly recommended.

Anyway, you are probably not reading this for my food review. (Well, maybe some of you are!) But my main reason for writing is the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace.

First of all, the theme tune. I saw the premiere on TV, and was disappointed then. I've grown a bit used to it since then, but I still think it sounds vaguely out of tune, although I'm sure it's supposed to sound that way. H says it's supposed to sound like that, and the reason I don't like it is because it's not the sort of music I listen to, and it's more R&B. Now, we listen, I think, to quite a bit of R'n'B, and I think I like most music we listen to. And I'm sure there are other Alicia Keys songs that I like, it's just that this is a bit, well, out of tune sounding. The credits were okay, though. Quite traditional, lots of women and sand and guns.

Next, the plot. Ahem. I wish I'd rewatched Casino Royale before going to see Quantum of Solace! I was able to remember bits and pieces, and occasionally I would think, aha, that is related to Casino Royale, but I was a bit at sea in places. For example, I can't quite remember the details about why and how Vesper Lynd died (I mean, I can remember how she died, but not the events surrounding it). However, that didn't really matter, the main plot was fairly straightforward to follow, and where it was a bit incomprehensible or bizarre, it was still followable. (I don't think that sounds quite as clear as it should be!)

Thirdly, the girl. The main weakness with Casino Royale, for me, was Vesper Lynd. I just couldn't believe the relationship. That the whole plot for this film rides on Bond's love for Vesper seems a bit unbelievable when taken in context with the lack of chemistry in Casino Royale. However, since we never see Vesper this time, that's okay. Instead, Bond has a good, strong relationship with ... excuse me while I go and find out what she was called ... Camille. I don't think it's too much of a flaw that I did not really take any notice of her name, since she is a strong enough character without one. The other "Bond girl", Fields, was very familiar (I have just looked her up and discovered that she is Gemma Arterton, who was recently in St Trinian's, which I haven't seen, but that has made me realise she reminded me of Tess in the BBC's Tess of the D'Urbervilles ... yes, that's who she was). Although not a big part, I thought she was very good. And in many ways, she was also a more typical Bond girl ...

Product placement was one of my main grips with Casino Royale. Omega this, Virgin that, Ford the other ... He kept on using his mobile phone in very conspicuous ways, and as for using a laptop on a boat in the middle of the sea with your girlfriend to check into work ... well. I was a bit worried when I heard Mark Kermode mention product placement on his radio podcast, so I wondered if there was going to be a lot of it, and if it would annoy me. However, this time round, I didn't really notice it as much, even though I was looking out for it (which I wasn't first time round). The first - and only - time I really noticed it was when Bond was drinking in a bar in an aeroplane. Someone asked what he was drinking - the opportunity, in Bond's of old, to say, "a martini, shaken not stirred" - but here he didn't really care so he asked the bartender, who replied precisely, "Two shots of Gordon's, a shot of vodka ... (or whatever the ingredients are) ... and a thin twist of lemon peel", or something like that. I think he said it was shaken, and I think he said it wasn't a vermouth or something. Anyway, Gordon's got their placement. Then when Bond moved out of the way, you could see he was in a Virgin Atlantic plane. So another Virgin placement. Other than that, the product placement was not obvious. In the car chase we were aware that there was an Aston Martin being chased by a ... oh well, I noticed at the time, but I'm afraid I've forgotten. Someone else will need to watch out for it and remind me! Later there was a Range Rover, and a Ford was driven at some point, but those were the main things I noticed. Bond did use his phone a lot, it's true, and I can just imagine that Orange executive saying, "Let's have him taking pictures of the villains with his mobile phone camera!", but when he used it, it made sense - we all use our phones for taking pictures these days, don't we?! - and I did not notice what make of phone it was, because it wasn't important. I have to say, it does seem like there may have been quite a few placements there, but that's only because I deliberately wanted to mention them, and they did not seem out of place, so it wasn't a problem.

Daniel Craig. Still great as Bond. Still either the best or number 2 after Sean Connery ... still tough to place them! Craig's Bond is tough, gritty, violent at times, focussed. He also has a tender side, seen in a couple of unexpected places, which makes him human and likeable. This film continues the theme of trust, started in Casino Royale. He is still working out who to trust. As is M. And possibly the British government ...

The chase scenes are great, real edge of the seat stuff, holding your breath for ages, finally able to breath out and then something else exciting happens. Lots of chasing, lots of fighting. Mostly this all seems very real. My only gripe would be that many of these scenes are so quick, with so much cutting, editing, on the move shots, that it is often difficult to work out exactly what is going on, who is doing what, where things are happening etc. This makes the film dynamic, but it would be interesting to compare it to a slightly slower, clearer cut.

Right. I've been back for an hour or two now, and it's definitely time for bed. So, my final, overall view? A very enjoyable and exciting film, one that made me feel happy, with just enough of a social conscience to raise issues in someone's mind without being at all preachy, Daniel Craig is excellent, and all is right with the world. Roll on 2010.