Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Know-alls (again)


I haven't blogged in a while, as nothing much is happening here, in the external world or in my head. These days I have the Top Group three days a week, and they don't mangle the language (much) so it's an easy life, if not very funny. My patience was tried the other day by my Algerian flight crew - Air Force, that is, not a bunch of mimsy male trolley-dollies - when they began to argue with me about British history. For some reason we got onto the subject of the Royal Family and Princess Diana. Now, to generalise horribly, your Arab, he loves a conspiracy theory. I suspect these are more popular in cultures where The Personal is highly prized and blame for fuck-ups is automatically placed on individuals and not on systems, something I frequently observed in Greece. Anyway, it's not quite six in the morning - I might get round to amplifying on that later. In the meantime, the pilots were all pretty sure Diana had been done away with to allow Charles to marry that Parker-Bowles woman. It was the law in England, they told me, that Charles was not allowed to marry while his former wife lived.

'Eh?' I asked.

This was the law, they said. Didn't I know that? One of your Kings was forbidden by the Pope to...

Right, we were on to Henry VIII now, and that is going back a bit - you know, like 500 years or so.

He was married to one woman for just a week, they said, in pious deprecation of Western disregard for morality.

No he wasn't, I said, and rattled off the names of the six wives and how long, to the best of my memory, each had lasted.

They would have none of this. It turned out they were thinking of Lady Jane Grey, and when I told them that she was not one of his wives, they were sure I was wrong. They would check this out, they said, and let me know. Let me know! They have been in England for all of six months, but are pretty sure they have the place entirely sized up and its history under their belts, on the strength of a few visits to monuments and museums. (Lady Jane was born nearby, too late for Henry's attentions.)

A while ago my GP put me on beta-blockers for my blood pressure and I was quite pleased, imagining they would render me calm and equable as a Zen priest. They came, as do all drugs, with a hair-raising list of possible side-effects, including hair loss and (NO!!!) erectile dysfunction. So far, I have experienced none of them, but it does seem to me that far from being peaced out, I'm now jumpier than a prawn on a hotplate. I decided to set a long, boring grammar exercise to shut the buggers up, as I was feeling my resentment levels rising dangerously.

When the time comes to renew my meds, I must mention this increased edginess, which after all is not supposed to be the point, and definitely not good for someone who is supposed to deal calmly with all kinds of student behaviour. I do think, though, that even if I end up punching a student in the face, anything's better than a dead dick.

3 comments:

sharon said...

This reminds me of trying to play trivial pursuit with my Greek husband - they always know the British history better than us and EVERYTHING I don't know about was a conspiracy.....see you soon to solve all the plots!

Fionnchú said...

Among today's Saudis & Egyptians: Nikah Misyar "traveller's marriage" allows those pious Muslims "flexible" arrangements; Shias enjoy Nikah Mut'ah "marriages for pleasure" lasting from a few minutes to several years. Unlike poor Henry VIII, men can have any number of "temporary wives" along with their "permanent" spouse. No paperwork or ceremony needed, let alone dispensations, dissolutions, or divorce, as indeed "anything's better than a dead dick."

Vilges Suola said...

@Sharon, Well, actually it's everything THEY don't know about that's a conspiracy, innit? See you in two weeks. Hope you get a nice group, likelast year's.
@Fionnchu, yes, everything's OK if you cast a spell before you do it. My students will eat lunch only if they know (or believe) the restaurant serves Halal meat. What bloody difference does that make, for Pete's sake, I want to ask, but don't.

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