Odd And Thoughtful Videos

Here are a handful of weird and wonderful animations that I have come across in my wanderings deep in the bowels of Youtube – A habit of mine, you understand.

Some of these animations are peaceful and dreamy, such as the first one, which is basically an animation all about going on an acid trip (LSD), which I came across the other day and fell in love with at once.  It has such a gentle and amiable feeling about it, as you will see.

It doesn’t really need anything much being said about it, as it speaks perfectly well for itself.   One of those little films that is complete in itself.   I have to admit that I really loved the music and sound effects as well, they set the mood so admirably.

This next one however, which reasonably enough (watch it and you will see why I say that) is called Greed, and is a very different kettle of fish.   Edgy, aggressive, and frightening, it is a sort of allegory about life.   Not a gentle or friendly film at all, but worth watching I feel.  And it does have a very obvious moral to it as well……..

See what I mean?

Next I offer you a German film, which is called Creation, and is – obviously – all about the creation of life on our planet, but in a very different way to the normal approach to this process…..    As the guy who made the film says:

“The film depicts the creation of the world through playful images that draw parallels with the creative process associated with art. It focuses on the problems and dangers involved. But all’s well that ends well – because we’re at the movies”

Continue reading “Odd And Thoughtful Videos”

My Attempt To Be A Teacher – Not My Thing!

This posting will be an account of my experiences as a supply teacher! I know, its unbelievable, but it has happened!

While we were working at Luanda International School, it was understood that in need, I could be used as a supply teacher.   Something that I had hoped would never occur, as I have never wanted to be a teacher, and looked upon the whole concept with considerable angst and fear.

However, one day the worst happened.  I was walking through the school office whistling a happy tune, and I was grabbed by the principal as I passed,  and told abruptly that I would be put into a class of kids for the first week of the next term as the normal class teacher was getting married and would thus return to school 5 days after the start of term.

After having been told that I would be teaching, I managed to find time in the last weeks of that term to spend a bit of time in the classroom I would be looking after, which if anything simply increased my apprehension, even though the kids couldn’t have been kinder to me.

When I arrived in the classroom at the beginning of the term, Richard, the fellow whose class I was to look after, had been kind enough to leave me a load of notes telling me what to do, and another colleague who teaches the same age group (the class is split into two groups) met with me the day before term began to also tell me what to do. So, well armed with a mass of photocopied tasks and a head full of “you could try doing this” stuff, I waited in the class room on the first morning, full of trepidation, for the kids to arrive.

kids-in-class-01This is the class I “Taught”  

Which they duly did, to my disappointment, as I had been hoping for an earthquake or something to make the whole exercise unnecessary.

As it was a short week, starting on Wednesday, not all the kids had returned from their Christmas break, so I only had 10 kids – which felt more than enough for me!

At Luanda International School, they don’t teach with the kids at desks in rows, but rather with a number of tables scattered around the room, at which the kids sit, so there is no focus in the room, which meant that I had to sort of wander around like a lost sheep, attempting to keep things moving as they should.


The normal morning routine was that one of the kids took the register, while the others started on a series of maths games, working individually and (supposedly) in silence. To my amazement this went very well, they all knew the routine and simply got on with it. Made me feel more than a little redundant, but it was a relief!


The only problem then was that having completed the maths tests, I had to see if they had managed to answer the questions correctly… which entailed asking them to tell me the answer to each question (“hands up who knows the answer to number………”) Which I then had to write on the board. Two problems here… Firstly, I had to work out quickly in my head what the correct answers were…. What the hell is the “denominator?” and then, almost worse, write this on the board. Now, the teachers among you will find this normal and unremarkable, but my handwriting is lousy at the best of times, and writing on a board is a skill… Which I most decidedly do not have. I did my best to appear cool, calm and collected as I scrawled on the board, my writing getting bigger and smaller, line descending and mounting…. and then having to make the letters and numbers increasingly small to fit on the board. Oh misery!


We all survived this experience, and the kids seemed happy enough with my efforts (the policy in this school was to call teachers by their last name, preceded by Mr or Miss or Mrs, so I had to be addressed as Mr Cole…which the kids instantly changed to Mr Cool, rather to my pleasure)


We then moved on to “Language”, which involved the kids coming up with a lot of words to describe irritation, and having made these lists, write a short story using as many of these words as they could. On the face of it, a simple thing to do.. But a number of these kids hardly spoke English, so that was tricky too. But we all persevered, and most kids managed, with the help of dictionaries and a certain input from me to find a respectable number of words meaning irritation.


So then on to writing the story with these words. My first serious problem. Most of them calmly got on with it and scribbled away happily enough, but two kids simply sat there and gazed at me. After a while I registered that these two hadn’t even started, so I went to one of them, an American kid and asked him why he wasn’t writing..to which he responded, looking me firmly in the eye that this was not Language, that it was vocabulary, and he saw no point in the entire exercise.


Hummmmm… Over to quiet, friendly explaining mode, I thought to myself, and began to explain to him that language was in fact made up of, among other things, vocabulary. He gazed at me as I went on about this, and when I had finished what I felt had been a masterly exposition of the benefit and point of having a good vocabulary, he simply gazed at me, and didn’t move. I suggested, quietly, that perhaps I would be a good plan for him to get his head down and do some work, to which, to my well concealed fury, he merely reiterated his point that it wasn’t language.


Hmmmm….. So, dumping all educational theories, I simply told him to get on with it or I would tear his legs off at the hip and beat him to death with them. I hasten to add that I said this with a friendly grin. To my surprise, this did the trick and he put his head down and got on with it. Ah what it is to be an educational pioneer, eh?


By this time, the second kid had started to work, so I regrouped and started to think what I would do with them as the following task.


Happily, at this point it was morning break, so they all dashed off and I sat down and wondered what I had let myself in for.


To my vast relief the rest of the morning was taken up by them going off to other, specialist teachers (Portuguese, computers and music) so I had the rest of the morning to prepare myself for the afternoon..and to rapidly seek advice from my other colleague.


The afternoon was also Language, but a different approach. Firstly I had to read to them for about 20 minutes (these kids are about 10, by the way) from an adventure book that they had been working with for a while during the last term. Having read to them, we then discussed what I had read, and this went very well…. They had listened well, and were obviously engaged by the story, and had a number of points to make about the section I had read to them… bliss… 45 minutes passed in a useful and pleasant fashion. After this, it was my honour and duty to introduce them to a New Concept In Language…. 


The Cliff Hanger.


To do this I had a whole set of photocopied material, consisting of an example of a cliff hanger, plus a number of “cliff hanging” ending sentences, and an explanation of what a cliff hanger was. All good stuff, and simple too. So we had fun with this concept for the better part of the afternoon, with the kids producing a lot of stories which tended to end with the word… “and suddenly….” But they had got the point, and even began to see that there were better ways of doing it than ending with that word. So I felt reasonably happy with my first days work.


I duly sent them off home, with their homework assignments, and then collapsed in a handy heap.

Teaching is bloody hard work!
Continue reading “My Attempt To Be A Teacher – Not My Thing!”

Sports And Gymnastics – Not For Me!

A while ago I wrote a post on my attitude to sports, which seems to have struck a chord with some of you good folk out there.  So I thought I would perhaps expand a wee bit on what I wrote, and in passing discuss my attitude to that highly refined form of torture known as gymnastics.

But to start with, to sort of set the mood as it were, I thought I would throw a couple of quotes at you that I have come across in a book I am currently dipping into at odd moments.   It is called Frank Muir Goes Into, and reasonably enough, it is written by that superb English Script writer and humorist, Frank Muir.

It consists of all manner of jokes and quotes that he has collected on a whole slew of topics, one of which is the one that interests me at this point, which is sport.

So here are some of the apposite quotes that he collected on the subject of sport……

“The need of exercise is a modern superstition, invented by people who ate too much, and had nothing to think about.  Athletics don’t make anybody either long-lived or useful”.   George Santayana.

It is a general truth that those persons who are good at games are good at nothing else.   Generally speaking, good players are but miserable and useless persons”.  Thomas Tegg (1848)

“I do not play cricket, because it requires me to assume such indecent postures”

“Football is all very well as a game for rough girls, but is hardly suitable for delicate boys”

Both Oscar Wilde.

‘The football, as it is now commonly used, with thronging of a rude multitude, with bursting of shinnes, and beaking of legges, be neither civill, neither worthy of the name of any traine to health”   Richard Melcaster – 1581

Anyhow, that gives you an idea of my feelings about organised sports.   However I do draw a distinction between professional sports and amateur, not that I will ever take part in either, but I do faintly see that there can be an attraction in chasing a ball around a field with a bunch of friends on a Saturday afternoon – slumped in a chair gazing at a match on  TV on the other hand fails to attract me to any degree.  And the idea of actually going to one of those huge stadia where professional matches happen simply scares the hell out of me.  For some years I lived near to one of the larger such stadia in London, and the animal roars that happened whenever games were played there was terrifying, and highly reminiscent of the sounds of a Nuremberg Rally.

Continue reading “Sports And Gymnastics – Not For Me!”

Curious And Odd Images

Once again I have made a small collection of images that I think could be useful as idea generators, pictures that kids could easily use to set their fantasy off in order to write entertaining and quirky stories.  And of course, not only kids, all sorts and ages of us could use one or more of these images to be the start point of a story.Early-view-of-Queen-Street-Brisbane-Queensland-ca.-1864

This is a photo of what Brisbane used to look like, which is not really important.  The reason I chose this image is that it shows a town that was very much a frontier town, farm animals wandering around the street, a mud street you may note…  So it seemed to me that there must be dozens of stories lurking in this straight-forward looking photo…

Go for it, and let me know what you (or your students) make of it please.

KKK Ferris

This is plain weird….  Apparently it is a photo of a gang of KKK idiots on a group outing….  What fun they all seem to be having – or at least if they were honest (and brave enough) to show their faces it might be possible to see how they are all laughing and having a great time on that Ferris Wheel…  Anyhow, politics and decency to one side for a minute, this is an epically odd image seems to me, and once again, surely any of you could find a story in it?

asylum

Apparently this is a photo of an abandoned Lunatic Asylum, has to be a story there I feel….

Continue reading “Curious And Odd Images”

Fado, The Soul Of Portugal

A friend sent me a link to a video of Amalia Rodrigues  who was probably the most famous Fado singer that ever lived, singing a song called Solidao  which was recorded in 1969, so whilst the video quality is pretty awful, the sound is sublime.

I have no words for the quality of fado….   And I have never worked out why a whole nation should identify itself with these extremely depressing songs from the working class sections of Lisbon.   However that may be, the heartfelt songs that Amalia sings never fail to move me deeply, even though I only understand about 6 words in Portuguese.

On another level, this Portuguese song (Grândola Vila Morena – sorry, no idea what it means) was broadcast as the signal for start of the 1975 revolution. The army staged a coup and introduced democracy. It still has tremendous potency in Portugal even now. Joan Baez opened her concert in Portugal with it and brought the house down.

However, Fado is and always will be a sort of urban folk music, rooted in the working class sections of Lisbon, where you can still find cafes where people simply get up if moved to, and improvise songs….  as in the following videos.

Or as here….

Of course as with every sort of music, there are loads of variants to Fado, such as the version sung by Cesária Évora from Cape Verde (see my earlier post about her – click here).

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Outings Project – Fun On The Streets

There is a rather amazing project happening all over the world just now.  Called The Outings Project, it was dreamed up by a French artist called Julien de Casabianca  and it is actually a very simple concept.  Basically it consists of groups of people in lots of cities around the world, going to their local art museum – such as the Tate, Museum of Modern Art, Rijksmuseum or some similar, finding a painting that they particularly like, taking a photograph of it and then getting that photo blown up and printed on paper.   They then go out onto the city streets, find a bit of unpainted wall, and simply stick the photo onto the wall, using wallpaper paste.

As simple as that.

Julien Casabianca at work
Julien Casabianca at work

Simple though the idea is, it is having a considerable effect on the cities in which it is happening, both for those doing it, and for people who happen to wander by and come across these unlikely bits of high grade graffiti.

Here are a few taken at random from all sorts of cities to give you an idea about how this project actually looks.

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Me And Sports – No Way!!

As a child I was occasionally forced to take part in various forms of sport or gymnastics, something which I found both pointless and painful.

My first encounter with sport took place in Tasmania, where I attended a small school in the town of Burnie, which gloried in the name of Upper Federal Street State School.  Actually its name was almost bigger than the school itself, as it consisted of only two classrooms.

AFL…..   Refined Street Fighting

Anyhow, the sports of choice there were cricket and a weird game that only Australians could have invented – Australian Rules Football, or AFL.   This is a serious contact sport that is a sort of amalgam of football, rugby and American football (without the armour) and street fighting, and in those days seemed to me to be a matter of rendering as many of the opposing team unconscious as possible by whatever means you could think of… So punching, kicking, hair pulling and so on were all standard techniques.

Well I played this abomination once, saw it for what it is, a free card for bullies and not an activity which any sane person would voluntarily take part in, and resolved never to be trapped into playing it ever again.. a vow I stuck to through thick and thin.. Refusing to even go anywhere near the field where this “game” was “played”.

Anyone for cricket??

After this, I was then introduced to the weird game known as cricket.  Boredom refined to a high degree, interspersed with moments of real pain.   To explain this a bit…  Most of the time in cricket (I gathered) one stands at some distance from the three people who are actually playing it, i.e the bowler, and the two batsmen. The former is responsible for throwing the ball at the batsman, and the batsmen are expected to hit that ball far enough away so as to allow them to run madly back and forth between the working position of the bowler and the set of wooden posts known as the wicket, where the guy who hits the ball stands waiting for it to come his way.

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Strange Images For Creative Writing

Continuing my search for images that might be useful to give kids the needed nudge to start to write creatively, here is a collection of extremely odd images of even odder people doing odd things.

To be honest, most of these images seem to me to be completely impossible to find any sort of rational explanation for, but that is precisely why I have chosen them, as in order to explain them one needs to let fantasy rip, and venture out into the uncharted regions of one’s imagination.

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You see what I mean?  Try and find an explanation for this one that is not totally insane.

PUBLISHED by catsmob.com

OK, even Yetis need to get to work I suppose……..

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Don’t even ask what she is doing!!!!

Very Odd and Funny B&W Photos That Cannot Be Explained (32)

This must be part of some sort of Balkan or Scandinavian folk dance?

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Um, yes…………………….

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No idea!  But I find the creature on the left deeply worrying….  And why on earth would she want to sit on a small alligator I wonder.

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More Curious Photos To Play With

Here are some more images that I thought might be helpful to you teachers to get your student’s minds moving.    Show them one or more of these and suggest they use them as a starting point for a story.     In fact these images can be used by anyone for a similar purpose.

And for the rest of us, well, they are simply curious, and thought provoking.  At least I find them so.   All of them were taken in the 19th Century, some as early as 1820, and none later than 1890, so all the people in them are now long dead and buried.   This is an aspect of such old photos that never fails to move me.   One gazes at the features of these people, and wonders about their lives, their hopes and dreams, and were their lives good ones or sad ones.. did they live to a ripe old age, or did they die the day after the photo was taken?

So many questions are asked by these images  – endless material for thinking and creating.

So here you go…  A load of images, with no explanations about any of them,as I prefer to leave that up to your imagination.

DP70461 DP279247 DP206647 DP71254

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More Colonial Life – Singapore Again

As a number of you guys seemed to find my other post about my life in Singapore way back in the middle of the last century entertaining, I thought I would add another to the collection for your amusement.

When we moved to Singapore we found ourselves in a very odd situation, in so far as my Mother was to the extreme left politically, and my father was an Australian dentist, not much given to enjoying the drearily “correct” attitudes that were considered essential for the whites who ruled that place back then.

No schools for English kids over 8 years old.

So socially we had one or two problems, and one of the major problems was to find a school for me to go to.   The normal practice for the ruling Brits was to send their kids off to boarding school in England as soon as they were 8 years old, and keep that up until their entire education had been achieved (or not).   The result of this was that there were no English schools in Singapore or Malaya for English speaking kids over the age of 8.  Nor any kids of my age for me to play with either of course, as all of them were languishing in one or other expensive English boarding school.

Since my parents found the idea of sending their kids off to school on the other side of the world totally repugnant we had a problem.

Happily for me, rather than simply giving in and sending me off into exile in the UK, my parents decided that it was more important for me to be part of the family than to have an English education, so it was off to a Chinese school for me, as it was felt that given the choice between an Indian, a Chinese or a Malay school, I would probably do best and get the most out of a Chinese one.

And in fact I did get a lot out of my Chinese school, and loved it.

It was a huge school as I recall, catering for all ages from kindergarden to the then equivalent of Grade 12, and I was the only non-Chinese kid in the entire place!

Continue reading “More Colonial Life – Singapore Again”