Greenbelt 2013

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Just one day this year, as per last year.
Really must get our act together and get back to camping there ‘for real’!

A bit different this year, as my day at Greenbelt occurred during my 4-week TESOL course, in Cheltenham. Most odd.
Also, it was planned (to the nth degree) that the family would come up to Cheltenham to join me for Greenbelt, but due to ill health, that didn’t work out.

So it was me on my little ownsome, for the whole of Saturday. But not really on my own, as had plenty of friends to meet up with. As well as spending some time with me bessies (who were doing talks about detached youthwork in The Kitchen) I managed to catch up with the talented Dave Walker, with whom it was a pleasure to sneek into the Contributors’ Area, for coffee, illegally! Also the lovely Penny Culliford (Chai in Tiny Tea Tent) and Darren Hill.

In addition to extreme socialising, I was also being a reviewer for the Church Times. This role gave me my own press pass, which totally rocked and got me into venues/talks without queueing! As soon as it was around my neck, I was inflicted with very un-Christian boastfulness, insisting that people I met ‘oohh’ and ‘ahhh’ with gusto by way of a response. If they weren’t convincing enough, I made them repeat the noises, until they were unto mine satisfaction. Good times.

I reviewed: Adrian Plass (my hero), Catherine Fox (novellist) and Richard Coles (vicar, used to be in the Communards.)
Adrian was awesome, naturally. Catherine was interesting, and her talk reminded me that I really ought to get back to novel-writing, and Richard was… well. He used to be in the Communards. I know I’ve already informed you of this, but still. Back in the day, ‘Don’t leave me this wa-a-a-ay’ was my top song ever. So I wanted to enjoy his talk, but it was a bit dull. But then I am not a vicar, and his topic was vicar-ing. He was the inspiration for ‘Rev’ (comedy on BBC2) don’t ya know. I think if he’d ended his talk by singing ‘Don’t leave me this way’ (not that he sang it in the first place, I believe) I might have been more interested. But he didn’t. And I wasn’t. Shame.

Church Times review supplement can be viewed here, if you’re interested…
If there’s nothing good on telly, or you’ve just finished your novel, or your PS3’s broken.

(The actual supplement in CT was far more flashy, but this’ll do for now.)
(Also, the first 2 paras re Plass are mine, whereas the 3rd, that includes typos and a tense change, isn’t!)

[More on my previous 12 years of GB, here. You’ll need to scroll down.]

TESOL course – in the bag!

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Finally – it’s all over.

These second two weeks have whizzed by. That is, if you can truly consider 9 and ½ hour-long days learning/teaching, followed by a further 4 hours (at least) working at home, every single day, to be a fitting definition of ‘whizzy’.

Diet – My ‘soon-to-be-an-international-best-seller’ TESOL Diet has rid me of… HALF A STONE! That’s not bad going for four weeks. Forget fiction-writing – this is where it’s at. Just need to work on a natty book-cover, and I’m pretty much sorted. I’ll make such a huge income from this book that I doubt I’ll ever have to teach English or use my PGCE ever again.

Course – But despite my imminent role as insanely rich and knowledgeable diet guru, I do indeed now WANT to teach English (to speakers of other languages). The course has been amazing. Very challenging/stretching – sometimes to the point of being painful. I don’t recall breaking down in tears under the pressure of vast work-load, but some days I wasn’t too far from it. Overall though, the professionalism and expertise of the tutors has been super-smashing-great. I love to learn, and love it even more when those in charge are as control-freaky as I am, with regards to presenting everything in a logical and orderly fashion, yet at the same time keeping the learning engaging and useful. The teaching practice was a constant pressure (to plan, deliver, meet their needs, meet the criteria, etc) and yet much fun, and always rewarding. The lessons were given free-of-charge to locals, which was a bonus as it meant we were doing something worthwhile with our time, as well as learning-on-the-job.

Highlights – Phonemic Chart, Learner Profile, the session in the IT suite, burgers in sunny Pittville Park, The Swan.

Family/sister – Staying with my sister has been fantastic. Although we’ve both been busy studying in the evenings, we’ve usually engineered some time in which to chat, hang, and even to jog. Thanks again Zoe – you rock!
My better half and kids appear to have coped fine without me. Naturally, this makes me simultaneously both happy and sad. Thanks guys – your support has been invaluable. And the house doesn’t even look too bad, all things considered!

Mates – Predictably, the ten of us didn’t take long to gel. We had started out as eleven, but sadly, one left the course, about half way through. In some ways, I’m amazed that the rest of us all made it through to the end. It’s a HARD course, in case you hadn’t picked up on that already. But yes – the ten of us all got along well, which was crucial to succeeding, I believe. For example, we were in small Teaching Practice groups of four, and relied on each other for support, encouragement and general assistance… continually. A few pub visits occurred, but less than you’d imagine, again – due to huge workload. When they did though, they were essential for ‘letting one’s hair down’. Thanks guys – it’s been… /kreɪzi: ɔ:sʊm/ !