This has been the strangest of weeks for me. Hence an extra blog post from a reluctant blogger.

A teacher by trade, I haven't taught a class all week. It's that time of year when as a language teacher I have to conduct what we used to call the "orals" but we now call Speaking Assessments in deference to the dumbing-down of society in general.
How a little assessment changes my dear pupils! There is one lad who has been bone idle throughout the year. He's been foul-mouthed and arrogant, frequently refusing to co-operate in class. Hardly surprising then, that he turned up for his assessment having done no preparation or revision of any sort.
I have to record these assessments for the Exam Board. This scared the life out of "Mr Big".
"Don't press 'record',Miss." he begged. "I don't wanna be recorded."
"We don't have a choice,"
"But, I don't know the answers,"
"You should have thought about that, earlier. Even last night would have helped a bit."
"Can't you tell me the answers, and then record?"
"Now, what good would that do?"
"It would make me pass the test."
"No, I won't do that.It would be cheating."
He started to cry. At this point, I turned OFF the microphone and had a little chuckle. I'm not usually cruel - but some people just need a comeuppance and on this occasion I was happy to provide it. 

Today some of my colleagues are 'on strike', so I'm in school, catching up with paper work because my union isn't striking this time. Thanks to those who are losing a day's pay for all of us. I hope our lot will join you next time. In the mean time, I'm setting my affairs in order and starting to pack up my gear because in three weeks time I'm out of here!
What was yours?

Mine was the theatre. I loved everything about it - watching, performing, learning lines, rehearsing, the "roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd". All of that stuff was my world as a teenager. I went to a theatre club every Saturday morning and I took part in Am-Dram at every opportunity.You never really forget your first love and the joy it brought. I never did. I just put it on the backburner.

Last night, it all came back to me. One of the 'kids' who shared my teenage dreams was Andy Graham. We were close friends until we went away to college and contact kind of "fizzled out" the way it sometimes does. I took the path of studying Modern Languages and became a teacher. Andy studied drama and has pursued a career in the arts. I'm not going to tell our life stories, they're irrelevant really, it is enough to say that thanks to the miracle of Modern Technology we located each other via Friends Reunited a few years ago and renewed our connection. We met up a few times, but contact has remained mainly electronic.

For the last six years, Andy's been working on an international arts project called "The Longest Story in the World" involving children from all over the world. Yesterday, I was privileged to attend a showcase performance by children involved in the UK section of this project. I was "blown away". The children, from three different schools had worked together for just three days to produce an excellent piece of improvised drama,mime and dance under the leadership of Andy and his team of international artistes. None of the performers had any previous experience and several of them had various kinds of "special needs", but every one of them was a star last night. For me, though, the brightest star of all was Andy. The ambitious, stage struck teenager is now a modest and unassuming man determined to use his talents to make the world a better place through the arts and the younger generation. (I remember when we were the younger generation.)

"The Longest Story in the World" still has some way to go, and the project needs support in order to fund the work that they are doing in poorer countries. So here's the crunch, folks. I'm posting a link here. If you've got any spare money - contact "ai,ai" and see how you can help. I'm told even tiny donations will help. They are a charitable organisation, no-one is making big bucks out of this. (or even small ones.)
On a much more personal note, it was wonderful to see Andy in person again last night, well worth the 250 mile round trip for which my son Gareth acted as chauffeur. We must not leave it so long again, so maybe I'll take up the invitation to come to Spain soon.
I am so undisciplined when it comes to blogging, it's no wonder nobody reads it. So here's a catch up from the thrilling world of the Verse-Artiste.

1. New novel started. Working title:  "Retribution" - Supernatural / horror with adult themes.
2. Loads of new poetry - may self-publish to Kindle - maybe called "The Facebook Collection"
3. As ever, writing Flashes whenever I have a moment free, so there are quite a few that may appear on this website soon. (The jury's out at the moment, I may have to post some and ask for a vote on whether it's any good.)

4. And finally, The Bucket List (as published in May):

1. Finish writing the WIP that's been almost as dormant as this blog recently.
2. Organise the Poems, Prayers and Parodies.
3. Visit Italy again and dream some more. 
4. Catch up with all the friends I'm always promising to call.
5. Do something I've never done before - that leaves me loads of scope.
6. Visit the USA. (Specifically - Maine and Wyoming, but the latter is subject to change, I 'd probably like to see New York as well.), 

I am happy to announce some progress with these intentions, specifically:
2 - Almost done.
4 - Well, I've begun.
5 - Was sooo much fun!