Optimists 1, Pessimists 1

Well, it was a real roller-coaster of emotions yesterday: people were over the moon one minute, only to be as sick as a parrot a few minutes later.

The predictions of a 2-1 win against Algeria were turned on their head and the away side won the day. There is still a chance of a Gambian win against the Algerians when the return match is played, but it’ll be an uphill battle for “our” team in Algeria: the hope had been for a Gambian win here with the possibility of a draw next time, but the odds are now stacked against them. Thus ends the football report.

More important, however, is the result of yesterday’s meeting with the Government officials which was much more positive than the pessimists feared. The officials were very pleased with the progress the current PIA management team have made and they now have the official stamp of approval: the interim committee have the Government’s backing and the move to permanency is one step closer, so there were smiles all round as a result and I suspect that a small number of Gambians slept much more easily in their beds last night even if the football fans had to drown their sorrows in Malta (a local non-alcoholic, malt based brew)

The final move to regularise the position by making the current management team permanent is expected in about a month’s time.

Lying in bed a night or two ago, it struck me that the year 2 ESOL class girls might like Amy Macdonald, the Scottish singer/songwriter. Whilst the Gambian 11 were being trounced over the road at the Stadium, I copied the relevant Wikipedia article, pruned and simplified it and made up some questions. I also downloaded some of her lyrics and I think I have the basis of a lesson or two, which I can back up by playing the odd song on the laptop.

The year 1 IT class is catered for by a cut and paste exercise putting the lines of the Gambian National Anthem in order. Although it’s in English, at least they all know the words and they can enjoy colouring it to match the national flag! I will also pass the exercise on to Hassan, who runs the computer lab (he’s not a teacher) so he may not object too much to printing out a dozen copies of the Amy Macdonald stuff.

Abass and his team have almost finished making the 1200 wooden sifting trays for the forthcoming National Assembly elections: they still have to put the wire mesh onto each of them, but the wood work is finished so he has a double reason to be pleased with the outcome of this Feb 29th. The piles of trays sitting outside in the yard – after all, rain is not even a remote possibility – are very impressive. Nice African mahogany, he tells me, and all made by hand. I said that if I’d been assembling them I was sure I’d have got half of them upside down and a couple of his lads shamefacedly admitted they had done that once or twice and had to correct them, so there’s hope for me yet.

There was almost a stand-up fight in class today! I was in Aunty’s room and the class were arriving. Aunty was pottering about and  the junior computer teacher came in and tried to get me to go next door with his class. Aunty berated him and there was a real slanging match – raised voices, arms akimbo, “I am the Head of Department”, “Who do you think you are?”, “Go to your own class, they should not be alone” etc. It was like summer lightning, coming from nowhere and dying down almost as fast as Mr Sanyeng left with his tail between his legs. I took shelter in sticking to what it said on my timetable, despite the other teacher pulling my sleeve on his way out. I saw him later and he just reckons Aunty is getting old! I thought Gambians respected their elders.

That was a hard act to follow, but I got the kids working on countable and uncountable nouns, leading to “fewer/less” and “lots of — are/is” etc. An interlude where we read a story aimed at British slow readers and set in the collieries of England led to a word game I came up with.

I’m getting better at filling three hours, but it’s still a long time: I take my hats off to the kids for lasting so long. I don’t suppose my attempt to draw colliery winding-gear was very enlightening either.

There is a staff meeting this afternoon, after classes, presumably to update all on yesterday’s meeting. I have been invited and will attend, but I just hope it’s less acrimonious than the meeting I attended last year. Shorter would be good as well. I think people are happy with developments and I don’t think there will be fisticuffs, nor a blind man lashing around in anger with his elbow-crutch as there was last year. Less exciting, but more productive would be really good.


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