Saturday, 16 January 2010

King of the Road

I've just bought a new car! Well, not new exactly. It's second hand. well, not second hand exactly. More like 14th hand. And it's 18 years old. In short, I've bought a banger. Banger, to the uninitiated, is a term with various meanings. It can refer to the humble British sausage (you know, the ones with some much rusk and so little meat content that the EU decided for a time it didn't actually qualify to be called a sausage). It can also refer to a fire-cracker type firework. But in this instance it refers to a beaten up old car.
I did some research, I looked online. I asked friends and colleagues which car they would recommend. I consulted 'honest john' (a top website by the way which talks about motors) and then ignored all this fine advice and bought a Ford Orion. The Ford Orion is one of the few cars on the aforementioned website to only get 1 star out of five. 1 only. Hmmmm. And that was when it was new. 18 years won't have improved it any.
'The Ford Orion?' I hear you cry. I don't know that car. With good reason. The Blue Oval didn't sell that many. It is in effect an Escort saloon, and what you might buy if you thought an Escort (you know, the last version that was really ugly and bad) was too good-looking. 'No', you might think. 'What I need is an ugly car! I can't afford a Fiat Multipla or Ford Scorpio so I'll settle for the Orion'.
So why did I buy it? In a word.... it was cheap. I needed a runner and there it was.
And by 'cheap' I mean really bloody expensive. Cars in Iberia are SO overpriced. Ok, so they don't have to cope with the salt on the road in winter like in the UK so the bodywork lasts longer... but still. But, and here is the rub, I AM ON THE ROAD AGAIN!
Mobile, free, black smoke trailing but mobile!
The environmental movement really does have its work cut out if it thinks that we will replace such binary transport with anything less than what we have now.
I'm off for a drive.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Assuming Nothing

Teaching my FCE class this evening I was shocked to learn how little my students knew of the exam format. They are a good class, and all just passed a class test I set, which was effectively an FCE Use of English Paper. Fine you may say. But I then went on to talk about the mock exam they are due to take in preparation of the June exam. And the students responded with questions, the answers to which I had assumed they already knew. I was shocked. I had been through the exam before, talked about the individual papers, talked about the best technique for this and that part. All well and good. Yet it had still not gone in somehow. The fault is mine, and will, in part be rectified by the mock, a clone of the exam and excellent prep for them. But it goes to underline the old maxim, never assume (you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'). And because the level of technique in these exams reflects very strongly in their final grade, it is very worth familiarising students with each foible and idiosyncrasy of the exam.