UNDERSTANDING… WORK?

It’s often said that a week in politics is a long time, which is nonsense because a week in anything is just a week — 7 days, no more, no less.

But a lot has happened in the past seven days.

Just over a week ago, I was Billy-No-Jobs and now I’m Billy-Two-Jobs.

Saturday before last and I’m out at Marbella Rugby Club with friends having a

Marbella rugby club: sound skills at the lineout

beer and watching a Marbella squad packed with Saffer and Argentinean mercenaries warm up against a Sevilla outfit, freshly relegated from the top tier of Spanish rugby to Marbella’s Honor B league.

So I’m quite glibly voicing my opinions as to what I would do to improve matters if I were in charge, and these comments don’t fall on deaf ears.

“We could certainly do with you out here,” says a gruff Irish voice. It belongs to a slab of Galway granite seated below me who introduces himself as Mick (not his real name).

And then things happen very quickly — remember drink is involved.

Houston, we have a problem

In the time it takes the Space Shuttle to inform Houston that there’s a problem, I have been signed up as assistant coach of the U16s. If I’d held off for around ten minutes, I would probably have thrown my hat into the ring with the 1st team at the bequest of their captain, a formidable lock called Pepe (it may be his real name. but I’m not sure — remember beer is involved) who used to play for Spain.

What’s the problem with the U16s? Well, you see, from past experience, adolescent lads are not my preferred demographic to coach. I’ve done this before at a top Cheshire public school and it all went horribly wrong. Too much testosterone, too many big egos dominating and belittling the keener but less able members of the squad; and that’s before we even get to talk about parental involvement. Nightmare.

Teenagers: 0-60 in four years

Okay, it may be an urban myth that all sixteen year-old boys do is sleep, bumble between their foul-smelling bedrooms and the fridge once an hour when hunger strikes, then return to watch porn and masturbate.

Where does rugby fit into all of this? At best, peripherally.

And in Spain where there’s a dominant and all-encompassing influence of soccer (ditto Cheshire actually) even more peripherally.

Now, all of this sounds negative, so it may come as something of a shock, dear reader, to learn that I’m really enjoying it. There is a refreshing culture of positivity and boy do they take it seriously? Especially when we get to the full contact stuff.

And what about the language, I hear you ask? Well, the captain operates a sort of filtering policy, interpreting any information he feels is new or worth passing on to the players. It works quite well, particularly as around sixty per cent of the squad is bi-lingual and I’m pretty good at sign language and getting the players to demonstrate.

League matches start in a couple of weeks, and we’re nearly ready to rumble… I can’t wait.

****

And my second job? Ah yes, this is one that pays actual money.

Last Friday I apply, without any great expectation, for a part-time post as an English teacher, to a little school in Fuengirola.

To my surprise, half an hour after I email my application, I get a call from Veronica, the owner (not her real name — trust me I do know this). We chat for around twenty minutes. I like her style and she liked the cut of my jib to the extent that I’m invited for interview that afternoon.

Spanish bureaucracy: ‘Come back mañana.’

Fast forward the thirty minute death-race to Fuengirola on the A7 and I tell her that I can’t do four evenings a week because of my recent commitment to the rugby club, and that I’ve also got a ten day vacation in Poland booked up. That’s no problem, she says, and we hammer out a deal. Everything’s squeaky clean and I’m on a contract, so the following Monday I (eventually) manage to obtain a Social Security number in less than six hours, which is pretty good for Spanish bureaucracy.

I rock up Monday last to take my first classes. Let me add that I’ve not been entirely sitting on my posterior since qualifying as a TELF guru, and I currently have a couple of private clients.

I have been three classes, each lasts an hour. The first and the third are delightful, the latter an adult class consisting of three students, two of whom are female and could easily pass for models or actresses. They’re not very good at English but they are tremendous fun to teach.

The middle class are not so much fun. They are a group of four ten year-old boys who don’t really want to be there, and whose only interest is playing football. Fast forward to sixteen and I’m sure they will acquire other interests, but for now it’s just football, and certainly not learning English.

My first lesson is poor: I’ve set the bar too low and allow them to get away with a level of ignorance that is clearly a bit of a sham. Say nothing and you have to do nothing.

So, Wednesday and I go in with all guns blazing. ‘We’re not at home to Senor Sloth,’ I tell them, handing out a worksheet containing around two hundred regular verbs that I want conjugated in the simple present, simple past, present continuous, past continuous and future tenses.

This does not go down well, so I offer them a deal: ‘Okay, let’s discuss the meanings of these verbs: we’ll take it in turns to act or mime them, and if you enter into the spirit of things, I’ll only make you write out fifty.’ This works well and the hour flies by; the fifty verb threat is put on hold.

The threat of writing coupled with the threat of verbs never fails, at any level. Just like the threat of writing lines, back in the day.

And so, amigos, that’s Billy-Two-Jobs and that’s life for now in glorious Marbella, where the sun continues to shine.

I’m supposed to go to a birthday party in the Puerto Deportivo this evening, but, hey-ho, got lesson plans to do and squad training to prepare!

Hasta luego, chicos!

 

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