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Gaia

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 9, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Stardust. The beginning and the end. Of you and me.

 

Being something. Flung with absoluteness. Outwards. Stardust. Exploding outwards. Expanding. Faster and further. Atoms speeding. Being. Expanding. Out into void. Filling void. Filling space. Hydrogen and helium. Elemental. Being something from nothing. Being a universe. You and me.

 

Atoms. Trillions and trillions of atoms multiplied a trillion by a trillion times. All directions. Expanding. Relentless. Growing faster and faster. Moving further and further. Stardust.

 

Dark matter. Dark energy. Gravity. Holding together. Atoms. Coalescing into clumps. Grouping and clumping into nebulae. Glue. Gravity. Trillions upon trillions upon trillions of atoms bunching billions and billions of times.

 

Space. Atoms. Hydrogen. Swirling and grouping. Bunching and clumping. Forming nebulae. Faster. Outwards. Filling nothing with something. Filling void. Filling space. Being something from nothing. Being a universe.

 

Dark matter. Dark Energy. Outwards. Moving apart. Holding together. Glue. Gravity.

 

Form. Taking on form. And shape. Differences. Clumps and bumps. Nebulae. Coalescing masses. Swathes of dark matter. Light and dark. Always dark energy. Dark matter. On and on. Boiling and cooking atoms. Hydrogen and helium.

 

Nuclear fusion. Atoms coalescing. Massive nebulae. Stars. Huge stars. Stardust. Elemental forces. Turning hydrogen to helium and carbon and chlorine and nickel and iron and gold.

 

Alchemy. Alchemy in stars. From stardust. Dark matter. Dark energy. Atoms. Elements. Stars. Stardust. Trillions and trillions and trillions of atoms forming billions and billions of galaxies. Stardust.

 

Outwards. Relentless. Expanding from nothing to something. Filling void. Filling space. Being something from nothing. Being a universe.

 

Galaxies. Billions and billions of galaxies. Trillions and trillions of stars. Stardust. Filling the nothing with something. Onwards. Outwards. Flinging with absoluteness. Alchemy. Elemental forces. Heavy and heavier. Nuclear fusion. Alchemy. Hydrogen and helium and lithium and boron and carbon. Iron and silicon and lead and nickel and silver, copper, magnesium, aluminium. Plutonium, uranium.

 

Stardust. Trillions and trillions and trillions of atoms. Being turned into elements.

 

Stars and galaxies. Ever outward. Faster and faster. Spiralling. Clumping. Grouping. Stars. Massive groups of atoms. Huge masses of atoms. Spinning. Coalescing. Grouping together. Massive stars made up of stardust. Stardust made up of atoms. Trillions and trillions of atoms multiplied a trillion by a trillion times. Being turned into elements. Expanding from nothing to something. Nuclear forces. Spinning. Cooking. Alchemy. Stardust. Making elements. Turning hydrogen to gold.

 

Galaxies. Billions and billions and billions of stars. Spinning. Cooking. Transforming. Alchemy. Spiralling faster and faster. Expanding. Relentless.

 

Galaxies. Stars. Spiralling discs. Atoms. Trillions and trillions of atoms multiplied a trillion by a trillion times. Forming galaxies and stars and solar systems. Unique solar systems. Galaxies and their stars. Stars and their solar systems. Coalescing stardust into planetisimals. Lumps of rock. Iron and nickel and gold and cobalt and carbon and lead. Balls of gas. Hydrogen and nitrogen and oxygen and now the elements combined. Compounds. Methane. Water. Ice.

 

Spinning and spiralling. Coalescing around each star. Stars spinning solar systems. Planetisimals. Baby planets. Heavy rocks close to their star. Spinning and orbiting. Gaseous planets too. Orbiting further out.

 

Rocky planetisimals. Crashing and grinding into one another. Coalescing. Accreting. Bigger and bigger balls of rock. Planets. Orbiting. Spinning. Each solar system now with larger and larger planets, spinning and orbiting around a central star.

 

Trillions upon trillions upon trillions of atoms. Billions and billions of stars. Spiralling in galaxies. Billions and billions of galaxies. Expanding. Outwards. Spiralling. Expanding into the nothing. Held together by Glue. Gravity. Dark matter. Dark energy. Something from nothing. Billions and billions of galaxies. Being flung outwards with absoluteness. Expanding. Relentless. Being something from nothing. Being a universe.

 

Stardust. The beginning and the end. You and me. Everything and nothing. Stardust. Being something. Flung with absoluteness. Outwards. Stardust. Exploding outwards. Expanding. Faster and further. Atoms speeding. Being. Expanding. Out into void. Filling void. Filling space. Hydrogen and helium. Elemental. Being a universe. Being something from nothing. Seeding a universe. You and me.

 

Circling a star. In a galaxy. In a universe created from nothing. Stardust. Cooked. Transformed. Nuclear fusion. New elements. Compounds. Nuclear fusion in stars. Methane, and water, and salt. Oxides and sulphides. Complex molecules. Coalescing now into rocky planets. Circling the stars. Spiralling galaxies with billions of stars and billions upon billions of planets.

 

Rocks and planets. Orbiting their stars. Crashing and breaking. Accreting. Coalescing. Stabilising. Bigger and bigger planets. Made from stardust. Orbiting a sibling star. Bigger and bigger. Orbiting stars. Rocky planets. Orbiting close to the sibling star. Gaseous planets in far off orbit. Rock and gas. Element and compound. Atoms. Trillions and trillions of atoms multiplied a trillion by a trillion times. Outward. Expanding. Filling the nothing with something.

 

Rocks colliding and breaking. Rocks joining. Merging. Planets draw rocks and gas. Planets grow. Sucking in compounds from the sibling star. Slowly. Interminably. Material accreting. Material coalescing. Stars have solar systems. Solar systems of planets. Rocky and gaseous siblings. Circling and spinning in orbit.

 

Planets grow. Bombarded with meteors. Planets suck in meteors. Pull them in. Growing and growling. Crashing and burning. Billions of galaxies and billions upon billions of stars. Trillions upon trillions upon trillions of atoms. Forming. Shaping. Grouping. Colaescing into planets and stars and galaxies. Glue. Gravity. Held together by dark energy.

 

Billions of planets. Orbiting their stars. Lonely solar systems with rocky and gaseous planets. All part of a galaxy. All part of a universe. Expanding outwards. Filling the nothing with something. Filling void. Filling space. Outwards. Relentless. On and on. Expanding from nothing to something. Being a universe.

 

And stars collapsing. Collapsing and exploding. Elements and compounds explode. Outwards. On and on. Relentless. Filling void. Filling space. Atoms. Elements. Compounds. Complex molecules. Expanding. Rock and dust. Stardust. Filling the nothing with something. Being a universe. Exploding stars. Recycling stardust. Recycling atoms. New stars. Trillions and trillions of atoms multiplied a trillion by a trillion times.

 

Complex compounds. Complex molecules. Amino acids. Proteins. Rocks and meteors. Pummelling into planets.

 

Life.

 

Something from nothing. Being a universe. Atoms and stardust and elements and compounds and molecules and rock and ice. And life. Life on planets. And death. Life and death. Slowly. Interminably. Forming and shaping. Crashing and burning. All made of atoms. Stars forming and dying. Recycling stardust. Stars and life dying. Stars and life reborn.

 

Stardust. The beginning and the end. You and me. Everything and nothing. Stardust. Being something. Flung with absoluteness. Outwards. Stardust. Exploding outwards. Expanding. Faster and further. Atoms speeding. Being. Expanding. Out into void. Filling void. Filling space. Hydrogen and helium. Elemental. Being a universe. Being something from nothing. Seeding a universe. You and me.

 

Life.

 

Life on a rock. Life on a planet. Spinning. Orbiting a star. A rocky planet. Made of atoms and elements and compounds fused from exploding stars. Stardust. You and me. Amino acids. Proteins. Complex carbohydrates. Ice. Water. Life. Life on earth.

 

Earth. A rocky planet. Life. Life on earth. Here. Circling a sun. Orbiting a star. A solar system. Four rocky planets. Life and death. Life and death on earth.

 

Death.

 

Death. Rebirth. Life. Recycling. Flung with absoluteness. Filling void. Filling space. Being a universe. Life and death on planet earth. Rebirth and renewal on planet earth. Recycling of atoms and stardust and elements and compounds and complex molecules on planet earth.

 

Stardust. The beginning and the end. You and me.

a grain of sand on a beach

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 9, 2011 at 9:35 AM

A grain of sand on a beach.

 

A beach on a coastline, with many other beaches. The coastline of a nation, spreading many miles in all directions. A nation with hundreds of beaches. A nation that's part of a continent. A continent that's part of a planet.

 

A grain of sand on a beach.

 

It has multiple facets. It is made up of different elements and chemical compounds. Under a microscope you can see chains of crystals and strings of molecules. There are millions of such molecules in a grain of sand. And these molecules are composed of billions of atoms, and atoms are built with particles, with electrons and neutrons and protons, and each particle with it's component forces and energies yet to be uncovered.

 

A grain of sand on a beach.

 

And one of these atoms is the earth. The grain of sand is the Milky Way. The beach is our little section of the universe, housing our galaxy amongst the billions and billions of other nearby galaxies that exist in this place we call the universe. Billions of grains of sand. Billions of galaxies.

 

And the universe we inhabit is nothing too but a bigger grain of sand. Countless parallel universes sit side by side, splitting off add-infinitum at each decision and crossroad of life.

 

Our wonderful planet is an atom, in a molecule, in a crystal, in a little grain of sand on a beach.

 

And humans are particles, inside atoms, inside molecules on a grain of sand on a beach.

 

Humans talk of travelling to Mars. It's the equivalent journey to the next fleck of mineral deposit on our grain of sand.

 

A grain of sand on a beach.

 

A planet in a solar system in a sea of galaxies in a universe amongst an infinite array of universes.

 

The impact of a footprint on the sand, the effect of a crashing wave upon the shore. In one second of time our grain can be shoved aside, or washed away. A neighbouring beach will not even notice.

 

A grain of sand on a beach.

 

It is nothing and it is everything.

October 14th Mostly

Posted by Derek John Dohren on October 14, 2010 at 6:45 PM

The suicide of ecstasy

a pool ball on the floor

in a bottle, craves a fantasy

no harm to have one more

 

dignity is lost amidst

the macho strut of youth

and leaning on the tide of years

you're spellbound by the truth

 

They spit the woes at you unchecked

but no one cares to listen

childish memories unfold

peering at your prison

 

and yet you tell of plenty

what is this truth at all?

it falls on ears deaf and blind

another blanket wall

 

the scars live on your hands

and face, a mirror to

the agony of ecscasy

the suicide of you.

The bars of La Zubia

Posted by Derek John Dohren on October 8, 2010 at 6:10 PM

According to wikipedia there are 67 bars in La Zubia. Not bad for a town with a population of 17,000. That means there is a bar for approximately, erm, everyone.

 

I've been in a few of them. Here is my top 10 rundown, in reverse order...

 

10. El Laurel - Nice meat based tapa and wonderfully eccentric manager, always attentive to his clients so fair's fair. I don't fancy the look of the kitchen but I can't complain with the scran that comes out of it. Still, a bit of a dour atmosphere.

 

9. La Mazmorra - Scores highly for service. Again an attentive and hard working manager, menu based tapa. Footy on the telly. Newspapers on the bar. Cool. A tad cliquey though.

 

8. Las Pinas – Terrific situation, Sierra foothills etc, great view down on Granada. Suffers from a superiority complex but lovely baked potatoes. Bugger to get to though and I hate climbing all the way up there to find it's shut.

 

7. Gallaghers – Irish pub. Let down by snotty staff. Several of them. A bit up itself in general in my opinion. Tapa is hit and miss but in fairness it's ALWAYS open - which is a good asset in a town where everything closes down with the slightest excuse. If all else fails you can always go to Gallaghers.

 

6. Nacho’s Sidreria – Cider bar, great menu based tapa, lively atmosphere, friendly manager. A bit of a dump but none the worse for it.

 

5. Las Villegas Juegas  – Suffers from a lack of atmosphere at times (ie - no one goes in unless they have a 50 Euro note and they want change out the till - much to the annoyance of the bar staff but the amusement of the customers (usually just me)) but great tapa, spacious, newspapers, peace and quiet, and free wi-fi. Great when you can't be arsed being sociable.

 

4. El Rincon – Prodigious reputation, tapa menu, but a little small and can be overcrowded. Punches above its weight but a victim of said reputation. Normally friendly, North African manager can be tetchy if it's busy.

 

3. The William Wallace – Pseudo Scottish bar. Spanish owner’s a huge fan of Braveheart. Decent tapas, music is ok, occasional lock-in, free shots. Not in the least Scottish in any shape or form - a good point I think. Customers liable to get given huge side of beef with mint sauce and potatoes for no reason.

 

2. The Zeppelin – Coolest bar in La Zubia no question. No tapa, no windows, dodgy characters hanging round the pool table and dartboard, horrible bogs, but simply terrific music, and open til 4 at weekends in the summer. And in the winter. They don't even offer you a glass with your bottle of beer. Can get ugly at 3 am. Only place to be if you care about your street cred.

 

1. Casa Peregrina – Magnificent tapas (chicken and chips, egg and chips, cheese burgers, kebabs etc etc - and sometimes even a freeby), footy on the telly, cheap, cheerful, and next door to the Wallace on one side and the Zep on the other. Argentinian owner, but live and let live eh. Perfect synergy. Not been open long but a lot to live up to already.

October 6th - One Day in the Tense Present

Posted by Derek John Dohren on October 6, 2010 at 5:42 PM

at once I see it now

in the trees of my woods

but my wings refuse to fly

and still you hang around my neck

a necktie that will strangle

you don't try and get the gist of it

yet still you drag at your denial

the isthmus is so full of stamps

that scream of life, silently

to those who will not listen

a world of fools

no nothing of it matters

because we will all lie that way

and our dust will fill the gyre

of ocean black and milky and vacant

unseen records

that will whisper silently

and who will weep and why would they now?

for the eye has blinked

and washed away

the vestige of space

that you inhabit

dust to dust

in furious speed

a breath of air

has gone to seed

The Granada Insider

Posted by Derek John Dohren on September 27, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Site update: the Granada Insider Articles is a new page containing links to articles I've written for the monthly magazine here in Granada.

Intercambio

Posted by Derek John Dohren on September 21, 2010 at 5:33 PM

I was taken to task by one of my intercambio partners last week over the British person's over-use of his/her pleases and thank yous. Yes, we go a bit crazy with them I have to admit - the laughable example given was 'can you pass the salt please' (apparently something we always say at the dinner table) and humurous to Spaniards who feel we have nowhere to go should we really demand something that requires a proper please or thank you. We then feel the need to thank the person who has passed the salt. This is considered odd.

 

All well and good of course. I mean, I agree. It does seem a bit silly when you think about it.

 

Ahem.

 

I sat and listened to a group of rabid teenage Spanish girls last night engaging in what can only be described as a riot. I was informed they were merely having a disagreement. I shall be asking the question in future intercambio sessions: where do the Spanish go, verbally, when they are actually angry?

Andalucian Life

Posted by Derek John Dohren on August 30, 2010 at 7:36 PM

As the 7th month of my arrival arrives and duly passes I thought it a good time to post some reflections:

 

Top thirteen things about living in Granada:

 

1. Proper seasons. It snows in the winter and it's boiling in the summer.

 

2. Acceptable political incorrectness. Men open doors for ladies and ladies like it; men give up their seats on buses for ladies and ladies like it; The other day I was on a bus out of La Zubia when the driver slammed the brakes on to leer out of the window and wolf whistle at a beautiful girl he'd seen walking down the pavement. Delighted with the attention, she smiled and waved back and we carried on the journey. No one was sued; no one went apolplectic with rage; no one got sacked. In fact, it was an uplifting, life affirming moment.

 

3. The respect for the individual. Old people, young people, middle aged people, are all treated with equal respect here.

 

4. Afternoon siestas, dreaming of where to go for this evening's free tapa.

 

5. Full moons over the Sierra Nevada.

 

6. Smoke filled bars. I don't smoke and abhor the habit but I love smoke filled bars. I also love smoke free bars. I love the fact, that in an adult society, one is allowed to choose between the two options.

 

7. An absence of health and safety Nazis. You trip on a dodgy piece of paving stone or fall off a ladder then it's your own fault for being such a stupid prick. Tough shit.

 

8. Shakira. She's on the Latino Channel all the time. I'm sure she fancies me. They way she looks at me in those videos is pretty conclusive.

 

9. Beautiful girly girls wearing summer dresses and being all girly - with the complete absence of tattoos, blubber, and Bob the Builder type arse cracks.

 

10. Senseless drinking until all hours without the merest hint of childish violence or anti-social behaviour.

 

11. The general lack of inclination of all Andalucians to bother themeselves learning English.

 

12. Proper wildlife. Snakes, irridescently coloured dragonflies as big as your fist, orange and green lizards and wild boar.

 

13. The Super Sol. The world's best supermarket.

 

 

Top 13 really bad things about living here:

 

1. The houses are freezing in the winter.

 

2. The telly is absolutely shite - even the Latino Channel.

 

3. The lack of empathy people actually have with one another. Sure, there is respect for the individual, as long as you don't interfere with anyone else. But if you got into serious bother you'd be left to die in the gutter and no one would bother their ass about you and when you died you'd be left to rot until the stench got so bad someone would have to come and scrape you away, but only because they'd have to.

 

4. Barcelona and Real Madrid. Jeez, it's worse the fucking Scotland. Real Madrid v Getafe? No thanks, I'd see a more competitive match watching Tiger Woods take on Stephen Hawking at golf.

 

5. The Sierra Nevadas - booooooring. I've seen more interesting hills in Holland.

 

6. Free tapas - some of it is undigestible garbage.

 

7. 'No pasa nada'. The Spanish equivalent of the Jamaican 'no problem'. "Oh sorry, your roof has blown off and you're about to freeze to death. Well I was on my way over to fix it and I saw a beautiful senorita and we got talking and, you know how it is, and well, no pasa nada ... "

 

8. Shite electricity supply. "You want more than three devices plugged in at a time? Ha ha. No pasa nada."

 

9. Pathetic macho behaviour amongst juvenile males. Ok, certainly nowhere near Italian levels but ref that little prick who gobbed at me from his scooter in Plaza Nueva the other week - why don't you move to Rome and be done with it, you odious little tool? I'm sure mummy will come and help you settle in if it's all a little to hard for you. And listen you tit, I remember your face and I got your number plate. I'm going to kick your sorry head in next time I see it.

 

10. Utterly unhelpful shop assistants. Get one syllable or vowel wrong in your pronunciation and you're screwed. I'm now self-barred from five cafes because of a slight error in my diction when requesting a cup of tea.

 

11. The Coviran, Granada's own supermarket chain. Sadly, it's never open.

 

12. Fiesta days. Want to put more credit on your bus pass? Want to top up your mobile phone? Like to buy a new pair of underpants? Needing to purchase a loaf of bread? Well I'm sorry, you can't for another 47 days because it's the feast of Saint Bollox, patron saint of discarded chewing gum, and everywhere's shut until December.

 

13. Slippy pavements.

The Class of Oct '09

Posted by Derek John Dohren on July 5, 2010 at 2:39 PM

As my fellow trainee TEFL colleagues begin to depart this great city the class of Oct '09 is finally scattering to all corners of the globe. Of the 13 of us that sat the course, 11 of us have been in Granada living and working through most of this year. Half of us remain but half have now gone on to bigger and better things. It's been a privilege to know them all and we've had some great experiences and shared many laughs. I think we have all forged lasting bonds. 

 

I turned this photograph taken on our final training day into a painting this week. It was a surprisingly emotional exercise for me. The end of an era - the start of another.

 

From left to right:

(Back row) Chris Irwin, Steven Julius, Brittany Cheviron, Sara Goldfarb, Loren Davy, Laura Ffrench, Lizzie Andrews

(Front row) Steven Sheridan, Mate Varadi, Derek Dohren, David Crow, Paige Ratleff, Paola Borelli (teacher), Chris Dover

I love you guys.

sects appeal

Posted by Derek John Dohren on July 3, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Pretty girls approaching you on the street to chat you up can mean one of only two things: they're trying to sell you sex or they're trying to sell sects to you. Sadly, in either case, I'm a dead loss. If it's the former I have no money, and if it's the latter, well I still have no money.

 

It's a testament to the pulling power of pleasing your God that a pair of female Mormons can make a pitch for your soul look just ever so slightly like a pitch for your pants - at least long enough for you to momentarily drop your guard (if not the pants) and make the fateful mistake of engaging in conversation. Oh lordie, get me outta here now.

 

Clearly some of those who profess to do God's work on the streets are not afraid to take tips from that most ancient of professions. And why not? Sex sells everything these days from cigarettes and alcohol, to deodorants, cars and houses, so why not everlasting life?

 

It was somewhat disarming then to be stopped this afternoon along the Acera del Darro by what can only be described as two outstandingly beautiful girls, only to then be asked for directions. I felt cheated somehow. I was ready to sell my soul, to drop my morals there and then. I've still got no money mind but I do have an ever increasing wonderment at the effortless beauty of youth.

 

And so, cashless and denuded of work I trudge on. Any maybe, just maybe things will change again for the better? Promises of work are in the air again, Spain is still in the World Cup, and let's face it, for us men (the weaker of the sexes of course) just chatting to a pretty face is sometimes enough.

spot of bother's all about timing

Posted by Derek John Dohren on June 22, 2010 at 6:05 PM

I refuse to join the naysayers who would have it that they never want to live through another one of these economic crises. As the saying goes 'economic crises come round every 11 years, more or less the same as a typical cycle of sunspot activity' What, you've never heard that one before? Well you should have paid more attention in school then. I don't know if the two things are linked, kind of like El Ninos and the rise to power of right of centre governments, or something. I should think there's a research paper begging to be written somewhere. Anyway...

 

In short it would be a fine wish to never see another such crisis if I was 101 years old and hanging on to dear life in a care home, unable to remember my own name, but as things stand, I'm still of sound enough mind and body for the powers that be to expect me to do an honest day's work. And, yes, if it's all the same I for one would quite like to be around when the next pathetically avoidable, yet still apparently unavoidable, crisis comes along. There'll be another along in about 9 years I shouldn't wonder and I'll still be of pre-retirement age (an age which by then will indubitably be set to 86 for all European Union subjects).

 

Having established the requirement of, and the willingness to, work for my living the only problem I have now is finding, erm, some work to go and do. It's all very well saying you're up for stuff but there's very little stuff to be up for. It's back to carting myself round schools and door knocking I fear. You have to get in people's faces here. Leaving messages and sending in CVs counts for nothing compared to presenting oneself face to face. It's just the way of it out here. The rest is down to luck, and timing.

 

All life is timing if you weigh it up. We've all been in the right places and we've all tried to seize the right moment but only the successful amongst us manage to pull both stunts simultaneously. My timing's off. It usually is. I feel strange empathy with England's hapless footballers at the World Cup. World beaters between tournaments they give the impression they couldn't tie their own boot laces once the serious action starts. That's me, the Emile Heskey of the TEFL world. But I'll press on. It only takes one speculative shot to fly into the back of the net and you're on top of the world again. At least until those pesky sunspots start doing their thing again.

 

site changes

Posted by Derek John Dohren on June 15, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Just a note to comment on the recent site refresh. You may have noticed a few new pages - if not then this is to tell you there are a few new pages. And there has been a site refresh. This is a note of them.

 

It's not just new fancy background colours and fonts and stuff...

 

'classes' provides details of the new art classes I'm starting up here in Granada. If you're heading out this way and fancy spending a few hours creating some original artwork then let me know! This page will flesh out with more information in the coming week.

 

'evolution' describes how three of my recent paintings developed.

 

'career resume' and 'things I know' might not all be entirely true. I'm not sure.

 

Finally, if you've not looked around the site before please stay and have a browse. There's plenty to see. Some of it's rubbish though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling

Posted by Derek John Dohren on June 10, 2010 at 7:31 AM

I'm feeling the pressure again and am trying to get through one week at a time. Always a good time to paint a self portrait.

 

Scorchio

Posted by Derek John Dohren on May 31, 2010 at 3:38 PM

It's seriously hot here now. I went into town this afternoon and saw three roadside temparature displays reading 39, 39 and 38 degrees centigrade respectively. That was at 6pm. I hadn't left the apartment before then because it just looked so hot outside. And it's still May, at least for a few more hours.

 

I'm doubting the wisdom of trying to set up outdoor art classes if this is a foretaste of what the next four months holds. On the plus side all the trees along the boulevards and avenues are fully in leaf and are providing some shade. The city council, or whatever it's called, have also pulled canvas sheets across the busier roads from the top floors of the buildings along each side of the road. This artificial canopy is cutting out direct sunlight in many places. Best of all, and a real life saver, is the presence of a wafting breeze, coming down off the Sierras (which incidentally still lie under 3 metres of snow). I hear cities like Cordoba and Sevilla have no such mitigating meteorological assistance and basically if you get caught outside in these places during the afternoon you fry.

 

The temperatures are still dropping to reasonable levels overnight though and once the sun goes down you can get from A to B without looking like you've just climbed out of a swamp.

 

 

 

Summertime Blues

Posted by Derek John Dohren on May 27, 2010 at 5:26 PM

TEFL work is now beginning to wind down for the season. The summer months, August in particular, will see a lot of Granada simply shut down. It will be extremely hot and fairly unpleasant here and many Granardinos simply decamp to the coast for the summer. Many of the bars will close immediately the World Cup is over. It seems counter-intuitive, particularly to those of us from the UK, to shut up shop at that time of year, but I'm told this is the normal course of events here.

 

I'll be needing to tap into a new income stream. The magazine I'm writing for is one of the businesses that'll go into summer hibernation so it's a double whammy for yours truly. The art classes I am trying to get off the ground will need to deliver the goods in July and August. Tourists will still come to Granada and if I can lure enough of them into doing a bit of painting then hopefully by the time September comes around I'll still be clinging on here.

 

Of course there will still be some English teaching opportunities to be had throughout the summer. Not everyone goes away, and not everyone who goes away goes for two months. Many students are also 'mature' and are not tied into school or university terms. They are studying English on their own terms. Though I have already lost two students, and am soon to lose a third and probably a fourth, I have one student who is a businessman and who wishes to continue his studies over the summer. Some students stick around too and use the summer as an opportunity to catch up in areas they've fallen behind in. It's a case of targeting your advertising carefully if you want to pick up the clients that are still to be found.

 

All in all it would seem July and August would be a great time for me to think about coming back to the UK for a few weeks. It's immensely appealing but I fear I simply don't have the funds for such a trip. I'll use the opportunity of having less TEFL stuff on my plate to try and establish the art classes - whilst hoping for the best. Mabye I'm fiddling while Rome burns, but I see little alternative.

 

Perhaps I'll be sticking a fiver on England to beat Spain in the World Cup final?

At last

Posted by Derek John Dohren on May 25, 2010 at 5:03 PM

I've not painted for a while. Work has been a bit too heavy but I sense a shift in the daily routine is imminent. Things don't seem to stay the same for long here.

 

Here's a portrait I painted last week. It was done in a matter of hours, proving to myself again that my best work is spontaneous and quick. I hope to be getting my head down to more serious painting projects soon.

 

A bigger version of this painting is viewable in the portrait gallery.

 

What are the chances?

Posted by Derek John Dohren on May 25, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Odd things co-incidences. It doesn't matter how minor or irrelevant they are in themselves the sheer co-incidentness of them is startling sometimes. If you get two in a short time that's really weird. Three in two days is hard to comprehend. I'm sure everything can be explained by mathematics and other sciences of course but it doesn't make these things any less gobsmacking.

 

And I'm talking about nailed on, absolutely clear cut, extremely unlikely co-incidences here.

 

First coincidence: A name I had never heard of before caught my imagination and I looked the origins of it up on Wikipedia. It was the name of some medieval saint over here. Within hours, I received a spam email from someone with the exact same name.

 

Second one: During a conversation I was having in a cafe down town someone rode past on a bicycle, bizarrely broadcasting a piece of music from a film we were actually discussing.

 

Both of those things happened yesterday. They both freaked me out.

 

Then today: In Granada this morning I was coming from teaching a class. As I strolled towards the effing bus stop I was mulling over the versatility of a certain English swear word, a word that may be used as a verb, noun, adjective, preposition or adverb. Barely two hours later I came across the exact same thing, written out almost word for word, in a novel I'm currently reading. Believe me, I hadn't been reading ahead.

 

What does this all mean? Almost certainly it means nothing. How can it mean anything? Why should it mean anything? What would be the point? We think, say and do a billion things a day and then immediately forget most of it. There are bound to be occasional co-incidences with certain events and conversations and they will be the ones we remember, the ones that stick in the mind. And yet, when these things strike like that they have a habit of unsettling you.

 

Of course you can't will these things to happen. It's almost as if once you become conscious of the possibility of co-incidence it can't, by some sort of rule of physics, actually happen. God knows I've tried to make myself rich and successful by thought processes alone yet muttering out loud the words 'imagine if I found a 1,000 Euro note on the pavement this morning' have so far yielded no results.

 

I shall go to bed tonight imagining an art collector somewhere is imagining that an artist somewhere is lying in obscurity imagining that he's going to be discovered by this collector. Stranger things happen every day. Sometimes more than once.

Where was I?

Posted by Derek John Dohren on May 22, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Sorry to have kept you.

 

So spring came and went, in a matter of a few short weeks, and we appear to have careered head first into summer. Temperatures hit the low 30s at the end of April, fell back a little for a week or two and have now decided that's where they'd like to be until further notice, that probably being in July when they decide they'd quite like to hit the 40s.

 

Fiestas abound. La Zubia had it's annual patron saint festival last week, in honour of San Juan Nepomuceno. It ran from May 14th to the 17th and was notable for the large helping of free paella I got handed last Sunday afternoon while I was picking my way through the massed throng of revellers. It was a splendid dish, containing as it did all sorts of dead animal (of land and sea, vertebrate and invertebtate) many of which where of an inderterminate identity. I spilled some on my shirt and made a point of getting it washed pronto.

 

Corpus Christi kicks off from May 31st to June 6th and La Zubia has another couple of fiestas in June, namely San Antonio and San Pedro.

 

These are nice events and the whole village/town seems to get together to celebrate but I hope the epicentre of the festivities is not where the last one was - a few hundred yards from my door. The noise, day and night, was relentless.

Humbled

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 20, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Though I continue to have no joy getting a foot in the door of the language schools in the area (though in truth, I haven't tried particularly hard) I have six regular English students I am privately tutoring now and am giving out eight lessons a week. The best aspect of this is that each of the students is at a different level and each one is requiring a very customised type of lesson. I am sticking to very little of the lesson formats taught to me during my formal training though much of what I learned in terms of teaching technique has been vitally important.

 

My student demographic ranges considerably too - in age from 11 to late 30s, male and female, professional and student, elementary to advanced. It's certainly extremely invigorating for me to have to get into the correct mindset prior to each lesson. I am involved in a real mixed bag of lesson routines. One student has business oriented lessons; another requires help with an English fiction book; one works as an interpreter and wants to brush up a knowledge of English language idioms; one is a mathematics teacher who wants conversational English; one is a fun loving child who, at his parents' behest, I will take on an excursion into the hills next week; and the other is needing help with essay writing. Never a dull moment.

 

Generally I am in awe of all of them. Not only do they speak far better English than I do Spanish, they are juggling heavy committments elsewhere and are clearly very bright and able people and extremely motivated. I'm humbled when I see the effort they put into everything they do.

 

For the time being I cannot advance my plans for the art lessons as I feel I need to give these English students my fullest attention. It's the least they deserve. In four weeks time I will lose two of them as I am acting only as a temporary fill in teacher for them. Things will then ease but of course I will need to replace the income, and then some, accordingly.

 

The thing is I already feel I will miss those two students and I also feel a growing attachment to the others. I have learned out here though that things change, and change dramatically, so I'm trying to expect the unexpected. I've no idea at any point, beyond a week or so, what I'm going to find myself doing. It's as refreshing as it is worrying.

 


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