Sunday, August 26, 2007

A good week.
Two nice happenings this week. First, I got an A grade for my GCSE Spanish - a sure indication, some would say that standards are not what they were.
I joined an evening class because the council built an adult college two minutes' walk away from where I live. I'd attended a beginners' class at Goldsmiths in the past - I took it up as an antidote to Chinese - and I like to go to Spain when I can. We've had a few homeswaps over the years.
I was surprised to learn it involved taking an exam. What does a retiree need with a qualification aimed at sixteen year olds? Never mind. The teacher, Carmen, was so encouraging and so conscientious that it would have seemed churlish to refuse . So I duly set about learning to express why I like discos - 'Me gusta mucha la musica!' and how I help my parents around the house.
Since the class disbanded I've been going to a Wednesday morning U3A session in a house at Herne Hill, where the emphasis tends to be on spoken language and the cultural aspects of Latin America. The half-dozen class members, older than me, are quite fluent. I join in as best I can, sticking to the present tense and resorting to French and English when I get stuck. They will surely roll their eyes in disbelief when I tell them my result.
When I announced I'd booked a couple of weeks on a cheap package in Lanzarote for December class member Miguel said they speak very bad Spanish there. He's just back from a few weeks stay in California, where he had plenty of chance to practise his Spanish. I read somewhere it's overtaking English as the majority language in the US.
The other good happened on Thursday, at a pub in Clekenwell. I was appointed 'resident- in-house-writer, along with a couple of others , for a website called My Cultural Life. It's about events in London and I've been posting reviews on it for a year or so. Ali, the young woman whose idea it was, designated certain areas of responsibility to the three of us she's chosen to cover specific areas of the 'magazine' section . I was surprised but pleased to be asked to cover 'theatre' . It'll be great to get back into a world I used to love, and I won't have to pay to see the things I review. This is the only perk of the job so far, although Ali is murmuring about eventual revenue from advertisers.
There was a third good thing this week - I learned that the back gate at Lewisham station is to be pemanently left open, so we no longer have to go down the steps to the underpass and the the long way round to get to out of the station. No doubt I wasn't the only one to write in to complain - and receive a very irrelevant reply from South East Rail management. My letter to the Evening Standard was probably more effective, though. They have this column for people to highlight failings in the transport system. It's nice to think that if enough people protest these companies take notice.
It even looks as if the weather will keep fine for the Notting Hill Carnival.

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