Sunday, June 26, 2005


But it's close. Reading D4D, as I do, mostly for the twunty bits I will readily admit - anybody that can invent the expletive 'crunty spadgewanglers' is okay by me - although the fact that he rides a bicicular form of transport unattached to any form of motor whatsoever does, in my opinion, rather invite the opening of the car door in his general direction, I have become accustomed to being on the receiving end of news, anecdotes and even recollections (a strange word that one, conjuring up, as it must, images of a repeated gathering together of material sharing some common characteristic) of disagreements, contretemps and plain banging of the head against the brick wall of twuntiness moments relating to his experiences as some kind of IT wunderkind whose major source of employment would appear to be sorting out the various and sundry cock-ups made by overpaid amateurs in his field, the pay grade of whom remains, unfortunately, well above his own and, to my current regret, failed to empathise entirely with his situations viz-a-viz Twunty Manager.

I must sidetrack at this point and read all that back. Phew, bit of a struggle but I made it out the other end with a reasonable understanding of just what it was that I was on about so it must be considered a success even though it did appear at times to be an attempt at the Bernard Levin award for the Most Gratuitous Use of Convoluted Sentences in a Blog Post but that's by the by. Now where were we? I haven't lost you, have I? Heavens forbid you were waylaid by one of the errant sub-clauses I so callously embedded in the foregoing. I realise now that my attempts at elucidation, and even elaboration, could easily have been construed as unnecessarily obfuscatory but I am drunk and crave exactitude.

If I may repeat the plea of an earlier post, forgive me or anally implode. The choice is yours.

So, onwards to the meat, the grist, the nub, the kernel of this bloggage.

As regular readers will no doubt be aware, I am contracted as an examiner to one of the many examining boards concerned with the issue of internationally recognised certificates, diplomas and what have you admitting candidates to whatsomever degree in the production of English as a foreign or second language and, in this capacity and given my own linguistic qualifications, have often been invited to the Capital to lecture on the very subject. In attendance on one occasion was a delightful young lady from the organisation in question who was so impressed by my grasp of the Communicative Approach to Language Teaching that she immediately thought of my good self when, on return to Blighty, she was entrusted with the overhaul and modernisation of their website.

There followed several electronic communications in which she laid out the task in hand. To go through x levels concerned with English for assimilation purposes on their site and assess the content with regard to the new European Framework for language examinations...A1, A2 through to attempt to standardise language qualifications with regard to level throughout the European Community, and with regard to their suitability for international ESOL.

All was well. A daily fee was agreed (the amount of which caused an instant stir in the trouser area) for about 4 days' work and I awaited copies of the contract for instant signage. This was the zenith of our negotiations. From here, there was only one way it could go and it proceeded in a downhill direction with alarming rapidity.

One (and two). Delightful young lady one left the organisation to be replaced by delightful young lady two shortly after my computer crashed and I was made aware of the fact that Incredimail history can only be retrieved if the program itself can be made to boot up. It couldn't. Address book, records...exploded into the ether. Had I made a written record of the rather obscene amount offered to me? Had I bloggery.

So, DYL2 contacted me and at some stage of the conversation mentioned the x+1 levels I was supposed to assess. "Excuse me. x+1? DYL1 only mentioned x." We agreed on an extension to the original draft of the contract and I tried to access level x+1 on the web site. Nowt doin'. It wasn't there.

DYL2 fixed the access problem and was desirous of the knowledge as to how much I would charge for the assessment. I ummed and ahhd and cursed the virus that had reduced my e-mail history to so much ethereal binary mist and enquired as to how much she had in mind. "Well, obviously for 6 days' work, we'll be looking at a figure in excess of ..........." which was less than I remembered had been offered by DYL1. "Well, my usual fee is ........... + expenses but as in this case there will not be any expenses and as it is a 6 day contract, then I suppose I could do it for ......... a day." Bugger. But still remuneratively pretty damned good.

I began the work on the understanding that the contracts were in the post and had progressed fairly rapidly through the site before sending an e-mail indicating my progress thus far.

I received a reply which was a little disconcerting. It stated that, where I had made recommendations as to level and adaptations, I should inform them as to exactly where these exercises could fit within their existing ESOL structure. Okay, I said, but if you expect me to search through that as well, it's going to take more than 6 days.

A new total of 10 days was agreed and I renewed my work. Problem. The existing ESOL structure was not as I had been informed and placing the material within it was impossible. "Mmmm. You're right. I'm going on holiday tomorrow so can I get in touch with you when I get back? And by the way how is the resources assessment coming on?" "Huh?"

It turns out that they are also expecting me to assess a section containing links to web sites with ESOL content. A new total of 16 days is agreed. Just before DYL2 hangs up the telephone she states, "I'm not quite sure what this A1, B2 business is that you've written but I'm sure it will become clear later." Oh, they're only the Standard European Framework codes for the assessment you've asked me to do is all.

Oh, well. As things are going, it looks as if I shall have to take control of this project and write my own brief. Despite the twuntery, I may be able to make myself indispensible and retire to somewhere remote, warm and coastal sooner than I had imagined. God protect me from middle management, though. Twunts the lot of 'em.

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