O hi Internet, so good to see you again

Flat number 3, bed number 4, cat number 2. 

Since I last posted life took another sudden lunge into intense difficultness; I finally moved out of my old flat, which was unpleasant in more than just the ‘moving a whole life’s worth of stuff halfway across Berlin’ kind of way; I moved into my new flat and discovered that the place I had sorted to use as my base while I search for something more permanent does not have the internet, the lack of which honestly feels like a loss equivalent to suddenly not having any fingers; I found a place to live for December and also a place to live from January onwards, both in the coolest areas of the coolest city in Europe, and finally I began a new class of utterly insane children (but at least the receptionist at this primary school is like a sassy German version of Eddie Izzard).

The upshot of it all is that I’m now in this rather natty flat on Schoenhauser Allee with two rotund and painfully sweet cats and a woman who knits, crochets, sews and makes her own sour cream. I think this place found me rather than the other way around.

The toughest thing at this point in time is surprisingly, however, not the constant moving around or WG-viewings, but in fact teaching the little children. They are now savvy enough to know that when they fool around and don’t sing the rainbow song properly my power is limited to not giving them a stamp, and that is the beginning of a slippery slope which leads to horrific anarchy. In any one class you will encounter one or more of the following ‘problem children’:
1) The little bastard. It’s not that he is bored or that he doesn’t want to learn, the fact of the matter is that he’s the kind of disobedient little arse with the broad and mischievous grin who you hate for being so naughty but love him abundantly for that exact same reason, thus putting you in a catch-22.
2) The smug one who knows everything. Yes, there is always a swot. I’m ashamed to say that I was one back in the day, and they are perhaps even worse than the little bastards in that they don’t even have an endearingly devilish tinge to them but simply want to show you and everyone else how overwhelmingly clever they are ALL THE TIME. And then they get cocky, and then they get rude. One girl who I persuaded to take part after she demanded to be allowed to skip English because it was too easy then had the sheer gall to say, with a smirk as I taught the ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ song, “Is your shirt perhaps a little too short?”. She practically clicked her fingers and went “mmmmhmmm!!”
3) The vacant one. That child who seems to be in some other sphere of existence to the rest of us, interpreting everything we do and say as something mystical and without explanation; I have one pupil who spends every lesson in a kind of fog, slowly reaching out at everything I do/hold like a big starfish exploring a rock, and drifting mesmerised around the room while the other children sit and play games. These children are impossible and impregnable.
4) The evil twins. Ok, so they’re not usually twins (although I do actually have one pair of irritating identical twins) but these are the two kids who are glued together and cannot be parted and like to misbehave in tandem, tagging each other in when I manage to get one of them settled to actually join the lesson. They are perhaps the worst of all, and they tend to be small and agile to boot.
5) The uncut diamond. These kids are just heartbreaking; on their own they are so good, so clever and so enthusiastic – they will come to you before a lesson begins to show you that they’ve been practising their English without you having even asked them to, and they might give you a perfect answer when no-one’s looking, but the minute the rest of the kids arrive they immediately conceal all of that under a layer of shocking naughtiness which can often be impressive. One kid sung me the rainbow song before a lesson began, but then during the lesson at one point managed to stack some chairs on a desk and sit atop the horrifically dangerous tower while I tried to recover from my several parallel heart attacks.

Oh of course there are more than this, but it’s late, I’m tired from a long day at the coalface and I have a class in west Spandau tomorrow morning; for those of you not familiar with Berlin, that’s the bit of Berlin that is the leftmost crusty brown bit of the big Coffee Stain. I’m living on the rightmost crusty brown bit.

Rose T