Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My Darling INSET, What Have They Done?

Oh INSET, you poor thing, what have you done to yourself? Why did you give up on life? Why did you let yourself be turned into such a shadow of a creature, permanently leashed by half-baked policy and forced into submission by top-down, unintelligible doctrine? Oh my darling INSET, it was never meant to be this way, you were meant for us to learn but… oh look what they’ve done to you. They stand up there in front of all of us and they just use you as a hammer to drive into us the rusty nails of some VAK crap or Thinking Hats or some other archaic junk that they found on the internet last night all because the head teacher/principle/overlord said that they had to lead an INSET so that it shows that they do something in the school which explains why they can afford a new house/boat/houseboat/boathouse. I thought it was our career progression and development that you were about but it looks like it’s really about that man pressing play on the video and telling us that we should be more like some school in Korea or Japan or Scunthorpe that has embraced technology and inspired a hopeless generation and then it ends. Puff. Bam. Just, be better. Oh INSET I’m sorry to make this personal but all they do is tell us to be better by showing us people who are better and where are our iPads for every student, or huge reform from the leadership team? They don’t exist. Be better, they tell us while standing on you and ignoring our objections. We’re people and we are as fallible as students. I don’t want tot be taught a lesson by someone whose only enthusiasm is because they have to qualify why they drive a better car and have a bigger house and can send whole staff emails. INSET, darling, please don’t cry, because I will too.  

Oh INSET, it’s happening again. I sit here at the back of the theatre amongst those for whom cycnicism is easier than breathing and I breathe, myself, a sigh of pity for your very name. As I sit I see a man stood up besmirching your supple, fragile form and upon it paint his policies and I look and I simply cannot believe. I cannot believe the money spent on the useless wasted time. He tells us that this is not about empire building, but then why are we a multi-academy trust? He tells us that he trusts us to do the right thing, but then why, after lunch, will there be an outside speaker on a new system that is being put in place by a company that we are paying for? INSET, I know that this is not your fault. You did not want to do it but you could not resist. They sang sweet words of a ‘community of learners’. They dripped ‘every child matters’ down your throat while they showed you ‘the path to outstanding’. You are not the first victim sweetheart and I know that doesn’t make it any easier but don’t cry now; we’ll sort something out. We’ll get it back. We’ll stop SLT from just telling us what we need to do better and instead maybe they could lead, properly. Maybe they will stop just manipulating those teachers that actually teach. They will think about INSET and do more than just show us a video produced by a great school. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to contribute in a way that is not just token acceptance that we are actually people. Maybe they will talk to us, one day, about teaching, not data and accountability and tracking. 

No INSET, it’s not hopeless. I know that there are people in here that will buy this bullshit every time because they know; deep down, that the only way to move up is to join in. And they will happily bend over and smile as policies are rammed… Sorry darling, I know. I’m crude. It’s true, I see things badly but what hope is there when even what is meant to improve me makes me think I’m getting worse at this job. I think it might be good that I see things badly because maybe that’s the start of a revolution. Darling, remember what we need to; it is always the day before the revolution. Yes, you are right. If we begin in the classroom then their ridiculous initiatives will be to blame for our student’s successes and then when we eventually give up hope they will continue their policies and then a yeargroup or worse will be abandoned to the chopping board of crass educational consumerism. So yes. You’re right. I’ll just be quiet and get on with it. And I’ll work the extra hours and love my subject and watch everything I do well get twisted rung into dirty waters for all it’s worth. And I’ll sit here and I’ll watch the video and I’ll look into your eyes and watch the hope dwindle but when someone in the pub asks me what I do, for some unknown reason I will be proud to say that I am a teacher because I know, away from all this, that I do good things.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

An Open Letter To The Subway Franchise

Dear Mr and Mrs Subway,

I am afraid that this letter is a complaint. It was an event during my commute home that has compelled me to place pen to paper and bear this letter as one would an unwanted child left outside a hospital, and it saddens me so to see it here on the page, only now in its very first sentences but indicating a difficult life to come whose very inception indicates the universal sadness felt towards all of human nature that this very event has happened.

I am not, alas, a man who regularly frequents your franchises, but this had been a particularly torrid Monday and I required a considerable snack on my journey home to alleviate some of the ennui that the grind of a teacher's life had imbued me with at this time. As I wandered chartered streets I passed a number of other stores and found myself, eventually (and after a number of rejections even after entering the glossy doors of another eatery before dispensing with its services rapidly as being not up to my desires) at the gleaming, semi-reflective glass of your sandwich provider. And this was where my troubling experience began.

Perhaps my expectations were too high for an overcast late afternoon, but I see the creation of a sandwich as the creation of a work of art: the bread is the canvas; the topping is the paint and the sauce, oh the sauce, is the very signature; applied as it should be with a smile and a flourish. Now, although the breaded delicacy at the heart of this analogy is important, what is more important, nay, essential, is the artiste that creates the wax-paper wrapped masterpiece of culinary perfection.

My sandwich artiste was no more proficient in artistry than I am, and I can assure you that the most exciting art I create on a daily basis is quickly flushed away.

I will further explain the iconoclastic process that took place: I opted from the laminated board of water that hung above my head with all the promise of heaven for a foot-long meatball marinara. A full foot of meatballs in tomato sauce wrapped in my choice of bread from the, frankly mystifyingly eternally unblemished by mould, bread selection display. So there it was, I would receive, if everything were to progress on task, (which I can imagine, my reader, you know it would not) Nearly 30cms of steaming hot meaty balls on thick, doughy bread. My heart skipped a beat and the prospect of the sheer beauty of it. The bread was cut, haphazardly but forgiveably so, in front of me. I was stood waiting, salivating like one of Pavlov's unfortunate canines, for the ladlefuls of meaty orbs and rich sauce when my world was shattered by a voice with so little compassion that I thought it a joke at first. I was disarmed, thoroughly, by it: 'No Meatballs.' it said. To think upon it now is to return to a dark place.
'No. Meatballs.'
Not 'I'm terribly sorry Sir or Madam but I'm afraid we are out of our delicious meatballs for today, would you like me to suggest an alternative from our diverse menu.'
No. There was not that. There was only 'No Meatballs.'
I am a simple man, Mr and Mrs Subway. I lead a simple life and I believe in honesty. You promised me that I could have my sandwich my way. That promise was broken but, being a simple man, I chose there and then, to allow your franchise the second chance that I myself would like to have received. I selected the substantially less saucy, but no less meaty, Italian BMT. In order to help relinquish the earlier disappointment I opted for the enhancement: Double cheese. (Enhancement: Toasted is such an ubiquitous option that I feel it warrants little further comment than this acknowledgment.) I should intercede here to mention my love of cheese. I don't know who first event cheese and what they thought that they were up to at the time, but I am thankful every day for there apparent deviancy. This unhealthy obsession may explain my aghast horror at the mistreatment of the little triangles of celestial manna by the hands of what can only be described at this time as the daughter of Lucifer himself. The cheese was flung. Yes, I can almost hear your gasps reach me across the aether, my dearest reader, flung. The disrespect of it. Cheese flung haphazardly by someone for whom the words sandwich artiste are now merely a sobriquet and not the honorific title that they should be. I have seen more care taken with dog food than that which stunned me as perfectly tessellating triangles of cheese were left overlapping both each other and the edges of the bread. My mouth refused to close, so shocked it was, as the sandwich was nearly thrown into the high-speed oven. (this, I must infer, is a grand invention, however.)

And then she walked off.

In the thirty-four seconds it took for my sandwich to receive a grilling sterner than a twelve-year old miscreant receives from an angry teacher, my sandwich attendant disappeared. I was stood, alone at last, alone and aghast. Where was the friendly banter? Where was the 'how is your day?' or 'Nice weather last weekend.' I do not expect a treatise on Nietzsche delivered for my education but I feel that when you pass over more than a small note for a sandwich then you should have enjoyed some sort of experience. A sandwich of any repute should come, in my opinion, with two things: High cholesterol and a smile, and mine seemed to believe that having the former in abundance negated the latter. How very wrong this is.

I dreaded the reappearance of the sandwich. (the pronoun here is entirely justified. This was not my sandwich. This was so far from being my sandwich that it was like looking at your first born child and realising that they look awfully like the postman.) I wished the high-speed grill would not beep because I knew that when it did the horrors would not stop and the horror awaiting it in plastic tubs and plastic gloves was that of optional salad distribution. My fragile little mind, however, could not contemplate the massacre that was to come. It was a sort of salad genocide where only very few items made the cut and even those seemed pretty traumatised.

I asked for a simple list: Cucumber, lettuce, jalapenos, sweetcorn, gherkins and olives. The amount I received of each of these could have appeased only the most anorexic and weight-conscious of gerbils. I received, in total, six slices of gherkin. Imagine that in your mind if you will. It is piteous and I believe you know that. It is not even half a gherkin. Probably not a quarter. This is not the eating fresh that your advertising campaign attests to Mr and Mrs Subway. A tear graces my eye as I consider it. Then came the final indignity of sauce. Without the Marinara that would have constituted their eponymous filling option there would need to be significant saucing. I chose southwest and a stripe of hot chilli and in my mind the two combined with all the beauty and grace of a wild zebra. My mind was torn when the greatest of sins was committed: With both sauces the stripes were not contained to the limits of the bread; they extended beyond their bready target and onto the wax paper. They were wrapped so quickly that I could not register an objection and as I paid and left I had an ominous taste in my mouth for I knew that there were hideous ramifications of what should have been internal to my 'sub' becoming external.

By the time I had boarded my train I had, to eat, a sandwich where the ends of the bread had been permeated entirely by the sauce of disappointment. What coated my hands however, was not just sauce but indignity. I felt as if my sandwich experience had been, and i hesitate to use the word here, raped. I felt violated by the careless attitude of your workers.

Now, Mr and Mrs Subway, I am a teacher. It used to be a noble profession but over time it has simply come to represent the growing bureaucracy of our society. Gone are the days of the charismatic teacher who goes the extra mile and in are the days of the piteous bean-counter only out to ply their bosses with numbers and figures, constantly in fear of 'doing something wrong'. This, however is an aside. I take pride in my job and I take particular care in the standards I expect of my students. I insist that they are well turned out and that they, themselves, take pride and care in everything that they do. They berate me for this at times. They call me old-fashioned and I tell them that my advice may harken from a different age but that if they take pride they will go far in life. With this in mind Mr and Mrs Subway I ask you this: How can I expect these students to go into the world with pride and their heads held high when in your franchise a worker cannot even take the time to chat a few words with a customer? Or take the care required to finish a sandwich in a manner that provides an engaging and consistent taste experience? I am deflated by the very experience that I was the victim of because is demolishes the pillars that I encourage my students to climb. I can no longer teach them standards with any level of conviction in the knowledge that they may visit one of your franchises on their way home and receive the same service and believe, in lieu of anything better, that six slices of gherkin are acceptable in a sandwich measuring, more or less, a foot. You are stamping on our work as educators and you are doing it without any style at that.

I am saddened to be writing this rebuke but I feel it is time for me to stand up for what I believe in and that is responsibility, pride and care. And if those three factors can't be found in the food service industry then I don't know where they can be found any more. If sandwich making has no integrity left then I don't know what there is left in this world to believe in. I guess there is nothing left.

I hope you have a nice day Mr and Mrs Subway, and I hope your next lunch experience is more fulfilling than mine.

thank you,

Calamity Teacher. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Stop it. Just stop it.

My favourite days of the year are those that are really horrible because they give so much ammunition for this blog. I was worried a few weeks ago that I had writers block and that maybe my streak of acidic, acerbic, caustic and other -ics was at an inglorious end. Thankfully, or unthankfully, this block has ended with an abrupt lurch because yesterday I was exposed to a presentation that was so utterly full of things I hate that at one point I looked around to find the hidden camera. In my mind I sort of hope that it was all a big test and that we're all going to be berated for not going to town on the flaws in it. At least in that I would be assured that education has some sort of morality/scruples/integrity/anything, anything at all.

What stood up in front of us on some grimy afternoon in late April was a salesperson, and there is utterly no doubt about that. The thing is, is that she had already sold the product and we were forced to sit there and listen to a service being described to us that had already cost our school money and was also useless as only a bad INSET can be. Most of the teachers sat in utter shock as what was explained to us was that the school had bought a resource that was an internet dictionary which, surprise surprise, is actually already available free. On the internet.

Consternation abound, there was time for questions, and questions came. Some of the teachers, unlike most of our little darling students, had done their homework. One Science teacher had looked at the word lists and oh was she not happy. There were, simply, not enough words, and what were we told? To submit any that were missing. Shock and awe were more abound than an attempt to stamp communism out of the north of a split country. Or something. So we have bought a resource that isn't actually finished. We have purchased a service that as its marquee product is a big tent full of absolutely nothing and what we are meant to do is take a look inside and throw shit in it for the company to use themselves by selling it to others. This is not a community of learners; this is a collection of self-indulgent dickheads taking the piss out of schools and getting away with it because schools buy this crap. And what will they do with our contributions? We were told, and I believe this is verbatim, that

'We even have a teacher in head office to define and categorise the words.'

'A teacher,' I thought, looking around the room, 'A teacher?' silence. 'Well, Well done mate, you have a teacher? We've got absolutely loads of them. Look at them. Count them. Bloody loads of them.' I was as incensed as incense. I was watching someone effectively tell me that the entire room's collective subject knowledge and learning ability were made drastically obselete by one teacher in a London office with a dictionary and a vapid penchant for the highlight button.

Included as part of the all-encompassing service, and here I use the word service as one might use it to describe that provided by an STI-ridden hooker, LSAs are trained to deliver the companies own particular brand of reconstituted crap to students in an intensive six-week cycle. They showed us results and then I thought to myself if you by-passed this company and added the money to budgets and staffing and developed this system in-house then we would get exactly the same results and we would have an enduring system we could be proud of. And that's it, isn't it? Schools are bought by glossy brochures because they have no faith in their own staff's ability. Teachers are overstretched because budgets are tight but if this money spent on outside agencies was turned internally and spent on overstaffing then maybe staff would be able to execute this sort of thing. It escapes me why schools are taken in by the glistening brochure of a third party. There is no magic bullet. Schools are so desperate for results that they have no faith in their own staff. There is a horrendous tacit implication that staff are doing a bad job and I don't think a lot of senior management realise this. They see that the stats are not befitting of their brogues and they throw money at a situation to make it better. They look for the quick fix. There is no quick fix. Just a quick way to disgruntled staff and wasted budgets.

If there are any members of senior leadership reading this then please heed my message: Stop spending money on this shit. Spend the money on overstaffing and supporting the departments that belong to you. Show your faith in your staff by giving them what they need; time. They are good at what they do. Help them develop in order to help students develop by giving them the time to, well, develop. Yesterday I saw two useless systems costing twelve grand in total. That is a part time teacher or LSA. That part-timer or LSA could ease the pressure and give teachers the time to develop the systems that these companies charge a premium to deliver badly. Half of the crap that educational companies peddle is just recycled chaff under different branding completely intended to sell short and exploit. A massive slice of the money that schools pay them is shoveled straight into branding, marketing, shareholders, offices, bonuses and yet we are more than happy to pay for all this instead of losing these add-ons by working the budgets internally. Instead of paying for someone's business lunch with a prospective client from another school why not give your staff the flexibility and time to be revolutionary? Why not encourage your staff to innovate and facilitate this with working groups that have time to actually work. And you know what? Maybe you can sell your own programmes that you've developed in house to others and thereby fund your own excesses. I dunno, use the profits to take your whole school to Alton Towers or some such shit. It's probably about as useful as half the crap you buy.

As an endpoint for my frustrations perhaps this might illustrate to people what this is really about: Do you know what normal teachers do when they go on strike? Most of them don't go out and hold up banners. Most of them sit at home and they plan lessons and mark work. Doesn't that tell you something? I don't need resources to do my job better. I have myself and my department and coworkers and twitter for that. I need time.

Postcript Edit: Although I thought this article finished, I can't help but feel that something else should be mentioned. It was clear that this new system was unpopular with staff so this morning another little presentation was arranged by the member of SLT who is in charge of it. During this the staff assembled were presented with vastly overinflated data about the effectiveness of the scheme that even lied, clearly and obviously, about the reading ages of some students. I still feel genuinely sick about this. Even if they were just tested with a flawed test it is so obvious that these reading ages were wrong that it would take a rank idiot to not notice. If this is education...

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Moment When You Realise It's All Out Of Control.

So there I was, holding exalted court upon the class of bright-eyed and impeccably engaged year nines and delivering to them a beautiful sermon of learning that was both student-led and teacher facilitated. The lesson that kept them so enraptured was both meticulously planned and evolved through the lesson in a free and organic way driven, equally, by every single student in the classroom. So what should happen to this calm eutopia (which is a word, incidentally) of learning, there was, and in some ways, deep in my mind, a knock at the door. I beckoned, reluctantly, a small and nervous looking year seven into the class room.

A deviation: This child is one of those children who you have no choice but to believe anything that they say, at least for the first eight or ten times that they lie to you. On of those students that not only has one of those faces, but also knows that they have this in their possession and seeks intuitively to exploit this at every turn. In your mind you probably can think of a student that fills this template and the many times that they have sought to deceive you with only their innocent smile and enrapturing eyes. You are probably also cursing. This may be important to the story. It may also not.

The oasis of calm shattered indefinitely, I turned to the child and asked them, in my most annoyed tone, what the problem was, or what she needed, or what her exact purpose was in breaking the beautiful stained glass of learning that was being created in my classroom.

A deviation: There may well be some exaggeration in parts of this story yet I assure you that the important bits are true.

She had panic in her eyes and a mere few words escaped her mouth like dying embers thrown up into the dark night surrounding a campfire.

'I think Tina has passed out Sir.'

Now, quite apart from the fact I had no idea who Tina was or what in any deity's name was going on there is one fact that fills the core of every teaching day and is consistently ignored by pretty much everyone; We simply aren't trained for this sort of shit. Since the council declared that any child of mine would be disposed of without remorse lest the insanity spread I have no real parenting instinct. I only know that when a scared little kid walks into your classroom and tells you that then you just do what you know you should without thinking. So I went around the corner and saw the kid lying on the floor. So again, I didn't think, I just did. I told the scared little girl to go and get the most senior and first teacher she could find, and I stayed with the girl and bring her round.

I would later find out that the girl was a known epileptic and that it was all pretty standard and, to be totally fair, I do have a history of looking after epileptics (sort of) so it wasn't as panicky for me as it may have been for others but, when the other staff got there and starting sorting things out I simply returned to the class that I had told the words immemorial of 'Talk amongst yourselves', told them that it was all okay as I shrugged nonchalantly and continued with the lesson. That was it. Incident over.

Later, much later, but still the same day and in the relative comfort of the staff room a teacher came up to me and said to me something along the lines of  'I hear you were up to some heroics earlier?' I didn't know what they were talking about. I had to ask. 'Oh, I heard that Tina had had a seizure.' 'Oh yeah', I said. Thinking nothing of it because it's our job, isn't it. It's what we do. We just do things, regardless of anything else we just do what we have to. We're not an emergency service, or the military, or anyone who could rightly be a hero, but we just get stuff done when it has to be done and when it has to be done we do it with utter confidence regardless of all the little tugging daemons inside of us rattling our hearts like babies' toys and prodding something very sharp and confusing into our brains. I don't think there are many teachers that would have done anything different to me.because I didn't do, well, anything. I did my job, you all do your jobs every day. I don't want a ribbon or a medal or a road named after me, I just want kids to know that it's all going to be okay to the best of our abilities should anything ever go wrong.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Fear of Falling.

Throughout my life I have been one of those people that, somewhat annoyingly for others, will try something regardless of how terrible I am likely to be at it. I will now anecdote (and yes can I use anecdote as a verb. I teach English and can word in any way I like. (See, there you go. I did it again. Different word worded differently.))

Anyway, To anecdote...

I did PE A Level. Stigma aside, I found it difficult. It was very cross-curricular, and it taught me more about psychology, in many ways, than my Psychology A Level did. For PE there was a moderation day. I was to be moderated in my second sport: Rounders. (Don't ask, but, in summary, I was very good at one sport and it didn't afford me much time to do another. The sport picked as the token second sport for me was rounders.)

When we arrived at the moderation day rounders was at the end. First there was football. They were, however, short one goalkeeper. I volunteered. I can barely save money in a sale let alone goals. Somehow (good defenders, most likely) I kept a clean sheet. This is not, however, about my Gordon Banks impression. It is about its reception by a child from another school who I had met (read 'was flirting with') at the moderation.They told me that they would never have volunteered. That they'd be too worried about making a fool of themselves. I was awestruck in the bad way. Who, my eighteen-year-old mind wondered, wouldn't just give something a go? Perhaps I was bought up in a way that embraced giving stuff a go, or perhaps I have just always been that way regardless, but it was always confused me, the attitude of fear of doing things. The most confusing part of this avoidance action is that I have always thought the fear was simply a part of life, and a positive thing. At the time of the aforementioned moderation I was competing nationally (not in rounders or football) and shaking before every race. This is still true of lastMonday morning, when I delivered an assembly and was physically shaking before I began. I've always thought that fear was part of difficult actions. Difficult actions are rewarding ergo fear is a good thing.(this is a bit of a false conclusion, but it has always worked for me.)

Yesterday I was reminded of that student at the football moderation when a student said to me that she would rather refuse to stand up to do a speaking and listening assessment and therefore fail than stand up in front of other students and potentially do badly. I was shocked. I called my head of department and we both quizzed the girl after the lesson. She had her mind totally set on not trying. But it wasn't not trying, not really. She had actually written the speaking and listening presentation. She had written the whole thing out verbatim in fact. This presented a difficulty in that full speeches are expressly forbidden by the regulations. So she was told to reduce her speech to notes and then she could go.

She refused. Twice. On consecutive days. She just didn't want to stand up in front of people and risk doing badly despite the tacit acceptance of failing by not doing anything. It mystified me and mystified my head of department so much that we started grilling her a bit. We asked her about her options for GCSE and they turned out to all be coursework based subjects; in other words, the sort of things you can keep redoing. She had even dropped PE half way through the year after ending up in a class with, in her words, 'loads of really clever kids'. I was dumbstruck that this student had not been noticed as a cause for concern at any point before. How had we missed a student whose confidence in herself was so low that she was avoiding situations where she could be exposed in any matter? But aside from our failings pastorally there was another nagging question in that annoying itchy bit at the back of my head, and I don't even mean the bit with the questionable rash. That question: What have we done to this girl?

The major difficulty with the itching, nagging question was the identification of who I actually meant when I used the pronoun. I knew that I was certainly part of the culpable 'we' but who was I lumping myself in with. The teachers? The school? All of education? X-Factor? Sadly, and annoyingly, the last one is likely to be true to an extent. Perhaps the show itself is not guilty per se but it is representative of a element of the society whose progeny we nurture.

My feeling is that we are part of a youth culture that sees itself in terms of a dichotomy of performer and observer. Students see those who perform as being either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad and both come with inherent problems. Being good leads to the depravity of quick young fame and being bad leads to ridicule. Not a day goes by that there is not a video on the internet of someone doing badly at something and receiving the full force of mob disgust. It even happened at my school. A girl posted a video of herself singing on youtube and it went viral around the school for all the wrong reasons. She crossed the void between observer and performer, risked judgement, and saw it rain down upon her. She is either resilient to the point of being metallic or oblivious to the point of being wooden. I still can't quite decide. 

I think that this fear is ingrained into students and it makes them fear the judgement more than the act. The student that I was so shocked by is afraid enough of judgement that it is safer simply not to take part despite its inherent failure. They wish to remain behind the glass screen at all costs and never expose themselves because it is safe but it also overcomes any aspiration. Students are culturally indoctrinated into believing in the glass ceiling as opposed to trying to break it. So they just sit, and stare, and never believe.

Strangely, this creates quite the opposite effect on some other students who believe that things will simply come their way without work. This attitude seems to be a sort of glass slipper syndrome where they just think everything will be okay because it will all work out. I find this particular attitude most prevalent, somewhat inappropriately, among the young boys who believe they are the next David Beckham, forgetting, of course, that in order to be a great footballer you actually have to practice playing football. Instead, most of them play a bit of football for the school and their aspiration is not to be an excellent footballer, rather to have the accoutrements of booted fame; a model wife, wheelbarrows of money and pure, innocent idolatry. But perhaps this entrenches further my theory. Students either believe they are destined to be spectators or that they should automatically belong on the pitch, stage or ring. There is no middle ground and, for most, no idea of what the concept of hard work entails or solves.

I will finish with this:

A student this week asked me why rappers were so good at rapping when most of them didn't finish school. I told them that there are things that can't be taught but have to be actively learned. The only way to ensure you get what you want is to go and get it, I told him, and then it still might not happen. He seemed shocked at this.