Trade places? Maybe not;Comment;Opinion;FE Focus

5th March 1999 at 00:00
WEDNESDAY February 3, 5.30pm: Hi, Steve. It's Larry. You remember me don't you? We did that teaching exchange back in the 1980s. You came over here and I taught your classes in London, England. Good times, eh, Steve? Sorry I didn't catch you at home, so I guess I'll just have to leave a message. Listen Steve, I've been thinking. How about giving it another go? Another exchange, I mean. Freshen up the old techniques. Revisit old haunts. It might be fun, Steve. Think about it.

Friday February 5, 6.30pm: Thanks for returning the call, Steve. Pity you missed me. I was out on the golf course. Guess you must still be at work. Steve, you say things have changed for college teachers since I was over there. Well, they needed to. All that paperwork and stuff they made you do when you should have been getting on with your teaching. Guess they finally wised up and put that work where it belonged - with the clerks. Change like that I can live with, Steve. Call me.

Monday February 8, 7.30pm: Wow, Steve, wow. Your message kinda stunned me. You sure you got it right? I mean, what kind of jerks would give you guys more stupid form filling to do? And fancy you remembering that old nickname of mine - Larry the Lambaster. Sometimes I guess you just have to kick ass to make it in this world, Steve. Though from what you're telling me it sounds like the only butt being kicked over there is yours! You think I really would get used to it if we went ahead with another trade, Steve? Perhaps you'd better tell me some more. Sorry we keep missing one another. You shouldn't work so hard.

Thursday February 11, 8.30pm: So let me get this right, Steve. You've got more managers and administrators than ever before. More teachers who don't teach. More accountants, clerks and bureaucrats. And yet still you guys in the classroom have got more and more bureaucratic work to do. I'm not so sure I could get used to that, Steve. Hasn't anyone over there heard tell of "quality" yet?

Friday February 12, 9.30pm: You've got quality, then, Steve? Bucket-loads of it, you say. But listen, the way I see it, quality isn't about systems and documents and meetings. It's about, well, quality - improving it, that is. This new exchange idea, Steve - I gotta tell you, I'm having some problems with the dates. We must talk.

Monday February 15, 10.30pm: Damn it Steve, I thought if I left it this late you must be home. Don't tell me, you're at work? Steve, I don't think you've been levelling with me. See, I still get the British papers from time to time. And what I keep reading is that that cute Blair guy is giving you people in colleges a whole new stash of cash. Come on, Steve, pound;725 million isn't peanuts. So, the way I figure it, they must be paying you pretty well for all that extra work you're always bellyaching about. Our last pay hike hardly kept up with inflation.

Wednesday February 17, 11.30pm: No cash either, then, Steve? At least none of it's come your way yet. That's real sad, Steve, real sad. See, a community college teacher here in the States isn't exactly a high roller. But he's not a bum either. What you say about your pay cheque, I reckon you could make more pumping gas over here. Those dates are looking real tricky at the moment, I have to say. By the way, Steve, you sounded pretty tired on that last message. Like you could really use a holiday.

Wednesday February 24, midnight: They took the holidays too did they, Steve? Kinda brings to mind that quaint expression I picked up in London - "taking the piss". Don't you sometimes think that someone is doing that to you college teachers, Steve? Glad to hear you received the food parcel, though. I'll speak to the dean and see if we can work it up into a regular deal.

Tuesday March 2, 1.30am: It's late, Steve. It's been nice not talking to you, but I think I'd better sign off now. You see, I'm not getting any younger. And I'm not sure I could cope for a whole year with all that crap they're dumping on you guys. No hard feelings, Steve, but do you know of anyone in Australia who might want to trade places?

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