Sunday, May 27, 2007

Big purple allium

Well, I’ve marked 70 scripts so there are just 140 to go, and I’m getting much faster, as is always the case as the passages and questions become more and more familiar. I’d better not mention anything specific about the scripts, although there is one rather nice howler… but I’ll not tell you it yet. I don’t want to get disqualified as a marker and I’m sure that the Scottish Qualifications Authority reads this blog every morning just to check I’m not being indiscreet.

There was a nice example from three or four years ago, however, that I don’t think I ever mentioned here. (Apologies if I have. I don't have time to check.) The passage was about the way we tend to overprotect our offspring, and the writer said that children were in danger of becoming as restricted and unable to cope with the real world as battery hens. The candidates were asked to comment on the effectiveness of this image.

You would not believe how many pupils wrote that it was effective because, just as with the hens, if you took the batteries out, the children wouldn’t be able to do anything for themselves.

The first time I came across this, I read it to my family and we all rolled around the floor in mirth. But then the same thing kept recurring – about a fifth of the papers I marked said something along those lines. Exam hysteria had clearly taken Scotland by storm that year. I know we all tend to be removed nowadays from the source of food, but – come on.

Never mind the hens; wouldn’t small children be perfect if, from time to time, one could just remove the batteries…?

Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions about our son-in-law. It really is kind. He’s had a bad week, though seems better this weekend with Daughter 1 around to administer soothing words and cuddles. Let’s hope the improvement continues.

Sorry I haven’t commented on anyone’s blog – I’ve been keeping myself strictly away from the computer. But I might just have a tiny read now for a few minutes before bed.


  1. Your battery hen anecdote reminds me of a tale related to me by a professor back in college. He'd been tutoring a student who was having some difficulty understanding the literature assigned for coursework. "I want you to tell me about the hardships the central character encounters," he said. The student replied that he was confused; he didn't understand what wooden boats had to do with the story.

    The professor was bewildered for a moment, then he realized that in this student's mind "hardships" equaled "wooden boats".

    And yes, small children would indeed be perfect if one could occasionally remove their batteries. Imagine how much more rested and even-tempered new parents would be!

    All the best to you and yours -

  2. Love your howlers Isabelle! They're SO entertaining. Can't wait until you can share more!

  3. Between your hen story and Tanya's wooden boats,I chuckled my way through this. Removing the batteries from small children is the perfect solution to maintaining a parent's sanity. I can't wait to tell my daughter...

  4. HA HA HA!!! Battery hens indeed! And hardships...oh dear, ROFLMAO! If you're not going to write a book one day Isabelle, I might just go back over your blog, collect all these malapropisms, spoonerisms, and other eccentricities, and download them on my own computer, just for a giggle!!! (and you have my permission to laugh at me if I have wrongly spelled (spelt?) any of the above big words!)

  5. Battery hens and Hardships. My mother is still crying with laughter after I read this to her. Oh, I do know what you mean about howlers. I must start writing the ones I see on exam papers down too.
    Happy Marking!

  6. or even if they had mute, pause and rewind buttons (the children that is, not the hens).

  7. I rather like Velcro's mute, pause & rewind..
    It makes one wonder are there battery parents out there? It seems incredible.
    Hope your SIL feels better.

  8. I wonder if Department Stores had a correspondingly large number of requests that year for battery hens as Christmas gifts? How handy would they be? You could probably program them to lay the eggs poached, boiled, fried or scrambled.

  9. I love the allium. It's so pretty and round. And purple.

    I managed to grow one, ONCE.

    Hope you have managed to survive your marking.
    Here is a "visual howler":
    I marked a sculpture which consisted of an old metal garbage bin with a lid. When you removed the lid and peered in, there you were at the bottom, reflected in a mirror.

    Well, I laughed.

    best wishes to you.