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Thoughts From The Corner

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Once upon a time, many moons ago but still within living memory, a little boy sat in a classroom corner.

Not so long, pupils who were considered disruptive, or simply stupid because they couldn’t answer the teacher’s questions, were sent to ‘the corner’. Facing the corner, away from the class, the pupil would have a ‘Dunce’s Cap’ with a letter ‘D’ on it, put on his head.

Alone in the corner, mocked by teachers and peers alike, every minute seemed like an hour. The little boy had a lot of time to think because he spent many hours of his educational life there

That little boy grew up to become a lecturer and private English tutor.

The experience of being isolated and ridiculed as a little boy has never left him. Left alone in the corner for many hours, all he had were his ‘thoughts from the corner’.

Today, he uses that expression (‘thoughts from the corner’) to post some of the many thoughts, stories and events that have happened to him throughout his life, on this blog.

Each post is a small, self-contained anecdote leading to a conclusion of where his thoughts have led him during the writing of the piece. Some will be amusing, some will be sad. Hopefully, all will be thoughtful.

‘When One Door Closes Another Opens’ smiles Private Tutor

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“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” – Chinese Proverb (Photo credit: Brian Metcalfe)

The image above strikes me as being applicable to not only my day job as a private tutor but as a metaphor for us all as we wander through life.

Many moons ago I used to teach English to adult classes; it was wonderful. They had returned to the classroom having missed out when they were younger. Some went to work straight from school, some started families and some preferred night’s on the dance floor to noses stuck in books. Whatever the reason, now was their time. Some had been made redundant and some had seen their children fly the nest; they now had time to pursue something which had been fermenting deep within their souls – they desired Education.

Chomping at the bit they looked to me for guidance. I was the one with knowledge of the education system. They gave their all. My role was simply to guide them over the hurdles of the system and they did the rest. Classes were disciplined and stimulating, homework conscientiously attempted and handed in on time. To coin a phrase, from my point of view, It was a doddle. Never was the Chinese proverb above more applicable.

One day, I will tell you about the teenage classes I had. . . Oh dear! So many refused to enter the door that I held open and some even slammed it shut in my face. However, they are stories for other posts.

Looking at it another way, though, it can also be said that when one door closes another opens. As we amble down life’s path, either the major ones or the ones lesser taken, there are doors which we have all refused to enter at one time or another. Time cannot be reversed, there is no going back and the present is no time for regrets.

Several years ago I closed a door behind me and set off down the path of being a private tutor.

In the words of Edith Piaf, ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’.

What about you? Are there any doors you have slammed shut or indeed any you have refused to enter? Any regrets?

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Bust of Edith Piaf in Celebrity Alley in Kielce (Poland) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Etsy? Who is Etsy?’ queries Private English Tutor


Not ‘who’ but ‘what’.

It’s an online shop selling hand crafted goods and I’ve just opened one. Yes, from private English tutor to shopkeeper at a cost of $3 per annum – at least that’s what I think the small print said!

Up until a few weeks ago Etsy was a strange four-letter word that I had occasionally come across but had no idea what it meant. However, one magazine article later and I was brimming with enthusiasm and knowledge about the strange word. It seems that people the whole world over have ventured into the Etsy world of individual hand-made goods. I’m talking everything from wedding dresses to flowers for button holes to bead necklaces to hand stitched leather goods and on and on and on. . .

‘What’s good for the goose has to be good for the gander’ thinks I! :-)


What’s good for the goose. . .

A few hours pounding the keyboard and there it was: my very own shop, offering the world personalised dvd slide shows. I’ve never owned a shop (or ever wanted to) before but now I have a virtual one.

The origins of this particular adventure began more than ten years ago when I traded in my film cameras for a digital one. That led to manipulation of digital images (Photoshop and all that) which then led to me putting images together with music, captions, effects, movement. . . and here we are offering personalised dvd slide shows. Have you ever wondered about the decisions you make and where they eventually lead to? I have. . .

For several years I have been putting bespoke dvd’s together for customers. These include weddings, family history, graduations, proms, celebrations of all kinds, the life of a pet – in fact, ‘If you can photograph it then I can dvd it!’

So what does it take to produce something that is unique to you? Something that can be shown on the TV in your living room to family and friends? Something for you to treasure for years?


‘Come look at our wedding Freda.’

Here’s the process:

1.    Digital images required – this can also include video clips

1a.    Non-digital images – photographs, negatives, slides, illustrations, maps, etc. I can convert.

2.    Each image is optimized i.e. colour corrected, sharpened, cropped if required

3.    Images put into running order (that’s you task!)

4.    Put together those images where multiple images are used in effects

5.    Work on each individual image with respect to timing, movement, panning, zooming in/out, effects

6.    Captions where required e.g. names of people on wedding images (that’s your task again)

7.    Transitions – the ‘bits’ in between the images – timing and effects

8.    Add music of your choice – I’ll decide if you can’t

9.    Run show on monitor and make corrections

9a. Second run through to correct corrections!

10. Burn to dvd and check show runs smoothly on TV

10a Correct above version

11.  Up load to web site for customer to view and suggest corrections

11a Do above corrections – Check on monitor then burn dvd and check on TV

12. Burn off ‘master’ copy

13. Design images and text for burning on disc – NOT sticky labels

14. Design dvd case cover

15. Pop completed project into post

16. Take a well earned holiday!

See how quick and easy it all is. . .

In the past two weeks I have had three views of the site resulting in no orders.

Time to give up my day job as a private English tutor – probably not!

hamster wheel 2

Probably not time to give up the day job. . .






Time is More Valuable than Money – Sometimes!

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Thoughts From The Corner

The past month has witnessed a paucity of posts by this private English tutor.

Having the need to put bread on the table, I have spent June marking examination scripts. Four whole weeks gauging how well (or otherwise!) today’s youth are struggling with the English language. Oh. . . and how they are struggling!


Did he pass his English exam?

I may have marked a batch of poor candidates – on the other hand, their standard may fairly represent that of the modern generation. Judging by the few hundred papers I marked, I fear for this beautiful language of ours. The good news, however, is that I know my re-embarkation on the good ship WordPress will be greeted with quality writing on a whole myriad of interesting blog posts. For that I thank you.

marking scripts

Marking Scripts

As my head clears and I ponder the past four weeks, I wonder where time has gone. I am sure it has not really gone anywhere, it’s simply me that has existed in a parallel space – I think!

Delving into my ever-faithful-ever-dependable quotation book I wondered what words of wisdom it contained on the subject of ‘Time’. Here are a few pearls which I would like to share with you.

Hector Berlioz said:

Time is a great teacher. Unfortunately it kills all of its pupils.

I love that – just my kind of humour; going from bleak-dark.

Thinking about the past month and all those scripts the next quote strikes a chord:

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money but you can’t get more time. (Jacob Bigelow)

How very true. I can’t get those four weeks back, I traded them for the legal tender. Sad but true.


Chasing the legal tender


I went to a restaurant that ‘serves breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance. :-)

As the scripts fade into the dim and distant past I start to contemplate my manuscript – Seeing Unseen. Having had it edited I am straining at the leash to re-write/do/hash (delete as applicable). I have been laying the first chapter out on Pinterest. It has been an enjoyable exercise but now I find that I need to rewrite that first chapter so the Pinterest board will have to be adjusted accordingly. The challenge of trying to put my novel into pictures has been interesting and I have received some great feedback from you out there – Thank You.

As one of ‘mature years’, Time is something that I dwell on from time to time – can I have three times in one sentence? Those of you that share this maturity may also, perhaps, have dwelt on this un-graspable subject. Why does it go faster the older I get and why do I understand it less than I did several decades ago?

old man

‘Where has time gone?’ ponders private English tutor

Is this private English tutor alone here?

Exam Marking Intrudes on Life of Private English Tutor

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Thoughts From The Corner

Here we are again, that time of the year when this Private English Tutor loses the month of June due to exam marking.

I am sure that most of you have, at some time or other, taken an English exam. Have you ever given a thought to the minion at the other end of your two hours of blood, sweat and tears? That minion may well have been me! You may not live in the United Kingdom (perhaps not so ‘united’ in September when Scotland have their vote to break away) but the long arm of the British exam system stretches to many places around the globe. I mark iGCSE English papers. The ‘i’ stands for ‘International’. That means that your paper has been set and marked here in Britain.

A few days ago, somewhere, thousands of miles from me and my computer, sheep-like candidates nervously entered the exam room and completed a paper which they had been dreading for several years. The day of reckoning had arrived. We’ve all been there,  it’s no fun – but neither is marking them!


Sheep-Like, candidates enter the examination room

So then what?

Someone has the unenviable task of scanning the examination booklet and making it ready to be marked online. Yes, online. No longer do I receive packets containing hundreds of scripts being brought up the garden path by a bow-legged courier looking like an extra from a John Wayne film – younger readers please check Wikipedia for ‘John Wayne’.

Marking is done online. I chain myself to the computer chair (it’s big and ugly but it does recline) and stare for countless hours every day at the screen. As I plough through them, counting them down until I am on my last dozen or so at the end of June, I occasionally receive a message from my ‘Team Leader’. A marked script that has been included in my batch (not one I am aware of) has a part of it that has not been marked as accurately as it should have done. It may be one point out of fifty that I missed – it may be more! So I check it, back-track over previously marked papers and check them and then apply the ‘correct’ marking to all future papers.

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Exam Marking is done online

Then what? Well, the third week in August (on a Thursday) those candidates will receive their grades. I don’t know who they are or which part of the world they are in but I am certain they will not have given much thought to the small cog in the exam machine that marked their paper. :-)

What about that small cog? I await the cheque for my hard labour and move on to the third draft of my novel.

Seeing Unseen has recently had a professional edit and is patiently sitting in its folder awaiting my attention. Looking at loneliness, delusion, cyber stalking and the resultant underage relationship, my first novel will be available in 2015. Before then it is possible to watch it being played out on Pinterest. Week by week I am playing out the narrative in images. Please see the latest installment at: Seeing Unssen.

It only remains for this private English tutor to tune in to the webinar later this week to be informed of the marking scheme for the English paper, then to immerse myself in virtual English papers for the next month. :-(

Novel Writing on Pinterest by Private English Tutor


The attempt at putting my 80,000 word novel (Seeing Unseen) into images, continues unabated here on Pinterest.

This Private English Tutor’s blog is two years old and those of you that have been tuning in regularly will perhaps remember some of my photographs that I have previously posted. Here is an example from last summer when I pondered on the distractions of using my garden as an office. For several decades now I have loved photography and have often been seen at the crack of dawn behind my tripod, waiting for a beautiful English sunrise – often, it was more like waiting for Godot! :-)

I think it is this love of the image that has attracted me to Pinterest. Facebook and its chitter-chatter holds little interest for me but I do steal five or ten minutes here and there to do a little pinning – that’s what you do over in Pinterest; try it, it’s not too strenuous.

Seeing Unseen has recently undergone a professional edit. As expected it needs a little touching up (rewrite?) before a further professional edit. Once the June exam marking is consigned to history the touching up/rewrite will happen.

You have 45 minutes to discuss –  ‘Why do novels take so long to write?’ You will be marked on content only, not grammer and speling. :-)

Talking of time here’s a thought from Meister Eckhart:

“There exists only the present instant. . . a Now which always and without end is itself New. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.”

Oooh! Excuse this private English tutor while he goes to lie down and mop his brow. . .

lying down under books

Private English tutor contemplates Time

Pinterest – A Novel By A Private English Tutor


For the pair of you that have spent the last week on tenterhooks, wondering how my novel Seeing Unseen will develop on Pinterest, the wait is over. Please click on the link to see the latest instalment: Seeing Unseen on Pinterest.

For those of you out there that aren’t too bothered that I’ve sweated over a steaming pen for the past eighteen months, here’s my thought of the day that I have pondered whilst penning those 80,000 words:

“Bunyan spent a year in prison, Coleridge was a drug addict, Poe was an alcoholic, Marlowe was killed by a man he was trying to stab, Pope took a large sum of money to keep a woman’s name out of a vicious satire and then wrote it so that she could be recognized anyway, Chatterton killed himself, Somerset Maugham was so unhappy in his final thirty years that he longed for death . . . do you still want to be a writer?” (Bennett Cerf)

Food for thought indeed, ponders this private English tutor.

marking scripts

Ah! The pleasures of writing!



Pinterest plus Quotes from Private English Tutor


A two pronged attack from the Private English Tutor for this post.

i.    Next installment of my novel Seeing Unseen is viewable on Pinterest.

ii.   Once a sucker – Always a sucker! – Why can’t I pass a charity/thrift shop without buying a book?

After my last post I received the following comment from my good friend writeonthebeach,

‘This is a real tease ET😊 please can you hurry up and get more of it pinned. It’s an intriguing form of  PR and a great hook into your book.’

‘Seeing Unseen’ – Seth fell in love with a girl 40 years his junior

I am not so sure that I am a ‘tease’ but I do hope my Pinterest activity is intriguing. I still don’t know if it’s possible to to put 80,000 words in pictures and remain true to those words. However, the narrative continues. This time I give you  the second sentence from the novel accompanying the image.

Please nip on over and take a gander – Seeing Unseen on Pinterest.

Once a sucker – Always a sucker! Ah yes, that’ll be me.

ii.    Dim and distant, through the intangible mists of time I have had an addiction. Yes, indeed – I have been mainlining books for as long as I can remember. From those Enid Blyton adventure stories when I was no more than knee-high to a grasshopper to the ‘QI Book of Quotations – Advanced Banter’ that I couldn’t resist recently. It didn’t seem right to leave it lurking, collecting dust on the ‘Romance’ shelf of our local Charity shop.

Formal education [I will return to teh book in a line or two - honest :-)], particularly for the very young, has many critics. As this blog is supposedly about all things educational, I present you with three thoughtful quotes from the aforementioned book to mull over:

‘We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and then the next twelve years telling them to site down and shut up.’ (Phyllis Diller)

‘All you have to do to educate a child is to leave them alone and teach them to read. The rest is brainwashing.’ (Ellen Gilcrist)

‘Let early education be a sort of natural amusement. You will then be better able to discover the natural bent.’ (Plato)

Thoughtful words indeed to produce many a heated discussion but this is not the time and place for this private English tutor to let off steam.

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Eduation! Education! Education!




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