First of all, the Good - actually, two things. I have to start by congratulating my kid sister, Karen, for successfully completing the Challenge Barcelona Triathlon - 4k of swimming, 180k of cycling and 40k of running - in 13hours 30 mins, which is a new family record.
It's a record as a) nobody else in the family has done a triathlon and b) I don't think anyone is mad enough to try to challenge it.
Well done, Karen - I bet your legs are hardly working at the moment.
It just leaves the question of what she'll be planning next.
The other strand of Good is about me - I've been chosen to deliver a paper at the English UK Teachers' conference in November. This time round I'm up against no less than Jeremy Harmer (in the EFL God corner) and Phillida Schellekens (In the ESOL Goddess corner). Two falls, submissions or a knockout to decide. I'll post more about this on my almost-defunct ELT Journal weblog. I'm pretty pleased about this - although this will be the third time I've done this, I think what I have to say (about the possibility of a linguistic hierarchy of needs and the way it affects learner motivations) will be interesting.
OK, now the Bad. And I bet you just skipped over the stuff above, didn't you? Everyone prefers to read Bad/Ugly.
Anyway. It isn't actually that bad, not in the whole scheme of things. I had to give my Xperia X10 Mini Pro to the phone shop as it had suddenly stopped connecting while making calls. I'm really annoyed, as it's a fantastically useful phone - I've only just started to really to get to grips with what it could do, but it won't do the one thing well that it's meant to do - take bloody phone calls. So, off to Sony Ericsson with it. Having used it for the past few months, I love the size of it most of the time, but could easily see myself with the larger version as well for some of the things I do, such as review documents. Oh well, for the time being I'm back to using my trusty old K810i.
OK, the Ugly. Considering I almost put my foot through the television this morning, I will, unlike the BBC, give a warning before I proceed, so that those of a more, er, choleric disposition may choose not to read the following, rather than start beating up your monitor.
I'm about to mention a Senior Tory and a social group who think pinstripe shirts, bouffant hair, a braying voice and two nostrils full of cocaine are good things.
George Bloody Osborne and Bankers.
Honestly, I wanted to punch the bloody screen when George's smug features appeared on BBC Breakfast. He started blethering on about how many cuts were required in public spending, and how much it would change society, as though it were a good thing: He sounded like a particularly vicious, sadistic senior public school boy about to unleash his frustrations with a whip on a dormitory full of trembling year 7s.
Actually, that's probably not too far from the truth. However, it was notable for what he did not say - about how profoundly damaging these expenditure cuts are going to be, who they're going to hurt the most, and who they will not.
Not for the first time, the guilty parties will not only not suffer, they will actually be rewarded. For the bankers, it's more or less business as usual - Salaries up, Bonuses being spent, champagne and caviar being quaffed. and of course, this shoddy bunch of white, incipient-middle-aged, wealthy curs who are the current government will do nothing to upset the dogs of Threadneedle Street, for fear of -well, what? That they'll bugger off abroad and make somewhere else rich?
If what they've done to this country is their idea of wealthy, then somewhere esle can bloody have them.
However, It only seems right to me that the bankers, the economists and businessmen who generated this mess should be punished. If a man takes the bread from my mouth, isn't this theft? So isn't it more so when it is done to an entire nation? The cuts to come will end up killing the weakest, the oldest and the most vulnerable, yet it will not be a shot or a knife in the dark or a sudden unseen blow to the head that slays, but a slow, sadistic breaking that murders them by a thousand degrees.
And the rotten bunch of bastards in Whitehall and The City will not even notice the blood spotting their hands.
So, how to punish them?
Simple: Make them work off their debt. Take one thing from them that will ensure obedience and a focus on what they should do to put things right.
Take away their passports.
It's simple, really, when you think of it - a passport doesn't actually belong to the holder: rather, it is a state document that the holder may be required to relinquish when compelled. The idea is that, by not being allowed to travel abroad, a banker will be compelled to work in the UK. He won't be a slave as such - there will a decent, but not extravagant, salary, and once the son of a bitch has paid back to the taxpayer that which he has stolen, he can get back his passport. Until that time, the bankers would belong to us, as those who work in the nationalised banks should do. Limiting a person's freedoms for the public benefit may seem a bit extreme, but when you calculate what this self-appointed elite of sneering boys has cost us, it seems suddenly not so bad.
And I, for one, would happily pay money to see the look on of their faces as they're told they can't jet off for a skiing holiday, and that the wage they'll earn won't even keep them in cocaine for a month.