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It is very easy to find people in Astana

  Tue 13th March 2018

Tuesday 10am, Astana airport

Never has an overpriced Hoegaarden tasted so good. This ill-starred venture is coming to an end. I have snapped my Kazakh SIM card in two, and in the immortal words of Dick and Dom, "flushed it down the lav."

I was falsely accused at school yesterday of hitting a girl. Her aunt is a Senator and has threatened to make difficulties for me in Kazakhstan. I did not touch her. I told her off severely (without raising my voice) for doing fuck all during my lessons, sitting with her back to me throughout them, and refusing to pick up a plastic cup she had thrown onto the floor.

At the end of the lesson, I kept her back and gave her a bollocking about being so insolent and bone idle. She looked at me with victory assured in advance, clearly practised in the art she was about to deploy. "You kicked me." She rang her mum, adding being hit to the fiction.

I was summoned to the Director's office. I was alarmed to see a policeman in the office but Lidia assured me it was nothing to do with me; they arrive unannounced at schools to check the roll and its employees against a list of undesirables.

The policeman left, apparently satisfied that we were not harbouring anyone dangerous, like journalists or trade union organisers. I nodded and opened my hands insincerely as I sat through a torrent of Russian from the girl's Dad. I was "invited" to make an apology of which I meant not a word, to her and her parents. The economics of private education means the rule of the child. When it was over, Lidia burst into tears on the stairs, saying that she had only translated a little of what he was saying. "I haven't heard so many bad words for years. It reminds me of how little we [teachers] are here."

Check-in opens in two hours' time so none of this will be my problem soon. Spoilt little Erina, the darling niece of the ruling classes, will have got her way -- again. I only hope that one day her fall will be more painful because it will come from the high place in society she knows she will sail into, despite being a lying, manipulative little bastard.

All of which was the greater shame because there was a ray of hope on Saturday. I took a baby step in Kazakh when I understood verbally, rather than through her gestures, the bus conductor's offer of a vacant seat, and managed to put "it's OK thank you, I'm getting off at the next stop" into satisfactory Kazakh. It's a lovely sounding language. Its rhythms are Brucknerian -- it rolls on and on, keeping you waiting for a climax that never comes.

However, the school's anniversary concert later than day was sadly not remotely evocative of C19th Austrian High Romanticism. Groups of pupils recreated a series of rejected Junior Eurovision entries playing on the mother-whore iconography. Domestic tableaux of rural life were spicily interleaved with hip-hop dance routines featuring older girls in tight skirts and white blouses knotted above the waist. Afterwards, Lidia and I repaired to her house, where I was introduced to her detective husband and her two personable daughters, ready with questions for me, so different from the sullen self-absorption of the English teenager.

I forced down the horsemeat, fighting off the extra ladlefuls of mare's buttock stew that were constantly being introduced to my plate. The warm room chilled for a moment when he said "it is very easy to find people in Astana", and part of me is wondering whether I'll be lifted from the airport and frogmarched back to school. I glance nervously across to the policeman here showing something on his mobile phone to the barmaid, wondering if he's saying "have you seen this man?"

As the delicious local cognac extinguished the taste of mare and had the desired relaxant effects, hubby went off for a sleep and Lidia got us dancing; she's a good dancer, and we resolved to go out one night with the groovier of the teachers.

"You're a handsome man looby," an adjective I cannot ever remember being applied to me. "You need a nice Kazakh girl," and talk turned to possible matches. I'd want one with eyelids, I didn't say. Travel truly narrows the mind. Then we came to business. "Everyone is taking money from us, you know looby. We do the work and Valery, he..."; she was looking for something like "skims off." "In our school, we could keep all the money."

For the first time in this country I am about to leave, I felt relaxed, laughing and even wondering about at least a temporary future here.


The front half of this post so enraged me I’m not sure what the second half was about. I’ll have to scroll up and reread. I hate bullies and that little girl was a bully. The worst kind…a privileged, wealthy bully. She’ll never get her comeuppance. It’s be great if she were hit by a bus or something but that’s not how life works. Life isn’t fair. There is no great equalizer.

Tue 13th March 2018 @ 17:11 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I could see it in her eyes – the fearlessness of her, born from her privileged immunity from simple manners and respect. And I have to apologise to HER? Well, they can fuck right off.

My regret is that I have landed Lidia in it by doing a flit, but to be honest, I’m in Warsaw now, having a beer, and I can’t really give a damn. I’ve tried, but you can’t win with little shits like Erina.

Tue 13th March 2018 @ 19:35 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Privileged rich kids assholes the world over, i don’t know if it should be comforting or disturbing how predictable humanity is… we have an asshole rich kid in this country who wants parades with tanks and throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way, fucking knob ends each and every one, hopefully Princess will get her comeuppance but chances are she’ll sail through life being the asshole she is and coddled by the assholes who raised her…

I wouldn’t worry about Lidia, i’m sure you’re not the first to take a flyer, in fact i’m surprised they can get anyone to come and teach there, sounds like a nightmare… and wasn’t Borat from Kazakhstan?

Tue 13th March 2018 @ 20:00 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Borat’s English and is banned in Kaz. I think he’s funny. It’s a measure of the immaturity and insecurity of the dictator kleptomaniac who runs the place that he can’t stand having the piss taken out of him. Power corrupts. I thank fuck I come from a dirt poor background, because I know myself well enough that money would corrupt me too. At least my corruptions are good ones :)

Tue 13th March 2018 @ 20:09 Reply to this comment
Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

god awful… if you ever end up in a similar situation, it is wise for teachers/adults working with children to always do it with an adult witness.

lidia sounds absolutely lovely - and it is a shame that you had to bail out just as there were glimmers of hope. but your departure was necessary. the school situation will not improve after this…

Sat 17th March 2018 @ 05:55 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes she was really lovely and it’s a great shame that I’ve landed her in it now, but what am I to do? Give the Little Princess an exemption card from being disciplined?

Anyway, back in Lancaster now and girding my loins for my next application round.

Mon 19th March 2018 @ 17:59 Reply to this comment

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 60 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

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