Notes from the TEFL Graveyard

Wistful reflections, petty glories.

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Location: The House of Usher, Brazil

I'm a flailing TEFL teacher who entered the profession over a decade ago to kill some time whilst I tried to find out what I really wanted to do. I like trying to write comedy (I once got to the semi-finals of a BBC Talent competition, ironically writing a sitcom based on TEFL), whilst trying to conquer genetically inherited procrastination... I am now based in Brazil, where I live with my wife and two chins.

Monday, 2 November 2009


It may be the fact that I'm sliding inelegantly towards 40 like a man on a dustbin liner down a rain-soaked slag heap, but a few months ago I decided to get myself definitively into shape for the first time in around 15 years. Another factor that has helped me find motivation is my brother-in-law's suggestion that the calcified herniated disc in my back may be best treated by removing an entire vertebra and connecting some metal apparatus to keep me erect, a surgical procedure that may look good on his CV, but will not have my willing, or conscious, participation if I can help it.

My diet has been enriched by the serendipity of Brazilian fodder. Most fattening foods and drinks are entirely unsavoury as far as I am concerned. The beer makes me nauseous or bloated, or both, the ham is like an overly pink slab of an overweight adolecent's buttock, the bacon is 90% fat and 10% meat, but best/worst of all, all the cheeses taste exactly the same, and may be differentiated only by a very slight change in their shade of yellow.

Despite people fervently describing Brazilian pizza as "a melhor do mundo" (people who have never eaten at Pizza Express, clearly), I find it almost entirely wretched, with what passes for mozzarella being a strongly flavoured, overly-rich plastic imitation.

I think I've also managed to finally crack my MacDonald's delusion - when I'm in a shopping centre and I'm hungry, more often than not I go to MacDonald's, eat something that is neither tasty nor healthy nor filling, and vow never to do so again as I chomp my way through the last morsels of the sickly sweet viand and lick the packaging. Then, a few weeks later, I have already forgetten just how bad it was and do the same again, in an entirely irrational triumph of subjective hope over objective fact.

On the upside, the fruit in Brazil is irrepressably delicious - I've been gorging myself on the low-calorie delights that are oranges, papayas, mangoes, strawberries, kiwis and bananas, all at prices that don't leave a hole in the pocket. I recently purchased 20 bananas for R$ 2.50 from a man in a VW Kombi, which works out at less than a shilling per piece of comically-formed fruit.

I'm also doing stretching classes twice a week (great for easing the pressure on the old sciatic nerve) and doing a light upper body workout at the gym, to keep my mistresses happy. So, you are asking yourself, just how trim is the real slim Wardy? I've dropped from a wobbly 78 kg to a reasonable 70 kg - that's 0.078 tonnes to 0.070 tonnes.

Quite an achievement, I'm sure you'll agree.

Does the cheese in your country break the Trade Descriptions Act? Are you on a diet? How many tonnes do you weigh? How much are bananas where you live? Are you ever coming back to this blog after these questions?

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