Alexa decides

Alexa selected Green Day. Don’t want to be an American Idiot. Tremendous – that doesn’t link with any of the threads I was thinking about. So let’s stick to the plan and see where this takes us down a political road.

Our PM stood in front of the nation this week and said nothing was her fault. But one line really stood out.

“I am on your side….”

Respectfully can I tell you PM May to sod off.

Where you on my side when:

– you actively started copying the current US Presidents approach to running a government

– you put your own self preservation above the need to properly consider a Brexit which helps and protects our country

– when you stood back and watched utility/transport companies flout the market and excessively raise prices

– when you ignored local and environmental objections, forcing fracking on our communities

– when you savagely cut school, health and policing budgets

– when you traded with rogue nations

– when you actively promoted feelings of little Britain. Sending out advert buses demonising good people who had decided to come to Britain to live and work

– when you turned your back on the Grenell Tower survivors and all those families still living in potentially unsafe buildings

– when you sat back and watched changes to the education system which so badly impacted kids with Dyslexia and Autism

– when your decisions continue to destroy our beloved NHS

– when the only voices you listen to are your own deluded tones plus a handful of your own far right MPs and 10 DUP MPs

– when you pay lip service to the mental health crisis facing this country

– when you tell the kids to stop protesting about the environment.

So NO you are not on our side, just your own.

Our gerbils are ready to roll. They will happily form a government which will truly be for the people and rodents. The price – just a few toilet rolls…

Embrace the stain….

Picking up from this mornings post. Spiez is just a perfect place. The building at the front of the picture is the hotel we would stay at. The mountain dominating at the back is the Niederhorn. Before our son was born I was practicing for a mountain race. As part of the training I managed to run up this beautiful mountain. I remember lying at the top ignoring the stunning view – just thinking do I run back down or call for a helicopter evacuation…

I recount this story as it came to me again this afternoon. Setting a goal, achieving it then rather than basking in the success you immediately worry about the next step or challenge.

This feels a bit like fighting the system for our son. So many peaks to climb. You climb one but you then immediately have to face a new climb. It can be soul destroying.

We have potentially found a specialist who will assess our son’s dyslexia. But now I need to find the money to pay for it (the leaking washing machine will have to survive another year before it’s replaced). AND I somehow need to find a way of getting the education system to adopt the recommendations of the assessment. I was speaking to another parent who has been trying unsuccessfully for two years to get her school to adopt the same specialists recommendations. Why do we make it so difficult for our kids…

You then see the news which is dominated by talk of Brexit. Our so called Prime Minister is trying to bribe another party with up to a billion pounds of further funding if they will vote for her shambles of a plan. And yet they can’t find the money to adequately fund our schools or mental health support services. She takes great delight in telling the rest of us that money doesn’t grow on a tree. Clearly our Leader values her own career and legacy higher than the kids of our country…… Sadly she is not the only world leader like that.

Then my mind drifts back to that mountain. The Niederhorn. I didn’t ‘get into the chopper’ in an Austrian accent but decided to run down. It was an interesting decent. As some breathless pillock had collapsed at the top into a fresh pile of some unknown and clearly legendary bird droppings. Running while trying to prevent passerby’s getting a good view of the your oddly coloured rear is just embarrassing. Rather than embracing the stain I just tried to run as quickly as possible while keeping my bum always pointing away from people. I can hear my dad saying ‘son as quick as you run you won’t increase the separation between your shorts and that stain’. Maybe that’s a really good analogy for state of our governments overall strategy……

Slice of life and a cake

I bravely ventured out to a store in one of local villages It’s not what you would call very big…

“Do you sell any floor cleaner?”

“No not been asked for that in ages. I thinks we sold the last one to Janice when she bought the Grandfather Clock from a vicarage three years ago. She wanted the room to look nice for when it arrived.”

“Ok” – it’s always a bit of an out of body experience in the shop. No idea who Janice is!

Would you like to try our new cake it’s a Lavender Sponge”

“It looks lovely but no thanks. I’m on a gluten free diet.”

“Oh that’s nice. Those clever scientists come up with some great inventions these days. Did you know that Bill has switched to contacts.”

“No I didn’t” – no idea who Bill is!

“So can I give you a bit of our Lavender cake?”

“No thanks I’m on a Gluten Free diet and I can’t have wheat.”

“That’s nice. Mary has become a vegetarian and she lives next to the farm. I wonder how that works?

“Oh” – Who the bloody hell is Mary!!!

“Did you see our Prime Ministers face yesterday. I voted for her at the last election. She seemed like such a nice person who would get things done. Last night she looked like she was chewing a wasp. She is a mean spirited, selfish idiot. If she had any decency she would have resigned by now.”

“I certainly didn’t vote for May but I completely agree with you. She is a complete embarrassment.”

“Did you vote to leave?”

“No I voted to stay. I asked my son what he wanted and I let him decide for us. It effects his future the most.”

“I voted for Brexit. It’s not that I wanted to leave Europe I just wanted to make a protest. Didn’t think that we would win”

Deep deep sigh – bite bottom lip before I say something.

“I can wrap the slice of cake up for you, freshly made this morning. That must be the same diet as that really famous Male Tennis Player is on, he was on the tv last week, oh what’s his name”

“Novak Djokovic I got the idea from an article I read a few months back.”

“No that’s not him”

“Andy Murray”

“No”

“Roger Federer”

“No”

“Rafael Nadal

“No, oh it will come to me.

“Do you sell anything like cleaning wipes?”

“No but we do have a special offer on. You get a free bag of bird seed when you buy the local paper”

Bizarrely I came out of the shop with some bird seed, a paper, piece of Lavender cake and a sensation which is probably similar to a frontal lobotomy.

Ashes

This is another photo from Whitby. For some reason the WP app for the IPad refused to accept it yesterday. Maybe it’s my not new iPad but the app is becoming almost unusable. Anyway today the photo seems to work and it will get its moment.

My partners ashes are still in the house. We have a sort of make shift shrine in a room overlooking the garden. Now she has been joined by 3 energetic gerbils. She would like that. At some stage we will start to scatter the ashes but not yet. It just hasn’t felt like the right time (for both of us). My mums ashes have been scattered in a cemetery (with the help of a squirrel – see earlier post…)

I asked our Son about if he was ready to start the process.

“Not yet Dad. Dad do ashes go off”

Don’t think so. They urn doesn’t have a use by date on (don’t think badly of me, but I did check). But an urgent google check confirmed no safety time pressures. But it did reveal some additional factors to consider.

  • The Vatican has issued guidance that Catholic remains should be buried in cemeteries rather than scattered or kept at home. However this clearly doesn’t apply to Quakers.
  • Ashes containing bones don’t decompose so they shouldn’t be scattered around plants.
  • UK Law is fairly easy going when it comes to scattering ashes. Nothing specifically exists to prevent scattering. You only need to secure the landowners permission.
  • In Germany cremated MUST be buried in a cemetery. Switzerland are quite relaxed as long as it’s not for profit. France does open up a few scattering options.
  • In the U.K. it is legal to scatter ashes in water or the sea. The only restriction being that you need to get the permission of the water stretches owner. In the US you need to scatter ashes at least 3 nautical miles out (and inform the EPA)
  • Currently you can take ashes out of the U.K.. The Tunnel and Eurostar are the most relaxed. However Brexit may change all this.
  • In the U.K. it is ok to bury a pet in your garden if you own the property, it has domestic use and (if I’m reading the legal stuff correctly) the pets have not been declared as Hazardous Waste.

So for the for the time being I suspect my partner won’t be going too far. So I can give her the daily updates about our son. As my partner was so very organised I strongly suspect that if roles had been reversed then I would have been out of the door within months not years.

I hope this all doesn’t sound a bit too matter of fact or flippant. This post could so easily have been extremely dark. I vividly remember driving my partners ashes back from the crematorium. It’s burnt into my sole. I was fine until I got back into the car. I put the urn on the front seat and quietly said “time to go home my love”. Suddenly the Dam broke. I completed collapsed into a deluge of tears and despair. Didn’t stop for hours. My lowest ever point.

Deep down I am worried. I am not sure the brittle foundations that my new self is built on are strong enough to cope with another one of those final car journeys to scatter the ashes.

Helpful Brexit

An advert on the radio caught my attention this morning

A very helpful sounding person speaking for the Government asked “If you had started thinking about Brexit yet” and helpfully suggested that “it may be worthwhile if people and businesses started to plan for it.”

Thank you very much.

Just a couple of teeny weeny points

  • It might be a tad late to remind people that as we are potentially only just over 20 days away from it,
  • Pot calling Kettle. Why don’t you shove that up your collective governmental backsides. Why don’t YOU start doing your job (rather than look after your own self interests) and actually make some decisions that allow people to know exactly what is going on.

I am putting forward our 3 gerbils as the new team to get us out of this Brexit mess.

Back to school

Warning this post contains bad language and monumentally pompous stupidity.

In 2018 the Switzerland Glaciers lost 2.5% of their volume. It’s expected that they will have disappeared by 2090 – at the latest.

On Friday thousands of pupils walked out of UK School’s to protest about our Governments inaction on climate change. Good to see the positive response it got from our Leaders.

“It is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for,” a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said. “That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates we need to help tackle this problem.”

Our countries so called Education Secretary “let me be clear, missing class won’t do a thing to help the environment; all they will do is create extra work for teachers.”

The Conservative Leader of the House of Commons “It’s called truancy, not a strike“.

Well if you got your head out of your arses and took meaningful action then the kids wouldn’t need to walk out. If you didn’t pander to the fossil fuel companies, actively promote the disastrous fracking industry and cut renewable energy investment…. then you might be taken seriously. What trust do you expect the next generation to have in you when they see the monumental f*****g screwup you are making of Brexit. The entire political system has abjectly failed its primary roles of protecting the world and securing the futures of the upcoming generations.

This has to stop. The kids get it. Unfortunately our dim witted, self serving leaders don’t. It’s time for the next generation to take over and time for our politicians to go back to school. Maybe then they would see what a gigantic mess they have made of the education system as well.

School Dracula

This is the Hospitium a 14th century listed building in York’s Museum Gardens. These days it’s a venue for conferences, weddings and special events. Many years ago it was a support building for the Abbey.

St Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1088. The surviving ruins date back from about 1270. York is such a good place for kids to actually touch history.

Over Christmas our son spent a few hours here trying to imagine what life was like before it fell into ruin. Recreating the sounds, the people, the buildings, the life. Big scale creative play. I must admit I was lost in the world of dreams to. Mine was a world of ghosts, ghouls and vampires. I had almost forgotten how much fun you can have when you release your imagination.

This was the visit when the first seeds of home schooling started to be scattered. Last term had been grisly. No real sign of development. No evidence of school making any effort to provide an effective and supportive teaching environment. Most importantly a really unhappy and anxious child.

Our son loves subjects like history but not the way school deliver it. He likes the History Teacher, she is really nice. But being in the bottom set and given his encyclopaedic knowledge – he’s not learning anything. Plus regardless of which class you are in the teaching is so traditional. Text book after text book. Very dry and not very dyslexic friendly. Unfortunately it’s the set teaching approach dictated by the government.

Between my thoughts of ghosts and ghouls I also pondered with so much real life history so close to hand, why not bring the classroom here. Bring the lessons alive. That’s when the thought pinged, if school won’t teach here, why don’t I.

We will see.

The trip was completed with the required extra portions of ice cream. That night my imagination had clearly not been put back in its box yet. A dream about Dracula. But not the bloodthirsty vampire. This one was about a reformed Prince of Darkness. He had sold his Transylvanian castle and bought York’s Museum Gardens. He wanted to turn the gardens into the finest history school in the world. All the teachers were ghosts and ghouls. And Dracula was selling the ice creams and he didn’t skimp on the portions. Now that’s a school.

Countries gone mad

“Dad if we won the lottery could we buy a deserted island and live there?

It’s kinda sad that an 11 year old thinks that way. But I fully understand why and YES I would jump at the chance. I remember a time when I loved my country. Those days have sadly gone. Like many folk from Yorkshire we would happily declare independence. York becoming a capital city sounds cool. The national dish could be the Yorkshire Pudding. Our national sports would be cricket and being grumpy. The national animal would be the Ferret. Instead of having a nuclear deterrent we could threaten people with our rhubarb sticks.

You might think this is daft but trust me this is off the scale sensibility compared to the stupidity of modern Britain. Nothing sums up the state of the union better than just one single news story. Given all the potentially catastrophic events circulating around us (and there are many) – the attention of the media and a good proportion of the population has been on …… the horror of a bakery introducing a vegan sausage roll across its 900 stores. The likes of Piers Morgan (one of the not funny loonies and self pronounced TV Star) went into meltdown saying things like “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage you PC ravaged clowns”. The news story is everywhere, you just can’t get away from it. I use the term news story very loosely.

I waited with anticipation for our son to return. He would cheer me up, bring much needed sensibility to my world. Unfortunately not this time.

“Dad the school want me to either write left handed or type left handed until my right hand gets better, that includes trying to do exams with my weak hand. I told them that I struggle to coordinate my left hand and that’s the reason I can’t tie knots. Told them that the Doctor was trying to help me with it but the teacher said I just had to do it”

“Dad did you complain about the behaviour in our bottom class”

Yes….

Well they did something”

Please let it be something positive

They moved a really well behaved girl up a set because she was struggling with the behaviour in our class and they moved a really naughty boy in to replace her. It was a lot worse today”

Only thing left is to go and buy a lottery ticket. That remote island is calling. Anybody fancy joining us.

Two years

Time seems to speed up as you get older. I can’t believe that it’s coming up to two years since the world changed for us. The dreaded late night phone call, that conversation with my son, the funeral …. all are still so vivid and seem like yesterday.

In that time somethings have changed:

  • New School
  • Anxiety levels
  • Career
  • Living in a country which seems to have completely lost the plot and becoming alien to me
  • Loss of free time
  • Increased disorganisation
  • Increased mood swings
  • Rapidly decreasing social circle
  • New crazy dog (probably my only good parenting decision)
  • Increased money worries (definitely not helped by my one good parenting decision)
  • Rapidly thinning hair (largely due to my one good parenting decision)

And yet somethings have not changed:

  • Still can’t cook
  • Still burn myself on the iron
  • Still don’t understand Pokemon
  • Still haven’t found my ‘how to be a good parent user manual’
  • Still shaking my head at our strange world
  • Still fighting to get Dyslexia support
  • Aspergers
  • Feeling blessed to have a son
  • Hope
  • Love for my son
  • Love for my lost partner

I could witter on for hours about all this. But all I really need to say is we still love you and will always do.

Isolation trip

School summer holidays are in full swing and we have mainly been home based. Some splendid isolation. Summer holidays reinforces how much of our social connections are based around school. Without school my son has hardly seen any of his friends or spent any time with other children. Without the daily school drop off and pick up, my contact with the outside world has dried up completely.

So after three weeks of home based isolation we decided to make a break out. Just a small one to start with. We had a day trip to beautiful Northumberland.

DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE

LINDISFARNE

It was my son who pointed out that after our splendid isolation we had decided to go a place which is cut off twice daily by the tides. Let’s visit a splendidly isolated place. At least we got to see some people in the real world, especially in the queue waiting to cross the still flooded causeway.