2016 seems a long time ago

Poor Theresa.

Wormed your way into the top job. Your eyes focused solely on your legacy. To be one of the greats assured on the back of your often self stated immense leadership skills. Being a bully is not the same as being a leader. Then it suddenly started to fall apart. The cloak of competency rapidly lost. 2016 seems such a long time ago. Cock up after cock up. Lost count of the times you bring the same failed plan back and guess what – it fails again. Now holed up in your plush panic room. Your so called colleagues circling like vultures. A 10 on the door and a nice policeman to let your cat in and out. You look out of your steamed up windows as the country falls apart and implodes but all you see is your legacy. Clinging desperately for a few more days in the hope that the failed plan suddenly works because the pixies have arrived to sprinkle some magic powder onto it. All you ever wanted was that legacy unfortunately the legacy you are leaving is one nobody would want.

***************

“Dad its an important anniversary today. It’s 4 years since we set off on our last holiday with mum.”

Yes in 2015 on Thursday in the second last week of May we did. As I’m writing this we would have been heading towards Strasbourg by train. We had no idea what would happen in 2016. How the world would change for ever. 2016 seems such a long time ago. I really have to find a way to start taking him on holidays again.

I came across some of my partners diaries the other day. She was meticulous in keeping records. Unlike me – I can’t even keep my hair these days. But this conversation with our son sparked a search for some other milestones.

Feb 2014 – last time son was hit in the head from a flying bin lid (during a stormy day) at school.

April 1997 – met my partner at work

April 1999 – finally picked up the courage to ask my partner out

Sept 2012 – first and last trip to a Michelin Restaurant. Wonderful food but not much of it. Ten minutes after leaving restaurant we bought a fish and chips.

Dec 1999 – first trip away as a couple

June 2005 – happily walked up Mount Snowden. I might have forgotten to book the mountain train down and it was fully booked. Very frosty walk down with an icy stare drilling into my head.

Jun 2002 – moved into our first house together

June 2012 – started process of getting an Autism assessment.

Sep 2002 – last trip to IKEA but clearly bought enough stuff to furnish a city, still finding unopened boxes. Plus we came back with two huge man eating items which we unfortunately still have.

Sept 2015 – Aspergers diagnosis confirmed

Dec 1907 – last time my team Newcastle United won a match (made that one up but it does feel like it somedays)

Dec 2001 – Partner travelled on last solo trip to India. Left clear instructions that I had to book us in to a New Years Eve meal and dance. She returned New Years Eve expecting to be picked up at the airport and taken to a high class event. Don’t think a Blues Brothers Tribute night was quite what she had planned for.

April 2017 – Started Blogging

It’s rant time….

I’ve talked about walks quite a bit recently. Hopefully I won’t stray too much onto old ground on this rant. Apologies it is a rant.

One of the benefits of a walk in nature is that it helps you forget about our world, my country.

Deep breathing and it begins…..

We are so lucky to be sitting on this magical rock, in this special little place in the Universe. We live on a planet which is beautiful and can provide for all of us (if we let it).

I live in a stunning county in a once lovely and diverse country.

I used to love my country but I deeply hate what it has become.

A place where someone thinks it’s ok to string dead Jackdaws on the gates to a TV presenters house because he makes a stand for animals in our country.

A place where one of our finest and nicest politicians is stabbed to death while trying to help someone.

A place where our so called PM is not prepared to meet a 16 year old who wants to talk about the climate but falls over herself to find the time to meet leaders of regimes who regularly execute hundreds of innocent people.

A place which like many lands is slowly drowning in a sea of plastic.

A place where too many people are happy to take a risk on the world burning and happy to use up its resources today just because it’s not their problem and someone else can sort out the mess when they have gone.

A place where some people think it’s ok to poke fun and demonise kids dealing with things like Autism and Aspergers.

A place where extremist on both sides of the Brexit argument have taken control of our national agenda.

A place where you are labelled a traitor if you dare to go against a particular thought pattern. Demonised for rocking the boat.

A place where the establishment happily allow extremists promoting religious and racial intolerance to be seen as acceptable political parties.

A place where the national broadcaster happily gives air time to the views of a minority group and its leader who openly promotes violence.

A place where we continue to ignore the plight of the survivors from the Grenfell Tower disasters two years after that dreadful night.

A place where loathsome, self interested and self deluded buffoons run our country for no other reason than because of their privileged and elitist upbringing.

A place where the government thinks it ok to dismantle our health and education services because money doesn’t grow on trees. Yet is happy to spend billions on giving bungs to minority parties to safeguard their own jobs. A government happy to waste billions on administrating it’s own cock ups.

A place where food banks are our fasting growing institutions.

A place where we value the contribution of millionaire bankers above the contribution of our wonderful nurses, teachers and emergency services.

A place which worships at the alter of celebrity.

A place where growing numbers of our population cannot afford to access decent transport links.

A place where our Mental Health services are straining at the seems trying to deal with the rising numbers of people suffering in our communities. A fact ignored by the Government.

A place where a public library is now becoming a rarity.

A place where the Government tries to force the disastrous Fracking Industry on communities. Communities carefully selected to be far away from the rich and privileged.

A place where too many of our care homes are delivering shameful levels of care.

A place where we think it’s acceptable to net off potential nesting sites for birds and animals so as not to hinder building expansion plans.

A place where we continue to eat into our unspoiled wild lands yet ignore the huge disused and derelict areas in our urban sprawls.

A place where every night someone else dies from knife crime.

A place where every night homeless people die on our streets.

And on and on …..

It’s time to breathe again. It’s time to make my way to that overgrown tree trunk and focus on the beauty which still exists close by. It’s time to forget that I live in this country.

Hermione

On the other side of this Bush is a stunning view yet it’s blocked by plant beauty.

Our Son loves history. You often see him watching very in-depth documentaries about a vast range of historical subjects

  • Romans
  • Viking
  • Pharaohs
  • Greeks
  • Persians
  • Incas
  • American Presidents
  • British Kings and Queens
  • Battles and Wars
  • and on and on

Unfortunately he doesn’t get the chance to extend this knowledge at school (yet).

It’s probably due to being put in the bottom set due to his dyslexia but the teaching is at such a low level. Son says he will keep watching historical videos as it’s the only way he learns anything new. He smiles when he calls himself the Hermione Granger of the History class. If the teacher asks a question he is always the first hand up but is never selected to answer.

I think one incident really sums up the problem.

In a test the class were asked to name facts about King John. Our Son then provided an in-depth answer which talked about

  • When King Richard the Lionheart was captured on the third crusade John (his brother) negotiated with the captors to keep him imprisoned
  • He lost most of his fathers empire
  • After he was forced to retreat from France he alienated himself from the many of the barons and a rebellion started
  • Eventually the two factions started negotiating after months of conflict. The end result was the Magna Carta which limited the power of the crown.
  • He then got the Pope to declare the Magna Carta invalid sparking more civil conflict which spilled into the reign of the next king – his son Henry III
  • He may well have killed his nephew (Arthur of Brittany) a potential rival
  • John was excommunicated when he refused to let the Pope have a say in the selection of a new Archbishop of Canterbury
  • He probably died of dysentery

That is my son speaking not me. My knowledge of John ends with the Magna Carta being signed under his rule and the stuff in Ivanhoe.

His teacher spoke to our son and basically told him that he provided too much information. That he was in Year 7 and he shouldn’t know this stuff until Year 10. That’s a way of inspiring his love of the subject. To be fair to the teacher her approach to learning is what the government wants. Sadly the government understands as much about education (and actually most other areas) as does that Bush in the photograph.

Spelling….

Some roads are straight and easy to navigate. Other roads are not….

A few years ago the U.K. Government changed the way children were taught and tested. To ensure that ‘children are better equipped for jobs a greater emphasis should be placed on spelling, grammar and punctuation’. As a result marks are now specifically set aside for these factor in exams. Labelled SPaG marking. It was argued that the previous inclusive educational approach was wrong.

The Government approach is to focus on a limited number of correctly spelt words. Let’s produce kids who can spell one word perfectly rather than have kids who can use an extended comprehension.

Where does this leave kids with dyslexia.?

Teaching Groups, Charities, Dyslexia Associations, Parenting Associations and Health Bodies objected. But what do they know….

Dyslexic Kids can apply for extra time in exams. They can apply for a scribe. They can apply to use a reading pen. They can apply to use a keyboard rather than pen. BUT.

They have to demonstrate a level of independence to gain access to the spelling, the grammar or the punctuation marks. If they can’t then the marks are not available to them.

Looking at our son’s case it probably means that when he takes his final exams if he opts for reasonable levels of assistance (as required under Equality Legislation) he will at best be able to access only 33% of the total SPaG marks available.

In my eyes this is wrong. But this is modern U.K. education policy.

Sadly it doesn’t stop there.

The Government decided to change the course content for Computing. Computing underpins everything now. The range of potential computing skills are endless. So many of our kids have passions and untapped skills here. The opportunities are boundless. Let kids tap into this. NO. The Government decided that the course should now focus on coding and structured programming.

Not often can I talk about a subject with anything other than guesswork, but computing I can get to amateur level. This is way beyond the dogmatic ideological buffoonery that underpins Government thinking. Why in God’s name have they picked the most uninspiring and regimented area to focus on. The approach seems to be let’s push out kids who can code rather than develop kids who can utilise the potential computers offer. Yes let kids have a basic grasp of coding then allow those who want to take it further the option to do so. I remember training in 3 programming languages – all becoming obsolete within 5 years.

AND yet again the Government – The Government which is on our side – have penalised kids with dyslexia. Coding and programming is built around specific commands and symbol patterns. Dyslexics struggle with this. So our son is stuck in a weekly computing lesson which focuses on programming. He flounders as he can’t spell the commands. His confidence gets battered. His struggles with spelling are cruelly exposed. His love for computing is fading. The school knows this but cannot change because it’s the set teaching method. Madness.

Sadly I could go on about other subjects and more Government interference. But the point has been made.

Education is so vital that it should not be left in the hands of our self absorbed and incompetent politicians. How about the politicians just focusing on screwing up Brexit and leaving education to the teachers, the parents, the area experts, the kids. In today’s language that probably gets me labelled as a dangerous socialist. A Traitor. Frankly I don’t care. What I care about is the kids going through our educational system. Clearly that’s something our leaders clearly can’t comprehend.

I am walking

Well he survived the first day back at school. Currently he is bouncing on the trampoline. I have got no idea where the energy comes from. He trooped in from school. Gave the school day 2 out of 10. Demolished 3 tomatoes, an apple and a slice of cake. Gave me a run down on the newly announced Generation 8 of Pokemon. Apparently this generation is based on Britain – that’s going to the grumpiest bunch of Pokemon ever…. Then he set off for the trampoline.

This is all on the back of 2 hours sleep last night. Just too anxious to sleep.

His Dad is somewhat less energised. Evidenced by this morning. I had a morning meeting. So I left the house with car keys in hand. Ten minutes later I came to my senses. I had walked straight past the car, down the drive, out of the village and heading down the path towards the next village. No idea where I was walking. If it was work then that’s a 10 mile hike…….

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.

Put the cat in charge

I was blog chatting (or whatever it is called these days) with a friend today and somehow politics came up. When I say politics I mean really silly politics. Our politics is grim. Very grim. One of the only fun elements is when one of our smallest parties enters the elections. The Monster Raving Looney Party. It’s almost as if Monty Python had entered politics. It was started in the 1960s by the musician called Screaming Lord Sutch.

This was the Party who had a real cat called Catmando as its joint leader for 3 years.

Some of its brilliant policy ideas have included:

  • Make the tax system more complicated so that it is harder for companies to find loopholes
  • Make it illegal to walk under ladders
  • To prevent global warming all buildings will have air conditioning units on the outside
  • All politicians should paint themselves permanently from head to toe in the colour of their party
  • All socks to be sold in packs of 3 in case you lose one
  • Introduce a 99p coin
  • To save money they would only operate our nuclear missiles at weekends
  • Build a really big wall (or hang on that’s not one of the Looney Parties policies).

The scary thing is that actually some of the ‘crazy’ policies they came up with have over years actually become rather sensible and have been adopted by the government. We have pet passports now and who was the first party to propose them. They jokingly proposed 24 hour licensing for places selling alcohol (had been very restrictive hours) and a few years later it became law. Back in the 1960s they campaigned to have the voting age reduced to 18 (now the law and how was this ever considered a mad idea).

Sadly they never quite get into government. Maybe because the looney vote is split. At the last election you had the Looney Party, plus you had a chap called Lord Buckethead, some guy dressed as a fish finger and some chap dressed as Elmo.

Some would argue that recent governments have been infiltrated by loonies.

What am I wittering on about. I don’t really know. I think the point is that when the world seems really bleak and sad. When you want to just stand outside, look at the heavens and scream. To hear your own tears raining down on this increasingly alien land. Just sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is a bit of silliness. It brought me back from the edge. Our dip into politics today certainly made our son laugh. It made him forget about his worries for a few minutes.

If the Looney Party has indeed a track record of starting sensible policies off then maybe they should come up with a policy of banishing sadness and anxiety. Maybe in a few years it becomes reality. I could vote for that.

Not a good word

Dad what’s an idiotic cretin“.

That’s another question I wasn’t expecting. A tad worried at what might have happened at school or on the web, I asked why.

I was watching something about the U.K. leaving Europe and that was how one politician described another politician.”

That explains things then. It neatly sums up the level of debate which is supposedly driving our country forward at the moment. Anyway I tried to explain that it was not a good word to use and those so called politicians should know better.

Fast forward a few hours and we sit down to watch some episodes of Spongebob. It’s funny how often random things combine neatly together. The second episode featured Plankton saying to Spongebob

I thought I’d told you to go away, CRETIN“.

My son obviously now thinks “cretin” is an acceptable word to use as it was used in a children’s cartoon. And I now have the perfect solution to our countries current crisis, let’s put another cretin in charge. Spongebob could be our saviour. The worry is he couldn’t do any worse.