Standards

Just as many of the daffodils start to die back a few late developers are just coming into bloom. I noticed these two early this morning as I came outside to clear my head after a dream.

I had one of those really bizarre dreams. The kind which you have no idea where the brain dragged that one from. I was trying to drive a lorry pulling a massive prefabricated building. For some reason the building still had all the cups and plates wracked up in the little kitchen. So I was instructed to drive carefully and for every broken item I would have money deducted from my wage. I somehow managed to get my load stuck in a muddy friend surrounded by Emus and talking sheep. I was attacked by the big birds so I had to take shelter on top of the prefab building.

What on earth was that one about…..

Anyone who has seen me drive will realise I am the last person you would trust to drive that load. The odd dream did remind me of a very old University incident. Our team had just won a 5 aside footy tournament and we went off to celebrate. We certainly did celebrate. None of the team can remember much past 8pm but I had clearly decided some time in the early hours that it was a sensible idea to fall asleep on top of one of the university’s prefab lecture rooms. For some reason I had brought a large road sign with me for company. When I finally came to my senses I realised that it was morning and a lecture was in progress just a few feet below me. I could here the lecture rather clearly. Embarrassingly it was a lecture I should have been in. I listened for a while but then my pressing need for the toilet took precedent. Unfortunately the only safe route down was on the window side of the lecture room. A few hours later I was talking with a girl who was in that very lecture. She said that during the lecture the students in her section could hear a rather ghostly snoring noise coming from above them. Then she heard the snoring ghost clearly swear which prompted the lecturer to warn the class about bad behaviour. Then it all went quiet until the sound of movement and scraping could be clearly heard from the roof. Whatever was above her was moving towards the windows. A large road sign then appeared to the thrown to the ground. Then seconds later a rather deshelved character swung his legs over the roof edge. Another loud expletive and the legs disappeared again. The sound or more footsteps on the roof. Then a sports bag wizzed passed the window, followed closely by clearly disheveled person hurtling towards the ground at a surprising uncontrolled rate. An audible groan was then followed by another load expletive. I was then seen hurrying in the general direction of the toilets, carrying what appeared to be a large metal sign….

How on earth did I get an honours degree. Just shows you the decline in UK education standards. Thankfully standards are not being lowered in the daffodil world.

Please note I have not touched a drop of alcohol since 2016…..

Onomatopoeia

That jolly yellow thing in the sky is still here. Any longer and it might qualify for the Yorkshire Cricket Team. I understand it’s called The Sun. A simple name yet so confusing for kids like our Son. Is it a Sun or is it a Son.

So on to this weeks spelling test. Ok campers your simple words this week are

Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Simile, Metaphor, Slang, Rhetorically, Personification, Emotive, Language, Imagery, Verb, Adjective, Adverb.

See I predicted it was only a matter of time before the poor kids had to try and spell complex dinosaur names. The Onomatopoeia was always my favourite flying dinosaur…..

I think school probably thinks that the spellings are getting too easy so they have now added a twist. Previously the teacher would say the actual word to be spelt and the kids tried to write it down. This week the teacher won’t say the word. Instead she will read out a definition and the kids have to decide which word it describes – then spell it. Easy with Onomatopoeia as it will be the only dinosaur….. if only.

So the kids will have to work out which of the above words fits with what the teacher definitions are and then try to spell it. From definitions like these

This is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes

This is when something is said to be something else

A describing word. Sometimes there are three together to make it more effective

A word describing how something is done

This is the repetition of letter sound at the start of a word

What chance has a dyslexic kid got when he struggles to spell and as a result has never really understood the technicalities of the English Language. But what do I know. A simple parent compared to the might and intellectual magnificence of the current government education regime. As our PM’s Dad publicly stated when he stood in for his Son in an interview.

Spelling “Pinocchio? That requires a degree of literacy, which I think the great British public doesn’t necessarily have.”

Its hard being a PM so he only handpicks a few interviews these days. Better to send his Dad. But the message is clear. The great unwashed didn’t go to Eton and Oxford. They are basically illiterate. They need to be force fed things like spelling.

I am one of the great unwashed. An illiterate who went to a poor sinkhole Comprehensive School and only to the clearly unworthy Warwick University. Maybe we are illiterate for a reason. The dreadful state of our crumbling education system. An education system that lets down so many kids. Which discriminates against those who don’t fit the mould. Money allows you to buy a better education. The money which the PMs Dad easily forked out to send his Son to Eton. But in the real world the majority struggle on. Dealing with an education system which has been systematically screwed by those with a view of the world so like that of PM and his Dad.

I might not be able to spell Pinocchio but at least I know my pterodactyls from my Onomatopoeias.

Snowman

An unexpected view today. But it was a good one. For those with really keen eyes you can see York Minster in the distance. The only city building you can see from this here.

A trip to work expecting to be kept busy until the school bell warms up for its last ring of the day. But quickly the full day was over in just over an hour. That’s the problem with zero hours based contracts. It’s not a stable source of income. But needs must. Full time professional employment was consigned to history when the world changed. Full time single parent – part time wage earner. So another Christmas which will need to be carefully controlled. Probably won’t be treating myself to the Italian Sports Car and the Racehorse this year.

So an unplanned dog walk. And that view. For some reason my mind wandered from affordable Christmas present ideas to snow. Many of my friends here have mentioned the snow they are struggling with. This time nine years ago we were in the middle of our own snow event. It was waste deep here. Our little sledging run is just behind this field. Every time it snowed my partner was out with her ruler to measure the depth. That was the only winter when she needed a bigger ruler. Wow it was cold. One day it never got higher than -17C. Was that the coldest I’ve ever been. My Partner would talk about the cold on her adventure to Patagonia. For me it probably was. Oh hang on a minute That night at Uni.

My mind wanders back further to a time before my Partner. Days of studying marked by text books finding a use as beer glass place mats. And that night. A cold dark winters night with fresh snow on the ground. A Hall of Residence Party which is suddenly overtaken with a brilliant plan. Let’s all go outside and make snow angels. A few sensible souls went out fully clothed. The majority didn’t… In the snow much exposed skin…. Of both sexes. For my sins it was trainers and pants – nothing else. So much laughter but it was a tad chilly. Some interesting snow angels and a very large snowman. A snowman who suddenly became one of the sisters as he acquired a bra. Then disaster the Halls Fire Alarm went off. We couldn’t get back inside until the Fire Brigade arrived. Now it was more than a tad cold. The only thing keeping us going was the bottles of Bud. The looks on the Fire Crews faces when they arrived. Still not allowed inside until a sweep has been made of the property. Then another brilliant idea. Form an orderly queue and take turns to warm your bottom on the Fire Trucks hot engine. I suspect we (or to be more precise the female students) made the drivers night.

Maybe one day I will delve back into that year. It got much more bizarre. But now back to reality. Back to my completely sober years. A present idea. Let’s get one of those cheap singing and dancing snowmen. That will bring a few memories back.

Shaggy

I received a card from a university friend who is currently climbing in the Alps. Switzerland is one of places that just stays with you. Gets into your soul. Makes you realise what a beautiful piece of rock we are so fortunate to live on. Shame it feels like such a leap of faith to return there without my partner.

Mad couple of days (& nights) and I’ve finally just about caught up with work (sort of). So its time to completely focus on Christmas and our son. First stage was to undertake the family ritual of me humiliating myself on the Xbox. Even with the use of his weaker hand he still wipes the floor with his Dad. During a particularly one sided football match he asked some more questions about my time at University. I would like to say I was the perfect student. Would be a lie and he wouldn’t believe it. Yes too many hangovers, too much time spent playing sports and sadly not enough dedication to studying. At the time I thought that was really cool.

During an equally one sided Star Wars Jedi Fight the subject moved onto the future. Clearly our son dreams of going to College. But he is so worried about how Aspergers and Dyslexia could limit his opportunities. It doesn’t help that he’s been put in the bottom set – seems a long way to climb. It also doesn’t help that some of the kids name call him. But that happens to far too many kids. We talked through some of the brilliant people that have succeeded in life. We talked about the stories of hope fellow bloggers had shared with me. The mountains that were successfully climbed. We discussed some of the new things we could try. How IT can increasingly help level the playing field. I told him that if a pillock like me could get to University then someone as gifted as he was could certainly do it.

Now we entered the world of ScoobyDoo. Unfortunately my Shaggy Character is no match for this adventure. My points frustratingly remains at 0 as our son’s points moves past 100. Eventually Shaggy gets lost and finally stuck in the maze. At which point our son points out:

“Dad when you where at University you were like a Really Drunk Shaggy”.

That’s not so cool…..

Philosophy

“Dad I’m watching a YouTube video about Philosophy. Do you agree with Sartre?”

My first thought was – WHY and Why….

I searched deep into the recesses of my memory. When I was at University the second year included one hour a week of an option module. I actually selected Philosophy as the option. Why. Because it sounded like the easiest option available. This proved correct. Every week for for one hour I sat at the back and slept. My strategy was to sleep and then when the exam came round to crash read a little philosophy book (“Seven Theories of Human Nature”) which was purchased on the cheap.

I can’t remember much about the course, although I still have the book. But I do recall one particular lesson. The unfortunate Lecturer had placed a chair at the front of the class and was trying to encourage a philosophical discussion about whether this chair was an actual chair. I was at the back with a hangover shaking my head at this nonsense. Then the door opened and a fellow student called Jonathon entered looking like he had seen a ghost with his hair standing on end. A faint smell of burning seemed to follow him.

“Sorry I’m late my electric blanket exploded”

At which point he sat down on the chair which was subject to the philosophical discussion. With perfect comic timing one of the chair legs buckled sending poor Jonathon tumbling backwards. Clearly the Lecturer had been onto something when he questioned the chairs purpose.

THIS IS ALL I CAN REMEMBER ABOUT PHILOSOPHY.

When I told this story to our son he looked quizzically at me for a few seconds then said quietly.

“Might as well ask the cat”