Graveyard visit

This is the local church and graveyard. The current church structure dates back to the 12th century but it’s likely that an early Saxon structure stood here before that. Inside there are parts of the church still in remarkably good condition from the 12th and 13th century.

The weather worn graveyard has a definite ancient feel to it. So many long forgotten graves. These places have a habit of making you think about your own life.

We still have my partners ashes in the house. We just haven’t found the right time to start the process. We did spilt them. Some for England and some for Switzerland. We’ve thought about many sites. We sort of have a draft plan in place. It struck me today that we have never once considered this graveyard. Really don’t know why.

The other thing that struck me was that I hadn’t been to my mums grave in nearly two years. It’s mums old family grave about 60 miles from here. What makes it worse is that I scattered the ashes by myself. I’m the only one who has been there since then. Really must address that this year. Sadly I think I said the exact same thing last year. Life always seems to get in the way. So many demands. But those demands take over. My Dad was cremated in 1987. His ashes were scattered. I can’t even remember exactly where. I’ve never went to that place. Never been in 32 years. So now I need to ask my brother and sisters. Just hope one of them can remember.

So many things to do. Even so, surely I should be able to find the time to pay one visit. To remember those who shaped and moulded our live’s. I came across a quote from David Eagleman which sets this whole thing in context;

“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”

For those of us who are not the likes of Shakespeare then this process is inevitable and extremely sobering. But that’s life. We need to make the best of it. So for the last three years I have spent a little time each and every day remembering. Last night it was 15 minutes. Remembering names which I’m not yet ready to send into the third stage. So each night names are called out and good memories recalled. I guess it’s my version of a graveyard visit.

Valentines Day Boycott

Went for a run today. My body didn’t feel like one but I needed to get out of the house. It’s been a week largely home based working on mind numbingly boring spreadsheets. To keep me sane the radio has been blasting out. Problem is that increasingly the airwaves are filled with adverts. The dreaded Valentines Day ones. Apparently it’s next Friday. Would never have guessed that one. You know the adverts

  • Your special one deserves the best so buy them this special…..
  • What better way to spend Valentines Day than to have that special candle lit meal….
  • Looking for that gift that shows how much your loved one means to you….

I really understand Valentines Day. To many people it’s a great romantic day. Before the world changed I would have lapped up those adverts. But now it’s a very different world for me. Now it’s cheap commercial marketing. You can only be in true love if you spend lots of money. Sometimes I think advertisers forget about the real world. True love doesn’t rest on money. It’s also a world which isn’t perfect. People are lonely. People are grieving. People are abused. People are in relationships where love has died. Some people are loners. So to many Valentines Day is a nightmare. An unwanted reminder of life. It is to me. Every advert reminds me of a life now gone. It’s like a dagger through my heart. So eventually one too many adverts forced me to hit the trail. As ever a run often delivers a lightbulb moment. Let’s turn this into a little game.

When I get back I will become the Valentines Day Advert Referee. Every time I hear a company doing an overtly romantic advert then I will give them a red card. The red card comes with an automatic one month ban. I will boycott that company for a month. The first red card was awarded to a local Flower Shop chain. Unlikely that I would use them but anyway they are on the banned list. Suddenly I’m not the one hiding behind the chair. I’m in charge. The banned list started to fill up. Rather annoyingly my local supermarket made the list. That’s me shopping at the next towns rival shop. Then M&S became a repeat offender. Clearly a one month ban was not a sufficient deterrent. For the second offence it’s a three month boycott. Twenty minutes later they offended again. Now it became a 6 month shopping boycott. I warned the radio the fourth advert would bring a lifetime boycott of the shop. Clearly that threat worked. The annoying M&S special meal for two advert stopped.

Suddenly it was time to do the school run. Again more Valentine adverts on the radio. More boycotts handed out. Tempted to increase the punishments as many kids are likely to be listening now. Many kids suffer Valentines blues as well. Then the red line was crossed. Another M&S advert. That’s it. It’s a lifetime shopping ban. That’s a new shop needed for the school uniform and shirts then.

The banning game helped distract me today. But the bottom line is the 14th February is a difficult time for many. The last thing we need is week upon week of adverts rubbing salt into the wound. Maybe we need a new rule. Valentines Day adverts can only start on the 13th. At least then we just need to avoid the world for two days. But at the current rate I will be boycotting thousands of shops by next Friday.

Terrible Poetry

It’s terrible poetry time again curtesy of Chelsea Owens. This week the impeachment case rules are as follows

  1. Anyone who knows me knows I love Half-Priced Chocolate Day (February 15th) more than the holiday the day before -BUT, this is the Terrible Poetry Contest! Nothing gets poemed to death more than the topic of ❤LOVE!❤
    So, the Topic is LOVE LOVE LOVE! Write me a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad sonnet. Give me alliterations, adjectives, allegories, and aneurysms.
  2. Keep the Length long enough to capture your love’s interest without putting her to sleep.
  3. Rhyming? Up to you, but I recommend you do.
  4. Make it terrible! Cupid needs to pull out the real arrows after catching wind of your attempts.
  5. Keep the rating PGish.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (February 7) to submit a poem to Chelsea.

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

Bearing in mind I’m about to publish a post basically venting my spleen on the horrors of Valentines Day – keeping to PGish may prove beyond me. But he goes let’s see if I can find my inner terribleness.

Missing the warmth of your dear sweet love

Valentines goes on which annoys me, kind of

Feeling unloved as our romance is no more

Will get as many cards as a grumpy Wild Boar

No red roses for me sat on my sofa for one

No lovers wine to drink as I’m suffering a dry run

Can’t even have chocolate as I’m currently dairy free

So sat here writing of love with a bloody black tea

Trying to find ways to avoid pigging Valentines Day

Maybe games of solitaire and a stinging nettle bouquet

Mr Grouchy sat here with love sadly deserting me

Nursing a snotty nose and an annoying sore old knee

So Valentines is coming and I’m enduring all those red rose adverts

Well excuse me if I say to me it’s all a huge pile of steaming turds.

I speak proper

These little beauties seemingly flower earlier every year. When we first moved here the snowdrops flowered mid February. These guys flowered mid March and the Daffodils arrived during April. I guess my Dad would have said something like ‘blimey I’ve only just planted me Goosegogs‘. Goosegogs is Yorkshire for Gooseberries.

Once a week we have school bagmageddon. Poor bairn (kid) is packed off lugging (carrying) two bursting at the seams bags. I wish someone would invent a Dr Who Tardis like school bag. Small on the outside yet massive on the inside. For bagmageddon he needs to take with him

  • Packed lunch as he rarely gets the chance to eat a school meal,
  • A drink as he rarely get the time to get a drink at school,
  • School iPad,
  • Mobile phone in case he misses the bus,
  • Pencil case for coloured crayons and felt tip pens,
  • Art brush,
  • Calculator,
  • Reading pen just in case he needs to use it,
  • French dictionary,
  • Book for reading – no dispensation for dyslexics so it can’t be a picture book,
  • Pen case including black pens, blue pens, green pens, red pens, HB pencil, ruler, protractor, rubber (eraser), pencil sharpener, highlighter pen and compass,
  • School planner,
  • Drama kit – plain black T-shirt, plain black tracksuit bottoms,
  • School homework books which are required for that day,
  • Bus pass,
  • Outdoor sports kit – football boots, white school sports top, blue school rugby shirt, blue football socks, school shorts or blue leggings, gum shield, shin guards,
  • Indoor sports kit (in case outdoor sports is not happening) so training shoes and white socks.
  • Could be even worse – if he played team sport for the school he might need to carry a hockey stick or cricket bat as well. When I was at school the teachers would call any boy with his own cricket bat – posh (rich) and then they would talk about learning to play cricket with a stick o’ Rhubarb.

That’s on top of the mandatory school uniform. Chuffing Eck (********* hell). It’s a logistical nightmare for the parent but that pales into insignificance compared to the poor kids trying to cope with all this. Yes the kids can pay for a locker but the lockers are not conveniently located so it’s almost impossible for them to get to them and back in the 10 minutes max between lessons. Hence the two expedition rucksacks. No wonder he is jiggered (very tired) when he gets home. Sometimes I expect to get a call to say he is rigweltered (stranded on his back) on the hoose on wheels (bus).

How times change when I went to school it was one small haversack. A haversack carefully painted with your favourite bands. Mine was emblazoned with Whitesnake, Bad Company, Black Sabbath and Saxon. The paint was the heaviest part of the bag. It had to be painted on thick as the poor bag would often be wanged aboot (thrown about). Inside was your butty (sandwich), some chuddies (chewing gum), footy top, shorts and Gola football shoes. Kids would take it in turns to bring in a Casey (football). Nowt (Nothing) else. The teacher handed out pencils for the school day. Then she took them back in when we headed back yam (home). Being the twonk (idiot) I was I frequently had to get Dad to recover my bag from the top of a tree after an all too successful wanging session. The bag also acted as an invaluable cushion to sit on when you got a croggy (getting a lift on the handlebars of a bike).

Basically it’s a different world now. But surely flowers blooming earlier is not great bit of man made progress. Sending kids into school with a mule train of kit is equally not a sign that the school system is progressing well. It’s also not great that we are slowly losing many of our local dialects.

Sithee (goodbye) until tomorrow.

Old

It’s been one of those days when I just feel old. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. Fighting a cold which I just can’t shake certainly doesn’t help. The weather most certainly doesn’t help – a bitingly cold gale force wind. Work was a slog with everything going wrong and the computer just saying NO. School was definitely very vexing. Now even the school governors have given up responding. I guess I must be on the official naughty list. My run was hard work. Slow, cold and a real effort. At times it seemed like one step forward and two back. Even the view failed to lift my spirits. It just provided an excuse to stop for a minute. The post school garden football was an effort. Not so much Messi or Pele, more like a knackered three legged giraffe trudging about in a vat of thick treacle. So yes today I felt much older than my 339 years. I’ve used this body up can I have another one please.

For sons mathematics exam he did really well given the lack of dyslexia support. He came second in his class. Just over 70% in one paper and high 60s in the second paper. That’s not too shoddy for a kid who could only read some of the words on the question sheets.

As I couldn’t read some of the questions I wonder if I would have got a similar mark if I had sat the maths paper but it was in French. Wouldn’t it save time if you could just combine subject exams so you could sit two at the same time. French & Maths, Science & Art, History & Drama, English & PE, Geography & Cooking.”

I could sign up to that. I would combine my worst subjects and get them out of the way in one exam. So I could do Drama and Cooking in one sitting. Or maybe I combine a really good subject with a bad one – PE could drag up my French score. It’s definitely a winner.

Dad are you sending an email”

“Yes I am. I am emailing the Prime Minister”

“Oh. Your not telling him about my sitting two exam in one go idea!”

No Son. I’m emailing him a question about dyslexia support.”

Do you think he will answer it”

Well let’s see.”

You didn’t have a go at him.”

“No I was very polite”

Well you weren’t very polite playing football. You said some naughty words when you tried to run.”

“I am getting older. Sometimes running hurts. And I didn’t use naughty words. I used my special made up words. Those which might be naughty but no one will ever know. Scully. Jellycup, Fumf.”

SO YES I FEEL OLD TODAY. ITS SUCH A JELLYCUP SCULLY FUMF……

Reminders

Last night I struggled to get any sleep. I managed to nod off once but woke all too soon. A strange dream about an old job, not being able to find a meeting room and Donald Trump as my boss woke me with a start. That was it. Facing another walking zombie day. My mind wandered to my partner. In the last few years of her life my partner suffered from insomnia. She could sleep for a couple of hours during the day but frustratingly not at night. So many late night television sessions. It was so tough for her. If she could cope with years of this then I can cope with just one sleep deprived night.

So lack of sleep brought back strong memories of my soulmate but that’s not a nice memory. So let’s balance that out with some happier memory prompts.

  • Sunsets. My partner loved sunsets. The slightest sign of red in the sky and she would be outside.
  • Ronan Keating and his songs When you say nothing at all and Life is a rollercoaster. Always brings a smile. I took her twice to see Ronan in concert. Whisper that quietly or my metal head credibility is blown out of the water. At the first concert it felt like I was the only male in the crowd. My partner thought it was so funny seeing me squirm and hide under the chair.
    Asparagus. Her favourite food. Asparagus with a touch of butter and nothing else. I don’t buy the stuff anymore but it always makes me smile when I see it.
    Stella Artois. Every time I see that lager my mind goes back to our first holiday together. We had an overnight stay in London waiting for an early morning Eurostar train. In a packed London pub we drunk a few too many Stella’s. With perfect timing to coincide with the place falling silent my partner asked loudly ‘if I was the only vegetable in the family’. No I wasn’t the only vegetable in the family but I definitely was the only vegetarian.
    Babylon 5. She loved this show. She would watch it while I chuntered on about it being a poor mans Star Trek and could we would the X-files. We still have all the DVDs. They make me smile when I see the box but they certainly are not getting played again.
    Trivia Pursuit. I must try son on this game. We would be always playing this. But we hardly ever got a winner. My partner would sail through all the subjects but she would get permanently stuck on Sport. I would sail through Sport and get stuck on all the other subjects. See the perfect match.

Decency and respect

Dad why are politicians always nasty to each other now. You get more done if you work together or just talk.”

I really can’t argue with that. Maybe that’s why the world is in such a mess. Politics has just become a bear pit. Disrespect, dishonesty, verbal and physical abuse are the norm. Where good people are silenced and vilified.

Wind back the clock a few years and politics seemed to have more decency and politeness. The photograph below was our PM with the two leaders of the opposition parties. You would struggle to get that type of photo with members of the same Party these days.

It’s time for our leaders to start being civil again. A good start would be for everyone of them to stop continually shouting abuse and listen just a bit more. That’s not listening to their own voice but to others.

End Game

The way forward is shrouded in mist but a clear route is emerging.

As we move into the second week of the Year 8 exams we have a clear state of play emerging. Son is trying his hardest, school clearly is not. Son again was upset this weekend as he clearly thought that school sees him as not very bright and a failure. He found out that he came third bottom in his Drama exam. Well was that surprising when he was given only a short period of time to read questions then an equally short timescale to write answers. Absolutely no help was provided. So clearly autism, dyspraxia and dyslexia do not apply in the world of Drama.

Sadly this has not been an isolated incident.

  • In subjects like Mathematics, Design Technology and French he received zero help. No additional time. No help with reading. Nothing. Maybe help was considered but as Son pointed out

One of the kids broke his hand so the one Teaching Assistant had to scribe for him. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get help. I really struggled to read and understand the questions. Even maths had lots of words I didn’t recognise in the questions.”

  • History did not proved a scribe but he was given a laptop to type his answers in. So he still had to try and read the questions. He was given a laptop because the teacher was concerned about being able to read his handwriting. Problem is that son is waiting for some therapy work to try and help with his typing skills. His typing is slow and very inaccurate. He hadn’t practiced answering test questions on the computer. The computer also had the spelling aids disabled. No additional time was provided.
  • Science and English did provide a scribe. He hadn’t practiced working with the scribes provided. He was really uncomfortable trying to work with the two assistants he had previously had very little interaction with. He had thought incorrectly that he was getting extra time but with a couple of minutes to go the scribe just said the exam is finishing when it’s 10.15. He struggles to tell the time using an analog wall clock. The scribe in English only read out the questions. She was not allowed to read out the passages which he had to answer comprehension questions on.

What was the point. The scribe would tell me things like for this question you need to read lines 5 to 12 of the text then describe what writing techniques the author has used. Well I would if I could actually read the text. Some of the text was using slang language – I struggle with proper language, got no chance with slang.”

So basically it’s been a mess. If his marks are not good then this is going to hit his confidence going forward. Currently school are deadpanning my queries but I guess they will just say that appropriate support was provided and he just needs to work harder. Poor results will confirm their assessment of low attainment. I just hope for his sake that he manages to get some decent marks. I’ve told him that for me it’s not he who is being assessed, it’s school. And clearly school have failed – AGAIN. To quote a reasonably popular movie, it feels like that we are moving to the mainstream education END GAME. No we still can’t truly afford to homeschool but this failure of due care can’t go on. Son deserves better than this.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of Switzerland.

Once on every visit to this great country I would try to go for a run. While the rest of the team where having an extra hour in bed I would quietly sneak out for an early morning run.

It was always the same run.

Not a long run. Just about 1 hour.

An hour punctuated with polite ‘Grüessech‘ exchanges with passing runners and walkers.

A stunning lake side run. For most of the route you are running within inches of the water.

With just the sound of the lapping alpine lake water. The occasional passing passenger boat.

Stunning Alpine scenery.

To me it’s the best run ever.

2020!

Who are you looking at…. We hope you’ve washed your hands before you stick them in our cage.

“Dad can we either just start 2020 again or can we just give it up as a rubbish year and move on to 2021”

He then vented on a range of 2020 subjects

  • Australia burning
  • Brexit
  • School exams
  • Impeachment
  • Tragic deaths
  • Corona Virus
  • Planes being shot out of the air
  • Nutters trying to start WW3
  • Government lies

“Can’t believe it Dad we still have 11 months of this to go”

This week we have both been fighting a cold. Perfect timing with exams.

Dad we got the Drama marks back. I came third bottom. Nice of the teacher to tell me that. Funny how you find stuff out only when you’ve done badly. Couldn’t read the paper. Couldn’t spell any of the words. Kept coughing. Can’t wait to drop the subject.”

Such a shame that school have managed to alienate him from a potentially wonderfully fulfilling subject.

With his Aspergers he gets these massive anxiety attacks on specific issues. One of which is illness. It’s also probably linked to losing loved ones. This week he’s been having panic attacks that his cough is the Corona Virus. I’ve spent all week trying to calm those fears. On Thursday night after a long chat where we talked numbers and relative risks, I hoped that we had started to ease his anxieties.

THEN TODAYS HEADLINES – UK’s first two confirmed Corona cases confirmed. They were found about 15 miles from us.

When he finds out he’s going into DEFCON 2 level anxiety meltdowns. It’s so tough for him. When he comes across something like this then he just fixates on it. It just develops into this anxiety maelstrom. A powerful hurricane which just becomes increasingly powerful as it feeds of his nervous energy. Just ruins his life.

So yes I’m with him on cancelling 2020 already. The only problem is that I’m not sure 2021 will be any better. That’s a problem as I’ve got to try and convince our Son that things can and probably will improve. Maybe it’s time to assemble the Gerbil Squad.