Excuse

This was the last few hours of the heatwave before the stormy weather arrived.

There’s a new expression taking hold in England. The matter is now closed. Unfortunately it carries no weight unless you are a member of the Government. It works like this. It comes to light that a member of the government or a sponsor has been caught doing bad stuff. Recently that’s things like criminal negligence, collusion with a foreign power, breaking the law, ignoring lockdown rules, profiteering from the pandemic or brexit, harassment, breaking procurement regulations, waiving or ignoring planning rules for personal gain and misconduct. The type of stuff that if me and you did this then we would be thrown to the wolves.

But that doesn’t apply to members of the elite.

But here’s where the phrase comes into use. So a member of the government is caught with his or her trousers down. After days of denying anything happened they issue a brief statement saying nothing bad happened and anyway it was someone else’s fault. This is then followed by the PM saying The Matter is Now Closed and I have full confidence in the rogue bandit. Now since the PM likes to see himself as a part time Emperor, well that’s it. No need for further investigation or questions. The PM has done that kinda stuff while sipping on another expensive champagne. He is court, jury and judge. You can trust the emperor as he had an exclusive private education and he had been bred to lead us. This approach is proving such jolly good fun that it’s really taking hold. The mainstream media buy it, prosecuting authorities are increasing deferring to it, as are an increasing number of the public.

So when I was a kid and I got hauled off to the head teachers office for snapping a pencil or swearing in cricket – if only I had access to the the matter is now closed defence.

If only my ‘a big boy did it and ran away‘ excuse had proved so effective……

Dear John

I seem to have upset someone with my last post. The person clearly didn’t want his name mentioning. Sorry I blocked you John. I assume that’s his name from the email address. My finger must have slipped. Ok John, to help hide your identity how about I call you something like Dork Head.

According to my new friend, I apparently was disrespectful to the President of the United States. Really…. I must have missed that one. I was also patronising to the British Government and our fine Brexit leadership . Ok you might have caught me on that one….. John (sorry I keep forgetting to call you Dork Head) thinks I was showing my left wing bias and I was still having a tantrum over Brexit. Apparently Cummings did act like any reasonable parent would do and the government is doing a brilliant job in controlling the virus. To doubt that is to be a traitor.

Ok lets set a few things straight Dork Head.

  • I do think Trump is an absolutely appalling example of a human being. The damage he is doing to the US and the wider world is incalculable.
  • It’s equally appalling that the self serving, incompetent buffoons in the British Government, actually think it’s a great idea to copy Trumps antics.
  • Cummings (basically the guy running our government) broke the lockdown instructions. Those with honour have already resigned for far less. If he’s such a great parent why would he strap his young son in the back of a car and then do a 60 mile road trip to test his apparently damaged eyesight. What about the other road users he would be risking. How convenient that the road trip took in a tourist destination. This was when his family was supposed to be self isolating. I bet the locals in Barnard Castle are thrilled with the idea of someone potentially with the virus, visiting their neighbourhood.
  • The fact that Johnson and Hancock are now trying to water down pandemic rules to protect one man is horrifying. The needs of the one are clearly more important than the needs of the many.
  • So a brilliant job equates to 50000 deaths. The highest number of deaths in Europe. The second highest death rate in the world. The carnage which has been unleashed on our unprotected care homes. Our health and care workers struggling without sufficient PPE. Nurses resorted to wearing bin liners as protection against a pandemic – bin liners….. One set of rules for some and no rules for others. No strategy, no plans, shambolic testing. They can’t even meet their own targets even when they fiddle the figures. When a person who has a swab taken from the nose and throat, is counted as two separate tests.

Bottom line Dork Head John. This is no government of mine. I have turned my back on them. If that makes me a traitor then that’s cool with me. They deserve zero respect. Until the likes of Johnson and Cummings are gone then I have no government. I will not follow any instructions from them, I will follow my own principles and my own understanding of the situation. I will chart my own course. If that is against the law, then tough, as Cummings would say – I’m acting as any self respecting parent would do. I also bet that the approach I will take will be infinitely more sensible and far better for the wider society than anything this bunch of crooks and clowns can cobble together.

See you John, enjoy your government. It’s everything you deserve.

The forecast

The weather forecast is saying it’s clear blue sky and no rain today.

The clouds and the showers would beg to differ.

Another inaccurate weather forecast. It’s clearly the forecasters fault that it’s raining …. It always is. I remember going to a Test Match (Cricket) between England and India. It had been a good weather forecast. But it was chucking it down and play was suspended. With perfect timing the main TV weatherman came onto the pitch to do a weather forecast. I’ve never heard anyone get so many boo’s. It was his fault that it was raining.

To be honest we get many incorrect predictions. Leaders saying a pandemic will just go away. Those pension salespeople saying that you will be able to retire at 50. Being told that Betamax and V2000 would be the best video recording formats. No one would be daft enough to vote for Trump or Boris. My Dad saying Status Quo wouldn’t last as they can’t sing or play. Brexit was easy and could be sorted in days. The Sinclair C5 was the vehicle of the future…..

Basically life is to unpredictable. You just never know what will happen. What’s round the corner.

I know this all too well. One day your talking about the next family trip to Switzerland. Discussing trying for a second child or adopting. Then 3 weeks later I’m leaving the crematorium with my partners ashes. A broken single parent. That wasn’t in the forecast or the plans.

We often learn this lesson far too late. I did. Don’t assume there will be a tomorrow. Remember to hug those you love today. Start ticking off those bucket list items, right now. If something special to you is broken, then try and fix it today. Today, speak to those you care for. Make sure you live today.

Lecture over…. And yes it’s still raining here. I blame it on the weather forecaster.

Facts

Last night was one of those yucky sleepless nights. So very tired yet all I could muster was probably 40 minutes sleep. Annoyingly those 40 minutes came right at the end of the night and was brought to an all to abrupt ending with the morning homeschooling alarm.

During those zombie like hours I started writing a list of things to do this week. After getting stuck on item 1 for far too long, the list morphed into a more fruitful

What have I learned about myself during the last few weeks of this rather odd period in our history.

So here goes with my early morning facts

  1. I’m crap at writing To Do lists,
  2. Late at night I have a habit or writing LIST so that it looks like LUST,
  3. I can’t sleep properly,
  4. My old mobile phone has never worked better since it got machine washed with my clothes,
  5. My phone has a surprisingly good camera however it has the most annoying panorama function. The photo above took hours to do,
  6. I am so lucky to have that view from the garden. But what would I give for either a mountain or the sea in the distance,
  7. I quite enjoy most of this home schooling lark,
  8. Homeschooling and work are never going to be a good fit for me,
  9. Homeschooling and long distance running are never going to be a good fit for me,
  10. Homeschooling and my bank balance are never going to be a good fit for me,
  11. Homeschooling, my bank balance and holidays are never going to be a good for me,
  12. High petrol prices are not an issue when you don’t drive your car for 6 weeks,
  13. I can now make my own pizza bases as long as they are square shaped. Round is beyond me,
  14. I can fill a freezer up real quick when I start saving leftover food,
  15. A dairy and gluten free diet is a pain in the arse when the shops sell out of specialist diet ranges,
  16. I miss football on the telly,
  17. I miss alpine sports on the telly,
  18. I hate the news now. I miss the days of moaning about Brexit,
  19. I’m a barnpot yet I would do a better job of running our country than the clowns currently in charge. Apparently it’s ok for a Prime Minister to miss FIVE emergency meetings and have weekends off during a national emergency,
  20. My Son knows more than I do,
  21. Receiving a parcel from Amazon now feels as dangerous as trying to change a fuel rod in a nuclear reactor,
  22. Not being able to get Sons favourite Soup, Beans, Skinless Sausages and Pasta is one of the most stressful things in the world,
  23. I must be really vexing to live with,
  24. Cheap tea bags taste the same regardless of how many times I reuse them,
  25. Using Yorkshire Slang Words gets me put on the Spam Naughty List,
  26. At some stage I might have to physically talk to someone else than our son. I’m dreading that thought,
  27. You can still get colds if you are isolating from the outside world,
  28. When I’m carefully stood in my designated 2m queuing area why can’t I stop thinking about how long virus particles stay airborne for,
  29. I get so excited when I see an aeroplane now that I must rush to check where it’s flying to,
  30. I haven’t combed my hair in 6 weeks,
  31. Where does all the so called spare time disappear when I’m on lockdown,
  32. The more I learn German the less I can remember of French. It’s as if for every new German word entering my brain, a French one has to pop out to make space,
  33. I will even talk to slugs these days,
  34. Don’t set up a darts challenge with your son then at the last minute realise you don’t have a dartboard or darts,
  35. The Government and Chief Executives of major companies only email me when there is a pandemic going on,
  36. I still hate U2,
  37. I want to live in Switzerland
  38. I’m still a widow. Or as my Predictive Text tries to type – I am still a window,
  39. These days it really doesn’t matter if I put my pants on back to front.

Panic buying

Let’s be safe out there people … it’s madness.

The news is either full of stories about virus doom or virus induced panic buying. I kinda miss the ‘Britain has gone brexit bonkers’ stories now. So with the images of empty shop shelves, I ventured out to the supermarket with a certain amount of trepidation. My extensive survival prep shopping list was a loaf of bread, a pack of Curly Wurlies, a bottle of milk and tea. That will surely tide us through the end of days.

I arrived at 8.40am which normally ensures that I have the shop to myself apart from the three shop assistants. Not this morning. The car park was heaving. Is it the day before Christmas? Inside was not much better. Rammed with shoppers. Not seen a crowd like this since the ‘Everything for a Pound’ Store had a sale.

It was bizarre watching the frantic shopping. Trolleys rammed full. So many seemingly sensible people falling into the panic buying madness. But this was a very Yorkshire panic. People still had time amongst the panic to stop and talk about the weather. In other parts of the country items like toilet paper, hand gel and paracetamol tablets have been stripped as if consumed by a plague of locusts. Here those items were still well stocked. In fact I didn’t see anyone buying them. No the items of panic choice here were different

  • The saver pack of soap bars (4 for a £1)
  • Cadbury’s Chocolate
  • Tins of mushy peas (one chap had a basket filled with just these)
  • Custard powder
  • Cheese
  • Beer, lager and wine.

I have to say that if I was going to panic buy I would rather stock up on £100 worth of beer and chocolate rather than 50 rolls of bog paper.

My hand basket was easily filled with my items until I arrived at the tea section. No Yorkshire Tea. No pigging Yorkshire Tea. Stripped bare. Oh the humanity. I had to buy another brand. Bloody philistines. The virus crisis is so much worse than I ever imagined. Stand by your pitchforks people.

How wrong I was

Not our garden, this is from a neighbours garden. Very jealous especially of the lawn which when cut always resembles a bowling green. So unlike our used rugby pitch.

Another stormy and very wet day. That’s the third weekend in a row for us. The weather is doing nothing for our souls. Nor is the imminent return to school. His anxieties levels are starting to peak now. Soon he’s back into that alien environment. The hope is that he will return and he’s been moved up in at least one subject. Just move him up in History and it would boost his confidence so much. I fear that’s a pipe dream. I would also be staggered if the support system has suddenly improved. How can it. It’s the same teaching team, with the same school education strategies and with schools struggling for resources. But on the bright side we have been told to celebrate as soon we will have a new blue UK passport. A passport made in France….

Maybe he will decide to abandon the failed school project. Can’t blame him and I would fully support that. It would be so worth it to lift this cloak of anxiety which often suffocates him. It’s not as if the school approach is delivering results. In most subjects he’s bored and starting to stagnate. I have asked school for the latest benchmark data on his reading, writing and performance. Again I’m not holding my breath. I’m still waiting for school to do any meaningful assessment work on his reading or writing. I suspect it will be spelling tests and nothing else. The Physiotherapist contacted school to say that he was clearly struggling with handwriting and asked what concerns the school had about his handwriting. The response back was that no teacher had raised any concerns. Really….

At his last school they worked with the heath service to monitor his reading age every quarter. He left that school with a reading age three years below the expected level for his age. His current school has so far refused to do another benchmarking assessment. The argument is that he’s doing so well and a benchmark would not change his teaching programme. Read that as they cost money and all kids get the same set teaching approach. Well if you don’t have benchmark information how can you say he’s doing so well. We don’t know if he’s catching up or if the age gap is widening.

It’s funny looking back at this parenting gig. I always realised it would be frustrating and tiring. But I always assumed the school system would largely take care of his education. How wrong I was.

Yellow

On one church wall it’s a thin carpet of yellow. The colour helps life the spirits on this rather somber day. Somber for some of my country but for others it’s a day of celebration.

By the time you will have read this post my country will have left The European Union. A decision which has spilt this country apart. A decision which has turned our country into a less tolerant, increasingly inward looking nation. Looking at the antics of some of our so called politicians over the last few weeks has not been a pleasant experience. They have brought further shame onto the UK.

So sorry friends you didn’t deserve this. They don’t speak for all of us.

Lo siento amigos, no te merecías esto. No hablan por todos nosotros.

Mi dispiace, amici, che non te lo meriti. Non parlano per tutti noi.

Désolé mes amis, vous ne méritiez pas cela. Ils ne parlent pas pour nous tous.

Mar sin tá cairde brón orm nár thuill tú é seo. Ní labhraíonn siad dúinn uile.

Tut mir leid, Freunde, das hast du nicht verdient. Sie sprechen nicht für uns alle.

Desculpe amigos que você não merecia isso. Eles não falam por todos nós.

Dus sorry vrienden, je hebt dit niet verdiend. Ze spreken niet voor ons allemaal.

Så ledsen vänner att du inte förtjänade detta. De talar inte för oss alla.

Žal prijatelji, da si tega niste zaslužili. Ne govorijo za vse nas.

Prepáč priatelia, ktorých si si nezaslúžil. Nehovoria za nás všetkých.

Îmi pare rău prieteni că nu ai meritat asta. Nu vorbesc pentru noi toți.

Tak przepraszam przyjaciele, że nie zasłużyliście na to. Nie mówią za nas wszystkich.

Allura sorry ħbieb li ma ħaqqniex dan. Ma jitkellmux għalina lkoll.

Taigi, gaila draugų, tu to nenusipelnei. Jie nekalba už mus visus.

Žēl draugus, ka jūs to neesat pelnījis. Viņi nerunā mūsu visu vārdā.

Sajnálom barátaim, hogy nem érdemelted meg ezt. Mindannyiunkért nem beszélnek.

Lypámai fíloi pou den áxizan aftó. Den miláne gia ólous mas.

Joten anteeksi ystäviä et ansainnut tätä. He eivät puhu meidän kaikkien puolesta.

Nii et sõbrad, te ei väärinud seda. Nad ei räägi meie kõigi eest.

Promiňte, přátelé, tohle jste si nezasloužili. Nemluví za nás všechny.

Tolkova sŭzhalyavam priyateli, che ne ste zasluzhili tova. Te ne govoryat za vsichki nas.

I didn’t vote for this but it is what it is. So now we have to carry on, make the best of it. Hoping it works out for us and it works out for our European friends. In my heart I am still European. I still want a European Passport. Try explaining Brexit to young people . I try to explain it to our Son. “This is so wrong Dad, I am European”. My head is telling me that the next generation will reverse the decision and we will come back to Europe.

Goodbye but not farewell.

Terrible Poetry

It’s Thursday so it time for a bit of terrible poetry in the form of Chelsea Owens weekly competition. This week the rules are

  1. The Topic is an epic poem about a great adventure. Laudable deeds and grand gestures will be your comrades-in-arms, even if your adventure proves to go no further than locating a missing sock.
  2. These sorts can run rather long, so let’s cap the poem at a Length of 200 words. Yes, Fishman, you may write fewer than 200.
  3. Rhymes are unnecessary, yet contestants will be awarded bonus points for archaic ones.
  4. Make it terrible, I say! A great shout must be heard from deep within The Woods of Whispering that Princess Sock has been found, and is begging you to stop singing your ballad. Forever.
  5. If the Rating must, it may rise to PG-13. Remember that insults from these times moste often ran the gamut of brigand or knave.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (January 31, 2020) to submit a poem to Chelsea.

We start out on this crazy epic adventure

A divided party for such a risky reckless venture

Saying goodbye to friends is always hard

Especially when they neighbours in our backyard

Off on our own into the great wide open

Led by our leader who is so outspoken

Into the massing storm clouds we strike out

On a wing and a prayer without any real clout

Many wolves circling claiming to be our new friends

Sign on the dotted line and you can reap the dividends

But only if you agree to the orange wolfs demands

Give me your NHS and we can happily shake hands

Don’t forget as part of the deal you take our chlorinated chicken

It’s full of good stuff honest and it won’t make you sicken

An epic adventure without any real plan

Hoping countries are nice to us including Kazakhstan

Even before we leave the lies and untruths are beginning to appear

While those making hedge fund fortunes continue to sneer

On any epic adventure you need a swashbuckling hero

Sadly we have no Aragorn to lead us just a bumbling self centred zero

This adventure of ours has a name called Brexit

Please excuse me now as I try to leg-it.

Green and pleasant land.

Welcome to Britain. A green and pleasant land.

A country where this man has just won a massive majority. A man who continues to cover up his repeated cockups which has led to a British Citizen bring help in Iran since 2016. Now his focus is on trade deals and turning the country into a trumped up lap dog. Sadly the poor British Citizen can’t offer a trade deal so she is stuffed.

Where this man from our Government claims that he has more common sense than those who died in the Grenfell Tower Disaster. He has made millions from his hedge fund company on the back of Brexit.

Where this man has been our Schools Minister since 2014. The man responsible for the current state of our schools. The man responsible for the introduction of testing for 4 year old kids. And the man who said kids taking time of for bereavement was like an extended holiday.

And a country where this man has just been awarded a knighthood. A man who introduced sweeping and brutal benefit reforms which has led to unprecedented levels of misery and is probably responsible for the deaths of hundreds who lost benefits.

Britain a green and pleasant land.

*** the photos of these lovely human beings are from The Guardian, Inside Croydon, Yorkshire Post, Change.org

People of Blyth

It’s Friday the 13th. It feels like a real horror story in Britain today. A new dawn of terror.

People of Blyth I really hope your decision to vote Conservative works out for you. I really hope Boris Johnson follows through on his promises. He gets Brexit done then finds money to cut taxes and spend more on public services like our health service. Although a Bart Simpson quote comes to mind.

You just bought another load of crap from the world’s fattest fertilizer salesman.”

To be fair to Blyth I could have picked a number of Northern English Towns and Cities. That includes my childhood home town – Redcar. Or as Johnson has now called it Bluecar. I hope people remember that Redcar is named after an area of poorly drained land. Kjar (Car) is old Viking word for marsh. Maybe Conservative Blue and poor drainage are a suitable combo.. My old Dad always said he would never ever vote Conservative. He must be turning in his grave at a Conservative MP of Redcar.

So we wake up to Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister. I was careful there not to say our or my PM. He certainly is not my PM. He needs to earn that. If he proves himself capable and trustworthy then I will start to call him MY PM. His remit is to get Brexit done. As far as many are concerned that is the a Brexit debate finished. We are now leaving. Leaving hopefully with the best negotiated terms and relationships possible. Although many of his backers want to have the process fail so they can just crash out of the EU without any constraints. I genuinely think it’s the wrong call but we have lost the argument and IT IS WHAT IT IS. We need to move on.

I’m not going to rant at the majority of people who voted Conservative. Your opinions and values are just as valid and heartfelt as mine. I do shake my head at some of the reasons a worryingly large number of people decided to vote on. Ones I have personally heard include

  • I’m not voting Liberal as the leader is a woman,
  • I’m voting for Boris because he is funny,
  • I’m voting for Labour as Gary Neville (ex Footballer) said he was,
  • I’m not voting Labour as they backed the Terrorist who attacked a London Bridge (a fake news story)
  • I’m voting Conservative as they will teach Europe a lesson because they are to blame for our problems.

Simply staggering….

Our political system is broken – probably beyond repair. Increasingly money buys you power. We have political leaders who openly lie and spread unfounded rumours. We have effectively a state sponsored public broadcaster while the other news outlets are in the hands of a few Conservative supporting billionaires. Media groups who openly flout electoral law and favour the incumbent government. Where opposition parties are scrutinised and vilified while at they same time reporters act as a mouth piece for government propaganda. It’s not even subtle anymore. A BBC News reporter days before the election told viewers that Boris Johnson ‘so deserves’ the victory he is hoping to get.

We have potential Russian meddling in our elections. A crucial report on this was buried by the Government a month before the vote. But let’s be fair to Russia it’s not as if the UK or the US have not also interfered in the the affairs of other nation states as well. If we do it why can’t they.

We have a fragmented opposition where the two main players have lost the plot and would much rather fight each other than actually focus on trying to be a credible government in waiting.

We have a ridiculously out of date electoral system that makes it virtually impossible for parties like the Greens to make any headway. Yet it gives huge majorities to a part that gets less than 50% of the vote.

We have a United Kingdom which is literally falling part. As much as Johnson has denied it his Brexit Plan will split Northern Island off from the rest of Britain with a dedicated border control. Scotland now votes in an entirely different direction than England. Scotland voted against Brexit. Scotland votes SNP. How can calls for independence be denied any longer. It’s probably appealing to Boris as he would get rid of a large and vociferous opposition grouping. Locking in a Conservative Government for a generation.

And then we get back to the good people of Blyth and Redcar. A political system which has for years ignored them and failed them. Now we have a hardcore of disillusioned voters who have little faith in their politicians and leaders. No wonder they see Brexit as a way of bringing change.

So we batten down the hatches. Focus on what is truly important – family and friends. Do whatever we can to protect them while doing our bit for the environment. Completely block out the tainted media groups like the BBC which simply cannot be trusted anymore. Find our own news sources. And we move on hoping that things don’t go as badly wrong as I fear. I really fear for minority groups, those who are sick, those who are on benefits, those who are out of work and I am petrified about what will now happen to our environment and wildlife. So ends the rant and now I get back to being a crap dad trying to cope with whatever life chucks at me. Fingers crossed I don’t need to mention Boris again.