I’ve got my eye on you

Currently we have 11 very wise sages (now 12) who want to be our new Prime Minister. Aptly my spell checker wants to change wise sages to sausages. Apart from Brexit what do they offer. No idea. All they talk about is Brexit. They play a game. Remember that guessing game. I will name that song in 10 seconds. Well I will name it in 9 seconds. I can name it in 8 seconds…. Well they are doing that with Brexit. I can get us out by December. Well I will get us out by November. Boris will get us out be October… Apart from Brexit we don’t hear much else. The chap who looks after the police for months he has been saying rising crime levels has nothing to do with resource cuts … well now if he becomes PM apparently he will give them more money because crime levels are rising. Figure that one out.

Anyway we don’t get a say in the new Prime Minister. Why should we, we only live here and pay our taxes. Basically the 330 Conservative MPs (the ones who have demonstrated a complete lack of any idea how to get us out of this mess) get the first go. If they can’t do something resembling Julius Caesar and his last night comeuppance then we go to stage 2. The 120000 Conservative Party Members then get a vote. So bugger the other 69,804,206 good people. So while the lucky few indulge themselves the rest of us watch the country fall apart.

My child is autistic. He wants to be like the other kids. He wants to go to school to learn. A Mainstream School is the best place for him to do that. But to do that he needs some additional support. Not asking for the world just a bit more support here and there. But the government and the council have cut the Special Needs Funding. We have been waiting 2 years to see a specialist. Our school won’t offer him a place. The council has cut his transport service. He’s been at home for months and now I’m told the only two options are a special school miles away or no schooling at all.

Not me another parent on the radio at the weekend. Over 1 million kids in England have some form of Special Educational Need. Yet Government policy is to ignore them. Assign them to the scrap heap. See them as an easy budget savings target. To focus on our son for a few seconds

  • Dyslexia Support – none
  • Aspergers Educational Support – some additional funding secured but this has to be used to pay for some additional non teaching support for the whole school and not tailored to his needs
  • Aspergers Health Support – did secure access to counselling support but due to cut backs he is now seen as a low priority and that support has dried up
  • Bereavement support – a couple of pamphlets and still on the waiting list – that’s coming up for 3 years now

The government principle appears to be it’s not a problem for the us, it’s not our job, it’s the parents job so just own it. So while the lucky few get to play a fun Machiavellian lets pick a leader game – Rome Burns for many. When we get a new leader – nothing will change. We might even pour some more petrol on the flames.

I really don’t know what the answer is. I don’t see things changing for the better. For the rest of our sons school years it is going to be a constant struggle. We will have to do our best and see what happens. Fighting our case. Trying to make our voices heard. Keeping our eyes on our so called leaders.

Maybe it’s time for the Gerbils to Assemble.

Apex monster

Apologies for the photo the camera phone has one or two slight limitations.

More native Yorkshire animals…. As you can see it’s the usual baking sunshine and deep blue skies on a typical British bank holiday. What is interesting about this photo is the way you can see an apex predator bully another unfortunate creature. Those poor Polar Bears. They just don’t stand a chance with a Gull. Rumour has it that the next evil galactic creature Marvel will replace Thanos with will be a Seagull. Maybe the one who we watched chase seals off to eat their food. Or these chaps who happily took the meat off the bears. Or maybe the one in the car park who we watched walk up to a parked car and start violently pecking at it it’s door. Or the one we saw sitting next to the tiger clearly eyeballing him. Or the one who crapped on my car from front to back.

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.

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.

The new Brexit team

It’s been a very good year for Daffodils. Flowers lift the heart. So while I set off my Stone Age Laptop to undertake a work task I headed into the garden to plant flower seeds. I have a horticultural tradition now. In September I visit the local garden shop and see what out of date seeds they are selling off cheap. One hour later 8 random and very cheap flower seed packs have been planted.

I returned inside to find the Laptop still apparently busy doing stuff so let’s put the TV on for a few moments. Just in time for the weather forecast.

“During the weekend the warm settled weather will be replaced with an extremely cold frontal pattern. Snow cannot be ruled out. Severe frosts are likely. Gardeners should take note of this Arctic Blast. Maybe delay planting for a couple of weeks”

You couldn’t tell me this an hour ago. Marvellous.

Then the news comes on. Brexit is still a monumental pile of pants – Deep Joy. Everyday I sound more and more like Stadler and Waldorf from the Muppets (sorry).

Anyway is it just me or does our Prime Minister look increasingly like Skeletor from the Master of the Universe cartoon. Sorry Skeletor you were never this self obsessed or so grossly incompetent.

We had a little game the other night. Come up with a list of cartoon characters who would do a better job of Brexit than the current shower of ineptitude – I cleaned this up as I did use two naughty words initially….

So our Cartoon Brexit Replacement Team is:

  • Prime Minister May becomes PM Lisa Simpson
  • Chancellor Hammond becomes Mr Krabby (Spongebob)
  • U.K. Europe Negotiator Robbins becomes Selma (The Simpson’s)
  • Foreign Secretary Hunt becomes Inspector Gadget
  • Brexit Secretary Barclay becomes Patrick (Spongebob)
  • Person responsible for negotiating trade deals – Liam Fox becomes Bill Cipher (Gravity Falls)
  • Minister for screwing up the Environment Michael Gove becomes Sid (Ice Age)
  • Brexit Buffoon Boris Johnson becomes Elmer Fudd
  • Brexit Twit Rees-Mogg becomes Yosemite Sam
  • Minister in charge of screwing things up Chris ‘Calamity’ Grayling becomes Goofy

I’m sure you would agree our cartoon team is significantly better equipped for the job. Now having sorted out Brexit it’s time to try and remember where I planted those seeds.

Trees

What a stunning tree.

We took Captain Chaos for a walk this morning. Still trying to process yesterday’s school review meeting. Maybe it’s because I am tired but I just can’t get my head fully round it’s implications. It’s times like this when being a single parent sucks… No one to talk things through with. No voice of reason. So the ideas and words just keep swirling around.

I turned up carrying my 300 pages of notes (sorry Trees…). When I opened the paper pile a must do House DIY list dropped out. Sadly nothing can be ticked off the list from the last meeting. Where does all the time go.

The meeting lasted two hours. So many discussions. So many disagreements. So much frustration.

I suspect the best way to summarise is to see a never ending circle.

I ask for something. School confirm it’s not happened. Health Service says the need is real and should be met. School says they don’t have the resources to do this. School asks the Council for funds. Council says it’s not an education issue, it’s a health issue. Health Service says they don’t have the money and it’s an education issue. And on and on. If we give money to health to provide additional support then that has to come from the school and they then can’t even meet his minimum care standards. So Son has real unmet needs – everyone agrees on that but no one is prepared to provide the funds. Everybody at the meeting clearly cared about our son. Let’s be honest Health and Education have been hammered by our current Government. You can only cut things so far before things start falling apart.

Let’s quote our Prime Minister again

“I’m on your side….”

Just sod off. You are not on OUR SIDE. You are just looking after yourself. You don’t give a damm about kids like our son. Get back to looking at your, your husband and your friends off shore investments….

So the bottom line is Health are going to write to the Council and request additional funding. Council are going to write to the Health Managers and ask for additional funds. While our PM sits in Chequers and tries to find more desperate ways of staying in power. Go on May why don’t you bribe the DUP with billions of pounds of public funds again – while lecturing the rest of us that ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’. Madness.

More positively school are going to try some minor adjustments to see if that helps our son. They are also going to formally request exceptional one-off funding to pay for an in-depth dyslexia assessment. The funding probably won’t come but at least school now recognise the impact dyslexia is having on our son’s educational performance.

So hopefully at the next meeting we will have seen some progress and at the very least confirming that

  • Son has started getting some more tailored support,
  • I have started doing some of the DIY projects which are badly needed,
  • I will have gone paperless so more beautiful trees will be saved AND
  • our incompetent and distinctly unpleasant PM is consigned to historical ignominy…..

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.