Another weekend has come and gone. Again just the two of us. Talks in the garden, walks around the deserted fields. Occasionally passing a fellow dog walker in the village, bringing just a quick nod. No deliveries. No postman. No sign of the neighbours. No phone calls.
Here some are starting to ignore the Government line that Covid is under control. Numbers are rising rapidly here. The hospitals are stretched again. So people are far less likely to stop and talk, preferring a quick shout from across the road.
That is adding to the isolation feel here.
We did look at visiting somewhere else, Hawklad fancied a historic site but the online booking systems clearly showed that there where extremely busy. So we stayed put. A weekend at home. Not using the car saved a bucket load of cash.
The last person I had a conversation with before the weekend was with his health professional. When I raised the school pushing for him to sit exams, she was clear. A clear “ he is not ready, not ready at all for that, he is potentially months or more likely much longer away from being anywhere near ready for classrooms or exams’. So let’s see what schools attitude is when I convey that message to them.
A trip down memory lane. We were looking for somewhere different to visit. Had to be quiet. Had to be different. A couple of hours later we had arrived at the coast.
To the South Gare at Redcar on the north east English coast. The memories flooded back. I was born in Redcar, my childhood was spent here. I didn’t leave until I was 18. Not been back since, until now.
Redcar is surrounded. The North Sea on one side, chemical and steel works in the other direction. The South Gare is a couple of miles north of the town. It’s the southern breakwater of the River Tees. It’s one of those places where industry and nature have fused together. As a kid this was a magical place. I would walk here along the beach from the town most weekends. My old Dad would drive us here. So many memories.
Dad somehow getting me inside the lighthouse and convincing the keeper to let me sound the foghorn. Wow that was seriously loud.
Watching the anglers stand precariously on the edge of the sea walls as waves crashed in.
When Dad was too ill to walk too far, he would drive here and sit in the car watching the ships come and go.
Braving the storms to see the waves crash over the top of the lighthouse.
Coming here in the late 70s to see the blast furnace built. It was Europes second largest one. It looked like something from a Dr Who episode. Almost unreal.
Watching the steam escape from the rocks and surrounding ground when the blast furnace was in operation. Like a man made volcanic steam vent.
Taking Benji, our mad Beagel onto the beach at Redcar for a walk. Letting him off the lead and he bolted down the beach. Two miles later I finally caught up with him next to the lighthouse. Having a much needed constitutional….
Bunking off school to come here to watch massive new oil rigs getting transported out to the oil fields.
Seeing weather battered fishermen go into the little green huts always wondering what on earth was inside the wooden structures.
Searching for winkles on the rocks at low tied.
So many memories. I rapidly bored the pants off Hawklad retelling these and many more tales. Much was the same but some changes. Where did that wind farm come from.
But there is a sadness. The area is looking so run down. The Steel Works closed down with all its jobs. My father worked here. Many of my school friends got jobs here. All gone. So the Furnace is a ghost shell to a bygone era. It’s been a part of the local landscape for decades. It became part of how the town looked. It was the heartbeat of the town. And now it’s been decided that it is to be knocked down. Work has started. Those in charge say its disappearance will be a symbol of hope. Replaced with newer, better things. If only that was true. There won’t be any money. The people round here don’t matter to those in charge. I’m not the only one who feels that way. So it’s demolition is not universally welcome. Yes some see it as an eyesore. But others see the furnace as part of the towns heritage. A visible reminder of nearly 200 years of iron and steel production in this area. Steel which was used around the world including in the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So it’s destruction is seen by many here as cultural and economic vandalism. Akin to many uncomfortable truths. Get rid of the image then you can forget about the problem without addressing it. Just like how we move the homeless on from outside the Theatre or the exclusive Restaurant. Once moved you can conveniently forget about the poverty again, all for the price of a coffee and a pat on the back. The person is still homeless just this time out of sight.
So on this Sunday afternoon, one gnarly muppet took one too many photos. As many as I could featuring the blast furnace. Because when we come here again, it will be gone and the landscape here will have changed forever.
That’s as close as we come to a river around our village. It’s a beautiful walk here. Hardly ever visited. It’s one of Hawklad’s favourite spots. Looks tranquil but amazingly a few years back the old bridge was swept away in a storm. That’s some storm.
So it’s a knighthood for Gavin Williamson. Remember him, the prat in UK Government who was in charge of the UK’s education system. Actually PRAT in the GOVERNMENT doesn’t really narrow the field down too much…. Anyways, he was in charge of the schools and made a point of being photographed at his desk with a horse whip in prominent view. His incompetence messed up thousands of pupils final exams. He was even too incompetent for this calamity Government and was sacked. Not his first sacking. The last Prime Minister sacked him as Defence Secretary for being personally responsible for a security leak. In the PM’s words – ‘lost confidence in his ability to serve’.
So his track record of success clearly merits being called SIR from now on.
It’s been a wet one today. Torrents of rain. Definitely a two coat day. Great rhubarb weather.
It’s been torrent of school emails as well. One instructing parents about what happens if a child is late to school. Another email confirming that non uniform days had been cancelled due to inappropriate behaviour. Then an email instructing pupils that no jewellery (except an ear stud) is appropriate in a school setting. That’s on top of emails earlier about the length of skirts and inappropriate gym kit. Then I hear someone from the Government talk about the need for longer school hours and greater discipline.
Some parents may love the sound of this. This parent is shaking his head.
With all that’s gone on in the world over the last couple of years, with the current dreadful news, aren’t our youngsters already having to cope with more than enough stress. Let’s not have school add to that….
First mock exam at home highlighted a clear issue. School have tried to give Hawklad some schooling at home. School subjects better than others. But it’s clear that the classroom based pupils have covered way more areas than have been provided to Hawklad. Too many missing lessons. Too many 90 minute teaching lessons where Hawklad gets one out of focus photograph of some random writing on a whiteboard.
This is not a rant at school. Trying to keep teaching 800 pupils during a pandemic will have been a nightmare, especially when they have had so little support from the Government. In 2022 surely we should have a seamless education system that works for every pupil. If a child is not able to attend school or school doesn’t suit them, then surely we should have things like complete online resources that provide a full education. Resources for teachers, parents, pupils at school, those at home. But we don’t. Bits are there, large bits are missing. Bits are easy to find, many bits are as well hidden as the Holy Grail. Bits are free, bits are hid behind pay walls. It’s all a bit of a mess. That is not a surprise here. Years of cut backs. A Government committed to Victorian based education. Factory production lines for our children. Schools told to force all children back into classrooms as soon as possible. Schools told to focus on back to basics education. Schools told not to offer alternative teaching methods. Fines for parents.
It shouldn’t be like this. This is 2022 and we could over so much to every child.
This is a perfect place to come and hide from the madness that is England. A country that feels like it’s unraveling in from of my angry eyes, all while Nero parties and plays his fiddle while everything burns around him. He is laughing at us all, he is mocking us all. How much worse can it get. How did we let this happen. Thankfully we still have places like this tranquil lake that have not yet been corrupted.
Proper Yorkshire weather. Two waterproofs, two jumpers, extra thick thermals required. No umbrella in the world will last 5 seconds in this.
Definitely had the country lanes to ourselves. In fact even too bad for animal or bird. The only exceptions, two intrepid swans on the lake but even those probably had wooly hats on.
As we hunkered even further down inside our waterproof Ironman suits we talked about life, school and Aspergers.
“Dad, now that I can read, can I get dyslexia taken off my medical record. I never got any help with it anyway..”
The conversation went on until….
“How do I get Aspergers taken off my medical record.”
Here’s why. To summarise this was Hawklad’s thoughts.
“I know I’m not cured. You can’t cure Aspergers. It is just who I am. It’s just that too many people don’t understand. They don’t bother to see, they just hear the word Aspergers and they just assume, assume wrong. Plus I don’t get any extra help for being listed as Aspergers from school and only a little bit from the Doctors. It isn’t doing me any good”.
What do you say to that. Especially when he’s right about too many people, the complete lack of adjustments from teachers and that the little bit of health support he does get is being phased out. Any support which had to be fought for is removed as the teenage years are reached. Adults are expected to fend for themselves. The Aspergers label helped explain some things initially, it probably helped the parents more but as Hawklad concluded
I have to admit that I am not in the slightest bit upset about Hawklad avoiding a return to the classroom this week. He is not ready. As new covid cases average 200,000 a day. That’s a number that doesn’t include the large number of people getting reinfected, it’s also at a time when many with symptoms can’t get tested. The worry is schools have been closed for 2 weeks, what happens when the variant hits the classroom. Without schools, today in England 157 children were hospitalised with Covid.
Apparently schools are safe and the Government has done everything to protect the children and those who work in them. Reluctantly they have reintroduced masks. Pupils will be tested twice a week if schools can get hold of the test kits. And with a big fanfare it’s been announced that 7000 ventilation units will be finally purchased for schools.
UK classrooms are frequently cramped and poorly designed. We also have some of the largest class sizes across Europe.
One problem with that announcement is that there are over 32000 schools in the UK. Let’s say each school has 10 classrooms, Hawklad’s school has well over 50. So which of those 300000 plus classrooms will get the 7000 ventilation units. That’s a lot of cramped, over crowded classrooms left with inadequate air quality levels. Good indoor ventilation is seen as a key defence against an airborne virus. As one headteacher pointed out, the Government could have put in a ventilation unit into EVERY classroom for half the cost of the new Royal Yacht, which the Government is buying. The Yacht is seen as an essential purchase. Our children clearly aren’t……
So the school end of term report arrived today. Lots of numbers, lots of letters, hardly any words. No individualised teacher comments, each pupil reduced to performance data. As I tried to figure out the metrics and what that means for Hawklad, a thought crossed my mind. The Government doesn’t see individual children, they just see production assets. That’s why the school report now is basically a factory production line quality control card.
They don’t see the children, they just see the greater good. The greater good as seen through the politician’s eyes. Those are not pure eyes, they are not trustworthy eyes in my country.
Rapidly deteriorating vision. Oh the delights of wearing glasses in bad weather.
At least bad weather does bring out the full Yorkshire Moodiness.
Today Hawklad told me that he’s not going back to school next week. He feels that it’s beyond him currently. I can’t say that I’m exactly surprisedby his call. So I’ve emailed school so they are aware. I also attached the latest medical exemption letter provided by the NHS. Those letters are like gold dust here. The exemption was provided just before Christmas, so they didn’t think he was going back as well. With that letter, the Government can’t take me to court for being a bad parent. Up yours Boris.
So as of the middle of next week, here we go again on the school at home project. Fast approaching two years now….. Never saw that coming. One day I might just figure out what I’m supposed to be doing as a teaching parent. But to be fair, I can’t remember seeing that on the parenting job description.