Another brick….

A cold chill blowing across the Moors. It might be June but it’s feeling more like November. Spot the well hidden, very secret military listening base in the distance.

They hid that one well 🤣🤣🤣🤣

I wonder if those at the base will listen in to me having a rant about education, AGAIN. If they are listening well can you record the next message. Boris Johnson has blood on his hands, he’s taking us all for fools and he should be in prison….

Anyway I’m GNARLY today…..

School finally sent through a bundle of mock exam papers. No instructions, so I guess it’s work through them under exam conditions and send them back for marking. So poor Hawklad sat the first paper today. In the living room wearing his Ron from Parks & Recreation T-shirt. You never see Ron and Ned Flanders in the same room together – just saying.

Anyway back to the two hour home sat mock exam. We tried near enough exam conditions. No help, no books, no internet, no extra time. But he could get up and walk about. No need to put a hand up to go to the toilet. If he wanted to get a snack from the kitchen, he could. Exams stop children doing what comes naturally to them. Modern day Victorian enslavement.

I am GNARLY…..

After the exam I checked how it went….

Hawklad struggled. Clearly in this subject much of what has been taught in the classroom has not found it’s way here. You can’t revise if you not taught the area first….. Then we come to the exam paper wording. Do this and you fail, don’t do this and you fail, your not allowed to do this…. Is it possible to make the instructions more cold and foreboding. And then the question wording. They’re not exactly brief…. Not exactly clear. Misread one key word and you’re stuffed. The convoluted wording is often open to multiple interpretations but only one will get you marks. That is a nightmare for pupils under pressure and stress. That is a nightmare for those who struggle with reading skills. It’s a nightmare for kids like Hawklad who often interpret things in different ways, who can read most of the words but occasionally get the odd word wrong.

Hawklad talked about two questions in particular that really spooked him. I’m not at all surprised. I have a Masters Degree in this area, I’ve worked for years doing things covered in these two questions. One question involved working out an angle. A seriously complex problem to solve that I would describe as a two coffee solution. I would need at least two coffees to work this one out. How can that be a fair school exam question. The other question involved completing a technical drawing of a complex 3D shape. I’m not entirely sure I could ever do it by hand, maybe with an online drawing package. If your going to do this as a question surely you use a far simpler shape that gives the pupils a chance of completing while under pressure. Again….

How can this be a fair question….

Why do we let our children go through this. The stress of exams. Some are good in exams, many are definitely not. Countless studies have shown the negative impact exam pressure can have on mental health. And why, what are they trying to achieve. These exams are not about showing what the child can do, it’s about showing what they can’t do. Exams like this are setting many up to fail. It’s definitely not about finding the special talents that every single child will have. They are only about filtering out, child weeding based on such a narrow, arcane part of life. PINK FLOYD definitely got it right with Another Brick in the Wall.

Look at the state of those in charge of The UK and you realise that the education system just doesn’t work. It definitely doesn’t work for the children.

Sheep

The sheep are back. Must be time to dig out my old Pink Floyd – Animals LP.

The return of the sheep always makes me smile.

Memories.

A much younger Hawklad carefully feeding the sheep. Following the instructions from the farmer on which sheep liked which biscuits.

And yes that’s a puppy Captain Chaos.

Sometimes that wooden fence wasn’t keeping those sheep from those biscuits.

Sheep.

Then there was the first night in our home. My partner was watching the newly unpacked TV and I had come out into the crisp night air to look at the stars. Wow no light pollution here. No street lighting. Pitch black. So many stars. Then suddenly that sinking feeling.

I AM NOT ALONE…..

Somewhere near the fence dozens of eyes fixed on their prey. Me. I took it like a man. Screamed and ran inside, the door bolted behind me. As a modicum of courage returned, I tentatively ventured outside again with a torch and Slazenger cricket bat. I found dozens of sheep stood at the fence, all eyeballing me. Clearly saying ‘Where’s the biscuits..’ That was definitely the SHEEP OF THINGS TO COME. But I guess it was ALL’S WOOL THAT ENDS WOOL. I will shut up now. Don’t to RAM THE POINT HOME, I wouldn’t do that to EWE.

Squall

Somedays you end up looking back more than you look forward….

That brief rain shower had passed through a earlier. A heavy squall but soon no evidence on the ground that it happened. Just a receding cloud on the horizon.

Yes it’s been one of those days.

Reflecting on life rather than looking forward. I know it’s not good for me. Can so easily descend into a world of full on melancholy Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen lyrics.

I did try to refocus. Do stuff but so much is really working today. I even got a pencil and blank piece of paper out to write out some short term goals. An hour later no writing just a brown circle matching perfectly the base of the coffee cup which had found its way onto the paper.

Signs of a half empty coffee cup on a so called sheet of Hope…….

Pants…. gone all Leonard Cohen and Roger Waters on you already.

Yep somedays are like that….

But then I remember what is important. Truly important to me. I smile. Even on days like, the sun can shine.

Money, money, money

Clearly the blueberry has given up on this Yorkshire Summer and just assumed it’s autumn already.

MONEY. Not listened to that Pink Floyd song in ages.

Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay….

That’s how the song goes. It’s funny that I love Floyd but this is the only song of theirs that I don’t like. The sound of the cash till just annoys me. It’s kinda nice that when I finally got to see them live, I can remember the concert so well yet I can’t remember them playing this song. It’s so good when the mind works like that.

MONEY. Before the world changed in 2016 we were doing alright. Finding a way to maintain two quite well paid jobs while making sure one of us was always there for Hawklad. It wasn’t easy and took a shed load of planning, but we found a way. We had a nice house, two cars (our jobs headed in different directions) and we could afford a trip to Switzerland every year. We tried to save for the future so we didn’t buy much. But it was a comfortable life and we could certainly pay the bills.

Then the world suddenly changed. I’ve just realised how lame that phrase sounds. Took me long enough. Seismic Rupture might be better. Need to think about that…

MONEY. The last thing you should be thinking about after a bereavement is money. But far too often MONEY quickly looms over you when you are at your lowest ebb. Bills still have to be paid. Food has to be bought. The government wants its pound of flesh, death brings the delights of Inheritance Tax. Two incomes suddenly became one. Even that one….. Single parenting, Single Aspergers parenting, Single parenting to a 9 year old who has just lost his mum. My job became impossible to maintain. Suddenly I was scrambling for a part time job which worked round Hawklad. MONEY became a very scarce commodity. Trying to get my head properly round these scary things is the last thing I needed when my world had just been shaken to the ground. Trying to look at a shrinking bank statement is bloody hard when it’s done through crying eyes.

That’s how it’s been with MONEY ever since 2016. I was so lucky to find a job which was flexible enough to fit round the single parenting gig. But I was still trying to pay the bills. Working out which repair jobs would have to be kicked into the future – which is most of them. Only trying to spend on the absolutely essential stuff. Funny thing is how often schooling costs suck up any spare cash. Holidays are just not happening – the last one was back in 2015. When we do have to buy items the first point of call is always the previously enjoyed or damaged sections. Our one extravagance, concerts, are always in the much cheaper – restricted view areas. We never turn down hand me downs. I’m currently looking at an exercise bike which was surplus to someone’s requirements and is held together with copious amounts of electricians tape.

MONEY. How needs it. With hindsight it’s clear that we are so lucky. So many are in a much worse position than we are. I’ve found a job that kinda fits our lifestyle. We have a nice house and garden. Live in a lovely area. Friends are wonderful. Financially it’s challenging but we are just about stable. Money helps but it doesn’t buy you happiness. Thinking of Hawklad, memories and friends – money doesn’t buy you those things.