Differences

Wild Strawberries growing under the blueberry bush. Certainly wasn’t expecting these to grow here but with an open mind, this is such a result.

The decision to abandon mainstream schooling is in our son’s hands. It’s his life. His risks. His anxieties. His dreams. His future. So ultimately he decides. If it was my call then I’ve made my mind up. It would be homeschooling from September. That viewpoint has hardened with the last two communications from school.

The first was a summary of the schools position. Basically son is low attainment and has significant educational needs. Progress will be difficult. His educational needs are best met in the bottom set. With effort he may still be able to get a few qualifications. He is best following the normal teaching programme with no specific interventions (which would eat into tight school budgets).

Ok….

Then the next communication was his school report for the year. It painted a slightly different picture. To quote a few phrases from his individual teachers

  • Strength for creative writing,
  • Worked hard to produce some fantastic work,
  • Excellent attitude,
  • Will progress very well in subject,
  • His remote learning has been great,
  • He is a star,
  • Class work of the highest standard,
  • Superb young historian,
  • Considerable talent in the subject,
  • Very good understanding of the subject,
  • Pleasure to teach.

Ok….

Two conclusions here. One is that the report comments are standard across all the kids and so they mean nothing. Just a way to keep parents happy.

OR

The report comments are the reality and something is seriously wrong with schools overall assessment.

I strongly suspect this is a common pattern across the country. It mirrors current government thinking. If thinking is the right word to use. Basically kids with educational needs do not fit neatly into the factory production line educational approach. Minimise input costs to generate a set and limited output. Discard those items which fall out of the narrow design specification. Educational needs equate to additional teaching costs which will not be funded. Thus the best approach is to dump kids with Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, disabilities and mental health issues into the bottom set. Conveniently forget about them. If these kids then get the odd qualification out of the system then the authorities can pat themselves on the back after a job well done. Let’s not forget the important thing, all this delivered all so cost effectively.

Maybe I am being cynical but that’s the reason I am definitely falling into the homeschooling camp.

Really

So the great Boris Johnson let’s open ‘Schools in September’ plan is becoming oh so clear. Basically let’s disregard all the current Covid guidance. Let’s squeeze the kids back into the cramped schools and forget about social distancing. But here’s the master plan. Let’s split the kids into year groups and ask the year groups not to mix. That way we can try and reduce the spread of the virus amongst all the poor sods in the school. Maybe stagger some start times and do a bit of cleaning here and there. If teachers go off sick then try to squeeze more kids into even larger classes. And that’s basically it. Oh and of course schools are safe because Boris said so. OK….

Last week some schools in the English city of Leicester were opened even though confirmed cases were rising alarmingly in the area. Parents were assured it was perfectly safe to send kids to school. On Tuesday it was announced that schools in the city would close on Thursday as part of a local city pandemic lockdown. So it’s apparently safe for kids and teachers to go into school until midnight Wednesday at which point it becomes unsafe again….

Dad is that really what a Prime Minister should look like….”

***** photo from the Daily Record******

Well that’s the neatest I’ve ever seen him.

Dad. It looks like he’s doing a Paddington Bear and he’s keeping his sandwiches safe under is hat.”

Certainly not keeping his brain safe under there. No one has seen that for years. Still the brains not needed as he has his special adviser.

The one who looks like a Sith Lord and can ignore lockdown rules .”

Yep that’s the one.

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

Now here’s the thing. The special adviser is Dominic Cummings. This lovely chap.

******photo from The Guardian******

The X-Files could have spent many a series and several films just on this shady villain. I will give you just one little nugget. He passionately believes in Eugenics. The belief that the key for our countries development is to improve the gene pool of the population. That is to encourage those deemed ‘the finest’ to breed and breeding out those who do not fit the template. That means the likes of our son would not be included in the desired gene pool. Can’t have defective genes in the pool…..

Welcome to modern Britain. Welcome to the Government. Where’s Mulder and Scully when we need them.

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……

Just better

Yes an excuse to sneak in a Switzerland photo when it’s not Sunday. A country which just does things better than here in England. When the Swiss organise a bird lineup it is always going to beat ours.

I was racking my brain to think of stuff my country can do better than Switzerland. It’s not an extensive list so far,

  • Queues,
  • Road pot holes,
  • Darts,
  • Football hooligans,
  • Classic Rock,
  • Rust,
  • Stuff being late,
  • Crap customer care,
  • Cheaper basic drugs like cold remedies,
  • The NHS, a big plus……
  • Charlatans like Boris Johnson,
  • Litter,
  • Royal Family (depends if your a republican or not)
  • Nigel Farage,
  • Katie Hopkins,
  • Fox hunting,
  • Badger culls,
  • Over fishing,
  • Child poverty,
  • Mental Health Crisis,
  • Care Home Crisis,
  • A shocking pandemic death total,
  • A Government proud of killing so many people,
  • Becoming insular and xenophobic,
  • Key service cuts,
  • Large school class sizes,
  • Navies,
  • Seaweed,
  • Inability to speak a second language,
  • Shouting and swearing,
  • Cricket,
  • Morris Dancing,
  • Fish and chips,
  • Potato Crisps,
  • Rhubard,
  • And raspberries.

Will stop now as the longer this list gets the more depressed I get at the thought of living in England. Yes we have some things we can be rightly proud of but the list of not so good stuff is rapidly expanding. Bring on my weekly Swiss Sunday…..

Not had a rant for days…..

I came outside to look at the roses. And breathe..

The UK Government has a natural ability to take the breathe away. What are the words I am looking for

Self-serving

Incompetence

Charlatan

Criminally negligent

Fraud

Part timers

Out of their depth

Nest of vipers

Dangerous

Liars

Elitist

One rule for the many, doesn’t apply to them

When you think it can’t get any worse and then they take it a new level……

So on the 4th July Britain is open for business again. Something we all can sign up to if it’s done properly and safely. But this is Boris Johnson we are talking about. The laziest and most inept Prime Minister in over 150 years. So here are just a few nuggets of his so called plan

  • The governments own scientists have warned against easing restrictions too soon. If we do the safe way is to do that carefully and in small stages. The PM has said oh tish to that. British wartime spirit apparently is all we need to follow. It clearly does help a leaders senses when he has rich backers and views the world through the bottom of an empty champagne glass….
  • For months we have been told that masks are a waste of time and that we should be keeping at least 2 metres apart. Suddenly 1m is cool as long as your wear those marvellous masks (but only if you really want to).
  • Since March we have been told that the key to beating this virus is the Tracking and Tracing App. Rather than go with the Google and Apple one we decided to give a contract to friends of the Government. This world class app was promised to go live in April, then May, then June. Then suddenly it’s dropped because it didn’t work (not the Government’s fault of course, it was all down to those pesky people at Apple). Now it won’t be ready until the winter but it’s ok as it was never a priority – everyone must have repeatedly misheard the PM and the Health Secretary …..
  • This scene according to the PM is perfectly safe, carries no pandemic risk and so can happen freely (this was our nearest beach yesterday) …..
  • However this scene is not allowed, carries huge pandemic risks and deemed unsafe….
  • People are not allowed to attend live theatre due to the risks yet our PM is delighted to allow pubs to open. The PM clearly trusts Joe Bloggs and his drunken mates to act responsibly and stay 1m apart at all times (wearing a mask) after 10 pints of strong lager.

But no they haven’t finished yet. Apparently schools will reopen fully in September. The plan is to ditch all social distancing rules for children. All we need to do is to tell the kids not to sneeze on others. Squeeze them back into cramped classrooms and act as if nothing has changed. Just in case each class should try not to spend too much time with other classes. Really. It’s ok for the Government as they send their kids to private schools where class sizes are less than 15, here social distancing can still happen. But not for the state schools with class sizes of over 30. In fact the PM has dropped rules so that the class sizes can go much higher than 30. If teachers become sick then you can just have supersized classes.

Well they can just sod off. They are no Government of mine. Time to bunker down.

So back to the roses and breathe.

Fragmented

Good to see the local motorway is busy…. It’s still too busy for our son. I got special dispensation to step 10 yards out of the front gate to take this photo. Life on the edge.

It really does feel a bit like that at present. On one hand we have what apparently counts as our Government rapidly relaxing restrictions and on the other hand kids like our son….

His social and health phobias are in a pandemic fuelled maelstrom. Every few minutes he feels the need to wash his hands. To repeatedly rinse his mouth out. The fear of germs and hidden dangers becoming a real nightmare for him. He struggles to touch items like taps and handles. Even putting potentially unclean shoes on is a challenge these days. Deliveries have to go into garage quarantine for at least 4 days. Clothes need changing every few hours. And then another spanner in the works. The old house boiler completely failed. So a service call out is required. It’s now way beyond a temporary Dad patch up. That means an additional new threat to sons safe area. A house visitor! After much discussion we agreed a plan. The service engineer would come into the house only via the back door. The engineer must wear a mask at all times. I will keep 2m away from the engineer at all times. When the work is finished we will effectively lock down half of the house. We won’t venture into the areas the engineer visited for three days. Not ideal but it’s a plan. Son’s stress levels will rise but hopefully not too far. The damage to his safe area minimised.

Yet individuals like our son are expected to just re-enter the world by July 4th. The date our part time PM is declaring as the day he defeated the virus. The date he can heroically restart England. It’s perfectly fine to open overcrowded public schools in September. A few more hand sanitisers in the corridors and relaxing the rules further to allow for even larger class sizes to cope with increased teacher sickness is now the best way to deal with a pathogen. We are told ‘everything is now fine’ by the very leaders who have been proven to be wrong on virtually every single major decision they have made over the last 6 months. The very leaders who now widely seen as charlatans and pathological liars. People see this. Our son sees this. This just adds fuel to his anxieties. It’s making a bad situation even worse.

So when England reopens on the 4th July a small bungalow in Yorkshire will not. It stays on lockdown until son is able to face the world again. Who knows how long that will take. Much patience is required. We won’t be the only family facing this prospect. Again my country further fragments. I’m not entirely sure it’s ever really going to come back together again.

Homework

The hardy old rose bush right next to the front door. Against all the odds, it just keeps on giving.

In a few hours the school at home project restarts again. One more 7 week push before we finally arrive at the summer holidays. What kind of Britain will it be? The old normal, the new normal or something else.

This afternoon was glorious. Hot (for here) and sunny. Unbelievably not a single cloud all day. This is Yorkshire remember.

Yes this is Yorkshire but sadly it’s connected to England. Which means it has to live with the Government’s take on education. So while the sun beat down, we were inside. Trying to get homework completed and revision to stick. It’s bizarre that we force kids to work during holidays and weekends AND yet we have a part time Prime Minister who avoids such weekend and holiday work at all costs…. Yet again one rule for the many and another much nicer rule for the few.

The really frustrating thing is what exactly is the homework achieving. Four hours today and what did our Son learn….

What is the point of this Dad. I’ve not learnt one new fact. Not done anything which is interesting. I’m bored out of my mind. My hand hurts from writing and I dislike these subjects even more.”

Sadly I can’t argue with this. The school system here has been deliberately broken. Not by the teachers but by people in The Government. People who enjoyed the benefits of expensive private education. It’s not about developing individual kids now. It’s all about ticking political boxes for those in power. This government will not change its mind. But change is needed. So it will be local change.

We will continue with the school at home project until the summer. Remember this is not homeschooling….this is just trying to do exactly the same school lessons just not with the kids sat at a desk in the cramped classroom. In the summer our Son will decide what he does next. To go back to school or to go for full homeschooling. It’s his call. If he defers to me then he is leaving school. But what to do with the next 7 weeks. We have just brought in a new house rule.

Son will only be expected to do additional homework if it meets one of 3 conditions

  • He will actually learn something from it,
  • He will find it interesting,
  • It actually is going to contribute to his overall assessment. (Staggeringly much homework does not. Frequently it is not even marked in detail and sometimes not at all.)

We did have a fourth condition but that was dropped

Dad that’s a pointless condition. How many kids will honestly admit to actually wanting to do a piece of homework. Definitely never me….”

So if a piece of homework does not meet one of these conditions then he won’t be asked to complete it. I will write into school and let the teacher know. If the school wants to push it then they can deal with me. In our house – I am the headteacher and remember I don’t currently have a PM…..

Cows

The grass cutters have finally arrived. Always a great watch. Even the cows seem to be practicing a bit of social distancing.

Dad did I hear that right we have a track and trace policy going now.”

Yes, after abandoning it in March (as it was deemed to be pointless by the Government) they have now decided it’s a good idea. They have apparently employed 25000 people to do the tracing. Unfortunately the software still doesn’t work.

We don’t believe that number do we.”

No Son we don’t. It’s just lie after lie now.

Apparently it’s cool to go on the beaches now. Maybe they have decided the virus doesn’t like sand and donkeys.”

Sniggering. Yes that might be the case. Since last weekend many of our beaches have been crammed full with tourists. Basically people started ignoring what the government was wittering on about. If it’s ok for the Governments Top Man then it’s ok for us. They have lost control. Now the so called PM is saying it’s official policy to get the beach towels out as so many were doing it anyway. ”

“The science has stopped being used.”

Yep Son it’s gone out of the window.

So if someone goes onto a beach with the virus. Extremely likely given the numbers still with it. Then those trackers are supposed to find who is now at risk.”

That’s the plan. Basically the conversation will go something like this.

  • So you have tested positive, we need to trace who you came into contact with?
  • I went to the beach, used the toilet, rode on the donkeys, queued for chips and went into a shop to buy ice cream.
  • Who did you come into contact with?
  • Thousands of strangers. Best of luck tracing them….

Well Dad at least the donkeys can be traced.”

Don’t forget the seagulls who pinched the chips.

You know what Dad. Let’s give the beach a miss for 2020.”

Can’t really blame him….

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.

Other worlds 2

There was a time when my mobile phone was only used for making phone calls. The phone call function now seems to be an optional extra. It’s now basically my camera, runs the house and sons Pokemon world generator….

As the great Terry Pratchett once said

Always be wary of any helpful item which weighs less than it’s operating manual.

As ever Terry in his hilarious fantasy worlds got life better than many so called modern philosophers. And while we let that thought hang in the air, let’s move onto the last Thursday challenge for a while. Yes people you will be safe from my terrible poetry for a number of months. But as Terry P also aptly pointed out

It’s not worth doing something unless you were doing something that someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing.

So it’s time for Chelsea Owens last challenge for a few months and my poetry….. Chelsea is taking a much earned blogging break over the Summer. This week’s challenge is about writing your very worst poem possible. Bonus points for squeezing in Douglas Adams like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy references. Truly awful poems need to forwarded to Chelsea by 8.00am MDT on the 29th. As a Yorkshire lad I have no idea what MDT meansbut it does sound kinda cool. Maybe something like Mindless Donald Tweets.

This poem might not mean too much if you have never read the great Douglas Adams books or have not had to endure the UK governments truly disgraceful lies (on a different scale over the last few days). To cut a long story short our PM is not in charge. That honour goes to a bloke called Cummings who is unelected but seems to have plenty of dirt on enough people to make him important. The country followed strict lockdown rules with the police taking action action rule breakers. We were told the rules were not requests, they were mandatory instructions. Stay at home or people will die. Senior People have been forced to resign for breaking them. Well apparently the rules didn’t apply to Cummings. He travelled 250 miles from his home to his parents (also a no no). This was when he and his wife had symptoms. Let’s just hope they didn’t need fuel…. He then decided to apparently test his eyesight by driving his wife on her birthday and with young son and dogs in the back of the car, 60 miles to a tourist site (Barnard Castle). Now this has been discovered the public are what is the phrase I’m looking for – pissed off. But now the government is saying that Cummings acted as any parent should do. So absolutely no action should be taken against him. In fact he’s a great citizen and parent according to Hancock (Health Minister). Basically all the parents who stayed at home and followed the lockdown instructions were stupid mugs.

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

Douglas Adams wrote of other worlds and evil races like the Vogons

He didn’t need to lie and cheat, no need to come up with patronising slogans

Now we have our very own new fantasy story authors

Cummings, Hancock and Boris, the UKs evil lying rotters

They inspire as much hope as Marvin the Paranoid Android

And are as pleasant as a hot curry to someone with a hemorrhoid

They only look after themselves, just like two headed Zaphod Beeblebrox

They gorge on the finest food while the peasants are expected to stay in detox

We all thought the answer to life was forty two

Well apparently not, that answer was a load of poo

The answer to everything is now apparently the tourist site called Barnard Castle

We are instructed to lockdown but for Cummings that is far too much hassle

If you are Cummings you can test your eyesight by driving your kid 60 miles

Just a coincidence it’s your wife’s birthday, ignoring restrictions with many smiles

Now that’s apparently Ok as it Cummings says his little poodle called Hancock

A man so stupid he’s turned this country into nothing more than a laughingstock

So thank you Douglas for writing some of the funniest stories ever told

And thank you those who voted for Boris, a man as useful as the common cold

***********

*** This is version two. The cleaned up version. It’s amazing what words you can find to rhyme with words like luck, fit and flanker…. ***