Warning

Warning. In some countries the self absorbed, moronic idiots are still in charge.

Photo from The Guardian

Remember this PRAT. He is in Secretary of State for Education. Yes the idiot with a horse whip on his desk. A bloke who has been recently described by a respected former member of the Government as a ‘venomous, self seeking little s**t’.

Well the Prat has spoken again. Apparently ‘a generation of children have lacked discipline and order during the pandemic’. So he will be launching a crackdown on behaviour in schools……

Is he going to bother revealing his evidence for his claim. Or as usual is he just getting his views from the a couple of extreme right wing political lobbying groups that he follows.

It’s odd as every teacher and parent I have heard have been praising just how good school children have been, how well they have reacted to the pandemic. They have been brilliant. An unprecedented time of disruption. Schools open and closed. Exams on and off. Exam results messed up by the actions of this prat. Not being able to meet with friends. Holidays cancelled. Sports and leisure activities curtailed. Living through such awful times. AND TOO many going hungry as families struggle.

But this prat thinks they need discipline. Has he forgotten that he was sacked by the last PM when he was the Defence Secretary for leaking official secrets. He broke the Official Secrets Act, behaviour that ends up in prison for mere mortals. Clearly someone with high personal behaviour standards.

How did my country go so wrong. So wrong that someone like him ends up running our schools. Now people will vote for him, it’s currently still a free country. They might agree with him. Fine but if that is how they view our younger generation then I have the same contempt for them as I do for this prat. The children aren’t the problem, it’s the people who think the way this prat thinks who are the real problem. The children are the future, the hope, the solution to this corrupt mess.

Delightful

Red sky at night Shepherds delight.

I’m taking Boris Johnson so I guess I might be getting some of those delightful fan mail messages again.

Watching the news and again shaking my head. Just maybe the UK could vote for a leader next time who could be bothered to comb his hair or dress in front of a mirror. So our esteemed PM has been talking again. Amazing considering he has just got others to pay for a £200000 makeover on his flat.

Apparently 120000 deaths is in fact a sign of a job well done. Something to be proud of. It’s silly to compare us with other countries with much lower death levels as comparisons are meaningless. Soon things will be apparently back to normal with most of the restrictions lifted. Crowds will be back. Football grounds, restaurants and pubs will be full again. Life will be good within months. Which is bizarre as he then mentioned that (entirely down to Europe and absolutely nothing to do with lifting restrictions) a third wave will likely hit the UK real soon.

Ok….. Didn’t we already go through our really bad third wave after Christmas when the PM lifted restrictions against the advice of his medical experts. If a FOURTH wave hits then it’s not down to Europe. The threats sources are clear. From vaccine resistant mutations spreading far more rapidly due to premature restriction easing. The threat comes from still not having any meaningful Covid screening checks at many airports and ports. It comes from a bizarre refusal to address overcrowding, design failings and poor ventilation in our schools, offices and public places. It comes from using schools as a way of promoting a discredited ‘herd’ strategy. It comes from pinning all our hopes on a ‘vaccinate out of this mess strategy’ and close our eyes to other long overdue changes. It comes from still not having an effective track and trace system. It comes from a wonderful health service which has been cut back over far too many years and is now utterly exhausted. It comes from mixed messages from the top which is resulting in some people following social distancing and others thinking the pandemic is over.

Moan over….

That sky was delightful.

The future

The National Autistic Society has carried out research on the reality of adults living with autism spectrum disorders. It’s a sobering read.

I just want to highlight some specific lines in the report.

49% of adults with autism or Asperger syndrome are still living at home with their parents. 65% of these adults have had no community care assess- ments and are therefore unlikely to be known to the statutory agencies who should be supporting them.

31% of adults at the lower end of the autism spectrum are still being cared for at home, despite their high level needs. 45% of parents believed their son or daughter required 24-hour care, and only 15% thought they could live in sheltered or shared accommodation.

Only 3% of adults at the higher end of the autism spectrum are living fully independently, and a further 8% are living independently with some regular professional or family support.

As the report points out Families are picking up the care responsibilities in the UK associated with autism. Repeated Government’s have buried their heads in the sand. The current government unbelievably has probably set the bar even lower.

Like many families around the UK (and worldwide) my thoughts are increasingly focusing on the future. What will happen to Hawklad as an adult in our society which is so badly setup for those on the spectrum. Let’s just say that its currently not an entirely reassuring feeling I have. Yes I’m worried.

It’s a plan

So the Government has set out the way forward. A roadmap. Starting with all schools opening on the 8th March with parents able to play golf or tennis is socially distanced way as soon as the school buses have left the street. Ending with getting the bunting out just before summer with every adult having been offered at least one shot of vaccine and virtually all restrictions lifted. That’s the plan.

This time they have introduced some gaps between the various stages to check on the impact. It’s an improvement on the first lockdown release. Not great but an improvement on the last shambles.

I’m already hearing people talk about booking summer holidays, binning the masks, going to nightclubs. The message is ‘soon it will be over, we will have won….’.

Sadly I’m not convinced yet….

  • Schools are being fully reopened against the advice of many of the Government’s own scientific advisers. Reopened with no meaningful additional safety measures put in place.
  • No plans to prioritise front line groups like teachers or police for vaccines. Apparently this will just complicate things.
  • No thought given to the Health and Care sectors that have been stretched to breaking point for a year now. They can’t keep functioning like this.
  • No plans for under 18 vaccines at all as schools are ‘perfectly safe’ and the kids can develop herd immunity without getting too sick. Yet no mention of the increasing number of under 18s suffering long covid symptoms. No mention of school outbreaks that are already happening even with 3/4 quarter empty schools. No mention of overcrowded classrooms with no ventilation. No mention of the scores of children going down with associated diseases which have been brought on as a result of a seemingly mild Covid bout. No investment in home schooling resources to take pressure off classrooms and create another avenue for education – just threats of fines for parents.
  • The plans assume that the vaccine is the way out of the crisis. No mention of virus related mutations becoming resistant to the vaccine. A real risk when you have high infection rates and delayed second shot vaccine delivery. The vaccine is good but it’s not 100% effective. Plus we just don’t know how long the protection will last for in individuals.
  • The plan is in tatters if a change in the virus makes current vaccines less effective. In that increasingly like scenario the vaccine programme has to completely reset and start again.
  • No thought on making changes to how we work, study and play to make them safer going forward. We seem to be happy going back to the status quo which so spectacularly failed only a year ago.
  • The plan assumes an acceptable level of Covid infections and casualties. This is not a zero virus plan.
  • No mention of the mental health crisis facing young and old in this country.
  • The Virus will still be here…..

So no I’m not planning for a pandemic free future just yet. I hope we are fortunate and the plan does work. But when do things ever go to Plan.

Miss it

A few more hours of snow before the warmer weather arrives.

I think I’m going to miss it…

As I was looking at our lake set in a winter wonderland. Briefly illuminated with a beautiful sun beam. All very fleeting and temporary. All too soon it will be blasted away by our normal Yorkshire weather. Soon the snow will be gone. Soon the lake will be gone.

Our little family lockdown feels way more permanent and long lasting. No chance to travel and explore. The snow covered Alps, Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia and the Lakeland Fells seem so out of reach at present. No prospect of walking on the moors and the beach. So it was kind of nice that the snow came to us. Bringing the wilds to us.

But just all a bit too fleeting.

Once it’s gone then it feels like the lockdown will really kick in again. More about grinding the days out than setting out on adventures. But at least we have had a taste of what it’s like to be out there. A reminder of what a beautiful world we live in. Why there is always hope and something to live for.

March

This is NOT today. Just needed some sun. Needed some fresh air and a different view.

This photograph was taken on our last outing before lockdown mode started way back in March.

Back then Covid was a headline but still only one of a number of main stories. It was very much carry on as usual and nothing to see here. A handful of National cases but everything was apparently under control. The Government insisted that Lockdowns would never be required here due to the countries world class response.

So on this walk we had taken the dog with us. A new local walk. In my mind I was planning to return the week after. Drop Hawklad off at school and 15 minutes later I could be running along this track.

But the first tell signs were already starting to appear. As we approached field gates Hawklad refused to touch them. I was asked to try and open them using a stick. When we got back home we both had to wash our hands for minutes. Full change of clothing required.

A couple of days later our family lockdown started. Then one more week later the national lockdown started and schools closed.

Our world shrank and the remains that way today. This wet and windy January day. Seems a very different world now.

Churchyard

While Hawklad had a sleep in I pushed the boat out just a little. A one minute walk to the churchyard. Yes it was a very short walk in the scheme of things but it felt like a different world. Just to see different sights. Experience a little bit more of the world. An important reminder that there is much more to life than our little house and garden.

A few seconds to lean against the very old wall and breathe.

Then it’s back home all too soon. Back behind the castle walls. Return to our little family lockdown. Virtually all of 2021 looks like it will be spent in the house and garden. But just maybe I can sneak out occasionally. Even if it’s just a few yards to the churchyard. It will be good to breathe.

Lake

The winter farm lake is starting to form. Wow it was wet feet trying to take this photo.

So again today the Government is telling parents that they must send their children to school if it’s open. It’s a mess. Some schools have been closed. Some are opening soon. Some partly closed. Some are opening today. The PM again is saying schools are perfectly safe. He must have evidence that shows children, teachers, teaching staff, parents and carers cannot catch the virus. Wish he would share that so it can all be cleared up. Maybe he could share that with his own scientific advisers as well. The Government is again threatening parents with legal action and fines. The teacher unions are taking the Government to court over its failure to operate safe working environments. It’s such a mess.

So where do we stand? Hawklads year group is kind of homeschooling for the next two weeks then after they have had one covid test they are back in the classroom on the 18th. Well not Hawklad.

His call is that he can’t go back yet. He will look again at the end of the this half term. I’m trying to get another medical exemption letter from his Key Health Worker who is due to come and visit him this week. If they won’t issue one or are not allowed to by the Government then they can see me in court. I’ve seen enough Perry Mason episodes to look after myself. I won’t be the only parent there.

Heres the thing. Put the Aspergers severe anxieties to one side. Each parent and child has to make a judgement call on if attending school is safe. Well clearly safety cannot be guaranteed. More so now than ever with this virus. Children, teachers, parents, grand parents are ending up in hospital with it. The Government might try to hide that information, but it is happening. The virus can infect all age ranges. So it is an individual judgment call. Is the benefits of classroom education and socialisation worth the inevitable risk. That’s not a call for Johnson or his inept Education Minister. They have a track record of lying, not caring and making the wrong disastrous calls.

Each family will have a view. All as valid as each other. Even without the anxieties and present fears, OURS would be no it’s not worth the risk. It won’t until the virus is under control and schools are allowed to put in the necessary safety mechanisms. The first has to be opening up home online schooling. That reduces the numbers in school at any one time, creates space, starts to build a safer more inviting learning environment.

To be or not to be

So finally an announcement on schools. Then follows the inevitable confusion, lies and burying heads in the sand. Best summed up by

  • The independent expert scientific panel urging schools to not open as it is not safe,
  • The governments own expert scientific panel demanding schools to be closed as they are not safe in the current environment,
  • Then our so called PM announces that schools are completely safe, it’s people mixing outside of schools which is the problem.

The upshot appears to be that secondary schools will stay shut for a few more days. Most secondary children are expected to be back by the 18th January. By that time a team of volunteers will then oversea a mass virus testing exercise for all pupils. Some schools will stay closed longer but the government won’t say which ones. Most Primary schools will open on the 4th January as normal.

Ok…. I would not be filled with so much cynicism if any Government announcement wasn’t worked out on the back of a cigarette packet and it wasn’t accompanied by a tirade of lies.

Anyway different people are saying different things. Clearly some of the Government including the PM haven’t read the Government’s own policy. So many questions are being ignored. For example why are the schools for younger children staying open when others are closed? Are those children and teachers somehow mysteriously protected? Why are face masks required in public places but not in the classroom? Any person working with children has to be officially vetted yet that’s been dropped for the Covid testing programme. Is that safe? The covid test that will be used is problematic, doesn’t have the greatest accuracy and is difficult to self administer. So how is that going to work with pupils self administering the test in a large group with unqualified volunteers and teachers who have little medical experience? No mention of Special Schools – what do they do? How are schools going to fund the infrastructure required to set up the covid testing. Why are the Government refusing to promote online education for those that it would suit?

Many more questions but you get the picture. It’s a mess…..

Disappear

Those snow blizzards are intensifying here. Not sure I will be able to keep digging us out. Tough winters here in Yorkshire. Need to but some ski boots……

I realised something this morning. Apart from Hawklad I’ve not actually seen another human since last Wednesday. Ok I’ve seen people in videos and movies but not actual seen anyone. Not even someone in the distance. No one. No dog walkers. No neighbours. No one walking on the street. No postman. No delivery people. That must be a record for me.

It just shows how easy it is to disappear these days.

It’s going to feel really odd when I finally bump into someone. Maybe even talk to them. Wow that’s a thought. What will I say? Probably need to practice a bit just in case. Practice holding eye contact. Better practice with the sheep first. Maybe work on a different conversation opener though

Hi. You are cheeky. Do you fancy a biscuit….”