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….”

Cinema

It’s that time of year. A definite feel to the movies we have watched. Can you see the theme.

Scrooged

Home Alone 1, 2, 3, 5

The Grinch

A Christmas Carol

Muppets Christmas Carol

The Santa Clause 1,2,3

Elf

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

The Polar Express.

For me I just can’t quite catch the connection. Sure there must be one if I look hard enough.

One of the things that feels amiss this most odd year (that doesn’t work as 2020 is even) is the cinema experience. Before Hawklad we would always have a Christmas trip to the pictures (as my mum would have said). A meal before hand and then a movie. Such a lovely experience. So many wonderful memories.

Taking my mum to see The Horse Whisperer on Boxing Day. She hadn’t been to the pictures in 40 years. She was most puzzled not to watch the Pathe News segment before the movie. She refused to get up at the end and waited until the credits played through. Apparently she was waiting for the National Anthem to be played…

Trips with my partner to see huge blockbusters on Christmas Eve like the Lord of the Rings Movies. Then coming out in time to sing carols in the city centre.

Even after the world changed Hawklad and I kept the tradition going. A changed Aspergers tradition. We would take in the first, early morning screenings of movies like Jumanji and the Rise of Skywalker. Popcorn at 8am works on so many levels. Then we would go and get him his favourite takeout. All before midday.

But this year it’s no cinema. Any trip is just so out of reach for Hawklad and his anxieties. The world has changed. Even the prospect of Wonder Woman and Black Widow epics won’t overcome those fears. Maybe the trips to the Pictures have stopped for good. We will just have to see what the future holds but life goes on. It’s time to recreate that Christmas tradition at home. So we will pick a movie. A good movie. Set the dvd off at 8am. Microwaved popcorn in plentiful supply. The Christmas Cinema tradition continues.

Puddings

Where are our biscuits……

So today my country finds itself cut adrift. Many countries have closed their ports, tunnels and airports to us. That’s what happens when you mix an even more pesky variant of Covid with clueless, self deluded, only interested in themselves numpties who couldn’t manage a snowball fight.

Dolly and her biscuit munching woolly friends would do a better job than that prat called Boris and his cronies.

So yep we are cut adrift as a nation. All I can think about is why it took so long for this to happen. Countries like France should have done this years ago. We are not exactly going to be missed. Must be time for Yorkshire to join Scotland in declaring independence and ditching this madness. Let’s celebrate that thought with a large portion of Yorkshire Puddings. I’d rather talk about those puddings than the other puddings who are in charge,

No surprise

Most definitely a nice change today….

So the end of term school report has arrived. When I say arrived I mean an email appeared informing me that the report was available online. After 3 hours of trying to get the app to work finally a unique set of parameters opened up the report. Fifth cup of decaf, third chocolate bar, complete packet of biscuits, the clock striking midnight and me threatening to hurl the laptop out of the window. All this worked.

So is the report a surprise! Sadly not. It’s as expected.

  • Just grades, target grades, performance and behaviour grades. A mass of numbers and seemingly random letters. Absolutely no narrative from the teachers.
  • No information on areas of weakness or plans of action.
  • No test scores. No work feedback.

Almost feels like one of those automated factory production cards. Cold, faceless, uncaring. So what do the numbers and letters tell me. Hawklad is still seen as low attainment. The work I’ve seen in a number of subjects not reflected in the expected final exam grades (another 2 and a bit years time). A subject where his last teacher told me that he knows the subject better than the teachers is marked as just about squeaking a pass. Another subject in which he regularly gets 100% on the online teaching app tests is listed as an expected subject fail. A handful of subjects listed as expected passes (most just the lowest pass grades). Bizarrely one of which is a subject the school want him to drop as they are not prepared to provide any additional help. No mention of why some of his expected grades are falling. No mention of what action is needed to reverse that.

No surprise at all really. For children like our son the approach is to set the bar low. No need to invest in potential then. Then any results at the end are seen as a real bonus. Evidence that the education system is clearly working 🤯. What that really means is too many are left to stagnate. Too many are let down by the system.

So yep no surprise at all.

Lift

It’s amazing what difference a little bit of sun makes. It’s a pleasant landscape. Last week or so it was the perfect landscape for a moody horror movie. Think Hound of the Baskervilles, think the start of American Werewolf in London.

Sometimes life is hard to fathom. You would have thought that the better weather would lift my overall mood. Pick me up. Bring smiles. Well that’s the theory….

So why was I stood in this field feeling down. Sad. Melancholy. Lonely. What was wrong with this view.

How can that happen. Is there something wrong with me. Am I missing something.

It was a while later before the penny dropped. For weeks my view has been restricted. Often no further than the next fence. Yes it was moody, it was also a limited view. No evidence of a wider world out there.

Suddenly the world opened up again today. My gaze lifted. It is such a beautiful world and yet it’s out of reach to me. No real chance of heading towards (or past) those distant hills. 950 miles that way takes me to the Swiss Alps. Look in another direction and it’s family and friends. Look behind me and it’s a frustrating football club and then the mountains of Scotland. Several thousands miles in another direction and it’s….

Those things have been out of reach. In all probability they will be well out of reach for a large part of 2021 (maybe much longer).

That’s why my mood fell. I was reminded of life’s potential. Reminded of life’s current constraints.

But I will keep telling myself that there is always hope. Maybe tomorrow if the sun is out again then my gaze will lift my mood as well.