Wednesday, 17 October 2012
Last night, 'roof gate' aside, I watched bits of the international games available. All much of a muchness really, Scotland lost, Wales lost but Northern Ireland drew with Portugal! Funny old game. It seems all the 'fun' was going on in the England Under 21's game against Serbia. I cannot say what was said, I don't know, but after sever provocation, verbal abuse and 'missiles' being lobbed on the pitch, Danny Rose was sent off for reacting to a situation that was clearly out of control. Sky Sports news then showed Lee Croft fronting up to a ball boy, who happened to be black. The young lad looked like he kicked the ball away from Croft, and being the grown up in the situation he responded by 'having a go' at the lad, it has since been said that he used racist language toward the boy. What was particularly upsetting was the young lads demeanour at the end of the game, Croft tried to shake his hand, the lad looked angry and emotional. Paul Dickov knows 'Crofty' would never say anything racist, he's a 'cracking bloke' apparently and let's not forget John Terry ain't no racist either eh?
Stuart Pearce, formerly known as 'Psycho' appeared calm when interviewed about the stone throwing, seat throwing, monkey chanting. Shackled by the constraints of after game interview 'etiquette' Pearce can't have been more pissed off. A passionate man, tamed.
What's this post about? I admit it's a bit 'messy' in it's content. The key is that prejudice/racism is as prevalent in life as it was 200 years ago. I want to hear people who are on the receiving end of such hatred tell me how it is. I want Stuart Pearce to be properly fucked off, in front of camera, I want Paul Dickov, not to defend 'Crofty' but to say he'll comment once the Police have dealt with the complaint. When news of the tragic fire hit the radio there was plenty of time for social networks to be a flutter with 'what a tragedy' 'feel for the Father' but yet on my albeit small Twitter timeline there was no mention, not one. Was that because they happened to be a family who are defined by the faith or colour, I sincerely hope not.
I hurts me to see such blind hatred, it does actually hurt. I just don't get it. As a woman I have been discriminated against, and such was the culture at the time I kind of took it for what it was, silly men threatened by silly old me wanting to work in a garage. I am no man hater, in fact I have a lot of stuff I dislike and that gets me angry but hate is such a strong, physical emotion that I won't waste my energy on it.
And so, a solution. Hmmm easier to find outrage than a solution however Serbia must be punished, it is not the first time this nations fans and, it seems, some of their players, have been found to be hateful, to see Danny Rose so upset, hurt, angry is not what I want from my football, however he acted openly and honestly, which I applaud. The Croft/ballboy incident is in the hands of the Police, I cannot erase the look of upset on that boys face, I hope the incident is not proven to be anything other than a grown man being a prick, I suspect 'Crofty' probably 'lost it' and highlighted the colour not the boy.
Martin Luther King said this....'I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.'
Unarmed truth.....let's be honest people and fight it together x
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Thursday, 4 October 2012
Pete Townshend, remember him? Yep, he paid for, using his credit card, for pornographic pictures of children. Very cognitive actions. Many refused to believe the legendary Who member could possibly be involved in any such activity and have denied the sorry episode ever happened, his reproach was he felt so strongly about helping the victims of child porn he wanted to research it further in order to help them. Hmmm, I am not a fan and my instincts were one of 'What the fuck?' A musical hero to many, let off. We won't know the 'truth' but I include this as a example of of the danger of hero worship, when heroes become villains.
A few years ago I supported a very dear friend through an incredibly difficult time. The police were unable to help and while there was a happy ending the damage was done, she has never truly been herself again. Did I know what she was going through for all those years? No....not a clue. It took a particularly horrific incident for her to call me and tell me everything. Shocked beyond belief I vowed to help her but boy oh boy it was a shock, I had no idea, no-one did, she was too ashamed to speak up.
Sadly, we won't ever know whether Saville did like his girls young. The law cannot posthumously charge a person. Regardless of the sensationalism surrounding the ITV programme, one thing is for sure many inadvertedly colluded with Saville. Assuming these women are not lying, we say that times were different back then. Are we any further forward today? I'm not sure, abuse is spoken about more openly, schools are geared to spot signs of neglect or abuse, women can try and escape domestic violence, but one thing is prevalent, shame. I have discussed my feelings of shame here before, shame is a terrible burden to carry, it lays heavy on the shoulders. These women carry a shame, a shame that hangs around the neck like an anvil.....shame that they have allowed the abuse to happen, shame because they were unable to speak out thus allowing him to abuse again and again, shame that their families may have been tainted. I refer not just to the Saville case, for that would be unfair, however abusers love shame, it prevents usual reactions to unusual situations, a corporate wall of silence.
I have seen the results of abuse, be it in young people or good friends. There is no categorising abuse, it is different for everyone who suffers. Some follow suit and become abusers, many don't. What is key is being believed, that simple step of telling someone, of releasing the hold of the shame....
I defend the rights of anyone to speak freely, that's the beauty of our country. I am not surprised that twitter is full of jokes regarding Saville, I am surprised that I feel quite as strongly as I do regarding those jokes. I guess my work has been trying to rehabilitate kids that have suffered abuse in some form and it's just not that funny.
Friday, 28 September 2012
As a 15 year old 'surfer girl' living in Cornwall, working in a hotel with a private beach I was introduced to The Beach Boys, sure I knew their stuff, their uplifting pop, surfs up sound, I hadnt heard Pet Sounds....I had the pleasure of being introduced to that by a Brian Wilson fan. This was the moment, tape cassette playing, I heard the profound talent of Mr Wilson, guided through the album, on a loop, I heard Pet Sounds for what is was, a genius piece of musical sound. Some may disagree and that's ok, but for me it opened a door.
Fast forward 32 years to last night, the Albert Hall, The Beach Boys 50th celebration. I could taste the excitement, trepidation, fear. The Albert Hall, Ive never been before, we walked around it earlier in the day, a beautiful building with a set purpose, to celebrate the arts, my kind of place.
I had no expectations, which for a fan may sound strange, but just to be there was enough. We queued, patiently, I held back my better half from attacking the inevitable touts and looked at the waiting crowd. There were a few cheesey Hawaiian shirts a few radio 3 type beards someone had even gone to the bother of suit tails and his Mrs had a ballgown on, bit much to be fair, but not for me to judge.
Doors open, we stream in, very orderly, an orderly kind of crowd to be honest, straight to the loo and then the bar. The atmosphere was muted, other half reckoned the crowd would be a sitting down, appreciative kind of crowd, inside I thought they wouldn't be able to resist....and then we went to our seats. Oh my god...remember I have never been to the Albert Hall before, we were up with the musical gods, on walking through the double doors my breath was taken away, a musical collesium, and fucking high up!! Ok, so I am fearful of heights and once the feeling of wanting to chuck myself over the balcony had gone I soaked it all up! Wow. The chap next me sensed my overwhelmed little soul and engaged in chat, nice chat, not forced or fake. I liked him, he was here for the same reason as us, to share a space with Brian Wilson.
Running late, I started to fear the Brian wasn't go to be there. A bit of action on the stage, tuning a small sound check and then the 'boys' were introduced....Brian Wilson trundled on, he appeared weary, laden, fragile, but he was there, oh god it was Brian Wilson, there, sat at the grand piano, Brian fucking Wilson. I really must apologise now for my seemingly uncalled for swearing but the emotions I felt are proving more difficult to put into words than I imagined, it really was a wave of complete respect, love, an amazement, there was Brian Wilson, awesome!! I wanted to cry, bit early for tears, they hadn't even started playing yet, I was simply overwhelmed.
And so it begins.....no real chat just a 1,2,3,4.....Do It Again.....Little Honda...Catch a Wave. Putting all the internal politics, like dislikes aside there they were. Love sounded good, Jardine, small almost insignificant was big in sound and presence and Brian, arms moving slightly erratically, was in the groove. His fragility palapable, to be honest the first few songs were a bit of a blur for me, for there before me was Brian Wilson, I stared at him, hoping he was ok, hoping he would make it through the concert, Brian Wilson and me and my man, sharing the same space. I could now list the songs in the first half, I won't, there were 34, yes 34 in the first half! Stand out tracks were Surfin Safari, Isn't It Time, Don't worry baby and I Get Around, but in fairness the first half was great, the band, session musicians, were tight and Brian, although had a shaky start warmed up and sang and conducted from his grand piano, a position of greatness, for a great man.
Interval, swift smoke, few words spoken between me and the better half, just a shared smile in acknowledgement of confirmation of what we saw in the first half was actually amazing, a shared feeling of an inner joy at what we had seen, heard and experienced. I felt huge to me, Im unable to put into words what I felt.
And now back inside a flurry of anticipation hit me, butterflies in my tummy, can it really get any better? An instrumental, Pet Sounds introduces the second half, and a very moving version of Add Some Music to Your Day, sat around the piano with Brian king of all he's written. Song number 39 Heroes and Villains an orally difficult song to deal with, harmonies, codas, layers, but a favourite and then, the moment I wanted and dreaded at the same time, Brian Wilson singing I wasn't Made for These Times, a quick look at the better half, for reassurance, Brian sang, beautifully, one of the saddest songs I have ever heard. He was made for these times, these times are moving forward always, as was he, as was his genius, and there he was, singing one of my favourite ever songs, captivating, enthralling, difficult, emotional. I cried, my new pal sat next me removed his glasses to wipe away a tear or two, tissues out. It was always going to happen. As if that wasn't enough then came this, non stop..California Dreamin, California Saga, In my Room ( which was electric, magnificent, touching, emotional) All This is That, That's Why God Made The Radio (Stand out song, layered, powerful, beautifully sung/played) Forever, God Only Knows, Sloop John B (Awesome) Wouldn't it be Nice, Good Vibrations......I'll stop, it went on and on and on, non stop people, non stop. Help me Rhonda rocked and Surfin USA, while not a fave of mine was simply fantastic. 57 songs delivered, Brian Wilson made it, exhausted with emotion we sat down, a chance to catch our breath and then head home, happy. Hang on, they're coming back on.....an encore, Kokomo, Barbara Ann and Fun Fun Fun....Brian Wilson is handed a bass guitar, he leaves the safety of his grand piano and stands before us, uncomfortable in the raptrous applause and adulation he receives....they left the stage, a simple look to the other half was enough...WOW! It's wasn't over though, Brian is led back on, the others follow, he sits at his piano and sings Summers Gone, poignant, meaningful, soulful and incredibly emotionally charged...we stood still, just me and my man, lost in the haze of pure magic, a stolen moment, just us and Brian Wilson, we hugged, I cried, I wish I could explain what that moment represented, what it meant, how it felt, I cant and I suspect if I could you wouldn't be able to get a sense of how incredible that moment was.
The journey home was filled with talk of how superb the evening was, the nearer we got to home the more reflective I became. The thing is I didn't realise how much a part The Beach Boys had played in my life, in my musical timeline, from the surfer girl to the, mum, woman I am today. Not a week has gone by where I don't listen to at least one track, for 30 plus years. My musical timeline is filled with all manner of sounds, from hard rock to classical, but the one mainstay, the thing that has turned me on, is the sound of Brian Wilson's genius. The layers, the harmonies, the risks.....
Yesterday, live at the Albert Hall I saw The Beach Boys, a shared experience with the man I love. We were affected, it was joyous and sad. There arent many moments in time that can be treasured, stored in the heart, in the soul, yesterday, the 28th September 2012 was one of those moments. An honour to share it with Alan, and honour to share it with the rest of the audience and an honour to share a space with Mr Brian Wilson....
Thank you baby x
Sunday, 2 September 2012
Some of you may remember my excitement on getting a new job back in April. A new challenge, teaching the 'unteachable'. It was a fresh start in education, my previous role having become stale and uninspiring.
Pupil referral units are for the young people who, for whatever reasons have not managed to stay in mainstream school. Engagement is the key alongside opportunities for them to get some qualifications and enable them to go on to college or into the world of work.
I was excited and fearful....but wanted to work with kids who many said weren't worth the effort. They were and are worth it, often funny, always interesting rarely a problem.
Two weeks into my new job there was an incident, very alarming and as I hadn't experienced anything like this before I was quite frightened, a member of staff was assaulted it was then I saw the unit and council for what they were. My manager was suspended, a man who was the reason I left comfortable mainstream for. Inspiring and a great manager, I felt I could grow with him. He was gone. I felt isolated, confused and approached the string of new managers for support and guidance, it wasn't forthcoming.
Time went by, my sessions spent with the kids were great, meanwhile the management structure of the unit was collapsing.
Long story short...there was another incident, this time involving me. Violent and verbally abusive a troubled young man kicked off big style. Having not received the incident training I had asked for I dealt with the situation the best I could, no one was physically hurt, the child got home safely, eventually. Emotionally battered I sought help....not forthcoming. So, once again the support I needed came from my partner, strong, caring and by now quite cross!
I was suspended the next day. Asked to leave the building, read the riot act, told that I could not speak to anyone who worked for the council nor enter any of the council properties, including other schools, bearing in mind my youngest attends a local school...thankfully no longer run by the council...those were the conditions, I had to abide by them. The reasons for suspension were vague. How I reacted during the incident and a breakdown in relationship with management. I was devastated, I had never experienced anything like this before, nearly 7 years in education not so much as a warning....tears, anger more tears and self doubt ravaged my mind.
So I was asked to go to a pre-hearing interview, my union rep by my side. When I asked for clarification regarding the charges their answer was laughable...a judgement I made during the incident was in question....ok I hear you say.....what judgement as that? We're not sure...no seriously that's actually true. Management relationship breakdown? Er...we don't have specific details... they didn't know. My life was on hold, unable to leave my job or apply for others I was in limbo. I had convinced myself that I had made mistake, somehow endangering the young man.
As each day passed I resigned myself to having to see this out, all those around me telling me I would be cleared, that I had done nothing wrong, difficult to take on board, surely they couldn't suspend people without some sort of concrete evidence?
I was not the only one suspended in total 4 people were suspended. Interestingly the most passionate and outspoken members of staff.
So after a lovely short break away I came home to a letter...."Your suspension is lifted, no case to answer" I have to go to a meeting on Tuesday and return to work on Wednesday, with the people who suspended me, the people who claim there was a breakdown in our relationship,even though they couldn't tell me what that breakdown was. I am not allowed to take my union rep with me to the meeting, just me and my accusers.
I have been working for this unit for 5 months, 3 of which have been under suspension, on full pay.
I'm done with education, my confidence is shot and my passion is dead. No longer do I want or need to save the youth, this upsets me greatly but I have nothing left to give.
The education system sucks..... many good people are leaving, disillusioned, passionless, pissed off. I admire the ones who stay, although the reality is that the ones who are leaving are probably the ones who should stay, fight on,bring education back to what it should be about, educating.
And so to the future.... a nice little job with no stress, no ticking of boxes, no more teaching to pass exams.
Freedom approaches my friends, I grieve no more, still cry a bit but that's anger......
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Coffee poured, fag rolled I sat in the conservatory, smug, thinking it doesn't get better than this.....when, scrolling across the top of my phone I catch sight of my Dad's name and something to do with portraits...or something. That's odd, so I went into my inbox...
Michael McLachlan is a member of The Portrait House VIP club and has passed on your details......hang on, what the fuck?
Deep in my stomach I felt something I had not experienced before, a strange aching emotional pain....after reading it again I started to shake. For those who read regularly, bless you, will know that my lovely, gorgeous, groovy Dad died nearly 20 years ago, his name was Michael McLachlan.
Had he been in hiding, faked his own death and come back just join the VIP club? Did they ask him for my info through a medium, did they do a Ouija board?....I joke now but I did not find it funny, supressing my tears was a mistake, it just made me angrier....now don't get me wrong I know the score, spam shit goes through my inbox on a daily basis, more intriguing though is that this particular account, used only for Twitter, does not get any spam as it is a spare account and I never use it on the internet for anything other than receiving messages..not implicating Twitter here but seems odd...was it a coincidence that they found/bought my email address and randomnly picked Michael as the name I might know and convince me to sign up to their precious deal? Whatever it was I care not, I cried. I wanted to cry like a baby....I held it in....flashing through my mind all but briefly my lovely Dad, no longer in my life, taken from me too early, I wanted him back.
It never really goes, you know the pain, hurt, anger of losing someone so precious, it doesn't take much to bring it to the fore.....it's a delicate door clinging on with rusting hinges that I am too scared to close in case the memories, the pictures, the essence of my Dad crumbles away....so to receive this speculative email threw me, hurt me, made me angry.
Where did they get my email address? I am naive to be honest and I guess it would be easy for Gmail to sell off a load of email addys....I thought I ticked a box for that but maybe not. Regardless of all of this it has made, what started as a beautiful day, into a sour, tearful and grumpy day.
It's done, I will be ringing the establishment, I will also be emailing the marketing company....will it change things? Nah, course not but it will make me feel better....a bit.
Saturday, 18 August 2012
This is the hardest letter I have ever written. I never thought it would happen, but here I am putting fingers to keyboard.
What happened to you? The moment I first heard your voice I knew, you would be the one, the who would speak to me as a dark confused teenager, the one whose lyrics would resonate, the one who would forever be my superstar. The shy gangly uncomfortable man, you were so different, so intriguing, so talented. My bedroom was an homage to you and your band, you actually really meant something to me. I tried to scratch your name in my arm with a fountain pen, thankfully it didn't work, though when I get a bit of a tan the anarchy sign I scraped into my arm with a compass is vaguely visible, the ink didn't work though, for that I'm grateful!
Today, in moments of sadness I still look to you for inspiration, your music still lifts me, makes me smile. The irony of your poetry still fills me with joy but somethings missing, somethings wrong. Your recent comments regarding the Olympics didn't surprise me, I too had a lot to say about the Olympics,well certainly the run up, the advertising, the fuck up regarding London's streets, but I always maintained that I would support our athletes, which I did. It seems that your anger, your lonelieness, your hankering to be the grumpiest man alive overtook you, again. You have forgotten the basics dear friend, it's not about jingoism it's about working hard and achieving, something you did all those years ago, and my didn't you do well. I wish I had the platform that you have, imagine what good could be done, the issues of the world could be brought to the fore and world might just listen...but no. No good comes from your wild ranting, most of what you say is valid but the vitriolic way you present those rants won't ever be heard, which is a crying shame.
Your passions used to be my passions, a longing to break free, a longing to put a middle finger up to the world, a longing to be wanted. I guess I'm the lucky one. I sit here happy, comfortable at last with myself, no longer yearning to be wanted. Love, peace and harmony Stephen, it can be done, doesn't have to be an unreachable goal. Allow yourself to be loved, you might just like it.
When you have time just have a little think about how your words can affect people...I care not anymore what you say, I haven't bought any of your solo stuff, I was given your first solo album, it was ok, but something was missing.
As I type this Stephen I am listening to Talk Sport, Spurs are playing. You wouldn't know anything about belonging, community or passion though would you.........the more removed you become from reality my friend the more I despise you. Step out from your ivory tower, talk to some people, listen to them.
So I write this letter as a farewell, your words no longer sing to me, your awkwardness no longer soothes me, your attitude saddens me.
There was a light.....it has gone out.....
Goodbye Morrissey, I will miss you x
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
It is unusual in that this poor girl was found dead, unfortunately what she has endured, and I suspect she has suffered, is not unusual. Nearly 7 years in education has taught me that I know nothing. Nothing of how people live, how they 'parent', how cruel they can be. I didn't really want this to be a miserable post but it's looking that way.
When I first started working in a school I was handed a load of files and asked to read them, to get to know the kids I would be working with. One lad, so badly abused, needed to wear 'protective' pants so he didn't mess himself, one lad so damaged needed protecting from himself, one lad, whose mother continuously rang social services to have him taken away refused to speak, one lad cut himself with whatever he could get hold of, one lad starved himself because his mother told him he was fat, plenty more but I will spare you........so that you know this is in leafy Kent an Ofsted outstanding mainstream boys school.
As ordinary members of the public we have no idea. I had no idea. Some of these kids suffer, really suffer, they go to school to get away from the mental/physical pain they receive at home. Many young lads were carers, in fact in a school of just under 900 boys over 40 were young carers alone. Thats a lot. Managing the house, siblings, parents and then going to school. Many boys were under the child protection umbrella, at risk, factor in autism, ADHD, Aspergers and many other mental and physical disabilities and at least half of the schools students are affected. Back in my day, many of these young men would have been in children's homes or borstal.
I'm not sure we, society, really know what some of our young people go through only when a tragedy occurs do we mull over what that childs life might have been like. What can we do? Very little if I'm honest all the time the kids attend school there is hope, if they disappear then there is very little anyone can do.
There should never be a built in excuse for these kids, they will be the ones down the park this summer, shouting, smoking, fighting. Try not to judge, I dare you to smile at them, give them a nod of acknowledgement, ask them nicely if you want your toddler to go on the swing they're hogging. You may just be surprised.
Friday, 10 August 2012
I never thought I would defend PE teachers but I am going to. They're a weird bunch, vain, loud and attention seeking. I would never choose to spend any excessive time with them but one thing's for sure they love sport. I am of course making sweeping statements there, I refer only to the ones I have worked with and even then there was only one exception but anyway I'll move on. Each has their own favoured sport, hockey, basketball, rugby amazing talent and enthusiasm wasted on a captive audience that can't be bothered.
I worked in an outstanding sports academy, the good sort of academy not the failing sort of academy. Our sports equipment was provided by MacDonalds and Coca Cola, shame. As a specialist sports school you would think it would attract a lot of young sporting men keen to follow in the footsteps of their sporting heroes. It has a state of the art 3G all weather pitch, running track, dance studio, sports hall, you get the picture. The reality is very different. The young men who arrive in year 7 from the surrounding primary schools are generally unfit, fat, football supporting wannabes with a bling mentality. Harsh but mainly true a very few of the new intake in September will be sporty. Why is this you ask? It's not that PE teachers in secondary schools don't care, can't be bothered or even lack equipment its the lack of sport these kids have had access to in primary schools. No sports fields, no dedicated PE teachers, no inspiration and no time. More time is spent on training the kids with potential to pass the 11+ than on any healthy competetive sport. Secondary school PE teachers are fighting a losing battle.
Parents have a massive role in this. Tonbridge has a diverse mix of very wealthy families and 'ordinary' families. With schools in the area ranging from one of the top ten in the country, private school, to a 'failing' mixed comp. I guess its easy to forget that not all parents have either the money or the motivation to guide their children toward sport, where, let's be honest it often requires parents to taxi their kids around and in the winter get the grumpy child up in the morning to go to training....been there! But with a free skate park, acres of fields, a swimming pool available on the doorstep all parents have to do is kick their kids off the playstation or xbox and get them outside. Kids have a natural way of coming together, organising a game and managing it quite well, all they need is a space and a ball, bat or even a frisbee.
(With Usain Bolt doing his thing this is the moment.......while I'm talking about it anyone remember David Rudisha? A world record run and does he make it on the front pages of the rags?? Possibly the greatest 800 metre runner ever, a lovely man, quietly going about his business almost completely ignored by the media. Don't get me wrong Usain Bolt is a talented guy, I love him, but there could be a young person out there, not able to run fast over a short distance who might just read David's story and be inspired....anyway I digress)
It's all about opportunity. I can't lay the full blame on primary schools, all the time funding is taken away what hope do they have? My son's primary school playing/sports field has gone, a new estate of 2 bedroomed boxes now sits there. The feeder primary school to one of the top ten sporting schools in England doesn't even have a playing field.....I say no more.
Monday, 6 August 2012
His talent for running saved him.
In my time working in education I have seen many young men who could have been saved by their sporting talent, sadly slip through the net, choosing to pick an easier path. A naturally gifted basketball player, year 9 lad, was asked to join the school team, come to training after school. He chose not to, instead preferring to 'train surf' at weekends and impress his mates. He is now in an alternative education setting, with no access to sport and with lads who find his extra curricular activities thrilling and exciting. Sport could have saved him, he may not have become successful basketballer but just that belonging to something, that feeling of success, the discipline of training. Another lad, terrible background, father in prison mother a drug dealer, was a talented footballer. We spoke a lot about what he would do when he left school, he was bright, funny and warm. When I asked him about maybe joining a local football team his response was frightening. 'Come on Miss, there is no point in me getting involved in anything like that, it's clear where my future lies, look at my family, how can I fight against that?' Resigned to a life of......well who knows but he's not gone to college and he is often seen down in the park with a can of lager....what a shame.
The London Olympics have shown, particularly in cycling, that if you invest you get results. Sport within education is now just a tick box activity 2 compulsory hours a week squeezed into a very tight timetable. Is it any wonder that most of the athletes excelling in London are privately/grammar school educated? It's not about money it's about a pride and a will to win, something long forgotten in our state schools. My youngest son's sports days at primary school consisted of everyones a winner activities, not a whiff of healthy competition,, sadly many secondary schools are the same. Don't get me wrong taking part is good but how can we enthuse the youth when winning is almost ignored because the plaudits go to the fat kid because he 'had a go'.
It's ok to win, it's ok to wave a union flag, it's ok to lose too. Bobby Robson once said to got to be a good loser to be a good winner, something Roger Federer displayed yesterday, Louis Smith, who lost on a count back technicality in the pommel horse showed and while she was upset Christine Ohuruogu displayed grace in defeat. They all wanted to win, something our young people don't quite get. They see footballers tweeting, arguing, engaging in casual racism and they want in....little do they realise that to be even a half decent footballer you have to commit, something many young people can't be bothered to do.. Football, love it but.....my pal texted me when Team GB lost on penalties....'All those amazing sports that bring us so much joy: underfunded. The one that gets all the money, all the coverage, all the hype, consistently disappoints......What's wrong with football??' I'll leave that to people who are far more qualified to answer that question....
Tonbridge is home to Dame Kelly Holmes, who was an inspirational athlete. I met her briefly when she came to unveil our new 'house' system....named after sporting legends, decided by the pupils. MacArthur, Thompson, Redgrave and Pele...was she excited? Did she feel that sport was important to our young people? Well, she was more put out by the fact a 'house' hadn't been named after her....bearing in mind that the school she attended, half a mile up the road is dripping in Holmes pride.....I was left a bit disappointed. That probably says more about me than her I guess.....
So London 2012....I have cried, shouted and frankly spent a lot of time on my arse watching our amazing athletes. Committed and proud to represent our country. Star of the show so far? Well obviously Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Bradley Wiggins blah blah blah.....but for me Adam Gemili 18 years old a former Dageneham and Redbridge player is my superstar, he took up running full time in January, his smile on the starting line when the crowd cheered his name said more than any interview could express, he's obviously talented and he's young enough to inspire, hopefully.....lets celebrate that.
Saturday, 21 July 2012
The Black Cab is as iconic as London Bridge and an intrinsic part of London life, safe, reliable and value for money, yes value for money. Moving people around London day and night 365 days a year is not the easiest of jobs.
Most people accept the verbal contract, that's what it is by the way, made when they ask to be taken to their destination, this means that by accepting that verbal contract the driver will take you to where you want to go and you agree to pay him/her at the end of the journey. What this should also mean is that as the paying customer you should have the means to pay...not wait til you're nearly home and then say 'Oh I need a cashpoint' or simply run off when your journey ends...cowards.
For those who care London is, as discussed in a previous post, in a bit of a mess at the moment, Olympic lanes and road closures mean that Black Cab drivers are having to take alternative routes, not their fault. Should you use a Black Cab over the next month or so here's some advice, try not give advice as to where the best way to go is, your driver will know, try not to joke about Olympic lanes, traffic chaos or even say 'Been busy?', that may not go down well and, as you make a contract with the driver, make sure you fucking pay them. Rant over......
Livid of Leybourne.......
I knew a couple who were unable to have kids. Lovely couple, both in their early 30's. She was a successful hairdresser he was a butcher....sounds almost vaguely amusing! Anyway, they went through the initial form filling process, this took 2 years. They were happy to adopt young children, not just babies and were given the impression they would be suitable....until they handed over their accounts. They owed some money, not a surprise in todays world , not even to credit cards, it was for a loan from her mum to decorate the house. It was £2,500 which they were paying back on a monthly basis. The local authority demanded that potential adopters had savings, which this couple did but their debt negated this. The powers that be had a problem with this....it's debt. They were allowed to go further into the process, health checks. She is a size 14, gym twice a week, he is a rugby player....the powers that be decided they were both obese, according to BMI Index. They were both told they needed to lose weight.
So let's just digest that information....a successful couple have a debt of £2,500 are told they are both obese are refused the opportunity to adopt children in need. So keen are they to adopt the put themselves on a new fitness regime in order to lose weight....until it then hits them. The pain of trying to have children, the 2 years of trying to get onto the adoption register proved too much. They withdrew their application...a huge loss to the children waiting to be adopted.
I have experience of adoption, as I was adopted at 9 months old. Bit different back then. My blood mother had me when she was 18 years old and unmarried. She was put in a unmarried mothers home and she agreed to have me adopted. I say agreed, she signed the paperwork, how much she wanted to do that I will never know. Huge pressure from her family and the authorities may have swayed her. It would have been very difficult to bring me up on her own in the late 60's....shame and lack of support would have made the decision a lot easier. My sister's blood mother was 16, even worse. My future parents had to go through rigorous checks of course but behind all of this was their yearning to have children. This was not, as many adoptions were back then, a bohemian, Angelina Jolie style yearning, my future Mum was physically not able to have kids
I was put in a home. I was lucky, my Mum and Dad picked me. They paid a £1 and after a lot of paperwork and time, took me home. Imagine this though, written into the adoption was the 'change of mind' clause, not sure if this still exists, my blood mother could change her mind up to year after the adoption, how uneasy my new parents must have felt in that first year....my sister came along a couple of years later, I was not best pleased, so used to all the attention I had a face on for the first week of my sister being with us. Our parents were fantastic, I never remember being told I was adopted, I have always known, in fact even now at 43 years old I will still ask my Mum to tell me the story of when they first saw me, how they felt. Me and my sister are sisters. Deeply connected, a real sense of family. She now lives in Essex, while I'm in Kent, we see each other when we can, our connection never waivers.
I am unsure of my blood family history, whether I have brothers or sisters, to be honest I have no real yearning to know. I am very comfortable with who I am, where I'm from, my family connection. This is, of course, down to my wonderful Mum and Dad. The question being asked at the moment is should siblings be adopted together, I'm not sure how to answer that. If there are couples who are prepared to take on more than one child I don't see the problem but if it means that, for example, 5 kids from the same family can't be adopted unless they go together I worry about their future.
My line of work brings me in contact with families that are struggling. Many are 'broken' homes, many mothers/fathers having suffered abuse, many young people having witnessed or experienced things I will never experience. One young person was taken away from his blood family as a toddler, his adoption broke down and 2 years later he was returned to his 'family' home. His brothers and sisters did not accept him, mother had had another child and he has suffered emotionally ever since. Social services look to keep the family together as much as possible, lessons learned from the past, however sometimes that family is not the right family for the young person involved, even if they are blood relatives. I think back to the couple I knew, desperate to adopt, full of love, hope and the yearning to have a family......
So I started this blog entry thinking about whether siblings should be adopted together and end it not really knowing the answer. The adoption process needs looking at, more and more people adopt from abroad because of the negative way they are treated by the respective authorities. This can't continue.
Me and my sister were lucky....we are a family.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
I have to be in a particularly good place to listen to Nick Drake, it's a sound a feeling that has such a strong affect on me I have to limit it!! It's been quite a while since I last heard it, each time I hear it I hear something new. Few complete albums do this to me....Dark Side of The Moon takes me somewhere else, Meat is Murder would turn me into a vegetarian if I ever listened to that particular track but Five Leaves Left touches me somehow. In all these tracks my senses are challenged, I've banged on about this in previous ramblings....Nick Drake a folky, spliff smokin, flare wearing dude...talented and troubled can really hit me hard. Why? How? I'm really not sure I can explain it, it's a whole body and mind experience, no I'm neither pissed nor stoned it just is!!
Lyrically Nick Drake's genius is pure poetry, I favour a bit of poetry....
With your eyes
So pale and sincere
Underneath you know well
You have nothing to fear
For the dreams that came
To you when so young
Told of a life
Where spring is sprung
You would seem so frail
In the cold of the night
When the armies of emotion
Go out to fight
But while the earth
Sinks to it’s grave
You sail to the sky
On the crest of a wave
So forget this cruel world
Where I belong
I’ll just sit and wait
And sing my song
And if one day you should see me in the crowd
Lend a hand and lift me
To your place in the cloud
Isn't it amazing that music can have such a power over us?
Anyway enough rambling...while I can I'm going to listen to Pink Moon, another marvellous group of Laura affecting songs.....Oh before I go, try Gloomy Sunday by Billie Holiday a song famous for it's melancholy and subject matter....suicide. 'It is not that the song is sad, there is a sort of terrible compelling despair about it. I don't think it would do anyone any good to hear a song like that' Enjoy!
Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of
Sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought
Of ever returning you
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you?
Gloomy is Sunday,
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles
And prayers that are said I know
Let them not weep
Let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream
For in death I'm caressin' you
With the last breath of my soul
I'll be blessin' you
Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep
In the deep of my heart, dear
Darling I hope
That my dream never haunted you
My heart is tellin' you
How much I wanted you
Another Man Done Gone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYDsJO3QNK4
Cello Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1YsFgDaEeo
Gloomy Sunday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUCyjDOlnPU
Monday, 16 July 2012
From the moment tickets went on sale I felt strangely removed from the ocassion, I could not afford to bagsy tickets without knowing how much or what I may get. I was signed up to the Olympic alerts thingy but it failed to let me know how the tickets would be allocated or how the system actually worked. It was all too vague to get involved.
As time has gone by, the more I hear about behind the scenes shenanigans the more disconnected I become. Only this morning I heard that if , in your packed lunch, you don't have the sponsors drinks you will be asked to leave or your lunch will be taken away. All manner of sponsorship deals agreed to avoid having any advertising in the actual stadium...who's going to police this? Touchy subject eh, I'm sure members of the armed forces will be delighted to be told their specific job will be to check kids lunches to make sure they have got Maccy D's and C**a C**a in their boxes...cue Healthy Schools initiative...ahem. All things related to 2012 Olympics including the words Gold, Silver and Gold are currently protected, Olympic Kebabs an existing business of many years had to change its name so it was not in breach of Olympic copyright madness...they are now called Lympic Kebabs....
Although I am not able to properly bemoan the ORN about to start in London I know the direct affect. For those who are not aware Olympic cars (sponsored by B*W) being driven by volunteers, who incidently have no 'knowledge' of London streets have been allocated exclusive lanes to get dignitaries and athletes to and from the Olympic village easily...remember it takes 3 years to do the proper Knowledge...it appears that already an Olympic car was seen trundling happily the wrong way down a one way street. I am biased, my better half is a London cabby. I will not even try and express how his living is going to be affected or how black cabs are not afforded the luxury of being able to use these lanes, or should you take a cab to the Olympic stadium how cabs are not allowed anywhere near the stadium, they can drop you off but you then have to walk 20 minutes to get to the stadium, or that the changes in roads and routes within London have only just been realeased without apparent consultation on how it may affect this iconic trade, or how bus drivers are demanding an extra £500 for just rocking up to work. Hmm, bit biased of course, many within the trade may disagree, I talk only for me. So to almost prove the point... as I type there are some Olympic athletes stuck on a coach, they have been for 4 hours...very lost.....I won't dwell.
Don't get me wrong I want these games to be a success, I want our athletes to be cheered on by the home crowd, there is something special about the Olympics, that I will not deny. I will watch and cry when we win a gold, curse when we miss out. I am fully aware that the Olympics has changed, Atlanta saw to that, commercialism hit as did the need to provide the greatest show on earth every 4 years. London 2012, the public transport games, sponsored by companies that aren't allowed to sell their goods in our schools, I'm sure it will all be fine.
I've used a lot of Olympic buzzwords here...I await my fate.
Ok so neither of us was in the mood, a delicious late lunch, rib eye steak for the record, MotoGP and the opportunity to sleep off said meal against a trip to Dartford to see a gig we feared could be a bit rubbish. We soldiered on, gig gear donned we headed to Dartford, unsure to what we were going to experience.
Outside the theatre we were greeted by an eclectic mix of people. The obligatory fan dressed head to toe in military Ant-esque regalia, he looked , well a bit silly, but he was pleased to be there. Lots of 40 something women, some older guys hoping Appollo 9 wasn't on the set list.
Still unsure we faffed around at the t shirt stand, deciding not to buy in case the gig was rubbish....
And so it began.....Adam, dressed to please has changed, like us all pounds have been added in places we wished they hadn't but there he was, specs and all. To be honest I don't favour a rimless spectatcle, too Sven Goran Ericsson for me anyway.....
It was a sitting down gig, something I hadn't experienced before, we were in the circle with, as it turned out, people who wanted Appollo 9, Puss in Boots etc.
Two drum kits, bass, guitar and Adam oh every now and then Georgie someone, Andrew Sachs grandaughter.
The band were great, tight, grungy and the sound mix was spot on. Loud and angry the band and Adam charmed us immediately. Much to the displeasure of our 'friends' in the circle they played all the old stuff, grinding and scuzzy, marvellous...Car Trouble, Xerox, Deutscher Girls, Lady, Plastic Surgery, Physical and more. Our 'friends' in the circle stood up to Goody Two Shoes, Prince Charming, Vive Le Rock, Ant Music and Kings of the Wild Frontier, which incidently Mr Ant said that each time he performs that song it's like the first time, he nailed it.
We decided that probably 90% of the audience wanted pop Ant.....our 'friends' in the circle left before the encore, where the stand out track was Red Scab, wow now that was hot!! They also banged out Get it on...which also worked.
Ok so maybe Adam should break free from the image of the 80's...his older stuff is far superior but the housewives crave that I guess. To our surprise this was a fantastic gig, Georgie whatsherface wasn't really necessary, not the best singer in the world and slightly unsure of her role and whether she should be on or leave, a subtle exit stage left was not on her agenda, but hey it wasn't about her.
We went back to the t shirt stand buoyed with good gig feelings.....sold out!!! Serves us right for doubting!
An apology Adam, I wasn't sure what to expect but boy oh boy this was a good gig, our 'friends' in the circle left early, their loss. A good 2 hours of music, fantastically put together, great arrangements, excellent musicians...win!
I salute you Mr Ant...you still got it!
Friday, 13 July 2012
Monday, 9 July 2012
Made me think, consider, forgiveness. Me and the better half discussed forgiveness and the ability to forgive after watching a doco on the 7/7 bombings, we concluded that we wouldn't know what or how to feel unless it happened to us...god/goddess forbid.
I remember watching a TV programme years ago about forgiveness. It was mainly people of faith who were able to forgive however their description of how the pain of anger took over from their initial hurt of loss was overwhelming and in order to release themseleves they had to forgive.
The crux of 7 Days is a father seeking revenge, without giving too much away he holds the accused and carries out all manner of tortuous actions. What is more interesting for me is the psychological break down of this poor father, who carries guilt probably more than hurt.
Anyway if you fancy a bit of French anarchic action watch La Haine....if you fancy a revenge film watch 7 Days.
Sunday, 8 July 2012
So I'm back on twitter more as a viewer as opposed to a contributor ..... @icuntos...not really sure why. Was v bored on Friday. Haven't looked at it since.
We went to the local RSPCA yesterday....we fell in love with the most beautiful cat.....maybe I could tweet as him? Hmmm maybe not eh...what kind of fuckery would that be?! Oh yeah....Facebook!!!
Anyway must get on.....
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Friday, 29 June 2012
Well what's happening then......a shit load but won't go into all that. I write because I need to vent about iTunes....yeah yeah I know everyone does but still we stay....hooked in by the fear of stepping away. Why do they make it soooo frustrating...I hate iTunes, with a passion the mere opening up of the silvery grey evilness makes me cross and yet I have sat here for the past hour syncing my iPod, chuntering a bit, supported by my other half so I don't explode. The last time I went anywhere near the device I wiped 16,000 plus songs off my iTunes library....my fault, thought I had saved it to an online storage place, I hadn't, and yes I did cry. I, of course blamed everyone else especially Apple. I don't manage with being told to do very well so Apple and their bloody rules and OCD ways drives me bonkers.
What's the alternative? A while ago I spent quite a lot of my time seeking alternatives, unsuccessfully. They have me caught in their grubby, sadistic little world of which I just don't fit. The answer will be, I suspect that I download what music I have managed to rescue and put it on my phone, my lovely phone, which is joyfully Apple free, android don't give a shit what you do with your music, just download it and listen, what joy!
The loss of my back catalogue was frankly devastating each time it came to mind I had a hollow emptiness inside never to be filled again, many tracks borrowed from pals, funk tunes I still hadn't listened to, now gone, no record of song, artist or label...*holds back tears* but maybe there is the key, music I had never listened to....trouble is with MP3s is just that, you have it and day to day shuffle takes you through a heady mix of tunes. Who'd have thought that Suicidal Tendencies could ever follow Erykah Bahdu.....I miss the ritual of removing an album from it's sleeve, the smell, the delicate nature of the process, the crackle. When I moved out of my house last year my albums stayed, certainly not by choice but there they sit all dusty and unplayed, gentle negotiation required, I hope to get them back....one special edition Smiths EP...still in cellophane, oh woe! Pet Sounds, bought in a charity shop years ago willing me to collect it and play it...oh woe. Picture disc of Never Mind The bollocks....enough now.
So music today, not the stuff of bitches and hos but the nature of control. As I work out how to break free from Apples evil grasp I continue to rebuild my lost library, wouldn't have happened in the old days, even if you lent a pal an album you could still ask for it back....today I am left with nowt, nada, fuck all.
So my friends if you haven't backed up your music collections, do so NOW. Oh and if you use online storage don't forget to tick the mp3 box to make sure mp3s are actually saved.......*sobs*
Sunday, 17 June 2012
A day of fund raising at Silverstone has already raised £250,000 such was the appeal of Marco.
As I sit and watch the British MotoGP it is still crazy to think Marco has gone. I genuinely miss his cheeky little face and his unfettered talent. MotoGP hasn't been the same for me, but still I watch, still I feel butterflies when the race starts, still I shout at Lorenzo and Stoner, still I worship Rossi, but there is a hole, a big hole.
The single is ok, it's done by The Rainband a Manc sound from a Manc band. James Toseland, a gifted pianist, plays on the single. Music has a fantastic way of touching people and I hope it raises loads of money for a very worthy cause.
Well as the warm up lap comes to an end I long to see Cal Crutchlow do well, doubtful today as he's hurting, but still I watch....still have butterflies....still worship Rossi....
Saturday, 16 June 2012
In a week where I've been told to fuck off, Harry's departure and my failure to shine in an interview you'd expect me to be a bit grumpy. I'm not. Sure, I was cross by that harsh rebuff from a student, miffed by Harry's sacking ( Capello next??) And my failure to get a job I should be getting just reminds me that life ain't quite as simple as I want it to be.....and that's just fine.
The job was never going to be mine,. When there's an internal candidate you gotta be shit hot, I was not. My interviewers techniques were poor, sloppy questions which merited only one word answers and the atmosphere of the school, which is a failing school was not one of joy.
While waiting in the staff room for my interview a governor came in, old deaf and full of himself. He bemoaned the lack of people who showed up for the boot fair, complained about lack of interest from parents and then ranted about foreigners 'coming over here taking our jobs'....I kid you not. What made that worse, he was talking to a history teacher who agreed with his every word and an Aussie supply teacher....bet she felt great!!
Hey ho, I didn't get the job, I'm grateful. A school should feel exciting even if its failing. This place did not. The kids I met were of course awesome, trapped in an establishment that is failing them....the lesson I took went well, the kids were interesting and funny, as I left the classroom a heavily made up girl told me I was a 'well good teacher I actually learned summat'....that'll do for me, that's what its about .
I am a good teacher actually, Harry leaving was probably always going to happen and that young person who told me to fuck off? He didn't mean it, if I had experienced half if what he had I would tell everyone I come across to fuck off.
So I am not grumpy today, I am grateful. Grateful to have a happy life, a supportive partner and three great kids in my life. Nothing really matters more than that.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Never thought I'd use a Kylie song as a blog entry title....fucks sake....anyway interview was shite...on their part and mine. The lesson went well...kids were fab...its the adults that piss me off. Poor technique... poor questions.....pretty sure I ain't got the job.
Serves me right in a way....thought I had it in the bag......hey ho....back to TES like every other disheartened fucker in education ......
Sat outside in a pub garden on me own with a pint of lager shandy and a steak sarnie.....rock n roll!
Wonder how else I can save the youth......*puts thinking cap on...*
Friday, 8 June 2012
When I meet new people I do not see their flaws, their insecurities, their troubles, I see the person. I care not the colour of their skin, their accent their heritage.
When I see a person I feel their warmth, see their smile hear their voice....I care not where they are from.
I don't really understand discrimination...racism...I just don't get it. I've tried to understand but to no avail.
I hope the Euros are about football...I hope the good people overwhelm the morons.
That's all I got today
Peace out people......
Saturday, 2 June 2012
And so dear reader/s my first effort at a gig review. Well its not really review more of a look back over my Friday night at the Kentish Forum.
Cue back story.......I've always loved Gary Numan...strange and talented a heady mix for a teenage girl. Deep meaningful/less lyrics with a secret grinding guitar.....from the moment I heard Tubeway Army I knew me and Gary would get on. Never saw him live...I lived in Cornwall then St Austell Coliseum the only 'big' venue.</p>
Back to yesterday...... So me and my fella headed up to London town to meet up Brian and Joel...not their real names...comedy names... I'll explain another time. Surrounded by 40 something men dressed in black we supped a cider or two and headed across the road. I was quite excited Brian and Joel are life long fans..and their calm exteriors gave way to school boy excitement the closer we got.
My first observation was the crowd.... not many gals and frankly chaps if your going to a Numan gig to pull don't bother!!
They were a quiet understated bunch...a smattering of black eyeliner...an occasional Goth boot and skinny black jeans was the tribes uniform.
As we went in I had a little smile to myself...Gary Numan...at last! I was a teenager again...for a second or two.
I liked the venue...small enough to feel intimate big enough to cope. Beer then wait for Gary to dazzle!
Berserker opened the set....oh...summat not quite right with the vocals volume...
I'll be honest now I didn't know a lot of the first few songs he did...new stuff and songs from an era that wasn't my Gary connection. The new stuff is good...grindy a bit scuzzy back to the guitar sound I loved so!
Unfortunately we were stood near the steps and close to the bar....what is it with people... gig starts and they have to have a beer...after being shoved about once too often and having several spillages go down my front, I moved... better view and room to throw an understated shape or two...hmm it was then that I realised the crowd were still...literally! A head nod and raising of the arms but nothing else, ok I appreciate that Gary Numan isn't going to have you moshing it up but really? It was an autistic convention of the highest order.... really socially/ psychologically interesting.
Anyway...the sound was difficult to ignore... could hardly hear Garys vocals and what with the two dicks in front if me talking continuously there was a danger that the gig could be remembered as a disaster.
Thankfully it improved, or I got used to it and by the time Down in The Park was played I was in some kinda heaven. That was the stand out track...heavy, dark and brooding just how I like it! Gary even head banged for a bit... he reminded me at times of Brian from Placebo, physically and the band had summat too.
Anyway, next best track was Are Friends Electric? Another good tune and executed well...
I could talk about how Brian and me tried to rough up the autistic party by barging through the very rigid crowd to get to the front but I won't...Seems Numanoids are very territorial!! ..I've said enough!
Good gig... Gary looked Fab...the band rocked... but sadly sound needed sorting. There, that was my Friday night with Gary Numan, my gorgeous man...Brian, Joel and tanned Keith.
Cracking time was had by all ...kebab on the way home...happy fucking days!! :)
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Thank E Blogger or whatever they're called for my lack of inspiring script!
#NP The Machman-Gary Numan
No where's the publish button......
Sunday, 20 May 2012
It seems chaos is the future.
Not a lot I can say, I am frantically trying to find other work, calling on old acquaintances, just to cover my arse. I can't believe the complete failure of any leadership or direction. Staff morale is, well to say low would be insulting they're well fucked off, I don't really consider myself part of this as I am still green, but boy am I feeling it. Anxious and stressed it's impossible to imagine I would be in this situation 4 weeks ago.....
And yet, let's not forget it's not about me or the other tutors, managers, head teacher, what about the young people we are there to support? Well, I can't answer that, they are blissfully unaware and as we engage, teach and mentor these fantastic kids we are hawking a lie, a bit fat lie.
So alright the kids won't be dumped and they will be found somewhere to go but surely the systems that let them down in the first place should function in some orderly, safe way...but oh no, too much to ask. The unit will close the kids moved on, the time and energy and frankly emotional input all of us have invested will be lost....again.
I'm fucking angry, not just because I left a job where I was secure but these kids who need stability and invest trust into the unit, and us, will be shoved around again. Removed from mainstream to be fucked around in the alternative system, set up for young people like them.
A couple of weeks ago we had a big incident in the unit, won't go into details but suffice it to say a young person with mental health issues finally blew, where is the support for him, no point trying to educate and engage someone when what they actually need is intensive psychological help. I am supposed to be a tutor, turns out I am the only support, in some cases, for whole families, who have disappeared, social services trying so hard to keep families together have forgotten that when they keep them together they need support, and loads of it.
I was told it costs £60,000 a year per student to run our unit.....fuck me! Why we are not investing in mental health services, intervention schemes within mainstream school and frankly decent teachers I will never know, I earn no where near that amount and I am currently supporting 5 young people, their families and their schools, I am not a qualified social worker or counsellor and yet I am trusted to carry out these roles without supervision, good job I care, good job I am safe.
Anyway, what has come to light in the last 5 weeks is that I still want to work with our young people, they are great, no really they are. Damaged, yeah but real, very very real. Next time you feel a bit shit about stuff have a little look in the mirror, just ask yourself how real you really are, how much you really feel, how disconnected from reality you really are, there's a lot and I mean a lot of shit going on out there people, wake up and smell the fucking coffee.......
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
The new job is, well, interesting to say the least. I am now working in a pupil referral unit, a school for kids who have either been let down or have chosen the wrong path, other schools have kicked them out so they come to us, ferral and unwilling.
It's a strange feeling, I found myself hankering for the old job, the comfort blanket of mainstream education, friends, pupils I knew, a curriculum I understood....boundaries and rules. To be honest I disliked my old job but day one at my new job made me wish I was back there, safe in the sameness of it all, the familiarity of it all, the easiness of it all.
My role is now very different, it's everything I love about alternative education but it scares me. My primary role is mentoring, caring and maintaining a relationship. The key word is engagement, I have to engage these young people enough for them to come back, it's a huge responsibilty which I should relish but it scares me. My teaching role is, well, very different, no monitoring as such, no assessment as such, it's all about engagement. I have dreamt of roles that provide these things, a groovy way to save the lost youth. 'lessons' or sessions as they are known are 3 hours long, the wisdom in that is slightly squiffy as many of the young people have attention difficulties and to sustain their engagement for 3 hours at a time is a massive task.
I have visited lost kids in their homes, a task that frankly I found quite harrowing. Mothers crying, mothers begging me to take their child away, mothers wanting their child to go to prison to give them a break...real life is no stranger to me, I worked for a building firm years ago, we were tasked with refurbing tower blocks in South East London...I have seen real life before but somehow this is different, somehow this has affected me more than I really expected.
I have so far been lucky, the young people I have met have trusted me and after some work away from the unit they have agreed to come in, take a risk and try education again. Why aren't you pleased I hear you cry? They trust me.....the only adult in years that they have decided to take a punt on, it's about our relationship now, not the schools or the parents its about me and them, if I fuck up, they fuck up and if they fuck they will probably end up in a young offenders institution, the kids I have met so far simply couldn't handle that.
It's exhilarating and horrifying...stories of self harm, suicide, abortions....fucking hell what has happened in the world that a young person has so much of a story at 15 years old.
So far my new role has scared the shit out of me, social work has always appealed but boy oh boy this is something else. I am in the process now, having met my mentees, of devising a scheme of work that is both educational and interesting so that they will come into the unit and want to study literacy, numeracy and ICT, they now trust me and I really really can't let them down.
I'm knackered, stressed and unsure this role is for me however my time with the lost youth is almost magical, they have amazing energy, sense of humour and above all else a will to learn turns out they are not as lost as I thought. End of week one and I had an indepth debrief because of a difficult visit, I was encouraged to own my feelings and trust my intuition...wanky yes but at least I am able to have some sort of contol over whether I own or am owned.
I leave you with one of my favourite quotes...'It's easier to build a child than it is to repair an adult'
Hope I don't let them down.....
Saturday, 7 April 2012
I love MotoGP all three classes bring me such joy. I have never ridden a motorbike, not really bothered about ever doing so but there is something just so alluring about the MotoGP. I love the stats...the engineering the tactics the riders, although to be fair there are a couple of riders I'm not overly keen on.
The new season brings with it new challenges...new tyres, new restrictions new riders. I have watched the free practices to get to know these things. Will Rossi get that stroppy Ducati sorted? Will Stoner ace the Qatar track again? Will Cal Crutchlow finish higher than 10th, lots to consider, lots to excite.
So with the qualifying under way here's to another great season.....will it be the same without Simoncelli? Maybe but I will miss him all the same.
May the Brits be marvellous and the Italians reckless....just how I like it.
RIP Sic x
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
So what to write, if anything? Well if this was a diary entry it would include all manner of stuff...moving house again, big boy moving out again....new job starting...new life to look forward to. I have mentioned some if not all of these things previously...
Sold my car last night...funny really as it was only ever something that got me to and from places, wasn't particularly connected to it...no cuddly toys or funny bumper stickers or pink fluffy dice, it was just a car and yet as I sit here, watching the football I feel quite reflective. I guess cars and big possessions represent a moment in time and physical 'memory' of a time gone by.
The snake sheds its skin...I sold my car, a distant connection to another time. I don't feel sad...feel lighter, refreshed a bit like how I imagine the snake does when it sheds it dry unwanted skin. Wanky clap trap...bah!
My big boy moves out again next week...he's aiming to go back to uni in September after it not quite falling into place first time round...our relationship has changed...his long term girlfriend is the light in his life...I'm not...my role is different now...I'm not quite sure what I am meant to do...but fumble along I will and it will all work out. He will be gone again by next week...that feeling never goes, when I dropped him off at uni last year I was empty...heartbroken....he was fine, of course he was.
My first born baby boy, all grow'd up. He's just like his Mum in almost every way...poor child. There's the key...child....he's not...he's a man now.
Well my darling son...this is it...it's the big wide world that awaits your return.You will of course be marvellous, funny and witty. You will of course be surly moody and rude...you will of course shine.
Dunno if he would remember but we used to have this thing...you know when you make up stories...he was Puddington Pie and he would always end up with the stars in the sky......
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
Love you Dodjer.... xxxx
Saturday, 10 March 2012
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Picture the scene......It's the school holidays days out, sun, ice cream and general merriment, this particular day the child concerned woke up in a foul mood, there was no going out today, he wasn't in the mood, a quiet day in, DVD's and chocolate, a lazy day.
Breakfast was relatively uneventful until the cereal is poured onto the newly laid oak floor while the boy stares at his mother...wanting...willing a reaction.
Let's go back further as a baby this child was difficult to placate, tummy upsets, colic, restless, unbearably grumpy. Sleepless nights over take clear thinking for the parents...it's difficult.
Reception school sparks new behaviours, this child can't sit still, fidgety, distracted, little bit cheeky but very bright. As parents they look at the childs diet and make some changes, no more Robinsons juice, no more paper ham, only groovy stuff from now on....amazingly there is a change in the child, he is less fidgety and less distracted but the reality is that his reputation now precedes him and teachers know his name..it shouldn't happen, but it does, this boy will now be known as the one that can't settle and is a bit naughty. Let's be honest here kids have to be kids they will and have to be free enough to push boundaries and not be boxed in...let them graze their knees, eat mud, play with slugs. This child was trapped between fitting in and breaking out...he was quite a dark child, preferring at times to stay under covers for the day than want to go to the park, parents were concerned but tried their best to placate and find some happiness for their child.
So breakfast, cereal on the oak floor...the mother obviously reprimanded the child, any onlooker would have thought why is she not going mental??? Wouldn't have helped....
At primary school this child did well, quickly known as a 'character' he ticked all the right boxes, got his levels, did well in assessments and SATs...but something wasn't quite right...who were his friends, how did he interact with others, when will he throw his head back and really laugh? There were incidents of course...little Johnny may have said something to which this child reacted, not a fighter but a sense of justice greater than a justice minister, unfortunately though, it was his justice, slightly different to everyone elses.
That day was to be the darkest day for the child and the parents..once the cereal had been cleaned up the child watching from afar, went back into the kitchen and started to shout and shout and shout and shout...often obscene and disturbingly dark for 9 year old...he claimed he wanted to die, today he would die. His mother, alone with her child did not know what to do, he had often had emotional melt downs but this was different this was...real. She told him she loved him and not to be silly and made him a hot chocolate...with fire in his heart he threw the drink at his mum......
Primary school continued to be eventful but never enough for the parents to be called in, this child, the character was entertaining enough for staff not to bother, clever see, he waited, held it all in until his mum collected him from school and then the meltdowns would happen...crying and crying and crying. He ruled the house..parents often regaining order only to witness the dark side of their child return...pained and very very dark.
That day continued...his mum screamed as the hot drink touched her skin...the child, in fear, ran to his room, his mum left stunned and scalded in the kitchen. Her thoughts unclear but knowing she should not feed the fire she sat down and tried to gather her thoughts...she rang her husband...he was shocked but wasn't able to leave work...she needed him.
'I've called you in because your son ruined the test for everyone today....he refused to sit still and as a consequence left the hall, this really isn't acceptable....' said the classroom teacher to his parents....
That day....while running her arm under the cold tap she happened to look up and there on the window ledge stood her son, they had a glass roof on their newly fitted kitchen...her son was threatening to come through that roof...he balanced there...sobbing, teddy in hand. Emotions took over...she shouted, she didn't want to, she knew it could make it worse... she ran upstairs armed with a pack of sweets....she coaxed and bribed him back throught the sash window...she tried to cuddle him, she needed to feel her baby in her arms....he did not, could not respond. she tried to lock the window, shaking she managed to get her child downstairs, away from danger.......
Several more incidents at school and the parents asked to meet with his class teacher and the Head and ask them how they thought they could move forward and help their child...the response? They had to be more strict, they had to punish him more, they needed to realise that discipline was key.
That day continued....thinking the child's melt down was coming to an end his mum went out to hang the washing on the line.....without realising and as she turned around she was able to deflect the knife that was being thrust in her direction and grabbed his hands.....they both fell to the floor. Brute force stopped the child from escaping and they both just lay on the grass...knife glistening in the sun. He cried......she, unable to speak just held him. Some time later they both stood up, the child still wild reached for the knife and attacked the washing line, slicing through the plastic...his mother, distraught made the decision to walk away, he wanted the attention, she would take that away....it worked.
After being told their son needed more discipline the parents put into practice all manner of sanctions and punishments, naughty step and the money pot being the most useful until their child decided he didn't actually mind sitting on the step...would often just sit on the step and stare...he didn't care that his penny pot was being emptied because he had misbehaved. He continued to be sorry, he meant it, after it all calmed down, he would cry and feel terrible, he didn't mean what he had said.
That day....it worked until she asked him to come back inside....he ran into the kitchen and started to attack the wooden table with the knife... He stopped.... he was holding the knife to his throat, she grabbed at the knife and was lucky to get hold of it straight away....she was able to stop him. He was unrecognisable, his face was contorted with pain and confusion...she guided him to the front room sat him on the sofa and put a balnket around his rigid body and held him....it seemed like hours but it was only a few minutes...he had fallen asleep. Frightened and confused she didn't know what to do, she spoke to her husband again and between the tears begged him to come home......she rang the doctors, her doctor would ring her back and so she waited.....the phone rang it woke her child up...he stayed on the sofa...head under the blanket rocking and making an ungodly noise. 'Don't be ridiculous of course he's ok, if it happens again just ring the police that will sort his behaviour out....' she put the phone down.....alone she gathered her thoughts and rang the mental health crisis line...'No sorry you have to be referred, oh how old is the person you're concerned about? Oh no sorry we only deal with adults....thanks for calling though....good luck'.......'But I am scared my son will hurt himself, he will hurt himself, I need help...please help me....' 'You could try this number...' Never once was she scared for herself...her child was in turmoil.....
That day.....she rang the number and while they could not help her the receptionist listened, she allowed the mum to cry, she did not judge.....her son, still under the blanket had closed the curtains and was in darkness...as she got off the phone she found the strength she needed the strength her son needed...she sat next to him...not touching him she just sat there...strong.
To be continued......
That Day... Lali Puna
'The day I lost my head....'
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Scary and liberating these changes have seen the emergence of not a new Laura, but Laura. Seems I'm back.
I never had an interest in watching films, waste of time in my previous opinion, until I realsed that time spent well is a good time no matter what you're doing. Going to the 'pictures' is ok, in fact I quite like it, I have caught up with films that have been watched a million times by others and found I like them. Football, a long standing passion that had been quietened, to please, to appease. Yep, do you know what I love football, I have discussed it before so won't go on but again I had changed to suit...there's no point, you really have to be true to who and what you are. What's the worse that can happen? Who's to say that those choices, those changes are right or wrong? Only me...I am the judge of me. Cheesy alert...
So as I walk excitedly into my new future, angel next to me, I look forward to my new job, another change. Kids who have lost their way on the verge of hitting the young offenders units in and around Kent, my work from April will to be to guide, teach and talk to these young lost souls, for whom change is scary and not liberating, where change is impossible, where change is too hard, where change means everything and nothing. I can't wait, yes it will be tough, that's the point.
'Pretty soon you're gonna get a little older, time may change me but I can't trace time, I said that time may change me...But I can't trace time' amen to that David.