Friday, 16 February 2018

Great views while away

I have been away for six days the full account needless to say will be posted on the other blog after the weekend having had a fun time.
One thing I did do quite a bit of unexpectedly was nature walking although I can't say exactly where due to the rules of the group but it was in East Anglia so I did take my camera with me.
Walking and from that general fitness is something I have been working on since third quarter last year where I noticed I was having difficulty staying in breath after relatively modest exertion, feeling everything was becoming more of an effort.
I took a number of photos of which this one was one I was most happy with and I've shown with absolutely no processing whatsoever on a day that although relatively cold at about 7 degrees C was quite sunny out so one didn't feel it so much so long as obviously one wrapped up well.
I think it came out rather well.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Nancy in the Sixth

I'm away for a bit thanks to my more overt littles/middles real world life with friends having the kind of fun I badly need so I thought it's time to return to our book series, Nancy at St  Brides/Maudsley and its heroine.

Originally written in 1935 it is a little more modern than the earliest adventures although we are still very much in a twentieth century mind set where girls would just wonder around woods by themselves with just a bike.
This picks up from The Best Bat although that was a mini novel and sees Nancy and her chums return as they thought to would be the Upper Fifth having taken their School Certificate examinations (a kinda precursor to the British GCE O levels people before 1987 took in the Fifth Form - aka Year 11 in post 1990's terms showing competence in the "Three R's" and other subjects ready to leave school for further study or employment).
I say that because we learn though family circumstances some who would of been in the Sixth left for overseas Colonies of our Empire such as South Africa, some to gain employment needed because their families faced lack  and others won scholarships to colleges and this meant the Sixth for this term would have precisely seven pupils which wasn't viable.
The Head Mistress, Miss Hale, sees actually her Fifth forms are unwieldy with rather more pupils than desirable and decides to move up those more academically capable in other respects mature members such as Nancy to the Sixth.
This is where the story proper begins because on the same day Nancy got moved up to the sixth she was promoted to a vacant prefectship triggering much trouble at Maudsley, their day school.
We learn about Clemency Walton's long standing jealous of Nancy that was triggered by a big misunderstanding that was not discovered until terms end and this jealous came to a head when the games committee proposed to make Nancy the captain of Cricket, this was far more than she could bear.
By the use of school gossip, not least the idea that an offer to play for the Lady Foresters cricket team had been accepted and to whom did play against Maudsley when in fact Nancy had not more for getting between work for the Guildry, Clemency manages to divert this honour -a mere formality given her cricketing and captaincy skills - from Nancy to herself.
But this isn't all in this story of jealousy running amok for Nancy had been down to play for an important school match encounters Ryllis Rutherford also of the the Sixth in something of a scrape offering her the use of her bike only not to make the match and facing being accused of 'cutting' it.
Clemency seizes her chance aided by the Second Form teacher who is the only other person with the final say on the team selection who is out of action with a cold, for malicious action to remove her from one selection and to call for practice sessions in away that Nancy would not of know and to which it would be easy to belittle her.
In the midst of this there is a scholarship -the Woodford-Leigh - for organ playing to which Nancy and Clemency are practising that requires a suitable instrument to practise on for  examination. Clemency swaps days to use the organ at St Ninians church with Nancy which would be fine other than several stops of it were damaged which naturally upset their organist Mrs Patterson apart from requiring repair. Because of the day it occurred on, all involved conclude it must of been Nancy as the swap was only agreed between the two girls before Bijah, a junior, who had attended thinking she'd hear Nancy playing saw Clemency but fell asleep and was rescued by Mrs Patterson makes an unplanned intervention.
It was a chance remark by the new junior schoolgirl  while taking tea with Mrs Patterson talking about her dog, that she know Clemency was playing that very day that unmasked Clemency's refusal to own up and let Nancy take the blame for something she was not responsible for.
Clemency is demoted not just for her use of a rumour she knew not to be tested to get Nancy removed from the cricket captaincy and even for selection but even as a prefect for her underhand ways.
The sorts of issues are not even today untypical of school life or indeed in other fields where we observe others work against people either making unfounded accusations or letting them stand because however wrong they are (and they know it) it suits them to let it happen and not hold out for what is true.
The moral lessons set I feel still stand in Twenty-first century Britain.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Going back to the Seventies

While I'm preparing to be off having packed my case, tote bags and lord knows what else you take and find you really didn't need as much here's this weeks main post, a day earlier.
There are times not least with the more middles life I have I feel that we over complicate things not least compared to how things were in the past where we may of had less options but we just got on with it.
Like today we download things or stream them but there are different places, different formats and you're never quite sure if even an album will playback in the right order as different software works different sometimes having things playing in alphabetical order before now.
It was so much easier when this and it's ilk ruled the home entertainment roost as you just put a record  on and it just played it and if you wanted to hear the latest sounds you just spun the tuning dial and that was it no need for software upgrades and the like.Need to make a personalized selection then the cassette unit would let you do that from any source and play it on the 'Walkman'.
There are times when there's something to be said for keeping it simple.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Dealing with how we and or friends may of been treated

The origins of prejudice can be many-fold as those of us who have faced it and even perhaps unthinkingly acted upon it can certainly vouch for.
Sometimes it is a prevailing view that we are brought up with such as to see those who don't share the same religious beliefs we do as a threat, to view those of certain ethnic minorities as lesser, almost children limited by design in ability or to see those with disabilities as a drain on society.
As repugnant as each and all of those opinions are the bigger thing tends to be what it is that people do with them as if merely having an prejudiced point of view were a crime I dare say most of us would be paying for it in one way or another.
Sometimes were bear one less than something we co-opted from others so much as it is the result of drawing the wrong conclusions from something that was real that involved us such as the bullying and physical assaults I experienced from 'normal' kids at junior school where amongst other things I was being falsly accuse of damaging school property by a know school bully and every other child refused to speak out even though I could not myself. In the end one girl did and was ostracized for a period for it.
It could be the verbal assaults and insults you may get from others for things you simply cannot help in the street or online.
It would be easy for me to form the view that those of you who are not disabled cannot be trusted to treat me with respect and to hide away fearful of what an encounter might bring given how those experiences (and others) left me.
The thing is I'd then be treating you little different, forever suspecting you, keeping you away, persuading others to join in cos that's what prejudice is like: it removes the individuals personality and identity and replaces one based upon an encounter with one or more others who share something in common with them and convicts them upon this collective image you have formed.
Sometimes too  a person having done something really hurtful may begin to see just how that impacted on another and yet it would be easy yet again to refuse to forgive them personally and any group you associated their actions with.
Circumstances bring us together albeit a chance encounter on the street or as one social media site or forum closes and we move to another.
How are we going to treat our new friends and neighbours?
   

Friday, 26 January 2018

Is charity fundraising all it should be?

Sometimes you honestly cannot make things up or even send up concepts without reality going one better.
Take Charity for instance which is a big thing here in the UK where the Voluntary and Charitable sector accounts for a major part of providing services to groups as well as individuals so the business of raising it it especially for the larger national ones itself has become big.
Several years back there was a lot of concern around people being employed by agencies to aggressively sign up people in the street to regular monthly payments via their bank accounts involving people giving information out in a public setting to complete strangers.
Not being content even with that, they both share your details to other charities who would write to you requesting payments or keep pushing you to up the amounts for that charity to the point some people had felt so under pressure, they committed suicide.
The other way of fundraising involves putting on some kind of an event usually with tickets which might start at say a fashion or make up demonstration where orders may be taken with a percentage going to 'the cause' or a kind of show with a master of ceremonies who introduces a variety of acts and maybe a guest speaker.
Some people do extreme challenges for which they may be sponsored although the tendency to push the individual to their absolute limits to emphasis the bravery and how you should reward it with a lump of your cash does trouble me as sometimes it seems anything is okay cos "it's for charity, ain't it?" 
How about a sponsored crucifixion? I fear one day someone in all seriousness will actually suggest it for it's uniqueness "You too can see if you can cheat death and raise thousands"  the promotional material will say.
Today in all seriousness we are all coming to terms with the idea of a hosted all male attendees event where by design the hostesses are dressed in a sexually objectified way, where sexual advances not consented to occur without anyone batting an eyelid and where paid sex workers even employed in a so-called Presidents Club" just to raise money for charities as if that justifies it.
Like making money from sexual services and committing sexual assaults are justified cos "It's for charity, ain't it"?
I cannot be the first person who is appalled by what happened at this and previous events organized by this club who I understand is a Registered Charity and subject to laws around that never mind not profiting from sex work which itself is unlawful.
How twisted is our obsession with the money we raise  for organizations that do help make our society the richer for what they do that we turn a blind eye to the morality of how that body is funded?
I'd like to think we'd no more condone the sexual abuse of women in fund raising which any go to help victims of that than allow children to be abused and and the proceeds to people like the NSPCC.
We really need to take a step back and think about morals rather more.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Reflections on January's current affairs

There are two things That I feel the need this week talk a little about of which I think is the collapse of Carillion the  construction and service operating concern which here in the North-west Midlands is quite important not just for those who worked directly for it such as the office staff in Wolverhampton that I know well but also for the many small and medium sized business across our region who were sub-contractors on projects for local and national government plus concerns such as Network Rail who own the railway lines across the UK.
While rightly the Governments attention has been focused more around ensuring contracted work continues and with that the employees turn in and get paid, this still leaves potential business a quarter million pounds or more each out of pocket with little likelihood of getting that after the taxman and banks have taken from whatever assets can be sold to pay what is owed to them.
Part of this is because contractual payments are made in arrears often strung out meaning considerable monies are spent before it comes in causing cash-flow issues and payments due were delayed sometime ago. It has the potential to bring down these companies and with it the well being of their employees.
I hope the business meetings due to take place from Tuesday onward bring forth a plan to assist them until much of Carillion's work is stabilized and so contracts can be renewed.
The other is The Donald and the infamous "sh*thole" remarks at least attributed to his meeting with Foreign Affairs senators.
The absence of a categorical denial by all present of these reported comments has only added to their widespread revulsion around the world.
Some of us would defend strong terms in condemning the issues of corrupt poorly performing governance in parts of Central America and much of Africa where money just disappears from western countries aid and medical welfare provision and where far from growing their economies they engage in petty squabbling and rewarding supporters.
In saying that though, one should not prejudge entire peoples who often feel as frustrated as we in the West do with their so-called leaders, the stolen monies and bare faced lies nor should we fail to understand facing that, any of us would look to moving to a better society to allow us and our families the chance to move on and to earn a better life.
Using highly offensive terms too is often counter productive in making valid points and diminish the moral authority not just of those who do but of those they represent such as the American people all ethnicities and family backgrounds. Such comments deserve widespread condemnation.
This is not a good moment in a year of many others sadly for those of us recognize who and support the American people and what their country stands for regardless of politics.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Language in the classroom


The vexed question of how or what to refer to pupils at schools as has opened up again following Altrincham Girl's school decision to avoid referring to it's children as girls in what is a girls school and to use gender neutral language.
An awful lot has happened certainly around language since I left the school system and even as a Governor for a period at one least the retitling of 'Forms' for 'Year x' since the 1990's, the removal of the term Pupil and substitution of 'Student', a term I associate with those at 16+ college or University rather than say 8 year olds and yes we were always referred to as "Girls and Boys" in what was a co-ed school.
The reasoning preferred for all this is to be 'transgender friendly' and certainly personally I've no time for misgendering anyone but gender identity is a area that is complex and not the same as saying people are gender neutral although it is true some individuals may well feel 'non binary' and in principal I feel that ought to be respected.
Some as I can well recall from my junior and high school days feel very strongly about their identity and gender role as either boys or girls and to them while they would all agree they were 'children' the bigger thing to them is to be their gender  and if you were misgendered or assigned incorrectly you may well understand why it matters to them.
That's why I get a bit concerned how far we may take well intentioned attempts to make spaces inclusive we end up degendering for those who feel they are misgendered.
I don't feel in the context of an introduction say at an Assembly "Good Morning Children" is an issue although traditionalists prefer "Boys and Girls" to mirror "Ladies and Gentlemen" but when you suggest you cannot refer to a group of girls as 'girls' least it cause offence to any girls in girls school who may be questioning their gender identity in which by design doesn't admit nor allow boys to be and your school sign refers to 'girls' a few thoughts come to mind.
Firstly if hearing or seeing the term 'Girls' offends or intimidate you to that point perhaps being at an all girls school isn't really for you because at the very least you'd rather mix children of either traditional gender or non binary which is more likely at an co-ed school.
If you feel as a girl you're non-binary or especially a boy, then there is gender question about what you are doing where an essential criteria is to be that gender and where if you were to transition you couldn't stay. Does your right to be say non-binary mean it's right to deny your peers the right to called girls to include you?
Finally if you are transitioning as a boy to a girl, you may feel as good number have you'd rather be at an all girls school because you'd be away from boys and their all too real separate genderedness but how would it play to be at a girls school where being being referred to as the gender you now present as is discouraged by official policy and where you'll never be referred to collectively as girls?
To me it just this in the context of an all girl or boy school comes over as muddled and ill thought out especially when you still refer to yourself as a Girls School.