Tag Archives: school

Classroom rule number one: Never smile before Christmas

Two excellent short films. The first is clever and imaginative. The second may induce feelings of vertigo or unsettled stomach – IT”S THAT EXCITING!

So – first – The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemmingway’s book and John Sturges’s film starring Spencer Tracy – now an animation drawn by Marcel Schindler.

I saw this film on the excellent Brain Pickings website. My only quibble with the animation is that the role of the boy is omitted – though, to be fair, he doesn’t board the small boat on the trip depicted.

Next – short film number two. Some of the camera shots may make you queasy. Here’s the film called People Are Awesome.

It’s the going over the edge skiiing shot that has me holding on to the table for balance. Though I suspect it’s the sort of thing Lesley “Get” Carter does every morning before breakfast. I presume they used the same crew as this Carling Black Label advert (based on cameraman Graham Henry’s exploits with Anneka Rice in Treasure Hunt).

The nearest Continue reading

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Filed under art, Film, friends, life

The awesome power of nine-year-olds

Got a nine-year-old? Know any? Then watch out. They’re not to be messed with.

They have reach, power and influence beyond what you’d ever imagine.

Check these two out.

1. Nine-year-old Martha Payne from Argyll in western Scotland. Her school dinners aren’t great. Not very tasty, not very healthy, not very much. So she started taking photos like this…

Appetising? No?

and posting them on her blog www.NeverSeconds.blogspot.com .  Just one totey wee little blog that no one will ever notice.

Oh really? After almost no time at all, the local council (which runs the school catering) and the Scottish government are having to defend themselves to every media organisation. And defend themselves with a rictus grin. Because it doesn’t do to be cross or dismissive with a nine-year-old girl who just wanted to do an interesting writing project. (At least, not in public.)

Somewhere in Argyll there’s a teacher who gave permission for Martha to bring her camera into Lochgilphead primary school who’s either hugging him/herself with glee, or else worried about future employment prospects Continue reading

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Filed under Film, life

Teachers: The good, the bad and the naughty

Who has been the most influential person in your life outside your family? Probably a teacher. Whether you tend towards the Pink Floyd attitude or the opposite Abba extreme, teachers have been there opening doors, moulding, revealing and empowering – or in some cases, failing to do so and missing opportunities. Luckily for me, mine have mostly been in the first camp.

But I have encountered some dodgy ones. The problem with teachers is – it’s not always immediately clear who is a good ‘un and who who is a bad ‘un – because it’s not about niceness. I’ve been telling tales about what happened inside classroom over at the prestigious (how I love using that word), thought-provoking and entertaining Lessons from Teachers and Twits blog. Ahem, no prizes for guessing which category I belong in. The answer of course is – both, on occasion.

Teachers and Twits is run by RasJ in the picture. I can’t imagine anyone skipping her class. (Hope I don’t pull standards down too far.) Anyway – you’re welcome to have a look and issue me with suspension, expulsion or a gold star over at Teachers and Twits. And you’re also welcome to share your own teaching or being taught stories back here.

Oi! Pay attention at the back there! It’s your own Continue reading

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Filed under blogs, Guest Posts, Influences, My Writing

The Day I Met… Met HER

Welcome to the latest episode of the The Day I Met… contest. Bit different this Wednesday. We’ve had a world leader, a film star, a singer, a celebrity beardster, a best selling writer, military top brass – and now someone very well known in certain circles.

This encounter comes from Helen. I can’t link to her because she doesn’t have a blog. (I know. Me too. I thought everyone had a blog. Perhaps those rumours about life existing offline are actually true.)

She emailed in her story with this caveat: 

So, it is not exactly within the guidelines of your competition, but it was the nearest to a celebrity moment that i could imagine myself writing about.

Good enough for me. So here’s Helen’s story about…

The Day I Met… Met HER. And she came home with me! Continue reading

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Filed under Guest Posts, The Day I Met... Competition

Back to school (resistance is useless)

Okay - the date's two days early, but still...

Terrible day coming up tomorrow. (Snigger)

Very sad indeed. (Giggle.)

My poor children go back to school. The summer holidays are over. (I’m crying tears of… Continue reading

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Filed under life

Animosity

Does rarity make for intensity? The objects of my animosity are few – in fact, as a child I had only two.

One was a public figure, a demagogue alternately overpoweringly charming and ferociously frightening. Out to get me, I felt. But I didn’t really know him. Not back then anyway. I later had the pleasure experience of meeting him a number of times.

The other was a more minor figure of authority. A big fish in his small pool. My primary school Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, life

Don’t answer the phone! It might be school calling…

Do you get calls from school like this?

SCHOOL: Is it ok for your son to hold a duck egg, while wearing gloves?

I’ve lived in shared houses where the phone only received calls – a precaution by the landlord to prevent large bills being run up. Sometimes I wish my own home phone only made outgoing calls and couldn’t receive them. It would mean the end of phone spam, courtesy calls, “we’re doing a survey in your area” and… calls from the children’s school.

I’m not talking about the call every parent dreads – serious accident or injury or worse. I’m talking about the call every parent resents – the call that masquerades as serious. This phone call came just after a school trip, before the parent’s son had reached home.

TEACHER: Mrs Morrow, this is Mr E, I have some very grave news about your son.
MUM (panicking): What? What? Is he ok?
TEACHER: Oh yes, but on the school trip at the weekend I lent him 50p and he has not as yet paid me back.
MUM (trying to recover heart rate): Oh you stupid man. <hangs up>

It seems like life or death summons. The truth is teasingly delayed until you race to the rescue. Like with the mother who was told over the phone that her child was “doing as well as can be expected” after being hit in the face with a brick Continue reading

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Filed under In the village, life

Keep your mouth shut at the school gate

Sometimes it’s better not to say anything at the school gate. That reputed snakepit of gossip, politics, cliques and scrutiny. And if you are foolish enough to open your big mouth, then it really is best to shut it again as soon as possible.

 Because carrying on won’t help. Oh no. The hole will just take on cavernous proportions, the better to echo your indiscretion.

I don’t know if this applies particularly to fathers – women and other adults may be equally stupid. You tell me.

But this afternoon I had the pleasure of watching a dad’s foot accelerate towards his mouth. Rather than braking or steering away from trouble, he went into crash test dummy mode.

It was only a slight slip to begin with Continue reading

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Filed under In the village

When no one locked their doors on my street

This is a history of my street, from 1931-2011. It’s a firsthand account. So it’s not written by me. Guess that makes it a guest post.

One of my neighbours, Pam, wrote it to share with the rest of us on the street. I typed it up and printed off copies to hand out at our recent royal wedding street party (here, here and here).

I’ve slightly edited it for this blog. And I’ll give you a little context too.

The street is on the edge of a village in the south of England. Population less than five thousand people. Used to be mainly farm workers. Now a lot of people commute to the nearest city.

Pam was born on the street and has lived here most of her life.  She has some good tales. One of them features an odd woman in a beret. (Apologies. In the previous post I promised you a flat cap. Turns out it’s a beret.)

So here’s Pam’s story.

I was born at no.22, lived there for a year, then moved to no.18 for a year, then to no.17 for the next thirty years, until my husband and I bought an allotment and orchard from the owners at no.19 and built our own bungalow no.21.

Many of the houses were built in the late 1920s and 1930s by two local builders. They were mostly rented. It was only after World War II that people began to buy homes outright. Most houses have altered almost out of recognition with rooms added up and out.

I do not know if our home came with gas at first, but I do remember the excitement of just touching a switch and the light coming on when electricity was installed. Before then, one had a bracket with two gas mantles which had a chain to operate the gas flow. One then lit the mantles carefully with a match. That was only downstairs. Electricity came to the street around 1937 I think. Before then we went to bed by candlelight.

Everyone had a flower garden, a vegetable patch and a few greenhouses – fruit trees and bushes and strawberries. Everyone in those days grew most of their vegetables and shared them with neighbours.

A few chickens at the bottom of the garden and rabbits in hutches provided extra meat – especially during the war years and eggs were precious. During the war we had a retriever who when told to “catch a rabbit” over the fields, did just that and made the meat ration go further. The large oak tree (now listed) at the rear of no.17 was home to a family of red squirrels until the grey squirrels moved in.

1. It's not a woman in a beret. 2. It's the wrong type of rabbit. 3. It's a pipe not a cigarette. 4. Who cares.

Also to the rear of no.17 in the corner of the field was a reclusive lady who Continue reading

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Filed under Guest Posts, In the village

The era of the heavy schoolbag is almost at an end

The era of the heavy schoolbag is almost at an end. That’s according to one of my neighbourhood primary schools. In a letter home to parents, the headteacher noted that more and more pupils were bringing kindles and other electronic readers into class. Continue reading

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Filed under life, media