When I was young, I wanted to be old

I’d like to be told
No, you’re not getting old,
That I’m still a fine figure
Full of bright charm and vigour.

But the truth is , I’m not so blest
Can’t run for a bus
Without pains in my chest
So I walk, well that’s a plus.

If I sit for some time
Then get up to go
My knees creak, quite loud
With no longer, a sylphlike, flow.

I never used to be shaky
That’s come on me fast
Confusion is concerning
Oh, how long will it last?

In my head, I’m so skilled
But any ability is shot
I need my body to rebuild
Not issue a unilateral boycott.

It is really unfair
To be quite this way
To wake with, cramp in the night
Well that can’t be right!

Will someone please, invent a pill
To make me thirty again
Fit and healthy, would be such a thrill
I’d never need to complain.

I guess I must learn
To laugh at my frailty
To celebrate, things I can still do
And see my future time through.

That might be short or it may be long
Best, not to moan to much
Stay as myself, with the common-touch
While moaning loudly, “It’s all too wrong”!


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Satire was murdered in Missouri

The KKK isn’t a terrorist organisation in the USA. Why not?

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A wonderful insight into the charm of the Queen

The queen was having a meal with David Nott a surgeon who’d just returned from Aleppo. She asked, as she always does, where he was from and he said he’d just returned from Aleppo. She asked him what it was like.

My mind filled instantly with the images of toxic dust, of crushed school desks, of bloodied and limbless children…. My bottom lip started to go and I wanted to burst into tears, but I held myself together. She looked at me quizzically and touched my hand….. ‘These [biscuits] are for the dogs,’ she said, breaking one of the biscuits in two, giving me half. Together, we fed the corgis. ‘There,’ the Queen said, ‘That’s so much nicer than talking, isn’t it?’”

The Guardian 24th February 2019 p13

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Laptops, exercise books and textbooks

Exercise books and textbooks are obsolete. Both are quaint relics in an era of search engines such as Google. Teachers and schools may well feel that ditching exercise books and textbook is too revolutionary. There’s also the possibility that entrenched teachers will need retraining. The transition to laptops can only be achieved with whole-hearted commitment. Embracing the opportunities presented by laptops requires commitment by schools. Ditching exercise books and textbooks is the opening gambit prior to wholesale changes to the management of classroom learning.

Exercise books: Exercise books are obsolete. They’re a relic of a by-gone era, completely at odds with the reality of 21st century Britain. They’re inefficient. Time is spent handling them at the beginning and end of lessons. They’re dog-eared, graffiti ridden obstacles to learning. Laptops should replace exercise books. Every subject stored in separate folders with back-up in the school cloud account. Classwork and homework will be downloaded to teachers, without any of the tiresome, and time consuming, collection procedures. Teachers and students can access the work as and when required. All their work will be searchable where strengths and weaknesses can be identified.

Even better, cloud storage is administratively convenient, bringing productivity gains to the school. A good example is the resolution of challenges presented when students transfer to another school. Their entire academic career would be transferred with them immediately. Thus the new teachers will have robust evidence as to what level the incoming student is. This eliminates the learning curve of the new school vis a vis the incoming student to the advantage of everybody.

Textbooks: Textbooks are as obsolete as encyclopedias. Search engines delete reliance on expensive textbooks. They have demonstrated that virtually instant access is available to the world’s knowledge. Teachers should develop skills in organising and managing the students’ access to the avalanche of knowledge which can easily swamp their learning. The National Curriculum offers opportunities in preparing ‘banks’ of lessons, which could become bespoke learning vehicles for individualised learning. ‘Best’ practice will be easily shared in other words.

Delinking from textbooks means that teachers can be far more creative in preparing individualised learning programmes. Homework preparation is simplicity itself. There wouldn’t be the risky lending of textbooks to students and the hostile environment in satchels. Source materials would remain in pristine condition no matter how often they were used: no doodling or graffiti!

Investment in laptops: The phrase ‘invest to save’ is often used by salesmen, not always truthfully. Laptops offer clear savings. The remorseless consuming of exercise books and, quickly out-of-date textbooks will no longer be capital expenditures. Schools buy thousands of exercise books and a great many expensive textbooks. Investment in laptops eliminates this constant drain. Obviously not every student would require a school laptop as very large numbers of them have the equipment already. In terms of classroom management it also removes the constant irritating discipline problems associated with students not have writing equipment with them.

Universities use Jstor, where learned journals are freely available to students. Best classroom practice could be disseminated in a similar way. The skills of the best teachers should be disseminated to every teacher. Naturally, teachers might wish to adjust the sources to suit their individualised learning programmes but this would be tweaking. The core downloaded lessons would be as acceptable as the textbook is currently.

Where many students have Siri and other voice activated equipment with them constantly, exercise books and textbooks are obsolete. The bullet should be bitten and the first stage of making significant productivity gains in learning will begin.

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The partition of Poland- Autumn 1939

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty 23 August 1939


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Book Review: William Melvin Kelley ~ A Different Drummer (1962)

A Different Drummer is set in America’s deep south in the segregation era. The principal black character is Tucker Caliban working for the family that had, generations previously, owned slaves including Tucker’s great grand-father. The central white family stills owns the land in Sutton (not a geographical place).

Tucker’s story is a classic of American Rugged Individualism. Tucker horrifies his college educated wife with his contemptuous rejection of the NAACP. Tucker’s plan is to destroy white supremacy by the simple expedient of there being no black Americans to be superior over. A form of reverse ethnic cleansing.

First though Tucker produces a coup de theatre. After years of accruing savings he persuades Dewey Willson to sell seven acres of land to him on the pretext that he will become a farmer even though he has no knowledge of farming. This land is plantation land. This land was farmed by slaves including Tucker’s ancestors. Tucker then salts the land so that it will never be farmed by anyone. It’s also a clear metaphor for the tears of slaves. He goes further and burns down his house.

Kelley’s novel accelerates. Every black American in the state departs. The whites with their vicious white supremacy are negated at a stroke. There’s no-one to be superior over. White trash now have no-one to look down on and their position is revealed for all to see.

I just ain’t sure it’s all to the good. You never had no WHITE folks sweeping around in the stores, only coloured. You getting a job sweeping now, Stewart? That’s the only job you really good for. (p272)

Kelley’s novel’s denouement is so wonderful I can’t spoil it.

This is a novel by someone new to me and is utterly brilliant.


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The price of the Conservatives austerity programme, 2010-19

A 2017 study published by the British Medical Journal linked health and social care budget cuts to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in the UK since 2010. Last year, the Office for National Statistics revealed that life expectancy has stopped rising for the first time since records began in 1982, and even fell in several parts of the country. At the same time, the net worth of Britain’s thousand richest families has more than doubled since 2009, to £547 billion, according to estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies



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