Dennis Skinner was at it yet again today. Unfortunately the State Opening of Parliament clashes with Day 2 of the Royal Ascot Race meeting and it is no secret as to where the Queen would rather be. It is a perfect opportunity for Dennis to just do what he does best.
Even in what was a shortened ceremony Black Rod still came knocking on the door of the House of Commons to summon MPs through to the so called Upper Chamber in order to hear the Queen’s Speech. This is the way things work in our Parliamentary Democracy. The Queen sits in the House of Lords and tells someone to fetch the Commoners to hear what she has to say.
Not for the first time and hopefully not the last Dennis Skinner delivered yet another classic one liner.
Maybe we will not have to wait 2 years to hear the next one.
I love the Challenge Channel on Freeview Ch 48 Sky Ch 145. It broadcasts repeats of Bullseye on a regular basis, often back to back. There are plenty of shows to choose from as 15 series were produced. It is great!
The host, Jim Bowen (voted the Most Popular Game Show host last month in an online poll) is a proper legend. Bullseye was his show and it is great to look back and re-live those memories of Sunday tea time viewing thirty years ago. After all as Jim says “You can’t beat a bit of Bully.”
A classic episode was witnessed the other day. In the final round the first couple were a bloke, who had a delicious Bobby Charlton hair cut (circa 1972); we are talking proper comb over job. The other player, was in fact his daughter, and she had a mass of blonde hair, styled in a tightly permed mullet. Not a great style combo, but both were pretty handy dart throwers.
Fair play, they did well and won the best part of £600 in the quiz rounds. Then they went on to scoop a shed load of stuff on Bully’s Prize Board, namely a washing machine, a toasted sandwich maker, a hostess trolley and an telephone answer machine. This last high tech device was the size of a shoe box.
Happy with their winnings the leading pair declined the offer from Jim to gamble their prize haul and go for the Star Prize. As did the second pair Kevin and Jack from Barrow in Furness. They managed to win £550, which probably could pay the price for a terraced house in Barrow back then . They were not tempted to wager their cash, that they could hit 101 or more with 6 darts.
So it left Steve and Trish, the third couple, to cough up their £80 in order to have a pop at the Star Prize. The Star Prize was always not to be sniffed at. It could be a decent long haul family holiday, or a brand new car hidden behind a big, red velvet curtain in the TV studio.
This prize would not be revealed till the end of the show, but it was a “no brainer” decision to make for this last couple. They had to go for it.
Trish looked like she could hold her own in a bar fight and was a bit of a unit, truth be told. She gritted her teeth and bowled up to the oche and proceeded to chuck 22 with her 3 arrows. Not a great start.
Up steps hubby Steve, who hits treble 19 with his first dart and lands on single 16 with the next. This means, with a total of 95, the man of the moment only has to get 6 or more with his last dart.
Now if you look at the board what would you do? Aim left, surely? As anything will do 12 through to 19. Virtually half the board to aim at – it is not a tricky throw at all.
Yet what does Steve hit? THREE!!!! Are you sure? A collective gasp is heard from the studio audience off camera. Single 3! Steve loses the £80 won previously and the Star Prize also slips from his grasp.
Trish slowly hands back the cash to Jim, our ever diplomatic host. It hurts, you can see it in her eyes. Mind you, it is water off a duck’s back to Jim, who puts his arms around the losing couple and bellows “Let’s see what you would have won!”
Diminutive Steve stands still, ashen faced, anticipating a beating from the wife when he gets home to Rochdale. The curtain is drawn back to reveal the Star Prize. It is a blinking speed boat as well – loving it !! Trish does not look a happy bunny!
The Hod carrier in flip-flops
After completing my teacher training I got a placed in the pool of recruits in the London Borough of Hillingdon. When I pitched up in July 1991 on my first day as a “probationary” teacher I in my newly assigned school was joined by a 35 year old ex- hod carrier, who had also just retrained and joined the profession.
William Davids was a huge bloke who had switched codes from a blue collar trade to a white collar profession so to speak. He had done a few things since studying Maths at Bristol University and the last job he had was in the building trade. We both had the Bristol connection – he knew about Natch cider and Clarks pies, so we hit it off immediately.
As an individual he was very strong willed with an inherent sense of right and wrong. If a system was flawed or unfair in his eyes he would always question and rebel against it. He kicked against the system. Management did not like him much because of this.
He was a generous man with his time and energy. He loved working with students who were willing to learn, but could not stand the odd one who would not bother at all. Kids loved him. One year he did a great version of Right Said Fred’s “Deeply Dippy” that brought the house down at the Staff Talent Show in Charities Week.
Despite being teachers in different faculties our paths crossed a lot during the working day. We both started as Year 7 form tutors and followed our pastoral groups right the way up to the 6th form. We both had long commutes to work and so got in early. We always met at the local greasy spoon before school on Fridays for a fry up before the weekly staff briefing. I remember that we also used to jump in the car and buzz down to Southall for a curry before a parents evening as there was little time to get home and back in the interval between the end of school and the start of proceedings.
We even did break duties together on the playground. Which had its ups and downs. At least we saw the kaleidoscope of outdoor conditions that the British weather can bring.
Not one to turn down a challenge. He would be up for anything slightly rebellious.
William and I used to sit together at the back of the Friday morning briefing – it is strange how schools survived on calling together staff once a week to discuss and inform the staff of major issues within the school.
Now briefings are called daily in most schools. It means that this meeting is no longer a milestone event that it once was.
After one meeting William and I got talking about dress down days that were a regular Friday occurrence in the private sector. We could not agree on what a dress down day meant in our workplace in terms of what would be acceptable attire. There was an unwritten rule that you could wear pretty much what you liked on a normal day, so if we dressed down, how far should we go?
Through further discussions William and I decided to push the dress code boundaries each Friday and see what reaction we got. It was a good day to try it as we would be seen by all staff and may cause the desired reaction.
We did our experiment in stages we started by not wearing a tie on the Friday of week 1. Then it went to no tie and no morning shave in week 2. A polo shirt replaced the more formal shirt the following week and still nobody batted an eyelid, so we pressed on with our quest. It continued for weeks and we had progressed to a t shirt, shorts and trainers accompanied by an unshaven face, but I called a halt when William suggested ditching the trainers for flip flops for the following week. Teaching whilst looking like a beach bum was fine with me but it was not a sensible thing to be doing science practicals “open –toed.”
William carried on the baton for one more week, and I think we took a photo of him sat in briefing in his beach ware as well as his flip flops! He always pushed the boundaries.
It is like the good old days. A musician plays his heart out at a gig and after had your socks knocked off by the live performance you wait in anticipation for the next album to come out. Then when you find out this record is to made in collaboration with another favourite combo then it is time to get really excited!
Time to buzz down to Raynors/Rival/Revolver and get your hands on a copy of the LP.
Well Elvis Costello has teamed up with The Roots to make his latest album.
He did his best to shake up the dullards who were stood waiting in their chosen spots to see The Stones be wheeled out later. It was said that Freddie Flintoff used to bowl a lot of ‘effort’ balls in his Test career. Well Glastonbury 2013 was one of Elvis Costello’s ‘effort’ gigs.
So he has now gone onto work with Philadelphia’s finest. It just is a download away to see how they got on.
Newport County are back in the Football League and they play Bristol Rovers (my team) on Saturday. This brings back memories of when I went to the corresponding fixture way back on 7th September 1985. Now the date does not stick in my mind, in fact I looked it up, as I am not that much of an anorak. I see Rovers lost 3-0, but I do not remember the goals, instead I just have this blurred vision of watching the match from behind the goal in an enclosure that shaded us from bright sunshine.
The thing that I have not forgotten about that day was that I traveled from Bristol to the game on a “Soccer Special”. Older football fans will be familiar with this mode of transportation. Soccer Specials come from an era when football was blighted by hooliganism and one method used to control this and curb any trouble was by using a “special” British Rail train that was chartered to take all the away fans together to the match. The train was patrolled by British Transport Police officers, who even checked your ticket to travel at Temple Meads station before you got on the train, did everything bar mark it with a ticket inspector’s hole punch.
The rolling stock on this particular Soccer Special was ancient; the dusty and jaded slam door carriages were divided up with into six seater compartments and the whole train was pulled by a big old box shaped diesel unit that had seen better days too.
We were slowly pulling out of Bristol when all of a sudden three lads stumbled into my compartment. I had this section of the train to myself up to this point so there was plenty of space for them to come and join me. These boys were clearly up for a good day out and were in high spirits. We exchanged a nod of acknowledgement as we were now sat opposite each other. Pretty soon they settled down and chatted amongst themselves about their music scene which in turn led to a heated debate. This argument centred on whether they were Rockabilly or Psychobilly, a fact to them that appeared to be of vital importance. I just stared out at the passing countryside, silently praying that I would not get asked to adjudicate over the stand off. “Please do not ask me of my opinion on this one, I don’t want to get involved” is what I began thinking to myself as we trundled onwards.
Suddenly without warning everything went pitch black and the shouting stopped. We had hit The Severn Tunnel and the whole carriage was plunged into darkness as none of the internal lights seemed to be working. The silent pause in our compartment did not last long as it was brought to an end with a yell of “Pile on!”
This was an invitation that I refused to accept but the other lads sprang into action. The rough and tumble continued for a long time as we travelled through the darkness. At one point, just as we came out of the tunnel, a large heavy object about the size and shape of a brick flew from the noisy ruck just missing me. As my eyes got used to the light I saw what had flown my way. It was a crape soled creeper shoe that belonged to one of the boys, who were all by now well out of breath and a a little bit worn out after their play fight.
The lad missing his shoe came and collected his beetle crusher off the floor and as he bent over to reach for the shoe one of his mates gave him a quick shove from behind. This push helped the lad out of our compartment into the corridor outside, where he landed in a heap. He checked himself from charging back into the compartment and starting another bundle when he saw a patrolling officer from the Transport Police come past on his rounds. The policeman stopped. Why was I feeling guilty as he looked us up and down? He gave us a quick once over and walked on. We soon got to Newport.
All of us from the train were herded up and escorted by the local police to and from the ground. The Transport police waited in the station for us. They got the good deal and did not have to watch the match!
The journey back was quieter as I was sat somewhere else on the train. The only excitement came when the train slowed to a crawl and was lead by a series of points back to the entrance to the Severn Tunnel. At this moment a car came into view that had parked up at the side of a road which ran parallel to the track. The car could be seen clearly, as the railway was slightly higher than the level of the road. A couple of lads were stood there waiting for us in ambush. They had come prepared and had a few rocks and choice bits of masonry lined up on the car roof. We were sitting ducks!
I do not think that any windows were put through but I do remember the sound of those rocks hitting the train carriages as we finally got to the safety of the tunnel. Nice boys them.
Happy Birthday Alan Border! The former Australian cricket captain, who is 58 today was quoted in the week as saying about the current team’s batting in the Ashes series so far :
“Our major concern right now is the performance of the top six. I could honestly say the nine, ten and jack [No 11 batsman] looked more competent than our one, two and three. If that was me in the top three, I’d be embarrassed.”
Chin up mate and enjoy your special day!
When I got my first job in a West London comprehensive there was only one other Chemistry teacher in the school – Roy Bollard. He was a well organised bloke who was a pioneer of the use of audio visual equipment. He moonlighted as the school’s sound and light technician and as a consequence was involved in drama and musical productions as well as some legendary discos. He was the bloke who also did so much to underpin the well-oiled machine that was “Charities Week”. He operated the lights and microphones for the shows, auctions and other events that took place in the hall.
Roy was dynamic enough to use an OHP in his lessons, which was cutting edge in those days. Pre prepared acetate slides were the equivalent of a modern day Power Point presentation. Roy had his own take on using the OHP. He had a huge roll of acetate mounted on his projector which became an organic scheme of work. He started writing in September on the top of the plastic scroll and worked downwards till the end of the academic year. So it became a huge time line that essentially grew into being the scheme of work. After a few years of doing the same thing he instinctively knew where a lesson was on the scroll and could wizz the whole roll of clear plastic to where it was written.
Now the cleverest thing that Roy did was adopt the simplest filing method I have ever seen. In those days you did not have e-mails, SIMS and all that jazz. You got memos on paper, in fact everything was paper based. Roy had one single pile that he put all his paper work on which sat right next to his OHP. It soon piled up, but made sense as he knew where everything was, he just had to sift through the pile to find it. The filing system had three rules:
- Anything you get given on paper you read and put on the top of the pile
- Anything you need later you find in the pile and deal with it but put the memo back on top (see rule 1). As a result the new and important stuff would be at the top and all the rubbish sank to the bottom
- When the pile reached the same level as the top of the OHP ie a about the height of a 30cm ruler, he would get a bin, lift up the top half of the pile and sweep the bottom half of the stack of paper from the desk and into the bin. Sorted!
I was thinking about how times have changed so looked back at this
I started my professional career in teaching on 8th July 1991 at a West London comprehensive school and I was thinking….
When I started teaching:
- Kids stood up in the Hall when the Head walked in to start an assembly.
- The Headteacher in my first school always taught a GCSE class, turned up to department meetings, wrote reports etc. Just to keep his toe in the water.
- Some staff would go down the pub at lunch every day, without fail. The Clay Pigeon used to take a copy of the TES on a Friday from the news agent as so many staff went there at lunchtime on that day
- Every parents evening you were served a hot meal before the appointments started or alternatively you could claim travel expenses for a return journey to and from home.
- Wine was always served at all INSET day lunches.
- Reports were…
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This tale concerns a girl I shall call Kelly. I first taught Kelly in 8BR – a form that was a truly homogeneous mix of abilities and needs. Full of characters (and Kelly was one of them) this class was a true product of comprehensive education. The form group went into ability groups for their GCSE courses, and due to the fact that I always had a couple of GCSE “foundation” classes every year it worked out that I still had the pleasure of Kelly’s company for the last two years of her science studies.
Now Kelly and I had a love hate relationship, which improved over the years. I was starting out in the profession and wanted to make my mark, she could not really cope with life I suppose. Looking back now I understand why she did what she did. Kelly’s home life was a car wreck and consequently she did not enjoy living within the rules of the school at times. This did not always sit well with her science teacher, who was trying to assert authority, and often failing in the attempt.
I think she was the first student to walk out of one of my lessons and we did have some ding dongs at times. This is way before the time when students were issued with “time out” cards as they had “issues”. I like to think she learnt some science through the years and she did get a score of some merit in her GCSE. Whilst following the parallel path that our science careers took for a while, we both got to know the limits as to how far we could go in terms of pushing each other’s buttons. I would know when she had “a cob on”, so would ease off, but could chivy her along in most lessons when she was happier. As a result she made what I suppose is called “progression” these days.
Also it was encouraging to know that although she could be a real pain in the neck at times, Kelly had enough respect not to destroy my lessons. Kelly did however wreak havoc in other classes on a regular basis and she was often the topic of conversation in the staff room. She basically had no fear and a lot of anger inside her, so when in the mood for a bit of aggravation she would pick on any teacher and just cause carnage.
Now you need good personal skills in the teaching game and some people find it rather difficult to realise that if you fail to listen to your students and do not manage to get in tune with them, you often are making a rod for your own back. This rang true during one of Kelly’s science lessons that happened to be visited by a Borough Advisor. Advisors were the closest people then to the current day OFSTED inspectors
The advisor meant well, but lacked the finesse and awareness required to deal with the likes of Kelly. As the lesson progressed he wandered around the lab, armed with a clipboard, asking the students questions about their work. Now despite getting mainly monosyllabic answers to most of his questions, the advisor continued mingling and probing as the group plodded on with the practical I had set. Students always did try and give their best whenever there was an inspector/formal observer present in my lessons. I was lucky in the fact that they wanted to show what they could do, which was great for me – but being observed can still be a stressful process for both teacher and students being put under the spotlight.
You could sense that Kelly was having a bad day and suddenly after being asked another question about her work by the advisor, she put her pen on the desk, pushed her stool back, and got up and stepped past the man still clutching his clipboard, not giving him an answer. The tension in her face was clear to see.
People were still packing up the practical, so it did not look out of place to see Kelly walking in the classroom. Heck she did it when she was not even meant to in other lessons! It only took a moment for Kelly to come over to my desk and look me straight in the eye with a dead pan face and say, “Can you tell that bloke to stop bugging me, ‘cos if he asks me one more question I will f**king punch him, swear down….”
She was good like that sometimes.
You can check it all here:
This web site is a great mine of information on what MPs are up to and if they really are “working for you”. “The Beast of Bolsover” gives full value to his constituents. Meanwhile my MP, the Honourable Member for Amersham (where an Oyster Card still works), regularly claimed well over Dennis’ annual travel expense totals and voted in only 69.65% of debates in the House of Commons.
Amersham Off peak Travelcard to Zone 1 costs £12.10, whilst an off peak return from Chesterfield (5 miles from Bolsover) to London with a Zone 1 travel card costs £113.
Here he is at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time on top form.
A Legend from the Old School.
I wish Dennis was my MP.