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.
Warning – the punchline is not a typing error. Try reading out the dialog out loud in a Wurzel like stereotypical West Country accent, it might help.
Another home defeat for my football team and Dad and I are left to trudge back up the terracing to the exit from the stadium.
The ground is emptying pretty fast of fans, who had stayed to see the bitter end of another dismal performance by the team we called our own. The fans’ expectations are not high and pretty resigned in first place, but there are a lot of long faces to be seen amongst the people making their way home. Dad and I weave past the odd groups of supporters who were still stood around to boo the team off the pitch. We do not look back or say anything until we get to the top of the concrete terrace.
“Got to go for a quick leak” I tell my Dad as we passed the Gents. It is a 2 hour drive back home for me. Enough said.
The toilet is not as jammed as it can get before the match. This is particularly true when everyone piles in after a walk from the pub before the start of the match. It is quieter now. Nevertheless you can still hear the odd catcall from the enclosure below. Two old boys shuffle into spots either side of me at the metal trough that we all share.
It is a bit quirky in a way, but blokes as a rule do not look around when they use a public urinal. They just stare forward for some strange reason. This is why commercially minded pubs put advertising posters at eye level above their urinals. It is a crude form of subliminal messaging.
The two old boys are obeying the stare forward rule. Rather than look at each other they just look straight ahead and talk to the wall. Having me between them and in the way does not help, but they chat away as if I am not there.
“Well Bill, that was crap” says the bloke on my right whilst looking straight at the breeze blocks in front of his nose. He is a Bristolian you can tell by his local accent. Bill replies in an equally broad West Country drawl “Yeah, proper rubbish.” there is a pause whilst he thinks for a while, just stood there also gazing at a point ahead of him. He zips up and adds, “In fact I will go so far as to say, that is the worst side I have ever seen down here,”
Bills mate nods philosophically in agreement as he too turns to shuffle out.
They start to look at each other again as Bill finally concludes “and I can say that without any fear of contraception.” They both walk off into the night.
The one liners I come out with seem to have a theme – they are always blurted out when I am in the queue at the Co-op. My latest quip came as I was stood paying for a few bits at the fag, booze and lotto kiosk during a busy time in our local store.
It was about 6 pm and a train had just pulled in at the station around the corner. It had thrown out a lot of hot and bothered commuters, who added to the queue of punters wanting a mid-week lottery ticket, or to buy a packet of fags as well as to pay for a few groceries.
The man on the till serving me is a nice bloke. He is a bit of a jobs worth, but always outgoing and polite and has been working there for years. I punched in the PIN number to my bank card on the payment machine and as I did our man made a big announcement for the benefit of the customers queuing behind me.
“Sorry folks” he declared in a loud, confident voice. At this point he stepped back and pointed, so people could see that behind him next to the rows of vodka, gin and whiskies there was a big empty space in a whole section of the shelving,
”If you are here for cigarettes, we have none.”
He had a lot more interest in his announcement now and whist still gesturing he continued. People hushed up for a second or two.
“I am afraid to say there has been a break in last night and we have had all our cigarettes stolen…….”
“…….by a teetotaller”
I finished the sentence for him, loud enough for all to hear.
He did a double take at me as he stood there still pointing at a void next to bottles of booze. His hand dropped as soon as the penny did. I made a sharp exit.
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!
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.
I can sometimes come out with these one liners in public that can be toe curlingly embarrassing for those that are with me. For example on Christmas Eve at the Coop I was checking out my shopping and packing it in carrier bags when the girl on the till asks “What is this?” as she holds up a butternut squash.
“Vegetarian chicken” I reply giving my best attempt at totally dead pan face. I winked at the ATC cadet who was helping with the packing for charity as the girl swallowed the bait.
After 30 seconds of searching on her screen for the product code the teenage girl twigged and just gave me one of those looks over the rims of her glasses – pure distain. Good times!