Daybook Entry 15th August 2016


8598a-simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 15th August 2016

Outside my window… the sun is setting, throwing up a beautiful peachy glow over things in the garden

I am thinking… about doing a long-distance walk next summer, inspired by the beautiful countryside in North Wales where I have just been on holiday. There is a route from Holywell that winds its way from chapel to holy site to standing stones to chapel westwards towards the Llyn peninsula and then on to Aberdaron on the tip which, it is said, has been used by pilgrims for centuries. The whole route is around 135 miles and if I do walk it, I would probably mix camping out in the wild with B&B’s and proper camping overnights. My fitness levels need to be improved – a LOT! – before I seriously consider it, but I think it would be something good to set my mind to doing for both physical and spiritual healing.

I am thankful… for the two weeks of family time I have just spent in Wales in our little caravan. Things have been tense and stressful for too long recently and I think we all needed the break away from the routine and grind of daily life. There was a time when I thought we wouldn’t be able to have a holiday this year, even a cheap one camping in a farmer’s field like we did do, so yes, I am extremely thankful that we were given the chance to do that.

Family time camping in Wales
Family time camping in Wales

I am praying for… strength, wisdom, insight and guidance for myself; healing for a battered and bruised friendship; a light at the end of this very dark and winding financial tunnel I am travelling down.

I am wearing… shorts and a t-shirt. It’s been a hot day today in Manchester.

I am creating… a story about two friends who promise each other they will get together with each other if neither of them has a partner by the time they are 30. It’s a plot that has been done before (many times!) but there will be a twist to mine which I don’t think has ever been written yet.

I am going… to have my hair cut tomorrow. I have done it myself for the past couple of years and as there is still some money in the kitty from our holidays I’m finally going to have it cut by someone who knows what they are doing and who can even up my dodgy layers at the back.

I am wondering… if this broken tooth will hold up til next Monday when I can get to the dentist to have it fixed.

I am reading…  “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. Kevin was given the box set of series one for his birthday and we watched it bit by bit in the evenings on holiday. I enjoyed it so much I have decided to read the book too. It’s a great story, one of my favourite genres, where Claire ends up slipping back through time from 1945 to 1743 and the eve of the Jacobite rising in Scotland. there are a lot of historical anachronisms, but they are forgivable because the storytelling is so good.

I am hoping… for a better night’s sleep tonight than I had last night. It was a good old-fashioned tramadol night last night, complete with twitching, restlessness, itching and hallucinations which have left me feeling a bit hungover today. Sleepy, not quite ‘with it’ and wondering if what I dreamed about someone being pregnant is just a flight of fancy or if my subconscious has picked something up and is playing it back to me under the guise of tramadol-induced ‘sleep’.

I am learning… to let go of things even though it hurts to do so.

In my garden… the hydrangea bush is a gorgeous colour this year. It has been pink or blue in the past but this year it is a beautiful lilac/purple colour. I think it can be explained by the change in soil pH after the removal of a tree next door a couple of years ago. I read somewhere once that the acidity or alkalinity of the soil where a hydrangea is situated has an effect on the colour of the blooms, and I think that’s what has happened here. I’d post a photo but it’s gone dark now. I’ll try and remember for next time.

In my kitchen… we had pasta which was brought back from Italy by Ethan a couple of weeks ago. He was on a band tour with Bury Music Centre and thought I might like to have some genuine Italian pasta, which was very thoughtful of him. It was multi-coloured and very nice. I did a chorizo, mushroom and tomato sauce to go with it – delish.

A favourite quote for today… “Young people might have lots of energy to run fast, but older people know how to read the map”

A peek into one of my days… 

Sunset at Nant Gwrtheyrn, Wales
Sunset at Nant Gwrtheyrn, Wales

This photo is one of my favourite from my holiday this year. A glorious sunset, the sounds of the waves below us on the beach and my son in silhouette setting up his camera to take some shots of his own.

One of my favourite things… the taste sensation that is sweet and salty popcorn mixed up together. Oh my word!

Post Script: My postscript today is a thank you and an apology to Mary. First of all, thank you for your lovely card which arrived the morning I left for my holiday, and an apology that I didn’t get to send you a postcard from Wales because I took your card with me but forgot to bring the envelope with your address on it! I have sent you a couple of cards in an envelope so you can see a bit more about where we were on holiday – expect it in a few days!

 

 

Daybook Entry – 13th July


8598a-simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 13th July

Outside my window… there is still a trace of blue in the sky and it has gone 11pm

I am thinking… about the juxtaposition of tragedy and celebration today

I am thankful… that I have a ministry in the church

I am praying for… Millie’s family, Alfie and his mum, the children of Pike Fold School who came to Messy Church today

I am wearing… my hair loose for a change

I am creating… a jacket for myself. I have cut out the pattern pieces and the fabric for the lining, but I haven’t plucked up the courage to cut out the fabric for the jacket itself yet. I’m letting my knees recover before I get down on the floor to do that!

I am going… to take my son shopping for clothes tomorrow for his band trip to Italy next week

I am wondering… when his passport will arrive

I am reading… I’m in between books at the moment having finished “House Rules” by Jodi Picoult yesterday afternoon, but I did read a short story by Neil Gaiman last night called “Odd and the Frost Giants” which was brilliant. I don’t usually read fantasy stories, but this one was a great read and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a satisfying read for half an hour or so

I am hoping… I don’t miss the delivery man tomorrow who is going to be bringing me my Dad’s birthday present in the post. I’m hoping my Dad likes it too

I am learning… that the human spirit is probably the toughest substance in the universe

In my garden… we have lavender, strawberries, thyme and parsley growing on the deck and the smell is divine

In my kitchen… we had a bit of a concoction for tea tonight – mushrooms, courgettes, yellow peppers, red onions in a tomato sauce with gnocchi. Not bad for a knocked-together quick meal

A favourite quote for today…

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

A peek into one of my days…

Dragon in the sky tonight
Dragon in the sky tonight

One of my favourite things… is seeing children singing and dancing in church

Post Script:

It has been a very trying time for me and my family recently and we have survived yet another storm in our lives. It has felt like life was giving us a bit of a kicking but we are on the up again now and looking forward to a couple of things this month now. First of all, Ethan is going away with the music centre for a few days’ concert tour in Italy next week then it will be our 25th wedding anniversary the week after. A few days after that we are planning on going camping although Emma won’t be with us this time and she is staying at home. She has been working away at a High Adventure camp for the past six weeks and between you and me, I think she’s a bit fed up of tents and sleeping bags at the minute! Our change in outlook is because of a couple of things that have come together at the same time and it has made things altogether feel better, even if they haven’t actually solved the problem. With prayer and faith, and the grace of God extended to us through our friends, life is feeling a lot happier and we have some things to look forward to now.

 

 

Crossing That Finishing Line


I am really REALLY pleased to be able to share with you some good news, and that is that I have got confirmation that I have been awarded my degree today. I want to say I’m proud but to be honest I am more relieved than proud at the moment!

I am now permitted to use the title ‘Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Humanities with Creative Writing, classification 2.1’ – or BA (Hons) Hums (Open) for short.

mortar board and scroll

So how about that then?! Yes, me. With a degree!

When I began this whole shebang I never thought I would see the end of it, and it was a bit of a walk of faith really when I began it. Let me tell you a bit of my story.

When I went to sixth form at the age of 16, for some reason, I didn’t go to the same one that my friends chose, and it didn’t do me any favours at all. I failed my exams at the end of the first year and instead of growing up and knuckling down to study, I opted to leave college and went to work instead. I was seeing Kevin (who is now my husband) and there were a couple of other reasons that made it just not worth the effort of going to college, and a training course at the ICI seemed a better option. Well it would to a clueless 17 year old with her head in the clouds, wouldn’t it?!

At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing but over the next few years I felt I was missing out on something. My friends had finished college and were on their way through university but I was married and had a toddler to care for. It took a few years but I got round to thinking that maybe I’d made a mistake in leaving college at the age of 17.

open universityI came across an advert for the Open University and I thought it offered a chance for me to do something about my lack of education. I had done a BTEC in Business and Finance at day release with the ICI but that was work, not education. I toyed with the idea of doing an English A Level or something, but when the advert for the OU kept cropping up I thought – why not? It offered distance learning which could be done in my spare time whilst still working full time, being a mother and a bandsman and all the stuff I was doing with the Brigade and church. Easy. (Ha!).

At the time, the modules were about £1500 each and so it was with MUCH trepidation that I stepped out. I was paying for it on finance terms and I threw myself in to it. To be honest, I thought at the time that I would do the first one and see how that was before making a decision. I did a foundation course (level 1) in Arts and Humanities which covered the basics of history etc as well as teaching me the basics of how to do studying with a distance learning course. I really enjoyed it and was thrilled to sit an exam in a REAL university building at the end of it. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of learning and I thoroughly enjoyed the art history part and learned that there is so much more to learn than I ever thought was possible.

I then opted to do a literature module, but about half way in I got into difficulty (too much else going on) and I dropped out. I tried it again the next year and successfully completed it. I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations on that course, and I promised myself I would work my way through the Dickens canon after it. (Note to self: you can do that now!)

I tried a Philosophy module next but got into difficulties again about half way through. The subject matter was thoroughly absorbing and I was really enjoying it, but as before, life got in the way and I had to drop out. To be honest, life got in the way for the next 15 years or so during which time the module fees crept up and up and my time got squeezed more and more.

Until about 2010 when my life suddenly stopped in its tracks. I found myself out of work, ill, and with lots of time on my hands. I had always imagined going back to the Open University but it was one of those “yeah, one day” fantasies like the ones I have about visiting Iceland or Canada. In other words, not in my lifetime.

But then I did a bit of digging around and I realised that Student Finance England were now offering student loans to cover the costs of studying with the Open University. Ooooh. Possibilities opened up! I spoke to the very nice people at the student helpdesk with the OU and I realised that I just about had enough time to complete my degree if I doubled up on a couple of modules and did 5 modules in 4 years. (There are rules about time limits on starting modules for your OU degree and finishing them) I thought it sounded do-able, but I didn’t want to throw myself straight in to studying two level 2 modules after a break of so long. Plus, my health was not good and I was on big doses of painkillers and other drugs to try and keep me functioning. So I opted to do a “gentle” module and chose to study the history of medicine from the middle ages to the turn of the 20th century.

Only, it wasn’t gentle and it had an exam at the end of it. Eek! I was thoroughly prepared to do it (having done weeks and weeks worth of revision beforehand) but I was so nervous on the day that I could barely hold my pen to begin with. In fact, my nerves were so bad I couldn’t even work out where to write my name on the front of the answer booklet.

I passed it though, and my marks were higher than the literature course I’d done earlier. So, heartened slightly by that, I decided to double up the next year.

I studied creative writing and a music module at level 2 the year after the history of medicine one, and very nearly threw in the towel so many times doing two modules at the same time. I wasn’t working as such, but let me tell you, being dependent on codeine and tramadol and a whole host of other drugs to keep my pain at manageable levels meant that it was tough going. Really tough!

So, I was nearly there. After all this time and looking at the end of my degree 18 years ago or so, I was in a position where it was almost touchable. All I had to do was to do two level 3 modules to finish my honours degree. But things were starting to develop at church, and I felt called to serve in a bigger way than I was doing at the time and I was in a dilemma. Do I study a single level 3 module for the next two years and risk delaying my next steps in the church, or do I double up and free myself up the year after to be able to follow my church pathway?

I did the hardest one, and did two level 3 modules at the same time to finish my degree on advanced creative writing and a module on children’s literature. And boy was it tough!

Not only the level of study was more intense and difficult, but it was harder for me to keep going. I was so near yet so far and time and time again I felt like jacking it all in and saying forget it. But I have been blessed to have a lot of people on my side cheering me on and keeping me going. If I start to name people then I couldn’t possibly name everyone, but I do have to say a big thank you to Kevin, Emma and Ethan who are the people closest to me and who have suffered every assignment with me.

And so we’re here, nearly 20 years after I started, and I have just clicked the button to accept my degree. I truly never thought this day would come and I feel just a bit emotional.

I’ve learned so much about so much and my mind and my eyes have been opened wide. I have met some lovely people and I have spent some valuable time with people who have shared my journey at various times. I couldn’t have done it without them.

The question now is what next? Well, I don’t know is the honest answer. I have some ideas, but as with anything in life there are no certainties and no doubt my future will unfold one day at a time in its own sweet way. I did so much writing over the last two years that I want to go back and revisit some of those pieces and I have a couple of ideas that I want to turn into writing projects.

Whatever happens, it will be with a buoyant BA after my name. Yay!

 


daybook buttonFor Today… 3rd July

Outside my window… first day today for about three weeks with no rain!

I am thinking… how spirited the Iceland football team are. They certainly have heart

I am thankful… that I have such caring friends and family. We have had a tough time as a family recently with financial difficulties and I am extremely grateful for two people (my Dad and an unknown benefactor) who have given us money this week to be able to get through it.

I am praying for… our mystery benefactor; my Dad who has fallen off his bike this weekend and who is a bit battered and bruised today

I am wearing… dark blue shorts and a white t-shirt

I am creating… a screenplay to submit for consideration to the BBC

I am going… to chase up my son’s passport application tomorrow. He needs it back before 20th July and the ETA is 6 weeks… got to apply the pressure tomorrow or else he won’t be going to Italy with the music centre

I am wondering… how amenable the passport office is going to be in the morning

I am reading… I am in between books just now having just finished R D Wingfield’s “Night Frost”. Need to find a new book before I go to bed.

I am hoping… that my Dad hasn’t broken his wrist after his fall yesterday. He is going to the fracture clinic tomorrow to see the extent of his injury. He has got it in a cast for now but hopefully tomorrow will reveal no fracture

I am learning… that it is painful to admit when friendships and relationships come to an end

In my garden… a photo from last week:

dsc_0144.jpg

In my kitchen… I made a vanilla and chocolate traybake cake on Friday to take to band practice for my birthday. It was one of my more ‘average’ attempts

A favourite quote for today…

A peek into one of my days… dsc_0162.jpg

This is my Dad just before his ride yesterday. He is training for a sponsored bike ride from Manchester to Blackpool next Sunday, and he is raising money for The Christie Hospital which is a cancer specialist hospital in Manchester. He has raised money for them before and he was/is looking forward to riding again next week to raise some more. If his injuries from yesterday are such that he can’t ride next weekend then he will honour his sponsors and will ride in a couple of months when he has healed. If you would like to sponsor him, his JustGiving page is at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Derek-Swain

One of my favourite things… is having both of my children here for a meal together

Post Script: Money, or lack of it, causes a lot of stress. Lack of money but owing it to others causes even more stress. Owing it to others and not having enough to cover basic costs before you even begin to think about paying debts is one of the biggest stresses I can think of, and it has the potential to cause so much harm. I alluded to it above, but these last couple of weeks have been the most stressful I can remember for a long time because of debts and money issues and I cannot say enough times how grateful I am to the two people who have helped this week. It has meant that we can take the pressure off for a little while and we can take time off from thinking about how to get out of our mess.

It’s a funny thing really. As you may know, I am a Christian and my faith in God teaches me that all will be well, God has got this, and if we trust him he will catch us as we fall. And I do believe that, I honestly do, but it takes a certain depth of faith to believe that when it feels like things are in freefall. Knowing God’s hand is there to catch us as we fall means the world to me and I am certain that as a family we would have broken up before now and personally I would have had a nervous breakdown or something if it hadn’t have been for my faith in God. Yes, debt is stressful, and yes, not having enough money to cover debts and basic living costs is stressful, but having God’s grace extended to us and shown to us through the actions of friends has literally kept mind and soul together through this.

We are a long way of solving our financial crisis yet, but by the grace of God we will get there as a family and we are all the stronger for it.

 

 

 

Peaceful Hodgpodge


 

It’s another week on the Hodgepodge and thanks to Joyce for these great questions again this week.  If you want to have a go too, please click the graphic below and follow the instructions. Dive in!

 

1. If you could sit beside and/or jump in any lake in the whole wide world today, which lake would you choose and why?

I would love to be beside Wast Water in the Lake District. It is one of the most beautiful and spiritual places I have visited – not that I’ve travelled much – but this place is breathtaking.

Wast Water, Cumbria

2. What’s your favourite ‘fruity’ drink?

Vimto. Not too strong and made up with fresh cold water it is my favourite pick-me-up at the minute.

3. I read a list here of thirteen things to do right now to simplify your life. They were-

clean as you go, re-evaluate your relationships (cut toxic ties), unsubscribe (too many blogs and websites), de-clutter, write down your daily goals, reply to emails right away, forget multitasking, create a morning routine, re-evaluate your commitments (which hobbies and responsibilities are most important to you), say no, clean up your computer, and plan your day ahead

Which of the tasks listed do you currently find most helpful in keeping life simple? Which item on the list should you adopt in order to simplify your life this month?

There are quite a few of this list that I could do right now to simplify my life! In no particular order – re-evaluate my relationships, clean as I go, reply to emails straight away, learn to say ‘no’ and stick to it, change my morning routine and having had a commitment re-evaluation forced upon me by ill health I don’t really want to do that again voluntarily but there’s no harm in being careful and having a long hard look at the things I fill my time with.

4. What did you do the summer after you graduated from high school?

As a Brit, we don’t do high school the same as you do in the US and our equivalent is Sixth Form, or College, which is the stage before university study. I did a year at college but failed my exams miserably and left to get a clerical job with ICI at the age of 17. I’ve tried hard all my life to make sure my kids don’t repeat my mistake.

5. Are you a fan of podcasts? If so what’s a favourite?

No, not really. I prefer to read content than listen to it and struggle to even listen to audio books so podcasts are definitely not for me thank you.

6. Do you think today’s fathers have it harder, easier, or just different than fathers in the past?

I think they have some things easier (communication and openness about emotions and relationships for example) but they have other things harder (working to provide for a family’s needs is beyond even the most basic wage and so fathers are stretched to earn enough). I think expectations of fatherhood have changed over the years from both children and fathers themselves and some of it is for the better and some of it is not. The responsibilities of fatherhood are the same as ever, but being able to fulfil them are very different I think.

7. Tell us one way you’re like your father? Or not at all like your father if that’s easier?

Physically I have my Dad’s moles and freckles – even down to the mole on our right cheeks that are in exactly the same spot – and whereas my brothers and my mum have hazel coloured eyes, my dad and I have got dark brown eyes. In other ways were are very alike in that we have the same sense of humour (daft and crackpot!), we both love reading and have a large cross-over of interest in the stuff we read, we are both ambidextrous (Dad more than me, but operating tools and paintbrushes we are both the same) and we both love learning – history mainly. Apart from that, we’re not very alike at all haha!

 

 

pam and dad iow
Me and my Dad on the Isle of Wight about 1984/5
My Dad last Christmas playing the "who am I" game
My Dad last Christmas playing the “who am I” game, appropriate character – would you believe he’s 68?

 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Why does the world have to be so violent? And not just cruel and hurtful on a small scale, between individuals, but wholescale hatred and barbarity resulting in mass death and injury. I don’t get it. Obviously I’m referring to the shooting in Orlando, but also at the Euro 2016 football tournament in France. Why can’t folk just get along with each other without resorting to rioting, or shooting, or letting off flares at one another? Why can’t people live and let live? So what if you don’t approve of someone’s lifestyle, or sexual orientation, or football team they support, or religion they follow, or even what country they were born in. Get over it and let them be. It saddens me that in our so-called ‘advanced’ society, people can still be killed for something that is none of anybody else’s business and where they are doing no harm to anyone.

But it’s not just human to human is it? It saddens me to know there are people who hunt ‘game’ in Africa for fun – elephants, tigers, lions, giraffes and so on – just because they can. Not to gain food, not in self-defence, not to put it out of its misery if it is ill or injured, but simply because they see it as sport, for fun.

Needless and wanton violence for the sake of it and it really upsets me. We pray for peace all the time, and you might agree with me that we are the agents of our own prayers being answered. If that’s true then it is up to us to start doing what we can to bring peace to our world.

Daybook Entry 13th June


8598a-simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… Monday, 13th June

Outside my window… The sky is clearing slightly after a full day of drizzle, rain, rizzle, and showers

I am thinking… About how acts of hatred and violence seem to be everywhere we look at the minute. If it’s not guns and shootings in the USA, it’s football riots in France. If it’s not an argument about politics in Europe, it’s a hate-fuelled torrent of political abuse from people vying to be the next President of the United States. It’s everywhere and I’m sure that the world cannot be so filled with hate as it seems to be.

I am thankful… for the privilege of working with so many children at church in so many different ways. For example, I have been involved in three very moving baptisms in the last couple of weeks, each with their own different pastoral cares and this morning at Stay and Play was a joy for me.

I am praying for… E&S and their wedding later this week; my son who is facing some health challenges; my daughter who is spending the next 2 months in a forest teaching young people how to do all sorts of outdoor activities.

I am wearing… my comfy Everlast ankle socks. You know when you have a pair of socks that are the right amount of tight round the top, with a nice band that goes round the arch of your foot and snuggles it just so, and are thick enough to be warm but not too thick to be sweaty, and are pristine white? Well, a pair of those.

I am creating… a portrait of my son, and a painting of a sunflower. I’m into oil painting at the minute – a complete break away from words for a change.

I am going… to try to paint a landscape in the next few days.

I am wondering… when the summer is going to return again.

I am reading… “Time of Death” by Mark Billingham.

I am hoping… I can solve the problem of how to paint eyes in portraits or else I won’t be able to show you my son’s painting!

I am learning… that oil painting is not as easy as I thought.

In my garden… my bike is waiting patiently for me to oil its chain and to dust off the pedals again.

In my kitchen… we had lamb biryani for tea. All home made and twas rather delish.

A favourite quote for today… “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you sow” Robert Louis Stevenson.

A peek into one of my days… my Prince Charming this morning, pulling funny faces at the camera

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One of my favourite things… is watching the rain watering my lovely green garden.

From the board room… I am sooooo making this for Emma!

 

Post Script:

We are deep into the GCSE exam season again, with only a few more weeks left before another set of 16 year olds are left bereft and betwixt the worlds of school and sixth form or college. Having worked in secondary schools for the past 14 years, first in pastoral role and now as an exam invigilator I have witnessed this stage of children’s education many times over. I don’t know whether I despair OF these children, or despair FOR them as they reach this stage. Most of them are well-adjusted individuals who realise the enormity of exams, and the consequences of having good, bad or indifferent results but there are some who are entirely clueless and it’s those young people who I feel deepest for.

Take the boy on Friday, who whilst waiting for the exam officer to arrive with the papers, said to me “Will I get in trouble if I put my head on the desk and go asleep?”. I said to him that he wouldn’t be in trouble from me, but did he really want to scupper his chances of passing the exam by not even attempting it? His response is typical of a worrying trend that I’ve seen before, and he said “Well, even if I score 90 on this I’ll only get a C so I’m not going to bother”. And he didn’t. The exam started, he answered the first part of the first question and then promptly closed his paper and put his head on the desk for the duration of the exam.

Why would you do that? Why does he think his only worth is in terms of what grade his exam shows? Why does he not care that even a grade D is worth something? And if he wasn’t satisfied with what he had attained already, why did he not work harder for the last couple of months to try and pull himself up? It’s not as if young people today don’t know where they are in terms of attainment and grading etc because they are tested and told often enough.

But here’s the thing that worries me and makes me despair FOR them: so, even if that lad had pulled his guts out and attained a C for that subject, what difference will it make to his earning capacity in the years to come? Even ‘good’ grades don’t necessarily convert into ‘good’ jobs. No job is secure any more, and all that lad could hope to get would be a zero hours contract in a warehouse of retail outlet somewhere for the next couple of years. I don’t blame him for wanting a nap on a Friday afternoon instead of sitting an exam when the sad truth is that it probably won’t affect his life chances and options later on very much at all.

The even worse thing is that he’s not alone is he? There are thousands of children churned out of the school system each year with little to look forward to and little prospect of getting ahead or lifting themselves up from the position they are in unless they are extremely lucky or extremely brave. A subject for another blog post maybe, but it seems that schools are little more than exam factories whose job it is to churn out compliant drones who fall into the category of “A* – C” or not, as the case may be. Art, creativity, spontaneity, individuality and so on are all squashed and discouraged, sacrificed for grade boundaries and “performance indicators” for both staff and students, upon which funding is based for subsequent years.

In some ways I wanted to shake that boy for scuppering any chance he had to further himself on Friday, but in other ways I applaud his individual stance and his refusal to play the game of being turned into another drone. Only time will tell whether that was the right course of action for him to take.

 

Painting


Who says my son is no oil painting??!

I have had the urge to put colour to page a bit recently, but plunged into oils on canvas this evening. An unexpected night off band and with a couple of hours spare I thought, why not?

And here he is.

image

Will work on the details a bit tomorrow and then we’ll see how he looks then. Not bad for a work in progress and for someone with no skill in art whatsoever!

I’m working from a photo because it was hard enough for him to sit still for that let alone for a painting, and it is sepia toned so I can improvise on the tones. Not brave enough to go all out “interpretation” yet, but let’s see what develops over the summer.