Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Laid Back Learning

Just dropped M off for a day of teaching the little darlings at school. Hopefully, just like the governments advert for tachers at the moment, just when she needs something, it will appear miraculously on the active white board.

The school is baking at the moment in this heat. The only room with air-conditioning is the ICT suite. We were remembering back to our days when during the summer we would have lessons outside if it got too hot to be inside. At my infant/junior school we had a big playing field so each class could de-camp into a different part and not disturb the others. That was one of the advantages of book learning. We had the option to take a book outside, you can't be doing that with technology based learning.

Of course, the other reason you probably can't do it now is in case the children are exposed to the sun.

Oh dear. I'm off into "things were better in my day" mode again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


On Countryfile tonight they had an article about Swimhiking. Quite fancy this. I prefer the swimming bit to the hiking but unfortunately it all seems to be round the Lake District at the moment. I'll keep an eye our for the future.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

French Travels

A nice day yesterday in France, or 5 hours at least. Although I prefer the south of the country near Beziers even Pas-de-Calais has it's delights. And despite the chance of getting the Brits across for second homes the house prices are still good.
For instance, the photo shows a 5 bedroom property for sale at less than the cost of our two bedroom flat in Isleworth. You can get another 4 bedroom in the loft if you want to convert it. And there's 80mtrs of river frontage if you fancy the idea. £200k goes a long way just the other side of the channel. And taxes for the year are under £1,000 per annum, £400 less than our council tax.

Oh, and I was good, I had the baguette but not the vin rouge.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's a Shutterlanche!

I am making a very quick visit to France tomorrow. I'll be in the country for about three and a half hours then back again. There is a place near Calais that has an admirble array of window shutters. More than a young man can even dream of, and therefore I'm off for a look. I dare say there'll be time for a baguette and a vin rouge though.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Banking on a Winner

Following yet another disagreement between myself and Lloyds TSB I have moved the company accounts over to Barclays. And I am greatly impressed with everything that Barclays are doing! They are damned efficient, respond to queries, have polite and helpful call centre staff, and their on-line banking system security is great. My business manager has probably done more to help me in the last 3 weeks than the other lot managed in 9 years.

For me to think any bank is good takes a great deal of effort on their part. I hope they can keep it up.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Another CD for the Vault

There are CDs you know you shoulf have because they were given critical acclaim but you never get round to buying them because there's something more urgent to buy when payday comes round. However, thanks to Sainsburys knocking it out for £6 in their sale I now have Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Not being a fan of Led Zeppelin I don't have a working knowledge of Plant but Krauss I do know if only in passing listen to country.

Only listened through once but I suspect I'll be transferring a number of tracks on to my personal favourite track list.

I'll not do a full review because music is so personal a thing that one mans Meatloaf is another mans Poison Ivy but I should think that most people with a wide listening knowledge will like it.


Yes, I have spelt that right.

I went to see an "am dram" production of Terry Pratchets Maskerade this weekend that had some friends in it. They were brilliant and so was the production. If ever you see it on in your area get a ticket. You'll have a thoroughly enjoyable night out.

Capital Sums

I heard on the news a few weeks back that the population of London was now only 52% British according to the Office of National Statistics. For their purposes British would include all residents with British Nationality despite colour and place of birth. Thought I'd just mention that in case anyone thought they were extrapolating figures of just "white born here" residents.

This lead me to wonder, if you took out the Scots and Welsh from those figures as, although they have London as their capital for British purposes, they don't for National purposes, does that drop the London population to less than 50% English? And if so, is London the only capital in the world with less than 50% residency of it's own nationals? I've been wondering but don't know where to check it.

The Elephant in the Room

The BNP have made further inroads into the UK political scene. I think there are a number of reasons.

Firstly, everyone seems to be running round blaming MPs expenses as a strong reason why people have placed their cross against the BNP candidate, but I think they are wrong. I don't believe the BNP would be the party of choice per se for that protest vote.

One thing that the BNP have managed to do recently is to market themselves better than previously and it shows in the fact that their literature tends to give them a better face. They could do even better if they didn't occasionally have a spokesman go into rant mode. This is a lesson that their opposition should learn. If the BNP can show themselves to be more acceptable, their detractors need to put up a better attack than "Don't vote for them, they are evil and rascist!". That is a statement, not an argument. The problem is that this will just incite some to vote for the BNP out of sheer cussedness as they won't be told what to do.

This morning a Tory MP was saying that the public do have concerns about immigration and they need to be proplerly addressed. That is correct but who is going to tackle it. To even discuss that there might be a problem with immigration is to invite a charge of rascism against you.

For the past five and a half months I have been sorting my ex-girlfriends benefits out, the last 8 weeks concentrating mainly on trying to get her housing benefit sorted. As always in these situations you chat to people in the queues. I met a guy last week, probably in his 70s, white, dressed in blazer and tie. He told me he had been trying to get some housing benfit but it was hard going, not just in the form filling etcetera but because he really didn't want to be doing this. He had been paying his way for all his adult life and to ask for a handout was shame for him. A couple of places ahead of us a newly arrived resident to the area was with an interpreter as they spoke no English. They asked for a housing benefit form, and then when they were given it asked for two more as their cousins needed it as well. Now, how should that old guy deal with the situation? Be told to toughen up as he is entitled to his benefits and it's his own fault if he doesn't claim them? Be proud to live in a country that invites people in and lets them receive benefits virtually from day 1 despite never contributing to the country or even speaking the language? I have no idea what way he votes obviously, but I can see how the BNP might just appeal to people in his position.

For myself, I doubt I could ever vote for the BNP but then the only party I've ever said I would never vote for was the Labout Party. This is why the BNP have a chance to make huge inroads into the voting publics psyche with the correct marketing. Don't expect them to go away soon, they are the elephant in the room.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Holding up a mirror.

Congratulations to the psychiatrist who was on the BBC 10 o'clock news tonight.

Talking about Susan Boyle he talked about her and then explained why talent/reality programmes deliberately choose weird, dysfunctional, ugly, eccentric people - "because unfortunatley (turns to camera and points at it), those are the people you want to watch!"

If only they'd have let him finish with "perhaps it's not Susan Boyle who needs help, perhaps it's the audience that 120 years ago would have flocked to see a Victorian Freak Show"

I dare say he's in for some flak from some members of the public.

Fings Ain't Wot They Used To Be.

I spent a pleasant couple of hours this afternoon down Nostalgia Street with my good friend A.J. And, as he reminded me, we are but a short time away from having known each other 50 years, man and boy. And in fact incredibly young boys. And Hello dear boy should you finally find your way to this online tome.

We partook of a small libation at a hostelry in Ealing and gazed out upon the rolling plain of Ealing Green and our old school beyond. Not that it is a school now. In fact very little is the same here since we left 35 years ago. A wander up the high street from what was the Queen Vic reveals just 1 shop that is the same as it was then, and even then I'm not sure it was there. Crispins Wine Bar was definitely around but might have been up near The Mall. No more Martins the Newsagent where we would rush to get to our Rhubarb and Custards and our Kola Kubes, sherbert pips and Jubblys on a summers afternoon. No more Beggars Banquet record store which excelled itself a few years later by playing Ivor Bigguns Winkers Song (Misprint), at full volume over the external loud speaker.

No, Ealing isn't what it used to be, but then 35 years on, neither are we.