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Mahatma Gandhi once said:

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who's failing who?

Polly,

After several hours of introspection and self analysis (what else can you do in a darkened room), I have emerged from the reckless indulgences of last night to find myself displeased with my slipping morals. You are right...the frivolous courting of favour with well known names was diverting me from our mission. Anyway, The Guardian is bound to moderate me out soon for harassment. I humbly acknowledge that I was seduced by my fleeting notoriety and as a result my moral compass needs some fine tuning.

As if to rub salt in the wound and totally sober me up, I came upon this article on the tragic costs of the credit crunch on the bankers themselves. I feel I have been unkind with my recent jibes attributing blame to the city financiers who are tumbling into disrepute. Don't get me wrong, there are real accountabilities to be owned up to, but this blame culture needs to be managed with a certain regard. I sit very uncomfortably when tragic individual stories unfold from behind the banking meltdown. It's easy to slip into the catharsis of tarring all bankers as irresponsible but perhaps we are not entirely honourable in casting our whitewashed judgements with such candour. This economic crisis is fact and solutions must be found, but lets put a halt to the bloodlust.

You called for more seriousness....well this whole notion of suicide got me thinking. What is the truth behind suicide rates in Britain..are high achievers...in this case bankers...more at risk? Here are some interesting, if slightly perturbing facts:

There is one suicide every 84 minutes in the UK and Ireland.
Approximately 6 300 people take their lives each year. (This is double the number of deaths from road accidents and twelve times the numbers of murders.)

Depressing though this is, it is important to hang in here with me Polly, because this is a much larger problem that extends beyond bankers and there is a reluctance to tackle this head on.

Men account for 75% of suicides in the UK and men in unskilled employment are twice as likely to kill themselves as other men in the general population.

The disappearance of traditional manufacturing jobs has a part to play and the risk of suicide in unemployed men is three times higher than in the general population.

The rates amongst vets and farmers are higher than the general population.

Marriage is a protective factor.

The figures suggest that men are reluctant to talk about problems, go to their GP or seek psychological support.

This notion of a link between high achievement and suicide presents an angle that demands a definition of success. Certainly high achievers are prone to depression which is indeed a contributary factor. Neverthless suicide has strong links with poverty, family break up, academic pressure, substance misuse, mental illness and physical and sexual abuse.

Each individual has his own definition of success and when a respected banker 'fails' by losing his credibility is it self-judgment or the commonly held view? He had much to live for but felt he had no other choice. Is a city banker so different to the Indian farmer whose crops fail him and he ends up in debt? The tragic family circumstances have many emotional parallels. Both fathers who felt there was no other option. Why do we find it easier to sympathize with the Indian farmer? When we vent our spleen on the city high flyers who were instrumental in the economic crash perhaps we should ask ourselves just who is failing who?

Is that serious enough Polly?

Ivor X

PS Need to chill out in the woods this weekend. Will be back reinvigorated on Monday.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Apocalypse Now

What a laugh Polly,

After last night, a cure for 'Life after the Apocalypse' seems rather appropriate. Drink lots of water I say. Durbin sounds my sort of chap...well equipped, with all sorts of tools sticking out of his rucksack! OK...OK! I know I promised to be more serious. Just waiting for the brainfreeze to subside.
Slightly ragged round the edges,

Ivor X
PS Does He?
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Point Taken

Suitably admonished.
How about some Shining Wit followed by a Cunning Stunt? Is Graham coming?
Very Seriously Yours
Ivor X
PS Are we on for a Fuzzy Duck rematch....I've been practising!
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Life's too serious?

Dear Ivor

It’s time to stop celebrating and messing around with phone boxes and start getting your mind back to campaigning! Aunty Gladys rang me this morning to tell me that you had spent all night in the shed with Max Boyce. At least this time you had the sense to wear your ear phones.

The successful appointment of Graham and ongoing email correspondence with Emma Thompson and George Monbiot has frankly gone to your head and I am as surprised as anyone by your ascending Google rankings!!

Still as they say any publicity………... Talking of which, I decided to do a little research on what’s on the top of the web browsing public's list of news items today:

The independent's most viewed, how the Haka courted controversy and the top ten range cookers (handy!).
The Times most popular includes, the major sewage problem in Dubai and the 50 worst things about modern football.
The Guardian’s top articles, Barack Obama's letter to Iran and life after the apocalypse survival guide (right up your street!)
The Sun’s most read, Army’s game of topless scrabble and David Beckham’s recent performance on the pitch for AC Milan.
The Mail top stories are John Cleese dumping his girlfriend and the issue of forced adoption.

So nothing about the third runway vote in parliament, the fact that Russia is suspending the deployment of short range missiles , climate change or Gaza.

Thank goodness we are still not taking things too seriously!

Poll x

PS See you at 8pm.

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What Slowdown?

Polly,

Perhaps the directors of state-backed Lloyds don't read The Sun? Sorry...we seem to be stumbling into elitism again...oops! I understand it's easy to miss an oncoming economic crisis and the scale of that slowdown just sneaked up and surprised the unsuspecting city. Perhaps we should be cooperative rather than critical of Mr Brown. How about some big pictures and large print. Yes...it's official Gordon...Britain is now in recession. Luckily he is going to do all he can to help us survive....except tackle global warming? Sorry Polly, the plug for climate change just rolled off the keyboard. But I did feel so moved by your Guardian article I slipped in a few on-line comments in the spirit of blogpower. I was about to say that Lord Myners gets my vote but I need to check out his peer credentials first. Greed, avarice...but are they really happy Polly? Personally I'd rather be a beautician in Middlesborough.
Sorry for the abrupt ending. Elvis has arrived with an old recycled telephone box for the garden and Aunty Gladys has just finished embellishing the 'S'. Any news from our Graham? George Monbiot dropped us a very sporting email.....lovely chap.

See you tonight at the 'The Cat and Fiddle'....bl***y bankers.

Ivor X

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bus Crash

Dear Ivor

You may have noticed that I have been a little preoccupied with elitism recently, as you have been with Graham, and the weight of inequality is lying heavy on my shoulders, either that or I’ve forgotten to remove the lavender neck warmer (trying to treat a slight dowager’s hump developed from excessive keyboard hunching!).

This morning I was determined to discover that meritocracy was alive and well and only a few keystrokes away, however my rather slight hopes were soon dashed once again, so here goes…....

Did you know that, the directors of the Lloyds Banking Group sounded out the shareholders about a proposed change in their pay packages, resulting in surprise, surprise an increase. The argument being that this was warranted as the bank was larger since the takeover of HBOS! Not unexpectedly the shareholders were a little reticent and the application was not passed.

To have the audacity to suggest even an increase in the biscuit kitty at the moment would take the…….., you get the point. These people are already raking in salaries that makes winning the lottery seem like petty cash, with bonus schemes of 200%+. So what if they have to work a little harder for their more than adequate pay packet! Hmm I need a cup of coffee!!

Back and a little calmer!

Whilst boiling the kettle was trying to get into the mind of a banker, more difficult than it sounds. People like this have made exorbitant sums of money that would even make a peer with a consultancy weep. But for them it is the going rate for the job they do and no doubt they think they’re worth it. These are the same arguments that justify footballers’ pay. But are such inflated salaries and bonus schemes really necessary to attract the right people into these jobs, or is it simply a self-perpetuating justification for excess?

It could be argued that they shoulder the risks and responsibilities of the business decisions, however is this really true, what other job receives such rewards for failure and I cannot muster any sympathy for the hedge fund manager Paul Marshall’s argument that:

"Blaming the hedge funds for the banking crisis is like blaming the passengers in a bus crash,

I would point out to him that it depends how the passengers were behaving at the time!

What is clear is that the bus has crashed firmly into innocent onlookers who have sustained injuries for which there is no compensation scheme or bailout proposal.

Poll x

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Not Just a Guy!

Polly,

I was out celebrating last night in honour of our new recruit. What can I say...our very own superhero.....Graham we love you! Aunty Gladys couldn't suppress her excitement. She has always had a deep seated fascination for men in tights...and I caught her drifting in chiffons on top of Tower Bridge last night babbling about men of steel. Well Aunty Gladys, it's official. No longer is Graham of Greenpeace just a guy. He is a principled, peace seeking man of action with a heart of gold. He can scale tall buildings, is cool with wearing pants and is our very own, newly inaugurated Head of Environment and Agriculture. Look up now...is it a bird, is it a plane....no it's our saviour of good behaviour Graham of Greenpeace:



OK Graham, come down now...there's work to be done. Put Lois down and focus on the job in hand. The world has always looked up to you (in so many ways). Now you need to protect our future lives. We will not be done 'til the war on climate change is won. First task...how to combat global warming in three easy steps...by Monday please. You may need to liase with Alvin and Evan due to the economic implications, but these are secondary concerns....we can always print some more money, tap up some old peers....or borrow some more.
Seriously though, a heartfelt welcome Graham. In the words of General Zod:

Join us. You have been known to disagree with the Council before. Yours could become an important voice in the new order, second only to my own! I offer you a chance for greatness. (Graham) Take it ! Join us!
Congratulations
Ivor x
PS What a guy!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Our Graham!

Dear Ivor

The poll is now closed and it’s a landslide victory for Our Graham from Greenpeace. The best thing to come out of Romford since David Essex! We wish him a lora, lora luck in his appointment as our Head of Environment and Agriculture (wonder if he knows much about animal husbandry and crop rotation?) and our heartfelt commiserations to James and George.

I’m sure that you will no doubt want to add your own inimitable good wishes! Was thinking do you feel a government tandem might be in order for Graham, preferable to the scooter as he does seem to have quite a few mates, might even need a triple traveller?

Anyway can’t wait for his acceptance speech, did you find out if old “Favs” had time to jot down a few words?

Speak later and hope you didn’t have any more mix-ups on the soup run, don't worry mulligatawny is difficult to say at the best of times.

Poll xx

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A Law Unto Themselves

Dear Ivor

It’s true I must confess I have been naïve! After reading the copious articles on the “cash for influence” affair I have realised that elitism is a way of life. You’ve either got it or you haven’t!

Otherwise how can a system that facilitates people to detrimentally manipulate this country’s legislation be allowed to continue unchecked for so long, unless supported and concealed by fellow beneficiaries. Should we be looking at what schools and universities they went to?

These people are in a position of trust and they have betrayed that trust so therefore surely there should be some kind of penalty. But no it appears that a simple statement of remorse is sufficient, followed no doubt by a spot of lunch.

After what can only be described as the expenses farce on behalf of the government this has got to be the final straw.

We are not only being taken for a ride and but also being charged excessively for the journey! How can it be fair, that individuals running their own small businesses have to provide receipts for all their outgoings to HMRC and yet this isn’t reciprocated by those running the system? Who said it was fair:

Statement from the Labour Party website:

Labour’s purpose is fairness: fair rules, fair chances and a fair say for everyone.

Double standards or just elitism again?

Poll x

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New Envoy?

Only hours to go until votes are counted.....sharpen your pencils....the pressure is on for Head of Environment. Who will be our newboy on the block? Let's talk climate change...Obama is on the job. Pity about our lot? Best of luck guys!
Ivor X
PS Aunty Gladys is in a knitting frenzy...and I don't think it's cushion covers this time!
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Being realistic?

Dear Ivor

Cap and share does sound extremely similar to the proposal we came up with last Thursday night at the pub, although I think you called it green and lean. Mind you the fact that this was published nearly a year ago probably does give Ireland the edge.

James was home for the weekend and was enthusing about the Jonny Wilkinson book “Tackling Life”, wants to know if you want to borrow it, I know he’s not Welsh but perhaps you could make an exception in this case, James says it’s quite inspirational.

Anyway I’m not doing a promo for his book, however some of the comments subsequently uttered by my offspring got me thinking about sporting selection. You recently made reference to, at great length, the discriminatory process for Oxbridge selection based on attendance of particular educational establishments.

Monopoly of the prestigious universities is not the only bastion of elitism. It also extends to the world of sport and is positively epidemic in English rugby. Out of the England rugby 1st XV approximately 70% of players attended independent schools; this is from a country where only 7% of the population is privately educated. England rugby continues to draw its future stars from an extremely limited pool; you only have to look at the current U20s squad, where disproportionately over 80% of the squad emanates from this background.

In the 2000 Sydney Olympics an astounding two-thirds of medals won by Britons were awarded to athletes that had been privately-educated. The 2008 Beijing Olympics faired better with just over one third of the Olympic medals being awarded to athletes from independent schools, including a staggering four out of nine of the gold medal winners, including Chris Hoy. However in total more than 50% of our Olympic team was comprised of privately educated indiviuals.

Perhaps it is not “poverty of aspiration” that infects our state schools just cold hard realism? Do you think England rugby would be interested in a cap and share scheme?

Poll xx

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If the cap fits?

Polly,
I must be quick as I've stepped in at the last moment to do 'meals on wheels' for George as the flu bug has laid low the driver. I'm feeling the pressure of several relays by scooter...at least one way is down hill! I remain guiltfree with regard to my carbon footprint...and thoroughly knackered.
Anyway....this is the future. I just need to get my head around it...so I've been trying to simplify it for Aunty Gladys (and me): Cap and Share the basic idea.
What do you think?
One for Graham to conjure with.....tick, tick, tick....last day to vote!
Must dash....twelve more soup runs to go!
Big Kisses
Ivor X
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Thinking global!

Dear Ivor

Just to let you know it’s a global financial crisis, stupid!! Was just listening to the Today programme, I think Gordon got his point across succinctly in the interview with our very own Head of Economy Evan Davis. It’s not his fault the economy is in such a state because it’s a global problem. Can’t help feeling that if every leader blames the global situation then actually no one has to take any responsibility whatsoever for any mistakes. The only thing is that global means involving the entire earth, which unless they have been beamed in from the planet Zog does include our government, so basically what they are saying is that the errors of judgment that have been made, including their own, were so serious that they have buggered up the economy of the whole world, ah now I understand!

Poll x

PS Excuse my language, sorry beginning to sound like Guido!

PPS Way to go Alvin!

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Alvin's Alive!

Polly....there IS life out there in cyberspace. Alvin has come home on Squidoo...yippee! Alvin we love you....Alvin we doooooooo! Ivor X
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Blue Sky....

Polly,
Been feeling a touch mellow...must stop listening to Pink Floyd. A little dispondent I'm afraid. And just when I thought that nothing would lift my spirits I struck Kentish Gold at the bottom of my bottle. Yes, I've been off the blog and publically politicising. In fact, I've been down the local....most of the day. Guido has moderated me out...probably took offense at my ethical moralizing....too nice and not enough swearing. As for Ed Balls....I've heard nothing... (well maybe there are more direct ways than emailing Number 10!) And The Schoolgate is decidedly closed in its reply. Why does the world not seize the moment. Why have they not got your passion Polly?

I applaud Obama's sentiments to his kids and they are shared by so many....it is every child's right:
'to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach....every child to have the same chances.... '
So why can't Ed Balls reply to my letter then? What paralysis has descended on the Political System? I am prepared to risk my dongle for this. And just when all hope and courage had trickled away...something made me smile. Ghandi, Ed Balls and dongle all in the same sentence...random!! We feature on the latest dongle blog...be that change! Flashspace...now you're talking?
Chin up....there is always a blue sky on the horizon.
Ivor X
PS You're right Polly, direct action is the way forward.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's a dongle?

Polly, Ed Balls hasn't any. What's a dongle? Sulking. Ivor.
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What we want?

Not for the Cynics!

Poll x
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Yes you can!

Dear Ivor

The rose coloured glasses have slipped a bit today, didn’t take long! I have been pondering your list of educational shortcomings, inspired no doubt by the quote from Gandhi “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.".

In October 2005 Tony Blair said that parents could be one of the driving forces behind educational change. Did we take up that opportunity, or did we turn over the page, switch over the channel and think yes parents should do that? Were we those parents, did we accept the challenge?

Recently you and I have discussed at length, ranted occasionally and generally bemoaned the state of our education system and Aunty Gladys informs me you have even taken to regularly emailing Ed Balls!

You do realise that our names will be added to some anti-government database somewhere, a copy of which will be transferred to a dongle, left in a pub car park and then be accessed across the world. Is Little Uppity ready to be catapulted into the media spotlight?

Invasion by the press of a small Kent village aside, did anything major happen after this speech, or does a general indifference also extend to our children’s education. If we really wanted teachers to be paid more and class numbers to be smaller wouldn’t we all write to our MP, only vote for a party that promised this and demonstrate on the streets until it was delivered? Would we be prepared to do this and this? Or are we really more interested in this, petrol prices?

Have we got the government we deserve?

One person can make a difference. And how good would we feel if we could say that it was our generation that turned around education and demanded that our money was spent on things that we value? Once we start concentrating on what’s important you never know what other things may just fall into place.

To make a start sign this petition, quickly as it only runs until 11th Feb.

Poll xx

PS You have been a bit quiet today, are you up to something?

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rose Coloured Glasses?

Dear Ivor

Well your soap box has suffered a real pounding! Whilst reading I almost felt the wintry chill of Speaker’s Corner creeping around my ankles, you’re not going to start wandering up and down Oxford Street again with “the end is nigh” on a sandwich board are you?

You can knock at the School Gate as much as you like, but unfortunately you could end up being arrested for loitering with intent, and with your recent track record it’s probably not a good idea.

I appreciate that you have been inspired by Obama’s inaugural speech (are you hoping to be called up for a little freelance work?) and let’s face it who hasn’t, other than the more cynical amongst us, you know who you are!

Perhaps I too am a little misty eyed, although that may have something to do with the rose coloured glasses I donned yesterday, however those aside, I still do feel a real sense of optimism. Is it misplaced, it might well be, could I be proved wrong, maybe. However there is a part of me that believes that cynicism, all right Hazel, can become a habit and a bit of positive thinking can go a long way and let’s face it costs nothing.

I was however cheered by your almost endless list of suggestions for the education system, although embryonic in the planning stage, none of it is rocket science. One thing I would add is smaller class sizes. Will it cost money, of course, however if something is that important money does seem to be available.

Will it ever happen, today I have to say yes and believe it! As the ability to change it actually lies within me and all the other people in this country who want a better state education system for our children. If we really want it that much we can demand it of our MPs, it is after all our hard earned cash that pays for education and those expense accounts. Let's make sure its money well spent! Sorry was that a little cynicism creeping in, old habits die hard!

Poll (mellowing) x

PS Stop harassing Graham from Greenpeace with emails, he is trying to save the planet after all!

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Back to Business

Polly,
In the spirit of Obama...back to business.
Education in the state sector is a disaster. I've asked at The Schoolgate at 12.06am...but are they listening and will the answer be an effective, immediate solution...or more waffle? Here's some swift surgery for the haemorrhaging that is bleeding dry 93% of potential in our state schooling. Beat that Favreau!

Yes, pay them as much as doctors and lawyers...they are our future.
Get rid of the pitiful teachers who have lost heart and drag down our children. Employ only good ones who deserve the increased pay.
Employ inspirational school teachers who 'take the lid off' their learning and are not motivated by exam results to prove their merit.
Stream by ability in academia, sport, vocational skill and art....it's real life.
Continue to help the disadvantaged, but take forward the bright kids, celebrate their successes.
Don't overlook the majority in the middle and raise their aspirations so they can be the best they can be. They are individuals and not one mass.
Stop testing and point scoring schools by exam success. We owe every child equal opportunity to be their best.
Teach our kids to write, speak, add up and communicate in a world beyond screens that means learning the values of respect for others, empathy, understanding, appropriacy so that they flourish not flounder.
Bring in role models and expertise into schools that are not only pop stars and footballers to inspire our children.
Let the strengths of the independent and selective sector be learned, mirrored and applied to state schools...it is not lack of money.

It is lack of inspiration and aspiration...ours, yours and theirs!


What can we all give to be the change in the State Sector?


We need a leader with courage, tenacity and the strength to make tough decisions Mr Balls.No time like the present.

Dr Victoria and Carol...have I missed anything? Action plan on the table by Friday please. No messing, it's back to business.


Ivor X


PS Don't forget to vote for Head of Environment....or can't you be bothered to save the world? We need a strong leader and I've a feeling Greenpeace have just the man. Hit the button....NOW!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Be The Change...

Well Polly,

What an historical moment....

It seems that we have cause to celebrate the impending victory that is to be Graham's landslide win to secure Head of Environment and Agriculture. George and James take heed: complacency withers. Clearly the guys at Greenpeace know 'what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.' Stole those lines from a laptop left on a tube somewhere.

Coincidentally, across the pond, another momentous political moment is unfolding. Obamania is going global. Don't mean to be picky, but I think they may have missed a trick with Aretha Franklin and should have turned to T-Mobile to inject some feel good factor into the musical interlude. That said, I embrace the new leader with all my heart and look towards a shiny, new dawn...so much so that I have been moved to post my favourite part of Barack's speech on TimesOnLine:

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Let's hope Gordon pays heed...be the change!
As for 'our Graham' (I can hear Cilla's voice in my head)....time to start scribbling down thoughts for your very own inaugural speech. It's just too exciting!
Big Kisses around the world,
Ivor X
PS Did you notice Aunty Gladys doing the Mash Potato? That's the white handbag that she swished for my bl***y scarf!

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Grammar Girl?

Your PS needs a capital 'D' Polly.....what school did you go to? HO! HO! X
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93% of people can't be wrong?

Ivor

For God’s sake what have you been up to? Do I have to supply you with a character reference yet again; thankfully I didn’t delete the last one I used, although putting it down to exam result euphoria may not suffice this time and the statement “of previous unblemished character” will need tweaking!

Personally I blame the rugby and communal bathing; it seems to lay down patterns of behaviour that keep reappearing throughout adult life. Still you did achieve the mission set out for you and I am grateful, although a public display of your tackling technique remains inappropriate!

Poor Aunty Gladys has not only had to recover from your shed antics but her stint at moderating has resulted in an expanded vocabulary, that although not short of a little colour and concise in its detail would cause havoc in her knitting circle! However am hoping that perhaps the shot of Tio Pepe will be sufficient to dull her powers of recall.

Your reference to Carole Cadwalladr’s article on Oxbridge admissions did not surprise me. The fact that:

“…..81 per cent of the judiciary went to Oxford or Cambridge, 82 per cent of all barristers, 45 per cent of 'leading' journalists, and 34 per cent of front-bench ministers and shadow ministers.”

does highlight an absence of meritocracy within academia and also reinforces the myth that these professions are represented by the cleverest people in our society. By any law of probability this cannot be the case, it is more likely to be the repeatedly referred to “poverty of aspiration” which has infected our society from education to politics and even in some areas of sport.

I don’t want to dumb down Oxbridge; the fact that it spawns highly successful individuals is exactly what you would want every university to do. I can also appreciate that an articulate and motivated young person capable of expressing themselves in a clear and consistent manner may pose a more attractive prospect than unharnessed raw talent, which will undoubtedly require extra nurturing.

The answer does require a change of attitude and the adoption of a more innovative approach by the ancient and prestigious universities, however it also requires a long, hard look at the education system that 93% of the country receives, that appears to encourage mediocrity and is shoring up the very system that it proclaims needs addressing.

We are all born equal; however some are more equal than others.

Poll x

PS don’t forget 4pm on BBC!

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In Moderation!

Dear Polly,
Is Aunty Gladys OK? I know you thought her hearing aid was off when you read out Fidothedog's comments but she dropped several stitches of plain and pearl and needed smelling salts to bring her round. Still I'm grateful for the warning regarding The Red Lion ...things have changed since the days of The Pontypool Front Row. In the interest of moderation and Aunty Gladys' dicky heart we have elected not to publish your comment...but it's intentions are well received! Won't be drinking there then! Cheers.
Ivor x
PS Don't forget Guido scares me!

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Are you out there James?

Polly...I can't locate James Bruges anywhere (maybe he's in Kashmir) and I thought he ought to know that we are nominating him to run for Head of Environment against George Monbiot and the nice man from Greenpeace. Since we've given him the remit of fighting global warming it seems only polite to track him down and mention the idea. Could you ping up a vote counter in excited anticipation of a positive response? Ta. See you later.
Ivor X
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Monday, January 19, 2009

A Waste of Energy

Dear Polly,

I am bursting with stifled rants on education but before I let rip....we can't just move on from the Third Runway decision. It has got to be overthrown. We are a democracy. Other than those wanting to make money on the back of an expansion that expediates global warming...who else wants this at Heathrow? Wake up Gordon and hear the noise pollution. Shame on you Miliband. What is your remit exactly and who has tied your hands? Hopes were pinned on you...pivotal player, fresh thinking, decisive action. Why not adopt a statesperson to lead the crusade to fight climate change...someone from Greenpeace perhaps who is not worried about political standing but prioritizes human survival over the economic wealth of our country. A courageous leader to get us out of this mess. It was meant to be you.

Oh Yes! I've signed the No 10 petition and several others. Geoff Hoon's garden is littered with holiday brochures on Bhutan and I'm thinking of moving my shed to Airplot. I'm still frustrated though because it's not enough. What about a convoy of alternative transport modes circling Heathrow? The whole transport system needs a creative and radical transformation.

As for education Polly SATS essays should be scrapped? What a sad joke. The reasoning being that examiners find them grammatically incorrect,unintelligible and there are not even enough exam markers. The multiple choice type exam is cheaper and quicker to mark. Excuse me for sounding a little reticent but it's because I'm anxious that I've may have missed something...like the blogging obvious....TEACH THEM TO WRITE!! Excuse the creeping cynicism, but why don't we just give the kids a certificate and ask them to colour them in?

Finally it is precisely that free thinking that will encourage our bright minds to explore outside of the box. The choice of subjects, exam preparation, soft skill abilities and what school you went to, are all influential factors in landing a place at either Oxford or Cambridge. More so than qualifications. I had not realised the extent to which this is the case.

I fully appreciate that if UCAS receives 40 000 applications each year for 25 000 places at university there must be tough decisions made. Clearly top universities have to rely on criteria beyond exam results to sift out the best potential student. I suspect that sourcing from favoured schools is all about comfort zone and not being prepared to take risks with the scallies from an unknown state school who look good on paper but may lack the full package. Here's a novel thought...why don't we make the exams harder? Duh! Sorry Hazel...not even creeping in my cynicism....I'm right out there. Once upon a time you said that
'Labour must remain the party of success and aspiration'.
That doesn't mean you make the exams so easy that kids tootle along with a misplaced confidence then flunk big time when university comes round and they can't draft a personal statement! Success and aspiration...fantastic....if you are lucky enough to emerge from the independent sector, grammar schools or The London Oratory School. What about the rest? That will be the state system Mr Balls.

Now, to rub salt in the wound...get this!

Yours grumpily,
Ivor X

PS Looking forward to The (Gold) Star later when I've shaken off my Oxbridge Blues and am reinvigorated from revelling in Obama Mania.

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A Tribute to Fido...

Polly,

Excuse my tardiness in replying to your blog but I have been somewhat detained (for unruly behaviour) by our local police officer....and told to sober up after too much frivolity on top of the shed. I may have got a little carried away with the excitement of our first follower who had the ceilliau to post a profile. Unlike yellow-bellied, Elvis Mindbend who is moderated out until he comes up with a little more detail and the real ale article he promised us.

As for Fido the Dog, I could have done with your Labour scathing, sharp stick to beat off the feather-ply, arm of the law. My celebration song was not appreciated in the early hours, though Aunty Gladys suggested it was my nakedness (but for the flag) that caused most offence.

Our first follower is a Welshman. Stand please Polly....1,2,3. Welcome Fido, now wipe that tear away, get out there and clear those streets of Newport. Light them with low energy lightbulbs so they shine bright like the furnaces once did...a new dawn is coming. Don't get angry...get active and join our blogging convoy, good buddy. It can't be all bad in Newport, you've got Dobbins and Jackson, and Elvis told me that nothing goes down like a Newport blonde. See you in The Red Lion some day and cheers.

Ivor x


PS Sorry Polly...I'll expect a strong dressing down tomorrow!

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Hard Times

Dear Ivor

Make that 7 o’clock! Have just read the BBC article on scrapping SATs essay questions. On reading the full report that the piece refers to am filled with an all too familiar sense of gloom with regard to our education system.

Not that I am totally against exams based on multiple choice questions as without a doubt it does test facts! At this point Hard Times springs to mind and the indomitable voice of Mr Gradgrind:

Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts:

It appears that the regurgitation of facts at the expense of the ability to form and record a coherent and individual thought is what is required of our young people. The think tank’s report features an excerpt from The Guardian by an exam marker, who states that:

...after marking GSCE exam scripts for a major UK examining board for the past two weeks, I can honestly say that not only are standards dropping, but also they are unbelievably low... In relation to the GCSE candidates' general standard of writing, as a part-time lecturer at a university, I had already become aware that many undergraduate students had abysmal reading and writing skills. However, even that did not prepare me for the written skills of your average GCSE candidate. The handwriting, most of the time, resembled that of a five-year-old toddler or a drunk (grotesquely simple or an illegible scrawl). A lack of basic punctuation, such as full stops, commas, capital letters etc, was commonplace. There were countless inarticulate, immature sentences, which did not make any sense to the reader.

Why can’t our young people transfer their unique thoughts onto paper any more? What is being taught in our schools? Is it one dimensional Gradgrindinian regimental spouting of information to pass tests, or the excitement of free thinking and self expression resulting in new ideas and facts?

Poll x (literally confused)

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Lights out!

Dear Ivor

Be careful when disposing of your energy efficient light bulbs!
And just when I was feeling environmentally challenged anyway!!

Poll x

PS See you at 8pm?

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Bloggers Instinct?

Dear Ivor

George is right my instant response to the announcement of the Conservatives to scrap the third runway was met with an urge to immediately place a cross next to David Cameron’s name. However it wasn’t long before bloggers cynicism, sorry Hazel you only have yourself to blame, crept right back in and I doubted his ability or conviction to deliver on his promise.

Can we believe the statement that our economic future relies upon this expansion? Either the government trusts hugely in our naivety or our economy is based on seriously fragile principles. My blogger’s instinct is going for both!

We have not historically been a nation who are comfortable with public displays of dissent, however it is time that we stood up and were counted, for those tied to your political keyboard, what about signing the petition on the Number 10 website against the runway, a small step for man…..

Was downright gobsmacked at Hilary Benn’s climb down on the environmental impact of the development. Old Tony Benn must be frothing at the mouth. It is a little disconcerting that even with his gene pool he will put political gain before personal beliefs. Perhaps he needs to be reminded of his father’s experience as a minister in the 1964–1970 Labour government when he wrote:

As a minister, I experienced the power of industrialists and bankers to get their way by use of the crudest form of economic pressure, even blackmail, against a Labour Government. Compared to this, the pressure brought to bear in industrial disputes is minuscule. This power was revealed even more clearly in 1976 when the IMF secured cuts in our public expenditure. These lessons led me to the conclusion that the UK is only superficially governed by MPs and the voters who elect them. Parliamentary democracy is, in truth, little more than a means of securing a periodical change in the management team, which is then allowed to preside over a system that remains in essence intact. If the British people were ever to ask themselves what power they truly enjoyed under our political system they would be amazed to discover how little it is, and some new Chartist agitation might be born and might quickly gather momentum.

Who is pulling the strings now?

Poll x

PS looking forward to the Presidential Inauguration tomorrow, hope it doesn’t descend into a Broadway production, shall we meet at the Star Inn for a little celebratory libation?

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's only a flight away!

Hi Polly,

I can't bear listening to the nations' frustration at the third runway. Democracy? Pah!

Edwina and I took a very long walk today, which may have included some light refreshment at The Old Centurian...and we unearthed the formula for happiness. I really believe there IS an alternative way to govern a country. Gross National Happiness Index...now there's a vote winner that the Conservatives might want to tag on to their timely Energy Policy! One small problem....Bhutan is only a flight away.

There is no doubt that this Heathrow decision has stirred the British public out of their political apathy. Politics is not dead...it's just suffocating under the rule of ministers with hands over their ears shouting 'I can't hear you!' Gordon and Geoff....our GNH Index has plummeted from rather glum to thoroughly joyless. Our George has got 248 comments on his piece in The Guardian....well 249 now. Sorry Polly, I couldn't resist....how else to vent my frustration at 1.37am?

Never to be accused of complacency I took your advice and it's official. I AM now one careful owner of an Airplot. Feels good too! All that's left to do is some heavy pestering of Gordon Brown and a gratuitous volley of holiday brochures of Bhutan into Geoff's garden. The origami aeroplanes are mulch. Oh, and I nearly forgot, George's homework on reducing carbon emissions....needs to be in by Monday. Aunty Gladys is marking.

Peace, love and and National Happiness,

Ivor X



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Friday, January 16, 2009

Fight not Flight

Dear Polly,

I woke up under a cloud of gas emissions, mainly of my own making (blame the fuggle hops), and have been feverishly furkeling around the shed for the tiniest scrap of faith that I had left in British politics. No...all gone. I did find the old youth centre dartboard which has been dusted down and given a makeover. I call that the 'What's the Firkin Point' look, and right now it is my look not his....and no doubt belongs on the faces of the rest of the thinking British public on hearing the news about the third runway. Has the dwindling penny not dropped? No surprise that the reason for the go ahead is economy led by a leader who is hell bent on saving the pound rather than the planet.

We cannot, even for a moment, put the environment to one side. The rest...education, crime, immigration, employment, NHS, social care and the b***** ECONOMY...will be of no import if Britain does not reduce carbon emissions by as much 90% by 2030. Watch this video for a little moment. Interesting? Our transport system needs radically revamping if we want to minimise the catastrophe that is upon us. Whilst we all share responsibility in the prevention of global warming, the sum total of our individual contributions to going carbon neutral are being undermined by our prime minister haplessly giving the OK to rampaging forth with aviation expansion. Squirting push-up crystal deodorant under my sweaty armpits (no aerosols) and cycling to work this morning seems a little inadequate in the great scheme of things.

Climate change is a real threat to our very existence. Shall I say that again for any ministers that are having trouble prioritising? We should be responding to safeguarding human survival not the strength of the economy. Save your pennies and the planet will look after itself...I don't think so. Let's see, global warming or a stronger pound? Mmm, you choose! Oh...I forgot...we can't, because we have no political sway!

It's time for 'fight not flight'...if Gordon does not have the foresight, creativity, intellect or steel to come up with a real time environmental strategy to tackle climate change could he kindly move over? It is time for some heavyweights to rise to the challenge. Not you and I, Polly, I mean George and James (Monbiot and Bruges). So you guys, I've read your books, you've convinced me of your credibility...so here's some homework. Can you put together a clear and concise strategic action plan that illustrates exactly the measures that the government should implement to bring our carbon emissions down by the required 90%? We've all had enough of constrained expansion, green runways and hot air. Time to reveal the solutions, the definitive masterplan and act upon it...NOW!

Ivor

PS Someone should tell Gordon the answer is not down there.

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No Words...

No words Polly. Nothing to say that's printable. Tirade to follow. Couldn't find a real ale called INCREDULOUS....so recovering from a kegful of oblivion. Ivor.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Scrub hub

Dear Ivor

What is going on with the government? I am totally incredulous at the announcement of a third runway at Heathrow.

We are all aware of the need for an economic boost however to place this above climate change is myopic in the extreme!

I have been listening to the arguments for the runway and am perplexed. Putting the environment aside for one minute (a common occurrence!), does it really make good economic sense to have all your eggs in one basket?

Having one main hub airport not only increases the obvious threat of being targeted in a terrorist attack with dire implications, but also heightens the risks of major disruption to an increased number of passengers due to adverse local weather conditions (Look at the recent delays at Heathrow due to fog), targeted industrial action and in the catastrophic event of an air accident. All bringing widespread chaos, a major shutdown of the air transport system and probably resulting in gridlock of the surrounding road network as well. Doesn’t this affect the economy?

If we have learnt one thing from the recent credit crunch it is that we should not let the needs of business dictate the needs of people. Look where that has got us!

Am sure you know from your mate Graham at Greenpeace that they have acquired a small piece of land in the middle of the proposed runway site and they need our support to stop this barmy decision from being implemented. Time to dust off your green credentials again and expose them to the world.

Poll xx

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Time Please!

Dear Ivor

I am incensed! Daniel returned from school yesterday to tell me that a friend of his (or should I say his mother!) was requesting extra time in his A level exams because he is slow at writing. Having known the boy in question well for a number of years, it is true that his scribbled text is not the prettiest example of western communication, however it is also a fact that he is a total stranger to the terms homework and revision. Therefore when called upon to record the total sum of his understanding on a particular subject it is no wonder that his sketchy thoughts are mirrored by rather sketchy characters. Why he should have an additional 25% exam time in which to apply his scant knowledge is beyond me.

I must admit that I did think that the request for additional time was ludicrous and would be viewed as such by the school, however after reading these articles from The Guardian and The Times I am not so sure.

It appears that the awarding of additional exam time is on the increase since the decision was passed from the exam bodies to the schools. What message are we giving our young people; “If at first you don’t succeed, don’t bother”?

Daniel has since asked me if he could apply for extra time as he presses really hard with his pen when he writes and it hurts his finger. Do you think he has a point?

Poll x

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

24/7 actually

Polly,
Couldn't resist. Bloggers block has turned to paranoia....still are there some lessons to be learnt here going forward? Back to forcing my rhubarb.....
110% Ivor X
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EQ not IQ

Polly,

You've thrown me sideways...I was happily pondering how to save the planet when you chucked technology at me! I'm a man and multi-tasking is a little challenging. I'm also sporadic in my thinking today. Edwina is out of sorts, it's too wet for the allotment and I've been reading a very thought provoking book called 'The Big Earth' book which has me in several quandaries. James Bruges is the author and whilst I don't wish to turn our leadership campaign into a book club, I really think it's right up Geraldine's street.

Page 34 reads:
In March 2008, ministers told government, 'UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 16.4% since 1990.' In the same month the National Audit Office said there had been no reduction in emissions in the UK from 1990 levels. The ministers' statement was pure spin: they had omitted emissions from aircraft and shipping.

What a bunch of idiots. Are they niavely deceiving themselves or knowingly deceiving us? Mmm, tricky. That's why there is so little faith left in our politicians...they think we are so easily duped. Whilst you and I may have some shortcomings in aspiring to be joint Prime Minister...we have honesty and integrity by the bucketful. I have occasionally regretted my honesty...Robin's Christmas jumper comes to mind!

Another poser (no not Robin):
Every cow in Europe receives a subsidy of £2.62 per day - more than the daily income of half the people in the world.

In actual fact, this book is quite fascinating. The author even speaks highly of one George Monbiot....my hero! I feel another jobshare coming on with George and James for Head of Environment. Do we need a vote? I suppose we are a democracy. Any other ideas for nominations? And did you actually tell Carol Vorderman that she's is half of a Head of Education? Or were you struggling to find the right consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant, consonant (words)? Boom, Boom! (There might be some Basil Brush fans out there in the blogosphere!)

Having been inspired by the aforementioned, I was exploring ideas out of the box and decided that our own particular style of leadership should work like a cooperative. Now that would be revolutionary. No conflicting parties because the British political system needs a total revamp anyway. What John Lewis is to retail, we can be to politics. Although I do think of ourselves more as market gardeners...but that is a good thing! We are already putting together a team of experts in the relevent fields (to plug the gaps in our own knowledge) and then we simply use our oodles of common sense to take the country forward into a new era of global harmony and radical change. Let's face it, British politics can't fight it's way out of a recyclable paper bag and time is running out. We need to take the front foot and achieve our goal. In the words of Churchill:
It's no use saying, 'we are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
That's it then Polly, no excuses. I am unashamedly building a manifesto built upon James Bruges book as I found myself nodding far too enthusiastically. He's our man. Do you think he's a real ale drinker?

I've also been flirting with hypotheses on the shortages of soft skills, lack of empathy and emotional intelligence....thanks to your last twittering blog! I am in full agreement that all this techno-communication inhibits effective relationship building. But I can't find the definitive article to prove your point. Find me a teenager that can look me in the eye? I won't resort to a humourous song, as it's time for serious action.

There are some interesting studies on EQ which I am mulling over but I am certain that indeed Golman was bang on with his assertion that
''IQ gets you hired, EQ gets you promoted.''
What intrigues me is whilst teenagers are being trained in anger management techniques, business schools are also training top UK leaders in EQ. That's reassuring. How did they get to those heady heights without self awareness, empathy and the ability to decipher social cues in the first place?
Communication is a big one that needs enthusiastic discussion face-to face over a few light ales. We could always nip across to Kirin City for the beer of communication! Failing that...The Westminster (Uppin) Arms!
Speak soon,
Ivor X

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Monday, January 12, 2009

To Twitter or not to Twitter?

Dear Ivor

I have come to the conclusion that in this age of almost limitless instant messaging methods our ability to communicate is diminishing.

It started when I was investigating the facility to “Twitter” which is a mini blog site where users can restrict their comments to a circle of “friends” or go public with all the trivia, or otherwise, of their daily lives. The fact that “Mary” is having a coffee with “Fred” may be of interest to the participants, but is it worthy of being an interruption in anyone else’s day?

Young people seem to juggle an endless stream of texts whilst attempting to simultaneously hold a conversation without the aid of binary. Tackle homework tasks whilst interacting with online communities in a constant commentary on their lives. Litter Facebook pages with personal thoughts and accounts, along with photos of social events and gatherings in an attempt to gain some kind of celebrity status amongst their peer group.

The question is, is this effective communication? Does it increase our understanding? Have we got better communication skills now with all these additional tools, or in reducing the need for face to face meetings or voice to voice conversations are we becoming less able to deal with the more challenging aspects of real relationships and more adept at avoiding intimacy?

At this point I must admit on more than one occasion I have succumbed to texting or emailing a friend rather than phoning when I have to let them down in some way, and it is without doubt a far more detached method of delivery than admitting person to person a change of mind or a cock up.

However this is of insignificance in the grand scale of things, unless of course it is a symptom of a greater underlining malaise in society of diminishing personal interaction which could result in less empathy for our real communities.

Just a thought!

Poll x


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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Comparative Harmony

Polly,

You sad, sad, SAD filly...and I don't mean the 'winter blues' variety! No wonder the British blogger is taking a while to rationalise our credibility and put faith in our PM leadership campaign. What the hell are you doing on all these comparison websites? Get a life! There are people dying in Columbia whilst we snort coke (well, not you and I personally)!

I have momentarily left my group of strapping young offenders outside in the woods practising survival skills, as I realised the gravity of your situation and sprinted back to basecamp to blog on pronto. As a short term diversion in the hope of distracting you, I have googled another comparison site that I hope will lift your spirits and send you super-scurrying in search of your inner superhero...there IS a world out there, you know? Though it might implode if I don't get back to the fire lighting and knife sharpening....and that's just their coffee break diversions! Bugger, tripped over the tarp in my hurry to wrap up the laptop (windup) in my oilskins!

Get a grip, Polly!
Captain Kirk X

PS You had some leather pants like Nena once....Gary Grimble never recovered!

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No comparisons please

Dear Ivor

Despite a slight crick in the neck, star gazing at The Mauve Inn proved to be of considerable benefit to my state of mind.

As I promised I have attacked the pile of paperwork that I hid over Christmas, which did give me a slight feeling of euphoria, albeit short lived when I realised that our mortgage deal is coming to its end and required some renegotiation! I am aware of the comparison websites which are meant to effortlessly assist you in this task, but there are now so many of them that I really need a compare the comparison websites site to figure out who to use!! Why do things that are meant to make life easier get so complicated?

I am surrounded by labour saving devices that require my attention, how much time do I really save or has the effort just shifted to a different task. What with these and all the money saving deals, I actually think that I could spend most of my day sorting out electronic devices, comparing my car insurance, home insurance, phone tariffs, supermarket prices and switching energy suppliers backwards and forwards and that’s just to start with! Oh happy the days when renewals were done without thinking. Apparently I now save £100’s of pounds, so why do things seem just as expensive if not more so? Perhaps it is to pay the salaries of all the extra staff the companies need because people are always changing their providers.

However I now almost feel guilty if I haven’t trawled through the compare this and that pages until I feel suitably overwhelmed and worn down into accepting any offer, without examining the small print, that appears at the top of the page, sponsored link or not!

Are we getting addicted to comparing everything? Time for Compare Anonymous meetings?

Poll xx

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Quote

Polly,
Loved the Quote and the Mauve Inn sounds long overdue. Running late...all this bl**** school traffic!
Ivor X
PS On a mission with followers...I'm hoping Geraldine will peel herself of the runway and take pity on me. Come on Gerry...you're a woman of action! Are you brave enough to support our leadership campaign and blog on? OK, I'll blog off!
Big Kisses and Happy New Year to all our ever so (quietly) British bloggers XXXXXX
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One Follower Required

Dear Ivor

Yesterday’s reply caught me in a rather morose mood but today I have recaptured my resolve! Post Christmas blues aside I am ready once more for high office, well at least the second floor.

Frankly if people want to be apathetic let them, I am not releasing my grip on the throat of indifference and neither should you.

I am releasing you from your assigned shed regeneration duties (the cabinet meeting will have to wait) and now want you to apply your not inconsiderable intellect to a new task. I must warn you that it will be tough and there is no guarantee of success, in fact more like downright failure and public humiliation. However you are no stranger to ridicule and there’s always Aunty Gladys to provide you with an alibi. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to get one more follower. I am convinced that this will create the band wagon (or campervan - sorry newbies in-joke) on which others will then be fighting to jump on.

What do you think? Got to be worth a try, possibly even a conversion!!

Poll in a positive mood xxxx

PS I will be doing some star gazing later in the garden of the Mauve Inn on Upp Road from 8pm onwards, bring your thermals!!!

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Monday, January 05, 2009

What day for action?

Dear Ivor

It is morning, the decorations are down and I am now attempting to get back on track. It is strange how life takes on a different pace over the Christmas and New Year festivities, after the mad urgency in the build up to the event, time seems to suddenly become quite fluid, the number of occasions over the last two weeks I have been asked what day it was is quite remarkable, as if all of a sudden a sequence of seven days had become impossible to keep track of, although I must admit to the odd bit of confusion myself this weekend, how many Saturdays did we have?

I read your previous email with a feeling of déjà vu and found myself nodding in accord. However instead of feeling invigorated and on the brink of bursting into action I had a creeping feeling of despair. I am going to take a moment to investigate my gloom………….

Back again at the keyboard, sorry for the extended period of introspection! I have now watched Dispatches on “Britain’s Challenging Children” of the 20,183 primary school teachers invited to complete a survey on their experiences and views on children’s’ behaviour only 2,242 responded. Is this another example of British apathy or perhaps a positive indicator that the remainder of the teachers were quite happy with their pupils’ general conduct? Are we being fed a media diet of fat fibs and slim truths or simply unwholesome and indigestible facts?

Statistics aside it did appear that the early intervention methods featured in the programme were working and the children had improved behaviour patterns and learning outcomes. To you and me that means they were better behaved and they learnt more! Ultimately they were looking forward to a brighter future. However the funding for the initiative is in jeopardy, once again long term gain is being relinquished in favour of the short term balance sheet and I realised that this was the reason for my earlier gloom.

We already have the answers to most of our problems but we appear to lack resolve. Is it possible to take the long view in this world of instant results, and dare I say it, despite my reverence for all things Google, an overload of information. To slow down our pace and take a long hard look at the world around us and decide where we want to go from here. Perhaps we need another festive holiday!

Poll xx

PS have lost the to do list!!!

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy New Year!

Polly...my Max Boyce CD is the best pressie ever...my LPs never made it out of the valleys! Thanks so much, but it does not excuse Robin from returning my red and white stripey scarf. Aunty Gladys and I wept over Rhondda Grey but I think it may have been the well fed Christmas cake, bottle of Creme de Menthe and too much Twister. I'm not sure if the recycled Christmas Salsa CD was a fair exchange so I've topped up with a little extra present for you. It partly eases my ethical conscience but also ties in with our need to address education with renewed vigour.
Much as it goes against the grain, what we need is a 'To Do List'. Don't get excited as I stopped reading at Clear out Shed. I've taken down the home-made decorations and rehashed a bird feeder just in time for this arctic chill. The shed is now looking lovely...have you informed our new heads of department yet? I handpainted some mugs for them as I'm getting quite excited myself now.
We need to take Britain by storm...or reform according to Lee Elliot Major. He makes some good points but I wrestle with the contradiction that if parents have the biggest impact on a child's education then why are we rushing kids off to nursery? Call me old fashioned (amongst other things), but shouldn't we be encouraging parents (Mum or Dad) to stay at home and be a parent? The state provides free nursery education which induces parents to turf their tots out of the home environment five days a week. I realise that this frees up parents to seek employment if they need or wish to, but what value are we then attributing to the parent who chooses to stay at home and nuture their young child? Would it not make sense to reward and support the role of parents, especially at a time when there are not enough jobs to go around? It seems to me that we relinquish this role too quickly and at large societal cost. How do we encourage people to cherish the role of parenthood?
It struck me in listening to Rhondda Grey how times have changed. The child in the song had poor parents who gave him their time, their values and their conversation. How many kids this Christmas got another electronic screen to stare at? Which is the richer child?
I know, I know...perhaps nostalgia and a bottle of Toon Ale have got the bitter edge of me. My point is kids need parents and parents need time with their kids. That is my hope for 2009. A simple dream from a simple bloke.
Happy New Year to you and Robin..and may it be as special as you both are.
Big Kisses
Ivor X

PS Elvis told me that if you spin the handset twice on Bowling Pinbusters you get a strike every time!

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