Monthly Archives: May 2011

‘Bow Chicka Wow Wow’

I don’t know what the hell Mike is singing about, but I like it.

And I’m pretty certain he’s got Bob Marley’s Exodus opening for him there…

‘I Need a Dollar’

My kind of soul for a Sunday, with a nod to the late, great Gil Scott-Heron…

The Eviction

My daughter has had an aquarium for a year now. That has meant a year of fretting for the only person who takes care of its inhabitants: me. Just as I suspected, it has become a place of death, destruction and intermittent death.

The karked it roll of honour numbers: two snails, one sex-pest molly, two neons and a guppy. That’s 6 deaths in one year, an average of one death every two months. The total number of occupants has reached 16, so, if you choose to make this particular aquarium your home you have a 3 in 8 chance of dying. That’s nearly a 50% chance of death – how depressing.

There has been an ongoing situation between two angelfish. Some time ago the level of mild bullying stepped up a gear to outright aggression; in fact, it’s been like having a bear-baiting contest in the corner of the front room. I should have put my foot down then. I did not. Anyway, I found one of the angelfish upside down under the BAFTA mask last week and after a few days, when I considered it was a dead fish swimming (and seriously considered the final clove oil solution), it started looking like it might live. So the Bully Boy aggressor had to go. After a temporary Bank Holiday Weekend solution of partitioning the tank with a cheeseboard, the Big Bad Angelfish has been evicted and sent to Boot Camp down the road.

We now have one much happier, if slightly disabled angelfish, swimming in the tank with its few remaining friends. A happy ending? I don’t know, because we now have a Power Vacuum in the tank, which must be filled. In the meantime it has, without question, beaten the odds.

A fish in a pissed off mood

A weekend in Southend (guest blog). Part II

I felt it appropriate to fill you in on events since the last guest post.

– the event over the road involved myriad characters, fake Barnes grass, ale and room temperature food that set off my food hygiene alarm
– the gang leader has been evicted from the tank to the neighbour’s house
– the victim has dined on bloodworms in a bid to regain its strength
– the man of the house noticed and was dismayed not to have got the chance to say goodbye
– Southend air show from the garden = 3 planes spotted, about 20 heard but not seen. We’re looking forward to hearing the Red Arrows later
– a game of hunt the witch’s hat
– resourcefulness at retrieving said hat
– CJ taking breakfast orders just before bed
– a midnight-4am visit from CJ, who clambered into bed after simply telling me to ‘shush’ when I tried to protest. I can inform that she hogs more bed than a Labrador
– shopping this morning at Tesco for aformentioned breakfast, and encountering a rather interesting cross-section of Southend society
– lot one of pancake batter ending up on the floor
– dramatic holding of and staring at the blog owner’s foot, after the mixer landed on it
– complete extension of the kitchen blind to avoid the glares of the rather odd children next door (think League of Gentlemen)
– delicious breakfast in the garden (see picture) and UN-style negotiations to persuade CJ to come downstairs and join us
– more Monopoly marathon
– some dodgy piano playing and even more decidedly dodgy singing along from AMB

We shall be fleeing to the peace of Devon tomorrow morning at 5am, before the Southenders awake again and release more havoc.

A weekend in Southend: guest blog (complete with punctuation)

Thus far the weekend has consisted of:

– attempted murder in the lounge
– emergency call to the neighbour (neighbour subsequently stood down until the morning)
– breaking up the gangs with a cheeseboard
– watching the victim’s first steps on the path to recovery
– caterpillar cobwebs in the cemetery
– stonking breakfast that took an age to arrive
– a trip along the seafront to see the closed road
– Monopoly marathon with CJ ripping AMB off quite handsomely

To come:
– airshow
– a visit to the neighbour’s (after they’ve done something with someone’s ashes to which we weren’t invited)

Will keep you posted.

A double dose of deaf as a gatepost

I am quite pleased today as I now have not one but two types of deafness. The first is fairly boring and probably age-related (in the genes). I come from a family of fairly deaf people and there is nothing that can be done about it.

The second type that has recently been scientifically proven is called Inattentional Deafness; this is the type that occurs when you are preoccupied and just don’t hear people talking to you…

Professor Nilli Lavie, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, says that Inattentional Deafness is a common everyday experience and proves why people can get lost in a book or a crossword. It occurs as a result of visual and hearing senses trying to share limited brain processing capacity. As well as being a source of irritation to those trying to be heard (my kids hate it) it could be the cause of road accidents.

Now that last bit, which I have taken directly from the newspaper, is very badly written. All road accidents? Surely not. And who does the crossword when they are driving?

So to avoid a visual/auditory overload the blog is bringing you a nice, calm scene to replace the usual It’s A Friday Let’s Get On A Chair And Dance banging music video.

Can you hear the raindrops?

Battery running low?

In education it is getting to the fag end of the year. All around me people are crawling on their hands and knees to the summer. A shame then, that we can’t have the human equivalent to this piece of equipment I found in the tea tent in the State Hospital, Marmaris.

It’s a slot machine, you put in your money and plug in your dying phone to the right charger which you must first find in the general spaghetti of wires. Unfortunately the light in the tent was a little dim so it has not come out too well.

You can get an ice-cream from the freezer next to it whilst you are waiting…

(We found a lone, unwrapped, burger floating around with the lollies – no accounting for taste I suppose.)

The Talent Myth?

It is a bit late in the day, literally and in the cliched sense, to start opening up the nurture and nature debate, but I am interested in the theory that talent is not necessarily innate and, given opportunity, motivation and ten thousand hours of meaningful graft, anyone can be highly successful at anything they wish.

Many Western societies seem to be based on the idea that you are either ‘good’ at something or ‘bad’ at it and there is not a lot you can do about it, but as a teacher, how can you go into the classroom with that concept in your head? Especially as a teacher of adults who usually come along with the idea that, at school, they were ‘bad’ at whatever it was that you are teaching…

Is an early natural aptitude no more or less than an early natural interest? Who needs a teacher in primary school to tell you are good or bad at something out loud when there is a system of feedback that can go from a simple facial expression to the marking of your work. So you may not be told aloud, but you might deduce and then you know and then you believe, and unpicking a belief in an adult is a much harder job than simply working with them to develop the basic skills they came for in the first place.

I know a student who spent six months with their head on the desk, but they were in class every week – they were motivated to attend. By the end of the year that motivation had developed to include some learning. By the end of the second year that learner had passed one accredited exam and narrowly failed a second, harder one. I can honestly say that the narrow fail, meant more to me than many of the passes other learners achieved – and it goes with saying I am exceptionally proud of all my learners. This year that same learner retakes the narrowly failed test, something tells me that this learner is going to pass.

The teacher is responsible for the opportunity being taken up, for supporting and encouraging when the original motivation slips but we cannot do the meaningful practice for them. However, if a learner is willing we can provide the guidance and feedback to make their hard work purposeful. So if a learner wants to put it all in, who are we to limit them by judging if they are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at anything? We are there to offer the best possible opportunity for every learner, that is all.

Porte fenêtre à Collioure de Henri Matisse (1914)

In other weekend news

The Wray Barton Wrecking Crew, aka The Devon Home Cook, wrecked a kitchen.

Her excuse was that she had cooked a meal for one hundred people.

Tut, tut…

She should know, however, that me and her other older sister are pretty impressed with her.


It was Party Central for a certain 9 year old today.
This was a moment snatched between dances.

I am already advised that when the 6 year old turns 7 I can expect to spend another afternoon at the aquarium.