Monthly Archives: August 2015

“It’s Never too Late”.

Sometimes,stuff happens in life that we wished hadn’t have.Maybe it’s just a stupid thing with a friend,or a falling out that we never intended to happen.

People who pretend that they never have these types of issues never happen in their lives,are very fortunate,that’s all I will say.In my life,I’ve had upset,others,sometimes it’s the others persons fault,but many a time I know it’s been me.When this occurs,it’s often the easy way out to avoid that person,not mixing with them,or just out and out blanking them.Even though we enjoyed good times with that person,and spent some serious moments too,we might forget all of that,in favour of cutting them off from our circle of trust as it were.

As a teacher of teenagers,I see this a lot.Yes,it can vary in its gravity,but it’s real,I can assure you.At its worse,it can cause serious mental health problems to the one that is shunned,leaving  prone to complete social isolation.So yes,this is a big deal.Now,many youngsters cope by forming new bonds within their cohort,and although they might be hurting,they have a coping mechanism.

As a young man,I had a piano duet partner that I was close to,but,through my own stupidity allowed a stupid feud to grow to a point where things fractured.Now,over 35 years later,even though we are in contact,our friendship isn’t the same.Now,I know that I will have to live with that,but I very much regret my actions back then,I really do.

Most of what is best in life has to do with our relationships.Yes,stuff plays a part,our jobs,possessions and the like,but they pale into nothing when compared to our relationships.To illustrate:I play the Piano about once a month in a nursing home near where I live.As I live in the Bournemouth area there is a never ending supply of them eager enough to snap the hand off of any musician who will entertain the residents.One thing I noticed after a while was the ones that engaged with the music by singing along and having a laugh were also the ones who got on well with their fellow residents.Those who were seemingly miserable or morose,tended to isolate themselves from the rest in the home.

To elaborate a little;the other day I went in to play for the residents at the home and I noticed that Gillian,who had been the life and soul of the party wasn’t there.As she had always been in rude health,I enquired after her,and the matron had said that she had lost her Daughter in death through cancer.It had transpired,that her daughter had battled with Bowel cancer for a while,but that this awful disease had taken her.

Now Gillian had always kept so many going with song sheets and leading the singing.Gillian always had a kind word for everyone.Knowing that she knew how poorly her daughter had been touched me,Gillian always asked after my son too.

What I mean by bringing this up is this,sometimes we don’t know what the future will be for us.If we can cut people some slack in their life and understand that things might be tough,it may be that a journey through life is just that little bit better.

Now,I can’t turn the clock back on my life,neither can you.However,I feel that relationships are worth trying our best to maintain and nurtur.

Many of my pupils come from the wrong side of town as it were.Some have never known what a proper family life is like.This means that they need support in all its different forms.It means that they often need guidance to maintain relationships at school because the stakes are so very high here.

Yes,I’ve messed up in life before,but I can still try each with the relationships that I have,because we are all human,and we all need one another.


Today,I took my dogs out for their walk earlier as the weather seems to be getting worse in our neck of the woods.Ive always enjoyed walking ,especially since the birth of my son 30 years ago,Before then,I cycled everywhere to my pupils in what amounted to 150 miles per week.As my son was born with a life-Limiting heart problem,I would regularly take him out on walks when we lived in St Austell.His love for trains meant that my wife and I would walk him down to the railway station to watch the trains go by.

   When my son was little,people would stop and say hello and smile and all the normal things that makes us all humans.However,as my son got older,he had to have a large Mc Claren buggy.Unfortunately,the number of people who smiled dropped,but the number who starred increased.To begin with,we thought that did it out of embarrassment,or because they didn’t know what to say.Whatever the case,those early days were difficult.However,when I was able to manage our dog,Hector as well as the O 2 cylinder that we carried too because my son would collapse due to his heart problems.As this sounds like a comedy of errors but our dog at that time was such a wonderful ice breaker.We found that even though it was tough to manage all the gear that Phill needed,it was so rewarding with our dog in tow.

When we moved to Dorset and to an area that was completely new,we unfortunately lost was tough for us all.That was in 1988.Since then,we have had more dogs that have lived for 17,16,and our two Tibetan terriers that are now 2.We find,although dogs can be hard work to look after,that they give back so much,and have done to our family over the years.

So today I have a whole group of people who stop and say hello and know our family really because of our dogs.Yes,we spoil our dogs,and probably always will.However,Dogs,at least to me,have so much instinct for when your feeling down,and not doing that well.

All of our dogs loved our son,seeng him through really tough times.They were there when he’d been in hospital by being by his bed when he arrived home,and by supporting us in the only way dogs can.

“Don’t Let the Silence Win”.

It’s too quiet for me,it’s too quiet,

   I don’t trust this thing called silence,this thing called silence.
         We need Pulses,beats,and drums,

              They keep us at our sums,our sums.
                   When sonic interruptions come,

                        Then the gothic Gods are Summoned.
                              Silence is the true darkness of our souls,

                                     It is the denial of everyone’s Humanity.
                                           When life’s heart beat ceases,

                                               Then silence wins ,it wins,it wins.

                                                   So shout,sing,bellow,scream,clap,bang,

                                                      Don’t let the silence win,don’t let it win.Just Don’t let it .PLEASE.

“Running with heart and Soul in the Birds Nest”.

In the past day,I ,along with millions of others,watched the action from the Birds Nest trying to put the achievements of the Great British team in some contest.Truth is,I’ve watched the Team for over 40 years,with the dulcet tones of the great David Coleman as my verbal expert.Now,Brendan Foster,Steve Cram,and company have taken up that mantle.

Personally,having watched our heroes of yesteryear,like David Hemmery in the Mexico Olympics,Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett,Daley Thompson in countless games,Lynford Christie,Alan Wells,Fatima Whitbread,Mile Bakeley,and so many many more,I would struggle to name the best of our all time Athletes.

Now,there are Athletes who have raised the bar so much as to be beyond my comprehension.Mo Farah is one such.To run the 10,000 metres and win,then to run 5000 metres heat,and to follow it up with another race yesterday and win again is truly great.Yes,we are now dealing with finely tones professional men and women who sacrifice so much of their lives to be the best.

It would be true to say that British Athletics,even though as with all sports,there are problems,but we are surely in dream land to have world beaters now like Farah,Ennis-Hill,and Rutherford.

What has been said about Rutherford being lucky is crass stupidity,anyone who knows anything about the sport will easily provide a counter narrative to these statements.Greg Rutherford was a great Athlete before the Birds Nest,now he will go down I. History.

As I watched the championships yesterday,I thought about one of the greatest Athletes that we ever produced,Lillian Board,so tragically cut down through cancer in the 1970s.I still remember her stride pattern,her grace,her determination,her integrity.If she hadn’t been struck down,I have no doubt that she would be involved in the sport now,or lending her expert knowledge on the couch of the BBC.

I’m just a regular punter,I’m no Jonathan Edwards or Michael Johnson,but I care about this sport.

To end this blog post,I want to home in on watch Michael Johnson said about Usain Bolt after his 100 metres win a few days.He said the Usain ran like you do as a child for the love of it.I did that as a young boy,along with countless others in my secondary school.

That ,to me,is the essence of the sport in its simplistic sense.

“Saturday night without Charlie,Unthinkable!!”

Saturday night,

       Lottery night,

              Charlie Night,!!

                    Charlie’s not right,

                           Saturday night isn’t right,

                                 Casualty without Charlie can’t be right,

                                         Seems like the best actors might be leaving us,

                                                   Saturday night has given me a freight,

                                                          Saturday night isn’t Fair without Charlie at the head.


“It’s back to school soon”.

Today,I’m laid low with man flu.Yes,feeling sorry for myself,wishing that I hadn’t contracted it.of course,I will get over it,I always do,but now,it’s feels like I’m getting worse.

It sounds Pathetic and a bit weak I suppose.However,I really think that I write my blog each day,and I call it as I see it.Many times,especially in my younger days,I felt the need to be tough,never complaining,always looking to the positive.Unfortunately,that wasn’t the real me,it wasn’t how life was.Sometimes,society tries to impose its own standards on us that we not only can’t maintain,but it causes us pain in the end.just being real should be enough for other people.

As we go through life,we carry all sorts of weights on our shoulders that maybe others aren’t aware of.It saddens me when we can’t be honest abut how we feel at any given time in our life.Many folk never admit to having series bouts of depression,they hide this from others,they don’t seek help.They might be profoundly sad,profoundly adrift in life’s boats without a rudder.At these points in anyone’s life,surely it makes sense for the rest of us to step up and offer support to those who are depressed.

While it’s obvious that I will recover from my man flu,and yes,I would imagine that there are many who cope with a cold in a far more stoical manner than I,mental illness is so much more pervasive than we might realise.

As I start my lesson planning for the new academic year,I am aware that some in the teenage cohort will be suffering from mental,and emotional issues.They might manifest themselves with an eating disorder,social phobia,self harm,and a range of others anxiety disorders.These are real,and profound issues that any teacher worth their salt will be aware of.

Personally,I don’t know why there has been such a proliferation in mental illness among teenagers in Britain,but what I do know is that they need our support,and their parents and carers need that too.

Safeguarding within school,and sixth form and FE Colleges is a vital function of any academic institution now.At times,the issues that our young people face are protracted and complicated.There is no quick fix solution.With government funding at the sharp end of education at an all time low,it’s imperative that the vocational side of teaching is appreciated.

My man flu frustrates me because my ears are totally blocked,leaving me unable to hear the vibrations that make music possible.However,to put this in perspective,there are those young people out there who are so removed from any learning routine.Their lives have been fractured by turmoil through family breakdown,or through being shunted around in the care system.

To have a vocation is a privilege,and I’m very grateful for that.As I get older,I wonder just how affective I can continue to be to my pupils.Sometimes,I worry that our young people are the most unhappy generation that I have known,and their issues won’t clear up in a day or two like my man flu.

Keeping count of the good in life.

When you’ve been Fed,

   When you’ve a warm Bed,

          When those around you adore you,

                    When people support you through and through,

                           When flashing lights and blaring sirens pass you by,

                                    Then realise that today your not in dread and not in pain,

                                              Then realise that life is truly good,truly good,truly good.

“All Children Matter.”

Today,I caught the tail end of a piece from the world at one.This item highlighted the work of Food banks to help families feed their children during the school holidays,as there are many families who don’t not have food to feed their children.

Yes,I suppose I am emotional about these issues.This connection arises from living in poverty as a child.To just explain a little though,this piece was from Camborne in Cornwall,a stone throw from where I was born in Redruth in 1957.

Adding some flesh to this story,one of the volunteers there highlighted how many children of parents who might be self-employed,but might not have any work are really struggling.When you here a man say that he went to a school where a teenager had collapsed because the family hadn’t eaten for 3 days,you realise perhaps why I get emotional about these things.

Look,as I have written before,I stole food as a child because I was so hungry.That was in the 1960s,it’s so,so sad that it would appear now that even in the provinces and not our large cities,there are problems with Malutrition.

While it’s good that Radio 4 covered this on lunchtime news,it beggars believe that this ideological government can’t see this.Their denials of any problems with their treatment of the vulnerable beggars belief.

Sometimes,I wonder where are the priorities of this government.What is the point of them?When are they going to take responsibility?Money can,and should be available.Money should be available.

Let’s cut the crap.Lets actually start caring about individual cases.Lets do it now.

Look ,I was in tears after that piece from Camborne.Yes,I’m like that,but I reckon that people out there care too.

Yes,transparency hurts,it hurts to admit that you’ve screwed up?look,it hurts to have to admit that you’ve been a thief cos your hungry.However,it’s time to man up government.Its really time to listen to the counter Austerity narrative.

What drives these people?What drives IDS.Lets face it,he was leader of the Tories.They got rid of him.Now,his legacy at the DWP is a joke.All the polemics on Poverty will tell him that.When are they going to listen?

As children prepare to go back to school after their Summer break,teachers will again take up the slack.TAs will alert them,food will be provided,and this merrygoround of neglect will continue.As Morgan a Trumpets her creed to us all,I just wonder if she really cares.

What I do know is that my fellow teachers do,teaching assistants do,food bank volunteers do to.Of that,there is no doubt.

“I heard the birds singing today”.

Today,I heard the birds singing.Its not that they weren’t singing yesterday,I think that I wasn’t aware of them then.Its funny how these little feathered friends keep singing away,but we don’t always acknowledge them.

Maybe,we could be guilty of that with the people in our life.Yes,they are always there,singing our praises,fighting our corner.When I think of myself,I know that this applies to me.However,I also know that I have taken my loved ones for granted at times.Like the birds,they are always there keeping life going,making it more bearable

When I really listen to birds singing,I realise that their songs are very different I texture,timbre,and phrasing.Like people,whose words might be similar,but the emotions behind the words means that we have to really listen to what is maintain relationships.

Some birds songs are more dominant than others,and it’s often the case that the dominant ones tend to drown out a softer singer.Sometimes,with our children it’s easy to give too much heed to the most dominant child.

So,yes,today I’ve spent time listening to the birds singing,and maybe using that as a metaphor about our family members is too simplistic,but I wanted to include it in my blog.