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Friday 26 August 2011


Schools no longer teach Home Economics nor Domestic Science but something called Food Technology. Supermarket shelves 'groan' with relatively cheap unhealthy foodstuffs. Few have the time or inclination to read labels. They home in on the latest adverts for easy ready this and fast that, urged on by the pester power of their offspring.
I knew one family whose Mother 'lived on' cigs and coffee. Their dad was away at sea for weeks on end. Okay so she 'cooked without salt' prep began soon after the elder two went to school. Potatoes peeled, cut and left in a pan of water until the end of the school day. Her favourite foods for the kids was sausage rolls and crisps.
Then there's a neighbour (male) who exists on microwave meals from a 'top end' supermarket. Yet, his elder brother who moved to S. Africa some eight years ago is a chef.

I'm no health or diet fanatic (heaven forfend)! But, in recent weeks I have begun to read food labels to compare level and types of sugars, amount and types of fat content. Why? Because I have friends who are diabetic.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

new term - new uniform

As stores and TV stations rev up in the hope of increased sales, it's time for the annual expense known as school uniform.

How things change! Today, supermarkets vie with each other to offer value deals on uniforms. Harassed parents with truculent or excited offspring in tow scour the isles. 

Yesteryear when I left Junior school and headed for Grammar school things were a lot different. A letter arrived detailing what had to be worn and where to buy from. No supermarkets in those days. Instead we crossed the threshold of one of the most expensive dress shops and headed up stairs. 
Colours - navy and gold, not yellow. Navy blazer (wool) with school crest badge to be sewn on at home. White cotton blouses, navy v-neck jumper (wool) Knife-pleated skirt and gabardine raincoat. 
Oh the effort that went into pressing those knife pleats to keep them 'just so'! How happy we were when in our second year they brought out Courtelle blouses in blue or gold. No need to starch them and far more comfortable to wear. They were warmer in winter than cotton.
Not forgetting sports wear - must have hockey boots and plimsolls (no training shoes in that era) and a wrap around games skirt. The letter even detailed undergarments. Shoes and socks too had to be regulation. 
Girls in the Lower and Upper 3rd were only allowed to wear knee-socks or ankle-socks. Stockings and suspender belts were for Upper Fourth onwards.
We made our summer uniform skirts in needlework lessons. Pale blue poplin 3 yards of 36 inch wide material; to be made into a hand-gathered and mostly hand-sewn skirt with 3-inch waistband.
How we envied the sixth form whose skirts were made the same way but in delicious coral or marine blue.

What provoked this blast from the past? Two things Sayre of Sayre Smiles shared a photo of her son in his school uniform. How cool and casual his apparel looks. 
Then this morning an article in a newspaper caught my eye.  'School skirt ban'

It seems that in order to focus more on studies and less on the rebellious nature of teenage girls the school skirt has been omitted from many uniform lists.

And to think that at one time,  girls had skirts, dresses or shorts no trousers. That is until the advent of the trouser suit. My first was a three-piece - jacket, trousers and matching skirt. Hooray for designers like Mary Quant and their influence...but that's another story!
To think that there are prestigious schools today whose pupils still wear uniform – breeches, yellow socks like those worn 450 years ago! 

Monday 22 August 2011

all aboard the charabanc!

charabanc [[shar]-rab-banɡ] a coach for sightseeing taken from the French meaning a wagon with seats
A word I came across long ago, sometimes used by my father. Now according to the Collins dictionary it's obsolete. Yet, to my father a charabanc was part of his childhood. A horse-drawn wagon with slatted sides and seats. Later, the word took on a similar meaning 'to go out for the day' this time by old-fashioned coach.
When there were far fewer vehicles on the roads and to have a car was unusual, days out were by coach. Sometimes we took a packed lunch, or hoped to find a café.
An early start and walk to the railway station, not to take the train but to board the charabanc.

Thursday 18 August 2011

second Thursday in August

is 'results day' for 'A' level examinees. Similarly, the third Thursday in August is GCSE results. Every year there's the same hype. Results are always 'better than' previous years. News stories about the results follow a similar pattern. They focus on the 'achievers' with their great results, their A* and collections of high grades.

But what about the ones who do not achieve? If I dredge thro' the vaults of memory, I was never an 'achiever' but I have empathy which is a better skill than any results record can confer. Then there's patience and stickability.

As Lord Chesterfield said...
"Wear your learning like a watch and do not pull it out merely to show you have it. If you are asked for the time, tell it; but do not proclaim it hourly unasked."

Sunday 14 August 2011

going back in time

Found out that one of my on-line friends used to be a librarian we contrasted today's libraries with times past.

1905 erected by Andrew reads the inscription in stone on the front of the Clitheroe (Free) Library.
© Copyright John S Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

I have no idea how old I was when I first crossed its threshold, but I went there numerous times. I dread to think what it has become! July 2011 marked the 21st year since the library was refurbished.
"Clitheroe Library was built in 1905, with money from the Carnegie Trust. The original gold key used for the opening is now in the Clitheroe Castle Museum. Previously a library had been run from the front room of a house in Parson Lane since 1838."
© Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
I've cropped the image to focus on the upper storey which housed the Reading Room.

Oh the pleasurable hours spent in the Reading Room, first with my Dad and later on my own.

Eight O'clock by A. E. Houseman

He stood, and heard the steeple
Sprinkle the quarters on the morning town.
One, two, three, four, to market-place and people
It tossed them down.

She sat at a long oak reading desk, one of several spaced across the room from doorway to clock case.

On entering the room, she felt a
Silence so deep it held cobwebs of memories
She heard
The occasional flutter of a page turned carefully and quietly
She saw
Gleaming, lustrous carved woodwork
Magazines, each in their cases chained to the reading desks
Newspapers laid out carefully, to be perused, refolded and replaced as tho' no-one had touched them.

By one window, a glass-sided case containing an illuminated tome. Each day someone opened the case and turned to the next page. The passer-by could stop to read the illuminated script.

The quiet, steadily reassuring tick-tock from the Town Hall clock whose innards and workings stood revealed behind a huge glass case at the front of the room. Fascination as on each quarter and then on the hour...

The clock collected in the tower
  Its strength, and struck.

Saturday 13 August 2011

where angels fear to tread

Can't help thinking I ought to say my two penn'orth about recent events. My bent is towards Science... sociology and sociologists make me heave. I find their endless apologist ramblings nauseating to say the least.
In my early days of teaching (1970s) when the cane was in regular use, I thought 'if you can't get in thro' the head, get in thro' the hide'. Very Naive of me, but I was a lot younger then. With time comes experience, with experience growing maturity and hopefully some common sense.
When the cane was abolished from the classroom, people forecast anarchy in the classroom. Then I came to realise that talking was more important than issuing a threat. Here I must say that I never struck anyone, nor had any authority in the matter. 
Time moved on (1980s) and another government rolled into Parliament. This one had a new agenda...'divide and conquer'... 
Governments came and went and the EU brought out its 'Human rights Act'...they might as well have dubbed it 'human riot act'.

Did you notice Dear Reader that in Japan, after the tsunami, rioting and looting were conspicuous by their absence?

In Japanese culture it is 'the good of the many that is better than the good of the one'. Not the 'Devil take the hindmost'.

So where are my musings taking me? To Literacy and the idea of Talking and Communicating...of 'getting in thro' the mind instead of the hide'.

I'd like all those that appear in front of magistrates as a result of the disturbances to be tested for literacy and numeracy. To have their educational background investigated. To look for their shortfalls in learning and have them addressed.

As I heard Michael Morpurgo (children's author) say today 'Literacy is empowerment'. 

Monday 8 August 2011


After our gallivanting by bus into 'town' the other week and M and I visiting the beautician; things have been rather quiet.
Then, this morning M rang to ask after OH and I seeing as no-one had met up for a while. She also invited us to go round and view her new bedroom.
When living in a bungalow it's a lot easier to re-designate rooms and their uses. M had been using the room in the rear as a bedroom because previous inhabitants had left built-in wardrobes. Then she realised that she was missing out on the lovely view of her garden. In the couple of years she's lived here, it has been transformed from patio, lawn wilderness into a productive garden. It'd take too long to list the things she is growing. Suffice it to say her shopping bills for fruit and veg have been whittled to almost nothing.
With help from OH one of her front rooms has become a pleasant, relaxing bedroom. In the next few months M intends to turn the former bedroom into a lounge to enjoy her garden vista.

Sunday 7 August 2011

not my words, but I had to borrow...

When my page is blank, you don’t know that earlier I was full of ideas.
When my house is a tip, you don’t know that yesterday I cleaned all day and that it looked nice for ten minutes.
When I say something stupid, you don’t know that the last time I opened my mouth I spoke insightful wisdom.
When I am quiet all day, you don’t know how I love and long to sing.
When I cry, you don’t know that this morning I smiled.
When I write badly, you don’t know that last week I wrote brilliantly.
When I burn the dinner, you don’t know that yesterday’s meal was delicious perfection...
When I seem weak and easily controlled, you don’t know that I have had a long fight and am tired.
When I am shallow, you don’t know that I am really deep.
When I am grumpy, you don’t know how patient I have been for so long.
When I ask stupid questions, you don’t know that tomorrow I will have all the clever answers.
A Voice Released [blog]

Wednesday 3 August 2011


2nd August our younger GSD was 3 years old. Time flying again! Goddaughter's aunt and uncle have had another child...10lb 10oz...that family always have large babies. Fortunately Mother and baby are well and doing fine. 

Tuesday 2 August 2011

awol lol

Taking a hint from a lovely be me!
The two Ms and I plus OH went carpet hunting...OH bought a carpet remnant 80% wool. The two Ms kept on looking. That was last Wednesday and the carpet arrived on Thursday. Looking at the 6m x 4m roll dominating the hallway I wondered what we'd let ourselves in for.
It must be 10-15 years since we last fitted a carpet and tempus fugit has taken it toll. Things do get harder as you get older...
Suffice it to say the carpet battle commenced on Friday with clearing as much of the room as practical. By the evening a couple of worn out people were finally able to view their completed efforts. I warned OH that if he has a similar scheme planned in the future...I will not be fitting any carpets; but will pay someone else to do it!