musings (201) fun Monday (76) friendship (64) K9 (13)

Sunday 30 September 2012

In a hole in the ground there lived a

Bilbo Baggins went on a journey 'there and back again'.

Another of my favourite books by my all-time favourite author J. R. R. Tolkien. Why the sudden need to blog about a book whose anniversary was celebrated on 21st September 2012?

December 14th 2012 sees the premier of the Hobbit movie part I. For those like me who are eagerly anticipating its arrival, the ubiquitous Facebook has a page by Peter Jackson,  another called the Hobbit UK and last but not least the a world-wide collaboration of Tolkien fandom.

So, seeing as a download option was available, I include the following for your delectation and delight.
Thorin Oakenshield 

Fili and Kili

Thursday 27 September 2012

That was then...

This is now, and what a change to procedures. A few years back OH had a cataract operation. There was a long waiting list and to help out a team of South African medics toured here.
OH received his appointment and was collected by taxi and taken to the mobile clinic. He returned by taxi having had all the necessary explanations, advice and so on. 
A short while later he received his appt for the operation and instructions to bathe both eye areas twice a day for the week before.
Once more he was collected by taxi and taken to the mobile state-of the-art operating suite. He had his op (successful) and the taxi brought him home along with instructions for aftercare. They phoned him a couple of times to ask how he was and if he wanted to ask anything. All in all a successful outcome.

The SA team are here no longer and OH is to have an op on the other eye.

This time it's the NHS and visits to the teaching hospital.

There has been a massive investment in re-configuring the road network. We did a practice run the other week to work out the 'best' route. 

Today was spent going to and from the hospital. 8am to try to get there for an 8.45 appt. I drove home leaving OH to attend his appt. 

It was 11.30 before OH phoned for me to collect him. He'd spent the time going around the hospital from on queue to another.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

The more it rains...

The more it goes on raining...with apologies to A.A.Milne
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

A deep area of low pressure has decided the wedge itself across the UK. So we have persisting down rain from drizzle thro' to pouring down.

Places which made the headlines over the 'summer' are now being inundated again. Rail and road transport have been disrupted.

Monday 17 September 2012

Taking the Michael

This is the bloke Meddling and Interfering in the lives of children! Why?
He has No Knowledge of Education practice. He's never had any professional educational training yet he's been let loose on the exam system.
"Michael has been MP since 2005. He is an active local campaigner, having run vital projects to protect the local environment, improve public transport and help police deal with anti-social behaviour. Michael worked as a journalist before entering into politics."

Reading newspaper reports this morning has made me annoyed.

From the Independent
There would be an "all-or-nothing" three-hour exam at the end of the course – and pupils would no longer be able to take resits of each module of the exam to bump up their grades. In future, they will resit the entire exam or nothing. In addition, there will be no more modules or continuous assessment of pupils throughout the course period. 

Another example of ministerial ignorance.

I did Ordinary and Advanced Level exams. I taught 'O' level and CSE; endured the change-over to GCSE. It took months of meetings and training sessions before GCSE was implemented. 

Further on in the Independent article it shows that the Dem part of the ConDem partnership is similarly delusional.
Sources close to Nick Clegg said last night the new exam would be taken by 95 per cent of the age cohort. It was described as "a reform to raise the bar but not shut the door".

Obviously these folk have no knowledge of the real world and each lives in a cozy self-fulfilling bubble.

So I did a little search and came across some questions from the 
Wales Educational Trust (Yorks) 1910 - typical paper for 10-11 years of age.

What is the total cost of 19 bags of Whole Meal at 10 1/2d per bag and a side of bacon weighing 65lbs at 10 1/2d per lb?

Postcards already stamped can be bought at the rate of 11 for 6d. Similarly postcards, unstamped can be bought at the rate of 25 for 1d.
Which is cheaper to buy, postcards already stamped or postcards and stamps separately?

If 3cwt, 3qrs, 21lbs of tea can be weighed into equal packets each containing an exact number of pounds, what is the greatest number of packets which may so be made as each packet contains more than one pound?

I must admit that reading those questions brought back memories of sitting the 11+ exam.

Those were the days before metrication when money came in farthings, halfpennies, pennies,  tuppences, three-penny bits, sixpences, shillings, two-bob bits (florin), half-crowns and that was just the 'shrapnel'.

Another example of 1910 school scholarship questions.

Friday 14 September 2012

Dulce et decorum est part 2

Hugh Dennis' maternal grandfather endured far worse experiences.
Godfrey Parker Hinnels of Bury St. Edmunds born 1896, the son of a law clerk joined the Suffolk Regiment. His younger brother Frank (1898) was killed at Gallipoli.

13th February 1917 Godfrey was shipped to France. 
WWI had become a stalemate around Arras. Godfrey and the Suffolks first task was to bury the dead from the actions of the first battle of Arras

April 9th - 14th 
23rd April - 7th May

The Suffolk Regiment was sent to Neuville Vitasse south-east of Arras. They arrived at the trenches in front of the Hindenburg Line.
The Suffolks were sent to use grenades as they advanced (4.45) fighting (bombing) their way along.
Brutal fighting employing specialist bayonet men and grenade throwers.
Within 3 hours, Godfrey and the Suffolks came within 200 yards of their objective, only to be forced to retreat!
Casualties - only some 350 out of 700 survived including Godfrey.

The Arras campaign - some 4000+ men were lost daily (5 weeks and 160 000 Allied losses). 

Next Godfrey and the Suffolks were sent to Belgium between Ypres and Passchendaele Ridge.
26th September 1/3 of the Suffolk battalion was 'lost'.

The remainder overwintered near Poperinge (Ypres). Here they found 'Toc H' Talbot House. It was set up by Chaplain Philip (Tubby) Clayton. 
An 'Everyman's Club' a green idyll - 
“All rank abandon, ye who enter here.”

Home comforts in the heart of the battlefield. There was a garden and the men were encouraged to do gardening as therapy.

Spring Offensive 1918
Godfrey is now in a new regiment the Lincolnshires. Sent to defend the village of Wijtschate, Heuvelland.

CO of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) Douglas Haig issued a Special Order of the Day.

"There is no other course open to us but to fight it out.  Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement.  With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.  The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment."

(Signed) D. Haig F.M.
British Armies in France

General Headquarters
Tuesday, April 11th, 1918

16th April 1918
The Lincolnshires were attacked by Germans under the cover of dense fog. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued.
Lincolnshires lost some 3/4 of the Battalion. Godfrey survived - it was to be his last front-line service.
He returned to Bury St. Edmunds, married in 1927 and lived out his days. (1974)

Thursday 13 September 2012

Dulce et decorum est

pro patria mori... poem by Wilfred Owen telling of part of his experience of WWI.

Hugh Dennis (actor and comedian) is one of the people whose family history (part of) has been broadcast by Auntie Beeb. The first thing that surprised me was Hugh's father addressing him as 'Pete'.

Hugh's branch of the Dennis family
Father - John
Grandfather - Hubert Ronald (Ron to his family) born 1899 (1901 census)
Great-grandfather - John (coal hewer) wife Edith known as Edie.
John came from a village in Yorkshire (Kiveton Park) and worked in Kiveton Colliery.
The two sons were born in Wales a nearby village.

Hugh meets up with Eric Chambers of the Kiveton and Wales Historical Society.
Next he goes to Wales Primary school where Keith Laybourn shows him the Roll of Honour. Both of the Dennis brothers, John and Ronald, gained scholarships to Woodhouse Grammar School from the Wales Educational Trust. 
Edith and John saw education as the way for their sons to escape working in the colliery. Most local families depended on the mine with generations working down the pit.
Kiveton Park former colliery offices.  

© Copyright Dave Bevis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
June 1917
Ronald joins the army and is seen as 'officer material'. He joins a group of Army cadets at St. John's College, Cambridge on a six-month course to become temporary officers. The attrition rate amongst junior officers was so great that the ranks of public school educated officers were being supplemented from Grammar schools.
Hugh also went to the same college (1980s). 

In WWI the Army had taken over some of the colleges and turned them into training centres for officers. These temporary officers were given a quick course in behaviour and social skills expected of Officers, passing the port, dining in medieval surroundings in the college. An alien world, just as alien as when the brothers from a mining family went to grammar school.

Ronald arrived in France in October 1918. We the benefit of history we know it ended in November.
Imperial War Museum military historian Nigel Steel showed Hugh his grandfather's Medal Index Record.
Temporary Officer Hubert Ronald Dennis arrived on 12th October when troops had broken away from the trench war stalemate and it was now chaotic mobile combat.
Ronald found himself near Arras and the River Sombre. He was platoon commander of some 30-35 men and he was only 19 years old.
They were sent to capture the village of Futoy. Fighting through a mile of German troops, they captured the village, but with heavy losses.
13 officers were lost - 5 killed and 8 wounded.
Ronald was amongst the wounded.

Hugh was shown Ronald's medical record - wounded by shellfire fragments in his upper right arm. (Blighty wound) Sent home to recover (2-3 weeks).
After the war Ronald left the army and got married.
He lived until 1990 and died at the age of 91.

Wednesday 12 September 2012


On Sunday after the geology tour N and I stopped for a brew in the cafĂ©. We chatted and the topic of conversation turned to teaching. 
N had been Head of a Primary School and was granted early retirement (ill health). I was reminded me of similarities between her experience and my late friend Michael.
  • Head teacher of a Primary School
  • Long, arduous hours often thankless.
  • Governors with a political agenda
  • Parents of the pushy/interfering/blame school staff type
  • Parents of the totally ineffectual he/she can/does what they like and it's okay type
  • Political interference by the 'powers that be' meddlesome at best and at worst? Look at the Lib/Lab, Lab, Con and Con/Dem fiasco(s) since the 1980s.
I for one am thoroughly annoyed by the on-going trend to view education as
Input -- through-put -- output
Child into the 'system' -- Child-teen through the system...
Leaves the system and continues as a statistic from Cradle to Grave.

Yes, there are islands of where the lucky few, staff and pupils live an education idyll.
But, some schools aren't so lucky...their alumni include:
  • Murderers - same tutor group throughout schooldays...but within a year of leaving X murdered Y
  • Children of murderer - a brother and two sisters - returned home from school to find that their father had murdered their mother
  • Muederee - someone taunted a disabled man so much and for so long that eventually the man snapped and stabbed his tormentor
  • Shop-lifters
  • Pyromaniacs - reported recently in local press
  • Thieves
  • Burglars
  • Drug dealers - a particular road on an estate well-known locally
July 2012
"THE mum of murdered Merseyside teen Anthony Walker today spoke of her pride after thousands of people attended a festival dedicated to her late son.
Gee Walker opened the seventh Anthony Walker Foundation (AWF) Festival on Saturday with retired TV news presenter Gordon Burns and said it was “lovely to see so many people come together to celebrate his life”.

Previously, another murderer and victim attended that same school. Victim born 1968 murdered 1988.

To end on some good news from the Liverpool Echo - Dominique sister of Anthony Walker...

Dominique Walker knew his killers, Paul Taylor and Michael Barton, who remain in prison for the racist murder. "I grew up with Paul," she says. "I knew him since I was three, a small child,

Monday 10 September 2012


as the Beatles sang 'when my troubles were so far away'...
I went on another OUGS field trip, this time only a short one and not far away. For various reasons this was the first time in a long, long time I met up with fellow members of OUGS NW.
Geology of Lyme Park is detailed on a book 'Rocky Rambles in the Peak District' so I won't go into any details here.

Later on in the afternoon I had time to myself and decided to take myself on a photo safari around the gardens.
Yesterday was wall-to-wall sunshine and wall-to-wall people. It seemed like greater Manchester had moved en mass, people, families, dog walkers by the score. So I decided on such a lovely day I had to explore the gardens.

Monday 3 September 2012

Looking back...

It has got to be yet another sign of aging. (sigh)

I know that 'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”  L. P. Hartley (1895-1972) 

Thoughts of times past crowd my mind and no, they were not all the 'good old days'. Partly these musings have been driven by a spate of obituaries over the last few weeks.

Hal David - lyricist who worked with Burt Bacharach - composer (music) to produce a cornucopia of hits for well-known artists

Aretha Franklin - I Say A Little Prayer 
Dionne Warwick -  I'll Never Fall In Love Again 
Dusty Springfield  - I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself 

Commander Neil Armstrong of the Apollo moon landing; first person to walk on the Moon.

Also, of late I've taken to listening to Radio Four Extra which broadcasts past listening 'gems'.
There was 'Rogue Male' by Geoffrey Household which held me enthralled; so much that I added the book to kindle.

Written about a time before the days of personal mass communication which dogs our days and seems to run the lives of some people.

A time when most people communicated by speaking person to person and face to face or writing letters. Only the well-off used telegrams, which were a source of dread for the ordinary person. The one and only telegram I received bore news of a death.

Time that spread out "endlessly" in to the future. Posts arriving twice daily, replaced by the post which arrived regularly about 8.30. Now, we're lucky if it arrives in the morning (Saturday) or any time in the afternoon (M-F).

The most popular method of transport being Shank's pony. 

Then there were journeys by steam train. The noise, smells, hustle and bustle of the railway station. Platform ticket price 1d to access the platform in order to greet, wave off friends and relatives.
The small branch-line from Hayfield to New Mills which is now part of the Sett Valley trail. Then, the train ran on a single branch-line and had to stop to give back or take on board the pouch which showed the line was in use or clear.

Another thought which surfaces repeatedly is the memory of my father in his 60s returning to the Peak District to visit places from his past. No train journey was possible as the station had closed and lines torn up. He took himself by bus there and back, telling me after the event. Now, I too have a similar impulse, partly assuaged by researching genealogy, and viewing places on line. Now all that's left is to visit in person...

Geograph is a useful site where folk share photographs on places. As most of my time spent in the Dark Peak was in the days of black and white photography I'm using Geograph for these images (Creative Commons).

Looking over Upper Cliffe Farm in the middle ground, Hayfield beyond and seemingly the highest point Mount Famine with the distant bulk of Kinder Scout massif on the left skyline.
  © Copyright Peter Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Edited version cropped and enhanced by me.

Lantern Pike Inn, Little Hayfield, Derbyshire - cropped and enhanced.

Pub on the A624 with its own special place in TV history. One day in 1960, Tony Warren alighted here and sat down in the front left corner of the pub to begin writing the scripts for the first ever episode of Coronation Street.

  © Copyright Jonathan Clitheroe and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

So says that I can add some family knowledge...
The Inn is situated at the corner of Clough Lane and Glossop Road.
In the 1960s local people were astonished when a cottage on Slack Lane (the side road before Clough Lane) gained a celebrity owner Pat Phoenix star of Coronation Street.