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

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Targets of opportunity

The ConDems have targeted disabled people and there's been a massive campaign to portray anyone with a disability as 'scroungers'. Now the focus is shifting, this time the targets are 'baby boomers' the so-called rich pensioners. 

The whispering campaign is similar to the way disabled people were targeted. Press reports claiming those of the 'baby boom' generation are too wealthy and do not 'deserve' any public funding such as the Winter fuel allowance. 

But who are the 'baby boomers'? those born between 1946 and 1964.
Thinking about those dates...
1946 end of WWII and rationing still in place.
No television in the majority of households, just the wireless.
Many houses had outside toilets.
No hot water or central heating.
Cold water supply only, all water had to be heated as required. Bathing? Tin bath in front of the kitchen fire, oldest first, youngest last (same water) only difference being some more hot water added because the bath had gone cold.
Street lighting? Gas lamp-posts and folk employed as lamp-lighters. Not all homes had electricity, some were gas only. 
Cinema? Saturday mornings only if you were lucky. 
Motor vehicles? Few people owned cars of motorbikes. If you wanted to go anywhere the normal method of transport was 'Shanks pony'. Walking on foot everywhere, with trains (steam) and buses for longer journeys.

Television was a rarity in the 1950s, black and white and early TVs had a magnifying lens on two webbing straps to hold it in front of the small screen. Reception was at best intermittent and no such thing as a 24 hour service. 

Holidays? In the North there were the wakes weeks (fortnight) when the local area shut down. Some headed for resorts, Blackpool, Morecambe and Southport. Many stayed home. Holiday 'entitlement' was a new idea...3 weeks per year to be negotiated. One winter week and two in the rest of the year, but only the 'lucky few' had a fortnight. In the 1970s that idea of three weeks holiday was standard.

NHS yes and it functioned well, but once you reached 50 you were getting 'worn out'. Doctors admonished patients to 'grin and bear it' because you were 'getting on in years'.

As the saying goes, you cannot have it and spend it. Baby boomers saved for their old age. Debt was shameful, if you needed something you saved up for it. You were expected to live within your means. Sayings from WWII were perpetuated 'Waste not, want not.' 

It's the baby boomers whose pension funds have been raided by businessmen and politicians alike.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Pennies for heaven?

A local newspaper ran a story this week about fund-raising.
Clitheroe’s Civic Society raised their banner outside Boots on Castle Street last week to promote their “Mile of Pennies” event in aid of St Mary’s Church spire rebuild
Someone seemingly had the idea and chose to use the 'brew' below the church. 
The church of St. Mary Magdalene is situated on the top of a limestone knoll in the valley of the River Ribble.
I turned to geograph to find a pic of the church.
© Copyright  John S Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The church is full of memories some happy and some sad. Going back in time to happy memories of school-days and a remarkable music teacher Charles Myers and his favourite phrase 'more mouth move-ment'. In other words one must sing clearly with enunciation. He was a genius at getting the best out of his students. 
The school got a new headmistress and it soon became clear that she did not see eye-to-eye with our beloved music master. But Charlie Myers RSM (Fellow of the Royal schools of Music) was a force to be reckoned with. The choir played an important part in prize-giving and other events. On one occasion we rose to sing...nothing unusual in that, but Charlie had taught us the library rules and we sang them in plainsong. Strike-out Charlie won his battle.
Then there was the time when the BBC came and the choir arranged by Charlie in the Chancel took the lead in a radio broadcast. [Happy times].
There was a little-used way thro' the churchyard, a cut-through which saved time, but was rather precarious. Stone steps dating back hundreds of years giving access to the knoll from the North side, yet a joy to use in good weather.

The 'mile of pennies' was a long-standing tradition in the town in the days of pennies not pence. It was formed regularly, but in the street leading to the old market. Kerbstone edges are usually single, but because of the steepness of the street leading down the hill {the town is like others in the area built on a series of hill slopes), the uphill side was a double kerb. You'll have to use your imagination as the re-developers have been at work and the double kerb removed. Both kerbs used to be covered in lines of pennies in the days when pennies were valuable. Someone would set it going on market day and throughout the day more and more coins would be added.

Few of the older buildings survive...

 © Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Thursday 20 June 2013


The sort of scales found in shops 
 Chef Phillip Harbern - I still have his cookery book and very well-used it is too.
 Poppers individual beads to pull apart and re-join.
I loved having one of these.
 What fun, a simple game played for hours.
Remember having one of these and going on it on Sunday family visits.
 Typing by turning the dial to select characters. Used to type 'thank you' notes.
 Saving stamps
Last, but not least using a phone in a phone-box. 
There was a question about it in 11+ English. 
'How to make a telephone call'.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Apres nous le deluge

is what happened on the 1980s...
Politicians discovered a new toy to play with - the lives of children and teachers aka social engineering. 

Our acting Head was replaced by a new broom who arrived convinced he needed to stamp his authority on the place.
Unfortunately, it soon became a chalk-face rumour that was a 'wooden top'. 
Who or what were Wooden tops? A children's puppet series on TV. 

Another unfortunate coincidence was that he wore a mack, and on TV at the time there was the Colombo series also a cartoon about a character known as 'inch-high private eye'.
So to children and staff alike he became as 'Colombo'.
On of the most likable members of the English staff managed to escape to another post. His leaving do was held in the staff room. Prior to the arrival of the new head, it had been used for staff junketing after hours. Each year they held a 'Meet the new teachers' evening to welcome newbies and help them to settle in. Now Mr. P was leaving and he'd composed a leaving song the the tune of the Eaton boating song. It's many years ago, but I remember everyone ending up 'in bulk' with tears of laughter. The refrain was 'It seems to me; it's true to say' and the verses were peppered with other phrases typical of the new head. 
One Department voted 11 to 1 against something the head suggested; so the department forced to implement the new idea was that one.

Throughout the 80s various edicts came down from government. Social engineering carried on a-pace and continues to this day.

Thursday 13 June 2013


I took a break after Tuesday to put up pics for Wordless Wednesday as I've been taking garden photos without editing/publishing.

Now to return to the Monday topic.

Anyone who taught in comps from 1970s onwards saw changes, but most just added to workload, brought in classroom problems and made the job harder.

Did I 'live for work' or 'work for a living'? The former was true enough in the 70s the latter became the norm from the 80s onwards. I became trapped in a job that had been satisfying and occasionally rewarding. By the time I was granted early retirement it had become debilitating mental and physical drudgery.

1970s transition from secondary school to comprehensive...leavening the lump. We had streaming HUY top, TON middle and SL those with learning difficulties.
S classes were ESN educationally sub-normal whilst L were SSN severely sub-normal. Political correctness had yet to arrive. At least for S and L classes you knew there would be smaller classes with the smallest numbers in L. No teaching assistants, no special training 'get in there and get on with it'. Those kids had Uncle Norm (Norman) who was 'caretaker' for all S and L pupils. Their liking and respect for him was apparent. If he had 'free' time he'd look in on SL classes if young female staff had them. He became Uncle Norm to younger teachers too.

No such thing as 'no smoking' and Uncle Norm smoked his pipe in the staffroom. At break and lunchtime there was wall-to-wall smoke from ready-mades, roll-ups and our pipe smoker. A few brought packed lunch, a few opted for dinner duty, others headed for the VIth form canteen. When the school inspector turned up he too went to that canteen, the only difference being he had 'waitress' service. If only we'd kept guys like him, he did a superb job. I've never forgot him saying to us that there ought never to be any meetings after school. As he said 'anyone who teaches properly has nothing left by the time pupils go home'.

During the first couple of years the Deputy Head (Miss C) stood in for the Head; (Mr. W) was dying of cancer.

There were 1200 pupils on roll and the corridors were safe to walk down. We had a teacher return after a back operation, she walked to and from her room without risk of being jostled. She'd been time-tabled to work in her own room. The younger and newer you were, the more peripatetic one became. You could be at one end of the school for a lesson and the next at the opposite end of the building. 

Take a look at Plater's Beiderbecke Trilogy. 
Better still, read the books.

Of course there was no proper idea of 'equality' in the 70s and some practices would be frowned upon today.
We had two Deputy Heads, one in charge of curriculum and the other looked after time-tabling. The latter was what today would be called 'sexist'. He was in charge of the relief time-tabling as in sending people to cover other classes when the need arose.
Younger female teachers were his 'prey'; he'd stride up and say, 'Ah. my dear, you would appear to be free.' Then send you to cover a waiting class. Young male teachers lost less preparation time because they were rarely asked to cover.
Another practice that would be frowned on and quite rightly so was the Friday lunchtime visit to the pub. P.E. staff and younger staff went in several cars to a pub for a pint and toasties. One young languages teacher tended to drink pints of larger, fortunately her classroom was near a set of staff 'facilities'. She became the talk of the staff-room, not because of imbibing, but because she went with students and staff on a French trip and failed to return, deciding to stay in France!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Education? Not really, more social engineering.

The news media has been awash with education stories ad nauseam. It set me thinking about folk I know, know of or  knew and their experiences of education in the 19th, 20th and 21st century.
Researching family history, the word 'scholar' is used for children as young as 4 years of age (1881). 
The (Forster) education act of 1870 set up school districts and elementary schools along with school boards to run them.
Time for a brief digression to mention a book dramatised and aired on radio 4 extra. It's taken all day to find it! 'South Riding' by Winfred Holtby and well worth reading if I say so myself. Showing life in a Yorkshire elementary school; in particular the redoubtable Mrs. Beddows of the School Board.
Another novel, 'Lark Rise to Candleford', the book, not the apology that was the made for TV adaptation paints a true story of village school life years ago,

In the early 20th century, some of my family went to the local village school. At lunchtime it was customary to walk home, collect lunch for family workers, take it to them at the mill before having own lunch. People thought little about walking everywhere as that was the main form of transport. 

Returning to education history...

1880 compulsory schooling from 5-10 or up to 14 unless needed for work (little enforcement)
1891 elementary education was made free 
1918 raised the school leaving age to 14

Although the Hadow reports recommended secondary schooling, it took until the act of 1944 for a structure to be put in place.

In the 1960s parents of grammar school pupils signed to allow their children to remain at school to 16.

Secondary school pupils left at 15.

Now to talk about my friend who went to the local secondary school. He spent a lot of his time on practical subjects and left without much in the way of formal qualifications. On leaving school, he became an apprentice welder and when qualified...they 'let him go'. As a qualified welder he 'cost too much' to keep on. Not being one to remain idle, he went to Israel and carried on with welding work.  
Moving on a few years and he decided on a career change...the curate's wife encouraged him and he became a nurse in a mental hospital. There his creativity was encouraged and he gained qualifications. Over the next few years he bought and restored an old cottage. Then moved across the road and took over a large derelict building and restored a four-storey 19th century former warehouse. 

1973 ROSLA  raising of the school leaving age to 16. Introduction of 'comprehensive' education.
The place I worked in had 1200 on roll and a teaching staff of 75; class sizes were usually 30-36 pupils.