Archive for the 'life' Category

23
Nov
17

productivity

With much talk about productivity here is a week in the life of a External wall Insulator in the South West, 2017.

There is a house to insulate in Bristol, front and back only as it’s a terrace, so not many metres. The materials should be there already. On the Monday morning bright and early the gang of three set off for Bristol. It’s a seventy three mile journey, door to door. They are all on a labour only contract, with a price for the total job. On arrival the material can be seen on the properties driveway, but none of it is covered, so the bags of render are all soaked after a weekend of rain. As on all jobs, one of the first things a Plasterer will look for is water. They find the rear entrance up a cat mess ridden overgrown lane, and on inspection they notice there is no water tap. Next door either way, have no tap either. They bang on the door front and back but the house is empty. One has found a Fire Hydrant connection at the far end of the cul-de-sac. They phoned a line manager at home, as it’s only eight fifteen, to warn him of the situation. He checks they have tried the door and the neighbours. His last suggestion is a local Petrol station, apparently they all have outside taps. With only two buckets to hand, one would need to be on a constant water run, they shelved that idea as ludicrous. On his arrival in the office he promised to send a van up the Motorway, with a Hydrant key and tap, but it would get there too late for that day, so they set off home, after earning nothing and using 150 miles worth of fuel.

Day two, on arrival the key can be seen on top of the material. They dig out the Hydrant box, the chamber is solid with road grit. The key they had been given didn’t fit, it was too big. They phoned the office, moaned about losing two days and spending money on fuel. The boss agrees to pay them a day rate for all days that they are delayed, where it’s not their fault.

Day three, they bring their own key from home and a resident van driver had left another one to try. Oddly the van driver could have checked he’s, and phoned in to say he’s didn’t fit. On checking, theirs didn’t fit either. They phoned in again to give the boss the bad news. Go to a different house tomorrow, he says, leave that one for now.

Day four, they arrive at the new address, the Scaffolder’s are just finishing. On giving it the once over, they notice the Scaffold doesn’t reach the party line between the two properties by a metre. They mention this as the Scaffolder writes out the Scaffolding tag and slips it on a tube. Apparently he’d said to the boss, £300 wasn’t enough for the houses on that street as they where longer than normal front and back. The boss had told him there was only £300 on the book for Scaffold, take it or leave it. Sliding the ladder onto his shoulder he chucked it onto the lorry. They asked as to where their ladder was, considering for a moment that it might be on the rear for safety as many get stolen.  Apparently, leaving one, would have took the bill to £360, so he wasn’t leaving one. They phoned the office, the boss was livid, he’d ticked the box on his Spread sheet, Started, so he could plan on getting paid four days later, I’ll get him to drop one off, he says. After waiting for three hours they assumed Scaffolder was having none of it. They phone in to say they are leaving site. There’s no ladder. The boss says he’s got a nice little job they can do for him, on Friday.

Day five, they wander up to Bristol again, to another postcode. It’s just a coat over, keep it tight back he says as there is only four bags of material. On arrival, the front elevation is pebble dash and the mortar is letting go of the stones, really it needs taking off, back to the blockwork. The four bags is looking slim. As they climb the Scaffold they see the resident on the phone, down below in the lounge in a Housecoat (who wears a Housecoat?). As he’s facing them, they assume he’s ranting about them, he was. He was arguing with the Salesman who had been in his house two days earlier, he’d definitely said they would take it all off before rendering. By now the four bags had been mixed and applied, even mortar that had dropped on the floor had been saved and applied. For such a knobbly wall, six bags would have been tight. At no time did the householder speak to them, so they cleared up and left, twenty metres at £5 a metre, minus 750+ miles of fuel.

On pay day the boss made no mention of his agreement to pay waiting time, they had wondered how he could have paid it, as there is only money in the pot for fitting the Insulation, nothing else. He also failed to mention that he hadn’t been paid for the recoat on the Pebbledash, the resident refused, it wasn’t thick enough and they had left the stone on. It was with some luck that they had been paid for it.

The Insulated render industry has been invaded by chancers, charlatans, blagger’s, call them what you want, from the coal face and up through management. Lots saw the Green Deal as a bandwagon apart from those doing the work. The boss who they had been working for, previously owned a sweet shop locally before jumping into the render game. Within a week most of the kids at three schools had been off with the shits. On the big jars of sweets lining the shelves, you could read with a magnifying glass the warning about diarrhoea. Within a few weeks the shop closed down, I did laugh.

Only the other day I saw the old boss sporting a full unkempt beard, a disguise probably, as running up accounts to the max at local suppliers before closing your business, is seriously frowned upon in these parts. The productivity of those three men had kept his company afloat, he never understood how unproductive rendering from the bottom up could be, the country as a whole will be better off without him at the helm of anything bar a razor blade.

A different gang of three, a different week and a different county, Cornwall.

One hundred and four miles door to door, requiring an early start. If you’ve never been to Cornwall you’ve missed out. If you’ve made it over the border you’ll have noticed the shortage of roads in the middle, if you know anything about maps you’ll quickly notice a lot of the inner roads are not major roads. Travel off the main drag needs to be kept to a minimum if possible. You will get used to the regular Post Code Satnav scenario, the Satnav says you’ve arrived but the house is nowhere to be seen, it’s actually above you, up that donkey track, or your on top of an hill and its down through that Bramble track that your vehicle won’t fit down. The other extreme is it’s in the middle of a fifteen house terrace, carved into a mountain and built out of the stone, no rear access, everything has to go through the house, can’t have your van outside the house as it’s Duchy land, and it’s not allowed, there’s a car park on top of the mountain. The workers wonder how their boss gets such shit jobs. This house is to be insulated inside so as not to disfigure the stone work. The resident makes it clear from the start that they weren’t expecting this intrusion before Christmas, they certainly won’t want the mess.

Day one, after speaking to the irate resident, they retire to the van and consume their lunchbox, as Ten O’clock sneaks up on them with no sign of any materials. They phone in, it’s coming by a big National carrier. The boss phones back, they’ve spoken to the driver, he’s close by, expect arrival, shortly. Lunchtime arrives, there’s not much left to eat. They phone in again, the boss phones back, it’s close by. They look out of the window at the weather battered cars that had their own tyre impressions in the tarmac. No lorry, nothing. They phone in, the boss phones back, they don’t know where it is, they’ve lost contact with the driver. They wander down to the house, it’s lashing down, no materials there. At two thirty they set of home.

Day two, they announce their arrival to the resident, and at Nine O’clock they phone in. Nothing changed, they reckon they still have no contact with the driver, so at two thirty they set off home.

Day three, they do exactly the same again, they are leaving their own impressions in the Tarmac now. The boss phones to say it’s been delivered. Where though, it’s not in the car park, or on the Terrace. At Two Thirty they set of home.

Day four, by chance they speak to a different boss, your where he asks, you shouldn’t be there until January, but the materials been delivered somewhere, what, who told you to go there? apologies to the resident and come home, I’ll work something out for you, for tomorrow.

Day five, the boss never phoned back until Nine O’clock and that was to say sorry and see them on Monday, luckily they hadn’t set off. Four hundred miles of fuel with no monies earned and Productivity nowhere to be seen.

 

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21
Jul
17

The road to Grenfell

There are many routes, this is my route.

In 1938,  Liberalism was on the wane and some people thought a new direction was needed for the world. A conference was set up in Paris called The Walter Lippmann Colloquium, it’s aim was to  construct a new Liberalism as a rejection to Socialism and Laissez-Fare Liberalism. Twenty six men of like minds attended. They where reading Lippmann’s book, An Enquiry into the Principles of the Good Society. The term Neo Liberalism (free market capitalism), was first thought of by Alexander Rustow at this meeting. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism. I first learnt of it in 1973 in my GCSE History lesson, where the Socialist teacher in his hand knitted oversize jumper painted a grim picture of what was to come.

This Right wing Ideological fringe movement would be classed as obscure for many, until the arrival of Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and even then I don’t remember it being mentioned, as they would prefer it if  could be sneaked in, bit by bit, hoping its too late by the time you’ve noticed. Heath had started the attack on Unions some time before Thatcher’s arrival and her 84/85 Miners strike. The result a message to us all and a resurgence of the power of capital, over labour.

Callaghan had ditched Keynesian economics in 1976. Howe in 81 had 364 economists telling him his budget was all wrong, it was to bury Keynesian economics for ever. The removal of exchange controls meant travellers no longer had a £50 foreign travel limit. For business it was the free movement of money and investments abroad. But this also is part of the Neo Liberalism way of thinking. Small state and less regulation. Banks did well with high interest rates, but the workers didn’t, with high fuel costs and a rise in National Insurance, increases in Tobacco and Alcohol duties. It was the first Austerity budget I had known.

Personally it was the first attack on my wages. Men in suites stood around with clipboards watching people work, timing, recording. In the months that followed my prices went down. Things got Privatised Nationally. Add in the higher taxes and national insurance and a lot of us buggered off to Germany and beyond. I was on the Legoland Windsor project at the time, and it’s one of the only jobs I’ve left without finishing, such was the rush to get out. I’d realised the present order was not natural, but rather that it is new, that came from somewhere, and that it was designed by particular people with particular interests, like Alexander Rustow.  It felt like Management had secretly  been to night school and learnt a new meaner method.

It was the end of Society as we had previously known it, but they are not finished yet. Devised by people it can be undone by people, I hope.

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The floatation of many company’s was another assault on the workers wages. Where does the money come from for the Shareholders dividend, and the new H&S department and the new HR department, it can only come out of the workers wages as the boss isn’t going to pay it out of his profit.

It tickles me to see Blair telling us we should stay in the single market and the Customs union for he is a Neoliberal as well. Seeing him wearing a Kippah reminded me of the string of Jewish names that are attached to this way of thinking, not forgetting the list of Billionaires, some Jewish, as it’s money that’s really in charge now.

They have a wish to remove Capitalism away from Government and a vote. Free of all constraints and controls. Free labour would be ideal, but they are settling for free movement at the moment. Anything that can be, is to be monetised.

The Wiki says:

Neoliberalism (neo-liberalism)[1] refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[2]:7 These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, unrestricted free trade,[3] and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.[11] These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.

That’s where we are, if we look out of the window.

We’ve seen the effects of economic liberalism, Enron and the 2008 crash to name but two. If we look at Chile in 1980, Neoliberal  James McGill Buchanan helped the Pinochet dictatorship write a new constitution, which, partly through the clever devices Buchanan proposed, has proved impossible to reverse entirely. Amid the torture and killings, he advised the government to extend programmes of privatisation, austerity, monetary restraint, deregulation and the destruction of trade unions: a package that helped trigger economic collapse in 1982. In 1986 James Buchanan was awarded the Nobel memorial prize for economics. Mrs Thatcher had Pinochet as a personal friend.

Privatisation has seen a none stop selling off of assets, you can be riding your bike now and told you can’t, it’s private land and there are rules you follow or don’t go that way again, you might even be fined.

Fiscal Austerity has seen an ever increasing drop in all aspects of life, especially in the care given by the Government to those less off in society. The NHS wasn’t safe under Labour and it’s even less safe now, as America is waiting to own it.

If you look back to 1938 (the year my mother was born) and beyond you’ll find the property supremacist John C Calhoun, who argued in the first half of the 19th century that freedom consists of the absolute right to use your property (including your slaves) however you may wish; any institution that impinges on this right is an agent of oppression, exploiting men of property on behalf of the undeserving masses. I’ve met bosses with the same mentality.

Deregulation has spread far and wide. There’s been a De Regulation for money and for control systems. Do you remember Trading Standards? did you ever read Which Cladding? obviously Kensington Council didn’t. Trading Standards could have stopped Grenfell if they hadn’t been told to let up and let the manufacturer’s check their own products. If local Councils still had their own Clerk of Works, he would have stopped Grenfell. If the local Council had sent a Fire Officer, they would have stopped Grenfell. If Grenfell had a warden, more lives would have been saved.

Un restricted free trade and free movement, the two go together.

Thatcher stopped the Better Home initiative which Grenfell would have been brought up to date in the 90’s under. Free movement saw the demise of the Industrial Process that used to insulate the blocks like Grenfell. Firstly, cheap unskilled labour was used by management to lower wages, secondly, they expected you to be happy with it, eventually all their trained workers left. Most left the Industry, never to return, hence the skills shortage across the land, and Bovis the house builders £7 million pot, put aside for snagging this year.  I haven’t stopped laughing about that. The quality the untrained could muster, you or anyone with the money wouldn’t pay for. Eventually the clients and local councils didn’t want anymore doing to that quality level and looked for something else, and picked Rain Screen as the new method.

As seven out of the ten company’s connected with the project where for the cladding side, pinning the blame will be difficult. Who would a quarter of Million pounds be a saving for, is a smaller list.

What you can’t see is the windows where moved from their original spot outwards, to aid light ingress as the cladding was at least 150mm deep. The fire proofing around the new window position will be under scrutiny along with the system makeup in the internal corners where the fire first travelled at speed vertically. You will hear much about the cavity fire stops, they survived the blaze, they are still there, they are on the floor pads in the final picture, just above the windows in an horizontal line. Where are the fire breaks in the flammable cladding, the cavity breaks stop against the back of the outer  cladding, under heat, they don’t make it to the outer edge,  can you see any in the extremely flammable cladding? no as there aren’t any. Molten Aluminium windows give us some idea of the temperatures involved. The temperatures reached in property’s is even higher than previous, with the invent of Lithium battery’s for phones and pads. Down in the right hand corner fourth square in on the second level you can see the colour of the FR5000 Insulation, which didn’t burn with the cladding, more it was turned to carbon by the flat fires that followed. If the fire hadn’t made it inside, the Insulation would still be there as the burning cladding had passed it quite quickly.

 

There is a chance more deaths on a large scale will have happened before we hear the final news on Grenfell. Is there a reason for the circle of Mosques that encircle London? imagine them as a boundary. Londonium will end there, and if your not the right colour or of the correct wealth you won’t be allowed to live there. It will be a fully privatised area of well kept lawns, homes and not a spot of litter or riffraff. In essence, it is a class war of the global rich against the rest of humanity. Its purpose is to destroy the gains made by working people since the 40’s, to increase the rate of exploitation and profit, and to redistribute wealth from labour to capital.  So they will build you a new house or block of flats but the developer will decide on the affordable figure, so none of Grenfell’s residents could afford the rent.

As James Buchanan managed to write a manifesto for Chile, then I’m going to write a manifesto for the world. I’ve tested it on a multi millionaire, it went down like a lead balloon, so I reckon with a little bit of fine tuning it will be good to go.

31
Jan
17

Un Agenda 21+2030 are coming your way

Sustainable Development is the action plan to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all information, all energy, and all human beings in the world.     

In 1992 George Bush and another 178 world leaders including John Major signed up for the Un Agenda 21.

The plan is make everything sustainable. In the USA they have a plan to build miles of high speed rail lines, the UK has its HS2 line. The plan is too return a lot of the countryside back to a wild space. If you live in an urban sprawl then under this plan you won’t, you will live in high rise blocks alongside the rail lines. The plan is already in every school and library, it’s a global plan implemented at a grass root level. Our kids are being indoctrinated, you want to be green?, oh yes, then stress it to your mum and dad. Living as we do is unsustainable. In the plan farming and insecticides, fertilisers, rivers and dams have to go, meat eating has to stop. Car driving, religion, living in a house, will all be a thing of the past. The idea of a government as we know it will be taken over by the UN and the army of do-gooder’s under their control. We will be expected to monitor our friends and family and grass them up if they step out of the control levels, such as growing your own food. This is not allowed, your fertilisers with run into the water source, the water source belongs to the world, you aren’t allowed to mess with it.

The word Smart is everywhere, smart meters will allow those in charge to turn off your power if they think your using to much. How can you be using too much? your box is the same size as everyone else’s box. Initially I’m expecting price banding, the minute you get home the price will rise, and it will rise so much you will be afraid to use it. Luckily by 2030 all buildings won’t need any energy for heating. All those who live in the far north, sorry that’s wild land and its unsustainable for you to live there. Vehicles use roads and bridges, these can’t be sustained. Firstly you will be charged by the mile, the cost will rise enough to put you of driving, add in the bridge has gone and the road has been ground into gravel and you will be glad of your hi-rise box next to the rail line. Oil? pollute the water, create dust, no, no, no, this can’t continue for the good of the global community. You will not be allowed to own land or a means of production like a shop or a factory. All these will be centralised and close to the railway line or by the cycle route

The middle classes are doomed along with the educated. The middle classes use more resources than poor people, this is unsustainable and you will all have to be made poor. Schools will/ are dumbing down the masses to aid this. The aim is a global cashless money system. Your taxes will be deducted before you buy your food. If you buy something they don’t like, you will be arrested, nothing can be allowed to mess with the plan. There will be a global religion, currently you can teach Islam but not Christianity, but I’m not expecting Islam to be the last one, I’m expecting the Catholics or the Jews.

Animals unless they are wild are unsustainable, goodbye cows, own a horse, no that’s unsustainable.

Information, in the USA Agenda 21 is already at work in the planning departments, your house could get burnt by a forest fire, that can’t be sustained, planning permission to rebuild will be refused, hence the armed police at the planning meeting, they know you won’t like it. Tv and the press will be heavily controlled,

Population reduction by war, disease, sterilisation and an option to kill in the first four years of life if there is something wrong with the child. We can’t afford to be looking after disabled people. Prince Phillip from the UK said he he could be re-incarnated he would like to come back as a virus and wipe out the population. The USA holds the patent on the Ebola virus and it’s variants, it was manufactured as a class A bio-weapon, one drop in the air can kill 500,000.

 

25
Jan
17

Life revisited

JAILED: Sadistic mum who starved and abused three girls – forcing one to drink out of a toilet bowl

By Grimsby Telegraph  |  Posted: January 19, 2017

By Mark Naylor

  image: http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/images/localworld/ugc-images/276369/Article/images/30069188/15807977-large.jpg

090117

Locked up: Caroline Sharp. Picture: Facebook.

Comments (13)

THIS cruel and sadistic mother "abused, humiliated, belittled and neglected" three girls by starving them of food and affection and treating them as "slaves".

It was "truly the childhood of nightmares" for the girls and one of them was not allowed to have a bath for six weeks, a court heard.

She had to drink water from out of the toilet bowl and another was so hungry that she was forced to steal food in the middle of the night.

Caroline Sharp, 65, admitted three offences of child cruelty between June 1975 and June 1991.

Gordon Stables, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that Sharp was the mother of one of the girls and the stepmother of the other two, whose mother died in 1973.

Sharp originally lived in Louth but later moved to Cleethorpes and Barnetby. She has most recently of Glebe Road, Brigg,

The offences came to light in March 2015 when one of the stepdaughters approached the police.

She said that she became a "slave" and was not fed properly.

"She was so hungry she would pinch food from the cupboards but, when this was discovered, she would be hit by Sharp," said Mr Stables.

"She was constantly hungry."

The two stepdaughters were afraid to ask for food.

"They would go to school hungry," said Mr Stables.

When they returned from school, they would be made to eat cold congealed porridge from breakfast.

"They would often not be fed between Friday teatime and pack-up on Monday at school," added Mr Stables.

More on this case: ‘Unburdened’ victims describe being ‘on a high’ after jailing of bullying and sadistic mum

One of the stepdaughters remembered an incident in Barnetby when she had to drink water from out of the toilet bowl because she was not allowed drinks.

She would be made to go without washing or a bath for days at a time and, on one occasion, it was six weeks before she was allowed to have a bath.

"She wasn’t allowed to use washing facilities or a toothbrush," said Mr Stables.

When she started her periods, she was not allowed to use any sanitary protection and had to use newspaper or toilet paper.

"She felt she looked like a tramp," added Mr Stables.

She had holes in her shoes and had to wear wellington boots in the summer.

She described her childhood as a "nightmare".

The other stepdaughter had "no memory of nice times when she was growing up" and remembered being "smacked and starved".

She was starved to the point where she would steal food in the middle of the night.

The stepdaughter was so hungry that she would eat the cold porridge they were served.

She described herself and the other stepdaughter as being "tramps" and "a mess".

She had nits all the time and was mentally abused by Sharp. The two girls were made to spend hours working in the garden and also had to do housework.

She described herself as an "emotional wreck".

The daughter remembered having an "abusive childhood" and witnessed her mother treating the other two girls as slaves and "the lowest of the low".

More on this case: Women reveal full and harrowing details of how they were treated as slaves and animals

She herself was treated as a slave and remembered feeling hungry all the time. She was too scared to steal anyone.

She was force-fed egg sandwiches and fatty mince, which made her sick, but Sharp found this funny.

"She was purposely dressed unfashionably, was given the opposite of what everyone else had and was belittled," said Mr Stables.

When Sharp was arrested, she told police: "I know I’m not a nice person.

"If I could turn back the clock, I would love them. I’m very, very sorry. I’m not proud of it."

Robert Underwood, mitigating, said Sharp pleaded guilty, had shown remorse and was frank during police interview.

"The past has caught up with her," said Mr Underwood. "She is full of remorse.

"The legacy of what occurred has had an effect upon these women. She feels humiliated.

"She can’t turn the clock back. She wishes she could."

Sharp had no previous convictions.

Judge Paul Watson QC said that Sharp came into the lives of the two stepdaughters not long after the death of their mother.

"Their nightmare was only to begin," he said.

"This was truly the childhood of nightmares.

"At your hands, they were abused, humiliated, belittled and neglected.

"They were starved of the parental care and affection to which they were entitled."

Sharp starved them "in an even more literal sense" by keeping them from "basic essentials such as hygiene and food".

This went on for years with the stepdaughters and Sharp also "rejected" her own daughter and "degraded her" in the same way.

"These children were, in fact, used by you as slaves with no care or affection to be shown to them throughout their childhood," said Judge Watson.

"The effects upon each of them are lasting and profound.

"Each of them has been left with long-lasting and serious difficulties which they are struggling to deal with.

"Each girl is going to need therapeutic counselling for years to come."

Sharp was jailed for two years.

The three victims were in court to see their tormentor locked up and all three were in tears as Sharp was led away.

No reporting restrictions were imposed.

Read more at http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/jailed-sadistic-mum-who-starved-and-abused-three-girls-forcing-one-to-drink-out-of-a-toilet-bowl/story-30069188-detail/story.html#93YTUQ12iBcTJSoz.99

10
Jan
17

Dupuytren’s contracture

NIK_4384

It occurs more frequently in patients with diabetes mellitus, seizure disorders, epilepsy, and alcoholism, which isn’t me at all. Genetics seems to be the most significant factor, as 4 to 7 in every 10 people with the condition have a family history of it. It’s also more common and often more severe in men over the age of 50 and of Northern European stock, it affects 4-6% of Caucasians worldwide. Dupuytren’s contracture is generally not thought to be related to manual work or using vibrating tools, although some recent studies suggest there may be a link. If so why does it only affect the ring, middle and pinkie fingers, when your index finger has been doing most of the work? I think falling badly on the side of my hand on March 10 2016 was the start of it as I can’t say I noticed it until shortly afterwards. A previous injury to the hand, such as a broken wrist has  been associated with an increased risk of Dupuytren’s contracture, but it’s not clear how this may lead to the condition. The only good news is Rheumatoid arthritis seems to protect against the development of Dupuytren disease.

27
Sep
16

I might even be a stand up comedian

The last ten years and more have been a steady slide to the bottom, or as close as it gets. My life as it was, has collapsed, my trade of many years is no longer possible, I’m as worn out as an old pair of running shoes. I’ve lost hundreds of friends, my wife and a dog, and an earner that I was quite happy doing, providing it didn’t rain. My Industry changed, my bosses changed, so much so, I no longer fit in that world. I have been robbed of earned monies by unscrupulous swine’s so many times lately, I can’t see how anyone would be expected to carry on. So it’s a good bye to a trade that’s nearly crippled me, bankrupted me financially, ruined my marriage and dumped me back at the beginning, circle 1- friends and family.

The friends section that’s left is mainly internet based, some forged over many years. In my previous life we all jumped into circle two, (meet up) well 52 of us did. We all met up over a week in Wellington, Somerset, 1987, 52 people with similar internet based interests from all over the world, a fantastic week. I am still friends with some, and do converse with a few of the rest. When your trying to invent yourself without any idea as to what as, a meet up with anyone can be the start of the next journey.

In my career the quality of my work and the quality of my workers efforts where enough to keep me in work for 30 years. Most of it was done by Spex, he was a right laugh, apparently. Very few people at work ever called me by my name, very few even knew my real name. A Labour MP only weeks ago, her reply to my email (pest or troll?) read “who are you” I laughed out loud initially and fired off a quick reply “Brian Lee” and at that moment the realisation dawned, she has no idea who I am but neither do I, like I said I’m back at the beginning.  I can be anything, I might even be a stand up comedian.

19
Sep
16

Grammar schools

What’s it like to take the 11-plus? ‘To be written off as a failure is a travesty’

So read the headline in the Guardian. It mentions the word traumatic and the sense of failure for some.

I moved area with my family from Oswaldtwistle to Bispham, just at the start of the exam period. I moved from Oswaldtwistle school from the Victorian era in build to Moor park infants, a prefab site, a half mile across fields from the back of our new house. I can remember nothing much of it apart from the day I walked over in the middle of the summer holidays to pick up my results.

I had been goaded by the woman masquerading as my mother in the morning about finding out how brainless I was in the morning, jocular in front of everyone else, but she meant it all, as her eyes had been directed at me. So I was a little surprised initially on her instruction to go and collect them, not so about the fact they where sealed, but to find her not interested on my flashing it at her, through the kitchen hatch, unopened,  so I deposited it on the Formica top. There it stayed as I washed up that evenings dishes, fed the dog and cleaned the shoes and received my nod to get to bed through the hatch.

I was in bed as my father came home from work, shortly after seven. I say bed but it was a sleeping bag on the floor, my step brother had the bed. On the floor I could hear everything that happened down stairs, I know the soundtracks and words of many a film I have yet to see, heard through the eighty-twenty mix Axminster carpet and underlay, the first time I had lived on it.  I’d heard the Conservatory door open followed by the kitchen door, the brief pause as he took his boots off, followed by the buckle on his lunchbox strap landing on the Formica top.  A short greeting followed by “your tea is in the oven, get a cloth it will be hot”. What’s this?, it’s our Brian’s exam results, unopened, there is surprise in his voice. The oven door closed, the cloth was tucked in a cupboard door handle, I waited, anxiously, a rustling in the cutlery drawer, the required landing on the plate as he exited the kitchen for the lounge. My dad was the only person allowed to eat in the lounge. What’s on he asks, this says Norma, Les Dawson is on in ten minutes. As he sinks into his seat, “Bloody hell, our Brian has the highest marks in the school”. My heart jumped a beat, my father rarely swore,  I wondered if it could be heard downstairs, my father was sat underneath me, Norma at the far end by the hatch, he was obviously reading, “he’s been invited to a local Grammar school”. I was in shock, my heart was going mad, thumping away, in a split moment of time, I thought about the next morning and Norma, Grammar school ? how?

The next sentence I heard has been tucked away for many years, only the current media frenzy about them on a daily basis has brought it to the fore. “He’s not going to a Grammar school, I don’t want him thinking he’s any different from any of the others”, and that was that, I never heard it mentioned again. I never actually saw my results that year, and I was never allowed to do Homework, ever, only help my siblings with theirs, something I can remember doing at Oswaldtwistle School and for the rest of my home life.

So off I went to Montgomery high school, one alpha, I spent many a day gazing out of the window over the next few years dreading home time, meanwhile at home carrying on with regularly running away from home, which I’d started in Rochdale. I dropped to the bottom sets in Maths and English, my mind still full of fear. My first years English essay had raised my teachers eyebrows, I had extra school dinners all through my school life, I put this down to my essays, but I still dropped.

As I gazed out of the window (it would have been no different in a Grammar school) a constant question arose, how did I pass my eleven plus? my life in Oswaldtwistle and Rochdale preceding, had been bad enough for me to be running away from home. The woman masquerading as my mother was a monster of the highest order and had been as long as i could remember, I still find it very puzzling, how did I pass my eleven plus, just with the teachings at Oakenrod in Rochdale and Oswaldtwistle school, it must have been top notch, the fear I was under at that time still upsets me today, just thinking about it. Very rarely do I wonder on what I might have been, but wonder on who I should have been.




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