Saturday, 29 August 2009

about living by & breaking the rules

There are a few rules in life that really should be adhered to. As far as I can tell, (in no particular order of priority and probably more observational than autobiographical) these are:

  • If you have big ears, save up to have them pinned back and whilst you are so doing, cover them up with your hair.

  • If you have a fat bottom, a bulging tummy and “generous” hips think very carefully before purchasing, let alone wearing, leggings. If you have a cleavage, you don’t necessarily always have to show it.

  • If you switch on the TV for background noise, without paying attention to what is actually being transmitted and you happen to hear a phrase such as “basically, there’s a large bag, filled with hot air and attached to a basket” – do not automatically assume that someone has been watching you do your shopping and is talking about you when, in fact, you may have heard an item about hot air balloons on The Weather Programme.

  • If you have something that you want to do, then do it because nobody else is going to do it for you.

  • If you have something that you don’t want to do, then try really hard not to do it because it will probably make you unhappy.

  • If you have something that you SHOULD do, then just get on with it. If you let someone else do it for you, chances are you won’t be happy with the way they’ve done it and you will have relinquished the right to say a single word about it.

  • If you have something that you want to say, think very carefully before you say it because someone might actually remember what you’ve said and hold it against you.

  • If you like someone, tell them that you like them. If you don’t like someone, don’t bother talking to them because you’ll probably continue to dislike them and then hurt their feelings, which is something that could be avoided by not talking to them in the first place.

  • Try really hard not to frighten people and try really hard not to let anyone frighten you. If you are frightened, hide behind the sofa until someone who doesn’t frighten you assures you that it’s safe to emerge from your hiding place.

  • If you hear the name Arsene Wenger, do not think “what a coincidence it is that he manages Arsenal” as you will waste 5 minutes of your life that you will not be able to retrieve in wondering whether the football club chose him to be its manager because of his name.

  • Do not live in the past because it has a habit of being a happier place than the present and will make you feel very worried and fearful about the future which could well get better but all your doubts might just make it feel worse.

  • If you feel like singing, sing - and ignore people who don’t like the way you sing or ask them to join in with you because having a good sing-song will make everyone feel better (except people who don’t like singing).

  • If you don’t know how to spell something look the word up in a dictionary before committing it to paper because someone WILL notice and come after you with a pointy, pointy finger and a naggy voice. If you haven’t got a dictionary to hand – use a different word.

  • If you haven’t had any sleep, don’t write a blog post because it will come out all wrong. If you do write a blog post when you haven’t had any sleep and it does come out all wrong, don’t hit the publish key. If you do hit the publish key, be brave and brace yourself for the very worst thing that could happen ... someone might not like what you’ve written.

If you have your own set of rules, break them sometimes – just for the sheer heck of it.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

about Acronyms and Meaningless Hashtags

Twitter’s the place for people who have leanings towards media, all things literary, technological, News and Current Affairs, right? I’ve come to look on it as a social media site that is somewhat more grown-up than Facebook ... more for “thinking” people – but these days, I’m confused.

Acronyms such as LOL, ROFL, ROLMAO and even the blasted “hehee” have been appearing within those precious 140 characters and I’m wondering why people are wasting their character allowance on using mindless abbreviations when, patently, most of them are capable of expressing themselves in far better ways.

I never did like Facebook very much. It seemed, to me, to be full of people who knew people who I’d only ever met once or twice – and some who I’d never met at all – wanting to be my friends and then having the utter temerity to wish me to view their holiday photos. Soon after joining Twitter, I closed my Facebook account as I was really only ever using it to play Scrabble with a friend who lives less than 2 miles away from me and I truly didn’t wish to be friends with people of whom I’d never even heard let alone met. I was also plagued by the “gifts” that these unknown “friends” kept sending to me ... “Here, LOL, have a model Beefeater to make your day” and “Hehee, don’t forget to send a gift back to me”. Go away. Leave me alone. They wouldn’t – so I closed my account and shuffled in a relieved but adult fashion back to Twitter where I could actually form relationships with people who are capable of expressing quite complex, interesting and often witty thoughts in a succinct manner and who didn’t Laugh Out Loud at everything and anything that anyone said.

But what’s happening now on Twitter? The LOLS, ROFLS and hehees are creeping in and the succinct expressions of intelligent thought are on the decline and, what’s worse, I’ve even started to receive Direct Messages from people who are sending me “cuddly duckies” and such like with requests for me to send Direct Messages containing cute teddy bears back to them. But at least – as yet – I’m not being asked to view the holiday photos of people whom I do not know (and probably do not want to know). I enjoy looking at the occasional, amusing or interesting Twitpic but thanks heavens – as yet – no holiday photos.

Something else has started to happen on Twitter that is beginning to get ever so slightly too far lodged up my nostrils for comfort and that is the advent of the #verylongandoftentotallymeaninglesshashtag. Oh – and the swearing. I’m no prude. In fact I can – and often do – swear like a trooper but I’m not going to waste my 140 characters at proving this dubious talent to anyone who might happen to be reading what I write. I’ve been known under very stressful circumstances to use the occasional asterisk if I want to make a point very rudely but it’s not something I do often as I believe I am more than capable of expressing displeasure using other words than the usual F***s, C***s and whathaveyous.

And all of these annoying little factors are being sent by people who I genuinely thought knew better than to do so.

They know who they are and, without wishing to be a killjoy, I wonder if I may politely ask them when they’re going to stop or – if they don’t want to stop, perhaps they could restrict these inane practices to Facebook where I think they more rightfully belong.

You see, I am not LOL-ing, ROFL-ing, ROFLMAO-ing or even heehee-ing and I suspect quite a number of other people aren’t either.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

about Blood Brothers at the Bournemouth Pavilion

I had a bit of a health scare yesterday. I was quite frightened but, fortunately, I have a very good NHS doctor who's monitoring me carefully and I'm hoping to feel much better soon.

I tweeted that I'd had a bit of a scare on Twitter and, as ever, was amazed and touched at the many kind, supportive tweets I received in response. I'm aware that Twitter has come in for a bit of "flak" of late but you won't hear any criticism about it from me today. I'm very fond of my virtual friends and find that the incisive (and sometimes quite wicked) wit I read on the site lifts me when I'm feeling down and heartens me when I feel in need of a bit of virtual support.

I'd booked tickets for OP, Josh and myself to see Willy Russell's "Blood Brothers" at the Bournemouth Pavilion last night. It will be OP's birthday at the end of this month and as he'd seen the show many years ago and it had made quite an impression on him, he was keen to see it again. Tickets to see the show seemed to be a very good birthday present for him ... usually he never wants "anything" but I knew he'd appreciate this.

In all honesty, I really didn't feel very well and didn't feel too much like going to the theatre - however, as I'd bought the tickets and both OP and Josh were looking forward to going, it would have been churlish of me not to have gone too. We set out early, parked easily and had a super meal in Wagamama prior to the show and were in our seats on time. We sat in the Circle and we had a very good view of the stage.

The show was good - a very acceptable "touring" company production ... not, in truth, up to West End standards, but apart from some of the diction not being too clear and the air conditioning in the Circle not coping too well with the humidity of the night - it was a moving version of a good musical. Lyn Paul (who used to be in The New Seekers) took the rĂ´le of the Johnstone twins' mother and her voice was strong and clear throughout. I expect that many people are more familiar with Barbara Dickson's rendition of the show's main theme "Tell Me It's Not True" but Lyn certainly did justice to that song and others in the musical. She and Robbie Scotcher, who took the part of the narrator, carried the show and I was so glad I went. The cast received a well deserved hearty ovation and I wasn't alone in having tears in my eyes at the end.

So, after a not altogether happy or healthy day, when I wondered if the show should have been re-named "The Blood Pressure Brothers" especially for me - a little bit of culture has - as it often does - made me feel a whole lot better than I'd been feeling earlier. I was also lifted by the fact that OP had enjoyed his birthday present and that Josh, at the tender age of 12 years, understood the sociological connotations of the show and was - for one so young - also moved by it.

The production only runs until Friday of this week but, if you're in the environs of Bournemouth and can manage to obtain tickets, the show would certainly receive my recommendation!

Friday, 7 August 2009

About her Son's School and Education

So, we’re in school holiday mode and whilst The Joshua is not 100% occupied, he’s certainly 100% happier than he usually is during term time. I’m not having to listen to the weekday morning ritual of “Oh, PLEASE, why can’t I be home-educated?” whilst taking him to school each day nor am I having to listen to the tearful reports of the very real upsets that he has suffered during school hours on collecting him each afternoon.

My kid is not wimp. He’s not violent and he “walks away” from trouble if he can. During his first year at his school he’s been bullied quite badly resulting in the actual suspension of about three children. He’s on his school’s Gifted and Talented Register for his artistic prowess. Heaven only knows how kids are treated if they’re NOT on the register. His school is letting him down wholesale.

I received his school report in June which was, at first glance, pleasingly “okay” – when I’d managed to decipher the hieroglyphics that actually comprise the report. Once I’d had a more detailed trawl through the subjects, I was considerably less happy ... not with Josh but with the school. For Literacy (or for us older people “English”) – there was no report at all due to “staff absence”. English is a core subject. Joshua is good at English - probably rather more due to the fact that his aged mother is a slave to the language than from anything he is learning at school.

I discovered at an over-crowded and completely disorganised Parents’ Evening – also in June – that Joshua’s English teacher was on Maternity leave and therefore hadn’t written any school reports for the pupils she had taught during the year. Has the gestation period of pregnancy decreased or increased since I had Joshua just over 12 years ago? I thought it was still 9 months. Am I to believe that his English teacher was taken completely by surprise by her pregnancy? Or were her time management skills severely in need of attention? She had MONTHS in which to write reports for the children she was teaching – but she didn’t.

It’s usual during the last week of term for children at Joshua’s school to take part in “Activities Week” – where a little slack is cut from the usual routine and they’re allowed to do the things that they like to do in most lessons. FOUR weeks before the end of term, Joshua happily announced that on three consecutive days in Maths lessons, he and his classmates had been allowed to watch “films”. I wondered if the said films were in any way mathematically orientated. No. The Maths Teaching Assistant (Joshua has NEVER actually had a Maths “teacher”) was on sick leave and there were no other teachers OR teaching assistants to step into the breach in her absence.

Joshua has not had the same teacher or teaching assistant for two consecutive lessons throughout his entire first year at his school for Music. Invariably he and his classmates don’t learn anything about music at all ... they sit and draw.

His school is wonderfully endowed with the most excellent of facilities – particularly for a child like Joshua whose main interest and talent is Art. It is completely lacking in adequate staffing – and discipline for either teaching staff OR children. The whole place is in chaos.

I don’t say this very often but I am at a complete loss for words.