Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sunday 08/02/09

The letters have gone out to the neighbours from the planning authority to alert them to the planning application – Colin has received his already (he took delivery of a half load of logs yesterday and I’m considering making a move on them tonight under cover of darkness). We’re expecting objections from one particular local family who have a reputation for complaining about everything just as a matter of principle. You know the type – members of the Rotary and Lions, twinset and pearls, lots of dinner parties, send their kids to public school, drive 4x4s and MPVs, the man of the house wears those hideous salmon pink or pea green jumbo-cord trousers with a hacking jacket and flat cap.

We went for a walk to Old Sodbury church yesterday. I think it’s called St John the Papist. Pretty as a picture – so here’s the picture:

May use is as a Christmas card next year and combine it with a round robin letter outlining all our activities during the year, along with all the kids’ exam results and pictures of us on holiday in Madagascar (not).

The snow has turned the escarpments next to the church into the Old Sodbury Ski Resort. We just need a ski-lift now. Here’s the learner slope (it’s a lot steeper than it appears and goes on forever):

The intermediate slope, where the King of Old Sodbury skis (note the many toboggan tracks):

And finally the Old Sodbury Cresta Run, which is only for the suicidal:

Hay calls this part of the churchyard shown below ‘the Narnia corner, for obvious reasons.

The following photos are memorials in the churchyard to a number of Hay’s relatives:

Percy, who was the son of the Thomas and Edith of the previous photo, and Caravan’s uncle, didn’t get a headstone as he was killed in Zantvoorde, Belgium, in 1914 and is buried in the British Cemetery there.

There are heaps more Dashes in the churchyard, but they’re not easily unearthed. Inbred as hell though - all the Dash family have a lower lip resembling the Habsburg Lip, but not as pronounced.

The photo below shows where the dead have been poking their hands up through the ground:

Hay wants to be buried in the churchyard when her time comes and she wants me there too, but I’m not 100% sure when. My old man was cremated and his ashes were despatched somewhere in Holland by mum on a whim, just as she started to go bonkers, so my brother and I never found out where. I would have liked to have had a permanent memorial to him; somewhere special where I knew he was buried and where I could go to think about him. It would be nice to leave such a memorial for my kids – and to be a part of history - and the Old Sodbury churchyard is the perfect spot.

Hay has a habit of vacuuming the ash and soot up from around the wood burner every now and again, but doing it while it’s lit. Yesterday she made the mistake of doing it while not only lit, but with the ash box lid removed. She managed to suck a burning ember into the vacuum cleaner’s bowels, the ember then set fire to the dust inside the cleaner and the vacuum draft turned the whole thing into a smoke generator. The caravan stank of burning dust for hours.

Religious orders in Britain are giving people the chance to "try out" becoming a nun or a monk for a weekend. The Roman Catholic church is hoping to slow a decline in people choosing monastic life by arranging the weekends at Worth Abbey in West Sussex. During their time at the abbey, they rise at dawn and eat in silence while listening to a reading and walk to the church for prayers five times a day. Not exactly my idea of Heaven! Perhaps the authorities should make one such weekend compulsory for all youngsters before leaving school. It would give them a taste of what prison life is like and might just put the few recidivists among them off offending.

I learned yesterday that a student obtaining just 18% in an OCR exam board chemistry paper can obtain a C grade and a consequent pass. You may not be aware of this, but the old O-level is still alive and well, but not in the UK. The Cambridge Board, well known to those of us who did O-levels in the early ‘70s, promotes them as "established qualifications that keep pace with educational developments and trends, recognised throughout the world, by academic institutes and employers, as a mark of quality and evidence of real ability". Pupils in the UK, however, are prohibited from sitting this British exam because it is said to be old-fashioned: more likely because they don’t have sufficient knowledge to do them. It’s strange that Singapore, who use the Cambridge Board’s O-level exam, should stick with a system so vilified by educationists here for not meeting the needs of the 21st century.

Here is a question from a 2005 GCSE history paper set by the AQA board, and an O-level questions from the Cambridge Board's specimen paper for the same year:

The GCSE candidates were asked: "What does Source A tell us about the main aims of the League of Nations?" "Source A", printed immediately above the question, said: "The League of Nations aimed to keep peace through collective security and to encourage disarmament."

The first question for O-level candidates was: "Show how the peace settlement of 1919-20 changed the European boundaries and reduced the power of (a) Germany and (b) Austria. To what extent were German-speaking people disadvantaged by the peace settlement?"

Defenders of the GCSE system neatly deflect any criticism by saying we should not denigrate the achievements of today’s students as it will demoralise them. It’s a fallacious argument and a red herring – we’re not criticising the students, but the idiots who develop the GCSE curriculum and the exam questions. The GCSE exam is systematically failing our children in the pursuit of the illusion that standards are improving and government is responsible for that improvement. When will the emperor’s new clothes be shown for the vacuous garbage that they are? When will a political party take the bull by the horns and educate our children to the standards we enjoyed under the O-level system?


  1. Greetings TC

    I've given great thought to the GCSE question that you supplied us with, and I think I've worked out the answer. Is it: To keep David Beckham in the England team squad, and to allow Victoria's chesticles to get so far north that they look like a severe case of the mumps?

    I'll settle for an "A" grade, and I'll try for an "A+" when the questions get easier.

    The Spiv

    ps - Why does the word verification wish for me to GODOGIN? Surely that's not a requirement of entering a reply to your post?

  2. Spiv,

    No - GODOGIN is the name of the god worshiped by the Nogs (Noggin the Nog's lot).

  3. Chairman,

    Many thanks for your clearing up on this matter. She-who-must-be-obeyed was slightly concerned about going out in the evening, and was non to sure as to whether her powered wheelchair would be a suitable vehicle given the weather at the moment.

    The Spiv