The pursuit of accidents

‘One hit wonders’ are an interesting aspect of pop and rock music and Wikipedia has a very informative entry on the subject here.

However, in some cases, it’s not the success that such acts achieved that’s significant and of lasting merit, but their failures.

Thunderclap Newman – the subject of this article – are best known for their hit ‘Something in the Air’.

This was a so-so piece of hippy revolution fluff that dominated the UK charts in the summer of 1969 and reached #1.

The band was probably more interesting than their big hit based, as it was, around trad jazzer Andrew ‘Thunderclap’ Newman on piano, John ‘Speedy’ Keen on vocals, guitar and drums and Jimmy McCullough (who was only 15) on lead guitar.

With the aid of a powerful friend – no less than Pete Townshend of the Who – Newman and McCullough were brought in to help Keen record the hit. The original idea was for Townshend to mentor each of the three and help with their own individual projects. However, to save time, one project only emerged – the band named after the oddball pianist Thunderclap Newman.

So, ‘Something in the Air’ came and went and the inevitable album was released on the back of the hit – ‘Hollywood Dream’.

Now, ‘Dream’ is an OK album, but it contains one diamond in the rough – a sprawling 9 minute track called ‘Accidents’.

This was totally rejigged and re-recorded as a sub 4 minute single as the follow-up to ‘Something in the Air’ and peaked at a disappointing #46 in the UK.

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I say disappointing because it’s one of my favourite songs ever and a small and perfect but woefully neglected gem.

Dealing as it does with children disappearing through accidents, it was described thus by critic Nathan Morley:

One would have to listen to Wagner in a funeral parlour for something even more morbid than Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Accidents’

However, Morley shares my love for the song:

…which chronicles the deaths of various hapless children who all meet a very nasty end – Poor Mary falls in a river whilst waiting for the Queen to sail by and little Johnny is killed by a speeding car. That said – the song, orchestration and performance are simply brilliant. It is captivating and without doubt their best recording.

The lyrics conclude:

Life is just a game, you fly a paper plane, there is no aim

However, set against a somewhat jaunty backdrop with some nice guitar from McCullough and some well-scored brass, woodwind and strings, drumming that sounds like Paul McCartney to me and some remarkably effective acoustic rhythm guitar, its somewhat depressing message is somehow leavened by the almost singalong and upbeat sound.

It’s one of those pop songs that are quintessentially English – like the Kinks’ ‘Autumn Almanac’ – and like Ray Davies’ creation is almost like a little operetta with various movements all leading to a full-blown coda.

I think another thing that makes ‘Accidents’ very special to me is that I can remember exactly when and where I was when I first heard it.

Somehow I’d blagged a gardening job for the Head of English – Raymond Willis, a great bloke – during the late spring of 1970, which was the year I took my ‘A’ Levels.

It was a Saturday morning and I was re-digging a flower border (a tedious and unpleasant job as he owned a big and very smelly dog which used to shit all over the garden like a fucking elephant) and I had my transistor radio on tuned to the Kenny Everett Show.

Everett always had great taste – usually good melodic pop stuff – and he raved about the track before he played it.

Well, it knocked my fucking socks right off and I tried to buy it as soon as I could, but with no luck.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I heard it again when a neighbour lent me a CD reissue of ‘Hollywood Dream’ and I was able to hear the single version of ‘Accidents’ once more (a bonus track) and also the 9 minute album version.

You’d have thought that maybe a wait of something approaching 40 years might have ended in disappointment.but it didn’t and the track has become very precious to me.

So, what happened to the band?

Well, Andrew Newman still gigs the band although he’s the only original member, John Keen is out of the business after a brief career in music which included producing Motorhead’s first recordings and Jimmy McCullough is dead of a heart attack following a heroin overdose just after he left Wings – yes, that Wings.

I suppose therefore that poignant is the right word for this track – Everett’s dead, Jimmy McCullough’s dead of fucking smack and I’m guessing my old English teacher is too, as he’d be over 100 if he was still alive.

Plus you’ve got children disappearing and a rather nihilistic message.

Perhaps Morley was right after all…

As ever, the music should really do the talking, so here’s the single and the best version of ‘Accidents’ –’ video’ here but good for sound only.

Should you wish to hear the 9 minute album version it’s available on YouTube.

You and you

Image_2_-_Les_pronoms_personnels_sujets_(Tu-vous)

As I’ve blogged previously, attempting to speak good French is one of our major concerns here.

I tend to look on every interaction conducted in French as a lesson.

For a sustained and wide-ranging boot up the learning curve, however, nothing seems to beat talking to our neighbours.

Just to the side of us is a house which is the second house/summer home of a couple from Laval about 10 years older than us, but they’re both fit and lively and very friendly, whilst just down the road from us at the end of the hamlet live another couple, Bretons, about the same age as us and they’re very friendly too.

One of the big differences between English and French is that whilst we have one word for the second person singular, the French have two – ‘tu’ and ‘vous’, from which other pronouns are derived, such as possessives,

It would have seemed very strange and over-familiar if we’d started off addressing our neighbours as ‘tu’ when speaking to them. The rule is pretty much that until you know someone and you’ve accepted them as your peer then you stick to ‘vous’.

In fact, the French even have verbs to deal with this two yous’ situation – ‘tutoyer’ meaning to use ‘tu’ and vouvoyers to use ‘vous’.

Sure enough, we started off using ‘vous’ all the time here. However, we’re now on ‘tu’ terms with both couples and use it when speaking to them because we picked up that our neighbours were using it to talk to us.

I find it very gratifying and a sign that we’ve been accepted somehow, in spite of being English and inherently ‘different’ in some respects.

An English Democrat gets his wish

Well, he must have his own private fucking genii because the moronic EDP motherfucker who seemed to want to see a bit more ‘get up and go’ in evidence on the streets of the UK certainly got his wish today.

School pupils as young as 14 decided to take the day off school and protest against the hike in student tuition fees and the involvement of the Lib Dems in all of this.

Fortunately, most of the protests passed off peacefully, although as I’ve just seen on the local London BBC regional news program tonight, it got a bit fraught in the capital – particularly around Whitehall. Indeed, as I write this, I’ve just seen a report from a ‘kettled’ area where a bus shelter has been set on fire. Earlier, steel barriers were thrown at police lines and an isolated police vehicle was cut off by protesters and vandalised.

Even worse, I’ve just seen Lenny Henry – surely one of the most overrated UK comedians of all time – on the One Show cracking a joke that the protests at least meant that students had stopped eating Doritos, put their trousers on, turned off Trisha and gone out to do something.

So what about the 14 year old school kids kettled in Whitehall while you’re in a nice cosy studio, Lenny? Pleased to see them go out and do something instead of that boring old schoolwork – like bunking off school and getting kettled, perhaps?

Cunt.

And speaking of cunts…

Who knows, perhaps the EDP shithead who wanted to see a bit more UK street action has a son or daughter kettled at this very moment in Whitehall!

It’s possible, as I understand that the party has a bit of a presence in Kent, and in its towns such as Dartford, so it must be easy enough to nip up to the capital’s streets where ‘guts were being displayed’ today.

Although it’s easy enough to mobilise large numbers of people – mobile phones, Twitter, Facebook, etc – when the various groups of school pupils got to the protest, many of them interviewed seemed upset that what they had intended to be a 100% non-violent event had been hijacked by certain elements who were intent on violence.

And there’s the danger.

When you’re 14, 15, 16, you’re not always aware that you might be being manipulated and your enthusiasms subverted by people whose aims are rather different to yours. That’s not a criticism, it’s just part of being young, and manipulation is manipulation, whether it’s by anarchists or record company executives. To many people, the young are fair game.

They certainly were today.

I’m not totally without sympathy with the broad thrust of the protesters today. After all, I benefited from a cheap degree with no tuition fees, but then I’ve also seen a blind dogmatic rush towards degrees for everybody at any cost by the last three Labour governments. This created an unsustainable demand on public money for cheap university education which we now simply cannot afford. And that’s another inevitable and inherent problem with being 14 or 15; a failure to appreciate that money will only stretch so far (after all, you don’t have to earn the fucking stuff), such as when you ask your parents for a new pair of £100 trainers. 

So, Mr Englsih (sic) Democrat, I don’t know whether your child’s shivering its arse off inside a police kettle in Whitehall at this very moment, but someone’s child certainly is.

Quite a few of them in fact.

Maybe you should be more careful what you wish for…

Missing musings with Merlot

Seeing as we’re not exactly rushed off our feet here, getting up is a leisurely and fairly late affair.

The alarm usually goes off at 9.30 during the week and the first job is to put the coffee machine on so that a 4-mug pot of Colombian can be consumed as soon as possible.

Then it’s usually coffee and cigarettes with BBC1 ‘Breakfast’ on, so we can get the headlines in the UK and in the region we left.

Yes, I know exactly what a puddle of utter arse gravy ‘Breakfast’ is, but this morning it surpassed itself.

Between about 9.40 and 10.10 (French time, so knock an hour off if you’re in the UK – and if you’re in the US do whatever the fuck you want as you normally do anyway) there were three what can only be called advertising slots for:

  • A ‘Riverdance’ in Beijing DVD plugged by its principal lead dancer – whose name escapes me
  • Some dodgy singer warbling on about Aretha Franklin in a song from her new album – whose name escapes me
  • Some dodgy singer touring the UK singing Hollywood songs – whose name escapes me

Now, whilst I can see what the guests and the various organisations and people behind them get from these plugs on the show, what does the BBC get?

I assume these people get paid to appear, in which case it’s fucking doubles all round for them, isn’t it?

However, even if they do it for free then they at least get the plugs.

Do they pay the BBC for the publicity? I doubt it – unless it’s brown paper bag time involving BBC execs and artistes’ agents – but if they do pay a fee then that’s advertising revenue being generated and is really no different to advertising the VW Polo or Andrex toilet paper, in principle.

However, whether the BBC gets paid or not, it’s still advertising and if it’s for free, then why not fucking charge for it and defray some of the costs and reduce the licence?

If it isn’t for free then why not advertise cars, nappies, funeral plans or baked beans?

Whether it’s a new book, play, TV series, film, tour, album or show the BBC seems to bend over backwards to publicise it and that, as far as I’m concerned, is advertising.

Or am I missing something here?

Given that the majority of the budget of Universities and other higher education bodies consists of staffing costs, why not drastically reduce the length of vacations and thus make 3 year courses last only 2 years?

At a single stroke, tuition fees for a degree course would then be reduced by a third, making any future hikes in tuition fees unnecessary in the immediate future and more affordable in the long term.

Or am I missing something here?

Here’s something I didn’t miss.

Fancy a little jaunt over to France? There’s a music festival on in Le Mans next month and of particular interest is one of the acts towards the bottom of the bill:

P1010354 (2)

(Written with the aid of a bottle of Merlot whilst waiting for some real bacon to grill…)

The success of failure…the failure of success

Language is an amazing thing…

…whether it’s your own with all the expressive power and beauty that you can summon up in order to communicate or a foreign language that you’re trying to come to grips with.

After 7 months here in France, it’s getting slowly but steadily easier to both understand spoken French and to speak it ourselves.

I find the whole French language ‘experience’ very rewarding and today was great, with an hour-long chat with our neighbour, totally in French, and then arranging a delivery of firewood with M. Thireau at Renaze when I also had to give him directions to our place, again all in French.

Obviously, I’m still exposed to English (we’re not so immersed in the culture that we’re conversing in French at home, and the Sky Box carries all the usual English-speaking channels) and the few ex-pats that we have dealings with – we didn’t move here to get involved in some sort of British enclave – give us a chance to chat in our Mother Tongue from time to time.

However, after intermittently watching British TV here for a few months, I feel forced to ask, what the FUCK has happened to the English language?

In particular, what the FUCK is it with all this ‘heart and soul’ and ‘with passion/passionate about’ shite?

It seems that almost everyone who does anything has done, is doing or will do whatever it is with all their ‘heart and soul’ or that they’re ‘passionate’ about it.

It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s always this self-promoting, self-justifying cack which really doesn’t mean anything after even superficial analysis.

I’ve even heard it justifying total failure where it’s used as some sort of excuse – ‘well, I was really passionate about it’ – as if simply wanting to do something was some sort of key to success. What about skill, talent, practice or self-discipline, for fuck’s sake? 

Everyone, from an X-Factor contestant to a Commonwealth Games competitor, puts their ‘heart and soul’ into their efforts and says so with monotonous regularity  – but how else should they approach their endeavours if they’re serious about gaining success?

But it’s not just that these once valid but sparingly-used expressions of supreme effort and mental dedication have lapsed into cliché – they’re now used to justify lacklustre and mediocre achievement and even abject failure.

Fuck me…I can just about tolerate these expressions from people who clearly make an effort – it’s just lazy speech – but when it’s some obviously talentless twat in a TV talent show then it’s a bit more than just linguistic sloppiness – it’s self-delusion, as they clearly mean it.

Personally, I find it somehow emblematic of a generation, sapped of ambition through a culture of tolerance towards the average and mediocre, which now believes that merely stating that an effort has been made is the same as actually making an effort.

Increasingly low expectations in society  have robbed people of the ability to self-criticise and self-evaluate, with the result that even complete failure can be judged as some sort of success as long as the ‘passion’ was there or that one’s ‘heart and soul’ were in it.

I can clearly remember being told by my parents and teachers that as long as I did my best then it was no shame if I failed, but it seems that today it’s sufficient just to state that you did your best, even though no real effort was made. Thus the individual is taught to deceive himself in a misguided attempt to insulate him from failure.

But it goes even deeper than this.

Decades of deception on the part of successive governments and education experts have created a myth – the myth that no matter what background and/or intellectual capacity an individual has, he or she can be equipped to transcend these specific and often fixed limits and become enabled to achieve success. In essence, it’s a very laudable aim – but impossible to attain unless you lower your sights and redefine success.

A prime example of this can be found in the well-documented practice by some primary schools a couple of decades ago of banishing the competitive element from events like sports day. All participants were considered achievers and given a certificate regardless of whether they’d come first or last.

No-one lost.

But no-one won.

Those who came first were deprived of any sense of achievement and those who came last were deceived into thinking that they’d achieved equal placing with the winners.

Given that these children then entered a competitive society upon leaving school, many of them were ill-equipped to deal with competitiveness in the wider arena of work and other social situations.

(Nowadays, of course, we’re doing the same thing but with university students and Media Studies degrees…)

With educationalists seemingly given carte blanche over the last 50 years or so and government attempts at social engineering (admitted by those responsible in the last three Labour governments of the last 13 years) seeking to introduce equality across the socio-economic strata defined by ethnicity, gender, religion, race, income, environment and education, the British public was sold a monstrous lie – the lie that everyone could be a winner. In purely Darwinian terms this is a patent impossibility and, within the complex social structures of human society, pure fantasy.

Yes, equality of opportunity is a worthy goal, but only within very broad limits. Taking a metaphor from the school sports day example above, you can produce equal placings in a 100 yard dash if you handicap the faster runners with a time or distance penalty, but would those results have any real meaning either to the runners themselves or the doting parents?

Indeed, you could just dispense with entering potential winners in the race and thus ensure that some of the potential losers won – and that’s just what happened when the concept of ‘positive discrimination’ began to manifest itself in job selection, and shortlists and quotas began to specify that only certain groups of people would be considered for certain posts. Thus, those with a proven track record of success or obvious potential were often denied access to certain positions. So, once again, success was left unrewarded and the mediocre – and occasionally the failures – elevated to jobs beyond their skill sets.

Even within government itself, failure appears to be rewarded, with serial incompetents such as David Blunkett and Lord Fondlebum being given new cabinet posts after serious lapses of judgement and after a suitable period of time. Lesser figures in national and local government, finance, the Civil Service and a wide variety of public services seem to be able to escape accountability with impunity and, even when they are unable to continue in their job, often benefit from substantial severance payments and generous pension deals.

Naturally, the media plays a part in this celebration of the mediocre…

On one TV channel you can watch a documentary about the British airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain who really did put their ‘heart and soul’ into what they did, and often lost their lives in the process. Although I don’t doubt that their mental state must have been in turmoil, to say the least, prior to scrambling, nevertheless they just went ahead and flew off to an uncertain fate and possible death.

However, on another channel you can watch the day to day work of a haulage company, Eddie Stobart. I’ve just seen an extract involving the trucking of a load of cream cakes to Tesco in Didcot with the driver nervously saying what a difficult load it was. Now, whilst I have the greatest respect for truckers – with the exception of those fuckers who overtake their colleagues on the motorway with only a 1 mph speed advantage – it’s not exactly a matter of national defence or a process which might well result in death.

So, we celebrate the mundane in the same terms as we celebrate the heroic with few of us aware of the absurdity of it all.

Meanwhile, the absurdity formed after years of social manipulation and the drive for equality at all costs sits like a tumour at the heart of our society – success is largely derided unless it’s approved by a celebrity TV jury and failure is accepted as an inevitable consequence of equality.

Indeed, at times, I’m hard-pressed to tell the difference between success and failure… 

Education, education, incompetence

To all the shit-for-brains Education Secretaries over the last 20 years or so, who’ve failed to listen to the people who have to carry out their ill-considered policies, I have one thing to say.

They told you so.

When the widespread use of teaching assistants (TAs as they’re known) was introduced as a cheap alternative to cutting class sizes, virtually every teacher I know (quite a number, as I have lots of friends and relatives in the profession) was positive that this really wasn’t the answer.

Now, it’s official.

Pupils who receive help from teaching assistants make less progress than classmates of similar ability, a government-funded study suggests.

It said such staff tended to look after the pupils most in need, reducing their contact with the qualified teacher.

Actually, the only good thing to come out of this is that it’s a refreshing change to hear an admission of failure, but this must be of  scant comfort to those pupils and their parents who’ve experienced this monumental fuck-up firsthand.

What now?

Are they going to redeploy the TAs to work with the most able pupils?

As nothing this government of incompetent stoat-felchers does makes any sense then probably they will.

Children and risk

Two stories have really captured my imagination today – that of Jaycee Lee Dugard who was abducted 18 years ago, and that of 13 year old Laura Dekker who wants to sail solo around the world.

They both seem to highlight a fundamental question regarding child welfare – to what extent should the State involve itself in the protection of children?

Obviously, as one of the most vulnerable groups within any society, children should be protected from harm, but the two cases I’m citing seem to throw up some interesting points that might answer my question.

The Dugard case – whilst bizarre – has elements of recent UK child abuse and murder cases in that although neighbours reported that there were children living in tents in the backyard, the abductor Garrido was a registered sex offender and the police actually visited the house, nothing was done at the time.

In this case, there was a clear failure on the part of the authorities to monitor sex offenders properly.

On the other hand, the Dekker case is unique in that it has a 13 year old put under (not ‘into’, please note) care because her parents wanted her to be allowed to miss school for two years to sail solo around the world. Pretty amazing, although the fact that the girl had her own yacht at the age of 6 must be some indication that she knows how to sail. In this case, at least, the authorities have acted in good time.

As I’ve said, the Dugard case is one that illustrates failure to protect children from the threat of paedophiles, but what about the Dekker case – are the authorities right on this occasion?

On the face of it it might seem so, but I’m not so sure.

Small boat ocean sailing these days may still be fraught with danger, but with GPS devices, satellite radios and better boat construction, it’s never been safer and I can’t imagine for a moment that Mr Dekker is going to send his daughter out in a leaky tub with a compass out of an Xmas cracker and a Maplins walkie-talkie. Neither can I see Mr Dekker checking back on Laura in two years’ time – he’s going to be monitoring her progress constantly.

Here’s what Laura herself has to say:

Since I was 10 years old, I’ve known that I would like to sail around the world.

I want simply to learn about the world and to live freely.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that admirable.

And think of the confidence her parents must have in her ability to succeed. That’s not something casually bestowed.

Inevitably, the Dugard case has brought up the Madeleine McCann affair again and raised the possibility that something similar might have happened to her.

The Madeleine references have also helped me towards an answer to my original question.

Although there’s a world of difference between leaving a 3 year old for half an hour whilst you go off to have dinner with some friends and allowing your 13 year old daughter to sail around the world for two years, I find myself forced to the conclusion that the Dekkers come out of all this as far more responsible parents than the McCanns.

Given the age difference and other circumstances, Laura’s plans don’t seem as risky as they appear on the surface.

And, as usual, the real victim in all of this is common sense.

Yes, we should protect our children, but we shouldn’t insulate them from the real world and the consequences of their own actions as part of it.

We owe it to them to protect them from obvious and potential dangers but we also have a duty and responsibility to allow them enough freedom to develop their own sense of responsibility. However, we seem to be doing neither very well at present.

As in most matters, the State thinks it knows best, but a society within which children are abused and murdered whilst being allowed to develop without any sense of personal responsibility would suggest otherwise and activities that I took for granted in my childhood, such as climbing trees, are now the subject of risk assessment.

Playgrounds that I played on as a kid just wouldn’t be allowed anymore, although I can’t recall any accidents resulting in anything worse than a scraped knee, and would have been closed following a risk assessment by a group of over-protective, over-educated, overpaid, underworked shitheads.

But has anyone ever assessed the risk of risk assessment?

Maybe it’s time someone did before we produce yet another generation who can’t think for themselves and give the State a self-perpetuating excuse to do it for them…

An educational jihad in London

I’ve just checked my blog’s spam folder which is very efficiently policed by the excellent spam blocker – Akismet – that comes with all WordPress blogs.

Apart from the usual crap I found this:

There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools with bilingual Muslim teachers. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.

Iftikhar Ahmad
http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

It was commenting on the piece I wrote about the NUT’s own goal seeking a 10% pay rise.

Fuck knows what the whole lengthy comment – I’ve left out most of it here – had to do with that entry but the closing paragraph took me aback.

As far as I can make out, whoever the fuck Iftikar Ahmad is, he’s saying that schools with a majority of Muslim pupils are de facto Muslim schools and hence there’s no place in them for non-Muslim pupils or teachers.

I find that totally fucking outrageous.

It’s nothing more than a jihad waged on our education system by a dogma-obsessed minority.

The stated aims of the London Scool of Islamics are:

1. The aim is to make British public, institutions and media aware of the issues of the Muslim community in the field of education and possible solutions.
2. To help with social, personal, emotional and educational issues and problems.
3. To provide marriage guidance and counselling.
4. To find divorcees, widowers and disabled persons partners for marriage.

Nowhere does it mention taking over schools on the basis of a Muslim majority on the school roll.

You know, as much as it goes against my past very socialist and liberal leanings, I’m starting to get heartily sick of having to avoid treading on eggshells when it comes to Islam.

On the whole, as a religion, it’s far more trouble than it’s worth.

In short, I’m fucking sick of it.

By all means, pray to Allah – or Micky Mouse for all I fucking care – but keep religion the fuck out of British democracy.

In my experience the democratic track record of Islamic states isn’t much to be proud of…

Lest I be accused of some sort of ‘ism’ I have no objection to Islamic faith schools being set up.


NUT own goal

My old union the NUT – and one I owe a great deal to for helping me through redundancy so supportively – has scored an own goal, I’m afraid.

10% is an unrealistic and insensitive pay claim in these troubled economic times and the public reaction to it should have been foreseen.

For those who have never been teachers – I can state quite categorically that it isn’t the cakewalk most people seem to imagine it is:

  • The constant pressure from government, OFSTED, senior staff, education authorities, educational theorists and parents.
  • The interminable and repetitive paperwork
  • The demands made outside of the remit of teaching regarding pastoral care
  • The increasing threat of violence from pupils and parents
  • The refusal of the authorities to judge a school properly with regard to its catchment area

Of course, balanced against this people are going to trot out the old – well, it’s only 9 to 3 and you have 6 weeks’ holiday in the summer bullshit.

And that’s what it is – bullshit, delivered by the shovel load by people who haven’t got the first fucking clue how demanding the job is.

My wife – recently retired – went into school and was there by 7.30, she worked through her lunch break and then stayed until at least 5.30. She then worked in the evening for an average of about 2 hours and regularly put in 12 hours at the weekend. I make that about a 72 hour week and she wasn’t exceptional at her school. Furthermore, as teachers tend to socialise with other teachers I can confidently state that such hours are not exceptional in other schools from other teachers we both know.

As for the long holidays, the 6 weeks in the summer were whittled away by preparation for the Autumn term, collating resources, completing paperwork.

Teachers have worked long hours for many years – and at one time it was just through sheer dedication. Now, in many cases, it’s because the demands of the job are so great because of pointless and ineffectual bullshit bureaucracy that you either work that extra or you can’t do your job in any sort of realistic timeframe.

People can moan and whinge all they want about teaching but I say – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

But 10% is a bit rich.

If I was running the NUT I’d go for better conditions of service – it’d certainly improve a teacher’s quality of life better than a 10% pay rise.

Stupid idea #213,967 in a series of what seems like fucking millions

It’s a bit of a cheap shot, I know, but do we really want the fuckwits who fucked up our banks in our schools teaching our kids?

The latest government initiative to achieve two things at once – improve our maths teaching and solve white collar unemployment – just brings out the worst in me, as an ex-teacher myself.

It took me 4 years to get my Certificate in Education and a degree. In my case it was 3 years learning to teach and then a year at Oxford for my B.Ed.

There are also post-graduate courses with 3 years at Uni and then a year studying to get the Cert.Ed.

Now, however, the government thinks it can get the cream of unemployed bankers to study for 6 months and then fast track them into positions of responsibility in 4 years.

It’s said that those who can do, but those who can’t teach.

I’d just like to add a third part to that cliched crap – those who fuck up in banks can’t necessarily teach.

Not very snappy, I know, but at least it’s true.

Everyone thinks they can teach.

They fucking can’t.

Thank fuck I’m well out of it.