Saturday, 18 July 2009

What ever

3 more days. 3 more days and the summer is up. What a year! Taught some of my best classes ever (Y11) and hopefully the results will be good (remember to post them for me as I won't be there people, I will need to know while I am on honeymoon.) Yesterday was very interesting, saying goodbye to the tutor group for the summer was coolness, never had the experience of having a tutor group that is truely mine and seeing them move through a year in school- the previous one being Mrs Smith's (loser) group and all the craziness she did to them.

When the bell rings on Wednesday it will be awesome. Have no idea what I am going to do: apart from get married. Maybe I should set myself some challenges. Any thoughts? Are there still people who follow me blogging, apart from Suz who is the blog legd?

Peace for now:

One challenge: blog more.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


I am sat blogging in my room wearing a t-shirt that says "Obama is my homeboy". This should be noted.

Today I came home I sorted through my post to find a leaflet from the British National Party. Obviously with all of the European elections in two weeks, all political parties are seeking votes, we last week had a flyer from UKIP. To see in my house a leaflet from the BNP made me shake with horror, had my local area come to a point where such a evily subversive party were allowed to walk on the streets. I feel like I am in Germany in 1933, receiving in the post a note signed by Adolf Hitler. Britain should be panicing when such hate mail is allowed to fall through letterboxes freely.

The other night they broadcast a Party Political Broadcast which I missed. I have just now watched it on YouTube. The first thing that grabs you is the amateurish nature of the film, my GCSE Media students could make a better film. The camera is shakey, the boom mic is in view, the party activists stumble over most of their words, it is stupidly bad. As Charlie Brooker points out in his blog about it, it is obvious why it is so bad, no proper media company would touch them, no matter how much money was offered. The most chilling thing is the words Nick Giffiths says, noting at once that his party would not support funding for projects "in minority" communities. Firstly, he is advocating a politcal areana where some are ignored and unsupported. His party constantly talk about the (white) majority who are forgotton by Westminster, so he wants to forget about a group himself- he is simply playing the same game. But the most chiling thing is that he is advocating starting ghettos. Hitler famously did this with the Jews in Germany, where minoriy groups were walled into parts of cities, monitored and forgotten. Obviously Griffin is selling himself on removing immigrants from the country, of "sending them back home", forgetting the fact they are home (most of "them" were born here and are second generation at least), anyone with an understanding of the movement of people and logisitics would realise this is not possible. What would end up happening if, god forbid, the BNP took power would be the realisation that this can't work and a second plan would be hatched which would involve another "solution"- see where I am going.

The fact is that extremist parties always grow in popularity in a time of political strife, and in particular economic problems. Before the recession we had heard from them in a growing manner, but now there is a surge in their place. No doubt when times are better we will give them less time and spot-light. The fear however is that people in Britain do not realise what they are letting into their houses through the letter box, on the TV and in theirs.


Friday, 1 May 2009

No one on the corner has swagger like us...

Poetry is an expression of the soul. I think we can all agree with that fact, and one of our greatest institutions in Britain has been the position of Poet Laurete. I mean, what is cooler than a National Poet? Even though historically it was to proclaim and celebrate royal events, it has become a way for the nation to express itself.
Today the third such person of this role of my life time was announced. I have always thought that the Prime Minister or President you were born under defines your life in some way (Thatcher and Reagan- two reasons to fight the establishment in whatever way you can.) I think that is also true of whichever P.L. you were born under. The holder of the chair when I entered in 1982 was Ted Hughes. He might not have been the greatest husband, but I am also sure that living with Slyvia Plath wasn't sunshine everyday. He was a great poet; he reflected Britain and Britain needed him. As a teacher I appreciate the work he did to establish a Children's Laurete.
The next person to take this position was Andrew Motion. He was modern, he was interesting but the biggest problem was he was unknown outside of the world of poetry and publishing. Don't get me wrong, I liked the work he did but he was a quiet Englishmen in a time when British poetry was being dominated by people like Benjamin Zephaniah. The greatest thing he did was to set an end to his term, to turn the job from a lifetime role to a set amount of years- perfect for the ever changing nature of the world.
Today Carol Ann Duffy stepped into the role. Anyone who did their GCSEs and A Levels in the last 15 years will know her and that alone is a perfect reason to choose her. She is modern (writing updated versions of fairytales and rap poems). She is electic (a writer of children's books). She is a she. Apparently 10 years ago her name was mentioned but it was decided Britain wasn't ready for a women ( a fact I bulk at seeing that two years before Hughes passed and therefore passed his role to Motion Britain was defined by the legacy of one woman whose image was worldwide- Diana- it would have made perfect sense to give the people a female voice.) We have been overdue this step. we in Britian as word readers and word teachers are still stuck in a long hang over of Dead White Men (tm) when the world has moved on: Appartheid has ended, Britain and Germany have both had female leaders, America now has a black President...Britain has a female poetic voice. I actually means a lot.

Monday, 20 April 2009


It has been a while since my last blog: Let's update with some mini-blogs...

BERLUSCONI: Count our lucky stars we don't have him running our country. The best soundbite from him whilst Italy was coming to terms with earthquake (while I was 60 miles from the epicentre I might add) was that the people who had lost their homes should treat the experience "like a holiday camp." Note to Butlins, when you are building your next resort, make sure there is room for a mass grave in the grounds.

4 WEEKS UNTIL YEAR 11 LEAVE: Even though I have 3 classes and will therefore gain 11 more free periods when they are gone, I will genuinely be very sad to see them go. Over Easter I definitely came to terms with the thought that some classes make teaching worth the aggro.

THE BRITISH ELLROY: Over Easter I read a book by David Peace, who is by far the best new author I have read in a long time. He is likened to the US writer James Ellroy because of this graphic over-use of violence, sex and swearing in his crime fiction. Worth the read.

NARNIA: Towards the end of the holidays I caught the second half (or maybe more) of a program on TV called The Narnia Code. It was probably the most interesting thing I have seen a long time. It was about a British academic who discovered a deep meaning to the Narnia books by CS Lewis. Beyond the Christian allegory he noted a link between the 7 volumes and the 7 planets of the middle age cosmic thinking (the planets being The Sun, The Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus and Saturn.) The whole program was fascinating, for example: I have always thought that Lewis was deeply religious but I did not know he arrived at Oxford a militant atheist and was converted to looking at the world in the Christian way by JRR Tolkien. I was also delighted to find out that at least two of my Y11s had also watched it and I was able to discuss it with them (things like this back up by previous point on Y11s leaving, Over and Jones are legends.)

COOKIES: Cleverly nice.


Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Taylor Swift

It is interesting how music can draw out mood. I was having quite a good evening today, chicken burgers and hash browns for dinner, last few episodes of The Wire ( I am about to get to THE last one ever soon), jumped on the computer to check the emails and blog. My new favourite website is Spotify, the genius is that I can check out anything I want to listen to knowing it is a) free and b) not going to mess up my computer if I listen to it free. So today in Y10 media we were talking music and the name Taylor Swift came up. I had heard of her before but not actually listened.....Seriously, I love my country music but this is damn depressing. The most depressing this is that such a young girl is so unhappy. Country music is meant to be sung by old men who have had too much whiskey too many times, broken too many hearts and lost jobs too many ways, or my women who have been jilted, jolted or knocked around. It is not meant to be sung by girls who aren't even old enough to buy a drink in thier own country.....

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

When you walk through the garden, you better watch your back.

This whole world is stressy and annoying. By this world, I used to mean the one we live in most of the time. The blogopsphere is meant to be a place where we can chill. Where is all this hate coming from? So and so said this, so and so called the other this. Has blogger become Baghdag or Compton or East Hook, Brooklyn? I always saw it as somewhere nice like Malibu, San Diego or at worst Coventry. Stop the hate guys, this place is elite and bully free. Hugs not hits. Comments not confrontations.

Trust. Peace.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Shrine Post: The King Blues

Let's start with a rewind: 1998 (how old was everyone then?). Portsmouth Pyramids centre. It I was my first concert: Bush supported by Flyscreen (God knows who they were.) I can remember it like it was yesterday, I was feeling ill, I had been off school that day but for some reason my parents let me go to the concert anyway. I went with Chris Gore (now two kids, flat in Basingstoke, last spoke to 1 year ago), Chrissie Ingleson (apparent ex-herion addict, last spoke to 8 years ago) and Ian Fergusson (engaged, last spoke to last week). I can't remember which songs they played, but I remember the aura, the emotion and the atmosphere of being in a smokey, sweaty room. More than anything it was magic, it was special more than anything. To know me is to know how I feel about music. It is not just entertainment or time passing to me, it is the most important thing in the world (discounting friends and family), it has the ability to change moods, shift ideals and shape lives. To be at my first concert was truely spiritual.

Since then I have been to so many concert. I have been to hippy rock fests in Cleveland, Ohio, rap gigs in the Czech Republic in the pouring rain, outdoor ska knees-ups in kid playground, Reading festival 9 times... the list continues. I have seen some of the greatest performers ever, hung out with punk legends on tour buses, hung out with a band because I was one of 5 people to turn up to a sold out gig because the advertising posters were mis-dated. Throughout all of this I have not become jaded yet by the moment, the excitement of a coming gig. Last week was not an exception, I was about to see 3 of the best bands around, one I had seen once before I really knew them, one I had not seen but loved on cd and another that are truely one of the most important bands I have discovered. It was "stoked" as they say. Then, on Wednesday night I recieved an email to say that the third band (Anti-Flag) had pulled out of the gig because they had injured themselves. I was gutted, it was truely shaping up to the be one of the best shows ever, now this great band were being replaced by a band called The King Blues.

I needed to know who these cats were so I logged onto Spotify (seriously, check this site out) and listened to some of their music. They were good, actually on cd they were very good. I hoped that it wasn't going to be as bad as I had thought....

Fast forward. Friday night, Camdem town, the Roundhouse (what a venue.) The lights dimmed at 7.30pm and onto the stage came The King Blues.....

From the first note I was blown away. They were how every band should sound. A mixture of reaggae and true punk, they were a proper reflection of the best things in British music from the last 40 years. The lead singer took the stage with such force and power that it was impossible not to watch his every move. In many ways he reminded me of Mike Skinner from the Streets crossed with a Durecell bunny. Half singing, half rapping he told his stories of growing up in London and discovering what the world was like. As a band they had everything, music that was fast, bouncy and in ya face; musicians that played so fast that it was hard to keep up. It was obvious that from the start the audience expected them to prove who they were, within two songs we were all sold. More than anything they had an urgency to thier motives that made them so relevant. When they dedicated a song to the anti-fascist, anti-BNP movement I knew I had truly discovered my new favourite band. If I could have been born at any other time in history it would be so that I could have gone and seen The Clash (as if often said, the only band that really matter), The King Blues were so much like The Clash that it hurt. Joe Strummer would have been skanking in his grave if he could have heard Camdem town jump that night.

The rest of the bill was equally special, but knowing that I had made acquaintance with a new band was the greatest feeling ever. It was like I was 15 again.

This is my Shrine Post because is anyone can make a 26 year old feel like this over music still, there is hope for the world.

Monday, 16 February 2009


If someone reads your blog and doesn't comment does it make a sound?

So Friends

Basic question: Which is a better thing to do with a person you don't care about being friends with: 1. Ignore them, try and avoid situations when you have to see them etc or 2. tell them that you just don't want to be friends with them?

The thing is that I am swaying more towards the second one. There are some people that I have no real contact with and therefore am beyond calling them friends, but there are some that I just don't care about any more, nothing bad has happened, I just don't care, cannot be bothered and don't have energy.

I have no answers but sometimes I think that life for all of us would be easier if we were sometimes more honest.

Sharpie in my hand:

If you walk through the garden, you better watch your back....

The dictionary definition of poetry is (according to at least) is :
"the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts." But what exactly is poetry?

It seems at the moment I am going from story to story. Whether is it watching the first hour of Day Watch on DVD, reading Stephen Fry's America, playing the first ten minutes of Need For Speed Undercover; Prince of Persia; Tomb Raider Underworld; or Shaun White; or significantly watching The Wire seasons 3 and 4. But which, of any of these are poetry? Each of them excite, or at least engage for some time, each use the imagination, but only one elevates....

Basically this entry is about The Wire. For those that have not seen, or heard of it, it is a now complete TV series which aired on HBO in the states and from what I know, cable channels over here. I think I had heard about it a couple of years ago by name but didn't know anything more. Then recently (I think because the final season came out on DVD finally) it started to seep more and more into my consciousness. It seems that the writers for the Guardian website started writing about how it was great, from essays on its themes to sports writers referring to second division football players as Jimmy McNaulty (the main character). Without much though I bought the first season, and haven't looked back since. Yesterday I completed season 3 and woke up thinking about it more than I have about any piece of fiction for years. It isn't that season 3 is the best, I mean season 1 is classic and season 4 is shaping up to be awesome ( I am four episodes in), but something about the way the case closed and the characters turned as the credits closed was so so......poetic.

Starting season 4 today seemed to add to this idea. One of the minor story lines of 3 is that (spoiler alert) Prez leaves the force. He starts 4 out as a teacher at his first school. We start to see snippets of him failing to control a classroom full of teenagers (it ain't as easy as it is on TV), one of the biggest problems is him being a white polish American trying to get the attention of a class of African Americans on the West Side of Baltimore where the only white figures they ever come across are Police (ironicly the only thing Prez knows to be). By episode 4 it gets worse, one of his students attacks another with a blade in class and hell lets loose. But this isn't the poetry. The poetry of the whole series is the way that all the details are real and evocative. In one scene Prez tries to teach the class how to work out a simple Math problem, but his stance is all wrong. He is trying to physically climb into the black board he is standing against. From what is he saying he is trying to get across to them, to "connect" with the class, but his physical mannerisms are giving him away. More than anything he says or does we know how he feels, the struggle he is failing to fight. There are many teaching films out there, some do better than others, but in a 30 second scene we see the centre of the issue more than before. The thing is that I am a teacher, but if I was a port worker I could relate with the struggles in season 2; if I were an alcholic I would see the struggles McNaulty goes through; and the list goes on. Everything about the whole show is real.

I don't actually want to watch TV again, because it won't be as good as The Wire. Watch it.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Ride or die.

1, 2, 3, 4, breathe easy.

So this is blog that is not fiction, it is totally fact. This week brings judgement, the most significant of all. I just made a cd that is titled "Elements of Outstanding", this is hardly a prediction, I wish, it is more of an appraisal of my state of being. More than any other time in my life I have a lot of things to be positive about personally, none more so that professionally. I know I have things to work on (and I am sure that the followers of this blog can agree) but I have the confidence to address them without being stressed. This time last year I didn't think that I would be here (not in a being alive way, just vocationally) but now I cannot think of a way of why I would leave.

This weekend has brought some luck in totally the right way. I don't believe in the power of prayer, per say (but thanks to the those at the Christian bookstore who thought about us) but I do believe in the power of positive thoughts. We all have some bad shit in our lives, whether it be people giving us stress when they should know better or things we have to overcome by trusting others. Ultimately we do have to trust, ride things out and see how the cookie crumbles (to mix two metaphors.) If things by Thursday aren't what we hoped for (though I think they will be) then we stand tall, brush off the shoulder and come back alive.

I guess what I am trying to say is: believe in yourself and all else will follow.