Monday, 1 September 2014


Tell me someone that doesn't like to be encouraged for what they've done.

It works like magic.

So why is punishment used so much?

Doesn't it just lead to resentment and hostility?

If you want a student to arrive early for school, I found that when I was teaching, encouragement worked extremely well.

I reasoned. Why not help the student want to come to school?

So, rather than scold them for being late, I welcomed them when they arrived with a big smile.

 I was able to do this because we had a very caring Head who also was very positive ( he was the reason I chose the school in the first place). We started school with a form period of twenty minutes before assembly. This enabled me to check over  each of the form members, visually, one by one each morning to see how they were emotionally and spot any potential problems for instance from bullying. We would discuss form outings. (We were doing this during an Ofsted inspection: a trip to see the Musical , Grease in central London. The Ofsted report stated that one of the forms was discussing their trip to Greece in their form period: It just shows how reliable these reports really are!)

Chioma Anyanwu was one of these.  She was highly intelligent but cause endless problems in her classes when I took the for over in year 8. She was good at sport and went to a netball club after school and was a natural leader. so I went along to this and praised her for all her efforts there. Very soon she started arriving at school on time. Encouragement really worked.

When she was given an after school  detention  given by another teacher of picking up litter :she refused. So I was able to get the Head to immediately talk to her and we reached a compromise: she would pick up litter with me  doing it as well but with her wearing rubber gloves to keep her hands clean. It worked.

Chioma went on to do well in her studies, going to our six form and on to University - one of the few from this particular school  then ( Hainault  Forest High School in North East London now the Forest Academy). She was a capable young woman with a supportive but overworked single mother, a nurse, with several other somewhat resentful children.

Giving children merit stickers at the beginning a class to all these who were settled for the lesson with equipment ready and sitting quietly and attentively within thirty seconds of being admitted to the class, worked beautifully for the younger classes, Thus setting a good habit for the rest of their lessons later on in future years.

Now I will make a point of congratulating a train conductor as I leave the train if he has been helpful and friendly as he does his job. His response:

"Thank you , you made my day"

It is so sad that our society chooses by contrast to use punishment as a way of changing people's behaviour and rarely encourages on the spur of the moment with a "Thank you". Most of the time negative attitudes don't work but lead to resentment and hostility in the future. Focusing on groups of  individuals, listening to them  and being encouraging , does.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Ulverston Lantern Festival

Is here again.

Theme: What's under Hoad

The organisers are working hard as usual. Though there was some doubt about it happening this year. But Gavin Knott has stepped in as Treasurer and I assume with the usual impressive involvement of the scout troop who have in the past led one of the processions with  a gigantic creation.

Every year there's a new crop of children eager to join in this wonderful event. I'm always amazed at the creations that emerge from people's living rooms, cunningly created so that the  large lanterns can emerge through restricting door ways and windows and the final version put together outside.
Apparently it's been going 32 years now. I still remember some of the early events, instigated by John Fox and Sue Gill of Welfare State when the events in Ford Park were spectacular  with some superb Firework displays. Now their children in turn have their own children though still very young. John and Sue usually still play their saxophones as part of Blast Furness in the procession.

Thus children who first got carried away at the excitement of the procession are now parents of children also excited at the prospect of joining in themselves. No wonder that the procession continues year after year.

Leaflets abound.  In case you haven't seen one:

Lantern kits are available now from

The Coro
Laurel and Hardy Museum
The Book shop in the Market Hall
and Costa Coffee

Lantern Making sessions are great fun :getting ideas from other people of all ages:Every day Sept 5th to Sept 12th in the Lantern House.

The time table for the  four processions   are on the leaflet: basically starting at five minute intervals: from 7:45pm at Croftlands Community Centre, then the Parish Church, then the Auction Mart Yard and last from Hill Foot Hotel at ten minutes later at 8.05pm

For updates  Ulverton Lantern festival can be found on Facebook

Friday, 29 August 2014

Daniel Barenboim

Thank you

Superb musicianship.

Makes all our problems fade into insignificance.

It's a lovely day

remember this? 

Had to throw the LP - gone to Oxfam- so bought the CD which has just arrived

love the pictures.


Blog statistics

I'm sure you will be aware that Google Analytics provides information on the  different people that look at a blog.

It is very gratifying that so many of you continue to look in to read what I am writing. It's good practise for me of course as I learn to express myself in writing: at school I found English my most difficult subject, preferring Maths by far (It used to take me a whole weekend to write an essay starting on Friday evening, continuing on Saturday and finally being forced to finish on Sunday).  In fact I still have some quite good pictures I drew and painted for fun just to avoid writing my very demanding essay. I was an only child without the distraction of siblings and television- very few families had one. I also took my studies at school very seriously!

I get quite a lot of ideas for postings from the people I talk to and from emails I receive.

 The numbers over the past four months since my stroke are steady and in fact rising  up towards 500 people (now at 441) with as many as nearly 60% returning  visitors (58 in fact) who have made 1,439 pageviews in the last month.

It is a puzzle why so few people comment. This may be that the kind of people who read this blog prefer not to be identified with their views as the internet is quite exposing to people who value the opinion of those around them. I also now refuse to publish negative and abusive comments (something I used to do, thinking it revealed the kind of negative people that were around).When I talk to people in 'real life' they freely admit to having read what is written here yet  I get the impression that they are the kind of people that would rather not share their views in public. They tend to be people who have very busy lives without feeling the need to write about what they do.

There is perhaps another group of people  who prefer to use Facebook where topics of the kind discussed here are not shared. Facebook I think is quite different and much less serious and more fun and chatty. Personally I find it quite addictive. In fact I get drawn in to making inappropriate comments and find it difficult to follow if I don't keep 'looking in'  on a daily basis. There are  too many other things to get on with such as answering emails and taking live to people I meet : something I far prefer to do.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Someone  very wise originated this thought.

It has at least two versions of unknown origin:

God give me strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

God grant me the SERENITY to
accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can;
and WISDOM to know the difference.

 Serenity is an old fashion word which has now changed its meaning. For 'God'I would substitute my own reasoning and conviction.

In my present state of mind, suffering from severe lack of sleep after my stroke, it has great pertinence.

Battles, I would normally have taken on, must be left to others to fight in their own way. Their fresh approach may well succeed in the long run. Succeed in a way I would have never achieved.

I for my part need to focus on getting better and if necessary, letting my opponents winning  battles over issues I feel very strongly about . Another wise quote comes to mind:

He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.

I'm looking forward optimistically to being fighting fit again in about six months to a year, but this is not for me at the present time.


Stopping to reflect is such a powerful thing to do.

It keeps us  in touch with our emotions: the very essence and core of out being.

Isn't it easy to get swept along into living at a mad pace? Swept along ,thinking we have found what is important to us, without having given any time to reflect why we're pouring all this energy into what we're doing?

We miss the  feeling of  calm by being  in touch with the person we are.

I love this poem:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Leisure by W.H.Davies

Perhaps we need to pause and learn to stop and stare a lot more.

Doing it will help us discover what we really want out of life.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Common sense: Where is it?

An extraordinary tale from Ulverston's Recycling centre.

Is it time to start breaking petty rules made by bureaucrats?

For my part I've started. They can take me to court if they want to!

Tom visits the Recycling Centre with a broken glass shelf from his fridge to get rid of.
He sees an identical shelf in a fridge there. "Can I have it?" He asks.

 "Nope. No one is allowed to take anything out of here. They're our orders from the boss"

"Couldn't you just look the other way then?"

"No, I lose my job. There are CCTV cameras up there."

"I thought this was a Recycling Centre. Clearly it's not"

So next time let common sense prevail  take it without asking or perhaps say "Prosecute me then":

Is it time to break the silly rules so that umcommon sense prevails?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Remaining positive

It's the only way to be.

Getting angry with things around us, can often trigger off more anger back, setting off a vicious circle that escalates. The stuff that wars are made of.

People  like Lawrence Conway with his vicious way of dealing with happy people that are having a great time together Mill Dam Park, need to be pitied and ignored whenever possible.

He has now made himself and the actions of his staff, the laughing stock of people around them. I'm sure that his actions has  brought the people of Ulverston even closer together to resist outside interference from people who are so out of touch with us here.

At some point Conway and his team will be looking for employment. Will they want someone like these?

"Don't let the buggers get you down " is an expression I hear more and more these days. Buggers appear to be raising their heads left right and centre these days. So What - we can get used to dealing with them and just getting on with life.

We need to have a good laugh and get on enjoying the lives interacting with the great people close to us :  people we get to know well at places through places like our park.

So what's going to be our next project there that we can do together.

How about buying soft toys and dangling them from the trees for the children to come and find?

There are a few other positive ideas floating about. Things we can all do together

How about you, have you got some ideas? Something worth considering rather than getting dragged into feelings of resentment.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Lawrece Conway: Communites, in these times are essential

Despite the fact that I have been told to keep out of this. (The families concerned know that because of my stroke and my sensitive and vulnerable state of mind, I need to stay out of the the situation that has arisen at Mill Dam Park). However for my own sanity I must speak out here on my blog: it has always proved to be my safety valve for what I feel strongly about.

After a night , full of outrage,   I see no alternative but to speak out here.
It concerns the high handed and vindictive actions of Lawrence Conway, who is a Chief Executive  of SLDC. He is clearly out of touch with the communities in his area

Background: a thriving local community

The Mill Dam Park community of hard working  Mums and Dads have suffered an enormous shock to their enjoyment of their Park; one they use almost daily.Over the past four years they have invested a lot of precious energy in making the park into their very own space for meeting and enjoying and encouraging their children to play. Anyone who visits the Park becomes immediately aware of the friendly and supportive nature of the people who use the Park. In fact because of the picnic tables , paid for a in some cases built by this communityPeople are encouraged to chatas they watch their children plating with others in the Park .All the flowers are there because this same community have either put them in themselves or helpful supporting gardeners have kept the beds stocked with an increasing number of perennials. The local Guides were responsible for planting the annuals that are there now. They were donated by David of the plant stall on the market who has given about 400 plants to the  park every year.

In short there is a probably no better organised group of parents and supporters in a Park: like no other park within South Lakeland District Council. It attracts users from as far afield as Lindal, Pennington,  Haverthwaite and Bouth.

 Recently the parents were given the pottery that  they  and their children actually made in the park. They decided to put this pottery back up on the fence where it could be enjoyed by all those using the park. Its presence encourages the feeling that this park is part of an intimate caring community. Putting back the pottery was a joint activity  of  mothers, fathers and children, with unanimous approval from those that use the park.


Yet  on Friday, to their absolute outrage, they found that their pottery had been removed. They still have not been told who stole thoir pots, but from past actions, the removal was certainly authorised by Lawrence Conway. If it is he, he in possesion of stolen property, the ownership being the people who put the pots up in the parkand the people who made them. He must return them immediately to the pots owners and notify them why he had them removed.

If you visit the park today you will witness their fury at such aggressive action being taken against them. Parents have put up notices all over their park demanding the return of their pottery. Whose park is it after all? Are not the SLDC the custodians of the Park for the community to use?

Conway and his officers are clearly out of touch with this  very active community. This is of course not the first time he has ordered his officers, against their will to remove the pottery. Last time he was ridiculed in  the main editorial of the Westmorland Gazette( see below) saying : hadn't he got more important safety issues to be concerned about. He claimed that the pottery was dangerous and hadn't been authorised my a constituted group.

The Pottery is clearly not dangerous . Furthermore because of the transient nature of the park users  there is no interest in a formal group. Parents are only involved with the Park while their children grow up to five years old (when the children move on to other activities). Besides parents have had negative experiences in the past with power grabbing members of committees who like to throw their weight about. No. The park runs extremely well as it is now . Common sense and spontaneous activities prevail as is found in any small community who get to know each other well.

What is needed now is for our local councillors to assert themselves. These councillors are: Colin Pickthall , Helen Inving and Margaret Hornby    on the Town Council and Helen Inving their District  councillor.   SLDC are clearly out of touch. They need to tell SLDC to keep be their noses out and ruining of a very happy and thriving community. It is this community our councillors need to support not a remote Chief Executive.

The press can also help with insightful reporting. It would be a good story for North West today on television.

I'm sure the polite views of people reading this article will be listened to by Lawrence Conway: email -  .  I suggest that you insisist on a reply to be sure that your message has been received.

The government is after all trying to clamp down on spurious uses of the Health and Safety Issue see:

Judith Hackitt, who chairs the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: "I would urge all decision makers to take a step back and ask themselves whether a decision made in the name of health and safety, is actually just an excuse for something else.

From the Westmorland Gazette's editorial on 25th July 2013: "When safety concerns go to far"

"the pottery display does not meet with the council’s approval. He  cites health and safety as his prime concern. "

" It would be ironic given their safety concerns over the pottery. A sensible move would be to officially recognise Bugs as a representative group of the local community so such displays can be arranged with the council’s blessing and guidance. That way SLDC might stop itself from looking silly."