Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My first kiss?

"I dare you" Philip whispered. It was very early in the morning just after dawn. He should have been facing the other way in his bed, but he was not used to talking out of the back of his head, so he preferred to break the school rule:

All boys must go to sleep facing the far end of the dormitory lying on the right side of their bodies ( a posture that endures with me to this day- the one I am most comfortable with).

This rule was intended to deter chatting amongst the thirty  - three rows of ten- boys in this long room with its five large windows left open whenever possible with their wooden shutters that could be closed in poor weather. We were sleeping, after all, in one of the four dormitories of Hunters Open Air School,  just to the south of Birmingham. I was ten, preparing to move back home and enter if at all possible King Edward VI Five Ways Grammar School.

Miss Maguire had her small bedroom immediately next to the dormitory so that she was handy to deal with any misbehaviour from her 30 charges.

" Dare you" Philip whispered again." I dare you to go and kiss Miss Maguire."

My what a challenge for me, a well behaved ten year old to kiss Miss Maguire, my favourite teacher, while she slept in a room next to ours: one I'd never been in before, so had no idea where in the room she slept.

"You're on" I stated nervously.

I got out of bed in my pyjamas and crept gingerly to her bedroom door. It was a terrifying challenge . But then I really liked Miss Maguire. She gave me extra tuition after school in Maths, a subject that was to become my best subject throughout my life. Fist at school and then on after that at university.

After what must have seemed hours to Philip, I summoned up the courage to turn the door handle and enter forbidden territory. It would be a very gentle kiss - my lips just touching her cheek and my teacher would never notice as she slept so would never know . Then, I would have complete my dare without waking her and being discovered. 
I was in. I could hear her regular breathing  so I could tell where she slept. Her head was just discernible  on her pillow in the very early morning light.

Panic: I had a big unexpected problem. Only the top of her head was visible- her face was under her blankets and sheet.This wasn't going to be easy at all. By my definition. a kiss involved my lips touching skin and not just hair.  I'd come this far I wasn't returning to admit defeat.

Nothing for it but to very slowly draw back the covers so that some skin would eventually appear. I worked very slowly to achieve my goal a fraction of an inch at a time.

Suddenly, the sleeping body reared up. Time to achieve a quick exit as the bedroom light flashed on.

"Come back immediately" was the demand. I stopped dead in my tracks and considered. No name had been used.

"Come back who ever you are". Yes I could escape unknown. Trouble was: I was honest to the core and would get found out anyway. Best to go back and face the limelight. I re-entered into the now  blinding light - I was at the mercy of my teacher.

"So Dellow. What did you want? What were you doing ?'

A very sheepish quiet voice replied very hesitantly "I, I , I,  was just trying to kiss you Miss."

 Silence -while Miss Maguire took in the situation.

"Go back to bed".

 I left wondering what would happen to me in the morning.

Philip awaited my return wide eyed "You were a long time: I thought you'd chickened out" I had failed my bet - never-the- less there was obviously admiration in his voice.

I returned to the safety of my bed and took up my correct position on me right side ready for sleep. Thinking what will happen next . . .I quickly dozed off. Miss Maguire hadn't appeared too upset after all.

Next day school continued as normal : not a word was said about what had happened. Philip kept the story to himself. We were mates after all.

Miss Maguire took no action.

Did I get get some rather curious looks from the other teachers? I asked myself. Or was Miss Maguire keeping her little story to herself?

Thanks to the tuition from my favourite teacher I went on to do well at my grammar school. Sadly a school devoid of any female teachers. It was a boy's grammar school after all.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Something to ignore and erase

If you get an email like this:

YOUR E-TICKET(S) ARE ATTACHED TO THIS EMAIL, SENT Please print ALL PAGES of the PDF file attached to the email and bring them with you to gain admission to the event.

The attachment requires that you have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, please click HERE to download and install this program.
Peter Pan
Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre
Tue 23 Dec 2014 - 7:00 PM
3Early Bird - Price A18.0054.00
6Early Bird Child Under 16 - Price A15.0090.00

Ticket Information
Circle/A 35-30 (6) , Circle/B 33-31 (3)

Ignore this email.

The criminals are at it again and have come up with a new idea to try and catch us out again.

My overiding principle: there is no such thing as a free lunch - be wary!

The down side is that we will become suspicious of genuine offers of help from our friends

Monday, 8 September 2014

Real three dimension people

People are finding out, more and more that instead of being a help, technology is getting in the way of a rich enjoyable  life.

The following  article describes the life of someone who works from home. Sounds ideal doesn’t it?

However what has happened is that he rarely sees anyone face to face. All his contacts are remote:  through the telephone or using his computer. This deprives him of the rich human contact that one gets from actually being in the presence of another person where communication comes in so many ways: visual - body language, with little revealing gestures that are so expressive: sound – tone of voice,   and something that is possible only this way: touch – maybe a hand shake, a gentle grasp of an arm or all the way to a full blooded body hug.

Ever since humans evolved, over the last hundreds of thousands of years, face to face, physical presence has been the way  we have communicated. Now in the only the last hundred years our technology has robbed us of this emotionally rich way of living together. First the telephone, then television, now by the computer : the use of email and more recently Facebook.

He writes:

Is a decline in face-to-face contact leading to a decline in our well-being?  

"I'm writing this on Wednesday lunchtime. The only face-to-face interaction I've had since Sunday is a 30-minute appointment with a physiotherapist who diagnosed me with tennis elbow."

and continues:

 "...  I can do most of my work from home, and over the years I've chosen to continue doing so, figuring that the wealth of electronic communication available to me – email, text, social media – keeps me sufficiently connected with others for me to feel vaguely human. But when the workload grows, I certainly feel that absence of real interaction, and I know from experience that it can't be assuaged by having a stilted chat with a DHL delivery guy.

"a study this week that found a strong correlation between a decline in face-to-face contact and a decline in our well-being. Engaging with people face-to-face, they say, has a deep and profound effect upon us that's related to our status as a social species. Social media, it appears, isn't that social at all, coming in for particular criticism for its "insidious negative effects".

Electronic communication by text has come in for all kinds of criticism this week. A chiropractic physician voiced his fears over the increased incidence of what he terms "Text Neck", a condition where the practise of hunching over a phone is resulting in the first few bones of our cervical spine bending forward in an unusual way. Then there were arguments over a study into whether instant messaging has a pernicious effect upon children's spelling and grammar skills; the study found that this was absolutely not the case, but many still equate the use of shortcuts, emoji and abbreviations to be causing untold damage to our brains.

I totally agree. My recent experience of having had a stroke has made me very appreciative of direct contact with real people. People that live in our lane, people that I've got to know well well over the past nine years that I've lived back here. They are all, in their  very different ways, very supportive. They really care about me and value my friendship, and have rallied round to do things for me at every opportunity: support that would never be available if I only knew them by email or by Facebook. 

"if we can be of any help: pop in and get us at any time"

We in Ulverston, because of our limited size of some 12,000 people, can get to know people so easily.

We have the great advantage over large towns things like Market day when  chatting groups of two and three down the street are so common.  Our schools enable parents to first get to first get to know each other. Many walk with their children, meeting up with other parents on the way. Then those close to small parks  like Mill Dam Park develop their contacts into the rich friendships that many of us enjoy.

We have something special here in Ulverston: lets keep it that way. 

Small is beautiful.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A time to be silent

If its something I've learnt from older wise people        (and I have known one or two):

It's their ability to be silent when it counts

Now is my time to learn to be wise.




.   .   .

Tax collectors are good?

Police are good? Politicians are good? . . . . . 

We had a day out to visit old haunts yesterday. 

The sun was out. The clouds in the sky looked beautiful.

The Tourists were of course being welcomed with open arms in the Lake District: for some the last day of the school holiday.

At Grasmere church, visitors were being welcomed in as many as thirty different languages.

Presentation was paramount at the Ginger Bread Shop. There was a steady flowing queue to see and buy a product sold all over the world by two young women dressed in traditional costume in this  minute establishment.

At another promotional shop.  It  would follow that everyone is good from the bags on sale at the ultimate feel good gift shop in Touristland at Grasmere, in the Lake District.

A teacher , nearby misread the following bag at first glance as Teachers are GOD

She commented

"How appropriate"

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.