Monthly Archives: August 2011

“Harry’s Heroes”

I am not a believer in war or violence, although the kids at school might find that hard to believe. Wars happen, but I don’t think there’s any good in it. We may have got rid of Saddam Hussein, but look at the rest of the mess that has been left. As I’ve said before I’d like to see someone get rid of Gaddaffi and Mugabe, but I can foresee the fall out, and it’s not pretty. My attitude to the soldiers though is slightly different. Although they made the choice to put themselves in the line of fire by joining the armed forces, you cannot help but be moved by their bravery and their determination to not give up, despite their experiences and in many cases, their injuries.

This programme about soldiers walking to the North Pole, accompanied for part of their journey by HRH Prince Harry, was quietly inspirational. One with no arm, one with a paralysed arm, one with no leg, and one whose back was broken and who was told he would never walk again, walked 160 miles over the ice to the Pole, pulling polks containing their tents for every step of the way. I’m glad that this documentary was made. Of course, the whole thing got more attention because of Harry’s involvement, but he did point out himself, that although the programme was called “Harry’s Heroes” it really had very little to do with him, and so much more about what these guys managed to accomplish. Incredible viewing.


As someone who works in a school and deals with kids everyday, I am happy to encourage them to be their own person. However, we also have a duty to encourage them to become decent, polite people. This programme encourages everyone to find badly behaved, rude, insolent children (insolence and defiance are both things learners would be disciplined for in my school) funny. I just don’t get it. I know that this makes the world a far richer place, and that if we all liked the same thing it would be a very boring environment in which to live, but reacting to this behaviour in this way just confirms that it is ok for kids to misbehave. That just makes the job of making school a positive, creative experience, even harder than it already is. If you like it and find it funny, that’s absolutely fine. I just don’t understand it.

Greenbelt 2011: the verdict…

There was some good stuff on Friday, including a very interesting talk by Bob Holman, about the gaps between rich and poor getting bigger and how we as Christians should respond to that. It did rain on Friday so I wasn’t entirely happy, but I’m glad we were able to persevere. mum got to see Conduit in the Underground (indulging her inner rocker) and got an album too. I got Rend Collective Experiment’s Album. Rob Bell was on the mainstage so we were able to see him without all the queuing, which was a brilliant idea! Thank you organisers! He was really good with a basic message about that no matter how much you think you’ve failed, God still loves you, so failure isn’t the end. It’s difficult to believe, especially for me, so I’ll be happy when the mp3 recording of that talk is on the greenbelt website so I can buy it, as I think it would be a good one to keep going back to! I felt, like the vicar who used to be at my church said, that I “needed to get angry” about the Israel/Palestine issue again. It’s difficult to talk about because no matter what you say you will offend. Our church won’t want anything to do with the issue, because they heard about it from the last vicar, so trying to make people realise what a travesty is happening is hard. There were some things going on to do with fundraising and organising a food collection, because things either clashed, or, by Monday, me and mum were so tired that we went back to the tent and slept for 2 hours! My friend has just texted me and told me that a picture of me and mum taken at the big communion on Sunday has ended up on the greenbelt website! We’ve looked and it’s there! The camera didn’t break! If you take a photo of me it should happen! Actually the communion had this amazing symbolic act. Ribbons being fed from the sides of the crowd through all the people to the front. At one point during the service all people holding the ribbons had to pull the ribbons so that the massive knot at the front was lifted up into the air by everyone pulling! The ribbons were symbolic of all of us there being joined together in prayer. It was amazing!

I spent quite a lot of money, and that wasn’t just on food because our camping stove stopped working! Actually breakfast and lunch was provided by us as we had taken buns, houmous and lettuce, plus apples, cakes and crisps with us. It was just hot food and hot drinks (my mother and her hot chocolate! I had one chai during the whole weekend, but I admit, if I’d remembered the Chai Chapel was there earlier, I’d’ve had more!). I bought CDs, as I’ve said, books, including Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis which I always said I’d never buy, and now I wish I’d bought it earlier, two t-shirts, and two hoodies (one is on order as they didn’t have the one I wanted in my size, cos I need a men’s extra large as I’m just bigger in certain places, like my tummy, hips and shoulders!).

So what have I come away with? A wish to do something more for Palestine, but what I don’t know. More ideas for church, and a wish to continue with what I’ve started in terms of work with the homeless. It’s the first Sunday of the month on Sunday, so I’ll be there with my cakes to raise money. I’ve added a website for a couple of charities, BibleLands and The Amos Trust, to my links list. I’ve also written a script for Lipstick and Maurice, my puppets, for Harvest. I’ve had thoughts and ideas that I need to talk to our vicar about (she was a volunteer at Greenbelt and so was working a lot patrolling the campsites) but whether anything will be any good, I don’t know…

Nearly time for Greenbelt…so don’t mention the end of the hols!

I’m concentrating on Greenbelt cos I love it, whereas going back to school, even after a weekend, let alone 5 weeks (we had a longer holiday last Christmas, so we haven’t had 6 weeks this summer. That’s what I was told anyway!) is something I find difficult. I’m ok once I’m there and am able to just get on with the job.

I’m looking forward to greenbelt very much (although I’m still not convinced by the weather. Hope and pray, I suppose). John Bell from the Iona Community is going to be there and he’s a good speaker and composer. Rob Bell, the author of the Nooma bible study resources, will be there, but you have to be at his talks at least 3 hours before hand to guarantee getting in, so I don’t know if we’ll see him. Bob Holman did a talk, at a previous Greenebelt, that I’ve got on my MP3 player about youth work, so I’ll check out what he’s saying. Idlewild are playing the mainstage during the weekend so we’ll definitely be seeing them. There’s also loads of worship going on. Me and mum have been talking about going to Soul Space in the Grandstand, every year we’ve gone. So far we haven’t got there! I think its contemplative worship, which I love, so that’s cool. We’ll go to the Taize service as well, of course! Gotta be done! Definitely looking forward to it, and of course I’ll be blogging about it when I return home! 🙂

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

My friend has Type 3 of this condition. Hypermobility syndrome is a classic symptom displayed by those who have this type. There is a national society for it in America. Here, it’s wikipedia only and doctors don’t seem to know anything about this condition. My friend is lucky in the sense that she has a physio who has researched and paid for resources out of her own money, to be able to treat the condition correctly. That is working beyond the call of duty. My friend is wheelchair bound and needs help from carers, family and of course friends. It would be good if the experts knew about the condition here, if it is known about else where in the world. Though there are other conditions that are more well known in America, like dwarfism, for example, and so all the conventions and conferences happen there.

At least I’m wearing my glasses today!….

I hold my hands up and admit it! I’m terrible at remembering to wear my glasses! I do’t have to wear them all the time, so I tend to forget to put them on. At school, we frequently have to remind learners about glasses, hearing aids, and remembering to wear them, etc. I do feel quite hypocritical at times! I’ve been to the opticians today, and my right eye is worse than my left eye, and apparently, without my glasses, my right eye is almost illegal for driving! With my glasses it’s ok, so I need to remember to wear them! (Yes I know – Don’t be dangerous. I’m on it). I’m getting some prescription sunglasses as well, cos of driving and the glare of the sun, so that will be good, cos I think I’m quite sensitive to quite small amounts of sunlight. Nice frames, although obviously that’s me being a bit girly which I do allow myself to be occasionally. As long as they’re comfortable and they work, that’s what matters, isn’t it?


Looting, violence and criminal damage in many places throughout the country. This is nothing to do with someone being shot in London. this is violence for violence’s sake, and is mindless. it’s going to cost money to rebuild businesses and communities, which these thugs don’t seem to understand. You say there is nothing for you to do. Now there’s going to be less, cos money will be stretched even more to cover the cost of your insane actions. Don’t blame the economic situation. Don’t lay all the blame at the feet of the police. Start taking responsibilty. I used to work in a Birmingham school and many learners ended up being sent to youth detention. Young people need to grow up and parents need to take responsibility. Young people: there is stuff out there for you to do. Your anger is nothing to do with lack of activity. I know that youth groups and other activities are out there. You just think everything is boring, so you create your own problem. I hope and pray again that this will end peacefully. There has been enough damage done, to buildings, lives. communities. livelihoods. It happens all the time on a much, much smaller scale, but this has been different. Social networking sites are being blamed for being a vehicle for plans to be circulated. For people who love using facebook and twitter; do you want them closed down, cos that might happen? The problem we have is that for some people, life in prison is more comfortable than being at home. Their life is so unsettled at home, or maybe they do not have a homelife, that prison seems to provide a roof over their heads, three square meals and stability. I know from my own work that it is possible to find those elements out of the prison system but you do have to fulfil certain commitments, such as going on alcohol or drugs rehabiliatation programmes. I am lucky. I have always had a comfortable life, but I know people around me who have struggled to make ends meet. however, they have never resorted to criminal acitivity in order to find a solution. It is not necessary. There is help out there, from people who want to help and don’t look down on you or ask questions (my dad works in a jobcentre, and he knows from me that some advisors are lovely, but some are horrid and make you feel lower than the lowest of the low) if only people would stop the “i’m the big I am” routine and accept it. If you need help, support, encouragement, reach out. People are there, but if you start being horrid to people wanting to help you, it makes it more difficult. Try to meet them halfway…

Carol Vorderman is making me feel stupid again…

I have a BA degree and an MA, and yet, by talking about maths and what people still can’t do, Carol Vorderman can make me feel so stupid. I feel stupid anyway. I don’t need her to help me. Some people
just don’t get numbers (as some people find English difficult too). Don’t make school more difficult for those learners who panic about their worst subject every lesson they have like I did. Maths and Science were a nightmare for me. Today, I have books that I reach for constantly in my LRC to attempt to help the learners who come in to do their homework. I try my absolute best to help learners when I can, but sometimes I am concerned that I might be hindering rather than helping. There are always some people in life who are brilliant at everything. Most of us aren’t. I am not naturally intelligent, and so I have to work very hard at everything I do. subjects like maths and english are important in life, but I do manage to exist with the basic ability I have. There are some times when you have to accept what your strengths and weaknesses are!

Violence in London: Why?

Violence, looting…why? It seems that this whole thing stems from police shooting of a local man, which they have admitted should have been handled differently. Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. Although the shooting of the man to begin with is an issue, the groups that then began to kick off all over London is just idiotic. The assumption is, in racist terms, that it was all young black men. NO IT WASN’T! I saw plenty of young white men on the footage on BBC news. These people have destroyed people’s lives. People have lost businesses and homes. If you want more opportunities for jobs then don’t destroy businesses that might give you those opportunities. Looting,  in any country, whether developed or developing, seems incredibly selfish, and shows no thought for others. A woman interviewed on BBC news, as she was running from the building that her flat was in, when it was set on fire, saw a man walking out of a nearby store that had been looted, with a carpet over his shoulder, laughing. Thought for one person, YOU. What about the people around you? They deserve to be considered too. I do not believe that the socio-economic factors that affect how we live now, are inherently responsible for turning humans into robotic, heartless, walking monsters. I try to see the positives, but is it possible that opportunities for young people are put in place, to give them chances, but the reality is that many of them don’t want the chances, they do just want to sit around and do nothing? I see young people every day: some want to do something with their lives, some don’t. some start off disruptive and end up as incredible people, which is a very emotional transformation to witness. I don’t think that all young people should be tarred with the same brush. I hope and pray that things can be peaceful again in London, and that people can stop blaming the police every time and start thinking about positive actions and activities they can take up in their lives.

Fish pedicures!

Have you heard about these places that have these little fish in tanks that you can put your feet in and the fish nibble all the dead skin off your feet? Some of the teaching assistants at work have been. One didn’t like it but the others thought it was wonderful. I decided that, this holiday, as I’d heard so much about it, I would have to try it. Me and mum went and paid for 15 minutes. Warning: if you have really ticklish feet, don’t do it. You will be through the ceiling, leaving a hole behind. I had my face screwed up for about five minutes but once you get used ot it you relax and it’s ok. My dad could not deal with this treatment at all. His feet are far too sensitive. At the bar I went to, 15 minutes cost £10. I wouild go again, and thought it was good (my feet did feel soft, and mum noticed a difference with the hard skin on her heels which she is always complaining about), but I’m not sure in terms of cost effectiveness. I don’t think it was just the novelty that appealed. At least I’d heard positive things about the treatment from ladies, who, not wishing to be rude, are not easily convinced by things, let’s say! :0)