Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Mysterious Cobweb Fetish

I'm in the bathroom dressing after a shower and the door suddenly opens very slowly. From the light of the bathroom through the open door I can see The Maj porning. He's lying on his back with legs akimbo perfectly framed by the doorway while The Boy slumbers in our darkened bedroom. I'm puzzled by the door's movement wondering if a friendly poltergeist is trying to draw my attention to The Maj's comedy pose. It's only after I lean forward to investigate that an explanation presents itself.

As a house cat, The Maj doesn't get the same amount of exercise an outdoor cat might so we've attempted to create various distractions around the flat to encourage activity. One of these attempts at inspiring physical exertion is a piece of elasticated string that dangles from the bathroom door at a height requiring The Maj to jump in order to successfully attack. On this occasion (like so many others), he has failed to disengage his paw and a trip wire of elastic stretches between the bathroom door and where he lies.

Many times, have I entered the bedroom to find The Maj looking startled as he gives a Nazi salute unable to attach his claws from one of his scratching posts. He is a constant source of entertainment and more recently has taken to spring cleaning. On the terrace outside, he's perpetually licking and eating cobwebs – behaviour perhaps indicative of cats' curious nature. Like small children, animals seem to want to sample the world through their mouths and are attracted to movements, instinctively wanting to touch.

Research shows spiders often eat their own webs as they are made of protein so I at least know The Maj's web fetish is harmless and actually acts as a kind of healthy supplement for him. And while his hair may give everything in our flat a ginger tint, I now know if I hold him up to the ceiling, he's at least happy to get rid of some of those hard to reach pesky corner cobwebs. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Fashion Refuser

I've never been that interested in following fashion and seem to favour a mishmash of styles. Recent shopping excursions have left me entirely uninspired by current trends and even despairing at times. The Boy and I went shopping a few weeks ago in an attempt to buy him a new “look”. Wanting to make a change, he was keen to try new styles but instead of returning home with a “whole new wardrobe”, we managed to fill his iphone with comical images of hideous chunky cardigans and jumpers with dubious necklines. In order to avoid rail after rail of geometric prints, trawling through charity shops seems to be the way forward and with this in mind, I thought I'd share this bizarre find that caught my eye in the curiously-named St George's Crypt in Oakwood:

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Selling School

“So why should my child come here if I'm only going to have to move them to another school after their G.C.S.E.s?” I struggle to answer this question and can truly appreciate how a salesman must feel when faced with an equally awkward customer.

In my first teaching job “open days” were held in the evening after the school day and merely entailed tidying up displays, answering the odd question and eating vast amounts of biscuits to pass the time. I'm not a contracted member of staff here and merely on maternity cover but still part of the school's open day. After numerous staff meetings weeks ahead going over plans for the day, a half-day of preparation and last minute panicked arrangements, I can truly appreciate the amount of work that goes into selling the school – special workshops are being held around school showcasing each subject, there's a concert in the school hall, a stall selling Halloween-themed products made by artistic pupils, tours of the school and even students dressed in costume wandering around as historical figures.

Those visiting the school this weekend will be the September 2013 cohort so will be affected by government plans to raise the legal age of school leavers to 18. After this summer's G.C.S.E results fiasco, schools that were once perceived as successful, really do need to sell themselves to secure “the right” intake. The school I'm working in does not have a sixth form so like so many other schools across the UK may struggle to encourage parents who are sceptical of colleges (“University is for that kind of experience.”) and prefer continuity, it's the right choice for their children.

Every time they make a change or introduce a new policy, the government and examining bodies fail to consider the knock-on affects to teachers, schools and pupils. Education ministers would have us believe there's been no major overhaul to education since O-levels were scrapped but anyone on the front line will tell you otherwise.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Regrets, I have a few

“Poo... wee... jobs...” a small voice gleefully cries, intermittently interspersed with hysterical giggling. This is the sound of a pre-pubescent me recording over one of my Dad's Andy William cassettes. If you listen carefully in the background you can hear a justifiably angry Old Dear shouting, “Are you recording over my Andy Williams tape?”

Back in those days I wasn't a huge fan and was more interested in saying “naughty” words than listening to his music. Fast-forward to the mid-90s and the release of Danny Boyle's excellent big screen debut, Shallow Grave. Aside from introducing me to Ewan McGregor, Shallow Grave helped me to understand my dad's earlier enthusiasm for Andy and prompted the beginnings of my vinyl collection. I have many happy memories of sitting in a friend's car or hanging out in another friend's barn belting out Happy Heart.

Last year, The Boy and I contemplated visiting Andy's Moon River Theatre in Branson for his annual Christmas concert. Although we knew he'd recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer, we thought being Andy, he was indestructible. Branson is far off our ideal North American travel route and pretty tricky to get to. On hearing about Andy's recent demise, I'm gutted we never made it but at the time it just wasn't practical. I can't believe I've seen other crooners like Tony Bennett live doing the festival circuit but not Andy. I'll forever regret not seeing one of my musical heroes but I'm at least comforted by a whole array of fond memories sound tracked by the man. RIP Andy.