Thursday, June 29, 2006

A bit busy this week...

...loads on at work, Morley FM about to go live on Monday & now I have an impending date for my operation .

One of my (2) readers complains I don't post enough. I think of all sorts topics fairly regularly but have to temper the wilder ones so as to not offend my employer (work being the source of many anecdotes in the distant future suitably sanitised and generalised), also preferring to think about things rather than passing an ill-informed opinion on everything I see and hear. See, I'm not a real politician...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

(Never going back to) my old school...

The title is from a Steely Dan track and I visited my first Primary for the first time in 38 years yesterday. I took David along, as I am keen to get him to grasp that we were all kids once. (It was a training day at his school, he wasn't bunking off..)

I had visions of my old school being much bigger that David's. In many ways it was, the classrooms were a more sensible size and it had corridors rather than "open plan" shortcuts. Some things looked disappointingly small though, particularly the stairwells leading to the upper classrooms. The playgrounds were generously sized and the fields delightfully shrubbed.

Schools put up a lot more work on display these days, the foyer was a riot of colour and an extensive display highlighted many productions of the last 30 years or so.

The hall felt about the same size, a smidge smaller than I thought but suitably lofty and well lit with lots of windows. The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, only two years older than me and it must have been still rather new when I started.

We didn't see too many kids, they were hard at work in a couple of rooms we passed through although the music room was empty. This was the room where I had hid under the sand pit from Miss Thorpe (the Reception teacher) on my first day after the first few hours proved too much for me. Now it had keyboards and oil drums (of the carnival kind) although we did see a splendid reception area in the other building (which had been some sort of special school in my time).

A very friendly head teacher was very pleased to show us round and happily contrast then and now. One older member of staff was able to mention several teachers that I had forgotten about and we swapped some stories and recollections. I was mildly disappointed that the building was showing its age with talk of partial demolition & replacement within five years. It still had most of its Crittal style metal framed windows and French Window double doors from the sink rooms that linked pairs of downstairs classrooms. (The upstairs rooms had their sinks on the landing).

I had a very happy childhood at Stocksfield Avenue, it was a good school but probably not particularly remarkable.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sport for all..

There has been a bit of a rumpus in Morley about our rather decrepit leisure centre. It seems we might be able to improve it using private finance initiative money, but the new one won't have as many facilities. (You can read about it here for the next few months, curtesy the Morley Obtiser.)

This reminds me of the PFI hospital kerfuffle, where new hospitals get built but they generally have less beds.

I have no objection to the principle of PFI involving the private sector, I don't regard profit as a dirty word.

What I do object to, however, is the vast sums of money these schemes cost out of our pockets, due to piss-poor planning & stitch-up contracts. An example of the unintended consequences is the imbalance in Morley Primary schools- some are undersubscribed due to a range of factors, including the new PFI one. However, education Leeds cannot rationally close the PFI one no matter how sensible the decision might be as they are obliged to pay the partner to run it for the next couple of decades regardless.

There is also the business of "off the books". It is simply overextending our credit on a ridiculous scale, having to earmark funds over timescales over a long time hoping no-one will miss it. We all remember our first credit card and the seduction of getting things now and paying later. Yes, you can have that Plasma TV today, it'll only cost you £5 a month for the rest of your life...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A rare sight near Morley...

...the Ikea car park nearly empty on a Saturday afternoon.

Why buy flat pack furniture when there is a match on?

The Grey household remain totally indifferent to the beautiful game, but had we been, we would now be tearing out our hair as the telly is playing up. The picture keeps deciding to bow in at the sides like an hourglass. It isn't terminal yet, but it looks like a new Idiot's lantern is on the horizon.

Meanwhile, Cyman occasionally regales us with song, poetry and mathematics. He appears to have reached the zenith of his evolution although we hold out for another surprise statement.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Monkey business

We try to get David to understand the value of money. He currently gets £4 a week and we encourage him to save for things he would like off his own back. About 2 months ago, he spotted a toy monkey in Morley's Home Bargains that he had seen others with and was keen to own. He managed to save up £12 in the meantime, despite being led astray by tat shops on holiday and the urge to buy stuff that would last 10 minutes before breaking or him losing interest.

Yesterday, I allowed him an advance on next week's money so he could buy the toy monkey for an eye watering £15.99 (reduced from £39.95).

This monkey is called Simon (although it isn't spelt that way) and evolves through stages in the same way as a Tamagochi pet. At first it could only gesture and make monkey noises (mainly to be fed its virtual banana) but it progressed through baby talk to now being fairly coherent. This evening, it surprised us by singing a song about the "monkey in the mirror". What was even more surprising was that whilst talking it had a voice somewhat like Sesame Street's Elmo, but when singing, it was a rich baritone.

It also now puts up a fight when you try to put him to sleep. I suspect Simon has a couple more surprises in store for us...

(By the way, we don't advance David any more than one week's money as we don't want him to see us as a source of easy credit. Perhaps we need to work out a punitive APR.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

back again...

We spent a few days in the Tenby area, totally isolated from all things webby, netty & emaily. We had electricity, water, a fridge and an idiots lantern but were otherwise buffered from the hustle-bustle of life, even turning off the mobiles on occasions. Whilst down there we rode some coasters, went on beaches, wandered amongst dinosaurs, visited amazing mazes and even fed some goats. David got to milk a cow, he described it as "squidgy". On returning to Morley, our next door neighbour told us they spent years and years visiting a caravan park 3 miles down the road from where we were staying.