DC 28: Something I’m afraid of

If I was supposed to write these up in 30 consecutive days then mark me down as a crazy rebel!

p45_example1Anyway, this is the thing I am afraid of. To put it in context – there are quite a few people depending on my wage and with the current economic situation it would not be quick to find alternative employment if I was made redundant.

As I am also responsible for a frail elderly relative, whose home is supported by my income, I think it is safe to say the pressure can be quite difficult on days when funding at work looks precarious. I work in a shrinking sector and funding is primarily through government SLAs.  I can’t have my projects fail.

I am lucky in that my colleagues are competent, persuasive and supportive people who know how to get things done. But customer expectations are high and the requests for development are often along the lines of “Can you make it more web-ish, but not too web-ish, you don’t really need a developer to do that do you?”.

Being made redundant can be devastating; not only financially but also at a deep psychological level. Because so much of our society’s value model is based around relatively standardised paid work, and with the current government ratcheting up a view of those not in work as scroungers or criminals, it is not surprising to read of increased hate crime against very vulnerable groups, such as disabled people or the Traveller community.

Which is a bit of a step from my worrying about losing my job, my house and my aged relative (honestly, a move would be the end of her!). But in the dark hours of a sleepless night, that step seems quite small and close.

30DC-21: A picture of something you wish you could forget

I have my share of unpleasant memories, but on the whole I think they are part of who I am. So even the really nasty ones have a lesson attached, unpalatable as it may be.

In time I will probably forget most things anyway. I can barely remember why I went upstairs, or where I left my shoes.

But some things contribute little to the greater good. And this is one of them: I can find no lesson to learn or silver lining in this particular piece of hideousness.


30DC-20 – A picture of somewhere you’d love to travel.

There are two places I am keen to visit, and I do have a preference.

The main choice is to follow the Silk Route, although admittedly this is not one place but a good section of the Earth’s circumference. I suppose the section I am most interested in is across India, so here is a picture of somewhere in India that I would like to include on that tour.


The other place is not so much a place as an event. I would like to visit Japan when the cherry blossom is out and have a picnic under the trees.

There are lots of other places I would like to see, but those two are long-standing from childhood, so deserve priority here.

30DC-19 – A picture of you when you were little.

At last! a straightforward post – except….which to choose?

The luxury of choice is often denied us in all kinds of ways, large and small. I refer the reader to Libya, as of now, or any autocratic regime of their choice, and there are many; alternatively my own dilemma, trivial in comparison, of choosing between so many childhood photographs recalling a happy and carefree time now long distant.


So here am I with my little panda. Aww!

30DC-18 – A picture of your biggest insecurity.

So here I am with the next in the occasional series also known as the 30 Day Challenge/

By coincidence today is also National Grammar Day so I shall perpetrate as many errors as possible in this post.

So, to the business at hand!

Being one giant bundle of insecurity means that I have quite the problem in deciding how to approach this response. In general I might describe myself as insecure, but without identifying the root cause or, indeed, the specific area of life in which I feel particularly insecure. I suppose I am particularly insecure about classroom situations (this is amusing from a School Governor!). I had a very traumatic time at secondary school and so whenever i am asked to evidence learning (as we say nowadays, meaning “answer the question”) I literally panic. And I do literally mean “literally”; my heartbeat increases, I sweat and if left too long, will burst into tears. This can be a little embarrassing in group situations.

The way my school worked was that there was a very high expectation on students to succeed academically (at least, for those of us in the A stream; the B stream students were generally ignored or disparaged by both staff and A stream students). In class, marks would be read out, and the general rule was: A is good; B is acceptable, but B- or less is a FAIL. In modern parlance, B- would be an epic fail. Achieving G- resulted in being stood in front of the class and harangued, often until you cried. It’s one reason I am not keen on independent schools – standards can be absolutely barbaric.

Strangely enough this has resulted in my not enjoying achieving less than an A grad or equivalent. I feel slightly queasy with qualifications which issue a Pass/Fail. Even the Pass feels uncomfortably like a poor grade.

And as a result of all that I put myself under huge pressure to achieve top marks all the time and never feel it is enough. For example, I got 49/50 on a Foundation exam for a work qualification, and am still niggling over the one I got wrong. Most recently I did another Foundation for a related qualification, and only got 45/50. I am in genuine fear of the results of the Practitioner exam due in a couple of weeks.

Bizarrely I love learning new stuff though. I am loving my course in Old English right now, although opening the envelope with the marked work is difficult. Suppose I have completely messed up? Suppose I misunderstood how to manage subjunctive clauses? I put off opening the last one for over a week because I was not confident about having done well enough.


30DC-17 – A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently


I have been suffering with plantar fasciitis (fascist feet) for the last couple of years, with the condition getting gradually worse. It is supposed to clear up in time but in my case this has not happened. The steroid treatment I took has also resulted in my putting on more weight which exacerbates the problem further. Just before Christmas I found that I needed to resort to using a stick to help me walk.

The stick I am using was my Grandma’s so I suppose it is almost an antique – certainly a good 50-60 years old anyway. Coincidentally I feel at least 60-70 years old.

Not interesting or exciting as posts go, but it is making my life very different.

30DC-16 Something I want to do before I die

 Actually I am not sure if this next on the list but I’ll go with it today.

So there are two main things I want to do before I die: one is to hold a grandchild, and the other is to see the Earth from outside.

Babies, picturesque and achievable (I hope). I can always adopt!

Space travel: difficult and expensive, but something I have wanted to do since I was a little kid and watched Neil Armstrong and the gang land on the Moon. I can take or leave a Moon landing, but getting into orbit is a top wish. I want to look down on the planet and see it in all its beauty and fragility; and I want to look up and away and see the universe unmediated by atmosphere. 

It’s not too much to ask. According to my memory we should all be living on Mars by now anyway.

That scene in Firefly where River and Simon are outside the ship hiding and River can’t take her eyes off how beautiful the stars are? That’s me

30DC-15: A picture of someone who inspires you.

I have been lucky to have had some pretty inspiring managers in most of my jobs, but I think real inspiration hit in school. I have two teachers in mind for this and fins it hard to choose between them.

The first was a primary school teacher who taught me for the last 2 years in junior school (what we would now call Years 5 and 6). He was a little bit scary at first – we had only had female teachers until then – and the first lesson we had he laid down the rules pretty firmly about behaviour. From then on he was simply amazing.

He taught us about biology and chemistry and history and literature; he invented stories to make us laugh and played games to keep us focused, from a version of Sleeping Lions at the end of the day (we had to keep still and not taught while he made up ridiculous stories about a ghost who lived in the roof above the classroom) or a kind of tag game in the playground which we played on days when we were too noisy and unsettled, I suppose. A good game running about shouting and chasing soon helped us settle back down to work! He took us for walks to look at the local wildlife and collect pond water and insects to view under a microscope. We burned candles in bell jars to see the flame go out, made our own paper, and built papier-maché dinosaurs. We grew plants, wrote our own newspaper and held courtroom sessions to look at justice and ethics. We talked about why certain rules were useful, and some were just convenient. A particularly inspirational example was when he got the children who were good at spelling to help those who were struggling. I was asked to work with a boy who was pretty far behind in writing and spelling, but the teacher first of all taught him how to spell a word he didn’t expect me to know (it was “phlegm” as it happens) so that the boy could see me get it wrong and feel better about himself. 

Sounds like a definite inspiration, and he was. I learned to think about the world and to solve problems creatively but logically.

The other teacher I am thinking of was my German teacher at secondary school. On the face of it she was less inspirational. She couldn’t control the class, frequently forgot we had a lesson or fell asleep during it, and was almost impossible to follow. Somehow I managed and four of us took the A-level. And then she came into her own. She became a new teacher, dedicated to the full education of her group of students, and we learned as much about art and literature and classics and philosophy as we did about German. She introduced us to hew own version of civilisation and culture and I think the world might be a better place is we shared her vision more widely, and believed in the values of kindness, learning and respect for others.

I am torn between them both, but perhaps the things I learned in primary school made me better able to appreciate those in secondary, so in the end I shall give you a photo of the most marvellous Mr Burch (also featuring Barry, Trevor, Pete and Sharon).


30DC-14: A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without

I’m thinking parents are the obvious choice here; after all, they made me who I am.

It always fascinated me as a child that I might have been German or Canadian. My dad was in the army at the end of the the Second World War and in 1946 was still in Germany billeted with a doctor. The doctor had a daughter (I think called Olga) and he fell in love with her. However, due to the family’s reaction back in England at the prospect of a German in-law, the relationship ended and Dad came back to England. I’m not sure he ever quite got over it; he was certainly very pleased I learned German and used to practise some of his own German with me. Apparently when he was in a coma after his motorbike accident he spent the time talking in German.

So that was the end of my nearly being half-German.

Later, after my aunt and uncle and cousins had emigrated to Canada my parent s planned to do the same. My uncle had found my dad a job and even bought some household items for them, including a fridge. Then at the last minute dad changed his mind and my parents stayed in England.

So I wasn’t Canadian either.

Their loss is England’s gain, I think Smile

Also, hier is ein Bild von meinen Eltern. Es war ihre Silberhochzeit.

19820706 Bert and Evas Silver Wedding4

Thank you kindly.

30DC-13: A picture of your favourite band or artist

Oh dear, I’m not very good at this!

The answer, yet again, is “it depends”.

To be fair, the music I prefer at the most visceral level is the music I listened to when I was younger. There are some good modern artists, but they never quite speak to me in the way the older bands do, and I suppose it’s to do with the  association at an emotional level which those older bands hold.

Of course, because my father listened to classical music I have an emotional attachment to Beethoven too, even though my own preference in classical music is not actually Beethoven at all.

Anyway, when it comes right down to it, this might surprise you all – it even surprises me. I love late 60s and early 70s music which feed the child inside. I adore The Who, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, Status Quo, Queen, Stones, even the Beatles. But the music I can listen to, no matter my mood, is in fact Simon and Garfunkel. So here they are.


Even i didn’t quite see that one coming!