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Wednesday 29 February 2012

Exam Paper Answers

The next time anyone tries to tell you standards are falling in our schools, direct them to this:
I suspect some of my teachers might not have seen the funny side of these answers, but they deserve an A* for creativity in my opinion.

Human Dominoes

Today's pick of the news stories is that of the human dominoes. The world record has been broken by 850 people on New Orleans. Don't worry, they land on mattresses, which actually makes it even funnier, especially at the end when they all jump up and down on them in celebration.
I definitely think this sport should be considered for inclusion in the Olympics.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

School Staff Under Fire

A story has emerged today about a young girl with severe eczema whose school is refusing to assist in applying her medicated cream. The right wing media is banging its 'political correctness gone mad' drum, reporting that the school is using child protection fears to excuse itself from the responsibility.
How easy it is if you don't look at the other side of the story.
I used to work in a school, so I have some insight. There were often days when we could hardly move in the school office for medicine bottles, dropped off each morning by parents who assumed it was part of our duties to administer medicine. It wasn't. Not only did we not have time to be medicating twenty or even thirty different children, but we also had no legal protection if something had gone wrong. It was something we did as a favour, to help, but it was risky.
We all drew the line when a parent arrived demanding that we administer insulin injections. Given that we sometimes had parents threatening us with all kinds of retribution, simply because their child had taken a tumble in the playground, injecting a child was not something any of us wanted to take responsibility for.
Schools are there to teach. That's their purpose. They aren't childcare centres and they certainly aren't medical centres. If they are willing to help with your child's medication be very grateful, but please, don't automatically expect it.

Sunday 26 February 2012

New Story on Quirky Tales

Inspired by a challenge set by writing/ publishing group Café ThreeZero, I wrote a short story about the droughts. In my story a walker takes a rest and finds himself witness to mysterious goings on at a dried up lake. If you'd like to take a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it!

Friday 24 February 2012

Diving the Mariana Trench

The BBC is currently running a fascinating series on its news website about the planned explorations of the Mariana Trench. It's worth setting aside a few minutes just to run through the first page alone, as it allows you to 'virtually' dive the trench, with video and stills explaining the pressures and life at the different depths.
There are other pages too, with details of the three teams aiming for the bottom and some background of the science.  It's incredible to think that the trench was first successfully dived over 50 years ago, and that we're only just returning to its exploration now.
If you have a little time and fancy a look, here's the link:

Thursday 23 February 2012

Catching Up!

It's a sure sign I've had a busy week when I reach the sign in page for my blog and realise I've completely forgotten my password! I've missed adding some interesting news stories to the blog this week thanks to carpets and painting, but I'm happy to report the work is now finished, more or less.
In my trawl of the news sites this morning I found it impossible to choose a story to promote, such was the embarrassment of bizarre riches. So, to round up: we have an MP who has been arrested for headbutting someone in a bar at the House of Commons: Croydon Council cutting down three mature and much loved rowan trees because it received one, yes that's one, complaint about the risk of slipping on the berries: we have the blue gnomes of Totnes causing a stir among some of the rather more sensitive locals who suggest they rather lower the tone: and then there's poor Alex Deakin accidentally slipping an unfortunate profanity into his weather forecast.
It's always the way, isn't it? You wait all week for one good story ... I'll leave you with a gallery of 3D street art from the Telegraph website:
Just 'coz I rather like them!

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Paint, Carpets and Bad Backs

I've managed to drag myself back to the blog today, just briefly. To get here I've had to wade through rolls of carpet and underlay (old and new), tins of gloss paint and stacks of furniture. My fingernails, hair, arms and slippers are liberally splattered with paint, and we had a small panic last night when the TV remote control was AWOL. I found it, where I had put it for sake keeping and then forgotten. I can hardly bend from the waist down and my back has seized up from contorting myself around furniture in my bid to get the woodwork painted before the carpet fitter gets to work.
Still, the new carpet looks great, showing up the old one in all its disgustingly faded and grubby glory. The new underlay has added a certain spring to the step too. If you pass our house you may see two paint speckled people, moonwalking around their living room with silly grins on their faces. Please don't be alarmed. Give us a few weeks and we'll have grown used to it!

Friday 17 February 2012

Happy Faces

I'm taking a pause from editing to draw your attention to a gallery on the Telegraph's website featuring the work of Russian street artist Nikita Nomerz. We're all familiar with the scruffy 'tagging' that adorns derelict buildings in this country, and how dispiriting and ugly it is. Perhaps the local 'taggers' could be encouraged to take lessons from this guy. His work not only enhances abandoned buildings, but must surely also raise a smile on the hardest of faces. Take a look at his work here:

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Editing Woes

My life at the moment seems to be one long process of editing. It's driving me up the wall! We are currently in the editing process for Café ThreeZero's second anthology and I'm also ploughing my way through Billy of Boldre Wood for a second full edit. This aspect of writing is nowhere near as much fun as the initial stage of throwing fresh words at a blank page and seeing a story emerge. I do have another story in process, but if I take time out of editing to work on it I'm overwhelmed by a guilt trip along the lines of 'You can't have fun, you haven't done your homework!'
Ahh well, press on woman! Moaning won't get it finished. Only another 87 pages to go.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Walking into the supermarket with a friend yesterday I turned to her and said 'Do you think it might be nearly Valentine's Day?' I think it's possible they were still selling food, but it must have been hidden somewhere at the back of the store behind the floor to ceiling displays of red packaged chocolates, flowers, cards, wine and other assorted nonsense deemed necessary to prove ones undying love. Apparently spending serious cash is obligatory too.
Valentine's Day in this house means a nice home cooked meal before snuggling up together on the sofa, but then we have been married a very long time. So, to 'he who fixes the computer', Happy Valentines Day old thing. And if you got a card I'm going to want to know who it's from!

Monday 13 February 2012

New Story

There's a new short story on Quirky Tales today. It's a silly one to make you smile on a cold, gloomy and slightly soggy Monday. It's an eventful traffic report from the eye in the sky, Nigel Turnpike. It's all tongue in cheek, inspired by ongoing roadworks in my area. Thankfully the drivers around here are rather better behaved than the ones in my story. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it, and if you're stuck in traffic, play some soothing music and remember it could be a lot worse!

Friday 10 February 2012

The Tory Hard-Line

I may have to rant now, I apologise, but I can feel it brewing. I just read about the latest brainwave from David Cameron's advisors - the elderly get lonely, so they should get a job, and if they still live in a family home they're contributing to the housing shortage so they should downsize.
I would laugh it's so ridiculous, but the man is actually serious, he honestly believes this will solve all our problems - it's all the fault of the elderly! What a top day to be a pensioner! I'm half surprised he hasn't suggested euthanasia for anyone above the age of 75 - oh Lord, I hope he doesn't see that, he'll no doubt think it a brilliant idea.
So, anyone who thinks they can retire and enjoy the home they've worked so hard for, forget it. Retirement now means getting a job - not sure how, seeing as there aren't enough for the working age Brits - and selling your home and moving to a tiny flat in a God-forsaken retirement village.
I don't think even Maggie Thatcher would have gone that far.

Snow Update (Unexciting)

I'm going to stop listening to the weather forecasters, I don't think they have a clue. No, to be fair, we did get snow - a dusting, in the early hours, most of which had melted by morning. So, once again, the local children miss out on a snow day.
I'm going outside now to do a snow dance - footage may be available shortly on YouTube.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Maybe This Time?

So, they're promising it again. The weather map shows a great white blob over our area, with talk of 5 - 10 cm of snow. Right now it's cold, sunny, and very much not snowing. We shall wait and see, but this time I shall resist the urge to get the toboggan out. My wellies shall stay in the garage, where they no doubt play host to a colony of spiders (I haven't dared look), and I won't stock up on bread and essentials. That should guarantee a good covering of snow in the morning.
Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting snow bulletin!

Wednesday 8 February 2012

A Case of Extreme Packaging

I was absent yesterday because I was waiting for our new desk to be delivered. I'd been told to expect it between 9 and 12, so was resigned to a long morning of waiting. I needn't have worried. Shortly after 9 I got a call to say it would be here within 15 minutes and, low and behold, there it was 10 minutes later.
Now, you might think such an early delivery would have left me free for the rest of the day. Sadly not. Unpacking was a marathon task that kept me busy for the next two hours! The whole thing arrived in an enormous cardboard box, upon which was printed dire warnings about the requirement of preserving the packaging in case of returns.
So, picture me, scalpel and scissors in hand, carefully breaking the seals on the tape and peeling the card away with infinite care. Then picture me trying to figure out how to get a solid oak desk out of said cardboard box. That occupied me for some time. Eventually, with a good deal of sweating and muttering, I managed to slide the box out from underneath.
Now, I know what you're thinking, hurrah, we're there! No. The desk itself was wrapped in polystyrene sheets, cling film and a foamy blanketty type thing. All of which had to be carefully snipped away, keeping it as whole as possible, just in case there was a problem. Only then could I push the desk back into its desired location.
Surely we're there now? No. The handles had been screwed on to the inside of the drawers in order to keep them safe during transit. So, now picture me, wrestling a very large, wobbly, cardboard box, filled with assorted packaging, through to the garage. Once I'd deposited my unwieldy new friend I grabbed a couple of screw drivers and set to work on the handles, all six of them, each with two screws.
Two hours of labour, but it was worth it. The extreme packaging ensured it arrived in perfect condition, and I now feel very professional, sitting at a proper desk doing my editing.
This could be the talisman! Billy of Boldre Wood could become the next big thing, all because of one extremely packaged desk!

Monday 6 February 2012

Question Time

There's a new story on Quirky Tales today. It's a short 'interview' by a crooked politician following his fall from grace. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Quick disclaimer: it's not based on an actual politician, honest! Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday 5 February 2012

That'll Teach Me!

I shouldn't have been so quick to crow! The toboggans never made it out of their sheds and the wellies remained idle. No snowmen line the streets and narry a snowball got thrown. It did snow, but then the weather gods moved on to other pastures, leaving us with only rain and heavy cloud.
What's worse, all the children who saw the snow slip through their fingers have to endure the sight of others playing and sledging through great drifts on the news. Ahh, the weather gods can be so cruel!

Saturday 4 February 2012

It's Here! Sledges at the Ready!

The forecast kept changing. One bulletin said it wouldn't get to us, the next said we'd get 10cm, the following one said we might get a dusting. In the end the weather gods decided to ignore the met office and drop the snow where they fancied!
So, here it is, snowing and settling steadily. We came back from a walk resembling two snowmen to see frantic birds in the garden lining up for the last remnants of the food we put out this morning. He who fixes the computer charged out with some more seed and now the birds are frantically trying to eat it all before it disappears beneath the snow.
Not enough for a snowman yet, nor even a meaningful snowball fight, but it's looking like it's going to be a toboggan day tomorrow!

Friday 3 February 2012

Has it Snowed Yet?

As I crawled from my warm duvet this morning I imagined children across the country dashing to their windows, hoping the forecast snow might have arrived early. I remember as a child waking to that strange light fresh fallen snow brings and feeling the excitement of something magical and rare happening. With snow being a relatively rare visitor to these shores it was something I always longed for. Until it all turned to slush, or froze solid, and suddenly wasn't fun any more.
Back then there were no such thing as snow days (not that long ago, I promise!), you just pulled on a scarf and some wellie boots and went to school like normal. Now, there's always a chance that enough snow might fall to convince the headteachers and governors to close the school. Could it possibly get any better than that?!
While we wait, and some hope, for snow here, let's spare a thought for those on the continent who are enduring some extreme winter weather. There are some amazing pictures in the Telegraph's gallery:

Wednesday 1 February 2012

There's No Place Like 'Home'

My attention was drawn today to a rather special poem written by Richard Kefford of Richard's Riting Blog. The poem couples Richard's love of geology with his love of verse. It's a timely piece, thought-provoking and, as always, cleverly scribed.
I'm sure you'll enjoy it.