Whilst on a training course about reading in schools I rediscovered Chris Van Allsburg, who is best known for The Polar Express. On the course I came across The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, which is a very excellent book with wonderful illustrations and one line captions.

 

What’s so brilliant about this book is that the one line just sets your imagination running wild. Luckily I have found a reason to use the book at work and I thought I’d have a go at writing a few paragraphs and share it with you lovely people who look at the waffle that I write!


Under the Rug

Two weeks had passed and it happened again.

Arthur stopped. He placed his sweating, shaking hands around the top of the heavy antique chair, not for one second taking his eyes of the quivering Lump under the green carpet. He raised the chair, his arms shaking slightly under the considerable weight.

The Lump inched closer to him, causing a side table to topple over with a crash, sending the lamp over, smashing it into tiny pieces. Arthur jolted at the noise, his arms flinched but he remained in the same position, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

A flutter rippled through the carpet and Arthur brought down the chair with an almighty whack. The Lump was too quick. It skirted sideways as if it could read Arthur’s mind, dashing out the door.

Arthur followed as quickly as his creaking knees would allow, the heavy chair falling to the floor with a thump. He watched in absolute horror as The Lump jumped from step to step as it swiftly climbed upstairs.

Dashing desperately to catch up, his foot on the first step of the stairs he saw a door swing open on the landing. Panic spread through Arthur as he scrambled upwards. Reaching the door a scream escaped his lips as he looked into the child’s bed and saw it was empty.  The Lump had taken him.

 

This is from my dad’s Facebook page, please share this.  BT are trying to get money from a dead and sorely missed man…

Help me shame BT into paying attention and showing some compassion. Recently, Virgin were made to apologise to Jim Boydon after they sent his deceased father in law a demand for a £10 late payment charge. Our dearly departed friend, Nigel Blood, has had similar treatment from good old BT, only their sensitively worded letter from their collections agency asks for £52.94 and threatens further action should he not pay up. This despite being told on more than one occasion that he was no longer on this earth and they’d have to wait for Probate.

Vodafone, to their credit, have a special department that deals with this sort of thing and waived the bill straight away. But the complacent and unfeeling BT robots just kept pumping out the demands and eventually gave the case to Collect Direct – take a look at the letter, it makes amusing reading. Nigel’s solicitor tells me that this is common and that BT are rather special in this respect, just about responding to the intervention of the Ombudsman. So perhaps they will respond to a little bit of FB nudging if you all do me and Mr B a favour and post this on, just like Jim’s letter and let’s see what happens. Thanks and I’ll let you know when we get the apology…….

 

BT

North and South is no doubt a smashing book. Elizabeth Gaskell is a very underrated Victorian novelist who only came to my attention a few years ago with the adaptation of Cranford, which was absolutely the best Sunday viewing ever. I used to sit in a rather crappy living room, cups of tea in hand, the damp of newly washed clothes in our noses with my lovely housemate Lindsey. We must have watched it a fair few times when I managed to acquire the DVD from my granny.

 

Back to North and South. I’ve not read the book but I have just enjoyed the adaptation in post-work, feeling-sorry-for-myself-because-I-have-a-cold viewing on Netflix. I was well up for watching it because it really had a good story and kept me entertained for 4 hours. I did however find myself absolutely baffled by the ending.

Obviously, the main man, Mr Thornhill, is in love with Miss Hayes, but she’s a bit shy. All she needs is about 18 months to come around to the idea that he’s not a bastard and for him to think that she’s not got a gentleman lover. It’s all based on misunderstandings and secrets, which is the basis of every fine romantic novel; think of Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre.

Of course at the end, they are in love, they just need a shove in the right direction but I was confused about what it was that the shove was. It had to be Mr Thornhill having the push as he was the most stubborn of the 2 and Miss Hayes knew that he is a dependable sort of fellow and a good catch, it’s just that she’s too virtuos to tell the truth… I think anyway.

It looked like the shove was Mr Thornhill in his chillaxing clothing of no tie or waistcoat, going to Miss Hayes childhood home to find a flower. I’m confused by this because Miss Hayes only mentions the flower in passing, when he’s not there and right at the end. How does he know where to look? How does he know what the flower is? How does a flower give a shove?

THE flower.

I think I may be being ignorant and that the flower represents more in the book than it does in the adaptation. I suppose the only way to find out is read the book… I’ll get back to you on that, although I would like to read the at some point.

After a quick research on faithful Wiki, I discovered that the BBC had low expectations for the series and that it was basically saved by Richard Armitage and his hotness.

Everyone will surely agree that he has a lovely nose and cheekbones so why wouldn’t Miss Hayle be in love with him? I have to say that this show was recommended to me about 4 years ago by my good American chum Annah and to her I say, I’m terribly sorry to have taken this long to watch it!

I’m not pooh-poohing the show at all, I found it most delightful. I just want to be clear on how the love shove ™ happened and to be fully sure that they will be living happily every after. Just a side note, Mr Thornhill doesn’t smile very much so when he does have a quick snog with Miss Hayes at the train station and is smiling afterwards, it’s quite disconcerting.

More importantly; HAPPY PANCAKE DAY!!

J x

 

As you may or may not know, I had publicly declared a deadline to do some writing work. The deadline has come and go and thankfully I did do some writing so in some ways I succeeded. In other ways, I didn’t so much because I didn’t write as much as I wanted too but unfortunately work and life got well in the way.

However, I did have a delightful time returning to my now old university to have a chat to some very nice agents from various agencies. It was quite a different experience to pitching to producers, it was less stressful for a start. That might have been because I haven’t slept properly without horrific nightmares for 2 weeks but you know, I think I did ok, all things considered.

The London College of Communication

 

With the agents coming into see us, this also means that I have officially finished university! I really enjoyed myself and learnt so much but I can’t say that I won’t miss the pressure of having to do loads of work on the weekend and spending far too much time in front of my computer and staring at Final Draft. I will miss it, everyone on the course was good fun and it will be strange not seeing everyone every Thursday.

I will find out how I did next week at some point and then I really will be a Master of the Arts. Swish eh?! This also means that I’ll have to don a graduation gown again but I reckon I can do that for just one day without any trouble.

Really the most important thing that I’m going to look forward to it being able to watch telly guilt free and also do some more baking. These things make me very happy.

Have good Sunday!

J x

Ok, so it’s time to tell you a bit about the agony and joy that is my job. I work in a state secondary school and for those of you who are overseas and not familiar with the baffling names* that English people give schools, it’s a school where the curriculum is set by the government and is payed for by them.

*These baffling names include public schools which you have to pay to get into and are old boys schools like Harrow and Eton and private schools that you have to pay to go to but aren’t as good as Harrow and Eton (that may not be strictly true).

Without giving too much away that will get me into trouble with the manager type people, I want to share some of that tales that I have encountered.

Just to clarify what I’m doing; I am writing my own opinion and recalling from my own experiences. This blog post and any others that follow after this are not a criticism of specific people and I won’t ever refer to staff or students by name. Most of what I will talk about is the situation that many schools find themselves in and most of what I will say will be general points that people who don’t work in schools might not know about.

On with the post!

Sometimes on the morning news I hear headlines like; “SHOULD SCHOOLS BE OPEN OVER THE SUMMER SO THAT PARENTS DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR EXPENSIVE CHILDCARE?”. To this sort of question I would say a loud and quite shouty NO. I have now discovered the reason why there are so many holidays when you’re a school. It’s mostly so that the teachers don’t kill the kids and each other. You may think I’ve been a bit OTT about the teachers killing the kids but I wouldn’t out it past them 5 weeks into a term.

I’m not a qualified teacher, I’m support staff. I do work with students and by the end of term I feel like my head might implode with the stress and frustration and I don’t have half the paperwork that teachers have. Everyone complains about paperwork but I’m not kidding you when I first started the job I spent 2 weeks working through different bits of paperwork before I could really do what I’d been hired for.

I feel you sister!

Back to holidays, the other reason kids need holidays is that they would equally kill the teachers. Most of the kids that I come across are desperate to be free of the pressure of GCSE’s and enjoy themselves. Who can blame them? Once you’re out of college or university you have to get a proper job and sometimes that can be proper shite. If you’re lucky you get a job that you sort of like and do that for a few years and then you wonder if you’ve wasted time and decide to go back to uni and get a degree in astrophysics.

The pressure on the kids gets worse as they go through the school. The final year is particularly gruelling and even this morning I had to reiterate for the 100th time that students have to get a C grade in their Maths GCSE otherwise they don’t stand a hope in hell of getting a decent job. I thankfully managed to get a C when I did mine many moons ago but even now I have to prove I have it. Honestly, it’s worthless because I avoid doing maths like the plague. I’d rather stick a pen in my eye than do maths.

Basically, have some feeling and support for teachers. Generally, their trying to do their best with limited means and little or no support in classrooms.They need holidays as much as you do, it’s just that it will be more expensive…

J x

PS I was feeling rather disheartened by the lack of people looking at the blog but the numbers seem to be picking up a bit. It’s all a bit egotistical really!

This gallery contains 26 photos.

I’m sticking to my pledge to blog every week to show you some pictures of my holiday to Wales, specifically Ynys Môn or the Isle of Anglesey. It was a lovely place, even though it was January and it was fairly chilly we had a relaxing time before I had to go back to work and …

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This is the cleaning kind.

Over the last year or so I have been very unfaithful to my blog. The only thing I’ve really used it to do is complain about stuff, although I did have quite a lot to complain about.

However, that was 2012 and this is 2013. I’m determined to see this new and vibrant year with new vigour and cheerfulness that will leave me with a more or less semi permanent smile on my face (I only qualified that because you can’t smile when you’re asleep, unless you’re having a happy dream).

Anyway, my pledge is thus:

I shall blog once a week and to publicly set a deadline for writing work. 

I was watching Julie & Julia the other night, it’s a pretty good film, and she was having to do a heck of a lot more work then I woud have to do and spend a lot more money on the posh ingredients whilst she wrote her blog. So I  thought, “Hey! You could do that blog thing again. I mean, if a lady in a film about cooking can do it, I’m sure you can.” And that’s why I’m here and I’m also acutely aware that this last paragraph will make no sense at all if you haven’t seen the film.

I’d be pretty chuffed if my meringues got this stiff as well.

Back to the writing; I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve that I’d like to write so by February 8th I’m going to be at the planning stage of my radio play and begun to have something on paper for my TV film. I’ve now put a scary widget that counts it down for me so I best get to work! I’m being quite specific on the date because that’s the date that I go back to uni to have a chat with some agents and I want to be able to say I’ve been writing outside the course.

I’m mainly doing this to act as a kick up the arse and so I don’t become lazy and swallowed up whole by the sometimes dreariness and frustration of my job. A creative outlet if you will.

Sometimes I might put up a page of script or some other ramble about how I’m going mad trying to solve a problem. Who knows what will happen? Isn’t it an exciting adventure to see what comes out of my brain and onto a bit of paper and then to a producer who will immediately cry, “Oh. My. God. That’s the best idea I’ve ever seen and I’m going to give you this massive wodge of cash because you’re such a brilliant person”. Or if I’m being pessimistic they could just say, “I’m going to stop you there because I think it’s a really badly thought out idea”. That’s actually already happened and I nearly cried but hey, such is life!

As the internet as my witness, I shall strive to be a writer and not let my MA go to waste by becoming a fully dedicated public servant. That sounds bad about my job, I do like it but I don’t want to work in a school forever….. I really hope no one from work reads this… Oh well!

I shall wish myself good luck and look forward to the encouragement of everyone.

J x