Monday, March 27, 2006

This one's not a rant ... it's not even a whinge ...

Just to show I know how to have a good time, check out what's been happening the last few days ...
After school on Friday Joe and Jacob together with their friends Arthur and Thomas took part in the Swimathon, swimming 5000 metres (200 lengths) between them. Way to go, Electric Eels II. Brilliant achievement!
Then on Saturday, Arthur and Thomas were well and truly in the spotlight when they took part in Felix's School of Rock at the Hobgoblin. Seriously impressive guys! When we see you in 10 years time on tv, we'll think back to the first time we saw you on stage and how great you all were.
Then, after a quick stint for J&J at Tae Kwon Do, I prepared to go out. Yes! You read that right. Saturday night and I was GOING OUT! See? I too have a social life ... even if it does only manifest itself once a decade ... Anyway, me mate Steve (from East Dulwich Writers' Group) had a gig with his band B Movie at the Metro in Oxford Street. Nice one, Steve. Keep us informed re further developments. As for me - two gigs in one day??? Rock 'n' Roll!
Sunday was the Big One really though, when we picked my dad up from hospital and took him home - something that had looked very unlikely to ever happen only a couple of weeks ago. A big thank you to all the wonderful staff on Ruby Ward at Edgware Community Hospital. I'd been appalled when the old Edgware General was shut down, but I was s-o-o impressed by what Edgware had to offer - lovely surroundings, well equipped (you should see the patients' lounge) and warm and caring staff meant that dad had to an opportunity to convalesce after being discharged from Barnet before having to cope at home alone. Now if only places like this were available in addition to local general hospitals, we'd be getting somewhere ...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mast Victory?

Good news! The council planning committee has rejected the application to put a new mobile mast up near my kids' school. (See previous post.) Having two local councillors speak on behalf of the campaign and enjoying the support of local MP Tessa Jowell must certainly have helped. This is a victory for local people - 600 of whom signed the petition.
But (you knew there was going to be a 'but', didn't you?) it was rubbing salt into the chip on my shoulder when I saw a copy of the original application. My block of flats was specifically mentioned as not being available for any new installation as there's one there already! Yet that one went up without so much as a whisper of protest. It seems some people have more rights than others. Or maybe they just have the best tactics ...
I should emphasise that as a mobile user I'm aware that I need the masts as much as anyone and know they have to go SOMEWHERE. But as I understand it, these particular installations are to enable people to use their mobiles to send video clips. How essential is that? Sufficiently to justify possible damage to health? Maybe they're safe. Maybe these new ones are no more dangerous than the old ones. Maybe simply using a mobile in the first place is unsafe. But surely no one could argue that the research (independent research - not done by anyone who has a stake in the outcome) should come FIRST ...
Meanwhile I'm left to fictional ways to fix my angst. In Me John and a Bomb, Jen and co do a great job of sabotaging a mast on top of a tower block. Go, Jen!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Schools fools

So my son has got into the secondary school of his choice. It's the largest comprehensive in the borough and was previously a failing school with a very bad reputation for bullying and violence. Since then, as a result of a highly dedicated and committed staff team, £28 million injection of cash, fabulous new architecture and state-of-the-art resources, it's substantially turned around with steadily improving results.
If only perceptions could be changed as effectively. The major problem the school still faces is persuading other people in the community to accept the improvement. The school's lingering reputation is partly the result of latent racism on behalf of some parents. (The school has more black kids than white and more boys than girls.) It's also a matter of mud sticking. Whatever the cause, many people wouldn't dream of placing it high on their list and the school is one of the least over-subscribed, so that often the kids that do go there go because they didn't get the schools they did choose.
Most other parents were supportive of our decision to place this school top of our list. But there have been those who roll their eyes in disbelief that we chose to embrace the inevitable (whatever school we chose, we knew this would be the one he would be sent to. We also wanted to ensure our son knew we were backing his choice.) I really don't need people to look at me like I'm sending my son to Death Row, thank you very much.
What Joe has had to put up with from his peers is a lot worse. Some well-meaning souls look at him with sympathy, and murmur condolences along the lines of 'Oh you poor thing. I'm sorry for you. Hope you don't get stabbed.'. ('They're just stupid,' says my wonderful first-born. 'Believing everything they hear. And they're scared too cos they know they couldn't handle it.') Others ... well, can you believe there are kids who are prancing round the playground chanting, 'We're private. You're state.'???
Aforementioned wonderful first-born spent the whole weekend drawing a poster of the school's emblem with its name underneath and the words 'My School' underlined. In the corner he's written 'I don't care what other people think.' That's my boy!