Saturday, 16 August 2014

Sadness and Scandal

OK I admit it, I'm a bag of nerves today.

Andrew is driving into work in my beloved 156 for the first time. Talk about fickle! For two years I've wanted to get him off that damned bike and into the relatively safer environment of a car. Now I have my nerves are on edge and will be until I  get the promised text that he's arrived safely.

Peter took him out again yesterday evening and spent hours with him practicing reversing into parking bays, around corners and parallel parking. Peter declared he was very much improved from last time and Andrew himself said it had all come flooding back. As they are both happy for him to go it alone in London I have no choice but to go with the majority decision. I understand that in a few weeks he'll be racing around Luton in a whacking big ambulance, and he needs the practice of maneuvering a large vehicle through traffic but that isn't making me feel any better.

Once again the weather is more like autumn than high summer but my crop of blackberries is loving it. Another week and I'll be able to pick the first batch. It's going to be a bumper year. I'm going to be spending the next few days looking up jam recipes in eager anticipation. I also need to get some chutney jars in. Not only do I want to make jam but I've decided to have a go at tomato chutney too. That kitchen will not know whats hit it.

In the mean time, too take my mind off Andrew and the car, I'm going to bake a cake and prepare a batch of curries for next week. I haven't done this in a while and the freezer is looking rather empty so it's time I started as I mean to go on and get it done. I like to keep the freezer full of home made ready meals just in case the call comes or I become so ill I need to go into hospital. Although Peter is handy with the microwave he is no cook. Andrew is the pasta king but not always here so I need to know there is something nutritious available, and no, that isn't pasty and beans.

Well, well, well the A level results are down on last year's following a combination of the abolition of easy subjects such as health and beauty or media studies and tougher exams. I would argue that the results are reassuringly normalising. In my day very few got the absolute top grades and therefore were admitted into the top universities. Those that didn't get into universities either got a job or went to a technical college to learn a skill. Recently everyone expected to get A* with minimum effort and, mostly, they did. The result was disastrous. Kids who could hardly spell let alone concentrate long enough to string more than two sentences together were flung into a situation that they had no hope of coping with. The A level courses may have been dumbed down but the university courses were not. The result was what had been a big leap into uni life now became a chasm and many were incapable of jumping it. They thought uni was going to be one big party and they would emerge three years later with a degree having barely lifted a pen. How wrong and how cruel to give these kids such false hope. Those going to work did little better with employers complaining that the first thing they had to do was teach new employees to read and write.What a disgraceful indictment of out education system.

Now I know a lot of my former teaching colleagues will not agree with my opinions on this. Many of them campaigned to get the then education secretary out of his post but I think he did a great job. It is a monumental betrayal of our young people that he wasn't allowed to completed it. Hopefully the new person will continue his work, you never know she may have even more radical reforms she wants to put in place. Overall I think this year's results are just great and send out a powerful message. If you really want it, work for it because it won't just land in your lap. And lets face it, no one wants to be treated by a doctor who can't even spell 'medicine'.

It has been a sad week in the world of entertainment. We have lost two of our greatest stars and another is now under suspicion of sexual misconduct.

First up is the shocking suicide of Robin Williams, possibly the funniest man on the planet, ever. However possibly one of the most troubled too. If reports are to be believed he suffered from alcoholism, depression was facing financial ruin and had just been diagnosed with Parkinson's. What a pity that all those 'friends' paying tribute couldn't step in an offer help, be it of a practical or emotional nature. However, as with many suicides, they probably were not aware of the problems until it was too late. Those that talk about suicide or make several 'attempts' rarely go through with it, it' the ones that say nothing about their inner pain you have to look out for. How awful they must feel not having spotted it but, ultimately, Robin Williams purpose in life was to make everyone he met happy. So good was he at this that no one spotted the tortured man inside.

The second death, though not tragic was just as sad, for me anyway. Lauren Bacall died this week, and with her went another slice of Hollywood glamour. She was an unconventional sex siren and, as with most ofher contemporaries, could entrance a man without having to take any of her clothes off. She was of the age where glamour and decorum mattered. What a pity today's modern stars think the only way to get noticed is to strip naked as often as possible. They could learn a lot from someone like Lauren Bacall, respect for themselves would be foremost. I have several of her films and will be watching most of them this weekend, just as I spent the last few days watching Robin Williams in Patch Adams and Mrs Doubtfire. It's a small tribute but a heart felt and honest one.

The last bit of bad news is not a death but the slurring of yet another squeaky clean super star.

The news broke on Thursday that Cliff Richards was being investigated for an accusation of a sexual assault back in the 1980's. Of all the people less likely to be involved in anything like this it's Cliff. Now if it were you or I then our privacy would be respected until the charge was proven because our whole legal system is based on the premise that you are innocent until PROVEN guilty. However if you are famous, especially famous for being religious it seems, everything is played out in full glare of the media. There are many questions about the way the police have acted. For a start who told the press the exact time and date of the raid on Cliff's home so that they could set up their camera's for the best shots? Why have they announced anything at all?

Don't get me wrong, if someone has done something that needs to be punished then so be it. However I believe that unless that person has been proven to have committed a crime that person 's privacy should be protect right up to that point. I don't just believe it for celebrity cases but for all cases, especially those accused of rape. There have been so many cases recently where the girl has been proved to be lying and yet the male still has his whole life ruined. People are far too willing to believe the bad in someone and being proved innocent will not dampen the 'no smoke without fire' attitude most of us have.

I hope Cliff Richards is proved innocent and when he is I hope he sues the pants off the police for not keeping his name out off the media headlights until they'd managed to prove something.

Well those are my thoughts on the day, a bit controversial in some areas but this is an honest blog and I don't pussy foot around things just to make people like me. More tomorrow.