I have opted to work away from the grumpy mood in which I find myself - precipitated by the 4.50am start at the hands of the blessed Jessica. Pity the wee scrap, for I am an utter bar-steward at that time of the day! The missus has naffed orf too, abandoning her post, leaving her husband to fend off the ankle-biters alone. 'A retreat ...', she says - who does she think she is? A retreat indeed.
So, as the kids are in the limelight I thought I would share an observation that will cause me to be pink and fluffy. I might fail ... so be prepared!
The woman and me have been trawling around Aylesbury Vale looking for schools for the sprogs when they turn four in six odd years time. Given that I am a professional basher of the Bible, a church school seems favourite, so we have taken some in. Interesting stuff ....
When I was at school, which after all wasn't that long ago (certainly post-War), you were the pupil, the teacher the teacher, the playground grey and square, and the field full of poo. Not today. In all the schools we visited, apart from the barbed wire and gun emplacements, we were greeted by Student Councils, a sixty-point Charter of Golden Rules, colour, vibrancy - and most importantly (to me), hope and opportunity for all. A drift through the playground saw asphalt combined with stimulating areas where kids can gather and chat, in one school a natural area surrounded by trees where mini-beasts could be observed au naturelle, in all of them a place to go and sit if you are hurt, another for when you are without a friend for the day and need company, and so on. In an age of preposterous health and safety legislation, there were things to climb on, run around and play with - and I wish that I was at school today.
This all said, and as I am grumpy at the moment, I must make a comment - about a couple of Church of England Schools that I visited (speaking as a chaplain to another where what I am about to highlight is not the case). When you claim to be a CofE school, don't be telling me within three minutes of my arrival for the tour that if I wanted to exempt my nipper from Christian assembly, that was ok. Wrong Headteacher I thought, ashamed of her school's faith-status I thought. The kids are not going there, not even over my rotting corpse! Another one, again CofE - a 2-inch tall crucifix on a dusty table in the corner of a cluttered hall a church school doesn't make! Enough said?
Say what you like about the last Administration, but if the evidence of their time in office was made manifest in the schools that we saw, then they can't have been half as bad as the Daily Mail and Mrs Rushton of Lincs would have us believe. It feels to me that my children have a wonderfully hopeful future ahead of them. I do, I wish I were a kid now - I was crap at school, mainly because my learning style doesn't involve any level of listening! I want to be doing, experiencing, touching/feeling/tasting, hurting myself in the process if that was part of the deal - not reciting a rather strange phonetic alphabet (see below - that was how I was taught to read and rit, truly)