Monday, 31 March 2008

I ain't dead

This is just a quick entry to let you all know that, contray to rumors, I haven't dropped off the face of the planet. I had one hell of a week last week, culminating in the bombshell of bombshells being dropped on me at work on Friday. No, I haven't lost my job - it's worse than that.

Anyway - I might not get to blog much, or get to respond to e-mails this week. And then next week I'm off to France for a week. That leaves me one whole week to promote like crazy before the release of Charlotte's Secret by Phaze.

Oh, and I've finally gota new car. Pic soon if I find the time.



Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Snow

I can’t quite believe it—it’s Easter, it’s March, and it’s snowing. Or at least it did overnight. I awoke this morning to a light dusting of snow and giant flakes falling from the dark grey sky. Just in case you don’t believe me, here are some photos taken this morning to prove it.

Of course, Nobby Jr loved it, he was out in the garden kicking the snow about and gerneally getting very wet. I do like snow, but I dread to think what it’s doing to me raspberries down the allotment.

Happy Easter everyone.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Monday Moan on a Tuesday

I’ve been something of a myspace absentee in recent weeks – by which I mean that I haven’t been responding to any comments left on my page or my blog, replying to any messages in any great detail or leaving any comments on other pages. Essentially, I’m time poor again and trying to use any spare moments to work on "Chloe’s Education" (still not sure if I like this title or if the old one "The Method" is better – still, bags of time to make my mind up)

Anyway – I apologise to anyone who’s been offended by my lack of an enthusiastic response. I promise to try and make a concerted effort to be a better myspace buddy in the near future. I’m trying to find time to come up with some cool new graphics to share with you all.

To other matters – on the radio this morning, many, many people were sending text messages to the morning show to ask them to stop referring to people under sixteen as ’young people’ and start calling them what they are ’children’. One texter even went as far as to say stop calling those who attend secondary school, "Students". They are "pupils", not "Students". I must say, I couldn’t agree with both sentiments more. It’s a sign of how stupid our society has become that we are worried that the words "children" and "pupils" might be offensive. The only ones who would find these terms offensive are the interfering do-gooders who tell us that we must try and accommodate "under-motivated young people" in our classrooms, even if it means that the education of twenty other children is disrupted. IMO, interfering do-gooders are the root of all ills in modern Britain. Them and Tony Blair, but I can’t blame him any more as he’s not in power. (Mind you, Gordon is still blaming the last Tory government, and that was over ten years ago. Guess I can still blame Smiley-Tony)

It’s Easter weekend this weekend. And the forecast if for snow. At Easter. So much for Global Warming. At least if it’s cold my chocolate eggs won’t melt.

The local radio is advertising a "lights off" day this month. The idea is to get everyone in the county to switch off their lights for an hour to try and save the planet. This should trigger another rant on my behalf on the topic of climate change – but I’m not going to let it. You already know my thoughts on this. You already know that I think that the climate of this planet has been changing constantly for millions of years and it’s exceedingly arrogant of us to think we can affect it – let alone control it. You already know that I think we should stop wasting time and money trying to reduce our carbon footprint and instead concentrate on coping with the changes that will inevitably come. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of these "everything’s fine" type of people. I just think that the climate is going to change no matter what we do – so let’s learn to cope with it instead of trying to stop it.

Opps, I started ranting, didn’t I? Sorry.

I had to arrange meetings at work last week for three employees with the pensions adviser. This brought home to me that fact that I won’t get my state pension until I’m 68. That’s another 34 years. Shit, that’s depressing. And on that note, I’ll leave you and go do some work. Or possibly skive off work and do some writing instead.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Long week, let's hope it's a longer weekend

It's been a long old week at work. Thank F**k it's Friday, that's what I say. Bogged down witrh meetings for all sorts of stuff, I've not been very active online. This is mostly because of allthe stuff I've had to do at work, but also because I've been grabbing spare moments to actually do some writing. I'm so excited to actually geting some words on the screen. It feels like it's been a long time. It hasn't, it's not been very long at all really, but man it feels good.

This past week I've had a story running at Ruthie's Club. Extended Family is a little piece about a man who's lucky enough to have his wife ask him to 'take care' of her twin sister. It'll still be on the main page until Sunday, so if you haven't already, go check it out. When it moves to the archives, I'll update my website to link to it. Check out that cool avatar by Garv on the front page too - Very nice.

I've got a submission in with Ruhtie's that I'm waiting to hear about - I'll let you know when I know.

That's about it for this week, so enjoy the weekend, I might see you on Monday.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Guess where I've been

I've had a busy week at work this week. Firstly my assistant was off on Monday and I had to do two jobs (and bear in mind that my job is actually about four jobs – I was going flat out). Then when she got back I had to complete our regular month end procedures. We've been having computer problems again which are mine to fix. We've also had trainers in, for whom I had to provide IT support (ie, I had to lug a load of computers down from peoples desks to the training room), and then I was on a half day tax course in the afternoon. I did manage to get lots done on Wednesday, but this morning I went to a conference in London. At the new Wembley Stadium no less.

What a place that it. It was late, it over budget, but boy was it worth it. It's an amazing place. I'd love to go back to actually watch a match or a concert there – but I doubt I ever will.

Still – wow. What a place. Here's a few terrible pics from my phone that really don't do it justice.

wembley 3

wembley 7

wembley 6

wembley 5

Monday, 3 March 2008

Free Stories

Firstly, apologies to everyone who’s not the least bit interested in UK politics or our school system. I had to get today’s earlier rant off my chest. You know how it is, sometimes something gets you so mad you might burst.

Anyway, on to more important things.

I’ve made some changes to my website this weekend. The most important of which is that most of my older short stories are now available to download in .pdf format, for Free! Go to and click on “Free Stories” to find them. I was originally charging a nominal amount for these stories due to the work that went into making them .pdf and designing the covers. But I’ve come to realise this is a bit silly since they are all available for free on StoriesOnline anyway.

Talking of StoriesOnline, I’ve finished updating my pages there with all the stories I wrote for Ruthie’s that are no longer under the six month exclusive deal. As always with SOL, the results of the voting has baffled me – but I don’t let it bother me anymore. After all, I’ve already been paid for these stories, why should I worry if anonymous people vote them a 9, 8, 7 6 or even a 5. The feed back from SOL and has always been more important to me than the scores anyway. You get very little feedback from readers at Ruthie’s, so it’s nice to hear what people think from these two free story repositories.

School Places - A middle-class rant

There is a lot of talk on the TV and Radio this morning about school places. Apparently, today is the day when parents across the country find out if they have got their child into the school of their choice. You see, in the UK we supposedly have “parental choice” when it comes to which school kids go to at aged 11. In reality, for ten years and more now, the best schools have taken the ‘best’ kids” (by which I don’t just mean the academically gifted, but simply the kids least likely to cause trouble) and the worst sink schools have ended up with the kids that no-one else wants – the trouble makers, the disaffected, the not bothereds.

But this year, the government has changed the rules by which places at schools are awarded. There is now a list of reasons that school cannot use to award places. No longer can places be awarded based on how close to the school you live, because the richest parents can afford to buy houses near good schools at a premium (of around £100000 per house apparently) and this is clearly not fair. But is it fair on the homeowners whose house value will now plummet because the ‘good school premium’ no longer applies?

You can also not award places based on academic ability – although you can on musical, artistic or sporting ability. Places cannot be award based on parental interview, or willingness of the parents to contribute to the ‘ethos’ of the school. In other words, a school that has spent many years getting the learning atmosphere of he school right and has encouraged parents to take an active part in their child’s education, will now be forced to take kids who’s parent’s don’t give a damn and aren’t going to help out in any way.

Essentially, the government has changed the rules to ‘help ensure that young people (we’re not allowed to call them children any more) from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the chance to attend the best schools’. Or, to put it another way – “We think that if you work hard to give your family the best start in life, it means nothing, and instead we’re going to disadvantage you in favour of people who couldn’t be bothered to work hard.”

I come from a solidly working class background. My father worked so hard to provide for us that I rarely saw him – at times he was working two jobs. But my parents wanted more for me. They taught me the value of education and, even though I didn’t go to the best school, I worked hard and got my rewards. I’d now consider myself solidly middle-class. But does this mean that my son should be put at a disadvantage because of the hard work of his parents and grand-parents? I’ve worked hard so that I can give my son a better start than I had, so that he can go to a better school than I did and so that he can do even better out of life than I did. Isn’t that what all good parents want?

And yet, if this system continues, his place at a good school might be given to the child of a family who don’t value education, who won’t encourage their child to do well, and who treat school as a free baby-sitting service. A child who may well disrupt the education of the other children at the school, and who’s parent’s will then complain when his is ‘punished’ (although, schools have very little power to actually punish children these days).

What will happen is that rather than working to bring the ‘bad’ schools up to the standard of the good ones, this system will bring the standard of the good schools down to the bad ones. Applications for private school this year have gone through the roof as parents like me fear what will happen to state schools and opt to pay for their child’s education instead. This new system will, far from ‘killing off’ the private schools (as is the governments aim) it will strengthen them.

I fear for the education of future generations in this country. I fear for the future of this country. And I am thankful that my son is half-French, because at this rate, I’ll be sending him to school in France, where I know he’ll get the education he deserves.

Rant over.


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