Small Beer

the_godfather_don_vito_2_by_donvito62-d394f9gThe ideal role model for a head teacher? A hard bitten realist who having lost his parents at a young age, and having surmounted tremendous odds, builds up a vast and powerful empire. Which he then bequeaths to the strongest and the most intelligent of his tribe. Is this or is it not the role model that most in senior management aspire to? No? Well I would have thought not, except for this:-


This is your average middle aged teacher committed to working in schools that most teachers wanting a progressive career would avoid. The kind of teacher who walks into a difficult school (they’re referred to nowadays as ‘challenging’) and develops a strategy that hits the mark. Every child in her class gets encouraged, every child realises their potential and if she can’t help them she tenaciously ensures that someone can. Teachers like this can remain working in the same school for decades having the same positive impact on generations of the same family. Now if you’re not employed at Eton or Harrow, if you’re working in the new improved state education sector this may seem a bit ‘old school’ you might be more used to this:-

SilkThe young, energetic forward thinking ‘academy-orientated’ teacher whose got it going on when it comes to hitting those ‘head-start’ targets. The teacher who has a smile for every child who is achieving and, who skilfully lets her students know when their clearly not reaching their proscribed potential. A dab hand at referrals she knows who is connected to who, and how best to utilise what she’s learned in order to maintain order in the classroom and, ensure that most of her students reach their designated potential. The highly integrated member of ‘an effective team’ she’s thoroughly compliant, she has to be, she’s got tuition debts to pay off. But most importantly she serves a dual purpose, she reminds experienced teachers that they are past it and, that in the brand new world of academy chains their views don’t count. What counts is being part of an effective team with all that failure on that team implies.

OblivionIn a teaching world that borders on illusory perfection (complete with glossy inspirational posters and cliche burdened mottoes), perceived failure is not an option. And so experienced teachers are dragged into one ‘career review’ meeting after another and subjected to lesson observations at the hands of younger, more ‘go-getting’ teachers. Classes are discretely transferred out of the hands of such teachers who may then find themselves filling out their hours with teaching assistant work or covering lessons not in their subject area.

What does this mean for students observing their teachers lose weight, lose hair, burst into tears for no reason and run out of class and on occasion out of the school? What lessons are they picking up from observing a teacher who normally provides them with great classes, falling apart when a senior member of staff enters the classroom to observe them teach for the seventh time that week? As a Head Teacher you may bear a close resemblance to Jesus and even be able to walk on water but what the pupils are seeing is this:-

1779764-7151-inOne further point, I have never seen the Red Sea parted nor a man raised from the dead nor bread fall from heaven. But I have been privy to the change in attitude and approach of senior managers, once it becomes clear that the member of staff they are raking over the coals is being represented by a pro-active trade union. Lesson observation notes are re-written, near abusive senior manager/teacher meetings suddenly become altogether more civilised and, staff who were previously earmarked for dismissal are just as suddenly offered promotions. That change in attitude? It doesn’t happen unless that union has a large membership and its members aren’t afraid to strike, if they need to.




We Don’t Do God

Mr Cameron’s willingness to talk about his religion contrasts with the line taken by Tony Blair, whose communications director Alastair Campbell famously said: “We don’t do God.”

– The Independent (16th April 2014) 


Find your nearest foodbank?! Over a million people have, because they have had to as it’s hard to focus on finding work or even studying at school if you are very, very, hungry.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Don’t cap my benefits? Well why not? Those days of training when you have a child to feed are over! If you want to improve your lot in life you need to get off benefits and find a job! Oops! Hold on a minute you actually have a low income job? And you’re on  zero hours contract? And the reason you’re taking a college course is to improve your lot in life? And you really wouldn’t appreciate being relocated away from your college course and low wage job?


And here we have another picture of Jesus…er…wait…no, that’s a promo image from ‘Shameless’ ,though to tell the truth it might as well be an image of Jesus, since he identified more closely with the likes of the above than he did with money lenders, pawn brokers…I’ll just leave it there.


Remember this guy from the Channel Four prog ‘Benefit Street’ ? Now, I don’t think he does God either, although I do recall him going door to door and selling small portions of washing powder, washing up liquid, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Usually to people who could not afford to shop for their groceries in any other way. At one point he was even giving the stuff away to people who needed it, nobody does that.

What some people are inclined to do instead is insist that austerity is the only way forward. Using an analogy, if you know you’ve gone too far into your overdraft, what you do is tighten your belt. You stop going down to the local pub, you cut back on the beers, the cigarettes. And you focus on paying off the overdraft. But what if you’re unemployed? My guess is that in the light of the government’s determination to cling to its austerity policies you’d better start praying.





Bless This House


Remember the days when maiden aunts stayed behind in the family home, to care for ageing parents, because that is what they were expected to do. When you knew your next door neighbours, and could be certain that if you needed to borrow sugar, milk, a fiver that they would loan it to you? Remember the days when disabled kids weren’t just supported in the family home by their parents, but by the entire extended family who cared for them, just as they would have cared for and loved able-bodied family members? No? Well, what about the provision of home-helps, paid for by the local council, to go into the homes of the elderly to help out with cleaning and shopping?


Still sounding a little too far fetched? Well I’m certain you’ll remember ‘care in the community’,Thatcher’s daring attempt to resurrect true community care and support, by placing individuals with mental health issues back into their local communities. I remember care in the community (or domiciled care as they chose to call it), and I think it might have been a good idea had it been properly implemented. After all, who wouldn’t want to be back in the bosom of a well-fed family, with a balanced home/work life, more than willing to accept a previously institutionalised relative back into their home? The fact that a number of those released back into the community, went on to attack members of those communities, and in some cases fatally, is unfortunate and probably wouldn’t have occurred had the policy been adequately overseen and funded. Remember Bingo? That family leisure activity you could most commonly indulge yourself in, whilst taking a Butlin’s holiday? Me neither, but I do recall what took the place of the bulk of charitable giving.


Now does anybody recall ‘Don’t Cap My Benefits’? It was a fairly comprehensive Panorama documentary, about Brent and the housing benefit cap. We got to see and fully appreciate the worth of moving unemployed, single parent families, and refugee families into much, much, cheaper housing outside of London. What a wonderful way to reduce the welfare housing bill, whilst at the same time ensuring that those with an entitlement mentality got the message. A wonderful programme, providing the icing to the main cake the BBC has had on offer for five seasons ‘Saints & Scroungers’.


Get a job! My kind of wonderful, like the ever increasing numbers of people sleeping rough on Brent and Harrow’s streets. People who are being referred to charities by Harrow’s street pastors (some of whom also help out at Harrow’s two foodbanks, twenty minutes drive away from Harrow Public School). When Christians help out in these ways you know the world will be a much safer place. For there’s no need to worry about the erosion of the NHS, when you’ve got churches full of people ready to pray over the sick and heal them, and as for the feeding of the five thousand well, so far one Christian charity (The Trussell Trust) has fed almost a million.


Ah! Here’s a picture of Jesus cheerfully bearing the burdens of another without charge and at no additional cost.

What Would Jesus Do?


Observe, a picture of Jesus, the son of God, ‘going matrix’ on some bankers, err I mean’t money changers’ behinds. Now, this piece of art has a truly modern feel to it, one can almost sense the degree of homicidal rage. The urge to simply lift his foot and quite simply kick the err ‘be-jesus’ out of them is palpable. And in fact in this picture he has actually lifted his foot and is busy kicking the err, ‘be-jesus’ out of them (there was no CCTV in those days). So intrigued was I by this wondrous piece of art that I have decided to include various interpretations of Jesus assaulting various money lenders in this blog post. But before I do here’s a picture of Cardinal Nichols handing David Cameron’s arse (oops! naughty word!) back to him.

Vincent Nichols

Cardinal Nichols gave the government a thorough tongue lashing over its welfare reforms, which in his words, have left people destitute. He mentioned one beneficiary of a foodbank starting to cry when presented with food after not eating for three days. “It is stories like that, that are part of the reality of this country today,” Cardinal Nichols has said. Cardinal Nichols has not been the only person to speak out about this government’s punitive and ideologically driven welfare reforms, oh no. Here is a picture of the United Nations special investigator on housing who had the audacity to speak out about the punitive impact the bedroom tax was having on the impoverished.


Ms Rolnik had the audacity to suggest that the bedroom tax should be scrapped because it negatively “impacts on the right to adequate housing and general wellbeing of many vulnerable individuals and households”. She must have meant vulnerable individuals such as Mark Wood, an Asperger’s suffer.When police found Wood, diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, his food supplies had more or less expired. Half a banana was left, plus a tin of tuna.

“I’d like David Cameron and his Government,” said his sister, “to be aware of the personal cost of their policies and how they are affecting real people and causing real heartache.”

Wood’s own doctor, Dr Nicholas Ward, had recently written to his local jobcentre to support his claim for benefits, saying he was “absolutely unfit for any work whatsoever”. Ward described Wood as a man of “dignity and integrity”. Clearly not Maria Miller then. Here is another picture of Jesus kicking the crap out of some pay day loan sharks  money lenders.


Ms Rolnik and Cardinal Nichols are not the only ones that have voiced their opposition to the governments welfare reforms, the people who run foodbanks have. The advisers who year upon year give free advice via underfunded organisations like the CAB have. The guys running hundreds of foodbanks up and down the country have. Alot of people who wouldn’t describe themselves as Marxists or Socialists have, so why is the government some of these people voted for refusing to listen. Here is a picture of Jesus, son of God and innovator of the ‘compassionate society’ feeding the five thousand.


Note, that in this particular piece of art there are no claim forms, no assessment interviews and nobody looks as though they’ve been sanctioned. Ave, ave, ave Maria…..

Freedom Train?



I am in love with ‘The Avengers’. Seriously. So many hard bodies that I could swoon and so many tru’isms like ‘can an ant negotiate with a boot?’. The Ukraine gets taken over by right wing fascists and, the Russians seize this as an excuse to invade and take over the Crimea. But can NATO do anything about it? Actually they probably could, after all in 1999 didn’t they intervene effectively in Kosovo? And haven’t they enjoyed unbridled success alongside American troops in Afghanistan? Training, advising, assisting and yes, even funding the Afghan National Security Force. So what up with little Crimea?


And so back to the ‘Avengers’ the tesseract, a neon blue cube shaped portal (see above illustration), to outer space and limitless monsters,has been stolen by that would be fascist dictator Loki, America is under threat (nothing new there). And it will take the combined might of a motley crew of super heroes in order to save the day. Which sort of seems analogous to little Crimea, rescued from the arms of big bad Loki, in this case the Svoboda (Freedom) party, by that valiant strongman of Russia Vladimir Putin.


Like Captain America, Putin has valiantly made the decision to swoop down and protect little Crimea’s ethnic Russians from the maurauding hordes of Ukrainian fascists. He has struck a blow for  Crimean freedom. One that would have been more convincing had he not previously supported the inhumane oppression of the Syrian people by one Bashir Al-Assad. Unfortunately, according to NATO, his actions have triggered off instability within other regions of the Ukraine. Naughty man for stealing the Crimea and whipping up hostility and acrimony where previously there had been none (see the Ukrainian parliament in session below).


The bottom line is that Ukraine’s people have grown tired of their greedy, corrupt and nepotistic oligarchs and politicians. They have grown tired of expecting to both endure and enjoy impoverishment. Whilst the ruling classes funds private armies and swan over seas to Paris, London and Milan, indulging their every jet-setting whim; and the right wing fascists and Putin have taken full advantage of their frustrated dissent.

So why hasn’t NATO been more proactive in its interventions? Why hasn’t America come to that? It couldn’t be the niggling issue of Russian investment could it? And when I say investment I mean all types of investments, such as direct investments made by legal entities or individuals owning an entire enterprise, portfolio investments, which refer mostly to financial investments (equities, bonds and the like), and other investments. Because all of these investments in European and American economies have been growing year upon year.


Which brings me to my final diagram accompanied by a quote ‘can an ant negotiate with a boot?’. You know what? An ant can’t not on its own, that much is obvious. But an army of bellicose ants infused with moral integrity?