School absence, an update.

Should you have read my previous post where I told the story of our grandchildren’s absence from school to visit the Goodwood Revival, I can report we have an update on the story.

I am delighted to report that our grandchildren’s absence from school has been recorded as an educational visit and that neither the young fellows, or their grandparents will be punished.

This comes as a great relief, for even though my wife and I were prepared to take our punishment like a man, we were not quite ready for the lack of dignity involved in having a good thrashing from the headmaster.

I have nothing further to add except to say how glad I am to see common sense being used rather than the more modern way which entails doing everything by the book and I therefore say, thank you and bravo headmaster.


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School absence.

I wrote this yesterday on my other blog and thought I would share it with you here.

My wife and I went to The Goodwood Revival at the weekend and had arranged for our grandchildren and their father to join us on the Friday which is generally the quieter of the three days, which should have made for an easier day with two youngsters in tow.

It was the 20th anniversary of the event and there was a most splendid atmosphere all over the weekend seeing friends old and new, which unfortunately meant we were rushing about from pillar to post and not taking any photographs with which to liven up this post.

Prior to taking the grandchildren to Goodwood we had written to their school to inform them of the need for the children to be absent for a day but as it was only their second day at their new school we had assumed that as they are only 11 years old they wouldn’t miss a great deal in such a short time away. Even if they had taken up studying the finer points of “War and peace” or started to learn Latin, or battled with the more complicated aspects of trigonometry, none of which in fact happened, I very much doubt if their fellow pupils would have managed to be greatly advanced on our grandchildren in such a short time.

We have now been informed by their father that we have contravened some sort of school protocol whereby one has to fill in a form should one wish to request a days absence for one’s offspring, how indicative of modern life that a days absence should require the completion of reams of paperwork before permission is granted, a mere letter of explanation not being sufficient.

The school has sent the relevant paperwork to their father but we have yet to see it so I am unsure whether our explanation that it made more sense to take the children on the quieter day, which unfortunately required a days absence from school may not cut the mustard and it appears that the boys are to be penalised by not being able to take part in any after school activities or school trips for a period of six months.

Call me old fashioned if you like but this seems to be a tad harsh especially as the children had no say in what day they would be absent, however we have devised a contingency plan should this draconian punishment be put into place. Whatever trip the boys may miss we shall arrange to take them on the exact outing at the first available opportunity and make sure they get every extra treat that may be available.

That should take the sting out of the punishment for the boys, although as grandparents we are unsure as to what sort of punishment may be inflicted upon my wife and I. We have though thought of a contingency yet again, for should we be called up to see the Headmaster we shall both go wearing our forties outfits from the Goodwood weekend. The reasoning behind what may seem to be a strange choice of clothing is, my suit trousers are very loose and my wife will be wearing a suspender belt which should give both of us the opportunity to secrete about our nether regions a copy of a substantial weekend newspaper, so should the headmaster wish to lay upon us with a large cane to administer six of the best we are adequately protected.

I’m led to believe that in modern schooling it is no longer possible to punish pupils or even grandparents with a sound thrashing but I’m not taking any chances should our form filling not result in a verdict of not guilty.

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I feel so sorry for the youth of today.

We live in very strange times when nearly 25% of girls and 9% of boys aged 14 admitted self harming, I find that quite extraordinary.

New figures from The Childrens Society estimates nearly 110,000 children aged 14 have self-harmed across the Uk during a 12 month period, which included 76,00 girls and 33,000 boys.

What can possibly be so wrong with their lives that 38% showed signs of depression and 30% had low wellbeing. Apparently, worries about how they look is a big issue, especially for girls but other factors such as how they feel about their sexuality and gender stereotypes may be linked to their unhappiness.

When I look back at my own childhood I have absolutely no recollection of being particularly depressed although I may be looking back through rose tinted glasses. We certainly didn’t have the pressures that today’s young people have, some of us had crooked teeth, some had ears that stuck out or weren’t the most handsome one of the group, or in my case you had all three afflictions.

We obviously realised there were members of our peer group who were better looking and were more attractive to the opposite sex, but it didn’t matter because there was more to life than just being good looking.

Quite a few of my friends were no where near as witty or funny as I was, luckily at 14 none of us had to experience the shame of walking off the stage of The Glasgow Empire to the sound of our own footsteps. Laugh, they nearly did!

Some chaps were rubbish at riding their bicycles and would have trouble keeping up as we dashed through the local forest looking for a suitable place to have a crafty cigarette.

There was no social media as we have today if you wanted to find out about anything you had to look it up in an encyclopedia, you would be unable to find the latest look from Kim Kardashian in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Sadly, only today there was news of a 9 year old boy who killed himself after he came out to his school classmates and suffered homophobic bullying for four days when he returned to school after the holidays.

How on earth could this happen, I am confused on so many levels, how fragile his mental state must have been that he would kill himself after just four days of being bullied? Surely he could have spoken to his mother or a school teacher, there must have been someone he could have spoken to before taking such drastic action.

It shows how things have dramatically changed for in my day at 9 years old we wouldn’t even know what gay was, in fact I rather doubt we would have known at 14. My how times change.

I wish I had a solution to this problem but I don’t, there is no way to go back to the more innocent days of my youth let alone take the youth of today back with you.


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Something from the archives.

I have been a little busy lately so I found something from the archives.


I’ve just come home, my best friend has just died, it’s hard not to cry, I loved her, I really loved her.

We’d been together for seventeen years, I don’t know what to say, seventeen years is a hell of a long time with anyone.

It’s funny, when we first met I thought she was far too aloof, too stand offish, I had no idea we’d become so close, so inseparable.

We shared everything together, the good times, the bad, I hadn’t realised how much she supported me, I feel so desperately alone.

Whenever I was depressed or fed up I would talk to her and she would listen in that knowing way of hers and somehow things would always seem better, God I miss her.

I took it for granted she’d always be there, silly really, I knew she was ill but you always hope for the best thinking it will be alright.

When I woke this morning and she wasn’t next to me I knew something wasn’t right, I hadn’t realised how ill she’d become, she always bore everything so bravely.

Instinctively I jumped out of bed calling to her but when I found her collapsed in the loo something told me this was the end, not that I wanted to admit it.

She was taken in straight away but I knew in my heart it was too late, I hated to see her in pain not knowing what was going on, there should be more dignity in death.

I suppose there is dignity in death at the final moment when you let go, it’s the bit before that hurts so much, especially when you’re a helpless onlooker.

All you can do is stroke their head, or reach out to them, not knowing if they know you’re there, but praying they do.

They did everything they could but in the end she just quietly went to sleep, I actually had to ask, ‘has she gone’.

I cried my eyes out all the way home, people must have thought I was mad, but who cares.

The house seems so empty, so strangely quiet, I hadn’t realised how someone’s physical presence could make so much noise, especially someone who used to meow so quietly.

I’m going to put her in the garden now, it’s still her home, always will be.

Goodbye Lionella, I love you, I always will sweetheart, sweet dreams.

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Another new children’s book.

Here are details of my latest children’s book which is available on Amazon, it tells the story of a herd of cows who take part in the Cowes Yacht Race and triumph against the odds.

I’m sure when any child or grandchild who is read this story will see the funny side, so all I can suggest is that you rush with all haste to Amazon to purchase a copy while stocks last.


Cows cover jpg (1)

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It was a black dog afternoon.

I don’t usually post any poems but was just reading one by a young lady who follows my blog and decided to put one up for a change. The original inspiration for the poem came when I read that Winston Churchill used to suffer with depression which he used to call his black dog.




I woke this morning in a pool of vomit,

on standing I lost my footing,

cracking my head upon the table

and splitting my lip on the cold stone floor.

It was another black dog afternoon.


I crawled my way to the broken mirror,

to see myself with a cubist eye,

staring back all black and jagged,

some one looking, it wasn’t me.

It was another black dog afternoon.


I heard a voice say take your medication,

pink first, then blue and white.

Stop shouting with your megaphone,

too loud, too loud, turn it down.

It was another black dog afternoon.


Some days the noise won’t go away,

sharp ones and oblongs too,

banging in my semi consciousness,

flashes are worse, I hate that sound.

It was another black dog afternoon.


I’m scared to death of bloody voices,

I need to shelter in my youth,

the only place where I feel safe,

snuggled in my blanket, warm.

It was another black dog afternoon.


The only way to escape the screaming,

is the solace of a Prozac haze,

more and more and more and more,

until the terror fades away.

It was my last black dog afternoon.

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Grumpy old man.

Yesterday my wife accused me of being a grumpy old man and I have to admit she had a point but in my defence I cite the following.

The day before our internet stopped and I reported it to Vodafone who said they would run tests and get it fixed as soon as possible, suggesting that a huge gang of men would descend on the box down the road and fix it virtually as we spoke, which seemed like a reasonable solution to me. However the next day I awoke to find that the internet was not fixed and the phone too had given up the ghost which necessitated another call to Vodafone.

We had to go out to buy some school uniform and equipment for our grandchildren so left our daughter at home to deal with the second gang of men from Vodafone who may require entry to our premises in order to attempt to fix the phone for the second time.

Before leaving I tried to book the old Bentley into the garage for a quick job but had forgotten the chap who runs the garage was away in America which meant that it will not be done before Goodwood as I had planned.

When we left to go shopping we called in at our Doctors surgery to sign up to order our repeat prescriptions on line, having taken our driving licences as identification we were both issued with a user name and a password and duly left, so far, so good.

Passing the Co-op in the village I popped in to collect my classic car papers which usually come in on a Wednesday but unfortunately one of them had not arrived, causing me to wonder how with modern technology one could possibly mislay or miss order your papers as surely it would be a standing order on computer.

Moving swiftly on we then spent an inordinately long time purchasing clothing and pencils, rulers, calculators and other items, so much so that I was wondering if we were equipping the entire class but eventually we finished.

My plan to kill two birds with one stone and pay a cheque into the bank as we were passing was also thwarted as the bank was shut for the day.

A further visit to the supermarket for what seemed like an enormous quantity of food, enough to feed the five thousand I would have thought, one wonders how Jesus managed the same feat with just five loaves and three fishes. Upon leaving I was getting close to loosing the will to live.

When we returned home we were informed that the phone was working and had needed the fitment of a new wire which was fixed to a telegraph pole which was hidden in the foliage of the trees and that should the fault occur again we would have to pay as they assumed the tree branches had rubbed on the line causing the fault. I made a mental note to try to cut back the trees as soon as I had a chance.

Somewhat exhausted I sat down with a cup of tea and too many chocolate bars in the hope that the sugar rush gained would assist my flagging energy levels.

Duly refreshed I set about attempting to set up our on line accounts for our repeat prescriptions from the doctor. Having put in my details I was pleasantly surprised that they were accepted and set about putting in the details of my wife, unfortunately they wouldn’t work no matter how much I shouted at the computer which meant we would have to contact the surgery the next day.

My wife phoned up in the morning and was told that she would have to come in again and get a new password and try again but as she was busy I took her ID and the letter from yesterday and requested a new password for her. Unfortunately they were unable to give it to me as it was only possible to give it to my wife in person, one would have thought that having seen us together yesterday they would have been able to use their discretion and give me her password, but no.

I had been warned by my wife not to be too grumpy should there be a problem but by now I was getting so frustrated that I had to point out to the staff on reception, that the whole point of trying to sign up to do it on line was to stop having to make repeated visits to the surgery in person. I may have uttered a minor expletive and a comment that modern life is enough to drive you mad and left. Returning home I took my wife back and she was given a new password, I cannot tell you how relieved I was when it actually worked.

Having just written this tale of woe I am now feeling a little better, although not as much as I had hoped, the old adage that a problem shared is a problem halved is not true. As I pointed out to my wife, I would have no cause to be a grumpy old man were it not for all the people who seem to go out of their way to make things as difficult as they possibly can and there, your honour, I rest my case.




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