Notepad on Life

May 14, 2018

Sound of silence an immoral victory for yob culture

Filed under: crime,Kids — - @ 12:30 pm
Tags: ,

A middle-aged diabetic with excitable blood pressure, experts would probably say I did the right thing, but it doesn’t feel like it.

“Hey,  can I have your baseball cap?”

“Yeah, and that bag with your laptop in it….”

They were rhetorical questions, although more mischievous than purposeful.

On my way home from work, walking through the park in broad daylight, I’m conscious of three teenagers to my left; two average height; one a pint-size redhead. I should have been more than just conscious, but I’ve gone into default mode for the law-abiding.

Ignore them. No eye contact. Keep walking.

And I don’t care what the experts might say. I hate myself for it. Not because I’m ruing all the juicy, valid threats that I could have made in response, because there aren’t any. My last fight was in 1975. I lost.

No, I rue the fact that I have just fed the popular belief among today’s goons that they can shout and no-one will shout back. I have aligned myself with another man in glasses.

One thing feeding thuggishness among young people, someone  recently suggested, is precisely the fact that no-one older and wiser bothers engaging with them, and while I’m not so soft as to regard this as excusing them, it does offer food for thought.

Even if the trio had been for real, and a brief, one-sided struggle had seen me wave goodbye to my hat and my bag (my laptop, thankfully, was 20 miles away) I could have landed a few blows of my own. Asked between shoves where their self-respect was. If this was how they proposed to pee their lives up against a wall. If this was their idea of being men.

Yes, that’s right. Just words. In one ear and out the other, probably. Or maybe not. Maybe one blow might have landed, triggering just enough self-loathing in its target to set him on the long road to sorting himself out.

The fact is, words were all I had, yet even in a situation more code orange than red, I chose to not to use them, and so fed the pervading belief among Society’s wrong ‘uns that they rule in a vacuum, in which they shout the odds and no-one shouts back.


April 9, 2018

Organised crime, coming to a street near you

Filed under: crime,Family,Kids,Uncategorized — - @ 1:00 pm

road-man-lights-legs.jpgTwo weeks ago, it was a brick through their front window.

Tonight, it’s someone smashing the side-windows of their car.

There are several candidates as to the source of the grievance, but it’s not the time for us to press the point.

While he’s gone off in a futile bid to catch the culprit and introduce him to rough justice, I’m struck by her resigned calm as she shivers on the doorstep. This grievance has rumbled for a while; their shouts, audible through the wall, suggesting a family under pressure, and its ability to frighten her seems to have diminished through repetition.

More angry now, she detachedly takes us through the drill, as if discussing the cost of food at Tesco.

“He’ll have got someone to do it for him,” she explains, staring at the car. “It’s twenty quid to get someone to smash a window for you. Fifty if you want a kid beaten up…”

This shopping list dismays me almost as much as the sound of breaking glass. I don’t live in Sicily, or New York. I live in an English country town, yet even there the value of life is now apparently so cheap, all it takes to have a price on your head, is to be a child who’s narked someone.

September 9, 2017

Schools’ Big Lie – a letter to my niece

Filed under: Education,Family,Kids — - @ 10:13 am
Tags: , ,

Dear ……….,

I was delighted to learn of your successful GCSE results and I wanted to congratulate you and wish you all the best as you enter Sixth Form and the next phase of your education.

At the same time, though, I wanted to offer you some advice, because some of the things your mother told me about the way schools work these days and the pressure they place on young people, concerned me greatly.

Some pressure is always good, of course. It drives us on to succeed and so brings out the best in us. Too much pressure, however, is no good at all, and I found it very depressing to hear that no sooner have schools stopped pressuring their students over GCSEs than they start pressuring you over A-levels and university places.

It is important that we take time to stop briefly and savour our achievements in life, and the school summer holiday used to be the perfect opportunity for that. You would, hopefully, do well at your end-of-year exams and then have a clear six-week break in which to enjoy that achievement and rest, ahead of the next year’s challenges.

I understand from [my son] that things are different now. He tells me that in every summer holiday during his time at secondary school, he had homework to do in readiness for the following year. You will have heard of the expression ‘the rat race’ – it used to be something only adults had to worry about, but it seems that children are now expected to join in as well.

I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to this for you these next two years, but if it does, I want to offer a little advice to help keep your head above water.

Schools lie to us, I’m afraid. They mean well, but they do lie.

They will try and tell you that the next two years will shape your entire life, for example. This is not true – they may be influential but in the end, your destiny lies in your own hands. Read biographies of successful men and women and you may be amazed at how many of them left school with nothing, yet went on to do great things. You are already ahead of them.

Schools talk about guiding you into ‘good jobs’, but beware. Those ‘good jobs’ might come with fancy cars and big houses but they also often come with stress, 16-hour days and misery. Don’t drift into one of those ‘good jobs’ like I did; make it your mission these next two years to identify what you’re good at and what you’re interested in and see if you can spot a career where those two things meet. Like me, you may be in your thirties before you get there but the sooner you start figuring out where ‘there’ is, the better. And whatever your careers teacher might tell you, there are only two definitions of a good job – it pays your bills and you look forward to going to work in the morning. You find a job like that and it doesn’t matter what car you drive; you’re still one-up on 95 per cent of the British workforce.

Oh, and the idea that you must go to university to amount to anything – this may be their biggest lie yet. It’s an option, not a ‘must’.

Schools also act like the pressure they put you under is all for your benefit. This is only partly true. The better you do, the better they look and the safer their jobs are. That’s not to say you shouldn’t respect them but don’t buy into all their hype. Remember, you will shape your destiny; they will play only a small part in that.

None of this means you should just amble through the next two years, of course. Education remains a wonderful opportunity and it is one you should take with both hands. It isn’t failure that makes old people bitter; it’s the chances that they never took; opportunities that are gone forever. You don’t want to be that person when you’re old and grey, so work hard now. But work reasonably hard: preserve your leisure time and your health, for both are equally valid elements of a good life.

For all the talk of projected grades these next two years, I believe you have just one objective between now and the summer of 2019 – that you walk out of your final A-level examination knowing that you have given it and those before it your very best shot. If you can honestly say that, then you will cope with whatever the results may be.

In some respects, a good school does its job long before its students sit GCSEs or A-levels. It fires their imaginations, gets them engaged with the world around them and makes them unafraid of hard work. If you take those qualities into the outside world and keep hammering at Life’s door then it won’t really matter how many certificates you have in your pocket. Somewhere, that door will open.

With my love and very best wishes,

August 28, 2017

The university route is not a universal truth

Filed under: Education,Kids — - @ 12:11 pm
Tags: ,

34846001785_0b81bea157_zNice piece by Toby Young in CapXFree schools are working – just look at their GCSE results – but I was irked by the un-challenged assertion that channelling every pupil into university should be a de rigeur objective of schools everywhere.

No. Their objective should be switched-on youngsters, engaged with the world, its problems and opportunities alike, and fully accepting that nothing it offers will come to them by right, but must be worked for. Making them excited about the next phase of their lives once the blazer’s retired, that should be a teacher’s primary goal, for life’s doors rarely remain closed to someone who’s committed to hammering at them until they open.

Once you’ve got them pumped up for life’s journey, however, you do them a grave disservice if you imbue them with the notion that it follows only one road. Some people just don’t want more academia by the time they are 16 or 18: they want to be out in the world getting their hands dirty, not mulling over abstract concepts in a seminar room.

By all means, let them know that university can be theirs if they want it (money permitting, but that’s a whole new debate) and show them what it could mean for them, but don’t fall into the polarised mindset that university is the summit, with every other route into the workforce falling short of it. I have a son who sensed a certain detachment from his teachers once it became apparent that he wasn’t Oxbridge material. It could have been someone else’s son, though, and I doubt this deplorable attitude would have dismayed me any the less.

Letters after your name are just one strain of success, to be celebrated no more loudly than the kid who walked away at 16 and is now driving his/her own Merc at 22, while employing 30 people, or who makes furniture or works of art for whom customers routinely pay four figures.

If this distorted university-for-all mindset really has taken root in our schools, I would suggest that educators who are paid to broaden minds might like to take a look at their own.

[Pic courtesy of School of Media and Public Affairs at GWU]

January 27, 2017

O Canada – sexual assault exposes West’s ‘terminal niceness’

Filed under: foreign,immigration,Kids,school — - @ 9:44 am

Pic courtesy of Harlow Heslop

Countless women descended upon Washington DC last weekend, determined to prove that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by the electoral college system. They’re not backwards in coming forward, women nowadays, be it the marchers, the breast-barers, or the actors with a cause.

I just wish they’d mobilise with equal fervour when it really matters. When a 14-year-old Canadian schoolgirl is sexually assaulted, for example, only to have it put to her afterwards that she needs to cut her assailant some slack.

This latest tale of bleeding-heart madness is said to have begun at what should have been a happy occasion: a high school dance at Fredericton High School, New Brunswick.

“Speaking on condition of anonymity, the girl’s mother said two Syrian students attempted to grind with her daughter at the dance, before one of them began groping her breasts and forced his hand inside her underwear, touching her vagina.” – from The Daily Caller

If the poor girl thought the worst of her ordeal was behind her once her attacker backed off, she could have been forgiven for wondering who was the villain here, once the school’s victim support kicked in.

“…vice-principal, Elaine Kilfillen, worried that the alleged attacker “will become a target in our student population once the rumor mill gets going.” The girl’s mother claimed that school officials encouraged her daughter to understand the alleged attacker’s perspective and consider the effect her clothing may have had.” – ibid. [point of order here – if she’s allowed to remain on school premises in unsuitable clothing, Fredericton High; that one’s on you]

The culprit, who denied the accusation, was suspended for one week. His victim, whose own ‘sentence’ will probably last rather longer, should the allegation be true,  is in therapy.

This account comes from just one or two secondary news sources (disturbingly, a possible reason for this is suggested at the foot of this post) so a cautionary note must be sounded. Should the story be solid, however, then it would be the latest recurrence of a familiar pattern. The Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens speculated for some time over what would happen when political correctness towards women collided head-on with political correctness towards Islam. Slowly but surely, we are beginning to find out. Islam wins.

Oh-so-enlightened Western civilisation makes all the concessions, and what passes for civilisation in parts of the Middle East presses on gleefully through the doors we hold open.

The school’s reported attempt at compassion ensures only that there will be more emboldened young men, more attacks, and more traumatised young women. Former muslim Nabeel Qureshi sets out here (starting at the 3:55 mark) exactly where this misguided approach is destined to lead us.

“I think the term that’s being used for it…is ‘terminal niceness’. We’re being so nice and politically correct, to things that are willing to rip us apart, that it will be the end of us.”

As I write, meanwhile, Emma Watson’s Twitter feed makes no mention of Fredericton, and the town’s edition of the Washington march appears to have had eyes only for a caucasian male with bad hair.

And on the theme of ‘familiar patterns’ – if this tweet is true, then this is another one…

January 23, 2017

Child poverty not just a money thing

Filed under: Education,Family,Kids — - @ 9:26 am

Cropped from a pic by Steve Rhode

She works with disadvantaged children. The type so damaged by broken homes or dysfunctional parents that conventional education can’t cope with them; they need one-to-one lessons in handling life before they can even think about handling school.

She’s making inroads already with her latest charge. So immersed did he become in one of their recent days out together that he briefly forgot himself, as he pointed to something that had caught his eye.

“Look mummy…” he shouted.

The ultimate professional compliment, wrapped around a cry for help so searing, she said it cut her in two.

You can’t throw money at that kind of deprivation.

August 27, 2014

Rotherham child abuse scandal – we’ll never tame the culprits until we crucify their accomplice

Filed under: Kids,Law and order — - @ 11:09 pm

If you believe that the measure of a country is how it tends for its most vulnerable members, then you may consider yourself tragically spoilt for choice when trying to identify the money quote in yesterday’s appalling revelations concerning Rotherham’s betrayal of its children.

  • “Around 1,400 children were sexually exploited in one town over a 16-year period”
  • “…in more than a third of these cases the youngsters were already known to agencies”
  • “…children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone”
  • “They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated”
  • “…girls as young as 11 had been raped by large numbers of men.”
  • “…no council officers will face disciplinary action”

Allow me, however, to suggest this as the successful candidate:

 ‘The report said: “By far the majority of perpetrators were described as ‘Asian’ by victims.”

But, she said, councillors seemed to think is [sic] was a one-off problem which they hoped would go away and “several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist”.

She said: “Others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.”‘

I don’t know where the authorities are when it comes to bringing the perpetrators of these wicked deeds to justice but I do know that we have their chief accomplice in custody for questioning.

Almost one and a half thousand children violated and with heaven knows how many of them, there is a case to answer that political correctness ran interference for the culprit, with harsh reality playing second fiddle to a party line that decrees not even child-rape trumps racism on a scale of improper conduct.

If this is true, how many Britons would honestly be surprised? This kind of rigid, terrified group-think has begun to typify our nation the way that cricket once did.

At the risk of going all Thomas Jefferson, I think it is high time we declared some truths of our own to be self-evident.

That telling the truth is not hate speech.

That reality is not to be tucked away in the shadows for fear of upsetting someone’s la-la land narrative, but is to be brought out into the brightest light and assessed and acted upon in a way that is right, objective, and grown-up.

That when a child is in imminent danger of being sexually traumatised, leftist niceties rank some way below the price of eggs on a list of related priorities.

And that if you really want to further racial cohesion, you might like to placate a whole lot of British Sikhs and Hindus by spelling out precisely what you mean by ‘Asian’. I understand it’s something of a bugbear.

It’s a long road back for Rotherham but if yesterday’s events finally see the cult of PC take its first tentative steps in a long walk off a short plank, some good may yet come of this wretched tale.

Last week, I read how a compatriot of mine may have sawn the head off an American journalist, and I thought it would be a long time before I felt so embarrassed to be British.

Turns out it was seven days.

June 26, 2014

Will England and USA even qualify for World Cup 2026?

Filed under: Education,foreign,Kids,Sport — - @ 9:00 am
Tags: ,
School children playing jump-rope in between c...

Jump-rope in between classes at a Cuban elementary school. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Nice though it is to know it’s not just us, Elementary Politics‘ lament for the idea of games without competition in American schools is nevertheless depressing reading:

“But these bans speak to a larger problem with the schools nowadays. People are so terrified of children possibly feeling anything less than successful that they remove all obstacles. Might fail? Let’s get rid of tests. Actually failing? Let’s punish the students who actually did their work. Can’t play a sport? That’s okay, precious snowflake, go jump rope for an hour. It’s insulating an already coddled generation of children in a bubble full of fake success, a bubble that will quickly burst once they get to the real world. Schools do children a disservice when they remove competition and the situations to learn how to cope with failure.”

March 13, 2014

Child Bride

Filed under: Journalism,Kids,Women — - @ 9:00 am
Tags: ,

Glossy Women's Magazines Remind Us Some Girls And Women Are Living In Hell | Co.Create | creativity + culture + commerce

Glossy Women’s Magazines Remind Us Some Girls And Women Are Living In Hell

August 21, 2013

Jim Murray’s mastery went way beyond sport

Filed under: Books,foreign,Journalism,Kids,Sport — - @ 9:00 am

An anthology of the late American sportswriter Jim Murray was my holiday reading and he is turning out to be one of the few things in life that lives up to the hype. His mastery of wry observation and sense of the ridiculous denotes the best kind of sports journalist – he or she who never loses sight of the fact that games are but part of life’s bigger picture.

Did anyone quibble, for example, that the column he devoted to his wistfulness at having to abandon his home by the Pacific for one nearer his LA office, had little to do with sport? I doubt it, so beautiful a lament was it for irretrievable youth.

Then there is this piece on organised children’s baseball (and I hope the publishers will excuse me excerpting just one of the book’s many articles) – a gently withering denunciation of those who insist on making life far harder than it need be, merely to justify their salary.

You will either be appalled that social meddling by do-gooders is far older than you realised, or else inspired that it fared just as badly when colliding with common sense 40 years ago as it does today…

Click each image to enlarge it.


Murray 1Murray2Murray3

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