Sunday, 26 September 2010

windmills of your mind

Hmm . . . interesting.  The world seems to have moved on a few stages whilst I was looking the other way.  As a teacher, the initials AQA have always meant an exam board.  However, if you text 63336, you get another company called AQA. Any Questions Answered.

I thought I'd try it out - it costs £1:50 but they seem to want you to use the facility so I got another one free. Anyway, I thought I'd be a bit clever and rather than try "What's the Meaning of Life" type questions, I'd ask something a bit harder. So I tried "How Many Times Do You Have To Fall Before You End Up Falling?"  (the title of a Richard Thompson song as any fule no*).  Within minutes, I received a reply:

"Some children don't fall at all when they are learning to walk. Others fall dozens of time (sic). The average age children start walking is 16 months."

Okay, not the answer required but I don't know what I was expecting - possibly a long wait and an incomprehensible answer.  But they delivered!  My god!  I'm going to use this in the classroom.  If the buggers are going to keep using their phones, they might as well be using them to help them become useful adults!**  What a wonderful resource.

Just for your information, I'm reading Ian Gilbert's guide to 21st Century teaching called Why Do I Need A Teacher When I've Got Google? I won't  be a teacher for too much longer in this century but I do want to remain useful for a year or two more.

*Obviously, the song is about making mistakes - of the heart most likely, knowing RT.
** It's not what knowledge you have but how you use it.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

not like jordan

The sea breeze blew gently through our hair and the expectancy was high. A slightly salty smell reached our nostrils.  Just a few hundred yards away from the town where we live, but we needed to cross the River Deben to get there.  We'd had reports from friends that there was wild food in abundance nearby.  It was late afternoon and Mrs Dave and I had managed to complete any outstanding work - I'd got up at the crack of sparrow-fart and marked some essays. We'd had breakfast, and indeed lunch (Raclette with potato and prosciutto, wonderful).  The ferry from our town to the Radar capital was still running (until 6:00 pm) so we were able to go across the water and enjoy an hour or so foraging.

Bawdsey is well known for its place in the WWII war game  - the home of radar and all that, but now it offers a quiet hamlet that is only disturbed by the occasional tourist seeking solitude or, indeed, wild food.

We parked at the local pub ( there was a space - why pay?) and jumped onto the ferry.  We asked the Ferryman (Mrs Dave paid - haha*) where we could find the reported wild plums and he, cryptically told us we could go left or right.  Thanks.  We went left and found a huge amount of blackberries.

Wandering on a little further we found a single bush that offered us enough sloes to make a couple of  bottles of sloe gin. Whilst I took off my gloves and got down to business, Mrs D concentrated on blackberries.  When we got a bit bored we thought we'd wander on - bramble on? - down the road apiece.  What did we find but a load of wild cherry plums?  Wonderful! We - I say we but I mean I, managed to ensconce myself into a small roadside grove that offered a huge amount of wild plums and plucked to my heart's content. Beautiful red fruit growing wild, fantastic taste.  Heaven.

I don't know why this particular area is so abundant with fruit - if you want elderberries, look no further.  I will be here in the spring when I want to collect elderflowers to make champagne.  I suppose it has been ignored generally through either lack of interest or just plain secretiveness (?) and this area of Suffolk is generally quiet. Ah well, I need to get across here more.

I have only ever been across to Bawdsey a few times in the twenty years or so that I have lived down here - I strongly suspect that I will be taking more and more advantage of the opportunities available now that I know that I can forage successfully.

Sloe Gin, blackberry pies and some sort of plummy sauce beckons.  I've already seen a few useful sites for picking fruit in the future - heaven on Earth.

We move in god's country.

* Who pays the  . . . .

waiting for the ferry, tickets in our hand
good people that were never out of sight of land. . . 

. . . and we're all on board
it's not very far to ride
your river is not like Jordan
we'll meet on the other side

Saturday, 11 September 2010

a scholarly man

We do not live in a paper-less world. Interestingly, with the advent of the web and all things cyberspace, many doom-mongers were informing us of the death of paper.  However, I often refer people to the magazine section of W H Smiths and suggest they check out how many magazines are devoted to the internet. And the amount of packs of printer paper that are sold every day. So, leaving the ghostly realm for a while, I have just purchased the latest edition of Guitar & Bass Magazine.

I was idly perusing the letter pages whilst waiting for someone to make me some lunch when there seemed something familiar about a photograph on said pages.

It may appear familiar to others amongst you, too as it appeared last month here. This simple picture was taken on my phone and accompanies a letter (actually an email) I sent to the magazine.  I certainly didn't expect it to be printed - I was actually just thanking them for an article they published earlier in the year.  Obviously I ingratiated myself by congratulating them for their  "lucid, well-written articles".  But, print it they did!  The editor said that my "endeavours (are) an example to us all".  And not only that, it was this month's Star Letter.  Star Letter - no ordinary, namby-pamby every day letter. The letter that wins a prize.

Unfortunately, much to Mrs Dave's chagrin, the prize is yet another guitar soft gig bag, but you can never have too many gig bags. It does mean that the black guitar case with fluorescent orange fur lining (once seen, never forgotten) is going to have to be retired.  I've had that since circa 1975.  All things pass, I guess.

So, I am finally in print.  Not self-published or a blog post.  It quite made my day.

Off to Jimmy's Farm Harvest festival tomorrow to see Kate Rusby and that young dreadlocked fellow I saw earlier this year.  I hope he brings out his guitarlele.