Saturday, July 27, 2013

What's in a name?

Well, "the event" has now happened and the little mite has been given a name and a future.  I suppose it will be King George V11th eventually;  a King Louis would generate visions of gilded chairs, palaces and mistresses and send David Starkey into orbit and King Alexander is perhaps a little too new for us to find acceptable. I'm not a Royalist, or anti-Royalist for that matter, but what I do feel is that for a significant period the public, and especially the media, ought to set the whole issue aside now and let those surrounding the "new arrival" enjoy what in any family is a blessing and emotional roller coaster combined. Does it really matter how many names the baby has and all the rest of it? Well, I guess formality demands that the dictates of succession are sorted out and names agreed upon. As for the rest, then leave it be for a while. The most inane question I heard asked by the media was " when do you think the baby will be told it's a Royal".........when it can understand the question would be the immediate reaction I suspect.

But let's get back to names! I have to admit to a slightly guilty secret.  I suspect it's the closest thing to anything "Establishment" that I'll ever achieve. My second name is "SQUIRE"......note second name please!
I have to admit that I have no intimate knowledge of armour, horses or horses tack and that my chivalrous affiliations are non-existent, as is my ability to carry jousting poles. As a child I actually lived in a village with a Squire,  Squire Micklethwaite of Ardsley, a village to the east of Barnsley. He was a bit eccentric and zoomed around in a big car whose name I'd never heard of. I then actually met another one some thirty years later, who lived in Slaidburn in the Forest of Bowland and had something to do with the Milk Marketing Board at the time, or something similar. What their forebears had done in order to earn such accolades and titles is lost in history, but the presence of proper Squires nowadays is becoming less obvious to say the least.  Except in Yorkshire, as you might well imagine!!!

Squire was my father's only Christian name....given, not earned you might say. It's actually a traditional Yorkshire name as opposed to anything to do with rank or positioning with one's Knight. I have on occasion looked around for some unsuspecting titled local for whom I could ensure a parking space was available near the baskets at the local supermarket or whom I could ensure arrival at Masonic meetings was timely, thereby ensuring my own moniker held value. But no, such opportunities have been denied. And I have to admit it's declaration has too often resulted in paroxysms of laughter, as opposed to any benefits arising directly to myself!! And so I am a Squire in name only, which perhaps puts the name game into some form of context.  Perhaps on this occasion I can be excused when I sign off as,

Squire John.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Is this the new emerging Britain?

Last evening I watched two television programmes linked to a not dis-similar theme, namely the implications of the current economic situation in Britain.
The first involved three of our well known cooks spending time with three individuals/families who were clearly feeling the pinch and finding it difficult to put food on the table. All appeared to be trying hard, but not succeeding terribly well. Hopefully all benefited from the advice and support being offered.

It's not everyone who has a natural expertise in shopping, cooking or pre-planning things and these necessary elements came through to a different extent with each of the participants. The second part of the programme involved coverage of an event aimed at raising the plight of the disadvantaged with MP's, retailers and media personalities.  The whole programme was factual, sympathetically done and raises the spectre of how many people are out there, struggling, not complaining, but not getting what they deserve from life. Whilst all the kids involved were clearly receiving the necessary level of support, such was not the case with the adults who were clearly making do or doing without. The backlash to all this will surely be a health crisis at some point as one advisor pointed out. The solution?  A proper recognition of the problem by the Government and meaningful action thereafter. Arguments about whether relevant Government Ministers have visited food banks or not are irrelevant, a concerted evaluation of the extent of the problem and the requirements needed to rectify it in the short term are what's need. The various charities involved could soon put the Government in the picture but one is led to suspect that realism, as seen through a set of Tory eyes, can be different to the actual reality of the situation.

The second programme dealt with our attitudes towards benefit claimants and their circumstances. I have no hesitation in saying that people who are disadvantaged and need support should receive it. However, it is not for them to determine that this is a lifestyle they can elect to embrace. Sometimes we all have to accept second best and set aspirations aside. Sadly the old values of self respect seem to have been conveniently set aside by some who, if they can't gain what they want, feel the world should support them. A lot of the current circumstances appear to emanate from attitude problems and a willingness to conveniently ignore that , somewhere along the line, someone has to pick up the tab. The old adage that "the world owes no one a living" applies!! Whilst I can understand the circumstances the participants felt had contributed to their situation, I felt little sympathy with the plight of most of them given the inadequate effort they were making towards altering things.  The Government can't be blamed for everything and, therefore, a bit of self determination and effort wouldn't go amiss. Such appeared to be both lacking in presence and intention by most, aspects that infuriate a lot of people and lead to stereotypic conclusions that sadly end up including genuine cases who do need support.

I was left feeling that some action to wheedle out the idle and scam merchants of this world is still needed and justified but, at the end of the day, getting the economy on its feet is the paramount "driver" that will provide the necessary circumstances for improvement. I'm afraid, after then, feeble excuses and an opting out of the system should largely fall on deaf ears, unless proof could be offered that the individual was really trying hard to improve their circumstances. Calculations suggesting that unemployment benefits amount only to 10% of the overall budget don't impress me. If such are being drawn without real justification then the circumstances are WRONG and the monetary benefits should be denied and redirected to more meaningful requirements linked to training or education.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Another potential Michael Gove U-turn!!

I'm back to feeling in Blogging mode so I'll celebrate by "floating" this site again after an absence of seven months!!

And if we're looking for things to appraise we don't need to look very far!!  Michael Gove's ( Education Minister ) has done it again.  This time he's suggesting to Head Teachers that they can set their own term times, a measure that would give them more freedom. Except it seems most of the teaching fraternity think it's a poor idea!!  I actually believe Michael Gove to be a sincere and committed guy who genuinely strives for improvement. The problem is he seems to select bum steers........MG please don't turn to gambling!

Is this something which is being taken out of context and that all he's trying to do is to suggest the long summer holiday is too long and more of it should be used for teaching purposes? Fiddling about with term times is surely a recipe for mayhem. I suspect there will be many working Mums with two or three children who are worried sick this morning at the potential implications of having children away from school at different times. Worried too at the need for extra childcare facilities and the expense involved. To achieve what?  I would have thought there was a clear cut case for establishing fixed terms across the country so that everyone knew where they were!  Freedom to Head Teachers or political appeasement in the wake or in advance of other dopey ideas.