East Coast FM 87.7

Tuesday evening found us all glued to the radio listening to Sam, one of GP2’s classmates, in his new guise as DJ.  East Lothian’s new community radio, East Coast FM 87.7 was launched on Monday, run entirely by volunteers and with a four week licence.  Monday might have had Fish and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers to launch proceedings but Tuesday evening had Sam presenting a 2 hour slot for Ross High School and then his mum, Sally, with two hours of folk music.  Of course we asked for autographs the following night at the brass Christmas concert.

Sam, I have to say, has been excited about this for weeks. There has been quite a long preparatory lead in that he and Sally have been involved in during what spare time they have Continue reading

Talking to teachers

The school communication chain

Part 1    Parents talking to teachers

  1. Identify a pressing need to speak to a teacher.
  2. Find out name of relevant teacher from reluctant teenager.
  3. Weekday morning: write note and send it into school with relevant teenager.
  4. Weekend morning: find scrunched up note in pocket of trousers heading for washing machine.
  5. Next week:  phone school to speak to teacher.
  6. Teachers being teachers, they’re teaching (during school hours) or in meetings (after school hours), not speaking to parents on phone.
  7. Leave message for teacher.
  8. 2 or 3 days later, phone school again.
  9. Speak to receptionist, she of So I’m Supposed To Know Everything, Now? fame.  She insists that it’s not school policy to put parents through to teachers and you have to be routed via guidance. (See?  She does know everything.)  Leave message for Guidance teacher to pass to Class teacher.
  10. 2 or 3 days later…  Assuming you 1) still have the will to live, 2) can remember the original question (did you keep that note?) and 3) still want an answer, figure out Guidance teacher’s email address and email the question.
  11. 2 or 3 days later… Yes!  Result!  Receive response from Guidance teacher who has spoken to class teacher.
  12. But…  You need to reply to the teacher’s reply.  Email Guidance again.
  13. 2 or 3 days later…  receive a reply to the reply.
  14. It must be about week 4 by now.
  15. If you’re lucky, very lucky, Continue reading

The rain in Spain…

I know, I know.  There really is no excuse worth having.  But the gps were very hungry,  and when teens are hungry, instant foraging is essential.  The McDonalds just happened to be next to the Asda carpark when we stopped in Omagh for essential supplies (read alcohol) en route to Donegal.  (I’ve just reread that – I imagine that fine restaurant is always there, not just when we happened to be passing. )  Anyhow, into McDonalds we went. 

Burger outlets always provide me with something of a challenge as, if I eat gluten, it’s not too long before everyone else knows about it and is finding an alternative bathroom.   It’s definitely not recommended on a car journey.  The place with the golden M isn’t too bad as these things go as I can eat their burgers as long as there is no bun attached, and their fries aren’t coated with anything extra to make them crispy.  But just you try asking for a burger without a bun.  I generally lose the will to live quite early in the conversation and settle for the coffee.

This time, though, I thought “I’ll have a salad!” but decided to check its contents before committing myself.  So… Continue reading

Royal connections

We went to the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood earlier in the summer and had a very pleasant afternoon in the sun.  Yes, the sun shone, a rare event this year.  We didn’t chat with the Queen but did pass the time with some friends we bumped into.  I didn’t eat the cucumber sandwiches but did procure a plate of gluten free goodies – the organisers have clearly done this sort of thing once or twice before.  I didn’t wear a hat and noone seemed to mind.  I didn’t take any photographs because GPD made me leave the camera in the car; after all, the invitation firmly forbade cameras.   We enjoyed the bands and marvelled at their cunning scheme, involving flags and flag poles, that allowed them to coordinate their playing from opposite sides of the park.  There was pageantry and there were spectacular outfits.  All in all, a very pleasant, very British afternoon.

And then, towards the end of the school holidays, GP2’s football team went off to Edinburgh to hobnob with royalty.    Continue reading

Snail mail

natica-sarns-small.jpgMy email inbox has been pinging with excitement over the last day or so.  And why?  The pings trumpeted (can pings trumpet, I wonder?) the arrival of several work-related messages which were sent on the 7th April.  So that makes, ummm, approximately 3 months in the ether.  They could have been sent by sea in that time.   Or by horse and cart.  At least one was inviting me to tender for a piece of work I had expressed interest in.  A bit late now, methinks. 

Is 3 months a record for email delivery?  Discuss. 

When they’re babies…

mum-chris-or-paul.JPGWhen they’re babies

  1. Yours are perfect and everyone else’s are horrible. 
  2. Childminding is a huge expense, and why isn’t it tax deductible?
  3. They’re smaller than you.  You can pick them up. Just as well, really; you need some sort of head start.  
  4. They generate so much washing.  Sick-covered washing.  Lots of tiny baby grows.
  5. Nappies.  Yuk.  Need I say more?
  6. There are no secrets.  You bath them, you cuddle them, you wipe their bums.
  7. You have at least some idea Continue reading

Protective? Or overprotective?

slide-header.jpg“You’re an overprotective mum. ”  🙄

“No I’m not, I’m just interested.  Do you know all the people on your contact lists?”  ❓

“Of course I do.  Do you think I’m stupid?” 😡

“Well, anyone can see those pictures you’ve put on.” 😕

“No they can’t.  It’s private.  And I haven’t put my surname, or my age, or where I live.  Go away.” 👿

So I did.  I went and googled GP1’s name, then GP2, and I couldn’t find either of them.  I was mildly reassured but note – mildly.  I have done this before but in a fairly desultory sort of way.  Tonight, though, I was just back from the school Continue reading

The personal touch

45656455_ed1f145c5c.jpgSo there we are.  External exams are over for another year.  Next year will be the big one – GP1/Highers (I’m trembling and pale at the prospect) with GP2/Standard Grades (an entirely different proposition).  This year, though,  was a relative breeze. 

First up there was SVS.  Once I’d got my head round the fact that Continue reading

Please explain

Long ago, in the days when I was naive, innocent and, dare I say, young, I thought that diving was the planet’s main repository of acronyms.   SCUBA, BSAC, PADI, NAUI, ABLJ (remember those?), BC, AAS, ITC, PIE, TIE, IFT, NDC, NDO…  The list could be very long.  And boring.  And growing – let’s add in ERD.  But then I discovered education.  I had of course encountered education before, but only as an end user, one who sat in a classroom and did as she was told.  I didn’t realise that that Latin teacher whose life we made such a misery – yes, even in a respectable girls’ grammar school we could make life hell for an innocent  – I didn’t realise that she was probably an NQT.   I did have to find out what an UCCA form was but really, that was about it.

Now, however, in my present incarnation as an enormously responsible and troublesome parent, I’m having to learn a whole new vocabulary of acronyms and jargon.  Continue reading

It’s good to talk – Part 2

Nuns get it, apparently.  Non-smokers get it.  Ovarian cancer, that is.  I can make no claims to anything in the nun department, despite the nunhood clearly being my destiny at 7 years old.  Seven year olds are notoriously fickle, though, so by the time I was 8 I had the medical profession in my sights.  Given recent events, I suppose some might say I still do.  But smoking, that’s another matter entirely.  I was such a boring wuss  as a teenager I wouldn’t even try a cigarette, not even the ones that created the strangely scented cloud that enveloped all teenage parties in Jamaica, home at that time.  Although, if I were a politician, I would probably have to admit that I’d inhaled.  Apparently Jamaican villagers gave (?give) crying babies spoonfuls of ganja to lick; the West Indian equivalent of a baby bottle filled with Irn Bru, perhaps?  Did you need to know that?  I have never smoked.  Not once.

We saw the oncologist on Thursday, Continue reading

Should I stay or should I go?

My blog is fast approaching its first anniversary and I find myself in a place I couldn’t have dreamt of a year ago.  As a family, we seem to have experienced a Series of Unfortunate Events this year, starting with the death of my father-in-law in January (we all hated those books, by the way).  On the other hand, there have been plenty of highlights – that whoop! when GP1 saw his Standard Grade results, doughnutting on Coll, learning (perhaps too generous a term in my case) to surf, the end of week concert at NYBBS – there were lots more. 

Whilst my blog began as a commentary on the boys’ goings on at school, it has evolved into a much more personal online diary, with random mutterings about family, work and, more recently, illness.  Whether or not anyone else reads what I write, I have found being able to write extremely therapeutic

Continue reading

It’s good to talk – Part 1

I’m not sure how I ever had time to work.  After the excavation of my insides, the physio said “You’ll need at least 6 weeks off work.  Maybe 12.”  My comment: “So that’ll be 2 weeks then.  I’m self-employed.”  I could in fact have started work again last week (make that 1 week) but I’ve been floating in a sort of limbo of not knowing, which hasn’t done a whole bundle for my concentration.  OK, OK, I know – Limbo has been cancelled, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

I thought maybe once Monday was out of the way I’d be able to move on so, in a fit of positive action, I unpacked some videos I need to analyse on Monday morning.  When I say I need to, I should have done them weeks ago but events somehow intervened.  Needless to say, it’s still all sitting there and very little progress has been made (I do hope Tom’s not reading this!).  There has just been no time – there has been far too much talking to do.  Perhaps I should be getting on with it now, rather than blogging, but I desperately want to write everything down before I forget.  There’s been no time even to blog up to now so the videos will just have to wait.  Just a little longer.

The talking began on Monday lunchtime Continue reading

Ghost writing

The school newsletter has been lying around in the drift of papers on our dining room table for the last couple of weeks, waiting to be tidied away.  I read it when I came out of hospital, starting, as one would, with Dear Parents and Families on the front page.  I wondered what it meant.  Husband read it at some point during half term.  “What does this mean?” he asked.  Sister, a teacher of some 20+ years and married to the sort of head teacher who gets put into difficult schools to sort them out, read it: “Where’s the letter from the head?”  “That’s it on the front page” I said.  “You’re joking!” she said.  Continue reading

Bed blogs

Patientline entertainment system Patientline is the communication system that is installed at each patient’s bedside in the ERI.  It provides a personal telephone number, television, radio – and internet!  Woo hoo!  It took me a day or so to discover the internet function and a little longer to get onto Edubuzz (I like the new look, by the way!) and guineapigmum.  So I saw a couple of good wishes people had put on my blog and it cheered me up.

Once the morphine fog cleared a little, I thought I’d have a go at responding – and then it all ground to a halt.  Interminably slow connection speed, a keyboard with letters that didn’t work, most of the blogs that I read regularly blocked and a brain that wasn’t functioning.  What, I wonder, is wrong with Mother at Large, Not wrong, just different and Reluctant Memsahib? Are they full of scurrilous material, likely to raise the heart rate of patients to a dangerous level?  Anyhow, I gave up and resorted to less challenging pasttimes – the Archers and the insufferably perfect Nigella (although I have made the chicken pie she demonstrated since coming home, and it was pretty good).

I wondered, though, if this is what it is like trying to use the internet in schools.  Slow, broken and blocked.  I hope not.

To Bebo or not to Bebo – that must be an old one


I’ve just dropped by Ollie Bray’s blog and read his post about a family-oriented internet safety training evening that Musselburgh Grammar School held this week.  I would have liked to have gone along but there’s been too much going on this week, so here’s hoping Ross High will run a similar evening in the near future.  (Just nicked your picture, Ollie – thanks!)

I am very aware that my eldest son spends all his spare time at home on the computer – games, BeBo, MSN, Hotmail, Skype and who knows what else. His cousin in Manchester Continue reading

I would just like to point out…

…that our children don’t tell us anything.  I’ll just repeat that, for the benefit of those at the back of the class:  OUR CHILDREN DO NOT TELL US ANYTHING THAT GOES ON AT SCHOOL. 

This may of course be a gross generalisation and in fact applicable only to my older son and to no other child in the known universe.  Or it may be generally true.  There are exceptions, I admit.  At 5 years you’ll get a blow by blow account of every minute of the day.  At 8 years, the enthusiasm may well still be there even if the account is less detailed.  In S1 the novelty prompts a whole new spurt of enthusiastic chatter, at least for a month or so.  But by the time the teen years are reached, school is definitely personal time and it’s no business of parents to know what goes on in their childrens’ private lives, is it?  There are a number of code words for this, ‘boring’ and ‘nothing’ being the most familiar as in the following daily conversation:- Continue reading

The wonderful art of telepathy

Work experience, apparently, is imminent for the S4s.  I say ‘apparently’ as there’s been no contact from the school about this and we have no idea what’s going on.  My main source of information is, as usual, the mothers of friends marginally more communicative than GP1.  I thought perhaps we’d missed some vitally important missive but if we have, my straw poll findings indicate that so have they.  I did find a form yesterday in GP1’s bag to be filled in (one up there on at least one of the friends) if we’re going to find him a placement ourselves, asking for information about the company.  

So my initial questions are:-

  • When is it happening?
  • When do arrangements have to be made?
  • What should we and the school expect from work experience?
  • If we’re going to find a placement ourselves, what should we be looking for?
  • What opportunities do the school provide?
  • How can we work in partnership with the school if we don’t know what’s going on?
  • Why haven’t we been told anything about it? Is it not considered important?

I feel that the answer to the last question is probably ‘No’, otherwise surely the school would have let us know what was going on.  Wouldn’t they?  Or perhaps it happens at the same time every year and so, as with so many things during their school career, we’re just expected to know.  This system of expecting parents to know, honed over many years, functioned moderately well at primary level, with a well-developed gossip network in the village and an on-the-ball child minder.  Unfortunately it doesn’t really wash in the much wider community at secondary school, particularly with a first child going through the school.  I expect I’ll have it figured out by the time GP2 gets there. 

But really, I thought we’d moved beyond telepathy as the primary means of communicating with parents.  Anyone ready to develop a telepathic parent-school partnership?


worm pickingGP1 will be working in the lab at his dad’s place of employment, and he seems surprisingly happy about the prospect.  Picking worms – little does he know!  He already thinks that biologists do the work of the devil (“I’m never going to be a biologist” spoken in a very deep monotone). So that’ll teach him to pass on information, then.