Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blood and Gore

Apologies for the poor quality of the video photos. I went to make a cup of coffee earlier this afternoon and saw a pile of feathers under the apple tree. My first thought was that Stella had tackled a dove on the ground, but immediately saw movement and realised that a female sparrowhawk had taken a collared dove, probably from within the elder tree, since there were feathers stuck to the branches from about 6 feet high down to ground level. A was a little too squeamish to stay once he realised that the dove wasn't killed immediately, but I stayed and watched her pretty constantly for the best part of an hour and a half (well, it beats the Grand Prix)

I have a grainy video too, but YouTube's not playing ball at the moment so you are spared that joy...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In or Out?

Today was the first nationwide strike by teachers since the 1980s. During those strikes, I was on the receiving end as a student. This time, I was at the sharp end, but although people who know me well know I have socialist leanings (much to A's horror - how Social Girl ended up marrying Tory Boy baffles both of us at times) I wasn't on strike. Much as I am an admirer of the Trade Union system, I decided a long time ago that I didn't agree with teaching strikes and this influenced my choice of union when I joined the profession.

Part of me feels uncomfortable about this now though. After all, if the action is successful, I will benefit. But (whisper it quietly) I don't think the wage is that bad. I do agree there does need to be some consistancy on which index the profession uses to decide on inflation and it's obvious that pay rises should be in line with inflation. I also think if we want quality in the profession, we do need to be able to compete with other industry sectors to attract good candidates. But on balance, I made my choice on this issue over 12 years ago and I will stick to it. I support my colleagues in their action and made use of today, when the school was closed to pupils, to review whole school assessment data and try to pull together identification criteria for Gifted and Talented pupils. At least one good thing has come of this strike, after all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Justice Bell

by Dave Kirby (2007)

A schoolboy holds a leather ball
in a photograph on a bedroom wall
the bed is made, the curtains drawn
as silence greets the break of dawn.

The dusk gives way to morning light
revealing shades of red and white
which hang from posters locked in time
of the Liverpool team of 89.

Upon a pale white quilted sheet
a football kit is folded neat
with a yellow scarf, trimmed with red
and some football boots beside the bed.

In hope, the room awakes each day
to see the boy who used to play
but once again it wakes alone
for this young boy’s not coming home.

Outside, the springtime fills the air
the smell of life is everywhere
violas bloom and tulips grow
while daffodils dance heel to toe.

These should have been such special times
for a boy who’d now be in his prime
but spring forever turned to grey
in the Yorkshire sun, one April day.

The clock was locked on 3.06
as sun shone down upon the pitch
lighting up faces etched in pain
as death descended on Leppings Lane.

Between the bars an arm is raised
amidst a human tidal wave
a young hand yearning to be saved
grows weak inside this deathly cage.

A boy not barely in his teens
is lost amongst the dying screams
a body too frail to fight for breath
is drowned below a sea of death.

His outstretched arm then disappears
to signal eighteen years of tears
as 96 souls of those who fell
await the toll of the justice bell.

Ever since that disastrous day
a vision often comes my way
I reach and grab his outstretched arm
then pull him up away from harm.

We both embrace with tear-filled eyes
I then awake to realise
it’s the same old dream I have each week
as I quietly cry myself to sleep.

On April the 15th every year
when all is calm and skies are clear
beneath a glowing Yorkshire moon
a lone Scots piper plays a tune.

The tune rings out the justice cause
then blows due west across the moors
it passes by the eternal flame
then engulfs a young boy’s picture frame.

His room is as it was that day
for eighteen years it’s stayed that way
untouched and frozen forever in time
since that tragic day in 89.

And as it plays its haunting sound
tears are heard from miles around
they’re tears from families of those who fell

...awaiting the toll of the justice bell.