Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Why do I feel that I know some of the children in my class less now than I did this time last year when I was writing their reports?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Eurovision 2009

Well I don't know about you, but I thought last night's Eurovision was one of the best I've seen in many a year. Only the Swedish and Russian songs set my nerves jangling and I think with that it was a reaction to both the voices.

A and I liked all of the top five (Norway, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the UK, in that order) and I personally don't buy into the whole "Britain's hoped dashed again" vibe that was splashed all over my home page this morning. Considering where we have finished in recent years, fifth is fine by me. It was a good song, but if you listened to the rest, it was very different to the rest of the entries. Therein lies the key to our performance - as a nation, we have vastly different tastes to nearly all the other nations in Europe - particularly the wider Europe that competes now. There are a number of countries that are culturally influenced by Arab music and anyone who had spent time browsing record shops in France or Italy (the only places I have) will realise that their contemporary pop music does not share much with ours.

But the key victory for me was for the actual contest. There was still some bloc-voting (12 points from Croatia for Bosnia & Herzegovina, for example) but much much less than there has been in the recent past. Well done Eurovision - having music judges as well as the public was a brainwave.

So for those of you who missed it, here are some of my highlights. Some have come from the semi-finals or the country's own heats, but the performance is similar:

Turkey (fourth place)

Azerbaijan (third place)

Norway (first place)

And then some that didn't do so well, but made me smile. First, Denmark. Listen carefully and see if you can tell the composer from the style of the singer (and yes, the singer is Danish!)

And one of my all time favourite Eurovision performances from Germany, which finished in a woeful 20th place. Well done Germany - nice to see you bring Burlesque into family viewing with the gorgeous Dita Von Teese!

And did you get the composer of the Danish song? Yes of course, it was Ronan Keating!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And there's more...

A has just told me about George Osbourne's taxi fare that he's been ordered to pay back. He had a constituency meeting (I'm guessing in Knutsford, since that's the centre of the Tatton constituency) that finished after the last train to London. Now, I've caught a train at 6 o'clcok before now to be in London and that was not the first train of the day. Is this was George did so he could be in London for his early morning appointment the next day?

No, of course not. He hired a cab. £440. Fab. That's more than many people pay in tax per month. Hell, it's more than some people in his constituency earn in a month.


B$@@#y Dog food

Many people who know A and I wonder how we got it together. He is affectionately known to some of our friends as Tory Boy. I, however, think of myself as a liberal with a broad socialist streak. A believes in survival of the fittest in a dog eat dog world; I believe all of us have a responsibility to support those members of society who, for whatever genuine reason, are at that moment in time unable to support themselves. We seldom discuss politics because whilst I am prepared to listen to another's point of view even if I don't agree with it, A just sticks his fingers in his ears and sings "La, la, la, I can't hear you."

Over the last little while, however, politics has been discussed in our house and this week has seen me reduced virtually speechless by some politicians' views regarding their expenses.

Last year I could be heard wondering aloud why an MP's second home would need such expensive items as those from the "John Lewis" list. Within the last couple of months I have failed to understand why the Home Secretary was able to claim for any TV, let alone her husband's choice in adult pay-per-view movies. And don't get me started on that bath plug. You can't afford 88p?

This last week, though, has taken the biscuit. As I shuffle around the house trying to deal with the delights of catching up on planning, marking Optional SATs and reviewing the school's assessment details, my contemplative silence is broken by Tourette's style outbursts.

N: Mutter mutter

A: What's that love?

N: Mutter mutter

A: No, still didn't catch what you said.

N: B$@@#y dog food!

I don't CARE that every one of the little slimeballs in our venerable (cough) Government is legally entitled to claim for this ludicrous list of allowances in relation to second homes - the question is are they morally entitled to them? I have no quibble with MPs from regions across the UK needing a residence in London. I do have a quibble with MPs who think this entitles them to claim for housekeepers, moat repairs, lawnmowers and effing dog food. Sorry, but where does this come into the grand scheme of things?

I am a primary teacher and like many, I suspect that I buy things for my classroom or lessons that I would be entitled to claim back, but don't because "it's only a couple of quid". Did the woman with the dog food think that? What about that Jacquie Smith's bath plug?

A works in industry. He visits different customers around the country and could stay away overnight in hotels - but he doesn't. He views pretty much anywhere is the UK as within a reasonable distance to return to Cheshire. "I can get back home", he says, "so I do". He also visits Europe, and again, tries to go out and back in a day rather than clock up hotel bills. When he does stay away, he is expected to stay in mid-price range hotels. He could probably write a thesis on the corporate branding of Holiday Inn or Novotel. He is entitled to claim the mileage from home to the airport, but doesn't because it is less than his usual home to work mileage.

Now don't get me wrong - I don't live with a paragon of virtue by any means. Both of us have had our fair share of works stationary for personal use. We both benefit from the Airmiles A clocks up on our credit card when he pays for his hotels up front. But he does not claim for every single cup of coffee or bottle of water he has when he's away, because he doesn't feel that's appropriate to do so.

So why has it not occurred to some of our MPs that some of the things they have been claiming for are not morally acceptable? Why on earth should any taxpayer have to pay for someone's TV subscription? We voted them into Parliament to represent us, not to watch Sky. They're welcome to keep a dog, but good grief - you want one, you feed it.

But you know the bit that really rankles?

They don't seem to be struggling to find the money to repay any of these five figure sums... which begs the question of why they needed to claim for them in the first place....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

All buttoned up!

So, I've knit a bag in scratchy scratchy Herdwick:

and felted it:

So now what I want to know is...

Should I put buttons on it?

When I bought the yarn last year, I bought the buttons specifically to use as embellishments, but I actually quite like the bag bare. Before I wear a hole in my finger sewing them on (and you all know just HOW much I love sewing!) I'd love to know your opinion. I won't be doing anything before the beginning of next week at the very earliest, since it's the Year 5 residential this weekend, so you have a few days to let me know your opinion.

Edited to replace crappy poll that doesn't work with a Blogger one on the sidebar