Saturday 19 March 2016

Ten years on and time for a rest.

It's now been about ten years since I started this blog

At the time the catalyst  was a twenty year university reunion. It is in the nature of such things that they prompt some stock-taking, and the blog was born out of that. Essentially I decided that a part of my brain was starting to atrophy and it was a way of turning that around. And it certainly helped do that. At some points when I was simultaneously stressed and bored out of my mind at work, I spent quite some time blogging.

Along with random rants and flights of intellectual curiosity,  the blog turned into something of a chronicle of my 40s. In the course of that decade, my mum died, I was made redundant, retrained,  started a new career, and even got married. But most of all I went through the cliche of a mid life crisis, and came out the other side

Today I came back from my thirty year university reunion.The stock-taking this  prompted led me to realise that I just don't find the need for either mental distraction or venting my spleen into cyberspace anymore. At the risk of sounding smug, life in the real world is now quite sufficient. 

As a result, blogging has become more of a duty than a pleasure. So I have decided to knock it on the head. For now at least.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Teacher moans.Or not.

One thing that I don't blog much about is teaching. Ever other day there is a story about teachers quitting or a crisis in recruitment. The inter-web world is full of blogs of teachers moaning and I don't think I have much to add to that. And not because there isn't plenty to moan about: 

I've just had another Saturday where I've spent at least half the day planning and marking - and I'll do a few more hours tomorrow. As a latecomer to this game I can remember when weekends were a time when you didn't work - although I think I've forgotten what I used to do with the time. And don't start me on the money. After a few years in, I am working my way up the pay-scale (fortunately I am not at an academy), and for the moment at least I have some extra  responsibility - and still my pay is about half of what it was when I was working in the print. To add insult to injury I am also now repaying a student loan having had to pay for the training to get me into this over-worked and under-valued profession.

But notwithstanding this I am still not really moaning. Life is good and I am probably happier now in my middle age than I ever was. However I do acknowledge that amongst my colleagues this is probably unusual.  Although I am not sure if the fact that I feel this way is because I am more naive about teaching than they,  or maybe because I am more bitter and twisted about the shitty nature of the world outside the classroom ...

Saturday 9 January 2016

The other gunpowder plot

An historical  anniversary today gives me an opportunity to follow up from my last post: If Cromwell was not the miserable tyrant that he is so often painted - he was no democrat either. He and the other grandees of the New Model Army may well have  represented the forces of progress in overturning the old social and political order of the Divine Right of Kings - but they replaced it only with a meritocracy based on the emerging  middle classes. 

Levellers like Miles Sindercombe felt that they had not fought through three civil wars in order to hand political power back to these men of property. And so today is the anniversary of a plot in 1657 to assassinate Cromwell and replace the office of Lord Protector with the rule of parliament.  It is the 'other' gunpowder plot and much more worthy of celebration than that of 1605 and the attempted military coup by the 17th Century Catholic jihad-ists of Fawkes and Catesby

Sindercombe had served throughout the civil wars and taken part in the Leveller mutinies of 1649 which Cromwell had brutally suppressed. He then went on to organise another mutiny in the army of General Monck in Scotland - the same man who would later go on to organize the military coup that led to the restoration of the monarchy. Escaping the authorities he went to the Netherlands where he met up with other Levellers, including the more famous Edmund Sexby,  and planned a bomb plot to kill the Lord Protector. His bomb in Whitehall was discovered and he was arrested - avoiding the horror of being hung - drawn and quartered by taking poison.

It was Sexby who called him a martyr to 'The Good Old Cause' -  the vision of a truly democratic and  egalitarian England that we are still waiting for ...