30 Sep 2011
There’s always the argument that people shouldn’t necessarily know the same stuff as each other and I subscribe to this. However I think we can agree that there are certain things that people should just be expected to know.
For instance that the Earth circles the sun and not vice versa. Things like knowing what vice versa means etc… And knowing what etc mean….
Two incidents have shaken this belief in me recently.
First was watching an episode of Millionaire. There was a bloke on it who was an English teacher. OK? An ENGLISH teacher. I emphasise for good reason.
One question: “What is the latin for cast list?” OK I might not have answered straight away but on Millionaire they have multi-choice. I can’t actually remember the options but they were as obvious as these:
A: Vice versa, B: Cave canum, C: Modus operandi, D: Dramatis personae
He had to use a life-line! Unbelievable. And this was at only £1000, hardly high up the ladder.
This bloke knew nothing at all. Had only one question that required no life-line and that was question number 1. He eventually gave up on the 5th question which was about a Dickens character and which novel was he in. Now I actually didn’t know the answer as I’ve not particularly read any Dickens but I return you to the fact that he was an ENGLISH teacher. Surely some Dickens would have been on some syllabus somewhere in his past if not his own reading for pleasure. Honestly.
The second incident was at work the other day. It was a team meeting on a morning after I’d had a rotten night of no sleep so I was drowsy and narky to say to the least. I can’t really remember quite how we got there but I needed to know the name of the 1st president of the US (some obscure point about honesty I think) and my sleep-deprived mind couldn’t bring it forward so I asked the team.
“Oh you know the 1st American president, oh what’s his name oh you know…” etc.
And they didn’t answer. They couldn’t answer. Well one could, one who’d also done O-levels may I say. But the others looked at me and I couldn’t tell why. Nobody said anything. I became mildly agitated as I assumed they were just being pains and annoying me. Surely they knew such a simple piece of info as this. So I asked again.
“No come on what’s his name? You know chopped down the tree, can’t tell a lie father etc…”
At which point one of the brightest and most able team-members turned to me and asked:
“Alby. Why would we know American history?”
Gobsmacked I was. Reminded me of a time long ago when I used the word “posthumous” in the office and not a single person in this office (a large dept in a major bank) knew what it meant. I think it’s people’s lack of interest in knowing stuff that genuinely upsets me. Very disappointed.
29 Sep 2011
I have very recently (about 2 hours ago) finally finished my final essay for the first year of an OU Masters degree. Never thought I’d do a Masters.
And I’m now wondering why I bothered.
No time to do the work needed for the assignments. No time to even do the assignments adequately. Thinking about leaving the job that the course would be useful for anyway. Well worth the money and effort then.
The idea was to learn more about research and changing practice at work. Well this year has all been about “leadership”. Rarely have I had to suffer such tedious long-winded nonsense that frankly should be pretty obvious.
Long studies and articles that basically boil down to “if lots of change all happens at once then people get unnerved”. Really? That takes years of scholarly pursuits in order to get something along those lines published? Do people need to be told this?
Likewise – discussion apparently smooths progress within a team. I’d never have known it. Nor would I have known that if someone introduces a new policy then there’s probably an agenda behind it.
Good heavens it was tedious writing essays about this nonsense. Having to find references to support an argument like “a leader should know how his team think” was not my idea of advanced study.
So I’m rather disappointed. And I’m not sure that this final essay has what they’re looking for and if I fail this one then that’s a wasted module for me and I come out of the year with nothing but some very tedious .doc files about topics that should frankly be obvious to anyone with half a brain who’s ever worked with a team of people who may not necessarily think the same way about stuff.
I’m not doing next year’s module yet, even should I pass. I think a year off is a definite good idea. The following module should be more up my street as it’s all about research and methods etc. That’s actually what I was after from the course but this year has really knocked back my enthusiasm to continue. Plus, of course, other things have taken my mind elsewhere what with everything and that.
12 Sep 2011
They said it couldn’t be done. Some said it shouldn’t be done. Hah! We went and showed them.
Camping on Skye at the fag end of summer was always going to be a bit of a rough trip but the rewards of the place seemed to compensate handsomely.
We took 2 days to get here after a brief diversion to Rebecca and Matt’s wedding in London (most inconsiderately 100-odd miles in the wrong direction I might add). We split the drive so we didn’t have to do 10 hours plus of driving and then have to pitch a large tent.
Our chosen overnight spot was Fort William where we kipped over at a lovely B&B run by a mad old bat who never so much asked for a deposit. Nicer and cheaper than a Travelodge type place (not that they’re particularly abundant once you get north of the M8 anyhoo). The next day was a dash to Mallaig to get the ferry and then further to the campsite at Glen Brittle.
I’d never been to Skye before but ooh what a lovely place!
The campsite is situated at the end of a 7 mile single track road, between the black and grey beach and the Cuillan mountains. Tame birds flit around the tents picking up scraps and local rabbits hoppity around too. Didn’t see any eagles though. Most of the tents there were of the 2 man variety. Our 6 man job was amongst the bigger ones there. No matter, on arrival the weather was benign and calm. Set-up was easy and then the holiday can begin. After signing in at the campsite shop (“You can’t get refunds on camping but you can pay night by night if you want to” said the about 12 year old boy who seemed to be in charge) I needed the loo. We’d been given the code when we paid but it didn’t seem to work on the men’s loos. This was a problemfor a couple of days. At first it was a pain but eventually the air of cameraderie it engendered was excellent. Standing with a bunch of men outside the door figuring something out, commonly ways to block the door closing, became a regular event for me. After about 4 days the campsite buckled and took the lock away to be mended.
Our first full day was one of walking. We’d decided to head along the peninsula walk. Again the weather held but on the way back the clouds gathered over the Cuillans and it looked like there’d be some storms heading our way.
Well it rained that night but not for long. We spent the next day driving around and finding nice places to eat and do the tourist thing at. Top most was The Old Inn at Carbost. Very welcoming place with excellent food and local beer. Not only that but a high chair and a children’s menu too. Highly recommended.
That evening we did have to break out some of my anti-midge arsenal as I got bitten quite a lot (as per usual wherever there are bitey flying things) but it wasn’t too bad.
Next day was another walk day. This time up the hills to a natural bowl nestling between a couple of Cuillans. I couldn’t get J up (and more to the point, down) safely at the top end of the walk so I sat and waited in what was gloriously hot and sunny weather. I was wondering whether I should have packed the suncream at this point. As it happened the midges came out and I was bitten quite badly having rather stupidly left my weaponry back at the tent. I managed to keep J reasonably clear of bites though. By the time the girls had come back my legs had taken on the appearance of a smallpox sufferer’s. Once back at the tent the full arsenal came out and we suffered little more hassle from the bitey wotsits that night.
It should be pointed out that the campsite folk had told us that this day was going to be rough weather. There was hardly any wind, and no rain, and it was quite warm. Hmm hardly rough unless you were particularly sun-averse.
The next day started with higher winds but hardly anything to write home about. We spent it out and about in Portree, the only town of note on the island, eating in nice restaurants and poking around shops and that. We did try and get N some new school shoes only to discover that there’s no shoe shop on the island. Madness! Schools are back up here and we were at the bus station area when there were pupils waiting for buses back to wherever they lived on the island (Portree has the only secondary school here). Risking being put on some sort of a register I asked a group of schoolgirls where they got their school shoes. The answer was “On the internet or in Inverness”. Madness again!
Apparently there hasn’t been a shoe shop here for ages. Business op for someone? Oh yes there’s no private physio here neither. Hmmm…
Back to the camp to find that the wind was picking up somewhat. Still normal levels but at the higher end. One family from Manchester arrived at that point and struggled to pitch their tunnel tent for a while before sorting themselves out.
Later that night our tent started bending somewhat with us in it. And the wind really picked up. Blimey it was noisy inside the tent. We didn’t sleep at all for that night. Well me nor R did. The kids slept on, oblivious. I was up a couple of times making sure that guyropes and pegs were holding. One peg bent quite a lot and we heard one rope slacken suddenly as its peg gave up the ghost. Oh well it’ll be over by morning.
It wasn’t. The next day was just as bad. I bought more pegs from the camp shop and doubled up on pegs to the windward side. We decided not to bother cooking breakfast and headed to the Old Inn for brekkie. They stopped serving breakfast at 9.30. We got there at 9.33 and they wouldn’t even serve us toast and a slice of bacon. Major blot on our positive view of the place that was.
That night the wind was as bad at times as the night before. We were happy that our tent could cope now so actually got some sleep. The Manc family told us later that they’d given up and gone to sleep in their car instead worried that the tent would collapse.
They were a lovely family and they had a couple of young daughters one of whom is now officially N’s pen pal. They got on famously for a couple of days before they gave up and shipped out elsewhere.
We still stayed. The wind slackened and it looked brighter. Yay! Got up to make breakfast only to be confronted with what could only be described as a cloud of midges. As I battled to dose myself with whichever anti-midge stuff came to hand, whilst flailing pathetically, I managed to spray 50% DEET straight into my left eye. Bad day.
Not long after this we decided to de-camp whenever the weather was good enough. Then we’d move around via B&B’s. We had dinner at the local (local=15 miles round trip) pub again and got chatting with a pair of outdoorsy types. They gave us kudos for camping (IE they expressed astonishment) as they were in lodges. Then when we told them which site we were on they said “Oh are you in the green tent?” Yes, yes we are. Wow, our tent was noted by other walkers and remembered as a point of interest. Slightly startling.
Once decamped we moved further round the island. We’d had a good evening at a place called The Edinbane Inn. Excellent local pub with musicians playing. Very good guitarist and singer, very good percussionist (despite clear inebriation) and a superb fiddle player. Guy looked like an extra from Trainspotting but good heavens can that man play a mean fiddle! I’m almost certain he’ll have serious shoulder problems at some point (if he hasn’t already) but frankly I wouldn’t want to change how he plays at all.
We went back a couple of nights later and there were more musicians including a total of 4 other fiddlers. One was nearly up with him but the others were clearly not in his league and they knew it. I felt a bit sorry for a flautist there as her instrument wasn’t audible over the fiddles. And there was a woman with a guitar which just seemed out of place. Oh yes and a man turned up with a set of pipes with which he performed a couple of numbers unaccompanied by the others (mainly as his sound totally drowned out the others). He was good but it was a bit out of kilter with the rest of the evening’s bring and share (or in super-fiddle bloke’s mind – come and beat the skills of everyone else).
Our first B&B was a bit out of the way near Edinbane, nice enough but we were happy enough to move on the following day. After a day’s scenic driving we ended up at Seabound B&B in Flodigarry. This was excellent, particularly clean for any hardcore OCD types around. We ended up staying for 3 nights.
And then a shocking long drive home.
Skye – highly recommended.