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Monthly Archives: July 2009
>They say if you repeat a lie enough, people will start to believe it. Gordon Brown is banking on people believing that he won’t cut public spending. I don’t think anyone will fall for his spin.
From John Redwood MP
The government we hear thinks it wrong that elite universities should discriminate in favour of students who achieve the best results. They point out there are others who might be able to achieve whose backgrounds have prevented them. Some of us think it would be a better idea to sort out the worst performing state schools to deal with this problem.
I inivite the governemnt to consider another bad example of discrimination of a similar kind. All my life people like me who love cricket but who cannot play to a high enough standard have been ignored by the England Test Selectors, on the very reasonable grounds that we would not be competitive. I wouldn’t pay good money to see people like me play cricket. Yet isn’t this a bad case of discrimination?
There is age discrimination, as I note they always pick people in their 20s or low 30s, never anyone older. Isn ‘t this discriminating in favour of people who have had privileged sporting backgrounds, as they have been to elite academies which clearly helps them play better than the rest of us? And isn’t it financial discrimination, as most selected have been paid to play cricket, so they get in much more practise than the rest of us who have to earn a living doing something else? Who knows how good the rest of us might be if we practised much of the time and had good coaches.
Isn’t the truth of life this? If you want your country to be good at something you need to discriminate in favour of those who are best trained , most suited and most committed to doing well at their chosen area? Doesn’t that apply to academic as well as sporting life? Isn’t the issue the results of some state schools, not the insistence by top universities on taking the best and the most highly motivated people?
>Back then, the place didn’t smell very nice at all and we spoke of the Luftwaffe and the RAF and how the German PoWs must have peed their pants when incarcerated in Clayton Woods. Local folklore said it was a place to avoid.
The Woods had to be braved – there was nothing for it but to march straight through ‘soldier-style’. If we saw stagnant pools, cow parsley or dandelions it was best to stay away because we’d either catch polio, our mums would die or we’d wet the bed that night. The only welcome sights were patches of dock leaves or a sky seen through a canopy of Elms and Oaks.
Seamlessly we moved further afield to Clayton Ponds & the Quarry, to check out the wildlife and see if all quarry men really did look like John Wayne and see if the bangs were as loud as they were on the television. There were a few warning notices about trespassers and snakes (but notices never apply to children so we just carried sticks, pulled up our socks as high as possible and tucked dresses into knickers).
We would find a place to sit quietly and look out for frogs; it was a place to catch tadpoles & baby frogs in a jamjar to take back home. It was a route children had trodden for donkey’s years to check out Sticklebacks, Lady’s Slipper, Bluebells & Buttercups for Nature Study projects. The last week of August was always the busiest: an entire class of twenty children would dip nets into the pond in the hope of finding a new species of minnow.
It’s all gone now: the wood behind the house; the rope-swing on the oak tree; the fear & awe of the ‘witch’s house’; the little farm with the dogs and the small pond which rippled when we threw pebbles from a distance and counted how deep it might be. How many children had died in that pond? Every child who stepped too close was the answer: everyone knew someone who knew someone who said they had a cousin who had drowned in that very pond.
Now there are no more meadows, no purple vetch, no buttercups, no daisychains and no cowslips. There’s no more sweet-sucking on clover and no love-lies-bleeding – and the deep bracken has gone as well. We never ran down the bracken, not even the bravest boy, for fear of ankle-biting goblins. We always walked atop the hill and obeyed orders: Indian File for fear of snakes to the right and goblins to the left.
It’s all gone now. Now it’s this. It’s good to know that children today can connect with the past, pose the same questions and post the photos on the internet – but they can’t run through the trees, check out the mistletoe, smell the bracken or roll down the fields & meadows any more.