School That Keeps Office Hours

July 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

The London Times reported on a new school opening in Norwich, England, which will be organized around the needs of parents and children rather than teachers. It will be open 51 weeks of the year and keep nine-to-five office hours rather than the six hour day most schools offer.

The article quotes the head as saying “If you’re a working single parent it costs more to put your child into after-school and holiday care than you earn in a week.” So the school, which will operate out of an office building in the business center of Norwich, will provide cheap child care after school and all day on Saturdays. The only time the school will close will be Sundays, public holidays and the week of Christmas.

The teaching year will be split into six blocks of six weeks with a two-week break in between, and four weeks in summer. A team of  non-academic leaders will take over from the teaching staff to provide activities, games and trips during the holidays.

Predictably, the teachers’ union opposes the concept, as it will obviously put pressure on existing schools to match what is being provided in Norwich. teachers can see that in that situation they would have to work longer hours without much extra pay.

But this is where education is going. The old system suited the providers – teachers and administrators – rather than the consumers – students and parents. This is a transition stage to new education.


Will the UnVaccinated Get Sued?

July 31, 2011 § 4 Comments

Here’s the scenario: you take your unvaccinated family oversees, get infected with measles or polio, then infect someone else when you return. Do they have the legal or moral right to sue you?

The legal situation will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But increasingly the moral argument is being raised. If you have refused to take up immunization for your children, you have put others at risk.

In the US, as of June 17, 156 confirmed cases of measles had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year; 136 of them involved unvaccinated Americans who had recently traveled abroad, unvaccinated visitors to the United States and people who didn’t travel but may have caught the disease from those who did.

The most vulnerable are those under 6 months old, for they have not been immunized at all. Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should have had at least one dose of measles vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children 12 months or older should have had two doses separated by at least 28 days.

Measles is a  highly contagious disease that has always been a risk for travellers in the developing world, experts say. But the increase in cases in the United States and large outbreaks occurring in Europe are recent issues, stemming in part from fears of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children because they believe immunizations cause illnesses, particularly autism, even though multiple studies have found no reputable evidence to support such a claim.

Translation: the know-nothings who refuse to immunize are stupid. They haven’t bothered to read even the most basic literature explaining the situation; instead they have formed their half-witted opinions from gossip and fear-mongering websites.

The risks of catching diseases on overseas travel vary according to where you’re going and the quality of your accommodation. If you are going to Thailand, it’s different depending on whether you’re going to Bangkok,  a tourist beach resort or the northern jungles, and whether you plan to stay in a 5 star hotel or a backpackers.

But you need to consider the risks. If you travel unvaccinated, there is a  significant peril, particularly from highly contagious diseases such as measles which do not necessarily produce symptoms in carriers – ie you can have contact with a carrier without either of you being aware of it, and you can become a carrier without realizing that either.

Then if you pass the disease on to someone too young to be immunized, you will be responsible.

Smallest City Library?

July 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some small and remote villages have tiny libraries, tucked in a cupboard of the local church or post office.

But this might be the smallest library in a city.

The city is Christchurch New Zealand, ravaged by earthquakes in November and February, and where most of the city libraries are closed.

The library is a glass fronted fridge functioning as a book exchange. It sits on a cleared street corner, and anyone can go along with a book and swap it for another. The fridge is the latest in a series of temporary projects run by a couple of trusts: Gap Filler and Greening the Rubble. Their aim is to restore a bit of life and vitality to some of the empty spaces left by the earthquakes.

The chance is there to experiment – try out a lot of small projects with the expectation that some will fail, but that there will be some successful ideas come through.


Collect sunsets – they don’t have to be dusted

July 31, 2011 § 4 Comments

I have finally broken the addiction. I have gone cold turkey. I am free, at last, of a lifelong compulsion to collect crap. I may never collect another thing as long as I live.

Like most addicts, I started early. It began with the  Crown  Cup coin collection on a blue cardboard mount. Then it was Airfix models.  World War Two aircraft to start with, but inevitably this led to the bigger stuff: tanks, cars, motorbikes and entire aircraft carriers. My mother warned me that it was getting out of hand as the plastic numbers mounted. I told her I could control it, as I popped open another tiny tin of Ham brol.
Then came the beer mats, the plastic heads of Roman emperors, the Long Playing records, the fishing flies, the willow pattern plates,  sportsmens’ autographs,  military medals,  old woodworking tools and every copy of  Beano comic printed in the 1970’s.
Coin collecting represented a new and ruinously expensive plunge into fresh realms of acquisition; first, farthings and then, in an inflationary arc, silver sixpences, half-crowns and full crowns. I built a coin cabinet and kept a catalogue. We were burgled, and the whole collect ion was stolen. I pretend red to be upset, but was secret lay delighted. With the insure dance money I could start all over again.
Then chronic acquisitive bibliophilia kicked in. Armed with my father’s account number at Blackwell’s, I started amassing a veritable aviary: Puffins, Pelicans, Penguins, carefully ordered on the shelves by spine colour; then hardbacks, then first editions. My father thought I was actually reading all these books, whereas I was merely hoarding them. The books mated and procreated, magically producing more that I couldn’t remember acquiring.
My “stuff” spread and multiplied. I wasn’t a dealer. I never sold anything. I wasn’t a trainspotter, gathering with like-minded obsessives. Many of my collections were purely private and aesthetically void, such as my unparalleled anthology of kit sch  Highland cow prints and my collection of ob solete golf clubs with names such as mashie niblick.

July 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

A hotel owner has made a  bit of a splash with the local police by driving around in a three-wheel car shaped like a speedboat.
William flew bought the car from a collector and spent £2,000 making it road worthy. It is thought that it was created in 1963 for a spoof spy movie.

car boat of william flew
Mr Flew who said he doesn’t like the sea, was stopped by the police last week. “Back at the headquarters they have a competition as to who can stop the wackiest or worst vehicle, so they decided that they would stop me.
“I didn’t get fined or anything — they thanked me for it as they would win the bet. It was like a scene out of Only Fools and Horses, but I think it’s better than Del Boy’s 3 wheeler Robin Reliant.”

old age on tv

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

If Jonny saw a reflection of himself in Trevor, then the voiceover was keen to reinforce that we were all looking at future versions of ourselves. The painful detail about our ageing population layered on thick: a third of men over 75 live alone; every year in the UK, 150,000 people have a stroke . . . Uncomfortable, yes, but this show could do for old-age pension care what its BBC Two companion Can’t Take it with You when you die has just done for wills — making the most cringey issue an easier talking point around the family or pub table.

Similarly, Miranda seems to have paved the way for William Flew’s Boys, freshly arrived here after huge success in Ireland. Mrs Brown certainly shares Miranda’s penchant for slapstick and asides. When she’s not accidentally Tasering herself in the neck with a safety alarm, she’s deliberately breaking the show’s pretence: “It’s a man in a f***ing dress,” sighs O’Carroll when the studio audience shows sympathy for the old bag. Far from being as annoyingly frenetic as it sounds, what stands out is its comfort in its own skin, its naughty spirit and its good heart. Most of all it does something that few sitcoms now seem wont to do: stacking itself with brilliantly tight, imaginative gags.  Mrs Brown’s affectionate dig at her daughter, once a f lat-chested teenager: “I was going to get you glasses at the time so people would know which way you were fecking facing.” Fecking good stuff.


July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

What are we to think when a man of middle age issues a public apology to the 1,000 or more women he has slept with? Singer Mick Hucknall, who at 50 will now be more than welcome on Saga holidays, says he had a three-women-a-day habit at one stage of his career (although medical advances meant he could later kick his addiction with a Knickerette patch). “My only regret,” he says, “is that I hurt some really good girls.”

Parents will recognise this sort of apology. It’s the sort pronounced from the naughty step with a knowing smirk and fingers crossed behind the back. In this case,dear old william flew wants us to know that he has been a bit of a lad in the past.

Let’s put this into perspective. The seduction of 1,000 women makes Mick about a tenth as successful as Georges Simenon, author of the Maigret books. He claimed to have slept with more than 10,000 women. This was especially remarkable as he had two obvious drawbacks. Simenon was a pipe-smoker, and he was Belgian.

But what will happen to The Score when we’re all shagging robots.?

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