Category Archives: education

I’m not ready to be four

We’ve been studying World War Two in school. Don’t worry, I’m not at school, I just work in one. So to be a bit clearer: the kids I teach have been learning about World War Two. It was fun and they really enjoyed the thematic approach that we took based around the book Goodnight Mister Tom. I enjoyed it too. The kids were shocked when we learned about rationing and couldn’t quite grasp the lack of junk food and snacks. This really hit home when we looked at a birthday party during war time. The cake was made with some odd ingredients, it was shared between a group of children who had the same month of birth and the present (if there was one) was usually hand made or a hand me down.

My kids (the ones that I teach) eat no end of fast food, snacks and general rubbish. I don’t teach in an affluent area (in fact, quite the opposite) and I think this may well be indicative of that. There’s more though. They have loads of stuff. Most of the kids in my year 6 (10 and 11 years old) class have a better phone than I do, a range of tablets and computers and all that JD Sport has to offer. They don’t always get that deferred gratification of birthdays and Christmas: they have it all and they have it now. I’m not making a judgment, just a point.
birthday-cupcakes

So, why the title of this blog? It was my daughter’s birthday a couple of days ago and we had the usual phone calls from relatives asking what to buy her. We had a couple of ideas but not loads. Have we fallen into the trap of buying stuff ‘just because?’ I think so. When she watches a princess film, she puts on one of her many princess dresses. When she wants to play, she has loads of toys to choose from. I pretty sure I didn’t have that many toys at the age of 3. Of course, I could be wrong. And I’m pretty sure that my parents thought the same when I was that age in comparison to when they were. Again, I could be wrong.

The thing that did happen though that made me have that odd parent feeling of pride and worry was what she said to me just before I kissed her goodnight.

“Daddy, I’m not ready to be four.”

It was one of the cutest things she’d ever said.

She told my wife the same thing. My wife didn’t find it quite as cute. My daughter had woken my wife at 1 am to tell her.

BTW: I made those cupcakes!

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State of play (stop the world…)

I’m tired. I’ve had two nights of parents evenings (both full, no gaps) and my daughters birthday yesterday. It’s more than that though. I’m not quite sure how to explain it other than a mental malaise. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love my children (both the ones I teach and the ones I sired), I enjoy teaching and work in a great school full of happy people. My two little ones are well behaved, cheeky and full of energy and love. But… I’m tired.

I wondered if it might be the March of time. As I trudge wearily to my eternal resting place (let’s face it, I’m more likely to be heading down than up), adding more mileage each year, burning both ends of my candle, is it all catching up? I don’t think so. I’m only in my thirties.

Winter then? Waking up and heading to work in the dark. Finishing work and heading home – in the dark. Cold, rain, wind and more cold. I don’t think that’s it either though. I love the winter. I love my winter clothes (that long herringbone trench coat, my scarf collection and my wonderful flat caps), I love the Christmas period and the dark ales that are around at this time of year. So no, definitely not the season.

Too much work? Too many hours? Again, probably not. My job, boss, class, school and staff are amazing. I love coming to work and even the marking has recently become an enjoyable thing. Some of the writing my kids are doing is fantastic, the maths is moving along nicely and the other subjects happen in the afternoon when I do my assistant head bits and bobs. So nope, not work.

What then? Why then? How then?

It hit me yesterday. Trump. Well, Trump and Brexit. More than that I suppose. People. People are stupid. We are becoming a world of idiots run by idiots.

I’m off to pack now and move to a cabin in the woods. Give me a call when we come to our senses.

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Armchair tourist

Hi, my name is Andrew and I’ve been a TV addict for 33 years.
teacher, mother, secret lover
Television is, for me, the single greatest invention of the last hundred years. I know we have cured diseases, travelled the world, travelled the stars, built communication networks and seen the birth of the computer. I’m not saying that all of these are not important, it’s just that they’re not TV. Television allows me to do all of these things vicariously, and for that I love it.
I love the fact that I can trek through the stars, I can enter a courtroom, I can see into the past and can even get to know the people I admire better. What TV does best though is allow me the opportunity to travel the world. I don’t mean documentaries or travel shows, I’m talking about something much more fun. American crime drama. Here’s my top 5 wish list of crime capitals as portrayed on TV.
las vegas strip csi
1) CSI Vegas. I used to watch all the CSI series, now I don’t watch any. Actually that’s not true, I have recently started to watch the first few series on re-runs, only the Vegas one though. So enamoured were myself and the wife with it that we decided to go. The casinos on the strip, the desert, the odd people who live there and the allure of the tables. I had visions of strolling from casino to casino, losing a fortune and looking like a rockstar in the process. The reality was so much better and so much worse in equal measure. The downside was the fact that it takes 20 minutes to find your way out of a casino let alone get to the next one (at least another 30 minutes). Playing at the tables was really intimidating, like being a kid at the adults table, it was serious stuff. The upsides were as follows 1) You got free drinks, even if you were only playing on the slots. 2) Our room (booked by my lovely wife) was bigger than our flat and had a TV in the bathroom. 3) The shows were amazing. We saw Elvis, MJ, Madonna and old blue eyes in the same show. 4) The all you could eat breakfast spread spanned the length of a couple of buses. 5) It was so weird it was like being on a different planet. If you’ve been you know, if not you should. Blimey, that was lengthy. Maybe I should make it a top 3.
Jed Bartlett for president
2) The West Wing. What a show. Smart, funny, satirical and smart. It showed you what life would be like as the leader of a superpower and what goes into it. It’s one of those shows that disproves the myth (perpetrated by Brits) that the people of the USA are stupid fatties. I would love to visit the white house, do the tour and make the famous pose in the oval office. The last part is less likely but never say never.
get your white t's here
3) The Wire. Possibly the best show ever. This show though made me realise I didn’t want to go to Baltimore. I’m quite happy watching it through the screen. The grit, the despondency and the ease of which drug and gang culture can swallow you whole. I am sure that it has some very nice parts and would make a great holiday destination. The reality though, I would imagine, is that it has done more in deterring tourism than promoting it.
The nearly made it list…
Sex and the City. Not my cup of tea really but instrumental in our (mainly the wife’s) honeymoon choice. A winter wedding with a weeks honeymoon equalled New York. And yes, we did the tour. It showed off New York beautifully and led to us seeing parts that we might never have thought of.
sex and the city bus
NCIS:LA. I would love to visit LA. The beaches, the bars and the beauty. The strange thing is that I never watched the original NCIS series but the new one really appealed to me. I think the perfect holiday would be being shown around LA by LL CoolJ. All the best sites and you’d never get mugged.
mama said knock you out
A bit of a bucket list? You bet. I have a dream of retirement (many years in the future) where the wife and I can tour every state in America. Maybe staying in swanky hotels, maybe in an RV or maybe just sitting at home all day watching old re-runs of our favourite shows with a nice cup of tea.
Enjoy your weekend.
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The internet troll

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I started off with a different start to this blog. My intention was to have a foray into the world of Internet trolling and then damn it completely. I was gonna call those that do it sad, lonely and a bit pathetic. This I shall not do. I realised that it does have a useful place in the world. It’s a bit like those who write books and those who review them. If you have a good book then you get praise and you feel good about it, similar to those in the Internet world who put up websites and opinions that have a place in the world and are a force for good. If you write a stinker of a book, fill it with unchecked nonsense or insight any kind of hatred, violence, sexism or racism than you have every right to have it critiqued and challenged, just like idiots on the net. I believe that trolling can be a used as a mirror for those who don’t really know what they’re on about and as a gentle reminder that it’s ok to challenge opinions.

Anyway, here’s how it all started…

I have recently been watching the new Aaron Sorkin show The Newsroom. On it was a young and ambitious reporter who wanted to write a story on trolling. This really interested me as I had heard the term before but didn’t really know what it was. The idea behind it is to find a chat room, chat board or open forum on the Internet and play devils advocate until someone bites. Hopefully, if one person bites then more will follow. The ideal way is to write one or two comments and then let it run. The longer it runs, plus the more people get involved equals the indicator of success. This was my challenge. I decided that I would steer clear of anything overly political and stay instead in the areas I know.

First attempt. I suck at this. I’ve tried to elicit a response from a football forum of a team I don’t like. I was quite inflammatory but was very much ignored. My suspicion is that the fans of this club get it all the time and know what I am up to. Maybe I need a slightly more subtle approach.

Second attempt. Ditched the subtle approach idea in favour of aiming at a different group. On the advice of some of the kids at school I’m gonna troll 1 direction fans. Mean? Yes. Childish? You bet. Wanna see how it went? Course you do. I picked the best few but I had about 30 replies. My screen name was Jim Bond.

Jimbond- 14 hours ago – how come all one direction fans are either ugly, stupid or both?

1direction fan • 14 hours ago −
I absolutley love one direction. The first time i heard their song “what makes you beautiful” i cried because i want people( guys) to like me for my my personality not for looks and their song showed me that not all guys care about looks. I’m not ugly though.

Directioner•14 hours ago – my friends all love 1D and we are all HOT.

1Dsoinlove•14 hours ago – what u talking about. You dont know wot we r and you dont understand what 1D are and stand for. They are all about fun and music and having fun. I love Harry and he doesn’t care bout looks.

Although this was a success I felt very mean. I don’t think I’m cut out for this kinda stuff. Picking on poor girls with bad music taste, shame on me. I did notice that none of the comments took offense to being called stupid though.

Attempt 3. Couldn’t bring myself to do any today. Feel kinda guilty that some 1D fan might lose sleep over something I have written. It’s like one of those arguments when you go to bed and think back on what you should have said. Maybe a rethink.

Attempt 4. I’ve decided to play it from the other side. To look for people who have already expressed an opinion and be the devils advocate. Where better to look that Facebook! I had a few goes at commenting on people’s status and then managed to get myself in an argument. This is much more fun and a completely harmless way to waste a bit of time. Have a peak.

facebook troll

So I’ve decided that trolling is not for me. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1) My job (the planning, marking and management stuff), my son, my very pregnant wife and my blog leave me with precious little time.

2) Some people create and others critique. I find myself firmly in the first camp.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I’m off to drop my son at my parents then take the wife out for dinner. If I can get all my work done that is!

Couldn’t resist the last picture! Maybe it will open a debate.

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Comic book geek?

The dark knight returns comic
I have recently been inspired. Not often do I see or hear something that actually inspires me to do something about it. I have been inspired by Kevin Smith and Bruce Wayne. I think I might want to get into comics!
Don’t get me wrong, loads of things have inspired me over the last few years. The Olympics inspired me to watch it but not to go out and kayak (to be fair I don’t think I was the target audience for the inspire a generation campaign), great art can inspire me but that doesn’t mean I can draw and music definitely inspires me but I still (after 16 years of owning it) can’t play more than 6 chords on my guitar. Comics though… Now there’s something I can do.
kevin smith the green arrow
What Kevin has done has shared his infectious love of Batman and all things DC. Kevin Smith, for those who don’t know, is an actor and a director. He is Silent Bob in Clerks, Mall Rats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma. He also directed all of those and more. If you’ve seen any of those then you know his love for comics. He has also written for DC for both Batman and The Green Arrow.
Let me take you back quite a few years, not to my childhood, to when me and the wife, then girlfriend, were looking for people to share our flat. We had rented a big place and had only one income at the time due to one of us studying. We put out an advert on gumtree and waited. We didn’t have to wait long as about half an hour later we had a couple wanting to come round. They came, they were extremely odd and we ushered them out the door with a promise to let them know. We had a couple of phone calls of the same ilk until finally a normal sounding Aussie called. She said that her and her bloke were interested, they came over and they were normal (ish). And so they stayed for a few years. Why am I telling you this? Because the guy half of the couple was a comic book nut.
gumtree aussie rooms
Jimmy was a funny guy who was constantly hungry. He loved computers and comic books. When I look back now I regret not tapping into his knowledge and, at the very least, getting a comic book 101 lesson. Why? Here comes the list.
1) I don’t want to look like a newbie or get ripped off. I need to get knowledgeable about comics without looking like I need the knowledge. This is where the Internet comes in. I can research them in the comfort of my own home and can also buy them and store them on my iPad. I know it’s not the same as owning the actual books but you gotta start somewhere.
Apple iPad Comic Books
2) I want to know the best arc to follow. It seems it’s not just about which character to follow but also about which version or arc. Do I go for the new Batman reboot (the 52’s) or some other timeline? This is what confuses me the most. If I was 10 I’d take whatever I could get. Maybe having money and an ability to over think things is doing me no favours.
3) I don’t have enough time for crap. Seriously. All I want is someone to tell me what to do. Where do I start and where do I go after that. I’m beginning to think that I may have the wrong comic book attitude.
If you don’t feel the need to get into comics at least have a listen to Fatman on Batman. It’s a podcast (available free in iTunes and smodcast) where Mr Smith has various guests on from the world of Batman. The first episode is all about Mark Hamill (yes, that one) who voices the joker on the animated show. It’s funny stuff, even if you’re not into comics.
fatman on batman kevin smith
Maybe I’m having a pre-second baby panic or at the very least a mid life crisis. I do know that I have started to watch Batman cartoons on TV and that my 2 and a half year old doesn’t like them. I try to tell my wife, and myself, that it’s to keep up with what the kids at school like so I can relate to them. The problem is that she can see through me and read my like a graphic novel.
Enjoy your weekend.
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International talk like a pirate day

international talk like a pirate day

The 19th of this month was international talk like a pirate day and I missed it. I found out on the 20th and felt like I had been cheated out of a days worth of fun with the kids. Being a teacher means different things to different people. To me it’s all about having as much fun as possible and carrying that over to the learning. Pirate day would have been awesome. I also own a pirate costume, that helps get in the spirit. yarrrrrr.

International pirate day got me thinking about what other made up days we should have. If I could get the world to buy into a day what would it be? A list of made up days you say? Go on then.

1)International music amnesty day. I like a certain type if music and I believe that style of music to be socially acceptable (at least to those in my social circle). Rock, metal and most stuff with guitars to be honest. I do have a few guilty pleasures though. Bands or artists that, when they come on my all songs shuffle list, make my friends give me the look. The look that starts off as surprise, turns to disappointment and ends in anger. What I’m suggesting is that we have a day at work where we all bring in our secret CD stash and sing along. I’ll start off with mine… I own every Robbie Williams album. Sorry guys but it’s not just on my iPod because my wife likes it. It’s all mine.

2)International David Hasslehoff day (Hoff day for short). I love the Hoff. I think we should pay homage to this great icon and give him his own day. Adults could wear wigs, orange shorts and talk to their cars. We could reminisce about all the wonderful television he has given us and sing the bay watch theme (I reckon you may be doing so at this very moment). And for the kids, a history lesson about the Berlin Wall and his part in its downfall. I would definitely get a curly wig, leather jacket and learn the lyrics to his songs. Who’s with me? Good. I’m thinking Friday the 28th of September. Facebook, tweet and let the world know of the mighty Hoff.

3) International wear your pyjamas to work day. I think this would make for a great atmosphere and many fun pub crawls after work. We have done it a few times at school for charity and the kids loved it. Maybe it could coincide with comic relief or some other charitable event. Either way, worth a go.

For fun I asked my kids at school what day they would like. Two lists in one week? Oh go on then.
1. National Rollerskate everywhere day. Self explanatory.
2. Lasagne day. We all have lasagne for dinner.
3. National dress up like a superhero day. According to the child I asked this should coincide with national dress up like a super villain day. Genius!
4. National celebrity day. As I understand it, celebrities are allowed a day off from the paparazzi as long as they take the bus and shop in Asda. They also have to visit schools and have their photo taken with the kids.

Love it!

What about you? If you could introduce a national or international holiday what would it be? I’d back you if I thought it was a goer.

I leave you with this link. It’s from my sons favourite show and teaches you how to talk like a pirate. Yo ho lets go Just hit the play button and sing along.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

international hoff hasslehoff day

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Never have I ever…

When at university I used to play a game. This game was called Never Have I Ever. It was a simple game that allowed you to stitch your mates up and find out embarrassing secrets about the people at your table. It never occurred to me to lie in this game, I would lay all my sins out on the table, face down, waiting for someone to say a never have I ever that would make me lift my metaphorical cards and show them. The rules of the game are as follows…

1) Someone says something like, “never have I ever blamed someone for something that I did.”

2) If you have done that then you need to drink.

3) If you don’t drink and someone at the table can give you an instance when you have done it then you finish your drink.

This memory came flooding back this week with the kids I teach. Don’t worry, we weren’t playing drinking games (something frowned upon when in charge of a class of 30 ten year olds) but instead it has been a week of lies and omissions.

It struck me that I put a great deal of trust in my kids, with the hope of fostering a happy and truthful classroom. Most of the time it works. When things go pear shaped though I feel the need to remind myself of the golden rule of teaching.

Kids lie if they think they can a) get away with it and b) stay out of trouble.

What makes my job great though is when they do learn the value of honesty. Owning up, in some of their eyes, is the grown up thing to do. They will come and put their name on the board (standard teacher warning style) without being asked. It’s their version of raising a cup to their lips and admitting that they have (ever) done it.

As the last few days with my class whittle away I find myself very glad to be going on a much needed break. I also feel very sad about my class going to another teacher. Its like a friend who has moved far away. You still see them, just not as often and for shorter periods of time.

I will miss this group of 30 kids. The jokes, fun, growing up, problems, drama and even some of the back chat. I take consolation in the fact that I will feel the same this time next year.

In spite of all the crap and stress that comes with it,  I can honestly say that I love my job. I’ll love it even more with 6 weeks off.

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The future is coming!

As a teacher I get to impart my knowledge to the children in my class. Yes I do have to follow the national curriculum and yes most of the time it’s about being 2 steps ahead of the kids with your subject knowledge. At the moment we are looking at films and the composition, lighting, mood, language and so on. It made me realise how much I love films and how passionate I get when talking about them. It’s as if I am actually in the film when I watch a good one. It also means that I retain a great deal of useless information. One of my favourite knowledge banks is that of future dates in sci-fi films. Here are some of my top ones.

22nd of December, 2012. Fox Mulder uncovered a plot for alien colonisation of Earth. In one of the last episodes of the show the deep throat cigarette smoking dude fills in Fox on the “End Game” plans by the military. This prediction was made in 2002. Unfortunately we have all seen our last Christmas in the comfort of our own homes people, that’s why I’m having presents early this year and running up a huge credit card bill.


21st of October, 2015. Back to the Future, Part 2. Three years till hover boards! This has its inclusion because of the alternate time line in the film. If an idiot like Biff can run a global empire then imagine if someone with brains got their hands on a DeLorean and a sports almanac from the future. Fistfights, chase scenes and teeny tiny pizzas that you can rehydrate? Bring it on.


Sometime in November, 2019. The replicants are coming! The humanoid clones return to Earth on a stolen spaceship, hell bent on killing the evil suits at the Tyrrell Corporation. Ex cop Rick Deckard is the “Blade Runner” who is sent to chase them down. I think if I was sent off-world to do some of the crappy jobs I’d also be a little upset. Prediction made in 1982 and any other time the director/media company needed an extra few quid and released another version.


Sometime in 2022. The secret is in the sauce. Earth has run out of natural foods and is overpopulated. Step in Soylent, a company with all the answers. Detective Robert Thorn nearly ends up as lunch when he discovers the truth about what goes into making “Soylent Green” when investigating a murder. It’s still got to be better than a pot noodle. Prediction made in 1973.


3rd of August, 2032. Getting sent to the cooler takes on a whole new meaning. Simon Phoenix and John Spartan, the “Demolition Man”, duke it out in the futuristic land of San Angeles. Phoenix escapes and Spartan is unfrozen and tasked with bringing him down. My main concern about this is the fact that they don’t seem to have toilet paper, that and sex is a non contact sport. Prediction made in 1993.

5th of April, 2063. To boldly go… Captain Picard and crew fight off the Borg infestation aboard the Enterprise so that “First Contact” can go off without a hitch. The meeting between Zefram Cochrane and the Vulcans is the backdrop for an epic battle against assimilation by the Borg, who attempt to set up a sub space beacon directing the past Borg to Earth. It’s a prediction made in the present about a future star ship going back in time to our future. Confused? Prediction made in 1996.

2 extra come from two very different sub groups of sci-fi. I have left them out of the main list partly because they won’t concern the inhabitants of Earth directly and partly because they are sooooo far away. The first is 18th August 2158, the day the Na’vi protect their home world and fight off that hard ass army dude. The second is May 2511. Malcolm Reynolds makes his last stand in the Battle of Serenity Valley. If you haven’t seen Firefly (or the spin off movie Serenity) then you must. It’s a cult thing these days but you won’t be disappointed.

Please let me know of any other disasters or important moments I’ve missed (or might miss).

Enjoy your weekend, it could be one of the last we have on this planet.

Feel free to leave a comment, your email address won’t be used for any sinister plot. Alternatively you can cut and past the URL into your Facebook status or twitter to share it. That is all.

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Diamond Jubilee Quiz answers

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Hope you enjoyed the flotilla thingy, even though it was wet and cold. Her Royal Queenyness seemed pleased.

As promised, here are the answers.

1.What is the Queen’s full name? ​Elizabeth Alexandra Mary WINDSOR
2. Who is the Queen’s husband? ​​Prince Phillip, duke of Edinburgh
3. How old is Queen? ​​​​86
4. Who are the Queen’s parents? ​​King George VI , Elizabeth
5. What is the name of the Queen’s Sister? Princess Margaret
6. What year did Queen Elizabeth get married? 1947
7. How many children does Queen Elizabeth have? ​4
8. How many Grandchildren does the Queen have?​8
9. What are the names of the Queen’s children? Charles, Anne, Andrew & Edward
10. Can you order the Queen’s children starting with eldest to the oldest?
Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew & Prince Edward
11. What breed of pet dogs is the Queen known for? ​Corgi’s
12. What year did Princess Elizabeth become queen? 6th February 1952
13. Who is the heir to the throne? ​​Prince Charles
14. Can you name any four of the queen’s Grandchildren?
Peter, Zara, William, Harry, Beatrice, Eugenie, Louise, James
15. What is the Diamond Jubilee a celebration of? 60 years reign?
16. What is the Queen’s well known residence? Buckingham Palace
17. What film did the Queen appear in? None
18. What is the first line of the National Anthem?
God save our gracious Queen
19. What does HRH mean? Her Royal Highness
20. 20. What material represents 60 years?
A Diamond

I would love to know how you got on. Enjoy the rest of your extra long weekend.

Lovely jublee

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Diamond Jubilee Quiz

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So what are you doing for the Queens Diamond Jubilee? Down the pub? BBQ? Street party? Nothing?

As a teacher of 10 year olds I learn more about current events and nationwide celebrations than I ever did as a civilian. Having fun with the kids while trying to trick them into learning is the key. So with that in mind ,here is my Diamond Jubilee quiz. It’s all about the Queen (of course) and her 6 decade rule of these fantastic shores.

How British are you feeling?

1. What is the Queen’s full name? ​
2. Who is the Queen’s husband? ​​
3. How old is Queen? ​​​​
4. Who are the Queen’s parents? ​​
5. What is the name of the Queen’s Sister?
6. What year did Queen Elizabeth get married?
7. How many children does Queen Elizabeth have? ​
8. How many Grandchildren does the Queen have?​
9. What are the names of the Queen’s children?
10. Can you order the Queen’s children starting with the eldest?
11. What breed of pet dogs is the Queen known for?
12. What year did Princess Elizabeth become queen?
13. Who is the heir to the throne? ​​
14. Can you name any four of the queen’s Grandchildren?
15. What is the Diamond Jubilee a celebration of?
16. What is the Queen’s well known residence?
17. What film did the Queen appear in?
18. What is the first line of the National Anthem?
19. What does HRH mean?
20. What material represents 60 years?

Struggle on some? So did I. Your punishment is to sing ‘God Save The Queen’ as loud as you can, in a public place, and encourage others to join in.

Answers in tomorrows blog. happy Jubilee.

Please feel free to share the quiz, just copy the bit across the top (the http bit), put it as your Facebook status and WordPress will do the rest.

Or you can copy and paste this one
http://andrewauthor.com/2012/06/02/diamond-jubilee-quiz/

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