Tag Archives: teaching

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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The art of the quote

A good quote can be so many things. When I was younger it could mean the difference between a grade in an English literacy test, a better percentage in my sociology course work and, most important of all, it could really make my friends laugh. I may not write coursework or do tests anymore but the art of the quote still lives on.
She's your queen to be
This weeks blog is inspired by a friend of mine who placed a quote from Coming to America on Facebook. The response was huge and I partook with a big smile on my face. “I was Joan of Arc in a former life.” This may not be the most famous quote from the film but those who know the film well (I used to watch it once every other day over one summer while my friend and I stole his parents Cointreau and filled up the bottle with squash, hoping they wouldn’t notice) know it. I still reckon I could say about half the lines before the Mr Murphy and Mr Hall.
mam name him clay, i'm a call him clay
Facebook though has changed the rules a bit. No longer do you have to rely on your brain for a quote, you can research it. Here’s my mini guide for quoting Facebook style.
1) Try and remember the quote and respond quickly. If it has a small flaw in the repeating of the line then it seems more organic.
2) If you do have to research it then add a small mistake. See second line of number 1.
3) Make sure the quote you use is from the same film. Nothing worse than being ridiculed in cyberspace.
4) Don’t include the character name at the start. If the quote is good then people should know.
5) Not too big. If the quote is too long then it is a dead giveaway. You may as well leave the hyperlinks in.
i assumed you had sex with your bathers
Quotes don’t need to be famous though. A friend of mine was exceeding drunk at a party. He decided to run for the door, presumably to throw up, whilst shouting, “abandon ship.” The quote was used more than once. Private quotes can be great fun but can also exclude many. If I were to write, “swinging from a tree!” Then it would mean a great deal to few people and nothing to most. The private club can be great fun but needs a have to be there pass.
I have never tried to pass a quite off as my own knowingly. I will always state my source (csi quote there) so people don’t think I’m smarter than I am. The problem I have is that there are times when I don’t even realise I’m quoting, times when I’ve said what I’m saying so many times that the origin of it is lost somewhere. This can be highly embarrassing when you get called on it. I do however have some favourite quotes. Some are funny, some witty and some odd. Here’s my top five.
Live forever or die in the attempt.
1) “Live forever or die in the attempt.”
-Yossarian – Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day
2) “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”
-Frank Sinatra
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
3) “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
-Oscar Wilde
My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
4) “My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”
-Michael Corleone – The Godfather
every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.
5)”How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?”
-Homer – The Simpsons
There are so many that I could have done a top 50. I would love to hear any you think I have overlooked.
squidge andrew thomas
I hope that one day, when I am a famous author, I might find my own words quoted somewhere. Maybe.
Enjoy your weekend.
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Not very me

I bought some new shoes the other day, it took absolutely ages to find some I liked,  and even when I was walking away I wasn’t 100% about them. I got home, took out my new purchase (looking for some validation or confirmation about them) and my wife said that they were not very me. Why not? Yes, they are very different to my usual trainers, I admitted. I then decided on the only logical course of action.
Taking them back.

So what does my style mean? I don’t mean in a fashion sense, or even in an identity way. Why have I suddenly started buying the same stuff? I think the answer is simple… I haven’t. There was no sudden change, it’s a mixture of the following.

A) Laziness. I have developed my style over many years and via many massive fashion errors (massive). Why bother to try something new when my track record is that bad? I just go into the shop and look for Adidas shell toes or some form of chunky skate shoe, it’s what I’ve done for the last 10 years. I wear band T-shirts and baggy jeans, again something I’ve done for a good few years. It’s just…

B) Comfortable. Not just metaphorically but literally. Have you ever worn a pair of chunky skate shoes? It’s like wearing slippers. I also like to associate myself with great bands that I love to listen to, it’s what I do. Or maybe…

C) I’m unable to process anything new. I think Homer said it best,
“Every time I learn something new, it pushes something old out of my brain.”
I quite like what’s in my brain thanks, no need for a remake.

Does having a style mean you are one of a kind? Individual? Unique? I thought so when I purchased my new phone cover. It made the back of my iPhone look like a Gameboy. I went to the pub, proudly put it on the table and waited for the wonderful comments congratulating me on an awesome choice. What I got was my friend Rob pulling out his phone and waving the exact same cover at me, proving that I am not as individual as I would like to believe. I can also guarantee that most of my friends from home own a grey hoodie (as do I) and skate shoes. Myself and Rob even have the same hat preferences!

I wonder if I look like an old guy to the kids, if they look at me the same way I looked at the man in the denim jacket with band patches sewn on them? And do I, like that rock dude, care that much about it? Has my style defined my age or is my age defining my style?

heavy metal denim jackets

The other side of the coin would be what I would look like if I was 30 and followed every trend? Would that be better or worse? Would I be the guy in the room trying desperately to fit in? Hey kids, I’m one of you!

My main concern though is this… Will they still make my style of clothes and shoes in 20 years time? Will Marks and Spencer stock Etnes or DC’s? Will I be wearing baggy jeans with an elasticated waist band. Will I care by then?

Enjoy your weekend. I’m off to take my trainers back.

They are not very me.

Lots of questions this week.  Send any answers on a postcard to http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies part III

Episode 3: the recycling of the film

The remake. I feel like I need to get a few things straight before I dive in. There is a film I must leave at the door and not mention again. To do so would make me swear (something I do very often but have tried not to do on this blog). It is a film that I loved as a child which had the ever awesome Gene Wilder as the star. Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory (1971) was remade horrifically. Even worse than that, it was done by a director I love and a star whose acting I admire. I will just leave it there.

The Italian job is a tough one for me. The original film is iconic in both its stars and script. It is one of those films that have seeped into everyday language with sayings that are very recognisable as having come from the film. I watched the original as a kid and loved the car chases and action. As an adult I still love those things but the dialogue is clever and witty and has further endeared the film to me. The new version is a pretty good film but lacks a certain something, certain flair, a leading man that is both charismatic and funny. If the new film had not been called the Italian job then I think I may have liked it more. Having said that, if it hadn’t been called the Italian job then people would have called it an Italian job rip off. Lose, lose I suppose.

Ocean’s eleven, what a great film. The remake I mean, not the original. The original was way before my time but I can see it has certain charms. You can tell that the people on screen are friends and that the story is meant to show off this chemistry. The new film needed to have a cast capable of standing up to rat pack comparisons, and it didn’t disappoint. Even the bit part players are Hollywood openers! I think though for me, the best part of the film is its intelligence. It’s increasingly hard to make a good heist film with all the casino technology in place, being able to get past it seems increasingly impossible. Not only did this film manage that, it did it in a way that was believable.

The remake of the remake.

The incredible hulk

I caught the original Hulk the other day (the 80’s one starring Lou Ferrigno) and found that when Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk it was pretty scary. In fact it was very scary. I then took a look at the remake, then the remake of the remake. The CGI is not very scary at all. I am unsure as to whether this is because I know its CGI or whether the original Hulk actually grabbed people by the throat and had to coordinate stunts. The last Hulk was impossibly big, didn’t move right and just looked plastic. The new films for me went on too long, had very weak storylines and the last one had a leading man who was neither big enough nor believable enough to be an action star.

I really hope this reboot craze stops with the new new Spiderman. It seems that ignoring the previous film has the advantage of being able to do whatever you like and start again. The problem is this: if the film was made badly then maybe it’s the premise that’s flawed, not the previous actors or directors. Most cartoons are best as just that. It takes a special kind of superhero to become a movie star.

My overall feeling about the remake is this.

1) If it aint broke, don’t fix it

2) Leave it alone for 30 years plus before a remake is even considered

3) Don’t re remake it. If it didn’t work once or twice, third time is unlikely to be a charm.

Take heed Hollywood, and tremble at the ravings of a 30 something semi popular children’s writer.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies. Part II

The film of the series (not the snappiest of titles).

You have to do an amazing job to be in with a chance of appealing to the original fans of the show, either that or go down the star trek route of actually having the actors from the series play the film roles. It worked well with both the original star trek and the next generation. As a real Trekkie (can’t believe that just got spell checked to a capital letter), I loved the films. Having William Shatner and Patrick Stewart on the same screen at the same time? Yes, yes oh yes. The same thing happened with firefly and the film version serenity (well worth a look) and the sex and the city films (not my cup of tea but the Mrs. loves em). They are recognisable characters playing recognisable parts and they work. Well, with the exception of the Simpsons movie. That was a real doh.


The problem comes when you transfer a TV show (especially a cult classic one) to film with a new cast. Basically, you can’t replace Mr T, Hannibal, Face or Murdock. Not if you want to tap into the original market anyway. I’m not saying the A-team film was awful; it wasn’t very good either though. I think the main reason was the original actors were those characters. Mr T is BA Baracus. I find the same with the avengers and the saint, and don’t even get me started on the new star trek film!

There is evidence that it can work though. Look at the Batman franchise. I loved the Adam West show, I loved the Tim Burton films (not any of the others though, why Arnie? Why?), I love the new incarnation. I think they are all sufficiently different, and no one actor really owns the role. There is no Mr T in batman (neither literally nor metaphorically).

I will finish with my 2 favourite TV show to films. It also strike me that it may well be because they started as sketch shows.

The Muppet show: I loved the Muppets as a kid and love the first Muppet movie. They took a sketch show of believable characters (albeit puppets) and showed us what they were like when they weren’t on the show. The plot is thin, the acting is hammy (terrible pun, sorry miss piggy) and you can see wires coming out of their arms. This to me though adds to the charm.

Monty pythons flying circus: An amazing TV show with a string of amazing films. The show and films are my dad’s era really, but I think they are timeless. My favourite of the lot has to be the life of Brian, if only because of the outrage of the religious community.

That’s it for episode 2: the return of the over opinionated bloggist.

Episode 3 promises the remake and the remake of the remake. I’m going down the Godfather route though (not making it rubbish, hopefully) and leaving a gap between parts 1 and 2 and part 3. Until next week.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies. Part I

Seeing as this is, in part, about trilogies I thought I would do it in 3 parts. Which will be the best? Will part 3 come years after part 2? Will it have a prequel blog? Will I re do it in a few years? Will I just get on with it? Ok, here goes…

Episode 1: the Blogfather

I shall start with the Godfather. As I have said before, I came late to the godfather trilogy. It’s one of those films where the critics said you either love it or you haven’t seen it. I agree wholeheartedly. Part 1 is great, part 2 is epic, part 3 is duck suckingly bad. What happens with these great film makers? Too much time on their hands to write? Mellowed by old age? Just need the money? Part 3 could have been great. Instead you have a story of priests, borderline incest and a really dodgy hair cut. And In the end, it’s the fall from the chair that kills this great character. People may say its old age, heart attack, an aneurism. I like to think he has just realised what a pile of poo he had made and fell to his inevitable, but timely, demise. Shame on you Al Pacino. Check out the end of part 3 and you’ll see what I mean, very funny.  (Cheers John and Nick for pointing that out).

Back to the future is much the same. 1 and 2 fit so well together and have that rare quality of being able to be followed by everyone, while at the same

time making you feel smart for being able to follow it. It has hoverboards, skateboards, a cool car, outstanding music and is very funny.

Part 3? A western that is not a western. No car, no skateboards, no Hewie Lewis and the news. No thank you very much. It’s not an awful film but it has no place in the trilogy.

Two trilogies that (in my opinion) don’t feel like they have add-ons.

Star wars: my dad told me (I sound about 10 years old starting with that) that when ‘return of the Jedi’ was released that some people had the same disdain for the Ewoks that I have for Jar Jar Binks. I find this odd. I loved the Ewoks, I wanted to be Wicket! The point is that the 3rd in the trilogy was not as widely loved as the first 2. I think all the original films are awesome, but then I was very young when I first saw them. The same can be said to be true for the kids I teach and the prequel trilogy. One of them once said to me that the original trilogy was old and boring. All I could do was stand there, dumbstruck and confused, and mumble something about the youth of today. Either way, the films all have a flow from the first scene of episode 4 to the last of episode 6.


Lord of the rings: the first of these was a bit dull. I loved it (the whole trilogy) but even I struggled with the extended version of ‘the fellowship of the ring’. Unlike other trilogies though, they get better. Yes, I know it was Tolkien’s writing, that the books are amazing and that they were always gonna be great. I suppose that I was primed to like them, being a uber geek as I am. It is the only trilogy I can think of (and am open to suggestions of others) that ends better than it starts. Not that the middle one is the best, the last one is.

Thanks for watching (reading) part 1. In part 2, the film of the series. I pity the fool who misses it, unless you have something better to do. Then that’s OK by me.

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Defined by a decade (or dance like my dad)

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I love the 90’s! Sounds like a bad album title, but it’s a statement I stand by. I have recently been listening to a 90’s radio station and have realised a few things… Firstly, I love music of the 90’s. Secondly, songs I didn’t like at the time are now songs I sing along to (am I mellowing or am I just happy to have remembered the lyrics?). Thirdly, I find myself dancing around with my 2 year old whilst singing (with him shouting “no daddy”) at the top of my lungs. And yes folks, I am dancing like my dad. I’m not saying its all good. I do remember some of the horror of the 90’s, simply red for example

When I was growing up, I found that my dad seemed to be stuck in a certain period of music. He loved the late 70’s and early 80’s, his decade was 75 to 85. To be fair though, it was a pretty good time for music. A bit of style council (shout to the top), a litttle squeeze (tempted) and a lot of Luther Vandross. I love this period in music, its not mine but it’s good. My dads top 5 are as follows…

Paul Simon – diamonds on the soles of her shoes.

Luther Vandross – stop to love

Paul Young – wherever I lay my hat

Frankie goes to Hollywood – relax

Eurythmics – sweet dreams

My point is this: I am not so much stuck in the 90’s (I own a great deal of music from the last 2 decades) as I am defined by it. You get to a point where all the music that comes after it just doesn’t seem as good, when you start to say things like “what’s this rubbish?” or “they just sound like they’re ripping off such and such”. I used to hate it when my dad said that to me but now I understand a little better.

So for what it is worth, and in true hi fidelity style, here are my own personal top 5 tracks of the 90’s…

Smashing pumpkins- today.
I loved and love the pumpkins. The fact the Billy Corgan is a terrible singer just makes you love em more. A real marmite band.

Red hot chilli peppers- under the bridge.
This song is even better when you know the story behind it. If ever you want a good rock and roll story read ‘scar tissue’. Awesome book.

Placebo – nancy boy.
I really wanted to be part of this band, skinny dudes with make up and odd hair. This was a great jumping round you room song.

Ocean colour scene- the day we caught the train.
Being in a club, under age, drinking newcastle brown and shouting the lyrics. Good times.

Blind melon- no rain.
I liked a girl in a band that covered it. Very shallow but a great song.

I have kept my top 5 main stream and free from rap and dance. I could have included so much more such as groove is in the heart, u can’t touch this and a certain shade of green.

I would love to know your top 5 as I am keen to see if I have missed any obvious ones. My list is open to change and I reserve the right to be wrong.

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I’m with the band.

I’m not really. To be completely honest I never have been. I used to dream of being a famous rock star or heavy metal singer, I wouldn’t let anything stand in my way. The only problem was that I couldn’t (and still cant) sing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally tone deaf but I know that I am no Freddie Mercury or Prince. Many years ago (more than I would like to admit) I decided to give it a go. I was a typical drummer, hidden at the back, good at my job and never noticed because of it. I  was in a band fronted by my girlfriend at the time and, although she could carry a tune, she was not that great. I decided that if she could do it then so could I (that coupled with the fact that we had split up) and so I stepped out of the shadows and into the light. Now, although she was not a great singer, she did have something that I  didn’t…looks. I was a long haired Jay Kay (singer from Jamiroquai) wannabe. Not ugly, not good looking enough to sing the way I did and get away with it.

Why did I want to be a rock star? List time me thinks…

1) Free stuff. I wanted free clothes, food, drink but most of all I wanted free trainers. I wanted the worlds biggest collection of Adidas shell-toe trainers. I loved, and still love Adidas trainers. I had dreams of being sent pairs of trainers I hadn’t even ordered, prototypes, exclusive and of course having my very own pair made, Micheal Jordan style

2) No work. No job, playing music all the time, millions of pounds. Yes please.

3) Fans. I wanted to be adored by millions of fans. I had also just split up with my girlfriend so I wanted her to see me being adored by millions of fans (the female ‘come backstage’ kind). I wanted to go on stage, utter one word, and have the crowd screaming my name. My name, not the name of the band.

4) Not selling out. I was convinced that every band I ever listened to at that age sold out. The fact was that they got a bit older, mellowed out a bit and decided to go in a different direction. To me though it was as if they had taken my favourite pair of Adidas trainers and done a big number two in them.

We didn’t do bad as a band and even had a couple of gigs in London at respectable venues. To be honest, I was just glad to have 4 people who believed that I could sing enough to write and perform with me. Some of my friends who I used to play with (in various different bands with silly names) are still in bands.

One of them is an Acoustic, Folk, Country style band called splintered man. Follow this link to have a listen. They are truly brilliant.

The second is a metal band. Caution, this may make your ears bleed. To listen to carnage archive follow this link. I love em.

The Last is quite different (but no less brilliant). They are a new type of musical genre, they play drunkabilly – it’s a bit like rockabilly after one too many shandies. To listen to the God damn disasters follow this link. 

As for me? I’ll stick to the writing. Many of my friends and family will be glad to hear this!

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Insert clever name here…

What a year! It’s been a year of mostly ups for me and very little downs, I know how lucky that makes me and I am aware that I am in danger of becoming sincere and sentimental so I shall stop it immediately.

This year has meant 4 more of my books being published, a new website with an awesome name (www.andrewsbooks.co.uk), a rediscovery of my love of poetry, a virtual fistful of new apps for my phone, some great trips, an attempt to regrow my hair and a new found DJ. So here it comes, my best of 2011 list…

1) Poetry: I uses to like poetry at school and then I didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious decision I suppose it’s just where do you come into contact with it in your every day life. As I teacher I really enjoyed teaching it this year. The best compliment I got from a child was “you made me think about the world in a weird and different way”. Love it.

2) WordPress: I really like the WordPress website and the fact it is so easy to use. The disadvantages are that checking your stats is addictive, how many views? How many followers? I can’t help myself! The massive advantage is the WordPress app, it’s awesome. It means I can blog and add pictures direct from my iPhone. This also means I don’t drive my family mad by being constantly on the computer.

3) iPhone: blogging tool, camera, mp3 player, texting, making calls, sat nav, tv, Internet access and game console. Who needs a laptop? My favourite things on it this year have been sky go (I can watch up to 12 sky channels on my phone, including 6 movie channels), as it means I don’t have to watch kids TV all the time. Sonic the hedgehog is a great time waster as well, the mega drive version of course.

4) Squidge: what a great year for the Squidge books it has been. I have loved writing them, James has loved drawing them and proving house have loved putting them out. I think this shows in the quality of the finished books. Check them out.

5) Jaguar skills: a DJ who has been around for a while but is new to me. No one knows who he is, well they do but they don’t. Let’s try again. A DJ who keeps his identity secret. The best thing to do is have a look. Jaguar skills link.

I think that one of my favourite things though has been coming up with the names for the blogs. I’ve left this one blank so you can join in the fun if you want.

Have a happy 2012. Hope the new year treats you well.

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