This is my "backyard". Sam broke the chandelier by trying to replace the light bulb....who does that!! So i hung it on a pulley system in my "Stumble Inn"
A very nasty side effect of ageing is the loss of clear eyesight. There are others obviously but for artists that's the one that really hurts. Consequently I am becoming obsessed by light. This manifests itself by the regular purchasing of side lights and torches and some heavy Amazon shopping in the "Solar Fairy Light" department. It effects others as well. They get to say, " Its not like you need anymore candlesticks is it?" and " What is it with you and bloody torches?"
I have a fairly extensive collection of expensive vintage fabrics, which is a posh way of saying I have a very big fabric scrap box. I have been playing in the studio with lights against crumpled, layered and draped fabrics. These are the results. They are also small for me about 50x60cms.
This one isn't finished yet and truth to tell does not yet have the frame that digital imagery would let you believe exists in this picture. I have no idea what they are about other than the obvious. I put Fairy lights inside a Paisley print and covered bigger light bulbs with organza and voiles. And why not I hear you say.
Trying to type this whilst listening to the buzzing of a vortex of bluebottles all under the influence of some ghastly drug of paralysis, is difficult. Not for me but for Smidgeon who finds them fascinating and revolting at the same time. She has eaten too many already and i don't want her ingesting any more toxins tonight. God knows, last nights mouse cull was sufficient murder and consumption for one day.
There is a distinct smell of putrefaction lurking around certain areas of this house. There are bodies hidden in areas of Fag End that I can't find but I can definitely smell. These are secret places that only a small creature would know of and be easily able to locate. I have found a few by lying on the floor and shining a very bright torch into darkened corners under beds, sofas, benches and carpet. Sam and I have ripped off "under cabinet plinths" to locate a particular stench but to no avail. The bodies of mice and baby rats are strewn like confetti outside my bedroom doors. Less than half of the bodies have been found and disposed of carefully, (or in Sam's case just hurled into the garden). "Please tell me you didn't just do that Sam". "They're like fuckin boomerangs these mice, you know it will be back?"
Well I may not always locate the source of the smell of death in my own home but you can guess who, or rather what , can. BLUEBOTTLE FLIES. Like mice, they do not travel alone. If you find one, guess what, you may well find another hundred or a lot lot more. I,m quite fond of mice, even dead ones, they are soft and pretty and on the whole I rather like mammals, but flies...... jeez, that's a whole other thing. If you over think stuff, (heaven forbid I should ever do that), its the alien quality of the 6/8 legged , exoskeleton, multi faceted body and way too many eyes, that just gives us the heebiejeebies.
But I Digress
So gobsmacked am I regarding the current state of the British political situation that a blog regarding putrefaction, bluebottles and 3 Blind Mice has become some kind of analogy for the turmoil and chaos we find ourselves in. Dante had a point or rather a spiral down to Hell and I think we may be on it. They are dying like flies around me.
What we all Need are Pictures of Kittens and Here they Come.
Aslan the Handsome and Smidgeon Sweet Face I Love You, would like to introduce you to....
The Lady in the Van
I bought one of these. Its an ex John Lewis van. I love Her.
She has windows that go up and down at the touch of a button rather than the winding mechanism in my old van which was defeated by frost/ice/heat/rubber seals and exhaustion.
She has Air Conditioning. O.M.G. Menopausal Me is now cool.
She has wing mirrors that move automatically for the best view. I know, i know, you don,t have to wind the window down to alter their position, how amazing is that?
She has a key fob that flashes locked or unlocked and opens different doors or all the doors!
The drivers seat has more positions than the Karma Sutra and the front and back windows have heated screens with wipers that are SILENT!!
But best of all....the drivers seat has an arm rest. AN ARM REST... I ASK YOU. WTF
I may have moved into the 21st century
This was my old van, scene of many a crime, famous amongst certain students and winner in the "narrow Bristol double parked street chicken awards:. She never failed me.
This is her interior. Perfect for getting the kettle on and eating your lunch in peace. She has been bought by a family of Whippet owners from Coventry who want to use her as a mobile lounge for the dogs while the mum is at work. Couldn't have gone to a better home.
This is the interior of my new van when I got her. I lined the sides with old duvets and bought an "off the shelf ply lining kit" which i painted,
As you can see Smidgeon was extremely helpful in the fitting process, checking out the pluckability of the old carpet tiles and working out the aesthetics of retro fitted fabrics with charity shop cast offs. "Are those bits of wood you used from the reclaimed fence panels you had done? Cripes, I hope you sanded and oiled them?"
Didn't take anymore "makeover" photos. Just got on with the job of fitting it out. All the fabrics used actually came from John Lewis at some point in their lives. The blue circular cushions, (pads from Jonelle), were made from a fabric that was bought in 1967 in Caleys in Windsor. Its all Sanderson fabric which I,m reliably informed amounts to more money than I paid for the van. I think that both Caleys and Jonelle may now be defunct. So am I. Liberation at last.
Smidgeon says, " Never buy a car that you can't make a cup of tea in."
I painted these as I felt I needed something beautiful to look at. You know the feeling...when life gives you lemons....etc etc. 2015 is now over and I for one am extremely grateful. I,m sure its been a bonanza year for some but not for me. An avalanche of negativity came my way and overwhelmed me. I woke up in a very dark place indeed. A place I recognised, was familiar with, but still couldn't find the sodding door out of.
January has brought me a vision, (well it may have been Tinkerbell) but a vision none the less. The dimmest ickle golden glow.. that shone on a tiny key... on a dusty floor... that i still can't reach... but i know... will fit the lock on the studded, bolted and blackened monstrosity called my mind.
Apparently the 1st world has decided to acknowledge that humans don't just have physical "illnesses", (not a word i would normally use), and consequently its ok to admit that you have "depression, anxiety disorder, voices in your head or any other general looney tunes issue" that IMO is actually perfectly normal but just doesn't fit in with our perception of modern society. One by one the numpties stand up and fess up, "i have been treated for............. for years, but i didn't want to say it before because of the social stigma"
What, the social stigma that you invented, accepted, perpetrated and colluded with to the extent that it became the "get out clause" on every legal document from insurance claims to judicial testimony. So many numpties have been bellowing from their little plinths that recipients have been seen to yawn and make rude hand gestures. Mental health issues are not an excuse for being a dick. However, they can be a reason to go hide in the studio and "crayonne up to the lines", which is what I do.
Colour is my anchor and my obsession. It is also my weapon against "evil". I have my back to the wall at the moment so i,m battling with dark blue violet and a deep metallic copper. Yesterday my hand reached out for pale gold and a blueish bottle green.....that's how i knew i felt better.
Here's a gift from Tinkerbell for 2016. She wishes to all a dreamless sleep that is uninterrupted, restful and rejuvenating and from which you will rise every morning looking absolutely fabulous to discover a full wallet. Go buy some paints.
someone asked me what had i been doing since I retired 6 weeks ago.......(the inference being that one is nothing if one does not have a job description/career/position or income)
Drawers of Requirement and The Star Gazers Box
I took these from college as they were mine to start with and cleaned them up a bit.
Now they look like this. "Pretty" is a much derided word. I suspect it is due to its gender connotations. I like pretty.
I often peruse the local charity shops and i found an old plywood box to which i gave a lot of attention.
While I had a drill and a chop saw to hand I improved the fence panel in the front garden and turned it into a plant stand.
Turned a charity shop wardrobe on its side, clad it in reclaimed fence panels and put it to use as a log store.
on the other side of the fence panel i used a charity shop sideboard which i added a bit of depth to with left over wood and built in a work bench for making stretchers and frames. yeah yeah, i know everything is black, so what!
I still had a bit of wood left about so i built a recycling store on the side of the shed and put up some kitchen drawers which i drilled holes in and got a few seed trays going.
This worked far too well and the tomatoes needed transplanting before i could catch my breath.
Meanwhile the back garden has gone completely mad and I need a tree surgeon, a new back, a replacement drill, another reciprocating saw and another set of hands.
This is the latest of them.
Being brought up in post war Britain, I heard the phrase, "waste not want not" more times than, "while you're up...." and "put the kettle on". I cut my canvas off a roll I buy from Whaleys of Bradford. I don,t like to throw out the little bits that don't fit on my metre square painting surfaces. To me they are freebies. Whilst I'm slopping size and gesso on to the biggies I may as well use up the remnants of the bucket on the cut offs. This mentality continues with using up all the little pots of mixed up paint, wiping paint soaked rags over their surface, sticking them under the tap if they annoy me and letting the cats walk over them. Sometimes they make it all the way to the bin and sometimes they don't. They range from approximately A2 to A4 ish which I think is about 16 inches square. More "ish" than anything else. The large work sometimes becomes like tangled knitting whereas the Nuances are almost thought, and knot free. (well that's sold them then!)
Draped in diaphanous swirls of peach chiffon and tottering on tiny ballerina feet encased in jeweled slippers, an enormous woman makes her way to the microphone, centre stage.
The auditorium hushed, spotlight fixed, she focuses on a black dot somewhere in another galaxy. The music plays. She opens her mouth and a clear bright note is launched into the void. Angels unfold their wings; babies stop fretting and young maidens hold their breath.
The fat lady is definitely singing.
It is indeed, all over.
I managed a year after the new college contracts had to be signed. A Faustian pact, and one I quickly realized I couldn’t keep.
Sod this for a game of soldiers, I’m taking my bat and ball, not picking up anything I threw out of my pram, I’m off.
I’ve done 34 years of teaching, fuck me; murderers get less of a life sentence, mutter, rant, stomp!
On a slightly more mature note. I have loved most of my career, I have met some truly amazing characters, laughed constantly, been brought to tears of pride in the achievements my students have made and eaten my own body weight in chocolate chip cookies. I will miss the creative souls who have been a privilege to tutor, the vulnerable ones with the giant chip on their shoulders, the shy retiring ones who emerge from their chrysalis eventually, but most of all I will miss the gob almighty ones, the larger than life, the fighters, the ones with hearts bigger than their heads.
Teaching, or rather ranting as I call it, has given me an opportunity to bore for England on my favourite subject and actually been listened to….well, that’s what they tell me although I have my doubts occasionally. “ Have you listened to anything I said? Obviously not!”
It’s true that I have said some terrible things to my students but at least I warn them about my lack of filters. My excuse is that they do terrible things. “Please tell me you didn’t just stick that photograph down with PVA, and its not even straight!”. What did you cut this out with, a knife and fork?” “ Explain to me why this drawing of a fairy smoking a bong under a toadstool is in your mark making scrapbook!” “ Which illiterate moron did you pay to proof read this essay?”
Things I have never said,……. “That’s Nice”.
Oh God, it’s been such a joy. Some days have been so funny that I considered calling Chanel Four to see if they wanted to make a documentary about us. They probably would have taken it too seriously though, just like everyone else. Its not serious, its just life on a course that exists in a cupboard under the stairs, full of medicated nutters trying to do their best whilst holding down adult lives, part time jobs, dysfunctional families and feelings of inadequacy. And that’s just the staff.
“Your Dad is in the right place for him, you need to concentrate on the one who has no support.” She points to the tiny elderly woman tripping down the hospital corridor looking in every room. They all look the same to her. She can’t tell the difference between one fragile old soul and another.
“ Kill me now” shouts the broken individual in the bed next door to Dad, as he scratches his legs to the point of bleeding.
A woman the size of my van shouts at the patient on the other side of Dad. “GRANDAD, GRANDAD, YOUR NOSE IS DRIPPING ON YOUR SHIRT. CAN YOU HEAR ME? GRANDAD, GRANDAD”.
And so it goes on…for one and a half hours every visiting time… “GRANDAD. GRANDAD. HAVE YOU OPENED YOUR BOWELS TODAY?”
Funny the first time and vaguely amusing the second but I quickly want to kill her. Now!
“Do you want to get out of here Dad”?
“I’ll organize it.”
“Of course I didn’t see my parents fade away, they both died suddenly when I wasn’t there”. This, at least, is an acknowledgement of what she may have witnessed in the performance art involved in getting Dad the hell out of hospital, although I don’t think she saw my distress. She can’t always see what’s under her nose and its not because she isn’t wearing her glasses. Who am I to talk, neither can I?
The Enhanced Care woman arrived at 1pm. She is called Tina and she has a rugby-playing son called Sam. So do I. “if you did this to an animal”, she says, “ you’d be prosecuted for cruelty, but apparently its ok to do it to a human”. I agree. Small bonds.
She can’t lift Dad on her own. I wonder why she’s here. I help. As she leaves the room, Dad slides back down the bed and starts to cough. He coughs and coughs. He chokes and spits out blood. I do not retch, although I want to.
“Mum, these jamas you have put on Dad are like a skateboard, he keeps sliding down past the pillow, don’t you have any Velcro?”
Pathetically small jokes make the impossibly awful situation a tiny bit better. Ya think?
“Well he’s soiled all the other ones”
I don’t need to know that. I don’t need to be reminded. I saw it with my own eyes and smelt it with my own nose. This is my father we are talking about. This man who I have loved for nearly 60 years, who was conscripted into the RAF just after the war and still remembers his number, who took part in the Berlin Air Lift and returned to marry his childhood sweetheart despite both families opposition. Don’t tell me that he has “soiled” anything.
He is reduced to one room, one bed, one commode and one prognosis.
The GP comes and goes. He wants to take Dad back into hospital but Mum has been forewarned and stands her ground. She is tiny and fragile. She is exhausted, frightened and tearful. But she has dug in her hooves and she is physically blocking the door. I am overwhelmed with my pride in her. They shall not pass!
“He has lung cancer, there’s very little that we can do”.
I know this although I’m glad you said cancer as I notice that every time this information is written down it reads, “lung CA” as apparently the word “cancer” is too terrible to inscribe. He has one or two other things as well. Bronchiectasis edema, gout, enlarged prostate and pneumonia. Nothing is sufficient in itself apparently.
I get the GP to write a DNR notice. That, they can do. It’s a red bit of paper and it must sit in the front of Dad’s file. “If its not there” says Daniel, (the visiting physic), “we would have to attempt CPR should your father go into cardiac arrest”.
“ Daniel”, I say, “ if you go near my father with any electric cattle prods, you may regret it”. I’m being nice and smiling at him. He doesn’t get it.
Mum calls him David despite constant reminders of his true name. She says, “ he’s lovely”, which he is. Lovely but useless. “Daniel, between us, can we get Dad downstairs into the lounge where there’s a TV and a rugby match that I know Dad would want to watch”
“I don’t think that’s really important right now. “Your Dad’s mobility is severely impaired”.
I want to say, “then throw him down the stairs cos its New Zealand playing and it is really important to him”.
But I don’t, I just smile. My cheeks hurt from my own insincerity.
Dad sleeps through matches he would have given a lung to watch. He is fed tiny bits of gruel, which he coughs and vomits back up. The room is stiflingly hot. Dad is freezing and unbelievably thin. His skin is transparent and purple blotched. His legs are bound in white bandages as he fell trying to get up the stairs to the bedroom in which he now resides. The carpet removed the last of his steroid thinned skin from shin to thigh. Amazing how much blood the man still contains. It’s everywhere. The room smells metallic with a strong overtone of faeces.
The Para Medics arrive. They have a van with flashing lights and electric things that beep and which they attach to my father. They want to take Dad back to hospital. “No way, he’s staying here.”
Mum is clasping her hands together in the corner of the room. “They want to take Dad back into hospital”. “I know I was in the same room”. “Well, that’s not going to happen so stop worrying”. “ You are so bossy.” “ I know”.
Dad tries to open the heavy bag on his bed. He thinks he is on holiday and it’s his flight bag. Dad says “Greece was nice” and I agree with him. Dad asks me when the owners of the house are coming back. I say, “You own this house Dad”.
“But where are the children staying?” “Dad, this is your house, you are at home, I am your child and I do not live here”
“ But there is a child on the stairs”.
“No Dad, what you can see is your dressing gown on the bannisters, it’s not a child”
He is sucking the remote for the television that doesn’t work in the room to which he is confined. “Why are you doing that Dad?” “I needed a drink of water”.
“ Dad, what is the pin number for your visa card, I need to get out cash for the care team.” He tells me. Mum says, “no that’s not it” and tells me a different number. I write them both down. I try her answer, which is wrong. His is correct. I get the cash although I know they will not accept cash but I do what I’m told. “Mum, that number was wrong, Dad’s was right”. “Of course”, says Dad and quotes his conscription number from which he has derived his pin and salutes me. I salute him back. “Present and correct Sir”.
I spend £3 on a paper and another paper I find called “Rugby News”. Dad takes it off me and puts on his reading glasses. I leave as he is reading commentary on Robshaws recent performance. “Dad is so much better; he’s a different person since you came”.
Should have thrown him down the stairs in my honest opinion.
At 5.15pm on Tuesday the third of June, Valhalla welcomed another soul. One whose earthly body had four legs. He was aided in this journey, by his human friends, as the death he chose for himself was too cruel for them to bear. Sam stayed with him as he made his final journey and later dug through 3 foot of conifer roots to bury him.
The mice will return, so will the squirrels (who laughed at him). I expect the rats will make a come back but they were never in danger from T.C, he was far too lazy to threaten them. The crows, seagulls and pigeons who maraud the front garden will have no reason to watch warily from the roof and the little ginger tomcat who has been visiting recently has no idol to gaze at from a safe distance.
Rescued from abandonment in an inner city tenement, T.C had the nerve to spend 15 years sneering at home cooked organic chicken from his perch atop a red velvet cushion wedged against a boiling radiator. He did what he liked and didn’t give a toss what anyone thought of him.
No more grumpy hungry face at the door as soon as you put your key in the lock.
No more endless pestering for food, the tap of incoming paws on the kitchen tiles as soon as the wrapper comes off the chicken.
I can sleep soundly in my bed knowing that I will not be woken at 3am with relentless plucking at my duvet so that I am forced to stagger up, open the back door and suggest “kindly” that pesky puss goes out even though he has already changed his mind
I can eat my toast at 6am and not have to watch (“stinky pinky”), cat one leg stuck in the air, licking his genitals.
There are no more howling draughts as every door in the house surrenders to feline head butting, gapes open and is never shut.
Sam will get a full nights sleep as the scratching of claws on his bedroom door has stopped.
I will not hear, “FUCK OFF T.C!” bellowed into the midnight air ever again.
All is quiet on the western front. Peace at last. Hmmm….
And so my beautiful, handsome feline friend, I dedicate all my latest “Illumination” series of paintings to you. May your utter contempt for everything shine a light for others to follow. I love you.
"In Memoria. T.C." I have no idea how big this is but i will measure it tomorrow. i think its about 3 ft square. I painted it when T.C was fading. Goodnight Top Cat.
"East" with sams hands, don,t like her much, stupid grin/clown smile. moved onto the North.
Those of us that have been medicated to control our personal demons are getting a bit suspicious.. What we suspect is this, why aren’t the “normal” people medicated to fit in with us?
It’s easier to prescribe drugs than it is to change the individual’s position in society and their own personal environment. The constant visual bombardment of duplicities supported by self-aggrandisement on multi-media platforms is enough to make any sane person weep. What it achieves is wholly negative. You are an outcast in British society if you smoke, don’t have a job, speak a foreign language as your first, are overweight, claim benefits, are old, etc etc. You can be an outcast for just about anything, anywhere. Having an inappropriate accent, not going to a public school, not having read Dickens, Chaucer and Shakespeare, or in reverse, sounding “posh”, admitting to inherited wealth and not watching soaps on the TV, (or for that matter, not knowing what they are). There is literally no end to the methodologies we use to put each other down and separate individuals into “them and us” whilst embracing “cultural diversity and empathy “workshops at every turn. It has been suggested to me that I am prescribed drugs to level me out, to enable me to function in society, to make me less Tigger versus Eyore. What I am suspicious of is that “levelling me out” is akin to allowing mediocrity to become the default position to which we all aspire.
If you are reading this and thinking “she should try exercise, tai chi, yoga, drumming, meditation, cognitive behaviour therapy and any other self improvement method from a very full list. Keep those thoughts to yourself or your own blog. I have tried them all on the grounds that apparently they would make me a “better” person, i.e fit in with other middle-class middle-aged white folk. Now I take the drugs and paint.
I understand. I know I’m a bit much. Too loud, too opinionated, too forthright blah blah blah. Even now when I am a shadow of my former self I see people having to re adjust and gather themselves when I speak to them. That’s why I rarely speak to anyone if I can help it. If I ask you a question , I want an answer, is that too much to ask? The eyes of a persecuted rabbit look back at me. Still waiting pal, hurry it along there I don’t have all day, and I don’t want the formulaic answer I want the truth so no hiding behind a script given you by Mr. Mediocrity and his “web masters”.
Clevedon 10.20am Friday Sound of pneumatic drill and building work at the dentists.
Me to receptionist. Question, “Will you be getting rid of that door?”
Sub text, oh no the beautiful gothic arched door with the huge black hinges.... I love it!
Answer, “no but it won’t open in the future unless it is used as an emergency exit for office staff”.
Sub text, who is this loud woman with her crazy socks and attitude, why is she asking about a door?
Question “so I won’t be coming thru it anymore?”.
Sub text, why would I want to come here if that door goes or isn’t the entrance, that’s the whole point of coming here, if that door goes do I go as well? I love that door.
Answer “the entrance will be in the basement area which provides better access for our disabled patients”
Sub text, I don’t have time for this; I have paper to file and a screen to stare at. I will hit her with the disabled access thing, which will shut her up.
Question. “Is it listed?”
Sub text. Don’t get rid of the door. Surely something as beautiful as that door must have some legislation attached to it. You can’t put a modern door on a Victorian gothic mansion, it would be a hanging offence. Maybe if I’m nice they will let me buy it. I can’t afford it. I can’t lift it. I have nowhere that needs a door like that. I could make a place that needs a door like that. I have no money so what am I talking about. I love everything about that door, I love its hinges and its handle and its black studded face. I love the stained glass behind it and the tiled floor at its feet, don’t hurt it. What do you mean an emergency exit? Office staff? This is the dentist? What are all these new signs in here, it looks like a corporation has taken over, what are they selling in here? There’s a sign above the desk about cosmetic treatments, is there no escape from this shit. I’m going to have to re think my entire position about this dentist. Oh god I think too much why can’t my brain just shut up for 5 minutes. There are magazines over there, cross the room and pick one up. I haven’t brought my glasses and I can’t read Country Life, I just cant. Why are these places always heated so that you can’t breathe? Over compensating for the fact that the big heavy door won’t shut I expect.
Answer. “I’m sure all the regulations have been adhered to and the proper planning procedures addressed.”
Sub text. OMG, she’s come back at me with a planning permission threat, what are they like these Clevedonites? All this fuss about a door, it lets all the cold air in anyway, horrid thing, it doesn’t shut properly.
Question. “Hmmm yeah?”
Sub text she thinks I’m going to check their planning permission, does she really think I care about that. I better shut up, sulk, not sure I want to come here if that door goes, where is the nice receptionist, next time I come I will book for one of her days, she will tell me the truth.
The answer to my question is “ no you will not be walking through that stunning gothic arched oak front door with the huge black hinges ever again, you will forced like every other minion to find your way to a wide, double glazed self opening travesty of a door with a big blue button on the side and you will weep and wonder why you bother to come here. You need time to grieve because somehow in your self obsessed way you have made a connexion between the loss of a door and all the other losses currently closing in on you. You have taken this too personally.
In the end, everything is personal.
Queen of the North. i like her, she can stay, she may even get a frame. look, no hands!!
The college I work for has grown so much and so fast that the right hand no longer knows what the left hand is doing and consequently has decided to cut it off.
I am left handed, left eyed; left footed and politically left of centre. The axe is poised over my head.
Actually its been there for a long time but the executioner must be on a fag break cos I think its resting between my axis and the atlas bones. It’s making it difficult for me to breathe and move but I have at least got used to the weight. This axe has been used to remove the heads of faculties, heads of curriculum and now the heads of men and women who like me are not prepared to sign the latest “treaty” that will make the fantasy budgetary elastic band snap back.
When one round of bloody executions are over the blade is re sharpened in what is known as “a consultation document”. Management writes silly clauses into an agreed (amongst themselves), set of measures and the unions get the opportunity to play Hunt the Thimble.
“In this contract where you have removed holiday entitlement, lengthened working hours, lessened monthly payments and increased workload annually by 30% each year for the foreseeable future, we have found a clause whereby you expect the lecturing staff to clock in and out and wear a corporate uniform!”
“We will fight for our rights and get those latter clauses removed!”
Which they will.
Hurrah for them.
That’s a negotiated contract and I’m probably going to be offered the opportunity to sign it if I both apply for and am successful in my application for the job I have been doing for over 20 years.
The only individual who expects or wants me to apply for such a position is the manager of my bank account and mortgage who doesn’t yet have the staff to set out foreclosure notifications to Fag End Lodge, (home to the Cawley’s for oooh, ages).
I don’t keep up with all the political developments in tertiary education any more. I used to but once I had seen the same ideas regurgitated many times as “the latest thing” with the same outcomes, I lost interest. So that’s my potential interview strategy blown out of the water. I know what the problems are though because I have a brain.
I never go to the staffroom, its miles away from where I work and once you have 20 medicated and dedicated art students working with irons, soldering equipment, razor blades and cardboard boxes, only a fool would leave the room. I have an excellent H&S record; I’d like to keep it that way.
Actually I trudge up those stairs about twice a year with a bit of A4 paper in my hand. This week it was 8 bits of paper that didn’t need printing and which contained information that could easily have been obtained by checking the registers but NO, the principal ship decreed that every lecturer should print off all their registers and check them manually, initial them, cart them up to their designated admin centre and place them in a wire tray from whence they can be collected, checked over and re entered into a data base somewhere in the Ethernet to be crooned over by people who would produce yet another set of statistics that would be altered to prove the thesis of whomsoever is flavour of the month.
Yep we don’t have as many students as we need to keep the number of staff currently employed by the said college to continue with their vast salaries. I suspect, (ironic), we have a funding, direction, priority, logistical nightmare to overcome.
We also have a staff moral problem. Ya think!
If I shifted all the college paperwork off my home computer I would release enough memory to hack every PC in Europe. Just coming off my “calm the fuck down” and “cheer the fuck up” drugs would save me £20 per month.
“See it as a challenge, an opportunity”.
Well call me a socialist but I think tertiary education requires a massive overhaul.
Reverse the pyramid.
Who is the most important person in the college? The principal? NO. The student is the most important person. Then the staff that facilitate the students journey through education. The lecturers, the cleaning staff, the canteen staff, the librarians and the people who fix the software and hardware. The students don’t care who the head of faculty is. They wouldn’t recognize them if they fell over them in the corridor. They sure as hell have no idea who the principal is and more to the point they would question their salary of £150,0000 plus on the grounds of “what is your relevance to my education” and couldn’t your salary be better used to buy some tablets that weren’t warm grey, weigh a ton and have the memory of a small gnat
Walk thru the door, sign up for a course, you get an ipad; the software is in the cloud. Leave the course and we disable it all. Empty the computer rooms put some state of the art practical workshops in those rooms and put 100% of the programme online. Film every lecture that the STUDENTS reported worth attending. Staff sessions with inspirational tutors who make the students WANT to drive/bus and walk into college. Get the best, pay them a small fortune, give them prestige, use the available social media networks that are free, chuck out boring Blackboard, no one gives a shit about it. Stop putting endless passwords and limits between the student and their learning experience. There is NO SUCH THING AS COPYRIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO EDUCATION.
Turn the college into a free and open meeting space for individuals to swap, share and discuss. We want to learn how to FIX, DO, MAKE, DESIGN, and relate our creations to 21st century technology. Flip the classroom whenever possible. Tell the students what to study at home with a cuppa so that seminars and workshops can facilitate a deeper shared consensus and a SKILL BASE. For gods sake move into the 21st century before it closes around us all in a dark cloud.
Make the library 100x bigger, pack it to the rafters with every conceivable method of studying and keep it open 24/7. Bring in swipe cards that give students access to areas designated appropriate by individual learning programmes written by clever lecturers who actually know how their specialist study area works in the real world.
Remove the words “corporate” and “mission statement” from everything.
Let the teachers teach and give them brilliant admin back up so that no teacher is forced to sit in front of a computer filling in data that would be better done by someone whose job it is. Stop tolerating appalling student behavior on the grounds of inclusivity, diversity, apathy and fear.
Students outside my base room, trousers around thighs, scooter helmets perched upon empty heads, gobbing on the pavements and speaking in a language called “Hard”, just gave 50% of my group a chest infection or TB!
If you don’t really want this education, knowledge, life changing experience, opportunity for which we have all paid a fortune…. Then fuck off.
And then hide so that you can’t be found because if you are no use to this country and merely a drain on its resources, “The Management” has plans for you too. And after you, they will be coming for me. Think Black Death and the Peasants Revolt. I am Watt Tyler and the blade as I mentioned is already poised.
Principals earning nearly £200k ignite union fury over pay divide Add as favourite Last updated 30 April 2010, created 23 April 2010, viewed 5,856
A pay increase of more than 40 per cent in a year has catapulted West Nottinghamshire College principal Asha Khemka into the position of highest-earning college leader.
With a salary of £197,000 in 2008/09, she edged ahead of the former top earner, Newcastle College’s Jackie Fisher, by just More…
Average principal pay rose by 5.7 per cent between 2007/08 and 2008/09, according to FE Focus’s analysis of college accounts.
The University and College Union (UCU) said that salaries had risen more than twice as fast as lecturers’ wages over eight years. But West Nottinghamshire governors said Mrs Khemka was worth the pay rise.
Jean Hardy, chair of governors at the college, said: “Under Asha’s leadership we’ve grown to become one of the largest and best-performing colleges in the sector. She was instrumental in us achieving our ‘outstanding’ Ofsted status and our turnover has increased by almost 50 per cent.”
College accounts stretching back eight years show the gap between the lowest- and highest-paid principals is also increasing. In 2002, the bottom 25 per cent earned £37,000 less than the top quartile. Last year, the gap rose to £60,000.
The pay divide is accompanied by a similar gap in college income, suggesting it is driven partly by the emergence of large “super-colleges”. The top five institutions have a combined income almost equal to the bottom 80.
Other high earners, such as Barnfield College principal Pete Birkett, who is paid £184,000 according to the accounts, lead federations with responsibility for other institutions.
The latest accounts for 2008/09 also reveal how much colleges are willing to pay to get out of trouble: City College Birmingham paid former Association of Colleges’ chief executive David Gibson £186,000 in consultancy fees as interim principal, plus £33,000 in VAT, to turn them around after a failing Ofsted grade.
New principal Stuart Cutforth said: “Ofsted’s recent monitoring visit shows that he did a magnificent job - demonstrating reasonable progress in all areas. We also enjoyed the best enrolment performance for many years, along with improved retention.”
And the relatively small Weston College pays principal Paul Phillips £179,000 according to the accounts, but it credits him with eliminating “enormous” debts and poor academic performance.
A UCU analysis of pay in general FE colleges since 2001 found salaries for teaching staff had risen from an average of nearly £28,000 to more than £34,000, but that principals’ earnings increased at twice the rate, reaching just under £120,000 from less than £76,000 eight years earlier.
At tertiary colleges, average principals’ pay was £113,000, while it was £94,000 at sixth-form colleges. The figures also reveal that the number of principals earning over £150,000 doubled in a year to 28.
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said colleges needed to justify why principals’ pay was rising so much quicker than other staff.
“We believe colleges need to be upfront about why principals are enjoying such bumper rises compared to teaching staff,” she said.
“This is especially important now when so many frontline workers are getting real-terms pay cuts and thousands of jobs are at risk.”
Highest paid leaders
Source: LSC College Accounts 2008/09.
Downloads and web links Need help viewing resource files? Reviews (3) Add a review Comment Report or delete comment Rating Execute the heads, shoot the deputies, euthanase the assistant heads and you may have over £500,000 in the pot in many schools. Put the saved money in a pile and burn it.
I think most schools would then be better run and that schools would be run by consensus and teaching methods and courses would not have to follow the latest trend, but would follow and evolve along the most efficient and tested paths. Many, very many, managers have been promoted well beyond their levels of competence (all, I would say at my school - bless them, they are not a very clever bunch and seem to be time-servers, lick-spittles, bullies, box-tickers and trend/jargon experts who promote spineless foetuses who need to carbon copy their every move, decision or dispute).
from John Peel, 28 April 2010 (report comment)
Will someone explain how a Principal is worth between 6 and 8 times the salary of a main grade lecturer? With inflated on-costs (higher pension payments/contributions and bonuses) for SMT members the actual multiple is much higher.
No one can stop them anyway so what is the point in discussion?
from t.binkley, 26 April 2010 (report comment)
Pay increase!! what pay increase lecturers at the college i work at haven't had a pay rise since 08 and we are not on 34k a year, we are on 32k so we are falling more and more behind. The cost of living hasn't stayed still since 08, its about time college lecturers are paid what they are worth, If we don't teach the student and run the course's the fat cats at the top won't be on the salary they are on.
from s2snailum, 26 April 2010 (report comment)
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