Sunday, 25 April 2010

Factory farming

One thing I have done for years is to treat the students who are about to do their GCSEs and A'levels to a great deal of my time and effort at this time of year. For instance, they do past paper questions and I promise to mark them with plenty of feedback and give them back in double quick time, the harder they work the more I do for them. I know I'm not alone in this.

I'm just pigged off that increasingly, the examination season never seems to end and as year 10s and 12s are also doing modules, you end up working your tripe off for half the school. Gone are the days when being in the lower sixth (year 12) meant plenty of amateur dramatics, French literature for fun in the lunch times, heaps of time with a sketchbook in the Platt Fields Costume museum or the Whitworth Art Gallery, and falling in love with a long dead poet. And then there were the less wholesome times spent in seedy clubs pretending you were over 18 and really interested in the latest mordant Punk or French gipsy rap artists....and that was just the science geeks like me. You concentrated on your subjects in the upper sixth, the lower sixth was when you grazed in a meadow of untold variety and riches, unfettered by targets and examinations that "mattered". Ho hum.

Some bright spark here even wants the year 9s to be doing GCSE modules.

Give them a break, give me a break.

Anyone would think the only reason why school exists is to prepare students for examination.....It isn't why I go to school. I'm so tired of it all.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

What do you read with your porridge?

We’ve been struggling a bit recently to find a decent newspaper to read. DH has always been a Guardian reader and I come from a Guardian reading household. My parents even had a letter published in this newspaper many years ago in response to Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech. We also have some loyalty to the rag as Mancs in exile. The paper was once upon a time the “Manchester Guardian”, it had a proud tradition of independence, it had supported Catholic emancipation and up North, seemed to be the cleric’s paper of choice.

The journalistic standards in the Guardian have certainly slipped since the days when thoroughly decent men like the late Hugo Young wrote for it. We now only get the rag on Saturdays and get the Telegraph through the week. We found the relentless Catholic bashing in the Guardian indefensible, it just displays willful ignorance on the part of the journalists involved.

This is not a good time to judge if the Telegraph is any better. Political bias is clouding everything and quite frankly I so thoroughly disapprove of “personality-cult politics”, just opening a paper seems to send me hypo.

For me there are only two really important sections in a newspaper, firstly the obituaries (which Sherlock Holmes style, I always read first) and secondly the letters page. I’m worried how at home I feel in the letter’s page of the Telegraph, amongst the analogue radio boffins, retired colonels and old school masters. Does this say something about me? Perhaps I belong in a world that smells of tweed, pipe smoke, whiskey and warm valves? Or is it just that such a world offers some comfort and forms a bulwark against the onslaught of meaningless images of politicians’ wives, men in ties and nearly naked celebrities?

I was going to write a bit about something I read in today’s Guardian that nearly curdled my porridge and my brain. It involved someone who felt able to justify a distrust in Distributism because he claimed that Chesterton and Belloc were delusional in their defence of pre-reformation society, were supporters of Mussolini, oh and they belonged to the same group as Eric Gill so they must be perverts too.

On the positive side, all this journalistic tripe is making the pile of marking I have to wade through look more appealing.

Friday, 16 April 2010

No volcanic ash here

Just in case anyone over here is missing objects that go off into the sky. This is an awesome bit of video, slow motion take-off of Apollo XI, from way back when (well to geeky scientists like me it's fab even if I have no time for the space program).

H/T Physics teacher friends

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Of beads and Bishops...

Update: Sitemeter tells me only 1 in 40 of your are clicking on the link for the Rosary for Bishops......oh dear, oh dear, oh can't even be bothered to check it out and see if it is bona fide. Dear Reader, are any of us reading what the other is writing? What is the point in this blogging lark?

BTW: on my other campaign..this year so far, 2 Bishops met and 2 episcopal rings kissed.

You may have noticed a new addition to my sidebar, a link to a site that encourages us to say a rosary for the Bishop of our choice. You can choose to say it daily, weekly or monthly, and they will remind you by e-mail when your rosary is due. At present the UK Bishops only have a handful of bead bidders praying for them....MAKE A DIFFERENCE, make your pledge and get promoting this on your blogs.

click on the picture below to find out more
Rosary for the Bishop

You may not share my obsession with the holiness of our Bishops, but you have to admit this is very important.

On the subject of the priesthood in general, can I encourage you to read Ad Catholici Sacerdotii (1935) by Pope Pius XI. Here is a flavour of its content: very wise words...

A last tribute to the priesthood is given by the enemies of the Church. For as We have said on a previous page, they show that they fully appreciate the dignity and importance of the Catholic priesthood, by directing against it their first and fiercest blows; since they know well how close is the tie that binds the Church to her priests. The most rabid enemies of the Catholic priesthood are today the very enemies of God; a homage indeed to the priesthood, showing it the more worthy of honor and veneration.

Monday, 12 April 2010

It's life, Jim....

I feel like this...

mentally and physically I have the robustness of one of these....

I've finally got some treatment...

But all round the doctors are as much use as a....

But I am learning something quite profound in all this. Optimism and hope are as far away from each other as earth is from heaven. (Something the Church has been learning painfully over the last 40 years) There is simply no room for optimism in any of this, but the Lord is my strength and my hope.

OK, pedants, I know that once we get to heaven only Love survives of the 3 theological virtues, as Faith and Hope become redundant. All I know is that Hope is heaven sent and has nothing whatsoever to do with optimism....

Thursday, 8 April 2010


I don't think I'm alone, in fact I know I am not alone in finding the Mass of Holy Thursday the most profoundly moving part of the Triduum. Of course this is wrong, of course the Resurrection should be the focus of our emotions and the summit of our prayer life...but somehow, when that altar is stripped on the night of Holy Thursday and the watching commences, every year I'm gripped with the same profound sense of loss, of waiting, of deep sorrow and deeper love. It never fails to be a truly significant event.

Of course this Mass has enormous significance, it is the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the instigation of the Eucharist and the instigation of the new priesthood, and it is the only Mass that has no ending due to its deep mystical union with the events of the following day.

But it just can't be right to find this the most deeply moving part of the Triduum.

One name has been ringing in my ears this Easter, Jonah.

It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. (Mat 12:39)

That is us and that is our sign, the sign we cling to, the sanctuary becoming like the belly of the whale; stripped of its light and stripped of its dignity, Our Lord is not there.

Furthermore, read on in the story of Jonah. Was Jonah pleased with the astounding victory God worked through him in making the people of Nineveh repent? He was not pleased, he wanted some divine fireworks thrown at these people.

Maybe we just can not get to feeling the real significance of the Resurrection because, like Jonah, we think we know what God ought to do, how He ought to behave and how He ought to make us feel.

Not that there is anything wrong with clinging to our sign and the hope it contains.