Surprising turns

Now the majority of blog/vlog sites are single subject affairs. People talk about the one thing that really interests them be it fashion, celebrity, make-up, football, politics, animals, cooking…whatever. And from what I can see, the more focused you are the more likely you are to become a billionaire by the age of 25.  But all you really know about is lipstick. I do wonder if Jamie Oliver ever wants to talk about his interest in, say, Southend United or tortoises or Northern Soul music instead of fucking food recipes. Do you ever think he gets bored out of his box whilst counting his £millions? You’re probably right – nah.

But I’m not like that. Firstly I’m a little way off millionaire status. I also have to be in the mood to write and as regular readers will know, I can go for months being uninspired and produce nothing. Other times, like at the moment, I get the bug a bit.  I’m sure Jamie must be under pressure to keep producing (or maybe re-hashing?) cooking ideas all the time. Like all of the the celeb chefs he’s done the Italy thing to death, ditto Far Eastern recipes, Middle Eastern flavours, classic American, North African, eastern Mediterranean, Baltic bites, Aussie barbie snacks, German sausages, French haute cuisine, rustic Spanish, Icelandic saltfish nibbles, Cajun specialities, Argentinian meat favourites and Scottish smoked fish dishes. I sense an increasingly desperate production company suggesting culinary tours of Tristan da Cunha to him. God, he must think, I just want to have a heated pork pie and beans made by that lazy bitch Jules for a fucking change. I’m reciped out. Please leave me alone!!!

Steady Jamie. You see how single subjects can get stultifying. But hey dear readers you are spared that slavishly relentless topic focus. Because each and every time I come to my desktop and start a blog posting I haven’t a clue what I’m going to write about  other than a wee germ of an idea which otherwise has no relevance to the previous posting, any evidence, nor usually any ending in mind. I’m being very honest with you. I’m writing this not knowing if I’m going to come to any significant point where you might say hey that’s an interesting perspective that I haven’t really thought about before and now I feel inspired to respond in writing myself to strongly challenge your thinking or vehemently agree with it. Or you just think that’s a pile of crap.

But I kinda like just sitting at the machine, flexing my fingers whilst a random thought pops into my mind about useless football commentators or sweets from my childhood or rustic wines of Italy or people on tv who annoy me or the best nicknames ever or whether to skin potatoes before cooking.  And then I start typing and somehow a story emerges. And occasionally something interesting emerges and I’m surprised by how nicely many of them are received.

This blog site has over a 1000 postings now and it’s become a real pot pourri of subjects, targets and themes. That’s because I’m not really an expert in anything to be honest apart from having an opinion about stuff. It is, my wife thinks, my endearing quality and my greatest fault. Nothing passes by without me passing judgement. But I think at least I have a point of view and, hey, you don’t have to agree with me.  I just put stuff out there because I can. And if I am ever critical (or even nice and complimentary at times),  I do try and express why. I’d hate to be thought of as some troll hiding behind my keyboard spreading vitriol mindlessly.

However whilst random and often opinionated, I do hope that my postings ultimately make sense.  That there’s a kind of logic in place, hopefully signifying that an idea has been developed and thought through. That they conform to a certain pattern, a particular belief system. A set of values that I hold dear I suppose. And this had led me to the topic for this posting. I’m a great believer in giving praise where praise is due. One thing this coronavirus thing has shown is how undervalued many people have been until now. The wonderful NHS staff of course, many of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice for unselfishly carrying on. But it’s also loads of hitherto unsung people who have been working to keep our highly restricted society going – like shop workers, delivery guys, bus drivers, council staff, emergency services people, and teachers who have been attending schools doing lessons for the kids of key workers whilst organising home schooling sessions and somehow getting things ready for a tricky resumption. They often get stick for their holiday entitlements on full pay but they’ve really bloody earned it  this time.  And this is a very personal teaching story, one set 3,500 miles away.

You see our grandchildren in New York are both attending schools there now. Last year elder grandson E was attending a pre-K (like a nursery) class headed up by this very charismatic teacher called Mr Josh. This year E moved up to the first grade at a new school whilst younger grandson N entered Mr Josh’s class.  He really is a larger than life New York character, incredibly dedicated and we’ve met him and his teaching assistant Miss Y on several times on our trips to NYC whilst taking or collecting the boys from school.  The boys have always enjoyed his classes; everyday seems like an adventure. And we know this because every day we’ve been receiving a video clip (we’re members of a closed user group of parents and grandparents)  of the things they’ve been getting up to. And you have to believe me when I say that everyday he comes up with projects that look tremendously stimulating and engaging. The kids seem to love it and there’s a real bonhomie amongst the children and the parents – who are encouraged to be active supporters of classroom activity and they all seem to like and respect him too.

Whilst this covid thing’s been happening  he and Miss Y have been organising home schooling stuff whilst still sending unseen clips of the kids from earlier in the year just to make us all feel connected I guess. Anyway a few weeks ago the decision was taken that schools in New York would remain closed until the new Autumn term at the earliest. So it would mean the kids wouldn’t complete their year under his tutelage, which was a bit sad. So my daughter S and a few of the mums decided to do a tribute video to Mr Josh and Miss Y from the kids in the class all separately filmed from their homes and stitched together by S I think (or at least one or two of the mums) with a nice soundtrack added and some lovely words. It was very moving and Mr Josh and Miss Y were blown away by it. He’s a big fellah but easily moved to tears we’re told. S sent us a copy of the video and it was great. So we started chatting and I convinced Carol that it might be an idea for us to do a little piece to camera and send it to S so she could send it on to them on our behalf. Just a little tribute saying how much we’d enjoyed following the daily clips and our occasional meet ups at the school and how much we admired his (their) approach and that we were so proud at how much our grandchildren had come on under his thoughtful and caring guidance. Carol said she’d have loved to have been 4 year old again being taught by him and we ended by saying something about him being a real inspiration and that we hoped many more children will enjoy following our grandsons in his class.

Now we had lovely message back from Miss Y really quickly thanking us ever so much for the film and the kind words but just a message from Mr Josh to the effect that he’d be writing to us in due course. We hadn’t heard anything more which is fine, we appreciate folks are busy. Then we had this zoom call with our daughter just the other day as it was a special birthday for her and, although we had flights booked, we weren’t able to go there and celebrate with them all because of this damn covid 19. During the conversation she said oh guess what, your video has gone down a storm. Apparently it’s been showcased around the school officials and staff and has now been sent to the Chancellor (?) for Education for NYC. Gosh. I think it was my son-in-law S who said you know what’s gonna happen next – Trump will probably seize upon it and show it at a press briefing as proof that even people in the UK admire his amazing leadership during this crisis. Ha! Do you know, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Anyway the point is we do sincerely hope Mr Josh and Miss Y get some recognition out of this perhaps. We didn’t do it for any reason other than to say thank you personally as caring grandparents. But sometimes things have a way of surprising you in the way they turn out, a bit like these postings.

Thank you again guys.

pp and c


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