A brief history of my thoughts about history

Recently I saw a video about how they do education in Finland. It’s impressive. So much so that, at the time, I promised myself I’d read more about it (or watch more videos). To date I’ve failed to keep that promise, but that’s not the point.

The point is that the Finns put a lot of emphasis on kids discovering: how to learn; what they want to learn; what makes them happy; what they might be good at. They still cover the full spectrum of arts and sciences (in fact, they seem to manage to cover subjects we’ve dropped from our own schools because there’s not enough time or it’s not deemed “relevant” enough). Anyhow, it made me think back to my own schooldays. (And, yes, this is where the history bit comes in, and not just because my schooldays are now quite a long way back in history…)

I was what would typically be called “academic” or “bright”. I did well in tests and exams. I worked hard. I handed my homework in on time. I got my O levels, my A levels and then a degree and later on another degree. And all that education opened doors of employment for me, as it’s supposed to do. I’m grateful for that. My employment, and my home life, have been “strong and stable”, to coin a current phrase.

But.

My schooldays were good but not your classic “happiest days of your life”.

I worked hard. Once I got to 14 or so I would get home from school and work till 9 p.m. most nights. I did the homework because that’s what needed to be done. I did have friends but, as I watched that Finland video, I began to wonder if I’d missed out on friendship or doing other activities because of the time I spent studying.

And two other things struck me as I looked back. First, I never had a clue what I liked or wanted to do. I knew I could understand maths and physics and was good at homework or passing exams – but that’s not what I’m talking about. Through several decades in work, I’ve never really been sure what I wanted to do.

Second, I asked myself what my gut reaction was to the question, “What subject did you most enjoy at school?”. Answer: History. (Told you we’d get to it.)

history-funI did history to O level. My teacher (Chris Rowe) was disappointed because I only scored a grade B, and I didn’t want to do it at A level. And yet it’s what came to mind 39 years later when I asked myself what I’d enjoyed most. Why? Well, words like “interesting” and “fascinating” spring to mind, but if I dig a little deeper, it has something to do with a concept of my connection to those historical events – “a sense of history”, if you will.

Our curriculum covered “modern” British and European history, starting with the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and ending with World War Two. (Nowadays, my schooldays period – the seventies – would have to be in that curriculum too!) I liked finding out what happened and why, and seeing how one thing led to another. I didn’t like writing essays about it – but I did it, naturally. Today I still like that finding out (or, more accurately, being told – normally by a presenter on a TV documentary). But I find it especially fascinating (there I go again) when I can make a link to my own history or my life today.

Take World War One, for instance. Although further in the past than WW2, I feel a stronger link to it because both my grandfather and my Great Uncle Ernest fought in it. Although Uncle Ernest was killed, my grandfather survived and went on to have my dad. (Of course, if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t be reading this and we’d all end up in a space-time paradox.) That knowledge does something to me. And I still remember Chris Rowe teaching us how the Versailles Treaty at the end of WW1 sowed the seeds for WW2, a conflict that ended a mere 17 years before yours truly appeared on the scene.

Back to Finland, then. Does any of this mean I should have been a historian? I doubt it – but, then again, I’m approaching the time of life where I may have the chance to do different things, so who knows? I do know that I’m a habitual diary writer and like to look back, muse on what’s gone before in The Life Of Me, and even (sometimes) learn stuff from doing so. Chris Rowe started our 4th form history lessons by defining history as something like:

The art of looking at the past in the light of the present to learn lessons for the future.

So maybe I am a historian after all! I’m going to try to contact Chris Rowe to let him know.

 

Photo Post: Vivid colours in Queen’s Park, Loughborough

Image

A while back I replaced my 2006 Canon Ixus 800 with…a newer model Canon Ixus. This time it's the 265 HS. It's still a compact, but with higher resolution, more optical zoom and a bunch of novelty effects. One of them is called Vivid Colour, and like the colour picker, it's become a favourite gimmick of mine 🙂

This shot was taken at a low angle looking over the top of a flowerbed and the colours were genuinely fairly bright – although admittedly not as bright as Vivid Colour makes them look. The end result is quite exotic-looking. I don't care that it's not “accurate”; it makes me smile.

Opinion tends to be divided over applying “effects”, whether in the camera or in post-processing. In the end it's a matter of taste; do you like my exotic flowers?

 

The Dad Diaries Chapter 4: In which shirts are ironed but neither passion nor purpose are discovered

Thursday, 27th January, 2005

The news said it’s 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. One of those sobering “Lest we forget” moments.

It would seem disrespectful to write anything else today.

Friday, 28th January, 2005

I did the ironing. Not quite as momentous as yesterday’s anniversary, I grant you, but still, in its own way, remarkable. Why? Because it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not only Wise Middle-Aged Man but also distinctly New Man. He loves his kids (and frequently tells them so, especially in public – which they particularly appreciate although claiming to find it “embarrassing”); he’s as ready to push the vacuum cleaner as the lawnmower; and now, he can de-crease even “proper” shirts with a vengeance.

 

Monday, 31st January, 2005

Joe came round to give Sarah more maths tutoring. Allegedly. Spent 34 minutes figuring out how to casually walk through the dining room giving Joe a hard stare without Sarah spotting it.

Jack, on the other hand, asked me what I thought the purpose of life was and what the church was for. Such a joy to be able to teach one’s child the ways of the Lord. Or, at least, it would have been if I’d said anything that made the slightest bit of sense. After a couple of minutes Jack remembered he had to load some music onto his newly-arrived MP3 player.

Wednesday, 2nd February, 2005

New month! New ideas! Time to leave the January Blues behind! Rejoice! Enjoy life!

We’re thinking about going to see Les Miserables.

Friday, 4th February, 2005

It was the first session of the Finding Your Place in the Kingdom of Our Righteous God and Playing Your Part in the Spreading of His Glorious Gospel course at church. The topic was discovering your passion. Didn’t discover my passion, although the Garibaldi biscuits were a pleasant surprise.

What am I passionate about? What drives me? What gets me out of bed in the morning? Not sure that being quite keen on holidays in Cornwall is what they’re getting at.

Tuesday, 8th February, 2005

Sarah took part in Police cadet training in a local shopping centre, acting the part of a disrespectful rowdy youth. I know she’s keen on drama but she seemed to enjoy the chance to steal a police officer’s helmet whilst swearing just a little bit too much. I’ve just paid her bail. (Note to diary: that was a joke.)

Shrove Tuesday. Naturally we all had shroves. (Note to diary: another joke. I should do this for a living.)

 

The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.

 

 

 

 

The Dad Diaries Chapter 3: In which an MP3 player fails to arrive and the gospel is preached

Monday, 17th January, 2005

Jack said he had a boring day at school. I said I’d had a boring day at work. Other family members didn’t comment on how boring (or otherwise) their day had been.

On the other hand, F. did report that a colleague at work had had their house vandalised. We were suitably appalled and prayed for fire to rain down from heaven and consume the culprits. (Although we also requested that the fire would be at a safe distance from the house, in order to prevent further damage.)

Tuesday, 18th January, 2005

Jack was crestfallen when the postman again failed to deliver his eagerly-awaited MP3 player from eBay. F. is also waiting for an MP3 player from eBay, but being an adult her degree of crestfallen-ness was naturally much lower.

We attended a church house group where the “ice-breaker” consisted of sharing your opinions of President George W. Bush. The main opinion we came away with was that as an exercise in sharing something about yourself and learning something about others it was an unmitigated failure.

Wednesday, 19th January, 2005

I announced to the family that since it’s now post-Christmas we are officially allowed to discuss where we want to go on holiday this year. We need to get our skates on, given that we only have 7 months to decide.

Saturday, 22nd January, 2005

It’s cold. I have a headache. And I worked until lunchtime. On. A. Saturday.

On the other hand, we had F.’s parents round for chippy takeaway and games of Uno and Pass The Pigs. Both exceedingly fine games of skill, judgement and strategy. (When I win. If I lose, it’s just down to luck.)

opplanet-encross-wave-x-wv-430c-512mb-digital-audio-mp3-player-wv430cF.’s MP3 player arrived, much to the dismay of a by now extra-crestfallen Jack, who remains MP3 player-less and must console himself with old-fashioned CDs or humming to himself.

Monday, 24th January, 2005

Sarah had her TB jab. It hurt. She was consoled by our visit to the Town Hall to see Jesus Christ Superstar, featuring, it seems, one of her teachers.

For some sound educational reason Jack has to find pictures of a rhino’s back on the Internet. He’s drawn a picture of a boy crying uncontrollably. I think it’s the MP3 player thing.

Tuesday, 25th January, 2005

Met Dave Morrison near Morrison’s (co-incidence or what?). He didn’t remember me so I had to remind him we met at the German evening class two years ago. He then told me about various health and financial troubles he had. Moved by the Spirit, I told him Jesus cared about all that stuff and wants him to get right with God. Dave said he really needed to pop in for some salt and a tin of peaches.

 

The Dad Diaries are fictional. Probably.

Maybe it’s time to switch back to full-fat milk

Not the most thrilling of subjects at a time of national political uncertainty, I’ll grant you. But it happened to come to my attention as I pondered the dwindling milk supply in the fridge and I wondered, not for the first time, if I was really benefiting by sticking to our green-topped friend semi-skimmed.

I changed several years ago when a routine health check indicated slightly raised cholesterol. At the time (and probably still), one of the standard changes advised was to stop drinking full-fat milk. Since then our fridge has had both The Green and The Blue, since my better half has always stuck to the original. Then a few weeks ago a TV documentary on food and health suggested that this accepted wisdom was being questioned by recent study results. They said the implication was that consuming full-fat milk was in fact no worse than lower-fat versions in terms of the risk of heart disease.

“Can this be true?” said I. So I did a li’l’ Internet search and concluded that, yes, it’s true that studies are indeed suggesting that. In fact, they’re also suggesting that fully-loaded milk is also no worse (and possibly better) in terms of the risk of obesity and diabetes as well. Cool.

Whether the conclusions are correct is another matter, of course, but since we generally follow accepted wisdom in these matters, and said wisdom appears to be changing, then perhaps I can change my habit too and get back to the proper Blue Stuff, sorry, White Stuff.

Hoorah.

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/09/low-fat-whole-milk-usda-dietary-guidelines

http://time.com/4279538/low-fat-milk-vs-whole-milk/

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/which-milk-right-you

http://www.medicaldaily.com/whole-milk-weight-management-diabetes-risk-381052

 

UPDATE 20/8/16 — Oh, the irony. I did indeed revert back to fully-loaded milk, and quite enjoyed doing so. It made life that tiny bit simpler, having to buy just one variety of milk. But…although I do like the extra creaminess now and again, I found it too much to have all the time. So, it’s back to the Green Top for me, purely on taste grounds.

Life’s full of surprises 🙂

It is wrong and unfair to denigrate older people because of the EU Referendum result

Bringing some balance to this aspect of the referendum…

Age UK Blog

The conclusion of the EU referendum, with its relatively slender majority for Leave, has been warmly welcomed by those who campaigned for a ‘Brexit’ but generated shock and dismay on the part of many fervent Remainers and in some instances real anger too. Such emotions are  understandable, given the huge potential ramifications of the decision to leave the EU, about which we will no doubt be hearing a lot more in the days and weeks to come.

View original post 780 more words

Growing Pains

“What we often don’t realize is that the thing we are trying to get away from is the thing that God is trying to use to grow us.”

Talk about the uncomfortable truth. Like this blogger, I have a strong aversion to discomfort, pain or even mild inconvenience. You’d think I’d have learnt after 30+ years that God’s agenda isn’t the same as mine; but no. I still like to entertain the delusion that belonging to a loving Heavenly Father means He’ll always see it my way.

Good reminder.

rethink

I detest discomfort. From as far back as I can remember I have been this way. As a kid if my socks bunched up under my toes I would flip out. My socks had to fit perfectly, otherwise I just could not get past the discomfort.

I suspect this feeling characterizes most of us in western culture. We have such a disdain for discomfort that we avoid it at all costs. That’s why Americans spend over $2 billion a year on non-prescription pain killers. We can’t even stand a small headache. Now, while I think this presents a problem, I think this mindset of avoiding discomfort brings has another unintended consequence.

View original post 1,046 more words

Grateful because…

Because I sat in church today

And in front of me were song lyrics celebrating Jesus Christ's resurrection

His victory over death.

 

Because I sat in church today

And to the left of me were my son and daughter-in-law

A blessing from God.

 

Because I sat in church today

And to the right of me were my daughter and son-in-law

Both following Jesus.

 

Because I sat in church today

And behind me was my wife, playing with my granddaughter

Both made me smile.

 

Because whichever way I turned

Gift upon gift upon gift upon gift

That's why.

 

Easter Sunday 2016

Exclusive: Traycer Band album artwork revealed

It's been more than two long years in the making, but The Traycer Band's album is finally due for release this autumn. Solomon himself told us of the recording plans in his last guest post. Now, in another MMW exclusive, we get to preview the cover artwork for the album.

And here it is:

As widely forecast, the album is named after the hugely popular track The Staircase, a song which, as Solomon described in his Postcard from Barcelona, is always a great crowd-pleaser.

As for the music, that's being kept tightly under wraps (other than the title track) by ROTA Records for now. Be assured that any sneak previews or other inside info will appear here first!