Saturday, March 29, 2008

Power to the pupils

ACCORDING TO a survey carried out on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation, one in three of us have a close friend or family member who struggles to control their anger. Well I don’t know anyone like that, so I suspect that the chap they’re talking about could well be me.

And is it any surprise when so much of modern society seems designed to enrage even the mildest-mannered, middle class, middle-aged white bloke?

Only last night I found myself ranting and raving at the telly, like Heather Mills McCartney on the blob, when a throwback to the 1970s turned up in a news report from the National Union of Teachers’ annual conference. Paul McGarr is his name and he’s a teacher from east London.

Mr McGarr’s beef wasn’t pay and conditions, the state of our school buildings or his profession’s appalling dereliction of the simple duty of teaching children to read and write. No, what was getting up his nose was the fact that the Army distributed publicity material in schools. Shock horror.

Where do we begin with this? It seems to me to be eminently reasonable that the Army might seek to recruit school-leavers from the poorer areas of the country, not because these ill-educated youths are mere cannon fodder, but because six years in uniform will give them the basic life skills, self-discipline and sense of purpose that six years of state education has miserably failed to do. If you doubt me, ask one of them.

But this doesn’t seem apparent to Mr McGarr, who stamped his little feet at the podium and demanded what he called “realistic” publicity: “We would have material from the MoD saying ‘Join the Army and we will send you to carry out the imperialist occupation of other people's countries’

“Join the Army and we will send you to bomb, shoot and possibly torture fellow human beings in other countries.

“Join the Army and be sent, probably poorly equipped, into situations where people try and shoot you and kill you because you are occupying their countries.

“Join the Army and if you survive and come home, possibly injured and mentally damaged by the experience, you and your family will be shabbily treated.”

What a rotter. Now I’m sorry, but I thought we had the right to expect our children to receive a reasonable and well-balanced education – to be able to consider both sides of an argument and come to their own, reasoned conclusion.

With teachers like this, I worry that they’re being force fed a diet of left-wing propaganda, the likes of which I haven’t heard since the 70s. It’s an absolute disgrace. If those were right wing opinions that Mr McGarr was spouting, he’d be out of a job by the mid-morning break.

I don’t know what the schools in east London are like, but I suspect that they’re not very good. It’s a shame that Mr McGarr can’t channel his energies into raising the bar a bit, instead of outing himself as a political dinosaur who undermines his own profession at the same time as disrespecting the 6,000-plus men and women of the armed forces who are on active duty at the moment.

SO ALL this probably explains why I had an overwhelming urge to cosh the woman in front of me at the supermarket till because she seemed surprised that the cashier should ask her to pay for her shopping after she’d packed it away.

She stood there, apparently baffled, while her children, little Tia Maria and her sister Jay Cloth, gambolled around the aisles stealing sweets from the display. Then she slowly searched through her bag for her purse, then fumbled out a card, and then promptly forgot her PIN number (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron, the ‘N’ already standing for ‘number’. So do you want to make something of it?)

AND THEN there was the annual trek to IKEA the other week. Driving into the car park an hour after opening time, the joint already resembled a Bruegel painting. It was pouring with rain and a woman was screaming at her husband to hurry up and get the Billy bookcase into the car because the cardboard box was dissolving.

In the next parking bay, a young couple were trying to force a king-size mattress into a white Fiat Uno (one owner, Royal connections, scrape of black paint down one side). It was hopeless, the mattress occupying more spatial volume than the car.

At least, I thought, as I entered the one-way tunnel of hate, there’ll be cheap hotdogs or meatballs at the end of it. But even those never quite live up to expectations. Yes, IKEA might do the cheapest breakfasts in the world, but are you sure that is really bacon? And those meatballs – you order 25 with extra jam, chips and gravy and dig in only to find that you’re done after the first five. And why are you eating jam with meatballs in the first place? It’s just wrong.

After that, there’s little to compensate for the two-hour March of Hell. If you’re really lucky you might find a couple of gays having a row in the fabrics department, or a childless 50-year-old woman having a snivel in the kids’ department, but that’s it as far as entertainment is concerned.

It's no wonder professional miserablist Ingmar Bergman was Swedish. And that the founder of IKEA was an alcoholic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't beat yourself up unfairly, Bazza: "PIN number" isn't an oxymoron.

It's a tautology.

I'll leave this comment anonymously, as I'm not sure the neighbours know what a "pedant" is, and I don't want to suffer the same fate as the paediatrician down the road...

4:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well spotted Anonymous

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or a pleonasm, for those of use who had the privilege of a Classical education.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

PIN is an acronym for Personal Identification Number so to say PIN Number is as if to say, "Personal Identification Number Number" which could be construed as a pleonasm.

PINs are not only used on th ecards for ATMs but also on SIM cards (on GSM) and if you were to enter your PIN three times incorrectly it would be blocked and then you wouldn need your PUC.

It's getting difficult for an old fart like me to keep up: ATMs, PINs, SIMs and PUCs!

Oh FUC it; I give up.

3:53 AM  
Anonymous a pedant said...

What he have here is a classic case of RAS syndrome which stands for "Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome,"

3:58 AM  
Anonymous Ungentlemanly Conduct said...

Too many TLAs for my liking. **

** TLA = Three Letter Acronym

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Tunnel of Hate".
A perfect description, lmao.

3:47 AM  
Blogger Mark Roy said...

for the benefit of you neighbours, anonymous, bertrand russell once allegedly described a pedant as "just someone who prefers his opinions to be true"

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Stickers said...

I was going to leave exactly the same comment as anonymous (4:50 AM) but he beat me to it. I'm looking forward to the Pedants' Revolt, led by the brothers What and Which Tyler.

I agree with every word of the NUT article. I saw that twat on the news and nearly hurled the TV across the room.

5:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going back to the school army issue, only the before this hit the headlines the NUT were calling for Imans, Rabbi's etc to go into schools and teach their ways, can it be right to let these people go in and teach young minds about fairies and ghosts but stop them having a chance at a career?

4:53 AM  
Blogger Chalcedon said...

Parents who have children christened with stupid names should be prosecuted (do they still have them christened or am I being racist and homophobic in using this word, not to mention religionist or whatever?).

There was a girl on TV yesterday rejoicing in the name of Lentil. I expect the parents really had their finger on the pulse to come up with that moniker.

6:26 AM  

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