I continue to live in interesting times. This is “interesting” in the Chinese curse sense (“May you live in interesting times”). Since I last updated this blog, number 2 son has been expelled from school; my father has been the victim of persistent sexual harassment at his care home; my boss at work has been made redundant and the two people who used to report to me now report to somebody else. As you can see, I’m on a real roll of luck at the moment. (“If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all” – Born Under A Bad Sign) The results of a blood test are waiting for me at my GP's; do I feel like finding out the results whilst in this rich vein (geddit?) of form? Do I feck! Number 2 son in the number twos
After blowing umpteen last chances, number 2 son has been kicked out of school. Mrs. Fiendish subscribes to the “it can’t possibly be my little darling’s fault” on this development, whilst my inclination is to sit him in his room and constantly play him “I Fought The Law And The Law Won” until he gets it.
What’s he been thrown out of school for?
So far as I can tell, he initially got into trouble for telling teachers that their rules were stupid and therefore should not be obeyed. He goes to the sort of school where, if a pupil is seen with his shirt hanging outside his trousers (which is against the school rules), the teacher will hand out a detention instead of, as they would have done in my day, yell at the pupil: “You there, boy! Tuck your shirt in you untidy wretch.”
After that, he got into more trouble for pointing out that the teachers were upbraiding him for breaking the rules whilst letting other pupils get away with it. This is the well known teenage “it’s so unfair” stance. Teachers love having their inconsistencies pointed out to them in front of the whole class, and this made number 2 son the focus of special attention (so he says).
He then progressed on to temper tantrums and acts of petty vandalism. Some of the acts of vandalism were done deliberately to prove that the school was not obeying its own rules: e.g. pupils sent to the seclusion unit should be monitored by an adult at all times, but somehow, during one of number 2 son’s spells in the seclusion unit he found the time to apply graffiti to just about every available surface in the room whilst supposedly under the supervision of the deputy Head.
The final straw was when he cuffed some uppity first former round the ear for “stepping up to him”. This was the first and only instance of aggressive behaviour to a fellow pupil – all his other aggressive behaviour was either directed physically against objects (waste-paper bins) or verbally against teachers. However, it was done on only his second day back at school after a long spell of exclusion, so one might have expected him to be on his best behaviour. This is the way adults think, and lots of well-meaning friends have offered advice to me along the lines of “can’t you just explain to him that he needs to keep his nose clean for a period” but, trust me, this has had bog-all effect on the stubborn wee gobshite.
A “managed transfer”, where he was due to swap places with a boy at another local school, fell through and so that was that for number 2 son; the school had little option to give him the old heave-ho, and probably would have done so a lot earlier had he not been a grade A student (albeit one who hangs out with those in the lowest stream – note the subtle implication there that he’s a good lad who has just got in with a bad crowd).
So, whose view is correct: mine or that of Mrs. Fiendish? Is he a trouble-maker who failed to learn that you can’t beat City Hall, or a bright kid who has been let down badly by the school system?
Answer: probably both.
These days, the policy with unruly pupils seems to be to remove them from the class to prevent them from disrupting lessons and spoiling it for others. This seems a reasonable attitude to take, and were it my child whose education was being sabotaged by some mischievous pupil who can’t see the point of learning French, I’d probably be a big fan of this policy. However, it seems from my experience that excluding the child from class is almost the first option – the easy option for the teacher. God knows, teachers have a tough job these days and one can forgive them for taking the easy option, but from the point of view of my son, at least, putting him in solitary confinement or periodically excluding him from school has not benefited him at all. When he finally gets back with his school-friends after a prolonged period in “stir”, he goes nuts, and the whole cycle kicks off again.
The school has, to be fair, put a lot of effort into trying to put him back on the straight and narrow though because it is a prestigious and highly popular school that tends to attract the brightest and/or richest pupils, it receives bugger-all from the government to finance its pupil rehabilitation programme – unlike the other local school, which has a fully qualified child psychologist on tap to deal with problem children (number 2 son’s school has a former teacher who is studying child psychology, and who comes in one afternoon a week to dispense tea and sympathy).
So, the attempts by the school to iron out number 2 son’s problems have been well-intentioned and a bit half-arsed, really. According to Mrs. Fiendish, with her master’s degree in psychology, the school’s attempts to solve the problem have only made it worse.
According to me, number 2 son should have taken a leaf out of number 1 son’s book and just said “Yes, sir; no, sir; three bags full, sir” and got on with quietly exploiting the system’s loopholes. For whatever reason, number 2 son simply seems incapable of compromising when he believes he is in the right. This can be seen as an admirable trait, but context is everything, isn’t it? Just as one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, so one man’s principled man of honour is another man’s intransigent bastard.
So, what now?
Well, there are zero school places available in Enfield, thanks to the large influx of refugees to the area over the last decade or so. Theoretically, number 2 son has to go some sort of holding area in Edmonton, where he gets to hang out with other expelled kids, until such time as a place becomes available in an Enfield school. If that happens, we are obliged to accept that place, even if it is at Dope Dealer High
, or we can remove him from the state education system altogether. Or we can move house, which is what we are planning to do. In the meantime, Mrs. Fiendish has stated categorically that number 2 son will go to the holding area in Edmonton over her dead body, so that means, pro temps
, home education. I can’t say that after a stultifyingly boring day at work I’ll be in the mood to teach 2 hours of maths, geography or whatever, but I reckon I could just about fake it for long enough to satisfy the authorities. Senile sex offender
When my Dad first told me that some septuagenarian woman was turning up at the door of his room in the care home in a state of undress, and forcing him to lay his hands on her body, my initial reaction was to laugh. When he started going in to gory detail about what exactly she was making him do, I had to tell him to stop; the thought of my Dad ever having had sex is bad enough – though I presume he must have done so at least 3 times (or twice, if you believe the deranged gossip-mongering of my sister!) – but the thought of old wrinklies getting it on is repugnant. I’ll change my view on this, obviously, in 30 years time if I still fancy a bit of how’s your father with Mrs. Fiendish.
It has to be said, of course, that my Dad’s mental faculties are not in top notch nick. He could be imagining it all. Then again, a lot of his fellow inmates are several kebabs short of a barbecue and inappropriate sexual behaviour is one of the symptoms of dementia, so it is entirely possible that this woman is a senile nympho, if such a thing is not a contradiction in terms.
All I know is that the next time I went to visit him, he had the door of his room locked. Imagined or not, that proved to me that this woman’s behaviour was a very real worry to him. He’s not paying tens of thousands of pounds a year to the care home to sit in a locked room on his own and watch day-time TV, so something must be done.
The normal form would be to complain to the care home and go through their standard procedures, but my sister has all the sensitivity of a rhino with a beehive up its arse, and has threatened to call in the police, social services and, for all I know, Oprah Winfrey. It’s all a bit odd, as she is a care worker herself, and I don’t suppose she’d appreciate disgruntled relatives going straight for the nuclear option if they were dissatisfied with her work, but as it happens, it probably does not matter much, as circumstances will almost certainly dictate that we move my Dad out of that care home and put him in a home nearer my sister.
The initial rationale behind putting him in an Enfield home was that he had become relatively familiar with the place on his daily visits to my house and, what with my brother and sister both living out in the back of beyond, it made sense to have him in Enfield where he could continue his practice of visiting us on a frequent basis and where, more importantly, it would only take us 10 minutes to drive him back home should any of his unscheduled visits come at an inconvenient time.
Unfortunately, this master plan got off to a bad start when the home put an electronic tag on his wrist and prevented him from leaving the care home. I can understand why they do it, and accept the fact that he is now mentally incapable of learning the route from the care home to my house, but it does mean that, aside from the convenience of making it easier for me to visit him, he might as well be in a home in Bognor Regis or the Back of Beyond.
When you add in the fact that the Fiendish family have their hands more than full sorting out number 2 son’s educational requirements – not to mention trying to dissuade number 1 son from joining the frickin’ army, for crissakes – then it makes sense to move him somewhere closer to my sister. She’ll have much more free time available to visit him, and it will be cheaper. I’ll still be able to visit him and, as an added (but dubious) bonus, be able to see my sister more often as well. Having said that, I’ve been getting on reasonably well with my sister, of late. I think she has finally come to terms with the fact that I am not the same person that I was when I was 12 years old. I’ll still have to put up with implausible stories of family gossip (“Well, you know your great-uncle Patrick was a German spy in the second world war, don’t you – and him being half-Jewish and all!), but I’m getting good at cocking a deaf ‘un to those stories now.Big jobbies on the job front
I thought I’d long since become immune to rancid developments on the job front but the senior management at the place where I work are still finding ways to poke me in places where I didn’t know I could still feel pain.
As alluded to above, they have made my boss redundant. She’s neither the worst boss, nor the best boss I have ever worked for, but she is just about the most hard-working and dedicated, and it is still a shock to see a genuine grafter get the shaft purely, I surmise, on the basis that she argued her corner a little too forcefully once too often with senior management.
Mostly I am shocked that she’s got the old tin-tack whilst a lazy, disillusioned git like me still, amazingly, has a job. Mind you, they have taken my team away from me – the only source of pride I had in my job. I won’t miss having to do appraisals, or wrangle over pay rises and bonuses, but I will miss working with two people who made a big and positive difference to the work processes of the rank and file in the Operations department (the people who do the unglamorous job of maintaining the product). I’ve even been deluding myself that, because the team has been so massively successful, I might even be halfway decent at this management lark, though my skills extend no further than employing good people and letting them get on with it whilst shielding them from shit from above. Sadly, it appears that my staff have been so successful that they have been poached by another department – not that I was consulted (and still haven’t been, by their new manager, whom I’ve known for nigh on 20 years).
So, all that appears to be left for me is to manage process documentation (and how everyone loves
documentation:mad: ) and to produce pointless corporate communication “fluff pieces” designed to demonstrate how the new regime is immeasurably better than the old regime.
Perhaps number 2 son can take my job and give the bosses the “this is bollocks” treatment, while I go back to school in his stead.