DROPPING LOOPS, MAKING HOLES AND STUFFING THINGS

A feature on yet another revival of homely hand knitting reminded me……. At primary school, the girls’ craft classes were the bain of my life. Could I knit as a six year old? Much as I tried, sitting at an old wooden desk, with oversized knitting needles and a well re-used ball of wool, made the whole experience a clumsy affair with little to show for it. There were some loops on the needle and maybe I managed to put some wool through a loop or two, I don’t really remember.

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I do know, that there were some stitches on the needle that did not seem to be very productive.  I was glad when the tortuous efforts came to an end and another lesson began.

Then there was the class where the better little hand-stitchers made bunnies with lovely fluffy cloth already cut to shape, probably by the teacher, a grandmother figure, who taught that girls’ class. Once stitched to the required point, busy little hands had lots of fun stuffing the bodies, arms, legs, hands and ears of their creations, (through a small opening left in the seam) with what I believe was Kapok. Polyester fibres were not in use all those years ago to stuff things. The opening was then closed up by each young  ‘creator’ with even and neat little running stitches.

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We, the ones relegated to the ‘untalented’ corner, (the majority of the class) had a bit of rag each plus a needle and thread to practice with. I cannot say what others may have thought, but it seemed to me, the three or four bunny-makers looked more than a teensy bit smug.  Just a bit of me would have liked to have been with them bathed in their success.

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A couple of years later, I discovered the Grandmother figure really was granny to two of the girls in her ‘better’ group.  Also, another teacher in the school, who was French, was her daughter-in-law.  By then, I was old enough to understand that a big war ended not so many years before, so, it was likely that the girls had no dad.  Mum and granny were supporting each other and the two girls on prescribed lower women’s salaries, much lower than their working male teaching counterparts.

From the amount of time we spent in church and on religious education, I wonder if there wasn’t some hope of recruiting future nuns and priests.

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This primary school was certainly schooling the girls, for at best, domesticity, sweat shops, or, subservient jobs, and the boys, likewise, to be unskilled. We weren’t seen as having much potential.

Poppy Memorial Scott Monument

Scott Monument Princes St Edinburgh+ Poppy Memorial

When we all divided up to move on to our next secondary stage school experience, it was really surprising how many children started to thrive in a different educational environment, even though the development of domestic/service/cooking skills, was still a theme for girls.  Many of us as schoolchildren, were undervalued. Notwithstanding, many of my school friends, both genders, broke the expected mould.

YaY !!

THE PASSING OF SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

The farmers’ grandkids are visiting. There’s always lots of excitement when they first arrive and connect with the animals, the four-wheel bikes and their local cousins, in that order. I think the grandparents are just sort of there. The kids are not old enough yet to work out why the older generation are there. In time they will.

The busy build up to the agricultural shows keeps all the kids and the adults occupied. The farm hands make the finishing touches to the show animals. That is when the barns turn into beauty parlours for four-legged woolly creatures and the stock men become designer beauticians.

Nearly all agricultural shows have now been and gone for this year and the weather has been good for them. When there are pleasant show conditions, it brings out lots of visitors to the show ground. It can be a great family fun day.

The big Regional show is next on the agenda. The farmers will take their prize-winning animals to this show. The preparations will all begin again. It’s a long day for everyone, as there is a lot of travelling to the regional show. The visiting grand-kids will not be so involved with the build up for the big show, as it is likely they will be disappearing to help out on a food stand at it, their own immediate family will be presenting.

And so the school holidays will pass…….

High School Arts

There were a few pieces of work that jumped out at you, there were others that made a more subtle impression. The art works and designs on show in the town hall gallery, were representative of a high standard of art work from a local Scottish high school, years two to six (years 8-12 in England). There were some extraordinary artistic skills on display; the translation of the world around you into colour schemes, objects, both figurative and semi-surreal, and paper sculptured pieces with paint finishes using various techniques.

A can-can dress made from heavy paper and painted deep red placed on a dressmaker’s dummy, was made without being measured to it, as a result, there was an attempt to adjust the dummy to the ‘designer piece.’ The bra cups (sitting a bit low because the dress straps were long ) would have fitted in well alongside Maddona’s stage clothes of earlier years, with their curled snake, or maybe, it was a fossil, at and around the centre point of the cup.

A small artwork section pictured a variety of make up. These works were so well done, you could tell, just by the variation of brash and bold colouring strokes, the artists had thoroughly enjoyed depicting the lipsticks, perfumes, and nail varnishes they had chosen.

There were two delicate hats, both eminently wearable and both unique. On one, the strips of cloth were hand-painted and they were secured together with curls of cream coloured starched mesh and a swaggering luna-mezza of grouse feathers in the centre of the curls, which picked out the colour theme. The other hat was designed out of soft open work tubing, about 2.5cm diameter. Fine strips of beige material with the tiniest light blue beads stitched on, highlighted some of the twists and turns of the hat shape.

There were only three art works by boys, one, a clever little sculpted piece made into a clock; there was a still life with lovely glass clarity achieved for his clear and green bottles. The other, was a development work board of fine workmanlike draughting of the final handicraft piece, also on show.

DROPPING LOOPS,MAKING HOLES AND STUFFING THINGS.

A feature on yet another revival of homely hand knitting reminded me…….  At primary school, the girls’ craft classes were the bain of my life. Could I knit as a seven year old? Much as I tried, sitting at an old wooden desk, with oversized knitting needles and a well re-used ball of wool, made the whole experience a clumsy affair with little to show for it. There were some loops on the needle and maybe I managed to put some wool through a loop or two, I don’t really remember. I do know, that there were some stitches,  on the needle that did not seem to be very productive.  I was glad when the tortuous efforts came to an end and another lesson began.

Then there was the class where the better little hand-stitchers made bunnies with lovely fluffy cloth already cut to shape, probably by the teacher, a grandmother figure, who took that girls’ class.   Once stitched to the required point, busy little hands had lots of fun stuffing the bodies, arms, legs, hands and ears of their creations, through a small open seam, with what I believe was Kapok.  Polyester fibres were not in use all those years ago to stuff things. The opening was then closed up with even and neat little running stitches.   We, the ones relegated to the ‘untalented’ corner, (the majority of the class) had a bit of rag each plus a needle and thread to practice with. I cannot say what others may have thought, but it seemed to me the three or four  bunny-makers looked more than a teensy bit smug.  Just a bit of me would have liked to have been with them bathed in their success.

A couple of years later I discovered the Grandmother figure, really was granny to two of the girls in her ‘better’ group. Also, another teacher in the school, who was French, was her daughter-in-law. By then, I was old enough to understand that a big war ended not so many years before, so, it was likely that the girls had no dad.   Mum and granny were supporting each other and the two girls on prescribed lower women’s salaries, much lower than their working male teacher counterparts.

From the amount of time we spent in church and on religious education, I wonder if there wasn’t some hope of recruiting future nuns and priests.  This primary school was certainly schooling the girls, for at best, domesticity, sweat shops, or, subservient jobs and the boys, to be unskilled. We weren’t seen as having much potential.

Scott Monument and Poppy Memorial Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

When we all divided up to move on to our next secondary stage school experience, it was really surprising how many children started to thrive in a different educational environment, even though the development of domestic/service skills was still a major theme for girls.  Many of us as schoolchildren, were undervalued.  Notwithstanding, most of my school friends, both genders, broke the expected mould.

YaY !!

WHERE WAS SIMPLE COMMONSENSE?

Hearing of the death of an asthmatic child because his school did not take timely and suitable action, brought back memories from sixteen years ago, when my child had an accident in the school playground. The child was seen to be in pain. Young school friends were supportive and sympathetic. My child was taken to the head teacher’s office where the head kept a watchful eye. Neither parent, or any of the relatives on the contact list were called during that day.

After the school day, I was deeply concerned to see my child white and in such great pain. A nurse at the local cottage hospital signalled to me that she thought there might be a fracture. As it was too late in the day to get a doctor to examine the injury or obtain an X-ray, the nurse applied suitable first-aid and arrangements were made for the investigations and follow-up doctor’s appointment for first thing the next morning. A fracture was confirmed.

As a consequence of the manner in which this incident was handled by the head teacher, we wrote to the school. The reply was unsatisfactory and I asked for a meeting, at which the head defended herself with offence. As parents, we set out in writing, future procedures that we wanted to see put in place, should any similar problem occur.

We required: there must be suitable records within schools and they must be referred to. In our case there were contact details with the school, which were not utilised. Staff are not expected to be medically trained and it should not be assumed by anyone in a school that they have all the medical skills required for all situations. We insisted that parents/relatives be contacted and authorised qualified medical assistance and assessment always be sought.

All these years later, I find it dreadfully upsetting, woeful, to hear that a school still did not have proper procedures for ill or injured children in place, and that there seemed to be a blind jobsworth culture prevailing. Where was simple common sense in the case of a child who was gasping for air?

EVERYONE CAN BE A QUEEN

My eye caught a headline in one of the parochial papers. I’ll have to give you a teeny bit of back ground to this.

There’s been concern that pupils living outside the immediate catchment zone of the local Scottish co-educational high school, (the zone is pretty far flung) would not be able to be considered for inclusion in an up and coming herring fest.

The headline read:

ALL *QUATERS HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS ELIGIBLE TO BE CONSIDERED FOR HERRING QUEEN. 88|

Apart from the possibility of being on a smelly herring boat sometime during the fest, I wish all the potential herring queens, whoever they may, be a successful reign.

(*Fictitious Name )

Being let loose with kids in Brighton!

I am happily tracking sprog who is currently doing some ‘summer camp’ work, with foreign kids aged 10 -14 years who are in the UK primarily for a holiday and to improve their English. None of them wants to be in a learning environment and yet sprog is employed to teach these dear sweet souls our language. Yesterday she lost four of them on their way to the classroom and today she’s escorting twelve kids around Brighton! I’m waiting for the next episode in the saga. It’s just as well she’s only filling in till they get someone else; it makes it a short week. This story could have been on a one month’s trajectory. 🙄

DANGER !

An hotel in which her school group were staying for the weekend ignored her request for a vegan diet and one other youngster suffered the same fate: his dietary needs related to health requirements.

She withdrew from the world to nurse her anger and frustration, unable to openly express herself and her feelings anywhere that she felt was useful or constructive, least of all to her parents, who in truth, were bewildered and deeply concerned. She refused to attend school two days this week. It is a crucial examination year and a critical point in the year and she missed two vital days.

On two previous occasions her parents were the reason for her withdrawal from school; as they have involvement in educational matters, it was her way of hurting them. She returned to school with me and settled well. This time the reason was different but the reaction would have had the same self-destructive effect. I was dubious that I could work the ‘miracle’ a third time and I held back from direct contact, spending time instead in giving mum a bit of TLC and moral support.

However, in talking with mum she said that her daughter had checked I was not being invited to the house as I was ‘dangerous‘. It was a clear message to me: that statement made me reverse my decision and I returned home with mum.

There was no hiding in her room, she was sociable and obviously glad to see me. When mum went out she even made sure we were comfortable and warm. We talked and we shared; she responded constructively to some of my gentle challenges to her thoughts.

Tomorrow she says she will go to School – I do hope so.