Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chalk Enterprises

At the end of my book, I mentioned that I was going to set up in business with the idea of becoming rich beyond Mrs Chalk's wildest dreams. It is fascinating to look at the differences between my old job and what I do now.

For example, meetings in teaching are regular, frequent, last forever and never, ever result in any action. There is endless waffle and debate, punctuated by stupid questions about points which have already been discussed. Everybody eventually goes home exhausted and perplexed.

Meetings now are irregular, short; always result in firm decisions and/ or someone getting very cross.

Whilst I was toying with the idea, I went to speak to seven people who ran small companies employing between none and ten workers. They had all been going for between two and twenty five years. Their comments were very interesting especially with regard to employment, in the light of this recent report.

Three out of the seven advised me never to employ anyone at all if I could possibly avoid it. They claimed that contracting out work might be more expensive but that in the long term, the endless nightmares of Employment Law made it worthwhile. Four out of the seven advised me not to employ a woman between 18 and 45 under any circumstances, because of the devastating effect maternity leave can have on a small business and two mentioned the increased chances of a sexism or harassment claim being made against you or another employee.

I also asked the Business Studies teacher for advice, but I don't recall them ever saying anything like that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


If there are any thin or honest people in this town, could they please get in touch straightaway?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Common Sense

STOP PRESS: There has been a dangerous outbreak of common sense at Edinburgh City Council. Officials have assured me that it is unlikely to spread further and normal service will be resumed shortly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Etape du Tour

If any readers were racing in the Etape on Monday, wasn't the Ventoux as hot as Hell? I've never seen as many strong, fit looking people staggering along pushing their bikes, sitting by the side of the road head in hands, or just lying semi conscious in the trees.

Lance Armstrong always used to say "It's not about the bike" when journalists inevitably started asking him about his bicycle, rather than his training and preparation. The meaning of this was hammered home to me, struggling up that damned mountain under a baking sun. Still at least I didn't die there like Tom Simpson in 1967 or collapse at the top like Eddy Merckx in 1970. (Although I felt like emulating both of them)

The Pros tackle the same route in the Tour de France on Saturday (hopefully Bradley Wiggins will grit his teeth, climb like a madman and end up on the podium in Paris) and you can watch it on ITV4, unless like me you are a digital dinosaur and didn't even realise such a station existed. An enthusiastic sweepstake is currently taking place on how many minutes Armstrong beats my time by. If you want to enter, here's a tip- don't go for a low number.

Sorry to keep adding to this post, but does anyone know whether the man with the artificial leg made it, or the couple riding a tandem? The water station at Chalet Reynard on Ventoux that had run out of water was a bit dispiriting, as was the huge traffic jam later down to Malaucene. I descended by bike, throwing caution to the wind with all the excitement; flying past the stationary cars and completely forgetting that the road was now open. This foolishness resulted in me very nearly being wiped out by an ambulance making its way up the Mountain (Which would have been an extremely amusing irony and definitely one of the top ways I would like to croak, if given the choice)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good advice

Whenever young teachers ask me for advice, I always give them the following two tips:

1) Don't sleep in Wheelie Bins.

2) Don't show the kids x-rated video of yourself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Peter Harvey

Think back to when you were at school and how much fun it was to wind the teacher up until they exploded in a fit of rage, clobbering the daftest boy in the class whilst glowing bright red with incandescent fury. Nowadays it's even better as they dare not do anything to vent their feelings, so we end up with a case like that of Peter Harvey.

Now I suspect that we don't really know the full facts of this incident yet, so I'll not comment on it. I am thankful however that I only came very close to lashing out at a pupil who had been driving me mad all lesson, on about 840 different occasions during my teaching career.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Home Alone

The Government is considering waiving tuition fees for students who don't need grants or loans. This will help limit University to the wealthy and those whose parents will allow them to live at home.

Why on Earth can't we face up to reality and go back to paying for the clever kids to go to Uni rather than encouraging those who can barely read or write to rack up a £20 000 debt whilst attempting a Mickey Mouse degree which, should they complete it; will offer them absolutely no possibility of a decent job?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Leonora Rustamova

Poor old Leonora was a teacher at Calder High School who took on the challenge of trying to interest teenage boys in reading novels.

This would have been too difficult for me, but this woman was made of sterner stuff. She took the time and effort to write a novel which was apparently a bit 'Racy' (probably a lot less racy than whatever other material they perused.)

As a reward for going well beyond the call of duty, her head appears to have sacked her.

I was supposed to be discussing this on Five Live today but managed to miss the call due to a previous appointment as chimp handler at Michael Jackson's funeral. You were therefore spared my foolish comments.

ps I've just been told that a Facebook Group has been set up to support her here (Don't ask me what this means)