A Christmas Carol – Family

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The importance of family

I was thinking about all the heartbreaking stories this week about family members dying alone while Downing Street partied. It made me realise that the social hierarchy remains unchanged from Victorian times. Imagine being one of those families living with the pain, deep sorrow and guilt.

When my parents died in 2018 it was so difficult to describe the sadness but also the acceptance that their suffering was coming to an end. The whole family was allowed to be by their bedside. We could all say our final goodbyes. They both had funerals where friends and family could get together to celebrate their life.

To think that so many families had quick, cold empty send offs trying to follow rules whilst Downing Street and Whitehall was party central. Asking people to just move on shows a clear lack of value and understanding of the importance of family to ordinary people.

The message of Scrooge lying there cold and alone in Stave 4 was supposed to be a lesson to those who put the love of money above humanity which makes the events over the last two years more painful. They didn’t deserve to die under such harsh conditions. Healing from such grief is going to take time because their anger at such injustice is not going to bring them back.

https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/a-christmas-carol-family-gcse-eng-lit-12240840

RIP Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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It is very rare that a Bishop from South Africa can fill a football stadium as he speaks on the evils of apartheid. But Bishop Desmond Tutu with his powerful skills of communication could keep his audience gripped and energised to stand up for justice.

In 1988 my friend invited me to go with her to see Desmond Tutu speak at Valley Parade. I knew who he was but I was more familiar with Nelson Mandela. Coming from a pentecostal background I was used to passionate speakers but not from Anglican vicars.

The audience of 10,000 brought together people from all backgrounds, all faiths, all ages. The hard seats and the cold Bradford air should have combined to make it an unpleasant experiment but it was amazing and life changing. 1988 was the year I started a 4 year BEd in primary education. It reminded me of the power of words and fearless speaking of truth to change what appears to be a hopeless situation.

RIP Arch.

Bodies floating in the Channel

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Terrible, terrible what a tragedy to see bodies floating in the English Channel. It’s time to do something to prevent this tragedy. More wringing of hands more distress but yet the negative language continues.

Whilst the British and French argue about who’s responsible, a pregnant woman has climbed into an inflatable dinghy desperate to reach British Shores and lost her life.  How desperate do you have to be to risk the life of your unborn child in a frozen graveyard?

Yes! it is a tragedy to see women and children lose their lives but isn’t it equally sad that young men are also dead. The time has come to start using those British values that are are pedalled in our schools about Justice equality tolerance and yet we continue to dehumanise asylum seekers and refugees in the media and in political discourse.

Let’s stop pretending we don’t know what is going on around the world. Let’s stop pretending that many are of the people who have been displaced are trying to be reunited with their families who have settled in this country.  We know it’s through war, through bombing campaigns, drone strikes all have contributed to this crisis we see on our Shores.

We need to start seeing  people; human beings flesh and blood like you and me me. What wouldn’t we do do to protect our children to give them a future and a better life. If we were in the same position wouldn’t we we take the risk if there are  no illegal routes to claiming asylum. As a country we need to change the rhetoric, we need to stop criminalising people who have been given no alternative.

Three years since you left us

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Another year has passed and your absence is magnified more than ever.  The house that used to unite us on special occasions is now abandoned.  Your pictures on the wall stare at us and remind us of the years of pain and suffering.  The carers coming in and out to wake you up, dress you, feed you.  Your helplessness leaving a trail of guilt that remains three years later.

How do we move on from this painful milestone? As the eldest daughter do I assume the role of matriarch?  Reluctantly, attempting to unite everyone but not with much success.

I suppose covid and lockdown helped to cover the huge gap in the family caused by the loss.  No huge Christmas dinners, no travelling up and down the motorway, no arguments about loading and unloading the dishwasher (some progress but the pain of seeing every piece of cutlery, plate dish piled in the sink ruined a great meal).

Another Christmas will come and go and memories will continue to fade.  I see you running around making sure everyone has eaten.  I hear everyone pleading with you to sit down and eat. I see the smile on your face when you take the first bite and you say, ‘this tastes good!’

A Raisin in the Sun Act 1 Scene 1

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Setting & Relationships

https://images.app.goo.gl/B3jBf9DEMwZhhtEx6

A Raisin in the sun is about a family living in Southside Chicago. They live in an overcrowded apartment. The furniture is ‘worn and tired’. The family display a sense of pride in themselves by attempting to cover up the threadbare carpet and sofa. The mother and daughter share a bedroom, the husband and wife share a makeshift tiny bedroom and the son has to sleep in the living room on a sofa bed.


All of the action in the play takes place in this tiny, overcrowded, claustrophobic apartment. The writer Lorraine Hansberry wants to reveal the tensions that exist within and outside of the family. The audience can immediately say that the main struggle for this family is financial. It’s easy to see that money is going to be a major theme in the play. The dialogue in the opening of the play shows that Ruth is the one who organises the family she has to rise early to wake the son and the husband and make the breakfast.


The writer introduces the symbolism of eggs in this scene. ‘How do you want your eggs?’ ‘not scrambled!’ – Ruth scrambles the eggs. Eggs represent fertility, new life, hope scrambling the eggs represents her pessimistic mood and the fear things will never change. The eggs could also represent the family’s exclusion from the American Dream whilst living in that apartment – there’s no room to grow or thrive.


The stage directions show that she has aged prematurely and she is exhausted by the way life has treated her since her marriage to Walter. The first time she addresses her son in the play there is excessive use of exclamatory phrases, this reveals that she has to be authoritarian in her approach to motherhood there is no time for a softly, softly approach as she is the one who attempts to maintain some normality and routine in the morning ritual.

With Walter, she also treats him like a child, she takes responsibility for waking him up for work. She has to rouse him several times possibly because He has been drinking the night before. When Walter finally gets out of bed, he greets Ruth with several interrogatory phrases such as ‘cheque come yet?’ This clearly shows Walter’s priorities desire for money has blinded him to the needs of his wife such as basic love, attention and affection. Even when he asked her what’s the matter, he is not interested in her response it seems to be another way to provoke an argument.
Walter behaves like a child and not like a mature adult in the relationship is his growth stunted? Has he become infantile and emasculated as a result of living in his mother’s cramped apartment at the age of 35 with his wife and son?


Clearly both characters are trapped by poverty, institutional and systemic racism. They are both victims of housing segregation in Southside Chicago they both desire to escape their life of poverty and to make a better life for their child. Ruth is concerned that Walter is being poorly influenced by his friends. The play is clearly set within a patriarchal Where women are subservient to men. Walter is presented as an alpha male in a toxic environment.

He blames black women for his inability to grow and to flourish. He fails to realise that woman are struggling in the same unequal society but they are double victims because not only do they face racism everyday but also the sexism that comes from men within their own community.

Don’t be afraid to sit awhile and think

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Lake District 2021

The thought of a staycation in 2021 was horrifying for most of us as holidays abroad were cancelled in 2020.  Unpredictable weather, high prices and overcrowding during a pandemic persuaded most of us not to bother.

Fortunately, a bit of forward planning in December meant a trip to the Lake District was something to look forward to.  Leaving behind the polluted, noisy angry city for a few days was truly welcome.

We drove up the M6 in the early morning sunshine through green fields and rolling hills.  I found myself taking longer, deeper breaths as if all the stress was being left behind.  The plan was to meet at the Bobbin Mill in Ulverston (a number 1 attraction)

The mill was in beautiful grounds, surrounded by lush green hill, a babbling Brook gurgling in the background.  The bright sunshine wouldn’t have been out of place Lake Como or Lake Garda.  The beautiful weather tempted us away from the mill to Lakeside.  Winding narrow roads meant almost facing head on collisions.

Well if you go to the Lake District you have to sail across the lake but which ticket to buy to avoid the mistake we made over a decade ago. The day tripper sounds like a bargain. You can get off at the next stop and walk to the next, she told us. What could go wrong? From our experiences plenty. The walk to the next stop was 5 miles away (a trifle for the prepared with walking shoes, walking sticks and water) a problem for city slickers. We survived.

We took the boat to overcrowded Bowness the views across the lake were breathtaking. We were greeted by greedy geese and swans used to people feeding them. Fish and chips was the meal we were yearning for.

Desperate to escape the crowds we followed a path that seemed to lead to a park but a short walk led us to the side of the lake. All the stresses and strains from the week were released just standing there and listening to the silence.

Don’t be afraid to sit awhile and think

Uncategorized
Lake District 2021

The thought of a staycation in 2021 was horrifying for most of us as holidays abroad were cancelled in 2020.  Unpredictable weather, high prices and overcrowding during a pandemic persuaded most of us not to bother.

Fortunately, a bit of forward planning in December meant a trip to the Lake District was something to look forward to.  Leaving behind the polluted, noisy angry city for a few days was truly welcome.

We drove up the M6 in the early morning sunshine through green fields and rolling hills.  I found myself taking longer, deeper breaths as if all the stress was being left behind.  The plan was to meet at the Bobbin Mill in Ulverston (a number 1 attraction)

Memorial

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the loss of my parents in 2018 but all the memories came flooding back today.  Choosing the headstone and the wording  – further solidifying their eternal loss.

We looked through pictures of headstones labelled with mother, father, sister, brother.  Black granite and gold lettering all symbolising permanence. 

The Pandemic has suspended grief for my parents as so many have lost loved ones in 2020 before you have time to comfort and offer condolences someone else has died.

I didn’t think I would be affected by Prince Philip’s death but the image of his flat cap on the carriage reminded me of my dad and I had to choke back the tears.  He was the same age as my dad when he died just short of 90 years – probably one of the few similarities but both fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers who will be sadly missed.

The words for the headstone carefully selected to reflect the love and appreciation for their life. Not enough words, not enough words.

Does truth matter?

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How have we got to a place where truth has no value? Are we living in a post truth era? Leaders are found to be liars not once, twice or three times but all the time. Jokes are made about wallpaper but essentially missing the point – should we expect honesty, decency and morality?

We’re outraged by youth crime and violence there are numerous programmes on insurance fraud, cheats and swindlers so we expect high moral values from general public but not from the government.

After reading 1984 in 2016 there are so many similarities with the present government. Politicians make statements between Union Jacks as if any opposing views are unpatriotic.

Social Media has become the wild west of misinformation whether its on Covid, the vaccine or presidential elections. How far down this road of dishonesty are we going to go?

I work in education it wouldn’t take very long for me to be sacked if I was both incompetent and dishonest yet with our politicians we make these lame excuses like ‘economical with the truth’. No-one is held to account. A former Prime Minister found in a ‘lobbying controversy’ claimed he made ‘missteps’.

The local elections last week left me feeling a little pessimistic about the future. I felt like the whole nation had been brainwashed into believing lies or just accepting that truth is rare in politics but then a little hope started to filter through the youth – the next generation. ‘No lie can live forever’.

In addition, Dawn Butler’s brave stand in the House of Commons about the many times the Prime Minister had misled the House. The irony is she was asked to leave for exposing the truth – punished more harshly than the repeated offence of ‘being economical with the truth’.