Category Archives: College

Confessions of a Bad Liar

I have two confessions to make.

One is that I am a Liar, and a Bad one at that. And don’t go using Logic on me. If Person A says they never lie and Person B says they always lie, should you believe either of them when they state whether the other would lie: that sort of thing. I told a lie last Thursday that resulted in my parents being woken at some unearthly hour (8:00 am I heard) and nearly got me sent a double bouquet of flowers for the imaginary twins that I announced to a large portion of my family. At last count something in the region of three uncles and two cousins were convinced to my knowledge, despite unlikely names, impossible timings and an image of not-quite-newborn twins which a short google image search provided. Maybe there were more (it would be interesting to know!)

I feel bad. But I did make a lot of people laugh, and as joy is one of the great things in life (spiritual and otherwise) I do hope that a small amount of untruth can be taken in context. We all need to be fooled from time to time, and if people genuinely take me seriously much of the time I hadn’t realised the power and responsibility that held. Hmm. I expect it’ll all come back to haunt me when I meet up with many of the family in the summer.

The second confession is that I have miscalculated Lily’s heritage and needed to be corrected by my mother. Lily is not one-eighth Cornish. She is one-sixteenth. This is a lot less pasty than I had reckoned on. It also made me draw a diagram with concentric circles representing each generation, with double the ‘slices’ in each one. All this proved was that the other sixteenths were mostly a mystery to me. Although I am certain Lily’s great-great-grandparents were all born in England, I cannot place more than three of them without more research. Possibly more pregnancy forgettory, but I suspect there is more to it: I just don’t know. But then I don’t know quite a lot these days.

Unlike a certain Alex Guttenplan, who I think ought to be our next Prime Minister. He gets my vote solely on the basis that he was prepared to correct Jeremy Paxman, who claimed he had guessed an answer on the way to winning University Challenge last night for a local university team. If you can stand up to someone called Jeremy you must be a good egg. And knowing a few facts can’t help* either in politics.

We have made progress on the colour of the front door though. I decided something sage green might be nice, so chose something else (I am not certain why), which looks blue in some lights and green in others. Farrow and/or Ball call it Green Blue. Or Blue Green. I forget and cannot reach the thingy any more. Anyway, after a few days of doubt having put the first coat on, the walls of the house have now been painted something in the region of magnolia, which has meant that Green by Green Blue is actually quite a good choice. Dad suggested it looks like Cambridge Blue. In which case I feel personally responsible for helping our local university out in both the TV quiz last night and the boat race last Saturday and would like to take some of the credit.

You can rest assured that I will not be running for parliament, calculating inaccurate heritage statistics or announcing any more April Fool jokes for at least another 360 days. I have other things to work on, and having washed the microwave and de-cobwebbed every vertex in the house today I hope and suspect the next job may involve producing and sustaining a newborn for the foreseeable future.

* Errata – for help read hurt…



People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centred;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;

It is never between you and them anyway.

-Mother Teresa-

I needed this quote today. This year has been unrelenting for various reasons. I have noticed a difference between paid work and parenting: parenting is equally thankless at times, but you can’t argue with how utterly important it is. I am humbled to be a parent.

At the beginning of next month I will finish my job at the college, so I have one unofficial lesson with my evening class and one unofficial lesson with my daytime class still to do. Before all that it is half term. I am excited at the moment as we are preparing to take Lily on her first flight towards the end of the week. My college in Prague is holding a 60th anniversary reunion. Our connection is only really since 2000, but it will be great to catch up with academics and fellow students there and introduce them to Lily.

And after all this? A short trip to France coming up in June to recharge the batteries. A summer working on the house and contemplating the next moves in life. Campaigning? Writing? Parenting? Tutoring? Some decisions need to be taken, and I wanted to finish work to give them my full attention. It scares me sometimes. What does God want me to do? Will I be as willing as I want to be?

I often – no, always – need to feel affirmed in what I do. The older I get the more realistic I get about this, but I do feel the need to cuddle Lily often and feel that she wants to cuddle me back.  And sometimes she doesn’t. In the future she won’t always. But even after she says she doesn’t want to cuddle me any more, somewhere inside a part of her always will. I need to hold on to that anyway.

Nouns head blog titles

That one’s for dad’s growing collection. I would find a headline made up of gerunds more exciting, if I could remember what one was. Let me check.


I was on the hunt for gerunds just now and in the process remembered Molesworth, which is well worth a read at least once a year. I must get it out again soon. WIZZ SUPER! Pythagoras as a mater of fact is at the root of all geom.

There is nothing new under the sun. Especially in education, as I see it. Or politics.


I was rather hoping the government might tell me how to avoid dying from swine flu today, just in case it nearly happened. However, there was no post. Let’s just hope I can make it through.


In any case, I am discovering some of the pleasures of nursing, as Lily has contracted chicken pox. She has spots on her limbs and chin and nose and is off her food.  She was not even eating porridge yesterday. Thankfully having me around to see to her every need has brought out the gerund in her and has forced me to cancel several things I might otherwise have found myself doing.


Playing with Lily has increased. The playing of my saxophone has decreased. I would have had a lesson today, but Lily could not leave me, so that didn’t happen. I am actually quite pleased with my recent musical developments. I bought a saxophone 3 years ago (in a bid to stave off a mid-life crisis by seeing it coming), but didn’t get past Book 1 and then went off the teacher a bit and gave up for ages. Since then I decided it may be worth actually paying someone to teach me, and after chatting with a guy at church I found a tutor who took me on in February. In half a term he had got me to Grade 1 standard, and this is the first lesson I have missed. I must do some practice this evening!


Of the planning of many lessons, there is no end. Tomorrow: Inequalities, Solving Equations and Further Graphs.


Unfortunately, tomorrow’s baby clothing exchange at the toddler group is off. Most attempts at clothing Lily are off too. She is too itchy to take on layers without a fight. I would like to order her some more clothing from a catalogue, but she just wants to turn the pages. I don’t blame her.


At least she hasn’t got swine flu. Dad has pointed out to me how hard it must be to learn what is meant by the word ‘pig’ when a toddler hears the word in the context of pigs (real, fictional, anthropomorphic and cartoonised), guinea pigs, piggies (this little…) and as a verb.

Why can’t words just do one thing and keep life simple?

I x maths

Who has been teaching my daughter that you should blow on food, wipe the floor and give dolls out fairly? I don’t do these things.

I am amazed at the ingenuity and tenacity it takes to handle an adult fork delicately enough to stab a bread stick successfully and try putting it into one’s mouth, alhough I am certain I would not succeed. However, I would have the advantage in knowing not to try eating the breadstick sideways when it finally arrives (by sucking at it for several minutes). Where is she getting this material? She keeps me in stitches.

Right now, rather than sleeping, Lily is doing her best to kiss my post-its and scheme of work, and write or draw in a Maths Higher Modular GCSE text book. She is achieving far more than I am in this regard. Time I kissed my work goodnight, and put the maths to bed too.

Christmas Dinner

Traditional turkey cooking times:
• small bird – twenty minutes per pound + 20 minutes
• large bird – fifteen minutes per pound + 15 minutes

Christmas turkeys will range from 3kg up to 11kg so there is no point buying a 11kg if there are just 2 people eating it!
• 4kg Turkey will feed about 6 people with not much in the way of leftovers
• 7-8kg Turkey will feed up to 10 people
• 10-11kg Turkey will feed plenty of people, maybe 15-20 

1 pound = 0.454 kilograms
1 kg = 2.2 pounds

1. You have to feed 6 people at 12:00 – what time do you need to start the turkey roasting? Show all your working out!

2. What difference does it make if you have to feed 12 people?

Working hard for my living

I include this anecdote from last Friday’s lesson to illustrate what (satisfactory) education looks like today in an FE college. I am teaching a class of students whose grades indicate that they should not yet retake GCSE maths but certainly ought to be increasing their numerical skills.

For this kind of learner we offer Functional Maths. Not only is this to become a pre-requisite to the real GCSE for future students but it takes a look at how maths actually works in real life. You know, the kind of maths you have actually done at work, rather than Pythagoras, Trig and Lowest Common Multiples.

It boils down to being able to think for yourself and solve problems imaginatively.

(Something my class have not been showing a great deal of acumen in.)

However, I was pleasantly surprised when a student reached the bottom of a page of questions on Friday morning. Not only had it been worthwhile preparing more work, but it turned out he had reached a question about making a graph of the days of the week the members of the class had been born on. (I didn’t write the question).

I don’t know about you, but this kind of thing is not easy for a person to remember, especially if you are the kind of person who has trouble dividing six in half. I had a vague memory that I was born on a Saturday – not that I remember the day itself – I think my mum mentioned it once or twice. Saturday’s child works hard for her living.

What really pleased me was that the class realised that the mobile phones they had been using as calculators (i.e. real life problem solving) could be used to bring up a calendar with the month of their birth on it. One lad asked his friend what day of the week 13th June 1992 was on and was told it was a Wednesday. Full of woe, he came straight back with ‘what time?’