Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (31)

kathy-newBy Kathy Martin…

Written September 2014

This week I would like to express my admiration and appreciation to the Egyptian negotiation team that brought about an open-ended ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas Palestinians living (well, thanks to Israel’s aggressive policies, recently merely existing,) in the Gaza Strip.



Politically both sides are claiming victory, but as neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis have either gained or given away any major concession, to my mind neither of these nations have scored a major victory.

There are only losers! These, of course, are the thousands of dead Palestinians (mainly civilians, both adults and children) and less that 100 dead Israelis, mainly soldiers.

However, although neither the Israeli nor Palestine nations can justify outright victory, there are, nonetheless, real winners!

These are the surviving civilians on both sides, especially the Palestinians. I say, especially the Palestinian civilians, because their death toll has been in the thousands, compared with the Israeli civilian death toll of about a dozen!

Palestinian civilians can now wake up in the morning and not be faced, for the first time in months, with the thought that, although he/she had survived the night, there was a good chance that he/she would not be killed or maimed by an Israeli missile fired by a trigger-happy bully before sunset!

These people, gentle reader, these people, are the true winners!

I am now going to ramble about something that has apparently been lauded throughout the world for a considerable length of time, British justice and the British legal system.

Back in dear old Blighty; newspapers have reported that over a thousand young girls have consistently been sexually abused over a period of years in Rotherham, Yorkshire. “Everyone”, the police, social .workers, the council and school teachers knew what was going on.

So what happened? Nothing! Why? Because the majority (if not all) of the offenders were of Pakistani origin, it was feared that any attempt at prosecution would be regarded as “racial”! I’m sorry, run that past me again please.

Justice scales

Iconic statue of justice at the Old Bailey

Does this mean that the principles of that iconic statue of justice at the Old Bailey in London (blindfolded to show impartiality, and holding scales with which to carefully weigh all of the evidence) can’t be used if there is the possibility of ethnic involvement?

In Rotherham, there was ample “real” and “verifiable” evidence of hundreds, if not thousands of serious sexual crimes to start legal proceedings, yet nothing was done by the Yorkshire police.

How do these people sleep at night?

However, on what must have been one, yes, only one, presumably unsustainable allegation of sexual activity (as no arrest has been made), by a (now) middle aged male, the Yorkshire police sent dozens, if not scores of police personnel on a dawn raid of` Sir Cliff Richards home!

Isn’t it time that someone with a bit of common sense sits down with police commissioners, superintendents, etc, to teach them how to prioritise operations? Or, possibly, simply to tell them to do their jobs!

I understand that schoolchildren in the UK are to be taught various talents and skills such as, the “three R’s”, reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmatic! This is an excellent idea, but way back in history, “when I were a lad”, these subjects formed the basis of every primary/junior school curriculum!

Efes beerLeaving aside the question of what has been taught instead of these educational basics, apparently “fractions” are going to be part of the arithmetical curriculum. Why? As Britain has adopted the decimal system (based on 10) rather than the “Imperial” system (based on 12), mathematically, a “half” (1/2) is no longer a “half”, but is now 50% or 0.5! Admittedly, people in a British pub are more likely to ask for a “half a pint of beer”, rather than “zero point .5” or “50% of a pint of beer”!

Also, by the time they are 14 years old, students must have “done” (my word) two Shakespeare plays. I said “done”, because, although I loved (and still do love!) English literature, Shakespeare left me cold.

Hands up, those readers, who have willingly gone to see a Shakespeare play since they left school? Hmm, yes, I thought so!

Why aren’t the works of 20th century British play writers such as Harold Pinter and Alan Ayckbourn being studied? Are these extremely talented and entertaining play writers being ignored because, if their works were included it would mean that teachers and examiners would have to do some actual work by studying their plays and thinking up “new” curricular explanations and exam questions?



Another proposal is that 11 year olds sit mathematics exams without being allowed access to a calculator. What an excellent idea, or it would be if calculators were only available to a privileged few, rather than now, in real life, “everyone” has a calculator!

Even my (very) basic cell phone (which doesn’t have internet access, doesn’t talk to clouds or android jelly bean sandwiches), has a calculator! To compel children to take maths exams without being able to use calculators is tantamount to taking them into the “bush” and telling them that the local supermarket and butcher have closed.

Hunter GatherersThe children are then taught to lay traps to catch wild game, and then taken to a farm. Here they are taught how to sow wheat, reap the harvest, then mill the grain and make bread. The children are then taken back to the woods where they are taught to skin (or pluck) their catch, and prepare it for the table!

There are few areas of the world left where subsistence farming and hunting is a way of life, so why not let children use any, or all, of the tools in an exam that would be available to them in real life?

It is now a fact of life that children, school-leavers and even adults no longer have to use mental arithmetic or “think” mathematically as they needed to do a number of years ago! Since the introduction of bar codes, the shopkeeper or check out person simply scans the products (or enters the appropriate numbers) and the transaction is completed. Failure to notice blatant errors on the till-roll, such as the amount being in the thousands or millions instead of tens or hundreds, has nothing to do with education, simply commonsense!

To my mind, what is needed in Britain (and possibly other countries), is not necessarily a new curriculum (or a return to the one that I enjoyed {?} in the late 1950’s and 60’s) but a return of the teachers’ authority in the classroom!

Among our friends in the UK were a married couple, both of whom had been school-teachers. To cut a long story short, they had both given up their professions because they found that, as they didn’t have the authority to discipline unruly elements in the class, they were unable to teach and encourage the “middle” pupils.

The intelligent pupils would succeed simply because they were intelligent, the unintelligent ones would fail because they were, well, not intelligent enough. The pupils who suffered were those in the middle, who could succeed if the teacher had been able to spend a bit of extra time with them!

Therefore, while I don’t advocate the return of the cane, teachers must have the authority to discipline and, if necessary, effectively punish any unruly pupil in the classroom, indeed, anywhere in the school area.

Today (18th September 2014)

Scottish residents have the opportunity to vote whether to remain in or to leave the “Kingdom of Great Britain” that was created in 1707.

Firstly I would like to say that I have no firm opinion either way as to whether Scotland should, or should not, gain full “independence” from England. This is because I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of what the immediate or long-term effects on either England or Scotland would be in the event of Scotland becoming an independent nation.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister

David Cameron appears to have been caught by surprise by the amount of ground that the “yes” (to independence) side has gained. Despite being committed to cutting government spending, he is now in such a panic that he is offering the Scots all sorts of bribes and concessions if they vote “no”!

To get to the end of this part of my ramble, and indeed my only major concern, the vote (and this is a one-off event) appears to be evenly split.

Whichever side loses to (say) a 51/49% split will never be satisfied, and therefore civil unrest is an unfortunate possibility.

Whatever happens, I wish the Scots the best of luck!

Next blog will continue with Alistair’s rambles

These rambles were written by Alistair initially for the “The KibKom Times” then “The KibKom Forum