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Why I'm fed up with school

All of my life has somehow been linked with school. Learning, studying, assisting. I even thought that I wanted to teach for a while because I was good with the kids and I loved working with them but things have changed. 4 years of rejection from numerous sorts of teacher training courses and a change in personal circumstances as well as other reasons have helped me realise that I do not want to teach. It has been a difficult decision but one that I am pleased with.

As I've come along my journey, I've had numerous people telling me to not give up but I'm not giving up - it's a realisation. I've also had numerous people telling me 'it's not that hard', 'it's easy money' and 'you do get loads of holiday' as well as many other things but I am fed up.

At the moment I work 22hrs in school but am paid for 4. When I worked full time as a teaching assistant I was paid for 25hrs and worked 40. In 54 weeks I have done 3 Ofsted inspections, 1 SIAMs inspection, 2 primary schools, 1 middle school, 1 secondary/SEN and 1 PRU. I am mentally and physically exhausted. I, like my colleagues, work to the holidays we are given: we give our all to make sure the children in our care get the best support and the best environment to learn.
I'm fed up with being told that those of us in education aren't doing a good enough job; that we aren't working hard enough; that our children aren't learning enough; that we have it easy; that we need to make sacrifices. Every day I walk into the classroom as a volunteer, as I have over the past 10 years, I make a sacrifice. I make a sacrifice of my time, energy and money. Yes, it's amazing to know that I've helped change the lives of so many children but what do I have to show for it? I look at what the government is trying to do to education and I don't want to be here.

I'm fed up of being told that teachers get:
13 weeks holiday a year
6.5hrs work a day (9am - 3.30pm) equating to 32.5hrs a week
1hr lunch
A very good wage
To have fun with kids all day

The reality is very different. I'd like to go through each of these quickly to share the reality that many of my friends, who are teachers, face.

13 weeks holiday a year
It would be lovely if this was actually true. Yes, there are physically 13 weeks set aside for 'holiday' in the year but during this time many of my friends catch up on everything else they haven't done during term time. The biggest of these is sleep and the next is marking. Before returning to school after any holiday, they have all planned all of their lessons for the first week back. They know the overall planning scheme for the rest of the term or half term. They have sourced and created their resources for teaching a creative an interesting lesson to engage pupils. They have used their spare time, their 'holiday' time, to prepare things for your children to learn. Last year, my colleagues took 2 weeks off from school related work during the summer holidays - the first two were spent updating things in school and sorting classrooms out so that they would be ready and suitable for the pupils in September and the final two weeks before term started were spent planning and preparing lessons for the pupils.

6.5hrs work a day (9am - 3.30pm) equating to 32.5hrs a week
One of my friends had this on their bucket list before returning to teach in independent schools. In their mainstream state school, like many other state schools, they were being employed for 32.5hrs a week. The reality was that they did a lot more than 32.5hrs a week every week, each one of these above the 32.5 being unpaid. They did eventually manage to fulfil their bucket list during a week late in the summer term but only by preparing massively (by doing twice as much work the week before) and catching up with everything they'd been unable to do the week after. This was in addition to working through their lunch break, as normal, and having to forego PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time in school so that they only spent the paid 32.5hrs on site. By the end, they were pleased they had managed to succeed but also greatly regretted it because of the strain it put on everything else. They also couldn't understand why teachers were only paid for the time that the children were actually on site when head teachers wanted staff in school from 8.30am at the latest. Many of my current colleagues are on site from 8am or earlier and do not leave until 6 or 7 at night.
Several of my friends currently do 80hr weeks in order to fulfil their actual teaching contract and do everything else they are expected to do as a teacher. This equates to a 12hr working day EVERY day of the week. The teacher I currently work with goes into school every weekend to work and sort things out, none of which is paid.

1hr lunch
I'm not naive enough to say that all teachers work through their lunch because I have witnessed a number who don't but the majority of teachers do not get a 1hr lunch. They might take 20minutes to actually eat their sandwich and get a drink before going back to the classroom to work but some even eat while working. I have also worked with teachers who have bypassed lunch in order to get ahead of their work and have eaten it in the car on their drive home. This is not healthy for anyone.

Very good wage
I am not nosey enough to ask my friends what it is that they earn but I do know that while they may be paid proportionally more per hour than some other jobs, they already do more than twice the hours unpaid. I also know that each one of my friends has spent their own money on equipment and resources for school and has taken in their own things from home. Teaching is one of the few professions where you steal stationery from home to take to work.

Having fun with the kids all day
Anyone who has ever worked with children knows how exhausting they can be. In school, there is not time for mental down time. You are on the go all the time and it is physically exhausting. Several of my colleagues have stated that they have been so tired some days that they do not know how they managed to get home. Sure, the kids tell you amazing and strange things which makes your day very interesting but we get 40 weeks of that a year. Please don't complain when you have to look after your own children for the summer holidays. It's only 6 weeks and you don't have 30 of them wanting your undivided attention.

On top of all this, teaching itself is not easy. Imagine you have to give an hour long presentation at work. You spend hours, maybe a week researching and preparing it all for an audience who roughly know what it's going to be about and are all on the same metaphorical page. Now do 5 of those for different subjects in one day for some people who understand and some who don't. Teachers do this every day and every week.
I'm frequently told by people, including my own relatives, that it's easy, that you can re-use the plans you did last year but the children change and their needs change so you still have to adapt. As well as this, the curriculum keeps changing so you are always having to improve own knowledge in order to give the best to the children. They plan, mark and assess their work and the children's work to see if they can improve and the children can improve. Teachers are also expected to act like social workers as well as deal with bad behaviour and, in some cases, violence while ensuring that all children are learning. On top of this are inspections to see if you are 'up to scratch', to see if your children are making 'expected progress', to see if your school is getting the results they need. If you don't get the expected results, your inspections are increased which increases the stress level. It is not really surprising that the burn out rate for newly qualified teachers is currently at 6 years.

I should state that there are lots of people who work in a school and they are not all teachers. As well as teachers, there are numerous support staff roles including teaching assistants, secretaries, bursars, kitchen staff, cleaning staff, lunchtime supervisors and before/after school support staff. Each of these has their own role, wage and hours. At some point, yes, school staff may get the 13 weeks worth of holiday but even they work more than they are paid for. Each one of these members of staff helps support your children to achieve their potential. Each one is helping shape the next generation. Each one deserves to be acknowledged and respected for their work. Please support them rather than undermine them.
It's no secret that I generally don't pay attention to the news. There are a number of reasons for this but I won't go into them. However, it has come to my attention via Facebook that some unknown-to-me sportsman (presumably a football player based on the pictures - an area I have no interest in) has come out as gay. I have absolutely no issue with this, each to their own and all that, but what I do have an issue with are the huge numbers of people who are saying that this shouldn't be a news story and the ones who are arguing against these people saying that it should.

My thought on this is that it shouldn't be news because it SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE.

I have been told that my opinion is idealistic and that I should be more realistic about how our society really works with the implication that by seeing this in the news and thus celebrating it, it makes it easier for other people. It makes it easier for society to cope with it. It makes things easier. They tell me that for LGBT this is quite a step forward because every single person makes a difference and it helps other people. They tell me that it is helping to change the way society sees people because certain professions are 'innately homophobic' so someone coming out in that profession is a good thing.

I pondered this term and wondered how they came up with it. How is it that professions can be innately homophobic? No child is born with innate knowledge to hate; it is learnt. They have been taught by people who do not understand. They learn to see people differently because they have been taught to.

So what is it that has made you see people differently?

Is it someone telling you they're gay?
Is it someone telling you they're straight?
Is is someone telling you they've just lost a parent?
Is it someone telling you they've been struggling with eating disorders?
Is is someone telling you they've got a mental illness?
Is it someone telling you they were raped?
Is it someone telling you they were the rapist?

In reality it doesn't matter what it was, what matters is what you do once you know. Do you judge them? Do you shun them? Do you laugh at them? Do you thank them? Do you treat them exactly the same?

It surprised me to see people talking about how long it would take for society to accept that some sports people are gay when what they really should have been focusing on wasn't the profession but just the statement 'I wonder how long it will take for society to accept that some people are gay.'

Lots of people tell me that it's society that has to change. They expect the world to suddenly change overnight so it becomes accepting of other peoples differences. Yet, society is made up of individuals. You, me, the guy from down the street, the lady you see in the supermarket, the small child you just gave the ball back to. All of us have a voice. All of us have an opinion. All of us can choose to use our voice and our opinion to do something good. None of us have to wait for someone else to do it first.

You have a voice and you can choose. What is it that has made you see people differently?

I was seen differently when I told people that I had been sexually assaulted. To this day I don't know how it wasn't rape, it was so close to being it. There are, were, still a lot of people who didn't know and that was my choice. It was my issue that I was dealing with. Am dealing with. I've seen so many things lately about cases from the Seventies and wonder how the people involved were able to keep quiet but then come forward 40 years later to talk about it. It never goes away. It gets easier, yes, but it never goes away. This year, for the first year, I didn't remember. That sounds like a strange thing to say but let me explain. Usually, around the anniversary of the incident, I get particularly distressed or nervous and can find it difficult to sit and listen to things that are vaguely similar or have elements of similarity to them. This was the first time it passed me by without that.

I've changed a lot in my life in many ways. I've had a decent amount of therapy and I'm getting things back on track (or, if you didn't know, I've been hiding it pretty well overall). One thing that will never leave me though is the fact that I wasn't believed. I had to prove to others that this had actually happened to me. The company in question didn't believe me even after I'd had two lots of police in the house and had identified the assailant. They allowed him to keep working and even sent me gifts to 'soften the blow'. I ended up going to court as a witness and the victim to prove that I hadn't been making it up.

Yet, I am still the same person. Yes, something happened to me but I am still the same person.
All those people I mentioned above are still the same people. You may see them differently but they are still the same people. The only one I would say any different about is the rapist but, as you can expect, I have my own views on this and I don't wish to air them here or now for a number of reasons.

Have a look at the people in your life. How do you see them? Think about how you'd see them if they admitted anything to you. Would you see them differently? Would you treat them differently?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Body Image

This morning one of the girls in my class came to talk to me after assembly. She told me that she'd been picked on by some of the boys in the other classes because she had hairy legs. She's year 4.

At first I wondered what to say to this because I was surprised that anyone would be commenting on it at all. Then I decided to talk to my student about body image because it was the right thing to do.
At 9.30am I was talking to an 8/9 year old girl about body image. I don't think this is right.

However, we talked about it and several things came out of our conversation:
- She said that she had got the dark hair from her dad.
- She told me she'd talked to her mum about it.
- Her mum had told her not to shave as she'd be doing it for years.
- Society shouldn't always tell us what's right.
- Being different is okay.

As proud as I am for her to be able to talk to her parents about it and to be able to brush it off so easily, I am concerned that a girl of her age should be worried about it.

The strange thing is I remembered how I'd seen the same girl a couple of weeks ago and, to my horror, I did a double take when I looked at her legs. For some reason I wasn't expecting to see any hair there but then I got wondering - when did society tell me that any hair on female legs is wrong? When should one start to remove hair, if they want to? As I watched her continue her work, I thought about it. She wasn't bothered about her body, she was busy doing what she was doing, and that was all that mattered. The pure innocence of her demeanour was refreshing.

Society tells us that we should make our bodies alluring to men but at what point did we as women become just a figment of male desire? Society tells us we should be thin but at what point is it too thin? Society tells us that the lithe, thin figure is most desired by men but men say they prefer curves and something to grab onto. How is thin correct? Society tells us that we should conform but what if I like my zany sense of humour? What if I like being different?

I will never be a stick, ever, my body was built with hips, but I'm fine with it. I'm learning to appreciate what I have but what I have and what I do with it is for me, not for anyone else. I wear what I want to wear, not what someone else tells me to wear. I will think what I want to think, not what someone else tells me to think. I will go where I want to go, I will eat what I want to eat. If I decide I don't want to remove the hair from my legs every other day then I won't.

Society doesn't need another sheep.

Be individual. Be different.

The school dilemma

I recently read this article from someone about the QTS tests.
They were discussing why we need to be able to do difficult mental maths questions in a short space of time. It queries why there should be an automated time limit and whether this is hindering those teachers who can do mental maths but who are slightly slower at it. As such, the author's friend was denied a great job at a a great school all due to the fact that they were not fast enough at maths calculations.

I have a different problem.

No one will let me on a course to train to teach.

I have a 2:1 degree in Music with History.
I have my literacy and numeracy tests - I passed them both first time. This year you are required to pass them before embarking upon a course.
I have great rapport with the kids in schools. One visiting teacher commented that it was very obvious the children really looked to us and valued us.
I have been told by numerous teachers that I would be a good teacher and I've been told by more children that I'm a good teacher.
I was told previously that I didn't have enough experience so I went out of my way to volunteer and to get experience.
I work hard and go out of my way to help people.
I have an interest in working with children and young people which is also shown by my volunteering as a Guide leader.
I am creative and have great ideas for working with kids.
I work well in a team but am not afraid to take leadership when need be.
I have a musical background which will benefit schools.
I have previously taught KS3 music with the class teacher in the room.

I could probably carry on but I don't really want to.

This year I have had my GTTR application sent to five different places. I have interviewed at three of them. I want to work in Primary and in only one of those interviews were there any children. In addition to this they haven't been particularly forthcoming with feedback so I can build on it.
The first told me I could have feedback but then conveniently forgot to do anything about it even after asking twice. The second told me that I wasn't passionate enough about Primary and didn't have the relevant subject knowledge. This was after they had previously told me they thought I had dismissed secondary too quickly (especially after they implied that someone with a music degree can only teach secondary). Their one saving grace was that they did imply that I could actually teach and that I am employable. This third interview also said they would give feedback but they have given nothing of the sort in my email stating that regretfully they are not going to pursue my application at this stage but wish me luck for obtaining a place on a PGCE course. This was the third and final stage of the interview process - I had passed their other stages.
In addition to this I also applied to School Direct which is the new GTP and received equally unspecific feedback in my decline letter which was mostly due to the fact that I didn't have a Potential to Teach letter from a headteacher in my possession. Although I took this to them later they had already made their decision.

What really confuses me is that at the moment I work for an agency as an unqualified TA. I have done cover supervisor work and I have taught some lessons or parts of lessons. I have done two Ofsted inspections within two months in schools and one unofficial Ofsted where I was personally given excellent feedback on my work. One of my schools even wanted me to do maternity cover in English after my work in the English department even though it's not my subject. If schools have faith in me why don't others?

What I can't work out is what I'm doing wrong. Am I under a experienced, over-experienced, unsuitable, something else entirely? I just don't know. I also don't know what to do now. Do I keep fighting or do I give up and say that there's a reason for everything and I must be being called elsewhere?
Am I meant to be in school?
Yesterday I ventured down to London to partake in two things I had never done before. It's not the first time I have ventured to London to do something for the first time - last month I attended the ballet at the Royal Opera House for the first time - but yesterday was something a little different.

Yesterday I attended a book launch but not just any old book launch. This book launch was one from the LSO; more specifically, Gareth Davies from the LSO.

It's not just that I have never attended a book launch before, I have also never attended an LSO event despite spending an extraordinary amount of time talking to them on Twitter... In addition to this they haven't attended book launches before because no-one has ever written a book quite like this and it is Gareth's first book. As such, it was with a little trepidation that we all turned up at LSO St Luke's last night, none of us quite knowing what to expect.

None of us were disappointed.

Starting with drinks we were then treated to speeches from Kathryn McDowell (LSO Marketing Director), Gareth Davies (LSO Principal Flute and the author), Olivia Bays (from Elliott & Thompson, publishers), a short film about the LSO on tour in 1912 and 2012 which complimented the book perfectly and a performance of a popular piece in 1912, In The Shadows, before being allowed access to the delicious cakes from Gareth's sister in law Vic at Victoria's Kitchen. After this we were free to roam, chat and mingle with the other guests - a selection of friends, family, colleagues, patrons and blog lovers (hopefully I haven't forgotten anyone!).

During the evening I got the chance to talk to Jack Nisbet whose grandfather Henry was in the LSO in 1912. Aside from being amazing to talk to someone so passionate about history and his grandfather's work, he was so pleased that his grandfather's diary had been able to be used in this way and was sure that if his grandfather was around now he would have been excited to discover this too.
I also managed to chat to Jo who runs the LSO's Twitter account and Gareth himself who, again, I have spent an extraordinary amount of time talking to on Twitter so much so that he knew who I was before I introduced myself... I cannot work out if this is impressive or scary. Either way it was lovely to be able to meet Jo and Gareth. I even got Gareth to sign a couple of books which I felt was only fitting considering that at this precise moment I own 1% of the pre-signed books the LSO are selling before it's released in the shops. [In case you're wondering this is 5 because they have 500 signed copies.]

What can I say about the book itself? Well, I own 5 copies so it's gotta be good. Or I hope so, at least. So far I am only about 2/3rds of the way through my original copy. The others are going as presents to people who are interested in music. Or that's what I keep telling my family. [A small portion of the reason why I have so many copies is down to Gareth telling me to buy some more on Twitter.] There is more to it than that, though. The book is very much like my degree. Just bear with me here - if you know this story, apologies, if not then it does make sense. I did a degree in Music with History. This means it is a 60/40 course with 60% music modules and 40% history modules. However, whenever I tell people what I did my degree in I get the same answers: 'The history of music?' or 'That's an unusual combination, I wouldn't have thought of that'.
Gareth's book, The Show Must Go On, is exactly like my degree. It combines music and history but is not the history of music and, unlike people initially think, it fits together perfectly. Music and history go hand in hand as you cannot talk about music without also talking about history. Many people think that history is just about what happened when but it is so much more than that. A good friend of mine likes to remind me that, for her, history is made real when we hear the stories of the people involved in it. The Show Must Go On is nothing but this: showing history through the stories of the people who lived it.
In this case it is mostly the stories of three individuals, 100 years apart. Focusing on the lives of musicians who were touring, the book juxtaposes life in 1912, based on diaries from Charles Turner and Henry Nisbet, against life in 2012. Gareth's style of writing is easy to read and relate to which is one of the reasons I am enjoying the book so much. In addition to this it gives us an insight into what things are really like on the other side of the curtain, something very few people will understand or appreciate, as the performance side, while wonderful, is very different indeed. Gareth also mentioned in his speech that many books are written by music critics but none, apart from this one, by those who actually play the music, do the rehearsals, do the extra events, travel around the world leaving friends and family alone for many months within a year. This book has all of the above. This is a book of firsts. This is a book you should read but not just read, read and share with others. This book could change the face of orchestral music. [Have I persuaded you enough yet?!]



Just as I was leaving LSO St Luke's a gentleman spoke to me and amongst various things asked how I had managed to be there at the launch. I told him that I had been invited, indirectly, because of my Twitter connection to the LSO and Gareth [I can't now remember why he thought I was there]. He then asked if I'd attended any other LSO events at which I, regretfully, had to say no because I don't live in London and I have a minimum of a 1hr20min train journey home from Euston with my last train being at 21:10 thus making things a little difficult and requiring accommodation if I wish to do most things. After a moment he told me that I should come to a concert and that Gareth should buy me a drink. Bemused, I jokingly said I'd tell Gareth this and he replied that I should and to tell him that 'Gerry the second trumpet told him to buy you a drink'. Well I wasn't expecting that!

It's things like that which most people don't get to experience. I know that to some musicians can be perceived as being a bit snooty (I play, myself, and have met a few like this) and a good friend of mine was previously under the impression that the LSO didn't have a sense of humour but I can honestly say that despite being one of the best orchestras in the world the LSO are delightfully lovely and down to earth - just a fantastic group of people making some fantastic music.

I think the best comment of the night though was from a lady I chatted to outside LSO St Luke's. Aside from telling me off for not knowing about the London Festival and then saying that I needed to make some new best friends in London so I can attend events in the evening, she uttered these words at seeing LSO players out of concert dress:
'They all look so odd in mufty!'

It seems 2013 is a year for firsts!

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It wouldn't be right to share all the above and not post any pictures of the event, however, as I was too in awe of everything I didn't actually take many so here are some pictures I have borrowed mostly from Twitter. Thanks and credit to each will be given at each picture. Most of these are credit to the lovely Jo from the LSO.
* I've put all these as clickable thumbnails so to not take up too much space.

 photo lsomanagingdirectorkathrynmcdowellintroducestheevening.jpg
Kathryn McDowell introducing the evening. Credit Jo (LSO)

 photo guestsatthelaunch.jpg>
Guests at LSO St Luke's. Credit Jo (LSO)

 photo filmatthelaunch.jpg
Watching the film about touring in 1912 and 2012. Credit Jo (LSO)
This video is now available on YouTube.

 photo garethtalksaboutcolleaguesnolongerwithusbig.png
Gareth talks, movingly, about colleagues who are no longer with us but whose stories live on [in the book]. Credit Jo (LSO)

 photo garethandlsomusicianssarahquinngilliannehaddowandminatlyonsperformintheshadowsaworkpopularwhilethelsowereontourinnyin1912.jpg
Gareth Davies, Sarah Quinn, Gillianne Haddow and Minat Lyons perform In The Shadows. Credit Jo (LSO)

 photo booksatthelaunch.jpg
Books available at the launch. Credit Jo (LSO)

 photo cakesatthelaunchbig.png  photo carlasharesacakepicture.png  photo minicakebooksbyvictoriaskitchen.jpg  photo DSCN0349.jpg  photo DSCN0348.jpg
Cakes at the launch from Victoria's Kitchen. Credit Jo (LSO), Carla, Victoria's Kitchen, Me

 photo garethwithlibbyroberaandjackbig.png
L-R: LSO Archivist Libby Rice, Gareth Davies, Roberta Gagliani, granddaughter of 1912 LSO timpanist Charles Turner, and Jack Nisbet, grandson of 1912 LSO flautist Henry Nisbet, both of whose diaries are of the 1912 tour are in the LSO archive, and which Gareth's book The Show Must Go On is based on. The table contains other items from the 1912 tour, including original programmes, a souvenir medal and photographs taken during the tour. Credit Jo (LSO)

 photo DSCN0351.jpg
Myself and Gareth.

And finally...
Gareth thanks everyone on Twitter:
 photo gareththankseveryone.png

But I couldn't really do that without sharing this!
 photo gareththanksme.png

-----------------------------------

Links:

LSO on Twitter @londonsymphony
Gareth Davies on Twitter @flutelicious
LSO St Luke's on Twitter @lsostlukes
LSO on tour 1912 on Twitter @LSOonTour1912
Scanned copies of original documents from the LSO tour in 1912 on Pinterest
Elliott & Thompson on Twitter @eandtbooks
LSO homepage
Elliott & Thompson homepage
Victoria's Kitchen on Twitter @VsKitchen
Victoria's Kitchen homepage

Universe of Sound

Today I had the privilege of attending the media preview of Universe of Sound at the Municipal Bank, Birmingham. I was there as a blogger and tweeter so it was very unusual to be 'representing Twitter' (though at one point I was mistaken for a member of the Philharmonia!).

For those who don't know, Universe of Sound is an installation inviting people to 'step inside the orchestra' and become a part of it rather than just being the audience. Conceived by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Universe of Sound takes you out of this world using Gustav Holst's The Planets. Even if you don't know the whole piece you will recognise 'Jupiter' from a variety of places and you will no doubt know the rest of the work by the end of the installation! In addition to this there is also a wonderful new piece by contemporary composer Joby Talbot which fits perfectly.

I've been lucky enough to experience Universe of Sound before as I visited the original installation at the Science Museum in London which I loved so naturally I was excited when THSH Birmingham announced they would be housing it for a while, not least that it would be a significant distance closer! I think it also helps that I love both the Town Hall and Symphony Hall separately anyway, aside from the fact that I was that enamoured with Universe of Sound the first time that I had to tell everyone about it.

But what exactly IS Universe of Sound, I hear you ask.
Well, without going into too much detail (I don't want to ruin the fun) you can join each section of the orchestra, follow the music and join in if you want (you're encouraged to take your instruments along and play if you want - I think I still need a little more persuading before I do this!) or you can just sit and listen. Universe of Sound lets you become part of the orchestra in a way that you're happy with.

In addition to this you can also try your hand at conducting in one of the conductor pods found at Universe of Sound and Symphony Hall - it's harder than it looks but I can now honestly say that I have conducted the Philharmonia playing The Planets at Symphony Hall. Pretty cool, eh?

I can't wait to go back to Universe of Sound and maybe when I do I'll do a proper comparison of the two installations I've experienced, complete with pictures - it would be wrong to share my favourite sections with you just yet!

The universe is waiting.
When are you going?

Universe of Sound is at the Municipal Bank, Broad Street, Birmingham. 25th May - 16th June, 11am - 6.30pm. Free entrance.
I worked at a school for a while where their motto was 'Love, Live, Learn'.  This is very similar to my work with Rainbows where their motto is 'look, learn, laugh, love' but both have got me thinking.  I think perhaps the school motto includes both 'look' and 'laugh' within 'live'.  To live sometimes we look, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry and sometimes we do things we never even thought we'd do.

As we have now entered a new year I thought I would try and look back on my 2012 using the Love, Live, Learn motto.  I don't expect any of you to read this, though I'm not going to stop you if you want to, but if you wish to take this idea and do something similar, feel free.

Love
Wow. 2012. That's been a bit of an eye opener.  I've loved a lot of things on so many levels.  I've loved the Diamond Jubilee and it showed me how much I actually love this country and the Queen (and how awesome she is).  I've loved the Olympics and the Paralympics too and I'm really pleased I managed to go and experience some of both in London.  I've loved meeting up with friends and connecting with new friends.  I love the fact that I got to spend a week with my best friend (even though I really didn't want to let her get back on the train at the end!).  I'd like to say I've loved many other people but that wouldn't be strictly true, it was probably more liked, but there's a decent amount of those and I thank you all for having a part in my life, even if it's just small (or very, very confusing).

Live
In some ways I've finally learned to live. It's difficult to explain how and in a way I don't want to even try because it's very personal trying to put into words exactly how I've started to live but I am very pleased I've reached this stage.

Learn
So many things learned in 2012. I've learned a lot about myself and I'm working on putting these into my life.  I've learned I love being in school and that I want to try and follow a career in teaching.  I've learned I'm a lot better at working with kids than I thought I was (and my current y5s love me and don't want me to leave!).  I've learned that sometimes even bad situations can lead to good experiences.  I've learned that I am stronger than I think and that it is okay to ask for help if you're struggling.  I've learned that I still have an AWFUL lot to learn but I'm looking forward to it.
I went to the Theatre yesterday.  I like the Theatre and I've seen this particular Society perform many shows over the years.  Some of them were classics, some of them were unknown to me, some of them were modern updated versions of classics.  Only once have I left the Theatre not having enjoyed the show.  That was yesterday. 
The performance was fantastic, the set amazing, the costumes delightful (I wanted some of them), the acting good and the singing good (overall).  But the show itself I didn't like. 

It was Hot Mikado. I had been told before that it would be a fun modern version of The Mikado.  I don't remember all of The Mikado but roughly speaking it is a comedy operetta (or musical if you'd rather) set in Japan with some interesting character names (Yum-Yum, Nanki-poo and Pooh-bah to name three), a lighthearted romantic storyline with plenty of twists and some typical Gilbert and Sullivan music and songs. Hot Mikado takes the same storyline but alters all the music and songs.  Some remain similar but most have been altered.  I have, essentially, no issue with this but my issue comes mostly from the fact that what was an operetta set in Japan became an operetta set in New Orleans in the Forties but with a Japanese set and some Japanese jokes. The music covered a variety of styles but there was a lot of gospel of which I have no idea what was actually being sung because it was too loud and contained, unfortunately, a lady warbling over it all. 
If you're struggling to imagine what the show was like imagine Disney's The Princess and the Frog but with Japanese background artwork and a few Japanese jokes thrown in.  Confusing, eh?
It didn't help that for the majority of the second act the people behind me talked all the way through so not only was I not enjoying the singing I couldn't hear the speaking because of the idiots behind me!

Researching tells me that there was a show called The Hot Mikado created for an African-American cast in 1939 which is basically the Mikado but with a different cast (traditionally they are all Caucasian) and this is where the music was changed.  It became jazzier to fit with the Afro-American influences which music knows well.  Still a little odd but I can at least see the relevance here.  
Hot Mikado is an adaptation of the 1939 production of The Hot Mikado because apparently very little remains of it.  The characters from the original Mikado have been exaggerated (which made it more fun) and stolen from the internet this is the rest of the information:
'The show is set in Japan in the 1940s, with suggested settings and costuming combining Japanese design with American 1940s design. The set uses Japanese architecture, executed in the textures of The Cotton Club (neon, brass, mahogany). The costumes include zoot suits, snoods, wedgies and felt hats, executed in the colorful silk kimono textures of Japan.

The score uses much of Sullivan's original music but is reorchestrated using 1940s popular musical harmonies and arrangements and a wide range of styles, including jazz, hot gospel, blues, rock, Cab Calloway swing, and torch songs.[1] The 'Three Little Maids' sing in Andrews Sisters' style. Many of the songs of Hot Mikado have the same name and melody as in The Mikado, but often have a twist. For example, the song "I Am So Proud" has the same melody for the verses, changing only towards the end, where it folds into a more jazzy round. The dances called for include the Lindy Hoptap-dancing, the jitterbug and other 1940s dances.'

I don't know about all that but it won't be a show I'll be rushing to see again.  Modernise it, yes, but don't throw in a whole different genre while you're at it.

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'Everybody Lies'

Lies. You hear them everywhere, even when you don't realise it.

Everybody Lies.  It's so true that even Dr House has it as his catchphrase in House (or House M.D. if you're stateside).  There are a great many reasons why people lie and what they choose to lie about. Sometimes it's even for our best interests, or so we think.  We even lie to ourselves sometimes but while that doesn't make much sense we still do it.  We hide things from ourselves like we hide them from other people.  We are often afraid of the response we will get if we tell the truth and so we choose to lie.

For some of us this comes naturally and for others we really have to think before we lie.  But the question is, is lying ever the right answer?  I know the immediate answer you'll be shouting at me is 'no, lying is never the best answer' but I'd like to challenge that with some things I've lied about this month.  

I lied when you asked me if I'd had a good birthday.  Actually it was a crappy birthday and I spent much of it in tears.

I lied when you asked me if I was okay.  I said I was fine.  I wasn't, at all.  I'm still not.  I lie about this every day.

I lied when I said I liked your present.  I didn't like it, I loved it and yet I hated it all at once.  I sat at my table and cried as I opened every section of it, my hands shaking even as I tried to remove the outer paper and by the end I was in that much of a state by the end I nearly threw up.

I lied when I said I didn't want any more pizza and gave you the last piece.

I lied when I said I could keep walking.  I was in agony.

I lied when I said I liked being single.  I don't, it sucks.

I lied when I said I finally knew what I wanted to do with my future and was happy.  Sure I might know what I want to do now but I'm scared as hell about it and a 2.5hr phonecall to a friends mum helped me realise that actually I could do it but I'm still scared.

I lied when I said I was happy.  I'm not, overall.

I lied when I said I didn't love you.  I do.

I lied when I said I didn't care.  I do and oh how it kills me to pretend that I don't care.

I lied when I said I'd be alright without you.  I'm not. I'm a mess and I can't tell you.

I lied when I told you I only wanted to ask you information about a certain place.  Actually I just wanted to talk to you.

I lied when I said I understood.  I don't.

There are so many things I've lied about, probably lots more than the list here (though some of these are things I do on a daily basis so I've only listed them once), and sure, most of these will probably class as trivial to you but they're still lies.  Which of those should I have told the truth for?  Are the people I lied to better off because they thought I was happy and I understood?  Am I a better person because I lied to them so I didn't make them feel bad?  Seems odd to think about it like that because surely all lies are bad, aren't they? 
I could go down that list and state the reasons why I lied but anyone who's ever lied will understand why I lied.  I don't think it makes me a better person but sometimes it does seem right to save the other person the pain they get with the truth.  That said, my track record with telling the truth hasn't been great, it's lost me friends, so maybe lying is the better answer.  Or am I lying about that?

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