social red shift

My parents bedroom is next to mine. In the mornings, I can hear their radio. This is good because I can listen to the today program as I dress. They also have it on in the kitchen, while we eat breakfast. This morning I caught the end of the 7am bulletin – it did not start my day well.

The Tories have launched their education policy. They describe inclusion as disastrous. This, needless to say, made me swear out loud. Those bunch of morons do not realise the damage special schools do. they would rather disabled kids be taught in special schools, but do not realise the damage such schools do. I find their approach to the whole subject condescending and patronising, for they would rather listen to a few idiotic parents wanting to protect their little diddums rather than the survivors of such schools. I whish I could show them what happens at such schools. I want to show them all of it. Some liken it to torture.

Despite many years at Hebden, I, in part at least, see myself as a product of inclusion. My best achievements were those that Hebden had very little hand in – GCSE English at Woodford lodge, A-levels at maccc and south Cheshire college, and my crowning achievement – my first class degree. These were all situations where I was included, especially at university where it’s hard to see how I could have been included more. I was speaking to the brother of an old school friend of mine, about to start his degree. He was saying about how his little bro was concerned he was going to be bullied or ostracised at uni. I too once had such fears; I told him how I cried my eyes out the first night at university, but on the second night found brandies and never felt homesick again. I was never once bullied, simply accepted for who I was (leotards, dresses, lightwriters and all). I have written here before about how, at university, I have met friends I never want to lose contact with, and made memories I never want to forget. I told him about the good times – about Newquay, and brandies discos. Its funny how wrong I was once about being accepted. The advantages of getting past such an assumption are huge, for I now feel more confident than ever: weekends away are nothing, nights out rule! What once seemed huge hurdles are now nothing – all I need, more often than not is a p.a (and/or a few good friends*), my lightwriter, cash for beer, and my toothbrush. The sky is the limit.

All this stems from inclusion. The psychological effects of being included allow one to see that one is, in effect, no different to anyone else. On the other hand, being segregated reinforces the idea that one is different. One thus thinks one is limited. Often, kids are told that they won’t be able to do gcses etc, and hence are taught to accept a place in life ultimately below their potential, and ultimately not as happy a one as it may have been. Looking back over the last three years, and reflecting that some kids may be being denied such experiences because of the misconceptions and biases of the powers that be – often parents and special school teachers – ii feel my blood boil. Inclusion must proceed.

Inclusion, mind, not integration. There is a difference, and an important one, as it is the stumbling block for many people. it can be explained thus: imagine a circle on

a piece of paper. There’s a dot just outside the circle. Integration means moving the dot to inside the circle, whereas inclusion means expanding the circle to accommodate the dot. What people object to is integration: just to dump the dot inside the circle is wrong. Just to dump a kid with SEN inside a mainstream school without any support is wrong. If that had happened to me, I strongly suspect things would have been very different. However, if we expand the circle so the education system can accommodate the needs of all kids, everybody will benefit. I believe this is what happened to me, especially at university: with every adaptation, every electric key fob, expanded keyboard and box of straws behind the bar in brandies, the radius was enlarged. Mind you, I think when it comes to people this circle expanded naturally. People, especially students, are very accepting: not once did I feel fundamentally different. If this red shift occurred at university, it can sure as hell happen in schools.

The Tories are therefore grossly misguided, and must be stopped. It is segregation, not inclusion, which is the disaster. I saw it’s effects first hand, and have felt them. I once felt different and alien; I once pitied myself. I will not allow the Tories to return us to the dark days of segregation, with kids being given a second rate, half assed education; with kids being stood for so long that they fainted; with classmates being illiterate age 16; with having to watch half your classmates wilt and fail. I will not allow the return of such things to appease a few overprotective parents. Inclusion must proceed.

*this reminds me, need to sort out getting my crippled butt to Portsmouth for john’s party. Need to go to see Kate too

zooming about ornimental gardens

I hope it not too optimistic of me to say that summer seems finally to be here. At last bright sunshine is streaming through my bedroom window, and there is blue sky. It may be breezy, but it is sunny enough for beer on the patio. My parents and I went to arley hall this morning, for a walk around the gardens. It was nice. Great for bombing around on one’s electric wheelchair. I’ve been stuck inside for the past few weeks, but now dad’s home, and the weather is better, I can get out more. The gardens there are beautiful, and huge. There are many winding paths to follow.

On the way back we played pub cricket, and then had a beer on the patio while reading a very interesting article in the culture section of the Sunday times on westerns. With my degree, the memories it brought with it, and with my friends just the other side of email or facebook, life cant get much better. Bring on the summer.

the return of tha grand narrative?

I would be willing to wager that most of the country is reading one book. famously, it was said once of Tolkien’s books: the world is divided between those who are reading Lord of the Rings and those who are going to read it. No doubt the same can be said of the final Harry potter book. everyone is reading them, intending to read them, or waiting for them to be made into films.

Amazingly for something so new, Harry has become part of our culture. Everyone I know, adults and kids alike, is familiar with these characters and stories, and they have only been around 7 or 8 years. This is especially noteworthy at a time when kids are turning away from traditional occupations such as reading in favour of computer games, although, needless to say, potter is now also available in game form.

Now, I love these books as much as anyone; dad was reading them to us earlier and they seem to have great power. Forgive the pun, but they’re quite magical. I agree that they’re getting progressively darker too. However, I raise my eyebrow at the fact that jk Rowling is now in quite an enviable position. The world is reading her books, hanging off every word. She, it seems to me, now wields some considerable power.

Everything, every piece of art, is created to express ideas or a meaning. Everything is political, including, or perhaps especially prose fiction. books – ell books express a political view. Now, I have no problem with what Rowling is saying; indeed, I agree with most of what she says (overt or implicit), yet the fact remains Rowling has all our ears. She has everyone’s attention, and is able to argue whatever she wishes to an audience the size of which is without precedent. I hope it not too facetious of me to compare the potter series to the bible, for with it’s huge readership comes monumental power. Although this is testament to her skill, and also to the power of literature, we must never lose sight of the fact that such power can be abused. As moody warns: constant vigilance.


I’ve been looking at facebook a lot lately. Most of my friends are on there, and the photos they post contain many wonderful memories for me: events like Newquay, the last brandies, graduation. I love looking at them, which is why I have many such photographs on my bedroom wall, but I do feel that me and cameras don’t mix! In most such photos my eyes seem firmly shut. Leaving aside the pictures where I am in fact asleep, whenever the camera comes near me I get the irresistible compulsion to close my eyes. I do not like doing this as I feel it ruins an otherwise brilliant photo – one which my friends also cherish – but I don’t think I can help it. It seems to be my natural reaction to cameras.

The problem is cameras make me self-conscious: every time a camera is pointed at me, all my attention is diverted to looking good. My face tenses, and I try to grin (I usually end up showing to much teeth). As a result, my eyes often close. Well, I think that’s how it works. Don’t get me wrong – I adore these pictures. Rocky gave me one of her, me and Vikki in brandies which is now pinned to my wall; on facebook, there is one of me and Emma I especially like; of course, there are the framed photos Charlie gave too me for my birthday, which I love. It’s just that photos rarely seem to get my good side.

afternoon films

One of the best things about being a film student is you can watch films without feeling guilty about wasting time watching films. Most afternoon TV is crap, but this afternoon on channel 4 was something of a gem – Powell and Pressburger’s ‘A matter of life and Death’. A lot of my final film essay was on p+p, but that particular film I hadn’t yet seem. Stylistically, you could tell it was theirs. It is very British, almost patriotic. Rather sentimental. Very sweet. In all a good, solid film though. Need to watch all the films I can for my masters! [great excuse, innit?]

the bbc etc

The house is quiet again. Everyone left this morning. I’m just pottering about, doing this and that. I may start the final hary potter book, or just watch Jeremy Kyle, later. I should also do some research, I know, but it’s (nominally) summer, and I reckon I can chill a bit.

Oddly enough, broadly my area of research is on the news, or perhaps is the news. I am interested in filmic semiotics and grammatics – that is, how moving images can be manipulated in order to change their meaning. As we all know, the bbc is currently in trouble for changing the order of shots so that they convey a different meaning. They have, in short, turned fact into fiction. this, to me, is utterly indefensible: we look to the bbc for fairness and accuracy. Can we still trust the bbc? I’m not sure.

However, I am sure that it’s not only auntie’s problem. If this happens at the bbc, why not itv or sky. I daresay it’s only because of the way in which the bbc is funded that this problem was found. I was reading the Sunday times yesterday, and found Rod Liddle’s article on the subject. While liddle makes some good points, the article was glib, poorly written and sneering. The Sunday times, of course, is owned by Rupert Murdoch; this makes me very angry. For the owner of fox, the most biased news organisation since Goebells, to mount such an attack on the bbc, seems hypocritical to say the least. I also dislike the way conservatives dislike the bbc because it doesn’t reflect their values. All this means is that the bbc is open minded and unbiased. If the bbc was changed to reflect ‘their values’ we would get a highly distorted view of the world.

Yes, the bbc is liberal, but all liberality means is fairness and open-mindedness. To be as accurate and objective, one must present all side of the story. Only then can one know the truth. Given that the world can only be observed by human eyes, and there is no independent, omniscient observer, objective truth is a myth. There is only a plethora of observing-positions and therefore values. All values are valid. Surely, any news corporation should embrace this.

The bbc, in it’s liberality, does this usually. This is why it was the most trusted news broadcaster on earth. Is this still true? I’m no longer sure.

full huose

There are lots of smells in the house today, and for once they don’t all come from me. My parents have put new air fresheners throughout the place, and were roasting about half a pig earlier. As I said before, much of my family was here this weekend: my brothers have already left, and my uncle, aunt and cousins go tomorrow morning. For the most part, the weekend was spent sitting and talking, eating, or playing gonga. This is a card game; I can’t handle cards, so I just watch and sip beer. It is noteworthy, probably, that I increasingly choose to use my lightwriter to talk to guests. This is not because my speech has got worse, but I prefer to use ‘Colin’ (as my uni mates christened my voca). It feels as if I can be more fluent and precise, without having to have a third party to translate. I increasingly see my lightwriter as part of my identity; I’m proud of it.

Anyway, bedtime is near. It’s been a cool weekend, and I hope to see all my extended family again soon.