As 2015 draws to a close, I would like to reflect on some of the news stories that have been significant throughout the year. There have been moments of great despair but also of great hope for Britain.
- May 2nd. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby. However, since several hundred thousand other woman also gave birth to babies in 2015, this event wasn’t actually all that important or significant, except to the family involved.
- May 7th. The Conservatives won the general election with an outright majority. This was a day of deep despair for Britain (Unless you were a millionaire in which case you were probably pretty smug). Without the Liberal Democrats to tone down their more extreme destructive policies, the Conservatives were free to wreak havoc on Britain, doing things like selling off Royal Mail at discount prices to their rich friends, and cutting the welfare cap thus plunging tens of thousands of children into poverty.
- September 12th. Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party. This was my personal high point of the year. It was a moment of hope and optimism after a summer of wretchedness and gloom. I could dare to hope that my children might continue to benefit from the NHS, and might even be able to go to university without saddling themselves with huge debts. Corbyn’s popularity showed that British people were hungry for a new kind of politics based on honesty, integrity and fairness rather than the lying, self-serving unjust politics of David Cameron’s government.
- September 20th. It was alleged that our Prime Minister, David Cameron, had during his student days, had oral sex with a dead pig. This confirmed to anyone who was not already convinced that our Prime Minister was a depraved, inhuman, disrespectful being devoid of normal human decency. It also gave rise to a brilliantly entertaining Twitter storm #piggate.
- October 26th. The government’s plans to cut tax credits (despite claiming to be the party of working people) was seen to be so destructive and damaging that it was defeated by the House of Lords. This brought hope, not only to the families affected, but also to the whole of Britain, that the Tories would not be able to carry out whatever pernicious and murderous policies they wanted.
- December 2nd. MPs voted to allow bombs to be dropped on Syria. This decision was met with whoops of joyous laughter by some MPs, delighted at the prospect of being allowed to play their war games and kill real people. Despite the fact that the government were making catastrophic cuts in public services, it seemed we had plenty of money for killing people. Despite Europe’s inability to cope with the vast numbers of people fleeing bombs in Syria, we decided to go and drop some more, and make some more refugees. Despite the government’s promise to make us safer from terrorism they decided to go and do something that would make us less safe.
- December 15th. British Astronaut Tim Peake set off for the International Space Station. He was not the first Briton in space – that was Helen Sharman in 1991 – but this was nevertheless a very exciting and significant moment. He will spend six months doing some very exciting scientific experiments. Among other things he will carry out research on muscle wastage that could help people on earth with osteoporosis.
So there we have it. 2015 was a significant year for Britain. Let’s hope that in 2016 we can protect the most vulnerable from the psychopathic Tories, and continue to be optimistic about the future.
Today is Jeremy Corbyn’s 100th day as Labour leader. And it is 100 days since I joined the Labour Party. The hashtag #Jez100 is trending on Twitter right now. Here is a word cloud made of some of the words used by his supporters to describe Jeremy and his politics on Twitter.
OK, so I’m a year late seeing this film as it came out last Christmas. That’s because I never go and see family films until Cineworld show them in their cheap Saturday morning “movies for Juniors” showings. It has been slated by reviewers but I took my boys to see it last weekend and we all loved it; I think I enjoyed it even more than they did. Here’s why.
- It has some great British comic actors in it such as martin Clunes and Catherine Tate. Anything with Martin Clunes in it has got to be worth watching.
- It was filmed in some fantastic locations such as London and the charming model village at Bourton-on-the-Water in my own county of Gloucestershire.
- It will make you cry. I’m not usually one for sobbing in the cinema but there is something so sad about a little girl who has not only lost her mother, but now her father has lost his memory and doesn’t recognise her, and can’t even remember her late mother.
- It will make you laugh. As a teacher, the idea of an Ofsted inspector turning up in a school where a live donkey is wandering around pooing all over the floor, appealed to my sense of humour. There are lots of humorous moments all through the film.
- There are some great, original Christmas songs that will have you singing along.
- The film tells the timeless, heart-warming story of a woman who is just about to marry the wrong man when suddenly the right man turns up just in time. Been there, done that.
Here are some Christmas maths ideas for all of you who are maths teachers or who just like doing maths.
- This picture shows two Christmas tree shapes. The first shape has eleven corners. How many corners does the second shape have? How many corners would the 11th shape have? Can you write an expression for the number of corners on the nth shape? Would there be a shape with 100 corners?
- Santa is buying clothes for his elves. He has trousers, jackets and hats in red, blue and green. He wants all the elves to be different. How many combinations of the three items of clothing can he make with the three colours? (They can have two or three items the same colour.) What about if he had some yellow clothes too?
- There are approximately two billion children in the world. If Santa has to give each child a present in 24 hours, how many presents does he need to deliver each second?
- My friend collects toy cars. They come in cube shaped boxes with length y cm. I have bought her 32 of them for Christmas and I want to wrap them. What will the surface area be, in terms of y, if I wrap them individually? I could wrap them all together in a cuboid shape to save wrapping paper. How many different ways can I put 32 cubes together to make a cuboid? Which way would give me the smallest surface area? What would the surface area be?
I love a good list, which is one reason why my blog consists mainly of them. One of my favourite kinds of list is a to-do list. The only problem I have is that I write them on little bits of paper and then I lose them. here are some of the reasons why I love to-do lists.
- Writing a list means I don’t have to carry all that stuff in my head because it is on the paper instead. If I have a lot of things to do, I sometimes can’t sleep at night with all the things going round in my brain because I don’t want to forget them. If I get them out of my brain and onto a piece of paper then my brain can rest and I can sleep.
- It makes me feel organised and in control if I have a list of all the things I need to do. Then I can focus on going down the list and doing them one at a time instead of running around trying to do things as they come into my head, which is usually while I’m already in the middle of doing another thing. If I write down approximate timings by each task I feel even more purposeful and less likely to get distracted.
- There is nothing quite so satisfying as ticking things off a list. And as I see more and more ticks congregating on my list, I feel a great sense of purpose and achievement. If the things are just in my head so I can’t tick them off, I don’t have the same documentary evidence and my achievement is not measureable. Sometimes I write down really little tasks on the list that don’t really need to be listed, just so that I can have the satisfaction of ticking them off.
So there you have it. To-do lists are a great source of satisfaction, purposefulness and relaxation. Now I’m off to write myself a list. And the first item on the list is to write a list.