Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Words - We are the music makers

This is not the poem I wanted! This is part of it, but I've a feeling that the one I wanted (the one from the BBC2 drama promo being shown at the moment) has been specially written but based on this.


 This is rather beautiful anyway.

We are the music-makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
    And sitting by desolate streams.
    World-losers and world-forsakers,
    Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
    Yet we are the movers and shakers,
    Of the world forever, it seems.

    With wonderful deathless ditties
    We build up the world's great cities,
    And out of a fabulous story
    We fashion an empire's glory:
    One man with a dream, at pleasure,
    Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
    And three with a new song's measure
    Can trample an empire down.

    We, in the ages lying
    In the buried past of the earth,
    Built Nineveh with our sighing,
    And Babel itself with our mirth;
    And o'erthrew them with prophesying
    To the old of the new world's worth;
    For each age is a dream that is dying,
    Or one that is coming to birth.
-- Arthur O'Shaughnessy

 I love the idea that each age is a dream that is dying, OR one that is coming to birth. OR. That when horrible things happen in our lives, there is always a new dream around the corner. -- Arthur O'Shaughnessy Well, that's my interpretation anyway!

 Anyway, nip over to Wednesday Words at the inspirational Emma's blog. And give her some bloggy love, because she's stuck in hospital looking like an extra from Twilight. (Well, not that I've seen Twilight, or any of those films, but you get the general idea!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

A peculiar birthday

Yesterday was my Happy birthday. I am now 38. I thought I'd be bothered, but I'm not.

It was a good birthday and a not so good birthday.

Good bits included lovely cards, a 3ds game from the boys, a 3ds game from J, money from his parents and a couple of cards from the class.

Not so good bits involved £230 on new tyres after finding a slow puncture which led to finding that the camber on the wheels at the back was wrong and that she'd been running on her inside edge, possibly since we'd had her, and the tyres (which looked in good condition from the outside of the car) had no tread left on the inside of the car. Not good.

We also had the joy of eating out together which is a special kind of torture some days. Because it was my birthday, it was one of those days. AC ate everything going and went back for seconds on the veg, because his children's roast meal was a bit on the small side for him. T-boy took 20mins longer than everyone else and made a fuss about his peas (which he usually eats fine now) and then said his icecream tasted minty. It was vanilla. It tasted of vanilla. Not the rubbish yellow vanilla from the cheap end of tesco that he is used to, nor the Mr Whippy tastes of summer vanilla that he sometimes has, but pure gorgeous creamy vanilla. Ah well. I did my best to over look it. And the chocolate orange cheesecake incident.

After the meal, we popped to the crematorium to 'see' J's grandmother. It was her death-a-versary, as we would refer to it in our home.

We got there. The AC asked why people had places like this. I told him it was the same for them as the forest is for us and Rich.

AC shrunk into me on the way up the path. It all looked very familiar. It wasn't, because this was 150 miles away, but it was a council crem, and they all look a bit the same.

We got in, and J came to stand by me, holding my hand. I can't explain the feeling of suddenly being back there, in the Other Crem, of the emotion that filled my chest and the peculiar fear of being in one of these again. We had a look at flowers for other people. We made the right noises. J's mum, pointed out other people that she knew. I looked to see where she was looking and there were the massive Books Of Remembrance. Well, that did it for the boy child. He had become quieter and quieter and then he came for a cuddle and quietly cried into my Scotty hoodie. J's mum sighed, and we went out.

I shoved my emotions aside and we whispered naughtily down the path about how Rich would have hated to be left in somewhere like this, and that's why we left our him in a forest, next to a massive slide. You cannot be sad either climbing up or coming down that slide. We whispered about how the old ladies that were left there would have plagued him with tales of their arthritis and the best recipe for war time chicken soup. The AC giggled, and offered his own suggestions, and the grief was beaten again.

I won't let grief take all of his childhood. I can't, and I won't. He has to know that there is a silver lining to every cloud, no matter how dark it is. He has to know that sometimes he might have to work on it, but it will be there.

As birthdays go, it was a weird one.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so don't mock the spelling and I'll be back later to sort the layout!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday Words

The busy CrazyWithTwins has started a new Wednesday linky thingy.  It's called Wednesday Words.

Basically, we get to post a bit of poetry, say what we like about it, and add it to the linky.  I think.  If I'm wrong, then I shall expect some red pen at the end of my post, and a "Must try harder" comment.

I've known the first verse of this for a long time, since I was about 16 I think, and I've lived by it as much as ever I can.  Thankfully, because of that, Rich knew how much I loved him, and J knows how much I love him, and it is all good.

I can't remember who wrote it though.  Enjoy - and go read other peoples!

If you have a friend worth loving,
Love him. Yes, and let him know
That you love him; ere life's evening
Tinge his brow with sunset glow.
Why should good words ne'er be said
Of a friend-- till he is dead?

If you hear a song that thrills you,
Sung by any child of song,
Praise it. Do not let the singer
Wait deserved praises long.
Why should one who thrills your heart
Lack the joy you may impart?

If you hear a prayer that moves you
By its humble, pleading tone,
Join it. Do not let the seeker
Bow before his God alone.
Why should not your brother share
The strength of "two or three" in prayer?

If you see the hot tears falling
From a brother's weeping eyes,
Share them. And by kindly sharing
Own your kinship in the skies.
Why should anyone be glad
When a brother's heart is sad?

If a silvery laugh goes rippling
Through the sunshine on his face,
Share it. 'Tis the wise man's saying--
For both grief and joy a place.
There's health and goodness in the mirth
In which an honest laugh has birth.

If your work is made more easy
By a friendly, helping hand,
Say so. Speak out brave and truly
Ere the darkness veil the land.
Should a brother workman dear
Falter for a word of cheer?

Scatter thus your seeds of kindness
All enriching as you go--
Leave them. Trust the Harvest-giver;
He will make each seed to grow.
So, until the happy end,
Your life shall never lack a friend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In or out?

This is a difficult post to write without sounding xenophobic, racist, or just like a complete cow.

David Cameron is talking about a referendum that asks the British public if it wants in or out of the European Union.  He's going to ask the people what they want - and let's face it, this isn't just about what the result is, this is about the core of British life.  Democracy.

Democracy is something of which the UK should be very proud.  Why do we have so many immigrants? For some, it's because we have democracy, and their country doesn't.  We don't mind a difference of opinion, and encourage free thinking, they can expect beatings, jail and death if they even talk against their politicians, whereas here its more of a national sport.  Democracy is something that the Armed Forces have fought to provide, both here and abroad.  Democracy and the right to vote is something that women had to work hard to get.

It's also something that we don't exercise as much as we should.  I've voted in every election aside from one when I had the raging trots (no horse burger jokes please!) that I was eligible for.  I've played the game in student politics, and then decided it wasn't for me.  Many people chose not to, for a variety of reasons.  The voter turnout webpage here shows a steady decline in the active voting since 1945.  It's a choice I can't understand.

But this vote will, I think, be different.  This is supposed to be a straight choice - in the EU, or out of the EU. The country was given this choice in 1975. 67% of the population which voted said yes, they wanted to be in.  It was a different world then.

There was some immigration, but not the steady influx, some have said silent invasion, that we have now.  Any referendum will come after Romania and Bulgaria have their travel restrictions lifted, and potentially 50,000 of the population of those countries comes over here.  However, EU residents living over here will not be eligible to vote in the referendum, unless they have become British citizens, and this could have an interesting impact on the voting.  Immigration will be what most people chose to vote on, thinking that if they vote against the EU then the immigrants will go home, or at least they can express their displeasure about the influx.

As a teacher, I know the massively increased workload that even one child with no English brings.  Currently I have 3 and am expecting another.  None of them have turned up during the snowy weather.  2 never come if it's raining.  1 is Russian, 2 are Lithuanian.  There is no way of reaching one of these children, he is so miserable about being here.  Whilst I am trying to reach him, however, because he needs it, I'm not teaching my class.  Whilst I am teaching my class, the two Lithuanians sit and talk to each other, ignoring most of what is going on unless I sit them separately, but then the one who speaks no English at all has no chance of understanding, whilst the one who speaks a little bit does try and translate the bits she understands.  Sometimes.  How much worse it is for doctors and hospitals, I can't imagine.

It is incredibly hard for the children as well, to be swept up, arrive here, and be dumped into school with no English.  I don't speak Lithuanian, and can manage 3 words of Russian, (elephant, aeroplane and pencil) and so we cannot communicate verbally.  We get by, obviously, but they have to learn so much more than the language, and yet it wasn't their choice to come here.

So why are they here?  I've heard lots of reasons, lack of jobs in their own country, lack of money, lack of education, lack of housing, and yet 2 of them are here with a house that is only part heated, some of the time, no money, very little food, no school uniform, no nothing.  Even our social worker at school says its one of the most extreme examples of poverty that she has seen.  But they chose to come here, and then they chose to have another baby.

It is this kind of example of immigration that the general public will think about when they think about immigration, and vote out of the EU.  They will think about the whole areas of towns where English is never spoken, about the massive mosques being built in areas where there is a need for social housing, about the men that take our jobs and the women that sponge the benefits system and the children that fill up our schools, about the 1 in 4 babies that is born to an immigrant, about London, and about the statistics that there are now 3 towns in the UK where there are more immigrants than British.  They will think about not being able to read the signs in their own home town, about the Diwali lights that magically turn into Christmas lights when the time comes, about the Muslim patrol in London and about the violence of gangs, about the poppy burners.  Most will forget that the latter section of examples are not in the EU to start with....

So where does all this leave us?

It leaves us with the promise of a vote - if Cameron gets in again.
It leaves us with the mist of democracy.
It leaves us with a lot of rhetoric on the tv.

It leaves Britain doing what it does best.  Getting ever so slightly taken advantage of, but being too polite to say anything.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why should the country dump the Forces?

- Prince Harry admits to firing on Taliban.

The papers over here are full of the fact that Prince Harry has killed people.  I heard one commentator last night asking if it was right that the second in line to the throne has killed people.

Do you know something?  It's his job.  He's a serving member of the Armed Forces, and he does his job.  Watching the interview it struck me what a nice young man he was.

"Take a life to save a life, that's what we revolve around I suppose.  If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game."

Watching him, I could hear so many other lads talking.  Lads I've known since I was a student, lads I've known from the RAF, and obviously Rich.  Nobody joins up to kill, but sometimes it has to be done.  I know some of the things that Rich did, my brother knows about some of it, Charlie knows about some of it.  Nobody knows all of it, except Rich.  I know that he went out of the wire several times, supporting attack troops and patrols as an armourer.  I know that he did his main job inside the wire.  I know he was proud of his job.

But the other news is about the redundancies in the Armed Forces.  5000 this time.  At the same time as Algeria is kicking off, Mali is kicking off, we're still in Afghanistan, even Argentina and the Falklands still rumbles on.  At the same time as we're proud of Prince Harry - even if, as he says, he's more Army than Prince.  But that's as he should be.

He should be more Army than Prince, like Rich was more RAF than mine, like thousands of men are more Forces than husband, father, lover or son.  It's as it should be.  They serve, we all serve with them, but they are never ours in the same way until they come out.

It's the coming out that is the other problem.  A lot of Armed Forces lads, and ladies these days, have only ever known the Armed Forces.  The RAF has been their family.  It's housed them, organised their lives, fed them, cared for them, and now David Cameron and the rest of the government is just binning them off like so much dirty washing.

Many of them will come out with no support, no where to live, no one to come out to.  Others will come out with a family that is now homeless, no transferable skills, children forced to changed schools.  All most all will be ineligible for council housing, will not qualify for help with anything, and will be pushed out to make it on their own.  Thankfully, there are charities like the Royal British Legion to help, but again, we're relying on charity to do something the government should be doing, something that we as a country should not be colluding in.

As a country we rely on our Armed Forces to be there. As a Forces family, we expect that our men will go to the Abroad, wherever that may be, and will do whatever they have to do.  If they don't come marching home, we accept that possibility as well.

Then the government dumps them.  In those 5000, there will be men who were going to make the Army their whole career and who now will have nothing.

Hopefully, the news about Harry will encourage people to think more about these people, to think about what they have been through for the country that they love, and to take a little more care of them when the job is over.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Banging out....

I've banged out of Facebook for a while.

I've not seen it all day today, in fact, not since yesterday sometime, and I don't care.  I'm almost quite enjoying the break.

There are two reasons.  One is that something I put on there was taken out of context, reported to someone about whom it was not, and she's not happy with me.  One is that a relative of mine - not a close one - made a joke about Rich's death.  I don't need that, so I'm banging out.  If I was to stay on FB, I'd end up really having ago at this lad, and it's not really his fault - he's young, stupid, insensitive, we've all been there, all been that person.  He'll grow up, one day.  I just don't want to even be cyber near him at the moment.  I'll get over it.

However, having a day at home, and not looking at FB, has made me wonder why I do it - what am I missing?

Tonight, I'm missing the Scotty's World Record Rugby lads updating their progress.  I can catch up on that on twitter though.  And I do miss the rest of the Scotty's crowd.

Do I miss knowing about the minutiae of the lives of people I used to go to school with? Well, in some ways, yes.  I like to know they are ok, that they are happy.  It's.... a comfort.  I used to read their statuses after Rich died, and know that the world carried on and that in other places there were content families, making the best of what had happened, and living and loving in their own bubbles of joy.  It gave me hope that I would have my own bubble of joy again, because all of them are survivors of something.

Do I miss the endless suggestions for this game, or that game? No.  Nor do I want to tell the world when my birthday is and all that claptrap.  I don't want to send people gifts of wood or whatever to build enclosures for their outer-mongolian-ducks.  Or whatever people grow on Farmville.

Do I miss the photos of the family and my nieces and nephews? Yes. I like seeing the little things, the dressing up, the snowmen and all that jazz.

Interestingly, it is family that has driven me from FB, albeit through stupidity as opposed to malice, but it is family that will pull me back.  My blood family, and my Scotty family.  Let's face it, I've banged out before, and they were my parachute.  I'll miss them too much.

I'll be back, I know.  But.... not tonight.  J has spoken to my brother, was loving and supportive and my brother realised, I think, that this had really upset me, it wasn't just that I was being wrong over my school shutting, or whatever (and that's a whole nother post)

Partly, I'm cross with myself as well. I should be able to rise above this kind of thing.  We've just passed the 3 and a half years mark, (42 months and 4 days, if anyone is counting) and yet a simple remark gets me.  but then so do post mortems and body identifications on the tv, and snow, and tulips.  It's all ok though.

I'm just banging out for a bit.

I'll be back on there.  And I'm going to make an effort not to bang out of this either.

Laters people

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Elitist? Why yes I am! Be glad!

My last post referenced an article in our local paper which had a comment left on it from someone who had disobeyed my mothers command of "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing."

One of the remarks that the Unhappy Commentator made was about how people shouldn't help Scotty's Little Soldiers as the number of children it supports is so small.  She wanted to know who chose the children, and claimed the charity was elitist.

Well, depending on your point of view, either God or fate chooses the children.  The boy-child will tell you "There's only one way into Scotty's."

He'll also tell you "Scotty's is the best club in the world, but it's a club nobody wants to join."  He's right about that as well.

She queried the small number of children that the charity helped.  It's not as small a number as it should be.  It should be zero.  No child should be waking up without a parent because they've died whilst serving in the Armed Forces.  No child should be looking at losing everything they know on top of all the stress that goes with losing a parent.  No mother should be thankful to the charity of strangers for putting a smile on their child's face.

And yet I am.

I am deeply thankful that the upcoming Scotty's World Record Rugby Attempt for which the boy child is being a mascot is giving him something to look forward to.  He's struggling on snow days with the days of making snowmen with Rich and the memories of ambushing me with snow down the back of my neck whilst I was in the kitchen.  Right now I can wriggle him out of it by talking about the lads rugby training in the snow, or tell him that the amazing @scottysrugby has posted another update.

I am deeply thankful for every envelope with a Scotty sticker on it, every parcel, every article in the paper, every single thing.  I am joyously grateful to every stranger who has ever put a pound in a charity box, or been sponsored, or done anything to give money to help children like my son.

It is elitist - in the same way that every charity is elitist, for a reason.  Elitist means that a few people benefit. If everyone had the same thing, then it would be supported by the government. If we all got cancer as a matter of course, then there would be no need to raise money for cancer research - there would be things in place already.  There would be no need to raise money to send children aboard for treatment, or for hospices to support the dying, or the rarer versions of cancer that no-one except the sufferer and their family and friends has ever heard of. It would all be dealt with.  It isn't, because it's not the norm.  That's why we have charities - to support things which are not normal.

My son is supported by Scotty's because what he has been through is not the norm.  If Scotty's didn't support him, then he wouldn't be the child he is now.  If hard working volunteers didn't donate their time, then he wouldn't be the child he is now.  If amazing people didn't raise money for Scotty's, then it wouldn't be the charity it is, and he wouldn't be the child he is now.  For more about what Scotty's has done for the boy, look here.

Scotty's Little Soldiers has changed his life.  It's changed our lives.  He believes in something again, and he believes in Scotty's, and if that makes me part of the elite, then I'm fine with that.  Not wishing to be rude, but I'd like to keep the membership of Scotty's as small as possible, because that means that the number of children who are making snowmen with their Armed Forces parent is as big as possible.


It's a beautiful pre-accident smile.  Scotty's is helping to put it back.  Thankyou, everyone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How free is free speech?

Over the weekend there has been a spate of grumbling in the household, ranging from misery to swearing in anger.

The reason was that Terrington Tigers had given money to Scotty's Little Soldiers.  This in itself wasn't an issue.  We liked that.  The Scotty's people are always up for donations, and being given money and so forth. This is a Good Thing that enables them to carry on Good Works.

But then someone left a comment on the newspaper article.  It wasn't a nice comment. The person who had organised the event said that there was nothing worse than losing a parent.  The commenter started with "Oh yes, there is.  Losing a child." and then went off into a paragraph of how this was an 'elitist charity', with political aims and only existed to alleviate the guilt felt by the Forces for 'invading' Afghanistan and Iraq.


And then there was a response from someone, and another one, and another one. (Just the three, totalling four)  All three of them supported Scotty's.  The first one was saying that the charity commission has everything set out and organised, and that the statements in the comment were deluded and offensive.  The second was from a Scotty mum, who was hurt and offended and referred to the comments as being offensive to both her and her child.  The third was from a friend of mine, who said that the comments were unkind, unhelpful and said by someone who was only able to say those things due to the actions of servicemen and women in the past.

Next time we looked, the whole page had been taken down.

The thing is, that what was said about the actions of servicemen and women, is true.  A lot of them joined up to protect the values of Great Britain, to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.  They joined up to serve.  Serve is a big word.  Putting others before self, before family.  Going where you are told, regardless of when the baby is due, or when the first Christmas is, or any of that.  Moving homes, regardless of how many friends your 6 yr old has and whether she was going to be in the play this year at school.  Being on duty 23hrs59minutes a day for less than minimum wage.

And then, in some cases, dying whilst doing that job.  Putting others before self, to the extent that self becomes vulnerable and extinguished.

But it is not just the serviceman or woman who serves, it is his whole family.  I knew Rich was in the Armed Forces when I met him, when we got together, when he asked me to marry him.  I knew it, and I chose to serve in the background.  I washed the kit, held the house together whilst he was away, took care of him when he got home, managed dinners that were delayed by random runs to here and there, listened and loved and prepared myself, that each time he went away, that this could be the last time I saw him.  After all, Afghanistan is the dangerous place, right?

My son had no choice.  He was born into a RAF family, and then his mother took up with a RAF lad after his daddy left.  He had no choice but to serve.  He was part of the morale boosting whilst Rich was away, sending pictures and letters.  He wasn't sad about Rich being away, he was proud of him.  He missed Rich like anything, but he was proud of the job that he did, and prepared to not have his stepdaddy for a while so that other people could say what they wanted.

When Rich died, the RAF served us well.  They took care of the funeral, they took care of the boy and I, to the extent that at Rich's Celebrations, the boy went and sat with the armourers, needing the security that the uniform gave his 6yr old self.  They encouraged him to be who he wanted to be, to say what he needed to say.

We all serve and are served, a point the original commenter missed.  We all do it in pursuit of one thing.  Freedom for all to be who they want to be, to say what they need to say in a democratic environment.

And that brings us back to where we started.

Free speech.  I might not agree with the statement of the person who made the original comment - in fact I damn well don't.  I'd challenge them to have the conversations that we do, holding everything together and taping over the cracks one more time, hoping this time it mends a bit more and cracks a bit less.  But just because I don't agree doesn't mean that they shouldn't say it.  In fact, it means they should say it even more - but that I get my free speech in return.  That's where this situation went all wrong.  They said their bit, and we said our bit, and then the Lynn News denied all of us our freedoms by censoring the online paper, and removing the page.

How free is free speech? Not very in Lynn.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I actually wrote "lurgy" as my title, so where Kyrgyzstan came from I have no idea! Lol!

But yes, I have the lurgy. 4 days back at school and I'm coughing and spluttering like something from a 1950's NHS film. I have lots to blog about, but not from my phone because I'll get RSI in my thumb, and because I need to put lots of links in.

But this was part of my day yesterday. Post, from Mr Postman.

Part of me says irony, part of me says Rich, Lee and the boys are just looking out for me. On the same day as I get post for Rich, i get post from Scotty's.

Apparently Rich hasn't answered an email that they sent him. I wonder if its because he's been dead 3.5 years exactly on Thursday? Or is he just rude? I tried to talk to them on the phone, cried a lot, spoke to a dismissive young man who was quite rude, and who hid behind data protection. I have to email them. All I want is his name off the mailing list.

But the Scotty's one was to say that we raised £1277 by bag packing before Christmas. Excellent news, and came with hugs.

One letter counter acted the other and left me with a level playing field once again. I just wish companies like Credit Expert would think before blindly telling the computer to contact everyone.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Work/Life balance

I was stooging about on twitter when up into my feed popped @thelizweston with a link to her blog post Work home merge about an article she'd read about how there isn't really a dividing line between work and home - one can spend a lunchtime on Facebook or twitter during the day, and then answer email at night. It sounds like some kind of all encompassing flexi-time.

Liz has then gone on to ask for the opinion of various working mothers, working in various ways. I am throwing in my ten pennorth, because.... I can!

Work life merge has affected us for a long time. AC's dad is RAF. Rich was RAF and served abroad in Afghan, J was RAF and now has a job which is also his hobby. I'm a teacher. My mother was a teacher. It's what I know.

Perhaps it is because it is all I know, that it didn't used to bother me. Work needs doing. Currently, I have the e-safety policy to complete, ICT planning for next half term to write, general planning to do, and a lurking pile of maths books as yet unmarked from last term. Oh, and a new boy with no English starting on the first day back. And a training day presentation on e-safety to prep for Monday. I'd almost forgotten about that one. Thank goodness for Evernote!

However, as we know, this is the school holidays. This is the time I get to spend with my son, my stepson, my partner, my family, my friends. This is the season of goodwill and love to all mankind! So far, I've done no work.


In the past I have worked through the holidays, and played with my son in 15 minute sections. Or I've sat next to my man with my laptop, working through a film. I've bought food rather than making it. I've not written to friends, or my Nanna. This is a bad work life merge! This is all work!

What changed? Rich's death brought me a lot of perspective.
I promised my son I would never tell him I have to work rather than cuddle him, play with him, just be with him. When I got together with J, I made similar promises to him, for the sake of us. I hadn't expected to get that kind of happiness again, I'm not wasting it through work!

Selfishly, it's also because of the pension fiasco that is the teachers pension scheme, the fact I failed my threshold on a technicality, the fact that ICT co-ordinators used to get an afternoon a week to do their work and now they don't, amongst other reasons, so don't think I'm a saint, because I am not!

But then..... I make those decisions, to put family first, and then I get a new child who needs specialist resources. Where will those come from? My hands, my brain, my printer, my laminator, my scissors (and twinkl, Sparklebox, times educational supplement, again, don't think I'm a saint lol!) these days my son helps cut out - its family time doing something together right? It's good motor skills practice. That's what I tell myself.

And then there's the marking. I'm not ashamed to say that my OH has helped with marking tests by reading results for me to put on the computer. That's working together on a project.... right?

So does it work the other way? I do loads of work at home, what happens at school to benefit me? Well, I've printed out the odd letter at school when my home printer was out of ink. I do check twitter at school - I have a professional account as well as a personal one. I can't get Facebook at school because of the firewall. I do check and answer email in lunch and break, if I'm not on duty.

But work, and the fact my son is at my school, enabled us to hold it together during the long dark days after Rich died. Staff knew who he was, knew Rich, knew me. Cared for all of us. Brought me milk and biscuits in the summer holiday (Rich died on the last day of term) and supported that boy in the right way.

One of the people spoken to speaks of keeping her personal life separate. In a way, that's not possible as a teacher who lives in the same town she teaches in. Someone has always seen me in Tesco/town/memorably in Anne Summers..... The place I hate seeing children is when I'm swimming - without my glasses I have no idea who they are! But the upside to that was again the support and love from the wider community after the accident.

So, can I separate work and home so that it does overlap and merge? Not really. Work and home is more like a lump of red and blue plasticine that's been left with an active three year old. It's mushed together, an odd colour, and in the carpet.....

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