It’s Never Too Late

… to grow and maintain a beard you could lose a badger in. And that’s just the women.

Yes, that’s right, ladies. No more plucking or waxing required. You will learn how to grow a full beard the envy of all your girlfriends, and many of your male friends. You’ll find all the answers when you sign up for my Grab Two Great Handfuls Of My Fuzzy Face online course. Just follow the link. 👉🏼

My course is absolutely FREE, no hidden charges or catches. Although, when you get there, for a very limited period, you can choose to sign up for my Advanced Hirsute Secrets course for the early bird discount of $49. Yes, that’s $49 for access to all those, ummm, secrets. Although you need to sign up today, as the cost will return to the usual fee of $9,999 on Friday. [We are expecting this class to sell out, rather like myself, very quickly!]

PLUS! If you sign up today, you’ll also get the following BONUSES for FREE too: The Secret To Owning And Growing A Penis [value $299]; Are Those My Shoes: The Secret Of Maintaining Big Feet [value $499]; Navel Fluff Knitting Patterns [value $19]. Yes, that’s total bonus gifts of, uh, $2,314 for FREE if you sign up right now!

Did I say it was a secret? Yeah, it’s always secrets in these ads. Ummm, so you’re not ever allowed to tell anyone. Which is fortunate, because I’m also offering a massive 973% discount on my Don’t Ever Tell Anyone Anything That’s A Secret masterclass starting on Monday. So, for just $257 you can sign up secretly for this masterclass too. [Registration for this one has been open for just 24 hours and over half the spots have been taken already. Quick! Your very life and happiness, and my luxury skiing holiday in St Moritz, could be at stake!]

Obviously, I can’t tell you too much about the latter class. It’s, uh, a secret. But it’s definitely a masterclass. It will have, erm, experts, masters, classes and everything. And it will ultimately enable you to discern the value of any future masterclass offers you might see, while also providing you with a full understanding of how to discount and add bonuses to all sorts of crap.

Don’t delay. Book now!

Disclaimer: This is the small print. I’d make it much smaller, but this is the tiniest default font offered here. Ideally, I’d rather you could barely see it at all and just signed up for everything and regretted it later. Regret is fine, but you can’t get your money back. There will be a future secret masterclass course, highly discounted, entitled: No Refunds!

Note: It’s quite possible that I’ve seen too many sponsored ads on Instagram now. And I’ve gone quietly insane. If you’re reading this, please send help … uh, along with bonuses and sundry free stuff!

A Bird In The Hand

… means, uh, bird poo on the wrist.

Speaking of đź’©. Sorry, I mean world-beating. It seems our government bought the Instagram algorithm [which I don’t see a problem with!!] to manipulat, uh, I mean calculate this year’s A-level results due to the pandemic. And it would appear it worked as brilliantly as the world-beating Track & Trace app the government tested on the Isle of Wight which had a mere statistical anomaly of 96% failure on iPhone!

So, I genuinely shudder to think how 🤬ed up the exams algorithm was when they panicked and moved the goalposts again just a couple of days ago. A staggering 36% of entries had lower grades than predicted. So the government suddenly threw in the potential for students to appeal if the estimated result was lower than their mock exam. Do what?

The clue is in the title there people! Mock … exam. Not only are they early in the year – with months of teaching/study to come – but all schools do them slightly differently too. And having worked in a state school for well over a decade I can assure you the tendency for a great many of the kids to not take mock exams too seriously is right up there with … well, the result of the government’s Track & Trace system!

Still, at least the universities might make more allowances, eh? Don’t stress kids. Simply head to UCAS, the, ummm, world-beating national university admissions service; all might still be fine. Website crashed within five minutes this morning!

Earlier on BBC 5Live, Education Secretary, Gavin ‘I went to private school so have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about’ Williamson, was asked who came up with the mock idea. Four times he was asked that question; four times he didn’t answer it but essentially waffled on about something else. How the hell do these people ever pass an exam themselves?!

Q. If the sum of the circle is equal to the square on the opposite two sides, what is the angle of x when the dangle is 38%?

A. William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England and his favourite cheese was cheddar …

Result. Outstanding. Become a Conservative MP and formulate government policy for something that you have no awareness of in reality. And, don’t worry, when you’re found completely wanting, we’ll move you to another department.

Evolution

Time changes everything, said someone quite well known once. I think. And, more infamously, What’s in a name?! once remarked The Very Reverend Bernie Stoatburgler. Meanwhile, What are you going on about now? is often said … well, by quite a lot of people to me when I’m talking.

Fortunately, my writing is a great deal tighter. So tight, even ducks would envy my pelvic floor, in terms of keeping the water out. Tighter than the Genesis tour t-shirt I bought when I first saw them back in 1981. In fact, even tighter than a …

Huh? Oh, yes … the point. Ahem.

Well, on/off for the past few weeks I’ve worked very hard on this website. In fact, I scrapped absolutely everything I had here previously. Started afresh! Out with the old in with the …

Uh, I didn’t do that intentionally, of course, I simply pressed the wrong button!

So, yes, partly by long lingering desire, and partly by sheer incompetence when it came to button pressing. [I can so relate now, Father Dougal McGuire, I can so relate!] As a result, doubtlessly millions* of people wondered where my website had gone.

*Numbers provided by Donald Trump. Very big numbers. Very amazing numbers. Numbers like we’ve never seen before numbers. Thanks Donald.

Anyhoo … what does this all mean? Well, a couple of things.

Firstly, I’ve neglected my website here for a little too long; ironically, as I felt it needed a significant reworking given the technological wanderings since its creation. [e.g. I built this pre-smartphone ubiquity, and if you’e ever tried to look at this website on a smartphone you’ll know its worked about effectively as our government’s Covid-19 response!] And, secondly, I have new work that I’m beginning to work on and felt it needed a more valuable platform than Instagram. Yes, Instagram, the place formerly known as a support to artists and creatives, subsequently bought by F*c*book and since rendered an increasingly unusable frog-in-a-blender commercial vehicle for Zuckerberg’s ongoing world domination desires.

Don’t. Mention. The. Algorithm.

Essentially, I’ve grown tired of shouting into the void there, so will instead, ummmm, shout into the void here. But it’s my void!

Please feel free to have a wander around. I’d really love to hear any feedback you may have, or just let me know if there’s actually anyone still out there – in theory, this blog was feverishly followed by 299 people. I do hope some of you might still be asleep at the bottom of the garden?

BREAKING NEWS … 

BREAKING NEWS [from the Fox News network, so it must be reliable] …

The truth is slowly emerging following Ivanka Trump’s rapid elevation into the White House as America’s ‘First Daughter’. She is pregnant … with Donald Trump’s baby.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not as bad as you might first think because, let’s be honest, while he almost certainly would, she wouldn’t go there. Ivanka’s pregnancy has been confirmed through in vitro fertilisation. The procedure apparently carried out by the respected Smith & Jones laboratory in England. [Archive footage from Smith & Jones Laboratory]

It’s understood the seed was [more than metaphorically] sown in a conversation during the recent meeting with British prime minister, Theresa May. In a casual chat she’d talked about Britain’s steeped political history and our youngest ever prime minister, William Pitt the Younger, who was just 14-years-old when he became prime minister in 1783. [This might sound young, but the average age of the population following the Bubonic Plague was just 19 – and, in a similar historical misunderstanding, an average age also later adopted by America for conscription to the war in Vietnam.] It’s believed Ivan Vladimir Trump will then be groomed to be the 46th POTUS in 8 years time, with Ivanka likely to remain as his official assistant, but with a subtle switch of name plaque on the office door to read: First Mother.

It’s also rumoured that Donald Trump’s brain – assuming it hasn’t been already – will be cryogenically frozen by the same laboratory. And, as evolving technology allows, he will then run for a future presidency. Although it will no longer be POTUS but simply President of the 71st State of the Anglo-Russian-Chinese Empire.

Don’t Turn Your Back

A modern dilemma…

Since the end of summer, with increasing frequency – a tucked away rock overhang where I drop down into the woods to walk along the river with Willow – piles of litter. Not just any litter, of course, but a curious mix of hard drug remnants [blackened foil], wet wipes, empty crisp packets, sweet wrappers and lollipop sticks. Just how young are these users?

The rock overhang is only just out of view of a public footpath, before a steep tumble down into the valley, but would otherwise only be sparsely frequented by the intrepid dog-walker, or possibly kids looking for a den in the holidays. Suffice to say, without the occasional black sack intervention by myself and another regular dog-walker, it would otherwise be an indescribable shite heap by now.

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Don’t Turn Your Back

As I say, the frequency had been exponential – in line with a growing addiction? – and the inevitable happened: I bumped into them. The penny dropped with an incredulous clang. A guy in his mid-20s preparing his next fix; a woman, of similar age; and four kids chomping on crisps and sweets, aged maybe 8, 5, 3 and a baby in a buggy. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I doubt I would’ve believed it.

The guy quickly scampered from view, leaving me to say to her, ‘Unusual place for a picnic?’ [It was close to freezing and light rain fell from impending twilight.] We had a brief conversation about ‘rubbish in the woods/kids’ laced with metaphor. I’m not sure she grasped the desired references. Then he returned, shielding his face with high collar and hat and they hurriedly left.

I wondered what might happen? If I should do something?

Throughout the following week, the ‘littering’ continued for a handful of almost consecutive days. The inevitable happened again. The eldest child’s rushed voice, ‘Someone’s coming!’ The man runs around the overhang from view. The mother is scrunching up tin foil into balls and the kids are ‘playing’ Who can throw the rubbish down into the valley the furthest! There’s another fractured conversation – she glibly suggests the wind will deal with any of the litter.

It’s another cruel winter’s day. She breaks away from the awkwardness of our conversation and prepares to leave. I fix the eldest child with the softest expression I can muster and ask him what he thinks about coming into the woods to play such games. He shrugs his shoulders, but there’s far more than a child in those sad eyes.

The man returns again in a flustered rush, she says, ‘Let’s go kids, we’ve got to pick up Mary from school.’ Shoulders are nudged, a hand is grasped, and a flurry of muddied feet and the mud clogged wheels of buggy melt into the narrow path. The smallest boy turns in my direction, “I’m not your friend,” he says . The man briefly meets my eye from beneath his wintry disguise; a connection. I know him. He knows me.

We don’t know each other by name. But he’s grown up around here. I recall the teenage, slow-witted demeanour from years gone by; he’s cuts a desperately sad clichĂ©.

So… What would you do?

A direct report to the police/authorities now, and the source is probably clear. He/they know where I live, and walk – often in isolated darkness. Ramifications are a distinct possibility – they’re certainly from the rougher side of the tracks. But I can’t ignore this completely, can I?

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UPDATE:

It’s now one week down the line since my intervention – and a number of days since this blog post. It’s been invaluable to gain other people’s thoughts [notable thanks to my Instagram followers], and it might have been considerably more helpful to have put it out there earlier[!], therefore saving a lot of personal soul searching and wandering of thoughts.

I discussed the scenario with a couple of colleagues in school [I work in a high school environment, in case any reader isn’t aware]. And it’s an important distinction to draw, simply for the reason that in my position as a teacher I have a responsibility for safeguarding and child protection. Effectively this means, had, say, a child come into our room and made reference to potentially going down into the woods with dad/a man while he does drugs, then it would be professionally incumbent on me to report this to the head of safeguarding. So, as you can see, there was always thinly-veiled semantics, as far as my experience and professional obligations were concerned.

In school, I spoke to both a support tutor/counsellor, the latter – known for quite strong opinions – suggested How would I feel if something happened to one/some of those children? [Something alluded to during the discussion on Instagram, too.] A slightly brutal analysis of the situation; at the end of the day, it’s not me who should be responsible for the welfare of those children; and my discovery was purely accidental. But it did make me feel less comfortable about doing nothing, or delaying any further.

In the end …

I came up with my own compromise solution. A compromise in the sense that I had, at least, done something, while also hopefully protecting myself against any potential repercussion.

I researched and located Bristol Drugs Project and Frank . “There is no easy way to pick up that phone or knock on that door but take that step and you’ll find knowledgeable, free and confidential help…”  I photocopied their main website pages and inserted them into a couple of weatherproof sleeves. I then wrote a personal, handwritten message headed with a loud THINK! [Slightly annoyingly, I didn’t keep a copy of it, as it was simply a stream of conciousness – but it referred to BDP and Frank and assured the reader, if they were open and ready for help with their addiction, that they were great people; I also posed a question, referring to my own connection with safeguarding/child protection: If you were me, what would you do? I closed out with further encouragement to seek help, but at the very least, to take this habit away from the children and think what they might be doing to them.] I added the note to top of one of the clear sleeves, went down into the woods and cleared every scrap of ‘litter’ [again!], before placing them on the ledge, held in place by two large stones.

The following day [last Saturday], I returned to the spot. There was a single discarded cigarette paper on the floor and the remains of one of the man’s distinctive roll-ups on the ledge … the sleeves were gone. I had a good look around, they had seemingly been taken, rather than discarded in the immediate surroundings, at least.

The addiction-driven habit, since just before and across the Christmas period, had become almost daily – certainly every other day.

It’s now one week down the line … and absolutely no sign of any return. I can only hope there was an impact, on his/her conscience and awareness of the children, at the very least.

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