Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Sway

This little gem from Bic Runga features in American Pie, the hilarious gross-out comedy. I only spotted it properly the other night, when I saw the last two thirds of the film. (I always watch it if it's on and I'm in.)

I felt a profound sense of loss watching the movie. How odd to get such a response from a comedy of that sort, and what a testament to its fundamentally high quality. The following song really embellished the feeling.


Sway

Don't stray
Don't ever go away
I should be much too smart for this
You know it gets the better
Of me sometimes
When you and I collide
I fall into an ocean of you
Pull me out in time
Don't let me drown
Let me down
I say it's all because of you

And here I go
Losing my control I'm practising your name
So I can say it to your face it doesn't seem right
To look you in the eye
And let all the things you mean to me
Come tumbling out my mouth indeed it's time
Tell you why
I say it's infinitely true

Say you'll stay
Don't come and go
Like you do
Sway my way
Yeah I need to know
All about you

And there's no cure
And no way to be sure
Why everything's turned inside out
Instilling so much doubt
It makes me so tired
I feel so uninspired
My head is battling with my heart
My logic has been torn apart
And now
It all turns sour
Come sweeten
Every afternoon

Say you'll stay
Don't come and go
Like you do
Sway my way
Yeah I need to know
All about you

Say you'll stay
Don't come and go
Like you do
Sway my way
Yeah I need to know
All about you
It's all because of you
It's all because of you

Update

I've done a week in my new job now, and the boss was in yesterday. I am absolutely delighted to be where I am, and determined to do a really good job. A first class job in fact.

I have a gig on Thursday night, at Hogwash. 7:30pm at the Hogshead pub, on Lisle Street, just off Leceister Square. This is gig number 8!

I shall be controversial.

Friday, 24 March 2006

The Green Green Grass Of Home

I shall be returning home to north Oxfordshire this weekend for the first time in several weeks. That I have not been desperate to get out of Oxford is a testament to that city's many charms, charms which I had almost completely forgotten before moving back here.

It will nonetheless be great to see my parents, and my sister who is back, and to stroll through the countryside. 23 floors above London, my office has a spectacular view. Yet it is undoubtedly in the rural surroundings of my village that I really feel at home.

I have been lacking discipline on a few fronts recently, and the chance to get back and refresh the batteries is one that I would be foolish not to take.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

New Job

I ought to report that I have a new full time job as a speechwriter.

It's a hugely exciting role, and I am dividing my time between my desk at home in Oxford, and a fabulous office 23 floors above London.

Sunday, 19 March 2006

Fairly Clean, Fairly Wholesome Fun

Yesterday was a good day.

It began in the gym, where Adam and I hit the weights hard. He's damn strong, and he pushed me well. I hit a new PB on the deadlift - 200 kg / 440 lbs / 31 stone. I also managed to isolate my biceps, using an EZ bar and a narrow grip. And I found out that dumbbell rows work my upper back effectively.

We went out after that, and partied hard. The night was greatly embellished by meeting Lorna - who has impressively long and painted fingernails, and Lisa. They joined us for much of the evening and were great fun. We also met various other people on the way.

My personal highlight was when one of our number, inspired by my hoisting humans in the air all night, tapped a middle aged woman on the shoulder in the bus queue. "Excuse me, would you like to be lifted?" he enquired. She confirmed that she would, and she was promptly lifted skywards and spun around (by my friend).

What absolutely SLAYED me was her completely non commital expression. She could have been doing something as routine as taking a dump for all the emotion she betrayed (I hope she wasn't), and the image will live with me always.

I love life!

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Good Clean Woolsome Fun

This Sunday is stand up gig number 7. I am playing The Woolpack - not the one in Emmerdale, but THE Woolpack - on the High Street in Southgate, London. I'm told that via Tube one alights at Southgate, turns right, goes past the college, walks for five minutes, and finds the pub on the left. I also hear there is lots of parking.

Things kick off at 8:15 pm, so if you would like to attend, get there ahead of then for a seat.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 16 March 2006

A Stout Fellow

In the company of the estimable Mr Nick Thomas yesterday I drank what Bill Hicks might have called a “heroic” amount of stout, specifically 'Dragonhead'.

That I felt fine on the way home, and woke up early and got straight to work ought to be a source of pride. However, I fear that it may indicate that I have become dangerously adaptive to the abuse of my body. Ho hum.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Well Done Little Greevesie

Huge congratulations to my sister Becca, who has just been elected President of the MCR at Magdalene College, Cambridge. She has eclipsed her brother, who hasn't won an election in which he was a candidate for a decade.

First task, L'il Sis, must be to get the authorities to spell the name of your college properly.

Apologies …

… to those of you who attended my gig at the Wheatsheaf last night. Just a few seconds into my set, I was overwhelmed by a very unspecific desire not to be there. I got it at the Bullingdon, and also at Capital Radio. The response of the audience is not a total explanation. I just wasn’t up for it.

I need to find a way through this, as relying on drink is not an option I wish to take, and the crowd deserves full throttle Greeves. Indeed the gigs that have gone well have all seen me go for it. The crowd and I deserve nothing less.

Richard made a very helpful contribution, kneeling on the stage and letting me rest my hand on his head. I like to have a mic stand, and he made up for the absence of one. He even had the grace not to attack me afterwards for announcing to the crowd “Richard is a Tory councillor. Whoo! ROCK AND ROLL!”

Friday, 10 March 2006

Alice In Bakerland

The Guardian

10th January 1989

HEADLINE: Education Guardian: Alice's loss in Bakerland - A classroom story which defies rote costing and assessment

BYLINE: By ADRIAN GREEVES


When she was six, Alice's father left home, as we fatuously say, 'for good.' Alice went underground. She clammed up. Her feelings, too anguished for speech, revealed themselves only in her reduced condition.

It was a puffin that began her rescue and moved her to express the matter of her misery.

Many other children drew the museum specimen; but only Alice drew two birds. At the bottom of each side of her paper she drew a green square, on each square (looking inwards) a puffin, and rising from each puffin, hearts. And bang down the middle of the drawing yawned a gap.

It was as frightening to me, in its childlike way, as the O-mouth whose expanding ripples harangue the landscape of Edvard Munch's lithograph, The Cry. Alice had found the first of many images for the fracture in her life.

Over several months she dictated to me a series of stories in which she visited and revisited her splitting wound. In that first story, the 'puffin went swimming in the water. She met another puffin. The puffin was a boy.'

But the world in which they met was shadowed and threatened. 'They found some water in the lake: they drank all of it. There was no other pond to swim in. The frogs couldn't jump in it, so they died.'

In story after story, she grappled with the void created by her absent dad. Sitting by her, waiting for the words, I could see down the years to her babyhood as, foetal almost, she curved over the table, shy-eyed, thin-mouthed, searching. Then, when this was resolved, she delivered the new line with a confidence that foreshadowed a strong, young womanhood.

It is not possible here to follow each of the stories in which she faced, and then accepted, confusion, rejection and disaster. The last story was the most moving because, in isolation, it was the most boring.

She had a party: visitors came, her elder sister stopped them being silly, they returned to their homes, and 'after they had gone home Mummy mopped up the floor and we tidied up. The End. By Alice Mary Grey.'

Her courageous mother had become enough; she had tidied Alice's life along with the house. Alice could truly say 'the end' and for the first time she set her name to a story: she knew where she was and who she was. The courage and invention of her storytelling enabled her case, therefore, is a model of how a receptive education can aid growth.

What was the educational cost of such help? Moreover, who would meet that cost in the world designed by Kenneth Baker?

The cost was, firstly, the luxurious possibility of being able to dictate one-to-one, with an allowance of time for huge pauses during which Alice, in a pre-verbal battle, wrestled with her fears.

The cost was also that she did not herself use the skills of handwriting, spelling or punctuation; she was making no headway in language work.

Now it would be an easy leap from those facts to point out that the emphasis in Bakerland is not on the qualities of imagination and spirit which enabled Alice to recover herself. It would be easy, too, to express fear that future teachers might spend less time on helping Alices in this way.

And it would be easy to point out that the pupil/teacher ratios are too mean to allow for much of this kind of work.

It would be easy - and right - but it would be simplistic. Alice does need to learn to write accurately, to become numerate. An education which offered only the kind of assistance that I have described would amount to a kind of loving neglect.

The danger of education having become a party political matter is that we all throw bathwater over each other's babies.

What does, I think, follow from Alice's stories, is that room must be left for the vital parts of education which are not open to assessment. Schools must keep alive a pride in such triumphs of the spirit as don't signify in the register of marks. Above all, there must be a sufficiency of teachers, and respect for them.


Otherwise the Alices in our schools will emerge as dumbly literate wrecks.

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Fair’s Fair

The ever breathtakingly shrewd Stephen Pollard smartly demolishes the widely held proposition that our PM demonstrated excessive religious fervour in his recent interview with Michael Parkinson.

I can’t stand to see people wildly misquoted, even if it is someone to whom I am politically opposed. For crying out loud people, get a grip.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Gone Country

Let me introduce you to a splendid business.

Richard Bailey is the PR genius behind Countryside Communications. Want to help grow the rural economy? Have a look.
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