free school meals

Basically, what Ian McMillan said. Never buck the Nameless Dread. It tells the truth. It may not be particularly expressive, but neither is a tail-warning radar and the two concepts are similar in function.

It’s interesting how many people remember sharing school textbooks as a 1980s trope. It’s my generation’s version of “if you can remember the 60s you weren’t there” – if you didn’t share your textbooks, you didn’t live the Thatcher years. I have a specific sense memory of the feel of the title page of a book that has been missing its cover for a while. Thinking about it, unsold books are stripped of their covers before being returned-for-credit to the publisher, so perhaps it wasn’t wear and treat, and we had managed to get hold of some surplus stock.

Weirdly, although we couldn’t afford books, we did have computers – BBC Micros, the wonderful machine designed by, among others, the man (Dr Christopher Evans) who J. G. Ballard glossed as “Dick Sutherland” in The Kindness of Women and, perhaps less of a friendly gesture, as “Robert Vaughan” in Crash, and a trans-woman (Sophie Wilson, later to work on Broadcom’s DSL chipsets). So that probably explains 90% of this blog.

This is of course a convoluted way of getting around to saying that I’m quitting the Lib Dems, as should perhaps have been obvious earlier.


  1. Phil

    Cheers, Alex. I’d say Welcome if there were anything out here to welcome you to. (Greens, maybe, possibly?)

  2. Richard J

    Retrospectively, the two things I remember about my first day at private school (aged 13 at the start of the 90s) were:-

    a) my first exposure to a completely new style of teaching (broadly, ‘sit down, shut up, and copy down word for word what I’m saying. Any actual thinking is for homework.’; and

    b) All the classes giving me my very own textbook for the first time in my life. I remember trying to hand it back to the teacher at the end of my first lesson, to the amusement of my classmates.

  3. Richard J

    The bastards.

  4. Cian

    I went to a state grammar school, and we all had our own text books. I’m fairly sure they siphoned off resources from the non-grammar schools in the area.

    Richard, that’s a really ineffectual way of teaching, for what its worth.

    • Richard J

      I think it’s safe to say that if you drill bright teenagers day in day out on how to pass exams, they tend to get good GCSE and A-Level results, which is one of the main concerns of the school’s customers…

      Any actual education I received was off my own bat, of course.

  5. Cian

    The one’s who don’t go mad from boredom. I doubt I’d have lasted.

    Its effective on certain types of exam. There’s an argument to be made that when public school’s/right wingers complain about standards in exams, what they’re really complaining about is exams that its harder to get a competitive advantage from cramming.




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