A History of Mediocrity

While sorting through old photo albums at the weekend, a big red album titled “This is Your Life” was re-discovered. My other half compiled it for my 30th birthday – twenty years ago now – and it has somehow survived hidden away in a dark corner of the book-case.

While flicking through the pages of the album, a small paper booklet fell onto the floor – titled “School Report”. I looked through it with my eldest daughter this lunchtime. She laughed a little bit more than she should have.


A good set of reports, Jonathan. Try to involve yourself with more noticeable enthusiasm in some subjects.

Miss Baston, Form Teacher

He understands the work quite well but shows a rather casual attitude at times.

Mrs Ball, Mathematics

He has tried hard to achieve quite pleasing standards and his rate of progress has been sound.

Mr White, Chemistry

Has worked very well in all aspects of the subject, and has attained a pleasing standard of work.

Mr Lloyd, Technology

Has worked steadily, and has maintained a satisfactory standard.

Mr Bradley, Physics

His examination revealed his poor appreciation for the concepts involved this year.

Mr Davies, Biology

After missing a large part of the energy topic, has worked well and should pursue science next year.

Mr Bradbury, Combined Science

Has made steady progress. He could consider as an exam subject – he is capable of obtaining a good grade if he applies himself.

Miss Baston, French

This pupil has shown some interest in the subject. In my opinion he would benefit from taking this subject next year.

Mr McCullagh, History

Finds difficulty learning facts. He knows the basics, but must revise in more detail. Excellent illustrations. Very quiet. A little shy. Must ask questions, and work faster.

Miss Foote, Geography

Produced a good term’s work and his examination result was exceptional. Has a great deal of potential for further study.

Mr Jones, Technical Graphics

Enjoys music and could gain some benefit from an examination course. However he would need to concentrate on listening skills.

Mrs Hawker, Music

Has had some success with his basic skill repertoire, and shown a limited knowledge of tactics, and the rules of play.

Mr Maskery, Physical Education

It’s amusing looking back. This series of reports – from the spring of 1987 – coincides with computers entering my life. I remember getting into trouble with the English teachers (who’s report is strangely absent) for “mailing it in” for the first half of the year – and having to sit with one of them and explain myself.

There’s also no art teacher report. I’m not sure why. Perhaps the year was broken into blocks in the run-up to choosing exam subjects? Art was the one subject I never had to try at – I could always just do it, and got good reports with no effort whatsoever.


Thought you might like to see these. I think it helped make my eldest realise that nobody is good at everything (apart from my other half, who get top marks across the board). I think perhaps I was guilty of doing “just enough” throughout school.


Finding Time

As a few might have noticed, I’ve returned to WordPress. This had absolutely nothing to do with platforms – more about separation of concerns. I needed to use Substack for something else, and would rather have something of a dividing wall between my personal blog, and other endeavours.

So what have I been up to in my absence?

I started a damn fool escapade on the internet a few weeks ago, and it exploded in popularity – turning from a few minutes of my time into a full time second job. I’m doing it of my own volition though, so I only have myself to complain to.

I was up until 3am last night trying to find out what was eating disk space on a web server – this after going round in circles trying to find out why on earth something was failing – before realising the software was lying to me.

Today I spent the majority of the day at my youngest daughter’s school – running a second hand book stall to help raise funds for the school. I ran the stall for the better part of three hours – greeting parents and children and attempting to part them with their money. While I sold books, my other half ran the perenially popular “lucky dip”, and “hook a duck” games.

While setting the book stall up a man approached with his daughter, and spied a collection of perhaps 100 issues of a popular comic – obviously somebody’s entire collection. He initially bought 10 issues, before returning later to take a second look. I offered him the entire collection for quite a small amount of money, and he said something that made me smile – “I’ll never get away with it”. He wasn’t buying them for his children at all.


It’s nice to be back. As time allows, I will try to catch up with some of the blogs I follow – to find out what you’ve been up to.


Midnight is my Friend

Here I am again, sitting in front of the computer in the dead of night, only too aware that I haven’t posted for several days. The world just seems to be getting away from me at the moment – I’m not sure if I’m just trying to be involved in too many things, or if I’m not pedalling fast enough.

I can’t help reminding myself of a message I’ve seen written by several friends recently – that it’s ok not to chase your own tail – that it’s ok to say no – that there is value in slowing down.

There are so many things I want to do though. I end up laughing at myself – I have always been my own worst enemy.

Last night we went out to a fund-raiser at the infant school where my other half works – propping up the “staff table”. It was supposed to be a quiz, but involved little or no knowledge. One of the rounds involved identifying the flavour of jelly beans. On the way home I opined that this is the future – whether we like it or not. Generations are coming through where the majority seem to have have no knowledge about anything much in the world. If they haven’t seen something on Facebook, Tiktok, or their friends haven’t texted them about it, they have no clue. The traditional subjects – history, geography, science, nature, art – you may as well be asking them to write out the equations of motion.

One particular table at the fund raiser stunned us by leaving a considerable amount of rubbish, empty bottles and food wrappers strewn across their table and the floor when they left. Because of course we were there to clean up after them. What is it with some people thinking the rest of the world is there to serve them? How conceited are they?

While walking home – furious with the many small slights that had mounted up throughout the night – I had to remind myself that none of it really mattered. Less than half a world away, a catastrophe is being discovered – with evidence that the retreating army of a superpower have massacred civilians en-masse.

I will admit that in recent weeks I’ve wondered what the point of it all is – this life thing – when you could be cut down tomorrow. Why do we strive, hope, dream, or even attempt to build when a hostile adversary can invade, kill, and destroy with wanton abandon? How do soldiers of any army reconcile their actions? How do they live with what they have done? Can people really be conditioned to such an extent that they become machines without conscience ? Sadly experience of conflict around the world seems to tell me they can.

Suddenly the method I use to get from one day to the next seems like a good one – putting one foot in front of the other. When the world seems a little too big, and a little too loud, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other works well. It gets me from today to tomorrow – and tomorrow it will get me to the next day.

The real trick is finding somebody to walk alongside while finding my way from today to tomorrow. I’m lucky enough to count several such people in my sort-of-secret group of far flung friends on the internet. We might not message each other every day, but when we do, the world becomes a little bit smaller, and a little bit easier to survive.