The Fog of War of Teacher Wellbeing

Very happy to see my article on teacher wellbeing in the Times Educational Supplement here: One Teacher’s Radical Proposal for Reversing the Slump in Teacher Wellbeing. This centres around the problem a dissatisfied teacher might have when considering a different school to work at. Currently we operate with a thick fog of war obscuring our view of what it’s actually like to work there – something which probably affects a lot of other professions too.  I think that teacher wellbeing should be higher up on the agenda at every school, and here is one proposal to help move in that direction.  Unfortunately this contains no sci-fi, and virtually no frivolity, which is why I allowed my title here to be inspired by video games.

The UK Housing Crisis: Are You Profiting From It?

Very happy to see my opinion article on the UK housing crisis up on Generation Rent.  It is about the divisive nature of housing in the UK, and is itself fairly divisive.  It starts…

Now that the election is over, and Eurovision is a distant memory, London turns back to its favourite moan: the housing crisis.  I frequently share this moan with my mixed group of friends: some renters, some homeowners, some letting out the odd room or flat.  This conversation always seems to have an ‘in it together’ atmosphere, as we berate the property speculators, the oligarchs with vacant mansions, and most of all our government, which clearly sees its role as sustaining the rise in house prices (Help to Buy, pension reforms, reductions in stamp duty and so on).

But we ignore the elephant in the over-valued and under-sized room.  This is an elephant which you’d see, if you looked hard enough, lurking in the corner of almost every Independent or Guardian article decrying the housing crisis. The elephant in the room is simply this: we find ourselves on opposing sides of this ‘crisis’ and for some of us this ‘crisis’ is something we profit from and sustain…. [keep reading]

Two Together (or: I’ll Keep You in My Pocket)

Skeleton of a play to be performed at e.g. The National, centred around the use, misuse and romantic implications of the Two Together Railcard.  8 Acts (too much? Can it be achieved in fewer?).

 

ACT 1

Male and female are in early stages of relationship. Just beyond the honeymoon period, where unfettered lust has started to seep into domestic duties e.g. they’ve just done their first joint shop at Tesco. Male gives surprise gift.  The surprise alone is too forward for female.  But even more embarrassing and presumptuous is the gift itself: Two Together Railcard – annual. Emphasise date e.g. 15th December 2016 (decide on which month associates best with commitment/

melancholy. September?).  Female looks off stage as if looking into distant future. Uncertainty. [Read PDF Version] Continue reading “Two Together (or: I’ll Keep You in My Pocket)”

Should We Declare it a Miracle?

A bit late to update on this one, but I had the good opportunity to write an article for the Independent on the probability of the same couple winning the Euromillions lottery twice. Which one couple did.   David Hume famously wrote an argument against a belief in miracles, and I don’t want to ruin the ending but I basically follow suit.  Still, you’re perfectly within your rights to think that I was just a bit bitter that I haven’t even won the Euromillions once…

The Stewart Lee Lullaby

About a year ago, my girlfriend, Emily, and I got into the habit of going to bed with TED talks playing from one of our phones.  I can’t remember exactly why we started doing this – I think she’s always liked hearing voices at night, perhaps we thought it’d dispel some sleep-disturbing anxiety, and I guess it was a cosy way to get a lazy dose of edification.

We got a little bored of the typical TED patter, so we explored listening to different things like music or stand-up comedy. I’d been a long-time fan of Stewart Lee and Emily was just getting into him (100% pear cider; sardines; there’s a horse, Stew; etc.) so we gave that a go.  You can find lots of Stewart Lee clips on YouTube, a fact which Stewart Lee detests, but since I’ve gone to see about 5 of his live shows and bought his autobiography, I didn’t feel too bad. Continue reading “The Stewart Lee Lullaby”

Lives Run by Railcards

Very happy to see an article I wrote published on the website of The Independent. Have a read if you like.  The bit at the bottom is genuine: I really am working on a play called ‘Two Together’, centred around the use, misuse and romantic implications of the ‘Two Together Railcard’. You would not believe the amount of railcard-related method-acting arguments I’ve had with my girlfriend recently…

The Repairman’s Son

Here’s a story which is 5 pages long, but took me 3 years to write. At this rate it would have taken me 2.5 millennia to write Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’. But Proust, come on, has anybody really finished reading that book?

The Repairman’s Son

Puco had been a very regretful 5-year-old.  Instead of rushing and roaring headfirst into adventures like the other children, Puco had always weighed up the potential pitfalls of the options open to him, and – no matter what course of action he had eventually taken – he’d wondered if he’d done it all wrong.  Whereas his friends drifted gracefully on the ebb and flow of new experiences, Puco made a barren island for himself in his own skull.  Here he would mull things over to himself and replay the mistakes that he might have made, wistful for what might have been… [Read PDF Version]

Continue reading “The Repairman’s Son”

The Erstwhile Lives of Alek Inch

I haven’t updated this site for nearly a year now, which feels a bit like being a worshipper who has forgotten to sacrifice enough calves.  So here’s my fresh offering: the first chapter of a novel I wrote a few years ago, of which nothing much yet has come.  I hope you like it, and if not, don’t worry, I’m still pretty optimistic about my eventual posthumous phase. –> First Chapter.

The Erstwhile Lives of Alek Inch – Chapter 1

        Needless to say it had come as a shock to Alek Inch to realise that he had been reincarnated as the entire human race, give or take.  He certainly never asked to have existed as you, and as your mother, and as just under 104 billion homo sapiens.

        In fact, Alek Inch’s only real hope – other than be left alone – had been that his body would go kaput before his mind.

        Like his father’s body, which had been straightforwardly lacerated, punctured, torn and terminated in a car crash involving his yellow Nissan Sunny, on an unremarkable stretch of the M25, near Croydon, where it had been left in assorted warm lumps.   As a 10-year-old Alek had seen his father’s body cremated, had declared honest love and gratitude through teary eyes, and was back to school on the Thursday.

        Now, at 18, he appreciated the merciful abruptness of his father’s end.  His mother – who he loved more than anything else in the world – was by contrast alive, but was operating with a brain that had been under siege for years.  Episode after episode, Alek had witnessed her splendid mind being worn down to rubble by the incessant conflict of competing thoughts – the rational and the irrational, memories and dreams, a grotesque battle-royale.  “I am broken,” she would say.  To which she would often add a little joke, for levity, because she was all Alek had. –> First Chapter

(You will soon realise how much of a mare this is to format, so I apologise I haven’t attempted to blogify it.)

We Don’t Know Why

[If you prefer a PDF version of this story, click on the flashing monkey]

Rose Wilson did it soon after she had returned on the 227 from her shopping errands in Bromley. After she had triumphantly laid her completed Telegraph crossword down on the coffee table. After she had updated the photos of her grandchildren above the settee (one grandchild had just sent his recent holiday snaps; the other was no longer romantically affiliated with the person she was staring at so adoringly). She did it very shortly after she had set her dishwasher, which was barely full (but then it never was). Just seconds after she had proudly dusted the display of her PhD (Astrophysics). Mere moments after she had first noticed a gentle buzz in the air. It was then and there, in her neatly organised home, on her peaceful Shortlands cul-de-sac, that Rose Wilson swallowed a fly. Continue reading “We Don’t Know Why”