Council House Quandary

council house

Council Housing is of course an important thing. It enables people to have accommodation who would struggle otherwise to pay private rates of rent.

But CH does throw up some difficult problems. Firstly, as the demand for CH in a place like London grows, the qualification for it becomes more and more extreme, and so people have to exaggerate their medical, physical or psychological conditions to be able to qualify. We see this sort of exaggeration when trying to get a GP or hospital appointment too – it almost seems pointless to be too honest.

Secondly, CH can create a dependency relationship with the tenant. The tenant can appreciate having the lower rent than he/she would in the private sector, but often it’s then frustrating because they feel priced out of living in other areas, so they have to resign themselves to living in social housing where some of their neighbours might make a mess because not owning their homes makes them care less about its upkeep. I once lived in a building that combined private and council flats, and the police often came to the building to look for a guy who was presumably dealing drugs. He had his flat because he had a medical problem, but that right established with the council meant that when his door was kicked to bits by his drug dealer associates at night (and then the drug squad too trying to get in!) the council would quietly come back the next day and fix the door, repair all that was needed and he’d be back in his flat in no time.

It takes 2 minutes for someone to show you you can do something new


A lot of TA work at school involves doing something last minute because you’re replacing someone else. Last week I found myself in some sort of sewing class. Anything remotely similar to sewing I must have last done was probably more than 35 years ago, when my grandmother showed me how to knit one, pearl one!

It’s strange because over the years (decades) I’ve thought, wouldn’t it be useful to sew on a button or fix a piece of clothing rather than throw it away. And you develop an instantaneous denial or dismissal in your head, no, i can’t do that.

And then, in 2 minutes, someone can say, “Hey, do this for me, it’s easy, just do this, then that.” And in those two minutes, as you struggle with initial coordination and feel of the activity, the brain very quickly secures itself in a state of normality. Of course, you don’t master the activity in two minutes, but you are now on the road, instead of having ignored the road.

Dare I say, the famous words of A Tribe Called Quest, Bob the Builder and Obama… “Yes, you can!”

The Artist’s paradox


Women often seem to be attracted to male singers, musicians, artists (DISCLAIMER: could also be male-female, m-m, f-f and all the above where one or both have had sex changes etc) because of the danger and possible significance of them being admired by many people. But once they’re in a relationship with that man, they don’t want him to be an artist.

So one of the paradoxes for the aspiring artist is “Well I want to attract women so I’ll pick up the guitar” but then later the thought crosses your mind “but later in life I could be on my own if I’m still an artist”…

A cushion


One idea that intrigues me is such that we are able to go about our daily lives without feeling that we are on the edge financially and psychologically. Modern society seems to be encouraging the idea of squeezing profit margins so that no “area of comfort” resides, it’s basically just sell or no-sell, pass or fail, you have your strict time limit with your GP, you accept that more than half your income is spent on rent and bills.

The idea of a “cushion”, of a comfort margin that enables an individual not to feel under threat and gives them the mental security to enjoy life… is it fair to say that the average person in western Europe has that less than 50 years ago? Or is it that “equality” has moved to a different set of people, and perhaps we are also seeing that the power and wealth that creates a comfortable life is gradually moving into other parts of the world that previously struggled?

I swear

swear jar

Strange isn’t it how the verb “to swear” makes us think of two almost opposite things: to say bad, socially unacceptable words in the moment of passion, anger, irritation or enthusiasm; or to promise an eternal allegiance with God, a complete commitment or devotion to a cause.



I remember a few years ago watching Supernanny, seeing how child expert Jo Frost would go into problem families and help parents deal with and solve their children’s difficult behaviour.
Now I’m bringing up my own child there are moments that remind me of a particular aspect of her programme, when she asks the young child (or asks the parent to ask the child) to apologize. I thought then, and I do now, that it’s a lot for a child to process when they’ve just learnt the basic of speech. You’re asking them first to acknowledge they’ve done something wrong, then understand they’re going to say a word that will somehow negate or forgive (quite religious!) what they’ve done. And then when they’ve understood that, they need to say a word which sounds completely different from the word “Apologize”… “Sorry!”

I think what makes children learn language and culture so quickly is that they’re expected to pick up so many subtleties at a great pace… necessity is not only the mother of invention but also of learning!

A Tale of Two 23 Year Olds


At a workplace I’ve been going to recently I’ve met two people, middle aged women of different socio-economic backgrounds. They’ve both mentioned how their respective daughters have prospered and they are happy that they have jobs. The daughter of one of the women has just become an air hostess, the daughter of the other has just got a job in publishing. Both women I talk to are proud that their daughter has managed to get their particular job, and see it as a great achievement. It’s just amazing the different challenges people live through and the opportunities they get or don’t get because of their social background. The idea of a level playing field is far away – in fact I don’t think it exists.

I wouldn’t want to diminish the achievement of the middle class young woman who’s got a job in publishing – I don’t know what challenges she’s had to face in her life. But I assume that the young air hostess has grown up in a difficult environment – the mother mentioned to me the area had a lot of crime and violence and she was pleased her daughter managed to get away from there. I imagine it wouldn’t be difficult for the middle class publisher to train as an air hostess, but I ask myself, what social, societal and economic changes would it take for the opposite to happen, for the air hostess to have been in a financial, psychological and academically-minded position to get an opportunity to work in publishing?


Trying to add language and concepts that we in the UK have adopted from the USA in the past 20 years or so…

You Guys
Time Out
Show and Tell
“Have you got…?” “Yes I do.” “No, I don’t got”
Do the math(s)
High Five
Baby Shower
How’s that working out for you?
So + noun

Bile et al


Another school session. It’s great, I’m learning basics I should have learnt 30 years ago!

Three things to remember: enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile.

Hydrochloric acid is a very strong acid produced by the stomach to break down food for digestion. Fat poses a problem though because it doesn’t mix with water, and as the acid is dissolved in water, the fat just floats on top.

So then the food continues down to the small intestine and bile (produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder) surrounds the fat and enzymes get to work on it. Also as the food is acidic after being in the stomach, the bile neutralises the acidity.

Lessons learnt from Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away…

cant pay

From watching those famous High Court Enforcers on Channel 5, I’ve learnt:

1. If you think you’re likely to get in debt, it’s better have your car on finance rather than buying it outright – they can’t seize it then!
2. Better not answer door if enforcers come – if they get their foot in the door (literally) then they can force their way in (known as “peaceful entry”) and have the right to stay in the property. Similarly, best lock the back door otherwise said bailiffs will enter and stay!
3. The debt collectors are generally quite gung ho and self-righteous, fully confident that what they’re doing is (morally) right, simply because “the money is owed”. It is noticeable however that the brute force and domination their presence threatens is shattered when they’re in a genuinely dangerous situation, as in the debtors have weapons etc. At that point the machismo vanishes and it’s a matter of “We’re doing the admin and the police can do the argy-bargy!”
4. Sign of the Times… an increasing number of debtors owe large amounts of nursery bills!
5. A debtor might receive a county court judgement with an instruction to pay by a certain date, but this might give you a false sense of security that you have maybe a month to pay… when actually the claimant can actually escalate the matter to the High Court, and at that point, bailiffs can turn up at your door with no warning. And if their instructions are to evict, you could be out on the street within an hour!
6. As soon as enforcement agents decide they have no choice but to remove/ seize assets, the debt rises by a considerable fee – for example, if you owe two or three thousand pounds, it could add another grand on the total as soon as they make the call to their boss that they’re removing assets.