Tollington Park School

Good Saturday morning and I’m feeling apprehensive.

An early morning call from London on my mobile and ‘we understand you’ve been involved in a traffic accident’.

‘No I haven’t’

‘When did the accident happen?’

I knew I should have ignored it.  I ended the call abruptly.  Having failed to use my powers of reason to bring it to an end by mutual agreement.

Tonight I will drive over with Penny to a north London boozer for a school reunion.  I hope to see Mr. Ashton, my former English teacher, and possibly others too, including a friend from class I haven’t seen for 40 years but with whom I’m a friend on social media.  Mr. Ashton did something I never forgot.  Which for me is significant.  He spoke to us about Beethoven the composer.  How he was deaf for the last ten years but how he carried on creating music despite knowing he would never be likely to hear it.  And then he played for us some of his music.  In an English lesson.

My colleagues yesterday asked me if anyone famous went to my school.  There was a discussion about this on the schools Facebook page and someone said ‘kids from our school carry things out to the van.  They don’t drive the van’.  Not quite true as we do have some famous ex-students.  The most famous of whom has to be Don McCullin the world famous news photographer who attended in the 1950s and took many famous images including this one from Northern Ireland.



My oldest sister was in the same class as Johnny Rotten’s little brother.  Not sure that counts.  I know that not’s his real name!  I’m protecting his identity.  Sure my sister only stayed a few terms before transferring to a girls school.

My school was not one that in current times would be rated ‘outstanding’.  It might not even be ‘good’.  But it made me the person I am.  It gave me the opportunity to meet and study alongside people from all over the world, from the West Indies, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey and Kenya to mention a few.  And Scotland….  And for that I am grateful and feel priveliged.

Social media has created many opportunities for me to stay in touch with friends and family both near and far.  And for that I’m grateful.  But it can also have it’s downsides.  A friend of mine has been banned from an online community after protesting about racist language.  I’ve been wary of getting too involved with online debates having spent a few years doing so on the Cyprus Forum about 15 years or so ago.  Yes, you find people you agree with, but also people you disagree with.  And the discussions can be unpleasant and threatening.  I think that’s a consequence of chatting to people you haven’t met in reality.  When discussing issues with friends and family I try and do so respectfully and without being personal.  I think its too easy to let your standards drop when your communicating via a keyboard or smart phone.

As you may have guessed, not many geniuses left Tollington Park School, renamed George Orwell School for my sixth form years.  But one American genius this week, you might know him, he doesn’t want these people from Haiti


or El Salvador

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to be allowed into the USA.  But he does want these people

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from Norway to be.  President Trump doesn’t think he’s racist.  And that’s part of the problem.  I’m not a genius but I know when I smell shit it’s usually because someone hasn’t flushed the toilet.

Over here Toby Young paid the price for offending many groups of people.  We all make mistakes.  Say things we regret.  Grow up and realise the mistakes of our youth.  But I don’t think I’ve done so 40,000 times.  If he has changed his views and is a more respectful and less offensive person he has the opportunity to impress us with his next 40,000 tweets.

Things I recommend; The Proclaimers documentary on IPlayer.  I didn’t realise they were friends with Kevin Rowland and Edwyn Collins as well as all round great guys.  Watch it while you can.








  1. Love the proclaimers. First album is superb.

    Online debating. People who say or write racist things – Do they actually know they’re being racist or just completely unaware that what they say can be construed as racism?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nick, we look ok for another season in premier league, be good to consolidate although these relegation battles prevent us getting bored between august and may.

      Who knows what motivates people. I think some may not think they’re being racist. People used to make comments like ‘I’ve got black friends, I’m not being racist.’ But it’s possible to have a disconnect between your actions and your words/thoughts. Racism is discredited and if acted upon illegal so few people would proudly proclaim themselves as racist. There is no logic to racism, the BNP at one time were part-funded by Libya. They’ve also tried to exploit Northern Ireland tensions and forge links with Unionists, with very little encouragement or success. Racism has shifted from being expressed in anti-black to anti-Muslim in order to exploit people’s anger and fears about extreme acts of some so-called Muslim’s. Racism isn’t an intelligent ideology that stands up to any scrutiny, therefore it can be attractive to people who are seeking simplistic solutions. That’s not to say they’re stupid, just not prepared to weigh up evidence based facts before coming to a position they wish to hold. Don’t know if that answers your question, but they’re my immediate thoughts. Lenny Henry once spoke about an early black comedian, Charlie Williams, who used to make his colour the subject of his material and if he were heckled would respond with a threat to move in next to people. Henry was sympathetic and explained it in terms of ‘what else could he do playing to white audiences in working mens clubs?


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