Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Looking Back - Seven Slashed In School Attack

On this day, in 1996, three young children and four adults were attacked by a man with a machete at an infant school. They were enjoying a teddy bears picnic at St Luke's Church of England school in the Blackenhall area. The incident happened around 3.15 p.m. and paramedics arrived on the scene within seconds. The victims were taken by West Midlands Ambulance Service to New Cross hospital where they were treated for stab wounds. Their conditions were not thought to be life threatening but some had serious head injuries.
Police were looking for a black man with a beard, in his mid-thirties, about five feet nine tall and of slim build. Police immediately named a man they wished to interview in connection with the attack.
One of the parents, Balbinder Bains, a-29-year-old courier, said, "I could see him hanging around the bushes. I thought he was a litter collector. The guy jumped over a two foot fence into the kindergarten play area and just started hacking anybody and everybody. He was completely out of control." Mr Bains and another man chased the attacker to Villiers House flats where he disappeared.
Coming just four months after the massacre of 16 pupils and one teacher at Dunblane, this incident again highlighted the issue of security in and around our schools.
After searches by riot police Horrett Irving Campbell was found in Villiers House and charged with seven counts of attempted murder. In March 1997 Campbell, 33, was found guilty and sent to a secure mental hospital for an indefinite period.
In the Queen's Birthday Honours List a year later Lisa Potts was awarded the George Medal for bravery. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Miss Potts (pictured at top of page) gave up work as a nursery nurse in 1997 and began a career in the media.

Poem - Marlborough (John Betjeman)

John Betjeman began his education at the local Byron House school, before moving on to Highgate school. After that he boarded at Dragon School preparatory school in North Oxford, and then to Marlborough College, a public school in Wiltshire. Today's poem is an excerpt from Marlborough, featured in Chapter VII of his book Summoned By Bells. The poem highlights his experiences as a new boy at Marlborough College, many of which he found unpleasant. The poetry is written in blank verse and should be read like prose within the punctuation, unlike rhyming verse which is read from line to line.

Luxuriating backwards in the bath,
I swish the warmer water round my legs
Towards my shoulders, and the waves of heat
Bring those five years at Marlborough through to me,
In comfortable retrospect: 'Thank God
I'll never have to go through them again.'
As with my toes I reach towards the tap
And turn it to a trickle, stealing warm
About my tender person, comes a voice,
An inner voice that calls, 'Be fair! be fair!
It was not quite as awful as you think.'
In steam like this the changing-room was bathed;
Pink bodies splashed hot water on themselves
After the wonderful release from games,
When Atherton would lead the songs we sang.
I see the tall Memorial Reading Room,
Which smelt of boots and socks and water pipes,
It's deaf invigilator on his throne-
"Do you tickle your arse with a feather, Mr Purdick?"
"Particularly nasty weather, Mr Purdick!"
And, as the water cools, the Marlborough terms
Form into seasons. Winter starts us off,
Lasting two years, for we were new boys twice-
Once in a junior, then a senior house.
Spring has its love and summer has its art:
It is the winter that remains with me,
Black as our college suits, as cold and thin.
Doom! Shivering doom! Clutching a leather grip
Containing things for the first night of term-
House-slippers, sponge-bag, pyjamas, Common Prayer,
My health certificate, photographs of home
(Where were my bike, my playbox and my trunk?)-
I walked with strangers down the hill to school.
The town's first gaslights twinkled in the cold.
Deserted by the coaches, poorly served
By railway, Marlborough was a lonely place;
The old Bath Road, in chalky whiteness, raised
Occasional clouds of dust as motors passed.
Those few who read Dean Farrar's Eric now
Read merely for a laugh; yet still for me
That mawkish and oh-so-melodious book
Holds one great truth-through every page there runs
The schoolboy sense of an impending doom
Which goes with rows of desks and clanging bells.
It filters down from God, to Master's Lodge,
Through housemasters and prefects to the fags.
Doom! Shivering doom! Inexorable bells
To early school, to chapel, school again:
Compulsory constipation, hurried meals
Bulked out with Whipped Cream Walnuts from the town.
At first there was the dread of breaking rules-
"Betjeman, you know that new boys mustn't show
Their hair below the peak of college caps:
Stand still and have your face slapped." "Sorry, Jones."
The dread of beatings! Dread of being late!
And greatest dread of all, the dread of games!
"The centre and the mainspring of your lives,
The inspiration for your work and sport,
The corporate life of this great public school
Spring from its glorious chapel. Day by day
You come to worship in its noble walls,
Hallowed by half a century of prayer."
The Old Marlburian bishop thundered on
When all I worshipped were the athletes, ranged
In the pews opposite. "Be pure," he cried,
And, for a moment, stilled the sea of coughs.
"Do nothing that would make your mother blush
If she could see you. When the Tempter comes
Spurn him and God will lift you from the mire."
Oh, who is God? O tell me, who is God?
Perhaps he hides behind the reredos .......
Give me a God whom I can touch and see.
The bishop was more right than he could know,
For safe in G. F. Bodley's greens and browns,
Safe in the surge of undogmatic hymns,
The chapel was the centre of my life-
The only place where I could be alone.
There was a building known as Upper School
(Abolished now, thank God, and all its ways),
An eighteen-fifty warehouse smelling strong
Of bat-oil, biscuits, sweat and rotten fruit.
The corporate life of which the bishop spoke,
At any rate among the junior boys.
Went on within its echoing whitewashed walls.
Great were the ranks and privileges there:
Four captains ruled, selected for their brawn
And skill at games; and how we reverenced them!
Twelve friends they chose as brawny as themselves.
'Big Fire' we called them; lording it they sat
In huge armchairs beside the warming flames
Or played at indoor hockey in the space
Reserved for them. The rest of us would sit
Crowded on benches round another grate.
Before the master came for evening prep
The captains entered at official pace
And, walking down the alley-way of desks,
Beat on their level lids with supple canes.
This was the sign for new boys to arise,
To pick up paper, apple-cores and darts
And fill huge baskets with the muck they found;
Then, wiping hands upon grey handkerchiefs
Ans trousers, settle down to Latin prose.
Upper School captains had the power to beat:
Maximum six strokes, usually three.
My frequent crime was far too many books,
So that my desk lid would not shut at all:
"Come to Big Fire then, Betjeman, after prep."
I tried to concentrate on delicate points-
Ut, whether final or consecutive?
(Oh happy private-school days when I knew!)-
While all the time I thought of pain to come.
Swift after prep all raced towards 'Big Fire',
Giving the captain space to swing his cane:
"One," they would shout and downward came the blow;
"Two," (rather louder) then, exultant, "Three!"
And some in ecstasy would bellow "Four."
These casual beatings brought us no disgrace,
Rather a kind of glory. In the dorm.
Comparing bruises, other boys could show
Far worse ones that the beaks and prefects made.
No, Upper School's most terrible disgrace
Involved a very different sort of pain.
Our discontents and enmities arose
Somewhere about the seventh week of term:
The holidays too far off to count the days
Till our release, the weeks behind a blank.
"Haven't you heard?" said D. C. Wilkinson.
"Angus is to be basketed tonight."
Why Angus ...... ? Never mind. The victim's found.
Perhaps he sported coloured socks too soon,
Perhaps he smarmed his hair with scented oil,
Perhaps he was 'immoral' or a thief.
We did not mind the cause: for Angus now
The game was up. His friends deserted him,
And after his disgrace they'd stay away
For fear of being basketed themselves.
'By the boys, for the boys. The boys know best.
Leave it to them to pick the rotters out
With that rough justice decent schoolboys know."
And at the end of term the victim left-
Never to wear an old Marlburian tie.
In quieter tones we asked in Hall that night
Neighbours to pass the marge; the piles of bread
Lay in uneaten slices with the jam.
Too thrilled to eat we raced across the court
Under the frosty stars to Upper School.
Elaborately easy at his desk
Sat Angus, glancing through The Autocar
Fellows walked past him trying to make it look
As if they didn't know his coming fate,
Though the boys body called "Unclean! Unclean!
And all of us felt goody-goody-good,
Nice wholesome boys who never sinned at all.
At ten to seven 'Big Fire' came marching in
Unsmiling, while the captains stayed outside
(For this was unofficial"). Twelve to one:
What chance had Angus? They surrounded him,
Pulled off his coat and trousers, socks and shoes
And, wretched in his shirt, they hoisted him
Into the huge waste-paper basket; then
Poured ink and treacle on his head. With ropes
They strung the basket up among the beams,
And as he soared I only saw his eyes
Look through the slats at us who watched below.
Seven. "It's prep". They let the basket down
And Angus struggled out. "Left! Right! Left! Right!"
We stamped and called as, stained and pale, he strode
Down the long alley-way between the desks,
Holding his trousers, coat and pointed shoes.
"You're for it next," said H. J. Anderson
"I'm not." "You are. I've heard." So all that term
And three terms afterwards I crept about,
Avoiding public gaze. I kept my books
Down in the basement where the boot-hole was
And by its fishtail gas-jet nursed my fear.

This Takes The Biscuit

I have been told that this is a true story.......... I'm not so sure!.......... What do you think?..........

Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica - where do they go?

Wonder no more!

It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life.

The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintaining a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.

If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into and buried.

The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing:

"freeze a jolly good fellow"

Why God Made Mums

What's the difference between Mums & Dads?
1 Mums work at work and work at home and dads just work at work.
2 Mums know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3 Dads are taller and stronger, but Mums have all the real power because that's who you go to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
4 Mums have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your Mum do in her spare time?
1 Mothers don't have spare time.
2 To hear her talk, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mum perfect?
1 On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2 You know, her hair. I'd die it, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mum, what would it be?
1 She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2 I'd make my Mum smarter, Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3 I would like her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Cat Nap

Who Am I?

Have a look at the ten clues given below and see if you can work out who our latest mystery celebrity is

01 I was born on 9 January 1943.
02 My real name is Frederick Leslie Fowell.
03 In the early 1960s I was the lead singer in the 'Mersey Beat' pop group.
04 I shot to fame in the 1970 Royal Variety Performance.
05 I owned a horse that won the Grand National.
06 I appeared on the TV show Celebrity Fat Club.
07 My wife is called Donna.
08 I was an acquaintance of the Beatles.
09 I have taken part in Celebrity Wife Swap.
10 I am a singer, comedian and impressionist.

Good luck with this mystery celebrity.

Brainteaser - Tuesday's Answer

Yesterday I set you a quirky brainteaser puzzle. Five two-line rhymes that described something, your task was to work out what was being referred to. How did you get on?

The answer was: The digits of the hand.
The order on the poem is pinky, ring finger, middle finger, index or pointer finger and thumb.

The pinky hits the quotation mark key on the keyboard when typing, and people often raise their pinky off the cup when drinking tea. The ring finger bears a wedding band when married. The middle finger is an obscene gesture when standing alone. You point with the index finger to make a selection, or use it to pull the trigger on a gun. The thumb can be used for thumb wrestling.