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I know so far my posts about teaching have been mainly amusing and/or heartwarming stories about kids, but I think right now I need a rant.

I've so far been back to the Primary Referral Unit (PRU) where I started out three times, and I've got to know it and enjoy teaching there, but some of the things you see and hear damn near break your heart, and make me so angry I need to vent.

Like the kids who are probably bright enough to get As in their GCSE science, but at best are only going to get a C-D grade because they can only be put in for the bottom tier exams because of gaps in their subject knowledge caused by being bounced around through the school system.

Or the teacher confiding in a colleague how sick it makes her feel that, to one kid, she reminds him of his mother who abused him. And how worried she is that this boy is going to go through his life hating and mistrusting women but there's nothing she can do about it.

Or the kids who aren't shy to let you know that they know this is the dumping ground for them.

Or (in a different PRU) the kids who tell you that they feel like they're in prison.

Or the way that the aim of these centres is to get kids back into mainstream education... but the fact that they get excluded from mainstream schools, then bounced back to a PRU which feeds them back into ME which kicks them back to the PRU just feels like a cycle of rejection for the kids, and it seems almost inevitable that they'll get institutionalised by the system.

Or the one kid who confessed to me and her teacher that she used to be the kind of girl who never imagined she'd touch drugs, but for the last year and a half she's spent every weekend stoned out of her mind on amphetamines. And she knows every come-down is worse than the last, but she gets so depressed, and she can't see a future for herself, and she needs something to make her feel good sometimes. She's fifteen. She's not the only one in that school who self medicates like that.

Or the kids who, when you ask them if they want to try putting some herbs in the cottage pie you're teaching them to make, automatically assume you mean Marijuana.

They shout, they swear, they bully, they're violent, but they can be capable of such acts of compassion - yesterday one of them offered to let me have the last caramel in a box of chocolates, even though they're her favourites as well, and later on was mentoring a new kid and showing him round, helping him settle in. They're good kids, they've just been ignored and beat-down so much that they act out because they  can't find a way out of the terrible situations they find themselves in.

But what makes it worse is that I can't see a way out for them. Best case scenario, we manage to get them through their exams - most of them can't get top grades because they can't be put in for the top tiers. But even if they could, they couldn't afford to go to university. And when even graduates are finding it hard to get jobs these days, the chances they'll find work at the end of it all are slim. The chances of them finding good work are almost nil. The truth is, PRUs are dumping grounds. And no matter how much we teachers kid ourselves, we're treading water here. Yes, we teach them life-skills, like Home Ec. and basic maths and literacy. Maybe that'll be enough for them to get by. But how the hell do you get kids to aim high, have self esteem and ambitions when you know what's waiting for them outside the school gates? How can they plan for the future when they know they haven't got one?

They deserve better than this.

I have decided, today is "Do Nice Things for Your Partner Day"



Previously rejected titles include:

Clean All The Things Day

Dirt Inspection Day

Stop Putting off the Housework Alex, You Lazy Slattern, Day

Doom Of Dust Day

Shiny New Microwave Requires Shiny Kitchen Day

Let's Pretend to Our Friends that The Apartment is Always Like This Even Though They've Been Here When It Isn't Day

No Clean Mugs and I Require Tea Day

Conforming to Societally Mandated Gender Roles Day

Sick of Not Being Able to Find Anything Day

Darling if You Ask Me to Wash Your Work Shirts For You Before Going Out It's Best That You Make Sure They're In The Washing Basket And Not in The Giant Heap On the Floor So That When I Do The Laundry They Actually Get Put In The Wash And Not Left There Because I Haven't Got Round To Tidying The Bedroom Yet And I Didn't Spot Them And So Assumed You Meant Work Jumper Which Was In The Basket Only To Find Out Later That There Are Three Dirty Shirts in The Huge Pile So You're Evidently On Your Last One And The Wash Is Already On Day

Forgot The Orange Juice At Tesco Day

Man, I Really Ought To Have Given Isabel That Christmas Present By Now Day

Finding Things In Unexpected Places Day

Enjoying This Day-Naming Too Much Day

Raiders of the Lost Carpet

Cleaning The House Because You Don't Want To Admit You're Scared Of Finishing Your PGCE Application And Submitting Your Novel Manuscript To More Agents Day

Cleaning The House Because You Don't Want To Admit That The Reason For the Latter is Because You're Scared of Setting Up Your New Printer Day...

Traveller

Ok, so it's been a really long time since I've done any LARP/RPG related posts, so in the light of last night, I bring to you a special table-top edition of this blog! 

So me and a few others have just started a system called Traveller. It's very rules light, and has probably the best character gen system I've seen for fluff fun. I can (and will) dissect the awesome for you if people want to hear about it, but not right now. It also has a lot of random event rolls, which can lead to hilarity...

The game Matt's running for us is based in a world not unlike the Firefly 'verse. And it seems we delight in making it more like it by the day. Yesterday we had an Epic Marathon session that took most of the day, and it was awesome. 

What we did on our holidays...Collapse )

It's a fantastic game and really well run, though it needs a good GM who doesn't mind wading through a lot of randomised tables. I would highly recommend it. 




*No, really accidentally. As in I didn't even twig that what I said could have been taken to mean something else until afterwards...

PvP


So, the question of PvP in Anticthon has been raised. I'm torn on the subject, and want to write a game that enough people will enjoy, so thought I might throw this open to the floor.

Points against PvP
  •  If your plot's good enough you shouldn't need it. 
  •  It often creates OC resentment and feuding between players. - Counterpoint: It's just a game, grow up
  •  Said feuding can spoil the game for others, even if it's just IC - I've had games (mostly tabletop though) where the plot got ignored for the sake of two characters constantly playing stupid pranks on each other. This got very boring very quickly.
  • It makes it hard to get the plot done when you can't trust the rest of the players
  • The player party's supposed to be The Heroes- Counterpoint: There were heroes on both sides of the Trojan War too...

Points in Favour of PvP
  • With PvM, often player success feels inevitable. There's no real challenge. And if it is a real challenge, players will bitch that it was unfair.
  • Personally I'd rather be killed by someone actually trying to kill me rather than accidental monster-to-the-face.
  • PvP =/= character death. There are many other fun ways to compete without actually losing a character, and that makes so much game.

Essentially...

My personal opinions are that death in LARP should be meaningful. People get invested in their characters, often spend a lot of time and money creating kit for them. Meaningless and random death is horrible and not something I want to encourage in any larps I run.
PvP grants the opportunity for the best and the worst kind of larp deaths. 
On the positive side, I've always held that assassination is the highest form of flattery. I don't like the thought of dying to a random monster-in-the-face, but if there's no PvP, the only threat comes from the chance of dying to RMITF. I remember just how much plot was created by Nefertiri's assassination, and it was fantastic. 
On the negative side, I also really hate the kind of cheap deaths that you saw so often at Maelstrom - muggings on the way to the loos, random murder in the dark, shiving people up for loot, etc. It pisses me off when death is that cheap.


I like the idea of FvF play - faction vs. faction, knives turned outwards. Much less bitchy. 


My current plan is to:

a) Create non-lethal opportunities for PvP.
b) Create IC consequences for lethal PvP.
c) Make PvP available, but not actively encouraged.
d) Give the players enough plot to keep them occupied so they don't just go on a killing spree.
e) Make most things reversible - albeit with a lot of effort - thus creating game.


This is all subject to change, but I want to open up the discussion. 

Of Brownies and Men

Am I the only person who gets annoyed by the use of "Man Cards" and "Man Points"? 

Men do not have a monopoly on being useful and awesome. Nor should being awesome be something out of the ordinary for men but expected for women, or vis versa. 

I approve of the idea of "Adult Points" for people doing something Like An Adult (or Like A Boss, as I've also heard).
I also approve of the idea of "Brownie Points" for going above and beyond the call of duty in being shiny and awesome.

The idea of giving and deducting Man Cards for conforming to gender stereotypes can fuck right off. 

Anyone with me?

News Round Up

RIP to Neil Armstrong, the human race's most famous lunar explorer.

Prince Harry proves that Royalty have genitals after all, and don't reproduce by osmosis as was previously thought. He also manages to prove that he is a normal idiot. And I couldn't care less.

American politicians still trail far behind the rest of the world in elementary biology when it comes to the female body. Honestly, I am no longer surprised at the crap these misogynistic bile-mongers spew forth.


In more personal news;

I have spent a stupid amount of time driving across the country lately. I love my new car - Saiorse* - and I love driving, and I love the fact that I can get from Portsmouth to Newcastle on only a tiny bit over a full tank. I also have discovered that I really like tinkering. Even if it's just changing the oil or accidentally over-filling the engine coolant and having to flood it out, then soak up the excess with a rag and a stick. Grease on my fingers, oil on my face, happy completely chasing the pace, as Chris Rea once said.

Still no job on the horizon, but I'm throwing out applications every which way, and thinking about doing a PGCE.

Writing steadily, reading solidly - just devoured the latest Jasper Fforde in three days flat. 

Took part in a photo shoot at the weekend; dressed up as a Roman Elf (the underdress of which doubled nicely as a 1960's mini-dress, and we took a few silly shots of Mary Quant Elf too) got covered in make-up wounds by blake17, and had a  very fun time.


Still having a pretty hard time of things, and the black dog is re-surfacing on occasion, but I am ever greatful to all family and friends who are propping me up through everything. Hopefully we'll keep the sucker leashed until things start looking up.




It's also my birthday in a few weeks time. 

It's been a hell of a year - in more ways than one. And I think I've grown up a lot more than one year would suggest. If my internet access remains constant, I'll probably do a birthday post nearer the time. 

Suffice to say I'm feeling old. 

Please send messages of youthful vitality, a new laptop with working wireless connection, a digital camera, one meeeeeelion pounds (tax free), or failing that, renditions of Thin Lizzy's The Boys are Back in Town to cheer me up.



*A three person joke, that one. 

Why

Someone asked me the other day Why I wanted to be a writer. 

Not in an unkind way, they were just interested. 

And I thought about it, and didn't give a very complete answer because it was late and I was very tired. 

But, because there are times when I've forgotten, I thought I should put down a few of the reasons here, so I can remind myself why I do this.

I Write...

Because I couldn't work a 9-5 job. Actually scratch that. Because true though it is, it's not about the 9-5. I couldn't work a job which didn't feel like an adventure. That didn't feel like fun most of the time. And though writing is hard graft, it doesn't feel like it when I'm doing it. I write because I get to live in a world of dragons and adventures and magic, with every emotion that ever was writ larger than life and I get to call that a job. 

Because I'd like to think I'm good at it. I can turn my hand to a lot of things, but finding the right word in the right situation is something I've always been able to do. Again, I'm not saying I don't have to work at it, but I have a lot of natural talent in this area to build on. I don't want to let that go to waste.

Because I always have. There has never been a time when I have not been making up stories in my head. I couldn't stop if I tried, and I don't want to. I love writing, but more than that, I have to write. And if I can con the world into paying me for doing something that I can't stop doing in the first place, I'll do it.

Because I want to be loved. I want to be appreciated for something that I do. I want to make people happy, to entertain them. To make them like me, or at least the things I can make. 

But most importantly of all;

Because books have got me through some of the worst times of my life and brought further joy to some of the best. Good Art - whether it be written or performed or hanging on the wall - can keep people going. Can speak to them in ways that nothing else in the world can. I can read words written by someone long dead and see myself in them, know I am thinking and feeling the same things that they did once. Art is a reminder of our common humanity; in a vast, scary world it is a voice in the darkness saying "You are not alone." 

I want to do that. I want to be the person creating the art that gets people through. That makes them laugh, that makes them cry - maybe even that makes them think. I want to leave my mark on the world, and think that in generations to come, someone else might read something I've written and wonder at the fact that they're feeling exactly the same thing. I don't kid myself that what I have to say is unique and special and profound - actually it's the opposite. It's the very fact that it's not unique which makes it important. I want to reach people and say "You are not alone". 

Nerves

So, I've just failed my driving test again.

This would be test #4, by the way. 

The first two, I can kind of write off as "I wasn't ready, but my instructors put me in for them anyway, so no surprises there." 
The third, I genuinely thought I could pass, but made some stupid mistakes, and spent a lot of time beating myself up for them, which caused more mistakes, which caused me to fail it.

Today's...

Well, the thing is, by now I really need to get my license. I mean, really need it. Not being allowed to drive is a serious pain in the ass.  I say "not being allowed" because the thing is, I can drive. I can drive absolutely fine when I'm not being judged on it. But when the pressure is on to pass - which it is, and always will be - my nerves get the better of me, and I start to fuck up. I'm getting a tiny, tiny amount of minors (4 and 5 on my last two tests respectively. Seriously. That's it. Driving instructors have to pass their test with less than 3.) but then something unexpected happens, and I'm too wound up to react properly, and I get a serious and it's all over.

Today, I failed on two really stupid things - 1. I'd pulled in, and was shifting forwards to get better positioning, and my indicator came off, so a car behind me had to slow down to see if I was pulling out again (which, come on, is that really a serious? I wasn't indicating *out* again, I thought it was clear what I was doing, ffs...) and 2. I was trying to manoeuvre around a bus at a stop, and moved over into the right hand side of the road without indicating (it was a wide road, but a single lane of traffic) and some stupid fucking taxi came storming down on the right hand side, and had to break behind me. I know I fucked up, and should have at least indicated that I was moving out, but fucking taxis... 

The thing is, number 2 at least, if not both of those faults, wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been so fucking nervous. They both happened within the first ten minutes or so of the test, when I hadn't had a chance to settle into things - not that I really do, but the point still stands. 

And I have no idea how to get over the panic, and I'm starting to wonder if this means I'll never be able to pass this bloody test. 
I have tried everything I can think of to calm down and relax - treat it like a normal driving lesson, don't panic, slow down, take it steady, breathe, etc - but it's not working. I'm seriously considering taking a fucking sedative before the next one, it's getting that silly.

The worst thing is that my instructor - Keith - who is brilliant, and the first person who actually *gets* me when I'm driving, and knows exactly how to get the best from me - is planning to move. And soon. I don't know how soon, exactly, but soon. So I may not have him for much longer. Which pretty much means starting from scratch again for me if I haven't passed my test by then. And I'm not sure I have the strength to do that again. I've already got the next test booked in, but I need, need, need, some way of controlling my nerves before I take it. Because 5 tests is already too many. 

Obligatroy Froth Post

So, another Easter, another Strom, another Costume, another tent in a field... Let me tell you about it...

The Good

Blackberry and the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful amazing people at sanctuary - who I still need to thank more - for taking a soggy, bedraggled, overworked eidolon and filling it full of tea and food and giving it back-rubs until it was happy fun stabby eidolon again. 

Experimental Shamanism was a success!

Rumours of my explosion due to experimental shamanism were greatly exaggerated!

Raoul annoys me, Raoul flees my wrath outside the ghost fence where I can't get him, Raoul trips in mud. Earthquake approves.

Being hailed as the Eye of Coyote by a mildly jealous Blizzard, after being a very naughty girl this DT...

The Night of Martyrs - from an OC perspective, hearing Tiri's name read out gave me chills. 

New Sword and Main Gauche from Light Armouries - Soooooo pretty, plus now I'm finally fighting with the weapons I'm best with OC! Pity I did not get to stab enough...

Charging out of the gate on Friday ready to kill everything, in a nice early Non-Bottle 

My faithful getting blessed to high heaven - and getting to deliver at least one of those blessings myself. Which ended up being perfectly done, if not quite as I'd planned it... 

Rachida's new Look. Hell Yes! :D

Threatening to cut people for continually asking me to repeat the experimental shamanism. Being scary stabbity eidolon is fun, but sadly I seem to have become fluffier than an Earthquake eidolon really should be... This may have gone some way to rectifying the balance.

I looked Fucking awesome :D

Deep theological discussions with Thane, and their eventual result - "You were never really one of mine, but we could have made you great".

Fun with Vild - especially whilst attempting to convert impressionable Kitty to Jaguar.

"Warbird, can you come here a sec?"
"Why? What is it?"
"I don't know, I just got asked to find a competent Eidolon."

A very FOIP little meeting in the dark with a contact I didn't know, from an ally I'd never met face to face, about very secret information... made me feel like James Bond.

Being the Eidolon who Knows Everything - running around on the Sunday night, making sure everyone was kept informed.

Having Flambard and the White Jackets explained to me as this character, and thinking "Really? I don't remember us being like that!"

Finding out That true name, and spreading it like a Flembic Governess...

Watching undead and eidolons being fired from the trebuchet

Being eaten by a bug - best form of dispatch ever! If slightly tickly...

Dread lord Fucknose

Conversations in the Maelstrom - of fallen, wendigo, Ilini and the like


The Bad

Something in particular that nearly happened didn't come off in the end - for the best of reasons - but still a disappointment. 

Deity team being overworked and understaffed, meaning all but 2 of my imperatives were Vanilla ones. 

Fucking Rat Tribe and their Fucking Ghost fence! Treking from the arse end of the field to the Maelstrom tent back to the arse end of the field only to need discorporating again, because you wanted to pop out on the other side of the wall, and got "appear in the serpent shrine" not "appear in the tavern" because you've got the wrong mission... trust me, it gets old fast. 

Itchy wig is itchy. But compensated for by looking awesome. But caught on everything. And got wet. But looked awesome!

Couldn't go on the sortie due to bad ankle - yet again getting left behind when there is murdering to be done :p

Couldn't nail anything on Blind Harvey in the end... curses! 


The Ugly

Fucking Cold - backs of hands are dry and chapped to high heaven. As is face. Whilst not as bad as Celestial Gala of the Snowstorm, the cold very definitely prevented a certain amount of roleplay and fun. 

Fucking Wet - everything is mud. All mud. All of it. 

Fucking Boots - ancient CCF things that I've had since I was 13 (so, that's about 12 years now, and all things considered that's a pretty good run) concertina-ing at the back, and digging into my ankle. About time for new boots, says I. 

Fucking sword baldric - in principle, really awesome, and will be really useful, but turned my right shoulder into one solid knot. 


In Conclusion 

Bit of a mixed bag of an event. Not helped by the weather. Seriously, seriously hoping the next one will be sunny. 
Special mention must go to all the people who made the event wonderful in all the places that it was - Blackberry and all at Sanctuary; the White Wolves - especially Thane; All the Earthquake faithful; All the eidolons - native and invader - for being awesome in my direction, and/or listening politely whilst I got all theological; everyone I tried to convert; Both of Bunni's characters for being funbugs; All at the daggers for giving me free drinks because my alter-ego works there... and I'm sure there's many more I've forgotten to mention.

So tired now!

And only 3 more left to go...  

Short and Sweet

Just a quickie to jot down what's on my ipod today :)

I was a Teenage Anarchist - Against Me!
Dancing With Myself - Billy Idol
FNT - Semisonic
Because of the Shame - Against Me!
Cowboy Cassanova - Carrie Underwood
Better with the Lights Off - New Boyz
Poison - Alice Cooper
Love Love - Take That
Riptide - Sick Puppies

Any other suggestions of music in the same vein conditionally accepted :D

Stuff I may have mentioned:

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