Tag Archives: Education

Good Will Hunting

I tried so hard. When I noticed this film ‘about maths’ was on television, I recorded it for the entertainment of the Resident IT Consultant, and then it turns out he’d already seen it! But he was sufficiently enthusiastic, and felt I should see it too, so we watched. You can tell all the regular shows have come to an end…

The maths came mostly at the beginning. After that it turned into more of a psychological portrait of a young maths genius – working as a janitor at MIT – with issues. I liked the role well enough; but I just am not keen on Matt Damon. I thought his pal Ben Affleck was a lot more interesting, really.

Good Will Hunting

The film also offered psychoanalysis of both the psychologist who talked to Will Hunting, as well as his old pal, the maths professor who discovered Will. Hard to tell who had the most issues in their life.

Very nice time capsule thing, set in the mid 1990s. I was wanting them to exchange email addresses, when all Robin Williams had to offer was an answering machine. He was still mostly Robin Williams, I thought.

Stellan Skarsgård as the professor was interesting, if a little selfish/immature. Lack of maturity seemed quite a general thing. Not sure what Minnie Driver saw in Will, but she fell in love the way girls are meant to.

Not having seen this film back in 1997, I don’t know what it would have felt like at the time. Now, as I said, it was the period charm that I enjoyed.

Maybe my problem is Matt Damon is a blonde?

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Stargazing

Stargazing

We certainly did. We saw both real stars and those shiny things up in the sky. Three nights of BBC’s Stargazing with Professor Brain Cox and Dara the Brain have been fun, although for Daughter it proved yet again that they don’t make programmes for other than beginners. And one of her space pals complained to Professor Brain that he’s too old. He doesn’t look it, with the pop star hair and the never-ending smile, but she was right. It would have been good to have had someone younger on as well.

Brian Cox

That Ross fellow was allowed on, but he too is old. And he has more money than brains as the Resident IT Consultant pointed out. Here it’s more the other way around. JR’s telescope made Daughter green with envy, especially as he had no idea how to use it. Wasted, we say.

Dara O Briain

The blurb for the series said Dara the Brain was going to be the stupid bystander, asking stupid questions on our behalf. I’d like to say that someone who’s studied maths and theoretical physics at university doesn’t fit my idea of stupid, and Dara did very well, both with the entertaining and coming up with non-stupid questions. And as Sherlock Holmes famously said, (albeit not about our O Brain) a head that size has to have something in it.

I felt almost breathless having climbed to over 5000 metres above sea level in Hawaii (in my mind…). The views! The sunshine! And I wouldn’t mind the purple telescope from the Hawaiian beach. Daughter said they should have had a more physics oriented presenter over there. Instead we got looks before subject competence.

The British astronaut waiting to go into space looked very nice. Didn’t catch his name. In fact, most of the people in the field of astrophysics seem to be more than average on good looks. Beauty and brains.

It was behind him. The poor expert standing in his field in Macclesfield (it really wasn’t, you know) carried obliviousness further than he could have imagined, when he missed interesting developments behind him on live television. But to be fair, it was very overcast. The first night we piled out onto the deck afterwards to see what we could see. Jupiter was long gone behind the poplars, but the Pleiades stayed behind and Orion is always reliable.

The other two nights we didn’t bother because we could see we couldn’t see. Daughter would really have preferred to have been driven over to Jodrell Bank for some closer encounters with the stars of the show, but that didn’t happen.

Brian Cox and Dara O Briain

Twelfth Night

I want my twelfth night back! And I don’t want an argument or anything, but it’s today/tonight. We call it the eve of the thirteenth day, and that is surely the same as twelfth night? I have no religious scruples about the date, but it is not right that Offspring have spent so many 5ths of January in school. Not all, but most. You just can’t go back to school before the 7th. Trust me.

And the Christmas decorations? I’m not finished with those yet. ‘Everybody’ else have taken theirs down. I’m allowed mine until the 13th, but the unwanted influence of the locals means I give in earlier nowadays. I’d spent several years here before being informed that after twelfth night (and would that be the 5th or the 6th, then?) it’s unlucky. Pah.

In Sweden (and I’m guessing in many other countries too) the 5th is a half holiday and the 6th of January is a red day (=Bank Holiday). And for the first 46 of my twelfth nights it was Favourite Aunt’s birthday, and it was always celebrated. Off school and off work, people would come calling. (You remember that in Sweden people come on your birthday unless expressly told to stay away?)

That brings me to the fruit plates. I always wanted some. I suspect that to cash-strapped Mother-of-witch fruit plates seemed slightly unnecessary, so we never had any. We used ordinary plates. But her friends all had them and so did FA, and on her birthday, out they would come. For the fruit and the nuts and the sweets and anything else that went on the sweet table. First you have sweet buns, cookies/biscuits, plain cake and then some gateaux with lots of cream. After a brief rest of an hour or two you then have the sweet table.

Now I myself own fruit plates, having inherited Favourite Aunt’s, but generally can’t sort out a sweet table if I ever have guests because I’ve given up trying to foist funny foreign behaviour on people. And anyway, twelfth night seems like the best date for them and it’s been taken away from me!

Fruit plate

(This is just one. They are all different.)

But it’s a sign that I have adapted even to the worst conditions in exile, because some years I almost forget. Well, not so much on the 5th, but the 6th tends to pass me by. I remember phoning up to complain (what else?) about a magazine subscription one year. Someone did answer the phone, but when I mentioned what I was calling about he sounded deeply shocked and pointed out it was a red day. I hung up in shame. What I really should have done was ask what he thought he was doing at his desk in that case.

And FA would have been 102 today.

(Co-published with Bookwitch)

Tom Jones is 70

It’s come to my attention that Tom Jones is 70 today. Since I accidentally started a 70th birthday trend last year, I may as well continue.

Unlike most people who think of underwear when they hear Tom’s name, I think of education. Back in the olden days they used Tom and his songs to teach us English at school. Very forward thinking of them.

Would you say they succeeded? (It’s not an option to say no.)

A few years ago I found one of his more recent CDs in a charity shop for Christmas. I took it home and then I sat back while deciding who the lucky recipient would be. The winner was Son, who of his own accord admitted to finding it very good. That’s my boy!

The alphabet lady dies

You can become a fan of someone in so many ways. I was always aware of Lena Horne during my childhood, but thought she was an old woman who sang songs I had no liking for.

It’s so easy to be wrong, isn’t it? I became an admirer after hearing Lena sing the alphabet song on Sesame Street. She was my first alphabet song singer, and I loved it and her. Went out and bought a CD on the strength of it. What a voice!

At least there’s still the ABCDEFG….

Skirtless at the Bridgewater Hall

That could be my worst nightmare. But it’s not me. It’s the young.

I accompanied Daughter to her GCSE certificates evening last night. Unlike when it was Son’s turn and we simply slummed it in the very cramped school hall, they have now gone to the other extreme and hired the Bridgewater Hall. And they’re charging for it.

Rumour had it that cocktail dresses or similar were to be worn, but that’s just too silly. A prom dress is one thing, but another dress to receive a piece of paper is not on. Daughter dressed nicely, but sensibly. So did the old witch, although no one looked at her.

I was slightly taken aback by the first one or two girls who appeared to have come half dressed, until I got used to the fact that those tight t-shirts were dresses. Of course they were. Some almost looked like dresses, albeit short short short. Shoes with heals that nobody could walk in.

The evening wasn’t bad in the end. A solid programme with music by the school orchestra (at least they can now say they’ve played at the Bridgewater Hall), songs from the choir and an extract from a play by the drama group, ‘rock’ song by the rock band.

And speeches. The Headteacher and the Head of Year and a retired PE teacher and sports star all spoke. Then there was the actress, the former student, who at the ripe old age of 23 or so offered advice on life. That’s all very well, but she could have shaved off two thirds of her talk without anyone suffering. In fact, we might not have suffered then. Unkind, I know, but it was ‘me me me.’

Drinks and mingling afterwards to show how grown-up we are, followed by a cold walk back to the railway station. Colder still for those who could have worn trousers but didn’t.

It was fairly memorable, I suppose. Particularly the floral t-shirt with sheer black tights directly underneath.

Snow

A few degrees below freezing isn’t cold to a Swede. Neither do four inches of snow constitute a lot of snow. And still the world around me grinds to a halt.

Stockport street in snow

We listened to the radio, where the poor announcers almost expired over all the schools they had to list as being closed. When they got to Offspring’s former primary school, that was also closed. Except for Y1 and Y2. Wonder what they were doing?

I had great hopes for Daughter’s current college, but that too turned out to be closed when she arrived. From my childhood I only remember the snow storm in 1968 when even the Swedish school system gave up and sent us home. But first we did walk to school in thigh high snow.

Pavement in snow

As for myself, I took my camera for a walk. It hasn’t seen this much snow before, being fairly young. I met a woman (complete stranger) in the street who offered me a snowball fight, but I declined. Had I been younger I would have made angels in the garden, but there was a big risk I’d never get up again if I lay down.