Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I've Been Saving Them Up.......

It's been a while my lovely rant readers. Apologies. I promise you I haven't had a rant free month - those don't exist - but I have been saving up a few for an occasion such as today. Not that there actually is an occasion, it's just Tuesday afternoon, but the dark, cloudy skies are certainly giving this rant some atmosphere.

So, where to start.......

New respect for......

1. Cabin Crew: On our way back from a recent weekend in Germany, we were delayed an hour, but it wasn't too bad due the actual flight only being around seventy minutes. My new respect for all cabin crew goes to the fact that they - like the rest of the passengers - are shut up in a metal flying contraption, in the sky with no way of avoiding or getting rid of any troubling guests.

We had the pleasure of two extremely unruly and obnoxious women in their twenties - I'm guessing - that were trying to drink their own booze on the plane. They had it explained to them, quite nicely I might add, that it is not possible to do that and that as soon as we were air born they would bring the drinks trolley around. But because we didn't take off straight away and had to wait a little while on the runway, they of course were caught drinking their own. Cue, lots of arguing, but this was like obnoxious teenager arguing. They were so rude and abusive towards the staff, who kept their cool nicely. Of course, it was then decided that they were probably already drunk and that the cabin crew therefore would not sell them any booze on the journey. Then came the shouting and the snide comments, and the threats of complaints against the staff, who had done absolutely nothing wrong and had way more patience than I would have had in the circumstance. And I wouldn't mind, but really, a seventy minute flight. If you can't manage without an alcoholic beverage for seventy minutes, then you've got a problem and you need to sort that out.

Needless to say, this went on for the duration of the flight and in the end the cabin crew were forced to call for the Police to meet them off the plane. The women were laughing at this. But we saw the Police as we got off the plane and they meant business. And I think I can probably speak for everyone on the back six rows - or more - that had to listen to their abusive comments and snide remarks for the whole journey, that we would all support the staff on that flight and how they reacted to and coped with that situation.

Don't be twats! These people are just doing their job and they have an entire aeroplane's worth of people to care for and protect, not just two drunken idiots who decide to be arseholes. Well done to all the staff for keeping their cool and following procedure. Big respect!

2. Bus Drivers: I have my own personal issues with buses, over many years and many incidents that I've witnessed or experienced whilst travelling on public transport, but over the last two weeks I have witnessed two women, on two separate occasions, really flying off the handle and being abusive towards bus drivers.

Maybe it's just my bus route? But it's out of order. These people are doing a job. They are providing a service and they do not deserve to be treated disrespectfully, abusively or violently during their working day. Although, unfortunately that's what you get for working with people. People can, and do, often suck!

So incident one was last week. I was on my way back from morning music classes on a Tuesday and as we reached the point where they change drivers, we stopped to wait for said driver. The driver apologised and said that the person swapping with him was running late and that we would be there a few minutes. Now, it did become more like ten minutes, but what can that driver do? He is supposed to change here and the traffic is terrible in London depending on where the other driver's route is, so he could be stuck.

I realise we all have places to be, but if you regularly take the 46, then you have to always add an extra twenty minutes to your journey, or account for more time to get places. You can't rely on it, and that's just the way of the world. So for the mum of a little girl who was probably around seven years old, to start effin' and jeffin' and shouting up the bus, was unnecessary enough before the new driver arrived, but then afterwards was borderline violent. She very aggressively ran up to the window and started shouting that he was late and he should apologise to the people.

And he did. He said he was sorry and he had been stuck in traffic. But that wasn't enough for her. I don't know what she wanted, but she was shouting and making comments the whole journey, and annoyingly she got off the same stop as I did, so I had to hear it all the way home. The language she used in front of her daughter, as well as the other people on the bus, and other children was appalling and aggressive.

And I just think, how many times a shift does he have to put up with someone like that? Big respect.

Incident two was also last week, but a different day. Same bus route though. A woman ran for the bus, carrying three big shopping bags. I hadn't realised when she first got on, as I had my head in a book and Ipod on, but she mustn't have touched her Oyster card. A couple of stops down the road, the bus driver pulled over and asked her to touch her card. She started screaming at him, that she couldn't find it and she wasn't going to empty all her shopping out. So he stopped the bus. As he had every right to do, though I was thinking, how long will this go on, I have to get to work?

Then she starts throwing cash at him. Cash hasn't been accepted on buses for almost two years. What she was trying to say was, take the cash until I can find my card. But again, cash is useless. He can't accept it as payment for a journey, it has to be an Oyster card, travel card or a contactless card. And she's screaming and yelling at him that she won't take out all her shopping and that he should keep driving because now he's holding up all the other passengers. But she was the one holding up all the other passengers. Not him.

This went on for a while. She looked like she was actually searching for the card, but she continued making her thoughts perfectly clear. There was a lot of hostility on this bus.

And eventually, a woman handed over her Oyster and said, take a journey off this. The woman touched on and then gave the person who paid, a fiver. Obviously, way more than a bus journey. She then continued to mutter about what a dick the bus driver was for the rest of the way, and once again she got off at the same stop as me. As she stepped off, she was goading him through the window and saying things like, are you looking at me?

I mean, really? Just have your fuckin' Oyster card out and stop blaming everyone else because you can't find something in amongst your heavy shopping bags. We all have shitty days but causing such a scene and shouting abuse at someone just doing their job, is completely out of order.

What next?

Email catastrophes. 

1. When you realise no one has actually read your email.
So, you send an email, there's an attachment, you explain things so a snail could understand, and then you get an email back with a question that is answered in either the body of the email, or the attachment. Have you actually read my email? Head hits brick wall repeatedly.

Or, you ask them something specific like: could you please make payments after the 6th April? And then you get an email on the 27th March saying, I've paid. Doh! Now I have to pay tax on that this year, even though it's for classes I won't even teach until mid-April. Thanks for that. Have you actually read my email?

2. Complete email balls up.
When you find out you've been sending parent emails to the wrong address after an entire term, because the person receiving them finally emails to say, I think you have the wrong person, I've been getting these emails in my spam folder for weeks.

For weeks? Then why didn't you tell me sooner, complete stranger? I mean, I've just been plodding along thinking this parent doesn't reply to emails and that's fine. But she's probably been thinking, where's my weekly updates? Where's my photographs? Although, to be honest, she has my email address, so surely she could have contacted me to ask why she wasn't receiving any?

So now I have to discover the correct email address and forward the last ten weeks' worth of stuff to this parent, with profuse apologies. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Finally. No respect for.......

This is very serious and I'm sorry men, but it's aimed at you. When two women go out together, women in their thirties, with husbands and long term boyfriends, and some with kids, they generally want to go out and have fun, a few glasses of wine and a much needed chin wag. What they don't want is for creepy men to stand right by the table they are sat at and just stare. Now we were pretty good sports and we accepted their hellos at first. We are nice people, we don't just tell people to fuck off, though in hindsight I wish we had. So we were drinking and making small talk about the karaoke going on, and one of them just stared, whilst the other chatted a bit, but then flit off to buy drinks. We were left with the creepy glaring guy.

Now I understand, people have a bit much to drink and blah, blah, blah, but you made us so uncomfortable that we actually left a quarter of a bottle of prosecco, just so we could leave the bar and their company. I don't mind a chat. I don't mind at all. But creepily staring at people, without speaking, is not fun for anyone. It makes you feel uncomfortable and weirdly like an object.

So please, take the hint. If women really don't want to talk to you, for whatever reason, that is their right, and you should take the hint and leave them alone. (By the way this applies to women of all ages, not just the aforementioned thirty-somethings mentioned above.)

I realise this does not apply to the vast majority of men, and I have met some really interesting characters whilst out, that I've had a great laugh with. But we did not enjoy that portion of our night. As soon as we sat down, they swooped in. We didn't need anyone to swoop in. We didn't need a man, otherwise we'd have gone out with our men, or our man friends. We needed each other and the prosecco. That was all.

So if you see two women together, enjoying a chin wag over a bottle of prosecco. Unless they give you an obvious signal, leave them the fuck alone!

Okay, that's it for now.
What's been getting your hackles up this month?


Thursday, March 3, 2016

World Book Day 2016 - My Top 5 Music Picture Books for Kids.

Happy World Book Day everyone! As if we need one day to rejoice the wonder of books. Every day is book day for me, but I guess not for everyone and it is nice to have the printed word worshipped and enjoyed by millions. I miss the dressing up factor of working in a nursery. I'm not sure turning up for a school pick-up dressed as a Sheep from Punk Farm would go down well, but in a nursery or school you can get away with pretty much anything.

I just read a post about the Top Ten Music Novels, in honour of Word Book Day, and that got me thinking about my top Music Books for Kids. And here they are in reverse order:

5. Rock 'n' Roll Mole, by Carolyn Crimi and Lynn Musinger.

This charming tale of Mole, who plays his guitar like a rock legend when by himself in his room, yet is petrified of performing in public, is sweet and funny. As a teacher working with music in early years and key stage 2, confidence is a huge part of their development. And feeling they are in a safe environment to try new things and experiment is essential. With lots of cool jokes and lively illustrations, the kids will love Mole and be spurring him on to the end. And with a best friend like Pig, who supports and encourages him, Mole may just make it to the talent show yet.

4. Igor: The Bird Who Couldn't Sing, by Satoshi Kitamura.

This book is as visually stunning as its sentiment: that everyone can sing! Granted, some better than others. But people bandying around terms such as tone deaf and you can't sing, need to think about how that affects the person. If someone loves to sing, let them sing. Singing makes people happy. It warms you from the inside and it releases things from you that you probably didn't even realise needed releasing. Poor Igor is laughed at by his bird friends and sent away by his music teacher, told that he just can't get it right. So Igor gives up his dream of singing and moves to a quiet place, but eventually the pull of song in his heart is too strong and he finds his perfect duet partner. Kitamura's book is a visual dream and holds a beautiful sentiment. Kids of all ages will love this book and the way sound and pitch is imagined and illustrated is fantastic! The many children I have read this to just love to follow the different colours and shapes and imagine and explore what sounds they would make with their own voices.

3. Ruby Sings the Blues, by Niki Daly

Now I have to say, it was a close call for 3rd and 4th place, and I love Igor so much, but there is just something about Ruby, the protagonist of this book that I can't resist. From the opening line: 'Ruby was loud......very loud,' I was hooked on this girl and her story. Ruby is constantly told off about her loudness and eventually chooses to be silent. This is a common occurrence amongst children and I think sometimes too much emphasis is placed on being quiet or silent and not allowing children full exploration of their voices and what they can do. Children should never have their voices dismissed, but should be encouraged to use them in different ways, and in this book Ruby is taught how to sing. Go Ruby!

2. Punk Farm on Tour by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

The second book from the legendary mind behind Punk Farm is just as wonderful as the first. Join these five farm animals on their first ever tour! See them panic about set lists. See them do up the Punk Van. See them signing autographs and posing for photographs with the fans. And just rejoice in the magic of Punk Farm and their world. But can they get home before Farmer Joe? These are five cool Rock Stars with punk on the brain and they are about to take the world by storm! 'Peace out Colorado!'

1. Punk Farm, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

Well, it had to be didn't it? I mean, what else could possibly be number one? In 2010 when on holiday in Seattle, we visited the Experience Music Project - which by the way, you have to do when in Seattle. It's incredible! - and in the gift shop I stumbled upon this bright picture book. I loved it from the cover, but when I delved inside I knew there was no way I would make it back to the UK without it. And they had Punk Farm on Tour as well, so I did the double whammy and came home from holiday with two outstanding picture books which my kids at the nursery absolutely fell in love with! We would have afternoons where we acted out Punk Farm and I brought in my microphone and keyboard, and we made a cardboard guitar and bass guitar, and a make shift drum kit consisting of overturned bowls and drum sticks. And we rocked the house down. We had a Punk Farm Hall of Fame and the parents sometimes stopped in to watch us. I honestly believe these stories are genius encased in thirty something pages, and have gifted these books to many a music student, or key child of mine. And now all my friends are having kids, so watch this space, they'll be receiving Punk Farm shortly. Think you know the song Old MacDonald Had a Farm? Think again.

So there you have it, my top five. I'm sure there are loads out there that I don't know of, but the one's I do know of bring me just as much joy to read, as they do to the children I'm reading to. Sometimes I fail to remember life before Punk Farm.

And here's me dressed up as sheep from Punk Farm, five years ago on World Book Day, when I still worked at the nursery full time. That Sheep can sing!

And my 28th Birthday Cake from 2011 as homage to my favourite punk band! (Courtesy of my sublimely talented mother.)

'Thank you Wisconsin' and 'Peace out Colorado!'