May 21, 2009
I usually keep my two jobs separate, but today I’m going to break that rule.
Ken Drury was the headmaster of my last school, the last Head but one that I served under. He died peacefully in his sleep earlier this week, and I wanted to take a moment to remember him.
He was a big believer in the school as part of the community, so as well as doing his best for pupils in the classroom, he encouraged wider events such as shows, walks, even firework displays to involve the local people. Face it, these are things you remember from your childhood, not the grades you got in your exams.
Ken was not perfect, but then no one is. He had a temper, he had his moods, but it’s not easy being the boss, and he got things right far more often than he got them wrong. His style of management would probably be out of date today, but in my opinion it was the right one for the time and the circumstances.
Dagenham is a poorer place for his retirement and passing.
May 18, 2009
Imagine an SF story set on a world where countries had long been at war.
After years of fighting, culminating in two devastating wars, an understanding is reached and the countries agree to a peace of sorts. The occasional skirmish may still take place, there are some very nasty incidents of ethnic cleansing, but generally the populations get along.
Now, instead of fighting, the countries have an annual contest to see who can write and perform the best song, choosing their best writers and performers to represent them. The few countries who treat the whole thing as a joke are treated with suspicion at best.
You couldn’t write a story like this (or if you did, you would have trouble selling it, I’m sure) but this is what happens every year at the Eurovision Song Contest. It took place this weekend, and for once, I watched it. Furthermore, I enjoyed it, I thought the songs weren’t bad, I admired Andrew Lloyd Webber for sticking his head above the parapet, I thought the swimmers in the plastic pools suspended above the audience were truly amazing (and if you haven’t seen them, you should.)
And, not for the first time, I found myself wondering about how SF writers are supposed to think up new ideas when the real world is so much stranger. It’s only the lack of robots in the competition that give me hope I’ll still be in a job next year.
My favourite entry? Portugal, of course. They had an accordionist in their act.