An unspun truth is a frightening thing.

I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who trusts this government to have their best interests at heart.

I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who trusts this government’s friends and associates to have their best interests at heart.

I’ll tell you why, shall I?

Until recently I was a certified Nice Person™. I once turned the music down because my cat was trying to sleep. I made a crying student smile by showing her pix of Emergency Kittens. I move snails out of the way on dark, wet nights and I try my darnedest to be there for my friends when they need me (sometimes fail at this, I admit) and I tell my daughter every single day how loved she is, and how utterly gorgeous (because I know what it’s like to grow up thinking you’re sort of slightly rubbish).

This week, however, courtesy of our lovely government, I discovered that I’m hostile and intimidating. Courtesy of the government’s lovely friends and associates at the Inspiration Trust I discovered that my behaviour is abusive. Along with the participants in two other hard-fought academy campaigns, my fellow Hewett chums and I were allowed to be openly maligned on a government website and in a press release the same day.

Mwa ha ha ha ha! De Souza, Agnew, and Academies Minister Lord Nash chuckling it up at our expense. And they're coming to a school near YOU.

Mwa ha ha ha ha! De Souza, Agnew, and Academies Minister Lord Nash chuckling it up at our expense. And they’re coming to a school near YOU.

Don’t the government have rules they have to follow? You’d think so, wouldn’t you. You’d think it wasn’t acceptable for the Department for Education to quote mistruths from Dame Rachel de Souza with absolutely no right of reply from the ‘small but vocal’ (2000 people petitioned against them) ‘politically-motivated’ (as if the mass privatisation of education isn’t politically motivated) campaigners who made life so incwedibly difficult for poor Dame Rachel and her Tory chums. Because, after all, how dare we stand against them? How dare we Hewett oiks defend our own school, paid for by local taxpayers, from the filthy marauding hands of private business? How dare we?

What Theo Agnew thinks every time he looks at our oik-ish faces.

What Theo Agnew thinks every time he looks at our oik-ish faces.

Well, the thing is, you see – we did dare. We did dare to say, actually, hang on a flipping minute, we don’t want our entire school system to be privatised, thanks very much, and this feels like a fight worth having – not just for the sake of Hewett, but for education in general. After all, as a wise man once said: ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.’ So we did dare, and we continue to dare (because as long as they’re educating my daughter, I will continue to hold that bunch of crooks to account whenever I see fit, thanks very much).

So, yes, we defended our school. And, yes, we felt hostile towards the people stealing it, as people generally tend to do when their own property is being prised from their gradually loosening fingers by people who already own giant swathes of the Norfolk landscape, and – here’s the really amazing thing – they didn’t pay a penny to acquire it! In fact, yup, they were paid to steal our land. They were paid by you and by me. They continue to be paid by you and me, and they’re pissing the funds away on Vera Wang tea sets and Hugo Boss chairs and jollies to New York for meetings with education ‘experts’ who advocate things like this (skip ahead to 5.55 if you want the fright of your life, whilst noting that comments are disabled for this video, because that’s how Inspiration Trust tends to roll):

I’m abusive, according to the folks who run Hewett Academy’s social media, because I dared to voice dissenting views on a public internet page (’tis how the internet works, you rusty old bunch of farts – and if you’re going to call me abusive you’re going to provoke rude language; ’tis how human nature works):

Screenshot 2015-10-22 09.26.39

You can read my response to this tweet (which, taken out of context, is misleading – natch) on our Facebook page, now called the Hewett Parents’ Forum to reflect the fact that, you know, the vast majority of us hostile and intimidating folks are just parents. Parents of the very kids the government is claiming to protect by instating their chums and buddies in our state-owned, council-run, accountable schools.

And here's my daughter's ballsy response to their nonsense. Proud to have a daughter who's courageous enough to  speak against authority.

And here’s my daughter’s ballsy response to their nonsense. Proud to have a daughter who’s courageous enough to speak against authority.

So let me tell you what I’ve learnt in recent times: the government (and their chums) do not give sweet FA about your kids, or about you. If they gave sweet FA about you or your kids they would actually listen to your community voice. They would meet with you and your kids in a fair, friendly forum to discuss the needs and wishes of you and your kids. Rachel de Souza has never never ever ever visited Hewett parents or pupils. NEVER. Theodore Agnew, the chair of Inspiration Trust, has never never ever ever ever visited Hewett parents or pupils. Rachel de Souza told Hewett teachers she’d been ‘after us’ for ages: we’re the ‘jewel in the Inspiration Trust crown’, with our glorious 54 acres of land, and it’s just the perfect size for embryonic Charles Darwin Primary, the latest feather in the IT cap, although they cannot, of course, possibly comment on this.

Perhaps you're thinking: Hmm, she *is* a tad hostile. Well, listen – you'd be hostile, too, believe me, if you'd found yourself ignored, belittled, and lied to for this bloody long.

Perhaps you’re thinking: Hmm, she *is* a tad hostile. Well, listen – you’d be hostile, too, believe me, if you’d found yourself ignored, belittled, and lied to for this bloody long.

Please note the failure to reply to my second tweet… So often were we met (on twitter) by the sudden sound of silence from IT in the aftermath of any awkward (i.e. truthful) tweet, that a running gag sprang up at their expense:

This is their tactic: happy to poke their heads above the parapet for cheap ‘victories’ (minuscule inaccuracies in a campaign comment), sarcastic remarks, or government-sanctioned slagging-off; heads buried down in their murky foxholes whenever we tiptoe close to the truth in an ‘uncontrolled’ forum, i.e. social media. De Souza wouldn’t come near me on our local news show, Look East, in spite of the fact I was there in the building, ready and waiting to speak to her on the hook-up from London. And why? Because, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, she can’t handle the truth. 

An unspun truth is a frightening thing for these people who pick riches from the public purse. It’s important to them that the public look elsewhere while their pockets are in the process of being picked.

And, hence, you’ll be told in the coming weeks and months that perfectly good and decent schools are failing or coasting (coasting sounds nice, though? Don’t you think? A happy, peaceful place to be, as opposed to an Ofsted-haunted gibbering wreck) and you’ll be told that Downhills Primary was physically attacked (when, in fact, the only thing the lovely and tireless Downhills campaigners ever did of a physical nature was stick a cheeky plaque on the side of the school) and you’ll be told that Hewett campaigners were hostile and intimidating and abusive. You’ll be told that the DfE ‘saw sense’ by gifting our school to the Inspiration Trust, and that our buildings were in disrepair (yes, they were, because the government refused us money to repair them), and that pupil numbers were falling (thanks in part to the government-funded opening of two new schools by… can you possibly guess? By the Inspiration Trust).

You are a free human being. You live (for the time being) (sort of) in a democracy. You can make up your own mind about this. You can swallow the government line if you want to. You can say, well that Lynsey woman – maybe she is a bit bolshi and, god, she’s always swearing and writing rude things about willies, and those nice folks at the Inspiration Trust are (mostly) Catholic, aren’t they? Good Christian people. And surely, surely, the government wouldn’t lie to us?

Or you could read this, from local councillor Emma Corlett, where actual unspun truths are told. And you could read this from the Guardian, reporting on the Shadow Education Secretary’s recent findings. And you could read this extraordinary blog with lots of icky statistics in it – the sort of unspun ickiness the Inspiration Trust is so afraid of.

And you could ask yourself why they are hiding? Why did Rachel de Souza refuse to debate me? Why did she never set foot in our public ‘consultation’ meetings? Why do they go all coy when they’re asked something difficult?

The truth is powerful. And that’s why they’re scared of it.

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Non, je ne regrette rien.

Yesterday, after a long and often bruising fight, we ‘lost’ our campaign against the hostile academisation of my daughter’s school, the Hewett in Norwich.

Except we didn’t lose. We didn’t lose, because we couldn’t lose. It’s impossible to lose, in my opinion, when the other side is cheating.

The moral victory is ours: we played by the rules; they didn’t.

We proved to them, via a publicly funded consultation, that Inspiration Trust was unwelcome at Hewett.

They ignored it.

We spoke unanimously against them at our final public meeting.

They ignored it.

The Guardian newspaper leaked revolting email correspondence between the two worst offenders in this hideous stinking mess – Rachel de Souza, the CEO of Inspiration Trust, and the board’s chair Theo Agnew – in which de Souza described herself as SICK at Hewett’s Ofsted success in 2013. Was the school ‘vulnerable’ again, she wondered, when exam results later fell? Agnew remarked on her ‘cunning ways’.

They all had cunning ways, as it turned out: not only de Souza and Agnew, but all of their chums too: Lord Nash, the Academies Minister; Tim Coulson, the Regional Schools Commissioner; Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education. They all had their fingers in pockets and pies, and the stench of Tory cronyism is strong in Norwich today.

So I’ve woken up this morning with one or two regrets. I’m regretting the fact that gagging clauses and widespread fear meant that so few Inspiration Trust teachers were able to go on the record with the shocking stories they told me in confidence. Perhaps I should have got naked and chained myself to the railings or thrown myself under de Souza’s chauffeur driven car or the hooves of her Tory chums’ polo ponies. I’m regretting the ratio of food to alcohol in my life last night, when I slunk to the pub in the rain after helping to cover the gate of our school in Crime Scene tape, and regretting the paltry amount of sleep I’ve had for the tossing and turning and nightmarish visions of this...

Smugshot.

Smugshot.

I’m regretting the fact that Look East cut me to ribbons last night and gave squirming and gurning de Souza free reign to suggest that I’m some kind of numbskull who just hasn’t seen the light yet. She admires our passion. She hopes (gurn gurn) that we’ll later become her biggest supporters. (The words: ‘dead’ and ‘body’, ‘not’ and ‘over’ spring to mind.)

But there’s one thing I’m not regretting…

I’m not regretting this campaign. I never will. Look what happened last night, with an hour’s notice. All of these lovely people arrived in the absolute pissing rain, and they stood in support of our school. They brought banners and signs.

Screenshot 2015-08-06 08.51.08

Screenshot 2015-08-06 08.36.24

A supporter made this, in ‘honour’ of the Hewett’s new logo (rustled up within 24 hours if you believe the bastards at Inspiration Trust):

Hewett crime scene 2

We hugged and talked and commiserated. We spoke to reporters and had our pictures taken and wiped the drizzle from our faces and, later on, went to the pub and got drunk. (Well, one of us did…) Someone (who won’t allow me to name her) did something just beyond lovely for me, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart. Hewett kids and Hewett parents and local residents stood proud in the rain. Our school isn’t perfect. We’re not perfect. But we’re something else, something better: we are decent human beings.

I have met the most astonishing, amazing, and good-hearted people in the course of this long and hard campaign (too many to name individually, although Jo and Emma deserve special mention). I have found my own voice again (it was down the back of the sofa for most of 2014), and watched other people find theirs. I have tweeted and blogged and written emails and stood shouting in school halls and gone on the telly box and the radio and flung my whole self at this campaign, and the reason I’ve done all this is quite simple: it was the right thing to do.

Unlike the delightful Dame Rachel, I’m not a believer in God. But I reckon if he did exist, he’d be on our side. He’d have been outside those gates getting soaked last night (or, possibly, stopping it from raining at all…).

So the Inspiration Trust may have stolen our school, but you know? Be careful what you wish for. Because we come with it. We’re not going anywhere. We are Hewett. And this is only the beginning.

How Michael Gove had a wet dream once about state education, and now we’re all paying the price.

Today I’m concerned about Nicky Morgan’s eye health. All that staring! It can’t be good, can it?

Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan. She loves a good stare.

maxresdefault

Who, or what, is holding her eyes open? And what is she being forced to watch?

Surely she’s a shoe-in for the Stare Out Championship Finals?

Is it too late? Have the body snatchers taken up residence already?

Or is it too late? Have the body snatchers taken up residence already?

Anyway, I’m feeling like a massive bitch now, because mocking someone’s appearance isn’t cool. I should know better. I do know better. But I’ve been awake since 4.38 feeling stressed about my powerlessness to bloody do anything in the face of Nicky Morgan’s policies (coughs noisily into handkerchief and mumbles the word Gove… which, curiously enough, is a little-known synonym for the contents of one’s handkerchief when one has been too long in the capital, hence acquiring the sad affliction colloquially known as black bogies).

Moving on… (Because mocking Gove’s appearance would be entirely too easy, and irrelevant of course because one’s appearance has nothing at all to do with the state of one’s soul. To say, for instance, that Gove resembled a slippery fish would be wholly unfair when in fact— Oh, hang on…)

Very, very, very soon I will be blogging about writing again. I hope, I beg, I pray. I have reached the point in our school campaign (you can see more here) when I just want it to be over. I once had a normal life, I think. (Normal by Lynsey-ish standards at least.) By the bed there are two Cindy Shermans (not even prints – before you pop round to rob me: photocopies of prints. Wonky photocopies n all) that make me remember the heroine of my novel (I’ve fallen a bit out of love with the word protagonist) but no matter how many times I look at them lately my brain’s on a patch of ice, or a laminate floor with a rug on, or maybe roller-skates, because it won’t stick to anything it’s meant to stick to. It keeps getting angry and picturing Nicky Morgan’s bug-eyes and wanting to ruminate on the fact that, if Inspiration Trust invade my daughter’s school (the Hewett in Norwich), we’ll be making profit, by proxy, for a bunch of millionaire Tory donors. That’s definitely not something I want to do.

Other things I don’t want:

  • a Principal instead of a head teacher
  • chanting
  • rigour
  • tradition
  • children referred to as ‘products’
  • an openly right-wing deputy and an openly Catholic head (sorry, Principal).

The last time I checked, homosexual activity was ‘contrary to natural law’ in the Catholic church. In our school we have several gay or bisexual children. Last night (at the second of our parent ‘consultations’ on the future of the school) I raised the issue of LGBT rights in the light of Inspiration Trust’s avowed ‘traditional values’. I wanted the Catholic head, newly appointed, to offer a firm commitment to positivity around homosexuality (along with a woman’s right to choose, and the continuing rights of teenagers to access free contraception at the Base (a community centre operating on the Hewett site) in direct contradiction to everything their religion holds dear.

Sheree Dodd, however, (who was orchestrating the consultation at taxpayer expense), shut me down. I raised my hand again later, but sadly the sands of time had run away with us (probably while the White Men in Suits who constituted the panel were rambling on: this was the kind of consultation where some were more equal than others; you know – the unfair kind).

I’ve done you a little gallery here… I’ve even done you some captions: but owing to the fact I’m having fancy circles instead of boring old squares (because I’ve had enough of boring old squares at these bloody consultations) you’ll have to click on the pictures to read the captions. (It may not be worth it. Your call. Life’s short.)

It’s worth blogging about this, I think, because the kind of consultation we’ve been ‘enjoying’ this week will very shortly go the way of this: Unknown-2 Stary Nicky announced an education bill last week. This bill will enable her to ‘sweep away’ (her words!) the ‘bureaucratic loopholes’ (aka parents’ views) in order to push through the forced academisation process with a speed as yet unseen. At the moment it takes, on average, 13 months for the journey from ‘troubled’ community school to glorious academy. With Morgan’s sensible court shoe on the gas it could take as little as two months in future. In other words, from this: fifi to this:

Unknown-3

Always good to have a pic of Jeremy Clarkson looking twatty. (Basically every picture of him ever taken, then.)

If you think this is a good thing you’re probably an idiot and should stop reading now because the rest of this post will only irritate you further.

I think we’ve got up Morgan’s nose. I’ve tweeted her enough times that there’s a passing chance she makes the sign of the cross when she sees my name (another rightwing Christian; awesome). Last night I was so far up the nose of Sheree Dodd that I could’ve investigated for ‘Gove’. ‘We heard a lot from you last night,’ she said, slapping me down again. Well, we heard a lot from Ian Burchett, too: that’s the IT guy, and for IT read Inspiration Trust, BTW. Wouldn’t want to give the impression that anyone connected with academy BS is remotely Roy or Moss-like:

99.99% cooler than anyone connected with IT.

100% cooler than anyone connected with IT. And that’s a statement of fact.

You know what else is a ‘statement of fact’, according to Ian Burchett? Only one child (yes, one child) in the whole of Norwich defected from the Hewett to one of our brand-spanking-wholly-unnecessary-new free schools, Jane Austen College (owned by Inspiration Trust)! It really is true. Ian Burchett does have that kind of information. It isn’t opinion, or supposition, but a ‘statement of fact’.

He was in the mood for offering these cast iron sorts of statements last night.

Oh, hang on, no. Except he actually wasn’t! He couldn’t say ‘how long’ Jane Austen would remain in their present location (where, as I pointed out, they have no frigging windows! ‘I said please don’t send me here; it’s like a prison,’ as one child remarked to me last night). He couldn’t say why Dame Rachel de Souza, head of IT, should be negotiating over the future of Hewett’s land when – silly Rachel! She must’ve forgotten – she doesn’t own it yet. He couldn’t say anything concrete either about the future location of the newest player in the IT empire: Charles Darwin Primary Academy. He couldn’t say much about ‘traditional values’ either, except that, in his universe, traditional means ‘learning taking place in classrooms’. Or summat like that. No, it didn’t make sense to me, either.

I am roundly mocking him because it reflects the contempt shown to us by Inspiration Trust. We Hewett paupers are so terribly lowly that Dame Rachel couldn’t be arsed to show her face, but sent a stooge instead. I know supermodels used not to get out of bed for less than £10,000 dollars but FFS we have 54 acres of land, worth sixty million quid, at our disposal. The stooge didn’t even do us a bloody powerpoint. I’ve talked before about Aristotle’s definition of the distinction between empty (but impressive) rhetoric and genuine policy. Burchett had neither skill under his belt. I don’t pretend to be a policy maker, but I can write a speech: Mr Burchett, if you want a hand in future, I’ll help out! I rewrote the FAQ sent to us by our Interim Executive Board (IEB) whilst waiting to be (wo)manhandled by a gastroenterologist on Monday, so you see it won’t take me too long. What’s your hourly rate? I extend this invitation to the IEB as well: if you’re struggling to write a job advertisement you don’t need to ask IT to do it. I used to write job specs for a living. Once again, if you quote me your (own) hourly rate I could probably undercut it by, oh, 75% and still feel decently rewarded.

Anyway, we’re holding our own public meeting next Tuesday, 16th June at 7 p.m. There’s a link here if you’re Norfolk based and you’d like to come along. We’ll be talking about the same lack of choice I was talking about on this Future Radio story on Norfolk’s schools. We’ll be talking – honestly – about IT and why, no matter how Stary Nicky insists otherwise, they’re not the right fit for our non-traditional school. All the white men in suits, and Sheree Dodd, have been publicly invited (by yours truly) and rest assured I’ll be most upset if they don’t show their faces. I’ll (probably) blog about the meeting here.

And then… I’m done, I think. I really, really, really do have a book to finish. I’ve got to get back to it. My soul has got little bits of blackish bad stuff attaching to it, like lungs in anti-smoking ads, and I reckon it’s time for a detox.

Update: this post has been edited in light of the recent pointing-out to me, on ye olde twitter, that our incoming deputy is not, as I’d originally stated, a Catholic. He is, however, a Gove fanatic. Both these things are, of course, manna from heaven for an atheist pinko such as myself.

Getting it right, getting it wrong. Not minding.

One day soon I will actually blog about writing my novel. (Before trading standards come knocking.)

One day soon I will actually do some work on my novel.

Neither of those things, however, will be happening today.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may know that 2014 was a year of such cataclysmic awfulness that it’s almost been wiped from my head. For most of that time, I didn’t know how I would carry on being alive. I thought I was pointless and awful. It took a long while to get better. Some days would be bearable; some would be worse. There’s no rhyme to these things, and no reason. You just have to keep showing up every day and believe you’ll recover eventually.

did recover. I am recovered. I’d had an unpleasantly sticky break-up, on top of other things, and it takes time to un-plunge yourself from the bog of lost affections. ‘You’re more like you,’ my daughter said to me the other day, ‘now you’re single. You used to complain all the time… and now you just get on and do things.’

It’s like being an alcoholic, though, or an addict: you don’t just get better; you have to stay better, actively, as I wrote about here. Just the way a relationship needs to be worked at, you need to keep working at loving yourself. Is it harder or easier to love yourself than someone else? It should be easier, right? But it isn’t, not always. I think people (especially women) often make allowances for undeserving others. It’s way easier to make such allowances for someone you fancy (and unless you’re really peculiar, or else Narcissus, you don’t usually fancy yourself…) ‘Well, he did try to call me, but it wasn’t his fault a passing magpie swooped through the open window and, in the process of trying to steal his phone, hit the delete key with its beak, so you see he had no way of knowing my number and, what was even worse, he was nude when it happened, and Christ knows how but the magpie’s claw must have caught the camera button, because that’s the only possible explanation for the willy pic he accidentally sent my hot best friend.’

I think you catch my drift.

Good things and bad things have happened in the last few weeks. I’ve made sensible decisions, and I’ve made some really stupid ones. The kind that are so stupid you auto-cringe whenever you think about them. I’m auto-cringing a bit now.

This is the face of the auto-cringe.

This is the face of the auto-cringe.

But so what? There are worse things than cringing. Worse things than making a dick of yourself. What I’ve come to believe is this: if you don’t take chances, your life will be shit. If you want something, ask for it. Speak up, speak out, speak your mind. Have a go. You will fail sometimes. Things will happen that make you feel silly or sad. I’ve felt silly and sad quite often, the last few days, but I’ve also felt totally fucking awesome. I feel proud of myself. I will keep making twatty decisions, I’m sure, because one of the many facets of my personality is, if I’m honest, a bit of a twat. I did something a little bit twatty last night, when I’d guzzled some wine, and I might be a twat again later. There’s no way of knowing.

But yesterday I did some cool stuff too. Nicky Morgan, our fabulous Education Secretary, announced a bill of such stunning stupidity, arrogance, and injustice that our school campaign got a much-needed fix of publicity. These links won’t last for long, but you can see me here (about 8.15)

lookeast3way2

and here (at about 2.15) having a ding-dong, and here (at about 0.57) walking around in a car park.

Windswept in the city.

Windswept in the city.

If you’d rather not look at my mug anymore you can hear me here with a fellow campaigner, Jo Smith, on breakfast radio this morning around 40 minutes in. And we made a pretty good team, if I say so myself.

And even though it turns out my forehead is way more crinkly than I thought it was, I’m proud of myself for stepping up.

Because, what the hell, there’s always Botox. And, yes, I’ve messed up (yet again) this week. But I’ve also done good things too. So long as, occasionally, I can do something good then I’m happy to carry on being a twat, occasionally, too.

Forty-one and fighting.

I wrote this exercise for my Write Club group a couple of weeks ago. I call it I am born and it’s simpler than a two times table or the sky in a child’s painting or… other random things that are also quite simple. (My brain doesn’t seem to be working today: I blame the election.)

It has to be written in present tense (or else I’ll come round personally and tell you off) and each ‘chunk’ of your life is addressed in a single sentence: you’re aiming to capture a snapshot from that part of your life.

Lickle me and my nanny Gladys.

Lickle me and my nanny Gladys.

I am born and my hair is black. 

I am four and I look fat in photographs.

I am twelve and I still believe in God. 

I am fourteen and nothing has really gone wrong yet.

I am sixteen and miserable now, heaven knows.

I am eighteen and aching to leave.

I am twenty four and I don’t know yet that I’m pregnant.

I am twenty five and feeding fifteen times a night.

I am twenty nine and serious about writing.

I am thirty-one and sad about my skin.

I am thirty-five and can see the hill in the distance.

When I read this to the group in class I opted to maintain an air of mystery, amidst the crows’ feet, by stopping at thirty-five. But life didn’t stop at thirty-five, I’m glad to say (although, back then, I did feel it might be winding down, like that hideous bit when the lights come on at the end of a party and everyone blinks).

In another life I’m fairly sure I was a tortoise (slow and thoughtful; fond of lettuce), and hence, you see, I’ve decided I was just in hibernation. Under the straw in somebody’s shed. Tucked away in my shell.

But it’s Spring now. On my street, as I write this, lawns are being mowed. There are wildflowers in the grass strip between lanes on the way to the Sweet Briar Roundabout and, in between watching idiot drivers weave from one lane to another, without so much of a blink of their lights, I can turn my face a fraction of an inch and see those flowers. They make me smile. Am I silly for smiling at flowers? You might think so. I don’t.

There is always more life to be led. Well, not always, of course. I haven’t yet become immortal. We lost both our tortoises one awful Spring when my mum left them too long in the shed and if sheds are a metaphor for death (which, apparently, they now are) there’s a shed waiting for all of us, eventually. Which is why it’s important to do things now while you’re alive. Not tortoise-y things, bless them, because four hours with your face in a water trough isn’t something I’d particularly sanction (and neither is humping your good lady companion whilst she’s chomping lettuce; there’s a time and place for these things, as I used to think, in my childhood years, glancing out of the bedroom window to see poor Flash in the process of being molested by Speedy) but you can certainly come out of your shell (see what I did there) and get involved with your community, your country, your world a wee bit more.

And so I’m campaigning. Not like a tortoise; more like a yappy dog (that a fair few people would probably kick in the face, if they could). I’m campaigning because it’s wrong not to, if things are happening that you’re not very happy about, and you have a voice (I think I do).

Since I started campaigning I’ve been lucky enough to sit on a panel for the People’s Question Time with Natalie Bennett and Rufus Hound, where I shared my experience of depression (among other things) and finally got to say a public thank you to the nurses who played such a big part in keeping me alive last year.

Photos courtesy of John Ranson and Ann Nicholls.

But the fight continues. We have a Tory government, and our Tory government is hell bent on privatising every last inch of our country. They’re hell bent on privatising my daughter’s school, and if that’s something you, too, feel strongly against, then join our campaign here on Facebook.

And so, as this post ends, we come to the end of my timeline (so far):

I am forty-one and fighting.

Long may it continue.

Lynsey White’s journey to fighting against the Inspiration Trust

*Please note: this post has been edited.*

In writing this post I have been inspired by an inspirational post on the inspirational website of the inspirational academy chain called Inspiration Trust.

I am no longer going to link to this post, nor name the author. Perhaps it is unfair to single out an individual and perhaps it detracts from the larger battle. Perhaps it should also be noted that individuals can be placed under pressure by companies for whom they work.

Nevertheless, this particular individual was happy to sling the first blow by suggesting that those who sit on the sidelines shouting and moaning about his employers, Inspiration Trust, were basing their observations on nothing more than ‘lazy twitter comments’.

Here’s one of these lazy twitter comments. Actually, it took me a whole four seconds to take that photograph. Another ten seconds or so to upload it and a minute or two to compose an appropriately concise slogan.

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But it’s taken weeks and weeks and weeks of being ignored by the Department for Education and Inspiration Trust for me to reach the point of snark. If de Souza had come and fecking well asked if we wanted to give her our 54-acre school site, worth approximately £60 million, we’d have told her very politely: ‘No! But thanks for asking.’ and sent her on her way.

However she has never asked. And never will.

People ought to ask. They really ought. Along comes a group of venture capitalists and Tory donors. Along they come. And they can prise your locally-owned school from your poor, cold fingers, and snaffle the freehold, and cream off the profits from businesses run on the site (never mind that Norwich taxpayers paid for that site), and splurge taxpayers’ cash on designer tea sets and furniture (£420 for a Vera Wang tea set; over £3000 for two armchairs) whilst advertising for cut-rate unqualified teachers and driving away the ardent, the outspoken, the unionised… (Look at their staff turnover if you don’t believe me: it isn’t just the unionised pains-in-the-butt, either…)

They’re not great at IT, either, in spite of their chain’s initials…

Neither has Sir Theodore Agnew, the chair of Inspiration Trust, come cap in hand to Hewett and said, ‘Hello, lovely yokels! May we please have your school and all its land?’ Theo Agnew is also, since you probably didn’t think to ask but ought to have done (because, hello Tory democracy!), the chair of the Department for Education’s Academies Board. Oh, and also he sits on Policy Exchange, the right-wing think tank which ‘advises’ the Department for Education on all matters educational. Did I forget to mention he’s great friends with Lord Nash, the DfE’s Academies Minister? Perhaps I neglected to say that he’s also a Tory donor, to the tune of several hundred thousand pounds. Oh, and one last thing! He made his fortune outsourcing work to India, where graduates could happily earn a pittance for doing jobs for which he’d have had to pay unskilled British workers more. 

Actually it isn’t the last thing, since I probably ought to say that he went to an independent school (Rugby, I think, off the top of my head), failed his eleven plus, and has a crinkly fat-cut chip on his shoulder about anyone and anything to do with education.

Such are the men (for they are, primarily, men, with Trophy Woman Rachel de Souza providing the female touch) who are taking slow hold (and I said ‘slow’ because I like the way slow and hold sounded together, quite menacing, although in fact they’re doing it rather quickly; rather bloody quickly indeed) of our education system and please, please, please will everyone stop wetting themselves over the r*yal baby and find the inspiration to sit up and say, actually, no, we don’t want all our schools to fall into the hands of private businessmen who do this sort of thing with them.

And hence my journey: not to work for Inspiration Trust, but to oppose them.

At Hethersett Academy, owned by Inspiration Trust, there is a tiny room. It is the isolation room. It is where children are sent to spend the day alone when misbehaving. It is a room where a child with special educational needs can be sent to spend the day alone.

It isn’t called Room 101. But it doesn’t have to be, does it?

This is where we are heading if we don’t do something now. 

Even Hedgehogs Get the Blues, and Other Bedtime Tales.

Settle down, children, and I’ll tell you a story.

This hedgehog owns a school. It is a large school.

This hedgehog owns a school

She looks happy.

The hedgehook looks happy. That's because she is happy.

But she is not happy. She is not happy because her school has a tiny garden. This is her garden.

Only one tree

She is sad because her garden is shit.

My garden is shit

Whenever she looks at her tree, all she sees is failure. The man in charge of the country says there will be zero tolerance for failure. She is afraid.

‘I am special and important,’ she says to herself. ‘My school is special and important. My school should have a bigger garden.’

So the hedgehog invites her friend to tea.

The tea has not arrived yet because the servants have not brought it. The servants are not achieving at optimum levels. If they are not careful they will be sacked.

The tea has not arrived yet because the servants have not brought it. The servants are not achieving at optimum levels. If they are not careful they will be sacked.

Luckily the hedgehog’s friend is in charge of schools. She is wearing a blue dress because she likes the colour blue.

The lazy servants have brought the tea at last. However they have only brought one cake. When her friend has gone the woman will speak to them sharply.

The lazy servants have brought the tea at last. However they have only brought one cake. When her friend has gone the hedgehog will speak to them sharply.

‘I’m sad about my garden,’ says the hedgehog.

‘I’m sad about it too,’ says her friend.

‘I walked past the village school last week,’ says the hedgehog. ‘Their garden is very big.’

The village school has lots of trees.

The village school has lots of trees.

‘Yes,’ says her friend. ‘It is much too big. Also the teachers are pinkos.’

‘They are really taking the piss with that garden,’ says the hedgehog.

‘Luckily,’ says her friend, ‘the school inspector is going to visit them this afternoon.’

This is the school inspector. He likes arithmetic.

This man is the school inspector. He likes arithmetic.

The village school has only one chair.

The village school has run out of chairs

They asked for new chairs from the woman in charge of schools.

She said no.

The inspector calls. It is a sunny day. The children are playing in the garden with their teacher. Their teacher likes pink.

It is a sunny day. The children are playing in the garden

But the inspector is angry. He takes the teacher into a spooky room filled with shadow.

He tells the pinko teacher off.

He speaks angrily to the pinko teacher. The children have not yet learnt ‘Dover Beach’ by heart! Their school is failing.

Now the inspector must leave. He has an appointment for tea at the school with only one tree.

The servants have not brought the inspector a cup. They are really in the shit now.

The servants have not brought the inspector a cup. They are really in the shit now.

‘The village school is failing,’ says the inspector to the hedgehog’s friend.

‘We must take away their trees,’ says the hedgehog’s friend.

‘Be quiet!’ says the inspector. ‘We must go upstairs.’

‘I don’t think of you that way,’ says the hedgehog’s friend.

‘You are flattering yourself,’ says the inspector. ‘We must go upstairs to talk about the trees or else the pinkos will be angry. The pinkos will say we stole their trees to give to our friend.’

They go upstairs to talk about the trees in secret.

The woman in charge of schools meets secretly with the man in charge of inspecting schools

The hedgehog is definitely not listening at the door.

Later that day, the woman in charge of schools sets off in her motorcar.

Her friend goes everywhere with her. He used to be in charge of schools until the pinko teachers said mean things about him. He was very sad about this.

Her friend goes everywhere with her. He used to be in charge of schools until the pinko teachers said mean things about him. He was very sad about this.

‘Your school has failed,’ says the woman in charge of schools to the pinko teacher. ‘We are taking your trees away.’

The woman in charge of schools arrives

Her friend is hiding in this picture. He does not want to be seen by the pinko teacher.

‘What will happen to our school?’ says the pinko teacher.

‘I do not care,’ says the woman in charge of schools.

You have not learnt your equations. You must give your trees to my friend.

The children say goodbye to their trees. They belong to the woman in charge of schools now. She will take them to her friend.

Now I have your trees

Hurray! Here are the trees

‘Here are the trees!’ says the woman to her friend, the hedgehog. ‘They are yours now.’

‘Hurray!’ says the hedgehog.

The school inspector is hiding behind the trees.

Here is the school inspector. He is hiding behind the trees

He is camera shy.

The hedgehog looks happy. That’s because she is happy.

The hedgehook looks happy. That's because she is happy.

Very happy.

Very happy.

The End.

Sleep tight, children!

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living, dead, or hedgehog, is purely coincidental.