Unknown Pleasures #16: Helen Howden

Ah, Helen Howden. My friend and neighbour. Sometimes a droothy one.

Helen is to the legal world as Caitlin Moran is to journalism.

Sharp witted, a bit anti-establishment, argumentative, funny, well read, opinionated, bolshy.

Just great really.

Sarcasm is a weapon sharpened in her holster.

But, woah, I am painting a picture of a difficult woman when, in fact, the opposite is true.

Helen is a warm, affectionate friend that would never, ever say no to a cry for help. (I’ve already run up several thousand pounds worth of free legal advice.)

She’s uncommonly sharp, uncommonly insightful and uncommonly great company to be with.

However, legal minded or otherwise, she clearly cannot read a brief because this, dear reader, is called Unknown Pleasures and Helen has renamed it.

So Helen.

So I’m not changing it.

Uncommon Pleasures

An indulgence by Helen Howden with prompting by Mark Gorman

Favourite book or author

Start with the question that is impossible to answer. Books have been with me for as long as I can remember and there have been particular favourites over the years – Enid Blyton’s Noddy books, the Faraway Tree, the Secret Seven (far better than the Famous Five); Judy Blume; Joan Lingard (oh my goodness – Across the Barricades – just brilliant); KM Peyton’s quartet of novels about the virtuoso pianist Patrick Pennington (my first bad boy crush); Robertson Davies; etc.  I don’t usually keep books now after reading them but there are some which will always have space on my shelf: Little Grey Men by BB; Reach for the Sky (the story of Douglas Bader); Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh; The House by the Dvina by Eugenie Fraser; and the Shardlake novels by C.J. Sansom.

Secret Seven Adventure: Book 2: Amazon.co.uk: Blyton, Enid, Wane, Esther:  Books
I’m so with you on this one Helen.

The book I’m reading

As if there would just be one! I have struggled to read during lockdown, it’s just not been the comfort to me I wish it had been.  However I’ve still got a few on the go including The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (on loan from Mark Gorman) and Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: 9780345804341 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

The book I wish I’d written

Frankly, I wish I’d written any book – the novel inside of me is so well hidden I don’t think it will ever come out.

To fund my retirement – the Harry Potter books. 

The book I couldn’t finish

I used to plough through books regardless but have now given myself permission not to finish.  Most recent book cast aside was Booker prize winning, Shuggie Bain.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart | Waterstones

The book I’m ashamed I’ve not read

I really have no shame.  

I do wish though that I could get through War and Peace.  I’ve been challenged twice by our son who even pointed out that reading a chapter a day would mean I’d finish it in a year.  I’m halfway through but really do not care what happens to any one of the characters.

My favourite film

Legally Blonde.

My favourite play

Plays are a category like books – I’ve loved the theatre for year and was lucky to be in Glasgow when the Citizen’s Theatre was at its height under the artistic direction of Robert David MacDonald, Philip Prowse and Giles Havergal. (there is a rather colourful painting of them by Adrian Wiszniewski which really ought not to be in the Portrait Gallery rather than in storage).  Tickets were £1 (free for preview night) and I frequently saw plays several times during their run.  The Tron in Glasgow was also a favourite haunt during the late 1980s when the likes of Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson (then known as Bing Hitler) and Victor and Barry held court in the bar.  

If I had to pick a favourite, then it would be Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (or maybe Hedda Gabler) or it would be Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard (or maybe Uncle Vanya).  

My favourite podcast

I’m currently listening to my first podcasts (very adopter), a series called Presidential recorded by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.  Each episode is devoted to one US president and looks at how they have shaped what has come to be the modern presidential office (pre-Trump).  I like how, in trying to get a picture of these man, she asks her contributors what a blind date with them would be like.

The box set I’m hooked on

The West Wing – we invested in the discs years ago and they are almost worn out.

Favourite TV series

The West Wing.

Favourite piece of music

Mozart’s Requiem

Favourite dance performance

The first dance at my wedding – an awkward shuffle around the floor to Elvis crooning “Can’t help falling in love with you”.

Last film/music/book that made me cry

Always on My Mind sung by Willie Nelson.  

The lyric I wish I’d written

I think Elton John’s Candle in the Wind.  

The song that saved me

There isn’t one.  

The instrument I play

I don’t.  I did once upon a time play the piano, flute and saxophone.  I doubt I could now.

The instrument I wish I’d learned

I did want to learn the clarinet, but my mother persuaded me to go for the flute.

If I could own one painting it would be

Vermeer’s The Milkmaid – the light is exquisite, and she is quite lost in her work.  I have the Playmobil set – it’s a poor substitute.

Milkmaid acc. Johannes Vermeer Painting by Jan Teunissen

The music that cheers me up

Van Morrison’s Bright Side of the Road – from the very first toot.

The place I feel happiest

With my people (Pat, Alexander and Ike).

But ideally I would be in Cullen.  It’s where I’d love to live – beside the sea and an amazing ice cream shop.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

(Sniffing new books.)

Dutch interior paintings from the 16/17th centuries – especially church interiors (which all have at least one dog – trust me, I’ve seen a lot of those paintings).

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors 

Grayson Perry (and Philippa) – his laugh is just brilliant, Dolly Parton (because who doesn’t love Dolly), Alan Bennett, Graham Norton (will make my drinking speed seem slow), Evelyn Waugh (I know that might involve a bit of a séance), Sheila Hancock, and Sally Unwin (@PintSizedFarmer). 

And I’ll put on this music

I’m at the age when music during meals needs to be soft otherwise I won’t be able to follow the conversation!

If you enjoyed this there are another 15 to enjoy.

Mino Russo

Rebecca Shannon

Phil Adams

Wendy West

Will Atkinson

Jon Stevenson

Ricky Bentley

Jeana Gorman

Lisl MacDonald

Murray Calder

David Reid

David Greig

Gus Harrower

Stephen Dunn

Mark Gorman

Harold Feinstein: Coney Island Sheet Music 1951.

This photo montage, shot in New York in 1951, blew me away when I stumbled upon it the other day.

Isn’t it beautiful.

I unwittingly took a series of shots in the Freedom Tower a few years ago that has some echoes of it (horrible reflections on this photo of my glass framed photo, but you’ll get the idea). It was my mum’s favourite picture.

Nomadland: Movie Review

Nomadland' Review: Frances McDormand Embraces Vagabond Life - Variety

It’s been 15 months since I stepped into a film theatre, so as I crossed the threshold of Boness’ stunningly beautifully restored 1912 cinema I almost had a lump in my throat.

On exiting I sure did.

Nomadland is a very unusual film. Virtually plotless, it evokes Tree of Life by Terence Malik to some extent, Boyhood by Richard Linklater maybe, in that it’s an emotional and spiritual journey rather than a scripted one. It’s semi-documentary, but it’s patently not one.

It captures the lives of America’s nomadic community. People who have variously opted out, been thrown out or simply squeezed out into the margins in society. They chase seasonal work (like Christmas at Amazon) in their battered RVs. They camp in the desert or on wasteland, occasionally in organised trailer park’s like the one run by the sort of philanthropic Bob.

Frances McDormand’s Fern is one of these people. And she really could be, so natural is her performance.

Director Chloe Zhao passes no judgement on them. Nor does she force you into any yourself. Because you can tell Zhao empathises with them. This is NOT a Michael Moore production in any way, shape or form.

There is no judgement going on here. You might decide they are trailor trash, but that would be absurdly unfair because these people work hard. You might castigate them as hippies, but just because they like a campfire doesn’t mean they are all earth mothers and fathers. Indeed, pointedly few of them are even vegetarian.

Is it a happy film or a sad one? I’m not sure it’s possible to decide. But it sure is an emotional one.

I didn’t particularly like the music, but it was a good choice for the movie because its neo-classical, lyricless mood-making underscored, rather than dominated, the action – or lack of it.

Yes, you may find this boring. But that’s fine, if you do it wasn’t meant for you.

I feel the cinematography was a little oversold to me. It’s good. It’s not great.

But the strength of this movie is heaped onto the shoulders, the mighty shoulders of Frances McDormand. An actress so great she rarely seems to be acting.

She seems at one with this movie, with its largely unprofessional cast.

Her relationship with Dave (David Strathairn) is a stunningly underplayed masterclass in relationship building. At no point does one know where it will go, how it will develop.

The running references to rock, stone, water and fire makes it completely elemental. Preternatural. And simple. So simple.

It’s an abstract oil painting. Maybe a Rothko.

It’s wonderful.

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landside,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see.

Unknown Pleasures #15: Mino Russo

Mino and I go back a fair bit.

Our obvious crossover point is music. To say Mino’s knowledge of music is encyclopaedic would be to diminish his remarkable talent for the subject. He has smashed so many of the music quizzes I’ve presented over the years that I’ve asked him to collaborate with me this year rather than win. Again!

But he’s also a top bloke (another cyclist too).

I’ve been involved in hiring him (and recommending him) more than once in a business development agency role, another, this time professional, talent that has few peers.

And he’s funny and engaging and full of stories – including his own lifeline.

He’s proud of his Italian roots and I think that shows up in his enthusiastic temperament that gets folk going, creates a drive and energy behind what he does and gets things done.

We need more Minos. But for now you’ll just have to content yourself with his fascinating cultural fix.

My favourite author or book

Michael Dibdin for his Aurelio Zen mysteries, set in Italy. Returning to Scotland after a few years living in Milan, I discovered these books – he just seemed to nail Italian characters, one after the other, dialling up all the traits that I instantly recognised, with a little black humour thrown in. The series also used societal events taking place in Italy as a backdrop, from Tangentopli and Berlusconi – it’s all there. 

The book I’m reading

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time by Craig Brown. So many books written about them, but none like this. Coming at it in so many new ways and angles. Their chance meetings, the coincidences, conflicting accounts of the same incident, tangents, personal anecdotes, the sad tale of Jimmy Nicol who was a Beatle for 2 weeks in Australia while Ringo was ill. Insights on Yoko Ono as a child Shirley Temple impersonator. So much to enjoy.

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time: Winner of the Baillie Gifford  Prize: Amazon.co.uk: Brown, Craig: 9780008340001: Books
I’ve read this too (Ed) and can confirm that it’s brilliant.

The book I wish I had written

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. He sells his jazz bar in 1982 to focus not only on his writing but, began running and kept going. Marathons, triathlons and more. Very, very cool.

The book I couldn’t finish

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – have tried 3 or 4 times on different holidays. Will try again.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

I will one day, but as yet, I’ve not read anything by Alasdair Gray.

My favourite film

Broadway Danny Rose. Woody Allen plays a neurotic (of course) New York theatrical agent who gets caught up in a love triangle with his Italian American lounge singer, a lover and the mob. Worth it just to see Pee Wee the singing budgie.

My favourite play

Glengarry Glen Ross – not seen this on stage (yet), but the film adaptation counts. Ruthless, immoral, dishonest and desperate salesmen all vying for pole position as they try to fob off second-rate real estate to gullible buyers. Disgusting, horrible but very watchable.  

My favourite podcast

Word in Your Ear with David Hepworth and Mark Ellen. These two have provided very useful cultural pointers through the decades from Smash Hits to Word Magazine to this excellent podcast that has got even better during lockdown.

Word In Your Ear Podcast | Free Listening on Podbean App

The box set I’m hooked on

Shtisel – on Netflix. It’s about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family living in Jerusalem. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are not the everyday characters that we see in TV dramas but, depicted as ordinary people, you soon caught up with very familiar family themes, the ups and downs, aches and pains. 

My favourite TV series

Curb Your Enthusiasm – even the first few notes of the opening credits fill me with joy. From the episode 1 of Season 1 to the last. Never a dip in quality. 

My favourite piece of music

Beyond the Missouri Sky by Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny. Recommended by a great friend of mine as the best music often is.

My favourite dance performance

In 2009, Michael Clark brought a new show to the Edinburgh Festival for the first time in over twenty years. The performance was set to the music of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. The standout was Heroes. The 1977 video of the song was used in such a clever way. Wherever he looked, the dancers would move there to meet his gaze. When Bowie looked ahead – the dancers were in front. When he slowly alters his position to look left, the dancers moved to the left. They wore the same tight leather jacket that he was wearing in the video. It was surprisingly moving. 

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

Sonho Meu by Maria Bethania always get me going. So sad and moving. A song about deep longing and homesickness. 

The lyric I wish I’d written

‘You can’t hide from yourself, everywhere you go there you are’ by Teddy Pendergrass. So obvious and true.

The song that saved me

I wouldn’t say that Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie saved me, but I think this was the first ‘serious’ single that I bought with my own money after seeing the video on Top of the Pops. Strange to think that nearly a decade earlier, the magic moment for many people was Starman on the same show.

The instrument I play

I play a little guitar and sometimes bass with a group of equally untalented individuals.

The instrument I wish I’d learned

The piano – if I’d had lessons, practiced 8 hours a day for 4 years I would have been absolutely brilliant.

If I could own one painting it would be

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli – might as well aim high.

The Birth of Venus - Wikipedia

The music that cheers me up

Whenever I need a little pick me up, Spread Love by Al Hudson & The Soul Partners. Turns rain to sunshine every time.

The place I feel happiest

Sitting under a tree in the shade.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

Coronation Street. Sorry.

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

Boy George, Malcolm Gladwell, Gail Ann Dorsey, Larry David & Deborah Meaden.

And I’ll put on this music

Moon Safari by Air. Just joking. I think I’ll put on Synthesize the Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica from the Cape Verde Islands.

Synthesize the Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica from the Cape Verde Islands |  Various Artists | Ostinato Records

Here’s the 14 others in the series so far. Dip in, enjoy and share them

Rebecca Shannon

Phil Adams

Wendy West

Will Atkinson

Jon Stevenson

Ricky Bentley

Jeana Gorman

Lisl MacDonald

Murray Calder

David Reid

David Greig

Gus Harrower

Stephen Dunn

Mark Gorman

Starmer’s stuttering leadership is losing the plot.

Why Keir Starmer is the Labour Party in human form | British GQ

They laughed at Corbyn, but he damn near won an election.

Starmer. The great polished hope of Labour is starting to look like a great polished turd.

Steve Richards nailed it in his podcast this week when he suggested that Starmer simply isn’t a politician.

He’s a professional.

And he’s no leader either.

What’s more, his knighthood seriously dents whatever credibility his working class roots may have afforded him.

I’d say England no longer has an appetite for working class Labour values. Its only success being in the hands of Scotland’s version of an Etonian. But Corbyn almost disproved that.

Labour is as Westminster bubble, and as Metropolitan, as The Tories now.

In Scotland, Labour is a laughing stock. Only in Wales does the party have any credibility whatsoever.

I’m not a Labour voter but I’d far rather see them in power than this disgusting mess that is this Tory, self-consumed corrupt filth.

Starmer has seriously lost the plot after a promising start. It started with his Brexit silence, it was compounded by his flag waving patriotism in a desperate bid to shore up that red wall and his lukewarm pandemic opposition has been, well, tepid.

In fact, that’s what Starmer is really, tepid.

He no longer seems to have a strategy and his loss of the Red Wall is extremely worrying.

I wish I knew the answer. Boris came from the London Mayorhood, maybe Sadiq Khan can do that but he feels as Metropolitan as Starmer.

Andy Burnham has proper credentials and a popular persona. But he seems settled in his role in Manchester.

I like Jess Phillips immensely, but I fear she is too out there.

Annalieise Doods seemed to have the intellect, but not the empathy.

It’s a right old mess, isn’t it.

Unknown Pleasures #14: Rebecca Shannon

It was a quiet early lockdown day last year.

I’d been providing free mentoring sessions through a Covid Scheme in Scotland when BOOM, my life changed.

Rebecca Shannon came into it.

Ostensibly looking for advice she was really just doing what smart entrepreneurs do, sifting the world for insight and inspiration.

We hit it off on the spot.

She liked my approach and later, it turned out, she liked my writing style having commissioned me, there and then, to help with her blogs and her website.

I liked her honesty, her energy (my God her energy), her enthusiasm and her laser sharp ability to get to the point.

She’s a professional coach in Faversham (yes, I do have a cosmopolitan outlook, don’t I?), an HR practitioner to trade, but now knocking people like me, and I’m willing to bet, you, into shape.

She loves a quote, and when I say loves, I’m talking Beatles 1966 scale.

Take this, on her LinkedIn and website home page.

“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.” Jay Danzie

With Rebecca you get a sense that you are joining a personal gang (she calls it her Tribe, with good reason) and once you’re in there’s no way out.

She’s a singer too as it happens and a mum with the passion of a lion. She sure loves those boys.

She also recommended one of the best business books I’ve read in years called Feck Perfection by James Victore that makes her list.

There really is only one Rebecca Shannon. This is she.

(I was tempted to edit her unique writing style to fit with my convention. But she’s not conventional, so it stays as seen largely.)

My favourite author or book

Oh my this is a tough one …and that’s just from the ones I have read and I know there are so many more out there which will become my favourites. 

They tend to be the ones I have just read …. as they find me just when I need them.

So most recent ones would be Wintering by Katherine May  … a truly slow and beautiful book about something I have been practicing and living …. hibernating for the winter to rest and replenish and learning more about the power of this not just in the literal winter but when times are difficult tough or challenging. 

And the magic of this book is that it was written just a few miles from where I am…. and in a town I love; Whitstable … which I didn’t know until I started reading. 

Feck Perfunction by James Victore …. this was love at first read. A book I recommend to everyone …. including you Mark and led me on a exciting exploration of not just self … but James himself with an interview … several conversations and a place on his Creative Warrior School (… which I have been bunking off in my winter time to get back to it!)

It is fecking perfunction itself … as he is as, am I and as are you! 

James Victore's “Feck Perfuction: Dangerous Ideas on the Business of Life”  — Typograph.Her

The book I’m reading

Always reading more than one, they are dotted around the house and I will dip in and out as I feel drawn to them

Two are next to me in bed … where I am writing this so I’ll go with those.

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold and beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold.

I’m with Michael Morpurgo on this one … ‘Unforgettable’ …I am reading a chapter a night with my youngest son and enjoying the slow build of the most beautiful story of the last bear on a distant island …it’s like reading the most delicious mug of hot chocolate … warming from the inside out …I’m excited about the last few chapters, enjoying the anticipation as I reach the last line of the chapter we are on… and intentionally resisting reading the next …he is away with his Dad for a couple of days … and so it builds! 

Hearttalk by Cleo Wade ….. this feels like a chat with your very best friend. It’s light and easy …. and packs a powerful punch with a mix of prose poetry and scribbled notes.

Children's book of the week: The Last Bear by Hannah Gold | Culture | The  Sunday Times

 

The book I wish I had written

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier   …. it would be a whole other story!  

Oh and the one Mark and I are going to write together.

The book I couldn’t finish

Midnight’s Children By Salmon Rushdie …. a Christmas gift from a very brief encounter …didn’t get very far with either! 

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

I am giving up shame …… it’s no good for anyone. 

My favourite film

That is just too difficult …. the range here is too big … the choices too broad … too many for so many different reasons.

The Way We Were ….. for the sheer beauty of the leading man Robert Redford.

Out of Africa … and yes Robert is there and so is Meryl Streep who is just incredible.

 “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills”.

Bond films and Star Wars films …… all of them … for the sheer excitement that builds and the feeling when you lean back into the cinema seat (remember them ?) and the iconic music comes on.  

Random and from a younger me … Reservoir Dogs, I’m not sure I could watch it now. 

The Marvel Films …. I love watching them with my boys and am totally lost as to what most of them are about so a fantastic way to switch off! 

And, I nearly forgot…Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The Parallels Between Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly - Biography

My favourite play

I have not been to the theatre nearly enough in my lifetime and I can’t even remember the last one.

The box set I’m hooked on

Again don’t really do them.

WandaVision ….with my eldest son totally addictive and yet again I have absolutely no idea what was going on but just couldn’t stop watching. 

My favourite TV series

Sherlock. I don’t really watch TV anymore apart from some carefully selected Netflix’s shows and films. 

My favourite piece of music

Clair de Lune. 

My favourite dance performance

Nobody puts baby in the corner …couldn’t resist .

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

I have go to’s for this … as crying is healing. 

Film….. Life Itself and this quote. 

Music Adele overload.

Feel my Love … and whenever I sing it …  it’s for my boys X. 

When we were young … for my Dad x.

Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk
To the way you move
Everybody here is watching you
‘Cause you feel like home
You’re like a dream come true

You look like a movie

You sound like a song

My God this reminds me, of when we were young

Book …This is me letting you go by Heidi Priebe .

This is not a process that comes easily to me …. (despite many opportunities to practice) ….. this poignant book was a guide …a companion through a time where the tears were stuck ….. this is how I got unstuck and the healing began.

The lyric I wish I’d written

I gave you soft, I gave you sweet
Just like a lion you came for sheep
Oh no, don’t try to hustle me
You took my love, mistook it for weakness
I guarantee I won’t repeat this
No, don’t try to hustle me

The song that saved me

The song I need always presents itself … and saves me in that moment so they change with each moment 

To save me from a bit of a ‘Funk’ … Masaka Kids Africana Dancing To Jerusalema By Master KG Feat Nomcebo & Burna Boy.

The instrument I play

I don’t.

The instrument I wish I’d learned

Piano …. I did for a while and then stopped … I will again. 

If I could own one painting it would be

The one that would light up my world …… I own a few of these already so no need to choose one 

An original that I commission … like this will hang in my new home …. when I find it!  the home not the painting!)  

This is The Light Within by https://www.jacquelinerooney.com/

The Light Within” - Jacqueline Rooney

The music that cheers me up

See above ….. anything that gets me moving and lifts my soul. 

The place I feel happiest

My sunny bench outside my home.

The decking overlooking the woodland garden in our family cottage in Wales.

Saint Lucia.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

Bridgerton … pure fantastical desire (no guilt).

The Duke & Daphne Strike a Deal in 'Bridgerton's Latest Trailer (VIDEO)

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

I don’t have real dinner parties and if I did right now it would be for all the people I love ….an eclectic mix of wonderfully wondrous people. 

Artists and authors I’d love to come too James Victore (see favourite books) Jacqueline Rooney a favourite artist (and whose paintings light up my world  (see above) Robert Redford as my dinner date!  

And I’ll put on this music

I’d ask James Victore to serenade me (again) on his guitar along with Jacqueline and her father with some Irish songs ….and all the songs that would get us up and dancing. 

If you liked this there are many more to read now.

Phil Adams

Wendy West

Will Atkinson

Jon Stevenson

Ricky Bentley

Jeana Gorman

Lisl MacDonald

Murray Calder

David Reid

David Greig

Gus Harrower

Stephen Dunn

Mark Gorman

Vague memories are stirring.

Coloured by Binzoboy. What a great job he did.

Of course our lifting of the Scottish Cup, the big one, was far more recent , and far more important. But this photo of Paddy picking up the League Cup has a beautiful quality about it to reflect the Hibees’ beautiful game.

I hope we draw St Johnstone because we will in no way underestimate them.

They have jinxed us all season so this would be a good time to get one back.

It’s been a great, but frustrating season. But to finish third and aagin lift the Scottish Cup would make it a truly memorable one with a terrific squad and a magic manager.

TK-MAXX Tutoring. The Tories’ bizarre new post -Covid educational strategy for catch up.

89% Off TK Maxx Discount Codes & Promo Codes - May 2021

TKs sells high end designer products at deep discount prices. Typically up to 70% off.

So you could buy a £100 designer white T shirt for £30.

Or you could go to Primark and buy a white T shirt for £10.

That’s the perfect analogy for the strategy the Tories have landed on for their £350m injection of extra tutoring.

So instead of buying a £10 T shirt people buy a “bargain” £30 T shirt that does the same job.

Now look at the Tory strategy.

Instead of giving schools £350m to buy tutoring in, they appoint a bunch of brutally expensive tutoring “Agencies’ and provide up to 75% off (but tapering down to 10% off over time).

The headline tutoring rate? £90 an hour. (Less 75% that’s £22.50 an hour to the school. Cost to taxpayers: £90 an hour). For the record the tutor does not receive £90 an hour. Far from it.

The cost we paid for our kids’ tutors: £20 an hour. Were the tutors substandard? Nope.

Is this idiocy in the extreme? Yep.

Maybe Gavin Williamson should get himself a maths tutor.

(I can recommend a good one for about £20 an hour).