Let a hundred flowers bloom

Last year somebody obviously had a bit of a clear-out in their garden. They dumped a lot of bulbs onto the dike cop and left them there. So I went down with a spade and just sort of dug them in. Now I’m not a gardener. If anybody asks, I’m a cowman and can get nervous when a field is brown side up. But the advantage is that whilst I didn’t know what I was planting, I wasn’t going to be disappointed at what came up. All you need is the right attitude and suddenly everything is an adventure. Perhaps more so than it need be.
But whilst we’re on about adventure, I was talking to one of the next generation and schools and discipline came up. I mentioned that I’d been asked to edit gently an Old Boys’ magazine for the school I used to attend. And no, I’ve no idea why I was asked either. But there was a hut at the bottom of the school field.

This hut, which in its time was an ARP hut, a Home Guard hut, a scout hut, and a dance studio (note the Oxford comma) had a long history. When the Home Guard had it, rumours circulated among the lads at the school that there were army rations stored there. Indeed there was even rumoured to be chocolate.
That did it, some lads quietly broke in by the simple expedient of loosening some planks at the back.
Much to their chagrin, there was no chocolate. But there was a fresh delivery of Sten guns, ammunition, and hand grenades. You know what they say, waste not, want not.

Apparently one lad was caught rabbiting with his Sten gun. The grenades were another issue. A hand grenade can consist of three parts. The detonator, the explosive bit, and the fragmentation sleeve which fits over the explosive bit. The lads took grenades which didn’t have the fragmentation sleeves. Effectively this made them ‘stun’ grenades.

They discovered that if you were on the upper floor you could open your window and if the classroom below also had a window open, you could drop your grenade out of your window and it would hit the window below, bounce into the classroom and explode. Obviously at that point you vacated the classroom above, probably with some alacrity.

Now you might think this was dangerous, but nobody appears to have been hurt. Also remember the generation of the teachers. Most would have served in the First World War. Whilst I suppose modern writers would insist on them having flashbacks, it seems that they were more likely to comment, “It’s just a Mills Bomb without a sleeve, nothing to worry about, Johnson. Get on with your essay please.”

I was the next generation in. My teachers could well have been the lads who dropped grenades into the classroom below. (Quite literally, as some had been at the school at the time.) One used to maintain order by throwing a board rubber at somebody he thought was talking or not paying attention. He was an excellent shot and there was no nonsense about wondering why you’d been singled out. If it hit you, you hadn’t been paying attention.

At the same time I was selling ammonium nitrate to fellow scholars who were using it to make explosives which they were playing with on waste ground. When the Headmaster found out, he phoned my parents. Fortunately he got my Dad whose response was, “As long as he was getting paid more for it that I paid for it.” At that point the school introduced a rule forbidding the selling ammonium nitrate on school premises.

The younger generation then commented that they had a friend who in a moment of teenage exuberance, suggested blowing up the school. But they did this on social media, and were promptly grassed up by the school bully. All hell broke out and years later the girl was still being asked by total strangers in the street if she was the girl who was going to blow the school up.

The problem now is everybody is desperately trying to cover their backs. I saw this suggested Safeguarding Policy which for me summed the position those at the bottom of the management pyramid find themselves in.

New Safeguarding Policy

This is the new safeguarding policy to be rolled out across the organisation. It is entirely different from the previous safeguarding policy. The previous safeguarding policy was mainly designed to prevent reputational damage. Hint, it wasn’t your reputation they were worried about. The current policy is to protect you and, incidentally, the person who needs to be safeguarded.

Please start here.

Work your way through the policy line by line until you come to the end.

You are presented with a safeguarding issue. (It doesn’t matter what sort of issue, whether it involves members of staff, volunteers or innocent bystanders.)

Have you read the organisation’s safeguarding policy?

  • No?  Then bring the incident to the attention of the police immediately.
  • Yes? Consider raising the incident with the organisation’s safeguarding officer.

Do you know the safeguarding officer?
Have you worked with the safeguarding officer?
Have you been impressed by their competence?

  • If the answer to any of these questions is no, bring the incident to the attention of the police immediately.
  • If the answer is yes, what sort of report should you send?

Are you a trained investigator, paid by your organisation to investigate?

  • Yes. Then send a formal report to the safeguarding officer, and finish by pointing out that your resources are limited and you recommend the incident be reported to the police immediately.
  • No. Then send an informal report merely recommending that the incident be reported to the police immediately.

When sending a report, send it in two ways. One as an email attachment, and one as a printed document, sent by registered post.

If within three days of sending the email you are not given written instructions to the contrary, bring the incident to the attention of the police.

Stay safe out there everybody, and let’s just keep an eye out for each other.



On the other hand you might prefer to listen to somebody who knows what they are talking about.

The fourth of these collections of anecdotes, rants, pious maunderings and general observations on life. Yes we have dogs, quads, sheep and cattle, but in this one we follow the ‘lambing year.’ It starts with ewes being put to the tup in late autumn and finishes in summer with the last of the laggards lambing.
But as well as this we have endless rain, as well as sleeping in a manger. Be brave and you’ll meet young ladies in high heeled cowboy boots, Sir John Moore of Corunna, brassieres for cows, and, incidentally, David Essex.

This book charts a year in the life of a Cumbrian sheep farmer. It’s sprinkled with anecdotes and memories of other years. Some parts (especially when featuring Sal, the Border Collie) were so funny as to cause me to have to read them out loud to my husband. It’s very interesting to read these things from the pen of the man who is actually out there doing it – usually in the rain! A very good read.

Tagged: , , ,

9 thoughts on “Let a hundred flowers bloom

  1. rootsandroutes2012 April 1, 2021 at 4:21 am Reply

    I’d say that – unless British Bulldog is now considered a form of dance – a good working knowledge of the Oxford comma is vital 🙂

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt April 1, 2021 at 5:30 am Reply

    I insist on keeping asunder that which is meant to be asunder. Anything else is lunacy.

  3. Doug Jacquier April 1, 2021 at 5:44 pm Reply

    Our government secondary school must have been very progressive. Teachers would usually hurl a warning shot of a piece of chalk before firing a duster bomb in the direction of the inattentive. I suppose that counts as part of an early safeguarding policy. 😉

    • jwebster2 April 1, 2021 at 5:54 pm Reply

      It strikes me that they were positively genteel 🙂

  4. Doug Jacquier April 8, 2021 at 12:49 pm Reply

    Hi, Jim. Thought you might appreciate this in relation to farm wages.

    An elderly farmer, received a letter from the Department for Work & Pensions stating that they suspected he was not paying his employees the statutory minimum wage and they would send an inspector to interview them.
    On the appointed day, the inspector turned up.
    “Tell me about your staff,” he asked the farmer.
    “Well,” said the farmer, “there’s the farm hand, I pay him £240 a week, and he has a free cottage.
    Then there’s the housekeeper. She gets £190 a week, along with free board and lodging.
    There’s also the half-wit. He works a 16 hour day, does 90% of the work, earns about £25 a week along with a bottle of whisky and, as a special treat, occasionally gets to sleep with my wife.”
    “That’s disgraceful” said the inspector, “I need to interview the half-wit.”
    “That’ll be me then,” said the farmer.

  5. Shammi Paranjape April 8, 2021 at 6:10 pm Reply

    “All you need is the right attitude and everything is an adventure”
    Great attitude!

    • jwebster2 April 8, 2021 at 6:15 pm Reply

      Yes, onwards and upwards 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: