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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Saturday, 15 December 2018


Friday 14th December 2018
Today granddaughter Katie was appearing in the nativity play at Chetwynd primary school where daughter Jill teaches as Head of English in the senior school. I was invited to spend the whole day sitting in on three lessons and one staff meeting. It was an enjoyable and enlightening experience.

Two of the lessons were spent analysing the poem below, first of all with Year 7 (11/12 yrs.)) and then Year 8 ( 13yrs.)

The depth of analysis was pretty thorough and brought forth some good input from the pupils. They were all well behaved and responsive to the lessons. 

The message of the poem is one worth heeding? Whatever one's thoughts are about the religious aspect of Christmas it is supposed to be the season of goodwill and human kindness rather than a huge dose of consumerism.

Alternative Santa: A Christmas Poem
By Roger McGough
‘I’m fed up looking like Father Christmas,’
Muttered Father Christmas one year
‘I need a new outfit, I must move with the times
So for a start, it’s goodbye reindeer’
He googled Alternative Santas
And was amazed at the stuff that appeared
He got rid of the holly-red costume
Had a haircut, and shaved off his beard
Spent his days in front of a computer
In a cave hollowed out of the ice
Wearing a tee shirt emblazoned Merry Xmas
And jeans (Amazon, Armani, half price)
Couldn’t wait to straddle his snow-ped
(The bargain he’d bought on eBay)
A rocket-powered silver toboggan
His supersonic sleigh
Then one morning he thought, ‘Oh why bother
Delivering presents by hand
When it could all be done online
Busy parents will understand
We are lucky to live in a digital age
Where the aim is access and speed
SantaNet I’ll call the system
‘Santafaction guaranteed’
And that was years and years ago
Times that children barely know
Midnight mass and mistletoe
Christmas carols and candle glow
Sleigh bells ringing across the snow
And Santa singing Yo ho ho
For that was years and years ago
And that was years and years ago.

The grand finale for my day was of course the nativity play. A while ago Jill sent me and her brother Will simultaneous messages asking us to guess which part Katie had been given to which we both replied simultaneously without collusion, "The donkey."
The play was loosely based on the Nativity, but also as a spoof on Strictly Come Dancing, and Katie, as the donkey, was one of the judges, which included a lot of speaking and some dancing. The whole show was priceless, and as all doting grandparents say, my granddaughter was the best, especially in a group dancing finale. Unfortunately photographing the children was not allowed.
Chetwynd is a school with friendly staff and a happy atmosphere with well behaved and attentive pupils. It was all a pleasure to witness.

Katie update 


  1. Your day sounded quite delightful Conrad and the school must be a pleasure to teach at.

  2. afoot - the only problem for my daughter is that the school is an hour's drive away. When you add on the many after school meetings and the like, that cuts into personal time even more, but Jill is totally dedicated to the school and enjoys it all to the full.

  3. An uplifting post Conrad. I've forwarded that poem to my grandchildren.

  4. BC - I find a lot of poetry difficult. Interpretation is not easy on one’s own and a group session like this throws ideas around and brings much more to the fore. I’m glad to hear the message has been passed on.

  5. It was a lovely day and having Dad in my classroom was pretty special. I have always wanted him to see what a day in school is like. Katie was so excited for him to be there and made up when we bumped into her and her class at one point. Dad did really well with the poetry and my classes loved having him there. We will have to do it again soon!

  6. How wonderful to share a day with your daughter and with little Katie (my, she’s grown!) I think there should be a national “bring your grandad/grandma to school day 😄 Love the poem.

  7. Miss R - What about doing it again when Ofsted are there?


    Ruth - I reckon your granddaughter will be well over 12 months old by now. I hope you are having as much fun with her as I did with Katie at that age. Have you any firm idea of when you may resume your trek? I am hoping to go back to my current long walk after Easter.

  8. Hi Conrad. Hope to get back walking in March if the weather forecast for west coast of Scotland predicts a few reasonable days. Yes, Bethany is 16 months old now, and has just discovered walking. She came round yesterday and “helped” decorate the tree. Thank goodness baubles aren’t made of glass anymore 😄

  9. Our grandchildren's achievements bring about a remote form of pride. Remote because the genes are, as it were, skipping a generation but the genetic lines are strong enough revel in.

    Zach continues to astonish me. He's good at every sport he takes up, and that includes rugby despite his skimpy size. Then came drama: in the last play I saw him in, he took away his quite substantial lines when they were first handed out, learned them at home, and was word-perfect for the run-throughs. A director's dream. On another occasion they needed someone to play a queen, wearing a revealing dress and a long blonde wig. None of his male classmates were keen (for typical boyish reasons) but Zach grabbed it. Why? I asked. "It was the best part."

    As for his school reports. You and I with our distinctly spotty education could only stand back and marvel. "Quite sickening, really," says Occasional Speeder, his Mum.

    Recently I watched him taking only his second ski-ing lesson preparatory to a trip to Canada. His progress in a sport I know only too well was - as usual - exemplary.

    And yet he's like most others kids of his age (he's eleven) I know. Stealing away for hours and playing computer games.

    As we lapse into senescence our grandchildren will be our representations, even if we do have to share this with others. More enduring than any tombstone. I for one am not sure I deserve Zach's prowess.

  10. RR - Before Katie came along I remember endless conversations with endless numbers of friends, acquaintances and others met along the way where these interlocutors would be extolling the pleasures derived from their grandchildren and it was all a mystery to me. In fact I often thought some of these people were over the top on the subject. I am now a member of the club and understand the whole thing perfectly.

  11. Lovely description of Nativity play, we recently attended our first play as grandparents and initially I was frustrated at the no photos rule, but actually when I do take videos or photographs I'm always struggling with the technology and tend to miss the item I'm recording for posterity, so it was nice in a way to be 'in the moment'. Hope you have a grand holiday, do stop by and visit if you are up our way (smiley face emoji)

  12. kendal grufties - God to hear from you (fellow members of the club). Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.