Sunday, 14 April 2013

Oh Cock! He's grown up...




Dominic is fourteen years old and needs to go to a decent school.

Aged only four he learnt to ride a Yamaha PW 50.  Aged only nine he could drive my Range Rover and now he can drive my truck.  He is a demon on a jetski and knows how to handle a rifle safely and can comfortably hit what he aims at.  Just today we were discussing the Periodic Table of the Elements.  He explained to me that the most abundant element in the universe was iron and that, in fact, all life on earth depended on its iron core the motion of which providing as it did, the magnetic field that protected the planet's surface from solar radiation.  He went on to say that iron was the most stable element of the universe and all other elements either side of it on the Periodic Table tended to decay towards it.  He'd lost me by now.

'Dad, you did nuclear physics, you know all about decay!' he protested.

No, Son, I am old and sick, that's why I know all about decay I thought but, blimey, I was impressed.

But he is absolutely corrrect, of course.  Iron is the most abundant element and if our earth with its elliptical orbit wasn't constantly being massaged by the sun's gravitational pull creating internal friction, our liquid iron core would cool, denuding the magnetic field that so far has protected us from the mother of all storms, a solar one.  Solar winds, hitherto deflected would strip our atmosphere away and Earth would resemble Mars in no time.

Regular readers of this blog will know that the only reason I am still here is that I separated from Dominic's mother over ten years ago and, since she was Angolan, lost custody of him.  The only way I could have any influence on his development, therefore, was to give up my career and stay in Angola and take any shit job I could and just make the best of a generally bleak situation.  I call my blog 'A Hippo on the Lawn' but I subtitle it, 'Diary of an Involuntary Expatriate'.  I didn't choose to be here.  As far as I am concerned, I could easily do Life in a UK prison.  You try doing twenty years in this shithole.  The whisky will get me before I get parole.  My liver would have been better off had I been in prison all this time but I have a son and even if the law will only allow me to be near him on certain occasions, I have an obligation to him.  That's why I taught him to ride a motorcycle aged four.  It is why I bought him a telescope so he could look at stars those in the Northern Hemisphere could only dream of.  I taught him to fish and got him a microscope so he could study the beasties we collected on our walks together.  His English isn't perfect but it is pretty damn good.  At fourteen he can drive my truck.  It is time for him to go to a decent school.

A few years ago, I put his name down for my old school and since, like so many others, they had embraced the interweb thingy, Dominic could see what was on offer.  I could see he wasn't terribly impressed.  I have to confess, I wasn't either.  There were videos you could download of boys playing Health and Safety Rugby, a game which, as far as I could tell, involved running as far away as one could from the ball.  Clearly, a lot has changed in UK and when we got to the Domestic Science bit, both Dominic and I decided to grab our rifles and go and shoot something.  Honestly, UK schools are crap.  In fact, in a recent survey of First World countries, UK came bottom in Education and bottom on the scale of nice places for children to grow up.  You only have to watch Sky News to see what a shithole UK is.  I did not go through all this to send my boy somewhere almost as bad as Angola.  Frankly, I was stumped.

Dominic wasn't, though.  I had bought him and taught him how to use a computer.  So he searched the web and found a school he liked the look of.

That was eight months ago.  If that is what he wants, I thought, that's what he gets so we applied.

One week from today, at 0900 hrs Saturday, Dominic will sit his entrance exam at the Portuguese Embassy in Luanda.  I beg you all to keep your fingers crossed, he really wants this.  And if he wants this so badly, so do I.  Even though I am estranged from his mother, I know she has had a hand in this and has done an excellent job raising my son (I admit this grudgingly) after all, which father is caught on the hop by a phone call from a fourteen year old wishing to clarify matters pertaining to both chemistry and physics?  Sadly, I cannot tutor him.  I answered his questions and then advised him to study his notes hard until Thursday night.  Friday night, the night before his exam, I told him he should relax, chill out.  Eat a good meal and watch some TV.  Then, at a decent time, go to bed but place his notes under his pillow but under no circumstances, study.  I could not explain to him how this works but it does and I so desperately want him to succeed because I know he wants this.

Is it genetic?

Why do sons invariably follow in their father's footsteps?

Dominic is going for the Portuguese Military Academy.







'You're next.  Remember, first blood doesn't hurt THAT much...'

I remember that, Chapel is boring!

But Tanks are fun!

They teach them to ride horses as well and how to dance with a lady.  If he passes his exam, I will be saying goodbye to him in just three month's time.

28 comments:

  1. I went to a highly academic school (I too was amazed that I passed my entrance exam). Life was hard. Lots of whacking, rugby, cricket, fives, rowing, and discipline. I loved it.

    Good luck to Dominic. If that's what he wants, it can but be ideal for him.

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    1. Ever since he could talk he was asking when he could 'go to that school where you sleep?' Let's hope he doesn't sleep in class!

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  2. I went to a normal state school and loved my education (I was head boy don't you know! ). But I never would have passed any entrance exams as I was somewhat of a late bloomer! Good luck to your son , I'm sure he will do fine, he sounds an Intelligent young lad.
    (Unrelated I have answered your questions about rootstocks)

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    1. You look as though you are doing alright, Kev. Thanks for the rootstock advice.

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  3. Good gravy - it's Tom Brown's schooldays but with education thrown in. Splendid. I shall most definitely have everything that still crosses crossed for him, including for what it's worth my very best wishes.

    Given that my parents appeared to be on the run I can remember at least eight schools although I'm sure there were more, and that with a complete year missed (only the local village school was available, and not even worth walking through the door), plus as much time off "sick" as I could get my indulgent mother to agree to (and it was a LOT).

    The only schools of any note - where I finally learned to read and write, at the tender age of nine years - were on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides. One a single-teacher all-ages village school with leather-strap threat discipline and the other the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, ditto.

    I despair when I hear about schools these days (niece and her chap are teachers). It's all paperwork and procedures for the "teachers" and no education for the sprogs.

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    1. Outer Hebrides? Blimey, what did your father do to get posted there?

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  4. Sounds as though he's bright enough to survive, if not excell in a boys school
    For me all male environments are as scary as a hungry pig in a lift

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    1. Should help him concentrate on his studies rather than girls!

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  5. I never knew military academies took boys as young as 14. Anyway, he seems like a bright lad with a flair for science. I'm sure he'll make you prouder.

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    1. They should have boarding schools run on military lines in UK. They would do much to improve standards.

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  6. I know only too well that feeling of wanting your child to get into the best place there is, particularly if they too want to go there with all their heart. As you say, most UK schools are crap these days (too much 'elf and safety as well as dumbing down to the lowest common denominator) and the ones in the inner cities even more so. Kay managed to get selected for a very good private school here in London but of course we had to pay for it which was a heavy drain on our resources - well worth it though because she did very well. She won't be on benefits and spraying graffiti on walls, that's for sure. My fingers and toes are crossed all goes well for the entrance exam.

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    1. This place isn't cheap either and then there is the added costs of uniforms, flights etc. but it will be worth it. I just hope he keeps his English studies up.

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  7. Sounds like a bright boy who has the right attitude so he will get where he wants to go in life. You have reason to be proud of him.

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    1. He is bright, he surprised me!

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  8. Everything crossed here... Dominic will make you proud.

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  9. Fourteen does seem quite young for a military academy! But best of luck to him, may he succeed with flying colours.

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    1. He would have gone aged 10 had it been possible!

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  10. Quote Tom: "They should have boarding schools run on military lines in UK. They would do much to improve standards."

    Strange, don't you think, how one inconsidered throw away remark can make or break a relationship.

    U

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  11. A Level English Comprehension test paper:

    "Quote Tom: "They should have boarding schools run on military lines in UK. They would do much to improve standards."

    Strange, don't you think, how one inconsidered throw away remark can make or break a relationship."

    In no more than fifteen hundred words, discuss with particular reference to 'one inconsidered throw away remark' and Carl von Clausewitz's 'Principles of War' as applied to the modern business environment.

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    1. Leaving aside you, possibly, misinterpreting the rather witty Clausewitz, your son going to military school shouldn't be a deal breaker. For that I like and appreciate your wit and eloquence too much.

      Not to let air out of the balloon, but still noteworthy my father told me, about five minutes ago, that apparently the Portugese just about had. Headline "Auf nach Afrika", emigrating to guess where: Yes, their previous colony. Angola.

      Make sure you give them a warm welcome

      U

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  12. We all deserve to achieve our dreams...hope he does, and indeed you'll be able to say, "That's m'boy" with a broad grin, and a large glass of whisky

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  13. I hope he gets in! Fingers crossed. :)

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    1. Thanks. Now I know how my parents felt when I was sitting exams.

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  14. Well I sincerely hope that Dominic gets in to his chosen school but I must take issue with your wrongful and defamatory declaration that England is a "shithole". It is a wonderful, beautiful, exciting, vibrant, historical, argumentative, artistic, idealistic country at the very heart of life. I should know because I have lived there most of my life and know hundreds of lovely, decent English people. We have some of the finest schools in the world but personally even if I were a rich man I would have never, ever considered sending my children to a fee-paying school. They went to their local comprehensive school and both did well, our daughter going on to university in Birmingham, England as well as Birmingham, Alabama. And both of them made friends for life and both of them were challenged and remember their schooldays very fondly. Yes England has its warts and foibles but I am heartily sick of ex-pats and escapees slagging our wonderful country off. I am happy to contend that England is still the finest country on this planet so put that in your Angolan pipe and smoke it sir!

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    1. @Yorkshire Pudding (when I arrived on these isles I was bemused that dessert was served alongside roast beef), whatever makes expats feel better. Of course, England is NOT a 'shithole'. If it were I'd left the place with four year old under arm seventeen years ago - as everyone expected me to do. One of two reasons I stayed that I wanted to give my son an English education. As was his fortune he saw both the public and the private sector (though no boarding - over my dead body). And in that order. First the rough, than the slightly smoother because his father (public school boarder himself, Surrey, England) wished so. I wouldn't go as far as you to say that "England is still the finest country on this planet". But it sure is a good country. And to chime with your own decision of never sending your children to fee paying school it would have never occurred to me either. But, see above, I stand corrected since my son clearly appreciated to see the other side.

      What gets me in Tom's narrative is the 'military' bit. That is ideology. One I cannot condone. I truly hope, sorry, Tom, talking about you here in the third person, that he has talked it through with Dominic. I do not 'psychologize' people but can't help feeling that maybe it's a case of son wanting to please father. I am the most easy going laid back mother any offspring can wish for but if my son had come home announcing he'd go to military school I'd have had to take three deep breaths, put on my coat, walk round the block at least more than once to regain some sort of composure, and then let discussion begin.

      Mind you, having said that, and I don't know what your experience, some friends of mine converted to Catholicism to get their their child into the school with the "best" education in the vicinity.

      U

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  15. I hope Dominic does well on the entrance exam. Digits crossed!

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Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.