Friday, 10 April 2015

Chaos and qualifications!

There was a small amount of chaos and mayhem outside my house when I went out for a run first thing this morning. One of the neighbours told me that it was a lorry attempting to turn round a bit further up the road. Another case of someone unthinkingly following satnav and finding themselves in a difficult situation we decided. In fact it was one of those flat-bed, low loader trucks depositing a digger of some kind onto one of the small side lanes. Quite why the truck driver had to place himself across the road, blocking traffic in both directions, remains one of life's mysteries. 

No doubt all those cars waiting with their engines running did little to help our local pollution levels, which I had not thought about until I was running past them. Hopefully the pollution cloud won't reach quite as far as here in the north west of the country. Or at any rate it might have dissipated a little. According to stuff I read in today's paper cities in the north of France expect to be very badly affected. Paris has taken measures to reduce the amount of traffic going into the capital. They tend to do odd things like alternating the days that cars with certain registration plates are allowed into the city. Today's was something to do with free residential parking to encourage people to leave their cars at home, presumably in places where you can only park free at night. Why not do something permanent about parking and reduce further the cost of public transport? Getting cars out of city centres seems to me to be the best solution. 

I was mildly amused to read in the article about today's pollution that a certain Dr Penny Woods of the British Lung Foundation "said it was unfair that those suffering asthma and other lung conditions should be repeatedly forced indoors by air pollution events". I quite agree with her that it most unfair that asthma sufferers and the like should have to suffer at times like this but it was the terminology that amused me. What on earth are "air pollution events"? Why not just say "air pollution"? To talk about "air pollution events" makes it sound as though someone has sat down and organised it, or indeed several someone's, a group, an "air pollution events committee". 

No doubt such people would have degrees in "events management", probably from a modern university that used to be a polytechnic. Oh dear, there's my intellectual snobbery coming out again. But why is it necessary to have a degree in such skills? Do such degrees really mean the same as a degree in Classics or History or any other traditional subject? Maybe our way of categorising qualifications needs a shakeup. 

As debate starts to rage about children who "fail" their SATs tests at age eleven being obliged to resist them in their first year of secondary school, I read more and more from people of my generation about the schools that they went to. There were what are now called "vocational classes" in secondary schools for the "less academic". I love that terminology. Just give someone a big label: less academic!!! 

Nowadays, many of those supposedly less academic positions demand a degree in their speciality: office skills, events management, possibly even construction. Who knows? What a crazy world! The sheep in the field up the road from here don't seem affected by any of it. However, in the radio soap opera, The Archers (an everyday story of country folk, as it used to be sub-titled and possibly still is), I think that the daughter of the one of the Archer's is doing a degree in agriculture! Nothing is simple any longer!

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