Saturday, 29 January 2011

computerism the sequel

The old laptop has been physically ripped apart by a techie on faultfinding bent. A verdict is expected any second.

 The other two computers have been de win32 ed and I am useing one of them whilst the management is off to the movies with the childer leaving me waiting for the engineer as the boiler has just deceased.

Ah these things come in waves don't they.

Have thought better of getting a new car and maybe a new laptop instead.

The faulty one will still need sorting as there is simply loads of stuff on there I just have to get off the thing.

But it's deciding between a reconditioned HP and a brand new Toshiba, decisions decisions....

This morning was spent training Taliesin in the delicate art of car body repair. The front of his Clio was carefully straightened by attaching one end to the discovery, the other to the digger and gently pulling out the bend. Oh and the final touches were delicatly handled with a 10 lb sledge hammer....

That of course is not to mention the frozen state of water here - again.

No hot water is a bit urgent though, then again we could allways take the kids swimming tomorrow.......


Thursday, 27 January 2011


My do we ever love computers.....

Mine has aquired a really unpleasant win32 variaent virus and is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

Which is why i have not said anything recently.

Of course once it's on one computer it spreads over the network and I have had a fun few days, since Sunday actually serially removing the little rascal,

I take it off one puter and the little %%%%% gets back on from the other computers on the network.

Tomorrow I turn off all the networking and remove it from all the computers while they are not able to talk to each other. Except mine which is off to be battled with by a techie.

So anyway last night put the tin hat on things,  when I got into the bath ready to teach today,  the bloody legs on the bath gave way and I collapsed on the floor in a tidal wave of water which cascaded into the downstairs.

Boy, this was fun.

Water everywhere, and late at night too.

Oh did I mention it was me who put the bath in so it was recrimination central here.

Except for Branwen who posted it on face book in a wave of hilarity.
Much joy.   

So tomorrow I am on Jewson bent getting a load of timber to make sure the bath never moves again - ever....

Sunday, 23 January 2011

scaffold builders

Today has been a right bitza of a day, the student is firmly locked into her essay and walled up in the bedroom.

I decided a bit of axeology might be in order now that we have decided, sudden artic blasts notwithstanding we definately have enough wood to see out the winter.

That said I am not ruling out chainsaw days if the weather is right, we can allways stack it for next winter.

So this afternoon Taliesin and I set about the task of moving the scaffolding outside the house. This took a lot of heaving banging and swearing. Taliesin falling off and us moving the really heavy fire engine ladders about. With phase one complete, we started to build the scaffolding back up. All was going well till it stopped going to plan, Taliesin getting madder and madder till eventually he hit my hand with a lump hammer, by accident I hope.

At this point i decided I was getting bored with this and it was time to come in and admire all the housewokr rhe kids hadn't bothered with and feed the cats.

Management is still typing away and I am typing with the hand that sort of works.

Great and I have to blast up the M4 this week.


Friday, 21 January 2011

The student - ain't no stopping her now.

The student, she who has done her first 2 essays is working on her third.

In the past she has shunned technology, stares at computer with a mixture of fright and confusion.

This being a student is thing is really starting to get out of hand.

Her phones used to have to be mega simple and she does not do texting period. 

She has just ordered a something, you can hardly call it a phone, called a HTC HD7 which is obviously short hand for bloody complicated and bewildering.

She has just abandoned essaying to go phone setting, and of course set up her email and msn and broadband at home, on the phone.

This is crazy!!!

Where will it all end? 

It gets worse, she has just read this entry on her phone....


Diabled children and prime ministers

I try and avoid the blatantly political on here though i dare say a few of you might suspect I am not a tory...

Yesterdays performance was dreadful disingenius and downright deceitful.

Cameron knows what it's like to parent a disabled child, does he know? Who told him? The nanny?

It's not his fault Bristol Council won't provide that poor lady with extra respite forcing her to make the heart rending decision, that  for her sanity, she has to give up her child.

Not his fault, maybe. But who deicided to gut the guts out of funding for services?

He has to own to that one, and you see this is where the big society fits in.

What Cameron thinks should happen is a volunteer should come and help for no money.

What he  paid a nanny to do.

He may well have had a disabled child but he has not the vaguest notion of what it is to bring up a disabled child on your own in grinding poverty.

But I'm sure he will make sure lots of others get to share this ladies experience.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

Light work.....

 I think it's a measure of how the world is changing that the stove we ordered months back has just arrived. Lots of people are switching from oil and gas to wood. How long will wood continue to be cheap at this rate, not long.

So today it was get the stove day. Avid readers will remember the last one which nearly broke the 806.  And how as we lowered the forks on the forklift the suspension came down and jammed under the tailgate of the car.

Deja vu,

The drive home was really interesting, mind you the trip out was not exactly a barrel of laughs as the council has decided to save it's salt and some of the roads were towards the interesting side of having a slide...

Still we got there and at this end did another dance along the short rescue ladder to get the damn thing out. This one is a lot lighter so it only took three of us to swear the thing into the house not 6 like last time.

 Still once they are where they need to be you pretty much leave a log stove alone.

That's good, it is a once in a lifetime job.

That's exactly how many times I fancy doing it again.

Well actually it is not done yet, the stove is only in through the door.


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Times when a simple pass would be better.

Now I would not dare deny sheis clever, But a simple pass might have been better. She is drifiting along on a tidal wave of high.

Goodness knows what she sill suggest next.

But it will probably cost money


So we all wanted to know.....

I had marked her essay in my head and given her a smack in the middle 2.1 degree grade.

She came home this afternoon and her essay was graded at a first class honours degree.

She is pretty chuffed and we went out for a windy bum tonight followed by a beer for me in a local bar where we were as usual flypaper for the mentally challenged.

Still it is now one essay down another to go and yet another to write.


Thats finished the essay let's do another one!!

That's one essay finished so time to start again on another one.

Boy I am loving this, actually this one is not going to be so bad as it's reviewing a piece of research, getting all my old methodology books out and an excuse to by some new editions of classics from my college days.

She gets her mark for essay one today so it could turn all interesting here tonight.

I really wish she would settle for a pass occasionally.


Silly o clock

Thats what time it was when she finished.

 Then the alarm went at stupid o clock and she was off up the drive in the car.

Except it was the big 806 as she dumped the AX into some potholes the other day and I need to do some serious crawling underneath to see what is bent or broken.

I have done the school runs and cannot for the life of me see how she went anywhere today, the only place i want to go is back to bed.


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Life is for living.....

Frankly, I would like to stay alive. I had a big action day today here there and everywhere, When the student came home and found there was not a steaming appetizing meal on the table  (it was in the oven) she had a "where's my dinner moment".

She is still finishing her essay, it is really good but she is locked into getting the last few details right.

For me this makes life less easy and by a long way too.

It is nearly 10 pm, she is not letting me read it and we have yet to move to the printing phase.

She is so bright, that's why I love her

But hell she is annoying....


Monday, 17 January 2011


Well, the student is in sight of finishing her essay, can't be too soon if you ask me.

And Laddo went off on the train back to his father.

Many many  years ago We came to the end of what we felt had been a disastrous placement with a young person we tried all ways but could neither reach nor get to see any sense at all. I was feeling pretty glum and down, a sort of a lets kick the dog moment.

I was going over what had happened with one of the therapists we worked with at the time. This is a model of fostering where the carer does the work with guidance from a therapist The one we worked with was outstanding. I hope if I ever need to talk something  through there is someone like him there for me.

But anyway, I was pretty glum thinking we really had spent a long time banging our head against a wall to no god purpose. He was very direct and said that even when you think nothing is being taken in, something usually is.   

The child screaming obsceneties at you is still listening to the message you are giving. 

I must say I thought this was psycho babble but as time has passed I am not so sure.

Laddo had been really hard work, very challenging and seriously aggressive. Just before he went we were taking about his time here, him me and the student. He said that he felt that most of the time here he had acted like an arsehole (his words). I said no, not all the time, sometimes he had been asleep. Now a few weeks back he would have flown into instant rage.

Instead he laughed he knew it was a joke.

I took him to the railway station and he was looking about him at the scenery and countryside as if he was noting it in his mind. Most of the time he has been here he has not moved all day from inside the house.

As we got to the platform i handed him his ticket, he picked up his bags, walked towards the train paused turned round walked back and said:

"I want to thank you all for everything you have done for me"

Then quickly turned walked away not looking back once.

As that therapist said, you can never be sure that stuff is not being taken in.

Oh and the lad I had originally been talking about? He was removed by 4 burly police officers in a flailing mess of arms and legs. He phones us all the time to tell us how he has been representing former Looked After Children  in conferences all over Europe.


Right it's confirmed he is off.

Apparently, his old man was asked to take him when he first came into care but refused to do so because he had tried to set light to the house.

Excuse me,  did I miss something?

Now, Penole is a big old place with lots of things like matches firewood, and stuff like  that lying round.

Outside there's a shed full of wood, fuel for the chainsaw, oils, various paints and other really burnable stuff in store in the cottage and the attached house we are doing up.

Under these circumstances you might have thought it a bit important to tell the carer this chap had a bit of a history around fires, or am I just being fussy.....

Mind you had he taken the petrol and torched the woodshed, looking at all that sawing chopping and stacking going up in one big bonfire I think my kids would have made sure there was a guy on the top!!!


Not so suprising stuff.

Yesterday was a day of suprises, today is not. The student is being all clever and writing and I have spoken to the SW. Presented with something which on the face of it represents a very positive outcome for the man in question - he is unconvinced.

We are back in limbo, if he going today or is he not.

No no, instant update it seems he is going.

Thing is both SW and us are wondering what games are being played here and by whom.

In addition we are wondering what games the SW is playing....



Sunday, 16 January 2011

Suprising stuff

Working with laddo has not been easy, that's in case you did not know.

Today though another eye opener. Ha has been interacting really well with everyone around him.

At dinner, where there is allways lots of banter that he has only ever been able to reframe as conflict, all of a sudden he joined in and came up with some really witty and clever one liners.

I was quite taken aback!!!

I am not a little at a loss to understand what is going on. 

Far from that with the Essay though. I think we both have essay fever. 

Deintological, utilitarianistic and ontological perspectives combined with anti oppressive practice underpin the ethics of social work so I now know. These are all part of your normal breakfast time discussions I know. 

Unfortunately the further into it you go you wonder if it is all a  creation of  the prevailing neoliberal hegemony and real insight might come from approaches underpinned by Althuser and Marcuse. Who would argue that social work is part of the repressive apparatus of the state and that diverting the middle class into operating it diverts them from the realisation of the need for structural change if anything is really to be effected.


Saturday, 15 January 2011

The roller coaster ride of fostering.

You never really know what is coming next as a foster carer, I suppose thats one of the positive thingss about doing it - and a bloody huge negative too!!!!

Planing on going out tonight? Of course you are!!! Not the romantic meal you planned though but a till 3 am jaunt to the Police station with the beered up teenie who has just tried to fight half the town.

Anyway,  I digress, Laddo is supposed to be going Monday to stay with his Brother till Wednesday and then move on to another placement except there does not seem to be one.

All change, this morning he phoned his bro who would not speak to him instead getting his girlfriend to tell Laddo they had no money so he could not come after all.

Ho hum.

Now, call me suspicious but bro knows there is no where for him to go Wednesday either and perhaps had visions of Laddo being dumped on him for a few weeks while SS dither about  looking for somewhere for him to go.

We had this sort of thing in mind as well and I thought it might be a good idea for  me, with the student being in Uni and all to go out somewhere and "forget" to take my mobile phone. 

Then things took a turn for the unbelievable. Now, as I said laddo is very immature and really wants his mum and dad back together so he has tried all ways to sabotage their new relationships. Being a step parent can be no fun at all sometimes, and I could write a book about it. The book would need to be a best seller though to buy me a house after the student read it and kicked me out. 

Anyway this is not about me it's about laddo, his step mum has stepped into the breach and said, yes he can go and live with his dad for a while. BUT, of course this is where it gets good, there are a whole list of things he is going to be doing and, a whole list of things he is not going to be doing.

This includes things like doing as he is told and being polite.

His dad really gave it to him straight, there are lots of things in life you may not want to do, or get told to do, but that's tough. you just have to get on with it. I think he might have used the "being grown up" phrase too.

SW has real issues and concerns about Dad and dad also lives bang in the middle of the area where he is being hunted. I wonder if there is mileage in this, after all when we dig a hole we cannot always walk off and dig another,  sometimes we have to deal with the mess we make, it's called growing up and it's called learning from your mistakes. 
Do looked after children and in fact children get protected so much these days that they cannot manage risk....

answer in no more than 3000 words.....

I have essays on the brain...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Time for meetings....

Off to Daycastle and meetings,

First one about big D, this is about his old man and his rather interesting past.

A very complex discussion with all sorts of legal stuff.

Then on to his nibbs, and what are they doing, lets be a bit apologetic.

His social worker is not as complete a fool  as I thought.

He actually has a very good grip on the case.

That said,
There has been no placement plan.

He moves out on Monday to his brothers then on Wednesday but no one knows where  

Neither does he.
I can't even begin  to get to grips with today  

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Happy new year....

When the calender changed in 17something our little valley in West Wales refused to bow to these new fangled ideas. We still celebrate new year on the 13th January. I am off to the pub for an hour with the student.

She has done about 600 words, that's 2400 to go. 

Happy new year to you all. 


Best Practice my $$$$$

So off I went to uni today and, I don't know why, but there has been a change of heart and the little darlings are looking to me to do some teaching next year. This is one  hell of a good start to the year and I came home whistling a happy tune. Got an academic paper to tidy up and another to write from scratch.

Hame I came and I cannot believe it. There was due to be  a meeting to discuss young mans future tomorrow and it has been cancelled. They have tried all in house places, they have tried all the fostering agencies and it looks as if the only ones daft enough to have this young man is me and her.

Though of course we didn't agree to have him we agreed to take him for three weeks extended to a month. We offered to take him long term if they sorted out education which they didn't so we said he had to be moved to somewhere that he could access education.

So now he is dumped here there is no where to move him to so goodness knows where we go from here.

Well I  know where we go, it's specialist residential with education on site at about 7 k a week.

 He is off to see his brother next week and he thinks he is not coming back.

This is becoming an epic of incompetence.

I have a meeting in Daycastle about another young person tomorrow, it might all get a bit lively as laddo's  SW works out of the  same building, he might be about to spend all day locked in the toilet....  

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Tis done - again

The student has done her bit.

The summary  has gone through god knows how many draughts and arrived at a finished article.

I had not realised how much thinking should go through social work.

We sit there subject to what they do, never realising what goes through their minds.

Then again if half of them thought the way they are supposed to the world would be very different.

As she said though. a 1000 word  item took days and now she has a 3000 word essay with 4 days to do.

Could be a laugh a minute.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A council that cares.

So it was off to the big bad city today for a meeting with the care council.

What a trek congested motorway, then park in impossible parking ville, walk to venue, note there is on site parking (not advertised in the flyer. Curse roundly then into hall to hear about National Occupational Standards in Social work.

Should have guaranteed a long deep sleep, far from it the day took off big style. Very lively debate about the very nature of social work and it's values ethics and practice.

Back down the M4 cream crackered.

Laddo glowering in the living room. Chose to pick on Bethan - big mistake, he got the famous Bethan verbal shake down.

Student has been reflecting (should have just bought her a mirror) she has finished her piece nearly anyway. 

One more step done.


Monday, 10 January 2011

An ill wind.....

They say you should always see the glass as half full and I suppose that's true for me too.

If it had not been for all the nonsense last week I would not have ended up in a foul mood and being in a foul mood I went off to the woodpile with the axe.I must have reduced a ton of firewood to matches before I calmed down.

The student reckoned I had been really annoyed. 

Still laddos social worker has spoken to him for the second time in 7 weeks (how about that for best practice) and I politely but firmly told the SW I was bringing him to Daycastle Friday and I would not be bringing him back here.

I think he got the message but clear communication can often go awry.

Yes  he is on the phone now, wants him to go next week when he "might" have somewhere for him to go.  

Going to have to resort to plan b, spot purchase some educational provision locally, cost them money and they will soon find him somewhere to go!!

How is leaving him down here, out of education, out of everything, good practice?

I am struggling a bit here.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Statement of Expectation....

 I have a meeting with the Care Council next week about the National Occupational Standards for Social Work.

As part of that I came across a statement of expectation for service users and carers. I urge you to go and find it and read it.

I think someone was having a joke at service users expense...

Oh hang on it says "expectations", nothing about delivery.

I am actually properly mad with social work as a practice.

I cannot think why I give it any time at all.

Thinking about it I have a number of meetings next week one of them I had better give a miss in case I get on a roll and upset lots of people.

Haven't done that in a long time actually.


Friday, 7 January 2011

Even more Social work.

Now, we had been told that Social Worker was near knackered from all the stones turned over to find young man somewhere to go. I had after all been promised a phone call today to tell me all

I did manage to glean one little snippet though placements were unaware he needed to be moved, no one contacted them till yesterday. There is NOWHERE for him to go - period, it's us or nothing.

Well no there is always the agencies only one of whom would take him and that would cost about 1000 pounds a week So we have saved them rather a lot already. Dumping him here for a month has also moved him a month closer to his 16th when he can be palmed off somewhere and as he is not in education and he would be keen to oblige by kicking off every time they did something that was not exactly what he wanted it would not be too long before they could shrug their shoulders, walk off and say he "will not work with them".

I can see the plan being, keep him here as long as possible and pray he gets to 16 before he is moved. It's depressing really.

Of course the Social Worker did not call, then again he might have been worried at what we would have said to him. Our link worker shared an incident report with him. 

Laddo came to us with a reputation for being a flailing seething maelstrom of destruction when he loses his temper. We have avoided any real nasties till this morning, when he objected to us making noise getting the other young people to school and college. Things got really heated and he uttered the phrase "say one more word and I will ******* kick your head in"

Had I gone away and left him it would have been a very bad message, one that he has used before, let him have his way  or he will get violent.   
You can never give in to terrorism so there was only one response:

"one more word"

There was a tremendous crash in his room the door was flung open and he exploded out of it.

He threw himself at me, then when I neither flinched not moved he stopped dead. It takes a bit of doing but you have to develop a flat affect showing neither fear nor aggression in your face or your body language.

He didn't know what to do, so he did nothing.
In the adrenalin drop of post temper emotion we did a lot of good work with him about what he is, who he is and should he not be his real self not this aggressive behaviour. A lot of really positive stuff about who the real person is inside his head, separating him from how he acts.  

It is a very important thing to do, once you show the person you like them but have a problem with how they chose to behave you are well on the way to helping them change.

I think I can see where it is coming from, this young man has been hurt, then hurt, then hurt again. He is drawing back inside himself to protect himself.   It's all front. He really needs someone very skilled to work with him and help him make sense of the world and life.

And he is 16 in 4 months.

Bloody hell, some poor sod will have their work cut out.

Doing a proper job would cost a fortune, so they will probably hide for as long as possible
 and abandon him here.

Out of sight and most definitely out of mind.

Mind you there are times I think I must be out of my mind to do this job....

But as for him being some kind of one man war, people must not have lived much, on my foster carers scale of 0-10 where 0 is peace and 10 is damn lively, he registered about 2. 


Thursday, 6 January 2011

Social work.....

This is going to be one of those posts that you don't really know where to start.

Before Xmas we took on a new lad who arrived under a cloud, he was being moved for his own safety, gangs drugs and crime were all mentioned. Sounded like this was going to be a barrel of laughs.

He came into care when mum decided she could not cope and dad, who is divorced from her would not have him either. From what I can work out he has not had an allocated social worker for much of his time in care and the foster carers have been left to get on with it as the placement drifts.

He presents as extremly immature, unable to share, unable to reflect on how he impacts on others. He has two behavioural strategies, he either threatens to smash the place up or he cries.

He does not do school, could not possibly cope with classes and insists that he must get personal tuition.

He has been spending parts of school days at a Trust where he has achieved but having seen the place for myself I would hardly say that he has been in any way "pushed"

He is hardly the child from hell.

Yet I think the plan is to dump him here till he turns 16 when they can stick him in a bedsit and quietly abandon him. 

We have two well established young men here who are significantly more resilient than him in fact I think they are both far more savvy. Yes he could tell you where to buy drugs but they could tell you where to buy food and what's more they could make a reasonable stab at cooking it too.

Anyway, there is nothing for him locally in terms of education and so really he has to move on. This has been where things have started to unravel. The social worker was supposed to be getting really stuck into this, he was pretty sure he had somewhere for laddo to go. Great stuff, so we made a few enquiries of our own and ohh guess what, the carer he was "moving" to has not been contacted about him and the answer anyway would, be no.

It will be an interesting phone call when he calls us up tomorrow, will he be truthful or will I be treated to some work of fiction.

People wonder sometimes why many foster carers don't have a very high view of social workers.....


Are you old enough to smoke.....

Another day another go at the fire.

Boxing clever I left the stove where it is and pulled the throat plate out, thats the steel sheet at the top opf the stove on the inside.

I was greeted with a deluge of debris which was duly shoveled out the door, So far so good, light the fire and see where we go.

No where is the immediate answer. Great palls of smoke rippled out into the room.

Pull the throat plate out and rod the chimney, not the easiest of tasks as the fire was still lit.

Managed to get the throat plate out and tentatively shoved a screwdriver up the pipe.

Not a good plan, A gigantic deluge of debris poured into the firebox. No need to worry about the fire any more, that's totally out now. 

Clear everything away and relight the fire without the throat plate - so far so good. It's burning, the place is not full to the brim with smoke and it might even be a little bit warmer in there.

So far so good.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Now things have been busy of late so we did not get round to putting a stove in. The house next door has needed a fire to get the air moving and warm the place.

A vital part of the building project. 

So anyway today we got the job done, stove in and ready to rock and roll. Well it started out like that, with the stove in place and piped in we lit it. I sort of got suspicious when smoke started coming out of the wall. I am serious now there was smoke jetting out of bits of the wall.

I am not a builder but I think  even I could work out that this was not supposed to be happening.

A trip outside revealed smoke coming out of the chimney but not half as much as was coming out the wall.

I opened some windows but the student decided this was even worse than having them shut.

Then there was a bit of a falling noise from the chimney and no smoke at all was going up the flue, it was like a smoking house in there. All we needed was kippers.

I could tell where the student was by following the coughing and swearing

So of course the stove comes out tomorrow, (hearth kit Green Goddess) then we look up the flue and rod it through (rod kit Green Goddess).  After that we take it from there, might need a load more tools off the fire engine.

keeping in touch

It is done, the new contract is agreed management who has until now sworn that mobile phones are the device of Satan has gone for something so horrendously up to date that it seems to do everything up to and including cooking lunch. She who dosn't do texting wanted something that allowed her to send emails from anywhere in the world..

Her lecturers need beware as she will have the facility to beam her lectures to me as they happen, or so she says.

It must be said with honesty though that I have seen her with a computer and if she manages that then the  most surprised person in the world is likely to be me!!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Long time no post....

And a happy new year to you all.

The old year passed into history the new one marks new beginings, the student is having a new mobile phone with internet access to use at home and in University. The key feature she asked for is a "swishing" facility, anyone got the vaguest idea what that means????

It is getting bad though, sitting here with my phone that mainly phones as Branwen and Student are vomiting letters and numbers at each other, I am feeling a bit of a Luddite.....