The Great Divide

“Faye did rather as expected – 4 As; 5 Bs and a naughty C in French which she’s studied since she was 7!!  How lovely of you to be interested!” I responded to Jane, our lovely ‘Pretend Granny’s’ kind enquiry regarding my 16 year old daughter’s GCSE results. And, without thinking about it, to everybody else on our ‘thread’, which actually related to Mum’s health. In our world these grades are nothing special.  If she’d been at Eton or somewhere, she’d have been kicked out with anything less than six As!

I received a slightly curt response back from one of my favourite people in the world, who has been Mum’s staunchest rock and support for more than two decades, never once letting her down whatever else was going on in their tiny hamlet in deepest, darkest, remotest Dorset.  This lady’s family were delighted with their son’s results of 5 C’s and 1 B, she told me: “I suppose that’s a reflection on the divide in our education system.”

Agh! What to do or say to that? She is absolutely the very last person in the world that I would ever want to offend. She is just the kindest, most thoughtful, long suffering, patient and friendly individual, and I know Mum’s not the only one she loves, and looks after so well.

To reply, or not to reply, was the question.

So I did what I thought my dearly loved and most highly respected Dad would have done, and undertook some research.

God I am shocked! Now I understand what the point of the massive private school fees is!  ‘The great divide’ is nothing short of scandalous!

I discovered that this year, 2/3rds of children altogether achieved A-C grades in GCSE’s, so that compared with the national average Faye’s results are outstanding! I also found that at A’level, the titchy number of private schools, compared with state schools and colleges, account for literally double the A/A* grades awarded! No wonder people go to such lengths to pay, if they possibly can!

I don’t know what should be done to balance things out. I hate it that the two educational systems exist. My suspicion is that were they to scrap private schools, then all the rich people would move to live near the good state schools and price everyone else out of that location. There doesn’t seem to be an answer, yet the level system seems fine in France and America and everywhere else.

I have always absolutely hated it that the current system separates my children from potential friends around here, and am thrilled that Freya has since reconnected with her old mates through working in the local pub/hotel/pony club etc..

The whole thing is deeply unsatisfactory and absolutely infuriating for everybody concerned. At least the universities are trying to equal opportunities up a bit. I had a guest here only last month, whose son achieved straight A*s throughout his GCSE’s and A’levels at Eton, yet he was refused entry to Cambridge – presumably in favour of somebody from a less privileged background.

I apologised profusely for my crassness.

Don’t Judge By Appearances

“Ne pas toucher!” yelled the 6′ octogenarian ex-model French bloke, who was showing us around his castle, as my mate prodded something calling itself a 100 yr old crocodile skin suitcase.

She looked up in mild surprise.  She’d already annoyed our still rather gorgeous, arrogant tour guide by saying “I don’t understand a word” when he’d offered to translate his patter into English, not meaning to at all.

My friend has just celebrated her 60th birthday, closely escaped death in a horse accident last year, she’s not very tall, and has bad feet, so she’s currently looking a little lame, small, thin, pale and hunched.

Her interest in the crocodile skin is prompted by the fact that she is a Professor of Dermatology – Secretary of the Scottish Dermatological Society Skin Cancer Group, President of the British Society for Skin Care in Immunosuppressed Individuals, Chair of the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network for cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SIGN SCC), member of the NCRI non-melanoma skin cancer clinical studies group, member of the British Association of Dermatologists Skin Cancer Prevention Committee, Board member of Skin Care in Organ transplant Patients in Europe (SCOPE) and UK representative on the International Transplant Skin Cancer Collaboration (ITSCC).

She also had the same piano teacher as me til she was twelve.

And she was remarkably unjudgmental of my beautiful, deep, Summer 2018 tan.  I surreptitiously hid my bottle of Piz Buin No 10 before rubbing Factor 50 onto her glowing white back.