I blame the parents! Why not hitting your grades has nothing to do with you.

Along with childhood obesity, teenage ennui and the English riots of 2011, the failure of all young people this summer not to achieve 100% in all their exam results can all be levelled at the doors of their wayward parents who clearly have not suffered long enough or hard enough in order to get their offspring to meet the highest GCSE grades that our pristine education system prides itself on.

If you haven’t made the grade and have ended up in a university you never wanted to attend in a city you’ve never heard of – don’t worry, it’s clearly your parents fault, the fault of the parents of those poor misguided examiners who set the exams in the first place and ultimately the fault of the current education minister’s parents for producing a human being whose educational mission is driven by important 21st century values of tradition, servitude and deference to the great and the good of the past – and their parents too of course.

Your parents are also no doubt are also suffering from their parents’ wilful mistakes in bringing them up, so it’s no wonder we’re all going to hell in a handcart with no more than 2 grade U’s and a cycling proficiency test between us all.

It’s tough being a parent these days. Not only are you responsible for your offsprings choice of teenage rebellion, you have to bear the brunt of their inability to dress properly, listen to the right music, buy the right newspaper, vote for the right party and do as the media instructs.

This summer though, instead of beating yourself about your parental breast about why your nearest and dearest have failed yet again to find the holy grail of true perfection, why not just set a torch to those newspapers, throw those parent manuals on the funeral pyre of parental disappointments and wave your offspring a cheery farewell as they sail into their freshers week, their gap year or their close encounters of the wierdest kind down at the job centre?

They won’t thank you for it – indeed, they’ll take great delight in blaming you for it when the going gets tough – but you can sleep peacefully knowing you never did your best because of your own parents inabilities to bring you up as an upstanding model citizen.

As Philip Larkin put it:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

The disappearing knowledge of the Hyperloop passenger: schools beware! Number 6 in the series: Knowledge, traffic and arts based research.

The hyperloop has hit the news again with dreams of tubing it from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than 10 minutes. Everyone around the world will have their equivalent journeys and will marvel at the apparent ease at which such previously long journeys have been reduced to bats of eyelashes. In the UK, we will wonder how a hyperloop journey could take us from London to Liverpool in just under 30 seconds: although given the magnetic pull London has on all things economic, political and social in the UK, it is a wonder that anything ever leaves London at all, never mind in a hyperloop tube.

But the greater significance of the hyperloop proposal is on how we understand knowledge of traffic flow and our place in the civilised world and how we engage with passengers, train spotters and irate cows on the line.

Because make no mistake, in hyperloop world there will be no room for any of these travel distractions. In a hyperloop tube, you will be strapped to your seat, asked to brace yourself and before you know it you will have been shot across the planet with the equivalent of a ton of TNT shoved under your backside. You will know nothing of the experience and your sum knowledge of the world and all its wondrous creations will not have improved a jot.

This is why we should worry – and worry hard – about the proposed hyperloop project. No longer will students be able to revise on trains before exams; no longer will commuters be able to improve their literary knowledge and no longer will we see people frowning over Sudoku puzzles and other complex numerical machinations. The nation’s literacy, numeracy and emotional intelligences will all suffer enormously.

Where arts based research can help however will be on the hyperloop platforms, both pre and post-TNT backside kick. Artist researchers will offer passengers new ways of consolidating their knowledge before they take the fatal kick up the backside. These researchers will remind commuters of their 12 times table through pretty graphics; confirm proper grammatical construction of sentences and offer new ways of reminding ourselves of our Shakespearian heritage. Whilst the journey will be over in a bat of an eye, our memories shot to pieces, the learning will continue for ever: and for that, Michael Gove will be proud.

More travel knowledge here.

I blame the parents! Perhaps the Daily Mail has been right all along

Dear Daily Mail,

There has been more in you today about how parents need to be castigated for their wayward offsprings behaviours, morals and ongoing general bad taste in music. Now, that’s not a very nice way to talk about the Royal Family or Ed Miliband but we’ll let that pass.

What would be a more interesting angle on this would be blaming parents for the behaviour of bankers – Fred Goodwin – just where was your dad when you were growing up?  Perhaps he was in the betting shop, placing a fiver on a nag that was going to end up in a Belgium meat market as you were going through your formative years- that would account for the devastation you and your company wreaked in 2008 wouldn’t it?

Politicians too need to be reminded of just how irritating they have become due to the parents foibles: Chris Huhne, did your mum smoke when she was pregnant with you? Perhaps that’s the reason for your terrible driving skills… oh, and your lieing skills… And your sheer bloody nerve skills…

And let’s not forget the parents of the press barons – what did Rupert Murdoch’s parents do to him which have led to oversee the immoral and corrupted media machines we see feeding filth to the public on a daily basis? And what of those who chose to hang around the back of the bike sheds with him? Their parents must shoulder some of the blame too.

But you, The Daily Mail, on second thoughts, perhaps you have got it right: although some parents need more blaming than others.