Saturday 14 December 2019


We are the sum of our experience. A little genetics is thrun in the mix, but our experiences colour our view point and give a particular, sometime peculiar, perspective. It would be a sad thing if Ruairi McKiernan could talk for an hour about the virtues of listening to people if there was no time for questions and comments from the floor. Luckily I came to the seminar on Men's Health and Mentoring without a watch because I knew there was a free lunch immediately after the session and would have been getting hangry if I'd known how close we were to running over time. But comments were asked for regardless of the whiff of cooling chipolata sausages.

Responding to the earlier sharing of positive mentoring experiences, one of my colleagues noted how many of them involved teachers who clearly had an important role to play in the business. Nonsense, I thought, because we had 20 years of home education under the family belt.The only teachers Dau.I or Dau.II encountered were those who'd decided against school for their own children and appeared on the Home Ed circuit. Certainly neither had been transformed or guided or particularly listened to by a teacher-teacher. My out loud comment was on the lines that the reason teachers figured so much in the lives of children was because of the hysteria of stranger-danger that permeates our society. It would be very difficult for a kid whose true self was grained by carpentry to hang out with an unrelated mentoring cabinet-maker. I neglected to add: Whereas the parents would be better focussing their warnings against Uncle Jim with his penchant for naked woodwork.

After that comment had put a damper on the, somewhat self-congratulatory, enthusiasm of the meeting; I offered a more tangible anecdote about my aged father. He retired to a quintessentially English village: a stream, a mill, a pub, a church, a post-office shop and a cricket ground.  The parish council had sold off a strip of the recreation green for cash to a developer and my parents bought one of the row of exec-homes that backed on to the cricket pitch. With the loot the council installed a modest play-ground for the children of the young executives. The swings and see-saw were right behind my parent's home. But my father was completely inhibited from looking over the hedge at the children, let alone going through the gate to deal with a grazed knee. That's pretty sad, I suggested. [Note to self: I see I've told this story before but no harm in floating it again]

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