For Sarah.

Steadfast we stand, we shine our lights in solidarity to the memory of your soul.

The tragedy that took away your cherished life is beyond unimaginable and I send my heartfelt love and sympathy to your family and loved ones.

It is so hard I have drilled it into my children and so many girls that I have taught about how to try to be safe on the streets. Not because I wanted them to be afraid, but because I didn’t want them to ever come to harm. As a mother for me, that has always been the one thing that was important, for them not to be harmed. What saddens me is that they have both already had to survive sexual harassment that is unwarranted and unwanted.

I have walked in the middle of the road on a dark night to avoid the parked cars, I have changed my route and taken a longer safer one, I have quickened my pace at the heavy sound of footsteps behind me, I have had my keys clenched firmly in my fist poised and my cellphone ready to dial.

I have avoided going out at night, been the sober driver so I didn’t leave myself or any of my friends vulnerable. I have gone to evening events and my mantra is always the same – I can have a glass of wine when I get home. I have worried as a mother, ensured that my girls could phone me at any time of day or night and in any state of drunkeness, My husband and I have rescued them in the middle of the night, provided a taxi service to ensure that no-one was left vulnerable or alone.

I have survived being followed, being stalked, being cat-called, seeing men expose themselves in public, (more than once- I was just 7 years old the first time it was in the Children’s play park.) I have been assaulted and stood my ground and had to protect myself and I am acutely aware that I am not alone and that most of what I have described is laughed off, unreported and unchallenged.

In my thirties I was assaulted and abused for going into my local bar without my husband and no-one in the bar stood up for me.

Yesterday at the age of 54 I went on a 5km walk alone, by myself, along the canal in the daytime, for me it was my attempt to reclaim the day in memory of Sarah Everard. I do go walking on my own but always in places where there are likely to be other people. There are hills I would still like to climb but I still lack the courage-it is a work in progress- I am working on it.

In Whangarei in May 2016 we did reclaim the Hatea Loop with what seemed like the whole town, following a shocking sexual assaultof a runner in the early hours of dawn. We turned out to walk at sunset, men women and children, and when this lockdown is finished maybe we can do this in memory of Sarah too.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Missing School……..

Many around me are worried about the impact of national lockdown on the education of their children. Our education system is merely a vehicle or system to encourage and support the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, ultimately to empower and enable our young people to stand up and be counted. It is not the only vehicle. Knowledge is important because ultimately it provides empowerment. It gives us the voice and confidence to stand up for ourselves and the others around us.

Undoubtedly there are and have been significant impacts from the three periods of lockdown over the last year that have taken their toll on the education and also on the physical and emotional development of our younger generations. It is impossible to quantify or label realistically what these impacts are or will be. We have a duty to recognise and acknowledge that the human race has always shown remarkable adaptability and resilience in the face of crisis, trauma and adversity. Perhaps we should focus on what can strengthen the resiliency of our younger generations and their families at this juncture in time instead of ruminating on that which we cannot change.

We already have much wisdom and knowledge in this field. We know what is successful and we know the value of strengthening protective factors. For many of our young, our old and probably across society as a whole it is the deprivation of quality social interaction that is causing more immediate harm than the lack of schooling. Our schools were hubs of meaningful and sometimes less meaningful interaction. It is the words that have become so much a part of our 2020’s vocabulary that are the most damaging in the long run, social distancing and isolation. Our children are probably grieving the loss of their social interactions more than the curriculum and education itself.

Hopefully we will return to some state of normalcy soon and we can begin the complex task of rebuilding and I suspect the curriculum in our schools will need significant remodelling to support the development of a strong and resilient society for our new future.

We cannot alter what has happened in the past year and we are unable to determine what the next twelve months will look like for our families, our education system our society or the world. We can focus on the strengths of our responses so far, the amazing job being done by so many families in very unexpected circumstances and give them the positive feedback and support that they deserve and need. Teachers and school support staff all over the UK are keeping regular contact with their families and doing everything they can to this end. When the dust has settled and we can see the way forward then we can look at what needs to be out in place to futureproof education system, and what needs to be done to support this current school-age generation to thrive and survive in spite of the challenges that the pandemic has brought.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Smallerised….

Infinite capacity to bring love and cheer into lives

Wisdom and wonderment and desire to reach for the skies

Attributes favourable, work ethic good

Meets the job criteria and you know she should

Be the right person for the job, but you know that there are two or three

Much cheaper than she, meets your budget ties

You don’t have to look in her eyes

To see the hurt and disappointment of being smallerised.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Smallerised is my invented word for the day, it is like pulverised but different, it is when you are made to be small because despite your value and worth it cannot be recognised in the current economic climate, so instead you are forced to be smaller and smaller and smallerer….until you are smallerised, nothing left.

 

Liminality….

I miss lavender

It attracted the bees and reminded me of home

When home was half a world away and beyond the realms of reality.

 

I miss home still, not a place or sense of belonging

But the physical space that keeps us safe from the rest of the world

The place where it is okay to be nothing to nobody in a non-descript kind of way.

 

I miss being valued and making a contribution that is deemed worthwhile

Beyond the futile measures of a financially strapped world or work.

Where experience, age and wisdom lies currently forgotten alongside dandelion dreams on the kerbside of parsimony.

 

I miss the bright star of hope and the sense of celestial justice

That came from the certainty that there was some unwritten moral code

Whereby staunch steadfast endeavour would be rewarded with reciprocal remuneration.

 

I miss being able to do what I do best

Taking my place in the workforce

Having my tools at my desk to bring the world alive for the future generations.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for Day 28 Napowrimo

 

These are my salad days.

it seems so hard to get ahead no heart left

endless grind to outperform

win accolades work up a storm

prove our worth, lose our mirth

what was that you said….Austerity bites?

 

These things shall be a loftier race

we did our homework

bought our homes

met the deadlines

paid our loans.

 

What was that you said- stay out the red?

it seems so hard to get ahead

just turned 50- might as well be dead

no opportunity knocking at my door

self-esteem is on the floor

 

We shared our worth with all who cared

We gave our best and braved the world

We talked of global dreams we shared

We worked and toiled and laboured long

We advocated for the people wronged.

 

We danced to Live-aid in the summer of 85

Our generation thought it was great to be alive

Light of knowledge in our eyes

But in the nation’s mind we have grown old

And our wisdom, experience and compassion is no longer Gold.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

this is for yesterday Day 25 Napowrimo. I am a little behind. The lyrics mentioned are from our BRGS School Hymn- These things shall be a loftier race, and Gold by Spandau Ballet.

napowrimo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sinking of the Michael Griffith, Fleetwood 1953.

She set sail from Fleetwood with 13 hands on deck

The fishing trawler Michael Griffith, for Scotland her course was set.

Skipper Charles Singleton made the ship return to dock

A faulty pump valve changed their course and caused the trip to stop.

Repaired and ready to be on her way as Friday morning dawned

She put to sea in stormy winds so the journey was not prolonged.

The storm was brewing in the north and forced the tide to rise

The seas were rough, the night was long, and no-one heard her cries

The winds were wild the waves washed high up on the deck

And soon after midnight the mighty Michael Griffith floundered and became a wreck

The last message was received just eight miles south of Barra Head

Will some ship please come help us, full of water, no steam. Am helpless is what it said.

Lifeboats searched in heavy seas but no wreckage could be found

All lives were lost without a trace and in the storm they’d drowned.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

 

This is for Day16 of Napowrimo and is in memory of the lives lost in the storm of 1953.

The image is of Fleetwood and is from Wikimedia under CCSA licence:

Dr Neil Clifton [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The thirteen lives lost-

Skipper  Charles Singleton, Mate Leonard Grundy, Bosun J T Wilson, Chief engineer Harry Anderson, Second Engineer Thomas Burns, Firemen W Hargreaves and R Bodden, Deckhands J Tucker, S J Johns, J Cryson, C Murdoch and G Palin. Cook A Bidle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tanfield Railway.

We spent Easter visiting the NorthEast. Whilst many schools seem to be cutting the Industrial Revolution from their KS3 curriculum, perhaps they find it dull, for me it is the opposite. I was born here in the North. This is my cultural background and my rich and proud heritage, amongst the dark hills and moors, the deep valleys whipped by wind and rain. My families ancestors toiled and worked to create a brave new industrial nation. Many of them came from Ireland, places like Tipperary and settled along coal and mill routes of the great northern counties. They worked as navvies, labourers, mill workers, spinners, seamstresses and my husbands family moved north working as a stationmaster on the railroad. I felt compelled to visit Tanfield on this journey and post-industrial pilgrimage to the north-east.

It is believed that there has been some form of railways connecting the Tyneside coal to the ports of Blyth and the Tyne since the 1600’s. At first the tracks would have been wooden and the carts/wagons would have been pulled by horses. There may actually have been tracks and a railway at Tanfield during this period. However, it is believed that the Tanfield main railway line was first built around 1725 and therefore almost 100 years before the first steam locomotive.

It was sleeting and Good Friday, there were folks in Victorian clothing carrying Birds of Prey and local clog-dancers performing in one of the sheds, it was a very typical country affair, we donned decent walking shoes to brave the mud and went in search of some interesting pieces of history and of course to see, hear and smell the beautiful steam train, chug-chugging in and out of the station to the sound of a couple with an accordion and a fiddle- with no doubt frozen fingers.

 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable hour and we were able to wander down the derelict sidings and see the workhorses of the past in their final resting places. There were engines being maintained and preserved in sheds along the way, and everywhere scattered haphazardly remnants of the great industrial past and the steam-train era.

 

I wondered how many souls had travelled aboard these carriages and whether their journey had been pleasant and if they had reached their destinations safely. We take so much for granted in our lives and being here reminds me that in those early days of locomotive travel, lives were particularly hard, it wasn’t just the coal and steam, but every aspect of working-class lives, and yet the locomotives went on to give us greater freedom to move at will and were clearly instrumental in enabling working people to travel to growing seaside resorts like Tynemouth, South Shields and Whitley Bay. By 1871, with the passing of the Bank Holidays Act thousands had begun to use the rail network to travel to the seaside. You see all of our history is entwined, the grimy bits, the bits we sometimes choose to forget but it is all part of the same story that has given us what we have now, and made us what we are now. The Industrial revolution is a significant part of our history and heritage and it is important to acknowledge all that went with it to do justice to all of those souls who came before us, the ones that lived, loved and died, often under dark skies in order that we might enjoy the fruits of thier labours and I stand proudly on their shoulders.

Own photos of Tanfield and Tynemouth.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

 

A student’s lament

Third row back

never back chat

yet nobody knows my name.

I am the classroom ghost

Faceless to most

Silent learner lurking in the shadows.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

 

I am putting this in for the open link night. I wrote this last week and yes it is/was inspired by my day-job…. Foe d’Verse open link

d’Verse

The inspiration actually came from a very lovely student who gave the description “lurking in the shadows” when asked what skulking meant. I sent a postcard home.

Elders and their sacred knowledge.

Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war

When God closes a window somewhere he opens a door.

I can kill two birds with one stone but if I am too bitter and too full of hate

I will cut off my nose to spite my face.

Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,

But if I take myself too seriously pride is bound to come before a fall

These pearls of wisdom, this sacred prose

Demonstrates and shows

How the old folk prepared the new

Passing their sacred knowledge on to me and you.

Alison Jean Hankinson

Daily Post Prompt
Sacred
japanese-women-by-flickr-user-mrhicks46-creative-commons