Right then folks, here’s my report for February. But before we go much further, I’m sure I’ve got that SAD wotsits, cos if I don’t see palm trees and sea for more than a few months I start to go cold-turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work but there must be a bit of continental blood in me that demands topping up at frequent intervals with sun, sea and Bacardi & coke. I don’t often do evening classes any more, but when I did my students always knew I would go to hell and back for them but “Ted has to get to get to Spain” at least a couple of times a year, so terms were always worked out with this in mind.
I think most people probably feel an affinity for the sea, and we spent a lot of time in Cornwall when the kids were growing up as we wanted to give them that simple enjoyment and pleasure. So it wasn’t until 1997 that I went to Spain. Why? Because my old mate Chris Jones had bought a villa there. In fact I can probably blame Chris Jones for lots of things – like introducing me to red wine, rum-based drinks and in fact everything that is bad for me. Anyway, Jonah insisted that we visit him on the Costas and much to my surprise I instantly fall in love with the country. Apart from the weather Spain is such a fascinating country. In many respects it is the “Forgotten Country” as it is only in recent years that extradition has successfully been agreed and applied. Many Brits would be surprised to learn that while we were fighting for Las Malvinas in 1982 a coup was in progress in Spain with shots being fired in government buildings in Barcelona.
I have also said before that the Spanish people are very hard-working and will always stand by that. You can’t though, with any honesty say they are exactly friendly. I think they are actually very much like us - reserved until proven, unfortunately they have seen too many lager louts to welcome us with open arms. After we have proved that we do not belong to that particular class they do warm to us. Especially if we can at least try to speak a little of the language.
So ‘nuff said I am now looking forward to my next visit in a month or so’s time and hope that will keep the SAD away.
I have a pipe dream of chartering a coach and visiting a series of EU countries operating advanced energy projects such as PV, Solar Thermal and similar technologies. If anybody is interested please drop me a line and we can make it happen. Think of how many CPD hours we could log!It seems like February was NHS Maintenance Month for me. I had a lot of training to do for in-house maintenance departments along with a PAT and a 17th Edition course. With the 18th Edition looming on the horizon in about 18 months/2 years’ time that will mean an awful lot of work to do. I also hear some people saying “If the 18th is so near, then is it worth waiting until then before updating?” The answer to that is a resounding NO. For one thing you need that update NOW and it could well be that when the 18th does come in holders of the latest 17th will only require a short update in the
early days (remember the early 16th and 17th Editions?)
I’m also doing a lot of Am2 Preparation courses right now and sadly it appears that many of these candidates are not prepared in the slightest. I think what we are seeing here is the result of piss-poor training by colleges of FE that are not properly fulfilling the requirements of C&G or EAL by way or poorly qualified and/or experienced staff along with poorly prepared and delivered lessons.
By way of example a college of FE not a million miles from me took on a Head of Construction that did not have the faintest idea what he was doing. In fact I suspected his mission was to see about the collapse of the unit, which in fact he very effectively achieved. That particular individual’s problem (apart from being a liar) was that he was a “Yes man” in that whatever the management wanted he said “Yes, I can do” instead of which he should have said “Do you realise we have some real problems that we need to address here”. Coupled with an attitude of “Everything is easy” – “Anybody can do gas” and “Anybody can do electrical or bricklaying” consequentially staff (including me) left in their droves and were replaced by “tutors” that were unqualified and of dubious background. As a result of this, apprentices were not getting proper training and this pretty soon became apparent at many levels. Example; Student - “How do you do a double-set?” Tutor - “Look it up on You-Tube”. So the college lost major training contracts they will never get back. The glory that this man finally brought about was the complete loss of the plumbing and gas department, followed shortly after by the electrical section. If that institution had bothered to ask Ted Barrett to sort it out and given me a suitcase stuffed with used fivers they would still have a thriving electrical department.
Well peeps, that is this month’s insight into my world and I will close with a line from that old song “May the bird of Paradise fly up your nose (and an elephant caress you with his toes)”.