In recent years, there have been many complaints from parents that primary and secondary schools have too much power and autonomy.  Without naming names, I am aware that yet another row in that regard has arisen in this general area.

 It concerns a number of parents who are unhappy with the way their cases have been received by the Department of Education.  Accusing the Department of taking a ‘hands-off’ approach to complaints, a spokesperson for the parents said he had recently contacted Department officials about a specific matter and was bluntly told that the principal and board of management in question had full authority to do what they wished.  He said there was no real mediation process available when a dispute arose and, quite often, the board of management would be supportive of the principal with only lip service being paid to the child and its parents.

With the notable exception of the VEC system, the schools appeared to be totally independent of the Department of Education and that, said the spokesperson, was a worrying level of control.  Unless a school had actually broken the law, there was no third party with authority that could intervene in a dispute and it was bizarre in this day and age that frustrated and concerned parents were still being referred to boards of management that were often part of the problem. 

Fashion doesn’t have to cost big bucks!

 The recession has been responsible for a lot of people returning to basics in certain elements of their lives.  We are already familiar with the idea of people seeking allotments to grow their own vegetables and, apparently, lots of young, fashion-conscious people are learning how to sew and to design their own clothes.

Teresa Keogh is a top fashion seamstress well known in Waterford from her time at WIT.  She now runs the Smart Sewing School in Tullow, County Carlow and, by all accounts, can hardly handle the number of prospective students who are knocking at her door.   Originally from a large Dublin family, Teresa learned to sew before she was ten years old and, when she left school at 14, she went to work for the Cullen Underwear Company in the capital before later moving to Vard Brothers whose name was synonymous with top quality leather and fur products.  During this time, Teresa returned to education through night classes and seminars and she began working for such names as Michael Mortell, John Rocha, Jen Kelly, Michel Ambers and Michael H who were all showcasing their designs, made by Teresa, on the catwalks of Milan and Paris.

Now conducting her own retail and interior design business, Teresa set up her sewing school mainly out of love for her craft but, in recent times, she has been inundated with requests for places.  The recession was sending pupils to her in the first place but once they started to learn about sewing, designing and making their own patterns they were hooked and it was wonderful to see a new interest in such an ancient craft, she said.

Dead jockey wins race!

People often tell me useless pieces of information which are sometimes interesting and which I am happy to pass on. So thank you to the reader who wanted to know if I knew the name of the only jockey to win a horserace after he had died. Needless to say, I hadn’t a clue so he was kind enough to inform me that it was a jockey named Frank Hayes. The poor man suffered a heart attack while riding a race at Belmont Park, New York, in 1925. Amazingly, he didn’t fall off and stayed in the saddle but he was already dead when his mount ‘Sweet Kiss’ was first past the winning post.

Seeing as we are talking about questions and horses, can you match the following famous horses to their famous owners. 1 Black Bess, 2 Rosinante, 3 Silver, 4 Shadowfax, 5 Trigger, 6 Champion, 7 Marengo, 8 Vic. Answers further down the column.

Pilates revealed

There is lots of talk these days about people ‘doing Pilates’ but I wonder do many people know who Pilates was? Well, Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Germany in 1880 and he pioneered a system of exercises to develop and enhance strength, posture and flexibility that he called ‘Controlology’.

Pilates was a sickly child and, from an early age, he studied anatomy in an effort to build up his body. He succeeded and, in 1912, he travelled to England to take up a position as a circus performer but, when World War One broke out, he was interned as an ‘enemy alien’. During his years in the camps, Pilates’ knowledge of body building was noted and he was set to work as a nurse helping those who had been rendered immobile. Using a string of makeshift equipment, he experimented with a range of techniques and produced remarkable results.

On his release at the end of the war, Pilates returned home where he found work training German police recruits. He emigrated to New York in 1925 where he set up a gymnasium that became very successful and, ever since, not only the infirm but athletes, dancers and sports people all over the world have benefited from his methods.

Horse Answers

1 Dick Turpin,

2 Don Quixote,

3 The Lone Ranger,

4 Gandalf,

5 Roy Rogers,

6 Gene Autry,

7 Napoleon,

8 General Custer.

Royal Poet Laureate has South East blood

Meath may be known as the ‘Royal County’ but our South East neighbours up the road in Carlow have a more modern connection to the British monarchy. It turns out that the new Poet Laureate in England, recently appointed by Queen Elizabeth, has strong Carlow blood running through her veins. The Glasgow-born poet, Carol Ann Duffy, was the first woman to be appointed to the post that was created in the 17th. century. She will now be called upon to compose verse for important royal and State occasions for which she will receive an annual stipend of £5000 and a vat of sherry.

The new Poet Laureate was born in Glasgow but moved south of the border to England when she was only five and, to date, has thirty acclaimed books to her credit. Her maternal grandmother was Agatha Hart from Carlow Town and her grandfather, Michael Black, came from the village of Hacketstown. She has been to both places with her mother as she is a regular visitor to this country. What’s the betting that the next time she visits a pub in Hacketstown, somebody won’t prevail on her to ‘give us an auld blast of a poem’.

A hospital fugitive

There was a terrible commotion at Waterford Regional Hospital one night last week and visitors were shocked to see a man dressed in an operating-theatre gown running down a corridor followed by a posse of doctors and nurses.

The man, gasping for breath, didn’t stop until he got to the out-patients department where he sat down among the crowd of people there hoping he wouldn’t be noticed by his pursuers.

“What happened, why are you running away”, asked one of the outpatients.

“Listen”, said the man, “I reckon I’ve just had a narrow escape. I was waiting to have my operation when I heard a nurse say ‘Don’t worry, it’s a very routine procedure and I’m sure you will be all right.”

“So what’s wrong with that, she was probably just trying to reassure you”, said the outpatient.

“You don’t understand”, said the fugitive, “she wasn’t talking to me, she was talking to the surgeon.”