Grandbuddies is one part of the East Church’s evolving Children and Families School's programme involving Hill of Banchory and Banchory Primary schools. The idea is to give the children an opportunity of interacting with the community outwith the school environment. In particular it provides a connect with an older generation that many of the children either do not have or only to a very limited extent.
It was set up by Sarah and Alan after a very enjoyable visit with a class from an Aberdeen school to a local church where something similar was happening. After discussion with Banchory primary school and Hill of Banchory school heads and deputes, she adapted what she had seen to fit the facilities at Banchory East church. Unfortunately, Sarah fell ill just as the scheme was to start, but it is testament to her marvellous planning, that George Montgomery was able to step in as Grandmaster of the Grandbuddies and the programme could proceed.
So far there have been three well received sessions in February and March with one school attending twice. The church provides help with walking the children from school to the hall when required. Thank you, David Laing for your help in this. Sadly, after three, the need for social distance meant we had to stop meeting regularly.
Getting to know each other was an ongoing process throughout all the sessions - all of us exchanged information on every manner of subject including favourite meal, work ambition, colour, book, hobby, pet and so much more. Who knew so many in one class could be supporters of the same football club? It was a heart-warming indication of the connect between the age groups that quite a few of the children who had attended a previous session recognised and joined up again with their original Grandbuddies.
Activities included the children taking along their favourite books and reading passages with several reading to the whole assembly. Origami was another prominent part of a session with many of the children 'instructing' the adults on how to complete the various items. To another session John Wills brought details of the new Banchory Coat of Arms and gave an interesting talk pointing out the many similarities with the children’s school badges.
Our Grandbuddies have very much settled in to the scheme as reflected in comments such as ' I wasn't sure what might be involved but now that I have it has been thoroughly enjoyed'. The children and the staff too have been appreciative and we all look forward to recommencing the sessions in the future where we plan to produce a collage in two parts, part to hang on the church hall wall and part to be displayed in the school.
Although I have had occasion to use modern technology in these times of social distancing and house arrest, even accepting that there are many thousands of words in an average dictionary, I haven’t a hope in Hades of selecting sufficient words to satisfy the blog master if I just describe my personal experiences with technology. So, I have decided to fascinate you with some lowdown about my terribly interesting life. As some days would make incredibly repetitive reading with shades of ‘Groundhog Day’ I will jump from day to day, that is maybe a morning one day or even two days and an afternoon from another day. So, sit back and enjoy an impressive patchwork quilt view of my life in Lockdown.
So, where to start?
At the moment I haven’t a scoobie where I’m going to go with this.
Perhaps the best place to start could be getting up in the morning! With not a cloud in the sky from sunrise until the stars come out at night, this braw weather has encouraged me to get up at the crack of eight o’ clock every morning, (well the days are long enough during these turbulent times, without getting up at dawn!).
Our afternoons are passed mostly eating, dosing on the patio, reading, dosing on the patio, eating. This is because of the aforementioned braw blue sky which allows Ray and me to sit on our little patio at the front door. We can do this from about high noon, when the sun starts to hit our patio, until 5.20pm when the sun goes behind the trees in the main car park. We are then reminded that it’s still only April and the evenings can be chilly, and we have to put clothes on, sorry, more clothes on.
Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself, talking about the afternoon when we haven’t even spoken about the morning! What do I do in the mornings? Well it varies and depends on what day it is, not that that should matter with everything in the world being cancelled, abolished, aborted, closed or whatever. Well it does vary: some mornings I help Ray with the housework for an hour or so after breakfast. Actually, I should be honest and say that I do all the housework to let Ray take it easy because she deserves a rest, but I won’t, because Ray might be reading this later and she suspects the truth!
Some mornings I take an hour out to practice my Ukulele playing. I don’t think I can be really practicing enough because each time I pick the Uke up I feel I can play it less efficiently than I could the time before. Some of the chords never seem to sound right even though I’ve practiced them over and over and over again.
However, when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere I enjoy playing the chords I
know that go with the songs I like, and that boosts my moral a bit. I do know that, with practice, the chords will eventually sound better’ish. What is not getting better, as quickly as I would like, though is changing chords in time to the music. And then there are the chord patterns. Without the correct chord pattern, the song / tune just does not sound right. It really does make all the difference in the world if you can change chords fluidly and follow the correct chord pattern for the song. I suppose ‘keep practicing’ is the answer!
Anybody teach virtual Ukulele lessons?
This Blog was planned to complete my trilogy on modern technology by sharing my actual experiences of using the technology and you probably think I’ve just been chuntering on about Ukulele playing. And so I have, but that is because modern technology has become seamlessly integrated into my daily life in lockdown; mainly in the form of ‘virtual meetings’. So here I am, the young professional that I am, with my business bag and my virtual friends.
I ‘meet’ various people during the week, don’t ring 999 and report me yet because when I ‘meet’ I do so in a virtual sense. Some mornings I meet with the committee of a Men’s Club of which I act as secretary. We use ‘Webex’ which is a very popular means of communication in business circles, along with the likes of ‘Zoom’, both of which were mentioned in my previous Blog.
Taking part in a ‘Webex’ meeting is quite straightforward – the person who would normally ‘chair’ the meeting, the ‘host’, sends out invites, and on receipt of such an invitation, and at the time the invitation identifies as the meeting time, you accept the invite, (just click a box, green usually), which takes you into the system.
If it’s your first time using ‘Webex’, you do have to download the ‘Webex’ App, but this is straightforward and clear guidance is given. Once the App is downloaded, you select to join the meeting using audio and video facilities. Now in the meeting you will see your colleagues faces neatly labelled and placed in boxes on the screen.
Every two weeks virtually the whole club meets. When I say virtually, I mean not just the members with internet access and those who overcame, with a bit of tuition, their suspicions that is was all beyond their capability, but also one or two who join using their land line telephones. They can hear everything that is said but cannot see obviously, and we cannot hear and see them.
It’s a great resource and goes a bit towards helping the members, who are all of retirement age with many well over it, to ‘mix’ with - i.e. to see and speak to - friends and colleagues. It makes a great deal of difference to their way of life, their thinking, their mental health. What these days we are urged to call our wellbeing.
Afternoons follows mornings, and because we have had a week of back to back sunshine and since I described what happens on our patio near the beginning of this narrative, that’s all I’m going to say about the afternoon.
Where are we now – oh yes, at the last third of the day in the life of Lockdown Me, the evening. Like the other sections, evenings also vary, so I’ll just let you know what has been regularly happening lately.
What we did in the evening used to be straightforward – we watched TV. What we watched used to be pretty straightforward as well. Depending on what day it was it would be ‘Emmerdale’, ‘Coronation Street’’ (‘Corrie’) and ‘EastEnders’, or ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘EastEnders’ or Emmerdale’ and ‘Corrie’ or any combination of the three. You will obviously realise that I had to refer to my wife in order to get that information. However, I still have to remind Ray of what is on where, (which channel), and when – once I read up on it in the TV magazine of course!
Since social distancing came along, the production companies of the Soaps have had to refrain from making their programmes. This is in order to keep their cast and crew safe from the virus. Following on from this, with not as much ‘Corrie’ available, the public has turned to modern technology to make more contact with their friends and family, in an advanced manner.
We are no different from the public! Every Thursday we are invited to take part in a virtual meeting of family and friends to have an evening of virtual entertainment – in the comfort of our own living room. On this occasion the means of communication is ‘Zoom’ which works along the same principal as ‘Webex’ which I talked about ‘this morning’. With ‘Zoom’ you get invited into a meeting and, like ‘Webex’, once you have downloaded the ‘Zoom’ App you go through the normal procedures and join the meeting.
One of the games which we play in our Thursday evening virtual ZOOM meeting of fun and jollity, is Bingo; one of the houses even has a Bingo machine and we play for prizes too! Households take turn-about each week supplying the prizes for our Bingo games – no expense spared. Our postie was bemused one morning when he found an Easter Egg, one of our prizes, on our doorstep beside a Toilet Roll, another of our prizes.
To finish our evening slot - on a Sunday evening Ray and I start up our new toy, our ‘Portal’, which works using ‘Facebook Messenger’ and ‘Whatsap’, and gives you a video and audio connection with everyone you invite. We then contact our other close family throughout the country and have a good blether – no games during this virtual meeting, just a lot of catching up and laughing.
Anyone who is your ‘friend’ on ‘Facebook’ can be invited to take part in these virtual meetings.
Since lockdown and the lack of soaps, Ray and I have also become more knowledgeable. For example, we have noticed that we have been watching more programmes about nature and wildlife. In fact I’ve just learned that during the 18th and 19th century a popular sport was shooting Gannets on the Bass Rock. Their numbers before the 20th Century were down to about 3,000 and now the count is back up to around 180,000! Fantastic!
Well, space beats us and I must sign off. Please look after yourself, both of you if my other reader is also reading this Blog! I am sure we will still be in lockdown if and when this Blog gets published and I hope and pray that everyone is heeding the advice of the experts and are staying safe and well and not falling foul of this dreadful virus. Keep safe!
Stan Thomson Editor, ‘The Ronnecht’
*Available from Amazon and other online retailers.
Who did we meet? We met a number of children selected for a new programme between the East church and the school to help pupils develop confidence through learning practical skills that they might never otherwise encounter. In our planning meetings with Ken we had thrown around ideas of the kind of skills we might share. Alan’s ideas involving using his previous brewing skills were quickly discounted and the conversation turned to woodwork. It seemed a good idea until David started to remind us, or in Alan’s case explain for the first time, that using band saws, lathes and chisels all come with their own menacing risk assessment requirements. So, we settled on pyrography instead. Surely nothing can go wrong with burning wood at high temperatures in a confined space. Hopefully, we wouldn’t find out how to operate a fire extinguisher, but just in case, Sarah read the manual and looked up the price of fire-retardant gloves on Amazon. Ken quietly opened the windows and checked the smoke alarm battery.
Pyrography, writing with fire (from the Greek words for fire, pur and writing graphe), is defined by Wikipedia as the free-hand art of decorating wood with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. Some say this ancient art can be traced back to Ancient Egyptian times. Back then hot pokers were used, nowadays we use an electric ‘soldering iron-like’ tool with a variable temperature tip. Neither instrument sounds very artistic, but some of the pictures that have been produced down through the centuries are truly amazing; All done by controlling just how dark the burn on the wood is.
Pictures have also been produced using a magnifying glass to concentrate the available light. A comment which reminded Alan that he had indeed attempted pyrography, admittedly unconsciously, when he bought an Easter egg one year in Birmingham to take to his father in Perth. It was placed in the back of the car and when it arrived in Perth it was not so much an artful design made from chocolate, but an undefined lump produced through the concentration of light streaming through the car window.
Once we had set the tools up all the children engaged with the programme in a very positive way and have produced a marvellous variety of coasters, boxes and key rings all to a high standard and all documenting the growth of their skills as the weeks went by. They soon learnt how to control the relationship between the temperature of the tip of the tool and the length of time required to burn to a particular colour needed. On the way they learnt how to set up and adjust a craft vice and the range of skills, including patience, needed to mark up the wood with a pattern before the burning started.
We are now working on a group project; the decoration of a stool for the school, but sadly, this project has had to be put on hold during the current school closure. The programme has been well supported by the staff of the school. It is not about rewarding “bad behaviour”, but it is about providing a positive, confidence boosting school experience for these kids. Ken’s view of the project so far is that all of the kids have acquired a positive experience and he is very grateful for the input from Banchory East church.
And I have to say we have had a ball helping out. Where else would we get the chance to work on one of the other projects, the rebuilding of an old electric car kit? The car was stripped down by the kids who often demonstrated the superhuman strength needed to remove some rather recalcitrant bolts. It now sits waiting for the completion of the rebuild. Hopefully, there won’t be too many cobwebs to clean off when we return, but then again cleaning cobwebs is one skill even Alexa can’t manage and thus helps ensure the continued employment of people.
We are particularly looking forward to the projects planned to follow the car rebuild. These will be simple electronics projects with plenty to interest us all. Time will tell if the desired educational improvement is achieved, but the church’s help is much appreciated by the school and David, Alan and Sarah certainly look forward to our Thursday afternoons. We don’t all make it along every week, but when we do we have a great time especially since there is always a jig saw on the table to soak up the few moments while we wait for the pen to heat up.
Norma and I have been planning our isolating projects with some care. We want to keep ourselves busy for the next month or so, but we are also very mindful of our wellbeing. We intend to emerge to take our places within those first social gatherings with a spring in our step.
First, we thought of documenting our attempts at learning to cut hair, but then wondered how we’d get on if lockdown ceased the day after our first attempt. How do you even decide who goes first in a situation like that when the stakes are so high? Could we start with the cats? Eventually that idea was dropped because of our imagined attempts at trying to make holiday small talk with cats and the wisdom of offering them those little Lotus biscuits. Would they then happily revert to munching GoCat? We dropped the idea completely when Norma pointed out that both Polly and Stewie are short haired, and off we went looking for another project.
We considered over coffee and a couple of Lotus biscuits just what gives us pleasure in life? ‘I like Liquorice,’ said Norma and ‘I spend a lot of time wondering at plant life, not traffic lights and diggers you understand, the green or not so green frondly types.’ Yes,’ Norma said, ‘you’re a bit of a plant freak. Remember the time we decided to plant a wild-flower garden and you insisted on erecting a sign – animals not welcome here, not even bees and butterflies.’ ‘True,’ I said, but the more we chewed the liquorice, the more satisfactory our project theme became.
I’m not sure who can claim ownership of our idea, but soon we were talking excitedly about how we could make our own liquorice. Save us a fortune at Costco, I thought. All we needed were the simple ingredients on the back of a packet of Bassett’s liquorice Allsorts and we’d be on our way. Most of the stuff is in our kitchen cupboard. Who knew liquorice Allsorts had Paprika in them?
Ever the practical voice, Norma asked where do you think we can buy liquorice extract from? Buy, I thought, why buy? I spent over 20 years extracting all sorts (!) of chemicals from plants. All you need is diluted alcohol and it just so happens that vodka, whilst slightly lower in strength than the normal 80%, should work well enough. It may just take a little longer.
Norma then said, OK, but where do we find the Liquorice to extract from. Now it was all seeming to sound like that poem, ‘The woman who swallowed a spider and thought she’d die’, Where could we get the extract from? Well, liquorice is a plant, a pretty ugly and misshapen thing, but a perfectly acceptable crop plant. The liquorice flavouring is extracted from the woody roots. It only takes three years to grow the plants to the point of harvest. Surely lock down will be over by then and having boxed up our zoom equipment and stored it on its shelf in our digital cupboard next to our old Amstrad PCW word processor, we will emerge with trendy hand crafted boxes of Liquorice to share at our slightly awkward, but at least now no-longer-socially-isolated gatherings.
Quietly in the corner of the shed she licks her new-born lambs. Three healthy babies stumble to their feet, bleating for their first suckle. The mother stands patiently as they try to find the teat. The miracle of life unfolding in front of me for the third time this morning. In the quiet shelter of the lambing shed I am reminded of how privileged I am to be here in this place.
It's very easy amid this pandemic to feel enclosed and trapped. We have lost the routines we know and love. We can't see our friends and family. Our children can't go to school. We can't even nip out for a quick coffee at the local cafe. Shopping for groceries is a chore and most other shops are closed. We just have to stay at home. It's emotionally tough on everyone. But we must remind ourselves that it's necessary. It's not difficult. It might not be that nice, but it's not impossible for most people.
None the less it's emotionally tough.
I'm not a teacher, yet I'm forced to home school my children. And let's admit it, I don't like doing it. I'm not very good at it and half the time I have no idea what I am doing . I just glory on, hoping not to let my 10-year old know how bad I am at maths. I mean, do we really need fractions?
My house looks as if it's been inhabited by a small army. I had not idea we had so many blankets in the house until they started constructing dens and tents. Then when I try to fold them up just to hoover, it's like I've murdered a living thing. If I step on one more piece of lego I will cry. Robbie the robot hoover and I have a deal going on, if he eats the lego pieces I wont put him in my teenage sons bedroom. We won't mention said bedroom or I will actually cry. I decided just to buy another air freshener and battle that war once the pandemic is over.
I knew my children ate a lot of food, but I didn't realise just how much they ate until now. I didn't think it was possible to eat a whole box of cereal a day. I'm not even joking. I went for a bowl of cereal on Sunday evening, a box I purchased form myself the evening before, to discover there was a mere handful left in the packet. Really? Was it worth saving? That's not to mention the two bowls of fruit that get polished off weekly as well as gallons of milk, numerous crackers, biscuits, crisps, cereal bars, cheese, yoghurts and whatever else they can get their hands on. It's like locusts come in when I am working and I come back to an empty fridge.
That's just it, I am still working. The farm is demanding work. It's physically demanding. I walk miles in a day and don't even notice it. It's the time of year when you build up muscles you'd forgotten you had. As more lambs and calves are born, I am now putting out about 400 kg of feed a day. Who needs a gym?
Our lives may have been forced to halt or alter for a few short months, but the world God created for us is still going strong. Feeling blessed by the three small bundles in front of me, I step back outside and remind myself that yes, it's difficult but in the end, He's got us in his hands.
Sarah, your Children and Family worker.
Our loo-roll stocks were becoming so dangerously low that the cat had temporarily suspended her usual habit of following me into the bathroom,
I feel we’ve all learned a little from this. In true “home-school” spirit, my kids, Peter (6) and Andrew (5) have been learning some maths: ONE sheet for ONE thing and TWO sheets for… well, enough said on that score. By contrast, my husband, Alan, has been learning psychology: his wife is an eejit who spends far too much time being judgy in the supermarket.
Myself? Well, mainly I’ve learnt that old friends are worth their weight in gold. It was friends from university days, now living in Aberdeen, who discerned our hour of need. They made an emergency ration available, which tided us over until last week when, to my joy, I found the shops had been restocked. If people weren’t social distancing from me in Aldi BEFORE I did my little celebratory dance in aisle 3, they certainly were AFTER.
I guess the old adage is true: make new friends but KEEP THE OLD! Because it’s not just the loo-roll that’s stronger and longer.
I’m fortunate that both boys are still “Early Stages” for their learning, so none of the schoolwork is too onerous. (Torturous, oh yes, but not onerous.) It’s also useful that both boys are fascinated by mini-beasts and nature in general. I’m sure others have noticed that there has been some sort of population-explosion of ladybirds in the past week, so we’ve done a lot of stealth-numeracy work by collecting up as many as we can find in the garden and counting/adding/subtracting the number of bugs/legs/spots and so on. There has also been a lot of baking… too much really as I am now out of flour! (Can you make scones with loo roll?)
We did paint the requested rainbow for our window, and then added a poster on Sunday of some palms. I suspect there will be a new offering for Easter Day, so feel free to take in the sights of Willow Tree Way on your daily constitutional. If you catch the right time of day, you may well find two small boys on the front lawn amassing ladybirds.
With best wishes to all,
Although we were not able to have a physical meeting this year, we managed to approve the documents by email.
With this exercise in mind, my thoughts turned to the regular expenditure that is required to run our church. To quote The Church of Scotland ‘In the midst of the current global and economic crisis our church buildings may be closed but the work of the church goes on. The regular, committed and generous giving of our members is necessary to support and sustain that work.’
Although, we are not currently worshipping in the church, you will have seen the variety of worship resources on the website. As you will realise, there are regular Ministry & Mission costs to be covered and also local salaries, maintenance and regular costs such as insurance and phone bills. So, you may be concerned about the East Church’s finances and how our income will be affected when our building is closed and services are cancelled.
If you give your offering regularly by Freewill Offering envelope or the open plate, you may wish to consider setting up a Standing Order or give directly via BACS. In addition, if you think Gift Aid may be suitable for you, then please ask for further information. Details can be obtained from the Treasurer, Helen by Telephone on 01330 824409 or email email@example.com. However, if you prefer to continue to give through envelopes, please hold onto them and they can be submitted once it is permitted and safe to do so.
The provision of ministry and mission is only sustainable through the ongoing generosity of the members who support the church – so any additional help you can give would be appreciated.
Mike Jamieson. Session Clerk.
Part 2: A review of Modern Technology solutions for overcoming isolation.
I discovered, but maybe you already know, that there is a whole range of technology about, apart from landline and mobile phones, that can help us gather somewhere out in the online defined space of physics where we can chat, share news and maybe a drink or two.
So if you haven’t tried out this technology yet, or you are looking to add variety to your digital presence or maybe just want to compare your ratings of the products, amazon like, with mine, I’ve put together a short review of the pros and cons of each method.
‘Skype’: This was one of the first video chat services and probably is still the most popular, being widely used throughout the world in both private and up until recently business settings. It is versatile and can support instant messages, audio and video calls over Wi-Fi and telephone calls to landline/mobile. The service can also be used for 1 to 1 calls right up to hundreds of meeting participants taking part in a conference cal0. It’s free to use for calls over Wi-Fi only. Charges apply when calling landline numbers.
‘Facetime’: An audio and video communication service provided by ‘Apple’. It can only be used when using Apple technology, like iPads and iPhones calling each other. It can take place over Wi-Fi or using mobile data. Using Wi-Fi does not affect mobile data allowances. It’s good for up to about four parties in the call.
‘Facebook Messenger’: An audio and video service provided by Facebook. It can be used on a variety of devices like Smart phones and Laptops. Both parties require to have a Facebook account. This can be used over Wi-Fi and mobile data as well. It is also good for up to about four parties in the call.
‘Zoom’: This is similar to ‘Skype’ in the service it provides. Zoom supports video and audio calls over a Wi-Fi connection. It can be used on a Smartphone or Laptop. At present, given the circumstances of the Coronavirus, it is free to use for up to forty five minutes. This is unlikely to last after ‘lockdown’ has ended. So expect a charge in the future. The ‘Banchory Singers’ have used Zoom a couple of times recently linking about thirty members.
‘WhatsApp’: This is similar to ‘Facebook Messenger’ and ‘Facetime’. The service supports audio and video calls over Wi-Fi and mobile data. A Smartphone with the ‘WhatsApp’ app downloaded to it is needed, as it is for the person being contacted.
‘IMessage’: A service for ‘texting’ between different ‘Apple’ products like ‘IPhones’, ‘IPods’ and ‘IPads. The messages are sent over Wi-Fi or mobile data, and phone service providers, (‘Tesco Mobile’, ‘Three’, ‘EE’, ‘Vodaphone’, etc.), offer packages with a data allowance on them.
And then we have good old fashioned ‘Text Messaging’: Text message, (SMS message). All you need is a mobile number to start sending or receiving texts. Phone suppliers offer different packages with different quantities of texts you can send, ranging from a couple of hundred to an unlimited number. Wi-Fi messaging ‘IMessage’, ‘Facebook Messenger’ and ‘WhatsApp’ is unlimited.
As well as the above we have also got ‘G-Suite’, a cloud-based student software solution provided by ‘Google’. This allows your children to continue their education anywhere, using software tools not available even a few years ago. This supports personalized and flexible learning across all technology platforms.
Another service which I only learned about this morning when I had to liaise with my consultant is ‘NHS Near Me’, a web-based facility, very secure and used in hospitals. An invite is sent out by e-mail and near the meeting time, once connected through the e-mail, a reality waiting room is made available. When the doctor, consultant, whoever, is available he/she chooses who she wishes to speak to from the ‘waiting room’ and that person is connected to speak with audio and video facilities.
And last on my list, which is not exhaustive, and which is last because it’s time to wind up this get together, we have ‘WebEx Meeting’; a secure web based facility which seven of us trialled a couple of times over the past few days. A good facility which gave us excellent audio and video quality. To listen to an online meeting all that is required is a phone. You can dial in to the meeting and just listen. If you wish to view as well as listen, ‘WebEx’ is required and an internet connection to a computer, tablet or Smartphone which has speakers or headphones and camera facilities. We plan to get 40 or more of the rest of the members of our Men’s ProBus Club linked up next week. There are facilities for showing, for example, a PowerPoint Presentation to everyone connected, for them to view the slides and hear the speaker
So, I hope I have given you an insight into what can be accomplished in the way of communicating with each other and brightening up someone’s day, someone who wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to experience that, without the magic of modern technology.
Be careful out there and stay safe, which is the ‘in’ saying of the day. Pay heed to what the experts are saying to us, the experts of the ‘World Health Organisation’, ‘Parliament’ and the ‘National Health Service’. If we all do as is advised, instructed, whatever, then we will get through this Pandemic and return to normal times again.
I look forward to meeting with you all again-some day.
Stan Thomson Editor, ‘The Ronnecht’
I’ve always looked on technology, modern or otherwise, as a form of wizardry, as some type of magic. I remember in my primary school days, when I discovered the phone box. I didn’t really discover it – someone had invented it and I found it sitting there!
Anyway, I remember thinking about how the thing worked, I wondered how the underground and overground wires were kept taut enough to carry the sound of peoples voices – I had by this time been trained in the art of communicating using a piece of string and two tin cans and knew the string had to be taut to hear voices, This box obviously worked using the same principles, or did it? Perhaps not.
My next excursion into the world of modern technology was many years later, in the 1950’s in my late teens, when I was 15 and left school, I received a pocket calculator which I really did think was not of this world, but was some sort of a magical creation. You’ve got to remember that I was probably not of this world myself at the time – when I left school my two main ambitions were to learn how to blow smoke rings and to talk like Donald Duck!
Being ambitious I was soon able to work it. I worked out how to add, subtract, divide and multiply using the machine, but I needed to know what made these things happen, how the machine could solve very intricate mathematical problems in a heartbeat. Try as I might, I couldn’t come near beginning to understand the mysteries of the inner workings of the device and thinking too much about it gave me a headache. A bit like the headaches I used to experience when I tried to figure out how many miles it was to the edge of space or how many stars there were in all the universes and everywhere else put together!
Who was to know what else was simmering away in the technology pot!
I’ve mentioned my first two magical experiences but, during the latter part of the nineteen nineties technology had advanced so much that my mind had to boggle when I was faced with the word processor. This was a souped up magical version of the typewriter. The typewriter I could deal with. It was a mechanical invention that I could get my head round. The word processor was a different ‘kettle of fish’ because this came from Merlin’s world, like its predecessor, the pocket calculator.
Worse was to come – the computer arrived. This was the ultimate wizards doing. I was in for a lot of headaches trying to understand the workings of the computer. It was going to change my life as I knew it. It even had the facility to allow other people to see inside my works calendar and find out what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be doing it, at any time day or night.
Anyway, as time went by, I came to accept my computer; to quite like it actually. It became my best friend and before long I realised that I couldn’t live without it.
For the last few years of my working life I went on numerous courses and ultimately became quite proficient with it. I was never an expert but I learned to find my way around it quite well,
well enough for my needs. Though I am sure that there are those of you out there who are a whole lot more knowledgeable about the computer than I, every week I am picking up more information concerning what the computer is capable of – and this brings me to the question in the title.
My answer is simple and direct, you can bet your boots modern technology is really needed, especially in these worrying times.
Although there are many reasons why we should appreciate the advent of modern technology, one of the current reasons has to be the fact we are in the grip of an unprecedented Pandemic, the Covid-19 Coronavirus. It would appear that, apart from the necessary people, you know who they are: doctors, nurses, emergency services, supermarket staff, all associated with getting food to the public, etc. etc. etc. everywhere else has had to close their doors and everyone work from home. This is in order to protect workers from coming in contact with the virus. In these circumstances the computer is our lifeline.
When I started this article, I had it in mind that, because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, most people, through self-isolation, would be very lonely. How wrong I was. There are many ways of contacting each other apart from the telephone, both audibly and visually, and without even having to leave our living rooms. In fact, the Government agrees with me, having decreed that mixing together / holding meetings in the confined spaces of offices, etc. can only add to the risk of falling foul of this virus.
And so, in light of this advice, check back in a couple of days to read my assessment of the pros and cons of the various resources available to us for keep in touch with each other in this brave new world.
I look forward to meeting with you all again.
Stan Thomson Editor, ‘The Ronnecht’
Coronavirus has forced us all to make massive changes to our way of living and I have never found myself so grateful for the new technology which is allowing school to still happen.
Through the use of google we have set up classrooms and post work for the pupils to access and return for marking. Teachers have been in their classrooms at lesson time to answer questions and support the pupils. A few hiccups aside, I have to say it has all worked remarkably well. We have discovered the use of Screen castify and have been busy recording assemblies, reading class novels and recording instructions for lessons. It has been reassuring to talk to the pupils in this way and I have enjoyed creating these short clips - after all I always wanted to be Aunty Mabel from ‘Come outside ‘ and now is my chance! She had a Tibetan terrier called Pippin who appeared in every story. I can only offer two cats called Polly and Stewie but they have been very ‘helpful’, making cameo appearances at meetings and stepping across the keyboard during my maths lesson- creating a very interesting answer!
I have been amazed at how I have adapted to the use of this technology and more importantly not panicked! New technology usually has me panicking and getting unreasonably annoyed very quickly - but in the current situation this is not an option. I did have a tricky moment on Tuesday when the Wifi wouldn’t play and I couldn’t take part in a meeting, but these trying times certainly help you to re evaluate and reflect on what is important and after a calming walk I returned and followed that great advice of switching it off and on again! Since then, ‘Mr Wifi’ has been very well behaved.
It has been a joy to receive work from the pupils, along with photos and video clips of what they are doing. Being able to see them has made all the difference and taking part in google meets with colleagues has also been a great reassurance that life is managing to continue with some degree of normality.
These are tricky times for us all and the uncertainty is causing us concern and anxiety, but for the first time in my life, I think I can say I am truly thankful to be living in this technological age where remote access to our family, friends and work colleagues is possible. I am also proud of how so many of us are adapting to this change. However, this sudden change in our way of life has confirmed how much I want to be a normal teacher, working face to face with pupils and colleagues. It is important that we all follow the rules and stay safe at this time, but I think it is also important we look forward to life returning to normal and be thankful for it when it does.
Banchory East Church
A journal of the life of the East Church through the personal memories and opinions of our members.
We post on Tuesday and Thursdays. but not always every week.