Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Taekwondo Kid, Success, Upset and............ Gratitude.

Well, this has been a very "interesting" week here at The House of Jazz(y). It began last Saturday when Mr Jazzy went on his annual golfing trip to Spain with some of  his buddies from the local Golfing Society. This self-deprecating, breakaway touring group call themselves The Gobshites and they're having a brilliant time.

There was another exciting occasion last Saturday, which thankfully took place before Mr Jazzy took to the skies...... thank God that Volcano-with-the-unpronounceable-name stopped spewing our way! You see WiiBoy had a Taekwondo testing for his blue belt last Saturday and as you can see from the picture, he was successful! It was a very grueling test.

But before I tell you that story I must tell you this one.....


They've been preparing for weeks for this test and although WiiBoy has been a green belt for a long time he had to work hard to be ready. On the Wednesday before the test they had to be at class early and the intention was that the senior students would help WiiBoy and his pals with their preparations..... whilst the Instructor taught the younger class.

We were the only ones who turned up and there were no senior students. Well, that's not quite true. There was one....... WiiBoy. The Instructor needed some help with the White belts and she had Wiiboy help one student with his pattern!! He stood watching the student go through his moves with a stern, teacher face on him and then he gave him some tips on improving his moves!! Can you believe it? He was fantastic! He then had to hold the paddles for the students to practice their kicks etc. Finally the teacher had him do all his patterns on the floor, whilst the class continued around him and he was brilliant. He had an audience you see, so he performed. His mother's son alright!

So then to Saturday, and the test. Great care and attention was given to their uniforms.... the milton and ironing boards were put to great use for the occasion! They all practiced beforehand.


Then the Master entered the hall and you could hear a pin drop. Discipline and respect are very big tenets of Taekwondo sopressure was put to bear on any lagging attention spans and plenty of loud utterances of "Yes Sir" , "Yes Ma'am" and "Ki-yap" were to be heard throughout.

Seriously, they were on the floor for about an hour and a half with Yellow, Orange and Green belts getting a break of only 15 minutes. They did Patterns, One-Steps and partnered, non-contact, fighting techniques.  After my last Taekwondo Post, it was agreed that WiiBoy didn't have to do any sparring for testing. He took part in the non-contact part though. WiiBoy did extremely well, he struggled a little with the attention part. Not much, but it was noticed by the Master and he called out to him but WiiBoy's Instructor discreetly stepped in and all was well. He did his pattern extremely well and he struggled a bit with  co-ordination for other parts of the testing..... it is very hard to keep your guard up with your fists in front of your face whilst also trying to do a tricky Taekwondo kick! As usual the uniform and belt caused some discomfort but he was fine.

And he received a well deserved and much coveted, nice shiny new blue belt for his efforts!


Unfortunately this week,  in the House of Jazz(y), the ash from that Volcano-with-the-unpronounceable-name was replaced by the Homework Cloud. Yes, that dreaded cloud descended upon us once again....on the week that I was home alone. Teacher has substantially increased the amount of homework in preparation for what lies in store for them in 5th class next September and she is being hard on them all. Monday was a disaster. Tuesday was fabulous because teacher had serious words with him. He did 1hr 40 minutes of homework (interspersed with lots of trampoline breaks etc) that night. He's 10 years old.

Last night (Wednesday) was OK. He forgot some copy books which is a regular occurrence. He does not tick enough boxes for a Dyspaxia diagnosis but this is pretty much standard behaviour for a child on the Spectrum. He was annoyed at himself for forgetting and knew that he'd be in trouble.

I felt for him and more words were spoken to him today. However, his SNA Angel has devised a clever little plan.... a checklist of what's expected of him so we'll see how that goes.

I know how important this preparation is, really.... I do. But I seriously question the homework ethos in schools, generally speaking. Particularly the inconsistency of it between, and within, all schools. The Protestant school across the road from them, for example, doesn't get half as much as they do. Do they fare any worse in Secondary School? I don't think so.

I believe piling on the pressure will have an adverse effect though. And I think I was proven right today. WiiBoy had a big meltdown in class today and I honestly believe it's due to the stresses of the week. I will be monitoring the situation, taking all things into consideration, and will have any necessary discussions. He does have great support though.

We had more success with the recent strict enforcement of the uniform code in school and I got a retrospective (I'd been cheekily doing it anyway!) agreement for him to wear his favourite uniform on Fridays!! I also got agreement to allow me obtain a Jumper for school with less sensory input for next year! This is all with reference to our special needs, of course. Some schools can be so supportive when you approach them.



I'd like to end this blog post as I started it.....positively. Looking for Blue Sky tagged me recently with a Gratitude Award. Thank you Blue Sky.....it does us all good to think of things we're grateful for. Here's my Gratitude List for this week:

  1. The gift that is our WiiBoy.
  2.   That special time of an evening...just after 9pm...when our gift has gone to bed!
  3. Mr Jazzy..... I really miss not having him here this week!
  4. The return of Mr Jazzy this weekend...laden down with gifts! Including a bottle of cheap Vodka. Although I am astounded at his surprise that I didn't still have the bottle he brought back last April???
  5. My friends....online and in person ;-)
  6. A supportive school for WiiBoy.
  7. The opportunities I will get for....... PAYBACK, regarding Mr Jazzy's current trip! Starting with a nAutie Night on the Tiles next Saturday!! Oh yeah! Bring it on!
I'm one lucky person really :))

I now tag Kathleen, Jean, Lora and Taz. with this positive meme!

xx Jazzy

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Uluru Experience and Saving the Tampon!!

Kat over at Kats Life has recently tagged me with the "my funniest/most embarrassing moment" meme. Thanks Kat..... I think! Kat had a very embarrassing and funny moment of her own to recount.... you should read it, it's funny!!I had to trawl through quite a lot of funny and embarrassing moments (especially the latter) in my life, as spending over 40 years on this earth allows you to build up quite a repertoire!


Back in 1993 I went on a whirlwind three week tour of Bangkok-Sydney-Cairns-Ayer's Rock-Melbourne-Bali and Bangkok again, with 2 work colleagues and one of their sisters! The story I'm going to share with you occurred on the Ayer's rock, Uluru as it's also known, leg of the journey.



To set the scene, we'd been very busy traveling and squeezing in as much sight seeing as we could. We'd had such madcap fun in Bangkok (whole other post needed for that one!!) whizzed around Sydney, did White Water Rafting, snorkeling (I chickened out at the scuba diving) and a trip through the rain forest in Cairns and here we were ready to climb Ayer's Rock. I should also add that, to this day, that I am the world's worst at zipping any bag closed. I get stopped by complete strangers advising me to zip up my bag ....this happened most recently at The Star Wars Convention!

What on earth has that bit of  trivial nonsense about me got to do with climbing Ayer's Rock, you may well ask. Read on.....

We arrived the evening before the climb and while the girls were staying another few days before they headed to Perth, I was departing straight after the climb to fly to Melbourne, to spend some time with my Uncle and his family.

I had everything packed (or so I thought) and just had my bum bag on, with the bare essentials. You know: some cash, lip balm, lipstick, camera, bottle of water tied to the side and, as it was that time of the month, a tampon.

One, single, solitary tampon!

We arrived at the base and were given a tour of some caves. We saw some fabulous examples of Aboriginal Art. Not everyone was as enthralled as us as one child was consistently crying and moaning and groaning (we were single and childless!) This prompted the Quote of the Holiday (referring to the Dingo's Got My Baby story) from one of my companions when she said, rather loudly : "Where's a bloody Dingo when you need one"!!

Anyway, I digress. Time to climb. The Aborigines are very possessive of this area, Uluru is very sacred to them and in fact, they'd prefer no-one climbed it at all. Therefore the climb is restricted to a certain part of the Rock and there's a kind of chain-link fence that you follow to get to the top. This climb is not for the faint-hearted. There are numerous signs warning of the dangers and telling you how many have died attempting this climb. Pleasant thoughts then, as we prepared to climb!

So, off we went and got, uneventfully,  to the top.



The climb down wasn't so uneventful! I was constantly at my bag throughout the morning, you know...... taking the camera out, putting it back in again, then having some water etc. I forgot to zip it up agian. Well, it was easier not to. I was also anxious to get to a bathroom. I really needed to get to a bathroom.

I can't remember how it happened but I think I bent down, whilst going down the Rock and everything tumbled out of my bag and rolled to the far side of the chain-link fence. The part that no climber is allowed to go.


One by one, I saw my stuff disappear. I saw  lip balm roll over, pause at the edge then tumble dangerously to the bottom....... followed by the lipstick....oh wait, the lipstick paused. Will it stay? No..... there it goes.

Then came the one, single solitary tampon.

Uh oh.... I need that tampon..... I really need that tampon.....

Oh God...... will it stay?

There it goes..... it stopped! Uh oh...... rolling again. 

Then finally it......... stopped. Not that close to the edge but definitely still in the no-go area.

What to do? This all happened in silence. I was surrounded by fellow climbers, men and women alike.

And there was my much needed single, solitary tampon.......... dangerously in reach.

What to do?

Whaddaya think I did?? I ignored the fact that so many people have tumbled to their death here and I  went slip sliding on my ass right over there to get it, is what I did!! To the astonishment of all around me! I could hear my friend saying; "she's not going over there...... oh my God.... I can't believe she's doing that!"

Well I did and I rescued my much needed tampon!!

To this day I can't believe I did that! 

But that wasn't all.
After our very eventful climb it was back to the chalet, quick lunch then I got myself, my rucksack and zipped up bum bag onto a bus headed for the Airport! Sitting on the bus, I decided to check I had the essentials: Passport and money. Scatterbrained I may be but I am also well traveled. Besides, I once went on a two week holiday and left my Travelers Cheques at home! I know me very well!!

I didn't have my Passport!! Stop the bus!! 

The bus did indeed stop and the door of the Chalet was opened by my bemused friends with that what now? look on their faces!

Of course, I had left the bus in such a panic that I left all my belongings behind. Including my money. Left lying on the seat!

The bus finished it's circuitous route before coming back to collect a highly agitated your's truly!! And the passengers behind me had very kindly minded my belongings!

Oh dear.... I can't believe I'm sending this out into the Blogsphere!

Do you feel brave enough to share your most embarrassing moment?


If so, consider yourself tagged!

xx Jazzy

Monday, April 19, 2010

Young, Autistic, Stagestruck........... and EXCLUDED

Last week an interesting four week series called Young, Autistic and Stagestruck started on Channel 4. I watched the first episode with great interest.                                                                                                                                                                              

A while ago I wrote a post about Revealing Labels and in it I discussed my experiences, from both sides of the fence, regarding our special children's inclusion in after school activities (especially Stage Training type classes) and the importance of revealing our children's labels to the class Instructors.

There was more I wanted to say then and this programme has now brought my previous unpublished thoughts to the fore and given me a platform from which to speak.

I was going to wait until the series ended and we see the final result but I can kind of guess where it's going, so I'll be presumptuous and write this now.

In my labels post I talked about WiiBoy's tolerated inclusion in a StageSchool that I subsequently decided to remove him from. I felt he wouldn't be able for the next level and I said: "However, looking at his performances in this years and last years pantos, all I can say is..... their loss!! Silly me...I should have known better!"

They did work with him and they never excluded him and  in fairness to them, they even allowed me to be in the wings for Dress Rehearsals. However, they did refuse to take another child specifically because he had Autism, saying something like ...."we already have one child with Autism and we can't take on another one" (even though it was a different class, in a different centre.) As time went on I was worried about WiiBoy's hyperactivity on stage and I knew that the Stage School were running a serious business.  They were preparing children for a career in Stage and Film and had Agents attending their school productions. So, I made the decision to withdraw him.

I guess it's fair to say that I have a certain amount of experience from all sides of this issue.I have a huge amount of personal experience of attending classes and of stage performances, I have experience of teaching Dance to a lot of children and teenagers AND I have a child on the autistic spectrum.

So, like I say I watched last weeks show with avid interest, determined to view it from all angles.

As a choreographer I was struck by the varying care needs and abilities of all the students. For this course the class instructors have  a Care Team at hand to help them with all issues as they arise. They regularly had to call on their intervention. I wondered how these children could be included in a mainstream class. Some Drama/Stage teachers will not accept children with these difficulties into their classes.I have been made aware of other cases where a child has been subtly sidelined by being placed on a never ending waiting list (it never gets to him.) and then there's also the reported  reluctance by others to run a separate class.

Why??


Now, on one level, I do understand the difficulty. Inclusion is wonderful and it's one thing if a class is disrupted in Mainstream school, but quite another in an extra curricular activity where the "other " parents are PAYING for the class. Also the Drama or Stage School want to show their students off at end of year shows to parents & their families, and to TV and casting agents etc. After all, this end of year production is their Shop Window. I understand that, I really do. I get it, believe me.

However, If you read any of the mission statements from the Stage schools they all talk about inclusion and self esteem and bonding etc; etc. Does that not apply to the Special needs student then?


Even Glee has their token special need student. As tongue in cheek (and fabulous!) as this programme is, maybe it will make people think. I know they've included a person with a physical disability rather than a behavioural one but the point is being made nonetheless.

I was particularly struck by Ben, Mollie and Claire in last week's Channel 4 programme. Claire has a lovely voice and has a singing teacher. She does have difficulty accepting any well meaning advice, she can't seem to differentiate between helpful advice and out-and-out criticism and that causes difficulty. She has a talent though and it would be nice to see it developed.

Ben has a lot of issues too but by the end of the programme you could see him correctly reading Mollie's emotions and advising her! He also was nearly joining in in the group activity by the end! A huge step for him! I'm hoping, in time, that Mollie will follow as she currently spends a lot of time hiding away from these activities.

But, already you can see the benefits of this group session and the possibilities. I really look forward to seeing their production at the end.

I suppose the question  is, as always:

should there be a "special needs stage school/Drama class"

OR

can these students attend a mainstream class?? 

Which would they benefit mostly from?? Some may indeed benefit more from attending a class with their special needs peers but others may benefit more from attending a mainstream stage school/drama class.

In fact, I believe that the children attending the mainstream stage class can benefit hugely from their inclusion also.

Nothing gave me more pleasure in this year's Panto then to see the special children up onstage dancing and singing to their heart's content.I had the biggest grin on my face for their performances and one child   in particular (apart from WiiBoy!!) stood out for me. It was amazing. You could see their self esteem rise as you watched! The knowing little grins on their faces from a job well done...... and well received by the audience. Priceless!

I'll tell one thing for nothing though........ despite what any visiting Stage School personnel may have thought we, the Panto production Team were very proud of our Shop Window. Very proud indeed.

Allow me to show you more proof of how beneficial inclusion is to all involved in a team activity. You simply must read Kathleen's post on how her wonderful Sammy performed in a recent school basketball game. This is a heart warming story and gives new meaning to the phrase True Grit. It is a story of focus, determination, inclusion AND acceptance. No-one can tell me that the whole team did not benefit from Sammy's inclusion.

And you must also read another favourite blog of mine Tanya at Teen Autism and her recent heartwarming story (guest post on another blog) of her son Nigels' trip to the Theatre with his Drama group!  Another heartwarming story of inclusion and acceptance. Nigel has benefited hugely from being part of this theatre class..... as have the class benefited from his inclusion. There's also some good tips in there on how to ensure success for such a Theatre visit.

For most of our special children sport activities holds no interest for them. Like others, WiiBoy is not interested in football, Rugby, G.A.A (Irish football) or Basketball, but he enjoys onstage performances and preparing for them. It is a wonderful outlet for him. He, like the others, was wonderful on the last two Pantos and his Drama teacher reports that he is simply "Biting at the bit" to get his lines out for her for her end of year production! He won't let her down.

Then there are other's, like Claire above, who have a fabulous talent and risk being excluded from Mainstream stage training. What a pity...

To any Stage school /Drama teacher reading this and have so far not included these special children in your class, I do understand. But I want you to have a look at this video:



     (Update Note: Unfortunately I've had to replace the original video I posted here as it's been removed from 
                   YouTube ...this video is less emotional than the previous one)

Now, when you have wiped away the tears from your eyes  consider this: What if you had excluded a child like James Hobley from your class simply because he has Autism?  I bet his Dance teacher is delighted for him that she gave him the chance that helped him to find his interest , his "thing to be good at" in life. This child is a find and would light up anybody's Shop Window. How many more James' are out there and are being excluded?

Yes, including these special students may mean that you have to make adjustments and facilitate the child and his/her needs. But it can be done. James suffers from stage fright so his dad gets to sit in the front row every time he performs. Just like I needed to be in the wings (and pop backstage numerous times during the shows) for WiiBoy. You can arrange that if needed, right?

As for the classes themselves there are LOTS you can do to facilitate children like James..... and Claire.... and WiiBoy! Work with the parents for starters, they'll tell you what works best and what the triggers for their behaviours are. Here are some ideas that might be helpful:

  • Most  classes have older students acting as helpers. Perhaps you could consider positioning a helper close to the ASD child to help them stay on task? Or even bring in an older student specifically for this task.
  • If that's not possible then consider allowing the mum, sibling, tutor etc to attend the class with the child to act as their Aide ...kind of like an SNA.
  • Get details of the child's needs. Knowing "what's next" in the class would be a huge help to children on the Autistic Spectrum. Provide  details of the class timetable to the parents and they will make a visual schedule for the child.  The helper could then tear off each activity as it's done.


  • Sharing class/show details will assist the parents in preparing Social Stories which will prepare the child for class and onstage performances.
There are lots more things like this that could be done to help, work with the parents as the solutions are individual to each child. The tips in  Tanya's post above can also be adapted and used for preparing the child for class activities.

James' mum said that the dance class was fantastic for him. Within a few months he started reading and writing. Now, that may be completely unrelated but I don't believe so. Dance is a form of self- expression. James had difficulty in interacting with others and, I believe, that dance became a method of not only self expression but of communicating with others. It opened doors within him. James' gift for dancing may have remained undiscovered and doors to other abilities unopened, if his Dance teacher had excluded him.

Can you be instrumental in opening doors for some children???

All I ask of any Stage School/Drama Teachers reading this is to not automatically say No, when you hear the words Autism, Autism spectrum Disorders or Aspergers etc. Just read this post again and work with the parents. Consider all possibilities  first.

I hope this little post of mine raises some awareness and opens up doors that allows self expression, self growth and team bonding for ALL children, special needs or not. Everyone can benefit from a policy of inclusion.

Maybe, in time I'll get to do an update on this post and entitle it:

Young, Autistic, Stagestruck........... and INCLUDED.


Thanks for reading.

xx Jazzy

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bring Back The Humans....... PLEASE!

Over the past few years, while I've lounged about on my Six Year Holiday I have somehow managed to overcome my fear of all things electronic and our home PC has become my friend. It was bought, on my insistence, at the start of said six year holiday career break and it has gone from being something that was fitted in around my housewifely duties to taking prime position in the order of my daily to-do-lists!

I am (despite what my show-pal thinks) a technophobe but I have learned a lot over these past few years. Enough, in fact, to fool those who are not as computer-attached as I, to think that I know what I'm doing. Most things I do happen by accident..... in fact I first started blogging (nearly two years ago now) totally by accident! Yup...I went to comment on Hammie's blog, didn't know what I was doing, clicked the wrong key and Hey Presto the rest is blogging history!! Snigger!!

However, there are other electronic contraptions and devices that I despise! I can't use them you see....... they do NOT like me. At all. And I don't like them as they make me talk to them. In public.

Human's are being replaced by electronic machines and I do not like it. I do not like it at all.

I mean, back in the 1980's customer service training was completely unheard of. Just think Dublin Bus. Or C.I.E as it was known as then (they even had Conductors in my day!). Oh..... dear......GOD. They were dreadful! So were a lot of retail shops and Government Departments. But then Customer Service become so in vogue...Dahling.... and we just absolutely have to have it.... Dahling. So we got it, in spades. It was so nice to go shopping (mostly) and even our Government Departments bought into the whole Customer Service Training lark, and rightly so. My bosses in The Revenue Dept totally bought into it.......   in fact "Taxpayers" soon became known as "Customers." Which I've always found a bit strange as being a "customer" implies that you've made a choice. Think I'll tell my Tax Office that I'm taking my custom elsewhere so!

So, after spending loadsa dosh training people to serve customers better what do they do?? They replace Humans with machines to get the jobs done faster....or to cover when there's no Human available to:

ANSWER THE PHONES......

Oh come on, I can't be the only one who HATES getting the machine instead of the human when you ring a large company? Don't you hate being on hold like forever, and getting these automated menus?



Please press 1 if you want Technical services.                       


Please press 2 if you want Sales.


An so on. All the while I'm screaming at the phone "I want the Human!!!" You see they've even gotten rid of the Human choice on the menu! Have you noticed that? Where's the:

Press 870 if you want the operator. (OK...I've exaggerated the number of menu choices here!)

or

Please hold and an Agent will be with you shortly. (follows after all previous 869 choices!).

These options are no longer there.... hence the "I want the Human" wail from yours truly.

I solved that problem last week when I had to ring eflow. I had forgotten to pay my toll fees the previous week when I had taken the scenic route around the M50 trying to find Coolock (I'd only lived there for about 30 years!) They went and changed everything when I wasn't looking you see, so a manic mother was motoring in circles around the M50 wailing "I want Coolock". Understandable how I forgot to pay the toll fees!

Anyway, there I was on the eflow automaton phone, no "Human" choice so I pressed a number.....ANY number:

AGENT: Hello, how can I help you?

ME: Well, I'm probably not onto the right section but I wanted to speak to The Human so I pressed a  number and got one....YOU!

AGENT: Hahahahaha.... that's no problem....... hahahaha!

Well, at least it worked! However the sob story about my M50 meanderings didn't, so I had to cough up!!


Of course, there's one automated phone system that's voice-activated...... Eircom. It's funny when you get to speak the Yes or No answers but absolutely hilarious when you get to verbalize your menu choices. Especially when you wail the familiar "I want The Human!!" into the phone and you get:

That wasn't a recognised option. Please choose from the following options...... (as they proceed from the beginning again!)

Aaaarrggghhh!!!



SELL YOU YOUR DART TICKET........


"The Human" (A.K.A The Man) isn't at the desk, my train is coming in five and I need a ticket...... today like!

I frantically look behind the perspex (maybe he's hiding under the desk??) for "The Man" but uh, uh..... he ain't there.

Then I look fearfully at that horrible Automated Machine thing looming up in front of me. It's laughing at me...... I know it is. It's an evil "AH-"Hahahaha...... I don't like you and I'm going to confuse you" laugh.

So, I edge closer all the while saying "Where's The Man.... I need The Man".

Out loud and in public.

But I don't care! I can't use these damn machines!





I click buttons and make choices. Sometimes, only sometimes mind, I  actually manage to get a ticket (for me..... I have yet to figure out how to get a child ticket???) Usually I don't get a ticket and get on the train without one. I pay when I get off and am quite prepared to stand my ground if challenged by an Inspector. I can flutter my eyelashes and play the dumbo card as much as the next person, I'll have you know!

But sometimes "The Man" appears mid transaction and saves the day. Actually, I believe he hears my wails for help and abandons his cuppa to shut me up!

(Note: I have also been known to wail "I want The Man..... where's The Man?" when in labour and desperately seeking epidurals (yes-plural!). But that's a whole other story!!!)


CHECK-OUT YOUR PURCHASES...........                                                 


You do know where I'm going with this one, don't you?!!!

Now these machines are my absolute bug-bear. I hate them and they clearly hate me right back. I avoid them as much as possible, as any of my transactions with them are usually a complete disaster. Machines see me coming you see, and they breakdown on sight of me..... just ask the school's photocopying machine if you don't believe me! 


My relationship with the self-service check-out machine came to a complete head yesterday when I had an out and out stand up row with one whilst shopping in Superquinn.


Out loud and in public.  

Groan...............

Well, it wasn't me....... The Android started it..... 


It all began when I stood between check-out and self-service. Which will I go for, I pondered ..... The Human or the Android stupid machine thing? I was feeling brave (or suicidal) and I chose.... The Android!


The problem was that I stupidly decided to put a bag in the "bagging area" (I mean, who on earth would think of doing such a stupid thing) and the "conversation" went something like this.........


ANDROID: There is an item in the bagging Area, please remove before continuing...


ME            : Yeah.... it's called a bag!


I moved the bag and tried to place it differently.....


A: There is an item in the Bagging Area, please remove before continuing...


M: Oh Shut up, you damn machine!


I demonstrably, in Diva fashion removed the bag and "continued with my purchases".....


M: Now..... you happy?

All went well for the next few purchases but, as was bound to happen, I ran out of space for my purchases and one teeny-weeny item toppled ever so slightly over the invisible boundary.....

A: There is an item  in the Bagging Area, please....... 

M: Ah for Godsakes....first you won't let me use a bag and now your complaining again?? 

Then I scrunched the items in and tried to continue....no joy. So I, again very demonstrably and with lots of accompanying sighs and groans, DUMPED my shopping bag on the floor and THREW my "purchases" in !
But when I went to pay I couldn't. Why??


BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE BAGGING AREA!!


M: Oh you DAMN machine........ I need a Human......

So, ignoring the rather large queue building up behind me, I turned to the nearest Human checkout person and asked for  Human assistance.

Even the Human Assistant couldn't figure it out at first!! 

In the visual instructions on the Android there is a perfect bag placed in the perfect Bagging Area which doesn't touch the ground.


I used the wrong bag you see. Silly me...... I would have to go and use a SUPERQUINN BAG....... IN A SUPERQUINN self-service Android stupid machine!!


Well..... I won't be making that mistake again!


It's over. My relationship with self-service checkout machines has come to an end. It is NOT mutual and we will NOT remain friends!

My relationship with my computer on the other hand, whilst a tad fiery at times, remains intact.


There is a recession on. Humans are unemployed in hundreds of thousands, so.........


BRING BACK THE HUMANS.......... PLEASE!!

Before the men in white coats come to take me away for talking to machines....... in public!

xx Jazzy 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My JOHN PLAYER TOPS Pictorial..........


It's been a while since I wrote my original post on John Player Tops . The post still gets regular hits (no.3 on Google search) and the facebook page is consistently growing. We have 762 members now and most of us have email addresses and mobile numbers of many others who are not on facebook. We are well positioned to contact everyone whenever this mega reunion of ours  gets organised!

I also previously wrote about our media release which resulted in Paul Furey, our  facebook page creator, being interviewed on The Gerry Ryan Show and gained us about 100 more members!

This facebook page has resulted in a lot of photos from way back when (and further back then I care to be reminded of!) being uploaded. Being the lazy person I am, also bearing in mind my non-techiness ( I cannot get photos to upload in the correct size!) I have nicked these photos to create my own gallery!

I think it was Petunia who previously suggested I upload my Aer Lingus video here so I've decided to create my own John Player Tops Pictorial, for posterity (and not for some egotistical reason..... just in case anyone thinks that!!). A journey, in pictures, through those fabulous show years that I loved so much and became such a part of  my cherished memories .......

The leading photo is the very first Telecom Tops we did back in the 1980's. We didn't get anywhere but we did perform the number  we're costumed in, (Flash Gordon!) on Tip of the Tops. Tip Tops was a show that RTE recorded showing the "best of the rest" and it aired after the National Finals. Thanks to M.B. for posting this one.

As some of the uploaded photos go back beyond my Tops era I want to include some of them here. Well, I never, EVER thought I'd see any of these again!!


                          We're in The Money..... Aer Lingus, Gaiety Theatre, 1986.


                                       
                                Rock 'n' Roll....... Aer Lingus, Gaiety Theatre, 1986. 


                              Kick Line ........ Aer Lingus Show, Gaiety Theatre, 1986

And here's two more (same show) from my collection.....







                                                    National Concert Hall 1987


These photos really bring it back! Thanks Mary Mc for uploading these.

Then we come to the Aer Lingus 1989 show:  "Cleared For Take Off" ( not quite forgetting the umpteen shows in between!). Some rehearsal photos that appeared in newspapers were uploaded......



                                              (I'm last on right!)






Here's some more (courtesy of D.O'B D; I think).....




                               After Show party (from my collection).....*snigger*!!                 

Then comes the onstage video of our Finale! It's long but it is good and brings back such memories. One being of how sick I was with food poisoning  for the whole day of our final performance! NO WAY was I missing this, I can tell you............



 Wow..... this still gives me goosebumps...... the precision, was beat into us!!




 And here's our "I Go Ape" number from our Cannibal scene. The lead vocals are by the aforementioned and reallygrand Paul Furey....who's gonna KILL me for this!! Let's hope he doesn't go Ape!! But I'll take the risk.... he's brill!





Then it's on to Irish Distillers in 1981 (apologies for quality)

                                              Opening Number "On The Town"
 
          
                                                            Finale number
                          

Moving on to Telecom Tops in 1992......





                   After- Show party and Opening number; Rappers and Tappers 
                 (from my collection: have to scan two together)



                                                       The "Audition" number                                                



 
                                                      The "One Step" number

We had about 30 seconds to get from "The Audition" number into "One Step"! Us girls wore a white Leotard under our outer one...yes, I had a white one on under the black one!! We changed behind the mirrors you see behind us! There were 5 people behind ready to go to start us off though so that gave us a little time.

Thanks Joe Burke and M.B. for posting these ones. There are tons more photos of other fabulous shows over on the facebook page. Keep uploading folks!

Oh wow....... they were some years. The fun, the joy the whole experience. Nothing like it. So sad these days are no more......

But, maybe they are still with us? I have been informed, through comments on my original JPT Post and on our Facebook page, that Tops is still going strong in Wexford and Carlow! It never stopped. AND..... they still have the original clocks and also the recording of the original John Player Theme music that was played before every performance and always had us completely on edge! Oh my God, the nerves would be in tatters listening to it, as we grippingly clung to each other in a nerve racking, stomach churning group hug, waiting for the magic Curtains Up!!

Photos of the clock and a recording of the music will be posted on the Facebook page soon!! Oh my God ...... the strong  memories that this will evoke is quite simply beyond words.

If you are reading this and have been involved in the recent Tops competition I would be thrilled to receive any information you have regarding this. How many groups involved etc. I have some information but would love more.... including links to any newspaper reports etc, especially over the last few years, as I would love to do a blog post on it! Thanks. You can comment here if you like or, on my sidebar you'll find my email address (under Scamp's photo) and Facebook link (see badge).

You never know...... we could start a revival!!

But you didn't  hear that here ;-)

xx Jazzy




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