Monday, 3 August 2015

Don't buy the Blairites

The media are rewriting what happened at the last election, in support of the Blairite campaign against Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader.
Don't buy it, guys.
Under the supposedly unelectable Ed Miliband Labour votes in England rose by 3.6%.
Labour got hammered because a) Libdems switched to Tory, and b) Scottish Labour had a right-wing Blairite as leader.
So the unrelenting newspaper and BBC narrative that a left-wing Labour Party is unelectable is unsupported by anything remotely resembling a fact.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Missing curriculum

 Message Received: Mar 24 2014, 02:18 PM
 From: "Iain Houston" 
 Subject: [SPUTNIK] Search for new curriculum continues

 Still no news...


 Teachers are still searching for the new Scottish curriculum which was due to arrive some time ago. The search is now in its umpteenth
year, and the search area has been widened to include two vast swathes of office space in Glasgow.

 Teachers gathered around Scotland waiting for news are becoming increasingly impatient about the lack of information regarding the new
curriculum. "Many of my colleagues got on board many years ago. Since they entered the Olympia building I haven't heard anything from
them. I'm sitting here thinking that it could so easily have been me. If I had just been a little bit more interested in my career above
all else and a little bit less interested in the students I could have been in that building talking about learning journeys." Teachers
have reported that on phoning their ex-colleagues their phones still ring but go unanswered. This has given some hope that they may still
be in a meeting somewhere or talking to someone more important.

 Initial reports that sections of the curriculum had been sighted scattered around some websites have turned out to be mistaken. One
teacher said, "It now appears what was sighted was some fragments of some guidance. After further investigation it appears the pieces do
not fit together and so are unlikely to have come from a complete curricular structure. Also, the spelling mistakes and duff diagrams
would suggest that this wreckage may have come from someone who neither knew nor cared how to construct a meaningful curriculum and so
this material has been largely discounted." Despite this the teacher said, "This curriculum must be out there somewhere. Tens of millions
of pounds can't just disappear into thin air. The concern at the moment is that the curriculum may be being held hostage somewhere by a
fanatical group who are out to do serious damage to Scottish Education."

 Although it was thought that the curriculum had disappeared some time ago it has now emerged, following detailed analysis of bank
records, that large sums of money were being received by employee's bank accounts at the SQA and Education Scotland up until very
recently. This has led some to speculate that the curriculum may still exist somewhere or may have until very recently. However, experts
caution that just because people were being paid this does not necessarily indicate that work was being done or decisions were being made.
The curriculum may have crashed some time ago and money may have continued to be transmitted automatically.

 This has all brought back memories of an incident some years ago when Learning Teaching Scotland, after drifting out of control for
several years, collided with HMI, resulting in many highly paid survivors. As a result of this many involved were told that they would
never have to work again. A teacher said of this, "We received a few garbled attempts at communication from LTS a few years ago, then
nothing. We later found out what had happened. It was very difficult for us, as taxpayers, to deal with."

 The wreckage from this collision has never been brought under control and, although rarely encountered, currently still poses a danger to
Scottish Education. Some of the survivors have, tragically, struggled to come to terms with these events and still insist that they work
for HMI, an organisation that was completely destroyed some years ago.

 One teacher searching for the curriculum said, "People have to appreciate the extreme difficulties we are facing searching in this
environment. This is an area of extremely low interest and very high wages which makes this a slow process. In addition conditions are
very difficult. We have found that the necks of many of the people we are dealing with are composed almost entirely of brass. In addition,
the area we will be searching contains many, many plush offices so this will take some time. It is possible that some of the curriculum
may be in Glow. This is a barren, almost unexplored area seldom visited by anyone."

 Many teachers have pointed out that the search will be complicated by the relatively primitive IT systems used in education, "Although it
seems incredible to the average man in the street it is true that in the 21st century Scottish education relies upon relatively primitive
forms of communication. We use an intranet which looks like Windows 3.1 but apparently this is all they could get for £60 million and the
next one will be slightly better so that's alright then." Teachers caution that the search could take some time, "We would like to point
out that this is not like searching a school containing a few dozen highly stressed and hard working teachers. Education Scotland alone
appears to employ over 470,000 people. It will take some time even to determine what on Earth these people do all day. The scale of the
search will be vast. For example, in modern Scotland S1 alone is thought to contain over 85,000 powerpoints on solar power."

 One teacher commented, "The scale of this is just unbelievable, every time we open a door we find another conference room full of people
in suits who insist they are a vital part of the curriculum but can't answer any questions about it. We are currently trying to determine
exactly what the aims of the secretive and shadowy organisation known as the SQA is. Our best guess at the moment is that it evolved from
an organisation which once produced high quality exams into some form of charitable institution set up to prevent people having to enter
classrooms and teach children. Instead the SQA provides them with a safe, welcoming environment where they can mix with other people just
like themselves. The organisation also appears to run day trips where their service users are taken out into the community to insult

 Members of the search team refused to comment on rumours that car parks full of expensive German cars had been found near to the last
known position of the curriculum. A representative would only say, "These are very early days and obviously there are a lot of rumours
around. I must stress that we have not yet found anything at all that we can link to a coherent curriculum."

 Unnamed sources within the Scottish Government are now suggesting that Scotland's teachers are likely responsible for the disappearance
of the curriculum. Verifiers have raided several schools and discovered huge stockpiles of assessment material. One commented, "The
teachers invariably claim it is for personal use and they need this amount of material to assess their students. However, when we are
faced with several cupboards of paperwork for something as simple as a Nat 4 and Nat 5 qualification alarm bells start to ring. Let's
remember that last month a teacher was injured when a box file stuffed overly full of UASP resits exploded in his face. This has led us to
conduct detailed interviews with teachers who are known to have links to Education Scotland and the SQA but even following intense
interrogation none of them appear to know anything about the new National or Higher courses. Despite this I would caution the public that
these are extremely determined and committed individuals. Many of them repeatedly told interrogators of their fanatical belief that the
new curriculum would be delivered in time by the SQA. Others with links to Education Scotland believe there is a 'National Agreement'
which means they are guaranteed to be left in peace if they produce a few random worksheets. We try to explain to them that these would
not constitute 'off the shelf courses' but they are convinced that they will get away with it. Teachers and the public should realise that
we are dealing with a situation we have not encountered before. Many of these people have absolutely no fear of secondment and have even
volunteered for missions which require them to become curriculum development officers. The threat posed by them should not be
underestimated. As time goes on we are becoming increasingly concerned that this curriculum has been hijacked by some highly untrained
individuals equipped with a variety of bad ideas."

 The authorities have made it clear that if ordinary teachers are responsible, in some undefined and incomprehensible way, they will be
shouted at and publicly criticised. In fact, this will happen no matter what.

 Many questions may be answered if the curriculum's "black box" can be found. However, limited progress has been made. Repeated requests
for information regarding this have been met with the cryptic response that teachers should have been teaching inside it for the past ten

 Some attention has been focussed on a Mr Gillespie. Reports suggest that Mr Gillespie changed course at some point this week. One teacher
said, "We now suspect that Mr Gillespie turned off his moral compass some time ago. It now seems he may have taken Scottish Education off
in an entirely new direction. Our concern is that it wasn't heading anywhere in particular and the worst may now have happened. We have
received no communications regarding the new curriculum for some time. However we have received statements at development days from people
claiming to be senior members of the SQA. These statements say things like, 'Teach what you want and the exams will follow' or 'The
curriculum has already been delivered.' It isn't clear what these statements mean. They may be a form of code or even a veiled threat. It
is also repeatedly stated that 'It can be done' but it is not clear what 'it' is, how it is to be done or who is supposed to be doing it.
Despite all of this, I cannot stress enough at this time that no group has claimed responsibility for this curriculum and we don't
anticipate that anyone ever will."

 Iain H.

 This message was sent via the IOP SPUTNIK mailing list.

From: A discussion forum and information exchange for teachers of physics in Scotland [SPUTNIK@NETWORKS.IOP.ORG] On Behalf Of Ronna Montgomery [ronnamontgomery@YAHOO.CO.UK]
Sent: 27 March 2014 16:11
Subject: Re: [SPUTNIK] Freedom of Speech and Offense

We are the IOP Teacher Network Coordinators who are paid by IOP to support Physics Teachers in Scotland.

I am the Team Leader in Scotland.

One of our first acts almost twelve years ago now was to set up Sputnik. It is fully funded by the Institute of Physics. The Education Board of the IOP set standards that we must comply with. We are accountable to that Board.

This is my final word on this issue.


Ronna Montgomery
Institute of Physics
Teacher Network in Scotland


On 27 Mar 2014, at 09:17, Mr Wood <gw08woodmartin01@GLOW.SCH.UK> wrote:

Despite the high regard I have for you Ronna I must respectfully decline the request, on several points of principle.

I would like to enquire who this "we" are?

As you noted in your reply they cannot be fully representative of the membership of Sputnik, therefore if this thread is to be terminated at the request of "we", then I must ask "we" to explain publicly why their wishes not only trump the wishes of other members but lead to a member of this forum being placed under significant pressure.

I have made no accusations, the significance of Malaysia flight MH370 was indicated by yourself. I am simply asking for calm, rational reasons for the actions following the initial posting.

Is it criticism of the SQA and other relevant authorities that is the issue? This has happened before with no repercussions.

Or is it the style of the initial posting that did not match the personal taste of "we"?

If this is the case then "we" have some work to do, to explain why their personal taste should override all other concerns – and I would ask "we" to do me, and other members the courtesy of doing so in public, rather than remaining publicly silent and conducting their business in the background.

This is either a forum where adult professionals can raise concerns openly, or a forum where individuals postings must pass scrutiny of the personal tastes of certain individuals? If the latter is true then these individuals are required to explain their tastes to the rest of us to avoid future repetitions.


Martin Wood

Principal Teacher of Physics/Science

Clydebank High School

Janetta Street
G81 3EJ

0141 533 3000

“This message may require to be disclosed by the Council under the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.”
From: A discussion forum and information exchange for teachers of physics in Scotland <SPUTNIK@NETWORKS.IOP.ORG> on behalf of Ronna Montgomery <ronnamontgomery@YAHOO.CO.UK>
Sent: 26 March 2014 15:09
Subject: Re: [SPUTNIK] Freedom of Speech and Offense


I think we have had enough of this thread  No one has made any accusations about anyone else.

From my own personal emails, I am aware of a whole range of emotions and thoughts. It is not helpful to air these here and we will absolutely not get a full representation if we do.

So can I ask that we stop this thread now and by all means continue any dialogue you wish elsewhere.


Ronna Montgomery
Institute of Physics
Teacher Network in Scotland


On 26 Mar 2014, at 14:45, Mr Wood <gw08woodmartin01@GLOW.SCH.UK> wrote:

Just recently I have had cause to wonder the century I live in. I tend to have this funny notion of how rational discourse is conducted .It’s an idea I picked up some time ago – its called “freedom of speech”.
It’s a peculiar idea that entails many unforeseen side effects such as: a progressive society, freedom of religious and sexual identity, tolerance and diversity to name a few. It seems to be a driving force behind the evolution of a fair, open and eventually less confrontational civilisation – mainly because no one particular group is disenfranchised and feels the need to resort to more direct methods. It also breeds honesty as everyone is free to speak their mind and everyone knows where they stand – doesn’t particularly sound like a bad thing...but I may be wrong.
Unfortunately it also has another side effect....every so often you hear something that makes you a little uncomfortable and maybe ....offended. This now appears to be a VERY BAD THING that you SHOULDN’T DO. I find this more than a little disappointing, uncomfortable even, possibly offensive?
History is littered with people that caused offence and had they been censored and censured for expressing themselves we would be living in a very different society – not a particularly good one.
It boils down to what has to be cherished more – freedom of speech or the avoidance of making people uncomfortable or offended. On the one hand if freedom of speech is paramount then we all benefit from the side effects, regardless of whether or not smaller subsections of society find it offends there particular world view. If avoidance of offence becomes paramount then we will have to limit actions and words that will cause a small subset of the group to be temporarily unsettled at any given time. As we all find different things unsettling, inevitably that will mean, eventually, all discourse will be circumscribed. Conversation will consist of groups exerting their right not to be offended over the smallest detail - “truth” will not matter. I don’t find this alternative in any way attractive. It may be just me but offering offence as a method to limit freedom of speech is wasteful and ultimately futile. Particularly when referenced to works of satire, where serious points can be made in a way that amuses, whilst engendering a level of discomfort. I realise it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but life would be one dimensional if we only took actions that caused no one to be disturbed.
The question I really want to ask though is this. Does any member of sputnik think that a member of our group wrote what he did as a deliberate act to denigrate, mock or minimise the casualties of Malasia flight MH370? I invite anyone who does to discuss it freely and openly.​


Martin Wood

Principal Teacher of Physics/Science

Clydebank High School

Janetta Street
G81 3EJ

0141 533 3000

This message was sent via the IOP SPUTNIK mailing list. 

From: A discussion forum and information exchange for teachers of physics in Scotland [SPUTNIK@NETWORKS.IOP.ORG] On Behalf Of Mr Wood [gw08woodmartin01@GLOW.SCH.UK]
Sent: 28 March 2014 10:13
Subject: [SPUTNIK] Bye

It's time to take my leave and bow out with as much grace as my ginger middle aged spread will allow. Its been a hoot and I've gained a lot from the generosity of the members of sputnik. I hope things I've given back on means I've paid my dues.

To tell you the truth, for the past couple of years I've only been in it for the craic, and unsurprisingly it's been a bit thin on the ground recently. It's never really been the same since PDB was given his P45.

To the ray of sunshine in the north – enjoy le shuttle.

Ronna – this was never personal nor an attempt to make your job harder. I just needed the rules of engagement clarified. I hope we can still share a friendly conversation next time we meet.

To the "plaintiffs" in the case of "offended vs Houston". Racism, homophobia, sexism etc are truly "offensive" as they are abusive behaviours, and worthy of getting collective undergarments in a twist. "The post that shall not be named" was neither of these. To cry offense at it is to minimise true "offensiveness" and does a fellow professional a grave disservice. One that I find I cannot be silent about, nor, in silence be complicit with. I would be ashamed of myself if I did. Which is surprising as I wasn't aware I had any principles left and my standards are set accordingly low.

Anyway, the line in the sand has been drawn. I was always a kid who played football on the grass and touched wet paint and I find the rent here a little too high for my taste now.

I am under no illusion that this will make the blindest bit of difference nor that I will be missed so I will avail myself of the treasures of Pixie Hollow (if the Pixies will have me) and retire to a quieter life with less inbox clutter.

If anyone need to contact me my email is at the bottom and I hear a vague rumour Pixie hollow has a forum which I hope, with permission to avail myself of.

Iain – should you produce another masterpiece – please send it my way – I could use a laugh.

One last thing... (wet paint). If anyone has been offended by anything I have said – it was never intended..... If that's not enough....might I suggest you build a bridge

All the best


Martin Wood

Principal Teacher of Physics/Science

Clydebank High School

Janetta Street
G81 3EJ

0141 533 3000

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Friendly encounters

The conversations with friends and family have been moved from this blog, which I'm keeping for more serious stuff. 

Stay in touch with Ian, Helen, Susan, Rachel and the rest at Friendly Encounters.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

How to copy a paragraph or two from protected pdf files into Word

  1. Open the pdf file and scroll down to the text you want to copy, so it's in the middle of your computer screen.
  2. Take a copy of what's on screen using the PrintScreen key, PRTSC.
  3. Paste this into a Word file.
  4. Save the Word file as a web page (not single file web page).
  5. Go to an online OCR (optical character recognition) site, such as
  6. Upload to the OCR site the image from the files folder you created in Step 4.
  7. Tell OCR to do its stuff.
  8. Select and copy the result into Word.
  9. Correct any errors - OCR isn't perfect yet.
  10. Pat yourself on the head, have a beer and accept that some nerd is going to call you a moron for not knowing a simpler way, but don't give a toss because this works.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

NUJ statement on Leveson emailed to all members today 28/11/2012

Tomorrow Lord Justice Leveson will publish the findings of his inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics in the press and his examination of the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians.

It was a year ago that the NUJ fought to be a core participant in the inquiry. We had to battle to ensure that the voice of working journalists was heard, and not just that of owners and the editors of the national press. To inform our submissions and evidence we set up a Leveson email address and asked all members to contribute their concerns, experiences and views. In particular we asked members who wished to contribute evidence to the inquiry to come forward anonymously if they felt unable to speak openly about their experiences.

We came into the inquiry with a strong view on the present Press Complaints Commission. At the NUJ's 2011 delegate meeting in Southport - after a long and fruitless campaign for reform of the PCC - delegates voted for it to be scrapped and to campaign for its replacement. This came on the background of previous policy built up over many years of campaigning for change within the regulatory framework of the press and for a properly accountable media complaints commission. All union policy is made democratically from decisions taken at delegate meetings and by the union's ruling lay body the NEC.

From the outset of the Leveson inquiry, we demanded a conscience clause to safeguard journalists who object to being made to act unethically in the pursuit of a story. The industry - both the PCC and the Society of Editors - has repeatedly refused to bring in a conscience clause, despite the Home Affairs Select Committee backing the NUJ's campaign as long ago as 2003.

We highlighted the vital role a trade union plays in any workplace, and how in journalism the NUJ plays a role in maintaining standards and standing up for ethical journalism, as well as the bread and butter industrial issues of pay and conditions. We explained to Lord Leveson that an NUJ workplace chapel is not simply the vehicle for putting together pay claims and campaigning for better terms and conditions it is also the place where members can raise issues of concern on ethical matters, on staffing levels, and on bullying and editorial pressure within their workplace.

It is significant that the unfolding scandal at News International happened in a workplace where the NUJ has been effectively blocked by Rupert Murdoch, where journalists working across the titles have been denied the collective representation of an independent trade union for a generation.

We pointed to a model of regulation the NUJ is particularly familiar with - the Press Council of Ireland (PCI). The PCI is recognised under statute once it meets minimum standards which guarantee independence from ownership control. These minimum standards include civic society involvement and representation of the profession of journalism, which is provided by the NUJ. There is no direct or indirect State involvement in the regulatory system or in the work of the Press Ombudsman. No publisher is forced to join. If they do they enjoy legal privileges including a defence in libel actions. If they decide not to join they forfeit that benefit.

The new, slightly beefed up PCC proposed by Lords Hunt and Black represents more of the same. It does not propose a conscience clause; they have ruled out the involvement of working journalists in the make-up of a PCC mark 2; and worryingly it suggests that this should be the body to determine who gets a press card. A system that could withdraw an individual journalists' press card - and livelihood - would transfer accountability from the publisher to the journalist. This is unacceptable and would be akin to the licensing of journalists, something the NUJ is wholly opposed to.

The NUJ has argued for an independent regulatory body - independent of government and of the industry - that will:
  • protect free expression and a free press
  • ensure high standards of journalism
  • have the authority and ability to regulate all commercially-driven press
  • include, as does the Irish Press Council, union representatives
  • fully defend journalists who protect their sources
  • enshrine a conscience clause for journalist
  • take to task the bullying newsrooms exposed by our evidence to Leveson, recognising the vital role trade unions play in media newsrooms
  • have the power to instigate investigations, including acting on complaints from journalists
  • provide a right of reply
  • be backed by the ability to impose sanctions, such as fines
  • take third-party complaints, not allowed in the current system
  • represent members of the public
One of the red letter days of the Leveson inquiry was when John Hendy QC, NUJ counsel, had the opportunity to quiz Rupert Murdoch - he even got the media baron to admit that a conscience clause could be a good thing. When Murdoch was asked about the testimony from a journalist working for his titles who had experienced bullying, he said: “Why didn't she resign?” As Lord Leveson had to point out, “I think the problem with that might be that she needs a job.”

The Inquiry has revealed the unhealthy relationship between politicians, the police and sections of the press. It has been a powerful argument for the need for greater transparency between the political elite and the leaders and acolytes of powerful media conglomerates.

The NUJ's position has been misrepresented and attacked in many quarters of the press - including in The Sun, which accused the union of trying to end free speech in the UK, and create a press akin to that in Zimbabwe or Iran. The NUJ has been accused of supporting state control of the press.

The union does not back statutory regulation of the press. We support an independent system of regulation - independent from the industry and, crucially, from government. The long years the NUJ has campaigned for a more accountable press and for high standards of journalism have gone hand in hand with countless campaigns defending press freedom, battles to protect journalistic sources, and fights to extend the public's right to know. Our participation at the Leveson Inquiry has been a continuation of those campaigns and battles.

Yours sincerely,
Michelle Stanistreet

You can read all the NUJ submissions to the Inquiry here

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Intense World Theory for Autism

I've pulled out the following question and answer from an interview with the originators of the Intense World theory of autism on Wrong Planet, a well-regarded website for and by people with autism.

It explains the key differences between the Intense World theory and older ideas about autism.

Q8. "Unraveling the Paradox of the Autistic Self," by Michael V. Lombardo and Simon Baron-Cohen, states that "neural evidence provides a key clue that an 'egocentric' response in the brain (i.e., Self = Other) is actually the result of an impairment in self-referential coding of information." Do you believe an elusive sense of self is a universal autistic characteristic? Does Intense World Theory account for this impairment?

Answer. Well, we would not agree with their analysis and theory. This is just another theory that is a relic of the theories of mental retardation. It is contaminated by older theories that there is a deficit in the ability of the brain to develop a theory of mind, the ability to see and respect others thoughts feelings and emotions.

This archaic theory has also led to gross misinterpretations of the mirror neuron discoveries. According to the Intense World Theory, autists could actually be seeing much deeper into the minds, thoughts and emotions of themselves and others, which triggers active avoidance and lock down behaviors. It also requires the ability to simulate others as if you where them and to extrapolate to where their thoughts and behaviors are leading them.

Seeing into the minds of others can be extremely disturbing. Even if autists don't feel this is true for themselves it is because their brain has developed strategies to cope with this extreme insight leaving them seemingly isolated.

This theory of a deficit in self-referential coding or theory of egocentricity is also likely to be incorrect for another reason. Self-referential coding is the foundation of human consciousness. To be conscious of yourself and others requires you to have to be able to localize yourself in space and time. If you enter an isolation tank, anesthesia, or deep meditation you can lose track of yourself, where you are, who you are, what time it is.

So impairment in self-referential coding will also mean that autists are barely conscious and living in peaceful state of diffused consciousness (pain is based on a sense of self, locality). It is most likely the exact opposite of autists. They are in an extremely localized state, extremely aware of themselves, extremely aware of others and in a battle for their life to hold back the intensity and pain of it all.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Comedian Janey Godley gets tough with journalists

I am told Janey Godley is now accusing me in her blog, which I haven't read, of threatening her. So I reproduce here, verbatim and in full, the communications between us. There have been two emails from me to her and one from her to me. We have not spoken.

The story referred to in the first email is a first draft of the one that appears in the previous post. I emailed this draft - which can be read in the Addendum below - to Janey for comment.

The version on the blog has been edited slightly from that draft.

Monday, December 05, 2011 10:00 AM
Hi Janey,

Here's the story I have at the moment.

I'm not happy with the ending.

If you think ending and headline can be changed - to something like "Janey Godley steps in to save struggling children's charity" - please let me know.


Monday, December 05, 2011 10:43 AM
I don't want a children's charity to close down as a child who suffered abuse in the past its the last thing I want. I was unaware of any resignations and withdrawal of funding, it certainly wasn't at my request. I have spoken to the women today and am sympathetic to the whole outcome of this issue. I have never put myself up as a role model for children and as far as my comedy goes I can take a bad review as good as the next person, I just never expected one from a kids charity.

I am stunned that a family connection between three charities chose to single me out online and continued to question my feminism and commitment to children. I was even more shocked that people who represent abused and hurt children opted to use registered charity names on twitter to both insult and victimize me. I now accept that the three people were naive to social media, they have sent me a personal apology which I accept. I would do anything in my power not to have the kids lose their charity, I have never denied my strong opinions- When I was wrong online in the past I apologised immediately -I am outspoken and am a strong campaigner for children and will continue doing what I can raising money for them.

Thanks Janey Godley

Monday, December 05, 2011 1:47 PM
Hi Janey,

Thanks for the speedy response and apologies for not getting back sooner. I've been out on a job and am heading out on another one soon.

I note you don’t dispute the facts I report.

I note too your feelings about the ----- Project closing as a direct result of all this. I don’t doubt your sincerity.

As I say in the story, everyone involved is on the side of the underprivileged and disadvantaged - for social justice and against the tossers who got the country in the mess we're in. So it's unfortunate that they are all now tearing lumps out of each other. Personally I think you were pretty patient with the feminist at first and she should probably have taken the hint, before you told her to fuck off and leave you in peace.

I know all these people well. They’ve been friends for years and they're good guys. They are inexperienced with Twitter and they have been naive in using it. But they are smart, hard-working and well-intentioned.

As I said, I don’t like the ending of the story at the moment. But it's the only story I’ve got right now.

I was planning to go out to the ----- Project in the New Year and write it up. I would still like to do that, if it’s there. If Janey Godley has helped in the meantime to keep it afloat – rather than sinking it with all hands – it would make an even better story.


PS I gather you've been asking who I am. I'm a full-time freelance journalist, writing mainly about children and education these days. I have written for the Herald, Scotsman, Daily Record, Evening Times, Sunday Herald, Independent, Times and Guardian, as well as many magazines. I was shortlisted for features writer of the year at the annual publishers awards in Edinburgh last week.

Monday, December 05, 2011 5:35 PM
I have yet to receive a reply to this second email but I am told Janey has responded to it on her blog by accusing me of threatening her.

This seems as accurate and honest to me as her characterisation of the charity volunteer's comment - that Janey calling herself a comedian was an "insult to all things funny" - as "horrific personal abuse".

Original rough draft sent to Janey for comment

I’ve a sad story for you this morning. It involves a Scottish comedian called Janey Godley and two small children’s charities in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas.

Janey describes herself as “a Scottish Stand up Comic, Actor, Journalist, Playwright and Blogger.” She takes pride in being controversial, referring to herself on Twitter as “The most outspoken female stand-up in Britain”.

Janey is very experienced online. At the time of writing she has no fewer than 43,765 tweets to her name. As you read this there will be many more. Janey tweets every few minutes.

Here are a few recent ones:

"I suggest we take all the guardian APP staff and execute them – that'll show the fuckers"

“A Union Jack in Glasgow means ‘I am mental, I own a dangerous dog and I batter fuck out of my common law wife if Rangers get beat.’”

“McMullan is now telling us anecdotes and 'funny things happened' as if we are his mates- i want the cunts face to fall off”

“So if hunt down Clarkson & shoot the cunt in the face i can say I was influenced by him and just claim insanity? am off (click loads up gun)”

The other protagonists in the story are people who have little online experience but who do good work, some of it paid, a lot of it unpaid, for a couple of charities that help disadvantaged children and their mums.

One of them, a feminist and Twitter follower of Janey, whose outspokenness on social issues appealed, was relaxing one evening when the language Janey was using caught her attention.

So she went on Twitter to ask if the frequency of the word “cunt” in Janey’s tweets – over a hundred times in a couple of days – was a feminist statement. “I said that I was interested, that I thought there might be some ideological reason that the word was being used.”

The two of them had a Twitter chat for an hour or so, before Janey ran out of patience and ended the conversation thus:

“i had boy soldiers in my family who fought for my freedom of speech how fucking dare u assume it needs explaining to u”

At this point, if the charities people had more online experience, they’d have walked away. Instead a colleague and friend of the feminist took umbrage at Janey’s last tweet and tweeted the following to her:

“Calling yourself a comedienne is an insult to all things funny. Call yourself a children's role model? Hope not.”

She made the mistake of tweeting this from the Twitter account of a small charity for single mums and children that she gives up much of her spare time to work for.

Janey’s response was instant and savage. Over the next day or so she tweeted the name of the charity no fewer than 65 times, drawing the attention of her almost 5000 followers - some of them very influential - to what she referred to as “horrific personal abuse”.

That abuse, remember, was to be called “an insult to all things funny”. It would be surprising if Janey hasn't had ten times worse abuse at an average Saturday night gig.

During the course of this Twitter-storm, another worker for a charity for disadvantaged children in the same town stepped in and tweeted as follows to Janey:

“You are a patron of our children's charity. Would you say these words to our young people?”

Again Janey took offence and tweeted this charity's name 15 times to her followers, drawing attention again to the “abuse” she was being subjected to. The second charity worker tweeted twice more as follows:

“We never questioned your motives Janey"

“Sorry you are offended Janey.”

The attempt to smooth ruffled feathers came too late. By this time some of Janey’s followers had taken up the story and were spreading her “horrific personal abuse” version.

Unaware of the full story and unwilling to trawl through the archives, two board members of the second charity, resigned at the weekend. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations withdrew its support. [THIS WAS AN ERROR ON MY PART. SCVO HAVE NOT BEEN INVOLVED.] Prospective funders have pulled out.

As I said, Janey has influence.

The upshot of all this is that a small charity for disadvantaged children in one of the most deprived areas of Scotland - which was being kept afloat by the dedication, long hours, hopes and prayers of the people who work there - will now be closing after Christmas.

It's a sad story. And one of the saddest aspects is that all the people involved are actually on the same side – the side of the disadvantaged. But instead of being out there attacking the selfish, uncaring and over-privileged, the corrupt politicians and rapacious bankers, they are sitting at home over red-hot computers tearing big lumps out of each other.

And it's the children the charities were helping who will suffer the most.