Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries from May 2010

Machetes, a creepy carousel, and ice cream

May 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is made up of a series of classical music, contemporary music, contemporary performance, and family events.  On May 15, I went to visit and experience the Festival Garden Party that occurred in “Festival Gardens” in Chapelfield Gardens.  Having a rather limited budget, this event was particularly attractive to me due to the large range of free performances that were being put on.

Upon entering the Gardens, it was pretty clear that this was an event geared towards families.  There were stalls selling sugary snacks, brightly colored banners and costumes, and a number of performances.  After wandering around the site, I decided to watch Pete Dobbing, an entertainer with a quick sense of humor.  He began his act by balancing a ladder on his chin, followed by juggling various objects, solving a Rubik Cube in under a minute and a half, and, my personal favorite, climbing a straight ladder backwards with no support and juggling machetes on top of it.  While his act was impressive, it was obviously aimed at families.  (However, any person brave enough to climb a ladder in a kilt certainly gets bonus points from me!

Pete Dobbing juggling machetes on a ladder

Pete Dobbing juggling machetes on a ladder

In addition to Dobbing’s performance, there was an interactive wooden carousel that would have scared me as a small child, a puppet-like show, and free dance lessons.  There was also music playing and people all around were genuinely enjoying one of the first beautiful days of spring.  In fact, when I spoke to several festival staff, they all commented on the glorious weather being one of the main reasons for the hundreds of people in attendance.  On talking to the man in charge of one of the ice cream carts (purely research purposes, I assure you) he mentioned that they had been selling a lot more product than they had anticipated.  The family atmosphere, free performances, and the beautiful weather all helped contribute to the cultural experience that was the Festival Garden Party.

Slightly creepy interactive wooden carousel

Slightly creepy interactive wooden carousel

Festival Garden Party – 3 hours

Total Time – 12 hours

Tags: Kelley

Red Ball and From the Beatles to Bowie

May 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

Starting on 7 May and going until later this evening, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival has taken over the city of Norwich.  With moving art exhibits, temporary installments in the Norwich Castle Museum, and musical and performance events taking place all over, I made it my goal to experience the culture of the Festival.  Being a poor college student, I fully admit that I tended to stick to the cheaper forms of entertainment!  Some of the most interesting that I attended were the search for the Red Ball and From the Beatles to Bowie exhibition in the Castle.

There are no illusions to what the Red Ball is.  It is a 15-foot inflatable red ball that has traveled all over the world and is making its UK debut in style at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.  Every day of the Festival, the ball has been in a different location around the city.  I knew that the Red Ball was supposed to be coming to Norwich through my research on the Festival, but I had kind of forgotten about it until I spotted it in York Alley from the 25 bus on my way back from the train station and, oddly enough, York.  I then made it my goal to find the Red Ball in the city as often as possible.  Alas, it often eluded me.

I was lucky enough to spot the Red Ball in five different locations and spent around three hours wandering around Norwich trying to find it.  Aside from seeing it in York Alley on 9 May, I also located the Red Ball at Pull’s Ferry on the 13th, St. Peter Mancroft on the 18th, Norwich Castle on the 20th, St. Gregory’s Alley on the 21st, and randomly stumbled upon it on UEA’s campus at the Sainsbury Centre on the 19th.  The goal of the organizers of the Festival was the have the Red Ball in places that were both visible and important to the history of the city.

The From the Beatles to Bowie exhibition, formerly at the National Portrait Gallery, was a celebration of British music in the 1960s.  Although the exhibit did not come to Norwich for the sole purpose of the Festival, it was brought in conjunction with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and can be found among the events in the NNF10 catalogue.  Thankfully, entrance to this section of the Norwich Castle Museum was quite cheap at around £2.50.

The exhibition had a logical flow.  It was primarily a series of photographs of popular British artists laid out chronologically with additional information at the beginning of each year of the 1960s.  Being a lover of classic rock, I was particularly pleased with the sections devoted to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Jethro Tull.  The use of photographs made the changing fashion and musical styles of the artists very clear throughout the decade.  For example, the clean-cut, peppy style that was popular at the beginning of the 1960s was very different from the shabbier, darker style that was more prevalent towards the end of the decade.  Over all, the exhibition showed the impact that music had on culture and change throughout the 1960s in the United Kingdom.

Red Ball Time – 3 hours

From the Beatles to Bowie Time – 2 hours

Total Time – 9 hours

Tags: Kelley · Museums

The Farmhouse: Where we didn’t blow!

May 21st, 2010 · No Comments

Tonight we went to The Farmhouse (farmhouse-norwich.co.uk) on Colman rd. for their weekly Thursday night pub quiz. This pub, unlike all the others I went to on my pub quiz quest, is far from off the beaten track as it sits on the corner of two major roads and is on the 25 bus route (I am sure every Dickinson student knows which pub I am talking about). Consequently, many people were at the quiz as many people can see the sign advertising the quiz outside the pub every week. This also drew in a diverse age range of contestants.

Like the first two quizzes, the Farmhouse pub quiz cost a pound per person to enter. There were 3 normal rounds, a paper round, and a surprise bonus round. We did rather well on the paper round (it was a list of 6 letter words with the first three letters missing and you had to figure out what each word was), we got all but one answer correct (we didn’t get emb-ryo). The three normal rounds were a quite a bit more challenging as they were all pop culture questions and did not include any other subjects. Fortunately my teammates proved to know a lot more about pop culture than I did, and we didn’t do too badly. The final surprise round consisted of a bubble blowing contest; each team selected one team member to go up to the bar and attempt to blow 3 bubbles. I was selected to blow the bubbles for my team and I used my three tries to blow the largest bubble as the quiz master made all sorts of jokes about my ability to give a good ‘blow’… it was hard to focus on blowing bubbles and not to laugh. At the beginning it seemed as though I was going to win, but at the last minute the last competitor (who obviously had a LOT more gum in his mouth than the amount allotted for the contest) blew a massive bubble and I was knocked down to second place.

Overall in this pub quiz we did not suck or rather ‘blow’ but actually did pretty well. Like all the other quizzes, this quiz had a unique aspect that drew in the customers and kept them coming back. The Farmhouse had a prime location, a very kind staff that had quite a few jokes up their sleeves, and a unique bubble blowing round that set it apart from all competing quizzes.

Tags: Rebecca

The Beehive: where we Americans were a not so welcome novelty!

May 20th, 2010 · No Comments

Yesterday a large group of 8 Dickinson students, an English friend, and I headed over to The Beehive pub (www.beehivepubnorwich.co.uk), just off Colman Rd. After waiting for the bus for a half hour we gave up and decided to walk to the pub. We got there five minutes till the quiz was supposed to start and were happy to find that the pub was quite crowded! We split into two teams and struggled to find tables and seats.

Finally! A half hour later the pub quiz started! The first round was rather simple and a lot easier than all the other pub quizzes I had been to. The second round was a picture round where there were pictures from films with the actors’ heads missing and you had to guess what film it was from. The last round was a bit more challenging than the first round but was still quite a bit easier than the other quizzes this week. Most of the questions in the first and third round were a nice balance of general knowledge questions: some being on history, geography, and literature with a few pop culture questions here and there. This did not give any group or age group an advantage. However, there were quiet a few “American” questions that were certainly in our favor.

The quiz master was happily surprised to find that there were two teams of Americans in the quiz yesterday. He was curious where all of us were from and surprisingly knew quite a bit more about each city and town than one would expect. He even knew the capitols of every state (impressive considering my flatmates thought New Orleans and Philadelphia were states!). He apparently teaches a ‘football’ (not sure if he was referring to American football or English ‘football) camp in the United States and had traveled around quite a bit.  We were fine with him asking us questions about the US however, he may have crossed the line when he announced to the entire pub that there were two teams of Americans present at the pub quiz. Every time an American question came up he announced that it was in our favor, and this did NOT make us popular with the other teams! There were numerous indistinguishable grumbles and jokes starting or ending with “those Yanks”. We had invaded THEIR territory and we had better not win!

Fortunately we did not win (neither team did) but fell somewhere in the middle. If we had won I don’t think the locals would have taken too kindly to us and may have kicked us all out on our bums (refraining from using a more appropriate but profane word). If you want to be thought of as a novelty, feel completely out of place, get put on the spot, and receive numerous evil glares this is the pub quiz for you fellow Americans! In all of the months that I have been in this country never have I felt like such an outsider/invader!

Tags: Rebecca

Interview #3: A Parent and Teacher’s Perspective

May 19th, 2010 · No Comments

In order to gain greater perspective on how a teacher and parent perceived the privatization of state education in the 21st century, I sought out an interview with a woman studying at UEA for her Master’s degree. She had taught (and remained employed part-time) at a local state secondary school in Norwich. Because of her ties to the state education system and pointed views on the subject, I have decided to maintain her anonymity.

Our meeting took place in two sessions. The first focused primarily on defining privatization (it remains in many ways elusive even to those who have been researching it for several months now) and the second addressed her personal feelings toward the subject as it has affected her profession as a teacher and intentions as a parent.

Privatization, as it applies to the merging of private companies/organization with state schools, can have one of many definitions. The variations mainly arise when considering the intentions of the private sponsor of the school. For example, a failing school could close and then be taken over by a faith-based organization. Given the basic definition of privatization and the establishment of academies, this faith-based organization would have absolute control over the financial allocations, curriculum, and general function of the school. Some, like the woman I interviewed, could find this potentially harmful, as it may directly and indiscreetly undermine a balanced cultivation of student opinion (having been inculcated with the very specific agenda of the school). Certainly, there are useful and relevant traits within this type of schooling (e.g. a vocational school preparing students for the workforce), but it still generates some unease about the intentions of the school and impact it has on students. (This issue would come up again in my interview with Richard Hewitt, who pointed out the issue many take with specialist schools and the limits they place on what a student learns in school.) In general, she emphasized the need for academies to consider what is sacrificed at the expense of propagating a biased curriculum.

Her thoughts to the fears of privatization and city academies led her to discuss her friend, D. Bookless and her relatively positive experience teaching at an oversubscribed and popular academy. Certainly, many question the “glossy cover” of academies and are right in doing so. Their assessment may not fully account for the positive experiences in academies, though.

To summarize her feelings on the fears and general sentiments shown by critics of privatization, she told me that “reputations last longer than realities.” In other words, people (parents, students, teachers) will likely stay attached to a school because of its general reception in the public and not because of its real intricacies (which may prove to be less than adequate). How does this relate to the subject of academies? Their introduction into the state education system creates a “consumer economy” in which many choose schools based on their charm, “glitz,” and general reception in the local community. (Of course, this is not always a proper way to gauge the success of a school.) Academies, in this way, provide a “quick fix” to the inadequacies of the state education system without creating lasting change.

Her less professional impression of privatization gave some sense of how a parent perceives the academy system. Certainly, academies can improve state education by boosting available resources (e.g. improved access of technology) and by refreshing a once-failing school. Still, there remains some hesitation. My interviewee said she would ultimately choose a standard school over an academy, for the latter can have a faith-based curriculum/instruction. Even if no strictly faith-based instruction is employed, academies and other specialist schools can still be less diverse and mixed than standard state schools.

Of course, this prioritization of diversity in state schools does not apply for all parents. In general, she noted that most parents would look for to the head teacher as a reflection of the school’s fit with the student’s personality. More immediately, a school’s academic calendar can influence a parent’s decision to send their child to a certain school (Academies often have a different schedule than other state schools, simply because they have the power dictate when school is in session.)

One of the interesting points she made regarding the supposed panacea of privatization and academies was its alternatives. She mentioned the simultaneous effort to encourage incredibly effective headteachers to move around from school to school in order to fix all the failures and boost results. While the program of “superheads” did not become mainstream or lasting, its success in Norwich schools (e.g. Hewitt School) shows how sometimes a school needs individualized attention, including those focused on leadership.

For having a bias against academies, my interviewee was able to acknowledge the recent successes of the academy program. The program makes many promises that, at least in the opinion of one teacher and parent, may be fulfilled immediately but will not last as funding and other issues begin to erode the purported “glossy cover” of academies.

Tags: Brandon

Interview #2: Mr. David Brunton

May 19th, 2010 · No Comments

Interview with David Brunton, headteacher of City Academy Norwich

Soon after my interview with Dr. Leaton Gray, I scheduled an interview with Mr. David Brunton, headteacher at City Academy Norwich. Before I go into the details of the interview and other observations I made, I felt it necessary to give some background on the “city academy” program (now commonly referred to “academies”).

In 2000, the New Labour government continued seek out ways to fulfil its initial campaign focus on “Education, education, education” by announcing the city academy program. The program seemed to imitate in many ways preceding programs to encourage the private sector (i.e. private companies, businesses) to invest in state education. According to David Blunkett, the Education Secretary at the time, the program was “a radical approach to promote greater diversity and break the cycle of failing schools in inner cities,” [Francis Becket, The Great City Academy Fraud (London: Continuum, 2007), 10] Each school (deemed failing or in “special measures” by Ofsted, the national school assessment organization) would be taken over and/or merged with a sponsor. This sponsor would be required to put forward two million pounds in capital invested in the academy and the government would fund the rest of the school (These public costs were expected to be about ten million pounds, but it often went well beyond this amount. Meanwhile, the private sector was only required to invest two million pounds – no more.). These sponsors could control many, if not all, aspects of the school including the hire of teachers, admission of students, use of the buildings/campus, and design of the curriculum.

Given the heated controversy of academies (mainly the issue taken with the heavy reliance of public funds in the privately-controlled institutions), I went into the interview with Mr. Brunton seeking to gain some perspective on how academies can positively rejuvenate and improve state education, for I hardly expected him to criticize academies as the headteacher of one.

First, some observations I noted while sitting in the lobby and in an assembly Mr. Brunton held with students (The assembly interrupted our meeting, but it actually helped a great deal). Coming from a public high school, I did not expect the lobby to feel like an office. Some large print on the wall (a quote from Mr. Brunton) read “We will always work with you to achieve the best outcome for your child in every situation. This is the key driving force behind all of our work.” On another door a sign stated “Ties and Blazers on beyond this point.” I also found it odd that two representatives from Tropicana walked in for their appointment with another administrator a few minutes after I sat down in the lobby (I am sure state schools do meet with private companies for contracts – e.g. a Pepsi vending machine – but it came across as less like a school and, again, more like an office).

This was especially evident in the assembly held in the middle of our meeting. Seated in the back of the auditorium, I saw Mr. Brunton and several other administrators ask students to submit through hand-held keypads answers to questions ranging from “Would you use the canteen if different food was offered?” to “Do you feel safe at school?” to “Should there be a ‘Rewards Room’ to contrast the ‘Discipline Room’?” These questions, among others, were clearly meant to evaluate the status of the Academy in its first few months in existence. On the other hand, another perspective could see the assembly as a meeting among employees who are asked to evaluate their level of satisfaction with the company.

My interview with Mr. Brunton began with a history of the City Academy and its recent transition from Earlham High School in August 2009. The traumatic four years prior to August 2009 set Earlham HS down the route to an evaluation of “Special Measures,” or failing. One of the main questions we focused on addressed the motivations for private companies to sponsor an academy. Sponsoring an academy “tick boxes for” organizations by presenting tax breaks and a way to increase their presence in the local community. (I would also later learn that sponsors often gain an actual profit from sponsoring academies after renting out parts of the building when school is not in session.)

City Academy Norwich has improved, in the few months prior to my interview, many of the ills that once plagued Earlham HS. Besides generally offering a “fresh start” and a “clean slate” to the same student population, the Academy saw the following changes:

Ø    Attendance:  5% increase

Ø    Disciplined Students: Great decreases in all stages of discipline used

Ø    Students estimate to pass GCSE: was 19%, now 38%

Ø    Teacher days lost: was 598 days, now 61 days

Certainly these are marked improvements, but Mr. Brunton appreciates that there is much work to be done.

When asked about whether the privatization and the city academy is the only solution to the issues facing state education (e.g. inequality in admissions, parental discontent, relevant curriculum, effective management, etc.), Mr. Brunton rightly stated that something had to change. One of the most difficult things for some to accept is the concept of “change” and its many different forms. So far, the City Academy was doing its best to change the school to fit the needs of its students.

The controversy surrounding the city academy program seemed muted to some extent against the relative gains made by the new administration and programs instituted by the City Academy and Mr. Brunton. It will most likely take some time before their true impact takes form, but I would say they are off to a generally positive start.

Tags: Brandon

Wednesday Club: Art, Bingo and Disco

May 19th, 2010 · No Comments

In this blog I want to describe my experience at Wednesday Club, a weekly space provided by BUILD for over 60 adults with learning difficulties for social, learning and leisure activities. For two hours each Wednesday, I, along with other volunteers and clients with learning disabilities participated in bingo nights, arts and crafts, disco, and life-skills learning activities.

For my first visit to the Wednesday Club I arrived early in order to get acquainted with the staff who set up the space every Wednesday. Upon meeting the director of the Wednesday Club, who was both friendly and suave, I felt at ease. Being introduced to the rest of the staff, I quickly learned that many of them had learning disabilities but by being involved with the program for years they ‘climbed the ladder’ from being clients to earning staff positions. Seeing a new comer, some of them were hesitant and shy, maybe because I was holding a black folder with the research questions or I sat in the middle of the room observing their set up process. However, others quickly approached me, introduced themselves, and proudly shared what their responsibilities are and how long they’ve been involved with BUILD. They assured me that although it was calm at 6, by 7 PM the room will be filled with people and it gets quite hectic. As volunteers began arriving, I would introduce myself explaining why I was there and my goal for the research project and if I could interview them at one point in the evening. The first evening, the rooms were used for Disco, from which the songs of the 70’s and 80’s were blasting from the speakers, Art workshop, which walls were decorated in very impressive art of the clients, and a general room where volunteers and the clients could interact, drink a cup of tea or coffee, play a game or two. By 7 PM, the first floor and the three rooms of the Princes Street United Reformed Church filled with people, checking in, purchasing Bingo tickets, pouring themselves drinks and making decisions as to what room they would retreat to. The music lovers and dancers quickly retreated to the Disco room, singing to Jackson 5 songs, while the artists retreated to the painting room, showing me the drawings they previously completed and the current projects they were working on.

Although I was able to complete a few interviews with the volunteers that night, which was my reason for being there , I quickly became interested and infatuated with the atmosphere at the Wednesday Club. The excitement and the fulfillment that all of the individuals gained from being involved seemed unattainable anywhere else. The space provided an opportunity for both groups involved to break down social stigmas and relax, and enjoy themselves by furthering their social and artistic skills. From the interviews completed, it is clear that people keep coming back for years for multiple reasons. Whether it is to continue their involvement in the community, gain more experiences working with adults with learning disabilities, or just have fun, both volunteers and clients had several gifts to share and certain goals to fulfill. The Wednesday Club has been a perfect example of what local organizations offer to individuals with learning disabilities that the government and public organizations can not. The focus on relationships and activities that can promote several improvements in parties involved are successful which explains the passion from the staff and the volunteers. Wednesday Club which has been active for the past 43 years is a true success.

Tags: Jeyla

The Rose Tavern: They give you sweets!

May 18th, 2010 · No Comments

Tonight Kim, Sarah, and I went to another pub quiz in the Norwich city center. The Rose Tavern (rosetavern.co.uk) was a bit off the beaten path and was a real local’s pub! The drink prices, though it was not far from Unthank Rd. or the St. Stephens St. bus stop, reflected its obscurity. When we first arrived I was happy to find that the pub was already quite a bit fuller than the Micawbers Tavern. It was also quite a bit larger and had a larger age range of customers.

I soon discovered that the Rose Tavern is the place to go in Norwich for pub quizzes! In fact, their quizzes are so popular that they have a quiz night every Sunday and Tuesday night, while most pubs only have one once a week or once a month. Tonight there were 40 people, and according to the pub masters (yes they have 2) “it was a quiet night”. Apparently, their Sunday quizzes are often quite a bit larger, with well over 50 guests. Why is it so popular? As my above title suggests, they give you sweets! Every team that participates in the pub quiz, whether they come in last place (like us) or first (first place also gets drink vouchers), gets a bag of sweeties at the end of the quiz! This gives makes everyone feel like a winner and motivates those who are losing miserably to stick around a bit later (potentially buying a few more drinks of course!) This also reflects the English compulsion to cheer for the underdog!

As I said above, overall we didn’t fair too well points wise. Many of the questions were either too English (we don’t watch the East Enders or Rugby) or too manly for us three girls (there was an entire section on planes, trains, and automobiles after the current events round that included a lot of sports questions). However, the team judging us (a young couple) took pity on us and gave us a couple more points than we deserved (again cheering for the underdog). During the quiz many of the ‘usuals’ had a good time ‘taking the piss out’ of the quiz masters, challenging his answers left and right and screaming out the ‘correct’ pronunciations of words and names.  I highly doubt such rowdiness would be socially acceptable in many other English social atmospheres.

After the quiz I spoke to the two rather attractive and young quiz masters about their experiences running quizzes. I asked them how they got so many people to turn up and they said that they took a look at the prizes distributed at other pub quizzes in Norwich and topped them with their numerous sweets and generous drink vouchers. Unlike the last quiz master, they seemed to be a bit more entrepreneurial (as well as younger) and were into it not just for the fun but also for the money. They told me that though two loyal teams tend to battle it out on Tuesdays, Sundays were a bit more up in the air and weren’t consistently any one team. They also explained to me that some people take their quizzes quite seriously and create teams that go from pub quiz to pub quiz throughout the week competing, and these individuals sometimes even compete in National competitions. Last week I would have thought this a bit odd, but after two this week I can see how they could become addicting! Our team left the quiz with a sense of satisfaction, for those questions we did answer correctly, and a bag of sweets in hand! We also enjoyed getting out into the community, supporting a local business, and the company of friends; what more could be better? Ok winning would be nice… but that’s not what pub quizzes are really about!

Tags: Pubs · Rebecca

My first pub quiz in the Norwich city center… or shall we say ‘centre’

May 16th, 2010 · No Comments

Today some friends and I went to the Sunday night pub quiz at the Micawbers Tavern (www.micawberstavern.com) on Pottergate, up the street from the Bird Cage. None of us had ever been to, or even seen, this pub. We arrived at 7:30 anticipating a crowd of people ready to participate, however there were only 3 people there when we arrived and one of them was the barman. Despite this I courageously walked up to the bar asked about the quiz and explained my project to the barman. I was told that there would, in fact, be a quiz if more than 12 people showed up to participate. Unfortunately, at the bar I was also met by and old ‘friend’, a older man I had met at another pub months ago who took a particular interest in me being that I was American and a “pretty girl”. After listening to his racial slurs and tales about his time in America in 1976, I slowly shifted my way back to the table.

My friends and I briefly discussed the effect that the recession had on pubs. My English friend said that before the recession many pubs exclusively served beer and that pub quizzes weren’t as common. However, he said the recession and pressure from chain pubs like Weatherspoons forced them to try and stay afloat by adding food menus and quiz nights. Pub quizzes are often held on slow nights of the week, like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they are meant to bring in business that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

Soon after completing our discussion some more people arrived for the quiz and the barman was kind enough to introduce me to them, making my job of approaching the standoffish Englishmen a LOT easier! He introduced them to me as the team that almost always wins, alternating with one other loyal team. These two older men have attended the pub quiz at Micawbers Tavern and have attended pub quizzes in general off and on for they couldn’t remember how long. They told me that before they started going to Micawbers for the pub quiz they attended the pub quiz at the Rose Tavern, which I will be going to later this week, and they said that it had become too repetitive and that the quiz master got all the questions offline. They said that the Micawbers pub quiz was more interesting and more of a challenge than others they had been to. I thanked them for their information and wished them luck in the quiz and went back to the table.

I was soon approached by a member of another team, after dodging my old ‘friend’ as he tried caressing of my hair (EEK!). This women said she and her friends had just left the Rose pub (not to be confused with the Rose Tavern) and came to the Micawbers Tavern for a quiz that they liked more. She said that the Rose played too many new songs and that she and her friends weren’t good at naming songs before 2000. This was when we realized that we were not the target age group of the Micawbers quiz and that we would probably do miserably.

As she left the table the quiz master came to collect our money (one pound per person) and to distribute the answer sheet and picture round sheet. We immediately noticed that though we may not fair very well during the quiz, we would at least be entertained by our humorous quiz master. He was obviously not there for the extra money, but he instead really enjoyed being a quiz master.

We did quite well on the picture round of the quiz (they were pictures of Disney characters), however it went downhill from there. There was a brief moment of satisfaction when he listed 5 literature questions in the second round (two of which were dealing with 19th century writing, the period I am studying in one of my classes this semester). In the picture round and the first two rounds we got 25/60 points (2 points for each correct answer and one point if half the answer was right). Then the fourth round was the music round… and that did not go so well! We got 3/20 points on that round and were way behind our older competitors. The fourth and last round was unlike any round I have played at the Union pub quiz, it was a cryptic puzzle round where questions 1-9 hinted at the answer to number ten. The second question was “the name of the American Arizona football team and the St. Lewis baseball team are the same, what is the abbreviated nickname for a player on either team?” I was sooo happy I had watched the playoffs last year and knew that the nickname for player on the cardinals was a ‘card’. Another question asked for the name of a fish in the ray family and I guessed ‘skate’. By the time we got to question 10 we had no idea what these words had in common, the quiz master tried helping us out a bit because we were new but it was hopeless, we had no idea. We later found out that the answer to question 10 was “board” because each answer became another word when ‘board’ was added on the end, so there was ‘cardboard’, ‘skateboard’, ‘scoreboard’, and etc. I thought this round was incredibly clever and perfectly demonstrated the English fascination with words and puns.

After the quiz the quiz master approached us and told us he was also going around to a bunch of quizzes and writing a review of them in a local paper. I found this quite interesting and asked him what he had learned so far, he described one of the places he had been to  and explained its good points and its bad points. I asked him how long he had been a quiz master and he said about 4 years and that he got into it when there was a change of ‘landlords’ and his friend, who was related to the person buying Micawbers Tavern, recommending him for the job.

Overall, I really enjoyed this pub quiz, even though our team came in last place. The Quiz master had us in stitches all night and I really liked the last round once it made sense to me. I would go back again, especially if my parents were able to come and visit.

Tags: Pubs · Rebecca

Reflections on Volunteering: Britain, Travel and Unconventional Help for the Elderly

May 12th, 2010 · No Comments

CT logo from “cinnamon.org.uk”

Though I haven’t gotten to see the results of my volunteering manifest in the community the way some others have, I feel like I’ve learned something about Norwich, but particularly Britain, from it. Looking for volunteering opportunities, a process which was late to begin with because I had held out hope of reconciling my paper with my experiential, was itself a tedious game of email tag and involved being crushed to see I inexplicably needed a background check for certain great jobs. However, I think I did notice some unusual trends in what volunteering was out there.

Firstly, although Claire came up with the idea for the first Holiday from Home from her own experience being unable to travel due to severe ME, and it is her own ingenuity and passion for travel which prompted her to develop the project into a larger organization, there is something else in the mission of HFH which speaks to something larger. This is the idea that travel is almost a right or at least something that ought to be available to everyone as a matter of fairness  seems to me a quite British idea (despite Britain not having a stunning national record on accessibility for the disabled).

After all, this is a nation where small bookstores will devote a whole wall to travel books and a Google search for British Travel yields more mentions of deals for Brits to go to Mallorca, Egypt and India than for foreigners to go to Scotland or Cornwall, which led a friend of mine to conclude that “the English seem to spend all of their time plotting how to get out of their country.” The first item on the HFH mission statement is “the advancement of health,” which I find to be an innovative way to think about the concept of travel.

Age Concern Norfolk Logo- “www.acnorfolk.org.uk”

This leads me to a wider point about volunteering opportunities in the Norfolk area and nationally: I was impressed with the amount of organizations which catered to the needs of the elderly, and did so in nontraditional ways. I would count Holidays from Home among these, but other larger and more national organizations do this as well. One example is the Cinnamon Trust, which helps to “relieve the anxieties, problems and sometimes injustices, faced by elderly and terminally ill people and their pets, thereby saving a great deal of human sadness and animal suffering.” Another is Age Concern Norfolk, which Anya explored as part of her experiential. It is an organization that offers volunteering roles from keeping older people active to helping with personal finances, all with a eye on companionship.

Doing what you can to help create a holiday or spending some time with an elderly or ill person while looking after their pets address important but often overlooked emotional needs of older people and are something that anyone can do, even for a few hours a week without having to have a background check. I saw a remarkable number of these organizations, both national and local, which is good, especially because I don’t see British culture in general as being notably reverent towards older people. I have no basis for comparison in terms of whether Norwich or Norfolk is exceptional in this regard, but it would be interesting to see whether a younger, larger urban area has as many opportunities in this vein.

I’m still hoping to learn more from my Holidays from Home experience, and because I can volunteer remotely, I intend to do what I can over the summer. Perhaps I’ll be able to see the fruits of my labor in the new holidays. Even if I do not, I feel I’ve gained something from the experience.

Tags: Aidan