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Donna Gee - Spain's Grumpy Old Gran


Computing the cost of the bored mother and her mother board
19 January 2014 @ 18:30


MY stepmother blames me for the fact she's not computer literate.

She says I never carried out my promise to give her my old laptop for her 80th birthday, thus condemning  her to a miserable existence with only her washing and the odd passing train accessible online.

In the six and a half years since I committed that heinous crime, she has repaid me with  a vengeance, As the world and I chew on the Tweet delights of  Twittering, the old moaner spends her waking hours wittering. And wittering. And wittering.

She also insists I’ve deprived her of watching the 21st century's answer to Morecambe and Wise. “The ones with the funny names...Google and Skype’’.

The old dear always thought computers were purely a modern version of a typewriter. Then a mischievous pal of mine caused turmoil by telling her that 'Internet' is where footballers must despatch the ball to score a goal.

So much for the wisecracks. I actually have problems myself understanding the remarkable development of new technology over the past couple of decades.

I remember vividly being told of a mind-boggling invention with which people could record TV programmes and watch them later.

My TV memories go back to the piano-top antics of Muffin the Mule, who spent most of his life prancing about in black and white on my parents' 14-inch Sobell  TV.

There was even an alternative to BBC 1 – you could switch off and watch the little white dot fade away  in the centre of the screen.

That Sobell was an apology for a telly, yet it cost the equivalent of £1,000 in an era when £20  a week put you in the top 10 per cent of wage earners.

How times change – not least in the field of education, where the nearest thing to today's 'A*’ ranking was the simple 'A' awarded to students achieving a mark of 80% or more.

The difference was that only the cleverest kids got more than one or two A's. This was mainly because the old GCE exam was considerably more difficult than the GCSE, which replaced it following the levelling out of the English and Welsh system.

I've never understood the logic of the lefties who insist the old Grammar School system did not give underprivileged kids an equal chance. I see it the opposite way.

My secondary school classmates  in South Wales came from all walks of life. The Hand of their Fathers turned to everything from labouring to coal mining, business management, advanced medicine and law.

It made no difference if you were working class, middle class or the Princess of Wales. If you passed the 11-plus you were entitled to a place in a grammar school with its  formidable  GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ level courses.

If you failed,  it meant at least a year in a lesser school studying for the inferior CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) – with the chance of promotion to the local  grammar school  if you did well.

My sister Lydia is probably cleverer than I am, yet had to plough the GCSE trail because she was, my Dad’s generation always insisted, “a late developer’’.

From what I can gather, you need rich parents to get into into grammar school today, unless you can wangle yourself the educational equivalent of state benefit.

Don’t tell me that constitutes a more level playing field than the one we used to gallop across at breaktime for our clandestine ciggy in the toilet.

The only injustice was that secondary moderns were generally mixed while grammar schools were exclusively for one sex.

Help! Stepmum’s been line dancing in the garden - and  fell off.

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