Effort Cup

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In my photo scanning, did I mention I am scanning all our old photos. Anyway, I am and it’s an interesting trip down memory lane. In doing this I have been finding photos of our children with effort cups from their various schools, (Awarded for putting in extra hard work). Such things never existed when I was at school, but if they had I would have needed a ‘little effort’ or ‘must try harder’ cup. That’s what my school reports used to say, which is very unfair; how did they know I wasn’t already trying hard? Staring out of the window daydreaming in class is hard work. Concentration isn’t only reserved for listening to the teacher. It is not easy having to explain to the teacher day after day why your homework is so brief. I never understood why the teachers got so excited about the summer holiday projects they gave us; they should have just called it homework, not projects. ‘This will keep you busy and occupied all summer,’ they said. I didn’t need to be kept busy and occupied, what with my film making and imaginary games I was busy enough. I could barely fit in family holidays, much less ‘projects’ from school.

Actually, on the subject of film making, yes, I was. I bought my first 8mm cine camera when I was about 10 or 11. I bought it with my earnings from helping my Granma and Uncle in their part time jobs cleaning, plus occasionally going out with my Uncle in his lorry. It was second hand of course, but expensive for me to buy. My mum or my grandma used to treat me to the occasional roll of film (it included processing). 8mm cine film was 3 minutes long per roll so you had to learn brevity. These days with digital stills and video we tend to film everything and photograph anything that we see. At that time in the early 1970’s, wait that can’t be right I wasn’t even born then surely! At that time, we were careful to plan what to film. If you believe that of me you are very gullible. I was still very free in my way of doing things and I planned very little. Most of my films, which were either Sci-Fi or Horror, were written and performed (by me and my siblings) on the fly. I would get a vague idea, put up a set; that sounds grand. My sets were paper, cardboard, old chairs and ancient radios sprayed silver. Star Trek looked old fashioned compared to the amazing quality of my sets. Don’t even get me started on costumes. If I found a brightly coloured nylon top it was a space ship uniform, just added an insignia. Tomato sauce was generously distributed for blood and fire-lighters were held on tin plates in front of the camera to look like everything was on fire. Given all the cardboard, paper, wood and man-made fibres in an enclosed space I am amazed everything wasn’t on fire. I shook the camera and we all leapt around for every explosion or take off. Amazingly detailed, or should I say lack of detail, cardboard models flew off in cut-aways. My cine camera was silent so I added sound afterwards, I had a sound projector and used sound film. The words were add-hock, often thought of as we filmed. Mostly we just had fun.

When I wasn’t film making, I was out with friends rescuing small animals. We formed an animal rescue group, the three of us. Travelling on our bikes with small animal first aid kits. We never actually found any wounded animals, but we whizzed around searching.

Then there were games of war on two opposing hills, exploring the woods and fields around the village where we lived. Long cycle rides and walks. The two weeks of family holiday each summer. A week or two with my Granma in Hastings. When was I supposed to fit in homework!

I have just realised that I owe an apology to any teachers reading this blog. It must be very difficult being a teacher, certainly not a job I would choose. Teachers, if you searching around for that apology it’s not here, I just said I realised I owe you one, not that I am going to apologise.

Where was I? Oh yes, burning my brothers Airfix models, another thing that occupied a lot of my summer holidays. Burning models and trees and all sorts of things as cut-aways for my disaster movies. They were a bit disastrous, but what I mean is they were movies about disasters. Like Titanic, but without the iceberg or nudity. I was ahead of my time really, in fact George Lucas probably got his ideas for Star Wars from me, or at least he would have if he had seen my films. Close Encounters was a definite rip off from my ideas. I was always making mountains out of mashed potatoes. As for Terminator, the number of times I said to my mum ‘I’ll be back,’ really, I should be paid millions in copyright infringement.


I think I have gone a little off topic and I am trying not too after that letter from Mr M adeup, see my last blog ‘Complaints department’. So, I had better return to the issue of Effort Cups. They are a great idea, I just wish there were cups for people like me; ‘if only we’d known you were trying, you just seemed to make no effort,’ cups. Perhaps I need to create one.

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