My old school Lampton in Hounslow was in the news yesterday after it was visited by the Rugby World Cup Winner Lawrence Dallaglio to mark one year to the countdown of the Rugby World Cup. It reminded me that I had also visited the school but 30 years on to write an article for the Guardian on the changing face of Britain’s schools.
The racist graffiti proclaiming “Pakis Out” and “National Front” has long been airbrushed into history, but as I walk along the lane to my old school, Lampton comprehensive in Hounslow, west London, the memories come flooding back. The year is 1978 and I am a streetwise 12-year-old again, with a mop of bright red hair and dressed in a blazer two sizes too large that my mother insists I will grow into. In my satchel is my most precious possession: a record, Rat Trap, by the Boomtown Rats. By the end of my first week , the record has been shattered into a thousand pieces by a skinhead who hates “ginger nuts”, along with any illusions I had that Lampton was going to be a happy experience. Read more >>
On the 70th anniversary of his death on 19 September, Guy Gibson’s private letters have been put on public display for the first time at the Herbert Museum in Coventry. The collection of his personal items, donated by his nephew Mike Gibson, includes the private letters sent to Mike’s mother and father, a signed drawing he had done specially for Mike while at Scampton where he trained 617 squadron for the Dambusters raid, his cuff links, some photographs and a recording by the BBC’s War Correspondent, Major Richard Dimbleby, who Guy took on a sortie to Berlin.
I met Mike at an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 2013 and we became friends. I was fascinated when he showed me the letters from Guy and his other possessions as they are like gold dust to a historian. As a result we agreed it would be good to put them on display as they have never been seen in public before. The letters date from 1943 to 1944 and reveal a lot about Guy the private man. They include a wonderful drawing of Guy Gibson by the war artist Sir William Rothenstein. Guy signed the picture as a gift for Mike’s christening. The cufflinks on display were a gift from Guy’s parents when he joined the RAF in 1936. Read more >>
International development charities like Oxfam do great work but when it comes to jobs are they open to people from different work and ethnic backgrounds? My latest article for the Guardian explores why it’s so difficult to get a job with an international development charity.
Bill Gates’ first CV, written in 1974 when he was 18 years old, was recently unearthed by Seattle’s Living Computer Museum. It shows an ambitious young man who wanted to become a “systems analyst or systems programmer” on a salary of $15,000 (£10,000) and stated that he was willing to “work anywhere”. In the subsequent 40 years as the head of Microsoft, Gates became one of the richest men in the world, formed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and then left Microsoft eight years later to dedicate his life to eradicating poverty. Yet, based on his international development experience alone Gates would not get a campaigning job with Oxfam or any other international NGO.
Why is it so difficult to get a job in international development? Many charities now rightly recruit from within the country or region they are operating in, so getting a UK-based job is highly competitive. Consequently many jobs are massively oversubscribed and that makes it a perfect employers’ market. As a result I believe that when it comes to many research, advocacy and campaigning roles, the UK international development sector has become a closed shop to people from unconventional backgrounds. And my evidence is my own career. Read more >>
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