Who could envy A-level students
IF you're among the tens of thousands of A level students celebrating stonking results, congratulations.Well done on a superb end to 13 years in the school system.
IF you're among the tens of thousands of A level students celebrating stonking results, congratulations.
Well done on a superb end to 13 years in the school system.
If a string of A and B grades were in your envelope, savour that elation. You might never feel such excitement, relief, sense of achievement and triumph again.
Your future starts now. Throughout your school career you've been led to believe that working hard and scoring grades like yours will guarantee you a glittering future.
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But, as your success sinks in, the truth will dawn. Those grades guarantee you nothing, perhaps not even a university place in October.
Your parents will, of course, think you're brilliant, but the news - and reality of a tough future - will tell you otherwise.
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Pupils with three A grades have doubled since 1997 and Labour came to power, top A grades are being inflated by resits, A levels today are only as good as a decent O level years ago and more accusations that you're not as bright as that piece of paper might tell you.
Rightly, you'll be furious that your efforts are discredited. You're an A grade student, why don't the media just butt out? Dissing your hard work is insulting.
It's not your fault. You only took the courses set, the exams in front of you. You're victims of the system when you feel like the stars.
Twenty years ago, your string of A grades would have guaranteed you a place at the top universities and the pick of jobs at the end. In my day, anyone with three As at A level were truly brilliant - and so, so rate.
Today, even with three As, you could be joining the almighty scramble for a university place. The truth is great A level grades are ten a penny.
And, if you've dropped a grade or two, you could be looking at no university place at all. And then what after university?
I was chatting to two sisters last week, one who graduated last year and another in her second year. The graduate has started to pay back her �20,000 debt from a lowly paid job - not the job her degree in biology just a per cent off a first class was supposed to lead to. Her sister, who hopes to teach, is facing a similar debt.
Today's A level students are caught between a rock and a hard place - every job seems to demand a degree but the state of the economy means there will be few or no jobs once you've got one, just great big debt.
Next week GCSE results come out and school leavers are being warned they will be the hardest hit since the crash of 1929 with one in five of them being on the dole by the time they're 21.
And this is the generation promised the earth in 1997 with those immortal words 'education, education, education.'
Who could possibly envy the young today? Nothing looks rosy from where any teen is standing, however sparkling their results and glowing their references.
If I were standing with a string of A grades today, I'd Google Voluntary Services Overseas and flee this miserable country to do some good getting invaluable experience doing it.
I hope, if the situation is still the same in six years' time when my son would take his A levels, he would do the same.
Degrees can be studied at any age. Life experience counts for everything, so does adventure. There's far more to life than three years racking up debt that leads to nothing but a menial job living back at home with mum and dad wondering where it all went wrong.
Is there anyone more deluded than Sarah Ferguson?
Desperate to try to prove there is a point to the Duchess of York, she's failing spectacularly.
Unsurprisingly no one is buying her Woman of the People act.
Swanning into Manchester's Shameless estate, Wythenshawe, like Lady Muck on a mission to transform it into a thriving local community was doomed to fail from the start.
What does she know - or truly care - about deprivation, poverty and the have-nots? Other than making easy TV and a quick buck.
Her daughters vacuum up taxpayers' money without a thought for the little people paying those costs.
While Mummy was patronising residents of sink estate tower blocks, her daughter Beatrice's student flat was being done up with �300,000 of our money. Hardly empathy with the struggling classes.
And when real people question the money her family sucks from the state, as callers did on BBC Radio 5 Live, she starts to snivel and offers to go and 'live in a hole and be quiet.'
Good idea - and a hole without �300,000 worth of improvements. How about Wynthenshaw?
What did I predict about Ronnie Biggs' miracle recovery?
One day he was never going to leave hospital, doomed to die in his bed, according to his family and lawyers.
Now, released by Jack Straw, he's already moved to a London nursing home where, at taxpayers' expense, he will receive round the clock care and claim his �95.25 a week pension backdated from his release.
And he is probably scribbling yet another chapter for a new autobiography and working with filmmakers on film rights.
Compassionate release because he was not expected to recover from severe pneumonia? My eye?
It makes you wonder who Jack Straw actually spoke to before signing his release papers. A bona fide medical consultant or a dodgy-looking cleaner with a Brazilian accent?
But you've got to hand it to Biggs, he's played the system like a fiddle and will continue to do so until the day he dies.
Speaking of bare-faced cheek, the Graff jewellery robbers who wore expertly crafted latex mask disguises to carry out their �40 million heist thought they had the touch of genius.
But they weren't that clever were they?.
Pretty damn stupid really. Durrr.
You can imagine them having a right old laugh about their stroke of genius - masks. Fantastic. So enthralled by their genius they walked off leaving the moulds, complete with perfect impressions of their real faces, with the make-up artist who made the disguises.
Police said: 'There has never been a photofit as accurate as this. Make-up technicians are confident they will be able to create exact replicas of the men's features.'
How many shoppers, I wonder, will be hovering around the fresh fruit and veg this weekend hoping a pineapple, marrow, or better still, a coconut will topple off the top shelf and hit them on the head?
After a pineapple fell off a Tesco shelf on to a 76-year-old grandmother, she complained she suffered severe neck pain and headaches since the accident.
She is now suing, claiming she has been in pain since the accident a year ago and is looking for about �4000.
It's easy to cast aspersions, be cynical and wonder just how much damage a falling pineapple can do, but compensation culture has spiraled out of control.
A friend was telling me how her husband had suffered two car accidents in the space of an hour. Someone had rammed into the back of his car and within an hour he had done the same to someone else.
Before he had even had a chance to ring her to tell her, she had a call form ambulance chasers who asked her I she had been injured and needed a solicitor. She hadn't even been in the car and was a hundred miles away.
We moan about the NHS but scenes of poor Americans queuing for hours for treatment in a temporary health facility should make us feel very lucky indeed.
So lucky we cherish the cradle to grave service each and every one of us has open access to.
An estimated 47 million Americans cannot afford medical insurance, so they have no access to basic medical care.
Such a situation is unimaginable here.
Thousands need medical treatment in the US. Its system is unacceptable.
Barack Obama rightly wants to change it but right-wingers have branded our NHS 'evil and Orwellian.'
Drop-in clinics where uninsured and poorly insured people queue to see hundreds of doctors, dentists, optometrists and nurses who volunteer their services without pay.
Patients receive blood pressure checks, sight tests, mammograms, dental work, pain relief, smear tests, and TB jabs.
They aren't homeless and down and outs - they're people who have worked all their lives and lost their jobs and can't afford vital drugs or care.
So much for the most developed Superpower in the world.
There is one thing worse than over-cosseted talentless 'celebrities' - their over-cosseted, talentless, spoilt, idiotic children.
Richard and Judy, who have made a career out of gushing about their wonderful family, wanting us all to believe they are the perfect family, have one such child.
Chloe, 22, seems deadest on making fools of her parents.
First, just after Richard Madeley, a ludicrous individual himself, spouted how anti-drugs his children were, she was photographed apparently smoking cannabis at a party from a bong.
Now she's been charged with drink driving after her car was found overturned and abandoned in a street near to her parents' home.
She dropped out of university and has spoken of her ambitions to follow the Geldof girls to make a fortune by becoming a 'party girl.'
What ambition for a girl who's had everything - and has ended up in court.
At the weekend, I made chocolate muffins, a lemon drizzle cake and flapjacks.
Then I sat and stared at them. Stared and stared and thought myself thin - because scientists tell us that how we lose weight. Have cake and look at it.
After 10 minutes, my jeans felt just as tight so I ate the lot.
Has there ever been such a lot of twaddle been spoken by so-called scientists than in the noughties.