Blue Monday

Another great piece of work from the Wakefield Creative Writers.

A glass half empty or half full? There’s a melancholy air to this poem by Neville Raper that perfectly catches the mood which sometimes follows Christmas and New Year.


Blue Monday


Xmas all concluded

Resolutions? Deluded

Now I sit secluded

Good thought occluded


Monday is so blue

It’s hard to start anew

January say adieu

Roll on springs renew


Neville Raper

15-1-2017 (the day before blue Monday)



Blue Monday

Today is the day! Blue Monday – the third in January. We are supposed to feel at our lowest ebb and looking out of my window, it’s easy to see why. Dull, dank and murky – the weather just makes me want to curl up under the duvet again. Anyway, this funny observational piece from Lynda McCraight cheered me up. It’s  about the plethora of food programmes on TV. Read and enjoy!

Blue Monday – Fast or Feast?

So, it’s that time of year again. You’ve stuffed yourself over Christmas, eaten a whole 5 bird roast to yourself, over the course of a week, seen family and friends you’ve not seen for years, been ultra polite when they’ve wanted to watch a TV channel that you didn’t, seen in the New Year with Jools Holland, and made a mental note of some New Year’s Resolutions. Already it’s mid-January and nearly time for Blue Monday, and you’ve noticed an absolute glut of adverts on telly – especially now you’ve got control of the remote back – all dealing with the delicate subject of being “slightly overweight” and “have you over-indulged over Christmas?”

Having scanned the TV paper today, it can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that there are three programmes about dieting and healthy eating on. The Money-saving Good Health Show is on at 7.30, and then, only ninety minutes later “Sugar-free Farm” where a host of celebrities -including Anne Widdicombe and Joe Pasquale -attempt to live and work on a farm in return for healthy food. That sounds like it could be every bit as entertaining as watching Anne Widdicombe on Strictly Come Dancing! I mean, who thinks up these programmes? If you want wall-to-wall dieting programmes, you can skip across to channel 4 at 8pm and view: How to Lose Weight Well, where, this week, water-only fasts are being investigated. Water-only? Yuk – the thought of it is enough to turn your stomach.

Interestingly and what seems to be a bit of conundrum that could make us all even bluer on Blue Monday, alongside these programmes on dieting, in case you feel your resolve weakening and need some “foody” entertainment, is a whole host of programmes involving cooking and food and eating, so many in fact that you can have a whole day’s viewing of food, without actually eating any. You can, at 10 a.m, watch Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in the US, followed at 11.25 by “Who’s Doing the Dishes?”

If you’ve never seen this, let me enlighten you as to what you’ve been missing. A celebrity – in this case strong man Jeff Capes, a man who prefers eating to dieting – cooks a 3 course meal for 4 spray-tanned minor celebrities, all with inane senses of humour and about as much brain-power. Each course has to contain some clue to Capes’ identity so the minor celebs might guess who has cooked their meal. The main course is haggis which refers back to Capes’ days at The Highland Games, when he was involved in Tossing the Caber. Dessert is Strawberries with Power Ice-cream which I have to admit I’ve never heard of, and sadly I fell asleep during the making of the starter so have to pass on that.

The object of the programme is that if the minor celebs guess who’s cooked dinner from the clues given, they win £500 and Capes has to do the washing up. If they don’t guess, he gets the £500 and they do the washing up, which to be honest is about all they’re good for! As luck would have it, they haggle over whether it might be Robbie Coltrane because of the Scottish connection, but a last minute clue brought in by the host of the show, some Irishman I don’t recognise, in the form of a shot from the shot-put contest, firms up in their mind the name Jeff Capes and without further ado, he dons the apron and begins the mammoth wash-up, whilst they talk amongst themselves about what they’re going to spend their winnings on as, thankfully, the credits roll.

At 1.45 – or in our case in place of lunch –Chefs Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is gets aired. Suffice it to say, I know nothing about this programme, but just from the title I can tell it’s something I wouldn’t want to watch. If you’re still awake at 3.45 it might be worth watching: Hairy Bikers’ Comfort food. You can increase your girth by just being in the same room as this programme and admiring Dave Myers’ Edward the Seventh moustache, ably assisted by Si King and his ponytail. Now, these men CAN cook and they have a great culinary vocabulary too. All their sauces are UNCTUOUS and Myers has a host of culinary quips at the ready on the end of his tongue. My only complaint is: do they have to eat the food straight from the oven, risking burns and scalding, as you can see it is so hot?

If your appetite is still up for more you can switch over to channel 4 for Come Dine With Me at 5pm. This is a programme where 5 contestants used to be chosen because they could cook and host a dinner party for the other four, each contestant being scored on their hosting and cooking skills. Nowadays, sadly, no one on there seems able to cook: the women try to get points by wearing low-neck dresses and short skirts, and the men just get drunk and incoherent. But, at 5pm, maybe it’ll nudge you into culinary action, like opening a can of beans and cooking a piece of toast.

Mid-evening, Rick Stein puts in an appearance with his Long Weekends Show which, this week, was filmed in Bologna, where Rick learns how to make the local fresh egg pasta. It’s an hour long and you could learn 4 different pasta dishes in that time – but it’d beat the hell out of beans on toast for the rest of the week.


Lynda McCraight


Connecting Communities: Huddersfield’s Hidden Heritage

The celebration visit at the Packhorse Gallery, with Cllr Ken Smith


A group of students from S2R, a mental health charity in Kirklees, have been busy researching the hidden heritage of Huddersfield. This week they celebrated the completion of all their hard work with an exhibition and a visit from the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Ken Smith.

On the first session we had a walk around Huddersfield talking about the history of the town and how much things had changed. By the end of the day everyone had identified a building they were interested in finding out more about. Over the next few weeks we visited the local studies library in Huddersfield and looked at books, old photos, maps, trade directories and other sources connected to these buildings.

Researching at the local studies library

Exploring the buildings of Huddersfield – finding out more about the community we live in

In the penultimate session the group had a behind the scenes tour of Huddersfield Town Hall – Cllr Ken Smith warmly welcomed us and showed us around this fascinating building.

Our visit to Huddersfield Town Hall

Everyone found the process of discovering more about buildings and working as a group thoroughly enjoyable and commented on how it had increased their confidence. The impact of studying history on mental health and well-being is the focus of research I am undertaking in conjunction with SUNCETT and this project will feature as a case study in the subsequent report. They also found themselves able to engage with the community more, and shared their research with different people at the exhibition.


A Fond Farewell…

The Promoting Community Arts course at the Packhorse Gallery has drawn to a close after six weeks of learning new skills, sharing experiences, and developing friendships.

Members of the course had learned how to blog, create digital books, and use different apps on the iPads. Many of these skills were applied to raising community awareness about the Packhorse Gallery in Huddersfield, which is run by the mental health charity S2R. This has involved interacting with both the WEA and Packhorse Gallery blogs, and contributing to a digital book about the gallery. The book will contain personal insights into what art and creativity mean to different people, and the importance of both to health, well being and recovery. It also emphasises the importance of community within this process, a place such as the gallery where art not mental health is the common denominator uniting everyone.

The sense of community that this course has facilitated has been tremendous. It has enabled some members of the group to gain in confidence and feel more active citizens; it has empowered individuals to use digital technology and social media to connect with other people to keep in touch with family; it has meant that several people have been able to share their personal journeys in life by developing their own blog sites; it has enhanced the employability skills of those looking for work; it has given hope and fuelled the aspirations of the many talented and creative members of the group; it has forged friendships and forged a sense of community based on shared experiences.

Everyone was sad that the course was coming to a close so soon as they bid a fond farewell to their fellow course members – but there was an optimistic sense that they would meet again – not least at the forthcoming launch of the digital book they have been creating and at a potential follow up course that everyone showed interest in. Watch this space to follow their progress.


Social purpose education- definition!

Tutors met in Leeds on the 4th Nov to discuss the SP Module. It was a really good event with some excellent debate and the sharing of ideas. Those present asked that the WEA offer a definition. This is challenging and possibly impossible but here are some to get us going. Do please join the debate.


Education for social purpose-some definitions for deliberation!


S.G. Raybould (1949) – “ I suggest that it means education which helps students to understand the society in which they live, and to change it in ways which seem to them desirable.”

Richard Smith – WEA Yorkshire and Humber Region tutor (2013)- “ The empowering of students to be effective and constructive change agents in society.”

Jol Miskin –WEA Regional Education Manager – “Education which connects the subject to contemporary social and political issues; which develops  creative, critical, questioning and challenging minds; which is based on a democratic, inclusive and liberating pedagogy; which takes the side of the oppressed and which encourages social and political action to create a more just world.”

Brian Chadwick – WEA Organiser, Leeds – “To offer an education that helps students to understand the society in which they live, and to change it in ways which seem to them desirable.  And one which encourages discussion and critical analysis around social, cultural, political issues equipping students with the tools to express themselves and contribute towards creating a better society.”

Social Purpose Education

The York tutor and volunteer event was hot!

By that I mean that it was probably the hottest day so far this year, but also that there were loads of hot – in the best sense of the word – discussions taking place.

In the social purpose education workshop we knocked about the meaning of education for social purpose education for the WEA.

Three groups considered the ‘ingredients’ of a WEA curriculum with a social purpose and were asked to highlight 3 key aspects of it.

They respectively came up with these:

Group 1:

* Critical thinking

* Empowering

* Action oriented

Group 2:

* Tools -how to do things?

* Soft Skills – ability to question, challenge, listen etc.

* Interaction – group work etc.

Group 3:

* Enabling “voice”

* Critical Thinking

* Consciousness raising

I can’t disagree with any of that!

I would add a further 4 things, or rather these would be my 4 priorities:

* Critical thinking (as you can see that’s very consistent)

* Contextualisation (relating the subject matter to contemporary social and political issues)

* Pedagogy (or should that be andragogy?)- incorporating action research etc.

* Action

We are now in the process of finalising the Social Purpose Education (SPE) on-line module and it should be coming your way in August. Hope it proves useful.

Jol Miskin