Where is JJ when you need him ?

The starting point 12 hours later Not certain about the colour Better when it has dried Happy in his new surroundings
Click on the thumbnails for a larger picture Peter's pride and joy JJ getting the rust off And boys a dear is it rusty or what Les rosbifs et leur tracteur rose vif

Jean-Jacques goes back to school

22 March 2006

JJ in his CRS pull

JJ in his school uniform: a CRS pull

Isn't it just typical that the moment that the heavy lifting and grass cutting season gets on the go, JJ takes himself off to go and learn how to do sums and joined up writing.

Back in October 2005 Jean-Jacques signed up to try what is known here in France as: Second Chance. This is squarely aimed at youngsters like JJ who missed out on an education - for whatever reason.

It is run by the Ministry of Defence and is making use of former barracks and installations. In the case of Doullens where JJ is based it is a former Air Base. The staff are ex-military and the discipline and regime is very much orientated around the get up at 06:30 hours and lights out at 22:00 hours sort of things.

No television, apart from special occasions (Like international football matches !), no alcohol, but lots of military style cooking. I can just smell those Spam fritters and plum tomatoes with baked beans - or whatever French military types get.

Lots of sport

The induction into the school was a bit weird. We received a letter saying that he had to present himself at the base the following week with a mound of paper work. If he got in he wasn't going home again so bring everything necessary for the four days.

Many got in and then saw the 06:30 starts and went home again. One of the instructors is an ex Legionnaire so you can well imagine that they don't take too much messing about.

At the beginning of April a second class was started and this has brought the numbers up to 72. They hope to have an average of about 200 at the base by the end of the year.

Sport and getting people into shape is the order of the day, whilst they sort out who is able to achieve what in the way of academic studies. JJ should be reasonably ok with French but his Maths is woeful.

He does however accept that this is his chance to get on and improve his chances for later on. Thus he has been sitting down and learning about different aspects of French government and health care etc. He has also shown that I don't need to force him to try some calculations. He has kept at them and is making progress.

When the French lessons start he will be able to get his own back in instructing me on grammar.

The school had a visit from the Madame le Ministre de Defence on Monday 10 April, and JJ's room was the boys room chosen to be visited. He got to give interviews to the press about his thoughts about the scheme.

On 8 May the school will be parading to the War Memorial, singing as they go. So that is marked for our diaries

He gets home at weekends and to provide them with space at number 8, now that Johnny and Vanessa have made it clear that they are there for staying, he has given up his room and taken the spare room here.

To make it his room rather than - Johnny's old room - I stripped the wallpaper off and repainted it whilst he was at school. He was asked what colour and suggested that green would be nice.

Thus it is now an RUC GC green I would reckon.

To pay for the paint I am moving heavy things for Sandra and Peter - as well as painting one of their old sit on mowers.

Indeed, where is JJ when you want a hand !


See also

Kraków: January 2006