The fact is, if you are hypertensive there is only one thing to do: get on your bike

A bad diagnosis can have a good outcome. The same can also be said of inspections

Gregor Steele, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre

It is "observing the system" again this week, folks, though I think I will lay off the quantum mechanics for today. Hypertensive me has to get my blood pressure down. This is a bit of a problem because I have foolishly abstained from excessive drinking, have never smoked, don't oversalt my food and know what fruit and veg look like, despite being born in the west of Scotland. Therefore, I can't get it down by lifestyle changes.

Perhaps it's my job. You laugh hollowly at this, because you are a teacher and I'm not and, you know what? You are right to do so. Nope, it's genetic, and I have to blame my mother. My dad could salt a slice of salty beef until it looked like it was lying at the bottom of a snowglobe and yet he remained resolutely non-hypertensive. I am the genetic equivalent of a school that does everything right but remains low in attainment rankings by virtue of its catchment area.

Having blamed my genes, I have nevertheless decided to do more of "all the right things". I have boosted my anti-oxidant intake so much that I could cure the rust on a 1970s Fiat by touching it. I have done this by eating more of the things I actually like, though the recommended beetroot is something of an acquired taste. Having previously felt a bit guilty about zooming off to exercise when not all of the family were physically able to join in, I now feel licensed to hike and bike more regularly.

There I go on my not-quite-a-mountain-bike, splashing through puddles on the rutted farm track that leads to Black Law wind farm, a badger-streak of muck up my back and an expression of childlike joie de vivre on my face. My new bike is so much better than my old bike that I can't wait to go out on it. I might be miffed at having to take the tablets, but otherwise the diagnosis has been a good thing.

A few years ago, as an assistant principal teacher of physics, I wasn't hugely delighted at the prospect of being inspected. It turned out that the inspector was one of the good guys. He was both approachable and objective.

One of the things he wasn't too keen on were the number of experiments we were doing that were either demos or had groups of children coming up one after another to use the same piece of equipment. He fed this back during his debriefing and, for the next three years my bids for extra gear were accepted by senior management. So, another case of observation and diagnosis having a good outcome. I do wonder, though, what my BP was like during inspection week.

Gregor Steele has a daft wee folding bike as well.

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Gregor Steele, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre

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