Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 613

18 AUGUST 202 2 6 NEWS&VI EWS IN MY OPINION Fi Glover The Radio 4 journalist airs her views IN MY OPINION i lover j l There aremany reasons why I’mgladmy childhood was largely set in the 80s. Not just because of the joy of Duran Duran andWham!. Not just because I didn’t have to judge myself against theworld onTikTok. Not just because of rainy summers. Lots of things were the same as today, though. Parents nagged. School felt rigid. The summer break was too long. And, if you have a 16- or 18-year-old, there’s the calendar dread. Results day looms. It’s a strange day, when a line of figures tells a story about you, using no adjectives, no alternative endings and no background knowledge. Mine went like this: 3As, 4Bs and a C. And two years later, anA and aD. They are neither stellar nor appalling. They also, in adult life, mean nothing tome, while also being the single most important judgement onmy education. I’maware these results would get me nowhere in today’s competitive university entrancemarketplace. And I’mnot sharing them for the tedious ‘don’t worry if you failed, look where I’ve got to’ thing. Where you get to in life has more to do with opportunity, self-confidence, support, timing and not meeting prejudice on the way. I hope future generations findmore realistic ways to determine our abilities and future worth to society. New exam subjects would be a start. How about a pandemic studies GCSE combining science, geography, economics, psychology and even food, nutrition and PE? Or one in adaptability – the key skill of future generations, according to experts. A social media A Level could take in learnings from literature – Icarus sailing too close to the sun, the hubris in Greek tragedies – as well as coding and algorithms. And there’s still nowhere on entry forms where your home life is appraised for its calmness, or parents graded for their support. Where’s your chance to explain that it took you two hours to get to school every day or you got distracted by Alan/Ava in year 10, but you’re over it now? Or if the phrase: “You can turn your paper over now,” rendered you static with fear? These things contribute so much to how you do. I’d love to see some disruption to the system. I certainly don’t want to be an older person who says: “Plus ça change.” Even though it is one of the few phrases I know in French (Grade C – très disappointing). The other one is bonne chance – and I wish you lots of it. ‘How about a pandemic studies GCSE, or one in adaptability, the key skill of future generations?’ Fortunately…with Fi and Jane and The Listening Project are on BBC Sounds @fifiglover When looking for a project to enjoy in retirement, most people go for something relaxing. An allotment, perhaps, or travelling. Not RamDass Chahal. His retirement is spent with wife Nirmala Dev tending the 8,000 grapevines he hand-planted on his 10 acres of land in Telford, Shropshire, creating Rodington Vineyard from scratch over the past 13 years. Arriving in the UK from the Punjab with his family in 1964, aged 17, RamDass began work in a Birmingham foundry, with Nirmala arriving a few years later to bemarried, as had always been agreed. When the foundry shut down he worked as a delivery driver, covering up to 500miles a day to provide for their gradually expanding family of five children. Later, the family settled in Telford when he secured another foundry job there. Years of physical work took their toll on his health, but RamDass noticed “the headaches, the sinus problems all disappeared when I would work onmy allotment. So I toldmy family that when I retired, I wanted to work in the fields. They said: ‘Dad, you have worked hard all your life, you should have whatever you want.’” The 10 acres of former grazing land a fewmiles from the family home was bought with savings, and when RamDass retired at 63 after the foundry closed, he decided to plant the orchard he’d visualised. However, the expert he consulted surveyed the sandy soil and exposed terrain and ruled out fruit Taking retirement goals to an award-winning level When RamDass Chahal created his vineyard, he didn’t even drink wine, but his quiet determination and commitment have earned him respect and success, writes Ellie Stott grape expectations Ram Dass Chahal’s wines have won several awards since his retirement project bore fruit Photography: Leon Foggitt