Texting issues

‘I hate to be the bearer of bad news but’………when you receive a text with that opening line, you know you are not going to enjoy reading the rest.

One of my friends whose child is in my daughter’s class, has taken it upon herself to get involved in the playground politics and send a text saying ‘your daughter is not being nice to my daughter in the playground’. I am a firm believer in letting children learn  how to get on with each other, with a little bit of a steer from home as to how to deal with any issues with friends and the best way to approach problems. This does not mean contact the parents of the all the children your child has an altercation with and fight all their battles for them. If the child is being repeatedly bullied or singled out, then this is a different matter. But, in this case, when 7 year old girls fall in and out of favour with each other on a regular basis, texting parents is a bit extreme.

So what to do with the text? I posed this question to my colleagues at work when I received the message and the resounding response was ‘don’t respond’. Instead I will speak to her and assure her that I have spoken to my daughter and clarified the situation and ask her politely to phone me instead of text me next time she has an issue. Although I m worried that in saying this I may be inadvertently inviting her to pass comment on anything my daughter says or does that offends her daughter.

The problem is I quite like my friend other than her over-mothering tendencies, so don’t want to screw this up. Maybe I should put this to Graham Norton on Radio 2….If any fellow bloggers have an opinion please speak freely.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef and I would love it if you could support the campaign – visit my page on Unicef’s site here.

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In anticipation of Anchorman

Sometimes when you are too tired to read or type at the end if the day (when it has been one of those days after one of those nights), you just need to watch something rather than read something.

Therefore I strongly suggest you watch the trailer for Anchorman 2 here – http://youtu.be/Elczv0ghqw0


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Finding the source of inspiration

Tonight I am mourning the end of the 2013 British Bake Off and elated that Frances won. My friend who is built like a brick shit house and works for public order in the Met in Brixton, said that he and his fellow coppers have been hooked on the series and at every break they are discussing who made the best pie or cake – brilliant! As a result my colossal friend makes a mean cheesecake.

Nothing compares to seeing how the professionals do it, admiring their talent and attempting to emulate them. When I was a groom for a pro dressage rider, I learnt more about riding style and position just by being on the ground watching the pros work their horses in every morning. The brain absorbs what it sees and then holds that vision as an example to follow.

That is why You Tube is such a good tool. My daughter was practicing her guitar earlier going through 3 notes over and over again. The sound was improving but I felt she needed a glimpse of what could be achieved to keep her motivated. So I brought up acoustic versions of Hotel California by The Eagles, Sweet Child O Mine by Guns N Roses, My Little Empire by Manic Street Preachers and Rope by Foo Fighters. I asked her if she just wanted to watch the guitar intros but pretty soon she was hooked. More importantly it showed that an amazing guitar riff on an electrical guitar can sound just as good acoustically and is achievable.

Likewise budding race drivers benefit from watching the on-board cameras of the F1 greats, noting how smooth their driving style is to get maximum results.

So if there is something you want to master, check out how the pros do it.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. I would love it if a fellow blogger could sponsor me.

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I drove past a vast new housing development earlier today. It is the kind that looks like a computer simulator has calculated how many souls can fit into each square metre and designed boxes to accommodate them. What trees existed in the area have been cut down, including some beautiful Oaks, their fate sealed the moment a civil engineer decided the new location of the roundabout to enter the new ‘estate’. 

In short it is just barren earth with nothing remotely appealing nearby, apart from a super-sized Tesco’s, a dual carriageway, another estate and a garden centre. Yet the marketing boards surrounding the development would have us believe an entirely different existence lies once the diggers have finished. Pictures of people taking leisurely walks through the woodland ( where is this woodland),  families enjoying the Indian Summer and dining al fresco amongst trees with autumn colours (where are the trees), a man hugging his wife as they gaze out the window overlooking green fields (as opposed to more houses and cars).

Do people seriously look at this marketing bullshit and then look at the reality of a barren landscape and believe that a magic wand is going to be waved as soon as all the houses are up and everything will match the pictures? I may scoff but this is true of most of the buying decisions we make in our consumerist society. In the cold light of day, when most potential purchases are stripped of all the marketing bells and whistles, they are suddenly quite unappealing. Yet we all seem to fall for it time after time.

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Books beat toys

This weekend I spent some time with my daughter assessing her toys and books pre- Christmas and birthday to make way for all the new presents, just like in all the Toy Story films. However, unlike the Toy Story films I am not a hoarder and will not keep her pre-school and  other toys until she leaves to go to University and beyond. I am completely unlike my Mother-in-Law who kept all my husband’s toys for her grandchildren. Oh no, my rule of thumb is that if they are not played with more than once a month, then they are better off in a charity shop to a) get some much needed funds for the charity and b) give pleasure to another younger child who will enjoy them more.

Over the years my daughter has got used to this, to the point where now that she is nearly eight, she feels no need for toys at all. You will not believe the piles and piles of toys my daughter was willing to relinquish: her entire Barbie collection, her entire Sylvanian families collection – it all went. Not that she had played with any of it much in the 10 months or so she has had it. However, there was a part of me that was concerned she was growing up too quickly. My fears were soon laid to rest when we reviewed her book collection, she could barely part with any. Even the books with titles more suitable for 2 – 3 year olds, such as ‘Goodnight little bear’. I was actually pleased and relieved by this. I realised her willingness to let go of so many toys was not because of a sudden maturity but because her real passion lies with books and reading them or hearing them being read to her. She is not growing up too quick, she is just reaching the age where she is clearer about her likes and dislikes. I have to pinch myself to believe that she has chosen books over toys. Interestingly enough the only thing that I kept from my childhood to pass on to my children was the classic adventures book collection that my Dad bought for me when I was 10. All 50 books are patiently waiting on the bookshelf ready to be read and my daughter has already started with the Railway Children, a timeless classic.

My baby boy loves his books too and is often asking to sit on my lap so that he can be read to. The reality is I don’t think my children are unique. All children enjoy reading and being read to……..they just need the right book to get them started.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Please help if you can by visiting my page on Unicef’s site.

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Learning after hours

Apologies for absence last night, I was involved in a very serious round of a quiz at my daughter’s school and all of us battled hard to conquer the teachers but, alas, we were runners-up again. I was on much better form this time though, providing the correct answer to more than one question, think it might have been the glass of red wine….

The good thing about quizzes is that you learn a lot in a short space of time (if they are quizzes that are a bit more high brow than ‘who won x factor last year’). Thanks to last night’s entertainment, I now know more about Scotland, the 60s, alien movies, the human body and opera. Maybe a quiz approach helps embed information in the brain better? Could be worth considering as a teaching approach for secondary school, hell why don’t they scrap GCSEs and just do a giant quiz in the sports halls instead, it would be a lot more interesting.

An added bonus was over-hearing the gossip and back-chat. If you believed everything you heard, the headmistress is apparently having a lesbian affair with the reception teacher and the Year 5 supply teacher has never shaved her armpits. As I said, I learnt a lot last night…

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you would like to support me and Unicef, please visit my page on Unicef’s site.

Thanks for reading.

The majority world

I found out about a guy from Bangladesh who had worked hard to satisfy his parent’s desire for him to be a doctor of science. He achieved his PHD in Chemistry but there was a problem. Like so many children who seek the approval of their parents and follow their wishes, he was doing something that he didn’t really want to do. But what would he rather do? He had no idea.

But one day he happened upon the opportunity to travel to New York for just 90 pounds. He jumped on the flight and when he arrived in New York, he bought a camera requested by a friend as ‘they are cheaper in America’. The friend never got round to collecting the camera so he ended up with it by default. Something then dawned on him, ‘I can use this camera as a weapon, a weapon against the injustice in this world’.

He began to take pictures of events that took place I ‘the majority world’ or as westerners like to refer to it ‘the developing world’. When there were floods that devastated communities in Bangladesh, he took pictures captivating the locals resolve to recover, as opposed to the white westerners portrayal of destruction and despair. Of all the major newspaper titles, the New York Times was the only publication in the western world that preferred his pictures – that of hope and resilience, of strength and resourcefulness.

This photographer makes the guys that earn mega bucks shooting celebs look like a bunch of pussies Why? Because of his belief in changing the way we think and influencing the way the world is now, one shutter-click at a time.

His name is Dr Shahidul Alam – see his work here – http://www.shahidulalam.com/

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Please donate to the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.