Women and children first? Not under this Government

Kirstie Allsopp does know what she is talking about when it comes to women’s choices. Her advice about having children in your twenties (assuming you are in the right relationship) makes sense when we live in a society where women assume the role of the primary carer of children.

I went to university, got an education, then had children. I could arguably earn more money than my husband but it is very difficult for him to work his job around childcare – so whose job has to adjust? Mine of course. I have had to decline interviews for good jobs because it is  not possible for me to balance childcare, commuting and full-time working hours.

But what job exists that makes use of an education but fits in around school hours and term-time? Not many. So I would go a step further than Kirstie and say what is the point of University for women who intend to have children when they are older? There is of course another option, where both of us work full-time hours and we enjoy our children at weekends but neither of us earn enough to make those sacrifices worthwhile.

But even though I am lucky enough to have two healthy children, why do I feel cheated out of a career? Is it really that important? Why is the onus on us all to achieve and achieve (if Gove’s new KS1and KS2 curriculum is anything to go by). Why do all children need to count to 100 by 5 years? Why do Year 6 children have to know long division using traditional methods? What is the Government really trying to achieve by all this? You dont have to be brain of Britain to get on in life and you dont have to be intelligent to be happy or to be a good global and community citizen.

I heard my daughters school headmaster use the word ‘cramming’ when describing preparation of Year 5 pupils for their end of KS2 tests – tell me Mr Gove are you pleased your legacy is a stressed out 10 year old, trying to learn an equation in order to meet objectives and improve pisa rankings?

I worry our 5 -11 year olds are being set-up to fail in this new system and the failure will be that they never got the chance to enjoy the process of learning for fear of missing attainment targets.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Need for Speed/escapism

Dont get me wrong, i like my ‘chick flicks’, but my favourite movie genre is action and, more specifically films with plenty of car chases and explosions…..and a big dose of vengeance….and maybe a political point made too.

I am a big fan of the Bourne films, I also like the Fast and Furious franchise and classics such as Bullitt.

So I was quite excited at the prospect of watching ‘Need for Speed’. It would have been a brilliant film, had they not used a woman with a fake English accent to play the damsel in distress (why do all Americans think we all sound like members of the Royal family) and a man with an uncontrollable eyebrow and a sore throat (deep husky voice) to play the wheelman.

It was a classic example of how poor casting can wreck a film.  

However what they lost in bad acting, they made up for in amaaazing cars.

It was a very welcome distraction from the mundane trials of life (such as the tax man, the f***** tax man, an even worse Government and the fact that despite weeks of good weather, the one weekend we choose to camp at a music festival the mother of all thunderstorms is forecast).

If we pretend we are a family of mud loving hippos, it might  still be an enjoyable experience.

This blog is for Unicef, a charity that exists to protect vulnerable children world-wide, including those in warzones such as Gaza.

Thanks for reading.  

An unproportionate reaction from Cameron and Obama

I cant think of any other conflict in history where the word ‘proportionate’ is used to justify a massacre.

Palestinian people are being oppressed and they are using terrorism as a final ditch attempt to buy freedom. It tends to happen (South Africa apartheid…..World War 2). Obama and Cameron seem to be chained into this illogical thinking that is at odds with mainstream public opinion. The answer is to free Palestine. Why have the Israelis got Cameron and Obama by the balls? Even the British media seem to work hard to ensure ‘balanced’ reporting, which appears to be more in favour of promoting the Israeli PR machine.

The Israeli bombardment is barbaric and wrong, international support (from people with brains and a conscience) is waning and pretty soon Cameron and Obama will be swimming 7up the river of political suicide floating on palestinian blood.

In contrast to the political lunatics, I was heartened to hear of the protests in London reported on the Huffington Post. Lets hope fighting stops and a peace deal is arranged before more vulnerable and innocent civilians lose their lives.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

UK & US Governments assist war crimes

Today is the second anniversary of this blog, set-up to raise money for Unicef. The other reason for setting it up was to help raise awareness and boost the profile of national and international causes (as well as my rants about various elements of life). One of my earliest blogs was about the ongoing war between the Israelis and Palestinians and how the Israelis continue to persecute the Palestinians. I believe strongly that not enough is being done to stop the Israeli Government from killing innocent civilians, in fact the UK and US Governments are actually assisting their war crimes, by supplying arms to Israel.

Now the war has struck up again. I will hand over to Amnesty International on the campaign to put a stop to this illogical and immoral support of Israel: 

 Gaza: Stop the arms, stop the killing

It began just after four o’clock on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Four young boys, all cousins from the same family, were playing football on a Gaza beach.

The Israeli shelling rained down – killing all four children. The mother of one of the boys was pictured crying out in despair outside the morgue in Gaza.

Since the Israeli military offensive ‘Operation Protective Edge’ launched on 8 July, scores of civilians have been killed and injured. This deadly battle has wreaked further havoc, punishment and devastation on Gaza’s blockaded population, with Gaza’s children caught in the crossfire.

Indiscriminate targeting of civilians is against international law. But countries, including the UK, continue to supply weapons to Israel and potentially facilitate these war crimes.

How many deaths will be enough?

The horrific human toll of the violence is mounting. The past eleven days of violence have seen at least 237 Palestinian deaths (52 of them children) and more than 1,700 injured.

Thousands have fled their homes, or what was left of them. Those that stayed are being denied basic services: over half of Gaza’s population is now without water.

And with the ground invasion now under way, we expect the numbers of civilian casualties and the destruction of Gaza’s crippled infrastructure to increase.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke out against Israel’s retaliatory shelling, dubbing it ‘deliberately disproportionate’ and amounting to ‘collective punishment’.

Palestinian armed groups have also launched dozens of indiscriminate rockets into Israel. Two Israelis have been killed.

We are not innocent bystanders

Last year the UK sold £6.3 million-worth of arms to Israel. We know that some arms sold by the UK government have been used to commit human rights violations in Gaza in the past.

And if the UK continues to supply arms – even indirectly – it is likely the UK will be helping to facilitate war crimes.

Stop all arms sales – don’t facilitate war crimes

We’re urging the UK government to suspend all arms transfers to Israel.

We also want to see:

  • the UK government to call on other states to stop their arms transfers to Israel, Hamas and any other armed group until there is no longer a substantial risk that such items will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law or serious human rights abuses.
  • an end to indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Our action to the UK Government is part of a campaign by Amnesty activists around the world to halt sales in their countries and call for a UN arms embargo.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 

The careers race – who will win?

My husband and I are engaging in a careers race. His body is broken and he needs to switch into the slow lane, my career has ground to a halt as most of you know thanks to the HMRC. But to get a job that makes childcare worthwhile, i need an experience level that i havent had the chance to attain. No wonder most women leave it til their forties before they have children, because then they at least stand half a chance of earning enough after childcare to make it worth their while (assuming they spent their twenties and thirties climbing the ladder). I spent my twenties and thirties in labour/toddler groups and voluntary roles  sandwiched between two dead-end jobs.

So when my husband eggs me on to go for the ‘big roles’ that I know i dont have a cat in hell’s chance of even getting to interview, i start to get frustrated by what is expected – Mum and career woman – aahh! I give it my best shot while cursing i wasnt born with a willy.

Then i moan at my husband for not focusing enough on his career change because of the continued effort to bring the pennies in – you cant really blame him for that can you?

All the while i wonder how many couples are going through the exact same issues and what, if anything, can be done about it?

At the moment we are taking the machine gun approach to job applications – a fast-track route to feeling rather shit about yourself rather quickly.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

High-earning Mums Receiving Childcare (HMRC)

Further to yesterday’s post, my call to HMRC this morning left me with no other choice but to quit my job. It is not until something is taken away that you begin to realise how much it is appreciated in your life. This is the case with my job. I have been with the company for 4 years, enjoy working with the team, the variety of the workload and the work environment. The simple fact is i can no longer ‘afford’ to work there. Now HMRC have said our joint  income is  over the threshold, they will no longer contribute towards my childcare costs. My salary only exceeds my childcare costs by £50 and that is before fuel, so i would effectively be paying to go to work. It seems it is a luxury if you are a working mum earning less than £15 per hour to keep the wheels of your career turning, if you want o work before your child is at school and your husband earns at least 20k. In other words, unless you are earning megabucks, the Government want you to be a good wife and stay at home with the children.

As much as i love baby boy, i also enjoy some time at work and I am not altogether thrilled at the prospect of being at home 5 daus a week, but i have done it before when my daughter was my som’s age, so he may as well get the same level of attention. Some people would argue, ‘if you dont want to look after them full-time, why bother having kids’? Which has an element of truth, in an ideal world i would share this responsibility with my husband but  i can only justifiably do this if i can match his salary or exceed it. This is tricky when my CV already has gaps from previous spells of ull-time parenting.

I have just got to do what most mums have to do and ‘suck it up’ , whatever ‘it’ is. This scenario goes to show that Kirstie Allsopp’s view that young women are better getting married and having children in their twenties makes far more sense than spending years getting qualified, only for it to all fall by the wayside once children come along – because to work is a lifestyle choice, only worthwhile for Mums in the top income brackets.

Now…..where is my pinny?

The only Mums who can work are the HMRC – High-earning Mums Receiving Childcare

This blog is for Unicef – thanks for reading

My name is Michael Caine…

Our road is an eclectic mix. When Maggie Thatcher put council houses up for sale a few decades ago, the resulting social implications is an interesting cross -section of society, living together un-harmoniously or harmoniously, depending on the severity of occurrences. Problems can range from noise to racism; domestic problems to varying degrees of alcohol intolerance (or too much tolerance; parking to dangerous dogs and even……chicken killers. Yes i thought i had heard it all until our neighbour next-door but one accused our next door neighbours of sabotaging their chicken. Animal politics is an issue too, our two little jacks are sandwiched between a grumpy spiteful cat and a giant alsatian.

I have woken up to a fight in the street with the women chucking flower-pots all over her partner’s car, the other next door slinging suitcases into the road and dont even get me started on Halloween.

When i used to sell poppies, i got an insight into the block of flats on our road. From the outside, its just a boring square building but on the inside it is a hotch potch of different tastes and age brackets all swirled together, with the resulting mix of smells and sounds fusing together as you walk the communal stairway. Unsurprisingly, the older lady gardener has her front door surrounded  by greenery, some doors have children’s scooters outside, while others give no hint at what lies behind until the door is open. A polish chap answered the door with so mch smoke behind him that I thought he was about to do an episode of ‘Stars in Your Eyes’….’tonight Matthew i am going to be..’. Then a child pops up behind his legs and I wonder if he will be a smoker too when he grows up or whether he ill completely rebel because of his smokey childhood environment.

There are single mums trying to make a living, divorced mums trying to merge families together and Mums (and Dads) that quite frankly scare the s*** out of me. There are those who try toretend they are elsewhere on the social scale, clinging on to materialistic trappings like a clematis trying to get to a better garden. Then there are the ‘Boo Radley’ style questions… such as ‘are they father and son living together or are they a gay couple?’, ‘Is that their Dad or brother’?

Most of the time we go about minding our own business, but when you stop and think about your neighbours, all doing the same as you, earning a living (or not), coping and not coping, it makes you think about whether UK society is different to other countries because of our culture and politics or whether behaviours are similar because we are all human?

I never forget while in Malaysia, being told, on a visit to a village, how the neighbours were clubbing together to sustain the livelihood of a widow and her children.

Here i wonder how long it would take for us to realise she had been widowed and then how long it would take to help her?

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.