Ignorance is catchy – a school trip that divides opinion

Tomorrow, I am assisting with crowd control of 60 plus country primary school kids on a visit to a school in East London. The schools have established an informal partnership to benefit from an exchanging and sharing of norms and values amongst the children. A kind of educational town mouse country mouse. I completely get it.

But some parents from our rural school don’t…

One girl has been withdrawn from the school because her mother believes London is ‘dangerous’.

Another mother has asked that her daughter does not take part in the element of the trip where the children visit a Sikh Temple, because she believes that ‘white children going to a ‘mosque’ will be the targets for terrorists’. This is what she said to me assuming that I would share her views. I chewed off half my face and managed to say in response ‘I think you are over-reacting’.

Judging by the School Managers’ response to this mother, her email of complaint was not the only one received.

Even though these views are in the minority, they still exist, which is shocking. Is it the result of UKIP? The Daily Mail? Too much time spent in a predominantly white society? A lack of education? The ignorance that discriminatory views publicised in the mass media breeds? Whatever the reason it is inexcusable and represents an issue in our society that can only begin to be solved by the next generation.

Which is why school visits like these are vitally important.

This blog is for UNICEF. Thanks for reading.

The power of 1

My hubby and I (every time I begin a blog post in this way I feel like the Queen) were invited to our neighbour’s for a meal. This is a rare occurrence for us as we don’t consider ourselves to be the ‘dinner party type’ and tend to give off that vibe. It turned out to be really good, despite the age gap of the other neighbour’s who joined us. We got back late so hence the lack of blog post (£1 in the pot to UNICEF).

However, the conversation did stray onto politics and the older couple proudly announced they would be voting UKIP. I had my concerns when a few headlines from The Daily Mail were mentioned.

I have seen UKIP double decker buses twice in this area but nothing from The other parties. We live in a ‘blue’ area and the power of our vote is virtually useless. It is worrying that I feel like the minority wanting to shake my fist at the UKIP bus.

I said to my husband, ‘If UKIP get in we are getting out’. He asks, ‘But where would we go? I didn’t have a clue because at our age it is so difficult to move to another country. So after a while I opted for the Outer Hebrides, because at least up there Government would be diluted.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that……

This blog is for UNICEF.
Thanks for reading.

Too much blue for one country

My Dad is off to Australia this weekend for a month and my mother is shortly to return from a six week stint in southern Spain soaking up the rays in retirement. Meanwhile my family are layering up with jumpers and coats and loading up pockets with tissues at the onset of yet another cold. In that respect I am looking forward to retirement. I am also annoyed with my parents that they did not emigrate to sunnier climes so that I could have enjoyed a warmer life in adulthood, in the style of the cast of Home and Away, finishing school and then heading down to the beach for surf and sand, rather than a school bus trip home through traffic and rain on a grey gloomy day. No doubt my children will also say the same about us. Given the choice I think my daughter would live in America. This preference is based on our trip to Florida early last year when it was all sun, theme park rides, fast food and massive Chevrolets. My son is obsessed with Despicable Me and while we were in Florida enjoyed our trip to Universal, which featured a Minions parade, so I think he would be quite happy too.

Would I miss England? Certainly not in the winter – I fail to see anything positive about life in this country from post Guy Fawkes to Spring. As much as I love early Spring, crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils do not make-up for feeling ill and cold – but they give a glimmer of hope that the end of winter is nigh.

I the meantime I sit as close to the woodburner as possible and exercise as much as I can to keep the blood pumping around.

If there was an opportunity to live in a warmer country I would jump at the chance. But if UKIP or the Conservatives, for that matter, get in again, I may well try to squeeze into someone’s hand luggage. Another few years of British austerity is as inviting as another helping of ‘gruel’.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Red, green or in-between?

Last night I suddenly decided to put in the effort to sort my politics out.

Last time I voted Lib Dem and felt very let down when they sided with the Tories – I have lost all faith in them as a result.

I voted Green for the European elections, so I had a look on their website detailing a comprehensive manifesto and their policies shape a society pretty close to my ideal (with me on a good day – speeding and fast cars being my vice). Here, here to discouraging the pointless ownership of SUVs, commencing academic education at 6 instead of 5, abolishing SATS and too many tests and removing charitable status from private schools. Everything under their wildlife, farming and rural sections put a smile on my face but the biggest hit has got to be the fact that this party is the only one serious about protecting our world from further destruction and preserving what we have left for future generations. They are bold policies that would make a significant difference to the lives, well-being and environment of so many and would finally bring this country into the modern age – whereas at the moment it feels we are going backwards held back by a population dominated by the politics of the out-dated post-war baby boomers – I am being ageist. However, it seems to be predominantly the older generation that keep the bloody Tories in power.

I have emailed Labour, having reviewed their website, to say that 3 headlines per department does not a manifesto make – the site reads like a newspaper and I, like a lot of hesitant potential labour voters, have an attention span that is longer than 3 tabloid style headlines and a temperance that finds opening paragraphs bashing Cameron very annoying. I dont give a monkeys what Cameron says/said – what do Labour stand for – what are the policies IN DETAIL? We dont want political puff.

I also emailed the Greens to say if I gave them my vote and the votes went toward a coalition – who would they partner with? I do not want to chuck another vote away this time round and unwittingly keep the backwards blues in.

As for UKIP – if they come to power it will be brilliant for the UK population and local wildlife – everyone will have fled in fear of a society that resembles Biff’s 1985 in Back to the Future 2….gulp….maybe that’s what the baby boomers really want?

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Go Green Girl

Four men representing four political parties. Three of those parties have already contributed to regretful events in the country’s history. The other party will achieve change in two main ways: quadruple the numbers of people emigrating from England, significantly increase the circulation figures of The Daily Mail amongst the remaining population. All men will attempt to convince 50 per cent of the population why they should, once again, listen to a man.

This is the news that Nigel Farage will be joining Ed, David and Nick on mainstream political parties. Caroline Lucas, from The Green Party, whose party has had an MP for four years longer than UKIP has not been invited to join them.

So, mainstream channels are ignoring two of the most important issues affecting the world today – the environment and equality – in favour of a fascist bigot.

This is ‘Votes For Women’ 2015 -lets club together and kick political ass.

Go Caroline Lucas – vote to get her on the political televised debate here.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Dredd in the South-east

I have she-flu but managed to muster enough energy for ballet boot camp but not enough for a vaguely interesting blog post. I figured it had been a while since I had put a pound in the pot to Unicef for a missed post so I took the opportunity yesterday.

I have lived in the South-east all my life, the only slight movements between four counties, but recently have found the walls of the region closing in. I am starting to build up a resentment to passing landmarks that illustrate my younger years (schools, nurseries, friend’s houses etc) and would like to ‘get out’ and live in an area where there are no memories. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with this admission.

The South-east is also over-crowded and full mostly of people who ant to commute to the ever growing riches of London. I wonder if this trend continues into the next few decades whether England will be closer to resembling the geographic make-up of Judge Dredd. I mentioned to a colleague of mine my concern that the rest of the country, particularly the north, was being left-behind. She said that she didnt care, as far as she was concerned, she had done ‘her time’ up north while living in Nottingham for 10 years, it was abysmal and has never looked back since moving o London.

Being someone who likes to do the opposite of the majority, i am getting more and more inquisitive as to what it would belike to live ump North and become, as the characters in the film ‘lock stock and two smoking barrels’ put it ‘northern monkeys’ as opposed to ‘southern fairies’.

A friend of my husband’s said, ‘you don’t want to move up there, they are all fat’. I believe obesity is a nationwide problem, a trip to any local supermarket proves that point (although the supermarkets themselves are assisting this trend with the increasing price of fruit and vegetables and the decreasing price of crappy processed food). In fact it is not until you step into the rest of Europe (or if you voted Ukip omit ‘the rest’ from that sentence) that you see just how fat a nation we have become. In France, for example, you would be hard -pushed to find an overweight person on a trip to the shops let alone and the same goes for Spain and the Netherlands.

I wonder if part of the reason can be attributed to the cost of food and what is offered to buy. The Spanish and French like to cook most of their food from scratch, this cutting out nasties such as added sugar, which is so prevalent n ready-made food. It is this belief in a return to home cooking that underpins the philosophy of Sarah Wilson’s quit sugar approach – cook like our grandparents used to, with ingredients rather than a fork and a microwave.

I feel the north/south divide has become so defined that contemplating a move upcountry is not dissimilar to emigrating, hence its appeal on the ‘grass is greener front’.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.



Ur ukipping me

It shouldn’t happen in 2014, but it has – a UKIP leader winning the majority support on a debate. While the main theme was Europe, other incredibly concerning views were expressed by UKIP, including the belittling of the Syrian war, heralding Putin’s ‘operational approach’. I don’t know whether it was the way in which the BBC edited the highlights of the debate or whether there really are more Mail readers in existence than I thought but, having seen Clegg’s rhetoric in response to UKIP, I would say he did a good job confirming fears that UKIP really are out of touch with the modern world.

It is hard not to be ageist when looking at the growth in popularity of UKIP, but it is the views of people of mainly my father’s generation that surely must underpin UKIP’s recent success. My Dad is against Europe, anti-immigration and racist. He would not have liked me to ‘date’ a black man. Yes it is 2014 and not 1964.

Part of the problem is that people over 60 have the biggest political influence, they are on our parish councils, our county councils, committees, government agencies, you name it, they have a view on it (and a largely out-dated one).

But people whose heyday was in the 60s can be forgiven for wanting the clock to be turned back. What is most worrying is when ignorance and narrow-minded blind patriotism infiltrates the psyche of the next generation. All the time partys like UKIP get a voice and are allowed to give voice to other important issues off the back of their popularity on Europe, subtle shifts in social thinking gain pace in the completely wrong direction.

I am blogging for UNICEF to help protect vulnerable children regardless of where they are in the world – support the campaign here.

Thanks for reading


Is it time to leave the UK?

UKIP is taking over common consensus, the wet weather has taken over the summer, Osborne is as useful at propping up the economy as a drunk propping up a bar and Gove is taking education back to Victorian times. So, am I happy about being a UK resident at the moment? Yes, but only just. It feels good now but the future looks bleak. A friend of mine at work today was talking about some friends of hers who are re-locating to NZ through a job opportunity. The couple both work in finance and have said that, in economic terms, this country is f***** for the next ten years. Their solution? To bugger off to NZ for the next decade and then return once the storm has passed.

But what about the rest of us? Let;s focus on the positives. Compared to many countries we are one of the safest and protected nations, we are lucky to have the NHS and employment is there if you look hard enough. The class divide is a bit of a downer and the Government makes it hard for people who are not in the Boden clothing company’s demographic of married, working, not disabled, 2 kids plus and sizeable disposable income. 

A recent Unicef survey assesses children’s well-being in the developed world according to factors from education to quality of housing. The UK has improved its position in the league table since the last report was published in 2007. But Government policy still has  along way to go to meet the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020. The stats show that it is not good to be a teenager or young adult in the UK at the moment with lower opportunities to progress to higher and further education in comparison to other countries and high levels of unemployment. In Unicef’s recommendations, the report states: “The impact on children should be one of the first considerations of government before agreement on actions to reduce the deficit.”

Take note Cameron.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. I am aiming to raise £1 a day through this blog. One kind blogger donated £5, which is fantastic. If you are able to help please visit  my page on Unicef’s site.

Thanks for reading.