Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lent's nothing at all

Due to my ongoing pottiness, I've decided to do Lent properly. Sort of. While not being religious but still sort of acknowledging that this is what I'm eating chocolate for.

Anyway, recording it on a seperate blog (probably an inner acknowledgement that I may want to delete this and/or it's going to be cack) which is here.

I don't understand religion, or the religious. I'm not poking fun at them even if I am facetious. I would like to understand.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

People are people

There's a debate going on at the moment:

"Do disabled people give children nightmares?"

You did read that correctly. Sparked by complaints about new CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell, who has one arm. Supposedly parents have complained about her, it's "disgusting" and "gives their kids nightmares".

I have two three year olds who are somewhat addicted to CBeebies. They haven't noticed or commented. They don't care. So where does the fear come from? Oh that'd be right, the parents. The parents who say, if asked, "yes, she's only got one arm but she can do everything Alex can". Or maybe they don't? Maybe THEY say "eeeew, that's gross". Maybe it's entirely down to them what the children think because CBeebies don't make it an issue. It's the parents that clearly have a problem with looking at someone that has a disabilities, and you'd expect grown ups, or pseudo grown ups anyway, to have a little more maturity and understanding.

When I first saw Cerrie, I did wonder about her suitability, because it's a very hands on job, because I thought she wouldn't be able to do all the arty things. But I have been proved entirely wrong, she copes magnificently and it makes no difference to her presenting skills. I was however impressed at CBeebies' ongoing effort to have disabilities incorporated into programmes without making a deal. Justin Fletcher (patron saint of children's television) and his programme Something Special are magnificent for treating children with varying severities of disability with no care whatsoever to their condition, which is wonderful, it takes away the fear and "difference" and makes disabilities just one of those things in everyday life. It means that children aren't going to be taken aback when they see disabilities in their own life, it promotes understanding and is highly commendable. The fact that Cerrie's disability did not exclude her from the job of children's presenter is a Good Thing. How can it be otherwise? She can do it, brilliantly.

Here she is, with co-presenter Alex (from BBC Press Office):

She's lovely. What sort of parent can put the ideas into their children's head, and for preschoolers, the parents do have to put the ideas there, that she's anything else? Responsible parenting is the problem here, not responsible programming.

EDIT: one of my three year olds came over just now and exclaimed "Alex and Cerrie!" and insisted I made that picture full screen. No fear there.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

In my head today

My eye's still broken. It was all nice and healing and working and stuff, then it just went crap again. It's worrying me a little, it's not the same (bright red, watering and unopenable) it's gone sore and dry and a bit rubbish, ie I can't see very well. So I feel the need to rant. I've forgotten everything else I thought of, so I'll go with Jade...
Justify Full
I have issue with Big Brother et al and the way they put borderline maniacs on TV to laugh at them being manic. That's not on. I watched a couple of series of BB and Jade Goody's was one I watched; she is largely the reason I stopped. She was put on that show to be laughed at, because she is stupid. That's not nice or clever or particularly entertaining. Graham Norton made a joke of keeping her in, which bizarrely made him into her "fan", and she emerged a cult figure. Eh? She didn't have anything to make her that, other than a seemingly continual need to mock her. But on she went, megastatus, and then the Celebrity Big Brother debacle. I didn't actually watch that, could hardly miss it, but if you put someone lacking in certain attributes on TV to laugh at them, can you really be surprised if they behave badly? Is it her fault? Did she need to be public enemy no. 1? What was she doing with all the stuff that happened next?

And now she's dying they seem determined to milk every last drop of ridicule. Maybe she does just want the best for her kids, maybe her boyfriend is romantic enough to give his girlfriend a wedding before she dies. Maybe the media created something here and they could be gracious enough to let it go. You can't blame her, she is what she is and she has been given this status. What is happening now is tragic: a young girl, who has two small children, is dying. That is nothing other than sad, whoever she is, and it is not a media circus. Oh, sorry, it IS a media circus.

I don't understand the love and admiration for people that don't do anything. Beautiful people, talented people, shrewd business people, philanthropic people, inspirational people - there's something to be admired there, but the Jades and Chanelles and Kerrys are just there, not doing anything and being a national joke. And it destroys them. Who benefits there? Comedians maybe. Max Clifford, certainly.

Love and admiration for celebrities generally: I am less than enamoured with Twitter due to the idiots that frequent it. But some people are lovely and their tweets make me smile, so I remain addicted.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Been a crud week so far.
Eye injury flared up on Sunday. Until today I was wearing a patch and falling over a lot.
Not fun.
The amount of stuff I have to catch up on is scaring me.
I've forgotten how to speak to people again. Extremes aren't very nice.
I've forgotten everything I know, I think, my brain is a vacuous space.
And so, my need to chatter is serviced by 140 characters and blogging is an insurmountable task.

Funk. Hyper. Funk. Drama queen moment. Back to funk.

Friday, 13 February 2009

To obey

I have been asked to comment on this story about Salma Hayek, telling us why she chose to fly to Sierra Leone to breastfeed another woman's baby.

This is undoubtedly an act of amazing kindness and humanity, to show that it is a natural and wonderful thing for mothers to do.

The article states that infant mortality is high in Sierra Leone, that it is recommended that mothers breastfeed for two years in order to combat malnutrition, but that there is a stigma attached to breastfeeding, so few women do this.

I started writing along the lines of my usual rant about how formula isn't actually the devil's work and how it doesn't harm your child. I believe that the western world has gone too far towards "breast is best", that those who have to use formula are left unadvised and made to feel like they have failed. That's unfair and wrong and "breast is best" does get shoved down your throat to the extent that parents feel it would be wrong to ever allow formula to pass their precious infant's lips under any circumstances. Health professionals are not allowed to offer any advice that promotes formula feeding and the whole attitude and bombardment with posters and information does implant the "formula is evil" belief. As an asthmatic, with allergies to pretty much anything I could be allergic to, that was breastfed as an infant, with a formula fed brother who has no such things, as well as being the much despised mother who gave up and didn't do the best for her babies (why they'd want my antibodies at all is another question). I feel inclined to rant. I have two very healthy three year olds and have no regrets about formula feeding them - I had no choice but would have preferred not to have been criticised.

But that is not the issue here. I live in a country where I have good hygiene, access to a kettle, a steriliser and a fridge, and a supermarket supply of good quality formula.

For most mothers, breast is best. Those who cannot breast feed, and those who have to supplement with formula should get better support, but it does remain that breastfeeding is natural and good. The WHO recommends that all infants should be fed breastmilk until at least the age of six months, ideally until the age of two, based on those countries in the world (that's the W bit, there's so much more of the world that isn't us) that have substandard conditions and so would be unlikely to have quality formula or satisfactory infant nutrition. The people in these countries need to know that it is good and natural to breastfeed, that breastmilk can help to combat malnutrition in infants, that it is a wonderfully healthy thing to do for mother and child.

An infant cries when it wants fed. It screams its little lungs out. It wants fed now. Like right now. Immediately. No, not when you get to a convenient location. Now. It screams louder. And so you have to feed them where you are (within reason). It is quite wonderful that our society now is such that a mother can sit and discreetly breastfeed a baby - and they are discreet, you'd have to go and peer behind the baby to see - without causing offence.

There are those who are offended, they should be shot.
There are those mothers who make a scene and are not discreet, who make sure the whole world knows what they're doing, and who it would be nice to shoot. Grudgingly, their sort should be thanked for the fact that it's now acceptable, but can someone please tell them it's time to stop making a scene?

Other countries do not have that luxury, it is still a stigma. And for that reason alone, what Salma Hayek did is quite remarkable. To demonstrate that it is a good thing to do, to show that it need not be something women are uncomfortable doing.

I didn't think I was going to say that.
I meant to say that you could have flown a lot of Aptimel to Sierra Leone for one Salma Hayek.
I think formula has a number of benefits, I think formula needs to be de-demonised.I don't think wet nurses are the future, I don't think a mother that cannot produce milk should get another woman's milk. I don't think that's the answer, I think good quality formula should be made available if the mother cannot produce her own milk.
For that reason I was going to say Salma Hayek did the wrong thing.
But that isn't the point, she wasn't providing milk, she was making a statement and what a wonderful statement that is:

"Look at me, I am doing something wonderful, and it is so wonderful I will travel across the world to do it for another woman's child."

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

What is wrong with people?

When I think about the people I share this country with, I feel two emotions: shame at being British and a massive desire to leave Britain permanently.

I believe Holland is nice.

Yesterday, I was listening to a conversation between two people I respect and admire. They were discussing the Carol Thatcher/golliwog thing, laughing and reminiscing about things that we, as Brits, used to do that were appallingly racist. The comments were along the lines of "things were different then" and an underlying sentiment that is was excusable because "we didn't know any better".

No it wasn't.

Did we really need people to come along and tell us that it is wrong to call people names and that the colour of your skin doesn't make you a lesser person? Did people not feel that within themselves? Were the Crusades fine, because it was a) long ago and b) Christian? What about the acquiring of the British Empire, and the way it was run? Slavery? Was that ok... because we didn't know any different, times were different then? Nonsense. It was just not popular to actually have a shred of humanity. Some people did and had the gumption to speak out and thank god they did or we'd still be living in a nasty racist society...

Hang on. This is 21st Century Britain. We'd be appalled at using terms to describe people by colour. Nasty nasty words are stamped out. Huzzah! Thank goodness everyone was so pleased by the Eastern Europeans arriving! Imagine if we'd been prejudiced against them. Even though they weren't from the "nice" new countries, you know, the ones that used to be British.

I read responses to an article from the Daily Mail some months ago. There was the initial article, then there was the reader responses (as you'd expect) and then comments on the forum I was reading it on, responding to the whole lot.

The story: a number of Eastern Europeans (I'm not being deliberately generic, I can't remember where they came from) had come to Britain looking for work, believing that this was the best thing for them. These were people who genuinely wanted to work, who wanted to make a better lives for themselves. Yet when they arrived here, there was none of the promised work or life for them and as a result they had ended up living on a roundabout.

The overall response to this?

"Ugh, it really does make the roundabout look nasty". "I'm so glad that's not in MY town". "Who do these people think they are, coming to our country and spoiling our roundabouts?"


The story there is "look how our country let these people down". Not "ugh, nasty dirty foreigners".

Yet it was OK to say these things? No one felt embarrassed?

Back to Carol Thatcher. Freedom of speech? Excuse me?
How about "I'm sorry I caused offence, I didn't mean it offensively"?
No. that's too hard. "We" can't apologise. "We" have the right to be offensive if "we" didn't mean it offensively. "We" don't need to explain. "We" don't need to retract our comments if other people are offended, clearly that's their ignorance or political beliefs clouding their judgement.

The Sachs debacle: with the vastly overhyped nonsense, at least Russell Brand used the little exercised thing called "an apology". He could still be arguing the "it was a joke, we didn't meaan any offence, I feel my freedom of speech has been compromised by the whole furore" and taken the usual stance. But he didn't, he gave a dignified, and seemingly sincere, resignation speech and, I feel, did the right thing. I believe Wossy also apologised, I must be fair, but I am a little sickened by the return of the prodigal son effort that's been going on since his return.

It never hurts to say "sorry, I didn't mean it". That doesn't necessarily excuse what you said, but it helps.


We're living in a nanny state now, it seems.
Evidence for this?

The government recommended that we should dance for exercise, presumably based on the slightly mystifying obsession with Strictly Come Dancing et al.


The government advisers, having been asked to study the effects, recommended that children should not be given any alcohol at all even at home until they are 15 because their bodies can't deal with it.

Recommendations. Not "this is how you must live your life" or "we are telling you how to bring up your children".

For God's sake!!!!!

And there's the MMR thing. Does anyone still believe that? Oh yes, they do. Thank you, hype. Thank you for directly causing the death of children to a disease that had all but been wiped out. I think I mentioned that before...

I'm done now. Please note the sarcasm and don't shoot me for being literal. Thanks.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Everyone should read this

This sums up the MMR debacle rather well. And this is from the man himself.

Please click on those, they're ever so important to read.

It is unbelievable that measles is on the increase and that parents STILL have doubt; as previously stated I had a fleeting, well, what if... There is no link with autism, there never has been and measles is dangerous. What more do you need to know?

This is a hero: bookmark Ben Goldacre's webhome.

Freak out!

I've been doing rather a lot of that lately: freaking out. For no particular good reason, just overreacting and getting irate. So getting constantly wound up by a pair of naughty three year olds renders me shrieky. The last couple of days it's hurt to shriek. In the chest area.

Immediate hypochondriac diagnosis: heart attack.

This is unlikely give that a) I'm 34 and b) it is unaccompanied by any other symptoms of the heart attack. No, my left arm is not sore, it's got pins and needles because I'm leaning on it.

Logical thought: in people that have a heart attack, there must be increased blood flow etc that causes a heart attack in times of stress and getting very shrieky. Presumably this always happens and only ends in a heart attack in those susceptible. So it's normal. Just overstressed.

Illogical thought: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I'm definitely going to die! I know people who've just dropped dead of a heart attack that were younger than me and not 100% definitely on drugs. My boys need a mother! I have nightmares about dying anyway!

I think I might go and chat to the nice nurse about methods of destressing. And nursery starts in 10 weeks. (I had the date wrong before, blimmin' Easter's late this year, isn't it?)

Deep breaths. Have an aspirin. Just in case. Eat nothing but bulgar wheat. Just in case.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Why it's preferable to be a hermit

The world's gone mad.
That's incorrect.
The world is mad.

Either that or I'm mad.


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Rising grumpitude

I appear to have lost the art of talking to people without shouting at them.



Sigh. It's just because they're rubbish. It's not because I'm grumpy. No. It's not.


No. Don't get upset. I know it wasn't you. I didn't mean to shout. Oh. Don't cry. I feel bad. I'm just in a bad mood you know.


Ok, ok, I'm going now.

Monday, 2 February 2009

25 random meme things

This is from facebook and most of it is stuff I go on about here anyway.
But I'm in a crabbit mood and so can't be bothered doing more than pasting. The tagging thing (25 people? 25?) doesn't apply obviously. It's facebook. Mindless. Easy. Me me me me me me me me. Feel free to do it. You won't though.

25 random facts about me:

1. I know that all of the 25 people I tagged won't like this. I'd like to know facts about all of them though.

2. My children are actually the cleverest in the world.

3. I really enjoy learning about traffic related things. Traffic policy is interesting and virtually everything I learn I become passionate about. Even traffic lights.

4. I cannot stand Boris Johnson. He's a bumbling oaf.

5. I think Marcus Brigstocke is the most attractive man on the planet.

6. I'm a mostly rubbish friend and any time I speak to one of them I am ashamed by how rubbish I've been. I don't mean it, I love all my friends but I don't think they know it.

7. I am incapable of budgeting.

8. My brain does still work and so far I'm coping with an MSc on woefully little work.

9. I am very worried that no 8 does not apply any more.

10. I am at my most alert at midnight.

11. I would like to live in Manchester.

12. I'd quite like a little girl but seriously don't think I could go through it all again.

13. My hair is excessively grey, or it was till I coloured it last night.

14. I don't have any concrete goals in my life. I'm not sure what I'm aiming for. I never have. I have rough ideas but I don't actually know what to wish for other than immediate "pass exams" etc.

15. My house has been on the market for one year this week. Never mind.

16. I am completely addicted to the internet and social networking.

17. My children are very polite and are a credit to me (mostly) when we're out. They drive me nuts but they're ever so nice and they're a lot of fun to be around. I feel lucky to be around them all the time. I don't feel lucky all the time. I should.

18. I think we should all cycle everywhere where it's possible.

19. I don't have a bike.

20. I can be cured a hangover by Irn Bru and iceberg lettuce.

21. I should never ever drink red wine.

22. Seemingly by coincidence, I got into Twitter the same week everyone else did. I joined a year ago.

23. I like to talk a lot. I love being on my own as well though, with the kids around all day, it's valuable time. Usually it's going to Asda, but hey, it's alone time.

24. I am going out in ten minutes and the kids aren't ready. Will be late. Am always late.
was true at 4.49

25. Yahtzee is my favourite waste of time just now.


To be entirely boring: Twitter and iPhone. Tune out now.

Twitter is amusing me lots. For some reason everyone I asked to join, did. Maybe because I didn't ask everyone-I-know and asked the ones that possibly might be interested in my updates. Just the one missing, who will be returning to normal life tomorrow and will hopefully comply.

Richard Herring joined hours after I suggested he did on his guestbook. This may be complete coincidence, but if it is true, then how marvellous is the internet? To be able to say "hey you, this is great, try it" to someone who has no idea who you are, someone who you'd like to read about, and they do. Not because it's you*, obviously, but because it's a cool thing.

*delusional daydreaming aside

There's all manner of other stalkerworthy people on there and I am reminded of how amusing Chris Addison (the second most attractive man on the planet), Dave Gorman and Stephen Fry (the patron saint of Twitter) actually are. And then I added people I don't actually normally think about, like Phillip Schofield (who's very interesting and I had nothing against him, just didn't think about him) and Jonathan Ross (who I may delete, he's a bit annoying, which is always is, slight error of judgement). Ben Goldacre (new hero) has interesting little snippets.

It's a bit strange, like blogging lite. But it's sort of the opposite of stalking, those who wish to be stalked provide the information so the stalkers can legitimately read it. Which is a little weird really. But hey. Look at me getting all giddy over some celebrity tweeting. They're not ACTUALLY talking to me, I'm just reading it.

Of course there's the lovely thing of updates from friends. Always nice. And more important than the above starry eyed awe would indicate.

Come play. Click the link over there and join the mindlessness. There is no point, that's the point.

Daily iPhone love: I got Tweetie for it. I did. I'm so sad. I paid £1.79 for it, but oh it is nice. And while I was throwing money at Apple, I downloaded Yahtzee Adventures. I love Yahtzee. I actually wore out the section of the screen on my Palm where the "roll again" button was (this is why you want a screen that functions like the iPhone or G1, not like the B****b***y or any other W****** mobile device). It's ace. I could play Yahtzee forever and this has a bizarro adventure mode. Best game ever (that doesn't feature Mario).

Gratuitous picture of Chris Addison:

NB Still reading Bye Bye Balham by Richard Herring. It's great. Buy it from here . While you're at it, buy this from Amazon, it's fabulous.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

I went for a walk on a winter's day

So Mort waltzes into the room, quite the thing, unfound by me.
Where was he? asks I.
In the washing basket. comes the reply.

The washing basket? The one that's right beside the bed? The first place I looked, as a logical landing place for something falling off the bed? The one I looked under and around 25 times?
Oh yes.
I can only assume that Mort was unwilling to be read and went out. No other explanation.

At 2pm there was copious amounts of broken glass in the park. A result of Friday night teenage japes no doubt, but how appalling that it remained on Saturday afternoon. What exactly do the council do? The park is used on a Saturday almost exclusively at this time of year by families and dogwalkers. Both children and dogs could be seriously hurt by broken glass. Seriously unimpressed.

Watched Dark Knight at a friend's house and then solved the mystery of relationships. A late-ish night, driving out of a village and lightedness, was amazed that the full beam sign coincided exactly with the time I put my full beam on.
Thought process:
How could they know?
Duh, it's the end of the village, everyone will put full beam on there.
But what about during the day, or if there's other cars?
Wait a minute.
That's not a full beam sign.
It's the national speed limit sign.
Probably shouldn't be driving.

And that, as they say, was chutney.