I am currently studying Childhood Studies at degree level and am aware this may sound like a bit of a flakey subject but it has turned out to be a lot more academic and a lot more challenging than I expected and I am glad of this.

It covers everything from development to sociology to psychology to physiology to policy. In a rights and entitlements module we briefly covered the issue of smacking children.

I was surprised at how many of our group, considering how many are only 18/19 years old, said they had been smacked as children AND agreed with it still. I am 4/5 years older than the majority of students on this course and was of the mindset that my generation and below are made up of children whose parents were just not allowed to smack their children.

I was never smacked as a child that I can remember and probably more importantly I was barely EVER shouted at. That might sound hard to believe but all it took was a stern look from my mother or father and a bit of a telling off and I’d run weeping into the hills.

I am proud that this is the way I was brought up and would like to think I will bring my own children up in the same way. I am probably being naive in stating that, having yet to have children of my own. It’s not to say this upbringing is without fault, now in my adult life I consider myself to be a strong person, however a raised voice over the slightest thing fills me with fear and I can cry at the click of a finger. Whether the two things are linked, I can’t be sure, but I really can’t stand the sound of shouting. Just last night I got all wobbly lipped when a customer at work confronted me over something very minor.

I wonder if my upbringing has made me slightly weaker than those who endured shouting and the odd smack? I know many people who have smacked their children and felt hideously guilty for years afterward but should they really beat themselves up about it (excuse the pun)?

Children can be extremely trying at the best of times, even my lecturer told the story of her son crossing the road and almost being hit by a car. Her immediate reaction was to hit him around the back of the legs. She then went on to explain that he was at the time, on a pedestrian crossing and holding her hand. The driver was 100% in the wrong and she was in as much danger as being hit as he was. He had done nothing wrong, she was just so overcome with emotion that she lashed out at him, leaving him horribly confused and frightened. She says she has treated him with a velvet glove EVER since. He is now in his teens and she says, much less independent than his brothers.

Section 58 of the Children’s Act 2004 attempts to limit the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ in child cruelty cases. The fault here I feel is that by even creating the ‘reasonable punishment’ defence we took two steps backward and gave parents an excuse for their behaviour.

I would be interested to hear peoples views on this, I anticipate a lot of ‘it never did me any harm’ comments but I think there is a lot more to it than that. Having no children of my own, means I sometimes feel hypocritical in saying I don’t think it is necessary or even trying to form an opinion on this matter.

What I would say is that it is becoming more and more difficult to say where the law of the parent ends and where state law should begin.

EDIT: Things to consider, if an adult hits another adult, they are charged with assault, what are we teaching children if we hit them? This is a key point that increases my belief that smacking is wrong. Also is there a huge difference in children nowadays? The school children I see now seem nothing like the child I was at school, they seem terrifyingly grown up, does this have a place in the argument?

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M.E and me.

March 24, 2011

I rushed back home today having received a phone call from my mum to say she had some unexplained injuries that turned out to be from a seizure she had in her sleep. This upset me a great deal and I can’t even begin to describe how close I am to her.

This seizure has come out of the blue and until she has been to see a neurologist we wont know much more. My mum has been unwell my entire adult life, since I was eleven actually. She has M.E which some people will have heard of but might know little about. I struggle to explain what is wrong with her and how she feels as her experience of M.E is so very different to other sufferers.

A lot of people do not acknowledge M.E as a genuine illness. Having seen it destroy my family and nearly kill my mum, I have every right to beg to differ. Some might know it as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which for us and our experience, could almost be considered an incorrect label.

My mum IS very tired and can do little without the need for a rest but she actually cannot physically sleep without medication. Before diagnosis she went almost seven full days and nights without sleep. Not a minutes sleep. Anyone that had forced themselves to stay awake for more than 24 hours will know the effect it can have on your body and mostly your mind. So it was touch and go at that time, not sleeping can genuinely kill a person.

The side effects of living with M.E are difficult for all those involved, my mum had an extremely successful career in medicine and pioneered community nursing in the Midlands. With this taken away from her she quickly descended into depression and that eventually led to my parents divorce. Unfortunately it was all a little too much for my dad and he made a quick exit, admittedly after caring for my mum for a few years.

I have luckily seen my mum begin to recover, but she will never be in full health. She will likely never work again and will depend on state handouts and her NHS pension to survive. I came from what was essentially two working class people who built lives that enabled my brother, sister and I to all attend boarding school for seven years, so having to rely on benefits is extremely frustrating for someone of my mum’s nature.

There are a couple of reasons I felt like writing about this (albeit very briefly) today.

Firstly, because I feel people with M.E still do not get the recognition they deserve. Just ask Yvette Cooper, wife of Ed Balls who apparently had M.E. She pushed through guidelines that suggested people with M.E just needed to think positively and partake in a bit of gentle exercise. Pretty strange behaviour from someone who claims they suffered the brunt of this illness. 

Secondly, it affects people in a variety of ways. My mum feels no hunger or change in temperature, bizarre things, the sleep thing was cured by trying a huge concoction of drugs, drugs that she has now been on for over a decade, some of which should only ever have been prescribed for a length of six weeks. Doctors through no fault of their own do not know enough about M.E to be able to treat it. Some of these people will try ANYTHING to make themselves better, I can even remember discussions of heading to America to meet someone who drilled holes in people’s heads….

My biggest gripe is with the joker, I’m not even going to bother to look up his name, who charges desperate people for his ‘cure’ he calls The Lightening Process. Some M.E sufferers will do anything to be better or at least to have some answers and yet it seems, this is something they will never get. My mum is currently forcing herself to give up the medication that has enabled her to get through the last ten or so years for fear of permanent damage to her organs, it means adding extremely painful withdrawal to her already lengthy list of symptoms.

Thirdly, if you happen to read this, then take with you a couple of things:

Not all disabilities are visible. Do not assume a healthy looking person is healthy on the inside. The amount of looks she gets when parking in a disabled parking space is something she has learned to live with. She could have a false leg or half a heart but no one seems to care if there isn’t a limp to justify her blue badge.

Not everyone on benefits WANTS to be on benefits. Without any real knowledge of what causes M.E, benefits are always at risk. I have come across endless amounts of people who think of M.E as nothing more than yuppie flu and there is nothing more infuriating than that.

There is so much to our story that would take an awful lot of time to write about, I barely know where to start so I apologise if this post is a bit scatty. I would of course be interested to hear from anyone that has experience of/with M.E.

The Weather Is Sweet

March 24, 2011

(….makes me want to move….my dancing feet)

 

It is blissfully warm in Yorkshire and has been for four days now, I get the impression that the rest of the country is pretty similar but who knows, I haven’t really checked, I’ve been too busy digging out my flip flops to look elsewhere. It’s only March so I dread to think what is in store for us later on in the year but hell, while the sun is here I will get as naked as I can with the rest of them and hope my pasty skin gets a bit of a burning (please tan safely folks). It really is a British tradition isn’t it? A ray of sunshine and suddenly we are the happiest of souls and might I say the skimpiest dressed.

On day one of sunshine I immediately pulled ranks and put on my flip flops and then thought better of it and immediately removed them, I felt like a complete twat, I mean it’s March for Christs sake. So I stuffed on the same dirty plimsolls I drag around with me every day and stepped outside, for once, agreeing with my boyfriend (William for future reference) to pop to the shop rather than chaining myself to my desk and refusing to move for six or seven hours at a time (does not include toilet breaks and repeat trips to bare cupboards or tea making).  Once I had gotten over the shock of being outdoors, a concept that is becoming increasingly alien to me (what IS this outdoors you speak of?) I hilariously discovered that every girl and boy in the area had shed their winter skins and were now aligning any spare part of path that might allow them to get a bit of sun. Vest tops, short shorts and flips flops were out in force, not forgetting obligatory sunglasses.

I live in an area hugely populated by students, if I see a person over thirty I just assume the old dears are lost and usher them in the direction of the nearest bus stop, so of course hardly anyone is going to spend these sunny days at work so beer garden it is. One pub in particular, as William so often states, has a beer garden the ‘size of a football pitch.’ This is an outright exaggeration but seems to do the trick when we’re trying to convince friends to give the frankly shoddy place a try. Anyway, this beer garden was packed end to end and we were unable to join in the naked burning party so we went home and reattached ourselves to our computers, safe in the knowledge we’d at least given ‘outdoors’ a try (William had of course lost his sunglasses by this point).

It’s just funny what a spot of sunshine can do to people isn’t it? I felt incredibly happy today, I even took myself for a drink and a sandwich and did some reading alone and watched the world go by, this was a new experience to me, it liberated me a little and set me in good stead for the rest of the day. I even felt inclined to go to the library. I took out SEVEN books, this is quite frankly behaviour that would cause great concern amongst close friends on any other day but they are also so deleriously happy and under the spell of the sun that they are probably off checking out piles of books themselves, too notice my own stockpile of textbooks. Granted, I probably wont read those books, I can’t even tell you the titles of them but c’est la vie.

On any normal day I really do consider myself to be a quite a negative little soul and today I started to imagine what it might be like to live in a hot climate. Sunshine all year round, IMAGINE! I’d be happy at least seventy per cent of the time. I’m hoping for another sunny day tomorrow, I might crack those flip flops out tomorrow, buy some sunglasses and smile at strangers.

Heartbreak Nation

March 17, 2011

This image really made me wince, there is nothing like seeing a grown man, broken. All I have to go on is the daily images coming through from Japan, I have never visited, I know no one from there, but seeing them queuing for water and gas, picking through the remains of their homes, I can’t help but have huge respect for then. I come from a family who were always able to provide for themselves, I live in a country where I have never been affected by natural disaster and so I feel lucky, but also find it impossible to comprehend, like many, how you would even begin to move on from something like this. Millions of lives were saved by the buildings designed to withstand earthquakes, but thousands are lost nonetheless…

 

Taken from The Guardian.

Get to know me.

March 16, 2011

 

My life in pictures. 2006 – 2011

Oodles of Doodles.

March 16, 2011

 

These are all pretty old, I find it hard to sit down and draw, most of my stuff is unfinished, I like it that way. I tend to use pencil and water colours.

Riches to Rags?

March 15, 2011

The title might literally come true should the Allen sisters carry on in this manner. As many of you will have seen. there seems to be little in the way of business planning or strategy when it comes to Lucy in Disguise. They want to price pieces at around £95-£100 coming in under Topshops most expensive pieces yet Sarah, the older Allen sister has dawdled off to America and spent hundred of pounds on what appear to be somewhat garish garments. Lily and the narrator aren’t shy to constantly hammer home that she wants to quit the music scene but how long will it be before she releases another album, performing at the 02 can’t be that hideous can it? I completely understand that fame has a sinister side and I can’t imagine I would ever want to be in that position but then I wouldn’t put myself there to begin with. Sarah and Lily seem completely detached from what shopping is really like for the average woman, the average earner. With an opportunity to hear what potential customers might think of her concept, Lily walks out and we’re left wondering how much more unlikeable can this one person become.Where is her thick skin that people in the limelight so often urge emerging stars to adopt?

If all publicity is good publicity, then Lucy in Disguise might get off the ground but for how long? Time to draft in some business minds girls, retail isn’t just about shopping and an eye for style does not a business make.

U GAN DO IT.

March 13, 2011

It’s decided. A friend and I are off to lend a hand in Uganda for a couple of weeks. We might sneak in a stop over in Dubai on the way home, my step-father lives there. REJOICE!

 

Recent events…

March 13, 2011

I took a trip a few years ago that was meant to change my life. Suffice to say, it didn’t really, but that doesn’t take away how great it was and it DID change me for a while and every now and then I think of it and try and remember how I had changed when I came back to the UK.

I decided to go to Malawi because I needed some direction in my life, I am pretty highly strung and at the time felt like I was very much on the cusp of a nervous breakdown. My grandparents lived and worked over there before I was born so we have a bit of family history with the place. That history made it an obvious choice of place to begin my travels. I volunteered alongside a good group of people, teaching children and mopping up minor and some not so minor wounds. I saw hoards of pregnant women flock to the local hospital to give birth, some on the floor and some who didn’t even make it that far.

Life in Malawi was hard. The hardest kind of life you could imagine, education is not free, disease is rife and yet everywhere we went, people stopped us, said hello, asked how we were, sometimes walked with us for miles before turning back towards their original route. They were the happiest people I have ever come across. This all meant, that when I came home, I was for the first time in years, able to relax and appreciate my life. Unfortunately, over time, you forget how a place like that made you feel. You forget how it changed you and you become wrapped up in your own little world of money and jobs and bills and getting drunk at the weekends and leaving assignments till the last minute, forgetting that someone, somewhere would give their right arm for the work you begrudgingly carry out.

I posted a few weeks ago, just a photo of me and a little boy who walked with me through a village clutching my hand and asking me questions as best he could. I must try and remind myself, that i have four months off this summer and that time should be used to do something good again. So I can remind myself, how good life is here.

Thinking of all those people in Japan, who have lost their family, friends, homes, offices, belongings, lives.

If your life is easy, be forever grateful.

For Calvin, the little boy that didn’t want to let go.

 

Happy Valen…oh wait….

February 15, 2011

I  m i s  s e d  i t.

I have been welded to my desk all day, have had five hours sleep since Saturday night when I consumed the entire supply of Jägermeister in West Yorkshire and went storming into work bawling my eyes out for no apparent reason. Ideal. So apparently this post has no point. When I am finished with this project (I hope to complete today), I will attempt to write something of worth.

 

Au revoir. I hope you found love yesterday. Have a cake on me.