I’ve spent the afternoon trawling through social media and news reports to find a topic to write about in this week’s letter. One that is unique. That would grab your attention and hold it. Because, unsurprisingly, just like you I get bored reading the same thing over and over again, even if it is merely worded a little bit differently.
And then I read several articles about Lionel Shriver and her keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival with opposing viewpoints. Her speech was fundamentally about cultural appropriation and how anyone can tell anyone’s story. Or as Yassmin Abdel-Magied viewed it, exploiting the stories of ‘others’ so your story was better. Continue reading On writing
I was not going to write about education or politics this week and was adamant I would find another topic. But…. But…. But….I have just finished reading an article about ‘Shanghai-style’ maths lessons and I can feel my blood boiling again. And so this week, after the absolute tragedy that over half of the country’s year 6 children are apparently not ‘secondary ready,’ I had to do it. I had to write to the people responsible for ruining our children and destroying their precious childhood.
Dear Nick Gibb and Nicky Morgan,
Me again. Angry, again. And I am not entirely sure where to start this time.
Over the last week I have seen many, many posts on Facebook and tweets from teachers and parents about how sad they are for their eleven-year-old children – yes, children – because of this year’s SATs results. And instead of admitting that you got it wrong, instead of apologising to those children for experimenting with them and their self worth, you tried to defend the tests. You tried to justify the sheer trauma you have unnecessarily caused these CHILDREN by saying that these results cannot be compared to last year’s because they are taken from a completely different type of test. A test that most of them have failed. A test that says they’re not good enough. A test which tells them that in spite of working their hardest and following your absurd assessment procedures, that they are not ready to move on to the next stage of their education. But who cares if the tests don’t match to last years? That is not the point. A test that states half of this county’s children have failed it, is a failure itself in my opinion. You’re not experimenting with something unimportant, you are meddling with the next generation. When are you going to start listening? Continue reading Dear Nicky Morgan… again
How are you? I wanted to write and check you were working ok because recent events have led me to believe that you may have gone a bit skew-whiff.
Every time I speak to loyal and dear friends, or turn on the news, or flick through my Twitter timeline bad things are happening to good people. And I’m not saying I necessarily want bad things to happen to bad people, but it would be nice if the world evened itself out a bit.
Although, maybe good things are happening and they are just not reported. However, in the current climate, where bombs in Bagdad are killing hundreds of innocent people, iconic celebrities are dying at the rate of knots, shooters are killing people for who they love, racism is alive and kicking once more, famous murderers are being imprisoned for stupidly short amounts of time, and the twats that got us into this Brexit mess are resigning without facing any of the consequences that come with such a mad decision, I fail to see how this could be true.
I’m in hospital with my seven year old at the moment and will be for a while yet and he’s developed a rather morbid fascination with wanting to watch the news. He claims he hates Nigel Farage and says he’s a nasty man, an opinion I will not argue with, and he thinks that the nurses and the doctors who are looking after him should run the world because they are nice people. And he has a point. Continue reading Dear Karma,
I’m going to start this letter by pointing out the obvious, which is that Brexit affects all of us – young or old, male or female – but seeing as this is a women’s magazine I’ve quite rightly decided to focus on them today and the impact that last week’s vote will have.
Although I’m unsure as to where to start. The remain campaign lost by just over a million votes. And around a million more women than men were eligible to vote. Safe to assume that quite a few women did, in fact, vote to leave the EU last Thursday.
This surprises me and yet it shouldn’t, for the campaigns – as with an awful lot of other aspects of politics – were being run by overgrown, male school children. The elite. People who are not in touch with the inner workings of Britain or the people who reside there. Men rule and decide, women step into line and follow. That’s how it is assumed the country will work. Men who are more concerned with an unnecessary ‘political out-doing’ of each other forget to think about the very people their pathetic arguing will affect. Continue reading Brexit for Women
I’ve spent the last three hours looking after five of you. Five of you glorious human beings who, without even trying, light up the world you live in. You have boundless energy and optimism. Positivity hasn’t slowly been beaten out of you, yet.
And the whole time you were here laughing and running around in my garden, I wanted to apologise to you. I wanted to apologise to all children, everywhere. And why? Because decisions are being made that will have an immense impact on your future. And because they may very well be the wrong decisions. And because you have no say in the matter. Continue reading Dear Children…
If only we didn’t let you take over. Take hold. Because your hold is toxic and unnecessary. You become a force so vivid and powerful we are unable to let you go or rationalise your existence. You make people feel they are owed something they are not, and make them angry with things that are irrelevant.
Let me give you an example, a political one if I may. Next week many people will turn out to vote as to whether or not we stay part of the EU. Part of something set up many, many years ago. But you, resentment, you’re making people feel negatively towards their current predicaments. You are twisting the facts and making them believe that all of their problems stem from issues and people that have no impact on them at all. You are muddling immigration and the purported issues surrounding the EU and sadly you are putting the UK in a risky situation. Because people resent the lives they have. They blame the government without looking at the facts. They blame the wrong issues and the wrong people. And they are now in a position to throw the UK back to the dark ages and show Europe and the world that we think we’re better than them. And better off without them.
See how dangerous you are?
You make people listen to nonsense and believe made up statistics. They become sponges for statements that make them feel like they can grasp the live they are owed regardless of others.
I’m not a politician and so I am not going to counteract what others have said to allow you to spread amongst the nation, but I would like to urge people in your hold that they need to do some proper research – hard I know given that politicians are no longer about the people, and just seem to enjoy arguing with the opposition for the sake of it – encourage them to look beyond their own resentment and frustrations and see the bigger picture. Because if this vote goes the wrong way then you’ll have an unprecedented power over the nation and things will get even uglier than they are now.
You’ve had your time, Resentment, and you’ve done plenty of damage. But enough is enough. It’s time to let people think without you clouding their judgement. This vote is too important, there is too much at stake.
Just take a step back, and let people think, without bias, for themselves. View things rationally.
And make the best choice they can.
Right, I am now off to write to Ignorance.
Love, Me x
Dear parents of the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure,
Most days, on the school run, someone loses a child. The gates close and everyone runs round shouting the name of the wandering preschooler. We’ve all been there. I know I have. Stood chatting to a fellow parent I assumed my 3 year old was where he normally was, picking up sticks behind the classroom.
Except he wasn’t. He had walked down the driveway and was a few
minutes from where I stood. And, after five long minutes looking for him, when my breathing had calmed enough for me to ask him why on earth he’d walked away without me, his answer was simple, ‘I thought we were going to the park, mummy. So I was going to the park.’
It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but one – even after three children – that taught me never to assume. That their little brains are always one step ahead and revelling in their own little world. And I was lucky. Only a handful of friends saw my panic and whitnessed my lapse in childcare.
Sadly the whole world is aware of your mishap. And horribly judging you for it. Continue reading Dear parents of the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure
Dear Diet Industry,
This week there have been many reports in the newspapers surrounding diets and the obesity crisis that is currently gripping the UK. Reports that claim fat is indeed now good for us and low fat products do nothing but make us fatter in the long run.
Your industry is one that often targets itself at overweight and unhappy people who want a quick fix. You promise lasting results, quick initial losses and state that people who follow your plan are happy and never hungry. There are products, magazines and endless other ways to take the money off the overweight. And I’m not even mentioned the more extreme diets, which come at a more extreme price; the blood group diet, food harvested only when the planets and stars are perfectly aligned, juicing and more. All promising the same thing. All primarily focusing on losing weight and not being healthy. Since when did skinny equal healthy? It doesn’t and the industry is capitalising on society’s view that slimness equals attractiveness. Perpetuating the myth that if you are fat then you are ugly. Continue reading Dear Diet Industry…
When I Googled ‘freedom of speech’ recently it brought up many things that I hadn’t considered. I simply though it meant you were allowed to say whatever you wanted without fear of recrimination – something I thought that could ever fully be achieved. I mean it’s damn near impossible for every single person on this planet to have the same opinion. And boy how boring would the world be if we were indeed all identical? So why the need for free speech to be defined?
The Internet, well Wikipedia to be precise (not the most reliable of tools I know) state it’s so you can speak freely without risk of government retaliation or censorship. Freedom of expression is another term.
And why am I writing to you about this? Well, it is because of Stephen Fry and his discussion earlier on the week about freedom of speech, which unfortunately took a nasty turn and ended up with him being all over the media for portraying victims of sexual abuse as ‘self pitying’.
Everyone has the right to freedom of speech, but not everyone has a platform that enables them to be heard by the masses. And with that platform surely there needs to be a sense of responsibility about what you are saying and an awareness of who you could hurt? Especially if you are representing a mental health charity, which of course Stephen Fry does.
And I get that it can be frustrating for him given that he feels so strongly about being able to speak freely, but I do not understand the thought processes that led him to believe that his words were acceptable. I’ve watched the interview several times and tried to see if anything reported has since been taken out of context or if he’d been misquoted, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Only he can understand what he meant. He is so used to being regarded as a sensible and powerful voice with regards to mental health that maybe he simply got carried away.
But my point is that when you know millions of people listen to every word of your free speech you do, whether you like it or not, need to reign in your words and opinions if they are going to be damaging to people who have suffered serious trauma in their lives. No one needs to be told they are self pitying. No one needs to be made to feel any worse when they have without doubt suffered enough.
Some things really do need to be left unsaid.
From, me x
This week I had the privilege of speaking with 7 year olds in Bristol as part of Enterprise week. Of all the meetings and events I had planned, this one was one I was looking forward to most.
There was something warm and fuzzy about that 2 PM slot on a Tuesday afternoon. And then reality hit and the pressure of 30 pairs of eyes piercing me through gave me unexpected heart palpitations.
We spoke about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how my work is around understanding the gender pay gap. The children were astounded. There is a gender pay gap? Why? Here are the three lessons I’ve learned from them while we discussed the issue.
- Never underestimate the power of a 7 year old to change a discussion about the gender pay gap into a conversation about fish and chips.
- In roles that are visible, gender stereotypes are alive and kicking. (ie. Very few girls thought that when they grow up they could be working in construction.)
- Men don’t allow women to work in construction because a brick could hit them on the head.
- It is unfair that some roles are valued less while they contribute a lot (ie. mums)
- The gender pay gap could be closed through a wrestling game, and may the best one win.
- Girls can build airplanes, because when more people – boys and girls – think about something together, they come up with a much better ideas.
- These young 7 year olds will live in a world with no pay gap. They will not allow it.
When I walked in, I was terrified. When I walked out (besides being thankful for still being alive) I was hopeful. The future is bright – the future has no pay gap.
With Gapsquare, we lead the development of technologies that will close the gender pay gap.