About Me

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A first time mum at 39, trying not to let my son kill me off too soon. Busy juggling a new family, a new house and a tricky recording schedule I figured blogging would be less expensive than therapy and less embarrassing than shouting at rude and stupid people in the street/on trains/at the supermarket.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The rise of the Trolls...

I love the internet.  I really do.  I only wish it had been around when I was at school.  I can't believe I spent so many hours in our local library researching and scribbling and adding to my bibliography at the end of every assignment.

But that's not really what I want to say.  On the whole, I think the internet is amazing.  And not just for the fun stuff.  Of course, with every good thing there inevitably comes bad.  Yes there are sick people who like to use the internet for heinous acts but, thankfully, they are the minority.

The internet users that worry me and make me most sad are the 'Trolls'.  

I am a firm believer in not putting in an email something you wouldn't say in a telephone conversation and that should apply to comments and opinions made on the internet.  Unless your life, or the lives of your nearest and dearest, are in danger, then there is no reason for the complete anonymity some people hide behind just so they can go online to slag off and put down just about everyone else.  If you want to say something or sound your opinion because it's what you believe in then just bloody say it and be proud of it and put your name to it.  Don't hide behind your keyboard.

I am, however, also a believer in the very old fashioned view of 'If you don't have anything good to say then don't say anything at all'.  Although I will admit there are shades of grey with that one.  I like to think that unnecessary cruelty or rudeness should be avoided but if a friend asks me an opinion in a fitting room then I will give it even if it's not what she might want to hear.  I will, however, do it in a diplomatic way.  Cruelty avoided, see?

Like a lot of people, I tend to read a lot of newspaper articles online and I freely admit that it's not always from the publications I would buy. (ahem, The Daily Mail cough cough.  please don't judge me).  If I've googled a story then I will look at a couple of articles on it from various papers. 

i also get sucked in to the stories they run down the side of each article showing Beyonce out with her baby, or the Eastender caught in a bikini on holiday - you know the kind of thing.  But what amazes me are the comments that other readers put at the bottom of the article.  I love reading them but often I do so with open mouth.  Comments on a divisive political argument or new policy are great and offer so much variety in opinion that I can sometimes be persuaded to look at it in a different way.  But it's the comments on the 'fluff' stories that make me feel upset, sick and amazed.

Do people have so little in their lives that they must find something wrong with every story or every person in that story?  My real pet hate are the people that have to comment on a cute celebrity new baby/wedding/day out story.  Invariably it will read 
'HELLO??  Woman has baby!! This is a story???  Why????'.

Erm.  If you don't want to know about these people or their lives, it's simple. Don't read the article.  Don't browse the celeb section. 

'They called the baby WHAT??? What is wrong with them?  Poor kid.'
Is it  your child?  What's it got to do with you? 

Those are quite tame, I will admit.  But then you get the really unnecessary ones.
'Lost her baby weight?! Ha, in her dreams.  Still looks like a fat pig.  She shouldn't be out in public looking like that.'
Hmmm, I hope you're a perfect specimen.

' F*****g cretin!  I hope he dies in a horrible accident'

The list goes on and on and gets worse and worse.  I stumbled upon a fluffy article today about a woman in Yorkshire (I think), who went into labour and gave birth during her own baby-shower.  No great breaking news, but quite a sweet story accompanied with a schmaltzy shot of woman with baby and her baby-shower friends.  It won't change my life but it was a nice feel-good piece.
Every single comment (yes I checked) was having a go at her/the situation because she had a baby shower.   Comments about this not being America and how it was just an excuse to freeload from your friends and so on and so on.  Some comments were downright offensive.  

What is your problem people?! Were you asked to come along and contribute? Nope, didn't think so.  Does it affect you in any way, shape or form?  No.  So get over yourself.  Live your life in your way and let other people enjoy theirs in their way. 

These are all quite tame examples really if you think about it.  I won't even go into the children and young people who are depressed and, sometimes worse, committing suicide due to internet bullies. It's heartbreaking and so unnecessary.  I don't know what the answer it, does anyone really?  But all I hope is that eventually the novelty will wear off and we can start being nicer to people.   Hmmmm, meanwhile back in the real world...

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Summer holiday sadness?

Today it was reported that Michael Gove announced that from September 2015, schools could be given the freedom to decide their own school holidays.

In principal, this is perhaps not such a daft idea.  

On paper.  

In reality, this is likely to cause complete chaos to an awful lot of the population - be them parents or teachers, or [shock, horror] a teacher who is also a parent!

The 6 weeks holiday argument has raged for years and will keep going forever, I am sure.  And I am both for and against the idea but, in my most humble opinion, the pros do outweigh the cons - and that's coming from someone who is already worrying about what to do with my job when my little boy starts school in 3 years time.

Let's say that everything goes ahead with Mr Gove's plan and schools decide to fix their own holidays. What could  happen?

-  two siblings at different schools with different holiday times.  Neither will release the child for a family holiday in term time.  So parents could now be restricted to only 2 or 3 weeks in the summer when they could take their holiday. Boo hoo you might say, but how flexible is YOUR office/workplace with holidays?  'Not very' is usually the answer.  So, what happens when a large percentage of your workforce needs the same 2 or 3 weeks off in the summer? Think about places like supermarkets and other retail stores - where the majority of their staff are part-time and have a family.  How will that work?

- holiday companies currently like to inflate their rates from mid-July to early September.  But what if summer breaks started earlier at some schools and ended later in others? HOORAY and KERRRR-CHINGG! for the tourism industry.  They can now over-inflate their prices for maybe 10 weeks rather than the paltry 6 .  Think about it...all those smug, childless couples (of which I was one for years)  and pensioners will also now have to pay a small fortune to sit on an overcrowded beach surrounded by kiddiwinkies too if they dare to want a holiday between June and October!

- then there is the childcare issue.  Yes, it is everybody's individual choice to have a child.  So it is everyone's individual responsibility to arrange and pay for our of school childcare.  Fine when everyone has the same holiday time - give or take a few days - and holiday clubs can run and childminders know when they have spaces.  But what happens when this period is extended by a couple of weeks at either end?  This will affect the premises they can rent for their clubs - most use school facilities.  The infrastructure has been in place, and building, for a number of years to help families during the school holidays and now Mr Gove would like to make it more difficult yet again.

- I thought this government wanted to get people back to work wherever possible?  They are already losing out on millions of women's earning potential because of childcare restrictions   So why are they now trying to make it even more difficult?  This could actually force one parent out of the workforce.

- Teachers who are parents.  Where does this leave them?  Their  school closes at a different time to their offspring's.  Will the government suddenly give them the flexibility to take their holiday during termtime to cover it?  Nope, thought not. 

And that is not even getting into the 'touchy feely' list of reasons why the straight 6 week holiday should stay. 
Children should be allowed to be children for at least a few years.  Society has been trying to make children grow older beyond their years for a while now and it's ridiculous.  Children need to play in order to grow and learn. Trying to turn us all into Tiger Mums and making them sit in a regimented fashion and learn for longer hours will not produce a balanced cross section of society.

And teachers.  What about them?  Most of my teaching friends spend evenings planning lessons and marking work and writing reports and making wallcharts and decorating their classrooms and trying to meet government targets and.. and... and... the list goes on. yes, they may well finish teaching at 3.30pm but they don't just 'clock off'.  And they can't just 'chuck a sickie' when they feel like it.  Or bugger off for a long weekend if they feel like it - unlike a lot of the population.

Most of my friends are usually back in the classroom in the final week of the summer holidays making the necessary preparations for the new term.  A lot of them spend the first week of the holidays in the classroom too - taking down the decorations and work displays. 

Mr Gove probably went to a private school like a lot of his government peers and actually I don't have an issue with that.  Each to their own, live and let live and all that.  Personally, I would rather have educated people leading the country rather than a white-van-man with a CSE* in Technical Drawing trying to decide economic policy.   What I object to, are these educated people not having a sense of perspective; not having any idea of how most of the population have to live.  That's what irks me. 
[*showing my age here.  Most people reading this probably won't have a clue what a CSE is and think I have just made a typing error]

For someone who usually does vote Tory (don't hate me, please!) I am hoping that either Gove gets ousted in favour of someone a little more savvy, or that the opposition gets in and cancels these plans.  I won't hold my breath though, so far the Labour party haven't shown any signs of withdrawing most of the Tory plans and cuts.

Hey ho.