Educational Equality is about the issue of Basic Human Worth, And We Shouldn’t Pretend Otherwise.

I can feel a familiar anger rising, a quickening of my pulse, which experience shows I need to calm. Its not ok to get angry is it? It’s, well, a bit common. No place for emotion in politics, no place for passion. Chip on my shoulder, you see. Angry lefty. Politics of envy etc, etc. This whole class/privilege/education debate is like one of those arguments where someone tells you are being defensive and the only possible response you can give is “f*** off”.
But I must try and get past that. As Melissa Benn has so brilliantly pointed out, we need to let the conversation begin. And that conversation, where it comes to so-called educational apartheid, is an uncomfortable one, because we are all desperate to avoid the issue at the core of it: human worth. Do we believe that some children deserve better than others because they happened to be born richer?

read more on The Huffington Post here

May 2016

Contributing to the Thunderstorm

The other day I received a text message, from my husband’s phone, which had been dictated by my small son. It read: Dear Mummy, I wrote a story, love from Anthony.

I am not sure anything could have filled me with more joy, and the backs of my eyes stung with proud and delighted tears.

read the full article in the Leither magazine here

Feb 2016

Say no to Roosh V on Saturday, for the sake of, well, everyone

On Saturday, in 43 different countries across the world, including Scotland, England and Wales, Pick-up artist Roosh V is organising a day of ‘tribal action’, for heterosexual men only, and with retribution promised to those who oppose him. Mr V himself is thought to be attending a meeting in Washington (DC, not Tyne and Wear), but his followers are all going to meet up and exchange passwords before shuffling off to secret locations. It would be laughable or exciting if it weren’t quite so weird, as is the notion of how they are going to decipher who is hetero enough to join in. We assume they are dealing with fairly primitive notions of sexuality, so perhaps they will just flash a picture of some female anatomy at people and see if their eyes glaze over with lust.

I would suggest that if you know one of these events is happening near you, you might formulate some form of protest. It could be as gentle as you like. Light a candle, do an interpretive dance, stand on a picnic table and sing Tina Turner’s I don’t wanna fight no more.

Do so on behalf of your sister, mother, friend or colleague who doesn’t know how to tell you she was raped, but would appreciate a little solidarity. Not that anyone needs to have been raped to feel outraged by the Roosh V’s assertion that rape on private property should be legalised because to be alone with a man is to consent to anything, but these statements do demand a moment of reflection for her predicament.

read the full article on Open Democracy here

January 2016

Using and Losing my Marbles

Where attention goes energy flows” says the nice lady who is here to do a Home energy report for me. It’s a neat rhyme but it takes me a moment to get the gist of what it means: that if we are not mindful about how we use energy we can easily waste it. We are sitting in my living room by a Christmas tree that is lit up, well…like a Christmas tree. I glance at it guiltily.
“I suppose the Christmas tree is on” I say.

“But it’s very much in use” nice lady smiles, and I smile too, delighted by the idea of its being in use because we are huddled next to it with our cups of herbal tea, enjoying it. I am also relieved: I don’t think this report is going to involve being told off.

See more in the Leither Magazine here


November 2015

The £10,000 Question

I should be baking. Or producing pies. Certainly creating some kind of party food involving Swiss chard – which has been my only successful crop this year, making me something of an expert on how to use it up. Chard Samosas were a treat. Chard pakora too was delicious, even if they looked like I had finally gone completely mental and made rhubarb pakora. To hell with it, I think my next challenge is going to be a huge chard mille-feuille. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Bake Off.

There is going to be a party you see. I am in denial about it because it’s making me feel old. My lovely husband is going to be forty, he doesn’t look it of course, he is one of those people who has never looked his age and I’ve often wondered how long it will be before I am mistaken for his mother.
So, I need to get cooking for his party, and I need to get him a present. I wrote to the good people at Ceramic Experience to ask if I could get a plaster cast of my boobs done but apparently it costs two hundred and fifty quid and they don’t do it much because it frightens the kids. So I’ll just get him some pickles. He likes pickles. Other than my boobs, they are his favourite thing.

read more here


September 2015

I wish I could tell you…

I’ve lost my voice. Not my physical voice you understand. Get yourself along to Star of the Sea come Sunday morning and you will still find me belting out a bit of The Lord’s my Shepherd. I mean my writing voice. Just can’t get the words out. I’ve lost my Va Va Voom…

And there’s so much I want to tell you about, we have so much to discuss don’t we?

read the rest in the Leither here

June 2015

Why would the Prime Minister respect human rights? Nobody respected his.

The Prime Minister has delayed plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, but we are told this is only a delay about getting the changes right, not about abandoning the changes altogether. Human rights are still very much in trouble, and it doesn’t surprise me, because I would argue that David Cameron and a third of his cabinet were raised in institutions which undermined their human rights. I believe that if we continue to tolerate the practise of deliberately raising small children out-with their homes and families, we are perpetuating a systemic flaw in how rights are valued.

When David Cameron left home aged seven his right to respect for private family life and home, under article 8 of the HRA, was contravened. Attending a preparatory school in the seventies, it is highly likely that his correspondence was not private either, as letters home were often checked as late as the 1990s. I wouldn’t like to speculate as to the level of freedom of thought under article 9 he experienced, or whether he endured punishment without breaking the law (article 7), or degrading and inhuman treatment (article 3) as was not uncommon in boarding schools of the era. While corporal punishment was on the wane in the eighties, due to fashion and complaints rather than a genuine belief that beating children wasn’t very nice, it was not outlawed in private schools until 1999. We do know that he was made to write a Georgic, some sort of weird repetitive writing task, which would nowadays be classed as menial and degrading. Living in an institution surrounded only by other wealthy upper class young men, we might question whether his freedom of assembly and association under article 11 was upheld. And anyone who has ever tried to borrow so much as a herbal tea-bag from an ex public school boy will have felt the wrath of what an upbringing where article 1 protocol 1, that freedom to peacefully enjoy ones possessions, is not respected, can do to a person.

Continue reading on OpenDemocracy here

March 2015

Mother’s Day Thoughts: The Politics of Loving

You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to not enjoy it very much. You are allowed to leave the washing in the machine going smelly for days. You just have to keep doing it and that is enough.

That has to be enough, and as mothers enough is all we are aiming for. But on those days when we sob silently into our shortbread, when we feel under-appreciated, unloved, unvalued, not just by our kids (because we can handle that) but by the whole sodding rest of the world, perhaps we should reflect on why that might be the case. Might there be a reason why we are getting such a rum deal? It might be, you know, Psychological.


Now I am no expert on psychology. I dabble, but I’m no expert. But the whole Penis Envy thing has always struck me as a bit weak. I mean, I am as partial to the penis as the next girl. Quite possibly more partial, depending who the next girl is. And I would certainly be interested in test driving a penis for say, an afternoon or a long bus journey. But envy? Really?

read the rest on the Huffington Post here