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Peaches Geldof

1 May

I’m very sorry Peaches Geldof is dead. I know it’s not the done thing to criticise those who’ve died in tragic circumstances and nothing can allay the devastation brought on her family and friends of losing a close person at such a young age with such a young family but…
and it’s a big B.U.T… I’m fuming…. Why is she being given a free pass? As the news comes out this evening that her death is related to heroin I hear a ‘friend’ on Channel 4 News extolling her virtues as an advocate of attachment parenting and her promotion of gay marriage rights etc and asking us to “look beyond the manner in which she may have died”. What? Well excuse me if I don’t.
IF… (and please let’s hope it’s not the case) but IF, she was doing heroin in the house with a toddler present, why are we praising her parenting skills at all? How is this not being discussed or at least being flagged up as hypocritical? How is it, in fact, being totally ignored? It makes a complete mockery of real mums (and dads) working away at being good parents day after day after day after year after year. I gave up smoking when I was pregnant seven years ago and now ensure I don’t have my single-half- a-bottle-of-wine-a-night lifestyle, having swapped it for that dull recommended at least two days off a week regime and the rest. I drive more carefully, I cross roads at the right places and I try not to risk my life over stupid or superficial things, whilst still having a fulfilling life. I do this because I have the responsibility of being a parent. My children are young and I want to be around and know that they need me to be around for as long as possible, or at least while they are still growing up. Surely, no one could know this more than Peaches – the girl who lost her mother so young and is such a ‘wonderful example’ of an attachment parent.
I don’t get it. Her death is tragic yes, and clearly no one chooses to be addicted to anything, but let’s not eulogise this and make it something it’s not. Of course the poor woman would have been utterly devastated and traumatised by her own mother’s untimely death and she clearly did try to change into the life of domestic bliss (as if there is such a thing). But reporting like tonight– or the recent, totally uncritical, article in The Times of her attachment parenting – whilst right at the end noting, unchallenged by the journalist, that she has every weekend off as the kids went to her in laws – is just disingenuous to those of us who live in the real world.
It’s not easy and none of us get it 100% right 100% of the time but come on.

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Turning psychotic neurotic means I need a job

13 Oct

Eeek! As I chastised my long-suffering husband for “wiping the crumbs off the granite in the wrong way” I realised I probably need to get back in the real world, get a real job and get a sense of perspective.

It’s not that I don’t work. I do. Not only do I do all the mumsy stuff: to-ing and fro-ing kids to school, swimming, back n’ forth from playdates and parties, I also do all the cleaning, shopping, cooking and even hold down the remnants of a sort of journalistic career.

So far, so average. But what’s tipped me over the edge I fear, is that after 3 years of working by myself, for myself, I’ve hit an impasse – not the first woman to do this by any means, but it’s hit me rather by surprise I must admit.

As my children slowly become embroiled in full time education, I’m left with the ‘freelance career’ that used to fill the gaps in between sporadic childcare, but which now seems an odd dead end. I’m lucky to get enough work to get by but not lucky (talented?!) enough to yet get a proper career from a column or book etc. So I find myself in unchartered waters career-wise. Quite odd for a girl who for the best part of the last 20 years has defined herself by her career – well in my own head at least.

So the psychotic neurotic temperament has slowly grown to the point where the poor old hubs gets short shrift for misplaced crumbs, the cleaning takes on a weird priority and daily meals become a focal point to fixate on conjuring up the perfect family scene.

To worry about or do these things is not in itself an issue of course, but to fixate on them is. The road to bored housewife must surely be paved with lack of fulfilment. Meaningful things to do where you feel valued for who you are in a professional capacity – not as a mum, cleaner, cook or wife – must be key to that.

So here begins the search for the next chapter in my life. Full-time mum, full-ish time worker. Lets’ see what happens. Any tips welcome.

How good stories can make bad people

9 May

In one of Piers Morgan’s books he says that when Princess Diana died, some journalists came in to work on their days off – unprompted and without asking – just because they wanted to work on such a big story. Others who rang and begrudgingly offered to come in, were apparently told if they had to ask, then they shouldn’t bother coming in on Monday.

News journalism is a funny beast. Having just revisited this side of things for the last 10 days, I confess I love writing news, there’s an immediacy and an edge to it that feature writing just can’t touch. It’s not all scoops and doorstepping of course – much of it is mundane – but there are adrenaline moments for all of us.

When a company I’d written about over the last ten years finally went bust and was exposed for being a sham, I stood up and cheered in the office – fist punchingly good news (very un-Chiswick)..good riddance to bad rubbish etc.  Similarly when the chap who’d called me an idiot for asking me to explain his (deliberately unfathomable) business model went belly up I was delighted – vindicated at last.

But as we know with animals and all the rotten press behaviour leading up to Leveson, tasting blood can turn you into a vampire if you’re not careful.

Sitting in Green Park opposite the Ritz hotel with my friend whose still in news reminded me how close this line can be. Hearing of the death of Mrs T – she rang in immediately and offered to come in. Why would you want to miss that kind of story, we agreed, it’s just too big – and a once in a lifetime chance to be involved in a story like that.

The conversation then moved to what the next event will be – that fine line drawing ever nearer.. Hmm Blair – no that definitely won’t be as big. The Queen – yeah that’ll be a good one. And then I thought (& only just stopped myself from saying) – ooh what about Kate, that’d be fantastic.

Woa.  Line crossed. I’d officially gone to the dark side & don’t like the thoughts in my head. Back to features, I’m a nicer person there.

[Disclaimer of sorts: apologies for those of you who find the above distasteful, I blog about it for the purposes of highlighting how scarily easy it is to find oneself on the wrong moral road – not as a justification of bad behaviour, just as a note that we all have the potential to think the unthinkable. The point, I guess, is just whether or not we act on it.]

Working 9-5 – it’s no way to make a livin’

28 Mar

I’m no Guido Fawkes, raging political commentator or even Dolly Parton (sadly) but it seems to me we really need to radically rethink the way both women and men work for the next generation.

Clegg’s latest suggested working mother benefit is tinkering around the edges pure and simple, with a grand here and a grand there.  It is just a distraction from the main event. We will never solve the problem of women returning to work after children unless the entire working culture is changed.

Clegg’s stab at it has enraged stay at home mothers as their hard work seems to’ve been ignored, while many working/career mothers would probably give the money up in a flash to have working life that was more sympathetic with their home life or more flexible hours, without damaging their career prospects.

The male dominated workplace –and its 9-5 culture – is the culprit and nothing else really matters before this issue is addressed. And it needs to be radically rethought. In this age of instant messaging, working from home, internet, skype etc, it cannot be beyond the wit of man (or women) for employers to embrace part time work properly once and for all. So that means accepting that many women – who are highly skilled in all sorts of areas – can do a serious job, but within the hours of 9.30am t0 3pm.

Let me take a step back. We all know that many women fall off the career cliff and there’s a dearth of estrogen at senior management and board levels. This is due in a large part to the child-rearing issue. Many women I know were heading up the ladder and doing very well, keeping up with men and doing better than men in many cases, before the babies arrived.

But now, five years later with our toddlers, pre-schoolers, and reception kids in tow, many of these ladies have gone back in some way shape or form to their former employers or to new jobs but in a smaller, more junior role – doing the grunt work and picking up the other projects that no one else wants to do, because at it’s safe, it’s something and it’s better than nothing.

But what a waste of a great talent pool. We are missing out on these excellent minds which have been well educated, learned from experience in the workplace, learned about life from becoming a mother – plus have often become much better multi-taskers and much better people managers in the process too.

If forward thinking employers could only look at women returning to work as assets and allow them to work around their family but in jobs that are at use their level of expertise– I would be very surprised if many were let down. It’s a bank of talent that’s waiting to be tapped and the first employers to do so will surely reap huge rewards.

We are not all Sheryl Sandeburgs. Many of us, myself included, just want interesting work that makes the most of all our skills, experience and knowledge, which is fairly paid, and that we can do while the children are at school.

It can’t be right that so many women to have to take huge backwards steps and accept lesser roles in order to try and achieve some semblance of work-life balance.

 

Women are rubbish at sport

15 Mar

Really?

Well if you talk to the mums and women I know, that’s what you’d believe. Recently I set up a weekly training session with ‘Ron’ – a fabulous trainer who I’d met while working on a feature.

But as a sex, I must confess we are rubbish. Not one of the women I spoke to said: “yeah but watch out as I get really competitive, so be prepared to eat my dust.”

It was all: “Well… I’m really bad at sports/I’m really unfit/I haven’t done any exercise since the birth of Tiddles/ I can’t run….” you get the picture. And I’m not judging them because I include myself in this. I regularly use the lines: “I make a ‘grapevine’ look like Spaghetti hoops” and “I gave up aerobics as I knew my super-bad co-ordination would never improve so I’d be able to actually go in the right direction as the rest of the class.” to belittle my abilities – which as it turns out are not quite as awful as I remember.

It’s just insane and I’m coming across it ALL the time – Many of the women I now know are the women all those articles were written about over International Women’s Day – we are the lost mummies – the professional women who had good careers up till about 35, then had kids and are now floundering in the ridiculous ‘you-can-have-it-all’ mantra we were promised as children of the 80s but clearly doesn’t exist.

But it’s not just these women who have this self doubt – and it’s not just in sports – this was just the latest example.

Over the years I’ve interviewed many successful women (often not mothers) and I would guestimate that at least 80-90% of them have self doubt and are constantly scared that they are going to be found out as frauds and will be ‘discovered’ as inept or incapable of doing their job.

What is it in the female psyche that makes us put ourselves down so much… and so often? I just can’t imagine men saying those things. We limit ourselves by our own put-downs. Surely there are enough external influences out there in the big wide world to put us down and challenge our success, we shouldn’t need to sabotage ourselves and our own potential as well.

I don’t know what the answer is, it seems no one does – but it sure isn’t belittling ourselves and our abilities. Every one of the women I’ve come across is not only super-capable, intelligent, charming but they are also adeptly juggling more than most circus performers. That’s not to be sniffed at, or belittled. Ever. Especially by ourselves.

Behind the curve

6 Nov

Every now and again all of us get disillusioned with our current status quo. Last weekend was one for me. Six hours of sitting alone on my sofa watching Parliament Live TV to cover two parliamentary debates on beer tax and air passenger duty had prompted a bit of soul searching, not to mention a touch of numb bum.

A Friday night and Saturday of wittering with hubby and friends followed, whereby – like 99.9% of all freelance journalists – I thought I might try my hand at some kind of creative writing, perhaps even a sitcom..

Now I realise I’m not the only one to’ve ever come up with this gem of a plan, but to see “writing a sitcom”  in the going down column of Sunday Times Style mag the very next day, was slightly dream-dashing to say the least.

Apparently sitcom-writing was the new middle class version of “blogging” – which I’m still clearly doing – but now neither are en-vogue and the latter of which is now totally passe.

So not just behind the curve then, but behind the the whole flipping ball game..

Middle Aged Drunk Dialling

9 Oct

I’ve long been a fan of Caitlin Moran, and having enjoyed her articles & book, I then finally got round to reading this piece “I got the infant from Time Out drunk”

I would just like to point out to the juvenile puker at Time Out, that although he may have vommed, Ms Moran was not exactly immume to the effects of the vino. As any slummy-mummy will know, Boden shopping to mums is essentially mummy porn for the middle class, slightly tipsy mother – or maternal drunk dialling if you will, for want of a better equivalent.

Better we shop online & spend a small fortune while fantasising about perfectly coiffed kids than fantasise about other men, dialing up old flames or generally causing more trouble for ourselves than need be.

Boden can always be returned & refunded. No harm done.