Category Archives: Tendencies

Why I will fight tooth and claw for my local library

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The HiveAt the weekend, Children’s laureate, Malorie Blackman pointed out that 105 libraries have been closed or privatised over the past seventeen months, bringing the total to 347 under the care of the current UK Coalition Government. The continued influence of austerity measures are putting an estimated 400 more libraries at risk.

When I was about 15 or 16 my friend and I would spend hours perusing the shelves of the local library. Usually searching for ‘factual’ books about the occult and supernatural (we were into Ouija boards and horror movies in a big way then).

I loved the library. You could walk in, find a book on a seemingly endless array of subjects, get it stamped by a friendly librarian (avoiding the concerned gaze) and off you went. It was entirely free and you had reading material a plenty! Read the rest of this entry

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Waste not want not, the food waste challenge

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Waste not, want notToday’s topic is Food Waste. It was reached in a roundabout manner during a conversation that started with the lack of snow and ended with  fox hunting. But somewhere in the middle was a sojourn into the appalling waste of food that takes place in our country, and the world in general.

A new report by the The Institution of Mechanical Engineers claims that up to half of the world’s food is wasted.

Half.

An estimated 870 million people around the globe do not have enough food to eat. Read the rest of this entry

Civilising Nature

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I wrote this short short story a few years ago as part of a creative writing course and have been meaning to go back and tidy it up ever since. I’ve made some minor changes and now post it here for your perusal. I do hope you enjoy it.

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It had been six months since Stanley had died, enough time apparently. Certainly that is what the children thought. Iris had dreaded this day but now it was here she felt at peace, calm. She had a short while before the children arrived, the sun was high in the sky but a gentle breeze kept the temperature balmy. She relaxed into the chair and watched a butterfly flit across the garden, happy at the simple joy of being alive.

When she and her husband, Stanley, had moved in to the little house just a few weeks after marrying she had fallen in love with the plot almost as intensely as she loved him. Back then it was penned in by a six foot wooden fence and laid to lawn. It took ten years for the elder and hawthorn hedge to grow high enough and thick enough for them to be able to rip down the fence, much to the annoyance of the neighbours.

When their first child was born Iris had Stanley plant an apple tree.  Two years later they planted a plum and another year and half later a cherry. By the time the children were old enough to be climbing trees and building dens the little orchard was big enough to oblige. The cherries would be eaten fresh from the trees, if you could get to them before the birds, and Iris and the girls would make apple pies and plum jam as the summer waned. Read the rest of this entry

Eeek! Infomania?

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Arrgghhhhh! I’m chirruping on Twitter at the moment and I’m feeling it a little more, perhaps I could get into it. But it’s having an unexpected side effect…information overload!

There is so much to read out there and there was more than enough before.

Lets start with the news. Obviously I have to read a few different sites, just to make sure I’m getting a rounded view. Then to catch up on my Facebook friends, follow some of their shares…a music video, a feature, a comic strip. Then there’ emails and personal messages to action or reply to. Don’t forget those little chores; looking up recipes, researching a future purchase, job opportunities?

A few minutes to spare? I should do some background reading for a blog post I had an idea about. Which reminds me, I have a mountain of blogs to catch up on, just reading them isn’t enough, I should be commenting…I claim to be a writer right? Oh and I really really must look into some stuff for that story idea.

Add Twitter into the mix and suddenly I’m bombarded by a whole new set of features to read, people to look up, stuff to see and do….

I feel I’m in danger of disappearing under a mountain of information, and yet I’m hungry….no starving for more, more, more!

Infomania is the debilitating state of information overload, caused by the combination of a backlog of information to process (usually in e-mail), and continuous interruptions from technologies like phones, instant messaging, and e-mail. It is also understood as distraction caused by the urge to check e-mail, text messaging and other sources of information, which causes the person to show symptoms to neglect other, often more important things—duties, family, etc. (For instance, a typical symptom of infomania is that of checking e-mail frequently during vacation.)” According to the great info source in the web…wikipedia

Women’s Views

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So, what do you think of the new look? I’m thinking it’s a little lighter a little more creative and a lot more fun than the old one. Maybe, just maybe, it will inspire me to post more often 😉

Whilst I’ve been very quiet here, I have been a little more active elsewhere. Mostly as a co-editor at Women’s Views on News, a not-for-profit project covering news from around the world about women. A survey carried out in March 2010 by Global Media Monitoring Project found that women are featured in only around a fifth of international news headlines and just 10 per cent of all news stories.  With women making up about 50% of the global population (give or take a few) this is clearly gender-biased inequality at work. Women’s Views on News challenges that and is aiming to redress the balance by highlighting the stories about and for women.

As well as running current news stories, the site editors also write features about issues effecting women around the world and draw attention to campaigns and groups working towards improving life for women everywhere.

So far I’ve found my time with the project really interesting and enjoyable. I have always taken an active interest in current affairs and especially equality (or all too often inequality) in the world and this has given me an opportunity to deepen my understanding of this area and to maybe make a difference to some of what’s going on. I’m getting the chance, encouragement and motivation to write regularly and to a deadline, to get published with help and advice and to learn more about what is going on in the world.

While my ultimate aim is to make a living from writing, this seems to me to be a worthwhile step in the right direction and I’m considering looking into other voluntary writing opportunities, time willing of course!

Excuses, excuses…

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I’m cross with myself, I’ve not posted for four months and that’s simply not on. It’s not to say I’ve not started a number of posts in that time, I’ve just not finished any of them. I’ve got good reason, my entire life is turning itself upside down and inside out. I’m not going to go into that here, of course, but content yourself with that as, if not justification then, explanation of my absence. It’s time to pick myself up and start blogging again.

First though, I wanted to talk a little about the effect these turbulent times are having on my creativity, particularly writing. I write for pleasure and for myself mostly I find it a cathartic process and now I want to write for others and if at all possible, for a career. But lets go back to the heart of it, journalling.

I’ve kept a diary since I was, well, old enough to write coherently. I have them all stacked in boxes and drawers, pages and pages of my thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears, little snapshots of my life. I rarely wrote daily, sometimes not even weekly or monthly, but, just as I am always reading at least one book, I was always keeping a diary. But things have changed and I no longer write in my diary.

I’ve always recognised the importance of journalling. I see it as a way to untangle the things in ones mind that you don’t wish to share with anyone, a way to self analyse without the demand for a response. It’s also a way to track your ups and downs, the ebb and flow of our inner selves. It’s a way to speak without having to share, a way to divest yourself of the emotions that, at times, threaten to overwhelm you. It is, in my belief, a healthy and good habit to get into. And I miss it. I miss it terribly.

It almost feels to me like everything is stunted now, because when I try to write, all of these other unwritten things come tumbling out, shaping and distorting what I’m trying to say until it becomes another journal entry when I’m not doing that any more. Emails, posts, comments, everything feels like it’s trying to change and merge into the journal I’m no longer keeping. Almost like those thoughts are alive, needing some sort of outlet, colouring, if not poisoning, everything I write.

I read Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors a short while ago and he said in the introduction of the collection of short stories “A few of them were written to amuse myself, or, more precisely to get an idea or an image out of my head and pinned safely down on paper; which is as good a reason for writing as I know: releasing demons, and letting them fly.”.Something about that struck a chord in me. I think he’s right, sometimes we have to write simply to let the ‘demons fly’.

So, I need to give these thoughts a little airtime, I need to let them flow through me and clear the pathways so that I can begin to write again. It’s happening, slowly and this post is a sign that those routes are beginning to clear, just a little – for now.

Tweet, to who?

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I can’t tweet.

I’ve tried and tried but I just can’t do it. I don’t know what to say. I can’t put my thoughts succinctly enough and when I do they just come out sounding silly, boring or worse, pretentious. I’ve been following various writers and industry success stories and most of them tweet about what they’re writing, quote people or make practical comments about useful websites etc.

It’s not really creative or, for the most part, that interesting. There I said it, sorry! But really it isn’t. Some of it is useful, some of it is insightful, either about the world, or more often, the individual. Neil Gaiman for example tweets constantly and, as a fan, I like to hear how he’s spending his time, but that’s because I’m a fan. He has earned the right to chatter on twitter.

But what of people like me, with my impressive two followers? What can I tweet that will interest them and encourage more? I’ve read lots of guides to tweeting, but essentially it’s “Be interesting”. Does this mean I’m not interesting? I’m not listening to that voice. It’s not lack of ideas. I could tweet about telling my adorable three year old that yes, she is a “big girl” but not a “big enough girl” to fit into that t-shirt. She is in fact a “medium sized girl”, but no, not a “little girl” all in the aisles of the local supermarket. Or how about my views on current affairs, over a 100 killed in Libya by a government turning heavy weaponry on their own people? Isn’t it great that the internet is making sure these people arn’t going through this behind closed doors? I could tweet about my cooking exploits as I trial new recipes and fail to get active yeast to go frothy before mixing it with flour. What about my experiences in the carpark as someone insists on undertaking me when I’m reversing into a parking space as waiting the extra 10 seconds was just not possible for them (but was, apparently for me).

Seriously, who, other than a few close friends and family, really wants to hear my thoughts on these things? So, if that’s all out. Then what, do I tweet about?

There are people out there doing great things with 140 characters, but they are few and far between. Most people seem to be whittering. Which is, I guess, where the idea came from. It’s babble of biblical proportions and I think I’m one of the ones who was counfounded early. Or perhaps I simply never joined in the first place.