Yoo-hoo! I’m over here!

29 Nov

Waves frantically from…

My New Blog

The Code

11 Oct

Who’d have daughters?

Well me actually – give me six of them – all attitude and confidence and in yer face. I think teenage girls are fabulous.

Probably because I loved being a teenager myself.

And I loved school.

I loved the d.r.a.m.a.

It’s so funny looking back at how much d.r.a.m.a. there was – gawd we were so sure that somebody really ought to be filming all the d.r.a.m.a. in our lives.

It’s true that through teenage eyes the world is a very exciting place – no matter how small that world is.

My daughter is constantly embroiled in the ebb and flow of friendships made and friendships lost.

She was no sooner at secondary school than she learned The Code.

I don’t know the full story and neither I should but briefly somebody told one of her best mate’s boyfriend that she fancied him cos y’know – he had a right to know. And virtually half the year group imploded!

Ah , how well I remember the concept of rights through teenage eyes – it’s just as well we grow up isn’t it? Can you imagine going through your whole life believing you are entitled to do and say as you please and to hell with the consequences, so long as your happiness is fulfilled? Cos you have the right?

No, of course not.

My then 13yo daughter and I ended up chatting about  what you could and what you shouldn’t do when you “fancy” someone. She had her own ideas and I’m proud to say she worked out The Code pretty much for herself.

It’s not a long code.

Your friend’s (wo)man is out of bounds.


She worked that out at 13.

It’s a rule that the vast majority of decent human beings will understand and agree with.

Of course people fall in and out of love all the time and infidelity is a fact of life. You can’t help who you fall for.

But your friend’s (wo)man is out of bounds.

Life isn’t all about getting what you want, when you want it, no matter who you hurt in the process. Even my teenage daughter figured that out so I have high hopes she’ll grow into an adult with a whole ton of self-respect to guide her decisions.

Anyway, The Code was applied and the girl who’d tried to nick her mate’s boyfriend was dropped like a hot thing plunged in a furnace then left to bake on the surface of Mercury for all eternity.

Because in the end ALL the 13yo girls were able to figure out The Code.

Even the one who’d broke it – well it took her 2 years but she got there eventually once she’d been on the receiving end.


Tis a wunnerful thing.


iHeartFaces Foto Fixin Friday

8 Oct

iHeartFaces are running a Constructive Feedback Friday this week – and I think it’s still Friday here in Scotland – just – so here goes.

First up this little stunner.

The trick needed here is to selectively increase the exposure.

So to start with I open the photo in Photoshop and add an exposure adjustment layer increasing the exposure +2.41. I then use a layer mask to remove the increased exposure from the background and flatten the image.

This revealed a bt too much shine on the face for my liking so to reduce this I am gonna blur it a bit.

First of all I select the skin using Select, Colour Range and set the fuzziness to 130 before clicking anywhere on the face.

Copy and paste the selected pixels to a new layer and hide the bottom layer. It should look like this…

That’s too much of the photo to blur so using the eraser tool with a soft edge get rid of everything you want to keep sharp, remembering eyes, mouth and eyebrows!

Now use Filter-Blur-Surface Blur and set it to Radious 44 and Threshold 54 to really exaggerate the blur

Turn the back layer on again and what you’ve got now is one very plastic looking child – but worry ye not.

Reduce the opacity of the top layer to 20% … less is more right?

Okay – we could stop there but I’ve not had a chance to play with Lightroom yet so I save it as a PSD file and imported it into LR3.

And slide those sliders.

  • Temp +9
  • Fill Light 14
  • Blacks 7
  • Vibrance +11
  • Sharpening 68
  • Noise Reduction 19
  • Colour 13
  • Post Crop Vignetting Amount -20


And if you can’t be bothered scrolling back to see the original…

I’ve not touched the crop cos I like it as it is – just needed a bit more sunshine!

Take your place in line

5 Oct

In 1971 Dutch economist Jan Pen came up with a brilliant graphical way of conveying the distribution of income in a society. Imagine each person’s height is stretched in proportion to their income. Line them all up in height order with the shortest (poorest) at the front and the richest (tallest) at the back. Now imagine this parade passing by in 1 hour. Where would you be?

Can I share with you some figures from an OU course that uses data from 1995 as an example, bearing in mind that the income gap is accepted to have grown since then?

Rather than individually, people will be parading by in family groups, which means non-earners or low earning partners aren’t counted as destitute. The figures are also adjusted for family size, so based on a couple without children, a single person with the same income would be adjusted upwards since they have more to live on and a couple with children on the same income would be adjusted downwards since they have less to live on.

The average height of 5’8″ is used to represent the average household income.

And so the parade begins.

What’s immediately striking is how tiny almost everyone is, barring the few giants who arrive at the end.

After 3 minutes a single unemployed mum with two small children living below the Income Support level passes by, she is 1’10”.

Six minutes later a single male pensioner who owns his home and claims Income Support passes, he is 2’6″.

Everyone in the first 12 minutes is under 2’10” with household incomes less than half the average.

After 21 minutes a childless couple go by, he works full-time as an exhaust fitter, she does not do paid work, they are 3’9″.

After half an hour the person that passes is only 4’10” with a household income only 83% of the average.

We don’t see anyone who is 5’8″ until 62% of the population have already passed by.

After 45 minutes a couple pass with a baby and a toddler, he is a full-time technician in an engineering firm and she works part-time as a receptionist, they are both 6’10”.

With only 10 minutes left the heights really start to grow.

Fifty one minutes in and a single woman aged 45 with no children passes, she is a full-time personnel officer and is 8’7″ tall.

With only 3 minutes left a couple in their late fifties with grown children pass, he is a freelance journalist and she is a part-time manager of a day centre for the elderly. They are 11’11” high.

In the last minute a company chief executive and his non-earning wife pass, they are at least 60′ tall.

I shall let Pen describe the very last seconds

suddenly: the scene is dominated by colossal figures: people like tower flats… the rear of the parade is brought up by a few participants who are measured in miles… their heads disappear into the clouds

A modest estimate of the income of Britain’s richest man in 1995 would make him and his partner each 4 MILES high.

No-one denies that the earnings gap has increased in the past 15 years.

The average household income in Britain is cruelly distorted by these mile-high behemoths. If even the top 1% were discounted, today’s average income of £20,800 would be considerably reduced.

Which brings me to the magic number.


Our household income of £43,000 as an unadjusted figures quite firmly places us in the top earning part of the parade.

Adjusted to take into account one non-earning adult and three children, not so much.

The point of Child Benefit for me is to ensure that I exist. Because, you see, I don’t exist.

As a breeder and a dependant I’m accorded a social status that barely amounts to full citizenship – by which I mean I get to vote.

Child Benefit is the only recorded evidence that I am stepping back from paid employment to be a SAHM. For the years I claim Child Benefit my NI contributions will be topped up to compensate for me taking time out at no cost to the state to raise them. And by no cost I mean ME, my choice not to work costs the state nothing.

The only proof I have of my existence as anything other than a chattel is my Child Benefit.

My two older children are not my partner’s. Their father is a policeman, he earns a good bit less then £40,000 and is married.

Ignoring the rank stupidity of using the personal tax system to determine access to Child Benefit, how do we fit into George Osborne’s new structure?

As a socialist at heart I have no issue with the redistribution of wealth. If MrW and I lose Child Benefit for our child and it results in increased support for families on lower incomes I wholly support that.

What I am not fine with is my ex-husband and I losing child benefit for our children, the two with parents whose income doesn’t amount to the higher tax bracket. It is my ex’s income that determines the maintenance he provides, so surely it’s only fair that his income determines their entitlement to Child Benefit?


Linking MrW to Kathryn and Andrew through the personal taxation system will be somewhat of a challenge, and no less expensive than implementing a fair, means tested system.

But the thing that really pisses me off is that lower income families won’t be better off as a result of this. They won’t get more support.

The notion that a family on £18,000 is supporting, through their taxation, the provision of Child Benefit to a family on £50,000 is ludicrous Mr Osborne.

This is an attack on stay at home parents. This is an attack on those of us who wish to avoid institutionalised child-care (been there done that got the t-shirt no thanks).

Forcing parents who can manage adequately on one wage into the job market in this current economic climate is just plain stupid.

If you want fair Mr Osborne, as a non-working, non-claiming adult I want my tax allowance to be transferable to the person I am deemed to be dependant on. MrW. Only then will you have a fair measure of my household income and my decision to raise the next generation of tax payers will be recognised and valued.

Source: Mackintosh & Mooney, Identity, inequality and social class in Woodward (ed), questioning identity: gender, class ethnicity, 2004, The Open University

I made the front cover

2 Oct

A few months ago I put a call out on Twitter for ideas. I’d been asked to take photos for the local Rugby Club’s calendar.

In the end the organisers had a pretty good idea of what they wanted and it involved a lot of indoor photography. Not confident that I could do them justice, even with a loan of a directional flash, I had to pass on the job and advised them to get a photographer with some decent lighting kit.

They did, but came back to me in September and asked if I could do a couple of outdoor shots, one for the cover and a Christmas themed one for December.

So I made the cover.


My first printed and sold for money work.

Not money for me of course – money for the club.

You’d be surprised how little I.. ahem.. saw on this shoot.

No really.

I was all like “frame it”, and “expose it right first time cos these guys are not going to be happy if I ask them for a re-run!”

Even when they all mucked in and turned the score board round so it wasn’t in direct sunlight, I was metering and faffing around with the settings on my camera.

It was all very decorous.


And they were very good sports.

Or is the word “exhibitionists”?

Fix it Friday #73

1 Oct

Must do more Friday Fixes…

Must do more Friday Fixes…

I’ve given myself lines 🙂


My LR3 Edit

I slid some sliders.

It was a fabulous photo to begin with.

So I fake TTV’d it for fun.

TTV Edit

You can get fake TTV layers on Flickr – this one is from DLSDesigns

Obviously not as easy as giving Hipstatmatic for iPhone a good shake.

But I do like a challenge.

Wordless Wednesday: Sunflowers

22 Sep

Do you see yourself?

21 Sep

A couple of weeks ago Sally posted this over at Blogger.Ed. She took recent posts from the Tots100 bloggers and ran them through a word frequency programme and the results were quite revealing (yes yes I know it’s not wholly indicative or representative but think of it as a snapshot in time rather than a definitive list – go with the flow!).

Time, children, life, people, food, thought.

What does this say to you?

These words speak to me of home, of doubt, of struggle and of searching.

I wonder how many would feature in a similar exercise if undertaken a century ago? Apart from the obvious ones like “phone” and “Twitter” they could be from anytime.

For me the most striking word is “alone”. Is the loneliness of parenthood contemporary? Or a middle-class feature? (I am absolutely working-class I am not self identifying)

Or is it just that we bloggers are life’s natural loners?

“Don’t you want to join us?” I was recently asked by an acquaintance when he ran across me alone after midnight in a coffeehouse that was already almost deserted. “No, I don’t,” I said.

Franz Kafka

The MADS: The one in which I encounter living breathing people and run away and hide

17 Sep

First of all let me say congratulatulations to all the MADS 2010 winners and my fellow finalists, thoroughly well deserved even if I say so myself.

And of course big kudos kicks to Sally for not only surviving to the end of it all without a stroke but for pulling a quite diverse, need I say often divisive, community together for what was a wonderful, friendly and surprisingly laid back event. If there were any hitches in the proceedings I sure as shit didn’t spot them.

Butlins, well Butlins does what it says on the tin doesn’t it? The staff are insanely friendly and helpful, the accommodation clean, spacious and well equipped and the bar prices are fucking phenomenal – £6.70 for two large glasses of wine – ya dancer! I stayed in the older Shoreline Hotel and having had a look round the brand new Ocean Hotel I think I preferred the ambience at the older one. More British seaside iykwim?

Though I do wonder what seventh level of hell spewed forth that abomination on the left?

And I must also thank Phillips/Avent for helping make it possible for me to attend – it’s a bloody long way from here to Bognor Regis and trains, planes and automobiles fair add up.

But was it easy? Fuck no. I actually found the whole experience excruciatingly difficult. Really really hard. In fact I still feel a bit nauseous thinking about it now and want nothing more than to curl up and pretend it didn’t happen. I am not a gregarious person. I am not a “get in there” girl. I never have been. Adrift in a room full of people I don’t know is my idea of hell. If I hadn’t met with the amazing Heather on the train and the lovely Vix beforehand I doubt I would have left my room. Never in a million years could I have walked into the Coffee and Cake Reception on my own, my tummy is flipping even thinking about it.  I managed to get through the evening awards ceremony by nipping out and having a cigarette every time an opportunity to talk and mix was thrown at us – me and Dawn!

Oh how happy was I to be sat at a table with Dawn! I don’t even SMOKE…. haven’t done for years apart from the odd drunken puff. I’m one of those really “lucky” people who can smoke 10 on a night out then nothing for the next 6 or 12 months, whenever the next few and far between night out is. They’re my excuse for getting the hell away from people.

I made it to the end of the ceremony then popped back to my room for a couple of paracetamol and didn’t come out til breakfast.

I don’t think anyone noticed.

And to be honest I don’t think I could do anything like this again.

I can’t small talk or shmooze. I find the very act of introducing myself to someone quite daunting. This social ineptitude is probably why I blog in the first place. I don’t pretend to be outgoing or sociable… I just moan a bit and take photos, neither of which are necessarily welcome in a room full of new people.

Before I left I had the privilege of shooting Mini & Maxi, with a camera of course. I’d like to thank Jen for giving me the opportunity for some much needed practice!

How seriously cute are these two?

Finally…. thank you to anyone who did vote for me, and a heartfelt thank you to those who didn’t, because you guys saved me from the personal horror of having to stand up in front of a room full of strangers and speak out loud.

When I finally got home after a cancelled train, a pink double-decker and a shared taxi dash with a stranger to Gatwick I felt like I’d been away for a week, not one night. It was several days before I started rummaging through bags trying to find camera bits and any spare change. Only then did I stumble on this.

And then all the pent up nerves got the better of me.


I’m just going to slope off into the wallpaper now if that’s OK?

Bye bye.

My bar buddies @ theMADS

13 Sep

Having to circumvent the restrictions here at Butlins Bognor Regis – can’t get into Twitpic (personal storage) can’t get into Flickr (personal storage) – tighter than the proverbial duck’s arse and worse than a school tbh.

Anyway – name that drinking buddie (ok hover over the pics and read).

Parteeeeee time 🙂