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29 Nov

Waves frantically from…

My New Blog

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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.

Period.

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.

Karma.

Tis a wunnerful thing.

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.

£44,000

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?

Surely?

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

Dear Skullcandy

3 Jun

WTF?

You manufacture shiny plastic headphones for a market of consumers whose preferred mode of communication is grunting but that’s no excuse for ignoring me. I get enough of that from the grunters who sprouted from my own ovaries thank you very much.

Just this last Christmas I caved into stereo emo offspring demanding glamour over substance and bought them each a pair of Skullcandy Low Riders.

#santawin

First my son’s snapped in two in the middle, closely followed by my daughter’s in exactly the same spot. Neither headphones saw the end of January intact.

#skullcandyfail

I certainly learned my lesson – your headphones are flimsy crap.

Unfortunately the teenagers are less pragmatic.

Typical.

I also gifted my darling progeny tickets to see Biffy Clyro. My doofus son decided he would SELL his Biffy Clyro ticket and challenge MY better judgement by squandering his newfound riches on… yeah you guessed it… another pair of Skullcandy headphones.

This time HESH.

These things are not fucking cheap you know!

And you’d think being twice the price of the low riders they’d last twice as long?

At least 2 months?

HA!

TEN DAYS.

Flimsy crap doesn’t even cover it.

So Skullcandy I emailed your customer services department bemoaning the quality of goods I have received in return for my many pounds sterling and like the truculent teenagers you sell to you have ignored me.

Unfortunately I can’t ground you, make you tidy something you didn’t make a mess of or play with your little brother for an afternoon so instead I am giving you a free review here on my blog.

Do not buy Skullcandy headphones of any description people – they take your money, give you crap in return and then ignore you. Yes they are just like your hormonal teenagers, but unlike the creatures I incubated I’m under no obligation to love them.

So screw them.

Ten days alone in a bedrooom with a 13 year old boy might conceivably be grounds for suicide but come one – they fell apart on his head!

Dipped and Stripped

14 May

I’m not entirely sure what I look like. I either take the photos or refuse to be in them. Oh I know what my face looks like, just not how the rest of me fits together. There’s not a single full length mirror in my home. The closest I get to my reflection is stolen from shop windows that I pray are distorted, warped… wrong. My bathroom mirror goes down to the sink and it’s from IKEA. Really, IKEA ought to be ashamed of themselves, that mirror takes at least 20lb off me. So wrong in a different way.

For as long as we have been making images of ourselves, in paint, celluloid and now pixels, there has been a normative definition of beauty. Historically and culturally specific portrayals of the ideal body, face, stature, strength, colour… have been used to categorise those who embody the ideal norm and more importantly those who don’t. I find it difficult to confine the struggle to define beauty to a feminist issue, it’s way more than that and at the root of it is nothing more complicated than power. Be it one marketing campaign over another, one gender over another, one race over another, the definition of physical perfection has been used time and again to control, subjugate and wield power.

Heavy stuff for a Friday morning and where’s this all going anyway?

Via Kristin at Wanderlust I discovered that today is Bloggers Without Make-Up Day, the brainchild of Jodie at Mummy Mayhem.

Now I don’t wear a lot of make-up very often, but I will slap it on for the camera. So I did not like this idea. Then I popped over to Mummy Mayhem and started reading all the wonderful posts from women I’ve never read before and sort of got a bit hooked on the idea. I’ve not read nearly enough and it’s offline Friday (swimming lessons, wine, y’know), but will pop back over the weekend and catch up with as many as I can. In the meantime I scraped the hair back and took a photo of my nekkid face. Admittedly it’s in an IKEA (bad IKEA!) mirror in a room with no natural light, but I have resisted the urge to Photoshop myself a more natural colour. You’ll have to take the oddly yellow me under the environmentally brutal 60w bulb I’m afraid!

At least I didn’t scare you with the full size version!

iHeartFaces – Rum and Coke Trifle

6 Apr

This week at iHeartFaces we’re photo documenting dessert recipes – and rarely do I manage this without some mishap.

Last year when I was looking for something a bit different for a dinner party I found this recipe for Rum and Coke Trifle in the Daily Bigot’s Mail’s magazine. Desperately ignoring the fact that simply clicking on their website probably set lights flashing at Tory Central… I printed it off so I’d never ever ever have to click there again. I washed my eyes after. Yeugh! I’m not providing Linky Love to the Daily Racist Mail – go look for it yourself!

So here we go, the Premenstrual Cook does pudding.

Gather together from the four corners of Tesco….

  • 5 Gelatine Sheets
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • A lime
  • A jar of Lemon & Lime Marmalade, available here in the USA or if you are particularly clever you could always make your own
  • 3 medium organic eggs
  • Trifle sponges (not sure if you get these over the pond but the Sara Lee cake I spotted in My Four Boys recipe would do nicely I think)
  • Your rum of choice – I’m rather partial to Mountgay or Appletons which is why those bottles are empty so Captain Morgan’s Spiced it is
  • 2 cans of Coke or Pepsi or whatever – just not diet, there’s nothing diet about this!
  • 400g Mascarpone (just under 1lb isn’t it? 1lb = 454g lord this is fattening!)
  • Green and yellow boiled sweets or jellies to decorate – or not – if you can be faffed

The night before, make the jelly.

Cut the 5 sheets of gelatine (or enough to set 600ml, 1 imperial pint, 1.2 US pints, 2.5 US cups or just over 1 sextariumm phew!) into strips (dragging in a painted child to help tut-tut) and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 5 minutes after which time it will be all gooey but still hold its shape.

Whilst the gelatine is soaking tip 600ml of coke (1 imperial pint, 1.2 US pints … yadda yadda!) into a pan and bring to the boil. Drain the gelatine then pour a ladle full of the hot coke over it and stir until it dissolves. Stir in the rest of the coke, cover, cool and refridgerate overnight.

Next day… get those sponges tipsy. Break them up and either base line a high sided dish with them or use 4 /5/6 individual glasses. I’m using my whisky tumblers. The recipe calls for 3tbsp of rum – I say bollocks to that, drown that sponge with at least 6 or 7 and if it’s still a tad dry (and depending on your sponge absorbency) water it down with… em… water? Or more rum. Whilst the rum is soaking in spoon 150g (about 1/3rd of the jar) of marmalade into a pot, add the juice of 1 lime and heat until it’s liquid. Push the marmalade/lime juice through a seive then divide it between the trifles…

Take thy wobbly coke jelly and break it up with a fork til it’s all crumbly then divide that between the trifles too…

Looking a bit trifly now yes?

Now for the million calorie topping.

Separate the eggs. I always used to juggle the yolk between the two halves of broken shell til it wobbled free of the yolk then I saw Ainsley just whap it into his hand and let it dribble through his fingers…. you have to suspend imagination for that sentence. You just do.

In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until light and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.

Then whisk in the mascarpone. At the very least stand up and try to work off a few calories before you prepare to lick the bowl.

Wash that whisk then in a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff.

Take a couple of tablespoons of the egg white and fold it into the yolk/sugar/mascarpone mix to loosen it. When it’s all nicely loosened fold in the rest and stop licking the spoon!

Spoon the topping over the trifles and voila! NOW you can lick the bowl.

For a final touch I stuck the boiled sweets in a ziploc bag and bashed the bejebus out of them, sprinkling the resulting emerald dust all over the topping for pretty sparkly trifles.

Cover and stick in the fridge for a couple of hour before devouring – though they will keep for a couple of days chilled – if you can wait that long.

The first time I made these I counted the calories up but the result must have been too shocking for my mind to cope with as it instantly purged the memory and if I even think a wee bit about counting them again I twitch.

Seriously.

Twitchety twitch.

Go check out the rest of the recipes at iHeartfaces – go on – you muuuuust!

iHeartFaces2010

Caught with my curlers in

8 Feb

Now I have to go say something to get that sweary rant off the top. <Sigh>

It appears I’ve made the Tots 100 Index of British Parent Bloggers, which came as a bit of a shock since I didn’t submit myself for the index.  As far as I know you have to post a comment with all your details over at Who’s The Mummy to get yourself measured, graded and ranked. I think I would remember having done that and it’s something I really didn’t want to happen to my ranty little corner of the blogosphere.

I don’t really consider myself a parent blogger. Certainly no more than I consider myself a female blogger, a hobby photographer blogger, a student blogger, an overweight blogger, a left-wing Scottish Nationalist blogger, a wifey of a teacher blogger… you get my drift? I chose not to pigeon-hole myself because I couldn’t really find my tribe.

If I was going to submit myself to be indexed and assigned points I probably would have done it during a month I posted some stuff. January has seen me down with, as Marilyn so eloquently calls it, a dose of the “Can’t be bothereds”.  Meh.

I’ve decided to call it a day with the Open University at least until Paul starts school. Despite the load I feel has been lifted it still pisses me off. I was supposed to be finished this year. But I’ve been putting off doing absolutely everything since I got so far behind with my studies. I couldn’t iron, cook, get my camera out, cook, play with Paul, knit, did I mention cook? Or blog. I couldn’t be bothered . As soon as I started anything I felt guilty for not spending the time studying. I’m not  prepared to cram a Level 3 course into the 90 minutes a day I get to myself… there’s no way I could do it justice in that time. So all I’ve been doing is a big fat nothing. Not the month to have my blog judged huh?

But… whilst I’m a bit pee’d off at being included without asking, I’m not going to deny that I’m a bit chuffed to make the top 100. I’m just not sure if I want to continue being graded… I can’t make myself UNknow now. So I’m confoozled. I’ll sleep on it.

Until then me and the boy are skiving school and going to see Astro Boy.