I have recently been accused of being pompous, a snob and other such harsh names and the reason for this?
Not because of anything seriously wrong I have done or said, but simply because I have told people I dislike the programme, The X Factor.
This should be a surprise to me that my friends (arguably not so friendly) are feeling so strongly about a television programme, but it is not.
I recently decided to give it another go (last time I watched Gareth Gates was on it) and I wanted to see if I did indeed turn into one of the viewing masses regularly hypnotised on a weekend evening
I settled down on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and waited eagerly to see if I was wrong and the viewing population was right and hoped that I was about to embark on a televisual feast and along with shopping, eating Italian food and Judge Judy I would be hooked.
I was wrong. I could not believe my eyes or my ears.
I appeared to be watching the sort of thing Victorians would pay to see when the circus came into town. This may sound harsh, but I do believe that the so called ‘Judges’ are turning everyday people into circus acts for our own entertainment. This surely is wrong in our politically correct society.
I saw prejudices all over the place; sex, gender, race to name but a few. I watched with horror at the fact that a young, barely out of school boy was filmed by the show as he got drunk and acted like an already ageing rock musician; only X Factor could manufacturer rebellions. Also, heaven help you if you are a woman of a certain age and size as you will have the pleasure of singing karaoke songs, or if you are a gay man you will be dressed in tinfoil suits and paraded around to sing novelty songs. I simply found all of these clumsy stereotypes shocking.
I have read recently that Simon Cowell (who I do think is a contemporary genius for regurgitating an old format into something that has swept not just the United Kingdom but internationally too) is returning to the show in order to save it from plummeting viewing figures. I do hope he is not successful in his attempts to resuscitate this show and it does fill me with hope then that I am not the only non-viewer.
Should the show go away, which I fear it will not for some time, will mean that I will not be asked daily, “who is your favourite” and “who do you think will win” and that will be a welcome relief.
Many people from Hull have read with amazement the fact that Westcott Primary school teachers have used the Facebook site to make derogatory comments about their pupils and the people of the Hull area. My first thought was that it was a “schoolboy error” to use a public forum to make such vile remarks as “inbred” and “thick” and the equally horrifying comment of “inbreeding must damage brain development”. These seem like such horrible comments and phrases that could be heard in the school playground rather than used between teachers and the people from Hull that I have spoken with, have found it incredibly insulting and worrying that such people are teaching our children.
Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, are commonly used now and of course if used in the correct way can play a helpful and educational part in our lives. The other side of the coin however, is that they can be misused to cause harm and to abuse. This is mainly because they can be used in the safe comfort of the home and it is an immediate way of communication. Therefore, it matters not if you write something say after a glass or three of wine, the writing is on the wall and out there for public consumption as soon as you click send.
The Westcott teachers were prejudicial in their comments, that it is unacceptable and suspension is the correct course of action. This case has now hit the major newspapers and this is very regrettable as Hull appears to have had in recent times a bad press throughout the UK and for our very own teachers to make such disparaging remarks is very hard for the people of Hull to take.
It is of course not the first time a teacher has used Facebook in a thoughtless way; a dance teacher used Facebook to tell a young girl of 13 that she was kicked out of her dance school and a Grimsby teacher in 2009 was suspended after calling her teenage class “bad” on the site.
The Westcott teachers in question have shown a lack of respect, which is what we try to instil into our children, we don’t expect teachers to be taught this too. Making stupid comments on internet sites can have legal consequences and everyone must be aware of this when commenting on them.
In these days where bullying and name calling either in person or on cyber space seem to be an all too common problem amongst children, it is then such a shame that these particular teachers have not set a very good example themselves.
Binge drinking in women has doubled since 1998 according to studies. The narrowing of the ‘alcohol gender gap’ is seen in all cities and towns across the UK no more noticeable than on a Friday or a Saturday night in Hull. It is noticeable in the clubs and pubs in our city that there is a significant increase in the amount women are drinking.
Drinkaware is a charity funded by the drinks industry in order to educate people about alcohol. The Chief Executive commented that alcohol affects women differently to men; studies show that women are more prone to liver disease after a shorter period of heavy drinking than men and it can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer and lower the chances of conceiving a child. Action for Change, a Hull based alcohol harm reduction service, said that due to the recession the amount seeking help with alcohol problems has reduced, but women who are already drinking are doing so much more.
During recent years, women have an increasing role to play in society and whilst capable of doing everything such as raising children alongside a successful career, are experiencing stress and feel the need to wind down and play hard. A recent survey found that between 50 to 60 per cent of adults use a stressful day as an excuse to drink up to four drinks on a typical evening at home and 73 per cent of women as opposed to 26 per cent of men said stress was the main reason they had a drink at home. Women having it all is a recent phenomenon and we do not have any ideas on how to cope with it, as our mothers were home-makers and our fathers the breadwinners so women now cannot ask for advice on how to deal with it. This means that the family dynamic has changed considerably and likely due to the fact that a single income has become less and now takes two adult wages in a household to make up the one that my generation’s parents were used to.
Now that there are more women in the workplace it seems easy for them to unwind and to pop into the bar from the office and drink to the same level as their male counterparts. Action for Change say that this is a major concern as women simply cannot drink as much as men; that this is not a gender issue but a biological fact.
The fact people divorce or separate earlier and younger could play a part; we socialise more and have more disposable income, or rather we did until the economic downturn however the economic factor is really not too much of an issue in respect to alcohol as it is easy to buy it cheap and in bulk with supermarkets encouraging such bulk buying by various offers. The price of a cheap bottle of wine is not that different from a bottle of milk. We are also living longer; 40 seems to be the new 20 so the social scene is not just for the teenagers anymore but the next generation; therefore this includes more drinking for a longer period of time and subsequently results in the health issues that are all to prevalent today
Action for Change say that there is a trend that, because of the recession, more women in particular are staying in with a bottle of wine or perhaps drinking before they go out to save money but they are unaware that in the past ten years the strength of a bottle of wine has increased by a third so is a dangerous amount to consume and according to a recent survey 61% of women said they have two or more large glasses of wine on a typical night which is more than double the recommended guidelines.
These trends across the United Kingdom seem epidemic, but as Action for Change tell me, in Hull we have leading alcohol services available to anybody who is worried about their consumption of alcohol, not just for treatment but for information; the help and assistance is there and the people in Hull just need to access it.
I think it is our own responsibility to be aware of what we are drinking as it appears those that could help for example the drinks industry, major supermarket chains or the Government are not going to do it for us. Parents will take their children down the alcohol aisles of their local supermarket without a moment’s thought on the influence it could be having on them. A Private Members Bill at the moment is aimed to limit the exposure of alcohol marketing on children and I welcome this but a little common sense can go a long way. Alcohol is a major part of our culture, but we really need to stop and think what harm it is doing. It is hoped that people will use Alcohol Awareness Week which takes place on the 14th to 20th November 2011 to educate them.
Being a mum is special, being a working mum rewarding and being a single, working mum is special, rewarding and joyful beyond expectations.
Not that it is easy, it isn’t. Juggling a job or career (if you are extremely lucky), having one to one time with your child and having time for yourself are no mean feats and sometimes it can seem that the whole world is against you anyway!
When I had my daughter nearly 19 years ago the machines of media and politics were against me and my tiny baby; the tabloids were full of stories about the repulsion that was the gene pool of children born out of wedlock by morally sub human mothers dragging their kids up with one grubby, tight-fisted hand whilst the other equally redundant hand was holding a rolled up fag or a can of lager all paid for by the tax payer! The utter cheek of these single mothers, running around looking for the required anatomical jigsaw piece so that they can acquire luxurious council houses and a heady windfall of benefits; of course I am being sarcastic but Single Mother Syndrome was seen by the political parties as the plague spreading across the United Kingdom eating into the moral core of society. It was a dire time to be a good mother.
Have attitudes changed? I think they did at some point but lately there is a very subtle undercurrent emerging; even up until very recently when the England riots were at its peak, the blame was very nearly laid at the door of the single mother; it wasn’t until the names and the good occupations of the looters became known that the political juggernaut of blame quietly went into reverse and the single mother was spared.
With my daughter being nearly 19 years old this new subtle rumbling will pass me by without too much accusatory finger pointing not that it ever did as we are the success story. I value education and I have a good academic background myself because my parents instilled in me that an education is the gateway to personal confidence and growth and career options. I also have wonderful and supportive parents who adore their granddaughter and have been there for us both in so many different ways. I know it is difficult when some women are brought up without support or a stable background and I fully appreciate the struggle they go through; it cannot be easy. Now that the coalition government is making it financially impossible for some lesser income families to allow their children to enter into further and higher education, it may be that Single Mother Syndrome will make a political return as the morally bankrupt scapegoat. Heaven forbid any Government be at fault for the state of our society!
My own opinion and experience tells me that it matters not whether there are two parents or one, the successful raising of a child should involve the rudimentary necessities which are warm and secure housing, good diet, stability, an abundance of love and good education and health all of which require healthy finances, selflessness and a lot of effort and hard work. I have provided my daughter with all of the above and more and so have many other single mothers I know. Not that it was easy, it was not but with a goal in mind I achieved it and now my daughter is attending University studying for a degree (a prestigious one such as Hull at that!). I can be satisfied that it’s not just single mothers to blame but there are many double parented families who care not if their offspring can write their own names never mind successfully enter onto a degree course at University.
I am not naive, I know there are single mothers who, contrary to a good and solid background do not wish to have financial independence away from the state, but these women undoubtedly are still loving and good mothers and that cannot be taken away from them.
Political parties past and present are always trying to instil into society the typical type of family dynamic of a mother, father and two children but, with homosexual couples parenting, cohabitants, women becoming more independent and deciding for themselves not to marry and many couples deciding to have children later in life it will be interesting to see if the typical political mould can fit other preferred and equally healthy family shapes.
My own experiences of being a single mother to a wonderful and intelligent daughter has been hard work, tiring and emotional but most of all, has been a life full of love. I’m not a single mother; I’m just “mum”.