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Can you feel a pulse?

Hey you guys! Goodness, I can’t believe it’s been a whole year! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. I’m back! This last year has been quite a journey and now I’m ready to share it with you all, and introduce Nana Sues Colourful Creations! https://m.facebook.com/groups/1663058387313548/?ref=browser

We create all manner of knitted, crocheted and sewn items, specialising in children’s clothing and reusable sanitary protection, but more that happy to discuss your individual needs!

We’re aiming to update the blog weekly, with our latest makes, ideas and thoughts, we hope you’ll join us on our journey!

My weekend in 1984, by Lentilweaver, aged mid-40s…..

Yesterday was a very interesting day in many ways.

My husband took himself off to a gig in Glasgow, so I was in sole charge of our two WHILE THEY WERE AWAKE.  This resulted in us ‘customising’ some clothes and other crazy exploits, as I attempted to negotiate around various numbers of children whose stories adapted to whatever barrier I put in place and having no back up to double check with an actual adult!

I also witnessed the most bizarre behaviour in a Facebook group, I’ve been a member of for quite some time. It’s a networking group for people are in or have in interest in the charity sector. The people in the group all share the same protected characteristic, so are recognised as oppressed. The group doesn’t usually have discussion posts, mainly sticking to higher level strategy and job adverts.

I don’t wish to get embroiled in discussions over which characteristics are being discussed, as that will muddy the issue.  I have deliberately chosen to try and report the situation as objectively as possible.

On Friday, the group changed its name despite objections from some members (discussion was not allowed) to explicitly include a second protected characteristic. Some members did not want this fearing it would change the character of the group and mean that opinions could not be as freely expressed.

I would emphasise that the group has always welcomed this second characteristic, however it has not actively sought to attract them.  Any members of the group who have this characteristic have (from what I’ve seen) followed the rules of the group and participated in much the same way as any other group member.

Certainly, for me, this name change appeared to centre and promote the group to the second characteristic OVER AND ABOVE the original remit of the group.

New admins were recruited to enforce the change in group ethos.

On Sunday, our first new member with the second characteristic joined the group.

Within the first hour of their membership, they had posted three posts that were wholly inappropriate to the group.

Some existing members complained by various channels, including one who started a thread about how inappropriate the posts were to the group. (I admit they could have worded it in a slightly less inflammatory way, but I doubt that would have made a difference to the outcomes). I chose to report the offending threads to admin, I did not receive any sort of reply or see any action as a result of my report.

This post drew quite a bit of support from other members.

Eventually supporters of the change appeared on the thread and accused those who were objecting of bullying the new member.

They trawled through the original posters (admittedly public) Facebook and posted screenshots of various posts, to prove the members ‘bigotry’.  Apparently, this behaviour from a person who works in a senior role for an influential charity is entirely acceptable (such is the world we live in).

The new member posted on the thread, apologising for their behaviour and stating that they had not realised that this group was not that type of support group (later confirmed via PM to a member that they had got in contact with), but that every other group they had joined had welcomed them and been nice to them. They then deleted the offending posts and left the group voluntarily.

Supporters of the change then said that those objecting had bullied the new member from the page and should ‘consider if this was the right place for you’. This phrase was repeated several times to long standing members who even queried the change. This included trawling through their Facebook profile first to see if they ‘were on message’ with the newly-announced group.

From a personal perspective, seeing this behaviour towards other people who dare to express an opinion different to your own is abhorrent. I have no issue wit people, who do not wish to see my posts unfollowing, defriending or even blocking me. Personally, I prefer to talk through issues, and as a worst case, agree to disagree.

In this case, the people in the group must subscribe wholeheartedly to the expressed opinions of the group leaders, or, potentially miss out on opportunities and information that could be vital to their career, after all they joined the group to connect and network with others who were like them!

So, all in all, the group has disintegrated almost overnight.

A number of people I am acquainted with have been removed from the group, effectively for ‘wrongthink’.

It would appear George Orwell was writing an instruction manual.

View from the NE on Brexit.

This post was inspired by a friends Facebook post where she expressed a fear of the rising Far Right, in light of the extremely complex political chaos.

Obviously this is a difficult subject, fraught with problems when it’s being discussed.

In order to look properly at what’s happening, we need to disengage and look at bigger pictures.

Austerity was an EU policy. Whether the UK Parliament chose austerity or was pushed is a matter for debate, but the fact is that EU policy was to impose austerity on member states that needed help from the EU.

Speaking from a NE England perspective, austerity has been deadly, it’s decimated our society and the poverty here, comparatively, is at levels that haven’t been seen in living memory, and it’s only getting worse.

The NE has seen its own MPs vote with the government to impose measures, and despite two general elections we still had a conservative government that favoured austerity.

Then Cameron comes along and promises a vote. A real vote, a chance to decide (and possibly change) all of this. He offered, effectively, a far Right choice – Vote for this and we’ll make it better.

The vote was effectively:

a) ever closer ties with an institution that has imposed austerity on us

OR

b) leave.

I’ve got to be honest, the mood in Sunderland lifted when the vote was announced. There was actual hope that there was a way out of this mess that had been forced on us to pay for mistakes the banks had made.

The mood immediately after the result was jubilant. There was optimism and hope that we were going to see an upturn in our fortunes. The politicians MUST see how much we are hurting and would protect and help us.

But both Left and Right turned on us. No-one had much interest in finding out WHY the vote went the way it did, only that we were wanting to leave, just that we were wrong.

I could go on all day about deeper more personal reasons, but it doesn’t matter to the end point.

The fact is that austerity continues, belts are so tight, we’re well out of extra notches, and the way out, Brexit probably isn’t going to happen.

The Left (well some of them) are still telling us we’re wrong. The Right don’t believe that austerity is harmful.

And along comes someone who listens to what’s been said, and promises change, a way out of the EU (cause of austerity) and what has to be better things.

We need to end this blame culture, stop arguing ‘finer points’ and technicalities, and start working together, before a truly charismatic leader comes along and offers a solution, any solution.

Give me my space

Excel Pope

GIVE ME MY SPACE

A PLAY IN ONE ACT

BY EXCELPOPE

bike parking sign

A BUSY ROAD IN A CITY CENTRE DURING MORNING RUSH HOUR. TARQUIN, A YOUNG, SMARTLY-DRESSED MAN, WITH A BEARD, IS STEPPING OUT OF HIS BRAND-NEW, BMW.

AS HE DOES SO, A MOTORBIKE, RIDDEN BY DAVE PULLS UP ALONGSIDE HIS CAR AND DAVE OPENS HIS VISOR TO SPEAK.

DAVE: You can’t park there, mate, that’s a ‘Bikes only’ space

TARQUIN: It’s OK. I’m a biker.

DAVE: What?

TARQUIN REACHES BACK INTO THE CAR AND PRODUCES A CRASH-HELMET, WHICH HE HOLDS UP.

TARQUIN: See. I’m a biker.

DAVE: You might be a biker, but that [DAVE POINTS AT THE CAR] isn’t a bike.

TARQUIN: Don’t be like that!

DAVE: Like what?

TARQUIN: All angry with me. I thought us bikers were supposed to stick together.

DAVE: How is you taking my…

View original post 868 more words

The Parently Art of Lactation — Full Cream

When my fourth baby was born, a friend gifted me a vintage 2nd edition copy of ‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’. First published by La Leche International in 1963, this book was revolutionary. At a time when breastfeeding was widely considered old-fashioned and distasteful in Western cultures, and mothers were persuaded by doctors to use […]

via The Parently Art of Lactation — Full Cream

On Brexit

Dear Readers (who I’m pretty sure DO exist),

I’m going there.  After three years of watching our country pull itself apart, I’m voicing an opinion.

I have absolutely no illusions, that, if people start commenting, they will tell me that I am wrong (whichever way this post goes). I want to make it crystal clear that this post is purely my opinion, based on my own observations.

I’m not going to tell you which way I voted, but I will say that my vote was on a knife’s edge, to the point where I was sorely tempted to simply spoil my ballot. This is something I have never done, and I have voted in every election I am eligible to vote in.

It is my sincere belief that this referendum should never have been put to the British people.

However, it was, and we cannot change that.

There was a result, and we cannot change that either.

What I believe has been missing in the whole debacle is the lack of critical analysis following the result. Yes, we have had statistic followed by statistic ‘proving’ that the result was not what it is. We have had claims of illegality on one side or the other.  We have seen insults thrown in echo chambers and life long friendships severed as a result of who voted how. We have seen the rise of new, inventive insults, most of which, I must be honest, confuse me as, I’m not entirely sure who they are aimed at anymore.

I have a thought which keeps returning to me.

Brexit is not the cause of our ‘broken’ society, it is merely a symptom.

Much like that last fight in a relationship, where one partner walks away, suitcase in hand, into the sunset, and both finally realise that it was never going nowhere.

However, I am not talking about the UK in Europe, I believe our problems are much closer to home, in our own governmental systems. Had we had a vote to disband Parliament and rebuild our national system from the ground up, I believe the vote would have been in favour.  Had we had the same vote in a Local Government setting, the result would be the same.

However, the Government went for one of the big guns, thinking that ‘common sense’ would prevail and ‘the people’ would rubber stamp our entire governing system. But that is not what happened.

In every governmental system, there are (necessarily) rivals. Whether it be Sunderland Council vs Newcastle Council, the North vs the South, East vs West, it is there, and it will always be there. It is human nature to look after those that are closest to you, and you can see the benefit of helping. This is not a judgement statement, this is a mere observation of human nature.

It is difficult to see beyond your own front door when you are struggling to feed your family.

It is hard to assign blame ‘correctly’ when you don’t have the opportunity to consider things philosophically.

I have thought long and hard about the results of the vote. I have looked in detail at the grants and funding that is provided by the EU to my local area.

I live in an area that voted predominately to Leave. The turnout was 64.9% in my area, compare that to 32% in the Local Government election in 2018. On Referendum Day, I personally (and literally) walked a man through the entire voting process, and polling staff commented on the number of people who had never voted before.

This indicates to me that people felt that they could actually make a difference in the Referendum vote. This is in direct contrast to ‘normal’ elections.

So, why was that? Why don’t people feel that they are heard in normal elections? Why do the majority feel that it’s ‘not worth voting’?

Now, let me be clear that I don’t have all the answers, but I do want to hear your ideas too.

I believe that the problem is the First Past the Post, two-party system that we currently use to decide who is in charge. This means that a very few people actually vote for their elected representative.

The elected representative has a duty to represent the people of the constituency that they are elected to. However, they also have an obligation to the Party which has supported and paid for their campaign. Sometimes these views are at odds and given the power of the Party system (and the fact that people often vote for a Party rather than a person), the representative is forced to toe the Party line, regardless of the views of their constituents.

This set-up which appears to be quite simple, becomes quite complicated when you look at it like that.

Who do our elected representatives work for?

Over the past few years, I have engaged more frequently with my local MP, I have called her to account and expressed views online in such forums as her own Facebook page and her Twitter account. I know of many others who have become more engaged too.

We speak in groups and forums and compare and contrast responses. We have found that, for the most part, responses are not that different between individual MPs. In fact, on many occasions, they are exactly the same. I understand that MPs are very busy people, but I also understand that this person is being paid to represent me in the corridors of power.

I don’t want to hear rhetoric or party lines, I want to hear the opinions and thoughts of the person that was elected to represent me. And I believe that many others feel the same way.

The rise of Social Media has afforded the ‘common people’ with more access to information than ever before. While the rise of abuse on Social Media is very concerning, we need to look at the other side of the coin. Our elected representatives are more accessible than ever before. This brings with it more accountability than ever before.

I’ve observed my local representatives on a few different platforms, and in some, there is a complete failure to engage.  Social media is not merely free advertising, it is a chance to engage with people on many different levels. But what I see is not an engagement, rather a promotional spiel, and defensive arguments rather than reasoned discussion.

I know social media is not the be all and end all, but used properly, it could be a very useful tool in engaging people in democracy. And I believe that there is a desire in many quarters to have better control over their lives.

I have also discovered that there is no formal feedback between MPs and local Councillors, which entirely baffles me.

For me, at least, the major victory that was won by the Brexit Referendum was the engagement of many in our countries democratic process. The turnout was unprecedented. This should not be allowed to whither but be celebrated. We CAN have a constructive conversation about the direction our country is headed in, but we MUST hear all voices, voices which have made themselves heard.

The Party Political system of First Past the Post it outdated and not fit for purpose, but we need to give as many people as possible a voice in our next great overhaul of our Parliamentary system. We’ve done it before, some even lost their heads over it, and we can do it again.

On Referendum Day, there was a real buzz, Leave or Remain, people CARED about the outcome. They felt they had to power to make a difference, lets find a way to show them they were right.

Open forum time.  How would YOU change our democratic process?

The Breast Book: Grooming, Gatekeeping and Gender Identity (part 2)

On the face of it this book looks fantastic and I would consider buying it for my daughters, but on further inspection, it’s quite worrying that it doesn’t cover breast cancer (too frightening) but does cover breast binding and cosmetic mastectomy.On the face of it this book looks fantastic and I would consider buying it for my daughters, but on further inspection, it’s quite worrying that it doesn’t cover breast cancer (too frightening) but does cover breast binding and cosmetic mastectomy.

Full Cream

This commentary on The Breast Book is a guest post from Eufemia Torres. Eufemia is a qualified teacher from the UK and a mother of two breastfed children. She has a keen interest in the politics and social issues.

This article is not intended to be a book review. The commentary is centred on chapter four with some references to other information within other sections, and the wider social context in which this book resides.

Part 1 here.

The qualifications, present, and past employment of the author confers a deep understanding of the nuances around
her duties of care in safeguarding in health care and education provisions. Duty of care is not a hat which safeguarding person can remove when writing a book.  As someone who will understand that information presented in a timely and age appropriate way is at the heart of protecting the right to give or withhold…

View original post 1,454 more words

The Breast Book: Grooming, Gatekeeping and Gender Identity (part 1)

On the face of it this book looks fantastic and I would consider buying it for my daughters, but on further inspection, it’s quite worrying that it doesn’t cover breast cancer (too frightening) but does cover breast binding and cosmetic mastectomy.

Full Cream

This commentary on The Breast Book is a guest post from Eufemia Torres. Eufemia is a qualified teacher from the UK and a mother of two breastfed children. She has a keen interest in the politics and social issues.

This article is not intended to be a book review. The commentary is centred on chapter four with some references to other information within other sections, and the wider social context in which this book resides.

The cover of Emma Pickett’s new book, The Breast Book, published by Pinter and Martin 2019 is subtitled “the puberty guide with a difference – it’s the when, why and how of breasts”.  Eagerly anticipated by a demographic that has sought out previous titles by Pinter and Martin, The Breast Book promised to be a counterpoint to the sexualisation and objectification of women’s bodies that girls may already be facing, even at the age…

View original post 1,201 more words

Going to see a man about a church…

Dear Readers (who may or may not exist),

I have a confession.

I am a devout atheist, I have no religious leanings whatsoever, I sometimes wish I did, but I don’t.

I have no disregard for those who do, and I often quite respect them.

I would certainly not hold any ill wish, in fact I quite like church, it has a hush to it, a feeling of joy that comes from the contemplation and singing that I’ve never felt anywhere else.

And on Sunday, I am going to church.

I haven’t been to church on a Sunday since I went to hear the Banns being read for my ill-fated wedding over 12 years ago. Oh, tell a lie, I went to mass twice for my nieces’ christenings.

I’m not going to intrude on the service, but I am going to the coffee afterwards. I’m going to meet the vicar to discuss a subject that’s been on my mind for quite some time now.

The estate where I live is quite nice, it’s deprived, like most of the North East of England but friendly and welcoming. It’s located between the main local town and a village, almost equidistant between the two. It consists of 1950s council houses, and there is a huge house building initiative in the area too now. We’re looking at around 400 households moving into the area.

Google informs me that it’s twenty minutes in either direction to the ‘local’ community centres on foot.

Serving the community are (wait for it) two local convenience stores.  Anything else, and you have to travel into the town or up to the village. Which both have a variety of resources available, but realistically you’re looking at a car or a bus journey (£3:20 return) to access anything vaguely interesting.

I was bemoaning this fact (in the shower, as you do) when I realised that the answer was right in front of me (not literally of course, what was literally in front of me was a load of white tiles).

The local church!

Now I normally visit this church, at a rate of around three times over four years, because it’s my local Polling Station, but that’s it. Last time I was there I ‘accidentally’ took a wrong turn and I was surprised at how much room it has inside, and yet…. It never seems to be used.

At around a similar time, I’ve been having conversations on the school run. Lots of conversations.

Now when I was on maternity, there was LOADS to do, the SureStart programme was heavily financed and, if you were so inclined, you could do two different activities a day with your bundle of joy.

BUT I needed a car to do this. Very rarely were activities within walking distance of my house, and I was lucky enough to have a car at my disposal.

So, when my friend confided that she was feeling lonely, I brightly suggested the groups I used to go to, and decided to google them while we were walking. I was totally shocked at how much things have been stripped back. There was very little to choose from and what there was wasn’t anywhere local.

So, on Sunday I’m going to see a vicar about a church….

Wish me luck!

Binders full of children — Full Cream

Making global headlines in recent weeks has been a Guardian UK investigation which has revealed that the practice of breast ‘ironing’ is being perpetrated on young girls in the UK. According to the National FGM Centre, breast ironing or breast flattening is a traditional practice in some African cultures in which a prepubescent girl is […]

via Binders full of children — Full Cream

Sleep tight

As you may (or may not) know, I have anxiety issues, in fact it was only when I started taking antidepressants for post-natal depression, that I realised that it’s not ‘normal’ to feel constantly on edge all the time.  As a result, I’ve never slept particularly well, and in particular have trouble falling asleep, because my brain chooses that point to start panicking about whether I said the right thing to such-and-such, and jacking it up to the point where I’m getting divorced, have lost my job and am homeless!

My sister recommended guided meditation for sleep to me, and I’ve found it really works. There’s loads of free apps available, and some brilliant YouTube channels.

Firstly, I would say you might need to try a few different ones to find a voice that works for you. The first one I tried was a male voice, and I just found it grated on me rather than soothed, and I eventually settled on a female voice, with a light American accent. I’ve heard people mention that a light Scottish accent is often found to be soothing. The lady that the girls like has a soft grandma-like sing-song voice.

Secondly, you need to give it at least a week to work. When I first started, often I would be awake at the end of the recording, but deeply relaxed, so I would run it again, sometimes even twice! Now, the lady says ‘now is the time to sleep’ at the beginning of the recording, and I rarely hear much more. In fact, after nearly a year of using it, I rarely put it on at all anymore, as I just don’t need it, but I know it’s there if I do need it for any reason.

If you’re looking to search on YouTube some good phrases to search for are ‘guided meditation for sleep’ and ‘sleep self-hypnosis’.  My daughters like the New Horizons channel best.

The one I use is the ‘Sleep Well Hypnosis – Meditation’ app on my iPad, I actually upgraded and bought the full version of this!

My mum and sister prefer ‘Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis with Glenn Harrold

If hypnosis isn’t for you, you might find that ‘white noise’ works instead. It’s not just the static hiss of an untuned TV, you can get all manner of recordings, from plinky-plonky New Age type stuff, to rainforests, lullabies or heartbeats. It’s all personal preference, but once you find a one that works, it can be magic!

Hope this helps someone,

Sleep tight,

Lentilweaver