28.9.16

Wordy Wednesday with Stanley the Border Terrier

Today the blog has gone to the dogs, literally - I'm handing over to Fizz who is gong to interview Stanley...more will be revealed but you may have seen me mention Stanley, dog and author, back in this post...

Hello it is I Fizz, I am small and full of excitement, partly because I'm interviewing a famous dog author and partly because excited is the natural state of being a puppy! Something Stanly know about only too well...

Hey Stanley - tell us about your book!


Dear Fizz
Nice to hear from you.
Why did I write the book ? you ask.

I'm sure you're right when you say there are better things to be doing than writing a book, and I never really intended to write one. It all came about by chance, really, when I was just a pup and went to the local park for the first time with my people, Colin and Monica.

I was really nervous, as you can imagine, but as luck would have it I came across another young Border Terrier there called Clementina. We got on really well as, I was pleased to note, did my folks with her folks , Jan and Hughie. (It's really good when humans get on, don't you think ? It makes walks much more fun because they can keep themselves amused while we get on with the serious business of chasing each other around and fetching balls and what have you. And have you noticed that happily they never get involved in humping each other on the grass unlike some of our canine pals, I'm embarrassed to say.)

Border Terrier in Bracken
Stanley
Anyway, later that day Jan texted Colin just to swap contact details and he and I wrote a bit of a letter back. Jan, who is a retired English teacher, was very impressed with the humour in our letter, as was Hughie and his friends in the pub, and they asked us to write some more - so we did.

Now we weren't convinced that there would be that many things in a new puppy's life to write about, but boy were we wrong ! Every week we'd come across something that we wanted to share and we'd write to Clementina to tell her about it. (You ask if Colin does the actual writing, but it was a joint effort really, with me providing the copy and him typing it up.)

We wrote the last letter on the eve of my first birthday and so the book is a collection of my experiences in my first year of life; it took about nine months to write.

Answering some more of your questions, Kibble or wet food ?
Food wise, I started out on kibble but now have some cooked chicken as well. We did consider raw food at one stage but my pair were a bit concerned about how to store it without risking catching some people called Sam and Ella, whoever they are.

Have I ever bitten anyone ?
Well I have to hold my paws up, Fizz, and confess that I did bite someone once, but in my defence, the unlucky chap was holding his dog at the time and it was the nasty mutt I was trying to get my teeth into. But that was when I was going through my adolescence and Monica did a couple of weeks of special training with me to make sure I got out of that rather dangerous habit.

What do my folks do, other than looking after me ?
Colin and Monica are now retired. She used to be a model animator making things like 'Postman Pat' and 'Bob the Builder.' Colin's job was far more boring, that of a business consultant looking after companies that were in trouble. I have heard that he is a frustrated academic actually, but left that early career when he was recruited into the world of commerce in his twenties.

What do they do other than look after me ?
Monica is a great reader, with lots of favourite authors including Graham Green and Jennie Diski Colin is a football fan and an amateur historian. He reads lots of history books but his favourite fiction writer is PG Woodhouse.

Border terrier running
Will there be another book ?
Colin is currently working on a book on the history of the mediaeval village of Cartmel where we have a cottage, and between us we're working on another book, probably a collection of my letters in my new role as an agony uncle for dogs, Dear Stanley, which is starting on the website www.stanleysuniverse.com. Dogs can send their questions or problems to me at stanley@stanleysuniverse.com, or on Stanley's Universe Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stanleysuniverse/

Who did the pictures in the book ?
That was Bill Mather, an artist, animator and music video maker,and a pal of Monica's from her animation days. She just happened to be staying with him and his wife (and me) and mentioned the book that Colin and I were writing. The next day he started to doodle some ideas and eventually did lots of pictures that are sprinkled through the book, and did the cover drawings; great, aren't they !

What should people consider before they get a dog ?
Now having children maybe easy, but having a dog is far harder. But before they have either, people need to think through how their lives will change when their new addition arrives, and how they will cope with those changes over the fifteen or twenty years when their kids or dogs will rely on them. And that's every day, every month, work days, holidays, in sickness and health.so think it through, folks.

And as for the best breed, I love to play with spaniels personally, but Colin harps back to when he was a lad and his family had a Heinz 57 mongrel, a mix of lots of breeds - very healthy they are, apparently. But all dogs are great, aren't they !

Anyway, you can read the press reviews of Dear Clementina at the publisher's website.
On that site you can buy the book, or Ebook, and see lots of readers' reviews, including ones from Amazon and Goodreads. It's been really well received by dog lovers all over the world, from Canada to the Philippines, and Australia to Germany.

So cheers, Fizz -take care and look after those folks of yours ; I'm not sure that people not safe out on their own, you know.
Stanley

Thanks to Stanley and his long suffering humans for taking part in Wordy Wednesday. Don't forget to like my Facebook page and pop over to Twitter for a chat too. 

26.9.16

Stationery haul givaway

I think it's been a while since I've done a giveaway - and as I'm just a little blog (yes I know you imagine I'm world famous but really dear reader, I'm not) it's just a small giveaway that I am funding myself.

So here we are - a few fun bits of glamorous stationery to help you organise your life (or just your blog!) or to use as a gift.


The rules of the giveaway are simple, you must use the rafflecopter entry thingy below. There are lots of ways to enter and you can do one or more of the entry methods. None are mandatory - sadly as I'm paying the postage this giveaway is open to UK addresses only.


The giveaway prize bundle includes a weekly planner, a notebook, a notepad, a magnetic 'To Do' list, a sparkly silver diary, 2 pens, and a Curly Wurly. (I admit the curly wurly is not stationery - but it's my prize,  can do what I like.) all packed into a cute reusable floral bag.

Best of luck! Full T&Cs are on the Rafflecopter widget. Giveaway ends 21st October 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



25.9.16

How parenting changes when your teen comes out as gay

My daughter, the lovely Dd is 16.

She has really blossomed lately, budgeting for herself, suddenly deciding (against her parents wishes) to have her waist length hair cut to shoulder length, becoming more outgoing, getting herself to and from college without always relying on 'mum's taxi', letting us know when she'll be late and making new college mates and hanging out at coffee shops. In short she has become a teenager at last. So 'almost an adult' that it hurts to think about it.

My baby is testing her wings.

As a parent I know that this is what it's all been about, preparing her for life and for leaving us, but as a parent I also feel the pain of that 'almost loss'.

I'm so proud of her. She did well at her GCSEs, is doing all the A levels she wanted to, is making new friends, and is looking happy. Happier than she has in a while, and she's always been a happy child. Maybe this happiness is linked to the fact that she finally plucked up the courage to come out to her friends as well as her parents.

Yes dear reader, I am the mum of my own little gay! She told me by accident in a mistaken Facebook message back in January, and, well, I behaved fairly predictably. First I checked she sent me the image to tell me something, and not just because it was cute or funny (she often sends me weird memes via messenger) , and then when that was confirmed, I just said "OK" and on we went.


But for months her dad and I were sworn to secrecy. She was happy to be out to her family, but the wider world could wait. As a parent it was torture! So I was relieved when she decided that starting college was the time to do it. Starting college as a 'gay girl' seemed easier to her than starting straight and coming out later, and as modern kids do, she decided to announce it via her Facebook page, I think we were all relieved when her friends all 'liked' her post, and even said 'finallyyyy' and 'Whoop! Go You!'.
DD's Facebook reveal....

So now I'm the mum of a gay teen. It's a new experience for us all but I'm rather enjoying it. DD's new best friend is a gay guy, and DD's love of rainbows, the colour purple, and unicorns is scary..is this genetic? LOL

You might be wondering what is different about being the mum of a gay teen rather than a straight one, well I'll tell you - not much. Except suddenly you notice every single homophobic comment or 'joke' that people make. News stories about teens being killed in fights, car crashes, drugs overdoses etc still scare the living daylights out of you, but now reading about homophobic crimes, always horrifying, seem so much closer, so much more real. You see things from a minority's point of view. So being the parent of a gay teen is the same as being the parent of a straight teen but with more things to worry about.

When people say 'oh it doesn't matter in this day and age does it?' you think, 'no, it doesn't matter to me or to you, but there are people out there that seem to think it matters very much indeed'. You realise that the society that enables young people to openly express who they love or fancy enables, often accidentally, hate speech and unpleasant treatment of those young people too.

I adore DD, because she is mine, she is adorable, she is pretty, witty, clever and the best fun to be with. And now, because she is gay too. When I told a gay work mate that DD had 'come out' she squealed with joy and said "Oh Congratulations!" I long for a day when that is the normal reaction we can all expect at that sort of news.

*Note DD identifies as gay now - despite the original 'guess who's bi?' line. She says she's not ruling boys out, but she can't see herself with anyone but a girl. And she likes the word gay, she thinks it sounds nice, fun. I think she's right.

21.9.16

Wordy Wednesday with Rob Tamplin

Good morning Wordy Wednesday fans and random travellers that have stumbled into this wood panel walled room of words and the faint whiff of desperation, yes that's writing you can smell! (or maybe writers, who knows) anyway today I have the pleasure to introduce the fabulous Rob Tamplin! I know, you are beside yourselves, calm down, grab a cushion, sit nearer the fire, mind the cat, and let us begin

Rob, tell us about yourself and your books, what genre do you write?
Hi! I’m Rob, I’m 33, and live in London.
I’m currently writing a young adult thriller called Cats of War. It’s about Shanti, who is conscripted as a cat trainer to help fight the Great Bird War of 2023.
Before this I wrote a mystery novel in my twenties. It was rewarding and frustrating in equal measure, but the book didn’t end up going anywhere. So I’m taking every lesson I learned from writing that book wrong and using it to write this book right.

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
I run production for a publishing company, which, as you can imagine, is about as close to being an international spy as you can get without actually being one. It’s a useful job for a writer because it lets me conserve my imagination.

When did you start writing?
Around age 11, my teacher (big up Mr. Wood!) played our class the musical version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds – it beat having to read it aloud. Listening to it effectively ignited my obsession with books, music, and science fiction. Soon after, I started writing what would now be called H.G. Wells fanfiction. Yes, I was that cool. {{no comment

My parents supported my writing from the start, and I kept on writing about things I was a fan of until I tried writing my own ‘original’ work when I was 13 – pretty much a rip off of Ridley Scott’s Alien. I think my ‘original ideas’ are a bit more original nowadays. {{so tricky when people keep having the good ideas first!

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
I scowl at everything apart from cats, the sea, and ice cream.

Rob Tamplin with Biscuit the Cat
Do you have any pets? If yes, what, and do they help or hinder the writing process?
I based my lead cat-character on one of the cats I live with (she’s the one in the picture). So in that sense they helped my writing process massively. They’re also very good at making sure I take plenty of screen breaks by climbing all over my lap/keybord/notepad while I’m trying to work. {{the perfect muse

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
If I had to pick only one – and I’m doing so under extreme duress, because since getting into YA my list of favourite authors has tripled – it would be Roberto BolaƱo. He was an amazingly prolific Chilean author and poet, and the only person whose writing can make me smile, weep, and also scare the living bejeezus out of me – often at the same time. His work is influencing me less this time around, but he did change how I think about my prose. He’s excellent at writing economical prose that builds and builds until you feel as trapped and frustrated as the characters. I’d love to work out how to do that.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just started Foxglove Summer which is the fifth in Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series. I recommend them to anyone who will listen, especially to young adults who want to move on to more adult-oriented books.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I write scene outlines and character dialogue on public transport and in spare moments, and then type-up and edit at my desk. It’s rare that I’ll spend hours at a time writing, although I’m making plans to try and change that.

Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - but no spoilers!
My favourite character to write is Onika Pierre from Cats of War.
We share a lot of traits, but she’s much better at speaking truth to power than I am.
I wanted to write a character whose emotional responses are so massive that they end up alienating people around them. Onika is so caring and sensitive that she acts defensively, and gets into trouble. She’s also someone who improvises and muddles through rather than having the answers straight away – she’s confused, overwhelmed, frightened, and still a hero.

What is your favourite biscuit?
That’s easy – my favourite biscuit is Biscuit, the cat who inspired the lead in my book. She belongs to the house, and is simultaneously the sweetest and most unpredictably savage cat I’ve ever met.
But as for actual biscuits, I’m a fan of excess so it’s got to be Fox’s Extremely Chocolately Cookies.

Tea or Coffee?
Both! Not together though – never mix your drinks.{{that way madness lies

In the film of your life who would play you?
Dress Oliver Hardy in a beard and a pair of specs and I think he’d do a bang up job. He’s much funnier than me though.

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a peach and a canary, tuneful, juicy and sweet.
I’d hate to foist a vegetable’s life on an animal, or vice versa, so I’m going to go with an animal that already seems happy enough being both – a sea cucumber.

you can stalk follow Rob on twitter at @rjtwrites
Rob is on Goodreads too - GoodReads
And he has a shiny new blog over at Rob Tamplin



  Pop over to my Facebook page and comment  there, or come for a chat on twitter. Until next week.

19.9.16

How to use your phone while driving.

You are stuck in traffic, nothing has moved for ten minutes, you are sure it's probably an accident and you think you might as well ring your wife to tell her you'll be late.

You are at traffic lights, they have just turned red, you only missed the green by seconds and now you have to wait for 4 sets of changes before you can move again, you glance at your phone on the passenger seat and see you have a snapchat notification.

You are cruising at 70 on the M4 on the way to a conference, running a bit late you decide to text the organiser, after all, you have some automated 'I'm running late' texts programmed into the phone.

It's late and dark and you can't find your mate's house on a large housing estate, all the roads look the same, you give him a ring and clutching the phone twixt ear and shoulder you ask him to talk you through the route.

It doesn't matter why you think it's OK to use your phone while you are driving, it's not OK, it's dangerous and it's illegal. I've been in some of those situations, I've been tempted. And in the days before using your phone and driving was a specific offence I have used hands-free to get directions from a friend.

So I understand the temptation I really do. I know you think 'I'm not even moving, I could use it quickly!' I know you are thinking, 'glancing at a text message is no worse that tuning the radio, that message might be important'. I get it. But it's not OK, it's not OK because it's dangerous, and because it's dangerous, and because we are tempted, it's also illegal. And because even being illegal wasn't enough to stop some people playing Pokemon Go in traffic in the town centre (but Officer, there was a Pikachu!) the fines and points you could accrue will go up from next year.

If you are caught using your mobile phone while in charge of a vehicle (which includes at traffic lights and in a traffic jam) you are liable to 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100, and from next year those points and fines will double.  If the case goes to court there is a risk you will lose your licence entirely and be fined £1000.

Copyright: bignai / 123RF Stock Photo

So my top tip is simple, when you get into your car, if you have no passengers to answer your phone, or tweet, or catch Pokemon for you, switch off your phone, and put it in the boot. Job done. If you 'need' to use your phone for music via the bluetooth, switch off the data, and set calls to voicemail or silent, put the phone face down out of reach.

Don't be tempted. Be safe. Be legal.

Driving long distances should always include breaks for safety. So just make them mobile phone check breaks too.

15.9.16

Cool Wood Watch from Jord - Review

It seems that, barring a late burst of heat, summer is almost over. I love the summer and am sad to see it go. Cooler days and darker nights can be a come down after the sunny days of August so to cheer myself up I feel I should update my wardrobe a bit. I can't help but feel that the autumn me needs a new look, some new colours and a swish new style.

I've always loved natural colours and brown shades, so I should embrace that autumn look I think, with some new oversized jumpers and some long brown boots, perfect for tramping through the woods and along the seashore.

Luckily the lovely people at Jord Watches are here to help. They sent me a unique watch in Koa wood and rose gold, with just enough sparkle to lift the inevitable gloom that winter will bring.

I live close to the coast and adore a beach walk, and while I'm bemoaning the loss of summer I will really enjoy those last golden evenings of autumn after the holiday makers have returned home where I can wander alone with my dog, looking out to sea and of course, watching the time on my lovely wooden watch.

Jord wooden watch on a beach with blue sea

The Koa and Rose Gold Cora watch I have for review is simply beautiful. Taking the best of natural colours and combining them with stunning craftmanship. I've always admired skeleton watches, and this one, with automatic movement (encouraging me to wear it daily and keep active - who needs a fitbit! I need to move to keep my watch wound!) is really gorgeous.

wooden watch on some driftwood with pebbles and a blue sea

See it's movement back and front in these 6 second video clips.




The Cora watch is slightly heavier than the Ely (battery) watch I reviewed before, due to the mechanism, but it's not a heavy watch, the wood has very varied tones which I think add to it's charms. Cora is available in other colours - all very pretty.

Have a look at the great range of women's watches. (Prices start from $129 with free shipping worldwide!)

For your chance to win a $100 e-voucher towards the watch of your choice, enter this competition. Everyone that enters will receive a $20 e-voucher so you really have nothing to lose! Start the autumn with a new stylish wooden watch. (Ends 30/09/2016)

Delivery time from America is remarkably fast, and the staff at Jord are really helpful in sorting out what you need, you can even send a note of your wrist size and have the watch strap sized for you before it's sent.

Disclosure : This post was sponsored by Jord Wood Watches
(I was sent the Cora watch free of charge in exchange for this review)

jord wooden watch on the shingle

14.9.16

Wordy Wednesday with Kate Harrad

Wednesday again! and so I have another author-y treat for you all - this week we can sit down to a cup of  something hot (but what...?) and a gluten free brownie and meet Kate Harrad

Let us begin with the basics, Kate, tell us about yourself and your books, what genre do you write?


Hi, I'm Kate Harrad. I live in London (UK) and I'm a writer, parent, activist and project officer. Only the last one pays any money, sadly. I tend to write fiction somewhere round the urban fantasy genre - my novel All Lies and Jest (which has a new edition about to come out from Ghostwood Books) is probably either a thriller, or a vampire novel with no actual vampires in it. I like fiction that's hard to classify, apparently. However, my current project is non-fiction - Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain, published by Thorntree Press, which looks at the British bi community.

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?


I have a part time job with the NHS as a project officer, which I do actually enjoy very much. Also I have kids, which is like a job except with no money or time off. (But an interesting job.)

When did you start writing?
At the age of five, before I could actually write properly, I dictated a series of books to my mum. I can't remember anything about them though. Then I just wrote all through school, and told my careers adviser that I planned to be a writer - much to her dismay.

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?

Busby Berkeley musical numbers, the sight of my children going to bed, the Great British Bake Off.

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?

I don't have one favourite author, but the ones I read do tend to be the kind of writer I'd like to be. I like Salman Rushdie, Jorge-Luis Borges, Dorothy L Sayers, Angela Carter, Douglas Adams, Isabel Allende, Evelyn Waugh, DH Lawrence, Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, PD James. I'd find it hard to specify exactly what they all have in common but it's something about the writing style and the characterisations.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
Because you asked me this in the school holidays I have needed comfort reading, so lots of golden age detective stories - Ngaio Marsh, Raymond Chandler. Also just started Crime and Punishment, which I've been meaning to read for 23 years.

Where do you do most of your writing?
At my computer when nobody else is in the house.

What is your favourite biscuit?
I have coeliac disease, so it's got to be something I can have a gluten-free version of.

Tea or Coffee?
No thanks! Don't drink either. I'll have a hot chocolate.

Copyright: tashka2000 / 123RF Stock Photo

In the film of your life who would play you? (why)
Kate Winslet, because a) I love her and b) she is roughly the right age and accent.

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a ​snail water chestnut, crunchy but also sweet and juicy, nice with a stir fry...
A cucumber and a crocodile because they're fairly similar shapes, and crocodiles are probably quite crunchy anyway. And you could call it a crocumber.{{this name is reason enough!


Purple Prose Bisexuality in Britain
Don't forget to Pop over to my Facebook page and comment on this post there, or let me know on twitter what you think of the interviews. Until next week.

12.9.16

Fizz at six months

W​ell, Fizz the border terrier puppy has now been with us for 4 months.. She is now 6 months old and has totally made herself at home. Despite never being allowed on the sofa since she got here she tries every night to leap up for a cuddle, every night I calmly place her on the floor and say 'no' - she doesn't not look convinced.


Things she has learned include sitting on command, giving a 'paw' , lying down, rolling over on command, and letting go of something when asked.

In the last couple of weeks we have been working on recall training, moving from the 10m long lead (a loose one, not a flexi lead) we have progressed from hysterical excitement and the desire to run and play with every dog she sees, to hysterical excitement and the desire to run and play with every dog she sees BUT she will now come back when called - so that's huge progress. Cheese in tiny pieces seems to be the thing that finally swayed it - that and the realisation that there is an almost endless supply of dogs to play with where we walk, so coming back when called just means you have to pause and then can play again later.


She adores every dog we meet, but is good at doggy etiquette (finally!) She watches from a distance for the other dogs body signals, approaching on her belly if they look dominant and are holding their tail high, approaching low and slow but not crawling if they hold their tail level, and bouncing like a lunatic tigger if they 'play bow' at her. Her favourite play is a mix of chase and play wrestling, unfortunately many owners panic when their dog joins in, berating them for 'biting' (they are not) and telling them to 'play nicely' - Fizz does not want them to be gentle, she is small but feisty and loves a large dog that plays rough best of all! haha



Finally having stopped biting our ankles she still likes to play bite our hands and wrists and I'm not sure how to stop this - she doesn't bite hard enough to hurt, but I can see a child could be scared.

She is still fussy around food. We have given up on canned food as she is so fickle about which flavours she likes. She is having fish and potato and seaweed kibble with a little sardine mushed into it - her breath is now appalling! But she loves the fishy goodness.


When we leave her she mostly sleeps in her crate, though Mr TM did leave her loose in the hall (we have stair gates) one time when he popped to the shop and she was fine. The only thing she has chewed has been the handles of her toy basket - an anxious wait as the plastic 'passed' but she's fine now and as the handles are no more she has stopped chewing it.

She appeared to house train almost by magic. Constant repetition and reward seems to work every time, that and the clicker training. House training in summer is great as we've been able to leave the door open a lot, now we are teaching her to let us know she needs to go out even when the door is shut, and she's pretty good, she can hold her wee a surprisingly long time on a rainy day too (when she doesn't want to go out!)


So that's our Fizz, six months old, allowed off lead on walks, housetrained, mostly not biting (only in play and not painfully) and not chewing things that are not hers! What a great dog. We are all extremely pleased with her. Oh and of course, she's adorably cute! Grown men stopp to coo over and cuddle her! And she even lets us dress her in fancy dress! Who could ask for more!!

8.9.16

School Uniforms - Love them or hate them?

You must have been living in a dream if you have failed to notice that a) it's the start of a new school year and b) school uniforms (and the inability of parents to stick to it) have been in the news.

DD is now 16 and has left school. After years too numerous to count in which she just got up, put on school uniform and went to school, she is starting college. No uniform, and as far as we are aware not even a dress code! I blogged earlier in the year about how we went out to buy some clothes. And it may surprise you to know (or it may not) that I spent as much on 'some new clothes for college' as I ever did on school uniform at the start of term, in fact due to the uniform remaining the same, I was only ever replacing worn out or outgrown clothes, not 'this old thing that is no longer fashionable and any way I've worn it loads and everyone has seen it and I'm bored of it' so I suspect I'll be spending more from now on (actually not as DD is taking responsibility for her finances from now - but that's another post!)

So here is my list of reasons why I love school uniform. 

And before we meander down the 'but freedom of expression!' 'Personality!' 'Individuality!' my daughter is only at school (now college)  7 hours a day, and all the rest of the day, and at weekends, she can wear what she likes, be as individual as she likes, have a unique personality...

So I love school uniform because:
  • It's easy. You know what to buy. They know what to wear. No arguments. It just is.
  • Cost. You have to buy something, I've found uniform no more expensive than 'normal' clothes, and while you still need 'weekend clothes', you don't need as much as you do when you are wearing 'weekend clothes' all week!
  • Speed of getting ready. Maybe it's a girl thing (!) but as DD got older, what to wear became a huge deal, for school it's nice to have no debate, no "I've worn this already" or "oh Jane hates me in that" or " but I said I'd wear the blue! Everyone is wearing blue today!" (see also Mean Girls, on Wednesday we wear pink)
  • Differentiation of work and play. Some people may argue that school shouldn't feel like work but the reality is that it is and it does. Personally I don't mind that - I work and I'd rather not, it's life. It's nice to feel like you've left work behind and it's your time when you get home and take off a uniform.
  • Durability - school uniform is practical, it's rarely built for trendy fashion, it's tough, hard wearing and stain resistant. Minimal ironing (I say minimal - I mean 'no') easy wash, quick dry.
  • Every one looks the same. Rich or poor you are there in the same kit. Yes I know there is shabby uniform and posher branded blouses but on the whole you all look the same as everyone else. No bullying based on clothing (obviously there is bullying based on something else, but fashion isn't in the list)
  • Responsibility - It's never too young to learn some responsibility to yourself. Knowing where your uniform is, looking after it, making sure to get it washed and ready for Monday. No 'oh I'll just wear this then' , you need to be responsible.
  • Learning to obey rules - now I know loads of people will rail against this but the world doesn't work without rules. Where to drive, tax to pay, bin days, recycling, plenty of jobs have a dress code, or even a uniform, health workers must dress a certain way and be clean, police dress to be identified, as do other civil servants etc. Some rules are worth following and if you feel your school uniform is really terrible, form a pupil group at school and try and change it! 
  • Identification. Uniform can be a simple way to see who is a child at your school. As a teacher supervising a day out uniform can be a simple way to keep an eye on everyone (I used to love the Brownie uniform on days out when I was a helper there for this reason) in a sea of T shirts and jeans, (and other school uniforms form other schools) your school uniform can identify you.
And no, school uniform doesn't help you learn better, but it doesn't stop you learning either, and denim shorts don't help you learn better either.

Feel free to disagree (or agree!) with me on Twitter or Facebook

For the record, DD liked wearing her school uniform. (Look at that lovely hat!!)

7.9.16

Wordy Wednesday with Jo Eismont

After a rather hiccuppy few weeks were I have either lazily posted no Wordy Wednesday due to holidays or left Wednesday gaps due to just total inefficiency, here we are! Back with a vengeance..or at least a glass of something fizzy (more of that later) and a book to settle down with.

Who have a tricked into chatting to us today in my cunningly pleasant yet probing interrogative style? Well I've only gone and bagged Jo Eismont! (shush at the back, stop pushing, room for all..are you sitting comfortably? then let us begin)

We'll start with the basics , Jo tell my readers about yourself and your books, what genre do you write?
I write a mixture of fiction (still unseen by anyone but me) and corporate content, plus I moan about various things on my blog. No books as yet, unless you count learning and development e-books, which clearly I do! I also write some career advice columns for www.themuse.com which is a good challenge, and have had a couple of pieces about being a Mum published, which I’m DEAD proud of.

Jo Eismont author
Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
I’m Creative Content Manager for Insights, a global people development company. I’m responsible for our great content – from blogs to web content to e-books to social media content. I love it! I also have a 6 year old daughter and a son who is 4 this week, so it’s all go round my way. I do some random writing in my own time – various pieces that have been published in random places, like this one: A Letter to my daughter aged 5 who told me her legs look fat

When did you start writing?
I remember sitting in my bedroom making books, stapling the pages together, when I was about 6. And now my daughter does the same – although she is doubly ambitious and wants to be ‘the author AND the illustrator, Mummy.’ It’s genetic, I guess, as my sister and my cousin are amazing writers too. When I was about 9 I wrote a story about an alien and took it into school. My teacher said it was too good and was obviously written by my Mum, who promptly turned up at the classroom door to have words with her! So right about then I decided that a) I must be a not-bad writer and b) to prove that bitter old misanthrope wrong. {{ fabulous

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
Anything Toby Ziegler says on The West Wing, early morning cuddles with the kids and running – slowly, but still running.

Do you have any pets?
No, although we’re thinking of getting a cat. I have this idea of me sitting writing with a cat purring around my feet. There may be more to this writing lark than that though – hmmmm. But a furry muse can’t hurt, right?

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write? 
Right now, Maggie O’Farrell. Two of her books – After You’d Gone and The Hand That First Held Mine – I return to again and again. She writes these great men – very sexy, swaggering, ultimately insecure, eloquent men. And the latter book is the reason my son is named Innes – Innes Kent is one of my favourite characters of all time. I read an interview with Maggie recently where I discovered she also has small children, which made me feel deeply inadequate. I always think I’ll be able to devote more time to writing when the kids are older, but clearly some people can manage it! That’s a talent in itself - just shutting out the world to get it done.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment? 
Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks. I’m struggling through it. The protagonist isn’t really doing much for me, but I’m willing to forgive Faulks almost anything for Birdsong. That’s a book I return to again and again, along with Captain Correlli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

Where do you do most of your writing? In my dining room, at my desk, facing my Penguin book wallpaper which I’m utterly in love with. {{ I so feel the need for pictures here!

What is your favourite biscuit?
Oh god, I don’t really do biscuits. I’m addicted to cherry tomatoes and Diet Coke, if that helps. {{ an author that doesn't like biscuits?! I'm in shock, but I did promise a glass of something fizzy and so here it is, never one to disappoint my readers...

Tea or Coffee?
Coffee, black, one sweetener, in the same mug I’ve used every day for 9 years – it’s green and flowery and perfect. Even the smell of tea turns my stomach – that tannin smell, yuck!

In the film of your life who would play you?
Katherine Hepburn, if being alive plays no factor! She was definitely the cooler of the two Hepburns. My daughter is named Kate, because I think it’s a kick-ass, no-nonsense, smart, take no shit kind of name.

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a frilled lizard with rhubarb, excellent frills, nice pink colour, good in crumbles. A neep and an octopus – a neeptopus! It would have the body of a neep and 8 octopussy legs. Would be good in soup with some legs left over for mezze in the sunshine.{{ brilliant

Wowser Jo - excellent answers, I really enjoyed reading your secrets..though not sure I can trust a person that shuns biscuits, maybe your neeptopus can win me over though! 

If you enjoyed reading about Jo you can find her, not blogging nearly often enough,(her words not mine)  at https://foxyrevenger.wordpress.com/

Jo would love to natter to you on Twitter – come and talk to me about any old nonsense, but specifically if you have any ideas on how to make this Neeptopus thing a reality. https://twitter.com/JoEismont

And Jo's Muse stuff can be found here if you’re looking for a career boot up the bum! Muse

As always I'd love you to 'Like' my Facebook page, and chat with me and follow me over on twitter.