Gazette column: It’s time we all got more responsible

24 Apr

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about speeding and how it’s about time we got more responsible about not only this, but about everything else to do with where we live, too.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column World Meningitis Day special: How I survived Meningitis

24 Apr

World-Meningitis-Day-2013Today is World Meningitis Day – this is a Gazette Column special to mark the day…

This column is one I wrote for the Gloucestershire Gazette back in July 2013 about meningitis, how I survived it, and, crucially, how we should all be aware of the illness. When I wrote the column, the vaccine for the Meningitis B strain had not been given funding approval – now, I am pleased to say, it has. But that’s just one strain – there are many more, so the fight continues. If you read this, I hope it helps…

 

Gazette column 18th July, 2013

“I survived Meningitis – now it’s time to save others”

39 years ago I contracted Meningitis. I was a baby at the time, oblivious as I was then to the life-threatening situation I faced, unaware that the hospital room I slept in, cried in and was treated in for three weeks was there to protect me and others from the deadly virus. Back then, vaccination against Meningitis was non-existent. The development in medical science was burgeoning, but slow, and technological advancements were only just beginning to sprout.

But 39 years is a long time. And, wrinkles on my face aside, a lot as changed. For me, I was one of the lucky ones. First of all, I survived. I contracted, at 5 months old, one of the most deadly forms of Meningitis. If it wasn’t then for a concerned GP returning to our house, I suspect I probably wouldn’t be here telling you the tale today. I was fortunate in other ways, too. My hearing, sight, limbs – all of them were unchanged by the side affects of the virus, and, aside from my horrendous habit of falling asleep on the sofa, I am fully functioning.

So when I read last week that a mother from Wotton-under-Edge is campaigning for the NHS to adopt a life-saving Meningitis-B vaccine, I was both pleased and dismayed. Pleased because this mother – and thousands like her – never give up. Despite what she has been through, what she has lost, she is campaigning, tirelessly to make a change. My dismay, therefore, comes from the fact that in this day, in this age of modern society, it still takes people who have suffered to campaign for something that the government should be automatically adopting. The new vaccine championed by the campaign, is ground breaking. The founder of Bristol-based Meningitis UK, said, ‘In 30-years, this vaccine is the most significant development in the fight against the disease since I lost my son 30-years ago.’

We have ourselves, therefore, some options. First, support the campaign. Contact Meningitis charities, fundraise, help. I, for one, shall be setting up a direct debit. But then, go one step further: lobby. Lobby your MPs, contact as many people as possible and get the message out, get this vaccine funded on the NHS – your NHS. Because this vaccine can save lives. 39 years ago, as a child, I survived – now it’s time for the NHS to ensure the survival of all our children.

For information on symptoms, go to meningitisnow.org

You can follow Meningitis Now on Twitter @MeningitisNow

Gazette column: Parents! Park better outside schools

10 Apr

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about parking by some parents outside schools and how, with the escalation of irresponsible driving, if they are not careful, a child will get hurt.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Tax works because we’re made to pay it. So tax me, please. Tax me now.

3 Apr

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about tax and how, if, like South Gloucestershire Council, we are asked to opt-in for paying for services, we just won’t do it. That’s why they should just tax us and be done with it – because it works.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Diary of a hopeful author: Now is the future we haven’t recognised yet…

2 Apr

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

Ok, so, a LOT is happening, but still I cannot divulge events. Not specifically. Not yet. But hold on! Soon, I can tell you what’s a foot writing wise for me, and it is BIG.

So, until then a) thanks for hanging on (it’ll be worth it, promise), and b) here’s something for you to read that I wrote earlier. It’s a column I did last year for the Citizen and Echo, and it’s about the future. Not in a sci-fi/fantasy way, you understand, although that, to be fair, has a lot going for it. Step forward The Hunger Games. And Spock.

No, this piece is about how while sure, the future and our planning for it is good, seeing what we have in the here and now will get us equally far in life. If not a little further.

Stay tuned…

“Now is the future we haven’t recognised yet” – Citizen & Echo Column, Saturday 6th April, 2013

In 1988, the LA Times asked 30 futurologists what life would be like 25 years in the future. Some predictions they got right, like knowing we’d all end up with Satnavs in our cars, use emails to replace paper, or teleconference via Skype. Others they got utterly wrong. Robotic man-servants were one failure (or not, depending on your viewpoint), and body paint that protected against radioactivity was another doomed prophecy.

Thing is, what we tend to do, us people, us humans, is spend our time forecasting what the future will bring. We can’t help it. A bit like running away from something scary, we’re inbuilt to guess the future, to envisage technologies, to foretell catastrophic world events. It’s like a whole new way to be nosey, just with permission.

And so to pondering on our own lives. 1988, the year the report was compiled, found me at 14-years old, my mind on Madonna song lyrics and my heart won over by Morten Harket from A-ha. Days, weeks would be spent gabbling about our futures. It was our topic du jour, desperate as we were to know what was going to happen, to predict like some cosmic crystal ball what was in store for us.

Some of it I got right. I did go to University, although no one could have predicted the almost world-record breaking amount of times I missed the final two lectures each Friday afternoon to hit the student union bar early. And married, I got married, happily, gladly and without the need to be dragged down the aisle.

But there comes a point when this wondering about the future has to stop, and you come to realise, in the twilight of the day that it’s not about what’s ahead – it’s about what’s happening now.

See, spend too much time pondering the future and you’ll miss things, you’ll miss life. Family, friends, the daft little things that make you smile. Watching your kids in school plays. Belly-laughing on a rare night out. Because that’s the stuff we have, the here, the now, that’s the gold. Obsess instead with prophecies and we end up with a future we didn’t intend to have all because we ignored the present we did.

Yes, our futures are important. Yes, heck, we need ambition, but I’m going to try concentrating on today. That way tomorrow will come all by itself.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Gazette column: Give schools more money – it’s simple maths

27 Mar

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about school funding and how, if the government gave schools a lot more money, everyone would benefit. It’s not rocket science, it’s just simple maths.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Diary of a hopeful author: There’s lot you can learn from the pages of a book

26 Mar

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

I feel like I’m on Mission Impossible. You know that bit in the film when Tom Cruise gets the note and then it will, ‘destruct in 5 seconds’. You know that bit? Well, that’s me now. Not that I mean I’m Tom Cruise, you understand, although, to be fair, I did have a poster of him on my wall from the Top Gun days next to Goose. Ah, lovely, sweet Goose.

Anyhoo, I mean here the destruction note bit. By which I really mean, a lot is happening writing wise that I STILL cannot divulge and if I told you, I would explode (not really). Safe to say, it’s all good, but still, I am keeping quiet for now until the whole lot is finalised.

So, in the meantime, I have decided to unearth a Citizen and Echo column I wrote last year about books, funnily enough, and, specifically, what we can learn from within them. Turns out, it’s lot. But hey, you knew that, right?

 

“There’s a lot you can learn from the pages of a book” – Citizen & Echo Column, Saturday 20th April, 2013

There’s a lot you can learn from the pages of a book. From as early as I can remember, my life has been directed by the novels I have read. Rules on friendship? Try Mallory Towers. Want to know about poverty and the shame of society? Charles Dickens is your man. Need to understand how to talk to a boy without turning the colour of a beetroot? Have a Jackie annual.

Books, novels, the words on pages – they affect what we do, the way we think. They shape who we are. As the years have gone by, the learning I glean from books has changed just as my life, the rollercoasting, boat-journeying time that it is, has changed too.

Bleary-eyed and strung out on broken sleep, my first few months of motherhood a decade ago were saved by books. Sleep. Sleep was our heroin back then in those hazy first weeks. We craved it, fantasied over it, endlessly talked about it. We would have dreamed about it save for the fact that to dream you need to, you know, sleep.

Desperate and, quite frankly, shattered, I turned to a book for help – and it worked. The book, the words, the instructions, the delightful, exquisite advice it gushed meant our new baby, finally, slumbered and so too did us zombied parents.

As our children grew, so did my reading quota. Terrible two issues? I’ll have a book about that, thank you. First day at school and feeling sad, oh child of mine? I think I saw a picture book in the library on that, my girl.

Of course, the danger, the hidden terror of learning life’s lessons through the words of, what is effectively, another person, is that the message they give may not actually be helpful. The time, for example, when I followed the advice of feeding my then toddler chopped liver once a week, only for the stuff to be regurgitated by her all over my head half an hour later, shall be filed forever under, ‘what was I thinking?’

But it’s the good times, the good advice that stays with you, that shapes your thoughts, how you act, what you do. My girls are fast approaching teenage years and while I look forward to it, I am also – shocker – apprehensive. But it’s okay. I’ve got it covered – I already know what book I’m going to buy.

 

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Gazette column: Local retailers should smarten up their shops

20 Mar

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about local retailers and how, given the budget deficit and tough times, they should smarten up their shops to drum up more business.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Local councillors need to start respecting their responsibilities

13 Mar

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about local councillors and how, following the recent walk out staged by local Stroud District politicians, they need to start taking their responsibilities to the electorate more seriously.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Diary of a hopeful author: A blog post that can’t say much…Yet

12 Mar

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I can’t say much. I know, what a rubbish blog post is that, right? One that can’t tell you anything. What a muppet.

Thing is, a lot is happening with my book and, being a superstitious lass, I best keep my mouth reasonably shut about it until all is signed and sealed. I toyed with writing a post at all since I can’t waffle, but it’s been a while, so what I can say, for now, is this: I am so excited, so off my head with news about my book that, 6 nights out of 7 I cannot sleep. It’s all worth it, though. And, when I can spill the beans, I’ll be right on here to let you know.

Until then, have a cracking week. Ain’t long now. Stay tuned…

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

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