Monthly Archives: February 2009

Shall we wait for the government to revitalise politics?

Or should we just get off our butts and do it ourselves? Hmm, how long do I have to think about this one…

For further information, and hopefully inspiration, I will hand over to George Monbiot; an infinitely smarter and more coherent person than myself….

“For the first time in my life I resent paying my taxes. Until now I have seen this annual amputation as a civic duty – like giving blood – necessary to sustain the life of a fair society. Suddenly I see it as an imposition. Its purpose has reverted to that of the middle ages: subsidising the excesses of a parasitic class. A high proportion of the taxes I pay will be used to bail out companies which, as the Guardian’s current investigation shows, have used every imaginable ruse to avoid paying any themselves.
I think that for many people this is the final blow: the insult which seals their alienation from the political process.”
Now click here to read what he proposes we all do about this. And then do it, of course. Or something like it. I have more to say on this whole doing vs. waiting for someone else to do it for us thingy, but not right now. You’ll have to wait. Ha ha.

A Good Childhood

(edit: I should advise this is a brain-dump, rather than a cohesive blog post with a definite point to make. Take from it what you will.)

I’ve been reading A Good Childhood, the published results of the inquiry commissioned by The Children’s Society in 2006. It made lots of headlines a few weeks back – the usual tabloid misrepresentation and oversimplification, most of it picking out half a sentence which appeared to blame working and single mothers for the shambolic state of the world today. The usual thing. I hope working mothers (a bizarre term in itself – are there mothers that don’t work?) are used to it by now, and can shrug it off as the misogynistic rubbish it is.
Anyway, it clarified something for me, in a bad way.

A few months before this report was published, I started seeing adverts on the side of buses, stating that “3 in 10 children in the UK live in poverty”. I, along with many others, I suspect, found this quite shocking. But, being as I am ever distrustful of shocking figures peddled by any media, I went home and did the maths. I was then even more shocked to find out that two of those three children were mine. Hmm. But we don’t live in “poverty”; we have food to eat, a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, a good education, many and varied leisure activities… somone’s manipulating the statistics, and demeaning what the word “poverty” really means. I thought. I even had the opportunity to have a good old rant on some internet forums with people who felt as disgusted as myself.

I’ve read the report now, and I understand. It is not poverty they’re exposing, it is inequality.
“In European countries a person is defined as poor if they have below 60% of the typical (median) level of income. This is, as it should be, a relative concept – it shows just how far you are from enjoying the things that other people’s children take for granted. In Britain 22% of our children are living in this type of poverty.” (A Good Childhood, chapter 8.)

We all know (don’t we?) how much children want to be like their friends. Dress like their friends. Go places that their friends go. I understand now, what they mean when they say “poor”. It means going beyond the feelings of ‘but there are people in India much worse off than us’ and embracing the feeling that ‘but in this country, at this time, with all that we have, our children should not be subject to this.’

On most of the other counts (Family, Friends, Values, Schooling, Mental Health), my kids come out with top marks, so I guess that should make me happy. We chose a single income lifestyle, so that one of us could be at home with the children. Our happy, secure, well educated children. But in this world of “relative concepts”, there will always be those with more. More shoes, more holidays, more freedom… Always those desires that gnaw at our subconscious. I still don’t know what’s right. I suppose it is the lot of a mother to be constantly aware of what she can give her children, and what she can’t.

So next time someone disses “working mothers” – those who work to pay the bills, and provide for their children – I may just have to vent my outrage in a rather physical way.

Lost a glove, love?

Well, it’s OK, everybody does it. The number of gloves you find lying around at this time of year is quite staggering. This annual phenomenon has been commented on elsewhere, so go read that (and associated links) for a more thorough, scientific explanation.

But you know what? I found your glove. I took it, I tagged it, and I released it into the wild!

These gloves were released in Broomhill, Sheffield – let me know if you spot them. It felt kind of naughty, just leaving them there, a bit like committing glove graffiti. But, they’d already been left! And picked up (quite possibly not even by me – yes, you know who you are, my fellow random glove picker-uppers!). So, it can’t hurt really. It’s nice to leave messages – I hope they make people smile 🙂

[ps: the grey one says “Property is theft” – it’s a bit hard to read. It’s supposed to be ironic. The words, not the hard to read… Oh never mind]

Bake for a change

This kind of stuff really pushes my buttons. A gingerbread eco-house competition!

I love to mix and match. I have children to look after, and work to do, and I’m not exactly the most organised of individuals anyway. So finding time to act on all the things that bother me in this world is not easy. Things like going on protests and demonstrations, organising or helping with events, meetings, stuff like that.
For a while I resigned myself to being an armchair activist; writing too many letters to my bored MP, getting into pointless arguments on internet forums. But then I was invited to get involved with the Open Source Embroidery project and it slowly began to dawn on me that just as some people use their time, their finances, and their ability to organise to voice their protests, so I could use what *I* was good at. I can sew, and I can bake, and it’s high time I joined the growing wave of crafters and bakers in reclaiming these “domestic chores” from those who would demean them.

I’m not sure if any of this makes any sense, but I think what I’m trying to say is along the lines of, Yes, I can be a Feminist and still like to cook! It might be more ‘traditional’ to link the skills of a graffitti artist with the voicing of a political message, but why can’t a stitcher have something to say, too? Or someone who makes gingerbread houses?