Tuesday, 21 December 2010


I would like to be able to blame the snow for my current state of completely-behind-with-everything-ness, but sadly I don't think I can. It didn't stop me from posting cards or reading the mortgage stuff or tidying up or packing. It may stop me from getting to Scotland for Christmas, but that is a different matter.
It does make trips out of the house a bit more adventurous/treacherous though.

I still don't get how it makes everything so quiet.
There were quite a lot of other things I've been meaning to write about but my brain seems to have misplaced them. Oh well, I don't suppose you're missing much.

Do have a marvellous Christmas won't you? I think I'd better get on with the pile of things undone now, and love you and leave you until the new year...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Late adopter

I'm a bit of a luddite at heart. I like things to stay the same; I don't really like the breakable, complicated nature of technology. A bit freaked out that I have no idea really how the internet works, or even this computer, or mobile phones. I like things that are understandable; fixable; take-apart-able. I hate that everything has to be replaced and upgraded all the time; that it is mysterious and ever-evolving so you can't get a grip on it. I hate how dependent on it we all are.

So, I'm a little slow in getting on the technological bandwagon sometimes. (Although, obviously writing all this on the interwebs so obviously not that committed to the luddite cause!)

Anyway, I had been given a second hand iphone ages ago but it seemed alien and like just another administrative hassle, so I put it in a drawer and there it remained for the best part of a year, until I couldn't hear people anymore on my old phone, and had to admit that it had to be abandoned. (Even that phone I hadn't really liked as the colour screen was so bright - the old green and black one was much less offensive on the eyes when checking the time in the middle of the night...)

So I got it all linked up and whatnot, and suddenly I get the appeal of this slippery little bright-screened toy. I check my email in the park on our nap-in-the-pram walks. I read blogs late at night when I'm feeding. I make little notes of things I need to remember, or that seem important at the time. After all my chastisements of B for playing with his phone during dinner or whilst talking to me, suddenly it's me hooked to the little device, not coming to bed, checking it whilst we walk along together. The shame!

Another little piece of technological know-how I've made friends with recently is google reader. I must have used it once ages ago because it contained a list of blogs already but I never really got in to it. Now, suddenly I get it. Wonderful! I don't have to use my blog roll to check new posts anymore; it's like having an email inbox filled with lovely and interesting things all the time. And now I can be a more consistent blog reader and commenter (though I don't think I've been able to comment via the iphone yet).

So yes, I guess despite my scepticism perhaps we can be friends, technology.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

At last!


At last - an MP calling for an end to the criminalisation of drugs.

I'm not a supporter of legalisation because I think drugs are great and we should all be taking them; I'm a supporter of legalisation because everything I've seen and read on this subject seems to point to it being the most sensible thing to do if we want to limit the damage drugs wreak on people and society. To my mind it is screamingly obvious that prohibition is ridiculous.

Because it doesn't work.
Trying to stop the supply of drugs into the country is notoriously ineffective. Anyone in this country can get hold of anything they want to get hold of by asking the right people. Surely it's better to put all that time and money into trying to curb demand, regulating an official supply to improve safety, and trying to ameliorate the effects?

Because it's nonsensical

How can you ban a substance because it is potentially harmful but not ban similarly harmful substances? It's a crazy and impossible thing to try and do.

Witness the constant invention of new 'legal highs'; legal because that particular chemical construction has not yet been logged and documented, not any better than illegal substances.

Morphine is an effective and invaluable analgesic in a clinical setting; its close cousin Heroin (invented incidentally to try and cure opium addicts!) is seen as an evil and destructive power. It's not the slight chemical difference that causes this - it's the context.

And what about nicotine and alcohol? - if we have a system based on personal and societal harm we must logically include these, surely.

Because it supports criminals
You make a substance illegal; all those involved in its trade are criminals. Off the radar, unregulated. The demand remains, the trade flourishes despite our intervention; prohibition gives criminals business. Funds people traffickers and gangsters and terrorists and leaves these substances - that people will seek out and take regardless of the law - under the control of the unscrupulous and profit-motivated criminal gangs.

Because it makes criminals
Wouldn't addicts be better treated as patients? For their sakes, for the sakes of those affected by drug-related crime?

Because it is not a useful deterrent
I've heard an argument that if you make drugs legal people will think its fine to take them. Um, well its legal to drink weedkiller and its legal to jump off bridges and its legal to smoke. Does that mean everyone thinks these activities are safe?

I'm not saying legalisation would be a wonderful panacea, and of course I recognise that all the different substances that are illegal would need different strategies and that there are complex issues surrounding how and why and where drugs are taken and it would be an impossible task to devise policies that created good outcomes in every case. But I do think legalisation, regulation and information is the way forward, and I really hope that this guy speaking out leads to sensible debate and maybe some changes.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Pleasant surprises of a postal nature

I picked up an envelope from the doormat the other day and thought. 'ooh, what's this. It doesn't look like a bill or a mailshot?'. Almost immediately I answered myself with the pessimistic reply, 'well don't get your hopes up, mystery envelopes are never exciting; they're always just junk or annoying bureaucracy'.

But lo and behold, it was exciting! It was a £25 prize from the Premium Bonds. Woop woop!

That very same week I came downstairs to the door and saw a Koala peeking out from the pizza menus and cleaning lady ads. It felt a bit like when you see something from your childhood that you'd forgotten about - like, 'oh yeah, I remember postcards'. It had been so long since I'd received one I almost forgotten they existed.

And then, a canary yellow envelope turned up and inside not only a card but a letter - real writing! in ink! on paper! from my dear dear friend. I put it in my handbag and saved it for a quiet moment later in the day - a real treat.

10 years ago I wrote letters regularly - to a school friend, a pen pal (remember them?), a particularly wonderful high school teacher who kept in touch - now I very rarely put pen to paper. Much as I enjoy the online world and can be cheered by a facebook message from a friend abroad or a lovely email hello, there is still something different and special about receiving something nice in the post. I hope written communication doesn't become just a curio of the past, my kids astounded that one would communicate without cut and paste and instant delivery. Expensive and wasteful though post may be, it's not only a more personal connector to friends in the present, it's also an easily preservable connector to the past. And it's nice to have that personal touch and solidity in the midst of the whirling rushing onslaught of electronic communication.
(picture of lovely cards I bought from Liberty recently - they have dove grey envelopes which are ever so chic and I like the picture of the little crazy girl on the bike so much I think I might frame it and hang it up - cheap art!)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Sleep training and blog-love

Sleep training... doesn't that sound lovely? Conjures up images of perfecting the starfish position, getting in some warm bath and hot cocoa preparation and testing for the perfect flannel pyjamas. Preparing for the spooning finals, the afternoon nap contest, the tricky snoozing on a plane competition...

Sadly no. I'm talking screaming, shushing, patience-testing such as a saint would fail. The baby, obvs.

Our little one, despite being an evening screamer for her first three months, did, rather cleverly we thought, decide to settle into an 8 hour routine from about 8 weeks - she dropped off after a feed or a scream around 10 and woke us at 6. Ideal - one of us got to work on time; the other got to have a leisurely breakfast with baby and boy. We got into bed before we fell apart from tiredness.

Sadly, late nights began to pique her curiosity and she started only going down for the night around midnight, after a lot of feeding and screeching and wide awake playfulness.

I got into bed a week ago and said, "I can't take any more of this". It was the point at which I knew I needed A Different Tactic. So, time to turn back tail between my legs to the Baby Whisperer, whose book I had thrown against the wall weeks previously because it infuriated me with its calm 'just do this and the baby will do this' ridiculousness. But it had a plan for getting the baby to settle in the cot, and in the absence of any other, it now seemed the time to get serious and try...

So, for the last 6 nights we've been picking up and putting down in a darkened room for our evening entertainment. I liked the plan. I didn't feel mean putting her down by herself because I could cuddle and calm as soon as she got upset. And in between I got to lie down and immerse myself in blog land.

And it worked. Well for a few nights it did anyway - one night she even went straight to sleep with barely a whimper. Then last night I stuck out 20 minutes of trying to calm my wiggly little noise machine in the dark before I gave in and brought her downstairs to distract her with lights and TV (quiet immediately!). So we'll see what happens as we try to keep it up, BUT...

...there is one small problem, in that for the last several nights I've been working my way through the complete archives of a blog I came across the other week, which I was absolutely loving (the wonderful Mwa's Lost in Translation). It was like reading a good book, going 'oh yes, I so get that' the whole way through, then finding out your favourite character has come to life at the end. And it was like getting to know a new and fabulously funny and frank friend, chatting with her late each night.

But then I read my way right up to the present and there's no archives left. So now I need something new to keep me going whilst we pick up and put down some more tonight and doubtless nights to come. I'll trawl around a bit until something captures my imagination I think, then do another whole-archive read - it's nice getting to properly know a blog(/blogger) rather than just flit in and out.

Which brings me to my second post topic - this has been making me think about this blog and what I want from it. I wanted it to be a kind of notepad for me to refer back to - good recipes, ideas I'd had for when I eventually get this completely pipe dream cafe up and running (i.e. 2nd of never), projects I'd finished, pretty things I might want to buy or just look at. That kind of thing.

And for some reason I didn't really want it to be about personal stuff, mummy and baby stuff, 'musings'... Not quite sure why. I liked reading those kinds of blogs, I just didn't feel that that was what I wanted to do.

But now I think perhaps I do. And besides, I choose what I cook primarily on how easy it'll be to clean up nowadays, and I knit at a rate of about three rows a year so there's not going to be much of interest on the foody/crafty front.

So, not promising anything because anytime I decide what this should be, or how often I should post, or whatever, it's pretty much a guarantee that that won't happen, but just saying, perhaps I'll open up a little and share a bit more minutiae and mind-noise here from now on.