In my previous blog posts, discussions, comments, etc, I have been very careful to say that I have no answers to the problems I perceive. I am not an expert in politics or economics or diplomacy.

The truth is, of course, that that is a lie. I must have a suspicion of what my answer would be, even if I have not got to the stage of forming it into coherent thought, otherwise I would not feel so strongly about whatever issue it is. And if I have been moved to speak about something, I must feel strongly about it, that’s how I work. How I suspect most people work. By the way, this applies across the board. If there’s a social ill I talk about, a religious issue, or even that I seem to shout about a few particular authors I like or only give four or five star reviews, it’s because I don’t waste time talking about things that don’t matter to me. If I feel strongly about something I will shout about it. So simply in saying “I think this is wrong” I have implied that I think I could do better, and it’s time I faced up to that.

I have previously left my solutions unsaid for the reasons I gave above. I am not expert; I am also wary of confrontation and I prefer to avoid situations where I could offend people. But the biggest reason is that I am Just Me. Just a very ordinary person from a common background with fairly ordinary experiences and with a great deal of my life expectancy still to come.

But for these very reasons I should be coming up with answers.

I am a free and equal member of society. I have as great a stake in society as any other person in Britain; a great deal more than the current governing bodies who can buy their way out of society if it doesn’t suit them. Saying this aloud is wonderfully freeing.

I am a free and equal member of society. My opinion should be informed and it should be valued but it should also be formed in the first place. How can I possibly condemn any politician for their stance when I hold none of my own? When I am quick to judge but not to put my own views forward for judging? It’s time to take some responsibility for myself and my society.

This morning I have been doing some thinking of my own. I have started playing the game of “If I was in charge…” Not “How do I get to be in charge…” That leads to short-term consumer-based policies that change with the wind based on what people say they want from a government. Playing this game needs to start with every policy that I’d come up with being based on my principles. If nothing else then, at least I’d be acting with integrity.

If I was in charge I’d base everything on the idea of building. Building a country that we can be proud to pass on to our children, and the third and fourth generation. A country that takes care of people and whose people want to take care of it in a covenant. Maybe that’s not a bad place to start – look at marriage vows. A country that takes care of people for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health. Building a true democracy in which people are valued not only as commodities but as people with individual contributions to make to a rich cultural heritage that can be enjoyed by everyone. Because everyone, to exploit an advertising slogan, is worth it.

That’s the what and the why. The how needs much, much more thought but I genuinely believe that if I know why I’m doing something, I’m on the right lines.

The other thing to remember is that when people were building Legoland, they had to start, at some stage, with a single lego brick. No lego brick was more valuable than the others or more important, or better at being a lego brick. They all had a stake in being part of Legoland.

I am a free and equal member of society and I have a role and responsibility in building that society. 


Truth, Certainty and Respect

One of the things really, I mean REALLY, bothering me lately is religion. As most of my friends know, I consider myself a Christian in the sense that I believe not only God, who created the world and made each of us “fearfully and wonderfully” unique and special but also in Jesus Christ who died and was resurrected to redeem mankind and a Holy Spirit that works through each of us when we let it. I still believe these things but over the course of the last year or so the mechanics of it still eluded me.

I believe I can state what I firmly and truly believe on a number of subjects but I’ll stick to just a couple for now.

I do NOT believe that in order to take advantage of Christ’s sacrifice you have to say some magic words that marks you as SAVED. I do NOT believe that people who disagree with me are going to Hell. I do NOT believe that I am in anyway more special or worthy of redemption than my neighbours whether they are Christian, atheist, Muslim, agnostic, a member of the Raving Loony Party, Labour, Conservative, whatever. I do NOT believe that anything I can do changes the fact that God loves me, and despite being raging mad with Him about many things, this actually does give me comfort. This also includes going to church, doing Good Deeds, or persuading someone that if they do not tick certain boxes they are doomed to eternal punishment worse than anything we can conceive. I DO believe that when Jesus said “No-one can come to the Father except through me” He wasn’t telling us to do anything, He was saying what HE was going to do.

I do NOT believe that being a believer in God, whichever form that takes, gives anyone the right to deride, mock or scorn with different beliefs or politics to themselves. It does not give you a free ticket to Heaven that someone else does not. It does NOT give you the right to forget about showing any basic respect to your fellow human beings.

I DO believe that pretty much every problem in the world today can be traced back to a lack of respect shown by one group of people to another. Whether it’s manifested in racism, rioting, an elitist government that openly favours the rich, a reactionary government that at best displaces and at worst executes the previously privileged elite it has replaced, or invade another country because they have something the aggressor wants. It’s down to seeing another human as less than worthy of respect and dignity. Maybe they don’t even realise they’re doing this. I probably do it too, almost certainly in fact; I know I don’t have much respect for certain members of the government at the moment, or even people closer to home.

Lack of respect also comes across on a micro-level. How we treat the vulnerable – the elderly, children, the disabled, the poor. We see ourselves as ‘decent people’ but what do we actually do to deserve this label? Or is it just that we’re lucky enough to not be in a position where our prejudices are allowed to surface and openly show our lack of respect?

The other thing I know for certain is that I don’t know anything for certain. Right now I believe in God, I don’t see that changing. But if I close my mind to the possibility that I  might just be wrong (impossible, I know!), then fundamentalism creeps in, and suddenly I’m better, I know better, I’m enlightened, and there’s about 50 million people who I now have slightly less respect for because they’re not enlightened.

I won’t have any answers until the day I die, and sometimes that knowledge is – irritating, to say the least. I have a great many opinions and no solutions. But I have this one certainty – that respect does NOT have to be earned. It can be thrown away, but respect is a fundamental human right. Without it, there can be no recovering from all the conflicts of the world, large or small; with respect, there is hope.

THAT is the truth.

Capital? VALUES?

It’s a while since I did a post on anything other than parenting or writing or any kind of rant of statement of my position on something. Mostly this is because I realise I have fairly strong views on a lot of subjects which people often do not agree with. While I enjoy discussion and debate, that’s not what I’m trying to do and to enter into debate properly is, frankly, exhausting and I have plenty of other drains on my time and energy.

I just felt this morning though that I’d like to get something off my chest.

Capital punishment. It’s Just Not Right. No-one has the right to kill another human being. It’s THAT simple. Wilfully taking the life of someone else is murder. There are cases of self-defence, there are cases of insanity. In both of those cases I’d argue that the person doing the killing probably did not willingly do so, and they will have their own demons to face. But killing another person in cold blood is wrong, and it is uncivilised. No matter that you can use a drug that just puts someone to sleep – it’s still killing them, there’s no civilised way to do that. And it’s not always painless – there are states in America that are changing the drug they use despite clear evidence that the new drug causes pain and suffering.

What about child-killers? Exactly the same – they are still human and you CANNOT kill someone in cold blood. I have been asked repeatedly, usually with a smug air of victory, how I would feel if someone had killed my children. In that unthinkable situation yes, I would probably want that person to die, to be punished, to suffer terribly. THAT is why we have a legal system and justice. I have indescribable sympathy for parents in that situation, believe me. But what, exactly, would it achieve?

And I absolutely cannot buy into the argument that police-killers should be executed. Why are the police of more value than any other member of society? And I say, aggressively, that you need to be wilfully misunderstanding me to think that I am saying the police are NOT of value. I am saying that EVERY member of society is equally valuable. Whether it’s a ninety year old pensioner going to church every week, a police officer, a teacher, a nurse, a child, a drug addict, a criminal, someone who’s gay, someone who’s arabic, someone who’s disabled…

When you start differentiating between people’s value and worth, you become something less than human. I have just finished reading The Hunger Games. One of the things that struck me was Katniss’ fury that she and the other tributes were seen as worthless, disposable. But society is heading that way. There is an increasing reluctance to take on the responsibility of caring for each other. The NHS is in the process of being sold off. The provision of wheelchairs for disabled children, for example, is seen as of less importance than making a profit from that provision. Schools are being turned into academies – the provision of quality, free education for all children is of less importance than getting a return on the investment, whether that is in the form of results at whatever cost or direct financial return in the form of sponsorship from private companies. David Cameron (and, ironically, the only generation ever to benefit fully from the welfare state is the one dismantling it) is at the helm of these processes, but he is not solely responsible. It has been underway for years, and we are responsible because we vote in people who want to continue along this path. We would rather pay less tax and have a little bit more in our pockets than support the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us.

And one day it will come back to bite us. One day, we will be the ones whose investment has collapsed, or whose pension is being cut, or whose grandmother needs a basic standard of terminal care that she is not receiving. And then we will have to ask ourselves why our values have been so misplaced.


Tirade over, normal service will be resumed soon.

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

Dear Daniel and Emily

A year ago I wrote this post.

So much has changed since then. Daniel, you’re nearly four and you’re such a big boy. You can dress yourself – in fact, you insist on it – and go to the toilet and even nearly read. You look after your baby sister and hold her hand when you’re walking together. Emily, you are the most independent little thing – walking everywhere, getting into as much trouble as you can and usually following your big brother round adoringly. Full of cheek and mischief and life.

But so many things have stayed the same. I’m still exhausted and there are days when that fog seems as thick and close as it ever has been. Some days I’m wishing your babyhood away, just to get to the days (and nights) when I can sleep and do more than merely function. Other days I catch myself and remember how precious and fast these days are, and I’m trying to imprint little details on my mind.

In the day-to-day business of life, I get carried away. You try to play and I say “In a minute”, “not now” or “just wait a minute, can’t you?” No, you can’t. Sometimes you should, but you can’t. I look at you and you’re both so big and grown-up I forget that you’re not even four, not even fifteen months. I expect things of you that aren’t reasonable. I get cross.

I’m sorry. I want you both to know how much I love you. I’ve just been in to see you both and whispered it in your ears and hoped that it drifted through into your dreams. I’m going to print out this post and last year’s letter and keep them for you, for a day when maybe we all lose our tempers with each other.

I love you.

Mummy xxx

Bye Bye Baby!

B in the A – Z challenge is probably for birthday. Next week Emily turns one, although some of the stuff she does makes me wonder at times if she’s actually closer to ten. And with her first birthday we’re leaving babyhood behind.

She’s already more of a toddler anyway. She wanders around the house, sometimes purposefully, sometimes aimlessly swinging her arms and looking for mischief (which she always manages to find) but always steady and sure. She babbles away with herself and us; Daniel loves trying to decipher what she’s saying. I have a feeling we won’t be able to stop her once she can talk properly. She’s beginning to show a strong stubborn streak and a temper and it’s obvious that we’ll be having some battles. So in some sense we’ve already left babyhood. Or it left us when we weren’t looking.

Of course, we’re not just talking about Emily leaving babyhood. It’s all of us. We’re not planning any more children and that means that we’ll have to retire things like the crib (which is still standing in our bedroom, as if we can’t quite bring ourselves to dismantle it), the pram, the steriliser which never really got used much anyway since we had a small microwave one that was far more convenient. The babygros are getting put aside for a car boot sale instead of the next baby, and for every piece of clothing that she outgrows I have to decided if I can let it go. Some things, like her coming home from hospital outfit, or that dress or those booties, are being kept as long as we have the space.

Some things I’ll not be sorry to lose. The weaning spoons – I really didn’t enjoy weaning. I love the stage she’s at now where I can give her real food and watch her enjoy it and discover new tastes. She seems to have a broader range of food than Daniel did, but sometimes the memories are a bit hazy and maybe Daniel ate a wide range of things at this stage too. That’s scary – it’s only two years since he was at this stage and it’s hazy already? How am I supposed to remember these things when they’re ten? Or twenty?

I look back at Daniel’s baby pictures and sometimes it’s hard to relate that baby to my little boy. Daniel is so strong and vivid a personality, he comes out with the most amazing words and phrases, how could he ever NOT have talked? Or walked? Or decided he was going to do something and then just done it? And how did he interact with Emily? Wait – there was no Emily??

So we’re leaving babyhood. But I know from watching my clever, beautiful boy that toddlerhood is just as wonderful and scary and amazing. I’m waving bye bye to that part of our lives as happily as I waved goodbye to the part where I wasn’t a mum or the part where I was a ten year old girl dressing up as a bride or rocking my baby doll to sleep. They’ve all been amazing parts of my life, but there’s a time to wave bye bye to it and look to see what’s next.