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September 22, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are– Robin Gibb: a missed opportunity to discuss gendered professions.

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007t575

Who Do You Think You Are Robin Gibb 21/09/2011

I like who Do You Think You Are. I like the Bee Gees. However, through no fault of Robin’s, it seems the two together are less than the sum of their parts. My quibble lies with their discussion of his midwife ancestor, who, judging by her character references, was undoubtedly an excellent midwife and a treasure in her local community.

It seems that in 1937 she neglected to inform a doctor, as per the regulations, that a child she was looking after had an eye infection. At the time, gonorrhea was seemingly rife and children could go blind if the infection was passed to them while they moved through the birth canal.
Robin, through misty eyes, assumed that, as a doctor had seen the child previous to the midwife, his ancestor MUST HAVE assumed that the child was already under a doctor and therefore did not need to inform a doctor herself. The midwifery powers that be, of the time, disagreed and cautioned her for negligence.

While I do not doubt the soundness of calling a doctor for a potentially blinding infection, I also think there are other mitigating circumstances that would preclude hurrying to the nearest doctor- for the mother’s sake. The programme failed to make a point of the pre NHS situation that this incident transpired in. When doctors cost money. Maybe the mother couldn’t afford a doctor and a midwife and his ancestor was doing the mother a kindness which common sense suggests may have been commonplace. If the mother had gonorrhea, could she have caught it while operating as a prostitute which would have been shameful and illegal, leading to a well-founded fear of authority- another reason not to get too involved with medical professionals, who would also have been predominantly male, which leads me to my next point.

The programme alluded to the stringent nature of midwifery rules at the beginning of the professions professionalization and probably did not have time to ask why they were so stringent for anything other than medical reasons. They did explain that doctors (male) made these rules for midWIVES. They did not take the time to discuss the idea that they were deliberately codified to restrict the power and initiative of a female profession dealing with feminine issues over which men had never had the opportunity to wield power before. Suddenly men qua doctors could set the rules over something they had previously had no power, and they set, what was referred to throughout as, restrictive and stringent rules.

What a terrible couple of missed opportunities.

October 30, 2009

Musings while on a train.

I have been on many trains of late and luckily(?) remembered to write some of my most recent thoughts down.

As a Primary School Teacher I don't often get to the use the language associated with University and, more specifically, my Politics degree training. So I thought I'd have a go at seeing how this language could be used (abused) in a Primary Classroom context.

(To be read i the voice of Joyce Grenfall)

"Billy et al. stop chattering!"

"Fran. You do not have hegenomy over the crayons. Share please."


"Anne, you know the answer to question 1; Ben, you know the answer to question 2; Cate and Deirdre likewise 3 and 4. If you set out the worksheets using the division of labour model you will get it finished more quickly and be able to go out to play.

Henry, you know all of the answers yourself and you can wear the neo liberal hat this afternoon. What? You don't think it's fair that they'll get the same marks as you in half the time? Aaaah, Henry, you see, while they remain unable to complete the whole worksheet, you; my dear boy, will do better in the test.

Pardon? You'd rather go out to play now? Think of your future Henry! If you forgo playtime and complete your sheet you can have all of lunchtime in which to frolic with your friends. What's that? What if it rains? I don't know Henry, stop asking questions. I have too much paperwork to complete in order to proceed down my own chosen career path. What Henry? Is that why no one is in the staffroom Henry? What do you mean am I happy, Henry?! Don't ask silly questions boy, if you are going to do well in that test you are going to have to forget happiness and complete that worksheet, otherwise you will have to stay in at lunchtime too.

Eh? You've seen a gap in the market Henry? What do you mean you'd like to go back to middle table and write the date on each worksheet for them Henry? What a waste dear child! You're too bright to be merely writing a date over and over again and wasting time with playtimes. You don't know what's best for you. Think of your future Henry! Now go and sit on top table and complete your worksheet and show me how good you are. Good boy."

July 01, 2009

Mafia sympathy card or accident lawyers promo?

                                                  Had an accident? (Wasn't your fault?) Card punctuation and tone FAIL.

Another reading of it is in the rather sinister tone of the Mafia sympathy card. Had an accident? Sorry to hear that you're not well...

This is what you get if you pay 79p for a card. Bought, by me, today for comedy value only!

June 30, 2009

Aromacupuncturetherapy. Pine needles.

Aromacupuncturetherapy. Pine needles!

June 21, 2009

Wooden mobile phone.

I would like a wooden ipod, and a wooden mobile phone.
I would like a wooden toaster, I am tired of one of chrome.
I would like a wooden laptop, and a wooden DVD,
I would even like a plasma screen of tough mahogony.

I would like some wooden headphones, and a wood remote control,
A wooden fridge would suit me fine, I’d power it with coal.
I could hang some paper curtains and lay blankets made of card,
And if they gave me paper cuts, I’d burn them in my yard.

I’ll have credit cards of plywood, pay with debit cards of ash,
I’d like pennies cut from ebony, play chequers with my cash.
I’d carve my keys from silver birch, my locks hewn out of pine,
To protect all of these wooden things, that I’d like to be mine.

Inspired by the faux wood finish on the back of my black plastic MP3 player. Why? Phllips, you’re fooling no one!


PS- I want to access the internet on a typewriter,

June 03, 2009

03/06/09 The goose drank wine… and the monkey went to heaven in a dress.

My Dad received post today, stamped with HALFPENNY denominations of stamps. How? My sister couldn’t find any comemorative HALFPENNY stamps on the postal service website? Bizarre!

Olde worlde stampes usede ine poste todaye.

03/06/09 the goose drank wine…. or rather 5 ducks as viewed from my upstairs window.

View from- 03/06/09

May 27, 2009

Paradise Electronic.

If I were a cartoonist, I would draw Adam and Eve sitting in some kind of control room/ laboratory. At their fingertips would be the equipment to find out and control everything in their domain- from the infinitesimal to the gigantic. To the knowable to those things of which we are not yet aware. These things we shall call- Science and Technology.

However, in this centre of knowledge and therefore, undeniably, power, there is a large red button. On this button are written the words- "Do not press".

In my cartoon, the eye would then be drawn out of a window into space. It becomes clear that should the button be pressed, all the equipment, that would prove for certain every conjecture that our investigators could conceive, would be ejected into space. Our investigators would be cast out into nothingness, perfect knowledge gone, leaving them to scrabble together imperfect apparatus that can only scratch the surface of what they were given.

In my picture the laboratory (a little like the Spaceship in 2001 a space odessy, a film I am aware of but have never seen) Adam and Eve are seen waving from out in space, hand in hand, the button has clearly been compressed, the airlock is open and some screen on a monitor is proclaiming imminent catastrophe for ideal knowledge or whoever made the space lab's idea of perfect knowledge, all neatly set out for us to find, their way.

In another, similar control room, a figure thumps a fist on a desk. How dare they not figure things out the way that they had been told to? The cheek of literally thinking outside of the box! What might they find on their own path to knowledge?

And yes, I am watchng the Armando Iannucci programme on Paradise Lost!

May 20, 2009

RIP Sergeant Lee Bates.

When reading tonight's Express and Star I was deeply shocked and extremely saddened to read of Lee's tragically early death from Leukaemia aged just 29.

I was selected to sit on the BBC Regional Accountability Panel (now Regional Audience Panel) at the same time as Lee in 2006. As the youngest people in the room we sometimes had remarkably different opinions to the older members or remarkably similar- both standing up for the representation of young people in the Black Country across the BBCs various platforms.

Lee was polite, friendly and engaging and it was a pleasure to listen to how he worked with young people as well as being a full time police officer. We can truly say that Lee made a real difference during his painfully short life.

I'm doing the Race for Life in June and I'm sickened by just how personal a 5 kilometres this is turning out to be.

May 13, 2009

Telephone Hygienists: a reality?

The flu virus can survive on hard surfaces such as telephone handsets. Quick- call a telephone hygienist. Or then again maybe don't... Pick the telephone up in a tissue and then put the tissue straight in the bin. Avoid using a lift whilst waiting for your telephone hygienist and do not shake their hand. Better still- in order to protect yourself fully from infection dig yourself a moat. There is government funding available for such life saving home improvements. Contact your local government office by phone on 08...

Catch it, kill it, bin it, burn it. Curse the ashes then dispose of them. Do not dspose of ashes in your bin. For free advice on disposal of flu ridden ashes please call the, oh forget it... :)

April 20, 2009

Mea culpa = My bad.

Latin CI.

April 13, 2009

Sustainable development?

Sustainable development?

From an industrial to a service economy. From a service economy to an education (probably international) economy. Notice the long undeveloped foreground, unlikey to be developed in the current climate.

The industrial railway line bringing in the people for all 3 kinds of economy, and people out. In the background- the new Wolverhampton University student accomodation reaching up into the future. Is this development really sustainable?

Immediately- employment (services of domestic staff), fees and spending from students.

In the long term- even if these sudents leave Wolverhampton after their training, they should be able to contribute to the economy somewhere, and with the local and global economies inextricably intertwined, one could say that the accomdation is a sound investment for now and the future.

Goodness- I think that’s the driest entry I’ve ever written- let’s liven it up a bit.

Berry Brook, Northycote Farm, Wolverhampton.

March 28, 2009

Gillette Samurai– now surely that would be the best a man could get?

There’s quite a long gag here involving the process of Samurai sword making in miniature but I’ll leave that to your imaginations rather than mine!

March 21, 2009

Don't cancel the Wolverhampton City Show.

Wolverhampton City Council - don't cancel the City Show, or for that matter the Steam and Vintage Rally. Wolverhampton is not the most buzzing place in the world. These occasions are one of the few where Wulfrunians gather in one place to enjoy each other's company in united appreciation of local or bought in talent. In these cash strapped times people can afford to do even less, and let's face it, many people that I know haven't been able to afford to travel further afield or shell out for fun since the last recession. Cancelling such events would be depriving the deprived as well as the fortunate of any vestige of civic unity, and a good day out.

Why not only hold it on the Saturday? (Or is two days cheaper- economies of scale and such?) I've always wondered how these events could be staged for free and would be willing to pay a small entrance fee. If everyone paid I'm sure it would at least help towards costs. In addition, as a tax payer I'd much rather have my tax money paying for something we can all enjoy not bailing out bankers with more money than sense to start with.

A simple way of keeping any populace happy is to provide bread and circuses. We're already skimping on bread. Are we about to lose our circus?

(I know this is a bit reactionary and Daily Mail, and I don't think I've ever used the phrase "As a tax payer" before but I really look forward to the 'Town Show'. Taking it away would make me sad :(  )

March 02, 2009

Why doesn't Windows Task Manager recognise itself as a running programme?

Just curious. Not like I’m gonna stay up all night pondering this… or am I?

February 27, 2009

My very own FAIL!

Taken by my sister in the Wolverhampton branch of Home Bargains.


Also, me and a fun crisp (Ready Salted).

Face Crisp.

February 14, 2009

Where do mathematicians live?

Where do mathematicians live?

Correlation Street.

February 05, 2009

Not nearly so nice.

“Can I have a glass with some water in it please?”

“Can I have some water with glass in it please?”

February 01, 2009

Go Cat for Indoor Cats

Is your cat for some reason house bound? Does it miss the opportunity to eat grass until it vomits with joy? Is it unable to bring you such 'presents' as half dead birds and spiders? Go Cat for housebound cats contains all of the grass and pre mauled, yet inexplicably still living, animals your cat needs to simulate the fufilling existence that is a prerequisite of any predator.

Sounds more like an advert for house cats to me!

January 20, 2009

Obligatory Obama Offering.

In my head I have the image of the American History textbook I used for my GCSE. Over the years I've added to its mental contents, making connections between events that help me understand the world as I know it, in light of previous events. September 11th 2001 quickly developed a double page spread complete with info boxes and a question box. Today,as my mental textbook goes to press, there is a section on Barack Obama and the question at the bottom is clear.

A) In what ways did the Civil Rights movement contribute to the election of Barack Obama?

Then the more complicated A level and degree level Politics kick in along with a good dose of common sense and my own opinions.

It's not often that one can sit and see exactly how an education has shaped one's thoughts, opinions and way of looking at the world. I was helping 6/7 year olds to read this morning. I wonder how they will reflect on their history and how the came to look at what they know?

On a personal note- I for one am very excited but I must learn to manage my expectations.

January 17, 2009

Mark Watson at Birmingham Town Hall.

This review is totally clouded by the fact that Mark Watson started his set in the audience, part of which was next to this particular member of the audience. Me! (and, of course, Pigeon, my comedy going companion) How exciting! It's not often (indeed, not yet in my experience) that the comedian performs his comedy standing next to you. I also have a huge admiration for anyone that chooses to perform without that modern crutch, the microphone. Decent projection is all the more impressive these days as folk seem to have forgotten that humans have the ability to be heard over distance without shouting.

Karma is loving me at the moment which is apt given the subject of Watson's show, De stressing. The crux of the advice I've had recently is to live my own life, follow my own dreams and develop a sense of perspective. Watson's comedy revelations amounted to roughly the same. Life, other people and ourselves are funny. Does what happens now really matter in the greater scheme of things? No. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Something I had the great pleasure of doing last night. Except I got neck ache, but by the by.

As for Watson? Friendly, story teller, amusing hecklers (rather participants, who'd heckle such a nice man?) Entirely wonderful flights of fancy. I love ad lib and comedians that at least make it look like they're making it up as they go along. Watson has a real talent for this.  Venue? Beautiful, airy, favourite yet but reminded me of a church hall/ church? I saw/ heard the 'Bach Double' performed at in Leamington replete with whacking great organ at the back. A lot like a Methodist church. Entirely appropriate for the thoughtful, suitably awestruck Watson but not, I feel, the right venue for bluer comediens such as Frankie Boyle or any music other than sedate tea dances or gentle jazz. The Midlands is lucky to have such a performance space, (apologies Warwick Arts Centre, but it's being done up) and the variety of other choices (NIA, NEC, Symphony Hall etc) to ensure that artists are deployed in venues that bring out their best. Watson is one such example. Well done!