Dear Jo Cox

When you were killed someone contacted me as they thought I might know you. I didn’t and as far as I know was never in the same room as you. You were clearly an incredible woman and you should still be here.

Jo Cox

I wish I had met you. I think we would have got on and perhaps more importantly got each other.

I was raised in the same area as you. That place has so many problems including generations of poverty and what Theresa May can write off so lightly as “just about managing”. Adversity creates strong communities at best and a pride in your roots.

I was surprised to hear you were shy, something I have suffered with all my life. I too get people to make phone calls for me when I bottle it. And like you, somehow against all the odds, I found myself at Cambridge University and was the first graduate in the family.

Cambridge just made me even more left-wing as I saw how easily you can be written off for having gone to the wrong school or not having the right accent. I have always worried about my Yorkshire accent and yet listening to you speak in the House of Commons, you used your voice with its beautiful accent not trying to pretend you were anyone but you.

You were a few years younger than me so our paths did not cross in the beautiful city of Cambridge.

How brave you were to go off to live in another country working in Brussels. Another beautiful city. Your family must have been so proud of you.

Then to Oxford and Oxfam where I worked for a period too. No wonder I was asked if I knew you. You and I have shared pavements.

How you juggled all the amazing feats with having a young family I do not know.

Yesterday I read your husband’s description of you life and how you put your children first. It made me make changes to my day to ensure I was doing the same with mine. Too often I put other responsibilities first when what matters is making memories with the children.

I have often wondered about returning to West Yorkshire. Should I return whatever skills I have to the town that welcomed me into their community and funded my through university. People who never left probably think I have had an exciting life and that is true. But how I miss the familiar structures of home. That place has a great way of instilling the right values and perhaps particularly in its women. Now I am wondering if I should leave the country altogether as it has not served me and my family well. I wonder what you would make of that.

You were killed and that can never be put right. But so many things can be and I hope all of us are moved by your story and your strength of character and take baby steps to be better mums, to think globally and to do out bit.

Rest peacefully.

The Pramshed
Diary of an imperfect mum

I have a problem with pornography. There! I said it! So I thought I would unpick it in writing as I am heartily sick of trying to work out the rights and wrongs of it.

problem with pornography

Pornography played absolutely no part in my home or school life. Let’s get out there now that I was brought up as a Catholic. Add in that I am adopted so always feel I have to prove I am good enough or until recent times anyway when I seem to be nailing the whole loving myself routine.

I campaigned against the Students’ Union at college paying for the Sun to go in the common room not because it troubled me personally but because other women asked me to do so and I was their elected Women’s Officer. We won the argument and most of the people who voted were men as there were far more men at my college than women.

The first time a lad put on porn in my presence, I found it laughable. Why would he do that? We were not a couple. He did not ask if I wanted to see it. I guess at that time I was more ballsy and just asked him to turn it off which he did.

In my first long-term relationship, porn played no part whatsoever. I do not know if my boyfriend used porn or not but he certainly did not push me into it. He was far from faultless and eventually left me for a younger woman but I lived an apparently porn free life.

When I met my husband there were erotic literature books in his bedroom which he laughed about saying they were his girlfriend’s at the time. Yes there was an overlap and nope, I am not proud of that at all. His daughter also showed me a porn magazine and said it was his presumably in an attempt to get rid of the potential wicked stepmother.

Porn disappeared quickly thereafter. Yes I felt pressured to play along and watch some stuff but it was never really my bag. Of course, it arouses but not half as thrilling in my view as a bond between two people who are really into each other rather than Uncle Tom Cobbley and all or the woman next door, near relatives or animals.

One day I went to the hairdresser’s and when I came home my husband was watching porn rather than enjoying quality time with our son. That’s where the problem with my husband and his porn use started. How can you choose porn over your own son?

That is 12 or so years ago and every so often I find him using porn. It’s a “cheap thrill” apparently but as someone who is not that far of retirement age, I find that a little pathetic to be honest. It causes conflict or my attitude and “skewed thinking” does to give my husband his say on the matter.

So I was interested to see Pamela Anderson describing pornography as a “public hazard” that affects men’s “ability to function as husband, and, by extension, as father”.

“We are a guinea-pig generation for an experiment in mass debasement that few of us would have ever consented to, and whose full nefarious impact may not be known for years. How many families will suffer? How many marriages will implode? How many talented men will scrap their most important relationships and careers for a brief onanistic thrill? How many children will propel, warp-speed, into the dark side of adult sexuality by forced exposure to their fathers’ profanations?”

I always get women telling me that all men use pornography. I also know some women enjoy it. I might question who introduced them to pornography in the first place. I might question how and why people find themselves in the porn industry. That does not seem to bother users one bit that folks might be there having being abused as children, found themselves cash-strapped or are under the power of men where the women’s interests count for little.

So here is why I would prefer my husband not to use porn

1. it has hurt me over the years. I have offered to compromise but am too often hit with anger, denial and lies.

2. I have found myself lying in bed trying to work out how to appear like a porn star. That is degrading and a real barrier to true sexual intimacy.

3. I don’t like the risks that have been taken in leaving stuff around that my beloved children might see.

4. During great days in or out, I get a little niggle in my head wondering if he has porn on his mind rather than the lovely experience we appear to be having.

Most of all, I would like folks to be honest. If it is so fabulous and life-affirming why does it have to be done furtively and be lied about? Why is a conversation not had right at the start of relationships about porn so you get a choice what you are signing up for?

I know lots of men and women will not like what I say here but I am celebrating myself enough to say I might have to live with porn but I can still return to the ballsy woman who will have her say.

Is a “cheap thrill” worth sacrificing your wife and kids for?

Menopausal Monday! What is that?

I am aware that I am entering the menopause. I think the signs were there a couple of years ago when I first started to feel hot for no apparent reason and without warning. Now hot flushes come and go and the odd night sweat sets in. Periods are erratic where they have always being regular. SOMETHING is going on here.

Hitting the menopause brings its physical symptoms but it also is making me reflect on my life and times. It’s a turning point. My children are now tweens and a teen. They need me a bit less or perhaps just in a very different way. This allows me more freedom to read, to do my own thing and just to be.

So in my mid-forties (spun for good measure) I find myself fascinated and also strangely liberated by the changes in my body and in my life.

I also start to wonder if I have on big adventure in me and just how brave I am really.

Is anyone else having a Menopausal Monday?

Received wisdom is that the menopause is yet another of those things we don’t acknowledge or talk about enough. Perhaps we need to change that. Perhaps I could start a regular blog hop sharing the life and times of menopausal women to share peer support, tips and achievements.

How does that sound?

If I were ever to write a lonely heart advertisement, what would I put?

Well obviously I am an ageing woman and mum who juggles a lot. Yes there are roots in the hair and yes I could do to lose some more weight. I can be quite shy.

On the positive side of things, I am bright, caring and I think quite humorous with a quick wit and a feisty attitude. Over the years I have learned to like myself a lot. I have a booty that rocks and lovely brown eyes and the wavy hair. I can earn my own money and am passionate about the things I undertake. My children are amazing with great values and they know I love them.

So what would my perfect partner look like if I was in the market? You will understand this is just a little adventure in creative writing.

1. I would like someone who thinks I am fabulous. That is the point of being with someone right?

2. I would like someone who in the old-fashioned way can stick to me and not spend an awful lot of time looking at 2 dimensional images of women. I can’t be 2 dimensional so I will never quite live up to that particular fantasy.

3. I would like someone who loves to converse for hours about all manner of things.

4. I would like someone who touches me when I need reassurance or just to know that I am cared for.

5. I would like someone who shares their interests with me.

6. I would like someone who knows I sometimes need me time and even organizes treats for me from time to time.

7. I would like someone who takes their fair share of household chores.

8. I would like someone who makes me laugh a lot.

9. I would like someone who occasionally does things that I like to do that they don’t particularly because they might learn something or it might be worth giving something a go.

10. And just sometimes and not a lot, I would like flowers or to be treated like a girlfriend.

I thought writing this list would be a complex affair but actually if I was starting over, it is quite a simple list. Too much to ask apparently but simple all the same.

3 Little Buttons

Strong bin liners are not the sort of thing I expected to get excited before becoming a wife and mother. They were about as interesting as warm cardigans and storage solutions. How times change!

strong bin liners

Like many women, the bulk of the housework falls on me even though I work. I resent this and even rant about it on occasion but pretty much to no avail. The children buy things and lose interest quickly and I think they might get that from me with my charity shop obsession.

When I try to declutter, you can bet bin liners are not strong enough so I give up, have a coffee and sink into despair.

All this has changed and has put a spring in my step after I was sent some bin liners from Visqueen to review. You can get one off the roll easily without ending up tearing into the next one. You can stuff them with all manner of things.  In fact, I get making the  challenge more tough and still they stood up to the test. I have stared to send things to the tip and the charity shop, mountains of bin liners full. It really has cheered me up and makes housework so much simpler. I have held an attachment to stuff for far too long and I feel lighter as I let things go.

A survey undertaken by Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest site for parents, and commissioned by Visqueen Ultimate, the UK’s toughest bin bags, found that in 46% of households, women are responsible for emptying the kitchen bin into the outside wheelie, compared with 25% of households where it’s the man’s job. In 27% of households, meanwhile, it’s a shared responsibility, and in only 1% of homes do the children take on the task.

It gets worse for the women-folk. The survey also found that in 62% of homes, women are in charge of emptying the other household bins, compared with only 14% of homes in which men do it. It’s a shared job in 20% of households and the kids do it in just 2%. When it comes to actually cleaning the kitchen bin, don’t expect any help from a bloke! In 76% of households, women carry out this unpleasant chore, while men step up to help in only 9% of homes!

The survey shows that what has traditionally been a task for men is no longer just a job for the boys, with increasing numbers of women now responsible for emptying the bins. It is unclear whether this is because men are too busy doing other chores – gardening, shopping or ironing for example. But it is clear that when it comes to responsibility for taking out the household waste, there’s been a significant swing between the sexes.
With this new wave of trash-tasked women in mind, Visqueen Ultimate’s experts have developed a hi-tech generation of super-strong drawstring bin liners that are truly up to the task. Made in the UK, the new bags offer unrivalled strength and tear-resistance, eliminating all risk that a bin bag full of garbage will split and spill its contents on the floor. Mumsnet users have sampled the products and 94% said they would recommend Visqueen Ultimate products to a friend and 94% said they were stronger than their usual brands.

The launch of Visqueen Ultimate, the UK’s toughest bin bags, means that help is here for the growing numbers of women in charge of putting out the household rubbish. The products are strong enough and tough enough to fill the bag to capacity. A simple pull on the drawstring, meanwhile, will protect everyone from unwelcome smells and sights, ensuring household waste can be delivered to the outside wheelie bin with a minimum of hassle and fuss. The Visqueen Ultimate range is on sale now at www.Amazon.co.uk.

Looking for strong bin liners? Trust me on this one!