“Political correctness gone mad!”

Is it just me, or are people complaining about political correctness basically complaining about having to treat others with respect?

At what point does someone’s right to their opinion mean another loses their right to not be discriminated against?

How can we address fear, hatred and discrimination without attacking the person for their views without understanding the reasons behind them?

I guess if I had the answer to that last question, well, I’d be rather clever. As it is, this is something we still need to figure out. And it’s going to be messy. Because we’re human. And humans are messy. Relationships are messy. Life; life is messy.

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Love is all around

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Bah humbug and all that jazz.

In the spirit of cynicism I decided to find out what Mr G and I could do tomorrow night at the London museums. If we weren’t staying in with an M&S meal and a DVD! Here is a selection…

First up at the London Transport Museum is this fascinating sounding evening: London Stories, featuring entries for The Serco Prize for Illustration 2014. I must admit I love London art – especially the old Tube posters -so would quite like to see this at some point.

Or perhaps we could jitterbug beneath Whitehall at the Churchill War Rooms. A more surreal location for a night of romance I can’t think of offhand.

Oh yes! I’d forgotten about the saucy tiles at the Museum of London’s City of Seduction. Sorry folks. Looks like that was popular as it’s sold out.

A little more sedate is a talk with award-winning photographer Terry O’Neill at the V&A.

Not for the faint-hearted is the Ugly Tour, one of two night safaris at the Natural History Museum. Dinosasurs. Nuff said!

Star-crossed lovers should be heading to thethe sold-out Royal Observatory for some stargazing.

I’m sure there are many more. Time Out has a good list. (Including Tottenham Takeover at the V&A at the end of March showcasing the vibrant creative scene of my local area.)

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I’ve been making sourdough bread on and off over the last year now. A friend gave me some of their starter, which I’ve been nurturing in the fridge (stops it running away with itself too much).

I’ve started experimenting with what I put in it. The latest loaf is half and half white and spelt flour, with toasted walnuts and raisins. Turned out rather nice. Just a shame it takes time to develop so can’t make it in an evening.

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Living in a box

Over the last couple off years the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) have been campaigning for Britain’s new homes to be bigger and have more natural light. In this countrywe currently have the smallest homes in Europe, with the least natural light. Their housing standards report makes an interesting read.

To publicise their work they got Mr Grand Designs himself, Kevin McLoud, to promote their campaign earlier this year by filming on a tube carriage, to highlight that many new builds are not much bigger.

We’re lucky in our place. Whatever you think of social housing, shared ownership or Help to Buy, our housing association commissioned decent sized flats, with loads puff natural light (the sauna effect in the summer is a whinge for another day!) We have plenty of space we went for indoor over a balcony when came what could afford.

So it was with great interest that we decided to have a nose over the weekend at the new buildings going on the estate. These are privately owned flats, though would probably be eligible for Help to Buy. But even then, the marketing flat, the cheapest, was far too much money for what you got.

I’ve not checked the sizes, but it was probably smaller than ours. The open plan kitchen-diner had room for a small table and chairs. The smaller – second? – bedroom had an en suite (but the larger didn’t) and there was no space for a wardrobe. The only built in storage was a small, mirrored wardrobe (yuk!) in the main bedroom, and a cupboard the hall that housed the water tank and washing machine. As my mum said – where would you put your Hoover.*

I’m not sure who these flats are designed for. Clearly not for people who want a home for more than just a few years. The marketing literature is aimed at trendy young things – no mention of the local Lidl! – who I guess they’re expecting to trade up and out sooner rather than later.

So other than the penthouse – which has amazing views across the city but is double the price of our current place – we have very little interest in trading up to one of those shoeboxes.

*other vacuum cleaner brands available.

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Lest we forget

We don’t deal with death very well. This is probably why we don’t deal so well with aging. As time marches on its a constant reminder how life is so fragile, so fleeting. In the blink of an eye, quicker than it takes to blow out a candle, sometime can be gone.

Death has touched my life this year. As it constant touches the lives of many. It’s been 18 years since death had such a personal stake in my life. For my age that’s bordering on a miracle. And while unexpected, it was still a difficult time.

In recent days death has rudely stormed in and touched the lives of so many in my social circle. Unexpected and inelegant, death barged in rudely snatched a life, far, far too soon.

In conversation with a mutual friend we mulled on how in such a connected world can make it harder to move on. The internet holds on to them, even tighter than our memories can. In the digital age our memories can be refreshed at the click of a button. But then their social media just stops. Dead. No more words, no more images. A virtual memorial to a life no more.

I have two Facebook friends who have been dead for a few years. Their profiles sit in my friend list, occasionally reminding me of their passing, their words and pictures now ancient history.

Today is Remembrance Sunday, a day on which I often have mixed feelings. But I remember those who died so that we might have the freedom to choose whether to remember, who died so that we might have the freedom to choose not to fight, who died so that we might have freedom. I choose to remember not to celebrate war, not to say that it is good, but to thank those who, when it was the last resort, defended out freedom and our choices.

On this day that we remember those who died so we could live the life we do, we can’t help but also remember those no longer in our lives.

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Without being a total techy, I love computers and the internet. Don’t ask me how it works – it’s as magical as electricity to me. Though I did learn last week that it travels between countries in pipes under the sea. How cool is that?

But I digress… I’d even go as far as to say email was invented for me (narcissistic, much?) What I mean is, I’m much more comfortable communicating online. It gives me time to sort my words. It in no way means I’ll write less crap, but at least it’s more thought out crap.

And I’m not the only one to be happy online. Kids are growing up as internet natives. My one-year-old god daughter understands vaguely how to drive a tablet!

I read an interesting article today that touched on the importance of social networks for young people. It’s this divide, which is not just an age thing, that I find interesting. I’ve been having a lot of conversations recently about the use of online communication tools, with people who don’t understand or want to use them. It can often seem we are talking different languages. Well they certainly think I am!

It can be a difficult conversion, talking about the internet. At one extreme you have people (like me) who love it, are comfortable with it and get slightly shaky when offline. At the other extremes you have those who are terrified of it, or those who look down on those for who it’s a big part of their life. After al, they wouldn’t possibly have the time to “mess about on the internet” and think the only right way to communicate is face-to-face. After all, how can you have a relationship with someone you’ve never met?

I don’t think it’s as simple as that, and I certainly don’t think there is any one right way. Things are changing, so we will obviously see a shift towards more tech. But I don’t think there is any less value in a relationship mainly conducted online. How much different is it to pen pals? This generation’s pen pals are their Facebook friends (or whatever’s in at the moment).

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Round, round


Knitting in the round is one of those things I’m trying to get to grips with. I’ve been attempting the socks on dpns, which frustratingly results in small ladders between the two needles. Durant matter how tight I pull the yarn, I still get the ladders.

Moving on, I’m trying this jumper from Tin Can Knits. As a jumper is too big for dpns, I’m trying out the magic loop method on a circular needle. Having struggled with the join I’ve discovered that if I switch the first and last stitches onto opposite memes, I avoid the gaping join.

At some point I’ll get back to the lovely leaf pattern scarf from Purl Bee I’ve been consistently messing up. As an aside, I’m determined to get to Purl Soho when we head to New York next month.

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