President Trumpypants

So, here we are, watching our friends on the other side of the pond as they begin a new era with a new President.  I know emotions are high and there are many feeling a lot of anxious feelings today about what will happen now.

I watched the inauguration with my children.  I’d like to tell you this was an educational decision based on what I thought would benefit them.  In truth, it was entirely selfish as I just wanted to watch it all unfold, and to watch an amazing man depart gracefully as a not-so-amazing man took over.

But it was interesting to watch it with the children.   Firstly, I was amazed that they didn’t have a full on meltdown about the fact that CBeebies/Peter Pan/Superheroes/Lego (delete as appropriate) was not on the TV.  Usually, it’s a bit of a hard negotiation to get any type of grown up programming (news) on the telly during the daytime.  This time though, they appeared a bit transfixed.  Visually it was quite a stunning thing to watch.   Everybody looked very polished and beautiful.  There were lots of people in uniforms.   The cars were state-of-the-art, the buildings were glorious, the red carpet was blue, and everything was precision-choreographed.   My daughter likened it to watching the war commemorations and I understood that.  To her, it did look like that, just without the Queen.

They both enjoyed watching and my daughter talked a lot about the outgoing and incoming Presidents, though she had no clue about their politics but she had a deep fascination with their ties.   Donald Trump was ‘Mr Red Tie’ and Barack Obama was ‘Mr Blue Tie’.

As the inauguration went on, I tried to explain little bits to the kids.  After the start, my son was not too bothered.  He’s three and playing with Lego Superman was hands-down more exciting.   But my daughter paid more attention and I tried to explain to her, in words a four-year old could comprehend, what was happening.  I told her that a really good man was leaving his job and a man who wasn’t so good was taking over.  I pointed out Hillary Clinton and told her that she was a good lady and a lot of people were sad as they had wanted her to be the President.  When the images of protestors breaking windows came on, she asked me what they were doing.  How do you explain protesting to somebody so little? No, I don’t know either.  I made some rubbish attempt to explain it, but included a caveat that breaking windows was never good.

It was very much unplanned to watch with them and try to explain things but it did get me thinking about how to explain politics to children.  I don’t have the first idea how to do this, and indeed if I should when they are so little.  I remember having no interest in politics as a child or young adult.  The only thing I paid attention to was the general message around me that the Prime Minister at the time (Thatcher) was not liked.  I didn’t even pay any attention when Tony Blair took office in 1997.  I was sixteen and there were much more important things in life – boys, pop music, trying to be cool, discovering hair straighteners, and boys again.

But politics are all around us, they matter.   So how do we make that important to children and young people and, crucially, how do we make it interesting?   I think in the UK it is an uphill struggle.   To most of us, our political system looks like a bit of a farce really, controlled by a group of people who share with each other their privileged lives and have little in common with and little understanding of the people they are supposed to represent.   Now I know this doesn’t account for everyone and I know there are some wonderful elected people working locally for their communities who do fabulous things, but this is rarely shown.  Rather more we see a lot of shouting and jeering by political opponents sitting on dark green benches, not actually appearing to make any progress working together to run a country, because they are so busy insulting each other.  Bizarre.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts.  I have no answer at the moment for how to make it interesting or relevant to young people.  I would like one day to see somebody leading our country who inspires the same awe and respect and wonderment as Obama did and still does.   For many of us in the UK, we almost envy that America had him even for a short while.

I’ll leave you with this.  Towards the end of the inauguration viewing, my daughter decided President Trump could be upgraded from Mr Red Tie and now he will forever be known, in our family at least, as President Trumpypants.


Finding Your January Happy Things

Tuesday.  Not quite a Monday but edging closer to the beginning of normal life resuming on Wednesday, and the official proper start of January.  Ordinarily normal life would resume today, but an inset day at my daughter’s school has given us a brief reprieve.

So this morning we (me, the kids) allowed ourselves to be a little bit lazier.  Breakfast was later, getting dressed was a relaxed affair (although it was punctuated with my daughter’s new favourite game – showing me her bum and singing ‘bummy bum bum’).  Morning telly was still Christmassy thanks to on-demand TV.  We even managed a stroll out to the park and a bit of windsweptness.      And then when we got back, while the kids played, I sorted a drawer.   Isn’t it funny how you can spend the whole of the rest of the year filling a drawer with crap – in our case usually post, unused notebooks, empty batteries, and appliance manuals – only to have a sudden urge in early January to sort it out.  Perhaps only to refill it again.

In this particular drawer, I found a few half-used and a few completely empty notebooks but two in particular caught my eye.  In order of year, they were titled ‘Mad’s Keep Fit Book 2015’ and ‘Mad’s Getting Healthy Book 2016’.   Sensing a theme?  It would appear I have the same thought process at the end of every Christmas and the beginning of each January and I was perilously close to creating a new notebook (I had one ready) called ‘Mad’s Getting Healthy and Fit (Again) Book 2017’.  Thankfully, I stopped myself.   It clearly doesn’t work.  I start the book each year.  I go running, I write it down.  I eat some fruit, I write it down.   Somewhere between February and March, I give up and confine the book to the bottom drawer for discovery at a later date by a future (and probably not healthier) me.

I also find myself having the same thought processes about how best to start the year in terms of making resolutions to make myself generally better/happier/more successful every year.   But I do wonder what the point of this is and why we pick that moment every year to make ourselves feel that we are in some way not good enough, so that we need to start fresh for the new year?

I’ve read a few fab blog posts about making or not making resolutions, so this won’t be one of those.   All I will say about that is that I clearly am bad at keeping resolutions.  There is one thing I’m good at though – lining up fun things to look forward to and fun things to think about, to combat the January blues, which I suffer with every year.    And right now, I bet I’m not alone.   Depending on how full or empty your glass is, January can be a month full of potential and opportunity or it can seem like a massive crash after the Christmas celebration.  I’m in both camps.  Somethings I feel excited that it’s a new year, and at other times I feel sluggish, tired, and a bit low that Christmas is done.   It’s like I’m now on the wrong side of Christmas.  So, I think about good things to come – not in the year but just in the month.  Start small, baby steps, and take little bits of niceness and fun as they come.  Eventually, the January blues will start to lift and I’ll be back in the zone.

I’ve taken the liberty of suggesting a few things from my own brain about how to have a happy January, if you too get the blues.

  • Arrange a birthday – admittedly I have a head start on this given I was born in January some years ago.  But if you don’t have a birthday in January, you could  always copy the Queen and have an official birthday.   This then means cake, presents, party, awesome.
  • Line up a new box set to watch on TV until the nights are getting a bit lighter and you can venture out of your mole den.    For us this year we’ve chosen Sherlock, from the beginning.
  • Don’t throw out the spare Christmas chocolate during a moment of guilt – keep it in the fridge to have in bits throughout the month.   None of this diet and detox rubbish.  Chocolate makes you feel happy.  Happy is good.
  • Go for some walks.  I know, boring boring.  But, it’s a happy medium in between burpys and press-ups, and feeling bad doing no movement at all.  Plus the fresh air actually will genuinely make you feel better.  And if you live near some moors you can pretend you’re a heroine in a classic novel.
  • Arrange a cinema night.  Check out the listings – I know you’re all excited about Trainspotting 2.
  • Have some ‘present appreciation’ time.   Spend just a few minutes, line up your presents and look at them.   However old you get, this never stops being enjoyable.
  • Go for a drive and sing really loud in the car to some inappropriate music.   If you want to feel truly liberated, carry on singing at traffic lights and look at the people in the car next to you.

I’m sure you will have your own ‘happy things’ that make you feel better if you get the January blues but these might get you started.  And on a more serious note, if the blues get too much, talk to somebody, let your friends and family know you’re not in a good place, and you need some TLC.

Wishing you all a happy January.


Image by Mike Linksvayer under Creative Commons

Coming Around Again

I watched Suicide Squad for the first time this week and really enjoyed it, not least for the array of talented actors in it but because it had Jared Leto as The Joker; a part he played really well.   Reading about it after I saw it, I was surprised to learn that Mr Leto is 44 years old, soon to be 45.   Yet to me, he’s still that baby-faced guy from My So Called Life.  He hasn’t aged.  But, I bet to a late-teen, he’s an old timer and I bet if I told my daughter and son about him when they’re older, they would sneer inwardly and roll their eyes as they look on at a wrinkly old man in whom they can see no hidden depth.   And only when I make them watch one of his films might they realise who he was.

As a young woman, not so long ago (cough), I would sometimes tire of hearing from my elders about films I should see, and television and film stars who I should appreciate the beauty of (mainly of the male variety) but who now looked pretty un-filmstar-like in my eyes.  I did not appreciate the beauty or talent of such stars as Adam Faith, George Hamilton (tanning salon, anyone?), AL Pacino or Robert de Niro.  I sneered inwardly too when they were described as dreamy.  In fact, the only one I ‘got’ was Richard Gere.

And just as I sneered at these aging heroes, I sneered at the decades they came from and laughed along with my peers at members of the elder generation who still dressed in a style they probably wore when they were living in that time.

But do you know what?  I get it now.   At the grand total of 35 years old, I full-on get it.

I’ve seen the light. Or, more accurately, I’ve grown up and along the way I’ve seen a few movies that made me appreciate the former glory of these Hollywood statesmen.     When I finally saw The Way We Were, as well as developing a crush on Streisand, I realised how beautiful Robert Redford was.  When I saw The Godfather, I fell in love with Pacino, and when I saw Midnight Express, I realised that Channing Tatum is a reincarnation of Brad Davis.

Objects of our desire seem to go around in circles and as young and trendy folk, or in my case just young, we assume a sort of arrogant stance over our elders.  We assume we know best, because we know what is new and current.  Our film stars are the only film stars ever to look this glorious or be this talented. Our music is the only music ever to sound this cool; none of that easy listening shit, we’ll be tapping our feet to Kanye in the old people’s home.    Our art surpasses all art, our stories are ground-breaking, our potential is enormous.  How awesome to be in that young, hip brigade of trend-setters and influencers.

Well not quite.   What I’m realising, and embracing, as I move through my thirties is that my perceptions, our perceptions, are all relative.   We love our time.   We love what our generation loves.  It keeps us in time with the music.    Consider how huge Take That were the second time around, perhaps even bigger than the first, but look at who their fans are – 30-40 year old woman, largely, who have remained loyal.   And look at Duran Duran.  An achingly beautiful band in their prime, and still beautiful now but I bet they would hold little appeal to Generation Z.

I don’t mean for this to sound shallow.  I suppose my point is, we move through time with our generation in step with each other, while we follow the same patterns as the last, even if we don’t see it.  We assume we know more than the one before, until we grow up and only then appreciate what they knew, what they know, who they were, and who we will become.   I imagine I will be that older person who one day bangs on about how great the nineties and early millennium years were, whilst I’m wearing double denim and lip liner, and blogging on Selfish Grandmother from my armchair whilst listening to some gangsta rap.  But I’m ok with that.  Because it was awesome and in the end everything comes around again.


Image: shared under Creative Commons’ Public Domain Dedication license.

Keeping a Diary In An Online World

I’m feeling a bit inspired this morning after watching a lovely little feature on BBC Breakfast about diary writing.  As is the way with these things, I caught the end but it was enough to spark my interest.  It was about how common diary writing used to be and how some children do still like to keep their own diaries.

I was a child of the Eighties and spent much the Nineties in a state of teen angst.  The story books of my youth seemed to involve a lot of diaries.  Most notably was of course Adrian Mole, but there seemed to be a lot of young adult fiction that involved the main heroines keeping their thoughts written down.  I drank in books by Judy Blume and many of her characters kept diaries or just narrated their thoughts in their head.   I can’t say I was in any way like her characters but I felt a connection to what I aspired to be.      So, it isn’t surprising that I kept a diary for much of my younger years and probably more frequently during high school.  And I think it also no surprise that my most prolific diary writing periods were linked to those times of teen angst.    I wrote about everything in my life but mainly the boys I loved – including one boy called Joe who was the subject of the great unrequited love of 1991-93.  That was tough.  The high point of that non-relationship was making him dance with me at the school disco to Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It for You.  As well as my appalling love life, I wrote about songs I liked, books I read, friends I thought were fab, and girls at school who were mean.

I wish I had kept them but I destroyed them all towards the time I was heading off for university.  I remember reading them and feeling a bit silly and embarrassed at the things I’d written.   Of course if I read them now I would read them with a different head and probably feel a lot of empathy with that young girl.

So I wonder, how many of us still keep diaries?  I’m certainly tempted to start again.  One could argue that blogging is a form of diary writing, and to an extent it is, but there is one thing a diary is that a blog never can be – private.   If you wish them too, diaries can contain every private and personal thought you ever have, every mistake you need to reflect on, every good moment you feel happy about and want to remember but not necessarily share with the world, and even every bit of mundanity in your life that you one day might want to look back on.  They are a closed book, not for consumption by anybody else, just you.   And in a world full of social media, sharing, scrutiny, online validation, and lives which, once private, are now so public, a closed book just for yourself is no bad thing.

The feature this morning explored how diaries might fit into the modern world, and how young people might be less inclined towards the practice their elders grew up with.  The wonderful Dame Jacqueline Wilson, DBE, FRSL, was interviewed and felt that, on the contrary, there will always be a need for children to want to write down their thoughts and have that special experience of owning their own diary.

I wonder if readers keep a diary?  I’d be interested to know if there are grown-ups out there who carried on.  I have close family members who I know still do, and after today I think I’ll be adding another gift to my Christmas Wish List.    My children are still too little to know about what diaries are and what they mean but I will watch this space to see if they follow suit when they are older.


Image shared under Creative Commons license.

Awesome Garden Centre

Now, if you’ve said to me ten/fifteen years ago that I would one day describe a Garden Centre as awesome, I would have chuckled smugly and sloped away in disgust.   How times change.   I do appreciate the value of the modern Garden Centre and there is no more fun a time to go than Christmas.

I met up with my beautiful friend Hana last weekend for our pre-Christmas get-together and we visited a Garden Centre in her neighbourhood.   Called Barton Grange, its just fabulous.   It has everything a modern Garden Centre needs to have and a bit more.   Plants (obviously), gift stuff, Christmas stuff, Christmas tat, a sit-down restaurant, a walk-in café, and then these guys …..


And these…..


It doesn’t get better than dancing Snowmen and Bears.   Awesome.


Night Owls

Are you a night owl or a morning worm or whatever they’re called? (Early bird?)  Society seems to like it if we fit neatly into one or the other and I think I’m probably more night owl but not because I’m particularly good at staying up late and then fighting fit the next day, its just that I’m less good at getting up early and I feel a strange affinity with the night time.   To me, night time is a mystical time.  Normal service is on pause.  The pressure is off.   Day workers allow themselves to unwind and go to bed, nightworkers join a unique workforce of people working during the quiet hours, the graveyard shift.  Roads are quieter.  Films are more exciting.  Radio voices are sultry.  The pace has slowed.    Have I lost you yet?   Stay with me.

Last night was a bad night.   Our youngest was up at in the very early hours and had an unsettled hour before he fell back to sleep again.  My husband and I shared the ‘settling’ in this bit of time in a space that wasn’t quite ‘dead of the night’ but was still too early to be accepted as morning.  When morning came, we got up as normal but it felt fuzzy and it felt like it had been a strange night.  Do you ever have nights like that?   I have them every now and again, and not always because the kids are awake.

The children are both under five so they’re still learning how to cope with getting to sleep and seeing that sleep through to the morning.  It isn’t uncommon for the first part of the night to punctuated with brief wake-ups, one or both padding down the landing to the top of the stairs, and the occasional crying spell.   And it is quite usual for one of them to appear at the side of the bed in the early hours of the morning.  Loose rule we work to is that if it is before 5am, we take them back and if its after 5am we let them stay.  

So last night’s longer bit of being awake for our youngest cast a foggy spell over the night and had me thinking, whilst brushing my teeth and again on my drive to work, that although I’m a bit of a night owl, it perhaps is not the way I’m designed to be.   My body doesn’t welcome it.  I tend to stay up later than I’m comfortable with.  I get very tired, I watch films, I surf the net, I write blog posts.   My mind doesn’t stop, I know this. But also I know that it is largely due to craving some grown-up adult time as well.   Once the kids are in bed, the last thing I want to do is have to go to bed myself not long after, but physically I often feel that it might be the best course of action.      Even when they were babies, I stayed up late after they had gone down for the first 2-3 hours of their night time sleep, because I wanted some indulgent, grown-up time before the next feed/change. I didn’t want to waste it sleeping.  I realise how strange this sounds.   Maybe night owls are peculiar that way.  

If any of this rings familiar, maybe you are a night owl too?

I think I’ve always been like this.  As a child, I found it difficult to sleep.   I would lie awake long after the sounds of the house were reduced to a gentle hum.  I was desperately jealous of my siblings who fell to sleep as their heads hit the pillow, whilst I would think and think and think about how on earth I could fall asleep.  Ultimately, sleep always took me, but I hated that first bit of the night.  It got better as I got older but then university happened and there is no better way to shatter the peace of your sleep than having no routine.   I slept during the day, I partied at night.   I even studied at night.  After all the dancing at the discotheque, I would turn on my computer and write my assignments.  Maybe it was my optimum time for study.  Who knows.  

Before we had the kids, I went through a phase of not being able to sleep again.  A sort of temporary insomnia, where I would creep downstairs in the middle of the night, get a bowl of cereal, and watch the BBC news channel.  

I do think there is something in the fact that we are either night owls or early birds.  Whilst everything in my physical make-up is saying the late nights and little sleep make me feel tired, I still find myself inclined towards restless nights full of thoughts, which just feel like moments of fog the next day as I continue my day with the rest of the world.

Its night time now and in true form I’m ignoring the tired and watching the film.  Hoping to reach the end.  Hoping to stretch out this time as long as I can.  Hoping not to feel too tired in the morning. 

Growing Into a Bigger Boy

The first thing my two-year-old said to me this morning was that he was a ‘Bigger Boy’.  I’d gone into his room to wake him up (usually unheard of and never at times I prefer, such as the weekend).  I had his clothes ready and his sister was already dressed for school.  In all honesty, I was bracing myself for a hard negotiation to get him into his clothes.   Dressing isn’t his favourite thing.   Following instructions is also something he could do without.  So, imagine my surprise when he jumped out of his bed, smile on face and said, “I’ll do it, I’m a Bigger Boy.”  The first thing that came into my head was obviously Pinocchio wishing to be a Real Boy.  The second was that it was awesome that my son is entering territory where he wants to try things for himself and his ‘Bigger Boy’ status is very important to him.

In the variety of things that parenting involves, I understand my daughter’s world a hell of a lot more than my son’s, because I feel like I’ve lived it.  I was a girl, I am a daughter.    I realise this shouldn’t make me complacent and her experiences will not be mine.  But on a basic level I have an understanding of what it is to be a girl, albeit a girl growing up in the Eighties and not in the social media and selfie-filled world we live in now.

My son on the other hand is new territory.  Not completely uncharted, but definitely new.   At the moment, he is a typical toddler by all intents and purposes.  He does toddler things.  He runs around, he throws his plastic cutlery on the floor, he seems to have permanently sticky hands, he laughs a lot, he cries a lot, and he finds un-silly things very silly.   So far, his upbringing has been pretty much the same as his sister.   But I know that as he grows, there will be things that are different for him, because he is a boy.  There will be hormones raging in him that are different to his sister.  He may be more physical, he may be more inclined towards rougher play, he may tackle some things such as toilet training a bit later than his sister, and he may excel at different things in school.   I may find myself relying on my husband to help with ‘boy’ things that I have no clue how to handle.   Recently I’ve started to notice his toys of choice leaning towards superheroes and ninja things.    This isn’t to say he doesn’t share interests with his sister or that his interests are all stereo-typically gender-based.  On the contrary, he has a deep affection for Frozen, The Wizard of Oz, and, when faced with a construction fancy-dress outfit and a Princess dress, he will be in that dress quicker than you can do a twirl.
But, I am well aware that my children will experience differences as they grow into adults that are there because of their gender.   Inequality being the main one.  For our part, my husband and I will teach them as much as we can about the importance of being equal but I realise this is an uphill struggle.  And I think it is one that can only be won by men and women working together, and by teaching our boys before they become men, that being a man is about taking an active part in the world alongside women as their equals.   Being a man now is very different to what it was when I was a child.   It’s ok now for a man to show emotion.   Back then, it was headline news if a footballer cried.  It’s ok now for a man to talk about his feelings and seek support.   It’s ok now for a man to share domestic and childcare responsibilities.  All of these are wonderful pieces of progress but we’re not there yet.   They’re not embedded into our acceptance.   There are still too many bubbles of inequality that need bursting and there is still much challenging of perceptions to be done.    Just this week, research has been released highlighting the importance of having fathers who are confident and emotionally involved in parenting, and how this has a significant effect on children, even more so than children seeing their fathers take part in household chores.   So, all the more reason for us to support our boys as they grow up.   And I hope that when my children are grown, there is equality all around them.

A new Home in Manchester

I don’t normally do reviews of venues or films but today I’m making an exception on both counts.   Before I go on, please know this is entirely voluntary and I haven’t been asked to promote this venue or film.   I just enjoyed it so much I felt I wanted to let others know it’s there.

Regular readers will know that my wedding anniversary was this week and my husband and I decided to go out to the pictures for our annual ‘date night’ or whatever the kids call it these days.   We are (I am) creatures of habit and the original plan was a meal at a local steak house followed by a film at our local cinema.  Alas, Harry Potter happened.   All local cinemas were closed to anybody who did not adore the Potter.    So, we looked further afield and I remembered once visiting a lovely little arthouse cinema in Manchester called The Cornerhouse.    The website showed it was now called Home but it still showed films.  Perfect.   We were able to book food and we were on our way.

It was only on the day itself that we realised The Cornerhouse was no more and Home was actually a brand spanking new venue complete with an independent theatre, three cinema screens, a café bar, a restaurant, and some crafty, eventy spaces too.    Now, regular readers will also know I am afflicted by a certain tendency towards shyness and big complex-type places are not always the ones I find myself drawn towards.   Indeed, I was a little apprehensive when I learned I would not be sitting in the cosy little arthouse theatre.  But, I’m a big girl and I put on my bravest face as we headed for somewhere in Manchester.

I’m not from Manchester.  My mum is, but I’m not.  Over the last few years we’ve spent a lot of time in the city as we both had family living there and we don’t live far away.    I like to think that, had I been a city bird in my younger days and been all Carrie Bradshaw-esq, I would have chosen Manchester as my city of choice.  But even in cities you know, there are always hidden gems and Home is certainly a gem although when its upon you, not quite so hidden.

We were late arriving due to ‘all the traffic’ and had to run from our car in the not very nice rain but when we arrived, it felt like we had stepped into a genuine arthouse movie.  There were people everywhere, milling around, being very busy but not in an intimidating way.   There was a buzz of general excitement about what was to come.  I realised later the crowd before us in the lobby were mostly awaiting a much-anticipated theatre show starring Niamh Cusack.   The box office was like no other cinema box office and it felt more like we were approaching front desk at a beautiful hotel.   Up a flight of stairs we found the restaurant and although again very busy, this was actually one of the most comfortable restaurants I’d ever been in.  The restaurant was surrounded on two sides by floor to ceiling windows, giving the impression of a very grand space.  The waiting staff were kind and welcoming and, although we didn’t have much time before our film, the food came quickly and was just gorgeous.

Our film was in Cinema 3.   Unlike mainstream cinemas, there was no popcorn shop here. No.  This was arthouse, baby.   We were able to buy a nice coffee, an alcoholic beverage (in plastic cups), posh crisps or a posh bags of sweets.   I would imagine this is a pretty easy cinema to clean.

Everybody looked trendy but not in any planned way.  They were a bohemian set, older and younger.  Lots of beards, long cardigans, and nice kitten-heel boots.  Sometimes worn together.

So, off we went to Cinema 3.  The usher outside warned us it was a sell-out performance.   We took this to mean it might be a bit of a crush to get a seat inside.   We were wrong.    Quickly learning that there was nothing average, expected or mainstream about Home, entering Cinema 3 felt a bit like how I imagine it might be entering a private screening of a film, in the home cinema of somebody very wealthy with a cinema in their home.  It was small, intimate, cosy and quaint.  And although it was, as the usher correctly said, a sell-out, we had no trouble finding a seat.

And then the film began.  Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals.  I will leave the professional reviewing for the professional reviewers but let’s just say it was a very beautiful, disturbing, complicated, strange and moving film.   If you get a chance to see a film that isn’t Potter this Winter, make it this one.   It is the tale of a wealthy Art Gallery owner and what happens when her ex-husband sends her a manuscript for a disturbing novel he has written and dedicated to her.   See it, please.

All good things must come to an end and eventually the film finished, we ran back to our car in the rain, put on the radio and drove back to suburbia.

Suffice to say, I fell in love with a new place last night and will certainly be going back.   If you live in Manchester and you haven’t been there yet, what’s wrong with you? Get over there.  If you don’t live in Manchester, go.  You won’t regret it.    It felt like we were in another world just for one night.  I realise this sounds dramatic and gushy but I can’t praise this place enough.

For just a few hours, we stepped out of real life and into our very own arthouse movie.   Perfect.

The Sandwich Generation and Fear of Change

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary.  I know this because it is eight years from the date I got married, but, just in case I forgot, Facebook told me with a notification on my newsfeed and a series of pictures reminding me what my husband looks like.   It made me chuckle at this most basic of reminders.   Something is amiss if you need a computer programme to remind you of your own wedding anniversary.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I do quite enjoy being on the social networks.  I like scrolling through people’s cat pictures and funny memes, and it is handy sometimes being reminded of a birthday.  But sometimes I have an internal conflict with myself about my reliance on social media, as if there is a part of me trying to resist being modern and wanting to hark back to times gone by.

Let’s rewind for a moment, shall we?  The year is 1992, it’s Christmas and I’m an eleven-year-old girl, listening to my Take That & Party CD and eating fudge.    The only computer in the house is a huge thing with a giant screen (the back, not the front) and keys that take a while to come back up.   Computer games are pretty basic and with no real prize at the end other than the gratification of completing them.  I organise my life, as much as one can for such a young age, with a diary for my thoughts, an address book and a birthday book.   I read lots of stories and I watch Home and Away and Neighbours every day.   Awesome.  Now let’s think how different things are now.  Take That are still around, but obviously not as the band of choice for youngsters.   Technology is everywhere and there is no denying it is amazing.  Everybody has a mobile phone and our young people are leading the way when it comes to being fluent in using all that technology has to offer.   I heard some catch-phrase this week, I forget where, which said if you want to get ahead in technology, you should ask a 12-year-old.    So, we are only 24 years on but things are so, so different.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about just how different things are for Millennials than they were for Generation Xers and the Baby Boomers.  Just today there were reports about how people born in the 1980s are the first generation not to earn more in their first jobs than the generation before us.  Coupled with difficulties in getting on and staying on the housing ladder, after being brought up in a time when we believed it was our right to own a house, it feels a bit like we are a sandwich generation.   We’re between a time gone by and a time not yet in its stride.   We experienced the early days of modern technology.  We grew up with TV sets in every house but not quite every room and they certainly were not mobile.  Our household telephones were attached to their handsets by windy cords and a mobile phone often meant just having a longer cord.  We learnt what a ‘mouse’ was at school when the teachers taught us, whilst still probably learning themselves, how to use computers.  And we consumed our gossip and news by buying weekly magazines complete with fold-out posters to cover our walls, song lyrics, and tips on finding a boyfriend/girlfriend.

So, what happens to our generation when we’re in this no-mans land?  We remember all of these lovely and nostalgic things, and, most likely, we show our age more and more by sometimes resisting technology and new developments or, worse, by liking them so much that they lose their appeal to younger folk.

Perhaps we are at a junction in our time where things are shifting dramatically and, rather than staying on the course we were on over decades, that model can no longer hold and it is the Millennials who will feel this change the most.   I know there is no ‘solution’ to this and nor should there be, I suppose, but every once in a while I want to be free to indulge in my nostalgia and go all wistful and doe-eyed at the olden days, before I log back on and make sure to check my timeline for the next reminder of how long I’ve been friends with my sister.

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