Friday, 31 March 2017

The 'Legs-it' debacle

Imagine, if you will for a moment, a picture of two male politicians.  For the sake of argument, let's picture Phillip Hammond and Jeremy Corbyn.

They're sitting, posing for press photos before having a meeting to discuss important things, like Brexit, a possible second Scottish independence referendum, the recent terrorist atrocity in Westminster, etc.  Very serious stuff.

Now, what if the newspaper headlines you read about this meeting talked about their hair, their clothes, or their shoes - wouldn't you consider this to be a little bit vacuous and inappropriate?

Wouldn't your response - like mine - quite rightly be 'I don't care what they're wearing!  I care what they're talking about!'

And yet, time and again, when important female politicians are pictured together their meeting is reduced to a discussion about their appearance and their outfits, or at least it is by certain portions of the media.

The latest absurd round of this happened with the so-called 'Legs-it' debacle, where a meeting between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon was reduced to a discussion about who had the 'better' legs.  As they both have legs, they are fortunate to have two each, they use them for walking, it's really nothing new and worthy of comment.

Now here's the thing, and here's a good rule for us all to follow just in case there's any doubt and there are questions about what you can and can't say - if you wouldn't say it about a man, how about you don't say it about a woman either?

Nobody is talking about Hammond's hair or Corbyn's calves, and where their suits are from and who made their shoes, so why do it to May and Sturgeon?

It seems completely incongruous and inappropriate to try and reduce a meeting between two of the most powerful women in the UK to a discussion about calves, ankles, shoes and hosiery.

This is not only an insult to their intelligence, but ours too!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Corby Urgent Care Centre

The problem with writing a weekly column is that often the main story I've written about has moved on since I filed the copy.  This is a bit of a nuisance, because it makes me look like I'm way behind the times.

However, on this occasion I sincerely hope that the problem I'm going to discuss is resolved by the time you read this.

I'll be honest, when I saw the headline 'Corby Urgent Care Centre to close' on Facebook, I thought to myself that this fake news thing has gone too far.

So I turned to Twitter, and sure enough there was more about it on there, with people simply asking 'How?  Why?  This can't be true!'

Corby Urgent Care Centre is a wonderful facility, and one that every member of my family has needed to use over the years.

Now, as you know, I'm not a politician, an NHS bigwig, or an accountant - I don't 'do Maths' if I can help it.

But I do know this - Corby and its villages desperately need this facility.  The fact that it's been treating double the number of patients than was originally thought or planned for surely is a good indicator to somebody, somewhere how necessary this is?

Over 76,000 patients a year go through its doors.  If it does close, as is being said on news reports, on Friday 31st March, these people are going to have to head up the A6003 to Kettering General's A&E department - already overstretched - to be treated.

Never mind building a new two-storey car park, they'll need to create a park and ride near the Harvester/new Police station.

With more and more houses being built and this area's population rapidly expanding, the demand for NHS services is in turn increasing.

It would be complete and utter madness if this well-used, vital centre closed due to lack of sufficient funding.  Somebody, somewhere find the money to sort this out please.

And if it's already sorted, thanks - and please don't ever scare us like that again.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The 'benefits' of being self employed

I wonder how many MPs have felt 'The Fear'.  I appreciate that fear comes in many hideous guises, but this particular one is felt by the self-employed, the army of people who, for one reason or another, decide that the best thing for them and their families is to set-up on their own.

I can speak with some experience on this issue - not only am I currently self-employed, my husband has been and my father was too.

In case you're in any doubt, there's not much to recommend it.

Paid holiday?  Forget it.  Paid sick leave - what's that?  Most self-employed people can't afford to be ill, they just have to carry on regardless unless hospitalisation is required.

The constant worry about what work you'll have from one week to the next; pitching for new business, chasing leads; invoicing, then chasing payments; making sure your tax return is always in on time because otherwise it's a £100 fine you just can't afford.  Working strange hours, seven days a week, because that's when the work comes in.

So when it comes to the perceived inequalities that Mr Hammond thinks he's rectifying with the latest Budget, and the idea that somehow the self-employed are better off than those employed by companies but aren't contributing as much, can I just ask exactly how are we better off?

I can only assume that Mr Hammond & co have never been self-employed, or married to somebody who is, otherwise they'd know all about 'The Fear', the pressures and the worries that self-employed people always have, and carry around with them like an unwanted overcoat on a scorching hot summer's day.

Being self-employed is often the only option we have to continue doing the work we enjoy or are trained to do.  We certainly don't do it for an easy life.

When we get 25 days' paid holiday a year, paid sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, perhaps then you can talk to us about the benefits of being your own boss and the inequality of being an employee!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Travers Foundation Showcase, 2017

Break-dancing and I have a bit of a mixed history, I think it's safe to say.

I'm still slightly mentally-scarred from an incident that happened in the 1980s - my cousin was demonstrating his 'swan-dive' I think it was, and somehow he managed to smash my Auntie's coffee table, resulting in us all being told off.

As a result, I have never become an urban dancer myself - that, and of course at my age it could result in some sort of hip injury and the NHS is under enough strain.

However, I am relieved to report that there were no such injuries or damage to furniture when I saw the Bodyrox Dance Company perform at The Travers Foundation showcase recently.

They were an enthusiastic bunch of young people who gave a brilliant performance to 'Happy House' by Siouxsie and The Banshees.

We had all gathered together at The Core at Corby Cube to see some excellent performances from beneficiaries of the charity and to raise some money to fund future stars in sports, the creative and performing arts.

Composer Lizzie Turney gave the premiere performance of her specially composed theme 'My Dream Is Still Alive' which she'd written for the charity.

Soloist Kara Hamer managed to give me goosebumps yet again with her superb cover of Snow Patrol's 'Run', and her version of Cilla's 'You Are My World' was another crowd-pleaser.

Young ballroom dancing couple Emily Brown & Scott Wilson would surely have got a 'ten from Len' for their tango, and the Liberty Drum Corps ended the evening on a high note complete with drums, brass instruments and flags.

I even did a bit of 'star spotting' too - golfer Ryan Evans was there, as were athletes William Sharman and Lucy Hatton.  I think my daughter was cross I didn't ask them for autographs, but it didn't seem appropriate!

All in all it was a fantastic evening of entertainment and fundraising for The Travers Foundation, a local charity helping local young people achieve their dreams.  Well done to all concerned.