Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Right, who's' reading this one then?   I continue to have an interesting 2013.   Not what I had expected but then again there's always an upside to every cloud.  Just that this winter seems to be going on for a little longer - we had if I remember rightly, one day of Spring.  I visited a lovely place Dewsall Court in a snow drizzled Hereford this weekend, met some amazing people who own the property and organise excellent supper parties there, and they put me in the bridal suite.   Ironic in many ways, but as a friend texted me while I was there 'you will probably have more fun there than many married couples do.' I don't know if that's sad or flirtatious.  Whatever, the stay what lovely and I thank them for hosting me.

And yesterday in my yoga class, which is all hot and sweaty (Bikram at it's best), five men walked in.  They were to say the least, beautiful.  They were five members of the England Rugby Team. One was called Oliver, one Chris, one Matt I think and there was a Tom.   My Tom (14 year old 6 foot 1 eating a packet of Bran Flakes now on his return home every evening from school) is cross with me because I could not recognise their faces. They were indeed handsome but it was not their faces I was looking at.  They had the most incredible edible bodies and they were all hot and sweaty, dripping with sweat and no one could balance. It was like the male equivalent of that video, you know the one with all the girls working out in the room to 'Call on Me' but without the music just the heavy breathing.    And their biceps were so big that they couldn't wrap one arm round the other or one leg round the other.  But who cares. No one in that room cared.    No one could balance, but everyone did backbends and twists as though there were no tomorrows.   Yoga is wonderful.   And sometimes it is really really really wonderful.  

Sunday, 10 March 2013


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, all you wonderful women who have given birth to little gems.   I feel a bit like a travel writer writing 'the people are all very friendly' when I write that, because although it's mostly true, it's not always true.    As someone who's written about travelling with children for nearly fifteen years, really since I was pregnant with my son, and written about the politics of the playground, which is nothing to do with the kids at all, just the issues of the parents, I'm not sure if I actually like children.  

Don't get me wrong, I love my own, centre of my universe, but over the years I've met children who I felt were going to make the most appalling human beings.   That adage, mine will be different, and they will grow out of it, doesn't happen.  Yours turn out to be the same, and they get worse.   And they always blame the mothers. That's after they blame the media, the council worker, the government, the lack of nutrients in food, the teachers, the lack of discipline in the home, too much tv, computer games, violence, alcohol, celebrity culture. In fact a whole melting pot of things to blame for the awfulness of the child.    Which is unfair.    I recently produced a youtube of the top ten types of mums and I've done one for dads, but I had to tone it down because 'they' felt it might be too negative.  It wasn't.  It was spot on.  In fact it was tamed down.    But dads are rarely if ever laid to blame for their own failures let alone that of their children. No one is to blame for their own failures and that's the problem. No one takes responsibility.  Actually no.  Women usually tend to believe everything is their fault, and men tend to believe everything is everyone else's fault, so I'm sure that's why men and women get on as well and as long as they do.   Men think their failures are everyone else's fault - but mainly the fault of their mothers.  It's sounds like something Freud would say.   These ones also tend to marry their mothers or 'motherly' types', divorce when they're not being mothered any more - because their wives have given birth and have genuine children to look after and proceed to look for women who a) can't have kids b) have grown up kids c) are able and willing to dote on them the way their mothers never did...or did too much.     So happy mothers day, to all of those who have children and those who have children as partners.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Happy Womens Day all you wonderful women!    Listened to Absolute Radio this morning and heard DJ Chris, who's funny but I find a bit old fashioned sexist, talking about how women always shop all the time and say everything was in the sale and that they're fine when they're not.   So no stereotypes there then. Then there's Chris Hulme's fragrant wife being found guilty of perverting the course of justice by taking her husband's speeding points.  And I think Mel C has just won Mother of the Year and Katie Price and Jodie Marsh and Kelly Brooke are bitching about boobs.   Mind you that was in the Daily Mail column of shame, so I don't know if that counts.  And women are supposed to not get on in business because they don't have an ambition gene like men do, according to some research somewhere by scientists - I wonder if the scientists were male or female. Can you ask that these days?    I'm sure there was some women somewhere who did something vaguely intelligent, compassionate, inspirational, considerate but they weren't written about.   Well, many years ago I had the opportunity of interviewing two women who were lauded in some way as being 'inspirational'.  I interviewed two Barbaras.  Both B. Cs - Barbara Castle and Barbara Cartland.

Barbara Castle was speaking at the anniversary of the Suffragette movement and it was one of my first assignments as a reporter to interview her. She was speaking at an event to 'commemorate' what Pankhurst et al went through in order to get women the vote. They went through a lot more than chaining themselves to the railings.   Although these days, what with Fifty Shades of Grey, women would do it for totally different reasons.   Whatever, she was signing copies of her autobiography and I waited for her to finish.  She had a glass of G and T on the floor and a few of the women (and it was mainly women) waiting for her to sign the books, had those little handbag dogs (they existed even then)  which proceeded to drink her drink.    She noticed and I got her another one, but held it while she finished the signings.  She turned to me and asked what questions I had for her.   About five minutes later we'd finished. I'd got what I wanted and she looked at me askance.  "Have you been a reporter for long?"

No, I hadn't.  It was my first or second week at the paper.

"I like the way you ask questions. You have a very good manner.   Women think they need to be tougher than men, more aggressive, nastier.  But they don't.  Stay feminine and strong and you'll get further that way."

I thanked her and she went on to speak to the group before the film was shown.  I had to file copy for the paper but I went up to ask her to sign the book. She looked at me and did so quickly and I had to go.   On the bus on the way home, I looked for her autograph.   She'd written 'Dear Sarah, never let it be a man's world. Best Barbara Castle.'  Mmm.

And then there was Barbara Cartland. A totally different kettle of fish although I wasn't expecting it to be quite so different.   We were filming her about her travels and went to her home.  An all male film crew were highly amused at her lecturing me about why women should never present the news, or present anything for that matter, as their voices are too high pitched and it had been proven that they lacked the authority to be believed.   And why wasn't I at home baking for my husband and looking after the children (I didn't have either at the time).  "But you worked on your books" I said, probably being naively impertinent.  "Ah, that's different." she replied.     I ignored her and smiled, continued to ask questions which she in turn ignored and give answers that she wanted to give.   We later had tea and she entertained the boys while I sat at the other end of the table.   Mmm.

I've always chosen to believe in Barbara Castle's attitude rather than Barbara Cartland. Women have as much right to make it their world as men do.  I believe this not because I've been told to, but because I believe it.   And probably because I can't and don't have that aching urge to bake.