EU Referendum: Please leave us in Peace

When we’re at tomorrow
When it’s time to vote
Please vote and make a choice
Not based on fear
But hope

It doesn’t feel like the best time ever to be a Mum.

Terror. Fear.  Mindless violence in the name of causes that seem more senseless with each passing day.

Even without last week’s sickening events permeating our every waking thought, we still have that unnerving feeling that we will be the first generation in a while to give our kids less than we had: less cash, less public services, less health and less education.

It’s against this backdrop that we are meant to make a calm, rational decision about what side to choose tomorrow. Tomorrow  when we will be asked to make what increasingly feels like one of the most important decisions we have ever been asked to make.

More unnerving still is that despite having more information available to us than ever before, many of us just still don’t feel that knowledgable on the subject: we still don’t really know the ‘right’ answer to this question. The truth seems perpetually hidden behind smoke and mirrors.

So I’ve stopped reading. I’ve stopped listening. And I’ve decided instead to put to good use my Mum skills.
Abby Boid

As a Mum my talents are many and varied and include problem solving, dispute resolution and the provision of hope and calm to frustrated individuals who can sometimes see only blind fury, rage and how unfair life is: kids.

More often than not I’ve lost the will to listen to the whys and what-for of these squabbles in our own home. More often than not it’s impossible to find out ‘the truth’.

You quickly realise that all shouts of ‘it’s so unfair’ can be placated by ensuring the Chupa Chups are shared out equally. Who doesn’t want a fair share of the Chupa Chups?

But sometimes there just aren’t enough sweets to go around and sometimes you just want the bickering and the fighting and the lies and the crying to stop. So you ignore the lot of them and send them to separate rooms.

And I think that’s what I am going to do tomorrow.

I think tomorrow it’s not so much that I’ll be voting ‘remain’ but I’ll be voting ‘status quo’.

I refuse to be drawn to make a decision on what could have been such a valid, enriching debate but that instead has descended into a squabble before escalating into an excuse for provoking frustrations until they erupt in to blind rage.

I will not adjudicate over this fight. This despicable plea to our basest emotions. This insult to all of our intelligence, hard work, and our animal instinct to try to defend our own families in the face of some fictional monster.

Instead, I am sending the referendum to bed without any supper.

When you have all calmed down, when you can talk to me sensibly, when you can treat each other with respect I might listen again.

Until then, please, please just leave me in peace.

 

 

 

Children’s Art Week – And Not a Junk Model In Sight

It’s children’s art week.

Oh God.

You’ve got to give up your home to glitter and glue. Or you’ve got to run around art galleries while parents in itchy looking knitwear wielding sugar-free rice cakes judge your ‘bum bum willy’ shouting Haribo munching children. Or you’ve got to pretend you love junk models.

It’s going to be awful.

But I say listen up fraught and frazzled parents, art and kids can be a beautiful thing. A fun thing. A cheap thing. Even a faff free thing. Really .

Here are some ideas of how to get the kids involved based on things to do in my part of the world, Southampton’s Spike Island. Don’t live near me? Use these suggestions for inspiration. Do live near me? Maybe see you at one of the activities below.

Here goes:

+ Avoid getting pom poms and googly eyes in your dinner by taking the arts  activities to places geared up for the occasion. There are two fabulous kid friendly craft cafes near us: Tea Cups and Tutus and The Songbird Creative Café. You drink tea. The kids make stuff. You all eat cake or ice cream afterwards. Shamazing.

+ No pennies for tea and cake? Check out what’s on at your local library. They run lots of activities to get kids involved in the arts, particularly story telling, poetry and music.

+ Where library funding has been cut, some local communities have stepped in to fill the gap. Check out the wondrous community initiative that is the Cobbett Road Hub and Library. Make the most of their kids’ story times, affordable drama classes, and making and doing activities.

+ Local Theatre can be found in the most unexpected of places. Which is a nice lead in to promoting local arts provider Unexpected Places. They provide “affordable and accessible drama classes with the purpose of encouraging children, teenagers and adults to benefit from involvement in the arts.”

+ Similarly, I lately stumbled upon an amazing looking youth theatre run from a small church hall near us – Rising Star Productions at Pear Tree. A non profitable youth theatre proving you don’t need to be posh to perform, daaaaarling.

+ If you are happy in the Church environment, head over to one of their messy play sessions . As well as running messy church Sholing’s St Mary’s Church, in partnership with Oasis Mayfield Academy, supports Monty’s Community Hub. Monty’s Hub runs many activities including arts and craft groups.

+ Still feel your children are too feral to be trusted in any of these indoor activities? Then get outside!  There is oodles of inspiration in the ancient woodlands, greenways and open spaces that connect the housing estates. You might even stumble upon the odd sculpture as part of the Shorburs’ sculpture trail. The sculpture trail is a little overgrown and neglected but for some reason I like it all the more for that.

+ Why do I like that slightly neglected urban feel to art? I don’t know, but that can lead on to all sorts of conversations with the kids as to what is art in the first place. Does graffiti count? What about ancient graffiti such as you can find at Netley Abbey? What of junk models? God. Junk models. I know my views, but what do the kids think?

+ We are lucky enough to live near Southampton water and two fabulous rivers – the Itchen and the Hamble. Anyone can make something beautiful out of the things you find by the water, even if it’s just a collection of sea shells presented in an old jar. If you still feel lacking  in ideas check out this great national site Land Art For Kids.

+ Your favourite local spaces have more arts activities going on than you might think. Royal Victoria Country Park is hosting a family friendly music festival in June. In the summer Bursledon Brickworks is hosting ‘Artists in August’, exhibiting recent work by Southampton University Art graduates.

+ See what inspirational locals you can find on social media and share their work with the kids. On twitter I follow local born author Philip Hoare (@PhilipWhale), I’ve found a truly inspirational blog by local artist Martin Davey , and Instagram is awash with amazing amateur photographers showcasing all aspects of where you live.

+ Don’t be afraid to get involved in conversations around the arts and share these with your kids. Check out Dangerous Ideas Southampton for events near you that encourage these conversations, including the Common Ground Picnic on the 14th July. Maybe a Culture City event will make it across to this side of the water soon.

And there you have it. Loads to do without having to step near a junk model.

Get out there. Have fun. Get your bum-bum-willy shouting, haribo munching kids fully involved with the great arts activities right on your doorstep.

No glitter required.

Twitter @thesotonspike

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Rainbows. A poem

The little boy looked frightened
As he stared in to the mist
“I was looking for a rainbow, Mum
But I don’t think they exist”

“I asked a man to find me one
He was mean and laughed and said,
“Rainbows, my son, aren’t really real
They’re just locked in people’s heads”

“They’re optical illusions, son
based on trickery, not truth
Don’t go chasing rainbows, son
To dream’s a folly of the youth”

The Mum sat down beside her child
And gently clasped his hand
“There’s something about rainbows, love
Not many understand”

“Some people believe rainbows come
When sunshine hits the rain
But there’s something else a rainbow needs,
Sit quietly, I’ll explain”

“A rainbow, my love, needs three things
To exist, not only two
It needs sun and rain and most of all
A little boy like you”

“When darkness looms and rain beats down
There are cracks where light gets through
And through eyes of hope, not fear my love,
A rainbow will find you”

“So what I’m trying to say is this –
Rainbows are beautiful and true
Rainbows are everywhere my love
To be freed, they just need you”

20 Years of hurt: A poem for Euro 2016

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20 years of hurt
And I’m still sat here reeling
After Euro ’96
Football stopped appealing

Fat cats took the dentist chairs
Hiked up the season tickets
Sold fancy seats to corporates
The rest of us could stick it

The players threw their toys out
Always wanting more
Forgetting all they really need’s
A goal post and a ball

Yet while Psycho’s belting penalty
Feels like a distant dream
There’s still a hope I cling to –
A glorious England Team

A team of men of passion
Of grit and fun, with pluck
Not boys who moan and simper, no,
Men I’d like to share a pint with

And yes we’d like to win
But there is something we want more:
We want what we got in ’96:
To hear those 3 lions roar

Welcome to The Soton Spike

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Southampton is a city physically cut in two by the River Itchen. One side is home to the hospital, the university, the city centre, the docks. The other side, the side where I live,  is referred to by some as Spike Island.

Spike Island is a collection of communities that start by the banks of the Itchen, follow the path of Southampton Water, and come to an end when you reach the river Hamble which lies a few miles East of Southampton City Centre.

While all sharing the SO post code, different localities within Spike Island fall within the remits of different councils, diocese, bus companies, school admissions teams. It sometimes feels a little fragmented

But when you live here with your family, it makes a bit more sense.

You know that with the water so close, you are never far away from a picnic and an ice cream.

You are proud of the community initiatives you hear about to protect the greenways, keep the beaches clean, support those who might be needing support.

You are pleased to hear the achievements of local clubs, from The Boatmen, to the men women, and kids sailing boats.

You might love a bit of Lidl but the experience is made all the more pleasurable knowing that you can pop out and pick your own strawberries.

You are thankful for your network of lovely friends who can tell you where the kids’ activities are, and the cafes run by local families who bring you tea and cake while you recover from the school run.

You know, come bed time and the babysitter’s arrival, you can let your hair down in your local pub. And you hope that the pub isn’t going to close down any time soon.

I love where I live. I love all it has to offer me and my family. I love that the more we are able to connect and chat and enjoy where we live online, the more we can enjoy actually connecting and chatting in real life, out and about on Southampton’s Spike Island.

If you live in or around Southampton’s Spike Island, or if you just want to chat about where you live, about your community, about building online connections to improve community and business connections then I will see you over on Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram,

I’ll see you @thesotonspike.

Twitter @thesotonspike Instagram @thesotonspike Facebook The Soton Spike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Poem About Boozing is Now a Song!

A couple of years ago Lords of the Drinks ran a poetry competition. Given that I like a poem, and that my specialist subject is drinking too much, I thought I’d enter.

The poem was penned on Burns night. Here it is

A few months ago, I got an email from the other side of the world. Andrew Beban from Off the Avenue Productions was involved in writing the music for a production called “A Man Walks Into a Bar”.

Could he, he asked, use my poem and turn it into a song to be featured in the production?

Hmmm. Let me think about that.

YES

Continue reading

The Importance of Coffee and Communication in the Development of Young Brains

It’s all about communication isn’t it? Not just how we speak, but how we listen too. With that in mind, it is perhaps best to never hear the newest piece of child development research before sunrise, before coffee, through the medium that is Breakfast TV.

Given the pre-coffee circumstances, my first exposure to Save the Children’s “Lighting Up Young Brains” perhaps wasn’t all it should have been.

Continue reading

Kim Kardashian posted a picture of a really boring bathroom

 

Kim Kardashian took a naked selfie, and yesterday social media couldn’t stop talking about it. However, it wasn’t her nudity that concerned me. It was the beige-ness of her bathroom.

Clearly, I’m not above gawping at nude folk. Clearly I saw a headline that said ‘Someone is totally naked on instagram’ and I thought I’d sneak a peak. And there it was:

Someone naked, looking fabulous, in a really, really boring bathroom. Continue reading