Sunday, 26 December 2010

Walking it off

A little walk along the canal in winter coloured weather....

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Friday, 24 December 2010

Tell them now...

Two years ago yesterday I took a day trip to Ireland, for a lunch date with my Aunt Liz. Only 12 years older than me, Liz was always like my oh-so glamorous older sister. Like all my aunts and Mammy, busy busy busy, with her business interests, her mad part-share of a race-horse and above all her family, she was one among many strong fabulous women in our huge family.

The date was tinged with sadness, we all knew that Liz would be leaving us, just a matter of when, but she was still in love with life enough to get dressed up and come out for a meal at her favourite restaurant, a not an inconsiderable quantity of wine, and an afternoon of chat and much discussion of food.

It was already twilight as we left the restaurant, and I finally got up the courage to hug her and tell her what I had come to tell her, that she was my role model, the one I aspired to be, that I loved her.

Liz fought on for nearly another full year, and I saw her twice more, but she was never again as well as she had been for that Christmas lunch date, and there was never another chance to talk to her again, and so it is that at this time of year I remember her, not as ill as she actually was but as her old self, sitting at the table talking about life and food and family.

This time of year is when we miss them most, the ones who won't be here, and that is why we mustn't wait till it's too late to tell the ones who are still here what they mean to us.

Tell them now...

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Fashion for Geek Girls

I've always had problems dressing myself.

No, not in the sense of doing up buttons and laces, more in the sense of 'Oh this? I just threw it together Daaahling...' the last time I remember being truly happy with my outfit must have been when I sawed the legs off my flared jeans, put on a wind-cheater and ventured forth into the gloom of a July day in Dublin. I must have been all of what? Fourteen?

The thing is, I am a geek, a girl geek in a guy geek world, and finding the balance has always been challenge. I mean, I know I'm not a boy - I figured that out sometime before I sawed the legs of my jeans but in many other respects I find the concept of putting an outfit together just as baffling as a bloke

I spent 4 years as an engineering student at University College Dublin dressed in a green Duffle coat and boots. My classmates were astounded on the first occasion I appeared in a skirt - echoed by my work-mates years later when I appeared at the work Christmas 'Do' and one of them exclaimed 'Sh*t, you scrub up well!' thanks Lads ;-D

In the working world, I daily tried to figure out what the heck I should wear, and in true engineer 'fashion' came up with a formula - which boiled down to finding something I liked, going out, buying three of them, sometimes in different colours, and wearing them to, well, to death...

'Work Casual' was, quite simply a disaster for me. Up until then I could go out and buy a suit once in a while (sometimes, truthfully, second hand - cut down the choice), even if doing hands on IT support at the time meant I could be found, on occasion, underneath a desk, doing cabling in jacket, skirt, tights and (mid-height) heels. My verdict - 'if it needs to be ironed, it ain't casual'.

It started with 'dress down Friday', and then went full-time. What-a-nightmare - striking the right note between work and week-end, professional and slacker, having to express a little individuality :-O OK, so there were some rules - no jeans, no trainers (sneakers) and no T-shirts, but otherwise 'casual' Arrghhh - I reverted to type - finding something I liked, going out, buying three of...etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love nice clothes, I like to look nice, I adore Black Tie events, because then at least I know what I am aiming for. But on a day-to-day basis? Forget it. I look in awe at those who pull off looking 'together' i.e. Colour co-ordinated, accessorised, neat. Sometimes it 'happens' - by accident rather than design, and then I go out, buy three get the picture...;-)

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

I want the truth not something beautiful - lying is incompatible with childcare

Warning - language may offend..

It started with small things, implausible, minor things - denying any knowledge of something she had definitely done, strange things - 'catching her belly button piercing on railings', mimicking my back pain symptoms. Telling me stories that just didn't quite hold water.

Then it started to escalate, our new Au Pair Ruby* said she wanted to visit her aunt and I believed her, even said she could finish early for the week-end so she could get there at a reasonable hour. She got back late on the Sunday and told me they'd been to Chatsworth, weird, because it's closer to Manchester than her Aunt's.

The following week-end our lovely ex-Au Pair Ellen* was visiting from university and a Christmas Market outing and family dinner planned, including Ruby. Ellen and I were out having a coffee while the girls were at Stagecoach when we got a tearful phone call - Ruby's uncle had had a stroke and could she go? Alarm bells started to go off for me - too elaborate an explanation, for something that needed no permission. Poor Ellen swallowed it hook line and sinker.

Supposed to come back on Sunday, Ruby texted me to say all the trains were cancelled because of snow. I texted back telling her to go back to her aunt, she confirmed later that was there. Of course I checked - no, the trains weren't cancelled...Luckily I worked at home on Monday - she didn't get back until 4.30 so I had to pick the girls up. 'I was at the hospital all morning' she said. Stinking of cigarette smoke, she was wearing her hair extensions - strange, I thought, to remember your hair extensions when you're on a mercy mission...

I started to track her Facebook photos. Not my 'friend' she had befriended Ellen and that gave me access to her albums. I noticed she had recently posted a new profile photo, from Chatsworth and with it were comments from someone she had never mentioned, someone clearly not her Aunt, planning the trip at the week-end. And, Euwww, photos of her newly pierced belly button. Her twitter feed regularly said she was going back to bed - at 9am! 'because that's what I do..hehe'

Macca and I agreed we would ask her to leave at Christmas, when she went home to Canada. We said we would do it on Sunday. But then came Friday, Friday sealed her fate. She came bouncing into the kitchen as I cleaned up after dinner. 'That was my uncle, he's so much better, a bit groggy but better. You know, I think I'll go and visit him'. Fine, I said. While she 'packed' I texted Macca 'uncle made a miraculous recovery, going to Nottingham to visit him, she must think I'm a fucking moron'.

I met her in the hallway, looked her in the eye and asked her if she was lying. She denied it so, so completely - But I told her that in case she didn't come back, I wanted her keys. She gave then to me unquestioningly. texting me from the train she said 'I feel so bad That you've had any doubts about me and horrible that you can't trust me when you can 100%. I'm going to work really hard to prove you can'. She really did think I was a fucking moron..

On Sunday I called her Aunt, No she hadn't been there the previous 3 week-ends, she never turned up for the one week-end she had arranged and never gave an explanation. No, there is no uncle, Aunt is divorced.

I told her that we were sacking Ruby but we wanted to make sure she had somewhere to stay until Christmas. Aunt agreed, and contacted Ruby's mother who also called me. Both were mortified but told me I was doing the right thing, that I couldn't have someone who so routinely and blatantly lied to me looking after my kids.

Her mother said she felt so sad and at the time I did too... But then, dear reader, Ruby came back, and did not bat an eyelid to find her stuff packed up and waiting for her in the hall.

Nor did she show any emotion when we confronted her with the terrible state her bedroom and bathroom were in - she clearly spent all her time lying in bed eating sweets and dropping the wrappers on the floor, she had never taken out the rubbish, changed her bed linen or even rinsed her sink after spitting toothpaste in it. Of 10 drawers only one was occupied, everything else was ON THE FLOOR.

We told her she had to leave because she could not be relied on to tell the truth. She told us she understood, she told us she 'wouldn't take it personally' WTF? She was the one who lied...

The final straw came when she left. We made her give back the our Blackberry. Always remember your employer's tech belongs TO YOUR EMPLOYER. There it was, the entire sorry history of her deception,her texts to her friend saying she'd 'They've gone for coffee, I'll give them a few minutes before I call' 'I'll pretend cry and tell them someone is sick', the forwarding of her 'sorry' text to her friend and my terse response 'fine, we'll talk when you're back. Have a good week-end' (subtext - cos it will be your last one, bee-atch). The 'OMG, what have I done? Ah well,I won't let it ruin my week-end' (why not? You may have ruined your life - jobless and homeless 1,000s of miles from home - go figure) and the clincher 'I so want to get high'.

We so did the right thing.

*names changed

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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Blogger's Block

Oh dear I have been remiss on my blogging. Fact is, the more I have investigated this world and the more topics I note down as possible blogs, the more tongue tied I become. Some of those blogs out there are awesome :
@KRCraft blogs about Social Media and technology in the Enterprise as Thoughtelf, Mammywoo says it how it is as a mum with a small baby and being married to an 'Irish One' Misslexywoo@Queenofspain has kids at similar stages to mine and and a pretty irreverent take on life I still have a fear of being 'Dooced', so I guess I should put that good old disclaimer - the Views held in this blog are entirely my and do not reflect those of my employer - there!

And today I had a bit of an epiphany, waking early - completely freaked because I have quite a bit on my mind - and I opened up Twitter, as you do at 3am, and the alternative is wandering the house like a madwoman, or doing ironing, and started to engage as everyone says you should. Then suddenly it happened - first @KrCraft said hiya, because I've also been MIA on Twitter then @MargieClayman delivered a virtual slap in the face - she spelled it out - I'm not alone, she's been there, Everyone's been there.. I read and re-tweeted and unbelievably she responded, offering to help. Her encouraging words helped me see this:

I know a lot about three things - working in a huge organisation, high performance in sport and being a somewhat frazzled mum of two - and I am learning a bit about Social Media, it doesn't mean I am good at any of them but at least I can talk about them, in my own voice, and see if anyone listens....

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The irony - bullying in anti-bullying week

Last night Bug was a real nightmare,refusing to do her Kumon even after I switched off the TV. She sat in the dark and refused to come out and get on with the 10 minutes work she needed to do. She cried, she wailed, she said she was clever enough, and she didn't need do it.

Finally I lost my temper, really lost it and turned into the shouty Mummy I hate to be. When I finished my rant, she, cowed, got on with the work. As she was doing it I  thought about something she'd said - that when I go to the parent teacher meeting today her teachers will tell me how sad she is at school,and it was all my fault for making her do this extra work.

I couldn't figure out the connection, so when she'd finished and we'd both calmed down I asked her what was going on, how come she is 'sad' at school. Finally she told me - the boys are teasing her, again, and sometimes the girls are joining in.

They are calling her 'Brainbox' they are telling her she is ugly, they are shunning her in the lunch queue and she has decided she doesn't want to speak up in class any more. Some of her stuff has disappeared and she has startted to complain of not being well in the mornings, and was sent home last week because she said she was sick.

Now it's all starting to make sense....

This is probably the fourth time this has happened. Yes, she is different, she is reasonably bright, she speaks with an accent tinged with Irish, and infant years spent in a different part of the country, she is full-on and vocal and draws too much attention to herself. She is not ugly - she is actually, and I know I may be biased, quite beautiful.

When I told her teachers before they smiled enigmatically and said, 'Well, she's not the easiest...' yes, I effing know she's not the easiest - I've had her for 10 years, and you've only had her for 5. She is 110%, she is enthusiastic, she is vocal, she is stubborn and she is opinionated, she can be exhausting. And the fact that she has been even moreso at home over the last few weeks should have been a clue. And I realise with a horrible hollow feeling that by getting angry with her, I have been making things worse...

And I contrast this with Bubble - she too is bright and pretty and, being our child, probably just as 'different' but the key is she has figured out that she needs to 'disappear'. She wears glasses, she has a full on local accent, she is quiet and sweet and doesn't seek attention, either at school or at home and so her life is far far easier than her sister's. She may get picked on as a Geek, but that is in the future, she is happy right now.

And while sometimes I wish Bug was more low-key,  I also get angry that she can't be the person she is - I can't change her, and the bullies shouldn't try.

When I went to find out more about bullying at I found that it is actually National Anti-bullying week, and it makes me sad to realise the school is probably running a campaign, and either the bullies are unaware that what they are doing is bullying or they know it is wrong and are doing it anyway.

And I read this lovely blog too and will show it to Bug and to take a copy to the school. Visit the links and learn the signs that indicate your own child or another child may be getting the same treatment.

Bug and every other child has a right to be different, as long as they are kind and considerate - they need help to understand that differences are good and not bad, that one day they will all have a chance to shine.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Back to work

No, I did not lose my job, and monumental though my hissy fit seemed to me, I am not that sure anyone else particularly noticed. Last Tuesday I crept back into the office feeling extremely sheepish, and was so touched by the warmth of the greeting I received that I felt silly for getting so out of control in the first place.

I only realise now that I almost reached a point of no return, to what felt like the edge of madness, and a combination of physical pain, stressful work and the looming exam results had taken me there.

I thought I would never stop crying, and didn't know why.

Now that I am back to 'normal' I can thank the people who brought me back - a lovely GP who listened to my incoherent list of woes and advised that I work at home until I felt better, a surgeon who injected me with a massive dose of cortisone, that allowed me to sleep and move with ease again, and above all kind kind friends who listened and supported and helped me see in perspective.

I am stronger because of them.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Kill Bill or Wi-Fi Wars vol 1

The Girly Nerds did a great post about Passive-aggressive Wifi names And I am reaching the point where I am going to reconfigure my Router and the name I have chosen is...
Kill Bill

About 3 weeks ago we started to lose WiFi pretty regularly - around 7 each evening our WiFi goes down and the only WiFi we can see is....


We don't have any neighbours called Bill, at least no-one that we talk to - There are a couple of NIMBYs that do back on to us and who did take exception to our house being built, but no-one who looks like a Bill.
No idea who it is.

So, each time, off I toddle, down to the 'computer room' under the stairs (see it's not just me who's a Geek Engineer - Alpha Geek Macca is worse) and re-boot the router.
This does the job until Bill restarts his sodding router too.

Now I know that the reason is probably that we are on the same channel, and I know I should just change it, but Macca has the manuals and he is in denial that this is the cause.

So, if I change the name of our Router - will Bill get the message, and change his channel instead? Or will he turn out to be the leader of a lethal assassination squad and send them around to blow us all away? 

Vol 2 to follow.... 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Lessons from a 10-year-old

Well, Bug missed her (and our) first choice school by a measly 6 points out of 334, but passed both the others by hoooge margins. I am soo proud of her - she made up a huge gap in such a short time and yet doesn't hold the hard work against us (see Good Mummy or Pushy Mummy), but has demonstrated so many qualities that will stand her in good stead as she goes out into the world...qualities I never fully realised she had...

Consideration - We had a good weep, Bug and me... Me weeping for her, and her disappointment, until I realised Bug was weeping for me and not for herself....

Kindness - I spotted her hugging one of her friends who hadn't made any of the schools they'd applied for, and when she realised she was one of very few in her class who had made it to any of them, she stopped talking about it at all.

Optimism - Bug wanted that school place from the moment she walked through the door on Open Day, and to not get it was a terrible disappointment - the first genuine, life-changing disappointment of her life, and yet she is talking with such joy about the school she will be attending, I cannot fail to believe she will be a huge success wherever she goes....

Resilience - I suppose this is innate in 10 year-olds, but Bug is already back to herself in a way  I am not sure I could ever achieve so seamlessly after such a blow - and I resolve to try to look at life through the eyes of a ten-year-old, at least some of the time. I so wish I could bottle her energies to brighten all of our days....

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Job Abandoned?

Today I lived up to my demented tag when I took a self prescribed 'Mental Health Day'. Problem was, I was already in the office and I didn't exactly slip away... I am not sure how my colleagues or HR are going to take it and I might find myself with a status update on the HR system of 'Abandoned job'. I know I have had a lot going on and it has all been taking it's toll, but wish I could maintain a little more self control and a lot more discretion. Final straw was probably fairly minor but resulted in a fair amount of bad language, a hasty shutting down of my PC and a determined exit from the office. We Irish are sometimes tagged the Latins of North West Europe, and I think there may be a some truth in the apocryphal family tales of us being descended from a survivor of a shipwrecked Armada - while I don't have Irish red hair either, I certainly could be described as 'having a Temper on me'. Anyway, I'm home now and considering my options. Wondering if I will have a job tomorrow, and at the moment, not particularly worried. Twenty years is a long time, especially if a fair amount of time has truthfully not been that enjoyable, so If anyone knows of openings for geek engineer Mums with a temper on them, then let this one know...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Walking and thinking - or not

I haven't been very attentive to my blog and finally made the tie to the fact that I haven't been walking much lately either. For three months over the summer I was on a challege at work - to walk 10,000 steps per day, and being a bit of an alpha type I managed to average over 15,000. I absolutely loved it, and it provided me with some much-needed thinking time, almost satisfied my addiction to exercise, and I lost over a stone too! The key to it for me was the chance to clarify my thoughts - Coming up with words in rhythm to my steps, blogging in my head as I paced - the hardest thing was trying to remember it all and get it down when I got home. The challenge ended in the middle of September and I have to admit I miss it, and the chance to free my mind - Time to get my pedometer out, a new pair of shoes on and get off my aching butt and walk and think and blog.....

Friday, 24 September 2010

Good Mummy or Pushy Mummy?

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had some stuff going on that I didn't feel like posting about at the time, well finally as things resolve I'm feeling better about it, so here it goes. The Primary (hah!) reason for my worries were the looming eleven plus exams. We are lucky (or maybe not so lucky - read on) to live in an area where a lot of the Grammar schools have stayed in the State system, so it is theoretically possible to get a top class state education for your bright child, if they achieve the grades in the competitive entry exam for the school of your choice.
Things went horribly wrong for us when we realised that despite the tutoring, the reading the Kumon, Bug was not ready for the 11+ Maths test for the most selective school in the area - she was ready for the Entrance exam to the school that her Primary feeds into, but not for the mega-selective (4:1 applicant:place ratio) one that we thought was the best match for her. This was not a question of ability, but of her having been exposed to the types of questions being asked.
I could go into all the reasons why - but suffice it to say that the feelings of guilt were primarily mine. I questioned all aspects of my life - was being a Working Mum the issue - was it because I chose the tutor that lived nearest so the Au Pair could take her, was it because I was too busy to supervise homework, because I hadn't been around to run her to a better tutor further away, was it because of my insane travel schedule which left me largely excluded from the School Gate conversations, where I might have discovered that he wasn't very good, was it because despite all this I still don't earn enough to send her to a private Prep school?
We were 'lucky' enough to find out in time, and find a different tutor - one who could actually prepare her for the exam, and then followed what have been the most testing, guilt ridden few weeks of my life.
Running Bug backwards and forwards to almost daily Tutor sessions, having her do 11+ tests between times, worrying, worrying worrying, gave the last two weeks before the test a nightmare quality that I never want to repeat.
And this was my problem - is this really the right way to approach education? Bug is bright, Bug is confident, she is a strong soul who knows her own mind, she is literate and verbal and could probably give a Literature undergraduate a run for their money in the length and breadth of her reading list. Most of all she is loved, and hopefully she has successful role models in us to aspire to, she has all the traits to be highly successful wherever she goes to school. But she is barely 10 years old and we have been treating her like an exam machine...
Here is the rub - State Grammars were intended to give all academically bright children an equal chance at a top class education, but the have largely become the preserve of the wealthier middle classes, who actually send their children to Private Prep schools which guarantee entry to the more selective State schools - in the end I was flummoxed by the parents at the gates of the school on the day of the test last week - We could have been queuing at the gates of Benenden from the accents and the clothes and the cars.
I never ever wanted to be a Pushy Mummy - but found I became one in the end - was it the right choice? I don't know - I'll tell you in a couple of weeks when the results come out, or in 7 years when the University question comes up, or in reality in 20 years when she is making her own way in the world. But I know this - I desperately want the best for my child, and for her to have every opportunity, even if I can't afford to fast-track her now.
So what are my conclusions? If you are bright but impecunious family, and you want to go this way, you need to start early, you need to practice for the exams, or get them tutored - the schools tell you not to, but this perpetuates the problem - the wealthy are doing it for sure - because they can afford to, and as long as that is happening your equally bright (if not brighter) child has an even higher hurdle to jump.
So I hope I have been Good Mummy in trying to secure Bug's future for her, for giving her role model of a woman relatively successful in a Man's World, for working hard to give her and her sister a good quality of life, but above all I hope that she doesn't remember me as Pushy Mummy who made her last year in Primary school a misery.....

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Uncomfortable Reading

Tomorrow I will go to Mass for probably only the second time since Christmas, and the reason is the same - because my daughters attend a Catholic primary and tomorrow Bug is doing the Introductory and I want to be there for her.

The Catholic Church has been in the press a lot lately, and this week interest is at its peak with the Papal visit, yet I find I can raise no enthusiasm and in fact shudder inwardly at every mention or appearance of Pope Benedict.

Now I actually grew up in the church. I enthusiastically attended two of Pope John Paul II's masses in Ireland as a teenager, and like many a Catholic child considered the Religious life, but as I have fully realised the extent, not just of the abuse in the church, but the extent of the institutionalised cover-up, it has turned me away from a life which once had huge importance for me.

I attended a convent school where a committed teaching staff - where nuns and layteachers alike were dedicated to ensuring that every girl reached her potential, and who gave me an education and confidence in my ability that still surprises me. There was never any hint of abuse - institutionalised or otherwise, and I will always be grateful for the start they gave me in life.

Likewise my parents - I grew up much-loved in a family where we were told we were clever and funny and beautiful and all of us have gone on to lead successful lives. We were street-smart in the way only the children of a serving police officer in a big city can be, which certainly saved us on occasions where we did encounter predators, in the streets and parks of our neighbourhood. Bad things did not happen to us or anyone we knew, in our home, school or church, not until we moved to the country and a Priest call Fr. Thomas Naughton was assigned to our parish.

I was not aware of what he was, but as a teenager got a great sense of unease in his presence. He was a young priest who revitalised the parish and many were very fond of him. My dislike of him stemmed from his 'fussing' over the boys of the parish, and his apparent disdain for girls. In my naiveté and nascent feminism I put this down to patriarchy and the way women were treated in the church, and while I felt disenchanted and started to turn away from the organised part of the Religion, I still respected his authority.

Fr Naughton left the parish suddenly in 1984 while I was away at university, and while my parents seemed very agitated, I was pretty uninterested. It was only over several years that the truth about the abuse of a whole generation of boys - family and friends - began to emerge. What also became clear was that he had been moved away because of complaints made, but only on to another parish and more children.

In my own world, I got busy and kind of never quite got round to getting to church for many years, but always had an abiding sense of guilt that I should be involved and I missed the rhythms and the rituals that had formed such a part of my psyche.

Then the girls came into our lives, and we wanted to bring our children up with the same moral codes as we grew up with, with the same care and respect for each other and their peers, and the same chances in life that I and Macca had been given and that drew us back to the church, and to a community where we felt we belonged.

But in the last year as first the Ryan Report and then the Murphy report have brought back some of the discomforts of my Teenage years, and as the deep-rooted conservatism of Pope Benedict starts to bite, along with the possibility that he was involved in much of the cover-up, or at least in the denial, I have found it harder and harder to continue to go through the motions, even for the sake of the girls.

This is no reflection on the lovely school the girls attend, or the community of which we are a part, and I will attend tomorrows mass, and many more over the coming months as Bubble prepares for her First Holy Communion - a Spiritual journey I can't deprive her of, but then I think I may stop. I have given my girls a choice - they will be able to make up their own minds, but I can't help feeling the weight of guilt that Leaders we trusted first allowed and then covered up such terrible abuse.

I also feel for a generation of 'Lost Boys' who I knew as children - for the majority who 'survived' but also for those who have died , some by their own hand, and others in experiments in risky living, and it makes me feel cold and sick.

Tomorrow the theme is 'Hope' and I want want to Hope, to believe that the church will find it's way, that there will be a place for a more liberal and open hierarchy, that Women will be granted a place at the table (and the altar), and that clergy will be allowed to marry and to raise families - the best priests I have ever known were actually family men - one in secret (Father Michael Cleary) and one a Vicar who converted - but in my current mood, with the current leadership, it may have to do it without me......

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Twitter Tribes

Events over the last few weeks - and I will blog about them when I can put some perspective, and therefore some humour on them - have started me thinking about the life I want for my family and myself, and how I might end up just a little less "Demented".
In the course of seeking some inspiration and in my journey in discovering the great interconnectedness of everything, I have started exploring the world of Social Media.
Triggered by a single evening - at an end of term night out I was sitting among a group of Mums who took an alternate approach, and had a different set of priorities and incentives, who opted out of mainstream corporate life and took their future into their own hands. I was fascinated to hear of their various enterprises, their Networking events and their use of social media. Connecting with them through Linkedin I began to receive their Twitter feeds, was knocked out by the mix of the social, informational, business, marketing and humorous things they had to say, and how connected and interconnected they all are....,
As these horizons began to expand, I pondered some dichotomies - the use of New technology by a traditionally untech group (and I reckon I could get a post or even a blog together on what I think of as the 'Feminisation of Tech'), my own subversive use of the technology in a company where all forms of social media are governed out, yet where there is a groundswell of employees using their own Smartphones, iPads and even some sneaky tricks on the Intranet (ref LinkedIn) to bring some colour into the Corporate and external world, and the existence of the domestic and geek worlds in a single 'space' - Twitter, I started to explore further.... .
Spotting a tweet around some of my thoughts, I started following several people in the Social Media and Tech worlds, as well as the Mumpreneurs, and their replies and began to uncover many of the themes that are troubling me - how to get social media into my corporate world, how to leverage the fact that so many employees are currently doing it anyway, how to better utilise the models that the technically savvy small businesses are putting in place.
What a revelation!
Then today was a real eyeopener - I began to pick up a Tweets stream from my favourite Tweeter - @Rotkapchen - about HEROs - from Empowered by Josh Bernoff @jbernoff - and you know, I suddenly felt like I could be one - well maybe a little like one of @rotkapchen's 'walking wounded', but so delighted there are others out there who feel this movement, and are trying to verbalise it, utilise it and share it!

So @BLD, @Clutterfairy, @Euan, and in particular @Rotkapchen - thanks for your streams, for brightening my Grey Corporate days, and for showing me there is another existence that I can aspire to where I can be a little more myself :-D

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Feast before the Famine

Our lovely Au Pair 'Daughter' is heading off home before she starts university next week, and I have discovered some primeval urge to feed her before she leaves 'home'. In what is no doubt a foretaste of things to come, when the girls get to that stage, I can't stop myself feeding her like she will never see food again.
Maybe because of the level of appreciation she has shown for everything we have put in front of her and which she has eaten without complaint, and for all the times she has put up with feeding two young ladies who can be somewhat faddy (well one of them anyway ;-) this week-end has ended up being all about food.
As the piece de resistance the full on Roast-Beef-Yorkshire Puddings-Roasties blow-out that she and the girls (and Macca, and me) love is on the agenda, and by the time she has finished that, she may well not be able to eat another thing til she actually gets to university at the end of next week ;-).
So I can safely say that I am my mother's daughter, and that in our world Food=Love= more Food and that probably explains a lot :-)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Tongue tied

Well that's it, let me just sit here and not say a word - smile inanely and agree with whatever tripe the corporate clones come out with.... Friday was my annual appraisal, and as its the custom, I was asked to nominate my 'peers' to participate in my ritual humiliation, sorry, 360 degree feedback..... so the big news i sthat I 'stutter' - I who in my arrogance pride myself on the fluency of speech and vocabulary - but who realises that I can't use 'ten-dollar' words in dime company, and therefore have to think up a simple way to express myself so as not to cause confusion or offence. Oh, and that was the other piece of feedback - I am negative - No, I am not being negative, I am just being Irish (we never speak well of each other ;-) so now I have think even harder before speaking so that's it, silence is golden

Friday, 2 April 2010


Last night at the airport, as we waited for our flight to Dublin, Bug called me ‘Mammy’. Somehow during the 15 minute drive from Sale her lively brain had transformed me from her English ‘Mum’ into her Irish ‘Mammy’. “Mammy” she asks “Why do the Grannies talk about ‘Home’? You know, when they ask me are we looking forward to coming Home? Is Ireland really our Home? “ I reply with the truth “Well, I still call Ireland Home too...”. She’s so excited, “So Home is where you’re really from, where your family is...does that mean we really are Irish then?”. And so this morning walking from my Parent’s place, along the main road, I wave or nod at every driver that passes, not because I know them, but because they might know me. So long gone from this place, I can no longer remember their names nor they mine. But still they know me, even if they can’t put a name to me, because my heritage is written on my face and on my form – they will know which family I am from and before I get back will be reporting –“Saw an O’Connor on the road and she never recked* me”. Now I am not an O’Connor and never have been, but as one of my Aunts’ friends said on being introduced “We’ve never met, but I know you - I’ve seen your face before”. In Irish the word for ‘from’ is ‘as’ which literally means ‘of’ – so you are never ‘from’ but ‘of’ somewhere – that place formed you, your history is intertwined with it, and it never leaves you. ”You can take the man out of the bog but you can never take the bog out of the man” the joke goes, and in every joke there runs a vein of truth... I walk for an hour, in beautiful spring weather, the mountains white with yesterday’s snow, reflecting on the place and the people and what it means to me, and how it might still inform and influence my thoughts in the ‘real’ world today. Walking back along the same grey granite wall I walked at dawn after my Farewell party, just weeks before I emigrated, I realise I am indeed ‘of’ this place, in a way I can never be ‘of’ London or Surrey or Manchester and think yes, I am ‘Home’. *Recognised (Acknowledged)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

No sooner started than I fell by the wayside. trying to ressurect my blogging. Reason for nothing to say? too fed up of the world. Bad couple of weeks. Finding it hard to control the kids. Tired out of my mind after work and still have to contend with all the school stuff and homework and cheek - I thought I had a few more years to go before the teenage strops.... While he was here they were good as gold of course but now he is gone again, its back to the same dark place.

Monday, 22 February 2010

First outing in the Blogosphere

Tonight I arrived home from work to find the sitting room floor covered in what looked like the droppings of psychedelic mice on acid, but which turned out to be the contents of the Hama bead kit the girls got for Christmas. At this point they are just gone to bed and I have decanted the said beads from every cereal bowl we possess, so we have something to eat breakfast off in the morning.
Was just thinking - am I the only working mum who looks on going back to work on a Monday as a rest? Nothing specifically bad at the week-end but I was SOOO tired. Himself away, my lovely Irish Au Pair visiting her folks, and me in sole charge, I didn't speak to another adult between leaving work on Friday and Macca ringing from New Zealand last night. Unless you count ordering a latte at Costa's and exchanging pleasantries at the checkout in Tesco.
Am now contemplating the night's TV viewing. Can I stay up for Nurse Jackie? Scary that I am starting to identify with her, minus the pills, and the affair, of course, there but for the grace as they say....