Friday, December 30, 2011

What can we learn from schools in Finland?

I wrote an essay last term about social class and education, and looked at the PISA stats, so I am interested in this article in The Atlantic about the Finnish go-to guy for western countries who want to improve their education systems. Very telling. A lot we in Australia, the only country in the world whose government financially supports private schools, can learn.

...there was considerable interest in a recent visit to the U.S. by one of the leading Finnish authorities on education reform, Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education's Center for International Mobility and author of the new book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Earlier this month, Sahlberg stopped by the Dwight School in New York City to speak with educators and students, and his visit received national media attention and generated much discussion.

Decades ago, when the Finnish school system was badly in need of reform, the goal of the program that Finland instituted, resulting in so much success today, was never excellence. It was equity.

Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.

In the Finnish view, as Sahlberg describes it, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.

In fact, since academic excellence wasn't a particular priority on the Finnish to-do list, when Finland's students scored so high on the first PISA survey in 2001, many Finns thought the results must be a mistake. But subsequent PISA tests confirmed that Finland -- unlike, say, very similar countries such as Norway -- was producing academic excellence through its particular policy focus on equity.

That this point is almost always ignored or brushed aside in the U.S. seems especially poignant at the moment, after the financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street movement have brought the problems of inequality in America into such sharp focus. The chasm between those who can afford $35,000 in tuition per child per year -- or even just the price of a house in a good public school district -- and the other "99 percent" is painfully plain to see.

Equity is the word.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why isn’t there a radio station for children?

Can you imagine a radio station for children? With different programs for different age groups and interests? With a science show, a book show, audio books, maybe an advice show, dance music, classical music, all sort of music that’s suitable for kids. It could use stories from adult radio that kids would be interested in, like the story of the artist who uses Lego. Stories from the ABC and BBC and USA radio shows. It would be brilliant.

Why doesn't it exist?

Geena Davis Insititue on Gender in Media

Geena Davis is asking for support for her Institute on Gender in Media. Here's what she says.

I've been a lifelong advocate of women and girls. I am writing to ask you to join me by becoming a member of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

While watching children's programming with my daughter who was 2 at that time, I was astounded to see a dearth of female characters in children's entertainment. This greatly concerned me and I was compelled to confirm my observations, so I commissioned the largest research study on gender in children's film and television ever undertaken. Our research proved the vast disparity I witnessed:

* There are 3 male characters for every 1 female character, even in top-grossing G-rated family films. This ratio has remained the same as it was just after World War II -- more than 65 years ago.

* Girls and women serve primarily as "eye candy." Female characters are almost six times as likely as males to be shown in revealing clothing. Consider this: female animated characters in G-rated films wear the same percentage of sexually revealing attire as R-rated live action characters.

* In G-rated family films from 2006-2009, female characters were not depicted with career occupations in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or in politics.

* Females behind the camera are still scarce. Men outnumber women in key production roles by nearly 5 to 1. Only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. However, when one woman writer works on a film, there is a 10% increase in on-screen time female characters.

There is a general consensus among health professionals, researchers and educators that high levels of exposure to negative images are related to detrimental outcomes for children and adults. These outcomes impact self-esteem, academic performance, body image, social and cultural behaviors and beliefs and will ultimately impact future life and occupational choices for women.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is the only research organization working collaboratively with entertainment media industry leaders to engage, educate and influence them to recognize the need for gender balance, address stereotyping and objectification, and produce a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under.

Media can also create positive opportunities to overcome social and cultural barriers - and that is what the Institute is striving for. Our workshops and consulting with leading media companies and corporations are influencing how they portray media. In a survey following the 2010 Symposium, over 90% of attendees stated that the information they learned would influence how they perceive gender balance and stereotypes in their work and 98% would share and utilize our research findings with their peers and in their companies.

Please take action today to affect how girls and women are portrayed in the media, one of the most powerful forces shaping girl's perception of themselves and their role in society. Exposure to negative images in the media impact self-esteem, academic performance, body image, and social and cultural behaviors and beliefs - all of which ultimately impact future life and occupational choices for women.

Here are some ways you can help:

* Sign up for the Institute's Smart Brief on Gender in Media, a free weekly briefing on the important issues in gender in media.

* Get involved in one of our educational classroom outreach programs designed to inform and empower. View the first video in our children's educational video series. This video debuted in 8,500 middle and high schools reaching 6 million students via Channel One. In 2012, this series will be expanded and launched in partnership with ITVS and PBS's Women and Girls Lead campaign.

* Become an active contributor in the pursuit of gender equality today. Make a donation. Every dollar helps us fund research and educational outreach efforts that will make a difference for girls.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Ties

We watched an episode of Family Ties today. In it, Jennifer, who is 16, becomes aware of what is going on that is damaging the environment. She points out the toxins in toiletries and talks about how burning fossil fuels is creating greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise. Her parents were trying to use goods that were eco-friendly, but were concerned that Jennifer was becoming depressed. She saw her school counsellor, told him what is going on and made him depressed. The show concluded with the parents telling Jennifer that the planet needed her to stay active for change and help find solutions.

The show was made in 1989.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

National Year of Reading 2012

My local library has asked me to be a supporter of the library for the National Year of Reading 2012. What a lovely honour. I've accepted.

This means lending my name and image to promotional material, being available to attend, and perhaps speak at, events, and generally encouraging reading as required. I've had a very enjoyable relationship with my local library over the years, and I'm happy to do whatever they want that they might consider useful.

The launch date is 14 February, Library Lovers Day.

The National Patron is William McInnes, and the NSW State Ambassadors are Richard Glover and Susanne Gervay.

For more info on the National Year of Reading, see here.

News roundup

Enough navel gazing. Time to look up and see what’s going on in the world, courtesy, mostly, of the last few editions of The Guardian Weekly. I’ve leave out the news of the Eurozone and major world events. More on big picture news later. Here are some smaller stories.

* Tokelau, a Pacific micro-state of 1,500 people, has announced that it has planned to switch entirely to renewable energy. Energy will come from solar panels and coconut oil. It plans to lead the world in renewable energy and in carbon emissions savings per person. The island has the most to lose due to climate change and rising sea levels. Inhabitants have no intention of leaving and want to preserve their culture for future generations. They are sending a message and setting an example. There are three cars on the island.

* One in three children in the UK does not own a book. More girls than boys are bookless. This is up from one in ten in 2005. Children who have their own books are more likely to do better at school.

* Liking vegetables may begin in the womb. What mothers eat whilst pregnant can shape their children’s food preferences. Researchers say that prenatal flavour learning can impact on rates of diabetes and obesity.

* In the UK the divorce rate is up for the first time in seven years. The recession is being blamed.

* Metallica and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers have brought forward their European tours in order to not lose money from the falling euro.

* France is aiming to follow Sweden and Iceland in banning prostitution.

* Sylvia Plath’s drawing have been exhibited and sold in London. They’re good. Is it any more personal for fans to have her artworks than her writing?

And two links.

One about workers in factories that make toys in China.

And one about the the top ten women of 2011. Lots of women active for change.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Why celebrate Christmas at all?

While I’m being such a Grinch, and banging on about how Christmas doesn’t have a meaning for me beyond being with family (I’m not a Northern Hemisphere pagan, not a Christian, not into Santa, and don’t like creating lots of waste), I have to ask myself why we celebrate Christmas at all? It’s a serious question.

Part of my answer is that, here in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is tied up with the end of year celebrations, because of the school year. The two become merged, to an extent. We celebrate the completions, the achievements of the year. I imagine it would be easier if the two events were separate, as in the Northern Hemisphere where the school year goes from September until August. Celebrating Christmas is a mid year break rather than end of year break. (And I’ve always wondered about why JK Rowling included Christmas in her Harry Potter stories. Why did they celebrate Christmas in the wizarding world?) I think that if we lived in the Northern Hemisphere we could celebrate as pagans, and enjoy the festivities during the cold and dark of winter. But it also means we could think about end of school year celebrations without thinking about Christmas.

The rest of the answer is simply to get along with people. When a celebration is meaningful to people in a real way (I’m discounting Santa here), you don’t want to be critical about what they do. It is a matter of respect, and live and let live. For many people who aren’t pagan or Christian, Christmas has always been a time of being with family. It’s kind of shorthand for a family gathering. The members of the family acknowledge each other, and the year that’s been. We go along with it because we like spending time with family at the end of the year, when it is a holiday (everything is closed) and we can relax, and we don’t question it too much so as not upset family members. To do anything else would be surly and offensive.

Of course, for people who aren’t with family at Christmas, and find their own thing to do with friends, or who watch movies or go to the beach or serve breakfast at a homeless shelter, I think that’s fine. I wouldn’t want to push the ‘Christmas is about family’ message onto anyone else. I’m just saying this is the way I can justify participating in celebrations.

We talk about peer pressure in regards to children and teenagers, but what about peer pressure on adults who are just trying to fit in, whether they are migrants trying to assimilate or people just trying to placate family members. So, I admit it, I celebrate Christmas because of peer pressure. Not to the extent of buying candy canes and single use table settings, but to the extent of having a tree and exchanging gifts.

Considering it is women who do most of the work to make Christmas celebrations happen, I wonder what would happen if women cut back a little. Would men care enough about celebrating Christmas (I mean the food and gifts and making social arrangements part, not the religious part) to step up and fill the gap, or would the whole season tone down a notch or ten, because most men don't really care enough to bother doing it themselves. Hmmm. Could be the way to go. Women really do run themselves ragged over preparing for Christmas. I'm sure it isn't all necessary. It might be worth checking that other people really care about and appreciate the work women do for Christmas. (I'm not talking about myself here, because I don't do very much.) But I think it is worth suggesting that, if we find most women are organising Christmas celebrations merely because they think they are expected to, then we need to think about whether that is a good enough reason.

What would happen if women went on strike next Christmas?

Surely, the celebrations around December 25th have been through a lot of changes over the centuries, and can handle one or two more?

What else could we do but make it about family?

PS. I need to balance this now with Stephanie Dowrick's tips for Christmas calm.

The Book of Rachael: A Novel

I wrote my Masters thesis on rewriting female characters from Greek mythology (Christa Wolf’s Cassandra) so was interested in reading Leslie Cannold’s fictional construction of Jesus’ sister. I saw the documentary that Cannold saw which inspired her to explore the idea of Jesus having a sister, and imagining what it was like to live as a women at the time of Jesus. It was a documentary about the historical Jesus, which mentioned that he probably had brothers and sisters, but to record the names of the sisters would be akin to recording the names of one’s sheep. She did her research on the politics, geography, religious practices, society, food, implements, dwellings, agriculture, and tribal interactions of the time. The result is worth reading. Cannold did the better job, given she states her inspiration and aims like Wolf did. The Book of Rachael: A Novel is the greater success and more enjoyable read.

I’ve also been reading a lot about the historical Jesus, and I’ve been watching the BBC documentary on the historiocity of the bible. I find it fascinating that the existence of one man two thousand years ago changed the history of the world, to the extent that our calendar is based around him. It is a rather peculiar phenomenon, and the story of the growth of Christianity is one which has had many twists and turns in history. The religion could have died out at many different points, but didn’t.

I’m aware that there are many people who take the bible literally, and see the hand of God in its compilation. The stories would have been oral stories which were told in order to explain the mysteries of life or provide comfort to ancient people. The rituals were a type of law used to control people. The stories have been transcribed and translated. The books of the bible have been selected and compiled. And, of course, the church itself has fractured and changed according to time and place, society and politics, and continues to do so.

There is historical evidence for aspects of Greek mythology: the golden fleece, the falling of Troy. Ancient Greek mythologies were told in many ways by many writers. The same characters appear in different versions of stories, much like the stories of Jesus being told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Many stories of Greek mythology have not survived,. Many were probably burnt at the library of Alexandria, or simply lost. It is thought that gospels were also lost, or left behind, based on decisions we will ever know the thinking behind.

The story Leslie Cannold tells reminds us that Jesus existed in a specific time and place. That there was a specific geopolitical context. That Jesus stood up to injustice, offered hope to the downtrodden and embraced those who were outcast. He was compassionate to women. Christianity offered an alternative to the harsh laws of Judaism. Much about the new religion was attractive. The need for community and ritual is everpresent in human history and hasn’t left us yet.

She also reminds us of a time when women had no rights. In Jerusalem today there are still ultra-orthodox Jews who demand that women be excluded from the public sphere. Although gender segregation is outlawed, it is done informally, with women sitting at the back of the bus, using separate entrances and waiting rooms from men, being unable to speak at funerals, and women are not to sing or dance in mixed groups.

While men are trying to silence women and keep them out of public life, the women are protesting by singing and dancing. Other women are trying to write women back into historical stories, and the world keeps turning.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Middle Aged Spread is Real

I was a skinny kid, but put on weight as a teenager. In my last years of high school I would come home from school and sleep, then get up when the family had gone to bed. I also spent many school days sleeping at sick bay. I guess I was depressed. When I started work, I spent money on food and alcohol. My first job was with the Public Service and the office lift went straight down to a bar. Very handy.

When I hit ten and a half stone, and my ex-boyfriend had set his date to return from overseas, I joined a gym near work. I worked out a few times a week. I would get myself weighed on the way to work at Woolworths every Monday morning. There was a weighing machine with a man attending who would write down your weight on a slip of paper. I still have that record of my weight slowly dropping from ten and a half stone to eight and a half. I’m only five foot two, so that was significant. We have a family portrait hanging up at my parents’ house taken when I was fat. My sister, on showing a friend around the house, said, ‘And here is a photo taken when Catherine was a blob.’ Nice.

I think I only had that gym membership for a year (because then I moved into a share house with musicians at Darlinghurst, and I guess going to the gym was not cool), but I learned that going to the gym can work for me, even though I do think it is a bit strange to pay to exercise in a specific place when people have always just exercised as part of everyday life. When I was at acting school a few years later and working shift work in various jobs I had a gym memberships again. I remember feeling miffed that they were closed on Christmas Day. I was in catsuit-on-stage condition. Then again when I was at uni in a country town I had a gym membership. I remember walking through the snow to go to the gym, and going even when I had stitches after getting a mole removed. I was keen.

I’m thinking that being overweight didn’t suit me. Here is my mother’s farewell advice when I left for uni.

Mum: Bye. Don’t get fat.
Me: What about ‘don’t sleep with your lecturers?’
Mum: You can handle that. But if you get fat you’ll be unhappy.

By the time I had kids my metabolism had changed. Then, for many years, I was sleep deprived and hardly sat down. I think I started putting on weight when the youngest was a preschooler and more sure of walking around in the world. And I didn’t eat sweets or drink alcohol. I went through at least ten Easters without eating chocolate. I gave up drinking during my first pregnancy and just never got back into it. And I never weighed myself.

I remember a long time ago Kathleen Turner talking about her weight. She said that at a certain age you had to choose between your butt and your face. If your butt was trim, your face was gaunt. If you want a fuller face you need a bigger butt. That was in the days when no-one but Cher used Botox. (I remember seeing an interview with Cher, thinking, she’s so regal - she barely moves the muscles in her face. Little did we know...) Anyway. I’m up to that age.

I’m getting bigger around the middle for no good reason, except age. I’ve had a gym membership for the last year, and even though I’ve not been doing the sweatier classes that I did when I was younger (80s Step took a toll on my knees, childbirth on my bladder) my weight and measurements are the same as when I started. I don’t eat much sugar now, but I do pop a square of fair trade organic chocolate into my mouth occasionally. I’ve been going to the gym mostly to feel good and stretch out my back (I fractured my tailbone birthing my middle child). I’m letting my membership expire because I can’t justify the expense when we don’t know what’s happening financially for us this year. So, I’ll be moving on to swimming, yoga at home, walking, maybe some dance classes, and exercise videos. I’ve been reading David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison, so maybe I’ll cut out sugar and see what happens. I don’t like the idea of being addicted to anything except tea, so, maybe I’ll try giving up the little bit of sugar I now consume and see what happens. My friend has lost a few kilos by following his advice.

Or maybe I’ll happily keep eating sugar for the sake of my face.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It isn’t only the religious who protest the sexualised portrayal of women

I’ve read a few articles lately about young women joining the convent. Each has mentioned the way women are presented so sexually in our society. Perhaps there is more to it than receiving a calling from God. Perhaps women might look to convents when they want to step back from the way women are expected to be sexual in our culture. I know, being raised as Catholic, I’ve thought about how lovely it would be if I could live in a protected community, amongst women, and not have to worry about relationships with males (takes up so much time) and get on with working for the institution (doing some public good), and having time for my own intellectual and creative pursuits, as I’ve witnessed those in religious institutions can do. I do like institutions and communal living. I can understand the appeal of joining a convent.

I also recently saw a UK documentary on Compass by a film-maker about his brother becoming a Muslim extremist. It showed his brother’s progress from vague discontentment with modern life to finding community and communal action for social change and preparing to be a terrorist. One of his first prompts towards Islamic extremism was his objection to the way women are presented in our society. An objection I share.

Then there was a piece on The Hoopla by a mum about the highly sexualised music played at her child’s primary school disco. The title was “I’m going Amish and Taking my Daughter with me’. I can understand the feeling that there are aspects of modern life you want to protect your child from.

I thought the issue of speaking out against the disrespectful portrayal of women was a common sense issue. A feminist issue. A lets be a good society by protecting children issue. I don’t see that protesting against sexualised images of women is a religious issue.

I know Collective Shout keeps up campaigns against various businesses that display women in disrespectful ways, whether that be on t shirts, advertisements, music videos. I know Melinda Tankard Reist is a Christian, but she never mentions religion on the Collective Shout site. I consider their work to be feminist, not religious, and I support what they do. I’m glad that religious groups speak out in protest of the sexualised portrayal of women we see in our culture. I’m glad for the work of whatever group supports the cause. How unfortunate, then, that when the Australian Christian Lobby speaks out, peoples’ reactions are as ignorant as those on the comments listed here, on the Courier Mail site reporting on the protest against Adidas selling t shirts with slogans such as ‘Boobies make me smile’ and images of Kate Moss with exposed nipples.

Many comments ridicule or mock the religious protesters. While I don’t agree with the Australian Christian Lobby on many points (in fact I would argue with them on most), I agree with them on this one, and thank them for the work they are doing. It is poor thinking to dismiss the argument because the group protesting is religious.

We need to change the message that it is only religious groups who oppose this.

Where are all the other groups and individuals who are protesting? Where are the education campaigns to let people know that portraying women in this way is not ok? We need some other voices here. Second wave feminism was onto this issue. When did we stop calling it a feminist issue? And we need to let people know there are ways of protesting without turning to religious institutions. Secular people care about women too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Cultural Round-Up

I’ve been looking through the end-of-year lists of books of the year and cds of the year, so thought I’d present a cultural round up. Save you some time and trouble, and ask for your feedback.

Cds of the year

Women have topped a few of the lists for releases of the year in the music publications lits (Rolling Stone, Q, plus the Guardian etc). The bulk of the lists are music by blokes, but some female artists rate highly, and in all lists.

Florence & The Machine - Ceremonials
Adele - 21
St Vincent - Strange Mercy
Laura Marling - A Creature I Don’t Know
Gillian Welch - The Harrow & the Harvest
Kate Bush - Words for Snow
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Bjork - Biophilia

All worth listening to, I reckon, and would make good gifts.

I’d add some more.

Rumer - Seasons of my Soul
Seeker Lover Keeper
Joan as Policewoman - The Deep Field
The Unthanks

SMH had a little article about how well women recording artists are doing, with mention of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Beyonce. I reckon we’ve all heard enough abo them. Others on my list are more interesting to me.

Can you tell I only buy cds by women?

Books of the year

These are the books that appear a few times on various lists. I read male as well as female writers. But predominately I read female. I haven’t read a lot of fiction this year. Studying. But these from the lists appeal. I’ve got the Ali Smith from the library.

The Stranger’s Child- Alan Hollinghurst
The Wine of Solitude - Irene Nemirovsky
There But For The - Ali Smith
A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

And two non-fiction
What is Madness? - Darian Leader
(sic) - Joshua Cody

A big year for shows

Well, I said at the beginning of the year that I want to go out more, and see shows, and I have.

I’ve seen concerts: Bat for Lashes, Joan as Policewoman, kd lang, Sufjan Stevens, tributes to Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen. I loved all of them.

I’ve seen plays: Lady Nerd, The Threepenny Opera, Motherhood: The Musical, Silent Disco, Speaking in Tongues, Mary Poppins, In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play.

I have to say it; I’m truly over the use of projected filming of actors on stage during performances. I get it, people. Move on. Threepenny Opera, I’m looking at you, but I believe Kevin Spacey's Richard III does it too. Hmmm. I don’t know that I’ll be seeing any mainstream theatre next year. It really is too expensive. I’ll try for some independent, and performance events put on by The Arts Unit, and some free talks at Belvoir and the Opera House. That might be all.

So, how have you fared with cultural events this year? Any shows or books or cds you’ve particularly enjoyed? Anything you've missed and hope to catch up on?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We aren’t easy to market to

The kids and I recently filled in some Roy Morgan surveys. There were lots of sections we could skip because we don’t have mobile phones, buy apps, buy alcohol, watch pay tv, support a footy team, buy magazines and so on. I know the survey is to provide information to marketers, but the marketers will have to work harder to find us.

When asked, the kids stated they don’t have a favourite superhero or cartoon character. Good.

One of the questions asked of the children was ‘what is cool?’ Banjo answered Fancy Nancy, and Katie Morag. Clancy said Horrible Histories. Matilda said Harry Potter and The Hobbit.

Most the shows I watch are on the ABC or SBS. I don’t do a lot of shopping. I buy groceries at Aldi, fruit and veg at the greengrocers, bread at the bakery, and most other purchases are second hand.

I reckon it is worthwhile giving our view to marketers. We’re just not very interested.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Go Go Stop

We’ve been crazy busy. We’ve managed to keep up with everything. Just. Peddling to go from one event to the next. Keeping the wheels turning. But what it means is that we’ve had no time to process anything. Our feet aren’t touching the ground.

We’ve had: White Ribbon Day event at school (for which a brochure I wrote about children and the media was distributed), dress rehearsals and performance for dance school (I spent the concert helping my children change costumes and making ballet buns - which mercifully stayed in this year - and taking ballet buns out), band playing at local Christmas carols event, music exams, Harry Potter exhibition (I want to go again), school concert for infants, Matilda campaigning for school officer (and a reminder that parents don’t vote for school officers - trust the school that the system works as it is, and be gracious to those who won positions - as my wise friend says, we’re supposed to be teaching the children how to cope with these things, not inflaming controversy to no good end - we don't want to become cheerleader moms!), school presentation day , school reports, attending birthday parties.

I’ve had: the printing and selling of the fruit and veg cookbook I made as a P&C fundraiser, release of my uni results, babysitting for other mums through the babysitting club, school volunteer thank you morning tea (the closest I’ll get to a work Christmas party), band supervision, specialist appointment for Banjo, organising to attend the Ethics teacher training course, then cancelling because Clancy has tonsillitis, Clancy’ birthday afternoon tea (at which her friends played hide and seek and Chinese whispers - I served them food and French Lemonade and left them to entertain themselves, and they did!), chairing the AGM for a committee I’ve just resigned from, uniform shop stocktake, and trying to get the washing dry during weeks of rain.

No wonder I’m tired.

Fortunately Christmas for us isn’t crazy. It is very casual. I get presents for the kids and my sisters and myself, which I’ve done. I haven’t got anything for Cyberguy because he says he doesn’t want anything (and he’s very fussy). For Christmas day we all bring food to share with family, and no-one is fussed about what that food is. That’s it.

When school ends on Friday, and our schedule becomes a ghost town with tumbleweed whistling through it, we might look back on the happenings of the last few weeks and process what it all means. Or we might just sleep in and eat lovely food and get ready for everything that will be happening next year. Which will be crazy busy.

Friday, December 02, 2011


I got my hair cut this week. I say this week, because it usually takes a few days for me to get my hair cut because I always find the cut is uneven or weird somehow, so I have to go back and get it cut again. I’m not particularly attached to my hair, even though I’m told it’s distinctive. Thick, dark, curly. I’ve worn it long, I’ve worn it short, I’ve worn it red, platinum blond and electric blue, but these days, I’m naturally dark and naturally greying, and I can’t stand to have hair in my face so, once it gets to a certain length (looking like Ritchie Blackmore, as it always does), it has to go. And it has to be short. Elizabeth Taylor in the 50s short. Hair like my mother’s short. No compromise. I think hairdressers might be worried I’m scared of having short hair, but I always tell them I’m not. I probably was as a child, with short curly hair and sticking out ears, but I got my ears pinned back when I was in my early twenties (cosmetic surgery known as ‘correction of batwing deformity’ which was much more painful than I could have imagined, particularly in ways I hadn’t foreseen - I’ll just say if you know someone who wants this procedure done, I recommend getting it done before becoming sexually active). Anyway, I’m not attached to my hair.

Books, however, are another matter. My daughter asked that I get rid of some books, and I looked at her like she suggested I amputate my leg. I did get rid of a few books that were old and mouldy and shouldn’t be inside anyone’s house, but that’s as far as I’m prepared to go.

My partner, on the other hand is attached to his hair, but not to possessions. He has few clothes and other items. But he has long hair and doesn’t get it cut. Ever.

So as an example for the children we cover both angles.

Attachment. It’s a funny thing.