Friday 15 March 2013

40 tweaks?

Cakes by Cynthia:
According to my doctors up at a central London hospital (NHS), I have three days to go until my fourth baby is born. They calculated my 'due' date by asking me some cyclical questions and coming up with answers on a cardboard speed dial date calculator thingy and by giving me a scan at twenty weeks. Neither of these fact detectors strike me as exact science, particularly since, in the past, I've known darned well exactly when I fell pregnant and my date did not tally with theirs by three days. Nonetheless I was subjected to an agonising twenty-four hour induction sans an epidural (too freaky to be paralysed when giving birth) followed by a graphic aftermath that I will protect my male readers from visualising. 

On that, first occasion, the consultants at the Royal Free, who just happened to be trialling a new induction procedure, told me that they would not be responsible for the outcome based on my decision. This sounds reasonable, but they made it clear to me what they wanted me to understand that outcome was to be. Meantime, the midwife urged me not to let the consultants 'bully me' into being induced. The thing is, given that it was my first child, they did scare me. The three-step procedure, (again I will spare you the details) was pretty brutal because my son was just not quite ready to come. On two occasions, things became quite dangerous for him and for me. Afterwards my son and me fell into an exhausted twelve-hour sleep. What newborn sleeps for twelve hours? It took me a very long time to heal from that one and I remain convinced that if they had just let me go another couple of days, my son would have been born naturally. 

Of course I am grateful that the outcome was a beautiful, healthy child, but the point is, I felt I was denied the natural, beautiful experience birth can be, because I was so highly interfered with. At the UCL with baby two and three I was also induced, though with my second, my daughter, I managed to have the serene, quiet, calm experience I had wanted before despite the twelve hour induction that I was again pressed to have. My last experience - nineteen months ago, was horrendous. My second son was on his back and not ready to come. I had a manipulative, bullying midwife who kept insisting that I have an epidural. She kept telling me that an epidural was the only way forward for me. She kept threatening that unless I saw the anaesthetist straight away, he would be in theatre and I would not be able to have an epidural that I did not want. The implication was that things were going to get worse and then I would be without help. 

Twelve hours hooked up to a drip at a forty-five degree angle when you prefer to move around when you are in extreme pain is torturous, but in the end I was frightened enough to agree to the epidural, though even as I was having it, (which was not straightforward) I was thinking, that even though the pain of a back to back labour was extraordinary, I had done induced (artificially induced, and therefore more painful contractions) for hours on end (twelve before, more previously) on two other occasions and if only I had been able to talk to a doctor first, to find out whether I had other pain relief options, I could have persevered. Afterwards she said that perhaps she should not have pushed me into having it. I was flabbergasted. And bloody annoyed frankly. Again, the incompetent aftermath left me with a legacy that I am still suffering with.

Anyway, I have been told at my third London hospital (nameless for now!) that they will want to induce me on Sunday - my 'due' date. I meet with the doctors today and intend to ask for a reprieve of at least a few days in the hopes that I may, just this once, have a natural birth. So far the staff have been lovely. Obviously if they convince me that the baby or me are in mortal danger, I will probably succumb. Meantime, if you are reading this, please pray new little chap arrives without interference! Also, please let me know what you have experienced regarding the forty weeks and induction, I do love hearing back from people.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Peter Hitchens is right...about grammar schools and more

Look away now if you do not want to see me bang on about British education some more. Like my new friend Peter. Peter does not know he is my new friend, but Peter, in this political age of utter nonsense, where the top three parties are a farce to be heckled with, I, like so many others, just look for people who write sense, so that they can not feel so...alone. In a recent blog about the UK school system, I gave an example of a Labour politician I had encountered who had patted himself on the back for sending his kids to state school, when the state in question was not 'in a state' at all as it were - scroll down for Peeing through the eye of a needle...if you did not read it. Now it seems that Nicked Cleggers is clogging down Hypocrisy Road following the directions that Tony Flair (for self promotion and pocket lining) Dianne Abbott (not Holy, but holey in policy) and others have mapped out - that of sending their children to schools that are either private (Di-hard with a vengeance), when they are supposed to be against private education, or state schools that really aren't. It seems the Clegg kids are going to the London Oratory which is about as egalitarian as Cambridge. See Peter's blog for more:

Most people seem to hate Peter Hitchens but I like him enormously because he speaks SENSE and thus, of course, he is not fashionable, like say Sandi Toksvig, who really is a nasty mare in a Teddy Bear suit, but does not realise it because there is so much stuffing in her head. During a recent News Quiz chaired by Sandi Toxic on Radio 4, the education minister was vilified as a foetus in a jar. Pots and kettles rattled. I had listened to this programme and this incident really wound me up, it was just so gratuitously nasty. Peter had noticed too, and blogged about the nastiness prevalent on the left - you'll have to pootle about in his archives for that one - well worth reading some of the other stuff too. This does seem to be the case. Certainly with the BBC who only seem to roll on the left hand side of the bed. Can't folks belong to differing sides (not that the sides really differ much at all anymore) of the political divide and not savage each other? Satire, (what happened to that level of elevated wit?) is a good and necessary mirror to hold up for our politicians and those that are given too much media power that it goes to their woolly heads, but nastiness for the sake of it is just not clever.

The 'foetus in a jar' type of 'joke' (who came up with that tired, base joke anyhow? Note to TNQ: hire some people who can write original funny jokes) espoused by Toksvig, is part of the bullying culture of this country and is particular to nasty public schoolboys and girls - yes you Sandi. Caveat: I am married to a public schoolboy so obviously I am generalising. Another caveat: I am not completely against private education, there are elements I do not despise, but they do not include the buying of places, in various ways, as I have previously blogged. I intend to educate my younger children very privately (at home). Har har! Back to TNQ. When Gove was defended by another guest (can't remember who, but he was most likely seated on the right), he was arrogantly stamped down. Why is Gove hated so much? For trying to reform our unjust, increasingly absurd education system? He was forced to back down on his laudable attempts to do something about our not good enough GCSE system and introduce the more rigorous English Baccalaureate system. So beat him over the head with a skillet! Plain vitriol is just vitriol when not dispensed with satire. 

For the sake of your own head turn this woman off unless you are interested in hearing how she fancies Cheryl Cole because she has 'opinions' (on what? Simon Cowell? How bouffant her hair is?) What the L'Oreal is going on out there people? Yesterday we are told that Sandi Toxic does not like Kate because she does not have 'opinions' (or maybe because she does not fancy her?). I am no hot royalist, but has Sandi ever sat down with Kate over some cream buns and chatted to her to find out if she actually has any opinions? Has it entered her head that maybe Kate saves her opinions for when her and Will are taking the mickey out of the likes of her in bed at night because they can't be spouting opinions Willy-nilly given who they are. Duh! Look what happened to Princess Di - who did have opinions. "It's all very Jane Austen," Sandi blunders on about Kate. Pardon? Did JA not have opinions? Did her headstrong women not have opinions? Parp, Sandi. Women (and men) need to stop being so nasty about each other left and right in the media to get attention and start using their heads instead. And yes, I realise I have just had a go at Sandi, but she needs to stop. She's like an out of control cart- horse (see how it's viral?), meanly (and unfunnily) clattering over our nations media. 

Thanks for the antidote Peter.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Everyone has a book in them but it is it readable?

Eye write 
Everyone is a writer these days it seems. How is this so? Do people have more time on their hands? Is it because it is so easy to self publish these days? Is it the zeitgeisty thing to do? A Gangnam write? A novel write of passage (honk, honk) that is now expected of all of us just because we can (or think we can) like being on facebook or becoming a twit-digit (guilty/guilty).
But really is it write? Sorry right, just cannot help myself - I am days from giving birth so extra silly. How do we tell if we are any good before launching ourselves heedlessly upon literary waters peopled with paddlers, doggy paddlers (dodgy paddlers? Shades of Grey?) screw kickers, and, far out to sea, those elegantly executing the butterfly stroke on the distant horizon? I know! We will have begun learning to swim at a very young age! Writers read and writers have always written. Here comes the trumpet sound, block your eyes and ears if you do not want to see and hear the rest: I read widely, not as widely as I used to, given the three going on four kids, but reasonably widely - on average a book a week, plus bites of factual stuff and a smattering of short stories and poetry and if I am honest, the occasional trash mag. I also read the Good Book - nearly daily. My reading usually takes place in my 'holiday baths' as my son used to call them - the only place I can really escape to with a book. I have always written, check my bio for details, I don't want to wax lyrical on this now and risk boring you (see I do care!).

Gobbling books, writing reams, and just being a verbal pain in the **** started young, with sentences (for those around me? I was a pedant too) at two (mother says) in three languages - because we were living in Spain and I had a Portuguese father, not because I read dictionaries in other languages and then regurgitated them - I am not that bloody clever - and has continued unabated since, much to the chagrin of my family, in many ways, I am sure. Granted, mothers can be delusional about their kids, but you get the picture. Yes, this sounds like boasting, and reader, it is, but I am trying to demonstrate something other than what a clever clogs I am. You see, just as my husband has a PhD in engineering, and would not try going out and being an engineer without this, I feel I am qualified to write - and not just because of my degrees (you do not have to have these) in English Literature and Creative Writing, writing qualifications should stretch back into the misty past and not be engineered (honk!).

It seems to me that if you are a 'good' writer, or 'good enough' this will have become apparent at a young age. You will have read and written voraciously, won all the prizes at school and then gone on to win further in wider arenas. If you are a 'good writer' you were most likely 'outed' in this way at a young age. People: not just parents and friends, but teachers and other writers, say, will have told you so. Sooner or later, you will have won prizes and achieved enough recognition to have gathered the confidence to actually write a book, which generally takes years and years. 

It is possible however, that having got to the book writing stage, your books may never be published and you may not get the recognition you deserve. What is good or helpful, in this current swamped climate of self publishing, is that amongst the reams and reams of not very good stuff (as far as I can tell having been asked to read a lot of it) there are some hidden gems that may not have been read were it not for the current publishing trends. And, not all the commercially published stuff is good, of course this is subjective, though the not good do seem to die. Eventually. I believe that if you are good, word will get round. Eventually.

Of course, everyone has the right (see I didn't do it that time) to have a crack at writing at any time, and if people want to read it, of course, that is fine. However, perhaps one needs to be a little more considered before foisting ones 'book' on an overcrowded market. I think we do need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask whether we are really qualified or whether we are going to make our friends and relations squirm with embarrassment. 

PS If you can guess what book I am reading I will send you a *free signed copy of my book. 

* I will have to charge postage, there are limits. Message me: