Best Public Service Ads, Ever

Best Public Service Ads, Ever

Just another reason New Zealand is awesome. 

Yes, Kiwis really do talk like this – if they’re from Northland. I don’t. But I can put it on. 



The New Victorian Childhood: Tiger Mothers and Constant Testing

An excellent post that puts together two of the pressures I admit I often feel: pressure to see my kids ‘fulfil their potential’ – i.e. do every possible activity available and succeed brilliantly at it – and pressure to not upset Them. I’ve talked about Them before, and I’ll edit in the link once I’m not blogging on my phone. Them, aka People, as in “what will People think?”
It’s 6:28 am and I’m in a nicely redecorated motel room in Christchurch, 5 hours drive north from home. I didn’t sleep well, I generally don’t the first night in a strange bed, and now I’ve given up. So here I am.
Christchurch is the city that both Sam and I were born in. He lived here more recently than me, when he was about seven or eight, while I left for Dunedin at eleven months and never looked back. We came here for our honeymoon nearly fifteen years ago and enjoyed the International Buskers Festival. But we haven’t visited since the Earthquake (link to come). So we’ve brought the kids to do a spot of ‘disaster tourism’ and see things like the Cardboard Cathedral and the container mall (a shopping centre constructed from shipping containers). We will also take the kids to Orana Park. I wish we had some kind of zoo in Dunedin but maybe it’s too cold, or maybe just too small.
This motel room is the nicest I’ve ever stayed in, although on closer inspection you can see the hideous old decor (embossed orange and green flower wallpaper, anyone?) peeping through the new paint. But I’ll forgive that for the mezzanine and the nice smooth ceramic cooktop. The kids were given a double and a single bed between the three of them, so naturally Mr 10 is sleeping on couch cushions on the living room floor instead. What WILL They think? We’d better clear it away before They come in to clean.


We think of ourselves as much more civilized than the Victorians, who sent their children to the mills or factories, or to work as chimney sweeps.  Thankfully, child labour has been banned, at least in most of the Western world. (Unfortunately, it seems it has simply been outsourced, like our factories… and call centres.)

But the Victorian legacy of depriving children of a childhood lives on… in the Tiger Mothers around the world, and in my local patch of North London, the obsession with schools, results, and cramming knowledge into children at the earliest possible age — ballet/piano/chess/foreign languages/maths/gymnastics etc.

We don’t expect our children to earn a living anymore, but we do expect them to carry our banner into the world.  And sometimes, it can be a very heavy banner indeed.  Especially if it they need to compete with lots of other children who are equally charged with carrying…

View original post 753 more words


Wanting to Belong

Wanting to Belong


Also, the photos are of where I live.

I’m shifting away from my desire to be a neuropsychologist. As I read more about addiction and mental health through my studies, and especially Dennis Cardiff’s amazing blog, I am increasingly drawn to this area of work. There aren’t many visible homeless people in Dunedin (there, I’ll stop being coy, I live in Dunedin NZ, ok? You still don’t know my address, right?) but according to another Otago Uni student they’re out there.

I stopped being scared of ‘crazy’ people in phases, partly chatting with a schizophrenic who would often come into the bookshop where I was on the counter, partly working with a client with a TBI at an activities centre for adults with disabilities (I was a music tutor), and partly getting to know some of the regulars who would pop in to the Hospital Chapel for a cuppa (I was the administrator). Now I’m itching to get back to working with the ‘crazies’, in a more directly useful capacity, but in the mean time I plan to use some of my free time next year (hey, I’m only writing a thesis, right? That’ll be easy compared to doing papers! Yes? Right?) to help out a bit at the local free health clinic. I think they need drivers at the moment.

By the way, please be assured that I do not think of the people I mentioned above, whom I know and chat with, as ‘crazies’. I think of them as people, and I know the things they care about and are interested in, and talk about those things. I use the word affectionately as a convenient way of describing the unconventional folks who are familiar figures walking the streets of Dunedin (my twin brother may be classed as one by the people who don’t know him but recognise him by his beard, hat and bare feet, and who is not at all crazy) and who have become part of the background of my life.

Small things in the middle of big things

I quit working with my Research Proposal introduction half finished today (my supervisor wanted a draft to review over the weekend) and walked out into glorious sunshine and the scent of spring flowers. I came home, played Piggy in the Middle with the kids, did some puzzles in the sun, made poached eggs with fresh garden herbs for tea and had a bath with my daughter, and once she’d got out, with a book. Now I’m settling into one of my more productive writing times of day. Hopefully it’ll actually be productive, but even if it isn’t, I’ve got one paragraph written that I didn’t have this afternoon, and a week more to do the rest of the thing.

This is a more pleasant way to think than ohshitohshitohshit I still have the introduction and methodology background and ethics and method and potential results to write and then there are exams in less than two weeks that i haven’t even started studying for and half the washing is still damp and next week both boys have to be at different places at different times of the day and i have classes and andandandandandwhydontijustgiveupsleeping.

So I’m not thinking like that. I’m listening to this. And as soon as I post this I’ll check Twitter one more time then turn it off and see if I can chip the next few sentences into shape.

I’m getting there, and it feels good to be actually working really really hard and proud of my progress.

Building an audience

I have a question for you, that my title made sound like a blogging-related question, but it totally isn’t.

I sang in a concert on Sunday. We’d been working hard towards it, as usual, and had a fantastic fun programme which was a bit different from our usual (Jazz, rather than Classical). We had an audience of about 40 people, less than half our usual.

Now, there were some obvious reasons for the drop.

1) It was daylight saving day and probably it was just too confusing for people, or they turned up after we finished (concert was only an hour long);
2) It was a different style programme from usual (though I would have thought it would have more appeal, not less);
3) It was at a different venue from usual,
4) At a different time from usual;
5) The time was 1 pm on a Sunday when a lot of people would be having their lunch.

Besides all that… and here’s where I’d like you all to answer…

How can we build our audience?

… or more specifically…

What makes you go to a concert? What do you want to get out of it? How much are you willing to shell out and what for?

Where do you hear about the things that you go to?

If all 50-odd of my followers respond, I’ll have a pretty good sample! 🙂 I promise I’ll respond to your reply.