Off to work … to the wrong one

So I’ve no idea what this means but yesterday, I went to my old job by mistake, the one I left two years ago!

It was the first time I sat on the tube on my way into the new job actually reading a paper rather than tapping manically on my phone (haven’t quite got into the swing of things yet).

Oops. 20 minutes late for a meeting and spooked at the automatic pilot which sent me there.

An evening of powerful and inspiring women

Great evening at Australia House where I was reporting for the Australian Times on the award for Australian Woman of the Year in the UK. Inspiring speeches by the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and Baroness Coatdyke, who was High Commissioner in Australia. They gave the mainly-young Australian female audience great advice about being strong climbing up the ladder but also about getting your priorities right if you have a family. Great to attend a high-powered female-dominated event. More please!

Pardon, am I the wrong class for your school?

ShirtmakersAm sitting writing this in Pret a Manger on Regent’s Street. The luscious windows of Fortnum & Massons pear over me. My neighbour has a pink silk tie and expensive cufflinks. A woman has just stepped in wearing a fur coat. Their accents reveal that they are certainly not tourists.

I was going to work in the London Library and meet a friend – but I couldn’t get in. I suppose when you pay that sort of annual membership, they can’t give a day-pass to any blogging riff raff, can they? Fair enough, I didn’t book in advance and they were terribly polite about it – but there was no way I was getting past that desk.

Anyway here I am.  Mobile office and all that, very happy until I start watching The Establishment glide by with shiny cars on litter-free streets. It’s reminded me of a conversation I had last week with someone I adore. (I hope she doesn’t see this. Mentioning our discussion is fine, the word ‘adore’ – no way.)

She told me on no uncertain terms that my daughter Bella is being rude when she says ‘pardon’. I’m told it’s not about class, it’s about manners. And by the way, I have  been heard saying ‘dinner’ instead of ‘supper’. Finally, I am warned that this six-letter word could make her an outcast if she were ever accepted into one those exclusive local secondary schools.

Yikes. These thoughts coupled with the lunch-time flood of pin-stripped suits have made me run for the tube to King’s Cross.

Phew, I am now safely tucked away in a corner of the British Library. It’s not a mirror reflection of British society but certainly feels a bit more real. And I can’t get to work until I rid myself of these niggling questions.

Let’s imagine Bella were offered a place at one of those elite London schools. Would I want her to go somewhere where she might be outcast for saying ‘pardon’? ‘Of course not!’ scream my values. Would I want my daughter to go to a brilliant school? ‘Of course’ says her mother. Statue

Either I am going crazy or this country has not entered the 21st Century. Someone please tell me what it is all about. Actually, I don’t mean that. What I really want to know is why on earth it is still going on. In The Times last Saturday, Ralf Fiennes called class ‘this country’s Achille’s heel’. He thinks it’s a ‘media construct to run stupid articles about class and posh actors’.

Well, I’m sorry Ralf, I do not agree and here’s another blog post about it. This country’s obsession with class is as real as my neighbour’s gold cufflinks on Regent’s Street. I know nothing about the plight of actors but I’ve seen a few boardrooms and Prime Minister’s Question Time. This is one UK folly I do not relish describing to my Australian friends. Monty Python funny. Class thing not funny.

And that’s because the class club still holds some people back and still promotes others. Anyone who denies it should take a closer look at  business and government. Fine, there are lots of successful people who don’t speak with plums in their mouths. But look around and tell me who is ruling this country and The City? We should be ashamed of how far away we are from being a meritocracy. How about some Americans and Australians get over here to give us some training?

Sadly, I can’t see any ‘kill the class club’ camps anywhere, please delight me and tell me I am wrong. As far as I know, the next generation of these cufflink-wearers even have tutors with the right contacts in the right schools. British Library

I would love Bella to become one of these British Library cosmopolitan self-assured girls sitting next to me. Big boots, big hair and lots of big books. I’ve just spied two, earnestly listening to an older American woman lecturing them on the history of feminism. I want these opportunities for my daughter (whether she grabs them is something I’ll have to find out). And I also want to know whether accent and background will still impact her generation.

Been on holiday in that far away country called offline

Hello, I just got back from a break. I went away to that distant offline world, not intentionally at first. Ironically, my trip began on the evening of the Mumsnet Bloggers conference. I had left energised and excited about continuing to write online, delighted that I was part of this world, that I had made this choice. But then then my energy was required elsewhere.

Until this week. Normality – or as close as I’ll ever be to it – is resuming. I’ve just sent my latest pitch to a paper, adamant it’s the most fascinating subject out there. Ha, shouldn’t have said that.

And whileHoliday offline away, I have been doing some online tourism, reading some of your blogs, tweets, articles. I’m bursting to join back in. But for today, my little personal update. Feels good to summarise it all, just for me and of course you too, if you’re reading on.

Work-wise, I still feel like I am living the dream. There are days when I question it all. But then I continue to skip to school in the morning, often quite literally to the mortal embarrassment of my daughter.

No second baby still. I continue to dream of a baby brother and sister for Bella. I still yearn and crave for that extra little one in our family but I’m not focused on it anymore. It’s certainly not stopping me from living the ‘now’. I am petrified I’ll regret this current lack of action but I also know that some big decisions are brewing.

Parenting. I worry about Bella growing up. Becoming a teenager. Being OK. Being happy. I worry about the pressures of secondary schooling in London. Not giving into all the peer pressure. Remembering I just want her to be happy and healthy.

Wonderfully, my marriage is better than ever. I think we’re growing up.

Typhoon news is our news and great-grandma is homeless

My husband comes from and grew up in a small village near Tacloban in The Philippines. His grandmother and immediate family are OK but their house and little shop (on the left side) have been destroyed. We took this picture on our last visit, our daughter loved helping in the shop. Inayhouse

I am raising money which we will split into half to rebuild their house and half for the community of Julita. If you’d like to donate, please do so at this account solely set up for this purpose: Account number 19428463  / Sort code 30-67-72. Any amount is welcome, a little will go a long way.



There are too many things to say so I’ll leave it to my daughter who wrote this poem on Monday morning, whilst we awaited news.

People are suffering in the Philippines


And seeing the worst and most terrible scenes


But here we are safe and sound


And when we watch the news our heart begins to pound


Many people have lost their life


And everyone had to encounter strife


They’ve been so brave so let us follow in their shoes


Family members they’ve had to lose

Portfolio

Some of the things I have written  …

My story on the pain of secondary infertility – ‘write about what you know ‘, so I do:

DailyTelegraphAug2013

My story about changing my life – over a year later, I’m still skipping around:

My hamburger meal 2.jpghttp://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/apr/20/choosing-between-child-and-career

I contribute to West London Mum, here on the teachers’ strike with my change management hat:

 WLMteachers

http://www.westlondonmum.co.uk/understanding-the-teachers-strike/

I love writing this column on  our Anglo-Australian family:

Austtimes