“Can I trust you to….?”

If you are exhausted by the word “vote”, don’t read any further. But if you want to know why this is relevant to you, stay with me.

I write this as Jon Stewart in New York (The Daily Show) is interviewed by Channel 4 news tonight, live. His prediction for the election outcome is that the British people will eventually work their way through the Miliband family until they “find one they like” and that the current main party competitors, Cameron and Miliband have been wise to lower the public’s expectations of what kind of leader to hope for. Whether in jest or otherwise, there is no denying that most people have an opinion about the current state of play in our country. The real question is whether voters’ true opinions will be reflected on their ballot papers at their polling station this Thursday.

Party election broadcasts (hammers smashing clocks, really?) are supposed to make us feel passionate about mistakes made, lessons learned. But essentially, what have we learned? 100 years ago, women fought for their suffrage and those over the age of 30 were finally given the right to vote if they met the minimum property qualifications. Today, women still fight for equal status but gender distinctions remain; Labour’s pink minibus was a strategy deployed to positively communicate to women voters but this gesture received mixed sentiment.

Women fought to have the right to vote and won; for themselves and for us today. But having the right to vote is not enough; exercising your right is key. Some will argue that because of the electoral system, your vote may not matter. If your constituency has historically always belonged to one party, you may believe that no matter whom you vote for, the outcome will be the same. But five years ago, a coalition government was formed, in part because people wanted change. And that change was communicated by the electorate getting up, getting out and voting.

I hadn’t realised until recently that you could actually swap your vote. Many people will be strategically voting in this election to try and drive the outcome they desire by swapping their vote with someone in a different constituency. The concept of vote swapping hinges heavily on trust but essentially trust is what voting is really about. Do we trust the party we vote for to deliver the promises they say they will make? We will only know if we actually vote for them first. I for one and with many, will be going out on Thursday to vote and I trust that my vote will be counted and will make a difference. Can I trust you to vote?


I was reading The Week and came across an interesting fact: apparently one in four British women go clubbing with their mothers, according to a Usurv survey; 36% invite their mothers to social events with their friends.

Reading this made me smile at first. I then had this bizarre mental image of being invited by my “best friend forever”, my daughter, to a pub, agreeing to go and then finding myself sitting around a table with a bunch of young girls, chatting about their boyfriends or something and feeling incredibly out of place. Why would I want to feel that way?

Call me a cynic but I think survey statistics are sometimes begging to be challenged. One in four British women may go clubbing with their mothers but perhaps not because they want to! Also, 36% may invite their mothers to social events with their friends but what percentage actually goes?

These facts were written to suggest that the generation gap is closing fast in Britain. Indeed, our digital age has brought us closer together with regards to information access and social media; my “Baby Boomer” mum loves WhatsApp and uses it happily to share photos and jokes with me, as I do with my “millennial” daughter. And yes, I have invited my mother in the past to come out with my “Generation X” friends and myself, but only when I knew she really didn’t have anything else to do. But on occasion, she did also express a concern that it might be “awkward”, not for us but for her as a minority older person in a younger crowd.

I guess the question I am asking is: “why is it necessary for the generation gap to close?”.  One answer can be found in the workplace. We still find that when multi-generational employees work in teams, different work ethics, motivational tactics and capabilities can prohibit working towards that common goal. However, I think it is important to recognise the different supporting roles that we play to our older and younger generations; we can celebrate the strengths of older generations with their stronger work ethic and whilst still acknowledging that younger generations will generally learn and adapt faster in our evolving technological environment.

When I was younger and struggled to make friends, my mother always reminded me that she would always be my best friend, no matter what.  I repeat the same to my daughter today, when she needs to hear it. In our family, we have BFFs across different generations, and maybe over time, the gap will close as our relationships evolve. In the meantime, my mother, my daughter and I will continue to enjoy learning about one another; striving to develop a common language peppered by our multi-generational experiences.

“That time of the Month?”

I was at Pilates, again. On this particular Saturday, the Studio was packed. There were two women chatting together, quite audibly (I was not eavesdropping) about how exhausted they felt and one of them sighed and remarked, “Well, I always feel like this when there is a Full Moon, I’ve noticed that about myself.”

Now, maybe I misheard her but it did get me thinking. We as women have always talked about the mood swings, the physical pain and fatigue and the generally rubbish-like feeling that we feel during that time of the month but I’ve not heard about this time, the Full Moon, ever given as an explanation before. While my logical internal voice was thinking about the possible scientific reasons for her observation, my other more cynical internal voice decoded, “maybe she was just saying that but what she really meant was that she was having a bad period week?”

As these two internal voices continue to verbally arm-wrestle, my external voice ponders about how women today, including myself, perceive the “chum” as my Mum positively introduced it to me, many years ago. I always thought my monthly bleed was a nuisance but something one could use to an advantage; it was a “get out of swimming” card for many of us at school. I even recall more recently, attending a family funeral and noticing my cousin’s absence, I sought her out only to find her curled up at the top of the stairs, clutching her mobile, mouthing to me that she was (winking) “on” so she wasn’t to attend the prayers below.

I know that by using a normal, biological, monthly occurrence as an excuse, we are probably propagating the notion that women are the delicate sex but the fact is that most women will experience some inconvenience or discomfort during their period and I don’t think we should be ashamed to talk about it. On the contrary, we should and do exercise our right to complain (!) but then we move on.

I read an article about Heather Watson’s explanation for defeat due to “girl things” at the Australian Open. The article suggested that talking about menstruation might set women back in the world of sport but acknowledged that she had every right to point at her period as a reason for under-performing and that maybe more athletes will feel free to do the same from hereon, when relevant.

On the same day, I also came across an article written by an 18 year old girl in India about how fed up she was by the “taboo” label attached to this subject matter. She wrote about how women in India are still prohibited today from participating in normal activities when they have their period and how this is “archaic”. I agree with her (and we all know that this doesn’t just happen in India). However, I had hoped that she would gently acknowledge how and why traditional ideas and beliefs in India evolved: in yesterday’s India and the world, there was relatively no access to good feminine hygiene products and education and so fear and ignorance determined behaviour and bias.

There is little excuse for this cultural cover-up today and for future generations of women, open recognition and discussion of a menstrual period for what it is, plain and simple, should negate the negativity in time. So let that time start now.

“English(Wo)man in New York”

So yes, I am back in London now, safe and dry but boy, what a weekend! I love the Big Apple (still haven’t worked out why it is called that – references to a Big, Sweet, Juicy Prize have been found but then I don’t believe everything I read on Wikipedia)!

They say that all the big cities of the world are the same essentially, but I disagree. New York has always had a special place in my heart; everything is bigger, almost brash like a confident child demanding “Look at ME”. On this visit, I returned to the first department store I ever visited in Manhattan, Lord & Taylor. After having legged it there from Grand Central with two minutes to opening, I ran through the front doors to find rows of folded chairs lined up (like at a school assembly) with eager shoppers’ bottoms hovering, ready in sprint position to start their deal-hunting day. The security guards were standing (mob control!) and announced “Please rise for the National Anthem” and yes, everyone did! I stood with them, feeling a little alien, in awe, with respect and with slight disbelief too. Solemn faces, even some hands on chests – no singing, it was the instrumental version. A keen yellow poncho-clad woman temporarily disturbed our moment of American meditation with “It’s 10am for crying out loud, I need the 3rd floor!” but was made to wait like all the others until the melody faded.

It seems that Lord & Taylor have found a way to remind their shoppers, every day before opening, to take a minute and be mindful that they are in the States, maybe to feel proud or grateful. It certainly allowed me to pause and take stock. But I do also wonder about making people listen to the anthem, like at school, rather than giving them the choice. This would NEVER happen in Selfridges, Lane Crawford or Galleries Lafayette. I don’t think this would be permissible anywhere except New York.

So in acceptance of our differences, here’s to enjoying the feeling of being foreign in a city that really never sleeps – I raise my glass and cheer “to my next visit over the pond!”

P.S. Intrigued, I’ve come home to find out more about this “cultural difference” – and stumbled across this article from the New York Times, 2008:




Happy New Year! Back to school runs and work.  As you skip back into the gym, remember to check out new January rates that might be displayed in the smallest font humanly possible to read – they may be cheaper than what you currently pay. I only realised when I received a letter from my gym about a rate increase – which was sent in error!

I emailed polite queries that evolved into frustrated complaints, always to at least 2 managers, escalated these to managers’ managers and finally got a nice chap on the phone who agreed that I had been overcharged for 2 years! The same nice chap gently explained that since our gym had been taken over, new rates had been made available; the information had been “on display” in the gym and therefore nothing could be done to reimburse me for the excess paid. Not happy, I insisted that I should be compensated and after more emails and calls, the same but now not-so-nice-chap then decided to give me a month’s membership free but still took payment for that month anyway.

Deciding that I wasn’t going to stop chasing this until the excess that I had paid was refunded, I expressed extreme dissatisfaction about the way my case had been dealt with, which drew out another few months’ membership off. Eventually, the really-not-so-nice-never-wanting-to-speak-to-me-again chap offered a few more months’ free membership and threw in guest passes too!

Funny how the human brain works, I went to the gym way more often once money wasn’t leaving my account for it…

You always have the right to request a review on your membership, just ask.

Gyms use their websites now to communicate offers, letters are only sent bearing bad news about price increases; for the good news, look online. And I guess I will be going to the gym with my glasses on, take the 3 minutes extra to look for the fine print!

Remember, if you are stuck, you can always read about your rights: