dangerous women

Even the least of us can be seen as ‘dangerous’. Some time ago, ME patients were described as ‘dangerous activist nutcases‘ by a psychiatrist on twitter. I was both outraged and baffled, but that’s no surprise.

Spurs Fan and I went to a concert in a church this week, and it was fabulous. Bridget O’Neill, Mary Coughlan, Aoife Scott, Frances Black and Sharon Shannon amazed us with their talent and their power. Frances sang of her politics, Mary sang of her troubles- I knew my oldies would have enjoyed Seduced  and songs of social justice from an altar. Entertainment with an edge. The edge makes all the difference. The edge is risk taking, taboos and danger.

But reading books and listening to music isn’t often dangerous in these parts. Real life is.

Dangerous women have been in my head all week, because of the 4,000 dangerous mothers article by my mate Sharon Thompson. It’s a powerful, shocking, moving piece. Please read it. When I grow up I’m going to write as well as Sharon does.

A danger is defined as ‘a hazard, threat or menace.’ The business of motherhood is very dangerous. But you’re told, ‘you’ll be fine. You will know what to do.’…

So – Your child and yourself are alone. Tired beyond measure you’re surrounded in scary, essential equipment. Things like feed pumps and machines that beep. You hate it all but had to fight tooth and nail to get the cumbersome stuff…

This will happen again you know it will. But when? How? Will they be screaming in pain next time? Will you know what to do? Will it be at a time when you finally have a nurse? It’s right to want your little one here with you always –isn’t it?…

There you are, sipping your cold tea, watching your child’s thin chest move up and down…

I myself surveyed 36 mothers of life-limited children. One question stood out. ‘Do you feel you can cope at home with your child’s condition?’ 34 mothers out of 36 said – ‘No.’ One asked me not to ask that question…

Wanting and demanding that your child’s life and death is as safe as possible should not be considered dangerous. Yet in 2016, these women are supposed to cope alone, with meagre charitable supports and when it’s all over – they’re expected to disappear and be silent. These women are expected to no longer be dangerous…


For further thinking on what it means to be a dangerous woman, see the Dangerous Women Project, full of challenge and learning.

the one where I am very entertaining

Who knew? Middle aged, over weight, constantly exhausted & brain fogged- not a regular receipe for ‘all the fun’. Or so you’d think. That’s because you’re not considering the whole picture. Consider the opportunities for inadvertent fun. Yes. I’m accidentally hilarious.

Case study 1.

We had 2 weeks with Nana & Grandad by the seaside. We could walk to the beach and the ‘town’. Being Ireland in July, we had all the weather. My wooly hat got worn plenty. More remarkably, the swimsuit came out, and on to the beach. Under things, of course, but still… On the good day, everybody was up and out in a rush, but I was dawdling, sleepy. Grand, no problem, I’d catch them up. I wondered about the wetsuit. Would it still fit? I didn’t want to carry it if I couldn’t get into it. Best to try it on first. Too late, I remembered that getting the wetsuit on wasn’t the problem. I know (but had forgotten) that I can’t get it off by myself. I was in the house on my own, dressed in rubber. Sweating. Stuck. My people were on the beach for the day. Reluctantly, it dawned on me that there was only one thing to do. I had to join them. I had to pretend it wasn’t an issue. I had to pretend I wasn’t mortified. I had to pretend that I was happy to parade through County Clare in an ill fitting short wetsuit. (The short nature of the garment made it worse, not only displaying wobbly white bits, but clearly demonstrating my amateur status.) I had to pretend that I didn’t feel extra foolish because I was carrying a bag. And when I found my family in the sea, they creased up. ‘But what did you wear?’ ‘This. This is what I wore all the way here.’ Oh what fun.

Case study 2.

Eventually we had to come home, leaving behind a wonderful beach and spectacular views. My sore throat took the duration of the journey to turn into something else. I have spent the last week being miserable and melodramatic, floored by a nasty version of a common cold. Spurs Fan moved to sleep on the hall floor one night because of my noisy noises, and now Girls are doing the unheard of- voluntarily sharing a room at home- out of pity for him. My family have been repulsed (snot), concerned (Did all that coughing make you sick? Have you broken a rib yet?) and entertained by me. They’re having great fun at the alternating no voice and dodgy hearing. They’re mouthing words at me, and getting me to repeat things, for the craic.

My children are making fun of me, happy and content that I will recover my dignity eventually. They are bonding at my expense. They are being kind and loving and funny.

My work here is done.



a scrambled brain

My brain has run out of steam. Everytime a coherent thought about the post referendum politics gathered itself, something significant changed, and my mind couldn’t cope. Dave resigned as Prime Minister, Boris was hoisted by his own petard, then stabbed in the back. Brutus Mr & Mrs Gove announced that they he’d been persuaded to stand, despite being the Man Least Likely. Out of the dusty debris strode Theresa and Andrea, each fancying themselves as a new Mrs Thatcher. There are others, but the story will have changed by the time I finish typing.

And I have no idea what’s going on with the Labour Party, the offical opposition to the government. They have decided to implode simultaneously. In the meantime, Nicola (First Minister of Scotland) has gone to chat to Brussels and Arlene (First Minister of NI) has gone on holiday.

There are no leaders doing any leading. It’s a remarkable situation, politics in total disarray.

This, slightly more comprehensive, humorous listing of events entertained me. The world is so out of kilter that I’m keeping up with BuzzFeed.

During the chaos I’ve been participating in this conference, and that one; I’ve also been wondering about strategic planning, social value proposition, theory of change, funding applications, and all sorts of very grown up stuff far beyond my ken. I’m getting there, but losing track of everything else in the meantime. I have forgotten most things I’d been hoping to do this month.

The little bit of brain power I’ve had left, I’ve spent watching football, or scanning a handy wall chart to see who is playing next at Euros2016. Northern Ireland beat Ukraine, Ireland beat Italy, England beat Wales, but then Wales beat Russia, Slovakia, Northern Ireland and Belgium, and England were beaten by Iceland. Fans from all parts of this island had such fun in France that they’re getting turning up medals. Spurs Fan (for these events, also known as England Fan) provided a public service to hundreds of school children last week, as they all burst out laughing when they saw him the morning after the ignominious defeat. I have really enjoyed the smiting and the tales of ancient warriors as match commentary, from Reykajvik Grapevine.

School has finished. Girl2 has returned from Gaeltacht. We have nothing to do but walk on beaches, spend time with Nana and Grandad, and gently unscramble over the next few weeks. The politics will sort itself out without me.

surprising myself- the morning after

I went to bed about 2.30am, with no hope that Remain would win. I greeted Spurs Fan some hours later with “How bad?”.

I’ve discovered the truth of the phrase “I just can’t even…” as my brain couldn’t begin to compose sentences or half thoughts without simply running out of steam. My language has been colourful.

As I’ve read the tales of those who voted Leave as a protest, never thinking it would happen, or those who didn’t believe their vote would count anyway, or those who didn’t realise that ‘the economy’ affects them, or those who believed the lies (Farage was backtracking before 8am), or those who (a favourite from a friend’s work) wanted the old lightbulbs back, a rather odd thought occurred. Those Leave voters have a big shock ahead- they believed they were doing a good thing, and I felt sorry for them. Many will be horrified as today, tomorrow and the next few years progress, and the realities bite. They don’t see it coming. They are unprepared.


Social media is ‘blaming’ the over 50s, the Labour party, racists, and people who didn’t bother to vote. But blame doesn’t help.

It seems that many people don’t recognise how they fit into politics. It’s an abstract that they have no impact on, or responsibility for- a disempowered population, now reeling. Politicians haven’t served them well, or had their interests at heart. There was no positive Remain campaign about the value of problem solving together, or collaboration or peace building. There was no discussion of the value of European support for infrastructure, communities, or social support. Or of the gap created by austerity measure so often being filled (if at all) by European money- but that would have meant acknowledging that austerity measures were causing problems.

And somehow, the “don’t listen to experts” trope was effective. Why listen to people who’ve worked in the area for years, or researched options? Why employ a plumber when the decent (white, middle aged, English) person next door watched a TV programme once about taps?

The Leave campaign played on anxieties and disconnection, made wild conjectures and told lies.

Dave has resigned, and his successor will be more right wing, more jingoistic, even more concerned with the interests of his (almost definitely a man, one of the white, middle aged, rich English ones) own wealthy clique.

I have no idea where we go from here. I’m angry and anxious, but I’m doing sentences now, so that may be progress.

We need to look after each other. We need to rediscover the kind. Blame won’t work. Balm might.