Five things

1. My former boss was interviewed in today’s Guardian in a piece entitled “The new embraceable Britain” discussing our “sudden craving for big, bold works of public art” and points out the increasingly significant role of artists in regeneration schemes. I am particularly pleased to see that, over three years after I left the company, their office is still described in the paper as “somewhat messy” – just the way I liked it J

2. Another Guardian article today on the glasses vs. contact lenses debate. As a devotee to spectacles, I’m pleased to see that glasses win. Those of you who know me well know how much I love my glasses (see my flickr account for proof) and also know that I have willingly paid significant amounts of money for them and every night keep them IN THEIR CASE and not just on my bedside table. Anyway, I digress. I concur entirely with the article’s assertion that contact lenses are, frankly, unnatural and that glasses can do wonders for the presentation of a well-framed face. And, yes, they can get in the way a bit during certain activities and I am so very blind that I can’t even buy prescription sunglasses (not the ones I want anyway) so have to spend all summer squinting but, having worn them for 16 years with only a brief spell of madness during which I wore contact lenses and hated them, I look *really* weird without them on these days.

3. Today, I’ve been working from home and have been listening to my iTunes library in alphabetical order by song name. I just get crazier. I thought I’d have got through a good few letters but nine hours of constant listening later (with 15 minutes for lunch) and I’m actually only up to “As You Are” by Travis (I skipped “As Heard on Radio Soulwax, Pt 2” on the grounds that it’s over an hour long).

4. I have a compulsion to buy books when in the vicinity of a charity shop. On Saturday, I bought a copy of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach from the Acorns shop in St Peters (which is within in walking distance of my house – not good) for 95p. Ha! Beat that Amazon and Tesco! (I realise I could just get it out of the library for free and that would be even cheaper but that’s not as charitable, is it?) Unlike my old English teacher, who used to lend me books and freak out if I opened them a bit too wide, I like a dog-eared book. If they’re loved, they should definitely have a crease down the spine and maybe a few pages turned over. However, this book is a little too loved and the damp and musty smell emanating from its pages is rather putting me off.

Again with the digression – sorry. My point was to recommend a visit to Enviroability’s Book Swap Shop in Ross-on-Wye. As well as providing valuable and meaningful employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities and contributing to the social enterprise’s environmental ethos, it is an incredibly well-stocked book shop. Books aren’t priced (largely because forcing those who work in the shop to work out change would draw attention to their disability) but I always end up spending a fortune in donations when I visit.

5. I’m really pleased to see that the women of Coventry could be getting a well-deserved pay reward following the decision that their pay was unequal to that of men doing similar jobs. Those that will say this is not a matter of sexual discrimination will be sorely mistaken. Job roles that are traditionally seen as “female” are still undervalued by society and whilst that remains the case, intelligent and motivated young women will continue to underperform because of an assumption that their natural preference for more pastoral careers is not as important as traditionally “male” professions. What’s more, we’ll continue to be unsuccessful in attracting very capable men down essential career paths such as social care, teaching and nursing.

Huh. I got a bit serious at the end there, didn’t I? I’ll try harder not to next time.


9 thoughts on “Five things

  1. I would like to agree with you on the spectacles arguement, having ‘used’ contacts for the past 5 or 6 years, (I say ‘used’ because they’re so hard to get in and out and uncomfortable once they’re there, that I just have about 6 boxes of one lenses sitting in a drawer). However, I also hate my glasses and how I can’t afford (well, refuse to pay for) a set of decent prescription sunglasses – making driving in the summer a bit poo. I also have a tendency to just fall asleep with them on my face so I bend them all the time. Laser surgury is the way forward!!

  2. 1. Was your boss Wiard Sterk? What a great name and how do you pronounce his first name?!

    2. Gotta agree. I love my glasses – especially as they’re Armani and were free (someone left them, as sunglasses, in a car I collected so I had the lenses changed!). Had contacts about 15 years ago but tried to take them out after chopping up a chilli and gave up on them! One thing I’ve decided I’d never do is have laser correction. I know the risks are small but any risk it too much risk for me when it comes to seeing things.
    4. Hope you enjoy On Chesil Beach – I did!

  3. Omar – It may well be a fairly sweeping statement, I admit. But despite outperforming boys in their educational attainment, the fact is that there is still a huge salary gap between men and women (I realise it’s quite a crude measure of performance but it’s what we use). There’s two reasons for that – firstly that it is still unusual to see women in high profile, senior jobs – partly because discrimination still exists and partly because women are often forced back into lower status jobs if they want to work part time after maternity leave. Secondly that many jobs, such as those in social care, are continually undervalued, despite their critical contribution to society.

    Simon – That’s the guy! It’s pronounced Vee-Ard. He’s Dutch. Spellcheck does not love his name.

    Rob/Simon – I’m holding out for laser surgery to become run of the mill before I go for it. A colleague of mine has told me of the indescribable pain so I’m no really up for it right now.

  4. I don’t feel like you’ve answered the question. While I agree that the roles typically seen as ‘female’ are undervalued, I can’t agree with the assertion that this leads women who underperform. Unless you can prove otherwise.
    Though, surely the undervaluing of a job such as social care doesn’t create a salary gap. Since men and women doing that job, will I assume, get paid the same. Unless there’s a comparable ‘male’ role which pays more?
    I think that maternity leave is a whole other, unique issue isn’t it?

    (I am playing a devil’s advocate a little. This serious conversation is slightly strange however.)

  5. I think what I’m getting at is…why try harder if you’re not valued, if you have little chance of being taken as seriously as your male counterparts, if you get back from maternity leave (having furthered humanity) and your employer has done what he (yes, usually he) has to do legally and given you a part time job but it’s not what you were doing before?

    I think this quote says a lot:
    “Women accept that they may take a job below their expectations and work up from there. Men would rather be unemployed and searching for that perfect job.” (from:

    The undervaluing of a job such as social care DOES create a salary gap. Not between the women and few men who do exactly the same job but between the women who do that job and the many more men in more highly valued positions. Sure it’s not the only reason for the salary gap, but it is one.

    In the case of Coventry, the reason the women won was because bin men (seen as a “comparable ‘male’ role” – I would debate that) were earning considerably more.

    (Did you see Hollyoaks? There’s some hot gay priest sex on the horizon…)

  6. I’m caught up on the fact you just said furthering humanity.
    Says here > “When you return to work after ordinary maternity leave, you have a right to the same job and the same terms and conditions as if you hadn’t been absent.”

    Absent for upto a year, that’s a long time. I’m well aware it’s shit, but that’s a long time to be out of work isn’t it? How is that fair for a male counterpart who hasn’t taken that time? (That’s a valid point isn’t it?)

    When perfect job means, higher paid I assume? I think it just shows that most women are more pragmatic about employment.

    Yeah but aren’t the highly valued positions management roles – which will more likely be taken by men and aren’t such roles required to pay more? As in highly valued?

    (I haven’t watched Hollyoaks since the snippet at your house, we’re currently on a Grey’s Anatomy marathon, plus some Hotel Babylon of course!)

  7. I knew you’d hate me saying that 🙂
    You do have the right to the same job unless you want to go part time or job share (which is a pretty reasonable thing to expect). Then it’s not quite so straight forward.
    I don’t think that’s a valid point but I’m not sure if you are seriously proposing it. Fundamentally, if we want women to work AND to have families, then we have to make those kinds of allowances. We can’t have it both ways.
    I’m not sure I understand your last point…it seems to just reinforce mine.
    (Still, Hollyoaks is good at the moment. Hotel Babylon? What is wrong with you?)

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