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Sunday, 29 June 2014

What does the future hold?

Chloe Pallister's photo.

It's time for a new-look blog...
Please  watch out for the changes and let me know what  you think!


Monday, 23 June 2014

Anyone for tennis - 1960s-style?

Tennis Champ chooses female trainer screamed a headline in the popular press this week and for a minute I thought I'd come across a 1960s newspaper. It seems Andy Murray's appointment of  the very capable Amelie Mauresmo has sent the clock flying back fifty years.

 The sixties was a time when magazines waxed lyrical about female airline pilots, women surgeons and solicitors as if  sexism  was finally going to be a thing of the past. Anything was  possible, they said  - even a female prime minister. 

Back in the sixties girls leaving school  were  being told to work as secretaries  or school teachers (my careers advisor  had apoplexy when I said I wanted to be a journalist) and university was still for the intellectually elite.  Babies were still more important than  degrees  and looking after the 'man in your life'  still championed by the middle classes.

But back to the tennis.  According to former ping-pong champion Matthew Syed writing in today's Times, 'the really bizarre thing has been the response of those who supported (Mauresmo's) appointment. Did they recognise her personal qualities, her knowledge of the game, her professionalism, her understanding of tactics, the sort of attributes that people cite when a man has been appointed to a high-profile coaching role?  Not a bit of it.' One commentator, he adds, even talked about Murray benefiting from a bit of 'mothering.'

Meanwhile, in the same piece, Jo Bostock of the Women's Sport Trust says coverage of the appointment made her want to 'throw a shoe at the wall.'  She adds 'It drives me crazy when I hear that women coaches care and nurture and help people though the tough times. The women coaches I know are hugely diverse, just like the male ones.'

Well said, but it still begs the question: why are women defending themselves in the first place? Why are we even talking about it? It doesn't stop there. The newspaper has photos of football manager Helena Costa, Syed's former coach Jackie Bellinger and basketball coach Nancy Lieberman with Antonio Daniels of the Texas Legends.

Sure that this must be a late April Fool's joke I flick through the main paper to see if I can find some more up-to-date news.

'Eat up your GM crops They're good for you.' says one headline. 'Divorce to be offered over the counter, says another.

Oh good, we're not in a time warp after all. It's just that time of the year when journalists say 'What on earth can we say about Wimbledon that we haven't said  hundreds of times before?'

Anyone for tennis?


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Stop the Bus - The Driver Wants to Get Off...

A Guernsey bus travels along the Esplanade

'Which way do we go now?' The voice echoed along the length of the bus. 

Everyone looked round.  Could it be one of the passengers? No, it was the bus driver, a capable-looking woman in her mid thirties, who had managed to get lost.  

Whenever I visit  Guernsey, the tiny Channel Island where I was born, I love to relive my childhood by riding on public transport -  retro green buses which have stayed much the same since the sixties.

So there we were, on a warm May day,  motoring  through the narrow winding roads  when we heard the plaintive voice from the front. 'Sorry everyone, but  I've only lived here four weeks.'

'It's left,' piped up the man in front of me. 'And I should know - I've lived here all my life.' Other directions soon followed thick and fast.  As we approached the junction, the driver radioed for help. 'I'm lost on Route 42.'

 Complicated instructions from  Head Office soon echoed across the airwaves.

'Don't listen to that - go left,' said the man in front of me again. 'You'll never get back on  the  route.'

We turned left but  minutes later the bus got stuck on a steep bend.  The traffic stopped and we all held our breath through a mesmerising 16-point manoeuvre.

When the hapless driver made it back to town,  we all gave a round of applause.

 I remember once when I was a child, the regular  bus driver pulled up at a remote stop on the far side of the island and sounded the horn. Out of a cottage door  came an elderly lady who made her way slowly down the pathway with the aid of a walking stick, while the rest of the passengers patiently looked on.

'Thanks for waiting. Bill,' the only lady said,  as she settled down into her favourite seat.  'I'm running a bit late today.'

It could only happen in Guernsey.

Photograph courtesy of Visit Guernsey


Thursday, 5 June 2014


Seventy years ago, they were preparing for the most dangerous mission of their lives.
Today, more than 650 British veterans revisited the beaches and towns they liberated on D-Day to meet the French civilians they helped to free from the Nazis.
And the day was an emotional affair for most - with former servicemen pictured weeping, beaming and embracing each other as they relived their heroic actions in Normandy in 1944.