I wish I was a glow worm
Because a glow worm’s never glum
How can you be grumpy
When the sum shines out your bum.
A Thousand Hairy Savages
A Thousand hairy savages
Sitting down to lunch
Gobble gobble glup glup
Munch munch munch.
Spike Milligan 1918_2002
Can you ever truly come to terms with desperately wanting a child, but never having one? It’s not just a question for females.
It’s a simple question that is deceptively difficult to answer. It’s one my husband and I have asked ourselves, as we’ve struggled to start a family of our own.
And we are far from alone. It’s thought one in four women born in the 1970s will reach 45 without giving birth. For those born in the 1960s , as is the case with your blogger, that figure is already running at one in five. The vast majority are childless through circumstance, rather than choice.
Even so we hear very little from them.
Jessica Hepburn is 43 and has been trying to have a baby for nine years with her partner, Peter. “It’s like a bruise,” says Jessica about the emotional impact of failing to have a biological child, “whenever you press it, it hurts. I often wonder what our kids would have looked like – Peter’s hair, my eyes? I always imagined motherhood would be part of my life. Creating a child with the person you love – it’s a very natural, strong desire for me.”
It’s one Jody Day, who began trying for a baby with her husband when she was 29, also felt. “At the time, I dedicated everything to having a family. At no point did the idea that it wouldn’t happen, come to me.” Now aged 49, she says time has helped her cope with the grief of not conceiving. “People come to me and they say, can you get over childlessness? And I say, it’s not the flu – it’s a lifelong thing. I am happy now, but, not having children broke my heart. No doubt about it, it broke my heart.”
The stress of trying and failing to have a child led Jody into a bout of depression. “There was one day that I lay on the floor of my flat and thought, I will stand up when I can think of a compelling reason to do so. I kept asking myself ‘what is the point of my existence?’ I had to go very deep to find a reason to carry on.”
Jessica Hepburn has had 11 rounds of IVF
Jessica, whose infertility is unexplained, chose to undergo 11 rounds of gruelling IVF treatment, at a cost of £70,000. She has only recently paid off the debt.
She chose not to tell her friends and family everything she was going through, including a life threatening ectopic pregnancy and several miscarriages.
“I kept it absolutely away from my colleagues and I would go and have egg collection very early in the morning and be back at my desk by 10am. My ectopic pregnancy was discovered at three months and even though I was rushed to hospital, no one knew the full story. I also had a miscarriage at nine weeks and several biochemical pregnancies, which are very early miscarriages, and then of course a few unsuccessful rounds of IVF as well. Because we always felt so close, I couldn’t give up.”
Jessica says that along with the disappointment, she also felt ashamed about what was happening to her. “I think shame is a massive factor in not being able to have a child – feeling just so desperately that you want to be like everybody else, but somehow you’re not, and feeling ashamed that you can’t do what everybody else does. You’re hiding the fact that you’re disappointed that your life hasn’t worked out how you hoped.”
For women like Jessica, coping with a sense of loss can, albeit unwittingly, be made worse by the reaction of others – inviting the empathy while eschewing pity, there’s a difficult balance to strike and it has the potential to strain close relationships.
Jody Day founded Gateway Women for childless women
Jody Day’s marriage eventually broke down and by the time she had recovered from depression she realised her circle of friends – who’d got pregnant with ease – had moved in another direction. “My contemporaries were all having children. I think that’s when it started to get difficult. Because I realised that I had become a sort of social pariah as a single childless woman.
“And it was a dawning realisation that I just wasn’t getting invited anywhere anymore. Our lives had taken very different paths. It’s very hard to accept that. There’s so much unspoken stuff here. It’s a taboo to talk about it. And I think it’s really, really hard to admit.”
Embedded in the English language are a plethora of offensive labels: Barren, selfish, spinster, career woman (we never use career man).
After her divorce Jody dated other men, but by 43 she experienced early menopause. She says it was that biological change that helped her to come to terms with her childlessness, “I’ve done the journey of wanting to be a mother. I’ve come out the other side of it. I’m post-menopausal now and goddess oestrogen has left the building. I don’t crave a baby any more – that part of my life is over.”
- The age of mothers has been rising since 1975 in England and Wales, according to the ONS
- Possible factors mentioned by the ONS include: increasing importance of a career, instability of partnerships and labour market uncertainty
- Fertility rate for women aged 40 or over has nearly trebled since 1991
- The average age of a mother in England and Wales was 30.0 years old in 2013. In Scotland the latest figure was 29.7 and in Northern Ireland it was 30.1, both for 2012
Reaching this point has given Jody a sense of freedom, and the time to carve out a new identity. She has three masters degrees and is training to be a counsellor – specialising in adolescent and child psychology.
Yet she still meets people who struggle to know how to react to her situation. ”Often people get focused on the idea that we’ve chosen this in some way or that we just haven’t done the right thing – and get stuck for what to say.
“The very first time was when I was still married and still trying to conceive. I was at a cocktail party when a woman comes over to me and says, ‘so you know, if you don’t manage to get pregnant, would you consider adopting?’ And I was just taken aback and I replied ‘No… I… I don’t think so’. We were suddenly in this incredibly intimate conversation, without warning, and she looked at me and said ‘but then you obviously don’t really want children then’ and walked off. ”
In her chatroom, Jody says, women describe these all too frequent – and entirely inappropriate – reactions as “bingos”.
‘All the childless women I know feel very self-conscious about it,’ says Paula Coston
The suggestion that people who fail to have biological children should automatically choose adoption as a substitute is at best unthinking and at worst reckless. Experts often advise that parenting adopted children is a rewarding and sometimes challenging experience that potential adopters should think about carefully and commit to fully. The process is rigorous and emotionally challenging and is a unique path to parenthood in its own right.
Paula Coston, 59, had a high-flying career in publishing, when offices still resembled an episode of Mad Men. Her life brimmed with glamorous parties and exotic travel – but not the right man with whom to start a family. She’s now experiencing the isolation that Jody describes, a second time around.
“My friends are at that stage now where their children are about to have a child or certainly thinking about it and so I’m bracing myself for this new sort of wave of the experience to come over me really.”
Her life is busy with work, family and friends, but she worries that the difficult emotions she dealt with years ago may bubble up again. “I have a feeling that I will feel yet more distance from the people I know who are becoming grandparents. I will not only not be able to relate to them as parents but I will not be able to relate to them as grandparents either. I will be aware, I think, that there’s a bit more distance between me and that whole side of family life.”
As a single, childless, older woman, in some ways Paula gets a particularly raw deal – sidelined for failing to snag a partner, failing to have children and then daring to age.
Paula argues that, society as a whole, tends to neglect childless women (men get short thrift too) – and to its cost. “As a group we are increasingly cut off and underused,” says Paula. “Where are the mentoring schemes, how can we hand down our skills, why aren’t our opinions about children’s futures taken into consideration?
“We have great life experience and empathy that could really benefit others. I know I’d love to pass on my skills.”
There was a bit of a hissy argument in the press recently concerning which poem should be ‘officially’ regarded as the poem of mariners. All sorts of artfy farty, noncy poncy bits of limp wristed girly romantic guff were suggested. Wholly in-appropriate to a one as far as we at the master-mariners.org.uk towers are concerned.
Indeed it is the following and only the following wott should be considered appropriate and warranted for the folk who earn their living on and from the seas.
Oh Lord above
Send down a dove
With wings as sharp as razors
To the cut the the throats
Of them there blokes
Who sell bad beer to sailors
Not Southampton then?
What is this that stands before me
Figure in black who points at me
Time and plans are now in tatters
Helia crane too smart human contact
Commercial considerations are all that matters.
So much for going to Southampton for repairs, sodding Rotterdam wins out it seems. No matter that the round trip means around 540 miles of additional steaming, that yours truly’s gnasher repair plans have been thrown into dis-array and the docklands of Rotterdam are dreary beyond compare, seemingly the contractors at the Dutch port are more cooperative than their English counterparts at ‘cooperating with working at height issues’.
Your unhappy blogger has got a very aggressive varicocele in his scrotum and it’s going through a ‘give the bastard grief’ phase, has been for several months and it’s starting to wear the old lad down. There’s always the fear that it may be more than just a pumping and mal-placed vein of course, which adds to the mix in an undesirable way, especially if you’ve morphed into a fully warped hypochondriac over the last few years. Add in a failed dental implant supported bridge and you’ve got a far from happy situation. Had the vessel gone to the south coast option and port-called at Southampton, the gnasher part of the problem could have been addressed in some way. Not to be and I’m jolly miffed.
The job wott we’re on, assuming gentle weather conditions and no mechanical breakdowns should take about 12 days to complete, from pull-in to home for tea and medals. Now given that seven days have already elapsed since joining, seven long and ball achingly dull days and we’re actually further back from completing the job than we were at the beginning (thankyou Heila) this malarkey isn’t likely to get started again for at least another week. Crikey that’s starting to look like the middle of December for getting home to Fannit, mogmogs and the bosom of his family.
What’s more he hasn’t even started on his Christmas shopping yet either. Looks like it’s going to be one mad rush to Primark Aldi to get it all done. Middle class and traditional it certainly aint.
Sunday, 13 November 2016
Well Played, Lilian And Oliver!
Michael Cochrane (Oliver Sterling)
On Tuesday evening, Lilian took a phone call from Rob – he has seen an AmSide property – Hillside – on the website and it looks just what he’s looking for, so when can Lilian show him round? She is stunned – how did he know about the property, as it has only been on the website for about 10 minutes?
That’s the question she asks Justin the following day and he admits that he might have mentioned it to Rob. Lilian cannot believe that Rob would have the nerve to ask her, but Justin, who seems to have no idea of the depth of anti-Titchener feeling among the majority of inhabitants of Ambridge, doesn’t see what the problem is. Lilian says, somewhat incredulously, “You’re talking about the man who raped my niece and you want me to put a roof over his head?” Justin points out that Rob hasn’t been convicted of anything and he is lucky to escape without being struck.
Later on, Lilian is still in a bad mood and Justin apologises if he had been insensitive. Lilian refuses his offer of lunch and tells him “How do you think my family would feel – how would I feel – if I became his landlord?” Justin suggests that it could be a good thing for Helen, if Rob is free to start a new life, but “the decision has to be yours alone. As ever, I trust your impeccable judgement.” That’s not strictly accurate, as, when Justin was thinking of taking Rob on, Lilian advised against it and Justin ignored her advice.
Lilian mulls it over and, on Thursday, she tells Rob face to face that she has ‘other plans’ for Hillside. He retorts that he has found a better property on the Edgeley Road anyway and drives off. For her part, Lilian goes to The Bull, inviting Neil and Eddie to join her (“my treat”) to celebrate turning Rob down as a tenant. Eddie is all for it, but Neil says better not, as Susan will smell beer on his breath and bang on about the diet again. “But I wouldn’t say no to one of Wayne’s pork pies” he says, brightly. Well done, Lilian!
You do have to wonder about the blind spot that Justin has when it comes to Rob – he treats him as a normal, human being. The only other person who does that is Alan, and he has to, as that’s his job as vicar. On Friday evening, Justin invites Rob round to discuss an upcoming takeover – he wants Rob to help him with the research. Justin asks if he was disappointed at not getting Hillside? Not at all; in fact, Rob says Lilian has done him a favour, as he’s away from all the petty prejudice that he encounters in Ambridge.
Justin seems genuinely concerned, asking Rob if that bothers him much? “I barely notice it now” Rob tells him, to which Justin observes that it still cannot be very pleasant. “Water off a duck’s back,” Rob says, adding: “I shouldn’t have got tangled up with one of the oldest families in the district. I was never going to get a fair hearing, was I, so why bother fighting it?” Justin calls this attitude “very philosophical” and Rob replies that that’s the way he’s always been. “Even at school, I’d rather be right than popular” he says, inviting the comment that one out of two isn’t bad.
Justin describes this as “a refreshing approach” and expresses the hope that Rob stays that way. Is the man insane? The two talk of Charlie Thomas and his shortcomings and Justin says that Damara and BL are building for the future and what will be needed in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time. Rob isn’t averse to a bit of crawling and tells his boss “I don’t have divided loyalties – whatever the job, you can always count on me.”
Going back to Thursday, it wasn’t a good day for Rob. As well as getting blown out of renting Hillside, he receives an unexpected visit from Oliver. Rob is very affable, inviting him in and Oliver is icily formal, refusing offers of drinks and seats. Rob apologises for missing the first meet of the season, but he will definitely be at the next meet. “That’s what I’ve come to see you about” Oliver tells him.
We learn a bit later that Rob has been thrown out of the Hunt and he tells Oliver bitterly “I didn’t think that you’d been taken in by Helen’s slanderous allegations” and “If the foul things she claimed in court were true, why haven’t I been arrested and charged? It’s because the police know I’m innocent.” Oliver replies that it’s nothing to do with Helen; it’s Hunt business. Specifically, the fact that Oliver knows that Rob lied about the incident with the Hunt saboteur. It is revealed that Shula has grassed Rob up and he is furious, saying “Shula is Helen’s cousin – she’s doing this to get at me.” Still maintaining his dignity, Oliver says “I trust Shula implicitly.” “More fool you!” Rob rants “The whole family is two-faced!” Oliver calmly lays Rob’s subscription cheque on the table and says he’d better leave, as Rob shouts “There are better Hunts in the county who’ll be delighted to have me join, so you and Shula and all the rest can just go to hell!” This was the day before Rob told Justin that he barely notices the prejudice he encounters, incidentally. Well done Oliver – pity you didn’t have your horsewhip with you, but I commend your restraint.
Toby returns from Brighton on Sunday and begins unloading boxes at Rickyard Cottage. It turns out that he has brought back a still and is going to distil his own gin. Is that strictly legal? Toby thinks it is, telling Pip that he doesn’t need a licence if he’s not selling it. If that’s true, why aren’t we all doing it? He tells Pip that they are “Two pioneers, laying down foundations for a massive business” and she, while still angry because he went off to Brighton and only told her just before he left, nevertheless reluctantly agreed to act as his guinea pig gin taster. I’d watch it Pip – knowing Toby, he’ll distil the sort of alcohol that kills you, rather than makes you happy. It’s a pity that bullshit is not a valuable, marketable commodity – if it were, then Toby would be the richest man in Borsetshire, or possibly the world.
I understand that whisky has to be aged for at least three years, but Toby’s gin is ready for tasting on Thursday. It’s revolting – he appears to have added herbs etc by the shovel load and Pip takes one gulp and that’s it. She makes various derogatory comments, and a suddenly-earnest Toby says that he’ll start another batch tonight and tweak the recipe. “I need the money, Pip I’ve got to make this work.” Well, good luck with that, say I.
Elizabeth is worried because Freddie doesn’t appear to be making any friends at college and she asks Johnny to keep an eye out for him and talk to him. The two lads travel home on the bus together on Wednesday and Freddie says that his classmates tend to keep themselves to themselves. He is regarded as posh (a couple refer to him as ‘Downton’) and living at Lower Loxley doesn’t help – if he invites people back, they might think he’s showing off, and if he doesn’t, then he’s standoffish. Johnny recalls his first few days at college, when people mocked him for his northern accent. “I’m sorry, I can’t understand a word you’re saying” Freddie replies, perplexedly. OK, I admit that last bit was a total fabrication, but it would have been good. In an effort to cheer Freddie up, Johnny invites him home to share pizza and beer with him and Tom. I’m not entirely convinced that that is what Elizabeth meant when she asked Johnny to keep an eye on her son.
At Home Farm, Adam is being pursued by Brian, moaning about the state of the autumn crops and how they mustn’t let Justin see how bad they are. Adam unloads his woes on David, telling him that things at Home Farm are pretty grim – Kate is bemoaning the lack of people signing up for the panto, Lilian is miserable (this was when she was a bit arsey with Justin) and Brian is the worst of the lot. “The main trouble with Brian is – well – he’s Brian” Adam tells David and apologises for Brian’s rudeness earlier in the week (Brian interrupted their conversation on Monday to drag Adam off to inspect the bad crops). “I wish he had more faith in me” Adam says. David tries to be positive, saying how good the no-till and herbal leys are and Adam mustn’t let Brian wear him down. “I’m not sure how much more I can take” is Adam’s despondent answer.
On the subject of the panto, we learn that Alice thinks it won’t happen and she and Kate are resigned to having a talent contest instead. One person who won’t be in any panto is Susan, who is extremely annoyed when Kate approached her, saying that she had just the part for Susan – that of Esmeralda. Susan was quite pleased, until she saw the description of her character, which read “a gossipy old crone.” Tact and finesse were never Kate’s strong suits, but her judgement was spot on in this case.
Having said that, when it comes to tactlessness, Susan can be right up there with the best of them. The saga of the Carter family photograph grinds on, as does the moaning of Neil about his enforced diet (Neil had mushrooms on toast for Sunday lunch and carrot batons as a snack at the village bonfire), but at least Susan has finally chosen a photographer.
Even better, she tells Emma that, as she (Emma) recommended the firm, she will get a ‘finder’s fee’. Emma is delighted, as she is always short of money. And this is where Susan’s lack of tact is given free rein, as she wonders in front of Emma whether Ed will want to be in the photograph? After all, it will be very prim and proper and “Your father and I will be very dressed up.” The temperature falls a few degrees as Emma replies “Ed won’t mind.”
This is where Susan should keep her skate-mouth-sized gob firmly closed, but she cannot help herself, suggesting that perhaps Emma could use the finder’s fee to pay for Ed to have “A real good grooming session first, at a proper salon.” “Why?” asks Emma sharply and Susan makes things worse when she goes on “So he won’t feel out of place,” adding: “As long as he gets his hair cut properly and his nails tidied up.” The atmosphere is positively glacial now as Emma retorts that Ed can look very smart and there are about 100 better things that they can spend the money on. “It’s a really stupid idea” Emma tells her mother, who sighs and says “OK – I got exactly the same reaction from your dad when I suggested getting his nose hair layered.”
Never mind, Susan, if you ensure that Ed is positioned on the edge of the family group, he can always be cropped off, or Photoshopped out.
Meanwhile if anyone knows a good dental malpractice lawyer……. please get in touch.
A very fine example of how not to manage your bulker (geared or not). Still, where there’s a will there’s a way. Bravo chaps, bravo.
The following from our friends at gCaptain.
A 44,000 DWT bulk carrier is hard aground in Mauritius after a fight apparently broke out on board among crew members, with some reports going as far as describing possible mutiny. Local media reports that Liberian-flagged MV Benita was sailing from India to Durban, South Africa when a fight erupted in the engine room Thursday night, […]
Low water at Margate Harbour
A beautiful though still a tadge chilly morning here in Margitt. As part of a 10,000 steps a day malarkey a walk was called for. The weather and the gentle breeze, alongside a fortuitous time for low water made Margate Harbour the number one choice. Taking the trusty Lumix out of it’s bag for an outing also shaped the walk.
A nice place to be.
No more talkshite, just pics.
By Jonathan Saul
LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) – A British-led initiative to create a back-up to satellite navigation systems for ships has been pulled after failing to garner interest from other European countries, despite its proponents pointing to the growing risk of disasters at sea.
Vessels increasingly rely on devices that employ satellite signals to find a location or keep exact time, including the Global Positioning System (GPS). Paper charts are used less frequently due to a loss of traditional skills among seafarers.
Experts say GPS is vulnerable to signal loss from solar weather effects or radio and satellite interference or deliberate jamming, which South Korea experienced from North Korea in recent years.
The General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland (GLA) have pioneered a radio-based back-up prototype called eLoran that would provide alternative position and timing signals for navigation, but faced a hard sell in other European countries, which are needed for a signal network.
France, Norway, Germany and Denmark have closed their transmitters.
George Shaw of the GLA cited “cost-related” issues in Europe for pulling the project, leading the GLA to start decommissioning stations in Britain.
“In Europe, navigation is becoming less and less safe,” Shaw said. “We see larger ships and the competition for sea space is intense.”
“Getting high-integrity precise navigation into ports and around obstacles at sea is becoming ever more important and we cannot rely on GNSS (global navigation satellite systems) alone to do that,” he said.
France and other countries were meant to maintain and upgrade older radio transmitter stations called Loran-C, which date back decades, for eLoran to gain momentum.
French and German government sources said they did not need or use eLoran, pointing to Europe’s satellite navigation system Galileo. A German official said Galileo offered an encrypted navigation signal and “maximal protection” against manipulation. An official from Denmark said the country had opted out.
Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communication said eLoran was “outdated and had very few users”, adding that lighthouses, markers, and radar beacons provided sufficient navigation safety in waters near the shore.
“Further out from the coast, the risk of collisions and of running aground is considerably smaller. In these waters, it’s the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s opinion that a ship’s radar constitutes sufficient backup.”
In contrast, South Korea and Russia – which had received previous GLA assistance – are pressing ahead with their versions of eLoran, Shaw said. The United States was also working on a version.
In late January, the U.S. Air Force said there were GPS timing disruptions after a satellite was removed that may have caused timing issues over several hours for global users.
The GLA had previously recorded incidents involving hours of signal disruptions on ships off Britain’s coast.
Martyn Thomas, chair of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering’s GNSS working group, said it was easy to purchase GPS simulators that can “fool GPS equipment into giving the wrong coordinates”, known as spoofing.
“Any of the satellite navigation systems such as Galileo … are all extremely vulnerable firstly to jamming and increasingly to spoofing,” Thomas said. “That raises security questions.” (Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo, Cyril Altmeyer in Paris, Tina Bellon in Berlin and Alexander Tange in Copenhagen; Editing by Jan Harvey)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016
(Bloomberg) — Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd. said it’s in talks with a consortium led by power company InterGen NV to reach a financial close on its planned 2 billion-pound ($2.8 billion) Neart na Gaoithe wind farm off the coast of Scotland.
The 450-megawatt project will deliver the cheapest offshore wind power in the country, having secured a so-called contract- for-difference with the government guaranteeing 114.38 pounds per megawatt-hour, Dublin-based Mainstream said Tuesday in an e- mailed statement.
“All the building blocks are now in place to deliver this power plant into operation by 2020,” Chief Operating Officer Andy Kinsella said in the statement. “All consents have been received; the CfD was awarded; the technology and construction contractors are in place and, very significantly, the required debt funding for the project has been sourced from commercial banks.”
The InterGen consortium also includes Siemens AG’s project unit, the Marguerite Fund and Infrared Capital, Mainstream said. The project will create more than 500 jobs during construction and over 100 permanent jobs during its 25-year operational phase, the company said.
A quarter of the project costs will be met by equity, with 1.5 billion pounds of debt secured, according to Mainstream. It declined to say who is providing the debt.
©2016 Bloomberg News