20 whole years

It was a Friday night, and I was on my way to meet two friends in London. The plan was to meet for a quick drink and then have dinner, but then Friend A calls to say that the pubs are full of PEOPLE……young people at that. There is loud MUSIC and she can’t hear a thing. What’s more…..there are no SEATS. None of this will do at all – we are in our late 30s and beyond standing up in crowded pubs. And Friend B is really quite pregnant.

We agree just to meet at the restaurant. This suits me fine because as well as my handbag, I have a big bag for life full of children’s puzzles and games….and if there is no room to sit down in the crowded pubs then there’s definitely no room for my giant bag. The full bag for life is now customary whenever I meet these particular friends – Friend A has two children a bit younger than mine, and is therefore the recipient of many of my boys’ old clothes, shoes and toys.

I arrive at the restaurant, and Friend A is also clutching a bag which isn’t a handbag. Her bag contains a mobile (a hanging thing, that is…..not a phone) which was a gift when my biggest boy arrived (from Friend B and another friend, as it happens). I passed the mobile onto Friend A once we had finished with it, and she is now passing it back to Friend B; so it has gone full circle which is rather lovely.

I met these girls when we started university back in 1998, and now here we are in 2018 – 20 years later – swapping bags for life containing Orchard toys and baby mobiles and discussing children’s toileting habits as if this is a totally normal topic of conversation (which it is, isn’t it?).

On the one hand, I’m sure I can’t be old enough to be able to talk about a significant event having happened 20 years ago; but then when I think about Friend A calling to say that perhaps the pubs were too BUSY and too NOISY for a pre-dinner drink, I can’t deny that times have changed. Because 20 years ago, noise and too many people were actually quite appealing.

As the years have passed, we have gone from meeting for drinks to meeting for dinner; from venturing out with a little handbag to venturing out with a handbag, plus extra bags full of children’s clothes/games or baby equipment; from attempting to work out what we want to do career-wise, to realising that perhaps we’ll never work this out but will instead end up in jobs that probably wouldn’t have entered our heads 20 years ago because this is just where life has taken us. We have bought houses and found our little patches to call home. It feels like everything and nothing has changed.  To me, none of my friends from this time in my life look much different or seem particularly different – it just so happens that 20 years have passed and we now seem to fill our time doing grown up things.

I have a house, a job, and three little people who need me, and yet I frequently feel like I’m just playing at this being-a-grown-up malarkey and that one day I’ll be found out. A generation has been born and crossed over into adulthood since 1998, but to me my university days still feel relevant, important; and like they didn’t happen that long ago. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be back then, and actually……I’m still not too sure; but if I attempted to work this out now, it would fall very much into the bracket of ‘she’s approaching 40 / having a mid-life crisis‘ rather than ‘oh, she’s just taken a little while [like 20 years] to work out what she wants to be‘.

I seem to have a lot of big milestones approaching in the next year or so……20 years since starting university, 10 year wedding anniversary, 40th birthday. And big milestones make you think. They make you think about how one minute you are putting up posters in your student flat/house and then before you know it you seem to have acquired a house / flat / children / partner / National Trust membership; and started drinking a lot more tea……And about how you now sound like your mum, grandma, aunt and every other adult who, back when you were a very young person, used to tell you this very thing.

three boys and a tree


The Pink Cheetah and the Gazelle – guest post

Last Friday, my three boys were overjoyed to bring home the books which they had been busy making during their week-long performing arts course. The almost-5-year-old twins’ books were extensively decorated on the front, and on the inside contained frantic scribbles and a few stickers. The eldest boy’s book contained a story, entitled The Pink Cheetah and the Gazelle. I am putting it here, just in case anything ever happens to that book. And also because, well sometimes it’s just good to have a glimpse into the world of an almost 7 year old.

I have typed the text entirely as it was written, and have just added a few clarification notes here and there – these are in brackets and not italicised.

The Pink Cheetah and the Gazelle

One day, the cheetah sprayed glitter on himself. He was called Calum. He was playing with Eddie the eagle.

Then he and antelope and whale turned pink within a second. Oh dear! They had the pink chicken pocks (sic). They were ill. 

They went to hospital and they turned bad. They killed the vet and nearly died, with zebra kicking at them for what they did. 

book zebra kicked them

If you find this turn of events upsetting, at least there are some lovely yellow stars on the page.

They were hit by elephant and rhino when Calum and Collie (another cheetah*) were in the car. The result was that zebra and rhino were killed and so were hippo and fish (you will be pleased to hear that elephant survived*).

Ostrich was furious about all this but he didn’t want to have another solution.

Zoe the Zebra (NOT zebra who died in the car accident*) was grief stricken on what had happened. She called Police Colly who was even worse. Harold the Hare refused all this to happen and executed King Norigenkan of Nigeria (Zebra). He became king himself. It was all because of the cheetahs. 

The cheetahs began to act like anglo saxons when they got on to a boat to Paraguay. The route took 5 days.

The route from Kenya to Paraguay took 3 days.

On their last day in Kenya, they asked Karoun to execute everyone they did not like.

The end.

book sailing to Paraguay

What a lovely boat for those Anglo-Saxon cheetahs

* = added by the editor for clarity.

Editor’s note: 

Please don’t ask me about the gazelle – I have no idea. I am also unable to shed any light on what happened to Eddie the eagle, but am confident he has nothing to do with the skier.

And if you are eager to know who Karoun is then the next book in the series is definitely one for you.


On going properly OUT, when going out just isn’t really what you do anymore

You gain many things when you become a mum, but you lose some things too. For many of us, one of these things is confidence.

Confidence to do all sorts of things……like lunchtime networking at a work conference (AGGGGHHHHHH….. I hate it).

Like meeting new people, and trying to find an interesting version of yourself that has actual things to talk about. Things which aren’t related to children.

Like going out. I don’t mean going out to the pub or going out to eat….. I can do both of these things pretty well. But going out somewhere that is full of people and music and dancing. You know…..going OUT.

Out out.

Properly out.

I used to do it a lot, because that’s what you do in your teens and twenties; but these days…..well no, I don’t. Because I like sitting down, and wearing comfortable clothes, and being able to hear what people are saying to me. So until last Saturday night, I probably hadn’t been out out for about 5 years.

5 whole years.

But on Saturday I did it. With a group of lovely ladies….most of whom I had never met before. The thought of it made me oh-so-nervous, but I did it.

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips to help you along:

What to wear:

If, like me, your clothes fall broadly into the following categories: 1) mum clothes 2) work clothes 3) wedding outfits; then you might feel you need to buy something new to wear. You probably don’t have time to go to the actual shops, but don’t worry…..the supermarket is a perfectly acceptable place to locate your new outfit. It is altogether less daunting than Top Shop, and you can pick up some tinned tomatoes and a loaf of bread at the same time.

If you’re wondering about suitable footwear, let me recommend wedges. I love a heel, but these days the combination of wearing heels plus staying up way past my bedtime is not a good one. I found wedges to be an excellent compromise – more likely than heels to get you through a whole night without crippling your feet, but you feel less like you’re on the school run than you might do wearing flats.

Other people:

As you look around, you may feel surprised at the number of very young people that appear to be out very late at night. Seriously, they look like children. And then you remember that many of these youngsters could quite feasibly be 20 years younger than you. This is alarming……try not to show it.

If you want to seek out people who are at a similar life-stage to you, look for the cross-body bag. Nothing says proper-grown-up-on-a-night-out like a cross-body bag.


You probably won’t recognise a large number of the songs, and you may feel mildly shocked at some of the language that is blasting out of the speakers. Do your best not to show your shock, and remember that your children aren’t present so you don’t need to cover anyone’s ears.

A wave of relief will sweep over you when you hear songs from 15 or 20 years ago. In your mind these songs are, and will always be, current.

Keeping going when it is VERY LATE:

Let’s face it, at the time you are venturing out (in our case, 11pm on Saturday night…..11PM!) you would probably usually be tucked up in bed. Keeping going when you have felt tired since the day you became a mum can be a challenge, and at regular intervals you will wonder whether you can keep your eyes open any longer…… 12.30am, 1am, 2am, and definitely by 3am.

When you are hit by the I’m-not-sure-I-can-stand-up-any-longer feeling, just think about all the things you have done and possibly still do that have been so much more challenging than this. Think of the night feeds and the nappy changes. Think of rocking a crying baby and wondering whether you’ll ever be able to sleep again. Think of changing wet sheets in the middle of the night; or of lying on the floor next to your baby hoping that you might, within the next hour, be able to creep back to your own bed again. Think about all the caring and cuddling and feeding and cleaning and changing that you have done at 12.30am, at 1am, at 2am and at 3am.

Think of all the 5am starts.

Think of all of that, and then you’ll realise that this – standing up in your wedges wearing your new Sainsbury’s dress – perhaps isn’t so difficult after all.


Thank you Tesco sensitive sole wedges.



London – a little love story

Back when I was a teenager, I dreamed of London. It was the one place I wanted to be when I was a proper grown up.

Whenever I was fortunate enough to visit, I would look at people on the tube and think how lucky they were to be a part of this city. Just to get on the tube every day to wherever they were going – for 14 year old me from medium-sized Bedford, this was the dream. I loved wondering what interesting things people were off to do. I loved all the posters on the tube showing me all the exciting things I could do if I lived here.

In my mind, I would be part of this city one day. I would live somewhere with a tube stop. I would be part of those crowds going about their business. I pictured myself in a little flat in Covent Garden, possibly with a balcony. (HA! I had no idea, clearly.)

Obviously the Covent Garden flat never materialised; but for a while in my 20s and early 30s, London was my every day. Then life took over, and with a family came the realisation that perhaps the outer fringes would be more realistic than the central London flat. BUT, we are inside the M25, on the tube map (on the Overground, obviously); and still get London Tonight; so we are just about clinging on to the dream…..out here in Zone 8.

Over 20 years have passed since I dreamed of my flat with a balcony and I am more realistic now, of course I am. I know that most people are fed up to be on the tube and are going about a pretty regular 9-5 existence. I know that London doesn’t mean going to the theatre every evening and to exhibitions every day (unless you are VERY lucky, that is).

There are plenty of things that I dislike about London, too. I hate that normal people with normal jobs are being priced out. I hate that this means we are losing proper communities. I hate the fact that everywhere you look there are more and more luxury apartments appearing, as if these are what we need.

But my overwhelming feeling is that I still love London.

I love how alive I feel when I’m there. I love the sense of possibility. I love that I could eat my way around the world, and ridiculously cheaply too if I did my research properly. I love that, to balance out the city folk with their shiny shoes and pocket squares; there are creative people writing or painting or performing…..attempting to follow their dreams. I love the peaceful squares and the enormous parks and the busy markets. I love hearing different languages. I love stumbling across a street of colourful mews houses. I love that there are plays, musicals, ballets, operas, huge rock concerts, tiny gigs, mainstream comedy, off-the-wall comedy and everything in between every single night. I love that there is always something or somewhere new to discover. I love the buskers at tube stations. I love that you can have big hair, no hair, 1980’s hair, bright green hair, rollers in your hair; and nobody looks twice.

I love that people come from all over the world to be a part of somewhere with so many possibilities. I love the message that London gives my boys, and how much of life they see when we visit.

And yes, London with children is a joy….as long as you don’t try and do everything in one day. We run around Trafalgar Square and stroll along the river. We watch the buses and cross the bridges and count the boats. We go to a museum to find child-friendly things to see or touch or build. We watch street performers as Yoda and people waving bubble wands on the South Bank. We run in the parks and watch the ducks. We watch as millions of people go about their business every single day: people from different cultures and backgrounds; people with different dreams and aspirations. People working and living alongside each other and keeping the city ticking along.

We love London and what it stands for. So do millions and millions of others. And we will continue to enjoy everything that is brilliant about it.


On our obsession with putting children into boxes

When you become a parent, you soon realise that people are very keen to put your child into boxes. Or onto a chart. And if your child doesn’t tick the right box, or fit onto the chart exactly where s/he ‘should’, the implication is that you should be concerned.

It starts with the centile lines in the red book; and then it continues with the health visitor development checks. Can your child jump? If not, why not? How many words can s/he put together? How many things can we find to make you worried about? Yes it’s all very well that all your 2 year old son wants to do is line up cars into traffic jams, but why can’t he thread macaroni onto a piece of string? We’ll follow that up with you in a few weeks. Oh dear, your 7 week premature 12 month old twins are using a whole hand to shove raisins into their mouths and not using their pincer grip? That could be a concern.

Unfortunately, it seems that this is all preparation for when your child gets to school. There goes your precious little one, off to start a new chapter. The little one who makes your heart burst with pride and joy and love. The little one who is flying at some things, struggling with others; but doing everything at the pace that is right for him. You could not be prouder.

And then you get to parents’ evening, and you see those all-important boxes – is your little one ‘exceeding‘, ‘meeting‘, or ‘working towards‘ expectations?

This is what it comes down to – which box does your child fit into?

If you ask parents what they want from a school, I think the answers would be pretty straightforward. Parents want their children to be valued. They want them to reach their potential and for their talents not to go unnoticed. They want a broad and balanced curriculum which gives them opportunities to discover their strengths and talents. They want them to be supported, to have friends, to feel confident and happy. They want them to leave with the skills and confidence they need to be able to contribute to the wider world.

And yet what have we got? A system which is so focused on attainment that it begins testing children at 5/6 – ages at which, in many other countries, children would only just be starting formal school. A system which believes 5 and 6 year old children are ready to move away from the age-appropriate, play-centred atmosphere of a Reception classroom and spend most of their day sitting at desks.  A system which keeps raising the bar, because apparently what children really need at 6 years old is a good, solid grasp of time-openers and subordinate clauses; and because if you just keep making things harder then the children will obviously follow ……won’t they?? A system which teaches children to pass tests rather than to love reading and writing and exploring and creating. A system which makes meeting age-related expectations so difficult that schools feel they simply can’t devote any proper time to subjects which don’t ‘count’ or they will be seen as failing their pupils in the key areas of Maths and Literacy. A system which so many teachers feel they are having to fight against, because it all just feels so wrong.

A system which makes a significant number of children feel like they’re failing.

I overheard a conversation the other day between a teacher and a non-teacher. The teacher had taught in at least three other countries, and said that teaching in this country was by far the most difficult. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could do it. None of what she said surprised me.

Teachers’ talents are in the classroom – they motivate, inspire and encourage. They also plan, mark and give feedback. We expect all of this from them – this is what teachers do. But now, we expect all of that and more. We expect them to set targets, track students, prepare for the next inspection, and explain why it is that Pupil A is still in this box instead of the higher up box. And the good teachers, the compassionate teachers, the ones with that passion and the ability to inspire; the ones who want to find out what makes their pupils tick ……..well, data isn’t really their thing. They didn’t go into this just to get children into the right box. They didn’t go into it just to teach children to pass tests. So those teachers, they’re leaving. They don’t want to leave, some of them are devastated. But they can’t do it any more. The raised bars, the expectations, the targets – they can’t do what they actually went into teaching to do. The government is doing its best to fudge over the issue by telling us that teaching remains an attractive career option and PGCE courses continue to recruit well. But it’s not easy to pretend when we all know that teaching is in the middle of a recruitment crisis. It’s all very well recruiting to PGCE courses, but that’s not good enough if teachers are realising soon after qualifying that teaching isn’t quite how it looks on the PGCE recruitment posters.

If you are interested in schools, you probably know that Finland is the shining light when it comes to education. Have a read of this if you’d like to be enlightened:

Why are Finland’s schools so successful?

The Finnish system feels like the polar opposite to ours: children start school later, play is valued; and teachers are highly trained and well respected. There are many interesting things in the article above – I particularly like the Helsinki principal who says “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.” In Finland there are no rankings and no comparisons between schools, students, or regions. Imagine – a world without school league tables.

I would put league tables up there as one of the worst things to have happened to schools in this country. ‘But parents use them’, you might argue. Yes they do, but I am convinced that we’d be better off without them. Because for many schools now, success depends on an ability to manipulate data. You hear about it all the time – students at some schools being asked to leave before exam season because they’re not being predicted high enough grades. School sixth forms turning away their own students in favour of high achieving students from other schools. Because doing well in league tables means getting more of the children that everyone wants to teach, and more of those children means you’ll continue to do well in the league tables. So the schools down at the bottom…..well they have no chance.

So yes, parents do use them – because they’re there. But our obsession with league tables has been at the expense of our children. We’re so obsessed with getting children into the boxes that we think they ‘should’ be in, that we seem to have completely forgotten that they progress and develop at completely different speeds. Or that children can have a bad few months, or a bad year. Perhaps this child had glandular fever and that child’s parents separated….. and that one over there, well her best friend went off to another school and she just isn’t feeling settled at the moment.

We lose the many young people whose skills and talents don’t fit into the box we are so desperate to get them into. Frequently, we hear very talented and often creative people say that they always hated school: their talents just weren’t noticed until they got to college. Think of all the future artists, designers, craftspeople, builders, and sportspeople in schools at the moment who are labelled as not meeting their age-related expectations because of their Year 2 SATs results. Think of all the young people who don’t fit neatly into boxes, because SO MANY PEOPLE JUST DON’T.

It seems we spend all our time telling our young people to ‘think outside the box’ when all we want them to do is fit into one.

I spend a lot of time on this blog rambling on about schools. I didn’t start my blog to write about education; but I have three small boys all at the start of their school lives and so right now, school is everything to us. My 4 year old twins currently love going to school because at the moment school is about role-play and building and discovering and creating; but I already feel concerned about how will they cope later this year when they discover that play is no longer seen as being valuable to their learning.

What is really unclear to me is what we’re actually hoping to achieve from all this – parents are anxious, children are struggling to keep up and teachers are leaving. And where is the evidence to show us that what we’re doing is of any benefit? Because it seems very clear to me that we are getting it ALL COMPLETELY WRONG. And really, Ms Greening, we need to do something about it now, before there are no teachers left to teach our children.

Or before everyone who cares moves to Finland.


Why the Women’s March was a very very good thing

I always used to be quite a get-on-with-it sort of person. That’s not to say that I wasn’t engaged or that I didn’t follow the news; but following the news was probably about as far as it went. Until about a year ago, when it felt like everything changed. When instead of writing posts that were just about boys, twins, motherhood and eating marshmallows; I started writing more posts like this one. When suddenly, it felt like I would be bringing up my boys in a different world to the one I thought we lived in.


I can’t take any credit for this, but it does sum up how I feel.


And so last Saturday, a friend and I joined around 100,000 others for the Women’s March, London. This, I thought, would be a good, positive thing to do – and it was. All those people you keep hearing saying it was life-changing…..well that’s how powerful it was. But alongside the supportive and positive comments, I have also read comments like this:


What have you got to complain about compared to women in Saudi Arabia?

The whole thing was stupid – America’s president doesn’t even affect us. 

Just a bunch of women who didn’t even know what they were marching for. 

Not comments made by friends, I should add. But really, one quick glance at those tells us much of what we need to know about why women were marching in the first place.

I am attempting a ‘keep-your-spirits-up-January’ – this is my own, made up thing in case you thought you were missing something; and as the month draws to a close it is proving to be quite a challenge. Anyway, for the month of January  I have been attempting to write positive blog posts only and for that reason, this is not going to be a long post covering my current levels of discontent and all my reasons for marching. But, for anyone wondering what the point was in joining 100,000 others in central London last week, here are five overwhelmingly positive things I’d like to tell you about what happened last Saturday.

  1. We could, and so we did – surely that is a good thing? Whatever your thoughts are on current global affairs, isn’t it always reassuring to know that people are challenging and questioning what is happening? Surely none of us would ever want to live in a country where that wasn’t the case. No, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things in the world that are worth protesting about; but can you really live your life like that? I’m not taking any action on this particular thing because there are far worse things happening in Saudi Arabia? If we applied that to everything we wanted to make a stand about, we’d never get anything done. Ultimately, we don’t know what will come of any of this; but we can be certain that events in America will affect us, because what happens in America affects the world. Perhaps time will reveal that we had no need to be concerned; but if we look at where we are after only one week of Mr Trump’s administration, somehow I doubt it. So I will continue to make a fuss where I think fuss is necessary, and we should be thankful that we have the right to do so.
  2. Again, whatever your thoughts, the messages from the march were overwhelmingly positive ones: the power of education, the need to build bridges, having the confidence to speak out, togetherness, respect for each other, looking after our planet; and making our own choices. All good things, surely?
  3. This was the most open, friendly, positive protest you could imagine, and I felt proud to be part of it. You could talk to the person next to you and be confident of getting a friendly response. Such were the numbers that my friend and I, plus a hundred or so others, spent at least half an hour stuck by a hedge in Grosvenor Square unable to make our way out to join the march proper; but still, no-one pushed or shoved or was unpleasant. People mentioned their cold feet and being desperate for a cuppa, of course they did; but no-one made things difficult for anyone else. Even when at 3pm, the M & S in Green Park completely ran out of sandwiches; people happily made do with pastries or sausage rolls instead. This was positive and civilised and polite and, whatever your politics, surely we can all be happy that so many people can come together in this way.
  4. “Women’s march”, they said, “why do we need a special march for women?”  Well you only need to have a listen to Mr Trump’s repulsive ‘locker room banter’ to get an idea of why so many women wanted to take action. Because really, how can we look our children in the eye and say that yes, this man is now the most powerful man in the world and that’s ok?  So yes, it was a march led by women, but a quick look around showed you how inclusive it was. There were men, there were women, there were children. There were all ages and races and religions. There was dancing, there was colour, there were drums, there was creativity, and there was a man sketching as he walked. Good sketches too. It was different things to different people; all of them valid and all of them real.
  5. Across the pond they made it the largest US protest in history. And here in London, over 100,000 people came together in a peaceful, joyful way to say we’d like a more positive and less divisive future for us and our children. Over 100,000 people and not a single arrest. Not one.

So call it stupid, call it pointless, call it vacuous if you will. Actually, it was anything but. This is what women can do when they come together, and surely this is what the world needs more than ever.


If you support the Women’s March movement and would like to help keep the momentum going, take a look at their website for their new campaign 10 actions.

In the olden days, boys, we actually used to write letters

Yesterday boys, I did a bit of sorting – this doesn’t happen very often. But yesterday’s sorting made me think that I really must tell you about what things were like back in what Peppa Pig would call ‘the olden days’.

You see, boys, I was sorting through boxes of correspondence – letters, postcards, good luck cards, well done cards, just-to-say-hello cards. A whole big plastic crate full of them. This, boys, was how I used to communicate with my friends – we used to write things down. With a pen.

I know – unbelievable.

Let’s go back to 1998 – the year I went to university.

Think about this for a minute, boys – I went off to university with no mobile phone and no laptop. There was no ‘Freshers 1998’ Facebook group. In fact, there was no Facebook. We didn’t know what anyone would look like or who we may, or may not, click with. We just rocked up, unpacked, and then our parents left us. There was no text home that evening to tell them how day 1 had been.

Yes, we could phone home boys, using the one telephone per corridor that was provided in my halls of residence – unsurprisingly in the evenings there would be a little queue of us lining up to use it.

If we needed to leave messages for each other, popping notes under doors was our version of sending a text. I kept many of these as well:

‘Going for breakfast at 8 – knock for me if you’re up’. / ‘See you for lunch at 1’. / ‘Your mum called – she’ll try you again tomorrow’.

Riveting stuff.

During term time I wrote letters to friends from school, and during holidays I wrote letters to friends from uni. And in our letters, we actually wrote news because we didn’t know what everyone had been up to via Facebook or Instagram.

Yes, we did have email back then boys; but sending an email usually meant going to use a computer lab. So we would take take the time to send a lengthy email about everything that had been happening that week, because we knew we wouldn’t be able to follow it up with a text or WhatsApp message 10 minutes later.

In 2000, I headed off on my year abroad and stocked up on international phone cards which I used in the phone box just outside my flat. No Instagram. no Skype. No Facetime.

It might not have been that long ago, boys, but it was a different time.

Today, boys, many of us are lost if we go out without our mobiles; but back then, no mobile phones just meant you had to rely on people to stick to an arrangement. Or use your initiative if someone didn’t turn up. Arrangements were made in advance and, in the main, people stuck to them. ‘I’ll text you when I’m on my way’ just wasn’t a thing.

While I was thinking about all of this, I remembered the time I went to stay with one of my old housemates over the holidays and my train was delayed. I did the obvious thing and phoned her at home to let her know I’d be late, but she had gone shopping and was then heading straight to the station to meet me. This is what her mum did, boys – she phoned round all the shops she thought her daughter might have gone to, and asked them to make an announcement for her to report to customer services, where there was a request for her to phone home.

Yes, her mum did manage to get hold of her in the end (clever mum), but can you imagine her panic when the announcement was made over the tanoy? Probably not, boys. It’s not the sort of situation you or any of your friends are ever likely to be in – it seems the average age for children to have a mobile phone now is 11. You’ll always be able to let us or anyone else know about any sudden changes of plan.

I was 21 when I got my first mobile phone.


That was correspondence back in the olden days boys, but let me tell you something about filmtaking photos, because that’s changed a bit too. Here’s how it worked – we used cameras (not phones), into which we had to put a roll of film. You’ve probably never seen one before – they look like this. Loading a film was a fiddly process. Photos were pretty precious because you’d only get 28 or 36 per film, and films were expensive. You couldn’t take a photo and then delete it if someone had their eyes shut – you were stuck with what you got. Once you’d finished your roll of film, you would take it to the chemists to be developed and then pick up your pack of pictures a few days later. Let me tell you boys, that was pretty exciting – finally finding out whether those photos you’d taken 3 weeks ago were actually any good.

I’m not sure what the point of this post is, boys. I’m not saying things were better or worse back then, just different. Now we have so many more opportunities to record our thoughts and share our photos and memories – any future great-grandchildren will know more about us than we can possibly know about previous generations. But at the same time, there will be a lot more inconsequential nonsense for them to sort through before coming across anything of any interest. I can read through old emails any time I like, but it’s not quite the same as coming across an old letter.

I have thousands upon thousands of photos stored on the computer, boys; but whereas I used to get photos developed and then put the good ones in albums and carefully label them, now there are just too many for me to contemplate doing anything with. If you ever want to sort through them, you will have your work cut out.

All the letters, postcards and notes from friends are now headed for the loft, to join all the old photo albums and other clutter we don’t know what to do with. If you ever want to see what real, hand-written letters (with stamps) look like, then one day we’ll have a look through my big plastic crate together – there are years worth of memories in there.