Monday, 20 October 2014

Work friends - changing the balance of power!

I (Eve) have been working as a teacher since Easter. I was new to teaching so I didn't expect my new colleagues to fall at my feet in gratitude when I walked into the staffroom for the first time but neither did I expect the degree of social isolation that I experienced.

The first few weeks were distinctly unpleasant. The staffroom was dominated by what I can only describe as a small clique of hard-line snobs. If your clothes, car, address or subject specialism wasn't to their liking then you were a nobody.

What I don’t get is why this adolescent sort of behaviour has to translate into professional ladies teaching in a school. I have no problem issue with women bonding with each other over common interests or experiences and there is much solace and comfort to be gained from sharing. But does this have to come at the expense of the feelings of those that are not part of the sharing? Why does clique membership have to be based on such trivial issue as where a person lives?

Bonding through a mutual dislike for others perhaps less fortunate than the other clique members is anything but positive. Surely the endless sniping and creating barriers and territories is short-sighted and entirely against what teaching should be about?

There is only one person teaching psychology in the school and as she was about my age I though we would have things in common so I made overtures of friendship towards her. When she was on her own she was lovely but as soon as one of the clique came into the staffroom she would get up, even in the middle of a conversation with me, to sit with them. From "moving towards being a friend" to "ignore all outsiders" in a blink of an eye.

It was starting to annoy me and I was seriously thinking about not using the staffroom but this felt like letting the clique "win". Instead last week I managed to persuade some colleagues from the Maths and Science Department to slightly change their routine and we went "mob-handed" at morning break and "occupied" the cliques chosen corner. As our base is slightly nearer to the staffroom than it is for the humanities clique we can always get there first.

It should make for an interesting few days!

Monday, 13 October 2014

16 Blog Reviews


Totally, typically

As I have said N times before – where N is a large number – most first year undergraduate blogs don’t make it to Christmas. I am struggling to think of a single example that has made it all the way from Fresher’s Week to Graduation!

In line with the title of the blog this new entry is fairly typical of the genre so what I suggest that readers should do is to bookmark it, come back in 6 months, and if it is still being published then add it to your regular reading list.

OVERALL – Come back in a few months but don’t be surprised if it isn’t active. 2/10

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Encouraging news, the blog is being updated regularly and both the quality and quantity of the prose is now well above average. 5/10

How I coped (from age 17 - 21) with a double parental bereavement

I have to admit that I have met the author of this blog but only once and only for 15 minutes. The blog started in July 2013 and there have been 54 entries since then so it scores highly on reliability. This is a niche blog, a blog that all of us hope that we would never need to read, but I think it is worth supporting nevertheless.

The author is a post-graduate and in the nicest possible way you can tell she is because of the maturity of her writing.

OVERALL – A well above average blog that deserves to succeed. 8/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - I met the author as recently as last Friday. She is battling through her PGCE and the forthcoming court case where she is suing her odious grandparents. Despite everything she remains cheerful. 8/10

What Brigit Did

When I first found this blog I was excited because it was about Cornwall (one of my favourite counties) and as it was being written by a graduate I was more optimistic that she would stick with it long-term. Even the content was interesting.

Sadly it has been a month since the last entry so I’m guessing that the twin devils of lack of readers plus zero comments received has sapped her energy and enthusiasm. It takes a very strong willed author to write what nobody wants to read! 

OVERALL – Worth supporting this blog, at least for a while, so why not read it and give her some feedback? 5/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

University, Life, Thoughts

Another university related blog bites the dust. This one didn’t get as far as the student arriving at university and that must be something of a record. When this type of blog works they can be some of my favourite reading material but, almost invariably, they crash and burn sometime during the first term.

OVERALL – Pop back in a few weeks but don’t hold your breath. 2/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Girl Lost in Transit

I am always rather pessimistic about the survival chances of any blog based on “my life at university”. Life as an undergraduate should be pleasurably busy with both academic work and face-to-face social interactions and writing a regular blog entry seldom survives more than a couple of months.

On the plus side this blogger comes across as rather more sensible and mature than most first year students so perhaps she will prove me wrong!

OVERALL – Come back after Christmas to see if my prediction was correct. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Stethoscopes, bows and all things in between

When I review a blog that already has 36 entries I admit that I am somewhat predisposed to giving it a favourable review. The percentage of bloggers who reach the milestone of 10 entries is disconcertingly low so 36 entries practically makes the author an old-timer.

I feel that this writer has the potential to write a blog that is a bit different from the usual fare served up to bloggers but to succeed in this aim the postings will need to be rather longer. If you want the occasional reader to become a regular, comment leaving, reader I think a typical posting should be several hundred words.

OVERALL – Worth sticking with one, at least for a while. 6/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Curiously the name of the blog isn’t obvious!

There is something about Wordpress blogs that brings put the worst in me. So does an author who uses such a wide range of font sizes for no obvious reason!

People who know me will know that I write poetry – and have it published. Some of the poetry in this blog is really good and for that reason alone I will give it a trial. A word of advice to the poet, if readers know something about you they tend to enjoy your poetry more. At the moment you are rather “writing in a vacuum”.

OVERALL – If you enjoy poetry you might enjoy this blog, otherwise don’t bother. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Newbie Science

Breathtakingly good! In terms of content this blog is right up there with the best amateur blogs I have ever read. Add to the mixture the fact that the author has been publishing since 2012 and this should be on all sensible peoples’ reading list.  

OVERALL – It really doesn’t get much better than this. 9/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Mega disappointed to have to say that this blog has slowed down to a crawl and seems unlikely to survive. 4/10

Oh my science

Another science blog and another success story! Find a theme, then write about it in a cogent and entertaining way and you are well on the way to blogging success.

One thing that would worry me is the posting frequency. The long gap between February and June with no postings would be long enough for even the most ardent fan to wonder off muttering. If the blogger sticks with the recent improved productivity then this a very promising discovery. 

OVERALL – Raise the quantity to the quality and the blog will fly. 7/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Continues to improve and deserves to succeed. 8/10

Astronomy, geography and more

This is what I call a chatty scientific blog. This is a notoriously difficult genre to succeed in but the author has made a brave, and moderately successful, attempt.

The blog stats seem to show a blog that is getting enough readers and enough feedback to encourage the author to keep going for the long haul.

OVERALL – A well above average science blog that deserves to succeed. 7/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Mega disappointed to have to say that this blog appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Home and Abroad

I love therapeutic blogs. But of course I’m biased because I wrote a therapeutic blog/newsletter for several years. This guy is a writer, don’t have any doubt about this. I read his entire blog in a single session and that is almost unprecedented for me.

OK so I’m a nosey girl but I would have liked to have known a bit more about what went wrong when he was at university. In my experience writing a “warts and all” blog is more helpful to the author than writing a sanitised version.

OVERALL – The find of the day by the proverbial country mile. 10/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - This is one of my favourite blogs ever. The author has real talent!

Study Abroad - Milano

If I had a pound for every “working abroad” blog that didn’t make it to Christmas I wouldn’t need to work and baby Alice would have a very secure future. It is a shame because the blogger usually has no shortage of material to write about and if they could only persuade themselves to invest an hour or two twice a month a top quality blog would be in reach.

The problem is they don’t. Real life gets in the way and the blog usually doesn’t last long. This member of the club is well written and I would love it to succeed. I just don’t think it will!

OVERALL – Don’t hold your breath. If it survives it will be good – if! 6/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - I am starting to think that this blog has been abandoned. 0/10

Tahme at Newman

I like this blog. Wide ranging material presented with a sense of style is always going to attract my attention. And yet? The little voice in my head is wondering if he is going to a “long haul” blogger. I’ve been caught like this before, I found a blog that I looked forward to reading then boom like a supernova it vanished.

But as it stands it is good example of how to write a “what I’m doing in my life” blog and I would like to see it thrive and still be around 12 months from now.

OVERALL – If it survives another 12 months it will be even better 6.5/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - I remain optimistic about the future of this blog. 7/10

I’m going to show my age and education – err, a 25year old graduate – and say that the blog of a third time medicine applicant doesn’t really grab me and say, “read me, read me”. I’m passed that stage of my life and glad to be so!

But I do appreciate the fact that the blogs contains lots of links to other blogs which implies a degree of bloggers solidarity which is both refreshing and unusual.

OVERALL – Like the curate’s egg – good in parts. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - The blog is certainly improving so perhaps my previous comments were too harsh. 6/10

Life as a petite

The good news is that blogger has a proven track record. She has been blogging for about 12 months so clearly takes it seriously. The bad news is that her blog is the all-time, all-star, most boring blog ever. Perhaps parenthood has changed my priorities but I really cannot remember ever being keen on the subjects she covers with such enthusiasm. Fashion, crafts and lifestyle just isn’t my scene – how about nappies, breastfeeding and married life?

No doubt though that there will be people around who will read every word so good luck to the blogger. No hard feelings I hope.

OVERALL – Not for lads or most girls. 2/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Nothing to appeal to me but the author seems reliable enough. 3/10

God I hope I get it

Something of a niche blog but that isn’t always a bad thing as some of the best blogs on this site are quite specialised in their coverage. But the posting frequency – yes that old chestnut – rather lets the author down. I’ve always thought that fortnightly posts is the minimum required to keep the reading audience satisfied.

If you are a budding actor then I imagine you might want to subscribe but I don’t think a wider audience will be enthralled by what is on offer.

OVERALL – Possible too specialised to gather enough readers. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - The blog is certainly improving so perhaps my previous comments were too harsh. 5/10

Monday, 6 October 2014

Update - October 6 2014

News from our friends

Didi and Magda - Regulars will remember that over Christmas it seemed that their relationship was back on again. It was all quite dramatic and romantic with Magda arriving unannounced at the infamous South Wales bash to talk to Didi. There were lots of tears and laughter and what we all hoped was a happy ending. 
But it wasn't to be. Within a few weeks Magda had flown back to Norway. The story that was put out for public consumption was that it was for a holiday with her parents but now we know that she didn't expect to be coming back to England. She certainly hasn't been seen by anybody in our circle of friends since late January so we think she must have left Gloucester then. 

Magda and Didi exchanged regular "just good friends" emails for a few months but in early July 2014 even that stopped.

In late September 2014 I received, a totally unexpected, email from Magda. At the moment she has no plans to return to England. She has a job and she has moved back in with her parents and her brother. She says that she still has a "Didi shaped hole" in her life but that she wasn't and isn't ready to enter into a legal same-sex relationship at the moment and that separation was better than shared disappointment.

So that seems to be it - one good friend gone from our lives, probably for good, and another left emotionally battered.

I have a lovely picture of Didi, Magda and our two babies sitting together in our lounge and I hope that perhaps one day fate will allow us all to meet up again. 
Sparky - Sparky has moved from somebody we knew via the forum, to a friend, to a close, as in inner circle, friend in the last nine months! Sparky is resilient, sensible and fun to be with and her boyfriend and his sister are similarly lovely.

It is fair to say that Sparky can be rather "firm but fair" in her opinions and her views on "Honey" - as in "archive deleting" Honey - are certainly not for sensitive ears!

Old Timer - He has now left his job in a Wolverhampton school and has moved to West Wales to live with his wife-to-be. We are all genuinely excited for him. If anybody deserves to find happiness and security it is him!