Monday, 21 March 2011


‘I am in cyberspace, therefore I am not’.
‘Not what?’
‘Not real. Not me. Not myself. Someone else, if I choose.’
‘Why would you choose to be other than yourself?’
‘Because this self, in this life is…small. Insignificant. When it speaks no-one listens.’
‘No-one. Its voice is dull. Its opinions gleaned from up there. Out there. Inflicted by those who know.
‘Know what?’
‘Everything that one is meant to believe.’
‘And do you?’
‘Believe what is told?’
‘Then you have your own opinions. Do you not?’
‘Yes, I suppose. Sometimes. When I am not me.’
‘When you are the other you – the one in cyberspace.’
‘That’s right.’

I find forums distressing at times. For some people they become a space where their ego can dominate. They say what they want…that’s okay. They express their opinions, however narrow or negative…that’s okay too. Perhaps they say things they wouldn’t have the courage to say in a face-to-face situation.

Perhaps that is because they forget that the other cyber-voices are real people. They are forgetting to notice the tone and subtlety of the message.

In this techy time of Facebook and Twitter and Blogging, I am endeavouring to remember that these are real people I am communicating with. I am doing my best to remain true to myself. I shall certainly do my best to remember my manners!

Keep your cyber-ego real.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Making a speech (to the NHS)

Yesterday I had the honour, with knocking knees, to speak at a conference about how the Acute Hospitals look after people with Learning Disabilities. This is a result of taking part in a review process in the South West, following the harrowing findings of the Mencap report: Death by Indifference (among others).
I knew exactly what I wanted to say. That wasn't the problem. The tricky bit was getting the pitch right. I was speaking as a mother about my child, and on behalf of all the parents with special children that I know and do not know. The other speakers were largely in the medical profession or linked to it, and of a mindset and level of understanding. It fell to me to bring it home - a huge responsibility.

I delivered my piece with a large photo of my son behind me, his head in bandages after his last surgery. When I heard the audience chuckle, I knew I had them onside. When I met them teary-eyed afterwards, I knew I had done my job.

It is very difficult to stand up as yourself and deliver a personal message - trust me, it is much easier to act! But to see and hear the impact of your honesty is priceless. I'm glad I put myself through it.

By popular demand (seriously!) a video of the speech will be recorded to the Review website very soon. I will post the link when it's ready.

Simple fact-everything we live through is a life lesson. Sharing it helps.

Monday, 14 March 2011

21st century writers

Any serious writer needs to be reading Robert McCrum On Books.  Via the Observer website. Things are changing fast and gone are the days of the faceless author, tucked away in their garret, scribbling their stories for the world while walking anonymously amongst its populace.
It’s a tough call. Some of us really didn’t want fame or recognition. Not in the actual face to face sense. Yes, recognise my name on a book – buy it because you know I’m good, but pass me by in the street and I can enjoy my secret satisfaction.
No more.
Welcome to the 21st century. Welcome to the modes of communication of, in the first instance for many, your children.
I hadn’t even got over the immediacy of the mobile phone…”No, you don’t need to answer your mate during Sunday lunch.”
“Yes, I do, he knows I know he’s called. It’s rude not to.”
Spare me from understanding that logic.
But here’s the thing.
This is the new logic. We are all available, in all ways, to all people.
If we are not – they’ll just move on to someone who is. It’s time to take a deep breath, enlist the help of the ‘kids’ and get on Facebook, Twitter, create a website and become visible! These are the days of talking to your audience – and not just through your stories.