Monthly Archives: March 2011

MWIPCD – Writers Beware this terrifying affliction!

MWIPCD – Writers Beware this terrifying affliction!

As I posted on Twitter I think I have multiple writer identity personality confusion disorder after this weekend. Novels, poems, short stories, screenplays or all of the above? And what about abstracts, journal articles, powerpoint and poster presentations, essays, PhD theses?

I had an amazing weekend at the inaugural Southern Script Writing Festival at Bournemouth University. As a staff member and graduate of BU (PG Cert Health and Social Care Education) I was able to claim the early bird student rate of £15 a day. This included all of the conference sessions, a buffet lunch and drinks in the break. What the weekend more importantly gave me was a massive confidence boost but also a case of MWIPCD.

On the Saturday they held an informal pitching session where you had 2 1/2 minutes to pitch an idea in front of an audience of delegates. I decided, against my better judgement and shaking hands, to pitch my NaNoWriMo Novel Idea. I didn’t get any boos (yay) and got some claps so I was pretty happy, though my hands were still shaking and my jaw was very uncomfortable for about four hours after (from the nervous tension I suppose).

So when on Sunday they actually had spaces left to pitch to some of the conference presenters I initially said no way, but it played on my mind throughout the first presentation (Be brave and go for it, what have you got to lose, dumbass) and I went back and there were still spaces. I booked myself into the last one of the day so I had time to mentally rehearse and try and remember some of the plot of a novel idea I’d started a few years back. I left the last session early to prepare and stood outside the door feeling an anxious wreck, having to resort to using positive self talk to calm myself “You are an intelligent, articulate woman and your ideas are as good as other people’s”.

The time came to enter. I had my notebook with me full of scribbles that I probably wouldn’t be able to read (and we were told in an earlier session not to read, but to try and recall it more naturally). I wasn’t sure whether to shake hands, I didn’t in the end. In the room was three people, not just the two I was expecting. I mentioned this obvious fact (!) and asked who everyone was; I like to know who I am speaking too (and this gave me time to calm down). The panel consisted of Tim Clague, Mike Garley and Dan Pringle. I was asked if I wanted to stand or sit (ummm sit please, if I stand I will most definitely faint!). Dan asked me not to read from the book and I said this was fine (they so got that it was a comfort blanket).

So I pitched my idea and then came the feedback. Tim put his head in his hands saying he needed to think about it before launching into feedback. The others tried to reassure me this was normal (I wasn’t too concerned, blocking out sensory stimulation like light can help me concentrate too!). I have to say they were very nice, I got some great constructive criticism about what I shouldn’t have said and what I could have said and they started arguing over a couple of aspects and coming up with visuals, which they told me was good. A couple of comments Tim made I’m sure were overgenerous but I’d really like to thank him for them as it was a massive confidence boost at a time when I was having huge writing doubts. Hearing things like, if you pulled this off you could have one of the greatest modern screen villains and in response to my suggestion that I just need to find time to write this alongside the day job and PhD he quipped leave them, write this. I wish…

So why have I got MWIPCD? Most of my experience with creative writing so far has been with writing fiction and poetry, although I did write a couple of scripts on my OU courses. I am halfway through a novel and have started two others but this weekend got me so excited about script writing that I now don’t know what to focus on (I like all of them). Then there’s the day job…if only there were more hours in the day and I had more energy to make the best of using them.

But despite the MWIPCD this weekend I got to feel like a writer and that was fantastic.

I will be writing more about the festival and some of the hints and tips I learnt next week.

Shlurpping Shloer

Shlurpping Shloer

I’ve actually done a good bit of socialising, catching up and eating Chinese with my girlie friends recently. Now none of us are big drinkers (unless we are hiding a secret midnight vodka habit) and on some occasions we have been known to drink tea on a night in together which makes us feel and verbalise our concerns about growing old.

I was recently offered the opportunity to trial some Shloer for free. A bargainous price I’m sure you’ll agree. Now, my first memories of Shloer are of the White grape variety with Sunday roast dinners as a child (this must also be before I was 12 and gave up meat because of a Pig’s eyeball incident in Science – thankfully Shloer is suitable for vegetarians like me). I think sometimes my parents drank it with us but am pretty sure that at other times they were on the harder sparkly stuff.

For me then, Shloer has lovely family memories attached. Before I was offered my samples I had rediscovered Shloer in the Supermarket and bought a couple of bottles as well as shared some on the aforementioned nights in.

The flavours I was supplied with were red grape and rosé, I was familiar with the white grape and have since bought the white grape & elderflower (not yet tried white grape, raspberry and cranberry or apple & white grape).

My friend over at ittakesawoman, who is not the biggest drinker of alcohol, identified red grape as the one she liked, finding the rosé too sweet. I’m not sure of her wine colour preferences but I like medium whites and rosé but pretty much detest reds. In Shloer that pattern seems to correspond, very much like the rosé and white varieties I’ve tried. The red grape though is perfectly drinkable (unlike vinegar red wine, I still have an immature palate, can’t stand olives either) if a little bitter for my tastes. I really enjoyed the elderflower one but I do like elderflower cordial. I wonder if that is more a summer afternoon Pimms substitute and think it would be nice poured over ice.

I’m someone who is not generally a big fizzy drink drinker so you may think the fact that Shloer is fizzy would put me off. However, it’s different, comes in six flavours and poured in a wine glass can make one feel ever so sophisticated whilst remaining sober for the drive home.

The only real negatives are that it isn’t a free drink when dieting, a la slimming world, and the bottles aren’t big enough (750ml) so three wine glasses and a bottle is gone. Admittedly my wine glasses are huge but I’d love to see a litre bottle. It is a little more expensive than your plastic bottle fizzies but supermarkets do often have it on promotional prices.

If you nip onto the Shloer website and facebook page they have some cocktail suggestions so that you can mix it up even more. So girlies when is our next night in?

Now I think I may have already mentioned getting a couple of free (very well packed) bottles but what I’ve written above is my honest opinion (seriously do you think that rambling came from a PR person ;0))

Time to Change?

TIME FLIES.....................*

Time to change?

This weekend, as Saturday transitions into Sunday the clocks spring forward an hour into British Summer Time. But does that mean an extra spring in your step? (Thanks to a timely reminder of the catchphrase ‘Spring Forward, Fall Back’ I finally know which way to ‘turn’ my clocks).

Normally I’m not that busy on the weekend so just sleep until I wake up so this missing hour doesn’t normally have an impact. Yes, I am still bathing in the luxury of being single and childless (Got to look on the bright side when I can). This year I actually have something planned (attending the Southern Script Festival) so I am not looking forward to losing an hour’s sleep, not being a morning person at the best of times. I remember once turning up late to the cinema because I’d forgotten to change the clocks.

I was sent a discussion piece on this very topic which I share below.

Marc Clavereau, managing director at Bodet, a specialist in time, has discussed the debate about whether the UK should stop the GMT and BST changes from an economic and safety point of view.

BST vs. GMT – Economy vs. Safety

The debate about whether we should stop changing the clocks in the UK back and forth between BST and GMT is gaining momentum. The Daylight Saving Bill 2010-11, a Private Member’s Bill that was presented in Parliament on 30th June 2010, requires the Secretary of State to conduct a thorough analysis of the potential costs and benefits of adopting Single Double Summer Time (SDST) in the UK, which would mean clocks move forward by one hour throughout the year to GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 in the summer.

Many people argue that they have no opinion on the subject and it affects their lives very little so why change it after so many years? Others argue that with the current economic uncertainty a move to SDST would bring the UK’s waking hours more into line with the hours of daylight, which could potentially reduce energy demand and cut fuel bills.

A Cambridge University study in 2009 showed that 934GWhs of electricity and subsequently 472,000 tonnes of CO2 could have been saved annually by putting the clocks forward an hour all year.

The Daily Express is just one supporter of the crusade to end the BST/GMT time change and it is calling on the Government to move UK time forward by an hour permanently, bringing the country into line with much of the rest of Europe. The publication’s crusade has already won the backing of politicians such as David Cameron and campaigners who say longer, brighter evenings would make roads safer. Many say it would boost the nation’s health by encouraging more leisure activities, cut energy bills, benefit the environment and boost tourism by as much as £1billion a year.

However the most important question the BST/GMT change raises is whether we focus more on the economic benefits or safety issues and what are the compelling factors of each argument?

In August this year at a tourism industry event in London David Cameron said he was considering moving the clocks forward an hour all year round to give Britain permanent summertime (BST). It’s estimated a clock change will lead to the creation of 60,000–80,000 new jobs in leisure and tourism, bringing an extra £2.5–3.5 billion into the economy each year.

According to the National Grid the potential impact of moving the clocks forward an hour between November and March showed that 885GWhs of electricity could have been saved. The UK’s average daily demand for electricity could also have been reduced, with a reduction in peak demand for electricity of up to 4.3%. The electricity wasted on GMT could potentially supply nearly 200,000 households and around 447,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions could be avoided, the equivalent to more than 50,000 cars driving around the world.

SDST could also lower electricity bills by maximising the available daylight and reducing peak power demand, which could help both the economy by reducing business and consumer energy bills and increasing cash flow.

The move could also save the NHS around £138 million a year through reducing road casualties.

All of these are extremely compelling figures and the few negative opinions such as the cost of patching every computer in the country to cope with the change to SDST and the Scots being against the idea because it would mean the sun not rising until 10am on some mornings, are heavily outweighed by the economical and financial benefits for everyone.

Health and Safety
David Cameron has said the plan, which would give longer evenings across the country, will only go ahead if the Scots and people in the north of England agree. However many feel that if people further south in the UK want more daylight they should simply get up earlier. One consistent finding by the University of Cambridge is that activity patterns are more intensive later in the day and that people generally adjust their return from work in winter, to clock time rather than the time of sunset.

So what are the safety issues and is there evidence to suggest that moving the clocks forward in the UK could result in higher risks to safety?
Sunrise and sunset timed an hour later would shift light to the period of the day when electricity demand is heaviest and reduce peaks. Activity patterns also affect timing of traffic flows and road accidents in Britain; there are more road users later in the day, including in Scotland, so later timing of sunset could potentials reduce road accidents.

Many people prefer not to go to work in the dark during the winter months however when considering the economic benefits against the somewhat minor lifestyle compromises it seems the SDST plan should be given serious consideration. A survey carried out by MORI recently showed that 52% of those questioned in London and 50% of Scottish respondents disagreed that they would find it harder to get up in the morning if SDST was implemented. More than two-thirds (69%) felt that they would feel safer walking outside after dark.

The Sports Council for England has stated that an increase in extra daylight after work, combined with its policy priority to get employers to do more in terms of promoting activity among its work forces, could make a significant contribution towards driving up participation in sports and delivering the associated health benefits that would stem from having a more active nation.

Greg Lewis, Policy Manager for Communities and Society at Age Concern and Help the Aged has also commented that many older people will not go out once it is dark and having lighter evenings would mean that older people could spend more time out of their homes if they choose to do so. Given the significant recent rises in energy prices, reducing household energy bills is also a further benefit.

Another important point to be considered is the safety of children walking to and from school and people commuting to and from work. From November to February (GMT) many students would be walking to school before sunrise and cyclists and motorists commuting to work on frosty mornings in the dark raises the issue of road traffic accidents. It does however beg the question, how do commuters who work night shifts or longer hours, with earlier starts than the rest of us manage to keep themselves safe on our roads? It seems many people would rather make the compromise of commuting to work in the dark if it means having a little more light in the evening to enjoy when they get home.

Problems arise when morning rather than evening daylight is considered most important; this is why the traditional opponents of darker mornings have been postal workers, the construction industry, farmers and the Scots, who have a shorter winter day and are particularly worried about children going to school on dark mornings.

There are other issues associated with SDST, especially for farmers, builders and children travelling to school. In mid winter GMT, farm vehicles using unlit country roads in bad weather conditions getting stock to market face huge difficulties in loading and unloading before daylight. The intense cold before sunrise and dangerous situations on building sites, even when lit, are far worse on GMT. Postmen, Post Office engineers, municipal workers and delivery drivers too all suffer a marked decline in their working conditions on GMT, which highlights the safety argument for not moving to SDST. These issues must be considered and resolved adequately for everyone to agree on the most appropriate time zone for the UK.

Whatever the outcome of the GMT/BST debate, UK clocks will still need to “spring forward and fall back” an hour each year. There are ways of managing time accurately and the time change on 31st October is a fairly simple process and usually just involves pushing the minute hand round once; many people make the mistake of pushing the hour hand, which can displace the hour hand and mean it does not tell the correct time. In larger organisations where there are numerous synchronised clocks you only need to change time of the master clock, the slave clocks will automatically coordinate themselves with the master clock. Bodet, a specialist time solutions provider has developed a wide range of analogue and digital clocks including calendar and time zone clocks that make the change from GMT to BST effortless and straightforward.

Bodet suggests the following steps for managing the change from GMT to BST:

·List all the clocks in your organisation to ensure you don’t forget any.
·Change all the clocks systematically so that you only need to do the job once.
·Change all of the clocks at the end of the day before the official time change to ensure all clocks are accurate for the start of business the next day.
·Send out reminders to employees and colleagues to ensure everyone’s personal clocks are synchronised (no excuse for being late to work).
·Allow for any delay during the change process i.e. if it takes 30mins to change all the clocks ensure you take this into account when setting the times.
·Remember the phrase “Spring forward, fall back” to avoid adjusting clocks the wrong way.
I was also informed that David Cameron is on a drive to look again at switching permanently to British Summer Time (BST) and ending clocks going back an hour in winter. Marc’s balanced article presents some compelling arguments both for and against a Single Double Summer Time, but doesn’t mention the mouthful of a name change.

I personally struggle with change and managing time in general and I quite like the bliss of gaining that extra hour in autumn but as a night owl and not a lark I can see potential benefits of more light hours after work, but getting up in the dark also seems wrong. To be honest I will go with the general consensus as long as my TV guide keeps telling me what date to change my clock.

What do you all think?
Parents, is it better to have more light in the morning or evening?
OTs, what do you think about the arguments about the benefits to older people’s occupational participation? (A possible area for occupational science research?)
Writers, what impact do yiu think a change would have on your writing routine?
Everyone, what are your personal views?

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