Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell

Charlotte Brontë published a ‘Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell’ in the 1850 edition of Wuthering Heights, shortly after both of her sisters had died.

Here she comments on their decision to assume masculine names when first seeking publishers for their writing.

Continue reading Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell

Looking for a role model? Enter the Lionesses

I started playing football at primary school. I played at breaks and lunch, and in the school’s team. I was the only girl. I enjoyed it so much I started going to coaching with a local football development scheme. This led to me joining the only girls’ team in the city; Peterborough Pythons.

This initiative was picked up and written about in the local paper. It includes a feature on my football career (!) and my proud mum has kept the clipping…

Peterborough Evening Telegraph article on women's football, 1993

Sadly, Peterborough Pythons didn’t last long. We lost our coach through lack of funding. And despite the attempts of a couple of willing parents the team eventually folded.

Reading this article back, 20-odd years later I think it’s a shame that some of the issues identified are still around today, especially the idea that football is a ‘lads-only’ sport. Evidenced by some of the comments about the coverage of the sport by the press.

What is changing for the better is the profile of the women’s game. Now what we need is more investment to increase the opportunities for girls to take up the sport and develop.

Like many people in the UK, and undoubtedly around the world, I’m currently afflicted with World Cup fever.

The first game I watched was Sweden vs Nigeria; a six goal thriller which ended in a draw. I was hooked. I’m like a kid. I’ve got a book and I’ve been filling in the scores for all matches.

I was elated when England’s Lionesses commanded their quarter-final match against the hosts, Canada. They made history with the win that took them to the semi-final.

I was devastated with the semi-final loss to Japan. England were the stronger side, looking hungry for the win and dangerous in front of goal. But sport is cruel.

All the way through the tournament I’ve been thinking about what England’s success will mean for the next generation of female footballers. By success, I don’t just mean winning games.

As a fan and sportsperson I have been so impressed by how the England team have approached each match: professionally and with spirit.

As a team captain the example of leadership shown by Steph Houghton has been an inspiration.

As a supporter it’s so crucial to see what each match means to the players. All the England players have shown skill, composure, dedication and passion.

These are the sporting role models every young girl needs.

Getting lost in maps

Maps are cool, huh. They let you go anywhere without leaving your living room.

For Christmas I got two map related presents. The first is a poster of a Peters projection of the world map. Simply put this projection gives a closer representation of the actual size of an area, so for example you see just how large Africa really is. I’ve put it on the wall in my office and since it’s been up I’ve spent a chunk of time every day getting lost in it. I’ve learnt a lot. For example, did you know that Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa? Or that Hawaii is just one of the Hawaiian islands?

True size of Africa

I also got a book called Maps: their untold stories which includes 100 maps from the collection at the National Archives. It’s a fascinating look at how maps are drawn, are historical artefacts, art and most intriguingly how they tell stories.

With these presents I’ve rediscovered my love of maps. It’s prompted me to revisit another book of maps I have – The Atlas of the Real World. This presents a series of world maps with areas resized to reflect data on specific topics, eg population, income or Internet users. You can find some of the variations on Worldmapper.

What does it mean to come out of the closet?

This week we’ve seen a number of people in the public eye declare their love for members of the same sex. Neither Mario Bello nor Tom Daley explicitly said they were gay, lesbian or bisexual and I’ve read a lot of opinion pieces about this rejection of labels that seem to question what it means to ‘come out’.

I watched this TED talk from Ash Beckham a couple of weeks ago and have been waiting for the right moment to post it. It’s now:

I think Ash perfectly sums up what coming out is… any difficult conversation.

In the past few months I have had plenty of difficult conversations involving telling people about the break-up of my marriage. All along when I’ve talked to others about how these conversations make me feel I have likened it to the experience of coming out as a lesbian. For some reason watching this talk, knowing that everyone has their own closet to come out from and that we will come out of many throughout our lives, makes it all seem a lot easier.

Jem (02/06/2008 – 18/11/2013)

When I was growing up we always had dogs as pets. I thought of myself as a dog person. I didn’t particularly like cats and never even considered that I might provide a home for one.

Enter Jem. The cat that stole my heart.

Hide and seek
Hide and seek

She was my first cat. I can say this because although technically she came as one of a pair, we got her a few hours before her sister Scout, who went on an adventure the day we went to collect them.

I knew she’d be happy living with librarians when on the first day her chosen sleeping place was in a space at the bottom of the bookshelf.

Shelved alphabetically?
Shelved alphabetically?

She continued to find weird and wonderful places to sleep. Under covers. Between beds. On my clean laundry. Rarely on my knee, so on those odd occasions she came in for a cuddle it was a real treat.

It's so comfy
It’s so comfy

Jem was a noisy cat. She was a hunter so had a collar with bells. And she talked non-stop. Not a miao, but a perp.

She liked to play. And stick her nose and toes in everything.

Just taking a break
Just taking a break
I'm not stuck
I’m not stuck
Who, me?
Who, me?

She’d often get herself into trouble but it was hard to stay mad at her for long, with those eyes asking “who, me?”