Newhaverin Leith and life


Me as agony aunt?

My friend David and I have a regular lunch date and, as I think we're well adjusted and intelligent people, I thought our time together could benefit others. I put a shout out to friends on Facebook to gather problems I could tackle as a hack agony aunt (with David being the angony uncle.) Here are the problems and what we had to say:

I would dearly love to wear some pretty little pump-like shoes, but every time I try I get blisters all over my feet! Everyone else seems to manage fine. Have i got freaky feet or does everyone else suffer in silence?

My take on the situation was pretty radical- why should a woman feel she needs to wear pretty pump-like shoes, especially if they give her blisters? Does society pressure women so much that they consider wearing pumps despite pain? If the shoes hurt, honey, get some flats. David took a different angle saying that most women wearing flats are indeed in pain and have blisters- they're just hiding it. If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

I recently received clothes vouchers for my 40th but I am still breastfeeding and have a bit of mummy tummy going on. What can I wear that is easy access but hides the mid section. I spend my life in black.

As a single man with no children and a woman who has chosen to not have children this posed a small challenge but David came through with pointing out the benefits of an empire waisted summer dress. I recommend any one of the number of Spanx tummy taming products. I know from experience they are amazing. A bit of work but amazing. I also thought that it's kind of lame that ladies with post-partum bellies can't just get their bellies out or wear a brightly coloured shirt without feeling funny about it. So, post-partum friend, get that belly out! Start a trend!

I seem to be suffering from unfathomable rage: every time I see David Cameron's face on the TV I want to hurl a brick through the screen. HELP!

We had a long discussion about this issue. Both of us agreed that if you have a reaction like this to someone on TV you should turn off the TV. If, however, you think you should keep watching then you should examine your extreme reaction and relate it to a reaction you would have in real life. Would you throw bricks at someone at work or on the street? No? Then you're irrational. The other approach is to embrace what David Cameron has to say because it's the viewpoint of your enemy. Understanding your enemy is the key to strengthening your own argument.

What is the meaning of life?

This isn't a question that can be answered. As David said, it's like asking what the meaning of a table or chair is. What is the meaning of your life or a good life? Is that a better question?

Filed under: Haverin' 3 Comments

The things you can accomplish spending a weekend with a lot of people called James- Social Innovation Camp 2011

I'm only now coming down after my weekend at Social Innovation Camp last weekend. It was kind of an emotional experience for me because it's the first time I have spent time with people outside of my work who have a common interest in something that is relatively new to me- engagement through technology. I don't really have any technical skills-my background is dealing with people on the margins of society- but more recently, I've been managing web content and facilitating a social media presence for Edinburgh Council. It's also been a little bit emotional because my work colleague, Catherine, who came up with our idea for SI Camp, invited me along for the ride making me feel somehow valuable in the process even though my skills really are soft. While my emotions were overflowing I did learn some really valuable things that will stick with me:

  • Don't look to a technical solution for something that should be happening in real life, with real human relationships. We got to a point where we were tired and over-discussing our idea and we started creeping into the area of trying to build all solutions into the technical aspect of our project. The overwhelmingly brilliant James (one of four men called James on our team- @jarofgreen) shut us down to say that systems should not replace human interaction. James is a master geek- he knows best and pointed something out that, to me, only shone through as common sense after he said it.
  • 'Service design' is the term for what I want to do for a living. Who knew it had a name?
  • I am not alone in my struggle to communicate the purpose and benefits of web and social media to middle management. I pull my hair out on a weekly basis about this but I was so glad to find common frustration with fellow campers. It's a good feeling to vent about the lack of awareness of the impact on an organisation's customer services by communicating through¬† web and social media. Solidarity!
  • Eatalia's makes a fan-bloody-tastic pizza.
  • People who offer care and support to family members are hugely overtaxed,¬† stressed, sometimes lonely and could use some help from their close networks. Tackling this is the core of our idea, currently called Share Care Club. We hope to find a way that people can organise and connect their existing trusted circles of friends and family and thanks to our work last weekend and the understanding of the Social Innovation Camp judges we have an opportunity to work with IRISS to develop the business behind the idea. I'm truly excited and I really believe this idea will positively impact many lives.

Read my fellow camper, James's (another James) take on our weekend on his Pretty Simple blog.

Filed under: Haverin' 1 Comment

The best little book group in Embra

Many moons ago I started a book group with my friend Kirsty. We decided to start the group because we wanted to read more and get to know about books we would not usually pick up. After putting an advert up on Gumtree we gathered a group of ladies who have become good friends and reading companions years later.

We are still on the go and if you want to come along sometime just get in touch with me. We are not meeting over July and August because of holidays but in preparation for meeting up again in September we are reading two books: The Psycopath Test by Jon Ronson and Annabel by Kathleen Winter. Get reading and get in touch to find out the date of the next meeting.

Filed under: Haverin' 3 Comments

What I learned at Leith Festival Gala Day

What the fuck?After seeing a shout out on Leith Festival's Facebook for Gala Day volunteers I was on it like white on rice. I'm a morning person so a 7am- 11am shift sounded like the best way to start the day and it was really busy. I got to show stallholders driving in to their pitches, put bin liners in giant bins and was bundled into the back of a pitch dark van and driven to a secret location by an incredibly lively man called Robin. I also met one of Leith's most famous dogs, Brodie, who knows he's special so my offers of love only got a dismissive sniff. I saw a lot of things, met a lot of people and learned some things too.

  • Perspective. Get it. The first performer on the Gala stage was a young man who played acoustic guitar and sang with the most incredible voice about his time being homeless in Edinburgh and getting sober with the help of Bethany Christian Trust. It was all I could do to keep from dissolving in a heap of tears in the middle of the Links. He was so honest and so talented. That man had been through things I can't imagine and hope never to imagine and came out the other end to share himself with me and all the other people there watching him. If anyone knows his name please let me know.
  • Healthy food at a Gala Day in Leith is possible. Behold the amazing Ziggy's Really Good Food, a mobile catering outfit headed up by Lorna and Matthew. All vegetarian and all beautiful (including Matthew and Lorna themselves!) this van served up amazing sushi rolls, veggie burgers, homemade hummus and peanut butter and pizzas. A welcome alternative to beef burgers, chips and hotdogs (what is IN those things?) Ziggy's has just scored a permanent place on the Meadows so why not stop by and support the cause?
  • Local craftspeople rule. I met ladies who teach others to knit, an older couple who make jams and chutneys and travel around with their dogs in the boot and the women behind Seventeen Nineteen who sold me my favourite new accessory, a pin made of Scrabble pieces reading WTF. Right up my street.
Filed under: Around town No Comments