Wednesday 16 November 2016

What's the correct pronoun for an imaginary puppy?...

(And tune in to my debut on The Pulse Hospital Radio via the interweb.)

Since last week’s news, I have felt unable to engage with the world. The normal me would desire and even enjoy a discussion on how and why this great political history was made (or actually not made), and what circumstances lead to He Who Cannot Be Named winning the White House. But all I can do is mentally adopt a foetal position and imagine what life would be like if I adopted a puppy. A cute beigy-brown, yipping puppy. I am by no means a dog person. I’m not even a pet person. But I can see it now. I’m sitting on my sofa in my candle lit, hyyged-up living room, stroking this new beigy-brown puppy that loves me. He/ she/ it (what’s the correct pronoun for an imaginary dog?) is contentedly sitting on my lap, exuding love and warmth, its velvet fur rising and falling rhythmically with every gentle puppy-breath. Ahhhh…

(Wait, do puppies actually sit on your lap? Or is that just cats? I can’t have a cat. Mr Angelina is allergic. Yes, even to imaginary cats. Probably.)

I’m watching cute puppies and cats on facebook. And laughing babies. It gives me comfort and is an antidote to all the other stuff I’m reading. I can’t help reading it and now I’ve been on Twitter I realise how much I wasn’t seeing. Twitter goes much faster than The Guardian or my friends on Facebook or Newsnight or Have I Got News For You or The Last Leg or Trevor Noah or Last Week Tonight. I haven’t been able to watch The Daily Show or the last episode of Last Week Tonight since That Fateful Day. I will have to psyche myself up to do so soon as my Sky box is getting really full again. I’m going to have to delete some of those unwatched French films I recorded in 2007. And maybe the Oprah episode where she interviews JK Rowling but I pressed a button on that one to stop it from ever being deleted  because I thought if I kept it and watched it a few more times it would make me write a novel and I can’t remember how to undo it. Anyway, also on Twitter are memes and jokes that I see repeated four days later on facebook (so I can’t “like” them as they are now old) and on the popular topical news shows (so I can’t laugh again plus I now know they are as original as poor Melania’s speech).

On Twitter I found out about this secret facebook group/ page called Pantsuit Nation where HRC supporters hang out and offer words of encouragement and now, post-apocalyptic consolation. It is invitation only but my friend from the US added me so now the posts appear on my feed. Reading these posts makes me cry because people are posting awful stories about going to work and being faced with people rubbing their noses in the election results. On Twitter I’m following this @shaunking who is documenting all the post-Voldemort (damn, I said it) hate-trocities. [Ugh -I just made that up and hate myself for it- but frankly it was only a matter of time before someone did- if they haven’t already] that are happening around the U.S. in schools and on the street. I follow links to articles and news stories and personal testimony till late into the night and fall asleep, drunk on injustice and dread.
I can’t really do anything about anything. Impotence in the face of a darkening world can be wildly frustrating and even a cause for shame. But to counter this, I have undergone secret training in a studio in the roof of Watford General Hospital. Tomorrow, Thursday 17th November, I will climb the steps to the seventh floor and enter the dodgy area that looks like the boiler room setting of an 80s action thriller where the love interest is strapped with duct tape to some sort of large industrial pipe. I will step over the section of wall beneath the door and try to avoid the likely comedic outcome of getting my foot stuck in the bucket which has been placed to catch the leak from the roof. (It is very glamorous.) And at 10 o’clock, I will make a broadcast of cheerful/ borderline-hysterical levity to the patients of Watford General. I’m not making any jokes about that. It is a terribly serious endeavour. My training has qualified me to press Very Important Buttons. Which is more than can be said for He Who Cannot Be Named.

Please send me your requests for songs you would like to hear/ subjects you want to talk about/ contact me if you want to come on the show and chat about something interesting.



GMT 10:00am – 12:00pm every Thursday. (Until I make a fantastic error and am asked not to return.)

From a bed in Watford General: tune in via the Patientline screen suspended from the wall behind your bed.

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Tuesday 1 November 2016

Angelina deems Midi-Me and her cohorts responsible for solving the energy crisis, fixing inequality and averting world war (while she does yoga and gets a facial.)

Mummy on the Edge
Families North West London Magazine
November/ December 2016

You might wake every morning, pick up your phone, as I do, and start reading news headlines, realising in horror that we are within inches of handing the White House keys to a malevolent misogynist. You might, as I do, slide your feet into your knackered hotel slippers, pad into the kitchen and and do a double take out the window into the garden – no, it wasn’t a red nose, just a red rose swaying in the wind. You might, as I do, type “GBP to Euro” into the google daily and watch in wonderment as the pound floats down, down, like a single long-dead leaf blown off a brittle winter branch by a freezing breeze.  You might, as I do, watch footage of Syrian children in Aleppo and Calais and feel heartbroken and not know how to help.

You might, after all that, wonder if the world is going to hell in a handbag. Well I’m here to tell you it is not. Even though it may feel like it is (sometimes). So before you go back to bed and pull the covers over your head and wonder why you ever decided to procreate and contribute to the overpopulation of the world, remember this: Amongst the generations of mini and midi-mes that we and our families and friends and neighbours have produced are inventors, scientists, writers, artists, farmers, botanists, food technologists, researchers, medics, leaders of the future. They are going to sort all these messes out... hopefully…  aided by Moore’s Law.

Okay, I will try to explain (with the help of Wikipedia): Moore’s Law is something to do with the exponential development of technology by way of the doubling of transistors in a dense integrated circuit every two years or so. Don’t worry, I barely know what I’m talking about either. But think of it as the reason that your current smartphone is millions of times more powerful than all of NASA’s computing power in 1969 (source: I watched this 20-minute TED talk from 2012 called “Abundance is our future” by Peter Diamandis and he made it sound like it’s all going to be alright because innovations will make it so. And, into this innovatory, technological mix I add… our progeny.

The Smallpeice Trust is a Charity which provides residential courses in science, technology and engineering to boys and girls from the age of 12 right up to 18 with the help of sponsors and universities. There is a shortage of girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) fields which organisations like The Smallpeice Trust are helping to redress. Midi-Me and her best friend were duly (and dually) shipped off to Warwick University at the end of the summer term, where they attended a 4 day “Girls into Engineering” course. By happy coincidence, the dates corresponded with a fantastic deal on a Champneys spa break which I found on Secret Escapes. But I digress…

The girls lived in halls at the university, attended workshops and lectures and worked on projects set by project partners like Transport for London, a nuclear engineering organisation and other companies. There were female guest speakers providing insight and inspiration about careers in engineering and a big formal dinner at the end. I know all this because when I picked them up at the end they were bouncing up and down and uncharacteristically ready to impart information.  I’m really hoping that this whetted their appetite for actual proper University, being that they’ve got to learn stuff in order to be able to save the world and all that.

Many universities and colleges run events and holiday courses for school age children and we attended an open day at Imperial College a couple of years ago which, thinking about it now, may have been the engineering seed I planted in her head (mwah ha ha). I will be looking for more spa breaks courses for her. If you also want to manipulate your children into your chosen career path, follow me and I’ll share my findings with you. * * twitter @appleina *Instagram @mynotesfromtheedge *


So blimey, if my parents had sent me on one of the below when I was a child, I would be running Chloe or performing heart surgery today, not sitting at my dining table typing lists of courses for people to dream about sending their kids to.

Introductory STEM Courses
Smallpeice Trust: Residential courses in STEM. Sometimes part funded by Companies and Government Agencies (like GCHQ). Occasionally fully funded courses become available.

Imperial College London Residential and Non Residential Sumer Schools for years 9 to 12 in STEM.

Coding and technology/ robotics
Fire Tech Camp “Fire Tech Camp gives children and teenagers the opportunity to create with technology through a series of exciting and innovative holiday camps, weekend courses and workshops.” Tech and coding courses of various lengths at various locations in London incuding Hampstead. It’s mostly non-residential from what I can see. The day course is £110. They have longer options too.

Bermotech “Bermotech is a London-based training company, offering a range of programming and mobile app development courses. Our courses are targeted at students of all ages and abilities, from beginners who are coding for the first time, to established computer programmers with years of experience. We also provide corporate training solutions.”
 This looks interesting if you want your kid to design their own best selling game and for it to sell well and pay their university fees. It says no laptops required – they provide them.   Based in Finchley Road. Upcoming December 5 day course for £400. They do term time courses too on Sundays.

Other courses
Intelligence Squared Debating Course Every so often I get an email about this 2 day course. It’s quite expensive but it does sound brilliant. Ages 8 - 13 Comedy course in Camden.

Events to attend with your teens both STEM and for general mind-expansion
Imperial College London Events and Talks Not specifically for teens but there are many talks and lectures on all the time about interesting subjects to do with STEM. Many are free, some paid; all require reservation in advance. There’s also the terrific yearly Imperial Festival, a weekend dedicated to sharing the best science and arts on offer from Imperial, with talks, events, exhibits for everyone, old and young. I wrote about this a couple of years ago here:

The Big Bang:The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits and careers information from STEM professionals. Next year's Fair will be held at The NEC, Birmingham 15-18 March 2017. We aim to show young people (primarily aged 7-19) the exciting and rewarding opportunities out there for them with the right experience and qualifications, by bringing classroom learning to life.”
Intelligence Squared Debates Super interesting range of events and talks around £15 quid a ticket with well-known names debating issues and current affairs. Plus coming in Feb the Intelligence Squared Festival : “a one-day deep dive into the world’s most thrilling ideas and technologies, featuring pioneers from all over the world exploring what’s happening right now across a raft of areas.Videos and podcasts available on their website and some on Youtube.

The Royal Society of Arts “RSA Events include over 100 free public lectures, talks, debates and screenings a year”. Their talks cover science, economics, culture, behaviour and are broadcast live on the website and on youtube.

Other useful websites Just found this website with lots of links, careers advice and work experience advice for students GCSEs and up. “Exscitec is passionate about enabling all students to engage in the hands-on practical application of STEM, vital to encouraging a scientifically literate population and inspiring the scientists of the future.” On their website currently they have listed a Year 11/12 Medical Taster Day at Northwick Park Hospital. You can join their mailing list for more info about other courses in STEM as and when they become available.

University taster courses for year 12s. This page contains a useful search tool. UK's biggest directory of Summer Schools and Summer Courses in the UK in 2016.” (That’s what it says on the website anyway; I wouldn’t assume it has everything on it)

Fashion Courses “Our unique programme of short fashion courses and residential summer schools for 14 - 18 year olds, is delivered throughout the summer from June to August, allowing you to experiment with new techniques, build confidence, acquire new skills and be inspired to learn more.” Includes non residential for 16 – 18 year olds in FASHION BUSINESS AND MEDIA, PHOTOGRAPHY AND STYLING, DESIGN AND GARMENT PRODUCTION, MAKEUP. Also RESIDENTIAL SUMMER SCHOOLS for 14 – 16 year olds


Residential Summer School. No price listed. I imagine it’s probably absolute bucks but find out and tell me.  

Vogue Teen Weekend  "The Vogue Teen Weekend is a two-day programme suitable for sixteen and seventeen year olds. This weekend course offers a unique view of the fashion industry via the lens of British Vogue." The next one's in July and costs £522. 

Ok I’ve actually had enough now and need a coffee. But I promise if I find any more I will add them to the page so bookmark it or something.

Goodbye for now. J

10/01/2017 Look! I found more! Young Creatives at The Roundhouse, Camden: Loads of creative/ media opportunities including radio, DJing, broadcasting, performing arts and MORE. National Citizen Service (NCS) is a 2-4 week programme for 16 to 18 year olds *costing no more than £50* which takes place outside of term time in the spring, summer and autumn holidays. Your teenager will develop the skills that employers increasingly value: confidence, leadership and independence. UCAS recommends students put NCS in their personal statement.

Friday 23 September 2016

Restaurant review: St James, Bushey

Mr Angelina booked The River Café for my birthday. I have never dined there and would have been very delighted to do so however in the end, he had to go away on business so we moved our celebratory date to the day before and went local instead to St James, Bushey.

It was a Monday night, the musak was very loud and made me feel like I was trapped in a scene from a late 90s TV movie about a single mother who, after divorce and heartbreak finally finds true love in her forties. (Ha ha!) We were sandwiched in between two tables of loud, glamorously kempt, elderly couples. To my left were a group of four, one of whom generously discussed his liver issues (those of his body, not his plate) at full decibel -  he looked and sounded like any minute he would peel off a mask to reveal Kayvan Novak.  

Close to my right were another elderly couple, the man seemingly much more elderly and compressed in his seat than his female companion (-was this a horrifying glimpse into my future? Mr Angelina is ten years older than me…) who, after I had shared with my husband that I thought the music was bonkersly loud exclaimed in a loud voice “This music is JUST PERFECT”. I prefer to think that this was simply coincidence and not a passive-aggressive attempt to put me in my place. Because it is a well-known fact that no one is passive aggressive in Bushey.

I’m making this sound terrible and it really wasn’t. Mr Angelina’s duck mosaic starter was yummy and he was very happy with his calves liver main which looked beautiful. My barley risotto (which was cooked to a perfect texture and mixed with a bountiful assortment of wild, earthy mushrooms) would have been delicious with some garlic or onion or something in it and my seabass with broccoli mousse and almond salad would have been less dry on the tongue had it been cooked for a shorter time and/ or served with some sort of sauce or dressing.

So, I’m not writing it off at all.  I will one day revisit St James, as I’m full of hope that I will again experience the ecstasy of the creamy squash risotto that I ate there a couple of years ago. It was close to the best I’ve ever had. Oo-er.