When I was 17 I was living at home and going to Sixth Form in Devon. My friend Soph had passed her driving test and a carload of us used to go round the country lanes at night in her mum’s car listening to Velvet Pants by Propellerheads. Then we’d all go and get a take-away pizza. Smells of that era that take me right back include Lynx, Archers, CK One and Paco Rabane. Top nostalgic tastes are Pernod & Black (thanks to Han who loved it), scampi fries and cheesy chips.Continue reading
Last week results from a survey of over 8000 teachers carried out by the National Education Union were released during their annual conference.
The survey included four questions about mental health, asking teachers if they thought there had been an increase in mental health problems since 2017, what provision they had to support young people with mental health problems, what prevents them from supporting children with mental health problems fully, and what mental health training they had had.
The views of the teachers are interesting by themselves, but how do their opinions compare to other sources of evidence
Here’s a piece I wrote for BBC Science Focus magazine, all about the phenomenon of aphantasia – not having a “mind’s eye”. Free to access.
New year is expectation-tastic with its contradictory pressures of having a stonking New Year’s Eve, and then a sanctimonious fresh start on New Year’s Day. The fantasy is that suddenly, all those things we wanted to be but fell short of last year will suddenly click into place.
In my 20s the focus was mostly on plans for the night of New Year’s Eve. I once spent a New Year on my own. It was great. I made myself spaghetti and wrote a short story. It was good because I had the choice though. Like most things, if you can decide to do something it feels better than if the situation is inescapable. I was alone but I didn’t feel lonely, and I had the luxury of knowing that if I did I could probably run out into the night and find a friend at short notice. Continue reading
The death of the high street is everywhere at the moment. House of Fraser is in trouble, and its Birmingham branch, formerly Rackham’s, is one of the stores to close. The Exeter branch, formerly the artist known as Dingles, will stay open, though for how long is hard to tell.
I have a nostalgic fondness for department stores. They remind me of going with my mum to have a toasted teacake in the shop cafe as a treat when I was little. Those moments felt really special, oddly grown up, to be in a cafe just us two. The toasted tea cakes always had a lot of butter on, and the loos had a dated picture of a posing woman on the door and those funny sanitary towel bags on top of the cistern which I was too young to know what to do with, but which I admired for their funny Victorian lady on the front. Continue reading
An article in the Telegraph today interviews Dr Gallagher, a psychiatrist based in the US, all about how he thinks demonic possession is real and exorcism can be helpful.
The article doesn’t give any alternative point of view, or ask Dr Gallagher any particularly challenging questions, so it’s possible to read it and think it’s not that controversial. Continue reading
A new NHS framework promoting health and wellbeing in healthcare staff was launched mid-May.
The investment of time and resource to write this report is to be celebrated. The framework emphasises the importance of NHS staff wellbeing and gives some concrete ideas for improving working conditions and individual skills to cope with difficult work. These have the potential to be helpful.
However, the report ignores one of the key reasons why this document is needed in the first place: funding constraints. Continue reading