Here’s what I think about the Royal Baby

Alright. I’m not a royalist. Nor am I a republican. I vaguely enjoy the pomp and ceremony of pageantry and I enjoy the heritage and history of Britain. I like old buildings, and I think that the monarchy through the ages has contributed towards the rich and fascinating, often bloodthirsty, and sometimes terrifying, story of our ancestry.

It doesn’t really bother me that we still have a royal family. I quite like them, really, and I think that the benefits and privilege that they experience must be offset by the boring, mundane and tedious role that they continually fulfil.


So I cannot understand either extreme of opinion when it comes to this new royal baby. I struggle to have any kind of empathy with those people who camp outside the maternity wing and wave little royal flags at passing cameras. And I think that those people who respond with “another scrounging kid to be raised on taxpayers’ money” are knobbish.

Prince William is an RAF helicopter pilot. He works.

He has access to trust funds left to him by his late mother, and I’m assuming that the Crown Estate contributes towards the familial income. 


You know? The Crown Estate that raises millions of pounds of revenue a year?


I think I read somewhere that the Queen receives around 15% of that revenue to dish out to the rest of the family and that the royal family cost the country less than a pound a year per taxpayer.


Also, both the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge pay substantial taxes on their incomes, not to mention the fact that the Middletons also work and pay taxes. So, if you’re moaning about the Royals being no better than benefits scroungers (an abhorrent term for anybody by the way) may I offer you directions to the grip shop, and suggest you go and get one?


There is the school of thought that suggests the Crown Estate belongs to us all, so why should they reap the benefits..bla….bla….bla… 

It’s tedious. We are all born into something, and we all experience a life which is a combination of work, geography, family, circumstance, judgement and luck. Some are better off than others. That’s life away from communism. What would the anti monarchists have them do? Leave the palace and “get jobs”? And if they didn’t live in those buildings, and employ those people, and run those estates – who would? It would still cost “us” money. Probably more, and these historical buildings could well just turn into dusty relics. At least this way, there is tourist relevance and interest.


And don’t get me started on all this “heir and a spare” crap.

 Firstly, she is a baby. A little girl. Not a “spare” anything.

Secondly, I don’t think there is really any shortage of people in line to the throne. This conspiracy theory bullshit drives me batshit!


Yes, they live in grandeur and opulence. But if it were me,  I couldn’t  imagine anything worse than the entire world following my pregnancy; commenting on my bloated face and cankles and then having a go if I happened to get someone to style my hair nicely; preceding me to my own labour suite; camping outside alongside the full glare of the world’s media; and every tom, dick and prince Harry commenting on what might be going on as I go through an intensely private experience.

Then, having to display my public property baby, to that same onslaught of press and busybody-ness, and having fekkin Kay Burley sticking her dickhead nose in.


I tell you what… Nice one, Kate and Wills. Congrats on your second baby, particularly after an SPD pregnancy. Now, take my 56p with my best wishes, and go and enjoy your little family. I won’t bother you… You won’t bother me… And the world turns. 

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Drama Drama Drama

I have made reference before to my passion for the arts, and particularly for the arts in education.

Over the last few weeks I have been involved in some really quite wonderful activities; indulge me, if you will, and allow me to explain.

I accompanied a group of year 10 students to the theatre to watch a really challenging version of “A Clockwork Orange.” These arguably disengaged, disadvantaged and largely apathetic teenagers had the opportunity to face some interesting political, social and moral conundrums based on watching the performance. Afterwards, they were able to discuss the intricacies of the production itself, the nuances of the dramatic choices, and debate the ethical conundrums thrown up by the content of this seminal play.

I have been directing the school play. Students who otherwise struggle to stay focused on academic studies, have volunteered their own time to stay behind at the end of the school day, learn lines, be choreographed, be taught songs and engage in discipline, respect and socialising with their peers.

I am currently using the forum of “drama workshops” to engage with year 6 students in a Primary School. These 10 year old pupils will be leaving the comfort and familiarity of their school environment in 10 months and heading to secondary education. Used to being top dogs and one of a class of around 28 in a school population of around 250, they will be entering a strange, unfamiliar environment where they will be one of a year group of around 200, in a school housing 1500+ older students. Part of my role is to go into their classes, and gently ease them into this transition process which, for most, is frightening. In these classes, I use drama and art. Conventions that allow them to be at their ease, to express themselves in ways they are not usually able to, and explore themes, theories and issues using methodology that is “off the page” and a little bit removed from their normal school experience.

Past feedback has demonstrated that these workshops make a huge difference to the confidence and anticipation of these young people. In a positive way.

So, why am I banging on about this? I’ll tell you – because Mr Gove in another spectacularly stupid and ill-thought out move, has decided that drama is a “soft option” and shouldn’t be included in the curriculum.

A soft option?

In my small and inconsequential personal history, I have used drama both in and out of a school setting, to explore and teach subject matters including (but not limited to) the following:

abortion, bullying, transgender issues, cross dressing, pregnancy, adoption, the romans, time machines, Shakespeare, mountains, geography, riots, HIV, medieval theatre, ancient Greece, French, german, physics, classic literature, capital cities…. I could go on and on.

In addition, the sessions that I have both led and participated in, have encouraged creativity, confidence, self-esteem, public speaking, modified breathing, voice control, physical control, emotional transference, and many other bonuses that cannot be replicated within academia.

For those reasons, both tangible and additional, drama should be considered not a soft option, but a necessity. However, I recognise my bias and appreciate not everyone shares these views.

But how about this?

We live in a society which enjoys access to TV shows, soap operas, dramas, panel shows, comedy shows, films, theatre, gigs, performance. We applaud all kinds of media, TV presenters, writers, actors, producers, camera operatives – an endless amount of people, roles, media and presentation.

So, do we think they would have got there without access to the arts? Do we think actors would train at drama school, without first experiencing GCSE, or even Key Stage 3 drama? Do we think TV presenters, public speakers, film directors, playwrights, screenwriters and countless roles within the media would exist without exposure to the necessary goods?

Of course not.

Our arts and creative industry is enviable across the globe. We are the home of Shakespeare, of Pinewood, of the West End, of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

We are theatre and film and performance. And we must never forget that it starts with your high school drama class.

And it doesn’t end.

Mr Gove, take your soft options and shove them. The Arts will not be moved.

General Sexism and Bashing Heads Against Walls

 

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, and that’s primarily because I’m engaging with a bit of online debate on various forums; most of which is to do with the casual sexism that is so rife in everything we see, hear and do in the United Kingdom.

I thought I’d write myself a pocket guide to dealing with misogyny, and hope that it allows me to let off enough steam that I can stop engaging quite so much, because it’s frankly tiring and repetitive, and it makes me despair for what I am dealing with.

I would like to start by saying that I NEVER seek to to “make other people agree with me.” That is not my intent. Rather, I comment and debate on various threads, in order to engage and discuss issues that matter. I am happy to hear other sides, and am happy to put my viewpoint across. Too often, however, it descends into name calling and personal insults, and it is at that juncture, that I realise that the point is all but lost.

These are all examples of recent “debates” I have fallen into the trap of getting involved in.

1) On the Morrisons Facebook page, a reader posted a photograph of the toy aisle, in which boys and girls toys were separated and advertised with a gender divide. Not news, of course, and pretty much prevalent across most high street stores. A debate ensued. I made the point that I felt the gender divide – where girls’ toys are all sparkles, tiaras, dolls, prams, make up, shopping trolleys, kitchen items and pink lego, and boys’ toys are all dinosaurs, construction, vehicles, monsters, aliens, gunge and guns – was unnecessary. I (politely) advised that I felt it was unhelpful to segregate and market certain toys at different genders, because children will basically play with anything, and rightly so. I said that I didn’t like the message that it sends to children – “these are your toys, and those toys belong to the other gender” because it embeds the notion of the gender divide at an early age, and I gave an example where, at my son’s nursery, a boy had a doll and pram removed from him, whereupon it was given to a girl, and he was taken to the cars section.

A couple of people agreed with me, but for the most point, the vitriol and hatred I received made me wonder if I had inadvertenly posted that I was planning to kill, cook and eat some babies. I was told to “grow the f*ck up”, “stop projecting [my] own inadequacies”, “shut up and grow a pair”, “leave kids alone to be kids” and was also advised that I was a “rampant lentil-weaving feminist”, an idiot because it’s “adults what buy toys , not kids, you tw*t” and that there are “much better things to be worrying about”, and one kind soul made my point for me, stating that her daughter “loved to dress as a builder, and likes other boys’ toys. What’s wrong with that?”

Precisely!

Because although many of them failed to see it, we were actually ALL saying that children should and could play with anything and everything that came my way. Which was exactly my point in saying that gender marketing was unnecessary.

2) I commented on a thread by a local radio station, which asked if Page 3 was “cheeky fun, or pornography”. Most replies ran along the “cheeky fun” line, and I responded with a short statement saying that Page 3 IS pornography and unnecessary and helped to embed the notion in our society that women are there to look at, and not be listened to, because Page 3 is in a newspaper, which I feel is inappropriate. I followed it up with a quick “I’m not debating about the existence of porn, I am merely stating that it should be removed from a newspaper which markets itself at the family demographic”

I was attacked left, right and centre. I was told by one respondent that he had “fought for King and Country for 18 years, and he did that to protect the right of women to do whatever line of work they wanted”. My response that we actually have a Queen and haven’t had a King since 1952 didn’t go down too well, and neither did my question “what about my right to not see porn in a newspaper?”

I was told that I was jealous (I’m not), campaigning to remove something which is our country’s heritage (it’s not), and that I was a “do-gooder with too much time on my hands”

I was also told, by several people, that if I don’t like it, then I shouldn’t buy it – which clearly misses the point, because it is the existence of Page 3 which I object to, and which continues to objectify women in our society. I provided links to the No More Page 3 campaign, and to the #EverdaySexism project, and also links proving a correlation between Page 3 and some instances of sexual violence. I was called a “sad woman” a “f*cking idiot” and a “silly b*tch”

3) I saw a lovely photograph of a steam train, posted by my friend. It had a description on, advertising the fact that “even women” work on trains, and that a woman named Steph was the new fireman on the train. These were not my friend’s words, but I commented on the page, and mentioned that I felt it was a shame that it had to be pointed out that “even women” can work in this industry. I also asked, politely, why she was referred to as a fireman? I was met with a wave of misogyny that really shocked me.

I was told that the job description was part of the heritage of our country, and no “lady” has a right to change it – and the “ladies” who worked there didn’t want to, so why was I getting het up about it? I was told that women can do the job as well as men, and they were merely pointing that out (erm…thanks) and that men who work in hospitals as “ward sisters” don’t get all militant and “foot-stampy” about the job title, because men don’t react like women.

I replied to this by saying that I felt it unnecessary to include a gender description in any job title, and I would support anyone – male or female – who opposed it. I also commented that men in general tend not to react to sexism, because it isn’t directed against men in the same way it is, and always has been, against women.

Another poster told me that it’s “just language” and I shouldn’t get annoyed with language. I replied that I wasn’t annoyed, but that there is still a gender pay-gap and employment opportunity disparity in this country, and opinions like the one published were all part of that problem. I was then challenged because none of them believed in the slightest that there is a gender pay divide because “in all my years of working in public and private sector, I have never known women get less money than men”

Within two minutes, I posted 5 links to support these facts, which I found on google, published by The Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the BBC and the Guardian. I then found a piece on the pay divide in professional sport and posted that. I mentioned that in graduate professions particularly, and including politics, science, engineering and business, the pay gap is very real.

The response to this? “When you’re in a hole – stop digging.”

My favourite bit, though, was the man who told me that there were lots of “feminine ladies” who worked alongside him on the trains. How lovely for everyone concerned.

These are but three examples. There are dozens more.

I find it interesting that the people who argue with me, tell me that I’m wrong, even when I explain to them why I feel the way I do, but they cannot tell me why they think the way that they do.
■The people who want to keep gender divide marketing just tell me I’m being silly and they’ll buy whatever they like – fine. So let’s get rid of it, if there’s no reason to have it
■The people who want to keep Page 3 tell me that it “doesn’t do any harm”, and say that it’s their right to look at it. – fine. Look at it from the top shelf
■The people that feel that gender-descriptive job roles are OK and that there’s no issue just told me I was wrong when I explained I felt there was. One of them did tell me that the job-description was part of the heritage of the industry, which is a historical indusrty, and something that they wanted to preserve. I disagree, but at least he had a coherent reason. However, when I presented them with facts to back up my opinion, I was just told I was incorrect because men don’t complain – fine. That’s their business. This is mine, and I feel like righting wrongs.

Very often I am flogging a dead horse, but I still think that my opinion has value, because I back it up with reason and fact. That doesn’t mean that I expect the world to agree with me, change their minds, or tell me I’m right. I just expect people to understand what I am saying, and accept my responses when I answer their challenges. I also welcome debate from people who hold other opinions to me – but I rarely get it. Because most people deny that it’s an issue, ignore the facts that I give them, or completely misunderstand my point of view.

However, if one side of a debate can only fall back on insults, aggression and refusal to acknowledge that there is even a debate to be had, then they are part of the problem that they don’t believe in.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20223264

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/nov/22/gender-pay-gap-falls-full-time-workers

http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/equal-pay/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/9915125/Gender-pay-gap-Female-graduates-dont-value-themselves-as-much-as-men.html

http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/home/research/articles-and-reports/equity-issues/pay-inequity

The Youth Of Today

In everyday life, there seem to be a lot of accusations levied at the “younger generation.”

I don’t know about you, but I hear it all the time: “The youth of today have no conversation. The youth of today are so rude. Kids these days are only interested in themselves. Teenagers are always on their phones. They’re confrontational, opinionated, only care about what’s on telly and have no interest in politics.”

 Essentially, most of the problems in today’s society, according to some popular opinion, are the responsibility of our teens and tweens.

I say this:

“Really?”

When I was a teenager, the same accusations were thrown our way. I played “knock a door run” and “chicken” – innocuous and innocent sounding as those games now seem to the 40+ generation, at the time it must have been inconvenient at best for those residents and car drivers, and dangerous and frightening at worst.

The “youth” has always been a foil to blame society’s ills on, and in this 2000’s era with all of its technology, the ability to share an ill-thought-out comment with hundreds, or even thousands of people in an instant, is easy and, in my opinion, ultimately forgivable. Because, you know what? Kids aren’t quite there yet, in terms of having the filter on what’s appropriate for wider consumption – just look at what happened to our first Youth Crime Commissioner, Paris Brown. Vilified by some and forced to resign from post because of silly comments made when she was just 14 years old. The only difference between these young people, and those of my era in the 80s, is that our throwaway comments were thrown away. Not recorded forever on an international media feed.

I’ll end with this. I have just had the pleasure of spending the morning – in the Easter Holidays – with two committed classes of Drama students in Year 12 and Year 13. They have given up one of their “days off” to come into school and rehearse for their examination performances. They have been respectful, entertaining, clever, witty, hard-working, diligent and a pleasure to be around. Working in a school, I get to see the good and the bad of our “youth”  and quite honestly, these students – like most of them – are a credit to themselves, and to us.

Because it’s our job to make sure they learn from the same mistakes that we made

A Side Order of Sexism With Your Evening Meal?

I heard this today:

A: “She’s got an arse that could swallow up a G-string”

B: “I’d smash her. As long as I didn’t have to look at her face”

A: “Or listen to her talk”

Sadly familiar, yes?

And possibly surprising when I tell you that it wasn’t a pair of sweaty oafish idiots in a greasy spoon, leering at Page 3, but a couple of well-dressed, middle-class, well-educated 15 year old boys, watching a female classmate innocently walk down the road in front of them.

I know that the “G-string” comment wasn’t an original thought, but rather came from the charming penmanship of Jay-Z in his misogyny-fest “Run This Town.” I can’t work out if it’s better or worse that it was a quote.

I don’t even know where to start with this. Appalled that the two boys – both of whom I know – could possibly think that their sentiment was acceptable. Appalled that the lyrics in the afore-mentioned song actually go like this:

“She got a ass that’ll swallow up a G-string,

And up top, uh, two bee stings”

and appalled that this isn’t news. Because conversations like the above are still commonplace even in 2013.

Why haven’t we improved at this, as a nation and as a society? When I was a child in the 1970s, the world was a very different place; “Comedian” Jim Davidson was allowed to perform a caricature of a West Indian man, hilariously named “Chalky White” complete with grotesque accent, and exaggerated facial expressions.Disability awareness was non-existent, being gay was an instant ticket to give to people to cover their asses. Literally. And women were chefs in the kitchen, mothers in the parlour and whores in the bedroom.

Time has moved on apace. It is no longer acceptable to be racist or xenophobic. It is absolutely not allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities, and gay people are people. Their sexual orientation is none of your damn business.

So why? Why is sexism, objectification and discrimination against women still socially acceptable? More than that – still promoted by the media? Why is it OK to make judgements about women because of the way that they look and on no other criteria? Why are sexist jokes about rape and abuse and violence still broadcastable and laughed at? Why is my lack of male genitalia a consideration for anything?

Even at the recent Oscars, host Seth Macfarlane sang an incredibly bizarre choice of comedy song to open the event. The content was “boobs.” Boobs in films. Reducing the work and skill and integrity of Hollywood’s finest (some of whom were, admittedly in on the hilarity) to whether or not they got their baps out for the camera. Puerile, juvenile, jokes for the boys as it was, the biggest mistake within the controversy, was the fact that in a peak of lazy songwriting, Seth managed to include a number of films where “boobs” were seen because the film was about the character being raped.

Still – a gag’s a gag, eh Seth? Way to reduce the impact of abuse, domestic violence and terror to a cheap laugh.

I have promoted the rather excellent No More Page 3 campaign a few times. It is interesting to read the comments from both supporters and detractors on their Facebook page. The issue certainly isn’t black and white, and opposers often have well-thought out comments to make. All of which are usually addressed by one of the fine women in charge of the site.

I support the campaign, because I cannot believe that this abomination exists in this 21st century world. I don’t care about the “side order of boobs with my porridge” argument, because I don’t buy the newspaper and read it with my breakfast. I don’t buy it, because I think it’s crap, not because of Page 3. But the point is, it is printed in glorious technicolour every single day, just so people can leer. In a newspaper. IN A NEWSPAPER. It is completely and utterly socially acceptable in our society, for men (or women?) to openly and outwardly leer at a picture of a semi-naked woman, and comment on what they would do to her, without fear of recrimination or embarrassment. In a society where people stare awkwardly at women breastfeeding their babies, and where restaurants ask nursing mothers to leave dining areas as it upsets other patrons.

Whatever your thoughts are on the removal of soft pornographic images from a well-read family newspaper, consider this: if there was a picture EVERY DAY on Page 3 of a disabled person, with a silly comment next to it, for no other reason other than the fact that they were disabled, or a black person posing – for no other reason other than the fact that they were black – if they were printed on a daily basis, with no connection to news, events or lifestyle, wouldn’t you stop and think: “why?”

Now, ask yourself that question about the fact that those Page 3 pictures exist just because they’re women. I bet I can predict your answers. I bet you’re not impressed with them.

I’d love to know what they are – please feel free to comment below?

Facebook, Banality, Wit and Worrying

I have entered a potentially dangerously boring phase of my life – and you might be a future victim of it.

Allow me to explain;

I have always prided myself on my ability to communicate interesting things with relevance and humour. Not everyone is going to agree that this is the case, but by and large, I try and talk about interesting things in a way that people will engage in. It’s my thing. If you ask my nearest and dearest what my defining quality is, some will say I’m a performer, others will say I’m a bit of a (lapsed) comedian, but most will say I’m a writer.

I have spent long hours over many years, honing and perfecting a style of writing that I hope engages people, and ensnares them into reading whatever it is I have to say. I’ve never really been dull on Facebook, and have never posted a picture of my dinner with the words “nom, nom, nom” next to it. I’ve also never written “going to bed” or “my son used the potty today” or “nearly summer” or any kind of approximation of those violations against wit. I’m more likely to utilise colourful language to explain a dispute with an alarm company, or choice allegations against a poor tour operator. Or make a joke. I make a lot of jokes, and none of them are copied and pasted, unless I am quoting Monty Python, which is not a sin.

But this is all changing, and it is for two reasons.

1) My sister gave birth last week to my first nephew. I am overcome with emotion about this and.. I can’t help sharing it with people who probably don’t care

2) I am on a diet, and doing really rather well. I have refrained from posting my “results” thus far, and have not yet resorted to the attention-seeking “lost 4lbs whoop whoop” kind of bollocks that I’m always reading…but I’m dangerously close to doing so and will, no doubt, soon be sharing it with people who probably don’t care.

Facebook is mental. It’s just a place where anyone with access to the internet can show off a pile of random crap to all and sundry. Some conversations that people have on Facebook, completely enthral me with their banality and stupidity, and right at the top of my Facebook fist-itching hates, are:

  1. Photographs of someone’s boring wanky dinner, described (as mentioned) by “nom” or “yum.” Especially “nom.”
  2. Boring, boring, boring commentary-style statuses, whereby “friends” narrate their every dullsville move throughout a given time period
  3. Enigmatic, moody attention-seeking postings along the lines of: “So fed up by it all.” or “Well, that’s it. Don’t mess with me, because you’ll regret it.” These are inevitably followed by baa-lamb responses (usually around 7-10 in number) of “what’s wrong, babe?” “what’s up?” “what’s happened?” And let me tell you, if you – the status originator – then respond with: “I’ll inbox you,” then you will move several notches up my shit-list.
  4. Poor grammar and spelling. This includes bloody text-speak, and “lol.”                                                                                      YOU ARE NOT LAUGHING OUT LOUD. AND I WOULD WAGER THAT YOU HAVE NEVER EVER IN YOUR LIFE ROLLED ON THE FLOOR LAUGHING. AND IF YOUR ARSE IS STILL ATTACHED TO YOU, YOU’VE NEVER LAUGHED THAT OFF EITHER. This section also includes those of you who write a couple of angry sentences about something or someone that has pissed you off, and then end it with “rant over.”  Point 1) It probably wasn’t a rant – we know a rant when we see one. Point 2)  If you have to tell us it was over, then it was a bad rant, and probably wasn’t one anyway. See Point 1.
  5. The constant posting of stupid copied pictures and “thought of the day” type crap. I don’t mind something funny or relevant or newsworthy, but I am so sick of “don’t forget who you trod on, on the way up, as they’ll be there to meet you on the way down” kind of crap. Yawn. If you can’t think of something intelligent, poignant or impressive yourself, then just post a picture of a cat yawning.
  6. Pictures of cats yawning
  7. Racist or sexist or inciteful or offensive or insulting or disablist lazy Daily Mail type shite.
  8. Constant updates on the progress of your children. They are amazing. To you. You honestly don’t need to tell us “I love my boys” every 5 minutes. We’ll just assume that you do
  9. People who post c&p statuses where you are supposed to feel guilty if you don’t repost it immediately, because it is in aid of cancer/babies dying/autism or whatever. These end in “99% of people won’t post – will you?” …     “No” would be the short answer. This also includes the rounds of “Facebook is changing its privacy settings…please read on if you don’t want your privacy compromised…” bollocks. It is untrue. www. snopes.com. Seriously.
  10. People who post EVERY SINGLE PHOTOGRAPH THAT THEY EVER TAKE. Even if they’re blurred, upside down, identical to the last 6 that were posted, of nothing, and crap. This includes people who pout. Sort through your photos, people.

I could go on, but I don’t know if anyone is still here? The thing is, I use FB all the time. And I’m probably more than guilty of other people’s pet hates, and no doubt there are people who block me from time to time, because they can’t be arsed with my moany campaign statuses. But if there is one thing I can’t stand, it is hackneyed, trite, unoriginal banality, and I have a (fairly low key) one-woman mission to inject a bit of humour into a Facebook day.

Well, I did. Until now.

So, please, those of you who are friends with me on FB – do enjoy my upcoming regular updates on my nephew’s bowel movements, and how cute and small he is. I will accompany them with photographs. And, in a couple of months, you will have my weight loss progress to look forward to, because I’m holding the announcements in by the skin of my teeth only.

I know you’re not really interested. I’m not interested in much of what I read on Facebook either. But, we’re there and we’re using it, so it’s going to happen. Read it, roll your eyes, and mourn the passing of my witticisms, because …here comes boring.

Rant over.

IVF and that

So, it’s in the news in the UK that NICE (a rather jolly little acronym for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) have recommended that IVF should be offered to couples after 2 years of trying to conceive, and that the upper age limit for a woman should be moved from 39 to 42.

Which seems very progressive and less arbitrary than the previous cut-off age.
But the reality is that we can debate it until we are blue in the ovaries, it’s not going to make very much difference at all.

The trouble is that these are only recommendations so the NHS trusts are not bound by these guidelines, which only means that they CAN continue to treat for fertility problems past 40 if they choose, not that they will.
Additionally, after 2 years of trying to conceive naturally, a couple can be referred for fertility treatment, instead of 3, so the ball should roll earlier on in the process.
But what does that mean in real terms?

My dear husband and I started trying to conceive, in a general “let’s see what happens” kind of a way when we were in our mid 20s. Nothing happened, but we didn’t get checked out until we had been not “not trying” for around 5 years.

We were tested and found to have “unexplained subfertility” and, because it had been longer than 3 years, we were referred immediately for tests within the NHS. Our GP “fast-tracked” us, told us that we were lucky that we lived in the right Post Code, and that our IVF journey could start from the moment I was first stabbed in the arm with a vicious needle by an angry phlebotomist.These preliminary tests (both male and female) took around 9 appointments and 11 months to complete. By which time, the first set of tests were out of date, and so had to be done again.

Around a year or so after we were referred, and after several days off work and trips to the hospital, a consultant (not our consultant – the one we were officially under; we never actually met him) advised us that we were eligible for one NHS funded round of IVF and that we could start as soon as something or other was sorted.

This was most confusing, as we thought we’d already started a year previously.

Anyway, from that point we had to do lots of visits to private clinics, because that’s where fertility treatment is actually done, and we had to have a bit of counselling, and then we had to have some more tests, because the results of my day-21 blood tests had been mislaid, and by the time we actually were booked into the clinic for our first appointment with the clinician, it was just over 2 years from the date we had been initially referred.
After trying to conceive for 5. And that was before the treatment had even begun.

What I am trying to say is that the guidelines can be whatever they want to be, the facts are that the reality is often completely different.
The NHS is underfunded for fertility treatment as it is – so increasing ages and decreasing timescales isn’t worth a bean, if they ain’t got the cash. And if, as in our case, the guidelines are nothing more than a dusty book on a shelf, then there’s nothing to even debate about, because until the real problems of consistent treatment and care are addressed, this is just another non-starter. Add to that the fact that IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) has now been found to be no more effective than sex, then it seems that there are even medical issues to balance out before we mess around with eligibility.

There are arguments out there (generally from people who have never struggled to conceive) that IVF is a waste of NHS funding anyway, and the money should be better spent on cancer research, the elderly and other more worthy conditions, but the trouble with that line of thought is that you head down a murky road of those who “deserve” medical assistance. And the NHS is about care for everyone, not just those with life-threatening conditions.
Because the truth is, that even though having children is not a right, and that infertility is not life-threatening, it is a condition which is all-consuming, heart-breaking, devastating debilitating and painful. And, no, that isn’t an exaggeration.
Depression and infertility go hand-in-hand, and the truth; the ugly, ugly truth, of infertility is that it can adversely impact every facet of your life. So even though it isn’t life-threatening, it is still hugely important, and fertility treatment exists. Therefore it should be offered.

Let’s face it, it’s not like for every couple who are refused NHS funded treatment, the Trust bung a few thousand quid into the cancer pot. Budgets don’t work that way.

The NHS is free at point of use, and fertility treatment is a service that they offer.
It is already a lottery, and the funding is based on throwing up a dice and seeing if it lands on a 6. Or something equally capricious. So, really, all of this consultation and recommending that something or other ought to be something else, is nothing other than smoke and mirrors.
There are already problems within the system, and these changes may improve some people’s chance of parenting, which is all to the good, but it’s not really a new issue, and it’s not tackling the real ones.

And if you were wondering, we actually refused fertility treatment in the end. Felt it was invasive, with little chance of success, too expensive and not for us.

And have never regretted that decision.