The case for voting Labour……

…not that you’d know it from the slightly odd headline on the piece in the latest issue of Red Pepper, in which I debate the choice facing us in the upcoming election, with Mike Mansfield QC, he of the extraordinary court room confidence and flowing locks.

In short, MM thinks the current system and New Labour are bankrupt of integrity and ideas and that we need creative renewal through refusal ( meaning not voting Labour, except in exceptional circumstances.) I make the less exciting case for voting Labour but continuing the pressure on the party and government to radicalise their policies.

The Mother Load

I really liked this piece in today’s Observer. Too many mothers deal with their own insecurities/competitiveness by focussing on the all too human failings of others. But mothers also need each other, particularly in the early years when it is all so bewildering and overwhelming. Motherhood unites, but it also divides, women or the competitive/ consumer/ schooling /achievement driven kind does. And it’s actually very sad.

I read this piece soon after listening to Emma Thompson on Desert Island Discs. She is obviously hugely successful, sounds a pretty nice, grounded woman who has also experienced the difficulties of depression, broken relationships but also has a strong sense of social justice.

I was most struck by something she said about the importance of continuity in her life, the irreplaceable value of years-long relationships, with family and friends, those who know us well, like us and accept us for who we really are: conflicts, insecurities, achievements, ambition, mistakes and all.

These relationships don’t tend to survive if individualism, ambition, competitiveness and criticism are the dominant element – if we become, to paraphrase Thompson, too ‘up ourselves’.

Yet long term accepting relationships become more and more important as we age, and our children grow up and grow away. Then we are left, where we started, with ourselves and our simple capacity for friendship, possibly the single most valuable human skill there is, and a key part of family and love partnerships too.

We are also most likely to have a good relationship with our adult children if we have passed onto them ( probably by example) the habit of kindness, acceptance, forgiveness ( up to a point) and understanding who other people are and why they are the way they are. Teach them judgmentalism, impatience, self absorption or that its ‘all about me’ and ‘showing’ other people or worse, ‘showing them up’ …well, that’s who they’ll end up being and they are likely to deal with their own ageing parents that way too.

Oh dear, I’m beginning to sound like the Today programme’s Thought for the Day. Enough!

In treatment

Nowadays, I mostly watch TV for current affairs: News at Ten, Newsnight, Question Time and the occasional political documentary. If I miss something, I can spend ages trying to load up my – slow broadband – computer to watch it again, not always successfully: for instance, quite a few people have told me how great the BBC series on Women was, particularly the Libbers episode. I am hoping to load that onto my computer screen soon.

But for drama, I often turn to my box sets; gifts or borrowed. And my current BS passion is In Treatment, starring Gabriel Byrne as a psychotherapist called Paul, strangely enough. It is quite slow to start with, showing one session a day, over the course of a week, meaning we get to know the individuals ( and in one case, a couple) and their particular ‘issues.’ Then, on a Friday, Gabriel Byrne goes to see his old supervisor, to discuss his own crisis in work and personal life.

Who would think that a show about people sitting in a room talking could be so gripping and, at times, moving?

That it is so good is largely down to excellent acting, a fine script and the incredibly handsome Byrne, who manages to make the art of listening and thinking, dramatically absorbing. Then, on a Friday, he reveals a completely different side of himself in supervision, coming across as rather cranky and dissatisfied, quite at odds with his calm professional demeanour.

Highly recommended.