Monday, 2 March 2015

5X50 Challenge - springing into action

I know it's snowing outside, but soon it'll get warmer, brighter and springier. Then there will be no excuse for skulking by the fire.

So it'll be the time of year for taking up a challenge, or it might be if I could be bothered. In previous years I've done half marathons, got on my bike or climbed marathons. This year, well, meh. I haven't got even an ounce of inspiration.

Until now...

My fit friend Fiona Outdoors nudged me in the direction of 5X50 Challenge. 

It's a 50-day fitness challenge. You have to do something energetic every day from the day the clocks go forward for 50 days. That's March 29 until May 17. 

It's been going a couple of years now and there are lots of ways of achieving the 5X50 challenge. 

Co-founder Kelly Mason said: "with five different 5X50 platforms we hope to see even more people benefit from being more active in 2015."

Launched in 2012, the 5x50 Challenge called on people to do 5km or 30 minutes of exercise every day for 50 consecutive days.
Now Challengers can choose one of the five platforms to complete their 50 days, including: 

• The movers: Individual/team/school complete 5k distance by walking, jogging, running, cycling, rowing etc for 50 days
• The added extras: Individual/team/school complete minimum 30 minutes of activity/exercise including the above with addition of yoga, weight training, exercise class etc for 50 days
• The pairs: Two people split the challenge to cover 5k for 50 days between them, so each person does 25 days.
• The teams: Five people cover 1km per day for 50 days by walking, jogging, running, cycling, rowing, swimming etc.
• The builders: Individuals build from five minutes of activity to 50 minutes of activity by the end of the 50-day challenge.

Five charities in 2015

In 2015, the 5x50 Challenge, which is a Scottish charity, will raise funds for five charity partners. These are Macmillan Cancer Support, SAMH, Guide Dogs, Chest, Heart and Stroke (Scotland) and Children 1st.

Raymond Wallace, the other 5x50 founder, said:  “The Challenge started off in Scotland as a personal challenge in 2012, to run 5k every day for 50 days.

“Since then it has grown amazingly quickly and with so much enthusiasm from so many people worldwide. Research demonstrates that habits are formed after 21 days, so with the challenge running over 50 days, this makes it much easier for participants to continue beyond the end of the challenge into a new way of life.

“We are very hopeful of a fitter and healthier future for so many more people thanks to 5x50.

So I'm going to put my trainers on every day for nearly twin months - or at the very least get on the yoga mat. Anyone fancy joining me?

Sign up to the 5X50 Challenge at
Also see and

5 benefits of quitting smoking

According to surveys, approximately two-thirds of smokers would like to break the habit, but only 30 to 40 per cent try to quit every year. If you are on the verge of making the leap to a smoke-free life, this post might give you the push you need.

If you’ve tried and failed to stop smoking in the past, you may think there’s no hope for you, but don’t be dismayed. These days, there’s a range of effective smoking cessation aids available, including the prescription medicine champix which has been proven to double or even triple your chances of quitting for good.

Whether you get help or go it alone, here are five ways that quitting smoking will change your life for the better:

1.  Your risk of developing smoking-related diseases and health conditions will be reduced
Smoking causes around 90 per cent of lung cancers and can be responsible for a variety of other cancers, including cancer of the throat, mouth, oesophagus and kidneys. It can also lead to heart problems and lung conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia. Even if you’ve smoked for many years, quitting can significantly reduce your chances of developing these life-threatening smoking-related health problems. As a result, you’re more likely to live a longer, healthier life.

2.  You’ll save money
When you’re in the grips of nicotine addiction, it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand about how much you’re spending on cigarettes. However, the truth is, smoking is an expensive habit and you’re probably using more money than you’d like to support it. The average smoker goes through 13 cigarettes a day. In monetary terms, this equates to almost £2,000 a year. Imagine what you could do with this extra cash. Fancy going on a family holiday, doing some home renovations, or splashing out on a new television, computer or tablet device? By quitting smoking, you could.

3. Your sex life could improve

Stopping smoking can lead to better sex for both men and women. Going smoke free promotes proper blood circulation, which enhances sensitivity. These changes can result in better erections for men and improved orgasms for women. As you’ll no longer smell of stale smoke or have tobacco-stained teeth or fingernails, you’re also likely to be more confident with your partner. In fact, studies have shown that people rate non-smokers as three times more attractive than their smoking counterparts.

4. Your fertility levels may be boosted

Smoking can have a devastating effect on your chances of conceiving. In women, smoking can make the uterus less receptive to the egg. In men, meanwhile, it can decrease the quantity and quality of sperm. Generally, smokers find it more difficult to conceive than non-smokers. In fact, it is thought that smokers are one third less likely to get pregnant in each menstrual cycle than non-smokers.

5. Your breathing will improve

The ability to breathe easier is one of the first improvements you’ll notice when you quit smoking. This can make physical exertion easier and help ensure you feel fitter and more energetic. You can take advantage of this new-found exuberance in a variety of ways. Perhaps you’d like to take up a new sport, try out some exercise classes or spend more time playing with your kids.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Do something about dementia: Give my sister your money!

My sister is a remarkable woman. She runs a successful - award-winning even - pharmacy business, keeps a dog, two small boys and a wife happy, and still has time for other people. Plus she's pretty good company. 

However, this time she's excelled herself. She's gone and entered the London Marathon. I know that to some people running a marathon isn't that big a deal. After all, thousands of folk do it every year. But I suppose I've been measuring my achievements against hers all our lives. (I quit smoking with the mantra "if she can do it, so can I" going around in my head!). We've done 10Ks together and even a couple of half marathons - panting along companionably, you understand. 

But a marathon. Blimey. My hat is truely off to her. The half marathons just about did me in and they were a good few years ago. 

I'm not running with her, but I'm cheering her along. Proudly. Therefore, I urge you to join me and sponsor her efforts. And if I can't persuade you, maybe she can:

My sister: the one on the left
Why the dementia charity?

With an ageing population, we are seeing more and more patients in the pharmacy affected by dementia. The effect it has on partners and families is far-reaching.

It reminds me of how we dealt with cancer when I first qualified 25 years ago. Talking in hushed voices. Nobody having the difficult conversations with the patient themselves. To add to that we really don't have very good drugs yet to tackle dementia.

Do you have personal experience?

Only through my work in the pharmacy. Watching the decline of some of the brightest minds I know is very upsetting and to see the effect that has on relatives, friends and carers can be very upsetting.

I also see this as a bit of an insurance policy. By the time I am over 70, one in three of us will be affected by dementia!!!!

What would you like to see your sponsorship donations achieve?

I have worked closely with Alzheimer's Scotland in our efforts at the pharmacy to develop a dementia friendly pharmacy and community, and I am really impressed with the
Organization and its vision.

They provide much-needed support through dementia advisors, a 24-hour helpline and dementia link workers. I really hope my fundraising can help ensure no one faces dementia alone.

Why the marathon? 
The marathon is the ultimate running challenge. London is the ultimate mass participation marathon.

I have previously run 10k and half marathons, but the marathon is different. I only ever want to run one marathon. This is definitely not the beginning of a new obsession! Running doesn't come easily to me. I am not what you would call a natural athlete and I think that makes this more of a challenge.

Best bits about training?

I actually like seeing the way my body responds to training. 10 weeks ago the thought of running 10 miles seemed unachievable. Now I have done 10... but 20 seems a very tall order.

I also really love being out training in the early morning. Seeing the first glimpse of daylight, crunching on a frosty pavement or spying a brazen fox crossing my path. Weird? Maybe!

Worst bits?

The early mornings.

Having to take time off training with a cold is frustrating. I'm not known for my patience.
How long it takes to run a long way. I only have one running speed and it is verrrry slow! However I have discovered talking books and podcasts which help take me away to another place on long runs.

Have you learned anything about yourself?

I have always liked a challenged and really thought there was nothing I couldn't do if I put my mind to it, but I have had to learn to respect my body and the distance for his one. Probably because the body is not getting any younger.

This is the first challenge I have done where it is really about getting to the start line in one piece and then the stubborn bloody mindedness can get be to get to the end!

Anything you want to add?

Thanks to my family for letting me disappear for hours on end to get the training done. I promise I won't be doing another one....

Sponsor Sally to run the London Marathon for Alzheimer's Scotland. 

Something else she can do that I can't

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Keep St Valentine out of our schools, for the kids' sake

"I'm very sad, mummy," said Boy Three from his seat in the back of the car. 

We were on the way home last night - the night before St Valentine's Day. 

"What's the matter, honey bun?" I asked. 

This isn't an unusual exchange. Often it's the Worst Day in the World. Ever. Sometimes it's really, really, really bad and other evenings something makes him "hate his life... and everything, except you mummy, and daddy, and the brothers".

Mostly the cause of this deep distress is hunger, a snub from his Lego-building buddy or rain cancelling the outdoor play. I listen, say something soothing and usually by the time the fishfingers are in the oven everything is sunny again. 

This time though it was different. 

"R doesn't love me. She hates me. Sob. She says I'm annoying. Sob. And stupid," he wailed. 

I'm sure she doesn't hate you. He'd been friends with this little girl since they were both in nappies. I knew she was sweet and kind. 

"She does. Really." Snot and tears slid down his face and he smeared them away on his grimy sleeve.


School had been making much of the upcoming festival of tat, unrealistic expectations and commercialisation. Among other things it's also an opportunity for class discussion and crafting... in pink mostly.

Boy Three had created a card for his True Love, the unsuspecting R. "She's the girl I like the best - apart from you, mummy - so it must be her."

R being in receipt of the love token in middle of a group of her pals blushed, stammered and found herself unequipped for a suitable response. Feeling uncomfortable, it seems she rejected Boy Three. Who extrapolated and is now heart-broken. 

St Valentine's Day is a load of old bunk, but even to those of us old and grizzled enough to know better it can cause disquiet, self-loathing, unnecessary hair-removal and overspending. What do you think it'll do to children who have no business being pushed into romantic love? 

Five-year-olds need to learn about unconditional love and what that means for them. If we're going to tell them how they should be loving then, good grief, lets teach them to love themselves, nature and humanity.

They do not need to pin their hopes of happiness on the fantasy of happy ever after, they've got the rest of their lives to waste on that. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

50 Shades of... put it away love, it's not big or clever

It's inescapable, isn't it? The grunting, lunging, lashing and lip biting everywhere. Yuk.

Mr Grey will see you now. Whatever. 

Lots of unappetising double entendres and pictures of improbably perfect people looking intense, moody and bloody uncomfortable. Might account for the mood though. 

In case you hadn't noticed 50 Shades of Grey the movie is out. And it's everywhere. 

Cast your mind back a couple of years to the badly-written Twilight fan fiction that was being sniggered over by, well by lots of people, who had it on their Kindles. (Oooh look I can read smut on the train and no one will ever know.) It was just a bit of harmless fun... after all how sinister can something be when the protagonist's most engaging dialogue is with her unruly hair? Fluff, fumbling, fornication, flagellation and more fluff.

by Ed Oliver via Flickr
Yet now we hear that B&Q has had a run on cable ties. Imagine the breathless Anastasia and Christian fans nipping into the disabled bay and leaving the engine running while they stock up on cut price bondage gear. There must have been some very bewildered hardware sales assistants in orange pinnies shaking their heads.

Emergency services are bracing themselves for a spate of neophyte BDSM adventurers who learn that there was probably a really good reason why that thing isn't normally used for that purpose. And they won't be doing it again in a hurry. 

It could be funny if it wasn't so, well, so horrible. Please, everyone get a grip. (But not a hard grip and not on that... or that.)

There is nothing sexy about a big old bully who tries to control someone and won't tell them what's going on. "Wear this, do this, turn up here," I don't flipping think so. 

Sure, if a bit of slap and tickle and more slap floats your boat then don't let me stand in your way. Or actually don't let me stand anywhere near you. It's like the fact that I know Primark exists, but I don't want to actually have to go there and touch the man-made fibres.

Sex lives - vanilla, choc chip or Heston-esque beans and bacon flavours - should be private, between those involved alone. And even behind your own locked door they should be safe and consensual.

I don't want to watch Mr Grey and his latest victim on the job under any circumstances, particularly not in a cinema seething with lambrini-fuelled lovers straining to get home and improvise with a fish slice and the curtain tiebacks. 

The whole point of the 50SOG in the first place was as a fantasy - that's something that isn't real, that exists in the head of the fantasist (albeit inserted there by EL James and inspired by a sparkly vampire...or something). And that's exactly where it should stay. 50 Shades of No Way Jose.

Romance as a new parent: Or don’t bring me flowers, the kids would only knock them over.

I wrote this a couple of Valentine's ago, but it still applies, or some bits of it do. 

The shops are full of pink stuff, restaurants are already booked solid and florists are raising their prices by the minute. It’s nearly Valentine’s Day and the pressure is on to make a romantic gesture that counts.

However, if there are small children in your house, the traditional offerings of sexy lingerie or expensive perfume will be met by hoots of derision. What were you thinking? The scent will make the baby sneeze and no one can push their post-partum paunch into a pair of lacy pants and hope to feel even slightly sexy.

Instead here are some ways to show her that you care… that you really care:

Consider getting her hot – and by this we mean, getting her hot beverages and allow her to drink them while they’re hot, all the way to the bottom of the cup. In peace. Maybe with a biscuit on the side.

Notice when she’s made an effort. Though you need to be aware that making an effort has evolved somewhat since the early days of your relationship. Where once there might have been hours of buffing and plucking, followed by painting and spraying. Now if she doesn’t smell of sick or have poo under her nails and has a clean t-shirt on, she’s made an effort.

Know that pampering no longer suggests luxury and exotic scents, now it’s just a brand of nappies turned into a verb. Previously triumphant pampering gifts need not apply unless they come with babysitter and/or time machine.

Don’t think dirty thoughts, think clean ones, they’ll be much more effective. There’s a strong likelihood that the mother of small people has more fantasies about having an immaculate house, freshly laundered sheets, no clutter and clean windows than she does about having a filthy time anywhere… with anyone. Therefore, you will be making her dreams come true by getting the housework done, so she doesn’t have to. Hire a cleaner or, hell, even do it yourself. Surprise her with the spotless.

Plan an extravagant night out or adventurous outing… then let her go on her own. I know you’re supposed to be eating lobster by candle light together in a trendy bistro, but nothing will fill her soul with joy faster than allowing her the freedom to go and do something that makes her heart beat a little faster. It’s about helping her to reconnect with someone other than the maternal version of herself. Does she yearn to climb a mountain or learn to scuba dive? Would she adore a night of karaoke with her mates? Nothing says ‘I love you’ better than allowing her to truly be herself.

Of course, if you really want to hit the jackpot with the gift that guarantees bliss unbounded – and lots of Brownie points – then ensure that the light of your life gets at least one good night’s sleep. Solid, uninterrupted hours and hours until she wakes naturally to fresh coffee and smiles. And to really get the benefit of this love token – do it for at least two days in a row.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Book review - Paris Kiss by Maggie Ritchie

There's ever such a slight downward plunge in the spirits when I learn that a friend has got a publishing deal. 

Mostly it's nothing more than garden variety envy. Green-eyed jealousy that they've done it and I haven't got my act together/the talent. Ho hum. 

There's also that extra weight to the sinking that comes from the fact that when your pal - or even your Facebook chum - has a book out, they're going to want you to read it. And you might hate it... Then what? 

However, I'm delighted to say that my mood is anything but gloomy after finishing my friend Maggie Ritchie's debut novel Paris Kiss. It's a cracker. 

Paris Kiss tells the story of young English sculptor Jessie Lipscomb and her friendship with Camille Claudel. The pair strike up an intense friendship in Bohemian Paris in the 1880s while they are students of Auguste Rodin. 

But the book opens in 1929 when Jessie tracks down Camille to an insane asylum where she has been an inmate for decades. Maggie weaves the story of the women's lives, loves and the scandals that took them down two very different paths. 

Don't be fooled by the romantic title and the prim-looking woman on the cover, there's nothing mushy and soft-filter about this love story. Paris Kiss explores gender roles, women in art, mental illness, passion and duty. 

It's based on the real lives of Jessie and Camille and Camille's lover Rodin, but there's nothing dull and historical about Paris Kiss. I was immediately drawn into their world and fell a little bit in love with Camille too. Paris Kiss is a complex book that explores many issues but never lets itself be distracted from the business of story-telling. 

The only sinking sensation came with the end of the book and saying farewell to the young sculptors. 

Paris Kiss is published on February 26, although there's a special Valentine's book signing in Waterstones at Braehead on Valentine's Day. 

As for envy. Not this time, Maggie and Paris Kiss deserve a huge success. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

What's the point of feminism when so many men are shit?

It was magical. Sunlight made the mountain snow sparkle and the only sound was boots crunching. Boots crunching and people talking. 

Three women were chatting - intelligent, successful women enjoying the stunning Scottish scenery, respite from the festive round and the chance to climb a hill. 

What were these women discussing? 

They might have been talking about how they could make the world a better place. They may have been telling fascinating and hilarious stories. Maybe they were recounting the times they'd done something amazing, or the next carefully planned twist in their careers. 

And there was a bit of that. But again and again their conversation turned away from the wide world and their place in it and came round to men and the things they do (and mostly don't) do. 

They don't, it seems, do their fair share (or even half) of the boring domestic things. 
They don't, apparently, take charge of very much if there's someone else to do it. 
They won't, evidently, see chaos and bring order. 
They can't, when ill, suffer the discomfort alone.

But that's just the start of it. 

Now these three women would count themselves as feminists (certainly the one I can speak for does), they'd also fight hard for equality on other fronts too. They're modern, creative and right-thinking (whatever that is). 

So what's going on? They know that 'traditional' gender roles are bunk, that big boys can cry if they want to and girls don't just wanna have fun, they want their voices heard and not to be objectified. 

Why then are they still having the same conversations and experiencing the same frustrations white hot rages and yet still picking up the stuff of the floors of their homes more often than anyone else does?

Have they chosen their mates badly and should have plumped for a more enlightened chap? But their other halves (the one I know fairly well anyway) talk like a man perfectly qualified to walk around in a 'this is what a feminist looks like' t-shirt. 

Are they just dishing us a big fat fib and hiding a blubbery heap of misogyny behind a lot of right-on speak? Do they really secretly wish we'd just shut up about it and get on with the dishes? 

Can we allow them to skulk off to the man caves beloved of the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From The Kitchen subscribers? I don't believe we are really such different creatures on account of our reproductive equipment. It can't be true, can it? 

Everyone hates housework, but women end up doing most of it. (Source: Entirely unscientific survey of lots of people I know.) And I've run out of ideas for how to fix this. 

I tried ignoring the work until it was done fairly. Result - squalor.
I tried discussing the work and organising a rota. Result - either a bad case of bossy headmistress or squalor. 
I tried rewarding domestic effort with sexual favours. Result - bewildered husband.
I tried reminding. Result - I was nagging. 
I tried setting an example. Result - I was doing it all. 
I tried dropping hints. Result - I was doing it all. 
I tried dropping heavier hints. Result - I was nagging. 

I'm tired of the conversations, I don't want to nag but I don't want to live in squalor. Please help, I'm out of ideas. 

I want to be a feminist and maybe make the world a better place, but how can I if I do most of the housework?

(PS I know there are some men out there who do their share and more. If this is one of the two of you, maybe you can shed some light on what's going on here and what we can do about it.)

Monday, 5 January 2015

School dinners: not so nasty now...

I've got a theory. (OK, several)

I think that school dinners are something we love to hate, that we're conditioned to grumble about. Like the weather, the end of the holidays, children and housework. All of which (apart from housework) have much going for them if you think about it hard enough. It's a British thing. 

I'm sure we've all got stories of a traumatic encounter with some leathery liver or a slimy fish, or still get the dry boak at the thought of tapioca and rosehip syrup. I'm certain I once saw tripe, real actual sheep stomach, on the menu. Shudder. And what was it with using the ice cream scoop to serve mashed potato? But these horrors weren't the whole story, were they? 

I remember macaroni, and fish and chips, sausages and mash, piles of pies, lashings of jam roly-poly. Tuna bake, beans and gammon (and pineapple of course). Tinned fruit salad or soup with bread and butter. Tasty stuff. I'm certain. 

School meals are back in favour this week - certainly in this house. That's because we're getting free ones (or Boy Three is). All Scottish pupils in the first three years of primary school get free lunches from this term. Great news and one that kills stone dead any remaining notion that my youngest son might persuade me to lovingly prepare a packed lunch. No chance, boyo, no matter how much noise you make. 

There wasn't much chance before, to be honest, given my lack of enthusiasm for making sandwiches, but when the alternative is a free nutritious meal, well, there is no alternative. 

If idleness and parsimony weren't enough, there's all that other healthy stuff to make it easier to swallow - the economies of scale should mean the meals get better and better plus there's the benefit of sitting with your peers to eat it. And in Boy Three's school on two days of the week the option of sandwiches or other snacky-fayre has been removed forcing them to eat a 'proper' hot thing, from a plate, with cutlery. 

Therefore, for the good of our children and to salve away any pain at the thought of our little darlings having to swallow something yukky, it serves us well to remember fondly the dining halls of our youth and the stout dinner ladies with their ladles. 

What do you remember from the long-lost lunchtimes of your childhood? 

pudding by

The iPhone can tell your family where your careers will lie

In this country, it’s probably fair to say we have a bit if an obsession with “real work”. And by this we’re talking about real physical work in primary industries such as mining and farming etc., and secondary industries including all types of manufacturing. This may be down to our industrial history when Great Britain was the workshop of the world during the 19th century – but it’s probably closer to the truth to say it’s buried deep within the human psyche.
But here’s the thing – it’s totally inappropriate to today’s world and the iPhone will tell us why in a moment – but it’s vital as parents that we don’t instill the same erroneous beliefs in our children’s thinking.
So let’s let the iPhone demonstrate what we’re talking about here. The back cover of an iPhone will tell you that it has been designed in California, but assembled in China. Now in the USA, the latest version of the iPhone will sell for somewhere in the region of around $700. The requisite components to buy including clever pieces of kit such as the minute flash drive and the tiny yet very high-performance camera and other components account for somewhere in the region of about $200 of this total figure.
Interestingly, the biggest supplier of these specific parts is Samsung, Apple’s main overall rival in the global smartphone market. Meanwhile, the “assembled in China” part of the overall process costs roughly $20. So the rest of the money is down to the part that says the phone is designed in California, and this, of course, tells us exactly why Apple is such an enormously cash-rich and profitable company.
But perhaps it should be telling us something a bit deeper about our own beliefs and, therefore, what we encourage our children to do as they prepare for their own lives in a world we can’t possibly imagine today.
If it’s true that in the UK (and perhaps many other countries) we have something of a manufacturing fetishism (the notion that making things and doing things are the principle and most valuable economic activities and that all other activities are somehow subordinate to this) then we need to think again.
This is based on an outdated perception that solely tangible stuff represents any kind of real wealth and that only real physical labour is real work. This may well have been true a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand years ago – which explains why the belief is so deeply held by we homo sapiens – but it simply doesn’t hold water in today’s world.
Let’s look at another example – a man’s suit. Today, you could go into a major UK supermarket chain and pick up a reasonably well- made men’s business suit for around £25. The suit will be durable, practical, and ready to put on. It will probably be a polyester blended and machine washable product that will look quite smart if it fits well and has the right accompanying accouterments.
Alternatively, you may choose to go a little further up market to a higher quality fashion retailer and pay, say, ten times as much. This suit may be, for example, Italian designed and made with a pretty high quality wool fabric.
And then again, you could pay up another factor of ten, shelling out £2,500 for a tailor-made suit from London’s Savile Row.
So as a customer, you need to make your mind up what type of suit you want and why – what you’re trying to achieve. Are you after real style or just a suit to do the basics? Because if it’s individualisation and real quality and style you’re looking for – you’ll have to pay a real premium and you’ll have to pay through the nose for that kind of personalisation.
In other words, the same principle as the iPhone holds true here; only a relatively small proportion of the value of the product is really made up of the processes of manufacturing and of assembly. Instead, by far the greater proportion of what you’re going to pay up is reflected in the initial clever design of the iPhone, and the individual style of the suit.
The same goes for many other industry sectors such as the intense pharmaceutical research that has gone into the pill you need to cure an ailment or the precision assembly of the aeroplane’s engine that will carry you quickly and safely across the ocean. It is not the metal bashing nature of putting the thing together – despite the fact that many of us remain obsessed with this aspect of working life as it’s so deeply ingrained in our psyche.
In other walks of life, though, we also cling onto the past even though that past may have been a “tertiary” or service industry – where no “real work” was involved anyway. So maybe it’s not only about our pre-historic development as a species which had to really “do” hard work, but also a love and attachment of how things used to be when we were younger – even though that may be irrelevant.
So for example, since the advent of the gambling exchange Betfair, which enables people to gamble online without a bookmaker as the site recognises that a market is a market, some people still choose to gamble with a bookmaker. Betfair also enables people to play bingo online and other games yet some people still choose to go traditional bookmakers’ shops or bingo halls in some cases. This, it is perceived, is a somehow more real or perhaps even “worthy” type of experience in some cases – but this doesn’t stop the perception being simply wrong.
The truth in today’s world is that the physical labour included in the manufacture of goods is a very cheap commodity in a world which is globalised. But the skills that enable that labour to turn ideas into products of huge sophistication and complexity aren’t. So our initial example of the iPhone is a complicated product which does indeed require manufacture, but the real value in it lies in the pure “crystallisation” of the services it provides.
But most of the unskilled jobs that are sorely needed in the more developed countries are, of necessity, found in personal services. So workers in China may be able to assemble your iPhone, but they can’t collect your trash or look after your infirm grandmother. And this is very real work in essential areas which doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
The truth of all this doesn’t stop politicians and media pundits carping on about the real value of real work in primary and secondary industries. But in a  future world where all this kind of thing hots up even more, and the pace of technology arcs even faster – and maybe even robots are doing all the physical labour – the belief in some outdated work ethic won’t help our children carve out useful careers. But what will help them is an encouragement to develop expertise in areas relevant to tomorrow’s world whilst still making sure they’re always adaptable to change.
In other words, the ability to evolve with technology and to adapt to change by welcoming that change and showing an interest in it will stand our children in far better stead than an outdated belief in the real value of traditional physical work.
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