Thursday, 10 November 2011

European Women and Sport Conference 2011


Welcoming delegates with plenty of grandeur and copious amounts of coffee and cake, this year’s European Women and Sport (EWS) conference was held at the 5* Grange City Hotel in London. EWS constitutes a network of individuals and organisations from 44 countries committed to achieving gender equality in sport; increasing the involvement of women at all levels and in all functions and roles.
175 delegates and guest speakers attended from all over Europe, dedicated, determined and keen to share ideas and initiatives to help achieve the EWS key objectives. As my first international conference experience, it was a pleasure to be involved with an event of such status, and a privilege to represent WSFF.
The opening reception took place at the handball arena on the Olympic Park and we were lucky enough to drive around the site on a gorgeous clear evening. With less than one year to go now you can really grasp what the park will look like when it’s complete; its flowing infrastructure is finally becoming realised.
The arena certainly makes an impact with its shell of copper cladding contrasting against a vibrant, colourful interior. Paul Deighton, LOCOG Chief Executive, was terribly excited to divulge that the outside had been coated with horse urine to preserve its deep colour and prevent rusting. Not many knew how to react to that; I applauded.
More excitingly, the exclusive London 2012 gender pin badge was unveiled for the first time. It is the fourth to have been issued in celebration of six strands of diversity, engaging all communities to support the Games next year and beyond.
The conference itself was made up of workshops, presentations and interactive question and answer sessions. Being the official photographer for the event, I tried to sneak into as many as possible whilst lugging around my paparazzi kit. I managed to catch a few minutes of the ‘More Women = More Medals’ session, where Helen Glover, athlete for British Rowing, spoke about her extreme career progression since 2008. Having never even stepped into a boat before, Helen was selected to become a potential professional athlete through UK Sport’s ‘Sporting Giants’ where she fit the specification: young, tall, with a sporty background. I’m currently Googling ‘How to become taller…’
'The commercial value of women's sport' workshop was led by Sue Tibballs, CEO here at WSFF, and Kelly Simmons, Head of National Game at The FA. The session focused on presenting our research looking at the state of sponsorship for women’s sport (hot off the press and will be released soon).
The panel discussions and plenary sessions on both days were incredibly impressive, pulling together a real mix of influential and well-respected individuals. It was truly inspiring to learn about the real initiatives and developments being made all over Europe to get the status of women in sport to where it needs to be.
Concluding the conference, the general theme was that there’s still a lot to be done, but progress is certainly being made. William Gaillard, Advisor to the President at UEFA, stated that women’s football, in particular, has come a long way; ‘like going from the Stone Age to the iPad in the space of a decade.’ By being creative and persistent, it is imperative that this trend is encouraged across all sports because as we know…
"Gender equality in sport is not just good for women, but good for sport." Amanda Bennett, Chair, EWS.

[Written during my internship at the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation www.wsff.org.uk]

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Being An Adventurer

I've been back in Chelmsford nearly two weeks and during that time I've broken my favourite umbrella,  received another whopping train fine for travelling two minutes before off-peak time begins (read previous tale here), and got two kidney infections. Not surprisingly, these events have put me in a very sour mood and today I'd quite like to be somewhere far more exotic, if a little smellier.

I haven't known how to write about Nepal. I didn't keep a diary, I didn't take my camera, and although I took a camcorder the quality of the footage is so despicably average I haven't bothered to sift through it.

What I am certain of is that my spongey head absorbed the experience to the full. For once I didn't faff about with apertures or worry about recharging batteries, I didn't have to frame the views within a screen within a screen with a beeping beep telling me OMG THE MOUNTAIN IS NOT IN FOCUS - I just opened my eyes wide and span and ran around, breathing in the oxygen-deprived air and the smell of the jungle. It was overwhelming; I looked mental.

It was terrifying at times though, and my walking poles saved my life - no joke - on four occasions. Once crossing a landslide, slipping over through two waterfalls with sheer drops either side, and lastly when I was just so exhausted from a 1000m descent I just kinda wibbled, lost my footing and whacked my coccyx on a spikey boulder but did not die.

The trip exceeded my expectations and I pushed myself to the limit. I'll never forget it.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Going away for a while

I think I'm one of the worst decision-makers of all time. Not that I think I make bad decisions, I'm yet to properly regret anything I've chosen to do, but I certainly take a long time deciding on things and whether or not to do them.

In August I decided to book a trip which I knew would be 'life-changing'. For the first time in a long while I decided to be selfish and think about what I wanted. I segmented my life into what resembled a chocolate orange, but by isolating pieces one by one I discovered that some bits tasted quite rubbish. I realised I needed something big and new and exciting.

And so, thanks to The Adventure Company, I found the perfect trip. A few weeks in Nepal for trekking, whitewater rafting, safari and super exploring. Classified as 'demanding', I knew that it would be intense and probably a little scary but I decided to commit.

Then my bank account exploded.

Somehow, 2 months have flown by quicker than you could shout 'BAIL' and I leave on Friday night. My big backpack is half-packed, my lists are half-complete and my mind is halfway between 'Eeshk!' (apprehension) and 'Eeeee!' (excitement).

I'm not taking my camera because I just know I'll drop it lens-first onto a pointy rock. Instead, I've bought a hench camcorder which is TOUGH and RUGGED - just like me. I thought I'd make a film of some description, though none of this video-diary malark. I'll stay well and truly behind the camera I think; I'm sure to be gratuitously grubby.

I guess that's all for now then, folks. If you see my mum in the next few weeks would you give her a cuddle and reassure her that EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE. Hopefully this will turn out be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Namaste!

Monday, 26 September 2011

My first audition

If you'd asked me a year ago whether I fancied applying for 'Total Wipeout', I probably would've said yes, downloaded the form and left it sitting in my 'downloaded items' for 7 months, gathering jargon dust, swamped in amongst thousands of temporary internet files. Ok, so that did happen. However, earlier this month we received an email at work from Endemol with a desperate call for more women to apply for their new series of 'Winter Wipeout'. Representing the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation I took it as a sign, got my act together and spent the evening completing the application pack. A week later, I got asked to come along to the auditions.

Here's what I wore:

'Wintry.'

After getting a little lost in South Kensington and so sulking in Pret, I decided to ditch my map, use my instinct, and follow the several people wearing fluorescent legwarmers. Entering the sports centre, I was suddenly surrounded by spandex and other indistinguishable clingy materials. All I can be sure of is that the majority of outfits were sweat-inducing. There were about 500 of us.

Round One
'When you hear the siren, you'll sprint to the other end of the sports hall and you'll have one minute to sell yourself to the producers - one per table but you'll go in groups of five. Three, two, one.. HONK.'
  • I did sprint. It was so far to the other end of the hall and my slippers were so slippery I did a skid.
  • I was very out of breath but managed to do my one-minute rap. 
  • I was given a blue ticket by the producers. 
  • I went through 'the door on the right please'
  • Blue tickets = you're through to the next round! YAY!
Still slightly out of breath and terribly excited, it was time for a Polaroid and paperwork. Of those that made it, we were then separated up into groups of 30.

Round Two
'Welcome to our Winter Wipeout assault course! As you can see, it is very realistic - just like the course in Argentina. First of all, we need you to come and have a chat with 'Amanda', then you'll do your shout-out at the top of the course direct to camera, then continue on to complete the course. We'll be filming you all the time. Ok, so where's Kat..?'
  • I had my chat with 'Amanda', who didn't believe that I could be girlie and tough. So I started on her.
  • I did my improvised shout-out which, most impressively, rhymed Beadle with weed(le)...
  • I completed the course, including ten proper press-ups at the end - absolute powerhouse.
It was such a great atmosphere with everyone cheering for one another. After a little wait (and a well-earned rest) I was called through as I'd made it to the next round. YAY!

Round Three
'Hi Kat! Congratulations on getting this far you've done fantastically. Now, I'm going to ask you some questions, the camera's going to be rolling... We want your personality shine through so just be yourself!'
  • The room was so small and the light was so bright my hood was so warm.
  • I don't even remember what I said because it was so fast and intense and so bright and so warm.
And that was the final stage! A pretty exhausting day to be honest but a fantastic experience. I met a lot of crazy interesting people and I'm very very glad I did it. Now I wait for a phone call...


Saturday, 20 August 2011

'Betfair signs cheeky beach volleyball deal.' Cheeky or...?

Beach volleyballers Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin are world-class sportswomen. I don't know if Marketing Week have trademarked the term that they'll be "renting out their rears" but if you haven't heard, that's what these ladies will be doing... dutifully. Betfair will be printing QR codes on the ladies' bikini bottoms having signed an exclusive advertising deal to see them through to the 2012 games.
Andy Lulham, UK sports and marketing PR at Betfair, says this:
“There is huge interest in beach volleyball and we want to ensure that our advertising campaign is seen and remembered by as many sports-fans as possible."
Ah, so you're targeting the 'SPORTS-fans'. Silly me! Though I do wonder how anyone is going to concentrate on any kind of game action when they're trying to line up their little QR bum codes on their little mobile screens.
The last time I watched beach volleyball, I definitely remember the players moving. Quite a bit actually. Oh, UNLESS, Betfair are going to get the women to stand in a line, stationary, just so that spectators can get a half-decent voyeuristic view. Stick it up on the big screen - far more efficient. Actually, sod the game, forget the sport, as long as Betfair get a good return on their rented rears..!
Wait a sec, Andy says more:
“As far as we’re aware this is the first time QR codes have been used in in-play sports advertising and what better way to test its effectiveness than by putting them on one of theplaces that is likely to get photographed the most.”
So, OK, let's apply this theory to the sport of men's gymnastics; in particular, the pommel horse or the still-bars. I wonder whether a brand with any kind of rep would ever think about plonking a QR code on the man-parts which are most likely to be viewed by spectators during these events. Hmmmmm.
You think that's a tenuous analogy?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Three Peeves

1) Tuthuffers
  • Train approaches platform.
  • Commuters congregate in small huddles where train doors MAY halt at.
  • Train reaches platform and slows.
  • People suddenly decide to walk alongside the train - faster than it's moving - knocking into those standing on the edge of the platform as they try and catch up with the doors that've already passed.
  • Throughout this process they tut and huff. One lady actually shouted 'Come on!' at me. Come on where? What?!!?! Panic.
Summary:
I don't understand how I always seem to be in the way and why I deserve any kind of tut. I tried to move along with the huffers but ended up miles away from any door and subsequently didn't get a seat. HUFF!!!!

2) Cyclists cycling through pedestrian underpasses
  • Big 'CYCLISTS DISMOUNT' sign in glaringly obvious position.
  • Cyclists continue to cycle through underpass and ring their bell to notify me of their presence. OR, if they're not lucky enough to have a bell, they change their gears up and down. Yep. They crinkedy crunk through their gears to be as audible as possible without using their vocal capacity.
  • To test whether they're able to say 'Excuse me please' - or produce any kind of sound from their mouth - I continue to walk in the middle of the pedestrian walkway to get a better view around the approaching blind corner. This results in getting barged by a rib-level handlebar.
  • OH! So it turns out this gear-cruncher can speak! But it no longer matters. As he says 'Oh sorry! Are you OK?' he's already 3 metres away and accelerating around the corner - swerving around a Granny just ahead of me but thankfully avoids her ribs because they probably would've CRUMBLED.
Summary:
Can't people read? Most signs are there for a reason, and 'CYCLISTS DISMOUNT' is obviously there - primarily - to prevent bone-crushing. On a different occasion, I tried moving aside to let them pass as I couldn't be bothered to instigate another accident but then ended up bashing into another pedestrian trying to do the same as we went around the corner. Spent a good 3 seconds doing that awkward side-step-oop-which-way-you-going-there-haha-redface-lolz thing.

3) Peak/Off-Peak
  • Off-peak trains get in to London at 10a.m. or later and I sometimes commute into London on these trains.
  • I get on a train having bought my ticket - I think I'm maybe one minute earlier than normal so that's good! Hooray, maybe I'll be able to stand still on the Central Line escalator today! :)
  • Ticket conductor comes whizzing through the carriage mumbling 'Any more tickets?' and I'm like 'Ooh, that's me! Hold on a sec! Come back! HEY!' and he walks back to where I'm sitting - by the window, next to a man with a big big bag on his lap so I am kinda hidden and peeping out, smiling and waving like a big big loser.
  • Ticket conductor does a smirk and proceeds to tell me the ticket is not valid for this PEAK service. I'll have to pay a fine at the cost of a day ticket to London.
  • My face looks like this: *_* and is the colour of an earthy beetroot.
  • Me: 'What time does this train get into London?'
    TC: '9.59a.m.'
    Me: 'Oh.'
  • Rummaging through my purse to get the ordeal over with, I can't be bothered to question him or holler or cry. I'm too embarrassed and eeeveryone trying to get a good look but HAHA the big big bag is covering me.
Summary:
Ticket conductors are really harsh.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Field Day Fun

If you weren't aware, there are only a few things needed to constitute a good time:
  1. A field
  2. Some music
  3. Some people
  4. Corn-on-the-cob related contests
  5. Copious competitive knee scuffing
  6. Small bottles of Swedish cider
Field Day festival is held every year in the lush leafy Victoria Park and having attended this year's funbonanza I can confirm it definitely delivers all of the above.

You want the dulcet tones of Willy Mason at noon? Done.
Mid-afternoon mini rave in a slightly sweaty strobey tent? Take your pick.
Ostrich burger for dinner? Join the queue (weirdo). I'll meet you by the chippy!
Want to go sliiiightly mental in the crowd for Born Ruffians? Good, because everyone else does too.

Walking, wandering, dancing and skipping around from 10am to 11pm was a little testing on the thighs, and even more so if you happened to enter a tug of war competition and take it quite seriously...

With the line-up being as good as it was, trying to squish in everybody of interest was easier said than done - even with a trusty (progressively soggy) timetable. Warpaint, Anna Calvi and The Coral will have to be pencilled in for another time. I don't mind how unlikely that may be as the bands I did manage to see were superb! With Wild Beasts closing their set on the main stage with 'End Come Too Soon' it certainly did feel that it had.

Fun is pretty easily achievable when you're in good company and fortunately I had that too. Field Day = FUN. Roll on next year!

Contents of bag: another broken bracelet, 10p I probably owe someone, kirby grips, bite cream, a holey and scrumpled timetable, train tickets.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Go for a walk on a sunny afternoon...


...preferably in matching trainers.

I got my black&white film hand-developed today and unfortunately there were scratches along many of the negatives. Not ideal. The nice man put them onto a CD for me (for FREE - hence 'nice man') so I could tweak the close-up portraits I'd done. Grainy is good but stripey just won't do.

A couple you'll find on Flickr but the others will stay put in their little envelope until I find some decent frames to shove them in.

It's always nice to have secret photos that nobody's gawped at on Facebook already. I'm greedy like that.

Monday, 1 August 2011

DIY braided blingin' bracelet thing

I bought a vintage curb link bracelet off Ebay for a whopping $4 and made it prettier:



From chunky gold chain to summery braidy bracelet - Voila!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

You know when you rummage through your drawers...

...and underneath all the bank statements and junk mail you find the hand-drawn Pokemon Information Booklet you made over 10 years ago?


Yeah. It's a good feeling.

We overestimated the pages we'd need.

[Item not for sale]

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Casual Tuesday Tea-Time Photoshoot


My OM10 seems to be getting all the attention these days so it was nice to get out my trusty Nikon and open up Photoshop for the first time in yonks! As usual, click on the above for a larger, juicier version. There's a couple more on my Flickr too.


Teehee ♥

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Blip

A few weeks ago I was metaphorically kicked in the balls, I received an elbow jab to the kidney and a simultaneous slap in the face. It was painful to try and comprehend things that were said to me and consume the resulting emotions I experienced. Fast-forward though, and somehow things have reverted to how they were before. I (think I) like to refer to it as 'the blip'.

Weirdly, that short period of panic and uncertainty has had a massive positive effect on me. Perhaps I would feel differently if the conclusion that played out wasn't so tidy; if those words hadn't been such a 'big mistake' and 'the blip' had in fact turned out to be 'the end'.

Nevertheless, it's helped me realise a lot of things: mostly that friends are blooooomin' marvelous and even when there's trouble and tears they'll feed you good quality chocolate and tell you to get on with it - in the most loving and supportive way, of course.

In the grand scheme of things, rubbish things happen all the time, and what seems like a big deal to one person is silly nothingness to another. Luckily, I have perspective on the situation and in retrospect I guess I'm glad it happened. I've welcomed the harsh realisation and I believe I've changed for the better.

YAY.

So, thank you to everyone who's given me the confidence to get through the dramas of late - I would've been a bit useless without you x

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Are 'Wii' Fit?

Taken from my final year photography project. Click on the photos to enlarge and see blurb below. It's one year old now, so perhaps a little technologically out of date considering the invention of the Xbox Kinect. Yet, the message is still just as important to remember when you consume those ads with the virtual personal trainers in virtual training environments. Don't waste your time trying to interact with your tele - it'll give you nothing back.




The overwhelming success of the Nintendo Wii and the fitness genre in digital gaming has fuelled a change in the media representation of women’s exercise. Modelled around traditional ideals of ‘femininity’ rather than physicality, the game’s approach has gradually transformed the way audiences think about exercising and skill, as well as the role women play in a sporting environment.

This visual piece contrasts how the virtual world presents an idyllic, simulated concept of exercise opposed to the natural, physical exertion we should be encouraged to experience in the real world; each portrait represents an opposing binary ideology.

With initial inspiration from Mona Brooks’ creative work on female athletes and Catherine Balet’s exploration into the dominance of media screens in our everyday lives, this project investigates more than just a game. The photographs symbolise an increasing reliance on technology and its substitution for real experiences. In today’s society, we should recognise and
celebrate the reality of true female athleticism.



Words and pictures - Kathryn Beadle © 2010

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Congradulations



It's been a year since I graduated. Wowzer.

The overpriced framed portrait is stuck on a shelf in the dining room and only gets dusted when we happen to have guests*.

It is a rubbish photo anyway; wonky hat, creased cape, forced smile and big embarrassed rosy red cheeks.

I've no idea where my degree certificate is but it's bound to be somewhere 'safe' with all those other 'important' things that end up in the same drawer.

I love my little mortarboard charm though - a present from my mum and sister a few months after the graduation ceremony. It's tiny and shiny and lives in its box all secretive and shy.

(I won't let it get dusty.)

*Christmas.

Friday, 1 July 2011

A small post dedicated to Andrew Castle


That is Andrew Castle. Earlier he was trending on Twitter. As thousands of Wimbledon viewers hunted for the remote to hit mute during the Nadal/Murray semi-final, the twitterers that endured his commentary still found it infuriating, embarrassing, ridiculous, or a combo of all of the above. Personally, I found it quite hilarious. See highlights below:


Thinking out loud during the classic BBC super slow motion shot of the tennis ball with spin on it:
'That ball is full of irony...'

On Nadal:
'This is a man not lacking in the work-out department.'
'He cooks as well? Is there nothing he can't do!? Such a good bloke...' ♥


Having a giggle and getting too excited following Nadal's fall on his bum, throwing his racquet up in the air only to catch it pretty neatly in one fluid motion:
'Look! He's a juggler in his spare time. You could see him at the Moscow State Circus as well as winning these Grand Slams couldn't you!? Hehehe!'

Murray throws hat on ground in a grump. Andrew naturally responds with:
'Hats off to Murray.'

And finally:
'Murray is being beaten by the force of Nadal's personality.'
*
I think Andrew should make his way back to the GMTV sofa...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Calla Lily



Dead and crispy but still so pretty.

(I crumbled it to pieces after I'd taken this photo; sad but satisfying.)

(Kathryn Beadle © June 2011)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Women's Sport & Fitness Foundation team up with William Hill to highlight England's chances in the FIFA World Cup

Cold hard cash; potentially £73,000 of it. A fine way to encourage excitement and publicity for the upcoming FIFA 2011 World Cup in Germany.

The WSFF has teamed up with the UK's leading bookmaker to boost the profile of women's sport at a time when England's chances of winning are at its best yet. Currently installed as joint fifth faves at 16/1 after beating Sweden and the US in recent warm-up games, it would be a fantastic time to get the nation supporting our ladies.

William Hill has placed £5000 worth of bets on behalf of WSFF as follows;

1) £2000 on England to win the tournament (@16/1 = £32,000 profit)
2) £1000 on Kelly Smith to be tournament top scorer (@20/1 = £20,000 profit)
3) £1000 that England will not have any player sent off during the tournament (@even money = £1000 profit)

As well as much-needed publicity, the deal means that the WSFF are guaranteed to benefit by a minimum of £5000. All money received will be invested into the work that the charity does to help inspire and encourage women to play sport and increase participation nationwide.

"It couldn't come at a better time. with women's sport only accounting for 5% of sports media coverage and the number of women playing sport falling all the time. We know that seeing our sportswomen do well inspires women to participate so we wish Hope Powell's team the best of luck for the tournament - we're backing them all the way." - Sue Tibballs, Chief Executive of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation.
5% sports coverage is quite useless. It's embarrassing that the percentage is still so low. Women of all ages need to see females playing sport through a multitude of medias as well as in the flesh. In reality, it's happening all the time and yet even major events are sometimes hidden behind the wall of taboo and stereotypes that the media are shy to break through.

However, FIFA are ensuring that this tournament is well and truly in the spotlight, stating that the television coverage will be unprecedented. For the first time, all games will be shot in high definition with up to 18 cameras for selected matches. With steadycams, spidercams, helicopter cameras as well as those placed in-goal, they're hoping broadcasters and fans get exactly what they deserve during this exciting time for women's football.

'The football on the pitch will be great, and we want to be sure the fans receive the best-quality images and presentation of the matches' - Niclas Ericson, Director of FIFA TV.
GOOD NEWS! Best of luck to the ladies - let's hope they can pull in some extra dollar for the WSFF and inspire all those watching...

No pressure!

Games of the English national team will be shown via the BBC red button and on the BBC Sport website, with the final being shown live on BBC3. It all kicks off on 26th June!





Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Canine Partners' Bluebell Walk

Bluebell Walks are organised every Spring to raise money for Canine Partners and this year was another huge success thanks to a healthy dose of sunshine. It took place at the stunning woodland estate in Langford, Maldon and nearly 200 people turned up to walk the 2 miles with their dogs of all shapes and sizes.

As well as the walk, there was a BBQ, raffle, kids' quiz and demonstration given by the working dogs who were incredibly impressive... and cute.





Unloading the washing machine, removing items of clothing and picking up items off the floor are all day-to-day tasks that the dogs carry out to aid their disabled owners.


A couple of new recruits also made an appearance and caused quite a stir wearing their tiny velcro jackets with pride! At only 8 weeks old they begin training up with their designated 'puppy parents' to prepare them for a Canine Partners career. The charity is determined to make life better for those with physical difficulties, most of whom are wheelchair users. They 'tailor-make' each dog for each individual to ensure a perfect match. Canine Partners tend to use breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and cross-breeds with Poodles: the 'Labradoodle' and the scruffy 'Golden-Doodle'.


It was a really lovely day, and the volunteers weren't put off by the merchandise gazebo collapse or the promo helium balloons flying off into the distance hours before anyone arrived...



We managed to raise over £1500 - a great improvement on last year's total.

If you're interested in getting involved with Canine Partners, or even organising your own Bluebell walk for next year then fill out the Community Fundraising contact form.


If you'd like to find out more about applying for a Canine Partnership, all the information can be found online. Plus we're always looking for volunteers to help throughout the year. Visit http://www.caninepartners.org.uk/Index.htm to see what's going on in your area.

(All photos Kathryn Beadle © May 2011)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Film

A few from an Autumn/Winter film using my trusty OM10. The crappy scanner has slightly drained the colours and the bokeh is a little pixelated.. but maybe you still think they're pretty.






(All photos Kathryn Beadle © 2011)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sunday Funday : DIY Hex Nut Bracelets

I bought some nuts and cord and made some bracelets.



[Inspiration from HonestlyWTF]

Sunday, 8 May 2011

'How To Turn Around Our Creative Crisis'

Uh oh. I’m in one of those moods...
I came across an article written for The Atlantic which focused on the United States’ creative crisis. By analysing the role of ‘play’ in our childhood upbringing, education and its role in the workplace, Laura Seargeant Richardson suggests that in order to teach the youth to innovate and succeed within a creative economy, as well as increase our human potential, the formalisation of play must be a national effort. Unfortunately, there are a number of modern developments that are discouraging creative play and encouraging the growth of a bland society - not only in America but here in the UK.
Richardson suggests that we nurture the ‘superpowers of play’ :
‘Superpowers [...] are the physical and mental skills that we develop to adapt and thrive in a complex world, while exploring the creative opportunities made possible by global progress [...] They aren't narrowly defined subjects. And they aren't a technology platform. They are naturally occurring abilities we purposefully foster that amplify our human potential.’
The ‘extras’ that cannot easily be measured but enable us to do more, go further, push boundaries, break conventions. Innovate.
Super they may be, but how on earth do you identify and utilise these skills? And whose job is it to do so? Mum is a secondary school English teacher and continually finds that teenagers are unable to think flexibly and find it difficult to imagine and empathise- more so than they did a few years ago.
She asks: ‘Why do you think this word used?’
They reply: ‘Because it just is.’
Etc.
There's no point in trying to teach them to think outside the metaphorical box, they’ll be staring blankly at the box and waiting for it to give them an answer. Usually, the box = computer. You can't teach someone to create an imagination for themselves and you can't expect a teacher to do that.
In the UK where debt reigns and cuts are more like gaping bloody craters, it is the arts and creative programs that are abolished from schools and clubs first. What message does this send to the nation? Creative and extra-curricular tasks are made separate and subordinate to core literacies and numeracies and because of this, are able to be dismissed entirely. They're a nuisance! Opportunities for children and young people are diminishing and that is truly rubbish.
As we grow up our conventional playtime naturally decreases. We turn to other things to explore our playful mind, I guess. In most cases the divide between work and play is clear. However, Richardson reiterates the importance of play within the workplace as we mature and states that many industries are craving candidates that are able to work with their playful mind. In a recent IBM survey, 1500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future. They want work and play to mix because creativity creates good business.
In the long term, Richardson is optimistic that we, both young and old, will magically learn to embrace and excel our superpowers of play but her conclusion is ridiculously utopian:
[R]ather than measuring memorization as an indicator of progress, we will measure our children's ability to manipulate (deconstruct and hack), morph (think flexibly and be tolerant of change), and move (think "with their hands" and play productively). Standardized aptitude tests will be replaced by our abilities to see (observe and imagine), sense (have empathy and intrinsic motivation), and stretch (think abstractly and systemically). We will advance our abilities to collaborate and create.’
I find that hard to imagine when throughout each hour of the day we, at all ages, are reliant on things being given to us, fed to us, with no need for interpretation. The growth of the social networking sphere has meant that although opinions are encouraged, they're heavily influenced; copying is cooler. I think that's off-topic... Oopsy! Time to end.
Well, I’m off to find Rt Hon Michael Gove MP to discuss important matters such as these. In the meantime, click here to view The Guardian's handy interactive map to see the 206 organisations nationwide that will receive £0/nada/zilcho funding for the financial year 2012/13 and here for Richardson's original article.
*
If all else fails, force your children to play the piano whilst wearing a ravishing Chinese outfit. Good combo for superpowers. PEOWPEOW!

Friday, 6 May 2011

A B C ; Collectively



Oh how I would love to own the entire alphabet of these beautiful collective noun posters. You'll never win a pub quiz with the common-knowledge of a pride of lions, so how about this one to impress your easily-impressed friends:

My favourite.

See ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ & more at www.woopstudios.com

Monday, 2 May 2011

Meadow



I don't like butter. (Kathryn Beadle © May 2011)

Friday, 29 April 2011

Will 4 Kate

Crowds gather for a royal wedding,
They lay their heads upon anorak bedding.
Big up Blighty! Be proud to be British!
How soon will the nation's contentment diminish?




Devil's food cake with buttercream filling. (KB ©)


French Chantilly and English lace,

Silk tulle misted across her face.

Synched in waist with a flowing train,

Eyebrows and eyeliner remained the same.



The future king with his steady stride,

Looked just as gorge as his approaching bride.

#awkwardmoment thanks to Wartski's gold band.

Sausage fingers or a sweaty hand?



Rake in those shares of Lily of the Valley,

Whilst everyone's eyes are on Pippa and Harry.

Glorious trees with no expenses spared -

Get hitched next week and their foliage is shared. (Win!)



A long weekend to remove the decor;

A 'royal' mess from the week before. (PUN.)

With bunting binned and banners torn,

It's fair to say I'm quite forlorn...



*small sob*

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Working in an office when the weather is like it is

You may have noticed that the weather has been quite nice lately. I'd definitely say the wind chill has died down to a comfortable level, and the clear skies tend to create actual warmth rather than fake warmth you could probably reproduce with an eco-lightbulb.


However, like many, I'm not outside enjoying the sun. I am at work from 9-5. This post outlines the reasonable number of benefits from working in an IT office for the NHS when the sun is shining it's shiny face in through the windows in (what some would call) a taunting manner.

  • When staff arrive in the mornings the expected flow of conversation is as follows:
    Greeting > Comment on weather > Complaint about being at work during said weather.
    No scary ad-libbing needed and no cringey reaction after you mention your recently neutered cat, having struggled to find a suitable topic of conversation after the 'Hi!'
  • Considerably less tea breaks. It's too hot and stuffy in the office for tea so that means fewer breaks and considerably more time for productive thirsty working.
  • Cans and bottles of fizzy shizzle appear on desks. They create gas which is usually regurgitated loudly within the male dominated office. This promotes animated conversation and lively debate which can be seen as an important team building exercise as the burpee is isolated from the rest of the group...but the non-burpees form a close bond. Go team!
  • Offers flood in to grab packages and deliveries from Reception post-room to encounter 47 seconds in the sun (that's a maximum - even if super-slow-walking and getting unwillingly distracted by a number of different blossoms). This means that the post is checked regularly and everyone's invoices can be dealt with even more fastererer after a mere 1 minute 34 seconds. Phew.
  • Wasps and bees like to visit the office through the window. Those with phobias are kept on their toes and encouraged to concentrate more on work than on the insect. Thank goodness I have work to do as well as that pesky phobia.
  • More accidents happen during warm weather. Fact*. But this means that ambulances go past more frequently; sirens weowing loud. This will remind staff that their job is extremely important.
    i.e. By giving NHS staff account logins, trouble-shooting their Outlook problems, rejigging their network infrastructure and helping them find the 'ON' button, the long and short of it is that THE IT CROWD SAVE PEOPLES' LIVES.
  • Hooray.

*may not be an actual fact

Monday, 11 April 2011

A short book review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters


(You can Google the blurb too if you really want to...)

548 pages of deeply but delicately intertwined dark and twisty-ness. This page turner will not allow a single word to be left unread. Deemed a Dickens-esque historical fiction, the narrative is so well defined with complex key characters exposed through heart-breaking, powerful story-telling. Waters’ creates such atmosphere and leads the reader beautifully through each chapter to become completely immersed in the desperate lives of Sue and Maud. A handful of gob-smackingly-good twists are carried off effortlessly which results in an extremely satisfying read.
Wonderfully written. Hooray for Sarah!
Disclosure:
I had quite a few nightmares whilst reading this. FYI it is pretty disturbing. I take no responsibility if you read it and find it just as intense and then suffer the consequences like I did. Worth it though.. Oh and PS it has lesbians.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Spring is coming...

Time for the lawnmower to come out of the shed. Oh wait, it's still half-broken from September. And the grass is really too damp to mow. And now it looks like the lawn has had a bad bad shave with a blunt scabby razor... still, smells good!


Time for birds to get frisky. All day long. This morning two pigeons actually bumped into my window as a result of flapping and flitting so much. The female was having none of it, you see. Pigeotto chased her from tree to tree and eventually settled on a TV aerial. Stable.



Time for clothing confusion. The brave wear shorts and t-shirts, the lame hold onto their scarves and 4000 denier tights. Some shops keep the heating pumped up, others whack on the air-con. Spring is usually a sweaty and/or shivery combo. Be prepared!



Time for sweeping. Any kind of sweeping. Difficult though because the dirt is sticky and cold from the winter, hidden in the shadows and in the cracks. So many dead thorns and spikeys too. Must. Brush. Away. Winter.


Time for uber-leg-moisturisation. Ugh. The powdery white skin on my calves quakes in fear of being exposed after the long winter. This is why I heart leggings.


Time for the washing line. A two to three person job to put up - depending on rustiness - so in our case, it takes fourteen. Then realising the sun's not strong enough to dry 1cm square of washing so having to plop a load in the tumble drier after 6 hours outside. *Global warming warning*


Time for daffodils. And time for them to die. Tip: Never pick daffs from a Brownie hut garden. Brown Owl will shout at you and make you feel so so awful (even at 22 years old.). Think of the children.


Time for sunshine and showers. 'Changeable', innit.


I look forward to the sun on my skin and a breeze that doesn't pierce my skin like an icicle! Hmph.


Jordie is happy in any weather (but is useless at helping putting up the washing line).

(Kathryn Beadle © 2011)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Morning

Radio murmur slows the rush
of morning chaos.
Bran or wheat or other husk
in the bowl of promise
but the milk is warm.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Canine Partners

Canine Partners assist people with disabilities to help enjoy a more independent lifestyle and improve their quality of life.

After a long day of pats and cuddles, we managed to raise £891.31 at the Chelmsford event - a fantastic result!

There are many events coming up this Spring to raise money for the charity including the Bluebell Walks which take place around the country. Bring yourself, your dog and your wonga to help raise funds whilst taking part in something fun, healthy and really worthwhile. All the money goes towards training new puppies and helping Canine Partners to cope with the demand of people on the waiting list.

See the list of current walks here: http://www.caninepartners.org.uk/bluebell_walks
For more info or to get involved with volunteering, visit the website and fill out an application form: http://www.caninepartners.org.uk/

(All photos Kathryn Beadle © 2011)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

3-D Multi-touch: Apple become even more obsessed with the touchy-feely

Apple have hurriedly patented their portable stretchy napkin-esque device: the multi-touch skin. Apparently, this technology could pave the way for...
‘a plethora of future product concepts.’
Plethora, schmethora. In this post, I’m going to point out the disadvantages and downsides to this type of invention, just because I’m in that kind of mood.
(NB. I’m hoping you’ll also find some sensible critique that’s not influenced solely by hormonal fluctuation.)
Here is a technical drawing of the multi-touch skin (yes, really) :

Good.
Application in sporting equipment and training (i.e. Tennis)
‘The multi-touch skin is wrapped around the entire circumference of the handle and extends along the length of the handle and in this manner spans three dimensions of the object enabling multi-touch input as a player grasps the handle during play.’
Kit Eaton (tech writer at FastCompany) says the skin could be ‘darn useful’. Darn useful for CHEATING more like. As this kind of technology excels, athletes will rely more heavily on machines and computers to determine what’s right and what’s wrong. Human error will be unacceptable and technology will be ready and waiting to point out a 0.0001% deviation from perfection.
What happened to natural talent?
Touchy-feely-sweepy-slide-swish
It seems we are unable to make any finger movement other than swish and slide these days. It freaks me out when young kids already have this movement ingrained in their motor memory. I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room and looked over to a little girl furiously playing Angry Birds on cool Dad’s iPhone. She must’ve been only three or four years old and was wearing Velcro shoes; I wonder if she could tie her laces. Tenuous analogy? Oh well. Even though cool Dad was getting five minutes peace, there was clear disconnection between the two of them. Little girl’s blinkers were on and up – nobody was going to interrupt her!
So anyway, Kit goes on to say...
‘Imagine a remote that merely relies upon the brush of your thumb to change channels.’
No problem! That’s pretty much what we have already, you doorstop! I’m not sure about you, but I don’t notice a greater difficulty in pressing a button cl-ick than a sweepy sa-woosh. But I guess we’ll eventually say bye-bye to the faithful button.
Boo hiss. I’m never going to be able to relieve any frustration by swoooooshing away from the One Show.
Replacing buttons with thumb sweeps make some things more ergonomic for some users. Those who are born into this touchy-feely techno-world have no problem picking up this way to interact with such gadgets, but to try and explain this kind of function to an older demographic just wouldn’t work.
Multi-touch skin guitar lessons for the super-unsociable
Using the napkin with a guitar could mean that...
‘The user could perform chords on the guitar fret in conjunction with instructional software shown on a display. The player’s chords on the multi-touch skin could be tracked and then analyzed by the instructional software to determine if the player is properly performing the chords. That would work nicely with Apple’s Garage Band ’11 iLife app for Guitar Lessons.
Learning to play music through a screen and analytical software? My survey says NO. In my experience, music teachers are one of two breeds: scary and brilliant or lovely and useless. Without a combination of nagging, pestering, scolding and... crying, I don’t think I would’ve learnt as well as I did. I know that I wouldn’t have had the same relationship with a display screen anyway – computers are either off or on.
The influential presence of a human cannot be matched or replaced by a technology (at the moment), and it’d neverrr be able to be exactly the same. In addition, the words ‘tracked’, ‘analyzed’, ‘properly performing’ would rarely be heard within a musical teaching environment. Because music is so expressive and personal, it requires a human touch and human ear to guide a pupil through the learning process, and sometimes that doesn’t always mean playing all the correct notes all of the time.
So?
Yes, napkin technology is clever and perhaps useful in some contexts (you can research these for yourself) but it’s important to look at technology in a negative light sometimes. Because so much hype surrounds every new development; it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement. So, to conclude this post, the multi-touch skin and its potential application would discourage social interaction, it would cut out important life-experiences, and continue to endorse laziness with even greater dependence on computers and technology.
End.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Brownies


After two days, our batch of twelve is down to four and a half.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Massey-attack!

So Andy Gray has been sacked by Sky, Richard Keys remains just about in-tact though mounting pressure has left Sky in a difficult position following the revelations of the past week. Where does this leave Sian Massey?
‘Apparently, a female lino today, bit of a looker’
A female linesman? [...] No, I wouldn’t. I definitely wouldn’t... I can see her from here.’
‘What do women know about the offside rule?’
The conversation between Andy Burton and Gray ahead of Saturday’s match between Wolves and Liverpool.
‘The game’s gone mad. See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour, love.’
Keys, on the newspaper column written by the West-Ham vice chair.
These comments and quips have not been blown out of proportion, they have been presented for what they are, and that is sexist. The term itself is flung about and used blandly to cover a number of sins, but the issue that’s most upsetting is the result of the media circus that has erupted around a qualified professional official who has done nothing but get on and do her job. Sian Massey has not uttered a word during the whole palaver, and unfortunately decided to step down from her match on Tuesday officiating for Crewe Alexandra and Bradford City. A completely unfair consequence which meant a highly-competent and experienced individual was not able to do carry out her employment duty as an assistant referee.
Even through the statements were captured when the men thought their mics were off, it’s a shame now that journalists are rummaging through old reels of footage, scavenging for quotes from any male presenter that has ever been in the limelight. There’s no need for the media to rub it in our faces that these kinds of remarks are made – we know already! But the fact that such an old-fashioned and shallow point of view is still prevalent within the sports world just shows how slow people adapt to change. On-air or off-air, it’s still an ideology that hinders a fair portrayal of women in today’s ‘modern’ society.
The fact that women have had to struggle for years to make it just about acceptable to have a female presence within a male dominated sport is bad enough, but why is it the norm to still be judged and talked about with all remarks based purely on gender?
Boring!

Monday, 17 January 2011

January. A New Year.

‘New’.
It seems that the definition of the word is lost during the month of January. New Year’s resolutions are far from revolutionary.
January allows brands and businesses to convince us that we have overindulged so much that we really should feel awful. If we’re not feeling awful about those mince pies, we should probably re-think the meaning of indulgence. Tut. Condescending voiceovers remind us of brands’ ethereal presence, and January is the perfect time for their products and services to re-emerge, just in-time to save humankind from fat, flab and feeling awful. New Year; new resolutions; new solutions... recycled from last year. If you weren’t thinking about losing weight, you should. Everyone else is! You must try this diet which allows you to snack, and this food which makes you never want to snack. Oh, and this diet which makes you look like Cheryl Baker! Hooray!
Sitting on the sofa becomes a sin as bouncy youthful enthusiastic enthusiasts show off their toned bods for a fitness DVD that was filmed 6 months ago. Oh, and not only is TV-watching frowned upon, but that sofa you’re lounging on certainly isn’t suitable for 2011. If you weren’t shopping on Boxing Day and taking advantage of the pre-VAT increase, you must be bonkers. I don’t own a sofa, but I’m still saturated with adverts from furniture stores whose pre-requisite for success is to use acronyms and acronyms alone. Who knows what they could stand for...
On this theme, January is also a time for shops to clear out stock. Those winter coats that were new-in two weeks ago are pushed aside to make way for swimwear and flip-flops. We know that the fashion stores operate on their own seasonal axis, though this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy up the ‘SLASHED’ price goods which are still very much appropriate in this cold weather. However, sale items loiter in the corner well into February looking crumpled, dusty, and so last year as we stock up on florals and linen. Spring/Summer ‘11, innit!
Resolutions shouldn’t be restricted to be made in January alone. There’s far too much else going on anyway... playing with Christmas presents, for example. And before you ask, no I don’t have any resolutions as such. I’ll change what I want in my own time, when I have time!

Roll on February.