Playing with fire

•June 8, 2015 • 1 Comment

Fire dance

There’s something mesmerising about flames. They way they dance, crackle, reach out in all directions. Simply striking a match is really sensory experience – the sound of the friction of the match head against the side of the box, the sudden fizz as the match flashes into life, blinding you with its brightness for the briefest second. Then there’s the smell. The smell of a newly struck match is wonderful. I much prefer it to the smoky aroma left when you blow the match out, but there’s still the satisfying sizzle if you put the still hot match-head into water. Tssssffft.

Holding an unlit match close to a flame will give you the same flash of brightness when the energy level is enough to prompt the same exothermic reaction that striking a match gives you. I’ve often wondered at this near explosive little flash. What if you lit one match, and had another close by, and another, and another. Could you have the match equivalent of dominoes as they are each triggered by the preceding flash of the match before them?

I felt like it was time to find out, so I looked at what I had around me.

NB: Please don’t try this at home, unless you’re sufficiently old and sensible to take safety precautions, and learn from my mistake when it comes to polystyrene (ie find something less flammable, and less likely to give off toxic fumes!).

What I did:

Took a block of polystyrene, since I thought I could easily push matches into it, and hold them in a shape.


I considered writing my name, but wanted a shape where the lines didn’t cross over, so I could watch the progression of flame. I settled on a heart for simplicity, and sketched it out.


Then I raided my stash of matches and started poking them into the polystyrene, attempting to get them to stand up securely and neatly.


Heart made of matches

It took a while – and a lot of matches!

Heart made of matches

I thought about it, and decided that playing fire was dangerous enough, so I should do it in the garden rather than the house. I set myself up with my own fire dampening system (a watering can), set up my video app, and got a fresh match.

Heart made of matches

Swooosh! Off it went. A bit quicker than I imagined since the wind helped the flame around a bit at times.

This heart is on fire!

This heart is on fire

Then I realised the downfall of using polystyrene as it started to melt and catch on fire and the matches began to collapse in on themselves. Much flame… err – time for the watering can. Ppppsssshhhhhhh. Experiment over, but it had worked! Huzzah!

Fire's out

I made a little vine of heart of fire…

…but there wasn’t time to show the melting polystyrene and sizzle of the watering down. So here is the full video:

Simple things to make with string!

•May 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Upcycle with string

Left to right: Plastic rope, parcel string, jute twine


Do any of the following phrases sound familiar to you?

  • “Waste not, want not”
  • “That’ll come in handy one day”
  • “Ooh – I could make something with that!”
  • “I love making things, I just never find the time.”

Welcome to my world.

Having just completed the #30DayGetChuckedChallenge – where you throw out one thing on day one, two on day two, three on day three etc all the way to 30 – I found myself staring at potentially useful, sturdy cardboard tubs that used to house cheesy nibbles. I allowed myself to keep them if, and only if, I did something with them within the next week, else they’d be straight in the bin. Cue far too much time browsing other people’s creative hacking on Pinterest and then a very simple, no power tools required, idea came to me. Wrapping different string and cord around the tubs would make them more visually appealing – so long as I could avoid the need to use the #PinterestFail or ironic #NailedIt hashtags (I’ll let you be the judge!).

My finished tubs are at the top of this post – and if you want to give it a go, my instructions are as follows:


– Cheeselets/Twiglets tub (or you can decorate bottles and vases too)

– PVA glue

– String (or coloured wool, rope etc)

Yup, that’s all you need. I told you this one was simple.

Upcycle with stringTo get started, put some glue on the tub at the end you’re going to begin winding string around, tuck the end of your string under the first layer too so it holds and looks tidy.

Start wrapping the string round and around the tub. Remember to keep it tight so that the finished product looks neat and professional.Easy to make

Upcycle with stringKeep adding the glue as you progress with your winding, to keep the string securely in place. Keep winding and winding and winding and.. you get the idea. You might need some patience – or better – a good series on Netflix to keep you company.

When you have finished wrapping your item in string, tuck the final end in under the last loop (as you did at the start) and pop an extra little blob of glue on there to keep it secure. PVA glue dries clear so don’t worry about that.

Upcycle with stringTa-da! Admire your finished work, wait for the PVA glue on your hands to dry, enjoy the satisfying feeling of peeling it off! :) Nailed it. ;)

Ten Years

•November 20, 2014 • 3 Comments

Ten years is a long time. The Rosetta mission launched ten years ago, travelled millions of miles and finally landed on a comet last week. Its incredible journey took it round the world several times and it zapped around Mars too.

I’ve not travelled quite so far (not in terms of distance at least) in the past ten years, but it has been an important and difficult journey for me too.

As Rosetta’s lander Philae held on, sending back data while its batteries slowly drained, I thought of the start of my journey, which began with life slipping slowly away. A heartbeat, slowing, slowing and then finally stopping. The world as I knew it would never be the same again.

Ten years ago today, I lost the most important person in my life. The person that brought me into the world, that sparked my imagination and my desire to explore, to learn, to create and to see beauty in everything. The one who instilled in me the importance of kindness, thoughtfulness and creativity. The one who took me off the beaten path, opened the world up to me and left me with itchy feet and a desire to explore the world, meet new people and experience and appreciate everything I could.

Ten years ago, I sat by her side as my mother slipped away from me. Just me and mum. Mum and me. Together we had got through so much. We faced hardship and challenges and we did it together. We were a great team. We had something special – anyone who knew us could see it.

But then there was just me. Me and a dead body. A shell of what she was.

I felt very alone.

For ten years I have wondered how, or even if, I could survive without her. I’m still not sure I can, but I have. I don’t know if I’ve been cheating somehow – it doesn’t seem plausible that I could carry on without her.

But I have. I’ve taken her on adventures, carried her spirit with me. I’ve lived for the moment, I’ve taken every opportunity, I’ve done things she (and I) wouldn’t believe possible. I’ve tried to be strong for granny, I’ve tried to make a difference, in my own small way. I’ve tried to do my best and to inspire people. I’ve tried to share things and help others.

I’ve tried to make her proud.

I can’t believe she’ll never know that I worked for the BBC, had an article in a national newspaper and appeared on Sky News. I can’t believe she’ll never know how much I love space, and that I know astronauts – and that the head of NASA knows my name. I can’t believe she’s not here to tell me everything is going to be okay, or to cook for me or look after me when I’m poorly.

I can’t believe she’s not here, but that’s life, and I have to just keep on living. “Everything happens for a reason” she used to say. I’m not sure I know what the reason for this is, but I do my best to be there for others in the “special club” – those who’ve lost their mothers. No-one else can ever understand the pain or loss without experiencing it. I know she’d want me to find a positive, and if I can help people then that is a positive.

“This too shall pass” – this day will come and go. It’s just a day. She’s no more gone today than she was yesterday or will be tomorrow, but our obsession with days and round numbers and milestones means that today is a little hard.

Today is ten years. Ten years is a long time, but it’s also the blink of an eye.

Ten years without her has been tough, but she wouldn’t want me to give up, so I’ll keep going as best I can.

Cheers Mum, and thank you for all you gave me. I’ll take you on the best adventures I can. You’ll always be part of me.

Ripples of Doubt – my experiences of sexual harassment

•October 24, 2013 • 4 Comments

There have been a lot of brave women speaking out about incidences of sexual harassment lately. I’ve been meaning to write something about my experiences for some time, but recent discussions have made me realise just how useful it can be to read other people’s stories. There’s something comforting in knowing that you’re not alone in the way that you feel about these things, the obvious flipside is the sheer awfulness that other people have been through not only similar, but far worse than me. So, in case it is of any use to anyone else out there, here are a few examples of things that have happened to me, and how they made me feel and how I responded.

1)      “Do you want to sleep together tonight?”

Said casually, as though it were a perfectly normal thing to say, except for a number of things: It was totally uninvited, it was my boss who said it, my married-with-children boss, my new boss, he’d got me drunk first.

I lost part of my evening that night because I’d been encouraged to drink on an empty stomach, and while at a conference trying to keep potential new clients sweet, I’d  lost track of how many times my glass had been topped-up. My boss could have been looking out for me, instead he kept filling my glass, even when I wasn’t keen. I was relatively new in the job. I wanted to keep up. I am usually fine with a few glasses of wine. The small complimentary limoncello at the restaurant (I’d finally persuaded the group we should eat) threw me off course. Scarily, there are blanks in my night. I had a spare room key in the morning – where did that come from? Did I go to my room alone? Thankfully, yes, a trusted friend confirmed that I somewhat suddenly left the bar and went to bed. The reason? My boss had just asked if I wanted to sleep with him. Even in that less than sober state I recall reeling and saying “What the fuck?! NO!” and him responding casually saying “Oh, I just thought I’d put it out there”.

With the benefit of hindsight I should have told him he could put it right back in there and told someone immediately. I didn’t. I went to bed. In the morning I woke up, unsure about how the evening had ended exactly, but with the inappropriate proposition and my answer crystal clear.

So what should you do in that situation? Report it to his boss? He was the CEO. Report it to HR? We didn’t have HR. Report it to a colleague? I was the only girl in the office and I was new. I sat stewing for a couple of days. Furious with him for doing such a thing but even more damagingly, questioning myself completely.

I’d got the job on merit – hadn’t I? I had all the skills they needed, the exact set of skills and experiences and genuine love of the product. People not only congratulated me on the job, but congratulated the company on getting me. It felt good, like I’d made the right decision and could bring some real worth to the place. Suddenly all that was gone in an instant. Did he just hire me because he wanted to sleep with me? Does he only value my looks? Maybe the hard work I’d put in to the business was less important to him than getting into my knickers. It felt horrible. I felt horrible.

What did I do? I put all of the facts down in an email and I sent it to him. I didn’t want to cause a fuss because it could prove lethal for the start-up, which was already losing its place in the market, and I liked the product. I made it very clear that he should never have done that and he must never ever do anything close to resembling that in future. If he did, I would not flinch at making it a huge deal. A one-line response ensued “It was totally inappropriate. I apologise for the upset it caused you and rest assured it will not happen again”. To be fair, nothing like that ever happened again, but I was given many more reasons to wish I’d not stayed on there. I was never shown an ounce of respect – especially when my contract was terminated over email because I refused to lie for the company, but that’s a whole other story.

2)      “Oh please come swimming with me”

With an estimated 30,000 cardiologists in attendance the ACC is perhaps the largest cardiology conference in the world. I attended it a few years ago to do some research into the way doctors were using smartphones and tablets in their work. Questionnaires at the ready, I stopped attendees at random and asked if they could spare a moment to answer some short questions. I was surprised by three things while I was there: the enormity of the conference, the shocking ratio of men to women (I had to attend a specific ‘Women in Cardiology’ lunch to fill my quota of female respondents), and the readiness for any of the men to assume that by talking to them I wanted something “more”.

On the bus back from the centre I got talking to an older gentleman who agreed to fill in my questionnaire. We got chatting about this and that – he told me about his wife and sons – we shared stories of places we’d travelled to. General chit-chat. He’d not quite finished the questionnaire when the bus reached my hotel, so he offered to buy me a drink and fill it in. To be honest, I was glad of the company since my work colleague had managed to lose his passport the day he was due to fly out. He seemed harmless, an older gent, with a relatively high level position at a professional organisation, telling me about his family. When my other contacts stood me up for dinner he offered to keep me company. All fine. All very pleasant. There were different cuisines of offer and I chose Italian, not realising that this was the restaurant at his hotel. It was a fine restaurant, he ordered some very expensive wine, I realised that US doctors must earn a pretty penny but opted for something pretty basic on the menu. I’m not one for taking advantage and if I were to offer to go halves on the bill I had to ensure it wouldn’t entirely cripple me.

By dessert, the conversation had changed somewhat. He wanted to know if I would go swimming with him since the hotel apparently had five different pools. My immediate thought was to reply “no, I don’t have my swimming costume”, but the last few days, and this change in the tone of the conversation had put me on guard somewhat. I knew he’d have a simple answer to that, and it was one that I didn’t want to hear him say.

“No” I said, internally wracking my brains for a good reason to put him off, “I’ve already been swimming today” I said, as though it was perfectly obvious that you couldn’t swim twice in one day. He kept on though, cajoling, encouraging, suggesting, and then eventually begging. I’m not even kidding. Here was a chap, a professional, intelligent chap, old enough to be my father (perhaps grandfather), begging me to go swimming with him.

I just didn’t know what to do. I wanted to run away. I wanted to get out of there. But I was brought up nicely, I didn’t want to appear rude, he’d just bought me dinner. But there he was, begging me. It was worse than David Brent in the Office, it was so cringe-worthy that I was embarrassed for him. He had no idea though. No sense of how pathetic he was and so he kept persisting. It was hard for me, I don’t like to let people down, I don’t like to make people unhappy, but this? No way. I got out of there as quick as I could, even though my relief at being safe in a taxi was shortlived as the driver then tried his own brand of “charm”. Back in my room I just felt weird. I never said anything to my colleagues.

It sounds quite funny now. The one where the prominent cardiologist begged me to go swimming… When I tell it as a story I make it into something funny, because that’s all I can do. The truth of it though, was that it made me feel deeply uncomfortable on so many levels, and once again left me questioning my own worth as a person, as good company, as anything other than a stupid shell.

The two stories above happened in the last few years. The two following stories happened in the past few months – and actually, within 24 hours of one another, leaving me feeling like shouting “seriously mankind, get your shit together”.

 3)      “You wanna suck my cock?”

I’d done my good deed for the day, I’d walked an elderly American couple back to their hotel so they didn’t get lost, okay, it meant I’d be home later than I would have liked, but it felt good – a nice way to end an evening with new friends.

I was walking home, it was around midnight, I was alert to people around me. I was scared by the large group of young guys heading toward me, but I passed them fine and felt relieved – almost home. That is why I was so shocked when I walked past a lone young man and he grabbed my bottom just as he passed me. I was shocked and I was annoyed. I shouted at him. I don’t like to shout, I’m a quiet person, but I was furious. “Fuck off” I said loudly. “Do you wanna suck my cock?” he replied. This time a full volume “FUCK OFF!”. Not intelligent, but all I could muster. I walked a few steps away, then turned around and shouted after him “Is your mother proud of you?”.

I’d read a story once, about a woman who was being raped, somehow managing to ask her attacker what his mother would say if she saw him right then. Would she be proud. It shocked him, enough to stop attacking her. I always thought what an incredible woman she was for thinking of that at the right moment, and not in the aftermath – anyone can think of something clever afterwards. I remind myself of that story and practice saying it in my mind every now and then, trying to ensure that should I ever be in that sort of situation it might spring to mind.

I don’t know what my night-groper thought. I hope that it stuck with him though. I marched on proudly for a couple of steps, and then burst into tears. I was physically shaking by the time I got home and it took a while to put the key in the door. I told Twitter because I needed someone to be there while I was in shock and I didn’t like to wake my housemate. People were lovely. They were patient as I ranted and they sent good wishes as they checked that I was okay.

I felt better than previous occasions when similar things had happened to me, because I had said something, I had shouted, but I also felt violated, scared, and angry. Someone told me to call the police, but I didn’t, I didn’t think there was anything they could do, I didn’t like to make a fuss. So what that someone touched my bum, is it that bad? Am I physical hurt? No, it could have been so much worse. But despite the lack of bruising or more serious assault, I was on edge for days. My home streets were no longer mine, no longer “safe” (and I put that in inverted commas, because this is London we’re talking about..). How dare this person take away my safety like that. At least I shouted though. I did something. That has been the worst thing in the past – the thinking that it was in some way my fault or that I should have said something. Beating myself up for letting someone take power away from me and then make me feel like I’m not allowed to say anything. Feeling embarrassed about myself because of something that someone else did. It’s a strange set of feelings, but reading other people’s stories I realise that they are not uncommon.

I don’t know why I shouted that night. I don’t know if I would be brave enough to shout again in future. I don’t like to draw attention to myself. I’d like to think that I would though, if someone else is doing something wrong, then why should I keep quiet through guilt or embarrassment?

4)      “I want to kiss you”

I woke up, still shaken by the above, but felt heartened by kind comments on Twitter and decided that I wasn’t going to let this boy take anything more from me. I drew a mental line under it, put on a smile and went to a conference.

At lunch I networked with various interested people in the queue for food and was then offered an open seat on one of the tables. I got talking to the people around me and the guy next to me mentioned something to do with space. Those that know of my alter-ego “spacekate” will know that it doesn’t take much to set me off enthusing about spaceflight and here was a wiling victim. I explained the T-10 app that I’m developing to help connect astronauts and people on Earth. He thought it was great. Having had a somewhat unsupportive time at work of late I was delighted that someone was genuinely interested in something of mine so I let it pass when he said it was so wonderful he wanted to give me “a metaphorical hug”. I thought it a strange turn of phrase and decided to give him a wide berth at the post-conference cocktails. I kept talking about work, things that I have created or developed. He kept saying he thought I was marvellous. It was getting a bit strange, so I made even more of an effort to talk about my professional life in line with the topic of the conference. Suddenly he said “You’re a difficult woman aren’t you? I want to kiss you.”

I was taken aback. Seriously. Not even 12 hours had passed since I’d been groped in the street and now this – at a professional conference in London. Unbelievable. I told him it made me feel uncomfortable. I was quiet and polite and yet still felt as though I shouldn’t say something to upset him. He brushed it off and I made my escape.

During the rest of the afternoon though I got more annoyed – both with him, and with myself. How many other women had he done that to? How many others said nothing? Why did he think that was appropriate behaviour in the context of the situation? And what of my professional skills? I thought that he was impressed with my achievements, but was that all just a way of buttering me up?

I couldn’t tell if I was over-reacting to be feeling so sleazed-upon. Perhaps I should just accept that some people are just like that? But this was more than a daft flirty comment, this made me feel really uncomfortable. I couldn’t concentrate in the sessions so I tweeted a bit about it. People were immediate and clear in their response – his behaviour was entirely unacceptable. It was okay for me to be cross. So I decided. At the next tea-break I was going to politely, but firmly tell him just that.

I waited until he was not locked in conversation and said hello. He looked delighted that I had come over to talk to him again. That didn’t last long.

I said that I wanted a word about our earlier conversation. I told him that it made me feel uncomfortable. His response was that “I say that to everyone”. Erm, right. I persisted, I said that it wasn’t appropriate in a professional setting when we had been talking about professional matters. “It’s a Latin thing” he said, “they would be offended if I hadn’t said that”. Putting all ridiculous imagined cultural stereotypes aside, for the moment, I told him to look around. “Is this Latin? No, it’s a business conference in the centre of London. You can’t act like that”. He’d just come back from “there” apparently, so still needed to adjust. I didn’t buy it. I told him that he really mustn’t say things like that, that it was inappropriate, uncalled for and made me uncomfortable. I also let him know that I had made the conference organisers aware of his behaviour. He looked crest-fallen, upset even, and I almost apologised for making him sad. I didn’t though. I caught myself just before that and told him not to put women in uncomfortable situations and gave a quick “thank you” before walking away.

It was the right thing to do. Whether he meant to cause offence or genuinely thought he was being friendly, I had to let him know that it’s not the done thing. I hope that in future he will think twice. Who knows. All I know was that it was draining, that I was still left questioning myself and that despite it being his own doing, I felt bad for upsetting someone else. Then I felt annoyed to be feeling that too.

I don’t like to make a big deal of things,I’m writing this now because there is a conversation happening and I think that the more people share their experiences the more people will realise it is something that needs to be addressed. These are not the worst things that could have happened to me, thank goodness, but like I said, these situations leave you with a strange mix of feelings. It’s really disconcerting each time. Such a mix of guilt, anger, fear, doubt, embarrassment and more, even if you stand up to this unacceptable behaviour it is tiring. I am glad that more people are speaking out and sharing stories. I’m just sorry it has taken me so long to do so myself.

These are by no means all the stories that I could tell you, there are many others from my online and offline life, some less significant, others more so. The latter are riddled with complex feelings or misplaced loyalties. I’m not ready to share those. I’m sorry.

Flowers in the rain

•June 12, 2013 • 1 Comment

Flowers in the reain

It’s been a long winter. Even now, almost mid-June, Granny has got the heating on and I’ve been staring at dull grey skies.

If like me you need a bit of sunshine in your life, you may have got frustrated by the grey, but take time to smell the roses. Genuinely, they’re flowering now, so stop and smell them.

I’ve been walking to work and noticing the vibrancy of the flowers that have appeared. Not quite sunshine, but the next best thing perhaps, reminding us of the beauty inherent in nature.

I’ve been meaning to take some snapshops of them, to celebrate them, share them. Today was the day I said I’d make the time. Of course then it rained. (And rained and rained.) The flowers were out, so I decided that should should I be, and the above is a little collection of some of the photos I took on my smartphone. The full set is on Flickr.

Hopefully they will help brighten your day too.

Is “feminist” a dirty word?

•February 6, 2013 • 5 Comments



I recently wrote a blog post about the sexism inherent in the latest Lynx Apollo advertising campaign, which wants to send 22 brave men to space. The post got quite a lot of attention both on social and traditional media, with Forbes, Discovery News and RIA Novosti all picking up on the issue. Tomorrow morning I’m going to be on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme talking about why I think the adverts are damaging.

There have been many comments, some supportive, some questioning why I would be surprised that a male brand is targeting men, some giving personal reasons as to why this sort of campaign could put young women off thinking about astronautics as a career. Then there was one comment stream that really bothered me. Partly because it seemed to miss the central point of my post, partly because it tried to make out that I thought things I didn’t – then labelled me a hypocrite for thinking them, and then because it stated things like “Both men and women seem to be getting quite irritated by cynical privilege seeking from feminists.”

I have to say that this honestly baffled me. There was nothing in my post that asked for any privilege, I was just pointing out I had hoped that in this day and age, advertisers should be above using damaging sexist stereotypes.

The definition of feminism is “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. Equality being a key word here. Calling for equality, is not seeking privilege in my mind. I’m pretty sure I’ve not missed anything there. Equality for women, also equals equality for men. The major clue being the word equality. Right?

Does that make me a feminist? Well on the basis of the definition, yes, of course. So why did I feel strange when someone suggested that I was? It should be something to be proud of. Maybe it was the suggestion that by pointing out an inequality for women, I couldn’t possibly be interested in any other exisiting inequalities. This is not the case.

Another part of the problem revealed itself a little further along in the comment thread. The perception of what a “feminist” actually is doesn’t necessarily match the definition. The same commenter turned to a female friend to ask what she thought of feminists: “Ugly lesbians who want to be treated equally to men by being treated special” was her reply. Aha. I’m not that, and it’s not the start of that sentence that bothers me, but the end. “Want to be treated equally to men by being treated special”, no, that isn’t what feminism is about. Not in my book, and not by the definition. Feminists want equality, right? What’s wrong with that? If they wanted special treatment, then they would be hypocrites, indeed. I totally agree, but the issue is that if people assume that it what feminism is about, it makes it very easy to label things as “feminism” and then ignore them. This is itself dangerous.

If you believe feminism to be something which by definition it isn’t, you are bringing your own prejudices to situations and using the term to excuse you from having to engage with them. That means that important issues can just be trivialised as people making a fuss over nothing, or wanting to be “treated special”.

I’m uncomfortable with this idea. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I paused before posting my original blog in the first place, because I knew that someone would try to belittle my concerns or make out I was making a mountain out of a molehill. But then I decided that if everyone felt too scared to speak out, then nothing would ever change. This was something that I could do, so I did it.

It is a shame that the idea of feminism has been muddied like this, to the point that it makes me feel uncomfortable to label myself a “feminist” because I know that people think of it in the wrong way. What a shame that after all the hard work that has been done by feminists, that the term is now being used as an insult to shut people down. I don’t know what to do about it, can we reclaim it for good and remind people of the true definition, or is it now just associated with extreme militant views?

I genuinely don’t know. What do you think?


Leveson: Am I missing something?

•November 29, 2012 • 3 Comments

Today we found out what Lord Justice Leveson had to say about the press and future of press regulation. The past few days have seen newspaper and magazine editors getting their knickers in a twist about things and coming out with some real nonsense. If I didn’t know better, I would have been quite scared that the freedom of the press was at stake. But unless I’m entirely missing something, no such thing was ever suggested.

Fraser Nelson, Editor at The Spectator spoke out to say they would refuse to sign up to anything enforced by government. I sat open-mouthed as Charles Blackhurst, Editor of the Independent suggested that if a regulator were set up, he’d have to keep ringing them to check he could print stories. Now either he’s totally daft (in which case how did he get to the position he’s in) or he’s scare-mongering.

My background is broadcasting. We are regulated by Ofcom. Does that stop us broadcasting news and entertainment? No. Does that stop good journalism? No. Have I ever called them to check something I’m about to put on air? No. Of course not. It doesn’t work like that. It’s just there to ensure that competitions are fair, children are protected, and listeners have a place to go to complain if they think they’ve been mistreated or found something offensive. Does Ofcom fine broadcasters for every complaint? No. They look at the evidence, the context and make a decision, independent of the broadcaster. That doesn’t seem too awful to me.

So Leveson suggests an independent body, well that makes sense. We’ve had the Press Complaints Commission “marking their own homework” for years and it’s not exactly doing a great job of keeping the papers in line. When I say “in line”, I am not talking about muzzling the press, but just stopping them overstepping the mark and doing horrendous things, like hacking the phone of a missing school girl. Most journalists wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, so why should they be worried? The independence of this body should be backed up by legislation says Leveson. Okay. What’s so bad about that? An independent body, that *has* to be independent. Why is that scary? Why would that worry you? If you are doing good journalism, then you should be confident in your story and your skills to get that story out without breaking the law, intruding people’s privacy or hounding them. Occasionally there may be cases where the public interest may override the usual rules, but there are laws to protect you on that too. I really am at a loss as to why this should be such a bad thing.

Of course there will be people making a fuss about this, undoubtedly the papers will have something to say tomorrow, but for now, if anyone can tell me why the Leveson report is anything other than reasonable, common sense, please let me know. With all the fuss about it, I feel like I must be missing something, but the more I think about it, the more I think it’s (parts of) the newspaper industry that are missing something. The simple truth that good journalism does not involve hacking phones and taking long lens photos of members of the royal family just to sell a few more papers, and that if they had confidence in their journalists, regulation shouldn’t be something they fear.


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