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Manford

The most popular thing I have ever written is almost certainly this old blog post from November 2012, The Secret Meaning Behind In The Night Garden‘s Opening Words. Written after watching too many episodes of ITNG while my oldest (then my only) son had pneumonia, it was a mostly-joking-but-OK-maybe-not-completely look at whether Iggle Piggle is really a dying sailor hallucinating in his last moments.

This post gets a steady stream of hits every day with occasional surges in popularity. One of its biggest peaks was in October 2015 when comedian Jason Manford chanced upon it while watching ITNG with his daughter and basically thinking “what is this all about?”. He posted about it on Facebook, and thousands of people clicked the link. Many people agreed. Quite a few thought I was sick / bonkers.

To my great surprise I got an email this week from Jason’s Absolute Radio show producer asking if they could make a video based on the post. How funny that he still remembered it and was tickled by it after all this time!

The video was posted on the Absolute Radio Facebook page.

It was great hearing my words performed in a dramatic reading like this – and it was even better to read all the comments! By the way, Jason, I still think I should get a scriptwriter’s fee…. What do you reckon?

CODA: I almost crossed paths with Jason back in April 2014 when I was a reporter at the Birmingham Mail helping to cover Stephen Sutton’s inspirational fundraising. I had hoped to chat with him about his support for Stephen but on the very day I was trying to get hold of him he was actually visiting Stephen in hospital in Birmingham. I can’t believe that was nearly three years ago. Stephen, you were amazing. RIP.

 

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the-summer-day-mary-oliver

The sale of my late grandparents’ house completed yesterday and brought with it a sense of the end of an era. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately and I miss them so much.

When I collated family memories to pull together my Grandma’s eulogy last year, it was wonderful to read about how she had touched people’s lives in so many ways. Although the specific recollections were different, the common thread was that she always had time for people. Time to take her children out exploring the sights of London. Time to cook wonderful food. Time to talk about anything and everything. Time to listen to grandchildren practising musical instruments. Time to ride a double decker bus just to be with my Grandpa.

She was always present.

I have realised to my shame that I am not following my Grandma’s example. I am terrible at being present. My mind is always all over the place. I’m listening (or not listening) to my children and checking Facebook at the same time. I’m reading the news on my phone when I should be watching my little one trying to walk. I’m scrolling through Twitter when I should be finding out about my husband’s day. I’m always fiddling with my phone and I hate it. It leaves me restless and unsatisfied and feeling bad about myself.

The horrible thing is, I feel too enmeshed in the modern technological world to know how to break free. Just delete your accounts! But I help to run a few different Facebook pages. Delete the apps! I’ve tried that – I just end up going in through the browser instead. Try a bit of self-control! If only it was that easy.

I was tempted to go completely cold turkey and start using an ancient Nokia again, but I realised that there were also (non-compulsive) things on my iPhone that I value, such as the Kindle app, maps and podcasts. Surely I don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water?

So for starters I am planning to delete all the apps that I don’t need off my phone (I realise, of course, that “need” is highly subjective) and to challenge myself to only access these horrendous time- and energy-suckers on my laptop after my kids are in bed. I’m hoping that making them less accessible (no sneaking in through the browser on my phone either!) will put me in a happier “out of sight, out of mind” situation. I want to get my life back and get my use of technology back under control. I want to be present.

In the end, who could really ask for more than to be remembered as fondly as I remember my Grandma? Surely that is the ultimate accolade, not how many likes you get. I need to change my life, and really live it.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

— from The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

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Happy New Year! I thought I’d do a quick round-up of my most popular posts of 2014 (not including homepage/archives), even though I use this site as a portfolio rather than a blog at present.

In ascending order:

5. Life Stories

This page is about the short book I wrote with the National Memorial Arboretum a few years back.

4. A homemade deodorant recipe that really works

I use this every day and I hope this post about making your own nasty-free deodorant has inspired some people to give it a try.

3. Why I love my Mooncup (review)

Another “crunchy” post with more intimate information about me than you might want!

2. Where are the celebrities with epilepsy?

I’d still love to see someone famous “come out” as having epilepsy as I think this would have a real impact on raising awareness and combatting stigma. Epilepsy awareness is a real passion of mine.

1. The secret meaning behind In The Night Garden’s opening words

This was far and away the hottest post on my site with four times as many clicks as the next most popular. It seems a lot of people – particularly in Australia, for some reason – are also wondering whether Iggle Piggle might be dead.

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In my day job I manage the media and communications team at Keele University in Staffordshire, which includes media relations, the University website, social media, internal communications and our new mobile app.

Because it’s such a varied role I sometimes get asked to write guest blog posts and have been asked to do one today – I am just deciding what topic to tackle!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share one that I wrote for Comms2Point0 (an excellent resource for PR and communications professionals) last year while I was on maternity leave. Work seemed a long, long way away at that point, but I definitely stand by what I wrote through the haze of baby brain.

I wrote about how important it is to remember that social media is not simply a broadcast tool, but that it is an opportunity to be the “online embodiment of the University’s real world qualities” – a friendly, open, lively community and so on.

For many stakeholders, the University is not a faceless institution but somewhere in which they are emotionally and financially invested.

It’s not enough to simply pump out information – you need to have a real voice, a real heart, and build authentic relationships across the board.

Read more at How social media fits into higher education comms.

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