Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Join the LOVE TRAIN

So I promised myself that I wasn’t going to moan about travelling not on this blog, not on Facebook, not on Twitter, not in real life. However, I find myself moaning about travelling all the time, so I’m just going to do one blog on here and let it all out and then that might be that.
The upshot of it is that I live Liverpool-ways, but I am originally from Manchester. So I travel back quite a lot to see family, which is fine. We have a car, and we tend to share the driving so that’s no issue.... (I won't be doing a blog on driving - that will just send me over the edge - for the record, I'M ALLOWED TO DRIVE 60MPH IN THE LEFT LANE, YOU PILLOCK!) ...
The problem is the fact that I work in Manchester. Now when I moved to Liverpool I did get a job this end, but let’s just say I didn’t really enjoy the position and leave it at that. So I went back to my old work in Manchester, albeit in a different department. So long story short – I travel 2 hours on the early rush hour train, 2 hours on the late rush hour train, 4 days a week. If I took the car every day it would be expensive, and besides my husband needs to drop the kids off where they are going, so I take public transport.
This is complete madness right? I know it is. But I have a survival kit:
Survival Kit
Bottle of water (it’s horrible and humid on the trains)
Big coat (with fur hood for rolling up like a pillow/putting over head to hide from the world)
Tissues (you never know)
Make-up (passes a some time on the way in, and wakes me up…Whaaat? I am a GIRL!)
Book (usually a university book, two birds, one stone, etc)
Part of the 'kit' I'm not being paid by Clinique or Rimmel to put these here. But by all means Clinique, Rimmel, come and PAY ME !!!
So it is hard sometimes, especially when the trains are late, which is quite often. I can end up stood on platforms for ages and ages, and on a bad day I can spend over 5 hours travelling to and from work. I know this is insanity, but the reason that I continue to do this is because I actually really really love my job. Have you ever been in a job where you feel completely trapped for 8 hours  day, and felt so bad that you could cry when the alarm goes off? Well, I have, and it’s not nice. I know that when I get into work I am busy, challenged, occupied and I work with great people and everything about the job is just great. I’m really lucky, which is why I try not to moan too much about the travelling.
So, back to my moan. I was fine travelling before I was pregnant. It was easier. I now find that being pregnant it is much harder. I would like to split this moan up into sections:
1.       Trains
The trains are filthy. Pure filth, disgusting, vile. Hence the big coat. I would never ever wear my ‘dressy’ Coast coat to wear on the train. Instead I wear a big old duffle coat that I bought in the sale from Jane Norman about 4 years ago. The zip has bust from pregnancies, and the brown has slightly faded. I feel like that little kid from East is East but man, the coat is comfortable, and I don’t care if it gets covered in crap off the train.
Trains are also late. Constantly. All the time.
When they are full, they also continue past.
People let dogs sit on the chairs.
They sometimes smell of wee
They cost an arm and a leg
2.       People
In all my time of being pregnant (18 weeks now, fact fans) – I have only had one woman stand up to give me her seat. I always ALWAYS have to stand up for at least 15/20 minutes in the morning and evening combined. And that’s if I’m lucky. It doesn’t matter how far I stick my belly out, or how much I huff and puff. I went on Mumsnet last week and they seem to think that looking ‘pathetic’ helps. I really don’t look pathetic. I’d say I look stern, angry and generally annoyed that people won’t move. Must try harder at being more pathetic.

Come Fly with ME

One day I missed my train by 10 seconds – train was in and doors were open – but the whistle had gone and man wouldn’t let me on. I stood arguing with him for the rest of the 20 seconds, while he closed the door. I tried all the pathetic-ness I could manage “I’m pregnant *sniffle sniffle* and I can’t get home if I miss this last train.”
“Sorry love.” (I’m not going to get started on how much I HATE being called LOVE by strangers.)
So in desperation, I just got on any train that said Liverpool. You know where I ended up? The AIRPORT. Nice one, Kerrie. Good job. So my husband and the kids had to come and pick me up, and from where we live, it would have been quicker for him to pick me up at work. SMOOTH.

Typical Obligatory Pregnant Woman Fainting Episode


One morning I got on the train and it was rammed. I couldn’t get a seat and had to stand up, but because it was so busy, I had to walk further and further down the train. This meant that I was stood in the middle of the carriage, no air, people almost stood and sat on top of me. It was horrendous for everyone concerned not just me. Anyway, predictably, after 30 minutes of this I toppled over all hot and shaky, sweating and shaking at the same time. Do you know how many people helped?
None.
I had to ask the woman in front of me to get up so I could sit down. She reluctantly did and I put my head down and recovered in my own way. Now I know that people are busy with their own lives. I know that people are busy with their i-pads and i-pods and coffees and frigging work projections or The Metro’s Rush Hour Crush whatever. I understand that people don’t necessarily see pregnant people, so really, I thought, it’s the train company that should fix this.
They won't move, you just have to PUSH

One Woman Call for Reform (stand back Pankhursts…)

So after this I decided to start a one woman campaign – I was going to stand up to Northern Rail – I was going to start proper call for reform on the trains. In the form of a MIGHTY email. I can fight the man. And I can win!
 
Dear Sir/Madam
 
I am writing to complain about the xxx train. This train is constantly packed, and there are not enough seats. This leads to me standing up. I am currently 4 months pregnant and find this very uncomfortable. On 1st October 2012 I fainted on the train due to the lack of seating, and overcrowding in the carriage. Now I know that you can not account for human decency and manners, or make people give up their seat but surely you can provide extra carriages for people to sit down? I pay a lot of money each month for my rail ticket and rarely do I get a seat. What am I paying all this money for? For a standing position?
 
I would appreciate your response on this, and I await your advice.
Thanks,
Mrs McGiveron

Response:



Dear  Miss McGiveron

Thank you for your e-mail, which I received recently.

I was extremely sorry to read about your recent experience when travelling between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Oxford Road on the 1st October 2012. Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience and discomfort caused.

I hope that you are ok and did not hurt yourself or harm the baby when you fainted on our service. I agree  it is totally unacceptable that people do not see a pregnant lady, someone elderly or even someone with mobility problems and offer a seat to them whilst travelling.

I can confirm that we have started putting a sticker near the priority seating areas (near doorways and toilets) on some our trains showing a lady with a bump, to urge customers to allow pregnant ladies to seat along with elderly and parents with children in these seats.

I wish you all the very best with your pregnancy and thank you for contacting me.


I’ve seen these stickers. Over the heads of people who are SAT IN THE SEATS. 
You've got to love Paint for editing
So because I’m hilarious, I tweeted them
@NRE_Northern have solved my fainting on the train issue by putting stickers with pics of pregnant women of them on 'priority' seats. THANKS
   
They did not re-tweet or respond. I’m probably not as hilarious as I think, and also, I am probably not the first to complain, and no, I didn’t win.
So, the trains won’t help. Privatisation clearly worked. Hooray for Thatcher and Cameron and the Big Society (but that’s another moan that I’m not getting into.)

Not all Bad…Salford LADS

Salford is the best station EVER. I know this because I spend a LOT of time stood here. The people who work on the platform are ace, and I really like them. I’ve even filled out a Northern rail star form for them, (see I’m not just a moaning bint.) The trains that call/leave from here are still vile, but their platform is nice.
So then, will I continue my complaint? No. And do  you know why – because I haven’t the time or the energy for it.  Anyway you look at it they have you over a barrel, I have to get to work, they operate for profit. Which means crap trains and no seats and no improvement. 

I Win

And anyway, I win. I win because I use their trains to  get to a job I enjoy, and to get home to two  wonderful crackpot kids and a husband who would do anything for me, including driving to the airport in the rain at night to pick up his dizzy, moaning, bonkers wife.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Stop...Essay Time!!!

OK so it’s not strictly essay time. We do have a few weeks left yet but if I’ve learnt anything from A200 it was to just write the damn essay while the relevant chapters are in my head. Otherwise, I’d find myself reading all about what I needed to know, making all the right noises, then moving on to the next chapter, and the next. And then it came to the real essay week, or ‘reading week’ or whatever it’s called, and I’d have to go back and re-read everything related to the question
So this time, I’m doing it this way and we’ll see how I go.
I’m not allowed to post any TMA questions or answers or anything like that. (Like I have the answers…) Basically, this is the first TMA, and it’s split into Part A and Part B, only 500 words each, so shouldn’t be too much trouble. I’M KIDDING. It’s going to be a nightmare – how can anyone write an essay in 500 words??? I’ll be honest, I’ve scrawled 700 words for each already, and that’s just my first draft. The hardest thing about these little ones is making them smaller, and obviously worrying if the 500 words you did pick to leave in were the right ones. I wrote what I have while I was on the train so obviously I’ll need some real quiet time to edit and sort out my bibliography and stuff.  This is how I write my drafts, in a round-about nonsensical way….
The history of medicine is a fascinating subject to study because INSERT WHY HERE. This is supported by the fact that INSERT EVIDENCE HERE. It is a well known fact that historians of medicine wear big knickers REFERENCE THIS.
So I leave myself a lot to do, I really do. But in all honesty, how am I meant to write a full clean beautiful essay sat or stood on a rammed train in rush hour? (I travel about 2 hours to Manchester every day there and back.)
I tried to be a stealth picture-taker on the actual train but chickened out last minute. Must try harder.
Studying
How do you do it? I’m sure everyone does it differently. I basically aim to read the set book chapter on the Monday morning. I do not do the exercises as I can only carry one book at a time, and I’m travelling 4 hours on a train a day to work with my dinner and purse and everything – my bag weighs a tonne. So I read that. Then the next day I take the source book, and I read a few sources. If I’ve been organised, I’ll mark down which ones I need to read, if not I just read the next ones as I go. I always make notes in the margins, and always highlight and underline. I break the spines of the books and generally ruin them. Look at poor Porter:

Battered and bruised. Someone call a doctor. A proper one, not a quack or a charlatan...

Then the next day, I’ll take any other set books I need, like Porter or a print-out of a source or whatever is recommended. My husband has very kindly transferred the radio programmes off the website onto my MP3 player, so I listen to those on the train as well. (I find them a bit erm…jarg.) At night I do the CD Rom exercises, I find that doesn’t take me very long – usually because of this
These distract me!


Or maybe even because of this:

Can't believe they killed off poor Sybil



I suppose I spend about 5 hours a week studying. I’ll then spend more time when it’s essay-writing time. I always ALWAYS read with the essay questions in my mind. I couldn’t do it any other way, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, I’m balancing work, kids, pregnancy, university, managing the home. I don’t have time to read for leisure. Hang on, that’s a massive lie, I took Educating Rita Random Link - I got mine for under £2 by Willy Russel on the train with me last week and read it in an hour or so, loved it. Really want to go and see the play, but that’s a slight digression.
Note Taking
I have had this real issue with note taking. I bought myself loads of gorgeous post-its and note books and snazzy pens. My aim was to take notes on each chapter, and then when it came to revision I wouldn’t have to re-read the whole thing, I would just have to re-read my notes and make some diagrams or whatever. But as I quickly found out, the reason I didn’t take notes with A200 was because I actually enjoy reading the material. I don’t want to stop every five minutes to write down names and dates – I was just enjoying that paragraph thank you very much. And also, there is the practical side of things – how on earth can I take notes – I bring your attention to this once again
That picture again, I clearly must work on my photography skills.


And my note-taking at home is massively impeded by this 

Naughty Alice!



This

Loop the loop!

And increasingly, this 
Somewhere to rest my books?
So, notes. None. I plan on re-reading the whole of the module again in May, and using the month I have for revision. We’ll have three children by then so I’ll let you know how I get on with that…
The Course
I am enjoying it very much. I wasn’t when I was note taking I’ll be honest. There’s some cracking fellas in it isn’t there? Being a bit of a feminist, the primary sources relating to women in the early modern age, I find fascinating. I am looking forward to moving on, and getting to modern history to be honest, but I’m enjoying this bit not-the-less. The CD Rom could do with a bit of updating if I’m honest, the DVD is a bit old fashioned, but I can cope with that. And if I run out of time I know I can always read the transcript on the train, so the OU are great like that, the written material is excellent.
To be honest, my enjoyment of the course will last for as long as I feel I am understanding and doing well in it. The moment I get a rubbish essay mark my interest will absolutely nose-dive, I’ve always been the same. I either sink or swim I’m afraid, so here’s hoping for a good one.
Good luck if you are doing A218 this time around. Let me know how you’re getting on, be nice to swap tips and get in touch!

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