Tuesday, 27 April 2010

To tell or not to tell? That is the question

The latest leaders' debate sparked a rather interesting discussion in my office on Friday. Sitting at my desk, I was engrossed in writing an urgent email when a booming voice from the upstairs office nearly gave me a coronary.

My boss, in his typically inappropriate fashion, had begun hollering his opinion on the previous evening's debate to anyone who'd listen. A staunch Lib Dem supporter, he wouldn't hear a word against Nick Clegg's performance, announcing it would be 'a complete joke' if the opposing parties came into office. He then launched into a tirade, criticising just about everything from David Cameron's immigration policy to Gordon Brown's choice of tie.

It soon became apparent this was a one-man debate. The few who'd dared disagree were immediately lambasted, so we all shifted in our seats uncomfortably, hoping the outburst would soon come to an end. It only got worse. Finishing a long-winded speech slating David's fake tan, my boss turned to me saying: "So who are you voting for?"

The dreaded question. I'm the most open person in the world under normal circumstances, quite happy to divulge details of my life to pretty much anyone prepared to listen. However, there are a couple of things I think should be kept quiet. Call me old fashioned, but I've been brought up to believe there are two topics you should never discuss: your salary and who you vote for.

My Dad (a Conservative who always pretends to vote Lib Dem) told me to keep my mouth shut when it came to politics; especially in the workplace. I pointed out I wasn't about to shave my head and join the BNP, but he told me to keep quiet all the same.

Hence why I refused to tell my boss (and eavesdropping colleagues) who I'll be voting for come May 6th. Admittedly I was being a bit self-righteous in the wake of his completely unprofessional outburst, but I had the right to remain silent and I was using it.

His response? "Oh you're such a fucking Tory!" Errr, hang on a minute. He’d just slapped a label on me despite having no facts whatsoever. I’d been judged...in front of all my colleagues. 

The whole debacle got me thinking. Should you tell? Why are politics still such a taboo subject? Why, in this day and age, should people worry they'll be judged by others for supporting a particular political party?

The answer is they shouldn't. We're lucky enough to live in a 21st century democracy, not a dictatorship. People should keep their views private because they want to, not for fear of being discriminated against because they have differing opinions to others.

Whatever the outcome on May 6th, I'll be safe in the knowledge I didn't shout my views from the rooftops. My boss, on the other hand, might be forced to eat a rather large slice of humble pie. 

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Every cloud has a silver lining...

Move over election…all everyone’s talking about right now is that cloud of ash.

Its continued presence over Europe’s airspace is dominating the headlines and causing all hell to break loose on the ground.

Unlike the Eurostar debacle last Christmas, it’s not just the average Joe who has been affected by the flight ban. A whole host of celebs have been forced to unpack their Louis Vuitton luggage and chuck out their first class tickets.

Demi Moore has cancelled her press junket. Miley Cyrus can’t attend the premiere of her latest film. Katie Price is marooned in Egypt. And, shock horror, Whitney Houston had to brave the passenger ferry to Ireland.  

Joking aside, there are still over 150,000 British people stuck abroad, which probably isn’t the biggest barrel of laughs.  Especially if you’re travelling alone. There’s no doubt if it happened to me (being the drama queen I am), I’d have sent a melodramatic text to everyone in my phonebook telling them of my ‘horrific’ ordeal and warning them they may never see me again.

However, if there’s one thing us Brits are good at it’s pulling together in times of difficulty. I’ve heard all kinds of heart-warming stories from honeymooners giving up their luxury hotel suite to stranded pensioners, to triumphant backpackers cycling across Europe to get home. 

But let’s put things into perspective. Nobody’s been killed or hurt. The world hasn’t come to an end. Quite the opposite - the 6-day flight ban has actually saved around 2.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from being pumped into the Earth’s atmosphere. This is more than the annual emissions produced by developing countries such as Malawi and Rwanda put together.

We’re so used to having everything instantaneously at our fingertips we’ve forgotten air travel is a privilege not a right.  If the hullaballoo surrounding the flight ban teaches us anything it’s that Mother Nature rules. And she’s allowed to be bossy occasionally!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The moment of truth...

I've got to admit I don't usually have a eureka moment on a Saturday night whilst I'm sipping a cocktail in some trendy bar. But last weekend I made an exception. After a long conversation about careers with a group of friends it didn't take long for me to realise only one out of the five of us was actually happy in our jobs. No one was desperately unhappy...just plodding along in jobs they didn't enjoy.

It was still on my mind the next day, prompting me to do a bit of internet research into job satisfaction. I was shocked to find an article on the BBC website claiming over 50% of workers in the UK hate their jobs. And it only got worse. Since the recession hit Britain things have apparently got so bad nearly 20% of these workers can't even face getting up in the morning.

Reading that article made me wake up and smell the cappuccino. It's not that I hate my job. It's just not what I want to do. It doesn't inspire me. I can't see myself still doing it in ten years' time. In fact, I'd been so busy attempting to climb the career ladder I'd tried very hard to ignore the fact it was propped up against the wrong house. So, it was that moment, that very second, I decided to turn my life around and pursue my dream career.

I've always known what I really want to do. Aged ten we had a 'career day' at Primary School. Everyone in class had to do a five minute presentation 'in character', playing the role of whoever they wanted to be when they grew up. There were the standard doctors, nurses, teachers and lawyers. Then there was me.

Loving being centre of attention for a full five minutes, I went all out, dressed in my smartest skirt and blouse, with a pair of fake plastic glasses to make me look 'professional.' I also brought along a prop to make me really look the part - my gran's old typewriter. I thought I looked like a real journalista. Truth was, my look was more Enid Blyton than Jo Elvin ;-)

Fast-forward fourteen years and here I am. It's now or never...after all I have a quarter century birthday looming! So I decided to start this blog to document my quest for journalistic fame and use as a platform to express my opinions, ideas and occasionally vent my frustrations! Watch this space.