In the working population, the word retirement generally conjures up wistful thoughts of long lie-ins, lazy days, unlimited opportunities to pursue hobbies and the chance to finally get around to doing all of the things that you've never quite had time for. Is that really the reality of retirement though, and what can my 30-something generation expect in later life?
We must not hand over our future to someone else to look after. It's essential we ourselves are well informed on the question of what a free, tolerant, democratic society might be and are able to change our own lives and communities for the better. The question of what makes a fair society belongs to us all.
Connectedness, as the merging and integration of technology, people, global communities, is 'the real world' today... what young generation hasn't had their own paradigm shift to content with over the years - the sexual revolution, post-war modernism, woman's rights, gay rights, the structure of the workplace, informality, the changing structure of the family unit...
Food and sex; sex and food - there's no getting away from the fact that these two basic human needs are intrinsically linked. From Valentine's Day, where advertisers go crazy selling us aphrodisiac chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, to that special first meal where you spend hours preparing for a partner with the promise of what might follow afterwards.
I wouldn't hide behind a tree or a parked car to follow my ex-girlfriends every move? Nor would I invite every person I meet in a nightclub, to view my daughter's baby pictures. I don't stroll casually down the street screaming at the top of my lungs 'Well done me!' in regards to my personal achievements as I have no desire to be considered conceited or narcissistic.
It has been decades since Photoshop has been around. And, what essentially took ages to 'achieve' with a picture, now takes seconds, all thanks to this genie called photoshop. Image manipulation today has become a norm. It's not just restricted to advertisements or corporates touching-up their product shoots. Like wind and atmosphere, it has now touched every corner of the digital world.
One of the reasons why there is difficulty in a public discussion and not an open forum about sexual assault is that those who have experienced it and are therefore credible to talk about don't because of the attitudes shown towards the victims. In fact only a small percentage actually report the crime for fear of not being believed. Why are there still these warped and very sad misconceptions of a crime so devastating? This societal view of victim blaming leads to further victim suffering, miscarriages of justice and a continuing risk to our loved ones. Why do we victim blame? Is it to protect our own vulnerability?
Through social media ,making friends and meeting new people has never been easier. Yes, critics cry boo at my generation tweeting and posting while we could be having real human interaction, but it is a great way for us outsiders to become part of an exciting online community and give us a sense of belonging, something all of us ultimately crave.
Let's start with one heretical thought: competition is disastrous in our education system and should be abandoned as a guiding principle. Instead what we need is cooperation - an informal co-operative of pupils, teachers, parents, communities working together to help achieve the best possible outcome for each pupil.
Everyone has a different relationship with their home town, both growing up and as adults. Some can't wait to escape, others never want to leave. We all lead our own lives and must make these decisions for ourselves, so I would never judge someone for doing what makes them happy. But our home towns are just one tiny corner of a large planet, which has a whole lot of stuff to offer.
Our society is built around expectations. Expectations as to how we look, how we behave, the type of job we should have, the type of person we should marry, the trajectory our life should take. Often these aren't even conscience thoughts about a person, just things we naturally assume to be the case. But why?
Defining children according to wealth or merit in specific subjects sits very uncomfortably with me. What about supporting kids' interests, building on enthusiasm? What about maintaining friendships between kids of different social backgrounds rather than keeping them in separate worlds? Isn't it heartbreaking when children are separated from their best friends...
I wrote to Blackpool Council, incensed that I hadn't been simply moved on. The fact I was feeding at the time had magnified events and my humiliation. It's ironic, I thought, that Blackpool Council professes to encourage breastfeeding... While I waited for a response from the council (which I still haven't got directly) I became more indignant. The rude parking warden, his lack of sympathy and my own feelings of vulnerability and violation over the photos he took underlined how breastfeeding in public was a near impossible ask.