18 11 2010

In case you were wondering why some of your usually smooth-top-lipped friends are currently sporting (or trying to sport!) a moustache, the answer is very simple: Movember. The Prostate Cancer Charity, together with the Everyman Campaign to stamp out prostate and testicular cancer, have hijacked the month formerly known as November to “change the face of men’s health” by raising awareness of male cancers and health issues, and to fund research into these life-threatening diseases.

Movember has happened every November since 2004 and has been incredibly popular in Australia, where the Aussie cricket team have championed the cause for a number of years, but it’s only just starting to make waves here in the UK. This year, Kevin Pietersen and a handful of UK celebrities including Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs and Chris Wolstenholme from the band Muse are donating their face to this worthwhile charity.

The prostate is a gland that produces prostatic fluid, a liquid that mixes with sperm to nourish it and help it on its way to fertilisation. Prostate cancer, where the DNA in the cells of the prostate gland becomes mutated and causes the cells to grow into a tumour, is the most common male cancer in the UK. Approximately 36,000 new diagnoses of prostate cancer are made every year, with an estimated quarter of a million men living with the disease right now. Because the prostate is located inside the body, it’s hard to tell if  it has become cancerous, so while, in theory, simple removal of the prostate can cure the disease, it’s often too late and the cancer has spread by the time it is discovered.

It’s essential, therefore, that a cure is found for this often fatal condition but because it deals with, y’know, man’s bits, people don’t often like to talk about it. That’s where Movember comes in. It’s like wearing a pink ribbon to show support for breast cancer research charities, but the ribbon is on your face (and in my boyfriend Tom’s case, it’s ginger, not pink)!

Speaking of Tom he’s currently midway through Movember, where the aim is to start the month clean shaven and cultivate your mo’ as the month mo-gresses. He’s going for a White-Goodman-from-Dodgeball half-handlebar look, which as a proud mo’ sista, I think really captures the essense of Movember! You can check his mo-gress, and maybe even sponsor him here.


7 09 2010

For all those based in the Warwickshire/West Midlands area, I’ve now added myself to the Alcester.co.uk directory here. You can find me under the Advertising & Marketing, Business Services and Internet Services sections. I found my netball team through this nice little local site for local people, so who knows what may come of it! 🙂

All change

2 03 2010

There are some big changes happening in my life at the moment!

Ever since I finished my degree, my life has been conducted in one or two year blocks. In the first year after graduating, I studied for a one year PGCE. Then, I worked as a teacher for two years at a lovely boarding school in Kent. Not one to stay still for very long, I then left this cushty job in favour of homelessness for a year as I travelled the world. Upon my return, I fancied a change of direction again and stumbled into an editorial assistant’s job in central London. Having lived in London for 18 months, I’ve now got itchy feet again (not literally – that would be gross) and I’m about to make yet another big change.

Not only am I soon to move in with my boyfriend of 18 months, but I’m going to move out of London to do it. Much to the horror of hardened city converts, having tasted and enjoyed the London life, I’ve decided that it isn’t really for me. I’m so glad I’ve done it, and it was always one of my ambitions to move to the capital, but I always knew it wouldn’t be for too long. After all, I was born and bred in Kent, the Garden of England, and so it’s back to the countryside for me. Rather than Kent however, our new pad is to be in a lovely little town in Warwickshire, very near to where Tom (said boyfriend) lives.

Deciding to move to such an outpost had implications for my job. Having become really rather attached to the science publishing world, and discovering that I seem to be quite good at stringing two sentences of scientifically-focussed text together, I was left in a little bit of a quandary. There’s a lack of science publishing going on in the Midlands – it’s all happening in London, so what was I to do? I guess that most people would either not move, put up with long commutes or find another job, but somewhat unconventionally and perhaps a little foolishly given the state of the economy, I have decided to go freelance. Today was my last day of employment and tomrrow, I will be self-employed.

Fortunately, I’m not quite thrown in at the deep end (more like the bit between the deep and the shallow end). Having spoken to some very supportive colleagues at BioMed Central , I have been offered full time work on a freelance contract. It’s not exactly the same as what I was doing before, that is, overseeing the editorial content of the Biology Image Library, but instead I will be working with the editorial team for journals that the company publishes. I’m quite excited to be moving into the journal side of things and look forward to the challenges that I will face in this new role. I’ll also be continuing to write press releases as and when I am needed by the press office, and without the daily commute, I will have even more time to pursue external freelance contracts with my current (and hopefully new) clients.

One thing’s for sure, working from home isn’t going to be easy. While friends think I’m lucky that I will be able to watch daytime TV while I’m working, or that I could work from the comfort of my bed, I think I will actually be busier than I am now! I’m setting up an office in the spare room of our new house and that is where I will work – regular hours, not in my pyjamas, and certainly not in front of the TV! As I’ll be responsible for my own earnings, my own tax payments and won’t be entitled to paid holiday or sick leave, it really is up to me to make the most of my working hours. Equally, I don’t want to become a workaholic – just because I’m not going to get paid for holidays doesn’t mean I won’t take them!

I am nervous about venturing into the world of self-employment – I feel a little unprepared, but everyone assures me that I’ll be fine. I know that I have the skills and the drive to succeed, I’m just hoping everything will go smoothly! Wish me luck!

MidAtlantian madness

18 02 2010

Further to my post on Wednesday about the joys of Freecycle, I thought I’d share with you an amusing little anecdote regarding a Freecycle advert that I responded to the other day…

Ad (Fri 12th Feb 2010): OFFER: Swivel wheeled office chair
Fully functional swivel office chair with arms. Upholstery needs minor attention. Rest of chair is excellent. Black frame, muted red and grey fabric.

Me (Tues 16th Feb):
Hi I was wondering if the office chair is still available? I am going to start working from home and need to set up a home office. This would be a great start. My boyfriend can pick up tonight (Tuesday) or Thursday.
Thanks, Lisa 🙂

Freakcycler (Thurs 18th Feb):
Dear Lisa,
Pardon that I’ve not responded until now. A “moving-house” tornado has rather overtaken us, but at the last minute we decided to keep the office chair, and the shredder is gone. The truth is that I would strongly suggest that you get a cross-cut shredder. The strip- cut variety is not only rather insecure, but the actual strips are very bulky, and do not pack well at all.

Sorry for the delay in responding. We’ve moved into a house and BT has just told us it would cost over 10,000 pounds to get a phone connection!!! There are no connections remaining in the small village we are in, and we would need to pay to run a cable to the nearest exchange, 5 miles away. We’ve found an Internet Cafe about 6 miles away…. Ooops!


[Notes: I didn’t even mention the shredder – I guess he had another ad on Freecycle. Why is he giving me advice on shredders? Why is he telling me his life story? Why does he call himself “MidAtlantian”?!]

Me (Thurs 18th Feb):
Hi “MidAtlantian”,
Thank you for your very detailed response. I have now got another office chair from someone else on Freecycle, so it’s not a problem that you decided to keep yours. Enjoy swivelling on it.

Temple Grafton Cricket Club Race Night

16 02 2010

My boyfriend Tom *loves* cricket. He keeps wicket for Temple Grafton Cricket Club who are raising money to build snazzy new changing rooms. To this end, they’re holding a Race Night at Binton Social Club on Friday 26th February. Last year it was a really good night out (even if I did miss half of it owing to travelling up from London…) and this year they’ve got some excellent prizes including a batting lesson and dinner with none other than Andrew Strauss. If you’re in the area, pop on over.

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