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Follow you, Follow me: role models and ivory towers

It's not been a good week for Oxford University. A damming response to a freedom of information request by Labour MP David Lammy revealed a shocking and growing lack of social and ethnic diversity in their undergraduate intake, suggesting that an institution that has always been seen as a bastion of the privileged establishment is becoming increasingly just that. The university, along with its counterpart Cambridge, and indeed other top universities, appears to be helping those already in the upper echelons of society to tighten their grip on the top jobs, to the exclusion of those less fortunate than themselves. Click here for the story.

Of course this is nothing new. Reports condemning Oxbridge and its self-evident lack of social and ethnic diversity appear with depressing regularity, giving ammunition to those who wish to snipe at these ancient universities, so admired and respected throughout the world, yet so often the subject of criticism or ridicule at home. This saddens m…

Birmingham Blues

Saturday’s DX2Birmingham event was an excellent opportunity to meet with other Type One bloggers, all of them already known to me as it happens, and to share some ideas and experiences, and most importantly, a chance to meet with Abbott leadership and hear more about the complex and ongoing process of widening access to the FreeStyleLibre in the UK.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, but because there aren't many songs about Brum, ELO's Birmingham Blues will have to serve as my song-based title for this post.

The first part of the day was an enjoyable and interesting chance to discuss some ideas around supporting our lives with diabetes and helping others to do so.
After an icebreaker involving "speed dating" - but with people who were mainly already good friends - we had a session with some good tips and ideas from PR experts about how better to promote and spread our online writings which I hope to explore further in the future as and when time allows.
We had a good sess…

Flashdance - What a Feeling

Here is the text of an address I delivered to @APPG_Diabetes the all-party parliamentary committee for diabetes. I was asked to deliver this speech by Diabetes UK and Abbott, to help spread awareness of the benefits of the FreeStyleLibre Flash glucose monitoring device.

By a nice coincidence the following day saw the long-awaited announcement of the FreeStyleLibre being aproved for NHS funding. My address will, I hope, help to show those who are unfamiliar with this device how beneficial it can be.
My readers will know that I give all my posts a song title - so this one chose itself. Irene Cara's classic 80s feelgood song: FlashDance - What a Feeling!
"Developing Type 1 diabetes at the age of 40 could have seriously disrupted my life and career as a school teacher. Teaching is a mentally and physically active job, in which the tag “Sir” comes with an expectation that you be “in control”. A condition which makes you prone to hypoglycaemia, leaving you helpless and vulnerable, alb…

Going Back

I am writing this post as the wind and rain lashes at my windows. Only yesterday, I was barbecuing in the garden on a perfect summer evening, whilst just a week ago, I was picnicking in balmy sunshine at Lytham’s Fairhaven Lake.
But now it's a wet and windy Sunday afternoon at the start of September, and millions of households will be feeling a strong sense that summer has come to an end. School bags are being packed, pencil cases checked, name tapes sewn into clothing, clean white shirts and blouses taken out of wardrobes. Even in households with no children (or teachers) many will be contemplating a return to work after the summer break. It's time to resume our routines: Farewell, summer days.
In France, this sense is far stronger. It's a season: la Rentrée.  Magazines, newspapers and lifestyle websites in France are full of articles about how to cope with la Rentrée. People wish each other a “Bonne Rentrée”, meaning good wishes for a fresh start in life, work and everyth…

Rhinestone Cowboy: a tribute to Glen Campbell

#RIPGlenCampbell. Another musical great has gone to join the celestial band. No shock and disbelief this time: the deaths of many musical icons, however predictable they were with the benefit of hindsight, often take us by surprise. Elvis, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Prince and George Michael, to name but a few, all provoked just such a reaction. But Glen Campbell's demise, at the relatively young age of 81, was well trailed, not least by the man himself. He announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer's in 2011 and even joked about it in a farewell tour. His most recent single and album were entitled Adios – so nobody could claim to be as startled as they were by, for example, the news of George Michael’s sudden passing late on Christmas Day last year.
Yet as always, the death of a musical icon leads to a familiar routine of RIP hashtags, a spike in downloads and on-air and printed tributes. And I plead guilty to indulging in all of the above.

Couldn't Get it Right

This is difficult. I am well aware that every job is a good deal harder and more complex than it looks, and that it is the easiest thing in the world to criticise, so I offer these thoughts as, I hope, due praise, together with suggestions and observations as to how things could perhaps be differently expressed. 
A routine hospital clinic review has left me with a 1976 earworm from my diabetes playlist which expresses perfectly my thoughts: Couldn't Get it Rightby the Climax Blues Band.
Today was my second clinic review since I returned to hospital care last year. My first review, back in November, left a lot to be desired, and I wrote about it at the time – here.
Today's visit went better in many respects. For a start, the administration was exemplary and the waiting time minimal. I received a courteous reminder phone call, at 7:30pm, three days before the appointment, with the caller apologetic for disturbing me but explaining that missed appointments are common and costly.…

Everything I own: a tribute to my father

This is the text of a tribute that I delivered on Saturday July 15th 2017 at a gathering of the Unitarian Christian Association, held at Luther King House in Manchester.
My father was a prime mover in the establishment of Luther King House as an inter-denominational federation for the training of clergy, and was Principal of Unitarian College Manchester between 1974 and 1989, during which time he oversaw its absorption into the federation at Luther King House. He was also a founder and prime mover in the establishment of the Unitarian Christian Association.
My brief was to speak of the private man, the father. Here is what I said, and being me it featured two song titles, one of which makes a perfect title to this post. As is my custom, click on those words in the text and you'll hear it.


Arthur Long: Minister, Scholar, Raconteur, Father
We are here today to celebrate the life and work of my father, the Rev Dr Arthur Long, who died at the age of 86 on December 9th 2006. He was, of …

GBDOC

In the past couple of days it has become clear that there are significant and serious concerns about the GBDOC, relating to questions about the financial and business affairs of the founder of the formalised community. This comes on top of unease about the crowdfunding appeal for the third PWD conference in August and unhappiness with some comments used by him on social media.
The gentleman concerned still has the opportunity to respond if he wishes to do so, and if he does, we should all look at what he says with an open mind. I am not alone in knowing little of the detail surrounding this situation, but it is clear that a large number of users of the online community have lost faith in its founder and de facto leader, and he has as yet failed to respond to concerns widely raised.
I write as a very committed participant in the community over the past four years or so, but I am well aware of others whose use of social media for peer support long predates mine, and indeed the existenc…

Standing on the Inside: my day in the Land of Libs

I have often over these past 3 years reflected on the interesting turn that my life has taken thanks to diabetes. Never more so than last Friday, when I found myself Standing on the Inside of the factory where the FreeStyle Libre is made. Yes, I was in the #LandOfLibs and Neil Sedaka's jaunty tune from 1973 came into my head.
Until around 2014, my adult life had unfolded along a line which was really rather predictable. I had enjoyed school as a pupil; my mother was a teacher; and I was good at languages. I had an inspirational and personable French teacher for a couple of years leading up to O-Level, and he seemed to me to thoroughly enjoy what he did for a living and imparted that sense of fun to others. So I never really considered doing anything other than being a teacher. I went to university to read languages then trained to be a teacher.
Moreover, given that I am not very adventurous, it was always likely that I would end up living not far from where I was born and brought…

Don't Dream It's Over

Click on any text in bold colour to link to a website, Twitter account or a song

Don't Dream it's over. Sadly, it is. I'm starting this account of a wonderful weekend in Amsterdam on the day after I returned, and as always after any fun weekend,I am moping around on a Monday morning wishing it was Friday again. I had a fabulous weekend of friendship, inspiration and education at #DXAmsterdam, the third European diabetes bloggers' conference on June 16 - 18 2017. The contents of my suitcase and backpack lie strewn all over the bedroom floor, and whilst the clothes are quickly sorted and put to the wash, every leaflet, wrapper and receipt that falls out of mybackpack tells a story, a story of a weekend which once again matched, nay exceeded, the feverish excitement that it generated among those of us lucky enough to be