About Alison

A feisty mother earth type, who has an opinion about everything I would like to think I use my "chopsy" attitude to throw some light and perhaps a new slant on current social and cultural issues.

Since I moved to the country for a quiet life I have been lucky enough to create a more healthy more relaxed environment for myself. I love country life, Family, Friends, Horses and Dogs. I also love, photography, writing/chatting and connecting with others.

Please have a look at a collection of my photos blog,


or join in on my chats here or on my otherblog


which follows my efforts to learn to ride and care for horses in my 50s! or just follow me on Twitter and I will follow you back (if you are a real person) on @alisonbarton1. Enjoy and talk to me.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

What’s good about minding your own business?

Has social networking given us a useful tool to help others or is it just a modern way to be nosy?

After the second world war there was a lot of temporary housing, ”prefabs” which became permanent and lasted well into the 70s. As a young couple my parents lived in one. Some of theses groups of little corrugated iron bungalows were built in the strangest of places, away from existing streets or bomb sites. One in particular was a settlement of twenty or so built on a large traffic island in the middle of a small town, surrounded by traffic and shops; it was a whorl of activity of coming and going.

I am not sure how people were allocated these homes if they were neighbours moved  en bloc or initially strangers to each other. It didn’t take long, though for everyone’s routines to be known to one another the walls were thin and the paths crisscrossed under bedroom windows. The little gardens were usually kept tidy and colourful but they too were small and there was nowhere to hide. Family life therefore was very much exposed for all to witness, the highs and the lows. There was still a mixture of cultural responses to “trouble”, some felt what went on was private , but somehow disapproval of certain goings on hovered ever ready and acted as a moderator in some cases and a safety network in others. Domestic violence is a fairly new term in a historical sense but it is something which has been around since the caveman. Tolerance of it and of child abuse has sensitised somewhat in the last 30 years, but I think people always had a bottom line which was not to be tolerated. Hitting children, quite harshly was acceptable, then,  after all. However in this tight, cheek by jowl existence there was something that united them and it became a practise as concern spread they would react spontaneously to a new event to protect  a vulnerable member of the neighbourhood , a child, a wife an elderly man, perhaps. Sometimes it involved nothing more than a crowd forming to oust the abuser once and for all and give a woman the confidence to shout “and don’t come back” and everyone would know. Other times rightly or wrongly more pressure was brought to bare to “reform” someone’s behaviour.

Crowds forming at incidents were common, people had no embarrassment of being right there in the thick of it and throwing in the odd challenging remark, buoyed by the presence of their neighbours. Then it seem to peter out and net curtain twitching was all we could muster and a surreptitious call to the authorities, in some ways this “nosy” behaviour became despised. We all moved into more insular lives, more cars, bigger shops, higher garden fences. We stopped looking and we stopped caring and it became somebody else’s responsibility, to look out for others.

Now social networking has brought us a new opportunity to spread the word when someone needs help and we have a tool we feel comfortable using to bring pressure to bare. There are bad things about technology and there will never be a replacement for a brave sole to step up and be counted and use their own physicality to protect someone.

But we have entered a new era where each and everyone one of us can make a difference and add our voices to others to raise the volume to be heard.  The following film is an example of how we can each be a voice for good. It is 30 mins long but it is so interesting and provoking,even if you don;t agree with this particular cause, you can see how each one of us can use technology for good.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What lurks beneath

 I sat and cried when I read an article about a woman who pays for her daughter’s spray tan every month as well as the services of a professional make- up artist. Not a big deal for some “wanna be” beauty queen, you might say, at least her Mom hasn’t got her a boob job yet!

No but the girl is only three years old.  The purpose of this expenditure is to prepare the little toddler for regular beauty pageants. By three you could describe her as an old hand after all she has been taking part in these pageants since she was ten months old.
 It’s  above board and organised, so what upsets me so much then? It's not the isolation from playful times and free spirited fun, no not necessarily  It's not how children involved in these pageants might be affected about their looks and what that means to how they are treated. 

No it’s the fact that the enhancements are to make the girls look like sexy little women. There is no getting away from that. The make up is adult in every way, pouting lips, thick eyeliner; the hair piled up and big, not a plait in sight. Even a swimwear section! Which is apparently this little girl’s favourite part and that’s why she loves her darker skin tone. Did she really figure that out all on her own, at three?
Parading Livestock

Girls are paraded for others to judge them whether they win or not what does that say to them, either she isn’t attractive enough to win despite all the effort, or that wearing all that make up is the only way she will get noticed. I can’t see any positive messages for any young girl let alone a mere toddler.

I am distressed about the fact that a whole industry is set up around the sexualisation of tiny children. This has the potential for changing some people’s perceptions of all children not just those taking part in the pageants.

How precious is innocence and how important is it that we,  as a society, protect our children from degrading and dangerous environments. Surely this must include firmly stamping out associations between children and sex.

How mothers and other adults try and justify their participation in this type of activity makes me gag. There is no justification for traipsing little girls around this circuit, as if by illustrating she has a moral handle on the whole debacle the mother, identifies that there is a line not to be crossed and she has kept her daughter on the right side adding she has not considered surgery or Botox!  
I wonder what is on the other side of that line, what dark and horrific place must that be? At least this mother and other parents who enter their daughters in these pageants are saving their children from that.

Stop child abuse now.