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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Puberty and growth for boys

A lovely conversation with a mother about her concerns that her 12 year old son was "bingeing" has led me to share this.

Puberty takes an awful lot of energy.  Boys seem to lag behind girls age wise and there is a "school photo" moment when the girls tower over their class mates.

So how many pounds does it take to grow an inch?  I remember researching this a couple of years ago to answer a question on the forum.  However, it now seems that the "diet" world has taken over the internet.  When I typed exactly the same question from 2010 into Google, I was presented with stuff that I wish I didn't now know.  Apparently if you lose 35lbs (according to Dr OZ), you can gain an inch in penis length.  Really?  Really?  Well, I think that is just darn unfair and sexist - not that I want my girly bits to grow an inch, you understand.....

I also found myself on a teenage body building site.  Never again.

I did find the "How stuff works" website, which had this to say:

Most boys, though, will take growth any way they can get it. After all, they don't want to have girls their age towering over them for the rest of their lives. Once boys start really growing, it doesn't take too terribly long to catch up with the other gender. Between the ages of 12 and 16, boys grow in height as much as a full foot (.3 meters). Weight gain in this same period can vary from 15 to 65 pounds (6.8 to 29.5 kilograms) [source: University of Virginia].

I am a little concerned about those who only gain 15 lbs during this period.  Perhaps they just don't grow so much?

I also came across a chart "Proper Height and Weight for Age".  I needed to find a definition of proper

1. Characterized by appropriateness or suitability; fitting: the proper knife for cutting bread; not a proper moment for a joke.
2. Called for by rules or conventions; correct: the proper form for a business letter.
3. Strictly following rules or conventions, especially in social behavior; seemly: a proper lady; a proper gentleman.

Yikes.  In order to be seemly, correct and fitting, I need to lose 7 3/4 inches and quite a few pounds.   Should I worry?

Praise be for the Royal College of Psychiatrists for giving us an average calorie requirements for puberty:

Oral feeding requirements
The estimated average energy requirement in the UK for healthy girls aged 11– 18 years ranges from 1845 kcal to 2110 kcal (7750–8860 kJ) per day; for boys of the same age the range is 2220 kcal to 2755 kcal (9325–11 570 kJ) per day (Department of Health, 1991). 

Boys seem to require a lot more calories for puberty - (Warning: icky picture) this is where my Dr Oz penis length thing runs into difficulties.....

My research led me to, as a general rule of thumb, 30-40 lbs for puberty and between 5-8lbs for an inch in height.  Do not expect to somehow see this on the scales overnight.  That would be too easy.

"Oh son, you gained 30lbs.  By tomorrow morning your voice will have dropped, you will be shaving and then Dr Oz says you need to lose 35lbs....."

Friday, 26 April 2013

For Em

who drove to Felixstowe yesterday for her first driving lesson.  HWISO and I still open mouthed at the bravery of the driving instructor and feeling guilty that we should have had more confidence in our beautiful daughter.....

Leeches, vampires and Planky eyes

Things have caught my attention recently:

The first from Sweden about leeches - sorry, model scouts - hanging around an eating disorder clinic touting for business.  If this is true, it is utterly disgusting, sick and generally "pond scum" behaviour.  I have little time for the modelling industry as a whole.  I would liken them to vampires, except that some vampires can be quite good looking and, in my experience, those working for model agencies tend to be less than average in the "Wow" department.

Mind you, so do most models, until covered in slap, airbrushed, photoshopped and otherwise enhanced as so beautifully illustrated by Dove.

What bothers me about this article was this particular comment:

"For people who have an illness centered around weight and looks, it's catastrophic to throw them into a business that focuses on exactly those things." psychologist Andreas BirgegĂ„rd, chair of the Swedish Anorexia and Bulimia Society (Svenska Anorexi/Bulimi SĂ€llskapet, SABS), told The Local.


In my not very humble opinion, weight and looks concerns are often either a symptom of the eating disorder itself or a co-morbid condition (BDD).  Weight and looks are not an eating disorder.  It is way too simplistic to describe any eating disorder as an illness centred around weight and looks.

Which leads me neatly on to this article.  We all understand that Samantha Brick is an idiot and a narcissist of the first order.  However, I didn't realise how utterly vapid she was until I read this

“As I see it, there is nothing in life that signifies failure better than fat”.

Ewww.  Having used the pond scum thing already, I am at a loss as to how to describe her - any suggestions gratefully received.  

I had a bit of an insecurity moment, when my mentor and friend, Marcella "strongly disagreed" with the Independent article in the poll at the bottom as I had "strongly agreed".  She is much cleverer than me and has a degree and everything, so, overwhelmed with a "I've missed something" moment, I asked her why she disagreed, as I thought this was a thoroughly sensible article.  She said something along the lines of taking the plank out of your own eye first Mr Independent Journalist and taking a cheap shot at the tabloids is, well, taking a cheap shot.

Just in case you have missed any of my previous rants about dieting, diets don't work.  If you are a habitual dieter, please note this and just STOP.

"Prof Mann found that, though dieters typically lost up to 10% of their starting weight in the first six months, at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regained more weight than they lost within four or five years.
Among those who were followed for more than two years, 83% eventually put more weight back on than they had lost. One study showed that half of dieters weighed over 11 pounds more than their starting weight five years after the diet."

Which leads me neatly on to the Award Winning Blog by Carrie Arnold ( that, as usual, explains it best.  

If you are parent, please think really hard before modelling dieting behaviours to your children.  You just might be condemning them to the most lethal psychiatric disorder there is.

Just saying


We have been through an unseasonable cold spring so far but in the past week, the weather has warmed up.

Which has been lovely.

Sort of.

As I look out of my window, all my daffodils are out.  How charming you say.  However, we have carefully planted daffs that come out in stages: first, the bright yellow ones, to match the forsythia and then on to the more mellow tones of palest yellow and cream, that usually flower gently under the plum blossom in the orchard.

This year, as I look out of my window, the orchard is a riot of yellow and cream daffodils, under the stark white of the plum trees.  The cherry trees are also out with their riot of pink and cream.  The forsythia, its garish yellow clashing violently and making one feel quite queasy, riots along the banks of the pond.  Now I notice the apple trees are beginning to unfurl their leaves.

As are the oak trees

And the horse chestnut trees

And the ash trees

And the willow trees.

The honeysuckle.

The roses.

The irises.

The grass which is a mixture of daisies and celandine.

I bring this picture of nature to you through streaming eyes, a blocked up nose and a headache.

Spring is wonderful and joyful but, like buses, I wish it wouldn't all come at once.....

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Keeping Britain Alive

If you are able to get iPlayer and haven't been watching Keeping Britain Alive (BBC 9.00pm, Tuesdays), please do now.

Some of it is sad, some of it is happy and some incredible stuff.  Watching a tumour being removed from a lovely Welshman's brain, WHILST HE WAS CONCIOUS, so they knew that he was still able to speak was truly awe inspiring.

I hope it makes you think how lucky we are to have the NHS, despite its odd failings.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The death of Baroness Thatcher

I am a child of the Thatcher.  I was 10 when she was elected to be leader of the Conservative Party, 14 when she became Prime Minster and 25 when she was forced to resign by her own party.  

I was also very aware of the winter of discontent and the preceding years of strike action, the three day week, the dead remaining unburied, the rubbish piling up in the streets, only have electricity for a few hours a day, extortionate charges for the telephone (when it worked), my stepfather going to the station to catch the train to work and returning home half an hour later because a wild cat strike had been called by the guards, or the drivers, or the signalmen.  I remember it as a time of uncertainty and despair.

I remember the grey men - Wilson, Heath, Callaghan.  I remember that union leaders were more highly thought of than politicians.  I remember the country almost crumbling under the onslaught of strike action (12 million working days lost in 1 (yes, 1) month.

This was the era in which punk was born.  Originally, an anarchistic form of music that reflected the contempt and frustration that we, the young, felt at the older generation, who seemed unable to drag themselves out of the mire of despond into which the country had sunk.  Great Britain was borrowing money from the IMF just to keep afloat.  We were known as the "sick man of Europe".  

The most important thing to remember about Margaret Thatcher was that she was a woman in a man's world.  The Labour Party were ecstatic when she ousted Ted Heath as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975.  They felt that they would be re-elected as the country would never vote for a woman Prime Minister, despite the fact that they were ruling as a  minority government (Lib Lab pact and all that).  

That sort of attitude is unthinkable today and quite rightly so.  However, it was the norm in the mid 1970's.

Mrs T has always been a controversial and divisive figure and argument was something she relished.  She seemed unfazed by the name calling and vitriol she attracted, although I am sure it must have hurt at times.  She stood by her beliefs, her convictions and she genuinely loved her country.  She did make some pretty idiotic decisions (the poll tax!) but she also made some good ones.

As I see distasteful images in the press and on the TV of children born after she left power holding parties to celebrate her death (she resigned some 23 years ago, people) funded and encouraged by a respectable trade union, I wonder whether there would have been the same reaction had she been a man?

She is Marmite.  You either love or hate her.  As a woman I feel that to deny the fact that a WOMAN Prime Minister was elected three times, with a majority, is to join the sexist grey suits who loathed her as a woman first and a politician second.

Most quotes and comments about her seem to reflect her sex, whether they be complimentary or condemnatory.  No one can seem to resist discussing the fact that she was a strong woman and did not play into the Kinde Kirche Kuche mentality so prevalent when I was growing up.  I hate that we are still perpetuating that today.  My particular pet hate is the quote "Ding Dong.  The witch is dead".  I am sure her children and grandchildren are totally unaffected by such facile vitriol?  

I am deeply saddened, as a woman, that her strength and will and the fact that she overcame insuperable odds to lead the country, retaining the backing of the country for 11 years and forging a path for women everywhere is so dismissively (and stupidly?) condemned on spurious grounds.  I was also amused by this particular case, which Mr Scargill, Mrs Thatcher's nemesis, has just lost.  What a marvellously principled Socialist he turned out to be!  However, when he dies, I won't be lighting bonfires and holding up banners calling him scum.....


She cannot see an institution without hitting it with her handbag. Julian Critchley 1982

The great She-Elephant - she has an impenetrably thick hide, she is liable to mount charges in all directions and she is always thinking on the trot.
Denis Healey

The Tories think they are witnessing the retirement of a popular headmistress under circumstances that some might regret.
Tony Benn 22/11/1990

If she would only occasionally come in with a smut on her nose, her hair dishevelled, looking as if she's been wrestling with her soul, as I do.
Barbara Castle

Some people find it difficult to argue with a woman Prime Minister and shrivel up.
Douglas Hurd 30/10/1989

She carried the cult of the individual much too far and has done us terrible damage in Europe with her fishwife yelling and screaming.
Nicholas Soames

Monday, 1 April 2013


I was rather enviously reading about Carrie Arnold's award on her blog and feeling a little green. What  I didn't know was that I had won an award too.

Well, actually, two.  **Blushing**.

The first was for best Choices for Parent Activism, which I won with my great friend, Fiona.  Fiona is my brake pedal and voice of calm reason when I "go off on one", especially with letters to the Prime Minister (who never answers personally) and various other luminaries.  She is the wiser and cleverer head and, without her, I would definitely have gone off the end of the pier.

The second was for a film "Modelling Effective Parenting" which I won with my dearest M.  This was the film that finally lured Professor Treasure into our snare and allowed us to make some other seminal films with her blessing.

I am bowled over by both awards and grateful to have two such wonderful anchors to tether me down on occasions.

C&M has had over 25,000 views on You Tube and (at the last count) some 15,000 on XtraNormal.  I remember when we got to the first 1,000 views, M and I felt our work was done.....

Thank you.

What not to say

I have been at the end of some well meaning love and advice over the past few weeks, with the return of my cancer and the following blog may sound snippy and ungrateful but here goes anyway.

People who have got cancer diagnosis are in shock, pain and fear.  If you haven't gone through this particular circle of hell, you cannot begin to empathise, no matter that your mother/sister/cousin/best friend has been through it.

There is an unspoken trembling acknowledgement of the full stop to which an old life has come and a new life has to start that passes between two people with the same diagnosis.  If you haven't been there, trying to make someone feel that you "know how they feel" because you have seen other people through this particular phase of their life cycle, is actually rather unkind.  

People who are facing a cancer diagnosis do not need to comfort other people, dry their tears or have to tell them that "it will be alright".  Nobody knows whether it will or not.  I want to dedicate the time and energy to my children and my husband and for us to work through this together.  Teary eyes and snotty noses are not for me.  If you want to cry, go ahead but not near me.  I have run out of tissues.

This is not a competition.  Cancer is cancer.  The statistics are getting better but the raw data is breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in Age 15-49 year old age group among women in the UK.

The overall survival rates are as follows.  Statistics tend to be about 2-3% lower for the 15-49 year old women category:

1 year (done that one) 95.8%
5 years                         85.1%
10 years                       77.0%

That means that nearly 1 in 4 women will die of breast cancer within 10 years of a diagnosis, whatever the treatment.  I know there are women who have survived for 40 years.  I know there are people who live with Stage 4 for over 5 years.  Please don't tell me again.  I do have Google and, of course, I have searched and researched the topic extensively.  However, a breast cancer diagnosis is not something to be brushed off with a "at least they caught early and Aunt Eve lived until she was 104".  Catching it early is a good thing.  Getting it at an early age (under 50) is not.  Fact.

It is a ticking time bomb.

Which leads me on to my next point.  If anyone else tells me that it is all about positive mental attitude, I swear I shall put my head in a gas oven.  The relationship between psychology and physiology is a complicated one.  No one really understands how cognitive processes work in a situation such as this.  Show me the data....

My view?  There seems to be two types: those who accept that a cancer diagnosis could mean that they are on a limited time frame in the "life" department; and those who choose to ignore it and live in denial.

Neither is right or wrong. 

Those who are accepting are more likely to make plans, organise and accept that they may have a limited time in which to live (ACT?).  There is nothing wrong with that.  To then ask them to "be positive" and not to be "so silly.  You're going to be fine." is actually quite insulting.

Those who are in denial are in denial.  Perhaps praising them for being so positive helps?  I don't know.    Try and make sure you know which sort of person your target cancer pal is.

The best friends are those who actually do, rather than ask.  The ones that arrive with a cake and some food (you know who you are!), flowers, a cushion, chocolate or for a cup of tea and a chat, with no expectation of entertainment, other than a kettle and a mug. 

People who send you long emails or keep you on the phone asking YOU to tell them what to do are actually a burden.  Send a postcard.  Pick up the children from a party.  Offer to teach the kids how to drive.  Cook a meal and say "If you're up to it, there will enough for you all on Sunday.  If you're not up to it, just let us know on Sunday morning.".  

I may look well.  I feel terrible.  I am  not interested in your opinion on how I look.  I will not be flattered that you think I "look great" especially when I have spent 3 hours plastering on Touche Eclat.  My physical appearance is pretty darn immaterial in the grand scheme of things.  

Please listen to what I ask.  If I say, please do not touch me on my right hand side, this is a non-exception rule.  I don't care how gentle you think you are or how much you think you love me.  It hurts to have my right arm rubbed and patted.  It is not a comfort.  If you would like a pain comparison, a pat on the upper arm equates to being hit below the collar bone with a claw hammer.  Just saying.

I don't want to talk about it all the time.  I do have other stuff in my life.  Feel free to tell me interesting snippets of news and what an idiot your child/husband/mother has been when they shut themselves in the deep freeze/lost the alarm keys for work/went scuba diving in Weymouth in January or send me emails of stupid dog videos or your new hair cut or the snow.  Please don't send me inspiring stories of cancer survival against all the odds.  Or, in one particular case, a book telling me that I could cure my cancer if I stopped all treatment and ate the correct nutrition for my blood type.  Yeah right.  (Please read Bad Science by Ben Goldacre to learn more about the charlatan con approach as suggested by these books.)

Sometimes, I do want to talk about it and it is really tough stuff.  If you are my friend, you will listen.  If I am telling you tough stuff, it is because I love and trust you.  Take it as a compliment, not a burden.

I don't really care if you talk about me behind my back and dissect my life and all the things I should have done to "prevent" getting cancer.  I don't really care that you feel sorry for me and my "poor family".  Why?  Because these are your feelings and your problems, not mine.

I have a life to get on with......