The Pill: Promoting underage sex or preventing teen pregnancies?

Prevention: The Contraceptive Pill

There has always been a lot of controversy over the contraception and its availability to young girls. At the moment I am conducting research for a pitch for a feature as part of my course. At the time we were given the piece of work, the Isle of Wight announced that it would be conducting a pilot scheme allowing girls as young as 13 access to the contraceptive pill without having to go to their GP.

Age of consent

The age of consent varies between jurisdictions and the type of sexual act, the sex of the actors and other restrictions such as the abuses of positions of trust.

Traditionally, age of consent was a matter for the family to decide and more often than not coincided with puberty.

The first recorded age of consent was more than 800 years ago in 1275 when England made a law against rape. In the 12th Century, founder of Canon law in Europe, Gratian, accepted that the age of puberty for marriage should be between 12 and 14 but consent could be meaningful if the child was over seven years old.

Today, such a young age is shocking, because of the way society has moved on in the past hundreds of years. In their early teens, children are still in education and preparing for later life. In the past, children were sent to work earlier and married at a much younger age. Things were different, people lived for a shorter time and things were done a lot quicker in terms of marriage, and work.

Today there is less of a rush for these sorts of things.

The Pill

The pill was discovered after the 1930’s when scientists found out that certain levels of hormones could prevent ovulation, and what first started out as a cure for menstrual problems, was soon authorised as a contraceptive measure in 1961. Since then, its popularity has grown and it is currently used by over 100 million women worldwide; including 3.5 million users in the UK alone.  

In 2007, as part of the government’s aim to reduce unwanted pregnancies, leading surgeon and health minister of the time, Lord Darzi, recommended access to the Pill over the counter without needing consent from a parent or GP. He said that it would prevent unwanted pregnancies and would allow girls to be assessed by a health professional, who was not their GP, but who could grant them the contraceptive pill. This scheme was piloted in Lambeth and Southwark, the areas with the largest percentages of teenage pregnancies.

In 2008, 96 girls under the age of 18 were fell pregnant on the Isle of Wight and so authorities felt that there was something that had to be done.


Understandably, the pilot scheme has come under fire mainly because of the age of the girls who will be able to access the Pill.

But if there are so many girls under the age of consent who are clearly going out and having sex, regardless of what the law says and becoming pregnant unintentionally then shouldn’t we be helping them make up their own mind and protecting them against unwanted pregnancies.

To go to the pharmacist and ask for the morning after pill in the first place is already pretty scary for most girls, especially if they are under 18. But a move which promotes safe sex for girls as young as 13 should inevitably make it a less daunting experience.

And what’s the alternative? We all like to think that if a child is under 16 they won’t be having sex until they are much older and more mature, but in reality there’s no way to stop young teenagers having sex altogether, they will inevitably do it regardless of laws preventing it. So something must be done to protect them from getting pregnant. And I think that this is a responsible way for girls to tackle the risks.

In 2008, the Office of National Statistics revealed that 61.6% of pregnancies from girls under 16 were aborted out of the 7.8 per 1000 conceptions that took place under 16. Quite frankly, they shouldn’t be pregnant in the first place at that age, I mean they are still children themselves, so doing something to stop it is a good plan.


The only major concern which I have found is that, although the Pill is pretty much 100% effective, it does not protect you against STIs. Something shocking I found in my research was that half of the 2,557 people surveyed in the UK by the Office for National Statistics said TV programmes and adverts had informed them about STIs.

I think if girls are turning to the pill for effective contraception they need to realise that the Pill is only to prevent pregnancy, it will not protect you against STIs.

Another important point is that girls must also be aware that the Pill can be affected by some medication and it is important that they know about this. So if they are accessing the Pill from somewhere other than their GP and then go to their GP for something else and are prescribed medication, the GP may not know the girl is on the Pill and therefore will not warn the patient that their Pill could be affected.

Only time will tell if this scheme is effective or not in reducing the number of teen pregnancies but in the mean time, regardless of people having concerns about children as young as 13 having sex, there is clearly little that can be done to stop them and so all we can do is protect children against the repercussions of sex.

(N.B. Quick statistic

Just a random statistic for anyone interested: According to the netdoctor, if taken as prescribed, the Pill’s effectiveness is almost 100% effective. In comparison to the condom, if 100 women were to use the Pill as prescribed for a year they would not get pregnant, but if 100 women were to rely on condoms for a year, between two and five would fall pregnant, and if none used contraception then at least twenty would be likely to become pregnant. )

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Building Plans for Shopping Centre Revealed

A multi-million pound plan to reposition The Friary Shopping Centre in Guildford was revealed on Tuesday.


Joint owners’, Westfield and Hermes Real Estate, plans include reconfiguring space to introduce five new large stores which will give the opportunity for multinational retailers to secure a space within the centre.

So far, Topshop has committed to an extension while Primark has recently opened its first Guildford store, part of a deal to take over ten BHS stores.

There are also plans for a new food court. This will become part of Westfield’s Eat Central Brand and has already been introduced in other stores across the UK.

Ben Tolhurst, asset manager at Hermes says: “By carrying out these works we are opening up the opportunity for leading UK retailers to take modern space within Guildford where they are currently not represented due to the space restrictions of the town centre.”

With Guildford household incomes set at a third above the UK national average, Tolhurst hopes that the centre will continue to attract the affluent shoppers from the Surrey catchment area.

The Friary shopping centre currently consists of three levels with over 60 retailers.

Planning applications have already been submitted and Westfield and Hermes are working with Guildford Borough Council to make improvements quickly.

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Love: Who Needs It?

Overpowering: reminder of the need to feel loved

Recently there has been a lot of talk about relationships and the dating game, not just in class but the BBC today had a feature on how the single life costs a lot more than if you’re in a couple (

Yes, we can all mope around when we’re single and be on top of the world when we’re in a relationship but there are other things in life.

There’s so much media pressure for us to be in love. In films, soaps and even television adverts or perfume promotions, we are subjected to a world of love and romance. But how much is this really the case?

What annoys me the most is when girls spend all of their time with their boyfriends and ditch their friends. And perhaps this is without meaning to but it shouldn’t be reality.

Boys over Friends

In my first year of university my housemate was really good friends with this one girl. They were completely different and looking back on it now my I’m pretty sure my housemate wonders how and why exactly they had been so close within the first few weeks of fresher’s. But soon, maybe a month or so in, the girl started going out with a boy in her corridor.

To say they were a disgusting couple is pretty much an understatement. They used to sit in bed all day, he stunk of BO and to be honest she just looked dirty. And their public displays of affection were utterly sickening. I mean come on people, get room!!!  I won’t go into it because I don’t want to sicken you but let me tell you it was not nice (think Amsterdam sex show). If you found yourself sitting in between them it was high time you knew you should get yourself out as soon as possible, because someone in between them did not stop them eating each other’s faces!

As time went on they were literally joined at the hip. She started bunking off lectures: I’m not sure what he did, probably avoided showering! It’s all pretty vague in my mind now but towards the end of term she didn’t even come out with us anymore.

One night she did come out with us and just sat there moping about him not being there, even though they had had an argument before. We thought it would be a good way for us to all reconnect and take her mind off things. She left early to go home and see him…

The thing was, because she had ditched her friends so abruptly it became difficult for us to be there when things got rough. I distanced myself because, in all fairness, I hadn’t known her for very long, and although she was a lot of fun in the beginning, I felt like I didn’t really care what was going on in her relationship because she didn’t make time for us.

Long story short, they both dropped out of university and she became pregnant. I think they are still together. Although, she definitely deleted me on Facebook so I can’t be entirely sure.

And good for them if they are together but it made me realise that what she had gone through at university over that first year in terms of friendships can’t have been worth it. She had wasted all of those new friendships in favour of being with one person.

Friends First

People always say friends over boys. (It brings a particular One Tree Hill story line to mind, Brooke creates the clothes line ‘Clothes Over Bro’s’ as she puts all of her energy into fashion designing after she has had her heart broke. And she becomes a massive success! Maybe a tip for all you lonely hearts out there?)

Fun: Have friends you can rely on and have fun with

It is so important to keep time for your friends and surround yourself with as many friends as possible, and people who care for you. No matter how much you think that your boy friend is “the one” and can provide you with everything, you need to have time with other people. I don’t think it’s healthy to concentrate all of your energy on one person.

And it doesn’t just have to be sacrificing a little bit of loving for girl time. It can be guy friends as well. Just so long as you know that there is someone there when things go wrong.

And I’m not saying things always go wrong. But when you’re in a relationship things usually start straight away. More often than not they aren’t long term friends before, the relationship starts off in a romantic way. There’s obviously going to be some sort of “more than friends” attraction for something to progress from the first meeting. Meaning that when you do break up, you’re left with very little if you have pushed your friends away.

But when things do go wrong, and you have spent the past year with that one person, perhaps not lost touch of your friends but are definitely less close, where do you go? Who do you turn to? Because chances are if you have rejected your friends to such a level that you need to rebuild your friendship, how easy will it be to turn to them?

Other things in life

Either way, your friends will always be there for you. It’s just a warning not to become too engrossed in one person.

Being in a relationship is not everything. And I think people need to realise that. You can have as much love (well maybe not as much love, if you get what I mean), from your friends as you can from a boyfriend.

Some say they feel lost without a boyfriend/girlfriend. But how rude is that being to your friends. And I know your friends know what you mean, but a little more subtlety wouldn’t go a miss. There are plenty of other singletons out there who feel the same but, although it’s such a cliché, things always come along when you least expect it.

No Regrets

So girls, don’t go looking for love. If it comes along fantastic. But if it doesn’t, who cares. Don’t get yourself down by watching soppy romantic films where the guy always gets the girl. That’s not the way things happen. And surely we should realise this because within five minutes of seeing the couple arguing at the start of the movie, we know they are going to end up in love. (And so quickly as well I might add. Seriously, how do people in films and soaps fall in love within about a week?!)

I’ve never been in love. So this is a completely open view. And maybe I’ll be criticised for commenting on something I don’t know about. But when you’re feeling down don’t feel like you’re lost because you’re not in a relationship. And when you’re in a relationship don’t reject your friends. They will be there when you need them the most but it’s not fair on them for you to expect them to be there if you reject them for however long. And when a relationship ends, pick yourself up. Stop mopping around. It obviously wasn’t meant to be and why sit there thinking about what could have been or contemplating some vindictive way of getting them back.

We spend far too much time regretting the past or thinking about things that have happened. And before you know it, life just passes you by and you realise you’ve done nothing but mope around or follow contentious plans.

My main point is this: if you have good enough friends you shouldn’t need to feel like you’re missing out on a relationship. I know it’s nice to have someone there but in the mean time, build on your friendships. Make them solid so that you can be sure they will always be there for you; and you for them. And if you are lucky enough to find “the one”, fantastic. But don’t waste your time on searching or regretting past losses. There are bigger things in life. More important things that will happen. And when something truly bad happens, everything will be put into perspective. You don’t need a relationship. You want one. There’s a difference. So make the most of your time single; surround yourself with fantastic friends; live in the moment; and never look back in anger.

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Parents dispute over local school places

PARENTS may take their fight to the government after decisions to give children places at a local school to those further afield over those who live round the corner.





Far: Ripley almost 20 minutes from George Abbott School


Burpham and Merrow residents hoping to send their children to local George Abbott School were outraged after learning that the Office of Schools Adjudicator changed application criteria a week before the October 22 deadline.

This comes from a plea by Ripley parents’ three-year campaign to secure places at the school despite there being other secondary schools nearby.

Although the OSA has said this is their final decision and appeal is not an option, parents are taking their fight to a parliamentary ombudsman.

Because taking the OSA to court would involve spending hundreds of thousands of pounds, the parents are preparing to challenge how the decision was made as it failed to follow the proper procedures for the verdict. And if the parliamentary ombudsman thinks that they have a strong enough argument they will be able to order another adjudication.

Matt Furniss, Guildford Borough Councilor for Christchurch, the parents may have a case since: “There was no counter argument”: the OSA only consulted parents from Ripley and a single council officer without notifying other schools or Guildford parents.


Graham Ellwood, Surrey County Councilor for Guildford East, reassured parents that it would still be likely that they would be able to secure places at George Abbott, but reiterated that the decision cannot be reversed this year.

Ellwood is sure that there is a dispute between the decision and county council policy that children living nearer the school should get priority.

He said: “I’m fairly sure that none of the primary schools in my ward will be affected. Both the government, and the OSA as a government body, say that parents must be given a choice,”

He added that when a secondary school in Send closed in 1972, the county council agreed that children from Ripley could go to George Abbot, but this decision was cancelled in 2006.


So far, the petitioners have received 160 signatures from parents at Boxgrove School alone.

After a meeting with concerned parents, Guildford MP Anne Milton has written to the OSA and education secretary Michael Gove on behalf of the parents from Burpham and Merrow to support their campaign.

She wrote: “I am concerned that applications have been made in the past to change the policy in favour of pupils from Ripley but, with no apparent change to circumstance, a different decision has been made on the objection made this year.

“I would be grateful if you could clarify what has changed in comparison to previous years. Local people are very upset; not only about the decision itself but also about the way it was taken. There appears to have been no chance for local parents to make their views known.”

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A right to security

The has been a long laborious debate over protecting human rights and maintaining a certain level of security in our country. It’s  a matter of whether the authorities trust its citizens or whether its citizens trust the authorities to be vigilant enough to not have to restrict human rights in order to crack down on crime or terrorism.

 How is that efficient security? It is obviously not him, it’s a woman! How stupid had this member of staff been to ignore that fact?!

 With the recent discovery of the bomb from Yemen, not to mention various other bomb scares across the country, including one in central London last weekend, I think it’s an absolute necessity for security to be much tighter.

Failed Security




Secure: How efficient are our airport checks?


What horrified me the most is how the programme explained that a few weeks ago, at Glasgow Airport, a man had been unable to get through security the first time his passport was scanned. The member of staff at security told him to try again and it worked and subsequently, the man was able to go through to board his flight. This man had been using his sisters passport.

How is that efficient security? It is obviously not him, it’s a woman! How stupid had this member of staff been to ignore that fact?!

 With the recent discovery of the bomb from Yemen, not to mention various other bomb scares across the country, including one in central London last weekend, I think it’s an absolute necessity for security to be much tighter.

Human Rights

I understand that authorities have a responsibility to uphold human rights, and yes, if we weaken human rights in order to intensify security there is a risk that some authorities may take advantage of their power and excersise them in an unorthodox way.

But what would we rather have, a few more security checks or another 7/7 or 9/11 disaster? I think the facts outweigh the concerns.

I would much rather support more security checks if it were to protect the majority in the long run. And if we were to increase security it would become a way of life and we would learn to live with it. That would obviously just be the case in a society where our country has enemies.

Watching: CCTV heads

And I’m not supporting a Big Brother society. All I’m saying is that for our security services to tackle terrorism there is a necessity to have a certain degree of observation and security checks in our community.


Although I completely support what I have just said I do understand that there is a concern that if we were to increase security further than it is today, there would be an inevitable lack of trust in society.

And I can understand critics concerns about this. I realise that, yes, citizens may feel slightly abused by officials if they are searched everywhere they go, but what’s the alternative?

Obviously there are certain types of people that the police and security services are looking out for, so not everyone will be a target. But for us to protect ourselves against clear examples of terror and crime it is necessary.

I doubt anyone wants a repeat of 7/7 or 9/11 and without harsher security, we will be able to crackdown on terror plans.


Although we may not always be successful in ending terrorism, by enforcing more securit, we can be as close as we can.


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Local Council to Change Elderly Care

Elderly residents’ services will be changing as a local Council is planning to combine or cut some services. The plans are thought to save money and follow public consultations.

Caring Community: Council to integrate elderly services

Guildford Borough Council already provides meals on wheels, sheltered housing and three day centres under its Later Life Strategy.

So far, North Place Day Centre will shut by the end of the year while Victoria Court, which provides elderly accommodation, will no longer be in use by spring 2011, services will be integrated with three main centres in the east west and centre ‘hubs’; teaming up with Surrey County Council, the NHS, and local faith and voluntary groups.

Councillor Sarah Creedy, housing and social care spokesperson, said they want a plan catering for the aging population, financial pressures and reduced government funding.

She went on to say that: “All these hubs’ proposed in the Later Life Strategy would be better equipped to respond to the changing needs of the public and partners.”

The proposals will save the Council almost £6,000. However, as many as 32 care-workers (representing a third of the council’s current community care worker’s) will be laid off.

Guildford Borough Council told the BBC that elderly people services has no budget.

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The Career Haze

Confusion: What career path to take?

Have you ever felt like your life was being dictated. Like you were being blindly led from one path to another until you were left at a cross roads to decide your own fate?

For my entire school life I went to a private school, where we were spoon fed subjects for us to pass our GCSE’s and A Levels with flying colours in order to get a university place before taking on a respectable career. Failure wasn’t really an option and there was little divergence to this path. It was accepted that’s what we would all do, give or take a few gaps years on the way.

But apart from help with passing national exams, where was the help for when I left university? With all this talk about university students remaining unemployed despite dishing out thousands of pounds worth of money for a degree which was thought to get us into our desired career?

Recently I’ve felt a little lost. When I was coming up to my finals I had decided that doing a Masters would be a good option, perhaps a way to put back having to decide my future, but also to in some way stand myself above other graduate applications. I have never had a strong sense of what I wanted to do career wise that lasted longer than a few years and although I thought taking a Masters would help direct me in a direction I wanted to be, I can’t help feel that some days I just have no clue about what I want to do. In fact it scares me.

School Years

Let me tell you a little more about my past.

 As I said, I never really knew what I wanted to do. Obviously I went through stages of wanting to be a doctor, vet, teacher, lawyer, even a ballerina when I was really young! (Actually I think it was even sadder, I’m pretty sure I remember being told to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grow up when I was about eight years old and drawing a ballerina teacher. Not even something fun like a ballerina, a ballerina teacher of all things!) But none of these ideas actually stuck.

Even choosing a degree programme for university was only influenced by a particular teacher who had an absolute passion for politics. I found it a breath of fresh air to finally find a teacher who appeared to love his job and had complete ardour for his specialisation.

Most other teachers would stumble through the syllabus with little enthusiasm for the course itself. I distinctly remember a certain physics teacher who left after we finished our GCSE’s. In true all girls’ school style it was easy to banter the male teachers so we had a fairly mocking relationship with him, and he would often nickname us “silly little girls” or, when he was really impressed with an answer he would say “text book answer” which we found particularly hilarious, mainly because of his strong Indian accent. Looking back on it we gave him a pretty hard time because he was an easy touch to joke and suck up to. Another physics teacher, who mainly taught IT, was similar looking to a nutty professor but again we spent most of our lessons with one girl pretending to be upset about yet another boyfriend who had dumped her. When it got to one a day I don’t think he was very impressed with our concentration and interest in his subjects!

I would like to add here that I did actually go to a good school and I , as well as my friends, did manage to pass with As and Bs at both GCSE and A Level.

But I had never had a strong urge to study politics until I studied it at A Level. University was expected from us and it seemed like an interesting option for something different at a higher level, over the more standard subjects such as Geography or History (I think University for me was mainly about the experience, over the actual degree I had chosen, although it turned out quite well after all.)

Career Advice

School claimed to give us clear career advice but looking back on it we barely got any tuition for it. Or maybe at the time it all seemed too far away to think about and so I just didn’t make use of the small careers library hidden next to the 5th form common room.

I seem to remember our careers teacher being a complete feminist and pushing us all to do physics because there was a lack of women in the industry. I’m sorry, but is that really solid career advice?! Telling us to join an industry just to make women more equal?! Nothing to do with our personal strengths or interests in any way. And I’m pretty sure for a year of about 80 girls, only about 2, maybe 3 at most, went on to study it at university.

University never gave us specific careers lessons. Yes, they held fairs but again there was little solid advice.

Cross Roads

As I was coming up to my finals I still had no idea what I wanted to do.

I think I had put off thinking about it properly until I was to finish university. But one summer writing the news for a think tank in North London called the Stockholm Network I discovered an interest in finding and writing news. So I put my head down and filled out numerous applications for a Masters in Journalism. If anything I thought this would give me a year before I was actually out in “no man’s land’.

Journalism became my calling and so I undertook a summer of various internships at ITN, Wall to Wall Productions, the Daily Echo and the Dorking Advertiser. While some of my friends were out having fun and travelling or starting to look for a job, or house away from home to “grow up”, I remained the determined one who believed unpaid internships were the only way to get to where I wanted to be.

And I still firmly believe this. Many industries will require an employee to work unpaid for a substantial amount of time because it’s cheap labour I guess. And at the same time, although fairly laborious and frustrating as it was to be living off my Dad all summer, I was learning and getting an idea of what I wanted to do as well.

Being at ITN made me more determined to do journalism and I finally felt like I had a place in the world. A direction to follow for my future. I was no longer held at a cross roads but given the green light to the path of news reporter. And I was eager to start my course.

Personal dilemma

I’ve never been one to make a solid decision and be satisfied with it immediately. Whether it be choosing titles for essays or personal decisions about relationships, even something as simple as deciding what to do at the weekend has always been something which I doubt myself in.

And so I guess choosing a Masters in Journalism was always going to spur up doubt in my mind. But I never realised how one thing could create so much doubt. The course content or the tutors, or even the sheer distance of the university away from my home, I can’t tell, but there are days when I go home feeling completely lost and unsatisfied. It’s like I’m stuck in a fog and can’t see where to go. Nothing is clear and I can’t decide where I am, what I’m doing or what I’m heading towards.

Today was one of those days. Waking up at the crack of dawn and tackling the further delays on the barely functional Metropolitan Line I arrived, along with my colleagues, and nothing had been set for us to do. We expected a class yet there was nothing assigned for the day. We all thought, terrific, another day wasted where we could have had been more productive at home and not wasted hours commuting from all over London and Surrey to find out we were not required to be in. The least that could have been done would have been to send us an email to alert us of this fact.

But maybe that’s just life. Maybe I shouldn’t question whether I’m actually getting the most out of my money. And maybe I should be happy that I will come out with a degree that has taught me skills that can be applicable to any career.

And I know that this is the case. And perhaps I am being too harsh in complaining about organisation and support.

Common concern

Yet I know that I’m not on my own.  I look at friends: those who have gone to university, or college, and those who have not and barely any of them are exactly where they want to be. Whether they are stuck in a job they’ve been in for years and are finding it hard to move away from its financial security in order to find something they actually want, or whether they are passing the time in a job just so as to avoid unemployment.

Because that’s what were all being warned about. How graduates are the worst hit in years for unemployment, how there are no jobs and people like me can’t find anything. Quite frankly I’m sick of hearing how there are no jobs out there and how journalists are earning so little money. A little bit of hope or encouragement wouldn’t go a miss you know?

I think my problem is that I seem to think there’s an urgency in finding a career before I get too old. One which I am completely happy with, stimulated and enthusiastic in. But I need to remember I’m only 21. I’m still young and have plenty of time to find something in the end.

I may not have some flourishing talent like my dad, who’s passionate about what he does and quite frankly pretty amazing at his work (see his website if you don’t believe me: But I’m sure something will come along eventually.

It’s hard to reassure myself. And I think a lot of other people my age are in the same position. I regret not making the most of the little career advice we had at school because now I don’t even know exactly what the options are for alternative careers.

But then again, in life, we make our own decisions and some of them are scary ones. I need to remember that there isn’t a need to find something immediately. Sometimes it may take years to find a calling. That’s just how things are. Looking back on things I wish I had used more time looking to my future as depressing as that may have sounded at the time. Conversely, maybe I need to remember not to fret so much about where I’m going to end up; maybe it’s the journey there that is what is exciting.

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Lost Holidays

Why do ghosts and ghouls and fake blood define Halloween? I bet if I were to ask anyone why we celebrate Halloween, that few would really know the meaning and reason for Halloween

Horror: Halloween fancy dress


I, myself, wasnt entirely sure until I had to look it up the other day.

It is linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain is an autumn holiday which celebrates the end of the “lighter half” of the year and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year. I guess that makes it appropriate to sit on the day which the clocks go back on. 

Ancient Celtics believed that at this time of year the line between our world and the otherworld becomes thin, allowing spirits to pass through. Families of those who had died gathered together to honour their spirits and invite them into their homes while harmful sprits were ward off by wearing colourful masks and costumes; disguising themselves as a harmful spirit to avoid danger. 

I’m not exactly a fan of scary things: films, characters, nightmares. And so going out and seeing half the people dressed up in cut clothes covered in fake blood isn’t exactly my idea of fun. 

I saw a guy last night who had made his face really pale and somehow fashioned it to look like his eyes had been taken out: really dark and covered in a thick layer of fake blood. It truly horrified me. 

Why, if people are dressing up as dead people and stuff, do these dead figures have to have died in some horrifying way?! I went shopping yesterday and the shop assistants were dressed up in scary fancy dress. I just don’t think it’s very appropriate if your working around food and meant to be there as an approachable person for customer, to look like someone has just ruined your life with a machete, cut off their hands and slit their throat. 

And I bet no one really knows why it is that people are dressing up like this. 

Social Hype

I think Halloween is clearly one of main holidays which its meaning has been lost. Every holiday has just been more and more commercialised over the years. Don’t even get me started with Christmas, or Easter! The religious background has just been lost in a drought of presents, cards and chocolates. 

While I think that national holidays are a good way to bring people together and enjoy a little bit of fun in the middle of a long hard year I think that we shouldn’t forget about the meaning of a holiday and it’s origins. 

There is a reason why we celebrate things and I think that its problematic for young people not to know about them. It’s still part of our history and now that these holidays have become such a massive hype it is important not to forget why they are celebrated. 

Remember, remember the 5th November

And do our younger generations actually know why we should remember the 5th November?

I could be wrong but I barely remember the last time I actually heard the day being refered to as Guy Fawkes night. It’s now a chance for people to gather round a massive bonfire and watch fireworks. 

The 5th November had massive repercussions for our society. If successful we could have lost an entire Parliament. All of the most important people in the country would have been killed. 

Celebration: fireworks

And hence we set off fireworks and a bonfire. To represent the Gunpowder plot at the House of Lords in 1605. 

Around the same time of year, Samhain included the burning of an “old guy” on a bonfire which coincidently became personified as Guy Fawkes.


Maybe I am just being a bit pessimistic. Maybe I should embrace our national holidays more?

But in writing this commentary I’m not saying that celebrating national holidays is a bad thing. Anything but. I think they’re a fantastic way to enjoy things, not to mention an excuse for a good old party. 

I just think that we need to remember why we are celebrating them. And even though I may be sounding like a bit of a spoil sport it’s still part of our nations culture and history. 

These holidays represent important events. Whether they have religious meanings, social repercussions, or simply an ancient tradition which has been kept alive, there is still a necessity to know why they are celebrated. 

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New customer service centre for Guildford

A Surrey council has agreed the to consider a new customer service centre which will be quicker and more efficient.

A decision made by Guildford Council’s Executive made sure that the new centre is looking likely by 2011.

Set to be based in Guildford Borough Council‘s existing buildings in Millmead, staff are being trained to answer resident questions and concerns face-to-face, by phone or email. Specialist staff will also be available for more complex issues.


Lead Councillor for Customer Services, Nick Sutcliffe says: “This is about a new way of looking at work that will provide efficient, cost-effective, flexible, and accessible customer service for all.”

The new procedures to deal with customer issues will replace current switchboard referrals and will help save money.

Cllr Sutcliffe adds:   “The project will use existing technology where possible and we will minimise costs.

“After initial set up, the centre will result in savings as we improve efficiency through better use of staff resources and increased use of our website.”

The measures follow previous research which showed that residents prefer online services and information.

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Tackling discrimination

 So yesterday Kevin Coleman from Kick it Out came to talk to us in a kind of mock press conference.

I had never heard of the campaign before but he explained how it trains football referees and clubs from the grassroots teams including university, community and school teams about racism in the game and discrimination from both players and supporters.

Sporting knowledge

Personally, I’ve never really had that much interest in sport up until I was pretty much forced to watch rugby at university because basically all of my guy friends were members of the university teams and loved the game.

But apart from that, I had little knowledge about sport apart from how it is portrayed in the media. And from my preconceptions through the media I could see football is riddled with bad press from hooliganism.

It has come to my attention in the past when England has played abroad that our supporters have received complaints from the local residents who accused them of being yobbish, loud, drunk and disrespectful.

And so hearing Kevin talk about the campaign he was working for, it was good to hear that someone is doing something about it.


He brought up a good point that Indian players are more predominant in nonprofessionals leagues and white men are more prominent in professional leagues. He claimed some people attributed this to education but I think he was right after stating that he could not pin point the exact reasoning behind it that it was due to football being perceived as unwelcoming.

And I can completely understand that. Sport is a way of relief for so many people and so, even though society may have moved away from prominent racism or homophobia in recent years, it may be easier to victimize someone who is different on the pitch in the same way it is easy to provoke someone whose flaws are more obvious than others.

The Kick it Out campaign is obviously a big success in creating awareness for victimized players but I think they may be able to achieve more if they were actually able to take action themselves on people who abuse other players or supporters.

Channelling energy

Sport is often recommended to people in order to channel some of their negative energy. For example those who have bad tempers or don’t know how to control their anger.

It’s a simple way of funneling excess energy or emotions. But that doesn’t mean people have to take out their aggression on people who are different to them, those from ethnic backgrounds or who have homosexual tendencies.

I thought society was moving away from all of that but without the help of campaigns such as Kick it Out, there will always be a group of people who find it acceptable to take out their aggressions on easy looking targets.


But quite frankly that’s not the way it should be. Everyone is human. Regardless of their skin colour, background or sexual tendencies. No one should deserve to be treated disrespectfully because they are different.

I think people who are racist are cowards. I think that when they see someone who is different they aren’t quite sure how to respond and have preconceptions about a certain group of people because they have made generalisations from one person they have met or simply don’t know how to react.

But shouldn’t we be passed all of that now? Why is society still having to make exceptions for ethnic minorities or homosexual people?

In the 21st century we should have reached the stage where differences do not matter any more. Where we shouldn’t have to think twice about who to hire or who to talk to because we feel the need to compare people by race etc.

No, that should be over now. It is clear that everyone is different, even if it is not obvious on the surface. People should be judged on their character not their background or sexuality.


However I can’t deny that we have come far from the days of bus boycotting and separate education, not to mention the historical icons such as Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King.

But there is always that inevitability that discrimination, stereotyping and prejudices will continue over generations and tackling that is going to be a difficult matter.

Chances are we will never successfully rid society of discrimination entirely but with the help of campaigns like Kick it Out and increased awareness about the problem: even by publicising the benefits of all types of people, all strengths from different walks of life, there will be more acceptance of variations.

Slowly but surely we are getting there.

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