Boring, Family, Memoirs, Memories, Music, Uncategorized

TV Memories

Over the years I have watched a lot of TV. Some might even say too much (okay, most people would say too much!) From my earliest memories, I can remember TV shows that I watched, that I perhaps should not have watched at such a young age. Often, it’s just the intro sequence, or even the theme music, rather than the storyline or characters.

I can remember the intro to “The Equaliser”, from when I was perhaps five years old. The intro and theme song for “Prisoner” (The Australian drama) from around the same era. And I would not be a child of the 80s without knowing the intro and song for “A Country Practice”, “Hey Hey its Saturday” or “Hey Dad”, or someone who lived through the 90s without knowing the theme song for “Acropolis Now” or “Blue Heelers”.

Sometimes, these shows bring with them fond memories of watching them each week with loved ones.

Recently, I saw an old show on Netflix that I had forgotten all about. That show was “Highway to Heaven” with Michael Landon playing a  probationary angel, doing good deeds on earth to earn his wings. It’s a rather silly show when watching it now, although it brought back so many memories. The opening titles showing Michael Landon walking down a lonely road, heading toward his next good deed. The theme song, which is a typical 1980s orchestral theme song, with a lone trumpet carrying the melody and strings to fill out the song.

Watching the first episode of the show brought memories back from the mid 1980s, of me sitting with my grandmother, watching this show every weekend. My grandmother moved the show, at the time, I tolerated it. I did not really understand it, as I was perhaps only five.

Hearing the theme song again, I felt as though my grandmother was sitting right next to me, and I was five again. We were watching the show together, except this time, I appreciated it and understood it. Even though my grandmother has passed away, a simple TV show can sometimes make me feel like she is there, right next to me, watching it with me like years gone by.

I find it strange, albeit rather comforting, that something as simple as a few bars of a TV theme song, (something that was probably written in a rush with lots of input from the TV executive etc) can invoke such vivid memories of such a specific event in a person’s life. We often don’t realise the little details that bury themselves in our minds, such as TV theme songs, that we somehow associate with a time in our own lives.

Some people believe that TV can rot a person’s brain, but I think that some TV (certainly not all of it!) can enrich one’s life. Specifically the older sitcoms, dramas and similar. They teach us of moral dilemmas, life lessons, love, loss, heartache, happiness, diversity and many other things. But often, they create a platform for people in the real world to come together, to interact or even just to sit next to each other without saying a single word.

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Memoirs, Uncategorized

School Days (Part 2)

A few days ago, I posted on here about the struggles I had when in Primary school, and how the simple actions of one teacher became a pivotal moment in the way I was dealing with it all.

Here is the original post, for those that didn’t see it. School Days

I wanted to clarify that the original post was not meant as a sad piece, or an attention-grabbing rant, rather, just the writing down of some thoughts that had been in my head at the time. Continuing on from that time, there was change in how I dealt with everything.

At the end of Grade 5 (the year that the teacher had asked me if I was OK), I decided to change schools. At the time, I thought that a fresh start before high school might help me transition, and the realisation that the teacher I was going to have in Grade 6 was one that not only did not ask about my welfare, but on a few occasions when I asked her for help, she put it down to ‘attention seeking’, shunning me and even speaking to my parents about what I had said. To add to this, as mentioned in the previous post, I did not have many/any friends in school. So, the decision to move schools had been a rather easy one.

My new school was not far away from my old one, only a suburb away. But it felt like a new world. No one knew me there, so I could reinvent myself. I could attempt to make new friends, pretend that things at home were not so volatile.

At my old school, I was often picked on, or even bullied by not only my own class mates, but also the older kids. As I was “the kid that sat alone” or “the kid with no friends”, It was almost like I was fair game. The people in my class were more into name-calling and that sort of thing, but a few of the older kids were more into the beatings or the “shoving into the fence/wall” game.

At my new school, no one knew me as “that kid that sits alone”, so I made a few friends and started hanging out with them at school (but never out of school). Within a few weeks, a kid in my class started picking on me, mostly about my mother who is disabled (kids have no conscience or morality). Something in me snapped and I beat this kid up. Off to the principal’s office. I explained everything, but of course, got detention.

A few days later, the same kid said the same thing. I decided to warn him this time. “If you keep it up, I’ll beat you up again!”. He kept picking on me, so I beat him up again. Back to the principal’s office. Detention. This went on at least once a week, and always the same kid. Within a month of being at the school, I stopped hanging out with my new friends, resorting to the younger kids, as I had done at my previous school. I retreated back into my own world, and sat alone. I did not participate in class activities, and stopped making an effort. This one kid had beaten the glimmer of hope I had to forget the past. I had reinvented myself, but it was not me. It did not hide me from my problems, it only masked them and pushed them down.

Eventually, the Principal became sick of seeing me and suggested to my mother that I attend a Child Psychologist. I remember to this day, the questions they asked me. “Why do you start fights at school?” my reply, “Its only with one kid. He insults my mother’s disability, I warn him to stop or I’ll beat him up, he doesn’t stop, so I beat him up!” Their reply was “But why do you really fight?”. Almost as if I would find enlightenment or have an epiphany. I was twelve. I only went once, and it was rather difficult to talk in more depth, as they insisted my parents remain in the room.

The following few weeks saw a few more fights, and the principal, at wit’s end, decided to expel me from school. My mother home-schooled me for the remainder of the year. She managed to source 6 months worth of school work for me. I completed it all in around two weeks, and took my BMX bike out for as much of the day as I could to avoid being at home.

Looking back, my fighting was probably a cry for attention. It was definitely out of character for me, and it was only an issue at that school. At no point was I asked if I was okay, or if there was something worrying me. My teachers at the school had not said anything to me, and I found out later that the Principal had employed a Psychologist to attend a few of my classes (for perhaps six weeks?) and observe me. We were told that she was a student teacher. So essentially, instead of just asking me if I was okay, the principal had someone spy on me, destroying my trust in authority figures at that school, and still said and did nothing.

High school delivered new challenges, although many things got a bit better. I made some great friends (as my high school was a few suburbs over, the ability to have friends seemed easier, as the whole ‘sleepover’ thing was not really done anymore, and we usually just socialised at school in the yard. Many of these friends are still a part of my life now, one was best man at my wedding.

It was around this point that I actively stood up to my father. Perhaps it was during my six months of ‘home-schooling’. I remember a huge argument at home that started getting physical. I snapped. I remember I stood up and yelled back at him, telling him to back off, grow up and stop acting like a complete asshole (or something to that effect). I was sure that it would result in the abuse being redirected to me, but he simply yelled some expletives, stormed off and went for a long walk. Wow. I had done that. I stood up to someone easily twice my size, and survived without a scratch. It was a confidence boost, but not one that I should have received in the first place. When he returned he was sulking, but never mentioned it to me again. From that day on, the physical abuse toward myself ended. I still received verbal and mental abuse, which in many ways, are far more damaging.

Skipping forward to about Year 10, and I had some close friends. Friends that were closer than anyone had ever been to me. I was able to tell them what was going on (or at least, some of it) and not worry about them telling their parents, or it getting back to my father. I was able to open up for the first time. I would spend as much time as I physically could at their houses. Sometimes staying over for a few nights, then going to a different friend’s house for a few more days. I occasionally went home, but aimed for times when I knew he wouldn’t be home. My record for staying at a friend’s house on their couch was six weeks, I think? I never told their parents, although they were very accepting, as to why I was there… I simply came home from school one day, slept on the couch, went to school the next day… and repeated this for six weeks. I am sure they knew something was wrong, but no one said anything.

I knew that if I was at home, I would need to tread on eggshells. I literally knew every creaky floorboard in our house (and still do!) and could move in and out of the house in silence. I knew that even the smallest of sounds would be enough to start an argument. It could be a sound, an action, the wrong TV show at a particular time, homework on the dining table, homework in my room, music that was louder than a whisper, a closed door, unwashed plates etc. Any of these things, and so many more, would often result in a yelling, screaming, abusive argument that often ended with an item being broken, smashed or destroyed. Homework torn up for being on the dining table, a radio smashed for being too loud. A door being slammed so forcibly that the door-jam shifted a full inch from where it needed to be. All very common.

Eventually, things got completely impossible at home. I had discovered that my father had been cheating on my mother for many years with many different people. I discovered letters that he wrote to these people, so it was confirmed by his own pen. I made copies of these letters and hid them. For many weeks, I contemplated my next actions. Should I give them to my mother? Should I confront him myself? In the end, I felt that my mother deserved to know. I told her not to confront him unless I was around, in case things got violent.

She waited a further two weeks before confronting him. I was home, doing homework with my headphones on. I heard an eruption of verbal abuse, swearing and items smashing. This was much worse than previous spats. I figured that my mother had confronted him. I was correct. In the space of around ten minutes, he had all but destroyed the entire house. Every plate in the cupboards had been pulled out and smashed. Every drawer had been upended. Every item of furniture had been flipped, tipped or smashed. Every door had been slammed at least once. He then looked me right in the eye, blamed me for everything and stormed out. He never returned. The police that attended (due to the amount of damage, and the fear that he would return with much worse) were shocked at the level of damage. I told them it took him ten minutes, but they thought it would’ve taken him three to four hours of uninterrupted destruction. It took five adults more than a week to clean it all up.

The day after the confrontation, we were at the Magistrates Court, filing for an AVO. The police report was there, and the Magistrate granted it on the spot.

We had escaped. My mother had escaped. We were finally able to relax a little at home, not worry about outbursts for the tiniest of things, and more importantly, mum could finally start living her life for herself, and not for him.

After we had appeared in court, mum drove me to school. I walked in and met with the Principal and Vice Principal. I explained it all to them, with as much detail as I dared. I had never opened up to a teacher or figure of authority like this. By the end of it, the Principal was gob-smacked, and the Vice Principal was in tears. They were both amazing, offering me any support they could, from informing my teachers, assisting me with my grades, and on occasion, allowing me to stay back after school to try to get in some extra homework time. They informed me that their office doors were always open if I needed to talk, or simply needed somewhere to retreat to.

Fast forward quite a few more years, and I am now married to an amazing woman, with a gorgeous little girl. I have vowed many years before even considering kids that I would never be anything like my father was, and I have kept that promise to myself. I enjoy every moment I get to spend with my daughter. We go on adventures, exploring the botanic gardens, playing at playgrounds, going for bike rides, singing and dancing to silly songs and enjoying each others company. We laugh together, play together and we are silly together. I am teaching her so many things, and learning even more from her in return. looking back to my early school days, and I never for a moment expected my life to be where it is today. I never expected to get married, settle down, have a family and especially to be a stay-at-home parent!

And to think, all of this stemmed from that one teacher asking me if I was OK. Sometimes the simplest or seemingly insignificant actions can result in monumental outcomes. Never underestimate the power that one person holds in their words or their actions.

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Boring, Family, Memoirs, Memories, Uncategorized

School Days

Over the past few weeks, I have been doing some work for my old primary school. It’s a rather bizarre experience to go back to one’s primary school, walk the halls and experience those same halls as an adult. The building that once seemed so huge is now so cramped and small. The furniture that once accommodated me as a kid now makes me feel like a giant, towering over tiny chairs and tables that could not possibly serve any purpose to me anymore.

For many people, revisiting their primary school would not even register on their radar. For me, it has brought back many memories, many or even most have not been happy memories.

When I was in primary school, I didn’t have many friends, I did not play team sports, I did not socialise much outside of school, and almost never slept over at friends houses. I generally kept to myself in the school yard, or occasionally played with kids in younger classes than my own, ensuring a level of anonymity, as apart from recess and lunch, I would not see those kids in a classroom or outside school. I loathed to be called on in class, rarely answered questions unless pressured or forced to by the teacher, and did not actively engage with class activities more than the bare minimum. As a result of my distancing from the others in my class, I was rarely invited over to play or to stay the night, never attended activities outside of school such as discos, parties, movies etc. I certainly never had friends come over to our house, much less sleep over.

I even went as far as acting out in class to avoid having to participate. I couldn’t be a part of a class activity if I was sitting outside the principal’s office. It was all very logical and strategic in my mind at the time.

You see, at home, life was not so great. My father was verbally, emotionally, and on occasion, physically abusive. I feared him, and I feared his judgement of any friends I considered socialising with.

At the time, I did not realise what was happening, or even that it was not a normal environment. I was a kid, what would I know? I did know not to upset or go against him. The old saying ‘Don’t poke the sleeping bear’ definitely had relevance.

Looking back, I threw out so many warning signs, almost like a subtle call for help. Only one teacher took notice. These days there would be intervention almost immediately, but back then, not so much. The one teacher who noticed was my only male teacher in Primary School. I remember it well. I had been my usual silent and distant self in class, participating a little then retracting. He had thrown a few looks in my direction through the morning class, and when the lunch bell sounded he dismissed us, but kept me back. He asked me if I was ok. I answered yes. I lied. He pointed out that I had not been involved in the class as much as usual (which was still barely at all) and asked again if I was okay. I was silent for a few moments, trying to think of a convincing lie. I burst into tears. Uncontrollable tears. I tried telling him some pathetic story in between sobs, but I knew that he was not buying it, so I stopped talking. He said that he was always there if I needed to talk, but did not push things. This was the first adult outside of my family that had ever spoken to me as if I was more than just a kid. He was treating me as an adult, allowing me to decide when to approach him and talk. He was also the ONLY teacher throughout my early school life that had ever offered any sign of help.

Every other teacher throughout my primary education had punished me, sent me to the principal’s office, suspended me or even expelled me. None had asked me if I was ok.

Although I lied, and he didn’t push, and I never actively went to him to explain, or ask him for help, that moment was a catalyst for change. It was the moment I realised that everything was NOT okay. It was the moment I realised that life at home was not the normal home life that most or all of my classmates were experiencing.

Looking over my old school photos, I feel a level of sadness. Not that I miss those days, quite the opposite. What I do feel is regret. Regret that I missed out on so many opportunities for friendships, parties, sleep-overs and happiness. I have recently started to try to connect with some people from my school days, but many still see me as the recluse weirdo that acted out and caused trouble. I don’t blame them, I would probably be thinking the same if the tables were turned. I guess no one really knows someone’s story until it is told.

That kid that does not attend a disco or a party might not have been invited, or has poor social skills because they have never been to one before.

That kid that doesn’t play or participate in team sport might fear getting changed in the locker room and exposing bruises.

That strange kid in the playground could be lacking in social skills because they are pushing people away, avoiding confrontation and friendship to mask trouble at home.

That kid that doesn’t want to share their lunch might be struggling with an eating disorder, or has a severe allergy.

Everyone has a story, and a person is no more or no less a person for keeping it to themselves, or for sharing it in their own time.

I wish that kids at school were taught this, as it might actually help a classmate, a friend or even that ‘weird kid’ in the school yard. Kids don’t just act out for no reason. There is always an underlying reason, but sometimes it takes hard work to get to the root cause.

Other times it just takes a caring person to ask “Are you OK?”

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Hand Foot & Mouth Disease

I am a stay at home dad to my 15 month-old daughter. Although she attends childcare for two days a week, I am quite happy to be a part of her life for as much time as I possibly can.

I never knew how big a part I could play in her life as I am currently experiencing.

You see, we are both currently going through a bout of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. Although it is uncommon for adults to contract this virus, it happens on occasion. I have decided to use this opportunity to try and shed some light on the symptoms and what it feels like, so that other parents might understand what their little ones are going through.

For anyone who has not heard of this virus, it is rather common in places where young children gather. Childcare centres, play centres, that sort of thing. It is usually first noticed as a few red spots on the hands or feet of the child, and quickly progresses into many spots on hands, feet, lips and inside the mouth and throat.

In official terms, it is known as the Coxsackie Virus, which I thought was a rather humourous name.

Let me assure you, this is no picnic. I can honestly say that my little one is an absolute trooper! I would like to describe each of the symptoms to you, so that you can understand why your child might be more clingy than usual.

The first indication that I had contracted anything at all was when I suddenly broke into a fever. Lets call this Day #1. The fever escalated from absolutely nothing to profuse sweating and shivering in about 30 minutes. Then came the throbbing headache and sinus pressure. I was actually rocking baby to sleep at the time, and had to slink to bed immediately afterward. I am usually a night owl, but this had me in bed by 9pm. I slept with my electric blanket on its highest setting for 11 hours. I have suffered migraines in the past. This was on a par, if not worse than that.

Day #2.
I woke with a strange, furry taste in my mouth. It was like I had not brushed my teeth for a few days after having greasy takeaway food at the end of a long night out on the town (I remember those days!). I then noticed my tongue seemed numb. I looked in the mirror and saw the reddest throat I think I have ever had. And plenty of white spots on my tonsils, too.

At this point, I didn’t realise what I had, as the little one had not shown any spots or noticeable symptoms. As she is also teething, I assumed her clingyness was due to this, and nothing else.

Then we saw a spot on her hand. Another on her lip, so small you could miss it. A few hours later, I had an itch in the palm of my hand. I looked, and there was a spot. A visit to the doctor confirmed the worst.

Now, as the spots are the most obvious sign of this virus, I should probably tell you what they feel like.

The spots are mildly itchy to start with. No big deal. But they hurt to touch. Even just a little bit.

Imagine an ingrown hair, or a paper cut. Now imagine a few hundred on the palm of your hand, between your fingers and on the pads of your fingers. Now imagine crawling with your entire body weight on them. This is what baby is currently going through.

I have felt this sort of pain only once before. When I was younger and stupid, some friends and I would jump from a local pier into the water below during summer. We would climb the ladder on the side of the pier and repeat all day. The next day we would realise what pain was when remembering the barnacles on the lower rungs of the ladder, and how they had sliced our feet to ribbons.

These small spots are currently on my palms, between my fingers, pads of my fingers, soles of my feet, between my toes and all over my face.

It hurts to put on my shoes, it hurts to walk, even barefoot, opening doors or even a milk carton is agony. I have never thought about how often I use my fingertips in my daily life until now. (Answer: it’s lots!)

The spots are also not friends with warm water, as I discovered. Although you might think that a nice warm bath would help to soothe the discomfort, they are sensitive to temperature. For example, I was giving little one a bath earlier. The elbow test said it was a safe temperature, so reached in for the washcloth and… YEOWWWW!!! Every spot sent a message to my brain “this water is a billion degrees too hot!!!” I placed a thermometer in the water, and it confirmed it was only 34 Celsius, and NOT 34 Kelvin (Incredibly hot!)… this sensitivity is only for hot temperatures, as cold water and even the freezer has been a welcome sanctuary for my hands all day.

The spots on my face seem different. As a long time sufferer of psoriasis, I have learned to care for my facial skin differently to many guys. I have also seen it in terrible states at times. My face currently resembles a chemical burn I once received from a product with false claims of ingredients. (That’s an entirely different story!) It feels incredibly dry, cracked and tight, like I have left a mud mask on for a few hours. Smiling, blinking and even chewing hurts to some extent. For my face, I have been treating the spots with tea tree oil and cold water. So far so good!

As for the throat, this has to be the toughest part in the early stages. I’ve had my share of tonsillitis and other ailments, but this is next level.

Swallowing anything at all is painful. Bread, water, soup. It all feels like razor blades. I made a peanut butter sandwich on multigrain and was close to tears by the end. Plain old tap water had similar results. If you needed to understand why your child had lost their appetite, this should explain it. On the positive side, the severe pain of this will only last a day or so. After that, there is still discomfort, but only in the form of lumps in the throat. By the end of Day #2, my throat was feeling much better.

Day #3
Today began when I moved my feet under the covers. The lumps on my feet were so sensitive that this woke me up. I then tried to yawn, and realised my face was so tight with the facial sores that I could only open my mouth about 3-5cm before things started to crack and cause pain. Swinging my legs off the side of the bed, I tried to stand. Feet super-sensitive, I forgot!! Socks and moccasins on, this will help alleviate the sensitivity, effectively wrapping my feet in cotton-wool (or actual wool, in the case of my moccasins!)

Looking in the mirror, my heart dropped. My face was worse than the day before. Covered in spots, lumps and legions, I resembled some sort of beast from the underworld, banished from society and forced to live in catacombs beneath the city. Some of my grossness had seemingly burst through the night, causing it to crust onto my face and make my skin feel even tighter. A thorough but gentle wash with lukewarm water helped to remove this, followed by a tea tree soaping in the shower. My hands feel even more sensitive today, almost like they have suffered severe sunburn with a touch of pins and needles. Its frustrating that I still cannot get a lid off a peanut butter jar, or use my key in the front door. Fine motor skills are a luxury that are often overlooked until you can no longer enjoy them, it seems.

Toward the end of Day #3, I noticed that my hands seemed less sensitive than earlier. I think I have finally reached the peak of this epic mountain, and I am finally starting on the road to wellness again. Those pesky spots are still there, and there are even a few new ones on my feet, but they seem to be hurting less than they were.

Day #4
very late last night (so I will count it as today!) I finally got the lid off the peanut butter jar! my hands and feet are suddenly not as sensitive anymore. Strangely, they now have more spots, although the new ones are much smaller, or in some cases, fainter than the original ones. Perhaps this is the death-rattle, or the final wave of these spots? I really feel that I am starting to heal now. The legions on my face are visibly dried, and some are able to be gently peeled (gross, I know… but so satisfying!)

My throat still looks like a war zone, but oddly, does not hurt. I have a slight cough, but most of the discomfort from all of the symptoms seem to have passed now. The only thing that needs to happen now for me to claim a full recovery, is for these pesky spots on my hands to go away, and the spots and legions on my face to do the same.

I think the hardest part throughout it all though, is the self-imposed quarantine. Not being able to get out into the fresh air or to the park, and to entertain a grumpy 1 year-old indoors for 5-7 days! No friends to play with, no visitors to socialise with. Although it gives us both more time for cuddles to console each other. I do agree with childcare not allowing the child back for a week, though. The less people to be subjected to this, the better!

EDIT: Over a week after things had subsided, my fingers and toes were still feeling numb or tingly. Later that day, one finger got itchy, then another. The skin practically fell off each of my fingers, mostly from the pads, but basically everywhere that the spots appeared in clusters. In the space of two days, all ten fingers were raw, making things difficult in regards to typing (which is why this is a late update!) My feet decided to join in the fun a few days later, making walking very painful. Every single step hurt, and I could feel every little pebble under my shoes with painful accuracy. I am hoping that this is the last of it all!!

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Political Donations

So you may have heard, the PM of Australia is now having to answer to the people and the media why he personally donated $1.75m of his own money to his party immediately before the last federal election.
Or perhaps you heard of the now former Health Minister using taxpayer dollars to fly herself and partner to the Gold Coast with no notice (on a private jet – costing taxpayers ~$20,000!) and ended up buying an apartment “at a whim” worth almost $1m.
Or maybe the incident where the former Speaker of the House decided she did not want to be stuck in traffic on her way to a fundraising event, so decided to hire a helicopter to fly over the freeway traffic below, and billed the taxpayer $5000?

There have been plenty of examples of this sort of spending, and many more during the election campaigning. Signage, TV ads, Brochures, Automated phone calls to show us that they care…

Would it not be easier to implement a single fund. All political donations go into the one fund. It then gets divided up between the parties based on how many seats they currently hold (or for new micro parties, based on a predetermined amount per running candidate.

This would ensure that all parties were on a level playing field. It would ensure that “Big Mining” were not “buying off” a particular party, rather, their money was going into a pool for all parties. This way, each party would have a relatively balanced ground to sell their policies, ignoring who had more funding, or who donated to who. Focussing on policies!

It would also show the Australian public how each party could work within a budget.

If all spending was to be accounted for, and all spending stopped 1-2 weeks out from the election (when there is a media blackout anyway), the parties could then tell us how much they had left over (which would be returned to the pool for the following election, or spent on infrastructure etc) The voting public would then see if they received ‘value for money’ throughout the campaign, seeing how well each party could secure good business deals for printing, advertising, resources etc, as well as seeing that they are able to balance the books in a timely manner. After all, most parties carry on about “balancing the budget”, expecting people to liken the federal budget to a household chequebook, when they could not be further apart. Rather than talk the talk, show us your walk! Balance an electoral campaign, limit wasteful spending that usually amounts to numerous flyers that go straight to the bin, and spend wisely.

In this current climate, I think we could do with this level of scrutiny.

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An open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia

An amazing insight into what the end of funding for Safe Schools really means…

Writing in Shadows

Dear Prime Minister,

I wasn’t sure how to address your government’s latest announcement yesterday. The age old belief that announcing unpopular moves late on Friday no longer has the same power it did in the years before social media. Social media now means an unpopular announcement now trends on Twitter within minutes of the announcement and, if it’s on a Friday, that announcement has the weekend to fester and build momentum.

View original post 3,840 more words

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The design industry – seen by a designer

As a designer, people sometimes seem to think of my role as ‘auxiliary’ or perhaps ‘unrequited’ in their industry. Some even go as far as to request designs done for them at no charge, because “It should be easy for you, you are creative” or my favourite “We will give you exposure, and perhaps set up some regular work for you with us”.

Unfortunately, “Exposure” does not pay the bills…

Many seem to think of a designer’s work as a glorified hobby that does not deserve recognition or even payment. Whilst many of us do indeed enjoy designing various things, and perhaps even do the odd design for no charge, for us, this is our job. This is something that pays our bills, keeps food on the table and our families off the streets. I have never heard of someone asking an accountant or a lawyer for free services, in exchange for ‘exposure’, but somehow, creative people are deemed less important.

Take note, every single thing that you have purchased that is in packaging has been designed by a Graphic Artist.
Every single man-made product you have held in your hand, experienced, viewed or touched has been designed by  Product Designer.
Every single store you have walked into, walked past or walked through has had its layout, lighting and shelving designed by someone in those fields.
The lawyer has their stationery, document templates and all other formal documents designed to some extent by a designer, as does the accountant’s personalised cheques, advertising materials and even the software that gets you a refund.

Every single industry on this earth has a designer involved at some level. They work hard, they work long hours and often forego important events in their lives to get the job done. In one position I worked, it was not uncommon to be sitting around an empty office, talking with the cleaners as I waited for an executive to make final changes for an urgent press ad that had to be submitted that night. I could have easily been sitting at home with those I love, spending time with them, hearing about her day and perhaps watching some TV together, but instead, I was made to wait on someone else decision until 11:30 at night sometimes. This was with no extra pay, and in fact, it was expected of me on a regular basis.

More often that I would care to admit, I have had to chase down clients, pestering and pressuring them for many months after the final artwork has been submitted for my payment, which had been invoiced (meaning I pay taxes on it) but not received. (Still paying tax on money not received!) With one client, I chased them for 6 months for a few hundred dollars. Eventually they paid, only to ask me a few days later for further designs.

In what other industry is this level of disrespect acceptable, when my work would not only benefit your company, but also potentially make your company some or even considerable money?

I recently read this amazing article on a blog, which tells of the trickery used to keep people in design positions. It uses our own self-pity to keep us docile and willing to work under these ridiculous conditions. Even if you are not a designer, it is well worth a read!

A Short Lesson in Perspective

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