Hollande said school work should “be done at school, rather than at home,” to foster educational equality because some students do not have support at home.
Give me strength, please.
Robust educational research points to homework as one of the best ways to improve educational outcomes for ALL students.
In the Sutton Trust toolkit – an evidence based resource to improve learning – impact data has been collected on a number of educational strategies from streaming to uniform. Homework, particularly for secondary school students, is rated as having a moderate impact, with a potential gain of 5 months (the advantage an average student will gain over a year), at a very low, to no cost. Combine that with homework tasks that encourage meta-cognition (encouraging the learner to consider how they learn: for example, setting a task that involves evaluating the reliability of a Wiki entry), then you have a high impact strategy, accelerating learning by up to 8 months, at no additional cost.
No real surprise there, if you think about it. Homework encourages engagement with the subject outside of the lesson and also prepares the student for the independent skills they will need to revise for the exams. For those who are intending on going to University, it is imperative they are equipped with the ability to study independently, and for those entering the workplace, to learn autonomously.
On the other hand, according to the Sutton School Trust, ‘after school programmes’and ‘individualised programmes’, have a low impact (2 months advantage), and are costly to implement. In other words, keeping children in school longer, won’t make them smarter. I wish politicians would just be honest and admit the reason they want schools to open longer is to help working parents with childcare, not because it will raise achievement.
Back in March, there was a national outcry in France, with parents demanding the abolition of homework because it stressed out their children and took up too much time. Call me cynical, but is that why Hollande is calling for this reform? Surely he wouldn’t put votes before the education of his country’s children, would he?
For those who haven’t been following the story of my attempt to get a ‘literary agent’ you can read it in full here, with an update here.
A quick summary: I sent the opening 3 chapters of my novel to an agent and then fell out of love with it (for a variety of reasons). I realised the ‘other’ story (going around and around in my head) was the one I should’ve written in the first place (a different version of the same idea). 20,000 words into (in my eyes) the far superior story, the agent requested a full of the first novel. I took a gamble and sent a pitch of the second version of the story instead, explaining my reasons for this change of direction. Thankfully, she didn’t tell me to go away (I wouldn’t have blamed her) and agreed the second novel sounded stronger. I promised to send her the opening 3 chapters and a proper synopsis by the end of September and if she liked them as much (or more than) the first novel, she would request the full manuscript.
That was the plan…
I finished the first draft and worked on the opening three chapters. I wrote synopsis after synopsis, with the help of two wonderful writer friends, and enlisted the help of online critique groups to read the chapters. I rewrote, edited and tweaked, panicked quite a lot and put off sending it for a number of days, even though it was ready.
Other unpublished writers will get why I acted like this. Hope is in short supply, whereas hopeful writers are plentiful. Most of the feedback you receive from industry professionals is of the; ‘I didn’t love it enough’, or ‘we are publishing something similar to this’, or ‘this is just not for us’ variety. In other words: REJECTION. Having an agent interested in your work is such a boost to confidence I didn’t want to burst the one-day-I-will-see-my-book-in-Waterstones bubble.
I finally pressed SEND.
I waited… forgetting every agent worth her salt would be at the Frankfurt book fair.
Every time my phone beeped, I felt sick and clammy. What if the second novel wasn’t as good as I thought it was? Would I still be in love with it (vital if I am to finish) if she said she didn’t want to see it?
And then last night, about ten days after sending it, the email arrived…
What did it say?
“I hate it. Go away.”
No only kidding. She said she enjoyed the chapters and she wants to see the rest as soon as it is ready.
Whoop! Whoop! Happy Dance.
I am no further on than I was in the summer. In fact, I am a few steps behind. In August, I had a completed novel and full request. Today, I have an uncompleted novel and full request, but I couldn’t be happier. She likes it. She wants to read it all.
Of course, liking the opening chapters does not mean she will like the rest, or want to represent me, but I am back on that ladder to publication and I am going to hold on as tightly as I can.
If you want to see the opening chapters; click here. You don’t have to join the site to read.
We have three back doors in our house. Regularly someone leaves one of them unlocked. We have so many nickable items casually left in view, like this laptop (my baby), or the Samsung tablet we got free with the Smart TV. So far we’ve got away with it, though when I was pregnant with our daughter (who is now 18) a burglar burnt a hole through the back door of the house we lived in, with a blowtorch (he obviously didn’t know how to pick locks). I woke (smelling burning) and waddled downstairs to investigate, disturbing him, but he still got away with my purse and bike with a flat tyre – found discarded a few metres down the road (not the best getaway vehicle).
Of course, carelessly leaving a door unlocked is not in the same league as carelessly misplacing a child, but we have done that to. Twice my son has disappeared long enough for me to start considering the photo we would use on the missing posters.
The first time, we’d just arrived in Germany, where my husband had been posted with the army. We had taken the children to the Social Club, where a welcome event was taking place. Outside the club there was a fantastic children’s playground and my four year old daughter marched off determinedly towards it, with our nearly three year old son struggling to keep up – his gaze fixed on the sandpit.
I was immediately engulfed in the ‘wives of’ welcoming committee, and keeping half an eye on the play park answered their eager questions, sure my husband was watching the children.
About a minute or two later, I saw my husband come out from inside the club. My heart lifted in my throat and the hairs on the back of my neck lifted. I disentangled myself from the friendly women and strode purposefully towards the slide and climbing frame. I saw our daughter’s shock of dark hair straight away. She had already found a friend and they were jabbering at each other and holding hands. I couldn’t see our son, not yet three, but again that wasn’t unusual as he was likely to be found on the edge of things, an observer rather than a doer. However, within thirty seconds, it was obvious he wasn’t there at all, nor in the immediate area surrounding the play equipment. I ran back down the grassy slope, screaming his name. What followed was five minutes of hell as my husband and I searched the club and grounds becoming more and more frantic. And then from across the road I saw him, in the arms of a woman I barely recognised. She was the wife of my husband’s Sergeant and she’d intercepted our son barrelling towards her, after crossing two – thankfully quiet – roads, heading, it seemed, towards our flat – obviously he was searching for his mummy.
I held him so tight to me and vowed I would never, ever let him out of my sight again. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach and still, to this day, 17 years later, my cheeks flush when I think how stupid and careless we were.
The second time, he was seven and we were camping in France. We were queuing for fish and chips at the bar, when he asked if he could play with his new friend Ben. We said, yes, assuming he meant at our tent. Five minutes later we returned. No sign of either of them. The enormity and anonymity of the campsite hit us like a lead football in the guts. There must have been a thousand people swarming the site, with cars and campervans coming and going. Thirty long minutes later, after I had convinced myself he had been whisked away and was already at the border with Spain, we found him playing with Ben as he said he would be, confused by my tearful hugs and kisses (and very embarrassed).
Then there was the time our daughter had a tantrum in John Lewis, one minute lying face down screaming in-between the dress racks, while I was doing my best to ignore her – the next she was running into the lift with the doors just about to close. Her grandmother did a ninja move any superhero would be proud of and got her arm in the way of the door, thank goodness.
So what’s my point? Just recently I have been distressed by the vitriol directed at April’s parents. It reminded me of the terrible, nasty things that were said about the McCann’s in May 2007, after Madeleine was taken from her bed in a hotel chalet. In both cases, I have no doubt the parents are torturing themselves with ‘what ifs’. If only I had called her in earlier… if only I had stayed in the chalet…
But it seems that many people need to find someone to blame (other than the sick perpetrator).
What was a five year old doing out at 7pm?
I don’t know for sure, but they’d just returned from parents evening, so maybe April was allowed to play out a bit later than usual for having a good report.
In psychology this need to blame the victim is a well known phenomena and it is called the ‘Just World Hypothesis’. This basically means we need to believe that we live in a just world, where people get what they deserve. Good is rewarded and evil is punished. When something bad happens, we need to restore equilibrium and to distance ourselves from the incident. We need to believe that somehow the victim deserved what happened to them.
Afterwards, they said that the 22-year-old woman was bound to attract attention. She was wearing a white lace miniskirt, a green tank top, and no underwear. At knife-point, she was kidnapped from a Fort Lauderdale restaurant parking lot by a Georgia drifter and raped twice. But a jury showed little sympathy for the victim. The accused rapist was acquitted. “We all feel she asked for it [by] the way she was dressed,” said the jury foreman. click here for source.
In the case of rape, psychological studies have shown that the more attractive the victim, or the shorter her skirt, the less likely it is the rapist will be found guilty.
“Both men and women who viewed a photograph of the victim in a short skirt attributed more responsibility to the victim than those who viewed a photograph of the victim in a moderate or long skirt.” Click here for abstract.
When the victim is an ‘innocent’ child, blame is shifted to the parents. We need to believe the same thing won’t happen to us, or our family because we are good parents and therefore by default they must be bad (parents).
The sad fact is; bad things happen to good people and the world is not a just place. Once we accept this, then blaming the parents, or the girl in the short skirt, becomes nebulous and we can start to address why our society fosters such rare, but despicable people. Child murderers don’t appear overnight. They will have a history of minor crimes against children and women and they often come from dysfunctional and toxic backgrounds. Intervention must begin in childhood. We must do more to protect children from abusive influences so they don’t grow up devoid of compassion for themselves as well as others. We must also ensure that police forces talk to each other, so someone with a record of child abuse cannot wipe the slate clean by moving to a new area with a new name (as did Ian Huntley). We must also examine how we deal with paedophiles, and not release them if we cannot guarantee they will not reoffend (as did Roy Whiting).
We all make mistakes. Tell me a parent that hasn’t lost sight of a child for a moment or two in crowded shopping centre or at the park. What is heart-warming is that for 99.9% of the time, nothing bad will happen; the vast majority of people are fundamentally good.
April’s parents are no more culpable than Madeleine McCann’s parents were. They, like all of us, probably believed it wouldn’t happen to them. They aren’t perfect parents, but who of us are? But they are not bad parents either. Something bad happened to their child.
Zick Rubin of Harvard University and Letitia Anne Peplau of UCLA have conducted surveys to examine the characteristics of people with strong beliefs in a just world. They found that people who have a strong tendency to believe in a just world also tend to be more religious, more authoritarian, more conservative, more likely to admire political leaders and existing social institutions, and more likely to have negative attitudes toward underprivileged groups. To a lesser but still significant degree, the believers in a just world tend to “feel less of a need to engage in activities to change society or to alleviate plight of social victims.”
Next time you hear someone blaming the victim for the crime against them, just remember; ‘there but for the grace of god, go I.’ And don’t let it be a reason to accept things as they are.
Why is it I feel somewhat shameful about admitting what I do for a living?
A fly on a wall somewhere in Westminster…
Civil servant: So Minister, how exactly are you going to leave your mark on Education in Britain?
Michael Gove: I am going to encourage all schools to become Academies, open as many Free schools as I can, utilising empty office space, bring back O-levels and Latin, and save the country millions of pounds in teachers wages, by opening up the profession to non-graduates. The army need to make a lot of redundancies, so we will turn the soldiers into teachers. Oh, and I am going slash the pension fund to help pay for the deficit.
Civil Servant: Very good Minister, but I feel I must point out that under the previous administration, schools were only turned into Academies if they were failing.
M.G.: Right. Then we must do the exact opposite. A school can only become an Academy if it is graded as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
CS: And what about the other 80% that aren’t oustanding? Surely you want all schools to be taken over by parents and idealistic teachers, and of course [cough] profit making [cough] private enterprises.
M.G.: Mmmm. I know. We will tell the rest of the schools they can apply tobe Academies too, but only after the ‘outstanding’ ones have already applied.
CS: And what about the schools that don’t want to apply?
CS: Right. So all schools will be Academies. And what is the reason we give the outstanding schools for why they should become Academies? Clearly they are doing very well already.
M.G.: We don’t need to give them a reason, we just need to give them money.
CS: But there isn’t any money.
M.G.: There isn’t any additional money. We’ll Slash schools budgetsby bringing the amount per pupil over the age of 16 in line with Further Education colleges– that’ll serve the National Union of Head Teachers right for demanding parity in funding. Demand all schools repay deficits in their budgets immediately, and then offer them the money back if they become and Academy.
CS: We are going to bribe them. I see. Very good idea. But how do we sell this idea to the public? More and more children are achieving the benchmark 5 A to C’s each year in grant-maintained schools.
M.G.: That’s easy. I’ll invent a new performance measure. How about saying the 5 subjects must contain English and Maths.
CS: We already measure that statistic.
M.G.: Do we? Right then. A bit of blue sky thinking is required. What subject/s do children not tend to get a GCSE in?
CS: The Labour government made Languages optional because there was a shortage of language teachers, so lots of 14 year olds drop languages at the end of Year 9.
M.G.: Perfect. The new measure will group the core subjects together: English and Maths and science, ummm? What other subjects do schools offer?
CS: History, geography…
M.G.:Yes one of those, and of course a Language like Mandarin.
CS: I take it, Minister, we will apply this new measure once we have informed schools, so they can advise their students about GCSE choices.
M.G.: Don’t be ridiculous, man. The whole point of this new qualification is to show how badly schools are doing… what should we call it?
CS: There’s the IB – the International Baccalaureate, it groups subjects together in a similar way…
CS (whispered): E. Bacc? Sounds a bit like a nasty type of food poisoning.
M.G.: What was that?
CS: An excellent idea, Minister. So we will measure schools on a performance indicator they didn’t know about and then, in two years time, when schools have forced their students to take a Language, it will look like you have single-handedly improved standards.
CS: I’m still worried you might get some resistance to rebranding schools as Academies, when Ofsted only rated 10% of all schools in England and Wales as unsatisfactory.
M.G.: Get me the head of Ofsted on the phone. Who is the head of Ofsted?
CS: Michael Wilshaw, Minister.
M.G.: “Wilshaw. I need you to make more schools unsatisfactory. I don’t care how you do it man, just do it. Uh huh- yes – wonderful idea. Yes do it.”
CS: What did Wilshaw say?
M.G.: He said, Grade 3 satisfactory will be re-branded as unsatisfactory. As of tomorrow, 40% of schools will be failing.
CS: The problem is, year on year, results are improving on individual subjects like English and Maths – which sort of ruins your line that the Education system is in need of a complete overhaul.
M.G.: Well then we must discredit both the exams system and the teachers that administer it – the public barely tolerate teachers for having all those holidays as it is, so it won’t take much to turn their envy to hatred.
CS: But teachers only get paid pro-rata to reflect the extra holiday.
M.G.: Keep that to yourself, man. Let’s blame the grade inflation on coursework modules. Teachers cheat and do the coursework for them.
CS: We have no evidence of that.
M.G.: Evidence? Since when has government policy been determined by evidence? We’ll spread the rumour that teachers cheat and then propose to get rid of coursework all together, which will strain the exam system to breaking point – killing two birds with one stone – besmirch the reputation of teachers and prove the exam system is broken.
CS: What about subjects that need coursework?
M.G.: We will make students do it at school under exam conditions.
CS: There isn’t time in the school day to fit that in.
M.G.: Which means standards will drop and the public will blame the teachers because they are lazy, whining cheats. We will also release a statement saying; it is criminal that the majority of schools are not above average.
CS: That is statistically impossible, Minister. The majority is the average.
M.G.: The general public aren’t clever enough to realise that.
CS: What happens if you get picked up for it, by an education correspondent from the TES, for example?
M.G.: Bloody TES. I’ll blame my comprehensive education.
CS: Excellent Minister. Are you planning on bringing back grammar schools?
M.G.: It pains me to say ‘no’ because the baby boomers would love it, but I just don’t think I can get that one past the Liberals. However, we will bring back O levels and CSE’s – that should secure the vote of the nostalgic brigade.
CS: But if the GCSE is fit for purpose, which it appears to have been for 30 years, how will we float this idea?
M.G.: We must make it unfit for purpose, immediately. Give me the head of Ofqual. “Glenys, we must have a drop in GCSE passes this year. I don’t care how you do it. Tell the exam boards they must regrade all the exams. Yes, send an email if you must, but do not copy me in.”
CS: We could also play up grade inflation by pointing to the number of students that do resits, and the fact we have exam boards competing for business.
M.G.: Excellent idea. I can see you have the right mentality for politics. We will scrap all resits and give students only one chance to pass the exam. And we will do away with separate exam boards and have just the one.
CS: Teachers have been calling for one exam board for years – that should make them happy.
M.G.: We can’t have that. We must have unhappy, militant teachers, who go on strike and upset parents. It is the only way we are going to get away with eroding their pay and conditions, stealing their pensions and make them work longer hours. And they must keep children in school longer so both parents can go to work and therefore consume more, leading to wealth creation for the top 1%.
CS: How are we going to upset the teachers?
M.G.: Apart from freezing their pay, moving to regional payscales and plundering their pensions? A constant drip feed of attacks on their work ethic in the press. We can say ‘some of them’ are lazy, incompetent and in it for the holidays.
CS: But in every professions, ‘some’ people will be incompetent. It is not particular to teachers. I had an incompetent plumber come round the other day and now I have no hot water.
M.G.: Exactly. But by the time the plebs on BBC’s Have your Say and Twitter have finished, all teachers will be incompetent.
CS: An excellent Educational Policy, Minister.
What do you think? Are teachers the ones that are out of step with the world? Should we just put up and shut up? Do you think teaching is worse today than it was when you were in school? I really would love to know what you think.
A reblogof a very handy post that links to all Emma Darwin’s great writing tips. The post that affected my writing the most was Psychic Distance (top of the list). She first blogged about it in 2010 and has recently expanded her explanation of this brilliant concept. There is very little out there on Psychic distance, but if you have ever been accused of head hopping, then this is the post for you.
Emma Darwin is the author of ‘Mathematics of Love’ and ‘A Secret Alchemy’.
For those who have been following my literary journey, One for writers: how not to get a literary agent, you’ll remember I promised ‘The Agent’ the opening chapters of the novel by the end of the month. The chapters are going really well and I have posted the first four on Authonomy for feedback. I reckon I will have the first draft completed in a couple of weeks, if I stick to 2000 words a day (the schedule has slipped a little, but essentially I am on target).
So the time has come to write the ‘dreaded’ synopsis. Nothing is likely to strike fear into a writer more than a request for a one-page synopsis. You want to shout: “If I could have told the story in one page, and not three hundred, I would have.”
But shouting is not going to get the darn thing written. Nor is hoping it will magically appear on your laptop one morning. The only thing you can do is sit down and write it and hope you survive to send it.
So what is a synopsis?
Essentially it is what the story is about. What happens (to the character/s)? What are the major plot points; the highs and lows, twists and turns. It must include the ending, cliff hangers are a ‘no,no’. The agent wants to know if the story holds together. If the conclusion is – if not expected- then plausible and satisfying. But, and this relates more to general fiction than genre, the synopsis also needs to convey the themes of the novel, or in other words, it must answer the why questions. Why does the character/s react like that? What is their motivation? What is their goal?
A novel’s readability is all about the tension you create. A character wants something and spends the whole novel trying to get it. The plot derives from their attempts being thwarted (what happens). And also, and more importantly, how they react to those events (why it happens). This is what drives the story and the reader forward. The ending should either give the character what they want or not (with the attendant nuances, such as they didn’t want it in the end anyway, or they got something different and better, or they got something worse).
There is plenty of advice out there, but if you try to follow all of it, your synopsis will be as long, if not longer, than the novel itself.
However, I have come up with method that is relatively painless and seems to work (i.e. I’ve had full requests).
It came about after reading about surface and story-worthy problems. A detailed explanation can be found in Les Edgerton’s book on writing craft, called Hooked, and a summarised version can be found on his blog, here.
Essentially, he shows, through the example of the film, ‘Thelma and Louise’ – how the two levels work.
The surface problem is what is happening (the plot). What?
The story-worthy problem is what drives the surface problem. Why?
Louise wants to go on a road trip with Thelma, but she knows her husband is likely to say no. As she begins to ask him, he brushes her off. Louise decides to go without telling him. This out of character behaviour already indicates that the story-worthy problem will involve Louise, but as yet the reader, nor Louise, knows what it is.
Emboldened by standing up to her husband, Louise persuades Thelma to stop at a bar. Initially Louise is happy to be chatted up by a man (Harlan), but outside in the car park, he won’t accept ‘no’. This shows Louise is not only under her husband’s thumb, but generally unable to stand up against men (story-worthy problem). Thelma ends up shooting Harlan (melodrama/action). Louise urges Thelma to call the police, but in the end decides to go on the run with her, which kicks off the plot proper.
The surface problem gets bigger and bigger; disobeying her husband, which leads to them being in the bar, and Thelma shooting Harlan, which leads to them running from the law. This relates to the story-worthy problem, which is, Louise is finally standing up to all the men who have abused and dominated her all her life (but again she and the reader do not see this clearly until the end scene). Ideally, the protagonist and the reader need to discover the story-worthy problem at the same time.
The road chase is not only about whether they will get caught or not, but it is also a metaphor for Louise’s emergence from the shadow of men (the cop chasing them represents men’s oppression of women in general). This is what makes this film enduring.
So how does this help with synopsis writing?
I start with the surface problem. What is the inciting incident that kicks the story off? Sometimes it comes right at the beginning and sometimes a little way in. It is not always the most dramatic event. It can be something quite small and seemingly insignificant, but it’s repercussions are far reaching.
In Thelma and Louise, it is when Louise disobeys her husband, and not when Thelma shoots Harlan. Even though the plot-action results from the shooting, it’s because Louise stood up to her husband that they end up in the bar, and because she stood up to her husband, she refuses to let Harlan bully her into submission.
Once I have identified the inciting incident (it is not always what I think it is when I begin writing), then I consider what the story-worthy problem is in relation to this. Why did the character do that? What’s going on subconsciously?
It is Louise’s attempt to assert herself against the way men have treated her, which drives her to go on the run with Thelma, rather than handing herself in. The police are a metaphor for men in general. Legitimate but unjust power.
After you’ve identified the inciting incident and the story-worthy problem, the rest of the synopsis is easy (honest). You pick out the next big thing that happens (which should be a worsening of the original surface problem)? How does this event, drive the story-worthy problem? And so on, until you reach the end, where the surface problem and story-worthy problem come together.
If Thelma and Louise hand themselves in, they have not achieved freedom from male domination, and they will be back where they’ve started. For Louise, now she has had freedom, going back is not an option, so plausibly if dramatically, there can be only one outcome – to drive over the edge of the cliff.
I find thinking of my story using these two layers, helps me to pick out what is important for both plot and character motivation in the synopsis. I still need to cut and trim. The first draft or three are always too long, but essentially this approach has saved me hours of frustration and helps when I am writing the novel too. Keeping the story-worthy problem in your head as you write, helps to ensure scenes evolve from the character’s internal motivation, giving the scenes depth (layered).
Synopses will never be fun things to write, but hopefully they will be less distressing if you stick to the above method. Unless you’ve got a better one to share? How do you do it without tearing your hair out, or your manuscript up? Do you write it at the beginning, or leave it until the end? What’s the best advice you’ve found on synopsis writing? Please share.
Imagine, for a moment, a drug that could cure Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS/PMT), which has minimal reported side effects, and is easy and cheap to produce. What a wonderful drug that would be. A drug that could give a woman her life back after years of excruciating cramps, which even morphine was unable to control. Imagine what it would be like for that woman not to live in dread each month, and even get to the point where she forgets she is about to have a period. Imagine how much money could be saved because that woman no longer needs a hysterectomy and then years of HRT (with its increased risk of womb, ovarian and breast cancer). Imagine how many lives that drug would save if women did not have to have a general anaesthetic, nor the risk of post-operative infection.
Imagine how that woman feels to be in control of her life once more.
If only a drug like that existed, instead of the current treatments on offer such as Prozac, with its increased risk of suicidal thoughts, or drugs like Danazol, which can deepen the voice and stimulate facial hair growth along with many other horrific side effects. Or, taking oral contraceptives, which stop ovulation, and with it, the natural rise and fall of libido, while increasing the risk of blood clots, acne and fluid retention.
If only a herbal remedy existed with hundreds of years of safe usage, and clinical trials proving its effectiveness, like this one reported in the British medical Journal in 2001, and this onereported in the American Journal of science in 2012, and this onealso conducted in 2012 at Hamedan University of Medical Sciences, Iran. And this list of studies on google scholar, citing highly significant results compared with placebos. If only there were a study that the EMA agreed met the criteria, something like this:
“There is one publication proving efficacy for the indication “Premenstrual syndrome” for an extract
specified as follows: Vitex agnus-castus L. dry extract (6-12:1), extraction solvent: 60% ethanol
(m/m) / 20 mg per day corresponding to 180 mg drug per day on average. This preparation fulfils the
requirements for WEU.” European Medicines Agency Assessment report on Agnus Castus.
What would you do EMA, if you had all this research, alongside hundreds of women’s anecdotal accounts and clinicians testimonials?
Would you force manufacturers to reduce the dosage per tablet from 20mg (the known effective level a cited in your own report) to 4mg per tablet? But not tell women that at this dosage, the drug will be ineffective?
That would be madness, wouldn’t it? Why would you render a drug, as clearly effective as Agnus Castus, ineffective, by restricting dosage, making the treatment unaffordable for thousands of women, even if they did know to take 5 TABLETS A DAY(costing around £20 a week).
Who would this benefit? The women with PMT? The doctors who are treating these women, with the limited and often dangerous chemical or surgical solutions on offer?
No. A move such as this could only benefit the multi-million pound drugs industry, whom bring new drugs to the market with a short history of efficacy and lack of data on the long term side effects.
Restricting dosage on not just Agnus Castus, but a whole host of herbal treatments, such as St John’s Wort, is a conspiracy to keep the drug companies in huge profit and the public captive to their demands.
If you buy your tablets from Boots and take (the recommended) 4mg of Agnus Castus a day for PMS, it won’t work, your symptoms will not improve (your own report shows this to be the case). For women who buy these tablets and find no relief, they will believe the drug is ineffective and return to their gynaecologist begging them to take out their ovaries and womb (a huge decision, with huge repercussions). And gynaecologists, despite knowing how effective Agnus Castus 20mg is, will be unable to tell you about it, because it is not listed in their prescribing manual.
Because there are no profits to be made on a drug that already exists, is not concocted in a lab. No concoction. No patent. No profit.
“The pharmaceutical industry is in crisis because companies are rewarded for developing new drugs that have few clinical advantages over existing ones, experts say. They pointed to independent reviews that found between 85 and 90 per cent of all new drugs developed over the past 50 years have provided few benefits and considerable harms.” Read more here.
Forgive me if I sound a little paranoid with my conspiracy theory, but what else am I supposed to think? Either you recommend the drug or you don’t. Recommending it, as your reports final conclusion does:
“Except for severe allergic reactions, there are no documented severe adverse events. Therefore the
use of the above mentioned extracts – in combination with an adequate labelling as included in the
monograph- can be supported.” EMA report on Agnus Castus.
but rendering it ineffective, by only allowing it to be sold in a dose too low to work, smacks of underhand tactics.
If you have an honourable reason, then I for one would love to hear it. In the meantime, I will continue to tell every doctor I meet and every women with PMS, how Agnus Castus gave me my life back, and I will unashamedly plug this Guernsey based company, that can sell you 20mg tablets, despite your mean and sinister directive.
Any woman reading this, who has PMS, check the evidence out for yourself. Be empowered! Take control of your body. For the most common type of PMS, I have yet to find a woman this has not transformed the life of. However, you must take 20mg (dried fruit extract) a day.
Just think… no more mood swings, breast tenderness, irritable bowel, and no more pain so bad, you vomit and lose control of your bowels at the same time. No more lost days, lost months, lost sleep, lost life.
And my final message to the EMA – you should be ashamed of yourselves, condemning women to unnecessary medical interventions and possibly even death; very, very ashamed.
Juliet O’Callaghan – free of PMT for five years since taking Agnus Castus 20mg (dried fruit extract) once a day.
Anyone else found the EMA’s interference in herbal medicines has been detrimental to their health and pocket? Angus Castus: Has it worked for you to? Tell me your story. I would love to hear it.
Time is tight this week. A new school year has begun and I am determined to stick to my 2000 words a day, particularly as I have promised the agent the completed novel by Christmas. However, I have been wanting to share this poem since it was sent to me a few months ago, and it got me thinking about how many published literary authors had grappled with the sensitive subject of cancer.
Cancer is an emotive subject. It is also one that a lot of people don’t want to read about, and certainly not in fiction. However, authors have always written about subjects that others may find distasteful and morbid. They write about things that matter to them, or have scarred them. As cancer invades so many of our lives, it is inevitable that writers will write about it; having it, beating it, and watching the ones they love die from it. I, for one, seek the words of those who have survived the aftermath of losing someone they love to cancer. It helps me to heal. So while this post and the poem may not be for everyone, I hope for some it will bring comfort and the knowledge that they are not alone.
Collin Tobin is a writer I met on Authonomy (a website where writers can try out their work and get some feedback). Collin sent me the poem after he read the opening of my novel. I like it because it is not maudlin. In fact the voice is often light and mocking, although the final verse reveals the writer’s true feelings, and his sense of helplessness in the face of the relentless onslaught.
I don’t want to kill your cancer
I don’t want to choke you both
With a cold cocktail of poisons
I don’t want to irradiate it
By setting your house on fire
And recklessly believe
You will be able stay
And only it will flee
I don’t want to excise it
Taking a merchant’s pound
Of your precious flesh
Instead, I want us to love it
I want us to nurture it
I want it to feel the warmth of my hand
Each waking morning
As I place it over your sleeping skin
And hope its fibrous tissues
Can reach out too
And feel the reassurance of a caring touch
I want us to feed it
Engorge it with raw, red meats
Permeate it through and through with carcinogens
I want us to find some old red dye #2 M&M’s
And spoil it rotten
I want to sit cross-legged with it
Each night on the floor of our quiet living room
And trade deep puffs from the Hookah pipe
While we three sit
In companionable silence
I want us to take it out into the blessed sun each weekend
Lather it in baby oil
And let it simmer contentedly next to us
Like a slab of happy fatback
Floating in a heated skillet
Because maybe then
It will not just grow, and attach
But grow, attached
Maybe it will pause just long enough
Grow sentient enough, to reconsider
To maybe scale back its self-defeating
Blind growth within you
And content itself with co-existence
Develop the intelligence enough
To want what we want
Just a fair measure of days
Through which we can carefully pick our way
To find those rarest days of all
The carefree ones
You can find Collin’s latest work here, and more about him here.
For those who followed my novel saga on the previous post. The agent got back to me. She said…
You are quite possibly unhinged, but version 2 (based on the measly pitch you sent me) does sound stronger. Do send the opening three chapters and synopsis.
Ms Literary agent
OK, well maybe she didn’t word it exactly like that, but she did want to see version 2. This is great news. I have a goal to aim for, which is always useful when you are 40,00 words in and wondering why you started the flippin’ thing in the first place.