Thursday, 5 March 2015

A Man Spoke, I Listened

Last night we went to another public lecture, this time we headed up to Lancaster for a talk by former MP Alan Milburn who is now Chair of the Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty. We went for a few reasons - because we could, because it was so exciting to be in an academic setting when we went to Edge Hill and because Dan does quite a lot of work on Child Poverty at work, and not least it's a nice drive.

Neither of us attended Lancaster University so some of the preamble about Mr Miburn becoming the new Chancellor was a little lost on us as we don't know anything about the University itself. Well, I do know they've recently changed their logo from a rather cool Atari-style affair to something more boring traditional. (compare here)

We didn't actually get to poke around the campus as the talk was held at the Dukes Playhouse in the city centre, never to worry. A couple of things that stuck out for me from the talk

1. the amount of people wearing brown shoes. Of the footwear I saw over half was brown. I think that's unusual. 

2. the talk was about the problems and potential solutions to social inequality. A question was asked about bankers, and the reply was that it's easy to get a round of applause if you bash the rich, it's harder to get people as angry and fired up if you talk about the consequences of inequality rather than just the benefits of inequality. That hit me really hard, it doesn't seem like people are as angry about food banks, zero hours contracts, the amount of children who aren't "school ready" by the age of five - unable to dress themselves, go to the toilet unaided, pick up a book etc as they are about people who legally earn loads of money*. 

3. something thing that hit me on a personal level was talking about strategic vs. tactical thinking and how the two should go hand in hand rather than choosing the short term tactical over the long term, less likely to change strategic. I thought abut that in terms of my life and our finances, as well as the general point. To get to our financial and life goals we do have objectives and our broad idea (strategy) but then have more specific tasks and resources within that in order to get things done. We have the long-term plan and our philosophy but they we also have to be prepared to change how we go about things as situations crop up, but things that still take us in the direction i which we want to go.  

All in all it really was worth going, of course there were more questions than answers. It was inspiring, frustrating, depressing and motivating, a good blend for me. 

* he did also speak about the gap between achievement and effort in many sectors.


  1. Thought provoking post. I wanted to study social science at Lancaster back when I was making my choices for University. Due to circumstances beyond my control I didn't end up going there. Your observation of the number of brown shoes was interesting, I'm sure there must be a theory or some research about it out there somewhere.

    1. Maybe it's to identify fellow Lancaster people, like wearing a red carnation in your lapel on a blind date!

  2. I was a student at Edge Hill, and had tickets to listen to the Rev. Jesse Jackson speak. I was absolutely gutted that on the night I was supposed to listen to him I was wired up to a heart monitor on Coronary Care :(

    1. Oh no, what a dreadful shame.

      I had never been to Edge Hill before we went for the talk. I very much liked the campus, t had a great feel and there was a real sense of pride in the place.

  3. I love how you noticed the brown shoes - that's the kind of randomness I notice too.

    Lizzie Dripping