Graduation Day

Well, that’s it. After 5 years I have graduated from the Open University, and it has been one hell of a ride.  I began in earnest in 2011, after deciding that what I really wanted more than anything else was a career in teaching.  The enormous support and encouragement from my husband also helped me keep going, especially in those moments when I was disappointed over a grade, or the workload was battling with other responsibilities (3 kiddos, moving twice etc). I have made more than a few self discoveries about my own abilities. The most important realisation has been that I cannot let others set my horizons for me.  I will no longer allow others to tell me what I am, or am not, capable of before I have even had the chance to try.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t come up against some opposition to both my choice to take an OU degree and my desire to become a teacher. Reasons ranged from, “It’ll be hard” (as if that was ever a good reason not to do something), “but teaching doesn’t pay much” (teaching is a calling, not a money spinner,) and “But it’s not like a real degree from a proper university?” (I have really lost count of how many times I have explained that the OU is a ‘proper’ university, and it’s actually harder to get a passing grade.). Despite this, I think at least in part due to a healthy dose of belligerence and general bloody-minded determination to have my own way, I completed it.   Right, that’s the griping done: I studied, I learned, I gave up sleep and developed a caffeine addiction (okay, MORE of a caffeine addiction).

This morning I woke up with the jitters. I’m talking mutant butterflies here people! The stress of the lying google maps app, which fails to mention road works and sends you on a random route round the diversions, hadn’t helped but we arrived in one piece and on time. Managed to race through check in, explained that we had to bring our 3 year old because the nursery was closed that day due to training, for which they were highly sympathetic and gave us an extra refreshment voucher. Kudos to OU for being family friendly.

Next up was robes, pictures, and yes, more queuing. This is the point where it actually did begin to feel real.  I had done this. Despite kids, and despite life, I had worked my socks off and actually achieved something (big drum roll here), and I wasn’t beating myself up about it.  I deserved to be there. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t cringing for the official photo. If my grandad and parents hadn’t wanted one, I wouldn’t have gone for it. I even managed a smile. (Those who know me, know my feelings about photos of me.  Lets just say I am happier at the other end of the lens).

Being around ‘people’ in large numbers has never been one of my happy places so the prospect of getting on stage in front of a large number of people that I did not know was not an idea I was relishing.  I just fixed my eye on Sean and Henry, and tried to ignore the rest of the audience.  That said, I managed to queue by the stage for my diploma, collect it, cross the stage and get back to my seat without falling on my face/off the stage/both without social anxiety kicking in and freaking out.

The speech form the now honorary doctor of the university, was highly informative and very moving and I encourage you to watch it here. It’s the Birmingham 2016 one but it’s not up just yet. If you follow the comments for this post, I can let you know when its up.

I will not accept my expulsion from the Labour Party

Nobody is safe.

Observations from a Third Camp perspective

I have been informed today that I have been expelled from the Labour Party after a total of 35 years of Party membership and in spite of being Chair of Broxtowe Constituency Labour Party.

This follows an anonymous complaint about me to the Party. I don’t know what has led anyone to complain to the Party about me. I cannot believe that it comes from anyone in my constituency party where inclusiveness and comradely respect is genuinely shown by all party members. I am very grateful for the quick statement of support made by all of my fellow officers of Broxtowe CLP.

I am told that I am expelled because of I am an ‘active supporter of the AWL’ .

The AWL publishes a very useful and educative paper Solidarity and I welcome and am proud of  its significant contribution to debate in the Party and the wider labour movement.


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New Venture

Since completing my degree in June, and the beginning of this new academic year, I have had no luck finding part time work that matches both my skills and my available hours.  For this reason I have decided to go freelance as a proofreader and copy editor.  Details of my services and pricing structure are available here. You can also find me on Facebook.

If you would like to make an enquiry, please send an email here with the subject ‘AJPES enquiry’.

The content should include

  1. Your full name and address,
  2. A contact number (and Skype account for non-UK enquiries),
  3. The nature of the document,
  4. The ideal deadline for the work
  5. The number of pages (based on an A4 Word.doc or .docx, 12 point text, double line spaced, with normal margins). Invoices will be raised on this basis.
  6. The level of the service required. A list of my services can be found here. Please read this before making an enquiry.

Please do not send any documents until prompted.


My Letter to Wellingborough CLP Contact, Kevin Watts

Dear Kevin,

I have just had the most unpleasant experience with the Labour Party HQ that I have ever encountered. I was ringing to complain about my suspension and have it overturned as well as complain that my letter of appeal, for which their own automated system promised me a reply within a week, has not yet been answered.

Firstly, I was on hold for five minutes before someone even picked up the phone only to  immediately pass me to a different department. I was on hold for another ten minutes (obviously someone hoped I would give up an go away). When somebody finally picked up the phone all they would tell me was that I have been suspended for abusive conduct on Twitter, and with a paltry excuse of going to get further details I was again placed on hold for another five minutes after which the line was cut off.

I am utterly disgusted with this Kafkaesque treatment! How can I defend myself when I have no idea of what it is I am accused? How long will the investigation take? What form will it take and who will carry it out? None of this information has yet been imparted so I am still faced with the prospect of persons unknown trawling through years of tweets trying to find something to pin on me. Even trying to have my complaint and challenge acknowledged, let alone dealt with is impossible, yet the party remains happy to take my money in fees. I have attached yet another copy of the vague travesty of justice which seems to promote the idea that an allegation of a possibility merits punishment without evidence for your reference. (Letter of suspension.)

For years, I have been an advocate of strict anti-bullying policies on social media, and I certainly do not use it to abuse people, yet a great deal is of abuse is fired at me. Under the Data Protection Act, I have a right to know what information they hold on me, how long they have held it, what it has been used for and what they plan to do with it. I know for a fact, that I have never once given them my Twitter details. Do they even have the right Anna Johnstone? There are plenty of us. If you could look into this matter and pass it on to the campaign team for Jeremy, so they know how badly his supporters are being treated and Owen Smith cannot get away with rigging the vote, it would be appreciated.


Anna Johnstone

(The number for the Labour Party is 0345 092 2299)