Nicola Barry


Campaign to help children of alcoholics

Children 1st logo

Help Children 1st help the children of alcoholics

There are always people ready to protect children from unsuitable adults; from paedophiles, child abuctors and the like. Yet, when it comes to parents who drink to excess there is no one to protect the offspring.

New research shows that Scotland’s love affair with drink has trickled down the generations – to devastating effect. Grandad used to take a bucket. Dad always had a skinful on a Friday night. Now it is the turn of the next generation.

The charity Children 1st has revealed that one in ten Scottish children is being adversely affected by their parents’ drinking. That makes a staggering 93,000 kids.

Parents sit at home, swilling wine out of glasses the size of buckets. They slur their words, they have accidents, they swear, they are irresponsible. Occasionally, they are violent.

Children 1st’s summer campaign: Wish I Wasn’t Here aims to highlight the impact of alcohol-fuelled violence on kids. It features dramatic postcards from children whose holiday memories are fraught.

Children of alcoholics suffer a great deal of hidden harm, such as poverty, ill health, neglect, abuse of various kinds. Newborn babies come into the world with booze coursing through their veins, playing havoc with their tiny bodies.

My mother, who I wrote about in my book Mother’s Ruin, was a briliant, compassionate doctor who fell under alcohol’s powerful spell. Whenever she emerged from our posh Edinburgh house, her bag bulging with empties, our neighbours would look away in disgust, as they did when she returned with something respectable like  a can of soup – on top of six rattling bottles of vodka.

I turned into a child detective, adept at pouring half the contents down the sink, replenishing the bottle with water, praying she wouldn’t notice.

There were bottles everywhere in our house: in the wardrobes, inside boots and shoes, in the cistern. We children never dared ask friends round. She was far too unpredictable. Would she suddenly appear without clothes on? Would she fall? Once she fell downstairs and was blocking the front door when we arrived home from school. We thought she was dead, but she was just drunk.

We lived like that for years.

So many of us know exactly when children are suffering in this way yet choose to turn a blind eye to what is going on, ensuring that thousands of children miss out on their childhoods.

Life with an alcoholic parent is a nightmare from which many don’t recover.

That’s why we should all support Children 1st’s Wish I Wasn’t Here campaign.


Even Believe Has A Lie Inside.

Even Believe Has A Lie Inside. (Photo credit: SenniChan)


Hot new research states that lying is bad for you. The University of Notre Dame claims that people suffer fewer mental health problems if they are hon est all the time.

In other words, we would be a great deal saner if we told the truth about everything – about how much money we really spent, how much chocolate we ate and whether we really have given up smoking.

Rubbish. The truth can cause far more problems than a white lie.

Another piece of research claims that women make better liars than men. Apparently, we feel the need to placate people; to make them feel better about themselves. And why not?

Would you thank the man in your life for telling you, yes, your bum does look absolutely enormous in that dress. You would end up in a massive sulk for months or, even better, chuck him out.

Why tell the truth when an outright lie or piece of obfuscation will do instead?  Remember the saying: ‘All it takes for evil to prevail is  for good men to remain silent’? After all, lies come in many colours: white are the ones you tell to avoid hurting people’s feelings but black are more serious. However, there are many shades in between.

Some lies get you into trouble while others are intended to extract you from trouble. When you think someone is telling you lies, you want to know the truth. Did your boyfriend really go to the cinema with his  sister , or, was it with his ex? Was your pal, Mike, really out of town on your birthday or did he just forget as he has done every other year since you became friends?. With inexperienced liars, like myself, you can almost see the nose grow as they speak. Certain gestures give people away: such as ear tugging or eye rubbing. The eyes are a giveaway – being the windows of the soul. The strain of inventing a lie can create a mass of unusual grimaces.

It amazes me how we, the public, profess to be so shocked when we discover someone, usually a politician, has been telling porkies.. Politicians have turned lying into an art form. Even though it’s called ‘spin’ it is in fact just lying by exaggeration.

Most lies are self-serving, protecting the person who utters them from shame, disapproval or conflict.

Take advertising, an industry which depends on lies to succeed. Do we really want the truth? Would we want to see an obese, toothless choir singing the praises of a famous cola? Would we want to see a frumpy, dull couple with ugly kids breakfasting on black coffee and aspirin instead of enjoying crispy golden flakes in the sunshine?

I used to think honest was the best policy, until I discovered advertising.


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Boxing Above Her Weight

Nicola Adams’ Gold a win for gender equality in traditionally ‘male’ sports

EVERYONE seems to have an opinion on whether women should be allowed to box. The arguments in the past against it have been that women tend to be unstable and, oh God, they menstruate. And our brains are so small, aren’t they?

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Nicola Adams (Bl...

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 06: Nicola Adams (Blue) of Great Britain competes against Stoyka Petrova of Bulgaria (Red) during the Women’s Fly (51kg) Boxing Quarterfinals on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games.(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The first female Olympic gold champion, Nicola Adams, has much to be proud of. She began boxing at 12 when women were barred from the sport.

Rather like digging the roads, boxing has always been a male occupation. Until 2009, it was banned by the British Board of Boxing Control.

The notion of the fairer sex knocking each other’s blocks off offends some people’s idea of what woman is about. She shouldn’t be boxing, she should be at home producing babies, cooking and cleaning.

Although women can now box competitively, a lot of people – men mainly – claim it isn’t real boxing.

You know, women in the ring would be far too busy holding their hands up in the air, preventing their nail varnish from chipping or trying hard not to smudge their lipstick. Fine if they happen to be 18 stone bruisers with legs like tree trunks. But girl boxers who look normal, like Nicola, that’s not quite right, say the self-appointed experts. There are two camps in the women and boxing arena. One camp contains the dirty old men who like perving young women in skimpy underwear hitting each other. The second one is for those who disapprove; who react with disgust and alarm.

The truth behind all the ‘concern’ over women boxing is the same as it is in women’s football. Women don’t box, play footie, as well as men. End of story. Why don’t they just say so instead of dressing up their arguments so they resemble concern over women’s safety?

The point is women can use skills in the ring which don’t require vast amounts of brawn.

Thanks to women like Nicola Adams, sport can be brought into line with equal opportunities, meaning that women are never barred from competing because of their gender.

Equality is not about women pretending to be big, hairy blokes and digging up the roads.

Equality is about women having the choice to do these things if that is what they want to do.


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Battling for benefits

Crocodile Danger!

The Government’s next solution?

NAPOLEON was wrong. Britain is not a nation of shopkeepers but a nation of scroungers.

Successive governments have claimed that this country is full of malingerers claiming benefits to which they are not, never have been, entitled. We do so love the notion of a scrounger, don’t we? We’re forever peering at the neighbour with her disability parking permit to see if she forgets to limp when she returns from shopping. Or the neighbour who goes to sign on in a wheelchair but we’ve seen him up a ladder, cleaning windows in his spare time, haven’t we?

Now, in the so-called progressive society of 2012, people deemed too sick or disabled to be in employment are being refused benefits because the work fitness test is a total disaster area. The Government bangs on about disabled people being better off in work. Duh! Of course. But, not if they can’t.

Yes, I know there are scroungers out there. There always will be people who don’t want to work. The real problem is that we have created a culture of dependence among the able-bodied while, simultaneously, disempowering disabled people by putting them in a special box and leaving them there to fester. Why doesn’t someone DO something constructive for people on Incapacity Benefit instead of relentlessly plotting against them?

Introducing forms for claiming benefits which don’t take a year to fill in might be a start. Do politicians have any idea how unintelligible these forms are? How time-consuming? How impertinent the questions they contain?
We need to help claimants realise their full potential. You can’t do this by signing them off work for good and glory. You do it by sorting out their immediate  financial problems and concerns. By all means help sick and disabled people aim for a job at some time in the future but don’t steal their benefits beforehand.

When you remove hope from those who have been labelled disabled, there is very little left. That is why making life even harder for the sick and disabled should be a criminal offence. Unfortunately, it is what we Brits do best.

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