Author Archives: Shirley

Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?

Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?

Personal Ability
– A long phone conversation lasts 30 seconds.
– One mood can fit his entire life.
– He expects astonished approval for the smallest act of consideration, such as tidying the fridge.
– He doesn’t need a mechanical jar opener.
– Car mechanics tell him the truth.
– When consulting a road map and driving from North to South, he can say, “Turn left,” with accuracy.

– He will never be pregnant.
– When meeting people, they never stare at his chest.
– He never has a bad hair day.
– The same hairstyle lasts for years, perhaps decades.
– He can disguise a double chin with a beard. A moustache is optional.
– All his underwear costs under £10, comes in one pack, and he doesn’t need to try it on in the store.
– His new shoes were not designed by the Spanish Inquisition.
– Sneakers, moccasins, black formal…who needs more shoes?
– One wallet lasts a lifetime.
– With maybe seven pockets in his jacket and pants, no handbag needed.
– His wardrobe fits into a wardrobe.

– Weddings plan themselves.
– Family holidays plan themselves.
– A holiday requires only one suitcase.
– A weekend wardrobe fits in a carry-on bag.
– He can play with toys all his life. It is accessing his inner child. Adorable.
– He cannot be expected to remember his wedding anniversary or his wife’s birthday, unless he has a PA.
– He never worries about the nutritional value of the supper he’s just cooked; he just expects applause.
– If he says sorrowfully, “I know I’m a bad father,” he expects this to be treated as an honourable excuse.

– The world is his urinal.

– At work, he never feels guilty.
– Same work, more pay.

Note: My brother sent me this. I’ve tweaked it a bit.

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Six Money Survival Tips

Six Money Survival Tips

Jane Austin and money - on the face of the £10 note

Jane Austin and money – on the face of the £10 note

1. a) From now on, take ALL responsibility for your financial future. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it, especially someone you love. This is simple, but it takes time.

1. b) Don’t rely on ANYONE ELSE in financial matters. Not your mum, dad, boyfriend, girlfriend, accountant. NO-ONE.

2. Allocate a specific time, say two hours on the first Saturday morning each month. Your money and your peace of mind will depend on this adult habit.

3. Always check – by email if possible – that what someone says they will do is actually done ON TIME. Monitor anything that is to be done by someone else. Monitoring is polite nagging and you will quickly find out that it is ESSENTIAL.

Nagging is the repetition of a question that someone doesn’t want to answer.

a) Together, fix a day for the job to be completed.

b) Send an email before the due date as a reminder.

c) Send an email the day after the due date, to ask if they’ve done it.

d) If the answer is anything but YES, repeat this procedure until the job is done.

4. Keep a scribbled note of any financial meetings. Don’t rely on the person who is supposed to be taking notes.

5. Years ago, I asked a Texan oil zillionaire what was the most useful financial tip he had ever been given. This is what he told me and I’m grateful.

Date notes. Date everything you write – top right-hand corner – and always include the year.

6. Always check your bank balance. Banks make errors.

I wrote this for the financial literacy course for 1st year university students in Newcastle.

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The national debt and the budget overspend

The national debt and the budget overspend

Shirley Conran

Political smokescreen-speak may well confuse two vital  items:
the national debt and the budget overspend.

The national debt is the total amount of money that Britain owed to its lenders and which needs to be repaid.

Every time the Government spends more money than it receives in taxes, there is a budget overspend – the amount that needs to be borrowed to bridge the gap for that year’s spending.

Every time the Government overspends, the amount of money borrowed will add to the national debt.

Whatever Government we get, it will do what it tells us not to do: it will recklessly overspend, with no clear, explicit plan for repayment, and it will try to conceal this with political smokescreen-speak.

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Mother Stuff

Mother Stuff

Today, if I were twenty, I would decide not to have children because I would not want the stressful and expensive life of today’s working mother. It can cost more to run a child than it costs to run a Rolls Royce. Childcare is not tax deductible as an expense of working, like a chauffeur or a secretary. But without childcare, a mother – and some fathers – cannot work.

I would not want to spend their evenings and weekends doing the system – support work that children involve. (Statistically, mothers do far more work in the home than fathers.)

I would not want to give up – for 18 years – holidays, evenings out, most new clothes, hairdos, personal interests and the satisfaction of work and pay in order to care non-stop for someone I have not met… a baby.

I love my two sons passionately. I don’t regret the two children I had – but neither do I regret the other children that I didn’t have.

Shirley Conran.

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MONEY STUFF ebook by Shirley Conran

Money Stuff by Shirley ConranDOWNLOAD NOW


MONEY STUFF is a do-it-yourself 6-step maths course for Real Life.

And it’s FREE

MONEY STUFF can be used as a starter or as a refresher, a complete maths course for anyone that follows the GCSE syllabus. Successfully tested over two years in school, university and by working women, MONEY STUFF gets good feedback from students, teachers, educational professionals and mothers who want to help with homework.

MONEY STUFF connects maths to Real Life. For example: How to split a pizza bill, understand mobile phone offers and fuel tariffs.

MONEY STUFF also relates maths to real ambitions. Want to be famous? Use MONEY STUFF to figure your royalties, check that people aren’t ripping you off… Want to run a restaurant? You’ll need numbers for recipe quantities, you’ll need to understand profit margins, so you know how much to charge.

‘I am sure students will become confident in mathematics and never again say, ‘I can’t do maths’.
Keith Pledger, Former Chair of Examiners at Edexcel
(Keith writes more on

‘Shirley Conran has brought maths alive and made it relevant. This will be a must-have book for everyone who wants to make a success of life.’
Caroline Shott, CEO, The Learning Skills Foundation

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Do what’s urgent and leave the rest till later


Recently I attacked  the final knotty problems to prepare the Money Stuff international $ edition, which is metric, for readers in the USA and the rest of the world. This is only available outside the UK because of Apple’s copyright situation.

The last problems are always the ones that take three times longer than you expect. Because I was dreading them, my son Sebastian said that I should take five of the problems, put them in any order and do the one at the top!

I’ve always worked in businesses where priorities change constantly and many find this difficult to deal with. My mantra has always been “do what’s urgent and leave the rest till later” – this week ‘later’ came, and I’ve been sorting out my office – all the filing and even organising the pens!

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By Susan Miller

The look of joy on a teenager’s face – often after being told they are useless at maths and don’t pay enough attention in class – when after a couple of hours of efficient teaching it dawns on them that they can do maths is “priceless”.

That look is why best-selling author, journalist and world-class communicator Shirley Conran, aged 85, has dedicated the last fourteen years to maths education. This year she founded The Maths Anxiety Trust. She is sure of the importance of the Trust’s efforts. “According to the American National Science Foundation 80% of the jobs created in the next decade will require maths and science skills.”

A 2012 article in the Guardian reported that two million people in the UK suffer from Maths Anxiety, described as a feeling of fear about maths. As Conran points out: “If it was smallpox, that would be a national disaster and there would be immediate action to stamp it out.”

Conran believes that schoolchildren who think they are no good at maths become adults who are labelled as stupid – by themselves and others. A possible pattern emerges as they pass on their Maths Anxiety to their children. Conran says it’s not the parent or child who is wrong but the teaching of maths in the UK. “A good mathematician is not always a good maths teacher,” she says.

Conran’s work started in 2004; in a bookshop, Conran searched for a good maths textbook for her god-daughter: she did not find one. “The instructions were inadequate, the author did not communicate well and the writing was dull – so those text books did not engage the reader,” she says.

After further research, she decided to write her own a maths course. She wrote and – extensively tested – MONEY STUFF, an interactive eBook maths course for girls (on iPad), which does not need a teacher and costs nothing – it is free.

Also in 2004, Conran also founded a small voluntary group, Maths Action, to improve maths performance in Britain. In 2015, with a small group of friends, she decided to focus on Maths Anxiety because this not only affects individuals but UK productivity: members of the Confederation for British Industry complain that at workforce entry level, they pay over a £billion per year for remedial courses in maths and English.

 In 2016 Shirley Conran was presented with an Honorary Fellowship by University College London (UCL ].

The author of books, such as Superwoman and Lace, that have sold round the world in millions, Conran funds her own campaign work with money made from her best-selling books.   She is now working on Maths Anxiety: The Handbook for Parents and Teachers.

This year, Maths Anxiety Day will be held on 13 June 2018 after a lunch at the House of Commons hosted by Nicky Morgan, MP, a lunch at the House of Lords and an evening Summit at London University for stars of the maths world and other educational experts, at which Justine Greening, MP will speak of the importance of maths to social equality.

As a grand-mother and someone who has “always wanted to try and improve life for other women”, Conran is deeply concerned about what the future holds for the younger generation, especially those who already have Maths Anxiety.

And Maths Anxiety is a very real phenomenon, measurable on rating scales. In fact, brain scans show that the area of the brain that is triggered when someone experiences Maths Anxiety overlaps with the same region as that affected by bodily harm.

Awarded the OBE in 2004 for services to equality, the founder of the Work-Life Balance Trust in 2002 and many other campaigns, Conran is proudest of her maths work. “I am probably the only person who writes about maths who was a B- maths student at school.”

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A step by step guide to speaking maths

A step by step guide to speaking maths

For fourteen years I have talked to many mathematicians, and – speaking as a professional interviewer – sometimes I have found that very difficult.

Recently, I blurted this out to a revered mathematician and – to my surprise – he understood what I meant. And this is what he told me.

1. Mathematicians are very IMPATIENT people.

2. A good mathematician is not necessarily a good teacher. However, a good teacher can learn – relatively quickly – to teach up to and including Key 3 maths.

3. When talking to each other, mathematicians have no communication problems, but they can have difficulty when talking to a student because what is then needed is a restrictive language with a smaller vocabulary, for each age and ability.

boy with shades on steps
Imagine a staircase, said my friendly mathematician. At the top of the staircase two maths teachers, Pat and Alex, are happily chatting to each other about maths.

On the bottom step stands a five-year-old. On the second step stands a
six-year-old, and so on. The maths teachers cannot easily adjust their communication level about maths to either of them… or a ten-year-old or a fourteen-year-old.

But a good maths teacher needs to be able to communicate well about maths on every level of the staircase.

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M is for Money

M is for Money

Megan Powell Vreeswijk

Megan Powell Vreeswijk


Megan Powell Vreeswijk, the entrepreneurial advisor at Loughborough University, she is also as one of Nesta’s accredited Creative Enterprise Trainers for the British Council. Megan runs the very exciting project at Loughborough called The Studio.

Loughborough is a designers’ university and its students are inventors. Megan advises students on how to make the most of their inventions: how to commercialise them, market them and how to set up their own companies.

Megan offers an online weekly consultation for students. This will lead to an e-book,for first-year students on how to help them to look after their money. It will be called ‘M is for Money’. It’s part of a series of student ebooks, the first of which was called ‘U is for University’.

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Big Money

BIG MONEY.   It’s good news that – only four years after she released her first album – singer Adele is making £80,000 a day. Not quite as well-paid, at an average of £102,000 a week, are the players at Manchester City, Britain’s best-paid Football Club.

I’m always happy to hear that someone is making big money because that means it’s possible. Envy gets you nowhere and eventually it sours you – visibly.

BIGGER MONEY.  A businessman, appointed to the board of an NHS Trust, recently told the Times that it took him six months to get the finance department – which employed 250 people – to produce a profit and loss statement. They had never produced one before!!!!!

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