Nearly September

Well. A busy summer. But fun.

A few days in London in July – went to see Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the Barbican Centre, by the RSC. Absolutely amazing. The special effects (holograms) were something to see. Really, really good. London is just so busy and fraught, but so wonderful at the same time. All sorts of different people, ways of dressing, living, everything. And the food was excellent.

Then mid August stayed a couple of nights in Brighton, saw almost the whole family in one go! actually got to swim in the sea, which is just one of my very favourite things to do, then off to Southampton, stayed in a different hotel there, and spent some time with ED and LCS. Lovely. Just lovely. I’d made a Bakewell Layer Cake and a carrot cake, both tray bakes, and they went down rather well, I will say. Mm.

All the grandchildren are just a joy. Oldest one will be 16 tomorrow – gasp! where did the time go? He’s No 7 in the UK for his age group for racing breast-stroke. Wonderful, just wonderful. Youngest one is now 5 months old. Bless.

Garden is looking great, although I’m doing battle with the pesky slugs, which are trying to kill my new asters. Bring it on.

Knitting going well, no pics because they’re all for Xmas gifts. New yarns in stock in local yarn shop, I have a bagful of beautiful stuff and am starting to get through it now.

Thing is, when there’s lots of things going on (see above) I get all fraught and panicky. It’s like there’s too much input, and I can’t cope with it all. I can sort of deal with the planning and booking and stuff, but then I’m done in. Luckily I was able to sleep when I needed to all summer, so it’s all ok, but it would be just great if I could handle it all better than I do.

They’re taking my Disability Living Allowance away. I knew they would, but what a bummer. Also I had paid enough National Insurance Contributions to be entitled (eventually, in another 4 years) to my full state pension, but now they’ve changed the rules and it includes people like me (how does that work then? they’re allowed to change the rules retrospectively?) , so I have to pay in more, but I need to check whether it’s going to be worth it.

Been watching some excellent tv. A four-part series called The State, which told the story of four Brits travelling to Syria to join the so-called ISIS. Harrowing, of course. But interesting too. Thoroughly researched, the story told of how the main characters became disillusioned, to say the least, with the regime, the strict rules, the savage punishment for even minor infractions, and the injustice and stupidity of it all. But what it didn’t explain is why these people went all that way, and why they didn’t know it would be like that. There must have been an excellent marketing policy, full of half-truths, in place, is all I can think.

Then something called “No More Boys and Girls?” which was fascinating. A class of 7 year olds in a school on the Isle of Wight were followed through a half term of changes instigated by their teacher with the help of a doctor. To start with, all the girls seriously underestimated themselves, and the boys seriously overestimated themselves. Girls were identified by both genders as “pretty, mothers, nurses” and boys as “strong, brave”. By the end of the term, girls were “strong, clever, kind” and so were the boys. Clothing with slogans on came in for particular criticism, as well as the distinction between “girl” and “boy” toys. One of the most intransigent boys turned out to be kind, empathetic, and understanding. One of the least confident girls actually wept when she did really well at something! Very interesting. They brought in people who bucked the stereotype of their job, for example a female car mechanic, a male make-up artist, a male dancer, and the children were amazed, and loved it! It changed all their perceptions of what girls can do, and how boys can behave. I wonder if the pressure for boys to be strong and win at stuff has the same effect as the pressure for girls to be pretty? whether or not it does, it’s important to strive for equality. The school is expanding the programme to all the classes, and the teacher of the class, who is lovely, has done a presentation to the Institute of Education. Excellent.

The cat had a small adventure a few weeks ago – a gash on her leg which needed 3 stitches, which when you know she only weighs 3 kilos, is quite a lot for a small cat. We don’t know how she did it, but it was quite deep, and involved the (expensive) emergency vet, anaesthesia, wearing The Cone of Shame or baby pyjamas cut off at the waist to stop her gnawing at the sutures. Luckily we’re insured so got most of the money back. And she’s fine now.

That’s about it for now.  If I think of anything else I’ll blog again.

 

 

 

 

Sexism

Watched Louis Theroux’ new documentary on Jimmy Savile on Sunday night. Appalling. But here’s the thing. Jimmy Savile’s behaviour was dreadful and abusive, even for the time, but there was a different culture then. Although if, in my mid-twenties, a middle-aged man had told me I was too old for him, alarm bells would have rung loud and clear.

I was at work in Birmingham (UK) city centre in the 1970s and it was normal, just totally normal, for men to whistle at women as they walked past, to comment on female bodies, to say whether or not they’d want to have sex with a woman.(“Yeah, I’d do you, darling!” – well, I wouldn’t “do” you, mate. Not the best chat-up line, really, now is it?) In my lunch hour, when I went shopping, it was common for men to shout stuff in my ear about how I looked. You were expected, then, to be grateful for the attention. Grateful. Yes. I felt very uncomfortable about it all and just ignored the shouters. I’m no great beauty, not particularly outstanding in any way, and wasn’t then either, but because I had a reasonable figure, that’s what attracted the attention.

Women were thought to dress for the men in the workplace. My ex-husband thought so too, so when I wore a smart skirt and blouse for work, he was irritated, because it was clearly, in his head, for the men. But in my head, I just wanted to look nice and smart, and to compete with the other women in the office.

And, like in Mad Men, if anybody made a pass at you, and you turned them down, it could only possibly be because you were “spoken for”. Not because you didn’t fancy them back. You were supposed to be glad. Pleased. Hmm.

Things are better now, but there are still many men who don’t get it. One example is the use of “Ms”. In the dictionary, Ms is the female equivalent of Mr.  I have this theory that some men feel they can “chat up” a Miss, have to be respectful to a “Mrs”, and don’t know what to do about a “Ms”, because it’s not clear whether she is “available” or “not”. How about, guys, you treat women as equals, respect women as people? Huh? Nobody knows whether a man is married or not (unless there’s a ring) because you’re all called “Mr”. And we manage just fine addressing you.

And don’t even get me started on Trump.