No surprise to learn I am here because MasterB is enjoying Outside Time.
The last two mornings he has woken me up at five and asked (loudly) to go out. This is exactly what Cat used to do. It worked well with Cat and it has worked well with MasterB this weekend as I have been out most of each day, and I am glad to know he has enjoyed himself in the early morning light. It also works as I fall asleep as soon as I get back into bed.
Aunt’s obit appeared in a national newspaper this weekend. I was a bit surprised to learn it has been online for month. A friend emailed me tonight to say she had read it. She described it as ‘lovely’, which pleased me, as a) Aunt was lovely and b) I wrote it. Nearly four months since Aunt died. I hope others who didn’t know her and who don’t know me will read it and marvel at her resilience. The editor at the paper was full of admiration for her. She emailed me several times to ask for more information about Aunt. I like the thought that Aunt’s life may be an inspiration others.
Also covered in the paper was the election of a new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who I hope will take his duties rather more seriously than his predecessor, the (in this household) unlamented Boris Johnson, who confuses crowd-pleasing with responsibility. Khan is a Londoner; born and brought up here, not many miles south of chez IsobelandCat. His campaign was about unity and hope, while the main opposition was focused on fear and division. A leading member of Her Majesty’s Government, Theresa May, questioned whether Khan would be a safe pair hands in the face of extremism and terrorist attacks as in his capacity as a lawyer he has worked on human rights cases.
Is Ms May suggesting that espousing human rights is to be hand in glove with terrorists? If so, then find me guilty; I have been a member of Amnesty International all my adult life. It is the terrorists’ lack of respect for human rights I find so horrific. I don’t expect my own government to suggest that somehow some people are less entitled to those rights, less human in other words. We all know what happens when we see others as less human than ourselves, and it’s not pretty.
Even more confusing and jawdropping was the reaction from various other countries to Sadiq Khan’s election. Londonistan was a favourite word. His religion was made much of. Had Zac Goldsmith been elected would his Jewishness been a similar focus of their attention? Or the candidates who upheld Christianity but not the bit about loving they neighbour as thyself? Somehow I don’t think so.
Yesterday I met a charming man from the US. He was wearing a bowler hat which was quirky, but not particularly bizarre, given the range of clothing people wear in the capital. However, as our acquaintance grew, I learned it was something he had really wanted to get when in London. Something typically British. Maybe he hadn’t noticed that no one else was wearing one.
I think that some of these reactions to Sadiq Khan’s election are due to an outdated idea of London. I’d go further; an idea of London as it has never been. A London made up entirely of white men wearing pinstriped suits and bowler hats, carrying furled umbrellas and carefully folded copies of the Financial Times; a London of cor-blimey-strike-a-light urchins who have stepped out of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!; Women in low cut gowns selling oranges; cheeky chappies; and Mary Quant look-a-likes stepping in and out of Minis driven by Michael Caine.
An Australian friend once confessed that when she arrived in London she was startled to find herself in a modern, diverse city where it actually doesn’t rain very much.
As a journalist who has more or less given up the job for reasons given elsewhere, I am quietly jealous of the money these journalists are earning from these fantasy pieces about London. Also quietly scathing. The research will be minimal; the recycled hackneyed clichés will roll easily off the keyboard; it’s lazy journalism that paints a picture of London and Sadiq Khan that is as far away from reality as you can get.
Oh and yes, I did vote for him, sort of. I cast my first vote for Sian Berry of the Green Party, and my second for Sadiq Khan. It was a form of tactical voting because I didn’t think the Green candidate would win, but I wanted that endorsement of green policies to be registered.
Welcome to Londonistan.