Six Weeks Until Christmas

Six week until Christmas; unbelievable.  I have written a list of cards I need to send. I’m going to Northern Ireland for a week at the start of December, so I think it’d be a good idea to get at least some cards written before I go. The price of stamps is a major incentive to cull the list, but it still seems very long. i have put the letter e by a number of names, meaning I shall send e-cards. Another group come under the delivered-by-hand option, but since the Post office  has been privatised I am less and less keen to boost the bank accounts of share holders.

But at times like these it’s also important to keep in touch, to remember our shared humanity, our overseas friendships, to write a line or two to people who we like but seldom see. The most dystopian forecaster probably wouldn’t have come up with the past twenty-four months. Refugees continue to arrive traumatised and exhausted in leaky boats meant for far fewer people on far shorter journeys. Reports of attempted genocide, with footage for proof flood our screens when we watch the news. Allegations of sexual abuse, of men  using superior power to manipulate and control women in the film industry fill acres of newspapers. Continue reading

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A Case for Jane Marple

I have eczema on my eyelids. This is a first for me. I get the odd patch of eczema in other places, but never before on my eyelids. It’s sore. It’s pink. I thought to begin with the soreness was in my eyes, then the penny dropped. So now I have calendular cream smeared on them. I look a bit greasy and shiny in a very unhip way, but it definitely feels more comfortable. Continue reading

Over-Attachment Therapy

At some point I am going to move home. Don’t hold your breath, it’s not imminent or anything like. But I am starting to look around at other neighbourhoods.

I’d like to stay in this neighbourhood, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible, or at least I have to face the more than real likelihood that it isn’t.

And that’s a problem. I may have to have therapy. I’m not joking. I’ve lived in this patch of south London for all my adult life. It’s become part of me. I have become part of it. My life’s history has become totally enmeshed with this place. I realise my memories of how it was are now of interest to local and social historians. How many of us still remember the milliner’s that vanished when a swathe of small shops was demolished to make room for a supermarket?

Not many. Continue reading

Writing aloud

Last year  a man who had boasted of groping women was elected President of the United States. He dismissed his comments as locker room talk, and many women still voted for him. Older Nephew reckons he’s been in a fair few locker rooms in his time, and this is not locker room talk. Women who didn’t vote for him  registered how  blatant sexism and misogyny was again disregarded as something minor, unimportant.

On this side of the pond a senior politician has resigned and apologised for behaviours which he says were acceptable ten or fifteen years ago but not now. They were not acceptable ten or fifteen years ago. They have never been acceptable, but they have been accepted. there is a difference.  As Vicky Featherstone, the Royal Court theatre’s artistic director, sad in this interview with the Guardian newspaper, women have put up with this behaviour too long while knowing that some men have abused their positions of power.

Here’s a little of what she has to say:

“The reason I’m so angry is I’m so shocked that we’d got to this point and we’d all accepted it. We all knew about it! We. All. Knew.” What exactly did she know a month ago? “I knew that pretty much every single woman I know had suffered sexual harassment in her life. I knew that, and I’d just accepted that. I’m hardwired to accept it. I’m a feminist, and when I talk about it, it shocks me. But I had literally accepted it, like I accept that we have a class system. I’d accepted it like I accept that there are homeless people. And that’s just bizarre – but it’s what we’ve done. And then suddenly someone speaks out, and you start to think, why are we as a society accepting of this situation?”

Read the rest, here’s the link.

More of the boys’ room joking was apparent on HIGNFY on Friday night. The two teams were men, the guest arbiter, a woman. When they joshed and trivialised the women’s complaints, I, and I imagine thousands of other women, felt that old ignored and sinking feeling. I’d missed the start of the programme and the introductions, I didn’t recognise the man next to Ian Hislop. He deftly demonstrated his lack of understanding of the issue when he talked about Michael Fallon’s harassment of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer when instead of condemning Fallon’s behaviour he described his actions as brave, on the grounds that Ms Hartley-Brewer is “a big strong girl”. Continue reading

Vegfest 2017: Reality

Interest in fake cheese

I arrived at Olympia around two, and at first sight my worst fears seemed to be realised – long queues of people, many wearing t shirts with vegan slogans, at a food stall selling meals out of mock meat. I had my own lunch with me, and it looked a lot nicer than most of the stuff other people were eating.

Looking at the list of exhibitors I was surprised to see a number of animal charities including Cats’ Protection and Mayhew, and very pleased to see Veggie Pets were there. Ever since I visited Edgar’s Mission in Australia last year I have been keen to find out how possible it is to feed a cat a healthy vegetarian diet. It turns out that taurine, something cats need to be well is now made synthetically and that meat and fish based cat foods use this man made product.

The stall had lots of products for dogs, not so many for cats. Just two types of biscuit. I bought samples for MasterB to try, knowing I would be back again on Sunday and could get a big bag if he liked them. It seems I can buy tinned food online. Well how about that? Continue reading

Backing the Booker

In Twitterland, Sabina @sabaone responded to the news of the latest book to win the Booker Prize with this comment:

some of the booker winners baffle me. have read God of small things and White tiger and was not impressed by either

I loved The God of Small Things, and thought this year’s winner sounded pretty interesting when I read about it after it was shortlisted. The only Booker prize winners I have tried and failed to read are Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, which I hope to try again and enjoy, and Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, which I am not going to try again. However, there are many years when I have not read the winner, and 2015’s A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James remains on my to read list.

But I loved Possession: A Romance by AS Byatt, (1990) which was the first novel I managed to read after my father died and which felt like a requited love affair. Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring up the Bodies (2012) by Hilary Mantel are in my all time top ten of best novels I have ever read or hope to read. I’d never have read Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (2013) if I hadn’t heard about it because of Booker. Continue reading

VegFest 2017

This weekend I have tickets for VegFest, not a music festival with vegan bands, but a food festival celebrating vegetarian food. I can’t go to the whole thing as I am working parts of the weekend. I’ve been looking forward to it, but last night I saw a programme with a piece about vegetarian food and now I am a bit worried.

All the food they featured mimicked meat. There was the line about vegetarian food that could tempt meat eaters; a comment, based on the fact that so much of the meat mimicking stuff would have passed the blindfold test, that vegetarian food has come a long way. I wasn’t giving the programme my full attention, but my expectations of the weekend’s VegFest have abated. One producer who made veggie burgers that taste like meat listed the various ingredients she uses that give the taste, texture and whatever else of meat. In other words, the things I dislike.

So will VegFest be about what I think of as vegetarianism, or a prosletysing force for people who’d like to cut meat out of their diets but still feel like they eating it? The Linda McCartney form of vegetarianism. Fine if that’s what you want, but I’m beginning to feel it should have another name to distinguish it from vegetarianism that doesn’t have any interest in recreating meat out of vegetables. Continue reading