You might be interested to know what I’ve been up to this week. Well, work-wise, I’m finishing off a short story for a competition on a Jane Austen theme, I’m also writing a review of a book of short stories by various authors. But the bonus ball this week comes from a meeting last weekend with a publisher. Turns out they are accepting submissions now, so I got some poems together and sent them off. Apart from that I’ve been deciding what to do with the novel and writing an account of my recent dark experiences. So – a full week!
All this and Morecambe and Wise too!
Had a rather busy day yesterday, what with compiling a poetry collection to go off at the end of the week, then going to You and Me friendship group in the afternoon and Drink and Think in the evening. The latter was very good, I thought: a useful discussion which, though it didn’t reach any conclusions, did help to dissect the whole vexed question of Political Correctness and whether or not it has ‘gone mad’. Amongst other contributions we heard the sad story of someone who was hounded out of a job for using the word ‘Queen’ – not as a homophobic insult (though I’m not sure how insulting the word really is in that context) but meaning the monarch herself, my namesake. It sounded like a case of someone cynically using legislation to get someone they didn’t like out of a job – and that sucks. So, too, we decided, was using PC as a means of ticking boxes or looking as if you’re doing the right thing rather than actually wanting to do the right thing or believing in doing the right thing. It’s knee-jerking rather than conviction – and that, in my view, is where things have gone wrong. As I pointed out, if I’m the only woman in a particular workplace and people are making inappropriate comments, I want something behind me: I want a framework of legislation supported by social attitudes, otherwise I’m fighting these battles alone.
During the discussion it occurred to me to think about the importance of listening. This is not something most of us are good at – and I am no exception – but we can practise it, and through practice, get better. Here’s a great initiative I came across recently:
So here’s an idea: then next conversation you have with someone, make it a rule to really listen – even if they’re talking utter bullshit. Come to think of it, especially if they’re talking utter bullshit – the harder you listen, the more likely they are to realise that they’re not making sense.
And here’s some space to listen to the universe:
PS Oh, and the title was just about Dark Matter being a sort of ‘here-be-dragons’ sort of explanation for something when they don’t know what is actually there.
I don’t have any reason to put that title up there – it just came to me and I thought it was too good to waste. But I do have some thoughts on death (see below).
Back in the 80’s, I used regularly to buy * Viz comic, a sort of Beano for adults; and one of my favourite characters was Finbarr Saunders. Poor old Finbarr sees sexual innuendo everywhere (fnarr, fnarr) but when sex is actually happening – or offered – he hasn’t a clue. The puns are inventive, saucy and sometimes horrifying and the pictures are always great.
* Note the unsplit infinitive
What took me back to the 80’s was watching Channel 4’s ‘This is England’ – they recreate the period brilliantly and without stereotyping it. Good stuff. In the 80’s I was in and out of work and mostly doing jobs I hated until I came to Leicester and somehow found my way into Adult Ed at Leicester A E College. I taught ESOL there – at least, it wasn’t called ESOL then; it was ESL. I think. Or maybe ELSE. Or something. I wish they wouldn’t keep changing the name of things – it means little or nothing to the students, who totally miss all the nuances.
Arrangements have apparently been made for Sarah’s funeral – it’s going to be next Thursday and apparently there will be a ‘dress code’. I’m imagining the request will be to wear bright colours as that’s what she liked. In this case I think that’d be fine, but sometimes I think wearing bright colours to a funeral can represent a denial of death and the attendant grief. That’s why we still need the social forms; when someone dies it may be very formal to give someone your condolences, but it matters – it really does. There’s nothing worse than having lost someone only to have everyone you meet feeling awkward and avoiding the subject. It needs to be acknowledged and dealt with, and so give someone your condolences is the best way to do this. The wearing of mourning, although taken to grotesque extremes during the Victorian era, was at least a kind of signal to other people that you were in a state of grief. Nowadays we just have to guess. All of which is to deplore the fact that death has now taken over from sex as the great taboo.
DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH!!!!
HA HA HA HA HA
OK that’s enough.
Tonight I shall be celebrating my publication with Peter at Mirch Marsala and during the day I shall be getting my poetry collection ready to send off.