I have a confession to make. It’s very odd, but for the first year ever, since I was about 11, I have no interest in Wimbledon. I don’t know why this is: it could be the football which means the BBC have given it less than their usual dedicated coverage; or the fact that Murray is out much sooner than he ought to have been – whatever the reason I have seen a few matches but it has failed to excite me. To understand just how weird this is, you have to realise that Wimbledon has been a feature of my calendar every single year since 1966. I have only missed a couple: once when I was living Up North and didn’t have a TV, and once when I was living in Madrid and only had access to channels like TVE 1 and Telecinco. Every channel in Spain has adverts on; and the news is so frenetic you can’t follow it at all, never mind the sport. Which reminds me, have you ever tried listening to the tennis on the radio? It’s something else. By the time they’ve described a back-hand cross-court volley with top-spin which lands just short of the baseline, about three more shots have been played. Weird.
Today I have been mostly… finishing off my memoir. Yay! I have now reached the requisite 50,000 words (that’s about 150 pages) and have reached it in about six weeks starting from a base of 6000. Now begins the work of revising… Still I think I shall give it a rest for a week or two as I have to do my tax return and reapply for tax credits. Joy.
Have a good weekend. We shall be going to the cathedral to see the new garden and to Serenity, a Sci-fi event, on Sunday where I shall be poeting.
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!
As I was Tomato-ing yesterday I came across an article in The Guardian. It was a review of a book in which the author seemed to be saying that multiculturalism isn’t a good idea because – and I quote, from memory at least – ‘We are more comfortable when we are with our own kind.’ Now, leaving aside the question ‘what is our own kind?’ and assuming that he is not specifically being racist as he doesn’t say one race is necessarily superior, just that white English people should hang out with white English people, there is still an awful lot wrong with this statement. If you’re going to stick with what is comfortable, well – I am more comfortable sitting on the sofa watching TV than I am getting out my laptop and writing a story. Should I therefore stick with the sofa? Of course not. Nothing is ever achieved by sticking to your comfort zone – and the likely consequence of people sticking with their own is that their horizons will shrink and shrink until you get the kind of ridiculous parochialism I experienced when living in Leigh, Lancashire. I told my friends one day that I was going to Wigan. ‘What d’yer wan’ go thur fer?’ was the response. ‘They’re all pie-eyters over thur.’
That was the local name for Wiganners in Leigh, though I never understood why: they also had a very entertaining name for people from the nearby town of Westhoughton. These were known as ‘cay-yeds’ or ‘cow-heads’ because, so the story goes, there was once a local farmer who kept cows. One day he installed a new gate which he had made himself – and when one of his cows got its head stuck in this gate and couldn’t get it out, rather than chop up his precious gate, he chopped the cow’s head off!
In the local dialect the town of Leigh was called ‘Leyth’ and nearby Atherton and Tyldesley were known as ‘Bent’ and Bongs’. I spent a couple of cold and unprofitable evenings once helping distribute a local alternative magazine called ‘Leyth, Bent and Bongs’ round all the pubs in the district and not stopping for even one beer! I was most disgruntled, and the locals were deeply uninterested in the magazine’s ‘Private-eye’ style reportage.
Here’s a site Mark was looking at this morning:
I’m more comfortable with mockney, myself. Perhaps I should have stayed in London…
PS Oh, and I’ve started a group on Facebook for peri- and post-menopausal women to share their experiences. It’s called Crazy Crones, so if you’re interested send me a request.
Michael Foot. He was a man of principle, a man you couldn’t help respecting, even if you disagreed with him (which I didn’t). He grew up in the age of public debates and was reportedly an excellent orator, though no good at all on TV, and no match for Thatcher in a head-to-head. He once said about her that she had no imagination, and therefore no compassion – a very pertinent comment, I thought.
Watched “The Truman Show” last night. A great film – a unique film, I think. I won’t tell you the story in case you haven’t seen it – but it totally stunned me the first time I saw it. Jim Carrey is excellent as a quiet, unassuming character who conquers his fears to find his real self. I am thinking of using it with my students to illustrate maya.*
Got on quite well yesterday: the novel is taking shape. Almost finished “the God Illusion” as well.
Posting some work to “Mslexia” today – a short story and a flash fiction piece.
*the idea that the physical world is an illusion and the spirit is the true reality. Interestingly, Dawkins turns this on its head and says the exact opposite. In “The God Delusion” he dismisses the “experience” argument for God (ie that people believe in god because they have religious experiences) – but those experiences he cites are of the “hearing voices and seeing visions” type, whereas I think the more important experiences are of the “transforming lives and overcoming obstacles” kind. More of this anon… or possibly not.
This is a response to something which happened yesterday: Carol Thatcher (whom I have always thought a reasonable human being in spite of her parentage) apparently referred to someone in the Green Room of a daytime TV programme as “looking like a golliwog” – and the comedian Jo Brand, who was there at the time, reported this to the media. Now, I’m not sure what I think about Jo Brand welching on what was essentially a private conversation, but I also think that such a comment is not only unacceptable in public is also unacceptable in private. Which led me to ask myself a question: how do we police ourselves? And what would happen if we didn’t? So here’s the question I asked myself:
What manner of nig
lurks in my drains –
what kind of slag
hides under the carpet –
and what fairy
crouches in my cellar
to fall asleep?
Here in Britain we have a national crisis, precipitated (literally!) by several inches of snow. This has given rise to great joy, because we can now indulge the national pastime of Moaning. In fact we can push the boat out (not literally) because there are two major things to moan about: the snow itself, with all its attendant problems such as losing money, trains being cancelled, blah blah blah (incidentally this brings the further joyous opportunity to give another outing to the phrase “the wrong sort of snow”.) – and secondly, how we are Never Prepared. In vain do I stand in the supermarket queue and try to persuade people that we can’t compare ourselves with Canada because they have this every winter from October to March whereas we only have it once in every eighteen years – logic does not enter the equation. Nothing must deprive people of the chance to gripe, in fact they pounce on the legitimate opportunity to use the phrases “like a third-world country”; “two inches and the country grinds to a halt” not to mention the bonus of being able to work in a boast at the heart of the moan – a sort of “boan-us point”: (“When I was in Finland they didn’t have this problem”; “Yes, I used to live in Switzerland and they didn’t grind to a halt every winter”… and so on.) You would think that someone who lived in Switzerland would have observed that they have snow every winter, regular as – well, clockwork, and can therefore be expected to be well-prepared, whereas we poor sods have to cope with scattered showers, sunny intervals, hurricanes, floods, blazing sunshine (I think I remember that once) and now, snow – all at the drop of a hat.
So stop moaning!
Got to leave you now – I have to go and look at my daughter’s snowman in the yard. God, it’s cold! My feet are like blocks of ice! And I hate having to wear lots of layers! Where’s my scarf….I don’t know; two bloody inches and the entire country grinds to a….