Boo boo in select company

Boo boo in select company
Something to say?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Misplaced Respect for Marriage

My friend and mother's sister, Baby, got me thinking. She claimed that, in India, women have to be married to be respected. Now, Baby is a couple of years younger than me, so this is not a generational gap.

   I wondered whether it is my history of divorce and fecklessness that makes me disagree. Baby is one of the most gentle and 'spiritual' women I know. She is bright, articulate, well-loved, by me included. But not for being married.

   I think the arranged marriages in India are a huge gamble. I lost on mine. So, how do I find my self-respect? I have thought about this for many years.

   I like me when I am less self-centred, more caring and willing to engage with others afflicted in diverse ways. I don't always succeed. I like me when I make the effort to learn new things, find new friends, heal breaches within or without my family, consider myself and admit my mistakes.

   When I suffer loss in various ways, I remind myself of something my father said to me when I was in a very deep hole, in 1966. 'Look below you, at the people who are worse off than you! Not the ones happily above you.' At the moment the hole I am in is even deeper, but I summon that wisdom of his, back. The Iraquis, the Syrians, the severely disabled, the incurably ill. I cannot do much for anyone at near eighty years. But I make tentative steps forward. I try to help in small and hesitant ways. It makes me less self-centred, more part of the human community. And I am grateful for the support I receive from friends and my family. I depend on them. This is as it should be. What is there not to respect?

   This makes me feel worthwhile - respect myself. This is the only kind of respect that matters to me. But affection? I'll take it whichever way it comes.

   I like to think it is important that my life is about what I do as a person, the work I do teaching, the writing I do, the people I consider my friends.

   So, to the young people in my family, I must say - find your own way, work out your value systems independent of others and try to be as little self-centred as you can be. Husbands? They'll soon be dime a dozen even in India. Especially if the girl babies get killed off before they are quite born.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A very short story

For my friends in the Writers' Hangout, talking about the length of short stories.

For the Sake of Daniel
Anand Nair

Daniel put his latchkey in the front door and placed his satchel down carefully on the floor. He sniffed. It was that kind of house.
Stale cigarettes, hamburgers and burnt toast. Nothing new. He knew what to expect. His mum was sprawled on the sofa. He saw the sadness-lines on her face, clear as she slept, and the parcel at her feet. Shiny pink material and tassels.
Shit! Dad would go ballistic. There was no money for tops one size too small; his school trousers showed six inches of socks. When would she learn?
He went to the kitchen and found his dinner – burnt sausages and mash with peas floating in their yellow liquid. He threw the sausages and soggy peas away and put a fresh batch on the hob.  While the water for the peas boiled he emptied the ashtray near his mother and took her parcel upstairs to hide in her wardrobe.
Daniel looked at the clock. Dad would be home in half an hour. He ran to the sitting room and sprayed it with air freshener. Anything to take all those smells away before his father came in. He rushed back and forth laying the table for three and grabbed a packet of crisps from the larder to keep him going till dinner.
Suddenly he had an urge to leave them to it. Catch the Circle Line to somewhere? He could go round and round till he knew where he wanted to go. But who would stop his dad when he lost it and smacked his mother’s bewildered face? Brute! Wait till I get big, he thought. Bigger’n you.
Next morning, as he came down for school, his mother was at the fence talking to Sally next door. Nosy cow.

‘I would leave him, but for the sake of Daniel,’ he heard his mother say. You and me  both he thought, as he picked up his satchel and left for school.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

That divine pregnancy

Four days ago, the newspapers and TV were full of the second pregnancy of Kate Middleton. Now I rather like Kate - she does not spend her life preening herself; she is often seen wearing off-the-peg clothes, wearing a costume more than once ... Her hair is clearly not crimped and blow-dried to perdition.

     But, why for Heaven's sake, are we interested in the next royal sprog? The first one is really not considered national property in even the minutest sense. We are, in England, not shown too many pictures of George, the bruiser, though he gets a good airing when Kate and William go on tour to the antipodes.Are the pictures being saved to be sold at vast prices in another decade?? Who is saving them and for whom?

     And beyond all that - there are wars all over the place, Jihadis killing off journalists, an ebola outbreak, which would probably have got much more media time if it had been anywhere but in Africa etc. Many things for the world to ponder about. And of course, for us British, the threatened divorce from Scotland. And what does the Press do? Gawk at the royal couple and Kate's non-existent middle.

     And - is her royal morning sickness of interest to anyone, but herself and her family? There are thousands of women in the same condition, but do we investigate the extent of their nausea?

     Why is the UK so obsessed with the monarchy? My worry is also that Kate will deliver just in time for the Tories to gain a four-point lead in the polls, in April. And poor Miliband will be hammered again for no fault of his, a few weeks before the May general election.

     It could not have been better timed for the Tories.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Scotland is going-going-gone?

Cameron off to Edinburgh to canvass votes for the NO campaign. Whose idea was this anyway to offer Salmond a referendum? And where in the world are referendums of this momentous national importance offered without a two-thirds mandate?

     Cameron will now be remembered as the Prime Minister who gave a large chunk of Britain's heritage and people away for not even a song.  And now, will all of us need passports to hop across the border. Travellers' cheques perhaps? Strip-down security? And can we bring back those magic liquids, which are made in Scotland? I have quite a few friends who love those old malts.

     A separation of Scotland based on a 50% vote will mean it will be ideologically divided right down the middle. How will the NO voters reconcile to this? It's not something that can be altered at the next election, or a few years later when it all gets too much for Alex Salmond, and he's had his fill of playing Primus inter pares.

     Talking of which, may be we should hand over London to that enfant terrible' who is the present mayor.

        I also feel sorry for myself a teeny bit. My old Scottish partner for a brief four years or so will now have to be called a foreigner. He dumped me, true, true, but I rather liked that old renegade.  He had an infinite capacity to laugh at himself. Salmond’s chief problem appears to be that he takes himself far too seriously.

     Let's hope the Scots will wake up to reality before the 18th.

     What a mess!