Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Presumption

No way! Seriously?! I haven't posted since Saturday? What the hell's wrong with me?
Well, actually, I have been interviewing for a job, which I have now been offered and accepted, start Tuesday. There is a weird irony to this, my friend Canadian Karen finishes work next week and long have we plotted world domination - or Ikea at least. But the universe has kept us from our megalomania. MY megalomania.

I was trying to think of a collective noun for writers. I like gang. Mostly because I fancy talking about 'my writing gang', but also because it makes us seem like some kind of bonded bunch of people who might come round your house and aggressively write.

In the same vein, posse. A posse of writers, who saddle up, sling their pens and notebooks over their shoulders and venture forth to root out poor writing in one-horse towns.

I'm also taken by a murder of writers. My writing group, sorry, gang, are like crows in that they are very intelligent and community-minded. We'll also eat almost anything and we squawk a lot.

From somewhere in the ether, the word 'presumption' came to me. I have no explanation or basis for this, simply that I like the sound, 'a presumption of writers'.

But maybe I'll settle for a platter. A platter of writers, we are after all, a veritable salad of writing styles, but we all fit perfectly together and complement each other.

Saturday, 27 August 2011


I have been surprised by the improvement in Laurence's all round attitude and state of mind, as a result of his having given up smoking. To some extent it's because he finds he is able to sleep better. No amount of telling by us that nicotine is a stimulant made its way in, of course, discovery learning is always better.
And then there's the money he's now not spending. Again, a cliché until it becomes your own reality.

I was surprised to learn, and by surprised, I mean horrified, that amongst the US Republican party hopefuls for Presidential candidacy, are some so right wing loony, that Sarah Palin and Mit Romney won't join them. I loved Stewart Lawrance's description of a planned forum for expressing their hatred of humankind in general,

"DeMint's so-called "Freedom Forum" thus promises to be yet another white-hooded gathering of die-hard and highly vocal Republican homophobes."

Don't love the concept though.

And thus my learning curve of right-wing politics continues. Margaret Thatcher was right wing but from an ideological standpoint, whereas she couldn't meet with Sarah Palin, because she's a nutjob and is right-wing because she fundamentally doesn't believe in sharing. And in her turn, Palin is less crazy than Jim deMint et alia because she isn't homophobic enough. Please let it stop there.
How much lower can it go? I don't mean that as a challenge.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Enter Stage Left

It feels like the end of summer, even though that's a month away.

On Monday we had rain, pounding, torrential rain, the first rain of August. It watered the parched grass, and has left my front flower patch smelling of ambient lavender. Beautiful.

But it also beat some of the already autumnal coloured leaves from the trees, and now it seems as though they are patchy. On one side of the park, still summer, the other side sliding into the fall.

This evening, in spite of the lingering, residual heat from the day, as I brought Whisky back into the house after his evening doings, I felt that gentle reminder that September's on her way. Just something intangible in the air.

Yesterday, one of Canada's favourite politicians died. Jack Layton was a man whom everyone seemed to love, although none embraced his politics, he was a sparky, intelligent man who fought hard for gender rights. We knew he was ill, we didn't know how ill. He leaves a gaping hole in the political party that he led, with no obvious successor.

And as though to truly herald the autumn, it seems that Vancouver hosts an annual Zombie walk.
Well why not?

Sunday, 21 August 2011


I have been reading a collection of essays by Alice Walker. I have already learnt several things from her interesting perspective on life, the universe and everything.

In one essay, she talks about the Pause, the turning moment, the silence after achievement. She puts forward some ideas about the feminine. This is different from the theory that femininity is a social construct, so it becomes important to differentiate between the feminine and femininity.

She talks about an Amazonian tribe called the Swa, who hold that women and men have different but equal roles. The men's role is to chop down trees for canoes and firewood, to kill animals when protein is needed, and to make war if necessary.

The women's role is one of nurturing and conserving. They tell the men when to stop. They say when there are enough canoes, enough firewood and animal protein to eat, when to stop the war.
When Swa were brought to North America they perceived too much maleness, they asked when the women were going to tell the men to stop.

Walker goes on to say that after 30 intense years of Feminism, she despairs of 'the ease with which.... women have chosen to erase their gender in language, by calling themselves and each other 'guys'......What does being called 'guys' do to to young women? To little girls? Isn't the media responsible for making it 'cute' to be a guy, as if that was all the Women's Movement was about, turning us into neutered men, into 'guys'.....SO if you've turned in your breasts and ovaries for guyness, you've really lost out...'

She's right, but it's another interesting way of viewing it. She says this is something we should ponder in that pause.

But for now, I will pause and read the new Ikea catalogue, delivered to my almost doorstep on my return from The Static. There are people in our complex who have irritated me and don't deserve an Ikea catalogue, therefore I have taken two.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Different Day, Same Answers

Many churches seem to feel they must compete for the cheesiest quotes on their reader boards. I've driven past one a couple of times that claims, 'There are some questions Google can't answer!'
Well I beg to differ Our Saviour Lutheran. There is no question that Google can't answer, I know because I have tried plumbing in random strings of letters with a question mark at the end, and it always comes up with something.
The answer you get may be meaningless or incorrect, or just plain not what you wanted, but it always gives you something.

I've had a moderately busy week. I went back to New Westminster for another job search related workshop, and I've also been to the admin office of a women's shelter organisation that I'm going to be volunteering at - the office, not the shelter itself.

I'm going to be writing an article for LIB, a new UK feminist magazine, fab.

Not much else really, the weather continues to be sunny and warm, the grass and flowers at the front on the Schloss, continue to be parched.
Mustn't grumble.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Another Wheel Falls Off

Another wheel has fallen off my wagon. I swear it is because Mercury is retrograde, I have an intimate astral connection with Mercury. (Which reminds me of an excellent scene in 'Breaking Bad', ((fulminated mercury))but giddyup).

So, last week, re-entering Canada from the United States, my Permanent Resident card, which has expired, flagged their system, but this time, the man said - in a way that indicated that he really, really meant it - that I needed to talk to NEXUS about this. So I did, today. I went to the NEXUS office at YVR. This seems quite frenetic in comparison to the one I go to in the USA, but mainly it seems because no-one respected that it was NEXUS, and just dumped their arses down on the seats to wait for their flights.

The young woman behind the counter couldn't answer my query, but went and fetched a woman in uniform, who told me in no uncertain terms that henceforth, until my new PR card comes, I must get in the regular lane when coming back to Canada.
This makes the whole thing irritating.

And that's without mentioning that the goalposts on the whole PR card renewal keep being moved further apart. Currently they are quoting 134 days from receipt of your application. I sent mine in in April. They are currently working on April, according to their website, but that is without the good auspices of Canada Post being taken into account, who can easily take several weeks to deliver something across the country.
No-one challenges either of these things, why? Because the people who could challenge, like me, are in the vulnerable position of potentially being further stymied. The UK passport office can turn around a passport in two weeks, guaranteed. Just saying....

On a better note, The Brompton Mix have another track up. Choose 'She's the One for Me'.

And Austen sent me this link to a very funny monologue by a U.S.American comedian David Sedaris, who lives in France with his partner. This particular one is amusing because Sedaris has the opportunity to be ridiculed by a fellow American who thinks he is 'a Froggie'.

Ten more days for Mercury to be retrograde and potentially another month for travelling back from the US to be miserable. And that's if I'm lucky.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Blackberries, Noise, Spain

Ooh cripes. Friday.

Today I learnt something that should have been crashingly obvious. Never put blackberries in your handbag. The fruit that is, not the mobile phone thingie.

Yesterday, being Thursday, was, as ever, the noisiest day of the week. The garbage trucks and the recycling trucks seem to circle round, which causes excessive dog barking, but yesterday, there was a very noisy council vehicle chopping and chipping a tree just across the road, at 8.30 in the morning. Oddly, and mercifully, the dog ignored that one.

Yesterday also, or maybe today, I'm not sure which midnight counts as, Austen and Alex rescued Ben from Gatwick, Austen having previously rescued him (presumably by credit card), from Spain. He had gone out there with his mates, then developed tonsillitis, and keeled over, feverish and throat almost swollen shut. None of them seemed to have been able to locate any medical help or even any proper painkillers, so in the end he contacted his sister, who contacted the sensible brother and Austen organised an early flight home.
Penicillin seems to be doing the trick now.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Equality Illusion

Two things set me thinking in more than a 'constantly-there-background-noise' kind of way about the illusion of equality.

Firstly, my daughter-in-law is reading Kat Banyard's book, 'The Equality Illusion'. This is a very readable book, but comes up with some interesting points that the reader may not have thought of.

When I spoke to Sue on Sunday, she mentioned the point that Banyard makes about how young children's clothes differ according to gender. Not only do the colourways scream gender difference, but even at the age of five, boys are being introduced to the corporate world through the use of logos on their clothing, whilst girls are kept firmly out of it by the lack of them.

Secondly, my friend M's son-in-law or outlaw or whatever, remarked to her that women and men have equality. Which seemed too dim to even comment on to some extent, and was probably said as a wind-up, and yet, does make one re-visit.

Equality, by it's very nature, is dependent on difference. Well, by definition really. 'Four equals four' is not a statement about equality, it's a statement about sameness. Four is the same as four. 'Two plus two equals four' is a statement about equality because an element of difference has been introduced.
Why do I mention this?
Because at a very basic level of misunderstanding, people will say, 'but women and men are different!' Yes indeedy, that's the point, they are different, but they should be equal.
They should have equality.

If you, for example, believe in God, you would have to believe that women and men are equal in the sight of God, but this does not mean they have Equality.

And one could point to all the indicators that women and men do not have equality, the Gender Pay Gap, the lack of females in political leadership, the paucity of acting roles for women on TV and in film, the existence of violence and sexual violence against women, the lower value given to anything female, I avoid the use of the word feminine, and the casual sexism that is not in fact inherent in the English language, but which is imported by those who may or may not even think about their words.

But underlying this inequality, is the notion of opportunity. Another frequently whined out mantra is, 'well there's nothing stopping women doing/achieving x, y, z, but they just don't want to.'
This, currently, is a load of old botox.

For example, just one example, for a woman to enter politics, she needs to have equal support at home over childcare and housework and she needs to have the same level of emotional support that a man in a similar position would have. She also needs to not encounter sexism in the political campaigning, such as that endured by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and she needs to not encounter sexism in her workplace, such as that suffered by our own Provincial politicians. And, that needs to be true for all women, so that every woman has the exact level of opportunity as a man, to make her bid.

But more than that, she needs to not have been brought up in a society that undervalued everything female, that imposed upon her the notion of 'femininity' and made her feel that she must conform to it or be less. And oh dear, the social construct of femininity, includes being soft and submissive. Damn, Catch 22 already in the game.
OR...she can go for the 'be like a man' option, which ensures that she may be one woman who makes it in, but thereafter, opportunity for women withers on the vine because.....she will undermine other women and a female way of going about things.

And then there's the confusion that goes back aways, that she has been brought up in a society that has laboured the point that the 'female way of going about things' is to whine and manipulate to get her own way, because of....Stockholm Syndrome, or Wartime Occupation syndrome, where the person in the dependent position has to survive by playing the role the kidnapper/occupying force wants them to and then subsequently comes to be emotionally attached to the dominant party.

The French Resistance, for example, were a courageous bunch of people in appalling circumstances, but not everyone can sacrifice their all to resist, because they were resisting on behalf of their people. The people had to find some way of enduring the occupation, and those who didn't, en masse, were frequently annihilated.

So, in years to come, and were lightyears not a measurement of distance, but of time, it might be those away, we may still have a Gender Pay Gap, we may still have fewer women in authority, but if we have equality of opportunity, then those will be because of true choices that women make, because they will not have been brainwashed at an early age to accept the lesser role, and they will not be disproportionately the victims of rape, enforced (even by economic factors) prostitution and trafficking, and they will not be marginalised and objectified through pornography, and when those things do happen, they will be taken seriously by society, and the perpetrators, not the victims, will be seen as deviants.

Wow, that was such a long sentence, it should probably have a German verb at the end.

Monday, 8 August 2011


Panic on the streets of London, panic on the streets of Nottingham. Not nice, not nice at all, my girl is in Hackney, kept awake all night by helicopters and police sirens. There'll be a return to punk, you mark my words. If Britain has to be in the grip of Tory misrule, t'would be better were it in the grip of proper, strong Tory misrule, not this namby-pamby bunch of ne'er-do-wells.

So, medical details. This is what I have returned from the seventh circle of, if you don't like medical details, read no further, if you fear knowing my medical details, read no further.

It seems I have an internal pile, or haemorrhoid. Piles are easier to spell, and of course, a more common name in Britain. Throughout four pregnancies and in fact almost 54 years of walking upright on this earth (well, give or take the nine months at the beginning when I must have crawled or stayed relatively still), I had escaped this particular form of torture, thus I did not suspect piles nor did I know they could be internal. I'm relieved it turned out to be something so common and mundane, but horrified at the level of pain involved.

I'm fairly poor at being poorly. I expect whatever I have to be banished within a maximum of two days. I expect my immune system to kick in and kick...well, let's not say arse. So, eight days of being hors de combat, of which a good five were haunted by waves of white-knuckle, teeth-clenching spasms, has never been part of my action plan.
The whole thing was further complicated by my having returned from the States for a workshop - and that whole getting in and out of the States thing was fraught with the potential for unpleasantness, since my PR card has run out and, in spite of having applied in April, not yet been renewed - and thus abandoning Kevin with no car, whilst my condition deteriorated to a point of no return. No return by car to the States that is.

Kevin's holiday week was ruined, my....week was ruined, but at the last, I rallied, True Brit that I am, and drove, buttocks firmly clenched, so that Kevin could drive us both back and thence to the doctor. At that point, when the worst was over, I could finally be prescribed the level of drugs that would have made the whole experience less awful throughout.
But then, isn't that the irony? When you are truly, rock (oops!) bottom ill, you cannot either get to, nor sit in, a doctor's waiting room.

All of which puts me in mind of how eating habits have changed. Mine at least. I remember the frequent administration of Senokot and Syrup of Figs as a child, ex-lax as a teenager - we must have lacked the necessary fibre in our diets. My diet.
But since early adulthood, I don't recall ever using laxatives. The diet had improved, no shortage of roughage as it used to be called.

When Alex was here, she had us all adding Psyllium husk to our morning fruit or cereal. It can treat both constipation and diarrhoea, it can reduce cholesterol, it can help control blood sugar levels, it can choke you.
Well, only if you fail to take enough liquid with it.

As Director Kevin Smith said in his autobiography (which Kevin has read, not I),
'If you don't have your anal health, you have nothing.'
Yes indeed.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Hors de Combat

Golly, the fifth of August and no posts yet.
Well, the blip in service has been due to a)Excruciating pain all week, for which I now have prescription painkillers and other unspeakable medications to make it all better and
b)Lack of interwebs, exacerbated by Kevin being down in the States, where there is ALMOST no interwebs.

My illness has pretty much shot his holiday week to pieces, but meh, what can you do?
At least I have been able to read a couple of books, but mostly I've just watched house buying/improving/fantasising shows on TV. And of course, as always when in bed and semi-delirious, one viewing of Maury, which hasn't in fact changed at all since the last time I was in Britain and ill. He still has people on who don't know who their baby's father is and have to test a whole slew of men whilst the audience just seem to randomly sling abuse.
I normally (when ill) also like to watch Judge Judy or Judge Marilyn, but all I could find was Judge Joe, who seemed to be a very weak substitute.
Ah well.