Welcome to my new home. My old blog “my gap year” needed so much up dating that I thought it would be easier to just start again. I also wanted to show that I’ve moved into a new state of mind. Since I did the newspaper interview for the “Carry a Poem” piece I’ve thought a lot about how cathartic it was to see written down in black and white that I’m now 7 years out from the diagnosis of my illness and it has made me feel like I want to change things around a little. So it is out with “my elastic gap year” and in with, “it’s about time”.
I also thought about giving up blogging altogether, as so much activity has now moved over to Facebook and Twitter, but I have to confess that I don’t really like either of those formats, other than to keep up with poetry events, books and public spats.
However, I probably won’t blog as often as I used to, and will try to keep it to things I’m really interested in or feel strongly about.
One such thing at present is the BBC Four documentary series about feminism and its impact on women’s lives from acclaimed filmmaker Vanessa Engle, called simply, “Women”. I just wanted to say that I was really disappointed in this, as to me it seemed to stay very much in the London, if not the Home Counties, and the style it used to interview the women taking part was like a female version of the annoying Louis Theroux.
In contrast the channel’s other recent documentary Christina: A Medieval Life, by historian Michael Wood, tracing the story of a real-life peasant of 14th-century Hertfordshire, showed us exactly why Women’s Rights are important, by highlighting how one peasant woman fought to hold on to her tiny inherited plot, in a time of war, famine, climate change and the Black Death, and at the beginnings of the end of serfdom, the growth of personal freedom and the start of a market economy.
Another excellent fragment of more recent history was a BBC Radio 4 Broadcasting House item a few weeks ago, which went back to the sound archive to unearth a man interviewing Barbara Castle in 1965, when she was Transport Minister and had just brought in the breathalyzer, which cut road deaths by1.200 in a single year.
This male interviewer was actually heard to say, “what right do you have to spoil my driving fun , when are a woman and non-driver “!
The last in the Women series look at the resurgence in feminist politics in London. The programme seemed to want to make the point that the young women concerned had been radicalized, now there’s a dangerous word in these times, not at home but at university, and that they were still fighting the same old battles over violence towards and the objectification of women.
I actually found their zeal and enthusiasm to be quite moving, but I did come away thinking that they weren’t using the all new means of protesting that are now available to us to best effect. Nor were they tackling the world as it now exists, where the porn industry is just as worried as the recording industry or newspapers over how best to turn a coin when people are making their own porn, which they then upload and give away for free.
Oh that present election campaign was actually tackling real issues that affect women and their children, like the disgrace of human trafficking for the sex industry, which is already on the rise in London well in advance of the Olympic Games.
We need to stop campaigning for others to change things for us and just do it for ourselves. A great example of that was the London campaign for migrants working as cleaners in city banks etc to get more than the minimum wage. Their situation was improved not legislation but by activism.
OK I’m off the soap box now. The other thing that has occupied me lately is the work of Claire Leighton, she was the sister of Vera Brittain’s Roland and a world-class artist and engraver. I first came across her amazing work in a series of engravings of the industries of New England, that Wedgwood produced as plates. But I’ve just bought a second-hand version of her book Four Hedges, which is about her garden in the Chilterns, and the woodcuts of plants in it are just stunning. Google her name is you want a visual treat. And for more modern examples of the wood engravers art see here
Photo is of my wee auricula theatre, though today they are all tucked up in the greenhouse, as more snow falls.