Sunday 29 March 2020

Bird Watching

There are so many thoughts, opinions, reports and updates out there that no one needs to read my thoughts on our current situation so I will look out of the window instead. 

We've been feeding the birds a new mix that contains fat pellets this year and the extra cost has paid off. We now have a far wider variety of bird visitors. Watching them reminds me a bit of the children I used to teach, endearing but unruly and I have to keep my eyes peeled or I would miss some of their more outlandish antics.

Here are some of my favourites:

The blackbird, male with a stunningly orange beak, who waits for us to appear every morning and runs across the path to be first at the 'breakfast' bird table. Why he runs I really can't say. It would surely be quicker to fly and I have to say it would be more elegant. His bottom certainly has an ungainly gait when running!

The long tailed tits with their delicate pink stomachs flit to the hanging feeder and flit back into the nearby Rowan tree. They move so quickly that my binoculars can hardly pick them out but when they do linger their elegant tails and pink feathers are a treat to see.

The robin, a regular and a pretty little bird, but he hangs around the bird table in a sinister way and he is somewhat lacking in table manners chasing off the poor dunnocks.

A pair of adorable goldfinches who spend just long enough at the feeder for me to study their amazing markings through the binoculars.

A greater spotted woodpecker who visits occasionally, boots the others off the feeder and angles his large body sideways so as not to fall off. When he's finished he flies to the Rowan and gives its trunk a couple of taps. He's a real character.

The bully-boy wood pigeons who are not really my favourites but I have to include them. They crowd round the bird table and our little blackbird is forced to move aside or he would be trampled upon for sure.

Yes, I know, I've missed out loads of them, like the countless tits who come and go so quickly that I can hardly make them out and the magpies with their raucous calls plus an occasional Jay, and I've no photos to post up because they won't let me get near enough but watching them all certainly helps to pass the time during this strange period in our lives.

Stay safe everyone. 

Sunday 8 March 2020

Even though I'm a woman

I mix with people who treat me as an equal... 
even though I'm a woman. 

My peer group would possibly object to that phrase - the title of this blog post - but it bears looking at. I offer a small example, one which doesn't affect my life or threaten me in any way but it represents an underlying assumption. On many occasions I have been complimented on how well I park my car. Would that happen if I was a male driver?

I mix with people who think they treat all women as equals... 
even though they occasionally don't.

Yet again, this is a small point but a telling one - in a subtle kind of way. Last week a friend commented that there had been a female referee on a recently televised football match - Chelsea v. Liverpool I believe it was. He said how good it was that none of the TV presenters had felt the need to mention the fact that she was a woman.
"You have just negated that positive act," I said.
"How do you mean?" he asked.
"By mentioning it," I told him.
He pointed out that he was merely complimenting them on their equality. I said that there should be no need to compliment anyone on equality because equality should be taken for granted in today's world.
"Oh yes," he said. "I see what you mean."
But I can't help thinking that next time there's a woman referee at a men's football match he, and many men like him, will be thinking thoughts of inequality.

As I say, the above are minor points, irritating but by no means life threatening. I sometimes forget how profoundly unequal some women still are and how much they still suffer for that inequality. In 1995 Hillary Clinton created a mantra that still rings out today:
"Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights." 

She said, "It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives." Has anything improved in this regard since 1995? I suspect not.

Malala Yousafzai said, "We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced."

Maya Angelou said, "Each time a woman stands up for herself... she stands up for all women."

I could go on with quote after quote, but the mere fact that there are so many quotes out there aimed at empowering women, illustrates that women are neither empowered, nor are they equal. If they were we wouldn't need the quotes.

I can't begin to try and heal the transgressions of mankind in this blog post but maybe I can suggest a starting point. I aim this at those men who still think it's ok to compliment a woman on her looks and a man on his achievements. When you understand how wrong that is then, and only then, will you begin to accept women as equals.

Friday 6 March 2020

To rewrite or not to rewrite...

It has been well over a year since I completed my MA and yet I still haven't managed to get myself to revisit my dissertation. It's a play and, although I got a distinction for it, it's the only play I've ever written and so I'm not sure what to do with it next. It still has the constraints of the MA examiner's rules, for example, word count and footnoting, but I could work on that. I could extend it to add all those extras that were systematically stripped away when I realised I was thousands of words over the allowed limit. Alternatively I could convert it into a novel, return to a more familiar genre. I've yet to decide.

I have a number of concerns about keeping it as a play. Firstly, I wouldn't know where to send it. Yes, I could Google but that's unknown territory for me.

Secondly, and more importantly for my sanity, is the fear that it might just be accepted. I can't imagine how unsettling it would be to know that my script was being learned and rehearsed by actors who didn't know me and who were probably criticising its every line.

As for the actual performances, I would be every bit as scared as I used to be when I was a teenage member of an amateur dramatic group - possibly even more scared because teenagers often think they can conquer the world, whereas you and me... well, we know we never will.

So it's decision time. First I have to gird my proverbial loins and reread the thing. I hope I'll be pleasantly entertained. I hope I don't do too much cringing at awkward phrases and lumpy plot devices. One thing is for sure, if I do proceed with a rewrite then you will be among the first to know. So watch this space...