Thursday, July 30, 2015


After watching the film Noah recently I knew the Christians would have a problem with the rock monsters, so I was pleased to find them at the top of this list of Christian objections to the film.

The rest of their objections - and this list shows only the top eight - are entirely predictable too.

'There were no stowaways on the ark' is probably my favourite', given the crucial emphasis on absolute accuracy and truth-telling in the Genesis story.

Eve was made of Adam's rib? From his bone? Sure she was. And I'm a goldfish.

It would be more accurate to say Eve was made from Adam's boner, except, no, that doesn't work either. Because even a boner needs a homer, it can't make anything on its owner. The egg (woman) came first, then the chicken-rooster (man), as any scientist can tell you. But still, who - or what - made the egg? We're back to Adam's boner.

I can't go on in this vein because it's all too silly and frankly I CAN'T BELIEVE (these capitals aren't big enough) there are still people out there - in their millions - who continue to believe in this silliness, silliness that has caused enough harm already, hasn't it? YES IT HAS.

But what I am interested in is our attempts to rewrite our foundational cultural stories, especially those that say something about gender, and I think Noah, for all it's failings - including the ridiculous rock monsters - makes some sincere-ish effort in this regard.

In my view the idea that the male child-adult is primary and the female secondary, the basis of all sexism, is the first - and last - mistake of all religions and cultures. It's the first prejudice from which just about all others stem.

Noah attempts to question this. It is not Eve who gives into temptation and causes 'the fall' of man, but 'mankind' or 'us', though it is still 'man' who is made first and in God's image and woman who is 'put beside him' by God, who is male. So it's very much only a partial revision, but it is something.

But then it is - in other parts of the film - men, not 'mankind' inclusive of women, who essentially fuck up the world with their violence - 'You are not a man until you have killed (a man)' says the 'bad' man, descendant of Cain who killed his brother and unleashed a culture of killing that led - as it will, as it has done - to the destruction of almost all good in the world.

The first thing that the 'baddies' do in response to the threat of a world flood is to build weapons to fight Noah for his ark. This fight-first strategy does not end well for the baddies. Noah, who takes a less weapon-centred approach, prevails and, more importantly, does so with the help of women (his wife and adopted daughter) who, in a roundabout way, talk him out of his own belief in the power of killing as the ultimate answer.

Then of course there's the whole girl-child thing. Noah ends with passing the torch of 'mankind's' rebirth after the flood as a better, less destructive and violent species, to his two grand-daughters, when the biblical story is all about the male-line. Adam and Eve, for instance, have three sons, as does Noah, never mind the math.

Although females can't reproduce on their own any more than males can, the foundation story has never been about truth-telling, as already mentioned. It is about the way we want to see ourselves, males and females, in order to understand ourselves and figure out what we can, and should, do to survive in a dignified fashion, making the most of our particular strengths in light of our very real weaknesses.

And in this way, Noah suggests, if not entirely consistently, that we should revise our first mistake of seeing men as primary and god-like (at least some of them), and women as secondary and devil-like (all of them), if we are to have any hope of doing better. I think that's a good start.

Now you'll have to excuse me, I'm off for a swim ~~~~~


Monday, July 27, 2015

Sit-down comedy

I don't think I'd want to be a stand-up comedian. I'm much happier with the sit-down variety, relying on my fingers to do all the funny work. Besides, my hair isn't good enough for stand-up.

Not so Alan Davies, who proved he has good hair for stand-up last night when he stood-up for us at our local theatre. Of course, he also does a fair amount of sit-down comedy on QI.

Indeed he seems comfortable in either the standing or sitting position, though the horizontal one does seem to present a few challenges for him: "I'm two inches too short for my wife..." said he, during a segment on his sex life, hastening to add, with the timing of the seasoned stand-up, sit-down comedian, "in height", which brought the house to its knees.

That said, I was a little disappointed to see his famous funny mop looking rather greyer than advertised, since he is exactly my age, well alright, he's exactly 26 days younger (bastard!). Fortunately, my husband was at my side last night to offer the quick reassurance, even before we left the theatre, that he looks "much older" than I do, so that was alright. Comedy really is the best medicine.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Orange Is the New Grey

I haven't read Piper Kerman's memoir, which is pretty shameful for a budding memoirist, I know, but it must be fairly good because Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) says it is and the first series of the Netflix series based on it is highly compelling viewing. Also, it's about the best title for a memoir ever.

However, the second series, which we have just finished watching, a little late in the piece because I was put off by the betrayal in the first episode enough to switch off for a while, until my daughter and Rolling Stone between them convinced me to take another look, is, in my opinion - which is the only opinion I've got to give - not quite so compelling.

I know feminism (female empowerment) is about as complex and difficult as space travel to outer galaxies but... the version that OITNB favours of going all out to challenge the 'good-girl' stereotype by portraying women as bad-ass bitches, seems to me to be a little counter-productive and rather a lot far-fetched. This is a minimum security prison after all.

And the fact that the baddest of the bad-ass bitches is black doesn't help. She (V) gets her comeuppance at the end of the series and it's impossible not to cheer when she does, because she was so totally bad and terrifying - the actress should surely get an Emmy - until you realise you're cheering a black woman being knocked dead on the side of the road by a runaway prison van and it suddenly seems a bit rough, if not racist.

Do we have to be bitches to prize power from the bastards? Perhaps. But can we empower ourselves in this way? Is this female bad-assism at all realistic? We know men with power are almost invariably bastards, prepared to do anything to gain and keep power, but is this true of women? I don't know, nor does anybody else, because female power is barely tested.

But what I do know is that women who commit violent crimes against men are condemned as evil in a way that the men who commit violent crimes against women are not (think OJ Simpson and Oscar Pistorius) and that these women, such as the woman portrayed in the Monster film (a classic misogynistic title considering she doesn't torture anyone or kill any children), are invariably reacting to being terrorised and treated like dirt by men. The same is nowhere near true of the men who are violent towards women.

In a past life I wrote a doctoral thesis on battered women who kill their abusers and in the course of the research for that thesis uncovered a systematic sexism at work in the public response to male domestic violence and homicide against women such that the states in all common law countries - supposed to be the least sexist countries in the world - effectively frame and punish the women (who fight back) as vindictive bitches, and excuse the men - who eventually kill the women they abuse - as poor tormented (by women) souls.

It's a serious and systematic form of misogyny that, in my view, is not going to be helped by creating bad-ass women on screen.

That said, feminism is difficult, with many shades of grey, and having so many women of such ethnic, weight and age diversity on screen, whatever they are doing, is definitely a progress of sorts - particularly when they get to keep their clothes on.

So the jury is still out for Orange Is the New Black. I'll get back to you after I finish season three.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trunks and stumps

If only a story could be finished as eloquently as this tree...

I'm posting this from deep within the editing blues, as I struggle to fix the ending of my memoir to the satisfaction of the publishers whose own editors were stumped. So much for the pen being mightier than the sword (saw).  

Monday, July 13, 2015

That old chestnut?

If I hadn't taken this picture myself by way of a brief diversion last night from slaving away on a mid-winter Christmas dinner I would never have looked at this red-ripe image and thought: 'That old chestnut!' No indeedy. I would have have thought monkey brains or bottoms at the very least. 

Who knew an 'umble nut could be so grisly and ghoulish? Not I, but then I don't know everything about nuts. 

Fortunately, our mid-winter celebrations were only slightly delayed (burnt) by me ogling my nut; effective multitasking if you ask me. 

Happy Chestnut!           

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stiff, naked and proud

I can see so far on this crisp cold day
to the blue mountain fortress far far away
and the matchbox traffic
crossing an invisible bridge,
a moving window flashing in the sun;
the neighbouring suburbs' trees
and gabled roofs right and left
to reach our liquid amber 
standing up front- 
stiff, naked and proud.

Book Review II

"Too cryptic"

"Too light"
"Too soppy"
"Too dense"
"Too long"

All traps for the unwary writer - argh!


"...weighed down by superfluous adjectives."

What would you do if described thus?

What would it feel like to see your work described as "superfluous" and know your enemies are seeing that too?


No one gets reviewed like writers do. I suppose fair's fair given a writers' livelihood is review. But Superfluous? That seems too harsh.

The editing process is so brutal anyway, you wouldn't want to be left with "superfluous". What did you take out if what you left is superfluous?

I couldn't stand it.

But perhaps this "superfluous" author didn't have strenuous enough editing. I can only hope that is the case. And that being hated is better than being ignored.

Still, I am worried about being reviewed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Come a Camellia

When I was a teen, Boy George was the business and I always thought his hit song (Karma Chameleon) was about camellias, the flowers. But it is not, in fact, it is about a chameleon, those creatures that can change their colours, which is altogether more apt. What a fool for thinking otherwise. But still, a song about camellias would not be the end of the world. They come originally from India you know, not songs, camellias. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

3 million years

We stood erect
homo erectus -

... for more than three million years and made not one tool. Nor did we make fire. We made babies, no doubt, but perhaps not so many, dying in child-birth as we HE women would surely have done in great numbers.

Finally, we made a tool. Not long after that, maybe a few thousand years, we made fire. Then we were away!

Monday, July 6, 2015


Oh no, not again! Not that old perennial!

Yes, it is folks. Housekeeping VIII: Shower cleaning!

This just in: the most uncharacteristic decision on my part to tackle the en-suite shower. I don't know what's come over me. It is mainly my shower, mind, and no-one else is going to clean it, but as such it tends to get neglected. M now cleans his own shower downstairs and I do the boys' shower upstairs. So that makes one shower each. Perfect.

It was easier, no doubt, when we only had one shower between us.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Just eaten five or six donuts!

Iced donuts.

Chocolate, orange, lemon and pink, all with sprinkles on top!

They were miniature donuts, but still. That's probably about two and a half regular size donuts. Not too bad if you say it quickly.

I haven't quite decided yet what, if anything, to do about it.

A brisk walk, methinks...

Friday, July 3, 2015

Children's book


I can't tell you what my new children's book is about exactly but I can give you a clue. In fact I can give you two clues:


Have you been to China?

Another work letter to my better half:

"Dear Sir or Madam,

Have you been to China? :) ...

... Let Freda help with clinch a printing deal..."

Help with clinch a printing deal? Yes please, Freda. I'm keen. But, unfortunately, my husband's clinching needs are already well taken care of. 

The wife

Smoking moon dawn

This is my smoking moon tonight. Watch it dawn with me, do!

In the foreground are the leaves of our cabbage tree, the one we can never take down because it saved a worker's life once. A Polynesian roof tiler he was who fell off the roof while tiling it and clung to the cabbage tree so as not to fall two storeys. It supported his not inconsiderable weight. The closer leaves are on the bonsai tree on the study windowsill, a Mother's Day gift from our daughter, B. I think I may have over-watered it, the reason most indoor pot plants fail, apparently.

Tonight I smoke for the moon! My vapours wrap around and entangle hers to make her shimmer and smoke too! It is a secret smoke of course, before the judging sun comes up and the smoking moon goes down, or wherever she goes.

But right now, out my study window, she is high to the right, tucked behind the life-saving tree, a white-yellow-grey orb in a black ocean of sky, smoking. The moon smokes.

Now, after I'd finished typing this blurb, perhaps ten minutes later, she appears in a different light entirely. She descends alright! 

Looks like the cabbage tree clings with loving fingertips to hold onto her till the last. But the moon is such a force she cannot heed the pleasures of trees, however life-saving. So she slips down and out of the tree's lingering grasp like a sucked mint lolly slipping out of the mouth - woops! - until she is finally swallowed up by the pink of Day. Day has so many colours at her disposal! Moon cannot possibly compete.

(of the beginning
6.35 am - 7.34 am)

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Okay, so you don't like my labia. See if I care.

If my page-view numbers are any indication of interest in my blogs then my last blog post is the least likeable post I have done to date (of more than 400) and a good many of those other blog posts were poems. Go figure!

Safe to say that almost nobody out there likes my labia, or quite possibly anyone's labia; I should not take this thing personally. Clearly the present race to have it removed or reduced suggests a certain widespread disdain.

Fine. Damned if I know what it's for anyway (other than to protect my delicate openings from bruising and infection, but never mind that!).

So what shall we talk about instead..., balls?


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Like my Labia

"Muff March, London, 2011"
Call me old fashioned...

... but I like my labia.

Okay, so I don't really, because I'm a woman and if I did actually like any single part of my body there would be something seriously wrong with me, which there is not, well not in that respect anyway; I am as body-insecure as the next woman. In fact, as a former dancer I am probably more insecure than most, except perhaps not in the labia department, which is not exactly front and central of the ballerina's body insecurities. No ballet master ever instructed me to lose labia. Still.

Labia department? I like the sound of that. The department of labia. I think we should have a department of labia. It could investigate the recent "radical rise" in labiaplasty operations and consider the wider social ramifications of women cutting off another part of their genitalia, as well as their pubic hair and clitoris. Otherwise okay? as Basil Faulty might have said had he considered the issue of women's problematic genitalia, which he didn't. Labiaplasty was not around in Basil Fawlty's day, safe to say.

Indeed this is the age of labiaplasty. Some transgender people get the operation for reasons other than vanity/insecurity, sure, and some women do have actual abnormalities in that department, at least according to medical opinion and records. But the recent (last five years) rapid rise in labiaplasty surgery can only be put down to women thinking they have something abnormal in that department and being so self-conscious of it that to feel good about themselves they want it changed, lessened, despite so few people ever seeing it.

Boobs bigger, bum bigger, labia smaller, feet and waists smaller, everything less hairy, what's next? Legs lengthened? or perhaps shortened, so we are less able to run from rapists, especially since hauling less labia around we will probably be able to run faster?

Who knows. But whatever happens at least we can rest assured that the plastic surgeons are making a good honest living.