Monthly Archives: November 2013

Declining educational standards

In the name of everything holy – what are we teaching our children?

A few nights ago I had a writer/editor tantrum at the following line from my son’s schoolbook: “he had a tail like a monkey, a head like a camel” and so on. Can anyone in the class tell me what is wrong with that?

That is a rhetorical question, I hear you all cry. Oh yes, it was, I cry back at you. The answer is that the sentence implies that the tail would resemble the WHOLE monkey, rather than just the monkey’s tail. That would make said animal truly freakish. If the author had written, “he had a tail like a monkey’s” that would have been correct. I assume that is what the author intended. But if he or she had written it correctly, I would have no one to be angry at today. No bile for my blog. And you would have all been so impoverished by that, no?

My Aspie son looked initially aghast when I stopped him reading, to rant about grammar, logic and declining editorial standards in publishing. But then he joined in the fun, as a fellow pedant and chip-off-the-old-block.

Declining standards. Grumble grumble. Maybe Michael Gove has a point. Grumble grumble. Bring back Latin, cold baths and the birch. Oh merciful heavens, I am morphing into middle-England’s ‘Disgusted, from Tunbridge Wells’. Twinset and pearls. Telegraph crossword.

The moral of the story, is beware what you compare.

Appalled, from East London


Scenes from a marriage (theatre review)

Nothing better than Swedish marriage angst on a rainy October night, I thought, as I left work to see Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage at the St. James Theatre, Victoria. My new favourite theatre has 312 seats in only 14 rows. The back row is not a hardship. The first thing I saw there was Our Country’s Good, by Timberlake Wertenbaker. (Third row seats. You could smell the actor’s sweat, which is an added bonus for your money.) And an awesomely good play about theatre, race, class, punishment, education and a squillion other things. The Swedish angst was edge-of-seat stuff too. Olivia Williams and Mark Bazeley loved, grew apart, fell for other people, spat bitter words, screamed, cried, threw fists, kicked seven bells out of each other, and emerged bloody and limping. [Spoiler alert.] In the final scene they reconcile, both married to other people, for a familiar rendez vous. They have too much history to walk away from. No one will understand them as they understand each other. The theatre listings, so far, shun mediocrity. Let’s hope it continues. For forthcoming productions see:

Why blog? Why write?

Why blog? Why write? I’m writing because people told me not to. More specifically, men told me not to – that it’s a waste of time; that no one reads blogs. Mumsnet blogfest 2013 encouraged me to start my blog. Women make me want to write. My work mentor encouraged me. But blogfest made me stop questioning whether I had the right to. I realised I could because I damn well want to. Because I love writing. Because I have things I want to say. Such as:

The line-up at Blogfest 2013 included women who have blogged, written, or been heard in other ways: Jo Brand, Justine Roberts, Stella Creasy, Tanya Byron, Sue Black, Helen Lewis, Tanya Barrow, Tania Tirraoro, Laura Bates (#EverydaySexism), Charlotte Raven, AL Kennedy, Lionel Shriver – to name just a few. Many of these women have stood up for injustice and free speech, or dared to intrude on a male world.

Jo Brand spoke about a corporate gig she’d done. The CEO of this unnamed multinational walked onto the stage then hissed misogynistic abuse in her ear (including calling her a C U Next Tuesday) before accepting an award. Jo turned to the mic and repeated what he’d said, verbatim. Stella Creasy spoke about receiving online rape threats and other abuse for speaking out about feminist issues. Do we need any more evidence that women still need to work hard, to make their voices heard?

Thanks to Mumsnet and all involved. I’m inspired, fuelled, and motivated.