Book Review and Sisterly Solidarity

Emma Barnett.  I’ve not heard of her before September, probably due to my living abroad for several years.  She’s a journalist, often on Newsnight and BBC Radio 5.  Barnett has recently published a book.  I heard her being interviewed about it in September.  I was impressed.

This is the book: Period.

Image result for emma barnett period

Full of various euphemisms…

It’s not normally the kind of book I would read.  Normally I am interested in books on history, humour, languages, but not “wimmin’s things.”

Why did I buy the book?  Well, several reasons:

  1. I was listening, lying in bed, and sat up to listen to the interview.   Barnett was engaging and entertaining in her interview.
  2. I’m a man.  I think it is good to know how 50% of the population is affected.
  3. I’m a bit Berlin Wall-ed out.

My copy arrived on Tuesday.  I’m now so far halfway through the book.  It’s good.  It’s informative, educational, entertaining.  Ten percent of British women have endometriosis.  Compare that with the number of British people who have type 2 diabetes (10%).  Spending on research into the latter is 35 times more than on endometriosis.

I sit at my desk, laughing at some parts, sucking in air at other parts.

I then text a female friend of mine (FFM) about the book, saying how I never realised what women have to go through:

  • Menstruation
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause

FFM writes back:

Yeah, we all to get used to it between the ages of 12-14.  Too bad if you don’t feel too good during that week.

The empathy…

It then occurred to me, do some women have an attitude of:

I have periods, too.  Suck it up, buttercup.

I’ve known women who have intimated to me that they prefer to see a male doctor because he will be more sympathetic than his female colleague who has the aforementioned attitude.

Tell a man, “it’s that time of the month,” and he’ll:

  • Offer you a hot water bottle
  • Offer you a pack of Ibuprofen
  • Let you lie on his sofa and bring you a duvet
  • Tell you he is so glad he is a man
  • Crack a joke about PMT and lightbulbs to lighten the mood

Women – show some sisterly solidarity!

Have an empathetic day, won’t you!

 

Comedy Dystopia

Praise be to www.meetup.com !  This week I went to a creative writers evening in a city centre cafe.  Friendly people, well-organised, and a very enjoyable “Stimmung” (atmosphere).  Lots of envelopes packed full of prompts, ideas for a story.

Here’s the prompt I selected.

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This presented a challenge for me.

  • I’m not a woman.
  • I’m not very experienced at writing “He said… she said… tears rolling down to her chin…” prose.

Then I thought of SJ, an ex-girlfriend of mine from decades ago and a diatribe of a voicemail she left me when our relationship ended, full of invective and sarcasm.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Bingo!  I had my material to respond to this prompt.  Thirty minutes later I read out my piece.  It gets a laugh.  And another one.  And another.  Phew, the people are either very polite, or they got the dark humour and digs at the Family Values Member of Parliament.

The expression, comedy dystopia, was then coined by one of the other attendees.

I like that expression.

1984 as a satirical comedy?

The Trial as a musical?

Feel free to stick any ideas or complete manuscripts into your nearest postbox.

westray

Drop us a line or two!

Have a dystopic day, won’t you!

 

“I never get any post”

Back in 2004 I used to send, Marco, my friend in Düsseldorf, a postcard every time I’d go to the Saturday market at Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales.

It’s the only post I get these days, apart from bank statements.

I paid attention to Marco’s comment.  I resolved the following week to change this situation for him.

The United Kingdom has a lot of universities, from Aberdeen and Aberystwyth to York.  I googled “List of all British universities.”  I went through that list methodically.  It took a day or so.  I ordered Marco a prospectus from pretty much every UK university.  Every single one.

A fortnight later I rang Marco.

Marco thanked me profusely for his collection of reading material.  He had to go to his local post office to collect half of the items.  He had piled them up in his living room next to the TV.  One university had a translation and interpreting course that interested him.

He never complained about receiving very little “proper post” after this avalanche of prospectuses.  I don’t know why.

Have a voluminous day, won’t you!

brown envelopes in mail box

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Reliably Slow

Reliably slow.

That’s how B, a ten pound pom and former neighbour of my dad’s, described Australia Post.

A very apt description.

On 30 April I sent Oxfordshire Gal, in Brisbane, Australia, a postcard by airmail.  Correct postage.  Correctly addressed.

On 31 May the card finally arrived.  It did not have any markings on such as “Sent in error to Austria,” etc.  Maybe it went on a backpacking tour around via Alice Springs.

On 3 May I sent Oxfordshire Gal a book, again, airmail, correct postage, correctly addressed.  On 3rd June the book arrived.

Lots of Brits think of Oz as being a land of milk and honey (Schlemmerland).  Australia Post is not part of that illusion.  By contrast, I used to have a penpal in Rwanda.  Postcards and packages to him used to take a week to reach him.

Have a reliably slow day, won’t you!

abandoned antique architecture building

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Feiertag

Feiertag: a German public holiday.  The streets looked until 10am like a curfew had been imposed.  All the shops shut.  (A bit like England used to look on Sundays till about 30 years ago, when the Sunday trading laws were liberalised.)  A few cafes open.  Maybe also a few kiosks.

My routine was as follows.

05:41: Wake up as per any “school day.”  I lie in bed and listen to BBC Radio 5 and then change stations to BBC Radio Tees.

08:20: I climb out of my bed.  Time to make use of the day.

08:30: Time to sort out my flat.  Tidying first.  Then cleaning.  Living  room half-sorted.  Bathroom cleaned, except for the toilet and floor.  Bath and sink now shining.  I take a few breaks to forward a few cartoons via WhatsApp.  Back to cleaning and tidying.  And laundry.  And more laundry.

09:59: I head out to my local cafe for brunch and to get some fresh air on this cloudy, overcast day.

11:00: Feeling “matschig” (fidgety), I call a friend.  We arrange to meet at 13:00 in his part of the city for coffee and chat.

12:00: I sit in the cafe, reading my copy of Creative Writing for Dummies and writing in my diary.  Nice not to have to use my brain too much.  Nice to be away from a screen.

13:00: My friend arrives.  We chat.  We have a good catch-up.  He does not talk about his ailments.  Bonus!

14:00: I head back home via the main train station, the Hbf.  En route to the Hbf, I start day-dreaming about cleaning materials.  Should I get the apple-scented wipes, or the lemon-scented wipes?  I decide to get both.  I go to DM (sort-of-ish the German equivalent of Boots or Superdrug).  I stock up on apple-scented wipes, lemon-scented wipes, a nail brush, toilet cleaner, washing-up liquid, and much, much more.  €20 later, I feel a spring in my step.  All these cleaning products to make my flat look spotless.

Then it hits me.  I have become middle-aged.  The highlight of my day was not brunch, or meeting up with a mate, or going for a walk or cycle ride.  It was the trip to DM.  Retail therapy!

Have a spotless day, won’t you!

person wearing pair of yellow rubber gloves

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Things *not* to say at the…

Summer is nearly here in Germany.  It was sunny and 24 degrees cee today.  Out thoughts turn in this part of the world to soaking in the sun, absorbing the vitamin D and hoping to get the freckles on the Celtic skin to join together to form some kind of a tan.  One of our favourite beauty spots is open again.  It also has an FKK section.  That, in plain English, is the nudist/naturist section, for those of you who don’t know about that part of German culture.  (Well, you do now.)

The classic question:

But what if you happen to see your bank manager at the nudist camp?  What should you do?  What should you say to them?

Well, in these internet days, who really knows their bank manager, anyway?  Most of us just do online banking.  It’s much more likely for you to have a chance encounter with your local supermarket manager or your local librarian.

So here’s a list of things for you and your local librarian not to say if you happen to see each other au naturel/in the nuddy/the nip/the nod/the raw/in the buff/, in their birthday suit/wearing nothing but a smile etc.

  • Ooh I say, now there’s a bookworm!
  • I see you’re trying to check me out.  I’m afraid that’s reference only.
  • What a lovely buff cover!
  • Shhhh!  Careful when you slam that book shut!
  • What a lovely hardback.  It must be a limited edition.
  • My, my, what a weighty tome!
  • Oh, you’ve noticed I’m re(a)d all over!  I’ve only my shelf to blame, though.
  • You keep giving me wordy looks…
  • Oops, that looks impossible to put down.
  • You look cold.  Is that due to the draft?
  • How novel seeing you here, not wearing even a book jacket.
  • There’s the librarian.  Dewey think thesaurus just now?
  • Nice manuscript you got there…
  • I’ve noticed your wandering eyes. I guess you must be a fan of Pepys.
  • Don’t get all a-browsed.
  • You seem a bit shy.  Are you perhaps reserved?

Or imagine these conversations:

  • That item is long overdue.  You have an outstanding fine…
  • Oh, thank you very much.  An outstanding, fine what, though?  [Follow that with a Sid James cackle.]

And…

  • Fancy seeing you here!  Do you come here with anyone else from the library?
  • Well, it was bound to happen.  ISBN here a few times.  And yes, I quite often hang out here with a few other members.

Have a specially reserved, day won’t you!

women s yellow long sleeve shirt

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