Monthly Archives: August 2008

Things I Lost.

This is the really annoying thing about losing people. You lose the things and experiences that go with them. Last year I had a friend and together we did fire performance acts together at a local steam fair; but we don’t talk any more and he doesn’t work there any more and for all these reasons, that’s something I’ll not do again. Someone else, whose friendship I lost this year, has meant the loss of lots of other things, experiences I really hoped to have. So I’m going to bitch and whine for a while now, if you don’t mind.

There were so many things he wanted to show me, books, films, music, and so many things I wanted him to see as well. We were going to swap instruments: he was going to teach me the piano if I taught him the cello in return. Hours and hours of jamming were going to happen with the two of us swapping from instrument to voice, both, and back again. Places he spoke of that I long to see; places I talk about that I wanted to show him. Sailing, walking, shops we were going to haunt and meals we were going to eat. I miss him, yes, but more than that, I miss all these things we could have done. They seem silly and peripheral even to me, but it’s like the time I came across a friend of mine howling after a break up because never again would she sit down and have a cup of tea and a good laugh with her ex’s mum. I guess that’ll teach me to let myself become the dirty mistress…

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The First Of Many.

That is, the first of many feminist rants. I hope not, but I’m all too certain that this won’t be the last time I have a bitch and a moan about women in society today in the Western world, to say nothing of the lot that is being a woman elsewhere in the world. I wouldn’t say I was a feminist per se, more that I’m in favour of equality and this is something we don’t yet have.

I’m not watching the Olympics, but I’m obviously aware (vaguely) of what’s going on. And it’s struck me, as it does every Olympics, that this is the one real event where sportswomen get as much attention as sportsmen. Attention, that is, for their achievements. Someone here is clearly going to object: what about Wimbledon? I don’t watch that either, but what filters through to me is that everyone pays close attention to how the men are playing, and they pay equally close attention to…what the women are wearing. Or, worse, how ‘manly’ the women are on court — who grunts or shouts with every shot, and who plays a more feminine game. Otherwise the only women to regularly appear on Sports pages are the WAGs. The Olympics are the only real place where attention is paid to women for what they can achieve (other than, of course, Paula Radcliffe — has she cried/thrown up/fainted/committed suicide yet? I have no idea).

Women who get to high places in other arenas fare little better: One of the few things I know about, say, Angela Merkel, the German president, is that she is known for wearing tops that show more cleavage than most people wish to see on a woman her age. Hilary Clinton was once vociferously derided for wearing  a yellow suit. Carla Bruni and Michele Obama are as well-known as their husbands (Nicholas Sarkozy, French President and Barack Obama, US presidential candidate, respectively) because they dress well. The dress-sense of male politicians gets nothing like the same number of column inches: we’re just not expected to care that such-and-such a president wears Armani, but so-and-so is channeling JFK by wearing blah. And the sheer number of celebrity women who are only known for their drunken antics and bikini-related slip-ups rather than for whatever originally made them famous — their acting or singing, say. Off the top of my head I could list ten such women, and I can think of only one male celebrity who is better known for his bad behaviour than his musical talent — namely Pete Doherty (who I met once in a pub in my home town – a very surreal moment. One suspects he’d just escaped from the Priory, a branch of which isn’t far away). I don’t object to stories of Wino warbling out of time and key to one of her songs at huge festivals and so on, or any of those things: yes, they amuse me. But where are the men who make similarly bad ‘role models’? (Celebrities as role models? What, being a famous singer automatically means you have a moral duty to your audience? Don’t be silly!) Surely it’s not only the A-list women, songstresses and WAGs that make this much of a fool of themselves?

Basically my point is this: it’s so easy to think we’ve made it, but if the media still have this kind of a bias, and if I can still walk into my newsagent and pick out articles that talk about being a strong woman by changing your physical image and wearing more heel-inches and makeup, then it’s fair to say that the same bias runs throughout. As is proven by so many other recent news stories I could point to. We still have some way to go.

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Results

I just checked my results (online – for one thing I have a simply shocking headache, and for another, why pay £5 for the bus if I don’t have to?) and they’re fine. I got an A in Chemistry (not a startlingly high A, but no complaints!) and a B in biology (which I should have done better in. I got an A for AS and a load of Cs in my exams and coursework this year brought me down a bit. It wasn’t the subject, that I found easy, but I think we were simplistically taught and the questions on our papers were oddly worded, so it was hard to see what they wanted from you. I didn’t realise any of this until too late.

So I’m off to Sheffield next year! I’ll see how it goes – the plan is to do stupidly well and go on to graduate medicine. We’ll see.

Now I’m off back to bed. This headache is an utter killer.

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Return

Just got back from far rainier climes – the Lake District. My Granda joined us for a few days, and I celebrated my nineteenth whilst we were there. As usual I already feel that I’ve been nineteen for several months; which I guess comes of being an August baby with plenty of friends older than I am. I’ve felt it less this year: age ceased to matter long ago (except in terms of actually getting in to pubs and such) and, of course, back in college, I’ve been associating with plenty of people from what I would have called ‘the year below me’. The silly thing is, I’m closer in age to most of them than I am to most of my back-home friends.

But I’m also engaged to most of my back-home friends, so it’s of no matter.

Anyway, I picked up several things I wanted to say in the Lake District, all faithfully recorded in The Notebook until I get time to expound my undoubted wisdom here… (yes, hold your breath, it’ll be bloody brilliant…). Meanwhile, I am tired, and it is Results Day tomorrow (my second set of A-levels), so I have to get up.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not nervous – my fate was sealed the last time I put that black pen down, collected my phone and bag and walked out of that hall. That said, I wonder if my results are up on the intranet yet?

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Flying Visit

Currently I am sat in my friend’s kitchen hearing J come up with such gems as ‘M and R made love ritmico and scherzando‘ and ‘L’s love making is staccato‘ (‘M and R made love rhythmically and jokily’ and ‘L’s lovemaking is short and detached’). This is what happens when you deprive J of sleep for a week and then provide him with a musical terms dictionary…

So the New Forest was fantastic. Stressful, yes, and I got pretty irritable and tearful at points, and it rained a lot of the time, but we saw Mamma Mia again and also a live production of Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat, and I swam on Bournemouth beach at night and by day, we walked a lot, ate a lot of seafood and some of us drank a frankly silly amount. I learnt a lot about myself (thanks to a couple of heart-to-hearts where some people definitely told it how it is and were immensely kind to me), and also about how you should never take a bunch of unseasoned campers camping unless you’re prepared to absolutely lay down the law – which I did, to no great effect.

Next year we’re getting a cottage in the Lakes. At least we’re all still speaking – and I’m actually at a post-holiday gathering as we speak.

Tomorrow I have to dash home early and hop on a train to London within seconds. When I get back I may have something to say for myself – in my notebook I have some thoughts noted down, I had quite a lot to say in response to various things I’ve read recently, and if all else fails I will at least have my second set of A-level results to regale you all with…!

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