The morning begins with bright sunshine, the weather forecasters promise another hot day. Looking around the home I share with my husband I realise what a lucky person I am. Firstly that my partner of 52 years is here with me. There are aches and pains shared between the two of us and some lapses of memory (mainly mine) . We did not in the modern fashion ‘ live together ‘ , we recklessly got married. For us both it was I think the wisest thing we have ever done. Of course there have been trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, life in other words.
This morning I look around our home and there is ‘stuff’ everywhere. The largest quantity of small ‘stuff’ is made of paper covered in small black symbols and fixed together with a front and back cover, yes books! Only the bathroom is free of books. Mostly they stand propped up on shelves, touching each other but still having their own space. Frequently there is an overflow lying on the edge of shelves and on any flat surface. It is tempting to think that they are breeding in the darkness, fortunately after the initial outlay, they cost nothing to keep.
Books are scattered on occasional tables, on bedside tables, any horizontal space. Periodically the desire to see a clear space overcomes me and I rush around squeezing books together and making a firm decision, some will have to go to the charity shop. Of course not all these items are mine, yesterday a parcel arrived at the front door: the parcel contained,’ The Curious Map Book’ a large and heavy volume and a smaller volume,’ In Gratitude’ by Jenny Diski . I am not responsible for either of these books. which shelf will hold them I have absolutely no idea.
Have you ever tried parting with your treasures? I don’t mean your children. They will up and leave you just when you thought they might become interesting companions. I mean those stories which have cheered you up in sad times and made you laugh at the silliness of life. One of my favourites is ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott, not in the least bit like my family, no, more the family I could imagine myself belonging to. Probably my most favourite author is Jane Austen her skill seems so effortless and her choice of words so absolutely perfect. The book which describes falling in love so wonderfully is Pride and Prejudice, a tall, handsome hero and rich too. A fairy story completely captivating. Sadly Jane did not meet the man of her dreams, happily I did.
Tonight my body is still sitting in my black chair pulled up close to my overburdened desk, nevertheless my mind is exploring. Modern computers have magical powers; they can allow you to see other places, to link up with others a hundred or a thousand miles away. Twenty-five years ago the idea of getting in touch with strangers would have seemed frankly absurd, although the telephone now provides strangers with the ability to burst into my home with their voices and disturb my tranquillity . The computer has much better manners, only if my words are public can an unknown person reach me and usually I am delighted. I’m a very lucky person my husband and I have been together for fifty-two years, getting married is probably the riskiest thing I have ever done. We did not in the modern fashion live together first, knowing a little about each other, we jumped in at the deep end and decided to get married. As in any lives there have been joys and sorrows, trials and tribulations but love is still binds us together and we remain best friends.
More unusually, apart from the first four months we have lived in this very same house, as I’m sure you know this means ‘stuff’ has accumulated and every room has acquired its own stuff. Being of a rather careful, thrifty nature, I have a strong dislike of getting rid of anything. It might one day come in useful!!!
DELIGHTS IN WAITING.
The largest quantity of movable stuff is made of a thin white substance, each piece covered with small black symbols, yes books. They are in every room in the house except the bathroom. mostly they stand in an orderly fashion, side by side, touching each other but still having their own space. Frequently there is an overflow, lying flat on the edge of shelves and also on any horizontal surface not covered with cushions. I am tempted to think they are increasing of their own volition, fortunately after the initial cost they require no maintenance. Some have been read from beginning to end but many more are keeping their delights for another day. For example; “Anna Sewell, the Woman who wrote Black Beauty”, “Suffragettes- The fight for Votes for Women”- edited by Joyce Marlow, Caitlin Moran, “How To Build A Girl” The Sunday Times No.1 Bestseller, David Olusoga, “Black and British A Forgotten History” and Poetry Please from BBC Radio4. I already feel tempted but I must finish my task. and I haven’t mentioned the scribbled pages of jotters lying here, there and everywhere. From time to time I pop three or four less interesting books into a charity bag and they actually leave the house. I must take care not to look again otherwise my treasures would not leave me.
Today something happened which surprised and shocked me, I watched an programme on PBS which shows stimulating and interesting programmes from an American point of view. I found the programme took a very original view on the influence of genes on an individual’s behaviour and attitudes with reference to three very important areas: intelligence, crime and poverty. Over the years I have read about the links between intelligence and how much may be inherited through the genes and the fact that individuals differ in their talents and abilities. I have always accepted that each one of us is a unique individual with different strengths and weaknesses. Myself I was never much good at sport; too slow, too awkward, too clumsy. On the other hand I never came top of the class!!! There was very frequent measurement of who got 9/10 and who didn’t.
There were some subjects which had a fascination for me ; English and for a time French, history and geography. Other subjects, domestic science, needlework and mathematics had very little interest or seemed beyond my understanding. Sometimes a charismatic teacher, Mr Buchanan our history teacher, made any topic interesting. I understood clearly that we all have different likes and dislikes, to get back to the programme, ‘ In the name of the Gene,’ the assumption that our genes govern everything about us, our approach to crime, poverty and intelligence. This was said to be what the ‘experts’ learned from a study of genes, although no proof was offered as to which genes controlled intelligence, or poverty or criminal behaviour. It was stated that black people had lower intelligence than white people and this was a fact of life. this is of course total rubbish. The state of poverty was due to the extravagance and carelessness of the individuals themselves. This I know to be a total misunderstanding of the social and political organisation of British, American or indeed any society in our world. Even in democratic countries a small elite controls access to information to a considerable, if not total extent. The press in the UK is not controlled by the government but triviality swamps most newspapers and much of television. Many people in the twenty-first century feel disregarded and ignored and know that they are living an impoverished life without a decent house for their family to live in.
There was a time when I knew some French, sadly only crumbs remain. I mention this language because I have a book on my desk written in French by Thomas Piketty. It has been translated into English by Arthur Goldhammer, the title is,’Capital in the Twenty-First Century.’ There are 685 pages, I confess I have not read them all. When faced with a very substantial volume I read first the introduction and then the conclusion. I have found both extremely interesting. Professor Piketty explains that economics is so much more than mathematics: ” I see economics as a sub discipline of the social sciences, alongside history, sociology, anthropology and political science. He prefers the expression ‘ political economy.’
I have a life-long interest in history and a more recent interest in sociology. How to earn and spend money has been a special interest since I was a child. My parents both worked very hard and mother had the difficult job of spreading the money father earned to cover the daily expenses of a family of six. This was not an easy task as the wages were limited, father’s work was always classified as unskilled. so I started with the personal and later extended to the wider political understanding of the economy of Britain. Piketty uses an equation r is greater than g, in other words–‘ capital reproduces itself faster than output increases.’
Piketty continues; ‘ If we are to regain control of capitalism we must bet everything on democracy, and in Europe democracy on a European scale.’
The most important question is how do the democracies fight the globalised patrimonial capitalism of the twenty-first century. I think the first thing is we must know where our information comes from. BBC News raised the question where does most digital information come from? The answer is the originator is often hidden, in a democracy this is worrying, the information could be ‘false news’ with the deliberate intention of misleading the readers. As democrats we must know where the information comes from.
Another hot day, temperature in hall 25.3 degrees. Sorted out some jobs, phoned the repair man about my stationary chair. He came out 3.0 clock, the problem was the batteries, apparently they were leaking and firmly stuck together. Batteries replaced, up and down the stairs like a dream. A phone call to the agent, we have decided not to downsize, financially difficult. When everything sorted had a little zzz until tea-time. There’s a lot of eating goes on. Maybe its the climate or age not sure which to blame.
Again football and tennis on television, great excitement England is still in the World Cup. Husband is willing to record some matches, I go into my ‘study’ and waste time on the internet. Amazing how time slips by and no progress in any direction. Even found some papers I’ve been looking for several months past. Too much stuff, too many files, severe pruning is necessary. I’ll start tomorrow.
Pat on the back for me I defrosted the fridge/freezer. I emptied the freezer, food there I don’t remember buying, a packet of mince, frozen chicken, had to find another cool place, (yes another small freezer). Took the plug out, how long had it taken for the ice to mount up on every surface? Kitchen equipment has its own mysteries, unbelievably useful but tricky to maintain. Domesticity I approve of it a hundred percent, I just wish someone else was doing it! Me, a woman who has been married 52 years. There is a saying, variety is the spice of life. I am an extremely lucky woman, a thought occurs, ‘ Adventures for the Mature Woman.’
Today Thursday 28th June is a gloriously sunny day, the sky is a cloudless blue and there isn’t a breathe of a breeze, a perfect summer’s day. I have lived through many summers days, truth to tell, many days, indeed many years, many decades are long gone. The future is another country unknown to me. Yesterday I saw my sister and we travelled to that long ago past when we were children. She drove her car with quiet determination, I provided advice which was frequently wrong, fortunately it was usually ignored.
She was looking for the first house, our first home in Hendon, Sunderland. Amazingly she found it, a short street, numbered in order 1-12 on opposite sides. We were in fact born on opposite sides of the street, I was the first to arrive in number 10. Jean arrived eighteen months later but by then the…