I have to confess I like men, not as a general group, more particular individuals. I’ve just watched Grayson Perry’s series on Masculinity, he had some very stimulating and interesting observations on what it is to be a man in the twenty-first century. Many things have changed during my lifetime, the jobs which required physical strength and facing danger on a daily basis like mining and working in the steel works have disappeared from this country. (They still exist in the developing world )
Men and women including transgender people, we all of us live in a world changing at bewildering speed. This can be a better world giving us all more choice; a woman can be a surgeon, principal of a college, a CEO (still too few are) and a Prime Minister; a man can be a carer, a house-husband, a psychologist, a nurse and a Prime Minister. Gender is the least important part of an individual, what matters more is intelligence, determination, the ability to master complex tasks. It seems to have gone unnoticed that today the majority of people training to be doctors are young women. I think the idea that women’s brains are smaller and less able has finally been chucked out with the rubbish. Women had to organise and come together to claim a right to education, the ability to vote and decide on how many children to have. Now men have to adapt, to choose, to have a more varied way of living, as Grayson Perry pointed out it could lead to more masculine self esteem and more enjoyment of life.
We live in a restless age, the roads are packed with cars, coaches and buses. The railways into the big cities can barely accommodate the number of people who have to get in and out every day; aeroplanes are getting more jumbo with each year that passes, canals are still peaceful (but thats another story). I have discovered a way of travelling which minimises; the long periods of waiting, the strange food, the aching legs and the desire to have a long undisturbed sleep. It is made up of two separate technologies, an HD Smart television set with all the latest wide range of programmes and a comfortable chair in a warm room. I will admit it is not the same as actually being in Washington, or Delhi or Beijing. The personal connection with the people, the smells, the variety of sights and sounds are missing. On the other hand I get the panoramic shots from the air of the city or the countryside spread out in great detail and the well researched explanations of life as it is lived in another place so wondrously strange and exotic. In the railway programmes a vivid description of how this form of technology also changed the towns and the countryside through which it passed. So different experiences with pluses and minuses on both sides.
I live close to a railway line now and there has always been a railway line with in sight where ever I have lived. But I was born in the land that formed the cradle of the steam engine. Coal was every where in deep mines and on the surface, coal and steam engines have a long and close relationship. The Flying Scotsman passed by my house, I have to confess I missed it, I can’t be staring out of the window all day long, I’ve meals to make and dishes to wash. Maybe my newly discovered magic armchair will be my best travelling companion.