Archives for posts with tag: thinking

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New cats have moved in next door.

This is the reason the cat is pulling her hair out.

The Nice New Neighbour introduced them to us.

I like the Nice New Neighbour, she has put up the smallest Polytunnel I have ever seen in my life.
It looks great, just..well..small.

In fact it looks a lot better than my garden at the moment.
Since I moved everything around there have been some bald patches to the grass as well as the cat.
I threw a few handfuls of grass seed down but they are making no sign of germinating.
I know it always takes longer than you think.
Every time I put grass seed down I am ASTOUNDED by how long it takes to grow.

This year is no different.
I know it takes ages.
Why do I keep going to look at it and thinking to myself “It’s taking ages” ?

Anyway there are two new cats next door.

I looked them over and they are a fair size, bigger than my bald cat.
I can see why she is intimidated.

Having said that I watched her with one of them earlier.

The Nice New Neighbour told me she had had the cats for sixteen years and they were a bit old now.

I was on the landing picking a Lego Wheel out from between the bannisters and I could see bald cat walking round the corner to the gate.

She came face to face with the new/old cats from next door and she totally flipped out and turned and ran.

Next door’s cat never moved and only turned to see what the noise was.

It is not that the next door cats are intimidating intentionally.
They are just so old they cannot be bothered to pay any attention to bald cat and this uncatlike behaviour is freaking her out.

She is pulling her hair out because the cats next door don’t move.

I have no hope of rehabilitating her at this rate.

Form the window I could also see where the grass seed is not growing.

Why is it taking so long?

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From today Cornish people will be officially recognised as a National Minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Now that Cornish people are officially recognised as a national minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities all sorts of questions have popped up from people asking what we were yesterday?

Didn’t Europe always think Cornish people were a national minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities?

That may or may not be true, the important thing is that the British Government in Westminster has admitted that Cornish people are a National Minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Which is nice, after all these years of what has been blindingly obvious to anyone living or working in Cornwall for any amount of time.

What ever the legal status, I doubt it will stop people saying you are not proper Cornish until you have three generations in the graveyard at  Trewellard.
I do not have three generations in the graveyard anywhere in Cornwall.
None the less, I am from here, I live here and if I am really lucky I will be living here when I go West.
I am not from anywhere else and when I heard the news I have to say I sat for several minutes and shed a little tear.

This is just one step, one piece of the picture that makes up Cornwall but I hope it brings Cornwall a little bit closer to pulling itself out of the financial place it has bee in for so long.

Perhaps a legal status will instil a greater need for change. I really hope it is the beginning of something important, joyful and celebratory.
It certainly is for me.

The legal status is one that has been discussed a lot and this is one step closer to illuminating what may or may not be going on.

A National Minority status indicates there may be a Nation in discussion.

Actually Cornwall has stronger legal rights to be considered a separate Nation than Wales or Scotland.

I spent about quarter of an hour discussing the Foreshore Dispute of 1857 with an artist from London today.
I don’t do that often but there was something in the air today, what with the news and everything , they called to ask about Cornish coastline and suddenly we were off.

This is the document that spells out that there is a legal difference between England and Cornwall:

“1. All mines and minerals lying under the seashore between high and low water marks within the said County of Cornwall, and under estuaries and tidal rivers and other places below high water mark, are vested in His Royal Highness the Duke of Cornwall in right of the Duchy of Cornwall as part of the Soil and territorial Possessions of the Duchy.

2. All mines and minerals lying below low-water mark under the open sea, adjacent to but not being part of the County of Cornwall, are vested in Her Majesty the Queen in right of her Crown as part of the Soil and territorial Possessions of the Crown.
Part reading: Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1858 [statute in force]”

Interesting use of County and Duchy.

Britain has two Sovereigns, the Queen and the Duke of Cornwall.

As the Prince of Wales, Chales has no Sovereign rights.
As the Duke of Cornwall, Charles does have Sovereign rights.

This is because Wales is subject to an act of union with England and Cornwall is not.

Essentially, if Alex Salmond lived in Cornwall he would not necessarily have to use a referendum to get the answer to his question.

He could just use a good lawyer.

There is of course the ugly spectre of Cultural Thuggism that rears it’s head whenever discussions of Nation and Patriotism are brought up.
I hope Cornwall is big enough to walk on by.

Anyhow, all this is not getting us any closer to celebrating.

Here is a recipe from “Cornish Recipes, Ancient and Modern” by the Cornwall Federation Of Women’s Institutes 1929.

This is probably the best book ever written, ever.
I may be wrong.
Probably is though.

1 LB Flour
Good Pinch Salt
Grating of Nutmeg
6 OZ Chopped Suet
3 OZ Chopped Mixed Peel
6 OZ Sultanas
6 OZ Currants

Method: Mix all well together and make into a stiff paste with Milk. Place into a scalded and floured cloth and tie loosely, plunge in boiling water and boil to a gallop for three hours. When dished up cut a piece out of top as large as a tea cup, place inside 4OZ of coarse brown sugar, one teacup of Cornish cream. Put in oven for two minutes and serve piping hot. There will be no leftovers.

Any recipe that instructs you to add a teacup of clotted cream at the end is by definition BRILLIANT.

Sadly I have not made this dish, called ‘Grandmother’s Birthday Pudding’ and so I will have to celebrate with a glass of Metheglin.

Google it.

Onen Hag Oll.

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I knew it was going to be a difficult conversation but I steeled myself for it and ploughed on.

The walk home from school.
It is still early in the term, day two but I thought I may as well dive straight in anyway.

Sometimes it is hard for families to share.

Sometimes it is difficult to talk about the little things.

I know the Proles don’t like to talk about this particular subject but as a parent I feel I have to try.

Me: So….how was school today?

Prole2: What?

Me: How was school today?

Prole2: What?

Me: Did you have a good day today?

Nothing.

Me: Playing with your friends? A good day? Did you have?

Prole2: What?

Me: Did you have a nice time with your friends at school today?

Prole2: What?

Me: Ok, you know your friends?

Prole2: Yes.

Me: You know the time since I dropped you off at school?

Prole2: What?

Me:  All the time you haven’t seen me? While you were at school?

Prole2: Today?

Me: Yes.

Prole2: Yes.

Me: Well, did you have a nice time with your friends at school today?

Prole2: I can’t remember.

I looked back down the slope to where I had picked him up and then up the slope to the school gates.
We had not quite left the school premises and his mind was a complete blank.

Me: Did you do any playing at break time?

Prole2: Playing?

Me: Yes, playing. At break time. Did you do anything?

Prole2: What?

Me :What did you have for lunch?

Prole2: Roast. Mash, carrots, green thing and gravy. Meat. Meat roast. And a fruity thing. Roast.

He did his hoppy skippy run-dance-thing , lost control of his feet and fell over.
In days gone by I would stop, pick him up, dust him down, check for scrapes, bumps and bruises, give him a cuddle and a kiss and set off again.
Honestly though, if I did that every time he fell over I would never get anywhere ever.
He falls over walking across the kitchen.
Every day.
These days I check to see he is still moving and trudge on.

We were in the school run trudge out of the gates.
You can stop to pick up a fallen child but it is the social equivalent of breaking wind in a lift or taking four sugars in tea.
People sort of smile and pretend they understand but you can see the distaste in the air.

The trudge moves at the slow amble speed of the push chair going uphill.
I am sympathetic to this. I have been a pushchair driver and I know the hell of a hill.
The trudge is further slowed by the pushchair drivers who stop in the gate way, right next to the lollipop man and the people with sniffy dogs on long leads and have a chat with other pushchair drivers.
I tried not to do this as a driver but I cannot, hand on heart, say I never did it.
This stuff just happens, come to peace with it.
Don’t judge me.

This buggy-dog-toddler-lollipop-man-chat-zone creates a bottle neck of misery for everyone trying to get out of school.

We negotiated this squash by way of tortuous emotional and social turmoil which included leaving another small part of my soul on the pavement and carried on with the slow amble along the pavement.

It is a Lollipop Man before you get all cross.
The Lollipop Lady is at the other gate.
I am being gender specific because he is.

Come on, get back on the pony.

Me: So…how was your day at school?

I signalled the Prole I was talking to with a slight squeeze of Prole1’s damp hand.

Prole1: What?

Here we go.

Me: How was your day at school? Good?

Prole1: Well I FINALLY got a new reading book, it has taken ages, I have been looking for a good book for a long, long time now but there was just nothing on the shelves for me.

Me: I thought you got a book to take home….

Prole1: No Dad. This is from the library. For reading in free time at school.

Me: And there have been no good books in the library?

Prole1: No dad, there are LOADS of good books in the library, I am just not allowed near them. We have to choose books of our shelves and we are not allowed any books from the..the whirly thing…the spin thing…the carousel…spinning book rack?That’s got all the books for the year above and I can tell you there are A LOT of Pirate books when I move up but you can’t get to the Harry Potter books until the year above that. I mean, I spoke to them about it, I asked the teacher in charge of the library and she said I had to choose from the shelves for our year. Actually, I tried to take out a Harry Potter book with the computer, I typed it in and asked to take it out and I had to enter my name and the computer said “We are sorry, you are not in the correct year to take out this book (exclamation mark) Pupils at this school are only allowed to take out and read books from their own shelves(exclamation mark)” so I could not take it out.
I had to take out a Secret Seven book and I sort of like the Secret Seven but they are not as good as the Famous Five, sort of…well half as…I think three…no two Secret Seven Books would make up one Famous Five book.
But of course what I really want is to read the Harry Potter books.

Me: But…you have them at home, you have read them.

Prole1: I have not read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for about two years.

Me: Three months.

Prole1: I have not read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for about three months. Anyway, I finally got a book I like.

Me: Have you asked to read other books?

Prole1: Oh yes, yes, I have asked. I have asked and asked. I spoke to the teacher in charge of the library today. I said I would like to read Harry Potter or…well a Pirate book or any book from the other shelves and she said I couldn’t. I told her about the computer. She said the computer was right and that at our school the little kids don’t read the big kids books. She said the school was allowed to give us books according to our year. I said I had read all the Harry Potter books and she said that did not matter, she told me the rules again. Little kids are not allowed to take the big kids books out of the library. It was just one of those rules.

Me: Were you ok with that?

Prole1: I said I understood completely.

Me: What did she say?

Prole1: She told me to get out of her classroom because her lessons had started.

Me: I thought you were in the library?

Prole1: We were but I followed her back to her classroom to talk about it and as we were chatting the lessons must have started I suppose. She told me rules were rules and to get out.

Me: I bet she did.

There seems to be a petty unfairness about the allocation of books at Prole1’s school but on the other hand they have to put up with Prole1 all day so it seems a fair swap.

Prole1: Maybe rules can be changed in time….

He went quiet and I decided not to pick open what ever was going on in his head.

I squeezed Prole2’s hand.

Me: Did you go to the library?

Prole2: What?

Me: Nothing……

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Back to work after a couple of weeks away today.

Sort of comfy and yet horrible as the wave of emails and messages broke over the desk and the telephone started to warm up.

The van I used to drive when I worked in theatre parked up outside my office window.
I worked in and around Theatre for twenty years before I took the job I now have and there were two theatre companies rehearsing in the spaces around the office today.

I took my first paid job in theatre in 1989 and left my last one in 2009.

The first was a few quid for shifting and loading things in a van but within a year I was touring up and down the Welsh Valleys doing lights and sound for a theatre company that paid badly in cash but well in beer and all the Ginsters Pasties they could hilariously buy me.
At every petrol station.
At every shop.
No matter what I asked for.
Always.
This would happen after Lectures had finished for the day and by the end of my time at Drama College I was working in most of the venues in Cardiff, even depping as Duty Technician in one of the larger studio theatres.

I was never exactly encouraged to work in theatre at school.
I was definitely encouraged to ‘get a trade’ before trying anything so ethereal as the performing arts.

I think I hold myself back from encouraging or discouraging the Proles from doing anything because of this.
The one thing that would leap to the front of my head whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up was something I had been told was near impossible to make a living in.
When I actually started working it slowly dawned on me that as long as you turned up five minutes early, worked hard, didn’t complain and weren’t insane you could probably work anywhere you wanted to.
Actors, I was always told, spend 80% of their time unemployed but I worked for at least five years straight through without a holiday.

I say no holiday, of course I would make sure I had Flora day off.
I have only missed it once in the last thirty years.
I think priorities are important.

I was not entirely happy all the time.
I had my doubts about theatre which I think is important in life.
There are things you must wrestle with.
The problems were encapsulated in that song “There Is No Business Like Show Business” the one Ethel Murman used to sing.
I used to believe that song, I used to believe those lyrics.

“There’s no business like show business
Like no business I know
Everything about it is appealing
Everything the traffic will allow
No where could you have that happy feeling
When you aren’t stealing that extra bow
There’s no people like show people
They smile when they are low”

The problem occurs when I started working in theatre and realised the lyrics are not about joy and magic, they are all about vanity and self service.
They are all about the pursuit of fame over happiness.
They do not deal with the aspiration of the human should to better itself, only the aspiration towards ‘stardom’.

And that line about no people being like show people and them smiling when they are low, isn’t that just a blatant admission that they are all liars and not to be trusted, physically or emotionally?

Was I really working in an industry that shallow?

I could wrestle with Ethel Murman as often as I liked though, I kept on getting work, much against the odds my careers advisor had laid down.

If anything the Theatre stuff was a bit overwhelming.
I left college and set my sights on working for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Within three years I had finished my second run of shows with them as crew and had just turned down a full time contract as RSC Stage Management.
They were nice people, it was a horrible machine.
Devoid of an un-attainable goal to drive me forward I decided that if I could work at the Globe Theatre, which was being built at the time in London, then I could leave theatre happy.
Within a year I was hired as the Globe Theatre’s first Stage Manager.

I didn’t even do anything. I just carried on working at a theatre down the road and it sort of happened.

It frightened the life out of me.

For several years after I did set myself the goal of winning the Lottery but so far no dice, power of positive thinking has it’s limits.

I don’t go to the theatre willingly any more.
It was my one great love and passion, I absolutely adored it, I really did.

I read about it, I thought about it, I dreamed about it, I talked about it and I lived it every day.
It was everything I did and everywhere I went.

It is a brilliant, versatile, unknowable art form and way of life and it was a privilege to have been involved with it for as long as I was.

I actually start getting panicked if I go and see a show these days.
It was always something I contributed to.
Now I just sit there feeling nervous and useless.

It starts when I pick up my coat to leave the house and continues, getting louder and louder until I can leave the theatre and by the time I get home it has calmed right down again.

I can still look a show over and see the mechanics of it and appreciate the hard work involved but I cannot go any where near it as a punter any more.

So the cafe being full of Theatre types was a little nerve wracking today.

I had my hand on the door handle and nearly, nearly did not go in.

If I had been in London I probably would not have done it.

Fortunately this being Cornwall and all it was actually quite lovely to see them.

Two companies I had watched perform when I was still at school.

And of course I could not escape the lovely stories I attribute to all of them in that room.

 

Theatre is not all flowers and air kisses.
When you get inside it’s guts it is as dangerous and horrible as every other aspect of human existence.

But like everything else in human existence, there is joy there too.

What I liked about the people I saw today was that my history with them went right back to before I started working in theatre, it was touched by them through out that time and carries on now I have finished.

I may not enjoy seeing Theatre but I take great joy in seeing it’s people.

I may not be part of that world any more but I still feel supported by it.

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Today was beautiful again.

We went swimming in the morning but as the day wore on it got nicer and nicer and by the time we came out of the pool it was gorgeous.
Sadly we had to go shopping for food, the cupboards were very bare for breakfast following our return to the house.

An hour in Falmouth’s finest monster supermarket gave us the necessary supplies and me the infuriated irritation that meant we would not have to go back for another week.
People.
Shopping trollies.
I mean, really.

We arrived home after lunch.
There was still work to do on the insect house after yesterday’s foiled attempts to re home the invertebrate population of Redruth.
I also felt like today was the day to unpick the compostable nappy question.
The compost bins stand like sentinels of doom at the end of the garden, visible from my chair as I have breakfast.
I used to see them as pillars of hope, slowly but surely churning vegetation into compost.
Since they were utilised to process the organic nappies and results of Prole2’s digestive system the delicate balance of the four compost bins has been ruined and now they just stand there, on rainy days they leak an oozy jelly like substance.

The compost bins need solving.

I decided to dig a big hole and use the old pallets we had made the insect house out of to shutter round it.
I emptied the contents of three of the bins into this new space and then covered over with topsoil and a couple of handfuls of grass seed.
Then I stacked the remaining pallets by the hawthorn tree and got the Proles to fit them out as an insect house again.

I made that sound quite breezy but of course when mankind tries to get close to nature it never goes quite to plan.

The Man Who Digs The Garden ‘borrowed’ my wheel barrow about four years ago.
He is bringing it back.
He tells me he is so it must be true.
For now I know it is in another friend’s garden in Truro.
I sometimes go and visit it.

Without a wheel barrow I was forced to use a laundry tub to shift Prole2’s produce from the old compost bins to the new resting place.
The fork would pick them up but would not let them go again so in the end the simplest way to get the elderly nappies into the tub was to kneel down and pull them out by hand.

Kneeling in the remains of a compost bin and knowing that the compost had been created by worms digesting what my son had previously digested was a little too close to nature for my liking.
The process took about forty five minutes but it seemed…well I was a different person by the end.

The Proles had been encouraged to help in the garden.

Prole1 had been convinced that the garden was a good place but was ‘a little tired from swimming to do any work’.

Prole2 whole heartedly agreed with his brother.

They were no averse to being outside and they made it very clear they fully supported my decision to work in the garden and if at any point they could offer moral support or advice they were more than happy to do so.

I reckoned that being outside on a glorious day was better than inside so I kept on picking and shovelling while Prole2 built a lego car and Prole1 read Tin Tin.

Close to nature is better than away from nature I suppose.

After an hour or so when everything looked like it might be coming together I was just wondering if the Proles might like to come and help when there was an explosion of pigeons from next door’s garden.

The cats had been mooching about all day, occasionally proving that their digestive systems could make a contribution to the garden eco system as well and I assumed it was one of them causing trouble.
A couple of weeks ago it would have been my tabby cat but since she went bald she does not go out much.
I say bald. Bald in places.
I thought the bird scare could have come from the big black tom but he has difficulty jumping onto the washing machine since The Man Who Digs The Garden fed him last week.

The birds flapped and thwacked away over head, right over where I was standing.
I was just turning to see if the Proles had taken any notice of this display of wildlife when the air in front of me became a tangle of wings and flying feathers.
It was over in a second, a flapping white dove pinned to the ground beside my shovel.
A sleek brown shadow above it.
I saw the hawk at about the moment it saw me and we both realised how close we were.

The hawk and the dove leapt away skywards again and the dove fought up with the last of the pigeon flock.
The hawk peeled away and swept low past the garden and was gone across the houses.

I was breathless and disorientated, it had been fast and close, I had adrenaline in my mouth.
There were a scattering of white downey feathers and one large white flight feather landed, twisting in the grass.

I looked across to the Proles.

Prole1 was looking at me.

Prole1: Dad!

Me: Yes?

Prole1: Tin Tin’s dog can talk to him, well it comes out in speech bubbles, but Tin Tin can’t understand him.

Me: Did you see the birds?

Prole1 looks back at his book and then back at me.

Prole1: Which story are they in?

 

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Prole2: I want to STOP!

Me: Are you ok?

Prole2: Yes. I want to STOP!

Me: You aren’t doing anything.

Prole2: Yes I am, I am dreaming.

Me: Are you?

Prole2: Yes and you said if I was dreaming and I did not like it I could shout “I want to stop’ inside my dreams and it might get me out.

Me: But you are not in a dream. You are in the kitchen.

Prole2: Yes but the floor is all funny and wobbly and I am dreaming.

Me: Ahhh…no, that’s motion sickness. Do you still feel like you did on the ferry.

Prole2: Yes, am I sick?

Me: Not…well we call it sick, hopefully if you get a good night’s sleep it won’t be there in the morning.

Prole2: So I am sick, not dreaming?

Me: Um..sea sick…sort of.

Prole2: So I don’t have to go to school tomorrow?

Me: Um..it is half way through the holidays.

Prole2: I am sick. Do I have to go to school tomorrow?

Me: UMmmm…no, no you don’t have to go to school; tomorrow.

Prole2: YES! Yes, yes, yes, Yes!

Me: Good night.

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We travel back on the ferry tomorrow.

Even though it is a daytime crossing I have booked a cabin.
I never used to, they are really expensive and there are lounger chairs you can book if you need to sit down or snooze.

When the proles were little we used to walk round and round the ferry for six hours, exploring steps, chairs, tabes, decks, doors shops and anywhere else they wanted to walk.
They did not really stop, Prole1 leading the way and waving fatly at complete strangers and shouting ‘Bon-joor‘ at them, Prole2 dragging a cuddly toy and trying to hop.

This would go on for hours, broken only by occasional stops on the circuit for food.

It was tiring but fine, if I steeled myself for it and was prepared then things generally went well.

This time however the Proles were properly sea sick, for the first time, when we came out.

We have done the trip many times.

For the most part the crossings have been flat and level.
I remember a bumpy night time crossing but the Proles were tucked up in a cabin and slept through the night, up as bright as daises the next morning.

There was mildly bumpy afternoon crossing, no cabin this time but the Proles were so small they curled up on me and we all dozed in a heap on a lounger.
I woke to find Prole2 warmly and gently vomiting into my armpit.
These were still the days of nappies and irregular and exciting bodily functions on the part of my children so a little bit of watery gip in my shirt was nothing really.
I just swapped it for a spare, changed Prole2’s outfit and we all perked up enough for dinner.

I am slightly more apprehensive about the future.
I remember being fine on boats for a while when I was a kid.
I remember a long period of not being fine too.
I am still prone to sea sickness but try to take measures against it.

If the Proles are around I am usually focussed on keeping them up, about, mobile, fed, watered, entertained and gipless and this seems to take my mind off things.

This last trip was odd, it caught them both the same way at the same time.
I was none too bright either but better than them.

The thing is, they are getting big now, harder to carry one under each arm.
They eat more as well and it is not the same as little tiny baby possets anymore.

I have mentioned Prole2’s eating habits and digestive system before.
He pulls no punches and in the crowded arena of the cross channel ferry he could be a potential heavy weight up-chucker.

The thing I am worried about is ‘association’.

In the days when the Proles staggered around bumping into things and looking at shiny things and were relatively free of long term memory and continence taking them on a ferry was a new experience every time.

Now they remember.

Prole1 said tonight that he hopes he does not get sick again.
Which means he will think about it.
Which means he could bend his massive intellectual imagination around the subject of potential feelings of wooziness.
If he does his mental preparation right he may have got into the zone before we even touch the access ramp.
That boy could be ripe to go before we leave port.
Before we loose moorings even.

Prole2 has been eating nothing but pudding all week, three meals a day, second helpings where possible.
Other foodstuffs have been tried with little success.
I have second hand reports that he might have ‘been’ twice.
He must be like a loaded gun.
Even if he has ‘slipped a couple past us’, I still have to deal with the very real possibility that he could go off like a custard, cream and pastry fountain at some point on the trip.

We face a new set of dangers this time round and I have to be prepared.

Let us see what the sea brings.

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I sort of made a promise to myself that I would not write about ‘writing’ if I could help it.

Lots of people do and they do it better than I ever could.
I don’t consider myself a writer because I sit here every day and do this, any more than I consider myself a cook or a driver or a child minder. It is something I just do as part of the day.
I used to make short films every now and then with Loz but I would never consider ‘film maker’ as part of my make up.

I do try to write each day and posting on WordPress is an easy way to challenge myself.

I find myself at a bit of an impasse.
We are on holiday and there is too much and not enough.

But I did say I would try to post every day so I do have to face this screen at least once a day.

The stuff I feel confident with writing about is the stuff with just me and them.

On a holiday like this it is hard to comb out the moments.

Just one moment from today then:

On the way across the fields today Prole1 and Prole2 had a dandelion clock fight.

It took ages.

I can’t tell you who the winner was.

Probably me.

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The Smurfs are a bit of fun aren’t they?

I am not talking about the films.
I have not watched the films on principle.
I have watched almost all the “Winnie The Pooh” films and I am the lesser for it.

I don’t want the films to spoil the Smurfs for me.

Unfortunately my view of the world of the Smurfs is being shaken.

I am pretty sure they are still the cute little guys I remember.
They might be.

The Smurfs might also be the most sexist series of books I have ever read.

It is only reading it now that I wonder.

In fairness to Peyo, who wrote them, I have not read them all.

On the other hand, Peyo was writing the Smurfs in fifties and sixties France, about a village of one hundred males and one female and if stereo types of the time are anything to go by there is slim chance things are going to improve.

If the stereo types are anything to go by.

Which is the point unfortunately.

To write off Peyo (who, up until now in my memory of children’s books, was a towering hero) as a stereo type is to fall utterly and completely into the trap.
Supposing I start making dour and downbeat remarks about one of France’s best loved publishing giants only to have some future person expose my biased and mildly xenophobic remarks?

I mean, I could be right.

“The Smurfette” might be indicative of, and an early advocate of, popular body modification trends in the early twentieth century.
Smurfette herself may be a key signifier of all that is wrong with the portrayal of female characters in popular culture.
She may be an inverted role model, a sort of less gobby Spice Girls.
Media oppression and objectification of femininity dressed up as “a bit of fun’ or ‘strong character’.

This may be the first spoon feeding of ‘cute’ negative role models that the Proles have fully absorbed.

I say fully absorbed because Prole1 is currently translating the whole of the Smurf Anthology volume 1 and 2 for Prole2.
They have been through the books about seven times each.

But I am hoist by my own liberal petard.

Because on the other hand….

It may just be a bit of fun.
The Proles might not take it seriously.

The illustrations are brilliant.
Some of the jokes are very good.
The stories are very funny.

So in order to find out the truth of the question “Is Peyo’s Opus valid reading for the twenty first century?” we probably have to read to the end of the series to find out.

Just to be sure.

You have to get to the bottom of the Honey jar, just to make sure it’s not cheese, right?

After all, as a friend pointed out the other day, you have to wade through quite a lot of early Herge racism before you get to the Tin Tin classics….