Wednesday, 21 May 2014

I Practised When Everybody else had gone Home.

I was sad today to read of the criticism of the body shape of a leading opera star, Irish Mezza soprano, Tara Erraught, at Glyndebourne festival opera, Der Rosenkavalier. She is principal soloist in the Bavarian State Opera and made her UK stage debut at the festival on Saturday. She is highly regarded but has been talked about in leading newspapers disparagingly because of her appearance. It makes me want to weep.
In a way this is a direct follow up to the post I did a few days ago. It doesn't matter how talented you are or how hard you work, to the world you are what you look like when you are a woman and there is no way round it.
I read about this matter in the Guardian. It didn't say whether the critics were men or women and I suppose really it doesn't matter. Yes, it does. Women putting down women?  I thought we got past that when we stopped competing for men's incomes, when we had more options, when we grasped education and choice and independence and we want it for daughters, by God we do. And men putting down women?  I'm bored with it and with them and with anyone who behaves in such an ungenerous manner and I'm sorry for them, for being stupid and small minded and for voicing their opinions in supposedly decent newspapers. What the hell were they thinking about?  Don't we have editors any more or decent sub editors?
I love opera. I wish I had been there. I wish I could have heard her sublime voice. Apparently the role was very difficult and she did it very well. I just hope to God she doesn't give a shit what people think, that she goes forward with her exceptional talent and delights audiences all over the world and I hope that some time I get to hear her sing because there is nothing more sublime than opera well done.
I suppose there is another way to look at it. When people put me down because of who I am I always think it's because they aren't happy themselves and when you are in the arts, it doesn't matter how, there are a lot of people out there who have given up their dreams, sometimes because they didn't have the talent, but more often because they didn't want it enough. As Shirley Temple used to say, 'I practised when everyone else had gone home.'
They didn't try as hard as you. By God I tried.
I remember after my husband died some people complained that I could afford a decent house but we had built our dream house. I had to leave it, it was one of the hardest  things I've ever done and after that a lot of men seemed to think that I wasn't entitled to a nice house because I was young and a widow but we worked for that house, we grafted, we lived in a caravan for two years, we put up with all kinds of problems and discomforts. I had to give it up after he died, as I had to give up a lot of other things but do you know what?
I live in a lovely house with stained glass windows and tiny original fireplaces in one of the most beautiful cities on earth. We worked and I still work and I graft and I am entitled to my place in the world and so is every woman and so is every man and every child.
So I just hope that  this wonderful opera singer knows these people are jealous of her and that she goes on singing and singing because that is what you do with talent, you get off your arse and you work. And then you win. By God, do you win! There is no feeling on earth like the euphoria of doing your best and knowing how good you are and this woman, she is among the best ever. I don't know her but I'm damned proud of her.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Abortion - not in Texas and not in Northern Ireland

I read the recent ruling that women from Northern Ireland will not be allowed to come to England to have abortions. And I know from friends who live there that abortions are not legal any more in Texas and that there are very few women doctors.
Then we have the two hundred abducted schoolgirls and on and on and on. Germaine Greer famously said that women have no idea how much men hate them.
I read something yesterday that women now have a saying  'You can't live with men … oh, well, there it ends.'
No wonder really. The married women's property act is not so very old. It makes me tired to think how badly women have been treated by men always.
Yesterday on Radio 4 - I can't remember the woman's name, forgive me, I was hurtling up the M6 at the time - anyway, she decided to get married and only then saw that her father's name and profession would be on the marriage certificate and not her mother's. So if she can change this she will marry her boyfriend.
And it occurred to me that I still don't understand why women marry now. If I was young now or asked to marry I would refuse. There is no benefit in marriage for women. Why bother?  You give up your freedom, you end up looking for your husband's socks, he has stupid hobbies like watching football or cleaning out his pigeon cree - no, actually I like pigeons so I would probably be up there with him, waiting for my favourite pigeon to come back from wherever he'd gone to. Dear God.
My mother put three hot meals on the table every single day. She washed floors at ten o'clock at night and this was a woman who 'married well'. Dear God, meals and bloody floors. She had to marry well, she had no option, she lived in a backwater, she had no qualifications. She was very good looking.
Would she marry now?  I don't think she would. I think she would have the poultry farm she always longed for, no honestly she did and not spend her life bringing up her feckless children and putting plain food on the table because her husband did not like anything else.
She had no money to call her own for thirty years. At best we are loved, at worst we are taken for granted and that's here, not in some dreadful place where we can't show our faces.
I think that the only way for women to live now is to have their financial independence, to decide what they will and will not do. And please, let's be honest, all those gorgeous little people, they grow up into obnoxious adults and make you wonder why you bothered.
So I haven't put the argument well or if at all here. The only thing I know is that nothing would induce me to live in Northern Ireland - where one politician said 'we look after our women here' - excuse me while I throw up, or Texas where apparently the state does not allow women say over their own bodies.Women are adults, they are as intelligent as men and there is very little they cannot do but for some reason even though you can now kill other people in the armed forces there are lots of places where you are not allowed the freedom of your own mind and that is always inexcusable.
So remember girls you need education and a job first and always because if you have your own bank account the world is yours.

Monday, 5 May 2014


I was up at my caravan last week so by Thursday - it poured with rain, every time I pack the caravan up it rains - so I came home. I didn't realise that it was a bank holiday weekend until it was upon me. This is one of the reasons I so hate this time of year. All those damned bank holidays. Holidays of all kinds, when you live alone, are hell and those long weekends defeat me. As it was the weather was lovely most of the time but I couldn't bring myself to sort things out again and go to Weardale.
I know that for a lot of people bank holidays are wonderful but to me it's just grit my teeth and wait until things get back to normal. Thank God it's Tuesday tomorrow.
The one bright spark was that I went to see Tarzan. Not that I enjoyed it. It was full of those dreadful cliches. Tarzan and big and had a gorgeous body and dark eyes and black hair and  Jane was tiny and blonde and he kept having to rescue her. Thank God nobody really expects to be rescued.
Also there was a fat kid who was dumb and a bespectacled man who was pathetic so in this movie you had to be slender and gorgeous to be intelligent. Dear Lord, whatever next. All those ghastly stereotypes. Give me children's movies any day, they are mostly fearless, brave, sending brilliant messages to our children.
Never mind, we did go to Zizzi's afterwards and I had a pizza and lots of red wine and lots of chat with friends and that was lovely.