I apologise for my soapbox ranting. Next time I'll take it to speaker's corner instead, I promise.
Let's get back to what's really important. Fashion is getting tricky for me (though I read something in Rose Tremain's latest, in which an old lady is talking to two policemen in their forties and she thinks of them as in the prime of life - how fantastic, I thought, I should start thinking of myself as IN THE PRIME OF LIFE instead of middle aged. Because otherwise you're always going to look back regretfully and think 'I was so much younger then, wish I'd appreciated it at the time.' It's a ridiculous way to spend a life.)
Here are things I have found in the prime of life to help:
A good colourist. Seriously, it's insanely expensive but they will take years off you.
Wonderbra. I used to scorn them but once you try them they are miraculous, especially if your tetas are not as big as you might have wished.
Shoes. They are painful after years of wearing trainers but they make you look ten times more together, grownup and, I'm hoping, sexier.
But some things I can't do anymore. Little flowery dresses, they look absurd. And it breaks my heart that the Allsaints bikers jacket, which I love, stays in the wardrobe because everytime I put it on I take it off again, thinking dear lord, MDL... * Can't let it go though.
Mae West said "Mother Nature will turn you into a hag if you don't show the bitch who's boss." Any tricks you know for flying in the face of nature?
I'm still in shock over the £30,000 a year it takes to send your child (clearly, not YOUR child, you peasant) to Eton. Over 8 years, £240,000. For one child.
Here's a crazy idea - why don't all the rich people sending their kids to private schools put that money into the state school system so the state schools can be good schools, and not just their own children can benefit?
I know, I know.
And another thing. In this programme Andrew Neil kept on saying 'I'm not socialist, I'm not coming from a left-wing perspective, but...' and then being irresistibly drawn to left-wing conclusions. He got the Minister for Schools to admit that it's shit that 65% of MPs went to private schools when only 7% of the country go to private schools.
There was a lot of nostalgia for grammar schools as a conveyor belt for social mobility, but grammar schools were just private schools that you didn't have to pay for - they had high academic success rates not through some miraculous pedagogy, but by the simple expedient of excluding non academic kids, troublesome kids, forget about those with special needs or learning difficulties. That's what the 11+ was for - not to let them in, but to keep the others out. (And grammar schools raised the 11+ pass rate for girls without publishing this fact at the time. Hmm. The name of the game is Exclusion.)
Anyway, if I ruled the world...
I'd have many more schools, with much smaller classes, and more staff. Better communication with parents & more involvement & responsibility for parents. More emphasis on home & school working together. (They're your kids.)
Way more focus on children finding out who they are and what they're good at (- no point flogging a dead horse, we're not all athletes or artists and we're not all readers and writers, if they have a good enough standard of literacy to get by then why make them study something they hate for years on end, they're not going to get better at it and you'll only turn them off?)
Don't make them stay at school until they're 18 - school is not for everyone. It's just so they can avoid them turning into an unemployment statistic. Schools shouldn't have to act like jails for rampaging teenagers who don't want to be there.
Bring in apprenticeships and make them lead to proper jobs at the end of it.
Bring in more vocational training and opportunities to do work experience and work shadowing. Have companies/trades partner up with school and guarantee to take students on at the end of work placements.
Have better links with world of work and more contacts come into schools so children know what opportunities are out there. I didn't know half the jobs you could do even by the time I left school, aged 18. It wasn't considered part of education.
"Young Tories and non rich Tories are the most difficult to understand"said Josie Long on Twitter.
I know what she meant. If you are young, you still have fire in your belly, you haven't been ground down by paying the rent for years, you are interested in more than your take-home pay, your headspace is not taken up by the everyday grind, you still have some principles and a natural sense of justice. You still might give a shit, in other words. (and these days, if you are young, you are demonized beyond belief, which would naturally make you identify with the underdog.)
And if you're non-rich (working class?) why would you get behind a system that clearly despises you and is weighted against you?
But... that's not the way working class Tories see it. I know, having grown up with one. Non-rich wc people don't see or acknowledge the welfare state as having supported them. They have pride and believe that graft is all that is needed to make it. Anyone can just knuckle down, stop moaning, stop expecting handouts, and anyone can be successful. And graft should be rewarded. They might be conservative with a small c and despise the other principles that go along with socialism besides. For example, the left wing vs right wing stance on immigration.
It is summed up for me in Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels, she remembers a childhood conversation when someone tries to explain the difference between left wing and right wing to her. I paraphrase, as I don't have it here.
"Left wing people want everyone to be poor. But we want everyone to be rich."
Because she was a child, she was stumped by this argument and didn't come to see its flaw till she was older. (She made up for it later by joining the Communist Party and went on to be investigated by the House Committee UnAmerican Activities)
I think a lot of people get stuck at this argument. They don't really look at how society, or the economy, works. They point to the Alan Sugars as though the exception proved some rule. Or else they really don't give a flying fuck about anyone else, as long as they're alright (which is my analysis of capitalism, in a nutshell. As long as money is being made, all is well.)
Why might young people be Tory though? Maybe they are privileged already and don't feel the need to dig too deep. Maybe because there's less guilt and anxiety involved in being right wing - the status quo is being defended, which is always less uncomfortable. You're protecting what's already yours, instead of fighting for some vague utopia. Easy. I think right-wing politics is simple at heart, and left-wing may be more complex. Not to say that Tories are more stupid, but just maybe that they don't feel the need to think too hard about things.
Last time I had to get a cab to a charity shop because there were too many to carry, and the nearest chazza is in South Woodford (amongst Leytonstone's many flaws is the lack of secondhand shops.) As I struggled through the door with my carrier bags, the woman behind the till glanced up uninterestedly and said 'We're overwhelmed with books at the moment. OVERWHELMED. We don't need any more.' I swore at her (under my breath, I am English and always polite) and took my custom elsewhere.
Anyway I think it's best to go back to leaving them on the tube one at a time.
Next up: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens. Dickens snuffed it halfway through writing this gothic thriller, so it was more of a mystery than he'd intended.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson. Her breakthrough and funniest book. The others are pale imitations of Italo Calvino, I think.
I dreamed I was in the hall at work. But it was sloping steeply, like a theatre. (always have bad dreams about being at the top of a theatre and everything tilting...)* Then it was nearly vertical. I slid from the top of the hall to the bottom, kids and grownups standing and sitting in the way would get out of my way and do nothing, just watch me slide, trying to grab hold of something, anything, sliding down slooowly, inevitably... At the bottom I slid under the stage blocks, under the dusty stage. Then woke up. The end.
*possibly influenced by NYE visit to watch Sonic Youth at the Hammersmith Apollo with Mr Oye Billy. And by watching Wall-E, in which there's a scene when everything on the spaceship tilts. Tsk, stupid easily influenced magpie brain.
I'm linking this cheery poem 'He resigns' by John Berryman(sorry, I know it's January and we're probably all down enough) because I just came across it and it sums up bereavement so well for me. Though it might be about a break-up. Hopefully soon I'll be able to think about her without it making me cry. I want to remember her with happiness because before she was sick she was such a happy, life-enhancing person to be around, the kind of person who lights up a room.
It's so good, it took a moment til I realised it rhymes too. There's probably a fancy name for this type of poem, but I often dozed off in English class, anyone familiar with it?
(PS I like poems that are short and unpretentious.)
Started watching a programme about internet dating & had to turn off fast because it was a woman writing for a woman's magazine (you know what I think about them) and blogging about her dates and a joke about 'ending up alone living with cats' within the first few seconds. Lazy tired cliches, much? There is an interesting programme to be made about it but that wasn't it. Why not interview men? Why not think of a different way to do it? Why be lazy & recycle same old thinking? So I watched a programme on mind control instead (actually I fell asleep - #gettingold...)
I don't like Chardonnay.
I don't have a gay best friend.
I've never fantasized about getting married (au contraire, the thought fills me with horror and a trapped, claustrophobic feeling)
I'm not terrified of my own company or being alone. (au contraire, sometimes I think I'm so self-sufficient it probably stands in the way of meeting people.)
I still somehow think I'm interesting despite not being able to contribute personally to conversations on engagements or babies.
Siri Hustvedt is writing the intro to the catalogue for the Dreams exhibition (for those of you that don't know this author, you might know her writer husband, Paul Auster.)
Gavin Turk is one of the (the curator, Katja, is not sure of the correct term - backers? Patrons? Guardian angels?) of the exhibition.
It's all coming together. V excited. The caretaker suggested that I could hang my mobile from the chandelier in the entrance hall of Freud's house, which is just what I'd wanted but thought he might not like it. (The caretaker, not Freud. Freud is past caring what they do to his house.) Who'd have thought it?
I didn't expect to like it but I really really did. She's a thoughtful, low-key film-maker, knows how to show rather than tell. Stephen Dorff is a film star staying in the Chateau Marmont, looking after his 11 year old daughter (a really great, natural young actor) and shagging hundreds of women. You think that if you were a young, good-looking famous film star and women were throwing themselves at you all the time, you probably would too, why wouldn't you?
But it makes you think about the emptiness of fame - after a while, the women all look the same and it becomes subtly depressing.
And it makes you think about the weirdness of fame, because he's a totally ordinary bloke, but they all chase him just because he is famous.
(this is a rabbit print I made over Xmas, no I have not lost it, it is for work next term, when I'll be teaching printmaking in Art to my horrible little year 3s with the theme of Chinese New Year - it's the year of the rabbit, didn't you know?)
If you are born in the year of the rabbit, you are "Keen, Wise, Fragile, Tranquil, Serene, Considerate, Fashionable, Sneaky, Obsessive." I believe I'd get along with them very well. (I'm a Pig - I wish I was something sexy like a Dragon or a Tiger, but there we have it.)
Chin chin! Salut! L'chaim! Hope this year's a good one.
It started off as a bookcrossing blog, in which I left my books on the Central Line, hoping someone would pick them up and comment on them here. It has morphed into, er, this. So if you showed up looking for something about bookcrossings and books... look here or here instead