Actor Ashley Judd on a demo.   She plays strong women e.g opposite Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls.  

A recent Bath Literature Festival included a debate Does Feminism have to start all over again?   One speaker who’d answer Yes was Finn Mackay, a young Bristol University academic specialising in Feminist Studies.   The capacity crowd cheered her to the echo as she talked about the patriarchy and said how scandalous it was that there were more lap-dancing clubs in this country than rape crisis centres and that it was time to take back the night.

I’m saddened by the return of lady rather than woman, the popularity of lipstick, and heels.

The other day I watched the Libya debate in the Commons.   Henchman Clegg kept glancing slyly at the camera like a vain man admiring his reflection in a shop window.   Ed Miliband is an unfortunate victim of Ian Duncan-Smith Syndrome: he has an undistinguished voice and features and unsuccessfully strives to invest them with drama.

In the ‘Seventies I remember reading the review of a Dialect Atlas of Britain.   It showed which words were used to describe the same things in different parts of the country.   One was the word for infusing tea in hot water: ‘brew’ and ‘mash’ featured among others. But one thing that had a lot of variations was the word to describe the passage between buildings.   What’s yours?   I was reminded of this the other day by Peter James, the novelist and crime writer, (and ‘Life and Soul’ reader) mentioning that the Brighton word was twitten.   It reminds me of the first one I heard which was in Nottingham … the strange twitchell.   Lancashire has alley, and I’m sure there are lots of passages.   An oddity locally is the variation in just a few miles: Leeds has ginnil, whereas Bradford just down the road has snicket.

The one that has the most variables is the vocative of endearment: in Leeds, students from elsewhere giggle over bus drivers who call them love.   I imagine they’d giggle even more to be addressed in the West Country as my lover.   And then there are darlin’, chuck, ducks, pal.   But why should this feature of our lives beget so many variables?   What ones have you come across?

England won the toss at Colombo and the commentators were unanimous in saying what a vital toss it was to win.   This seems unfair on the Sri Lankans. (Although, as I write, the English batsmen aren’t doing very well at all!) I can’t think of a better way of doing it in one-off matches but I can certainly recommend a fairer solution for a series: have a toss for the first match of a series and then alternate the choice of whether to field or bat.


Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,

But still he lay moaning:

I was much further out than you thought

And not waving but drowning.


Poor chap, he always loved larking

And now he’s dead

It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,

They said.


Oh, no, no, no, it was too cold always

(Still the dead one lay moaning)

I was much too far out all my life

And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith

I don’t know who said this but Happiness isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you have.

14 - Femme et oiseaux, 1966 (Oil on canvas) Joan Miro

Femme et oiseaux by Joan Miro – photo from flickr by See-ming Lee

Miro Exhibition … Tate Modern … 14th April – 11 September.   Review later.


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