The very reason we need libraries – and people who use them
My 10 year old daughter recently wrote to David Cameron, having become incensed after hearing on the news that many UK libraries would soon be closing.
It’s her first experience of being cross at a government proposition, and she received letters back from Downing Street, the Department for Culture, and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The first two letters were lovely, acknowledging her concerns (though predictably glossing over them), but the third contained not only a spelling mistake, but a final sentence composed of nonsense.
I’ll save the blushes of the witless wonder that wrote it, but it was helpful of him to prove her point that libraries (home of many a dictionary) are crucial to learning.
Are you a feminist or does the very word just turn you off?
What does the word ‘feminism’ mean to you? For many people nowadays, whether female or male, it seems to mean either nothing, or have hugely negative connotations.
There is a post-feminist stigma attached to the word, it seems. Yet there should be no stigma attached to the concept. As Maya Angelou said, “I’m a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.
Indeed, whatever happens in life, you’d be pretty daft not to be rooting for, and looking out for, number one.
I remember some time ago reading another famous woman’s take on this. Marginally less highbrow, forgive me, but Lady Gaga spoke sense when she suggested that “some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.
This was on social media, and one female reactor said that it suggested you couldn’t trust your husband. Frankly, that’s tosh. Plus, you could wake up and no longer love him.
Alternatively, you could be gay with a wife – but you’d still need to be able to support yourself. Furthermore, why on earth wouldn’t you, in the 21st century, have some yearning for a purposeful career? And, finally, if we are living in a society where little girls are still being brought up to believe that they must seek out and be looked after by a big old hunting and gathering man, then something has gone very awry between Emmeline Pankhurst and her fellow pioneers who died for our liberty, and the women of today.
There is nothing sad about raising our daughters – and sons – in such a way that encourages independence and success, and an ability to provide personal happiness and stability. Life is real; there’s no fairytale. Divorces happen and, tragically, people pass away. But it’s easier to deal with life if you can be both fully open to a beautiful relationship, whilst also being able to support yourself – financially and emotionally.
The inspiring story of Alex Lewis
My husband and I watched The Extraordinary Case of Alex Lewis on Channel 4 last week, and it affected me for days afterwards.
We didn’t feel the uncomfortable sensation of voyeurism that sometimes accompanies such documentaries, and watched instead with simple humanity and admiration at the bravery of Alex and his wife.
Having lost all four of his limbs, and his lower face, to a common bacterium following a cold, Alex’s world was distorted forever. His grit and determination, and his wife’s no-nonsense approach, were inspiring. Far from sitting on their backsides bemoaning the fate that they’d been dealt, they adapted, they evolved, and they triumphed.
A lesson for us all on the days when we complain about the traffic.
First published in The Portsmouth News, Saturday 7th May 2016