Making the Future Female

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KNOCK KNOCK – WHO’S THERE?


We’ve lived in this street for a little under two years and it’s a lovely place. The neighbours are friendly, the countryside starts literally just round the corner and the house itself suits us perfectly. Many species of birds congregate in the huge beech trees lining the canal that runs close behind the houses opposite and the Dawn Chorus has to be heard to be believed.

The town itself is clean and pleasant and lies near the centre of the motorway system and the airport, so it’s easy to get to pretty much anywhere quickly. There are some lovely parks within walking distance and the gym and swimming pool complex is less than a mile away. The shopping centre, also fairly close, is perfect for our needs with a good mix of chain stores, supermarkets and small specialist shops.

There’s only one problem: someone keeps slamming their front door at all hours. It usually happens late at night and in the early hours. We can tell it’s the same door by the noise it makes – a rattle of glass, a thump of wood on wood and the after-jangle of the letterbox and knocker reverberating.

And it often happens twice.

I’ve heard it countless times, lying in bed in the dark.

On several occasions we’ve gone to windows and looked and listened but there is nobody about, no vehicles start so we’ve returned to bed none the wise.

But today I thought I’d blog about it and see what others think. What would readers do if they were here, and would they make efforts to track down the nocturnal door-slammer?

And if they found out, what would they do then?

Our road is a short cul-de-sac meaning there are only a few houses close enough to belong to the culprit. The folks on our left don’t have a door with glass and a knocker and I’ve heard their door shut – so it’s not them. The neighbours on the right are quiet people and they have a porch with sliding doors, which means we can exclude them as well.

Further along on the right come two lovely families who both have young kids. The children play out in the road and are very friendly and sociable. Both sets of parents are thoughtful and aware people and would hardly slam their doors at unsocial hours and risk waking their own youngsters up. We can safely discount them as well.

That leaves five possible venues.

Two houses stand at the end of the road and three face us. Let’s begin with those opposite.

Furthest away is a nice bloke in his early 40’s. He’s a gentle person and cycles around the local lanes when not travelling the country selling hi-tech computer security software. He runs the neighbourhood watch and was very friendly when we first moved in. (probably checking us out as my partner was fond of quipping) I’ve seen him shut his door and he’s quite quiet and deliberate, as would be expected from someone who sells security systems. He isn’t the door-banger.

I’d like to digress here for a minute and briefly look at doors and how we use them. I used to work for a globally-known local automotive manufacturer and remember learning how problems with doors were, for a time, a major source of downtime, and causing great irritation to management. Although cars are built on increasingly mechanised production lines, the correct fitting of doors still requires lots of human involvement. Experienced workers bend and thump the fitted doors with mallets to achieve that satisfying ‘clunk’ we all expect when we casually leave a vehicle and swing the door shut behind us. It’s a mix of science, technology and old-fashioned metal-bashing.

Doors in houses likewise have to be hung by experienced people to avoid gaps, draughts and sticking. But all kinds of doors can be damaged by slamming. Whether this lack of care is due to ignorance, or some psychological transference of anger, I cannot say, but I often see folk treat both car and house doors as if they were unbreakable. Doors are designed to be shut thoughtfully, and work much better and for longer if they are used properly. If you’ve been used to taking your bad moods out on the humble door, then this is a plea to be nicer in future.

The people opposite would be easy to blame for this anti-social slamming as they’re considered ‘strange’ and ‘up to no good’ by some in the road. As far as I know, the couple are guilty of nothing more than not being talkative or sociable, and have never done anything wrong or impacted badly on anything or anybody. Yet keeping themselves to themselves, as the old saying goes, appears now to be tantamount to being a career criminal according to the so-called respectable neighbours. I’m naturally talkative and highly sociable but wonder what people would be saying if I had severe agoraphobia?

However, I’ve seen the people opposite leave for work and they don’t shut the door like that. So it’s not them.

The people in the house next to them are perhaps the quietist in the road. Their front door is to the side of the property and they come and go almost imperceptibly. They really respect their doors, so we can scratch them from the list.

That leaves two properties in the frame – apologies readers; I couldn’t resist one pun – the biggest houses in the road.

The property nearest us houses a family with several teen-aged and older kids and a middle-aged mum and dad. There’s always someone arriving or leaving so their door is regularly opening and closing. It’s a quiet door and not the offender.

Which points to…

The final house in the road is inhabited by a single woman in her middle to late 50s. We’ve spoken to her several times and she comes across as nervous and slightly scatty yet warm and gentle. She has a job requiring no little intellectual input, works in her garden and has a very friendly cat. So could she be the phantom slammer?

I woke early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so got up and absentmindedly looked out of the bedroom window. The woman at the end came out of her front door, walked to her car, opened the door, closed it again, then walked back to her front door and slammed it shut. Then while I was watching she performed the whole sequence again.

Exactly.

This was the same sound I heard so many times before. Half an hour later I heard it again and went to the window in time to see her come out and do it again.

So, readers, hopefully you can see why I’m asking for some suggestions. If this was a case of someone doing it either without thinking or deliberately trying to wake the neighbours, there are plenty of avenues open to remedy the situation; I could simply go and tell them to stop, I could send a letter, either straightforward or sarcastic, or I could report them to the local authorities.

But if this woman is acting out some obsessive/compulsive behaviour I don’t want to make her feel worse or threatened, so the above responses are all problematic.

If I talk to her she might deny it and then what do I do? How should one balance the nuisance on the one hand, and the psychological risk on the other?

Is it better to challenge such behaviour, whatever the reason, or should I mind my own business?

I know readers have more experience of this field than me and wonder what they might suggest. 

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QUESTION FOR BLOGGERS


Hi mates – the Reader function on my blog went gone crazy for a while, only showing posts from blogs I don’t follow.

Now it has returned to normal.

Has this happened to anyone else?

🙂


BLOG AND BREAKFAST


Today we dined on organic porridge and fruit.

What do you fancy first thing in the morning?


Overtaking isn’t just about driving…


Spent a few happy hours on and around the M5 motorway today.

It was dark and wet most of the time – the type of rain windscreen wipers struggle to cope with effectively. The drops were either just too slow for proper wiping or just too fast for the occasional program.

That’s all we need – mischievous rain…

We had some fun with the tame starlings, sparrows and wagtails who shared our impromptu picnic in the carpark at the motorway services. The birds were highly inquisitive and unconcerned at being close to humans, cars and lorries.

The chirping and chattering birds seemed a lot brighter than many of the frowning Homo sapiens as they emerged crumpled from their tin cans to stretch and smoke.

Motorways are great when there are hardly any other users about, but more challenging in poor weather.

We negotiated large lorries with weak lighting suddenly looming large through the haze, people on phones pulling out without warning, van drivers rubbing their eyes like they’d just woken up while their vehicles swerved across several lanes, strangely attired motorcyclists, folk that don’t switch their car headlights on in the day, however dark it is, because they’re trying to cut down on their electricity bills, students driving with one hand while eating a baguette with the other and big German saloons slicing through the mist and spray at speeds over a hundred miles an hour.

Sooz calls cars ‘killing machines’ and can’t understand why people drive at silly speeds, especially in wet, misty, low-light conditions. She wonders how they can risk other people’s lives.

She hates it when cars ‘tailgate’ each other at high speeds, as it is clear they couldn’t stop in time if something happened.

Obviously many people think it’s okay to go fast, but certain drivers and particular vehicles are more likely to be overtaking and going well over reasonable limits.

More men than women seem to be involved, and drivers of bigger and more powerful vehicles are the worst culprits.

Nobody thinks they’ll crash.

But it happens.

Everyone decides their next meeting, delivery, drop or call is important enough for them to risk everything by rushing.

Bosses push their drivers to go faster and expect results.

After all, as we’re told constantly;

TIME IS MONEY!

But if you think about that phrase, it is meaningless.

Time isn’t anything but time.

Money is what the economic system uses to manage and control human affairs.

Don’t believe the hype.

Car manufacturers make vehicles that go faster than speed limits virtually everywhere. So why is that? Surely the makers are complicit if not majorly responsible for some of this behaviour?

Think about the adverts, the sponsorship of sporting, cultural and charity events, the tie-ins with the oil companies. Cars are the most visible everyday signifier of social status and rank.

Automobiles are the prizes for conforming to the dominant business model – the better your car, the higher you are up the pyramid.

Car manufacturers sell status. People try to show this by having more powerful and faster cars than others.

Overtaking isn’t just about driving;

It’s often a political gesture as well.

 

 


SENSES AND NONSENSE


I’m sitting in the conservatory and the rain is tapping lightly on the roof.  I like to listen to the rain; it helps me to think and it forms a nice white noise background to reading. The Ficus Benjamina – Weeping Fig as it’s more commonly known – towers above me and will soon curl around the ceiling fan if left alone. It’s grown so quickly over the past two years that it’s become more tree than bush. We’ve put some fairy lights around the top which gives the room a magical quality after dark.

Beside my chair is a Jade Plant we’ve had for some years. It’s large, roughly spherical in shape and the plump leaves shine even in the half light. If I move my head to the left I can just see the blurred reflections from the twinkling fairy lights in the branches above.  

If I lean to the right I can reach another plant. I’ve just rubbed my fingers on the rough, papery leaves of the what we erroneously call the Lemon Balm and the fragrance quickly fills the room and wafts all over the house. It’s actually a Pelargonium or Geranium.

Slightly further along the wall there’s a variegated weeping fig that was an International Women’s Day gift to my partner. 

I didn’t know until recently that it was the done thing in many parts of the world to give women presents on this day.  It’s a practice I’m planning to promote in this so-called country of England.

I can hear the fan whirring on my computer down below the keyboard and the rain is getting heavier behind me.  The wind has picked up. I was out earlier and the breeze had a nasty sharpness to it so I guessed it was from the North. It’s supposedly a British obsession – talking about the weather – but I suppose people must do it pretty much everywhere.

We’re going to Gloucester tomorrow.  Parts of the town date back to the Medieval Period and if the weather isn’t too bad I’ll post some pictures. 

Good night friends, wherever you are – I hope the weather is to your liking and you are happy and healthy. 

😉

 

 


SPELLCHECKER OR LANGUAGE WRECKER?


SPELLCHECKER OR LANGUAGE WRECKER?

I really love blogging as I greatly enjoy both communicating my ideas with others and hearing what they’ve got to say. As bloggers will all be aware, WordPress has an onboard Spellchecker that lets the writer know if they make mistakes when authoring their posts.

Now I’m writing this in MS Word and will copy the text across to my blog New Post window. When I write the posts directly in WordPress I’ve noticed a common and regular issue with spellings that the Spellchecker flags up as incorrect. I’m talking about the difference between American and British English.

So when I write words such as ‘theatre’, ‘centre’, ‘harbour’, or a whole group of words that end ‘-ise’ the spellchecker underlines the words as incorrect. The checker likes ‘–ize’ rather than ‘-ise’ and the US versions of many common words. I’m sure British English writers can think of more examples.

Now although an English graduate and postgraduate and sometime teacher of language and literature, I’m not one of those that believes in a fixed, static language and do not worry if folk subvert or evolve what is sometimes anachronistically known as the Queen’s English. But I don’t know if I want to give up all my English English spellings simply because of a spellchecker.

I know some other British bloggers feel strongly about this as our language is very much part of our identity and it can feel like an attack on our history and culture when a dumb spellchecker says it is wrong.

Sometimes it’s nice to show my geographical background by the way I write and spell certain words, although I don’t know how readers respond to this, be they Americans, Canadians, Australians, Europeans or Asians. And English is the second language for most people, so this is something that affects most of the world in one way or another.

So my questions to readers are these;

  • Should we just give up on British spellings as old-fashioned and obsolete and adopt US versions en masse?
  • Should we continue with traditional spellings and try to keep them current, even though it’s fairly obvious US versions will one day become dominant and ubiquitous?
  • Should we use English forms when writing to British folks and use US variants when writing for an international or mainly US audience?
  • Not bother either way and just do what feels right in an ad hoc manner?
  • Something else?

I’d like to hear what others think, wherever you live and whatever version of English you usually use.

Please comment…


GOT MY FIRST CHINESE READER!


I’ve been asking bloggers about where their viewers originate  recently and although between us we’ve had folk from most of the world stop by, none had seen anyone from China

“They’re no doubt blocking their citizens…” we mumbled to each other. “Same as with Facebook,” my erudite Pink mate suggested  and I assumed he was right without checking.

But this week I had my first person from the world’s most populous nation come to this blog.

And it set me thinking: who writes about Chinese issues? I certainly haven’t, and to be fair I don’t go to Chinese sites. So why should they come to me? I’ve always followed US people, politics and news because it affects all the world. Well now I’m going to read more and learn more about Chinese culture because pretty soon they’ll be vying with the US for top dog status.

So bloggers, why not consider how to attract folks from other cultures and language groups? English speakers are very fortunate in that much of the world has to learn our native tongue – perhaps we should show more respect to them and write something of interest to other cultures more often 🙂