Today was not fun. There is a plague on our house and I spent the entire day washing bedlinen, cleaning and watching the weather so I could get some washing dry in between rain showers. Then there was thunder and lightening during dinner to round off the day. I’m still a bit sick and very tired. I really hope the sun comes out tomorrow, literally and metaphorically.
I’ve noticed this week that since this time last year I’ve been in a haze of news cycles, updates, media updates, scandals, crises, more scandals, more updates……
Human beings can’t have been designed with this in mind. My mind wasn’t, and it’s not good for me to be in this whirling mess of news all day every day.
Even the word ‘news’ is something I’ve been thinking about. I work with words in my job every single day, and while one of the perks is that you come across odd and unusual words you’d never hear otherwise (like captious) one of the downsides is that sometimes words start to lose their meaning a little. There is an appearance of newness about every day, but its starting to feel like Groundhog Day.
I’ve been obsessed with the news, but the past 12 months have been a new level of obsession. I need to dial it back a bit. There’s only so much new one person is designed to deal with.
Some years ago, I went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, starring Amy Adams. I hadn’t read the book, or even heard of it before the film was released. The film was very enjoyable, light and funny and nice to look at. I read the book long after seeing it, and there’s some differences, as is the case with any adaptation. One scene which isn’t in the book involves Miss Pettigrew and her romantic interest comment on signs of the impending Second World War when seeing planes overhead. It frames the story as something of a last hurrah before terror and suffering would come to everyone’s door.
The book is one I return to when I need to escape. And this is something I’ve felt the need to do more and more, given the state of various nations these days. The story isn’t all roses – Miss Pettigrew thinks fearfully of having to resort to the workhouse and there’s references to her slimness being due to short rations rather than pursuit of fashion – but it has enough lightness and airiness to keep my mind on happier things than The Real World.
Winnifred Watson, who wrote the book, knew a thing or two about The Real World, given that the Depression of the 1930s stymied her plans to attend university. She also must have known about the need to escape through reading, be it from the boring job that allowed her to write or the dreams of further education dashed because of world events. I think of her, weathering the Second World War, her son escaping a bomb and surviving, and going on with life. And I thank her for giving me a book that allows me to escape from things during these days.
[I’m making this list mainly to keep my spirits up. This has been a pretty horrible week, all things considered.]
Finally cleaning my oven. I’ve slathered the cleaning fluid on and I’m enjoying the drips of gunk way more than I should.
Glass jar decluttering. I’m only keeping the nice ones from now on.
Embracing my frugal work lunch plans, and being extra organised to ensure this happens.
Using a cookbook I’ve had for a long time but only this week got around to making some recipes from. Will be making more.
It’s Friday. Enough said.
Thankfully, unlike Offred I haven’t been let go from my job, even though that used to be something that really happened to women like me when they got married. I do, however, have more time in the evenings thanks to a nice summer schedule.
I’m not living under the same level of oppression and control as Offred, but I am living under the mild to moderate to severe level of terror I’ve felt since last November which must feel a little similar, maybe? I’m not a state asset for breeding (well, the eighth amendment can make you wonder a bit) nor I am separated from my husband and forced into sex with a stranger.
But I have started doing more housework, more baking. I’ve retreated home more and I think I’m trying to shield myself from the world more because it is very difficult to escape from the 24 hour news cycle I seem to have become enveloped by for over a year now.
I really hope this is all I have in common with Offred. I can live with more housework and baking, and the hope that some people will finally do the right thing.
I was going to write a happy positive post about how great my weekend was. And then yesterday changed all that. I grew up with terrorism, I grew up knowing vaguely that a number of groups of people living on the same island as me were happy to kill people to achieve their aims.
I think this sums up a lot of what I’m feeling today, this line in particular:
We cannot pretend that the ugly bigotry unleashed in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., this weekend has nothing to do with the election of Donald Trump.
This week, I’ve been thinking about Threads a lot. It’s a film that I watched on YouTube, having seen some clips of it on a BBC documentary. I’m pretty easily scared, and this is the scariest film I’ve ever seen. It shows you, in slow and excruciating detail, just how scary real life can and will get in the aftermath of a thermonuclear conflict. There will be no rescuers saving the day. There will be no winner. There will be no afterwards.
I have no idea if the story about Ronald Reagan is true, namely that having seen Threads he reassessed nuclear policy. What’s really scary right now is knowing that the current president probably wouldn’t be swayed at all by watching it. We know he’s incurious and has shown no greater inclination towards curiosity, so I’m probably correct in my thinking that watching Threads won’t counteract his fire and fury approach to nuclear policy.
Threads is scary because it presents nuclear war as people will experience it. There is nothing scarier than knowing what you’re watching could be real. The people who suffer in Threads are mothers, fathers, children, delivery people, civil servants – all ‘normal’ people, doing ‘normal’ things. They are us. They are the North Koreans.