Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Normal service..

 The phone is playing up, has been for weeks, no solution is in sight for another ten days or so, the smoke alarm went off all by itself, with no smoke at all to detect, the internet evaporated, and the TV has suffered some sort of cosmic shock and no signal is being received. am I the conveyor of the cosmic shock, I ask?

Using the mobile hurts my bad arm, I ran out of printer ink, and I seem to spend lots of time and money on physiotherapy. And some nasty dental work has had to be scheduled. Not happy, Jan!  I have got some portable 4G internet, but its workings are mysterious, I don't know how close it has to be to any, each or all of the various 'devices' and woe is me, I do not cope with this sort of crisis.

But Bruce is back, fixing this and that, painting the new hand rail, changing light globes. The ceilings are too high for me to reach them, the ladder is too short, and the thought of clambering up, falling off and lying there helpless is quite vivid enough to deter me. The bathroom in the middle level has a globe which is very large and which is an Edison screw type. I cannot reach it, and I wonder what genius decided to use it.

I spent some time this afternoon chasing a source for some halogen light globes, finally finding the right kind at one of the old, family-run hardware shops in the neighbourhood, where I learned a little more about the complicated history of electrical illumination. The nice man in the hardware shop thinks that the Edison screw one won't be available for very much longer. Planned obsolescence rules, OK?

However the other day I did take myself to see the film The Invisible Woman, about Charles Dickens' very secret relationship with a young actress, Ellen Ternan. I enjoyed the film although somewhat to my surprise it did not get a very good review.

Dickens kicked his wife out of the family home, and his sister in law Georgina remained in the house, running things for him. He went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the relationship. The film is based on Claire Tomalin's book The Invisible Woman, which I bought and read years ago. She has now written an extensive biography of Dickens, and she remarks that it was hard to like Dickens during this period.  I borrowed another book, Dickens in Love, by Robert Garnett, which is also very interesting. I feel very sorry for Dickens' unfortunate wife, Catherine.

I know lots of people love Dickens' novels, but although I dip into some of them from time to time, they are too long winded for me, and I do not relate to his female characters.  Probably as young students we were force fed Dickens rather too early and I never could abide his saintly female characters and the death of Little Nell made me want to throw up. The whole Victorian period of history is fascinating, and many admirable things were achieved, such as the fights for better working conditions, trade unionism, universal education and the extension of the franchise. But I feel sorry that so many women lived in such a suffocating atmosphere.

The male obsession with female purity in this period (and also in many other periods and cultures) seems extremely hypocritical and hateful. They do not seem to worry about their own purity - witness the rapes, murders, burnings, drownings of so many girls and women even today.

Goodness, how cranky this all sounds. But no, it is not cranky. It is facing up to the fact that life for so many women is still a struggle and that equality and justice are not easily achieved. And it makes me angry. At the same time, I count my many blessings. And I look at what I wrote, above, and think, well, things are not that bad, really, are they?


Elephant's Child said...

I have never warmed to Dickens. Or Hardy. And have always put it down to failure on my part. Thank you for another perspective, and something to consider.
Hiss and spit on the recalcitrant technology front. It does my head in too.

Pam said...

One of my colleagues was once re-reading (at least that's what I THOUGHT he said) "The Old C Shop" and I said, "Oh, I don't think I could read that now because it's so sad when Little Nell dies," and he said, "OH NO! SHE DOESN'T DIE, DOES SHE????" Turns out he hadn't read it before.


Much sympathy on the technology front. I wish I could send you my tall, brilliant but chronically depressed son-in-law. He'd fix things and it might make him feel better. Or not. But at least the fixing would get done.