Archive for February 2012
I had a lovely lunch with a friend the other day; the food was great, the ambience relaxed and conversation casually moved through the joys of black pudding, our shared love of sea swimming and on to how Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity blew Newton’s concept of Time and Space out the water. I’m sure lunch dates go something like that for you too.
Admittedly, my contribution to this part of our conversation largely consisted of me spreading hummus onto pitta bread but that’s not to say that I wasn’t taking it all in – milling it, sieving it, kneading it to a perfect dough – then transforming it into something unrecognizable from its original form – like pitta.
The heart of Einstein’s theory (as I have now conceptualized it) was to prove that Time and Space were not constants as we had previously believed since the days of Isaac Newton. That instead of the existence of a physical static dimension into which we, the agents of movement and momentum, operated, Einstein proved that Time and Space were equally dynamic and in flux and therefore could only be measured and understood relative to our own dynamism and momentum.
We are in the process of moving house and the last few weeks building up to this moment has convinced me, more than ever, that the physical space in which you live, is very far from static and constant and in fact lives and breathes according to your own physicality and dynamism.
What I’m trying to say, in a roundabout way, is that OUR FLAT KNOWS THINGS ARE ABOUT TO CHANGE. This may or may not (most probably not) be a good representation of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity but it is my pitta pocket version so indulge me.
Here’s the evidence.
Firstly, an unopened bottle of Fish Sauce launches itself out of the top cupboard and smashes on the kitchen floor. If you are unfamiliar with the aroma of fish sauce, I suggest you dump about 10 kilos of rotting fish guts on your kitchen floor for the equivalent experience.
Secondly, I drop an entire tin of mustard seeds on the kitchen floor, resulting in a billion miniscule black beads being propelled into every corner of the kitchen so that 3 weeks later I’m STILL FINDING THEM!!
Thirdly, in 9 years of living in this flat, I’ve never seen a single mouse, never seen any evidence of their existence. Then in a single day, there are two. (Any prospective buyers out there need not worry, they have now gone again!).
Fourthly, 10 minutes before the first viewing, the toilet decides not to stop filling the cistern.
Fifthly, (and I really hope no prospective buyers read this) in the last week or so, sounds in the chimney at night make me think that Santa Claus is actually stuck up there. Larger than a bird or a rodent, I have no idea what the hell is going on but it’s seriously keeping me awake.
I won’t even begin to tell you the way our family home reacted to the death of my father in it, with almost every single electrical appliance breaking down or fusing in the days that followed, but that’s another story.
In the meantime, James, I’m sorry, I probably haven’t come close to doing justice to the creative and engaging way you described these huge concepts to me over lunch but it has given me the chance to draw analogies between moving house and Albert Einstein and who would have thought THAT was possible!
You know you think you’ve seen everything when suddenly a man pops out of the Thames playing an electric guitar.
So now you think you’ve seen everything. Then a smartly dressed woman sits down opposite you on the tube with a giant badge pinned to the middle of her coat reading:
“Baby on Board”
I. kid. you. not.
Persephone Books on Lamb’s Conduit Street, London was absolutely the perfect place to indulge my current obsession with the incredible unknown women of the late 19th century and early 20th century! Specialising in forgotten women writers of this period, I spent an afternoon browsing their catalogue and purchasing some wonderful books.
It’s very sobering to read the battles that were waged by these women for rights that we largely take for granted now. Any woman who sits on the sofa and says they aren’t going to vote in the general election should read about the price the Suffragettes paid to win us this right – the first and only guerilla war waged by women, and largely middle and upper class women at that – the prison beatings, the hunger strikes, respectable ladies of nice London boroughs being force fed through their noses in Holloway Prison. They considered themselves martyrs to the cause of winning women the vote and were as uncompromising about it as they were flamboyant in their methods.
They waged guerilla war with a sense of theatrical panache – staking claim to the pageantry and the processions they’d previously only been distant spectators to. Instead of waving a lacy handkerchief as the male bands marched past, they began adopting the same sense of pageantry and occasion in their own affairs. When meeting released comrades from the prison gates, carriages would turn up drawn by white horses and flanked by lady outriders (accomplished horseriders could be found aplenty such was the strength of upper class representation amongst the Suffragettes).
They understood the power of the grand gesture. They sailed up the Thames to harrangue the guests on the terraces of the Houses of Parliament, lay in wait for hours on the roofs of public buildings for the beginning of meetings before attaching themselves to ropes and launching themselves through skylights to disrupt the events taking place below. Groups of fashionably dressed ladies would sashay up Bond Street, casually open their elegant shopping bags, whip out hammers and break all the shop windows within reach.
This was war, waged by women, to win the vote. 100 years ago.
The much larger war that followed quick on its heels put paid to the Suffragette movement as everyone mobilized behind the war effort. And the war won women many more rights as they proved themselves equal to men in the factories and in the fields. But that’s another story.
Before all that though; before the war, the suffrage movement and the beginning of women’s empowerment, all women could do, to escape their fate, was hope to marry well.
In H.G. Wells’ book Ann Veronica, a woman runs away to escape the tyranny of her father. Her elder brother tries to coax her back by telling her that the best thing she can do to get away from her father is “…get some other man to live on as soon as possible. It isn’t sentiment, but it’s horse-sense. All this woman-who-diddery is no damn good.”
Well, I raise my glass to all those women-who-diddery all those years ago!
It’s not over!