Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Brum, brum, brum….

If I’d written this post an hour ago I think I would have challenged myself to find enough expletives to do justice to my ire.  Fortunately I am considerably calmer than I was on the school run this morning and as this needs saying I shall stop waffling and relate the events that provoked my wrath.

I love Tynedale. For the most part I like, really like the people who live here too. The guy that assaulted Francis a few years back is off the nice list as is the woman who suggested we have J exorcised but other than that, you know, they’re pretty okay. Just regular folk with all the foibles that make them human. I can even cope with the one’s who vote Tory as long as we restrict the topic of conversation to the weather. Given this starting point then why is that so many of these seemingly normal, nice people seem to transform into angry, selfish mounds of gloop, the minute they get into a car? It’s as if with the turning on of the engine the car emits a vapour that blocks out all sense of empathy in the driver and they disappear into a bubble of me, ME, MEEEEEEEE. Is this some recent invention that I haven’t been told about? I mean what’s going on?

School runs on our little winding roads can be scary. With single lanes and blind bends we often need to slow down and keep well in lane, particularly when the weather’s inclement. A little patch of ice on the road or a car slightly over and you can very easily end up with a prang.

This morning was a pleasure. Delicate wisps of snow floated down as we drove into Hexham. The roads were empty and clear. Even the slip road onto the A69 was navigated without too much effort. The boys were duly dropped off at their respective schools and provisions purchased. As ever the needle on the fuel gauge in the car was nagging us to sell another pound of flesh and put some diesel in the car so we headed off towards Corbridge to the petrol station. As we tootled along the Corbridge Road at 30mph and in a 30 mph zone, another car swiftly overtook us. My jaw dropped.

“She’s just overtaken us in a 30 mph area” I stammered incredulously.

Francis glanced at the speedometer  “We’re doing 30” he added.

Her car hurtled off into the distance. Still in a 30 mph area.

“Bloody hell where are the police when you need them” I shouted after the disappearing vehicle. “She’s got to be doing at least 45”

Now, before you get the wrong idea. I’m not a Daily Fail reader. I don’t expect everyone to be squeaky clean, upright citizens and all that. We all do something we shouldn’t now and then and I don’t by any means consider myself to be amongst the moral majority! I mean the hypocrisy involved in doing that would be just too exhausting to keep up for very long. However the arrogance, rudeness and disregard for the law, a law designed to keep us safe that that driver displayed made me see red.

I guess it’s been a long time coming this post. My anger at similar attitudes by other road users has been building for a goodly while. From the regular bumper shovers, we acquire one nearly every journey, who consider 60 mph on a single lane to be something only a total fool does, to the cyclist I saw losing it in Hexham a few months back as he bashed the bonnet of the car beside him as if somehow by punishing the car he would be exacting revenge for whatever disagreeable action the driver had taken. Then there was the parcel delivery driver who when stuck behind a number of cars on the narrow lane to our village spent the entire mile flashing his lights and attempting an impossible overtake of them all. The yummy mummies who daily shove their way out into traffic at school pick up time without so much as a wave of thanks to drivers whose noses have just hit dashboards, as they slam breaks on to make way for them. Then we have the drivers who ignore the 20 mph speed limit along the Allendale Road at school home time and speed through at 30 mph close beside children walking along a busy, narrow pavement and finally for now the business man who negotiated a busy roundabout deep in conversation with one hand on the wheel and one clutching a mobile to his ear outside Hexham General Hospital, no the irony is not lost on me there! I could go on but I wont however do let me know if you want more, there’s plenty I assure you.

I’ve seen it all around here and as I say my anger has been building for a while. Occasionally I join in . I shout. I gesture sometimes but that leaves a bad feeling lingering with me for the rest of the day so I try not to. In truth I wish it were possible to give up this motoring lark I’m thoroughly sick of it and the aggression that goes with it but as you know for J the car is his lifeline. It’s his access to a world outside the home so I guess we have no choice.

I  do wish people would realise that the thing in front of them isn’t just a box on wheels. It contains another human. It’s also a killing machine. Maybe instead of the vapour that removes the driver’s empathy we could have a compassion vapour that wraps itself around brain and heart reminding the driver that whatever is going on in their life it isn’t everyone else’s fault. Other driver’s aren’t out to slow them up, do them down or p*ss them off. They are just trying to get from A to B too. Hopefully it could also remind them that just because they are in hurry it doesn’t mean they have a right to be disrespectful to the law or pedestrians. Maybe the car could also video them as they drive and then when they arrive at their destination lock them in the car until they had watched the video of their behaviour at the wheel before they were allowed out of the vehicle. It’s a thought….

Anyway I’ll leave you with this plea. This aggression on the road is all  getting rather tiresome. Pack it in folks.

Right now I’m off to ring round a few drug companies and see if anyone’s interested in this vapour business. Either that or I’m going to check out if Motability do helicopters…..go on IDS start a Daily Fail rumour about that one, numpty!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The politics of perception

I’m just wondering if you can help me?  I need something explaining. I used to be clear about this issue, at least I thought I was but with current rhetoric being as it is, I now seem to be a bit confused, actually I’m really confused. Confused to the point where I’m thinking about book burning. Look I’ll stop waffling. Answer me this will you? When did feminism become an ideology that by it’s implementation controls and dictates to women? I’m probably missing something. I mean it’s a while since I picked up a feminist treatise but I was under the impression that essentially  this ideology such as it can be called an ideology, was a loosely fragmented collection of ideas by rather clued up females that sought to give my sex equal rights. Did I completely miss the point? Or and this is a crucial bit was there always a pseudo-feminist ideology (aka capitalism in stilettos) that permitted the thoughts and deeds of these women to achieve their aims as long as they benefitted the current system?  I’m inclined to think feminism’s been hijacked. Well at least the nice part of me wants to believe that but I have to admit there is a tiny dark particle of doubt sitting somewhere around my stomach just where it meets the small bowel and it’s gnawing away at me. You probably think I’m spouting rubbish. Well, it may not be well written prose but I promise you, it’s not rubbish.

I, as you’ll know if you read this blog, am a stay at home mum, a carer for my autistic son and a general dogs body for Francis, particularly when it comes to internet stuff as he’s totally hopeless. Sorry digressing again. As of this moment. I don’t have a career ladder. I don’t want to smash a glass ceiling with a big stonking mallet. I’m not particularly inclined to join the army and fight on the front line either. I’m rather content doing what I do actually and *whispers* I even consider myself to be contributing to society by bringing up and caring for my boys.  I like my life. Even the stressful bits. Except that is when I’m put in THAT position, you know the one where they ask 

“And what do you do?

If I say I’m a carer I’m met with looks of sympathy, my halo appears and I’m suddenly exempt from all the evils attached to other benefit claimants. If I say I’m a full time mum they envision our family living a comfortable rural existence with a detached house, range rover and several bouncy gun dogs to take us for leisurely walks.  If they spy my shabby clothes and ill kempt hair on the other hand they have a tendency to go on to regard me as under achieving and letting the side down. ‘My good woman you  have a degree..’  All in all it’s not a pleasant experience however they react.

I was once asked THE QUESTION by one of J’s doctors. I thought for a moment about enquiring into her bowel habits as a retort but decided better of it and sinking inside answered. I felt a failure. As if I was making an excuse for being a shirker. Why? Why on earth did I feel that? Well that’s it, isn’t it. It’s down to the hijacking of feminist thought. Either that or is this all women wanted? To join in with the boys?

The thing is I am a feminist. I’ve studied the subject. I’ve read feminist tracts throughout the ages Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Greer. I know the difference between a suffragette and a suffragist.  I whole heartedly believe in a woman’s freedom to choose the course of her life, to express her sexuality as she sees fit and to live free from the fear of abuse. With the same opportunities as any man.  It seems to me though that amongst those choices there should also be a place for the full time mum and to have that choice respected. I’ve got nothing against women who seek to make a career for themselves. Indeed I’ll fight for their right to do so but when did it become the only way? The compulsory route?

So please answer me this, when did feminism ever set out to deny this role? To make women feel ashamed of only being a mum and ‘house person’? To hold it in such low esteem, of so little value to society because it isn’t an economically productive role? Or like everything else is this the system’s interpretation of feminism? Anyway if you could get back to me on this I’d be very grateful, please, please do tell me feminism has been hijacked because if it hasn’t and being part of the workforce was all it was about, then I have a bit of book burning to do and I need to get the bonfire started.