Showing posts from August, 2022

Strength in Depth: N M Browne

  Over the years I’ve read a number of articles critiquing the concept of ‘the strong female’ character. As a feminist, and indeed human being, I want to read about strong females, but the term is deceptively slippery: what do we mean by strength and does the term refer to the character or the writing of her? When people complain about strong female characters, they are critiquing what ‘The Take’ [i] calls ‘the hot heroine’ most commonly found in blockbusters from Ripley in ‘Alien’, the widow in ‘Kill Bill’ and all the superheroes of the Marvel and DC universes. They are often one dimensional and their appeal lies in the way they play against the usual gendered narrative: these girls and women beat men at what is seen as their own game. They compensate for the legions of beaten women and though they endure violence they dish it out. Some might say they embrace the worst elements of power based, empathy free toxic hypermasculinity but hey, they are girls! As Brit Marling writes in t

The Ex-Prime Minister - Chapter Six by Andrew Crofts

This is the sixth episode in our monthly saga of power and incompetence   Becky had been watching the convoy of Land Rovers return from the bedroom window. The shooting party was deposited back at the house and made their way in to change for dinner. “They’re back,” she said, without turning. “Really? Crikey!” Teddy sprang out of bed, yanking his loudly striped pajamas back up as he stumbled his way out of the room. There would have been a time when the sheer slapstick of his exit would have made her laugh, but today it merely made her sigh. The joke had grown so old. She sat down at her dressing table and took a long look at herself in the mirror. Her phone buzzed on the glass surface beside her elbow. “Hi Darling,” she said once she had ascertained it was who she hoped. “Thanks for calling back.” “I gather you’ve got Teddy and his latest squeeze down for the weekend,” Phillipa said. Becky allowed a throaty chuckle to escape her. If anyone understood her predicament, it wa

The Lamentable End of the Poldarks -- Susan Price

Bella Poldark - Graham Well, I finished the Poldark books.  All twelve of them, starting with Ross Poldark and ending with Bella Poldark (his youngest daughter.) And despite what people say about the books in a series never being as good as the first one, I have  thoroughly enjoyed them all. Winston Graham -- my god, that man could plot a plot. And give life to a character. Not everyone agrees, of course. There's an ape in the last book. One of the characters, Valentine Warleggan, rescues it from maltreatment and then proceeds to maltreat it himself, teaching it to drink (smuggled) brandy and smoke cigars, in order to entertain his friends. He gives it a name, Butto, but we're never told exactly what Butto is. Warleggen calls it 'a monkey' but it obviously isn't. He either doesn't know or, more likely, can't be bothered, with the difference between a monkey and an ape. But what kind of ape? Its description could fit either a chimpanzee or a young gorilla,

LOVE A LIBRARY by Joy Margetts

  Recently I rediscovered a long- lost love. No it wasn’t via Social Media, but it was unexpected and heart warming nonetheless. Life changing? Not exactly -   but it has definitely enriched my life in ways I am very grateful for... I recently rediscovered our small, one room, local book Library, with it’s bookshelf lined walls and it’s part-time hours. It was my grandson’s fault. Well as he is only 15 months old, I can’t really place the blame on him. But his mother was the catalyst. She wanted her son to find some new books to look at. It was sparked by her happy memories of visiting the library herself. Of finding an Aladdin’s cave of books, and sitting and enjoying the treasure there, and then gathering more books to take home. I must have started taking her and her brother when they were quite small, as we progressed from the brightly coloured picture books to ones that were more words than pictures. I remembered the time fondly too -  and wondered why, and when, we had stopped go

What language tells us - ?

Original Book (source: apols to Amazon, I seem to've leant out my copy! Language, as we writers are aware, changes and develops over time.  But does it also, sometimes, move in circles, returning to where it was first used? I wonder if you've noticed the appearance of some strangely-sounding little catch-phrases in   the past few years?   A bit vintage. Maybe used by our aunts?  These seem to fall into categories. Reviving a word that has been abandoned as ‘un-cool’ and ‘old-fashioned’ for a while – for example ‘What gives you joy?’ Joy hasn’t been a popular, familia word for decades. Now, suddenly, it has reappeared and is everywhere. ‘Be kind’ and ‘kindness’ share this category – was ‘kindness’   much used, before the lockdowns? But after Caroline Flack left her note, #BeKind became, as it's called, a meme. I thought it had all come from that: but looking on Google discovered that a ‘Be Kind Movement’ had begun in schools, in 2015.   Whatever, Flack’s last words to her

Punishment in the Digital Age -- Katherine Roberts

I live in Devon, where I recently observed a family with two teenage daughters visiting one of our beautiful gardens open to the public. The girls were larking about on the lawn, and one of them took their horseplay a bit far, hurting her sister. The mother's immediate response was, "Right, hand it over for half an hour!" and took possession of the offending girl's smartphone.  The teenager grumbled loudly as she surrendered the device (even though she hadn't looked at it once during their boisterous lawn session), whereupon the mother snapped: "Ok, now it's an hour!" Welcome to punishment in the 21st century. In my teenage years, punishment involved staying behind after school for an hour in detention, writing out 100 times: "I must not push my little sister over backwards when she's doing a handstand." while all my friends were down on the beach enjoying the last of the sunshine. But in those days, of course, we didn't have smartp