Tsar Nicholas II had Faberge Easter eggs. Rap stars have Cristal. My idea of extravagance, however, is ordering three books off the Quaker bookshop ‘Books of the Month’ list rather than limiting myself to one choice. Hardly hedonistic, but it felt so indulgent. And the large parcel containing the three books that arrived today looked indulgent, all my new treats swaddled lovingly in bubblewrap. And to balance the three books, I’m now having a third moment of indulgence: in bed at 9pm, to wallow decadently in the world of my new books. Heaven, as Belinda Carlisle rightly declared, is a place on earth.
March 2011 sees the centenary of International Women’s Day. It’s also Women’s History Month and the date for Women World Day of Prayer. Last night I gave the address at the latter event in my village. In the past, I’ve sometimes been a bit dismissive of such things, thinking what’s the point? Not in terms of having women-focused events (as a feminist, I strongly feel the need for more of what you might call ‘consciousness raising’ about gender inequality and other issues), but in terms of an event that doesn’t seem to ‘do’ much – neither particularly geared to fundraising nor having a politicized objective. But last night, I got it. I don’t know whether it was the service itself, or the general atmosphere, or simply my changing views on life as I get older, but I felt such a strong sense of solidarity with the women of Chile who had created the service. I felt a bond with them, a level of mutual respect and understanding that I didn’t have before last night. And perhaps more poignantly, I felt a sense of solidarity and friendship with many of the women in my village – women who’s lives are very different to mine, but many of whom I’ve know since childhood – a dinner lady from primary school, a school friend’s mum, my old Brown Owl, a woman who was friends with my grandmother. I could give a theoretical analysis of why – from my research, I know all about the importance of women-only spaces – but I won’t. I will just say that there was a bond and it was beautiful.
This afternoon, I found myself doing some measuring with a very large tape measure – not the standard DIY or crafting tape measure, but the bigger kind that comes on a large spool with a proper handle that you have to turn to wind and unwind the tape. The tape measure took me back to being at junior school; it’s the kind of equipment you’d use when you’re in Year Four and you’re sent with a partner to measure the edges of the school hall as part of a project about perimeters.
As my mind drifted through memories of my time at junior school, I had a flashback to a vision of one the teachers there. I guess I may not have thought about her for at least fifteen years, maybe more. I was never in her class, but I always liked her. She drove an MG BGT vintage sports car; at the time, I thought it was pretty cool & I would still like to own one now. She also had really bouncy hair and amazing personal style – she dressed like Daphne from Scooby Doo, but with an added 1960s element. Looking down at my own outfit, I realised that what I was wearing – an outfit pretty typical of how I usually dress – was not dis-similar to how she dressed. I was stopped in my tracks: how many days of my life have I dressed like this teacher without me even noticing the resemblance? Without me realising, this teacher has been an important style icon in my life. What other habits or foibles or character traits reflect the teachers who I have known? No doubt this is something I will muse on further over the coming days. As the saying goes, ‘A teacher affects eternity. They never can tell when their influence may stop’.
The sunset from my office
Today I’ve observed a number of important life lessons. In no particular order, these are: 1. Genuine affection can spring from the most unexpected places. 2. As one door closes, another opens. 3. Socrates said “Know thyself” and I know that I’m not a technologically inclined person. It’s not that I’m against technology. It’s not that I’m particularly inept at using it. Often I can see an item’s uses and why some people would want to buy it. But having spent 20minutes with someone showing me the amazingness that is a Samsung Galaxy Tab, I realized I’m not one of those people. It’s v cool and I’m sure it’s useful, but I can’t see it enhancing my life enough for me to buy one. This realization lifted a huge consumer pressure that I felt weighing down on me- an end to this haunting sense that I should own more gadgets. 4. This season’s midi length skirts may garner a number of compliments but they aren’t suitable for dog walking. Unless you particularly want to reveal your pants and tights to every other dog walker in the GU24 postcode as you hitch your fab but impractical skirt up to your hips.