Game of Thrones

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A gun throne from Mozambique on display at the British Museum.

A great thing about the British Museum is that it is free to enter and wander at will.

During the civil war in  Mozambique seven million guns – none of them made in Africa – made their way into the country. In 1995 Bishop Dinnis Sengulane initiated a project called ‘Arms for Tools.’  The Mozambique people were encouraged to swap their weapons for agricultural, domestic and construction tools. Artists then turned the decommissioned weapons into sculptures.  This gun throne is one of them

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Thank you Jessica Ennis

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Attitudes that permit sexual abuse have not changed sufficiently it seems and I’m sorry Jessica Ennis has had to take the flack. She sees clearly where so many are lost in the grey.  We should be thanking her for not wanting her name associated with this  football club in the event they re-sign their rapist.

How many times does one hear the phrase, men are predatory by nature, as if that excuses everything.  A predator, like a bully, uses weakness, especially  when the pervading culture  not only tolerates their behaviour but celebrates it.

In my youth, so long ago now,  predatory males were the norm, part of life, as indeed, sex is.  When I was a plump  and  innocent pubescent child hurrying down a crowded street towards the station on a darkening winter evening after school, a heavy briefcase in hand, green felt hat firmly on my head, slightly sweaty in my Harris tweed coat,  a turbaned, moustachioed, wound beard, aged Sikh stopped me. I could not understand what he said. I thought he was asking me for money for his bus fare.

A businessman, smart suit, clean shaven passed close by. The look of disgust he gave me, a knowing accusation, made me listen harder.

‘Puss puss you very lovely. Five pound alright.’

I broke into a run, red faced, indignant, frightened but unharmed. I was the one who had transgressed. Safely home, recounting the details, the family fell about laughing and it was funny looking back. Even then, the ridiculousness of the businessman’s disapprobation  should have concerned us more.

It is not and never is the child’s fault.  How can it be? Imagine if I had turned to that businessman for help,  asking as those young girls in care had to ask, only to be blamed, disbelieved.  Is it ever a woman’s fault that she is raped?  That attitude needs to change more than anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Mitchell

 

 

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I have become a literary groupie, on the road from one festival to another to hear a favourite author, (any author?) launch their latest. David Mitchell was excellent,   amusing, thoughtful, philosophic by turn.  Perhaps liking a writer’s output automatically means you will like the writer. The 500 strong audience seemed to think so and we hung on his every word and listened to his many insights on writing.

So looking forward to reading The Bone Clocks.

 

Pictures tell a story

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I had begun to suspect the romance of Ireland to be more  imagined than actual, in the way people have created the East as a concept. We had only visited  once before, sailing along the south coast as far as Baltimore when more hours were spent at sea than on shore. Possible to detect a disenchantment with sailing here, but I suppose, calling in at small fishing harbours or marinas and eating on board gives a limited view. We did, now I come to think, encounter some characters and stay a while at an excellent bluegrass festival near Cork.

So it was a delight this last visit, flight to Shannon and hire car, to  find what I had imagined was real.

We went to County Clare and Connemara with a dual purpose. Research for a novel, thankfully now finished. (It has been a monumental though not unpleasurable task and all that remains is to find a publisher so as yet there is nothing to say it will ever see the light of day, but I’m ever hopeful.)

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And to look for the home that had belonged to my grandfather’s family, see the place whence his name, the last of a long list of children on a census circa 1870, came .   There were plenty of old homes, but none we could be sure of.   Ruins are a fairly common sight  in County Clare, so too regeneration.

The contrast of the two cottages photographed  give pause for thought. All  life is here if you look.

Both tell a tale and prompt questions, especially the abandoned house with the tin roof staved in. Did the occupants die? All the sons gone abroad to seek their fortune and send money home, never to return, leaving the old farmstead to its own devices. Or simply move down the lane and build themselves something bigger, something grander?

The ruin is what I expected an archetypal abandoned home testament to the sadness of all that has gone before, but I think I am in danger of falling into the construct of Ireland.  Isn’t the re-roofed house also typical and testament to regeneration and the flourishing of old skills.