I think I’d really prefer to stay asleep. Living in a rural part of England our main topics of conversation as we idly pick straw from our hair are usually about chickens or fly-tipping. Subjects we find fascinating. But I have always led a rich fantasy life. As a child I was constantly rescuing people from burning buildings or stopping a bolting horse. Or I would have been should any of these scenarios ever have presented themselves to me. Of course, in my fantasies I was an ethereal orphan and not a sturdy farmer’s daughter. But as an old wrinklie I still have my fantasies. I imagine being asked to a sophisticated dinner party where I am surrounded by the witty intelligentsia who hang on my every word as I fascinate the whole room. However, I am not going to be able to do this until I am woke. According to Mr Google Woke means: Alert to injustice in society, especially racism. But what is injustice and what is racism? I have friends who refer to black people as ‘coloured’ and they believe that this is polite, but it is confusing, as I understand it you can refer to ‘people of colour’ or ‘black’ but not ‘coloured’. I think that it is the intent that matters and to take offence at everything is a waste of time and energy as Buddha said ‘anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’ Wise old bird Buddha even if he was never going to be the poster boy for Weight Watchers. My son who is very tall regularly gets asked ‘what’s the weather like up there?’ or sometimes ‘Aren’t you tall’, in case he hadn’t noticed. Equally thin people get comments about their weight on the other hand it would be considered much ruder and more insulting to point out how short or fat someone was.
As Oscar Wilde said ‘A gentleman is never unintentionally rude’.
Most of us try not to offend but when things change so rapidly it is difficult to keep up. I just learned this morning that calling someone Karen is a huge insult!
According to my friend Mr Google, Karen is a pejorative term used in the US and other English-speaking countries for a woman perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a racist white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others. I’ve been known to do that as I’ve stolen a car parking space from under the nose of another motorist when I’ve been in a hurry.
How unfortunate if it happens to be your name. I was at school with a girl called Gay – no idea what happened to her but that can’t have been fun as she grew up, unless, of course, she was.
I get more and more confused, I just can’t keep up – have I been cancelled? Should I be worried, what does it even mean? The first time I heard about any of this was when I read that some famous actress (of whom unfortunately I had never heard) had been cancelled because her equally famous boyfriend (who I had never heard of either) is a Republican and (along with millions of other Americans) voted for Donald Trump. (One might well ask ‘Why?’, but that is another whole story). You could argue that this is very foolish, but surely not a reason for ‘cancelling’ someone. Again, according to Mr Google (we are such close friends now that maybe I should allocate him a first name – Geoffrey Google perhaps?) I am very behindhand (something that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me) because their definition of it comes from 2019. To cancel someone (usually a celebrity or other well-known figure) means to stop giving support to that person. The act of cancelling could entail boycotting an actor’s movies or no longer reading or promoting a writer’s works.
On a slightly different note, but still something to cause me great confusion is that Elle Macpherson, who always seemed like a nice, healthy looking Australian girl, turns out to be totally Gwyneth Paltrow bonkers. Amongst other weird things she believes in (bubbling water to sanitize your food – why?) she also believes in Fecal Microbiota Therapy – if you’re interested look it up, but probably not while you’re eating! And talking of Gwyneth Paltrow, did you see that she is selling as candle that smells like her vagina – I kid you not! And what is more it costs £317.48 + tax – a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘One born every minute.’ Who buys this? Do you buy it for yourself? For your partner? Why would you or indeed your partner want to smell Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina? I would have thought that no one in their right mind, with the possible exception of Mr Gwyneth Paltrow or maybe a previous Mr Gwyneth Paltrow in a spirit of nostalgia, would even consider this. What about the reverse of this – would a candle that smelt of George Clooney’s balls be a winner? My mother was on a train about a hundred years ago when a man suddenly asked her ‘Can I smell you c***?’ to which she replied ‘Christ I hope not, I had a bath this morning.’ Women were more robust in those days. At any rate she said that was what she said although I wonder if this was not L’esprit de l’escalier, but it made me laugh anyway.
When I was 15 a friend of my father’s squeezed my boobs at a party (probably during the Gay Gordons – which was a popular dance and not a homosexual singing group) – I was thrilled and thought it most exciting – I do however think that it might have been him that suffered from PTSD if had gone any further and discovered that my ample bosom owed more to my brother’s rugby socks than to nature.
Love your new blog lol (no more loads of love but loads of laughs!) If you were the Police Chief in UK and a proud lesbian, would you perhaps change your surname ‘Dick’?! XxA
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Ah Stella. How marvellous to start the day with a jolly good laugh!
I used to think of myself as woke, until being woke became another word for being a righteous nazi. I, too, used the word ‘coloured’ in a sentence not so long ago, in reference to a person of colour, and was given a nasty serve about it by a Wokenazi. My answer to them? “Miaow – put your claws away” Very mature, eh? But it seemed to see them off 🙂 I’m finding that many of the come-backs we used as kids and youths are proving to be very useful again in dealing with the current crop of venomous Wokenazi 🙂
Come-backs learnt in the playground have always served me well – the verbal equivalent of sticking your tongue out at someone, childish, but satisfying!!
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If you’re interested in educating yourself about racism, there are several illuminating books you could read. I find that listening to black people talking about their experience is more valuable than Google, useful though it is!
I recommend Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Longer-Talking-White-People-About/dp/1408870584/ref=pd_bxgy_2/259-2709390-1348719?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1408870584&pd_rd_r=8e54163e-dbd5-4b42-a6ba-b65bd066871a&pd_rd_w=sake2&pd_rd_wg=wT0R5&pf_rd_p=e8ef9fae-c7f9-4aa1-a614-5107fe6f0338&pf_rd_r=WF5HNZ5AVYG4TXJH4PZY&psc=1&refRID=WF5HNZ5AVYG4TXJH4PZY ) and Natives by Akala. (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Natives-Class-Empire-Sunday-Bestseller/dp/1473661234/ref=sr_1_1?crid=LN7TC7N4GRU7&dchild=1&keywords=natives+akala&qid=1595275506&sprefix=native%2Caps%2C168&sr=8-1)
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I’d second the recommendation of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Really interesting discussion of racism specifically in the UK.
If being woke just means to try to be alert to injustice then I’m all in favour of it. It’s very easy to stay in our own bubbles, but there’s a whole world out there of different experiences. Developing empathy with people across experiences has got to be a good thing (and an essential writer-skill as well).
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Hi, I don’t think you’re alone in sometimes feeling at sea with new language and viewpoints. I wrote a series of blogs about some of this, in their widest sense, which may be helpful in terms of language changing and trying to understand others who have backgrounds and experiences different from your own.
I try to approach these sort of changes from the viewpoint of asking questions to help understanding, because hearing about others’ lived experience can only enrich our own experiences and empathy.
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Hi Stella. We have lot in common, apart from the obvious love of dogs and Labradors in particular, the principle common factor is humor and the forthright common sense approach to the so called progress that we have ( or more likely, not made) as a society over the past decade or two.
I just wanted to say that on the subjects that you write so passionately and frankly about, I able to laugh and squirm at the same time. Simply brilliant (whatever that means, but I think it’s positive!
I look frequently for your latest contributions, always interesting and provocative.
Please don’t stop, go for it.
Thank you so much for your comments – it is quite an arrogant thing to write a blog as assume that anyone else my be interested in your opinions, so it is particularly nice to hear from someone who has enjoyed what I’ve written – sorry about the squirming!
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