Valerie Solanas had a point

Arrghh where to start?

The #everydaysexism and #metoo hashtags have stirred up a lot of activity – mostly good that women are able to tell the world about their experiences, but some of the defensive, even aggressive, replies are hard to see/read.

My recent experiences in taxis have made me think and try to order my thoughts.

  1. T’other night I was cold and tired and there wasn’t a bus due for ages so I thought I’d take a black and white regulated minicab (not been in a taxi since last Xmas Day- see 2 below). The driver asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I’m a homeopath, partly because homeopathy is used widely in southern Asia so I thought we might have an interesting conversation, as my guess from his speech is that’s where he was from. He started looking at me in the mirror and asked ‘as I’m a professional’ could he talk about his ‘friend’s sexual problem’. I said no but he told me that his single middle aged ‘friend’ had seen a doctor etc. I didn’t say anything further and he eventually shut up. I was relieved but uneasy and didn’t go to my own front door until he’d driven away. The more I think about this the more pissed off I am. I felt unable to tell him he was out of order, as I was trapped in his car. I do not believe he was talking about a friend, he was trying to use me for some sort of sexual gratification and/or power play, but nothing was explicit.
  2. The last taxi I took before that was last xmas night when I was put into a taxi by a friend (admittedly I was drunk) then found on the street several hours later covered in blood, with broken ribs and head injuries. I have no idea what happened but it made me feel that taxis aren’t a safe space. Amber taxis wouldn’t speak to me about it ‘due to data protection’.
  3. The one before that was very friendly but kept trying to get a date with me because my pink hair made him think I’m ‘wild’.

So for me taxis are NOT safe, I’d rather take my chances on the streets. I used to chat to drivers, but these days am anxious that that will be misconstrued. What is to be done? Some people I have told about this (mainly men) can’t seem to understand that it’s not easy just to say I’m not interested. Us women have had years of feeling harassed, intimidated and standing up to someone when you’re trapped in their car is just not always possible.

This is only a tiny tiny part of the daily abuses of power in our patriarchal system. In my view it’s making most people ill, even those ‘privileged’ to be at the top of the heap. They’re obsessed with amassing money and power at the detriment of any feelings of humanity or fulfilling relationships, as far as I can see. Imagine being married to one! I can only guess at they’re approach to sex, and it’s not pretty.

I am sick of it, but have no idea what to do about it all. Day to day I try to speak up for myself, I don’t give way to men, physically or mentally, who assume I will. I take up reasonable space on buses and trains, even if I have to touch the adjacent manspreader. All this takes energy and courage.

220px-SCUM_Manifesto_cover

If anyone wants to read Valerie’s SCUM manifesto I’ll happily send you a pdf. It may seem extreme but there’s some excellent points in there. Try to put aside your defensiveness and give the ideas a chance to permeate your consciousness. Obviously I don’t agree with the solutions offered (quite) but we need to look at our society with new eyes.

For example, we’re supposed to feel complimented by a stranger wanting to wank in our bodies just because we look attractive or available to them. Fine if two humans want to have sex for the physical enjoyment, but if you want it as part of a loving relationship then you need to know and like each other first. I can’t decide if sex dolls and their upgrades to sexbots will fulfill a need and thus take the pressure off (mostly) women, or if it will just encourage the objectification of women as things to put penises in. Ugh.

Anyway, enough moaning for now. We need kindness, love and generosity I reckon. I shall try to practise what I preach.

 

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Yay, last instalment of 50 Things

44 Windmill

I’ve wanted to live in a turret for years, possibly since I read the Bone People. This was the next best thing-  a BnB in the last windmill left in Scarborough. Howling winds, pouring rain, snug in bed. Bliss.44 windmill

We ventured out for a very posh fish dinner, which involved goat cheese rarebit on some hake. Reader please don’t try this at home, it was disgusting. We also passed ‘George Michael’s Restaurant’. Is this the George or a George, google won’t tell me?

45 Ambiente

Spanish food done very well in Leeds. I’ve been several times this year and enjoyed every morsel. There’s a great veggie menu and churros! Next time I’m definitely having the sherry taster.

46. Afternoon tea in London

My dad has spent years researching the best cream teas and this was in his top 3. A swanky 5 star in Kensington called the Milestone Hotel. It was so posh that there was none of that snootiness you get in lesser places. Just very comfortable sofas, delicious and copious food on proper 3 tier tea thingies and staff that were there to help, not judge. Amazing. I doubt I’ll be going again as it was so expensive, but I enjoyed every morsel.

47. Art Performance

This was an unexpected find while I was in London. We managed to catch the last day of a video installation by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartantsson ‘The Visitors’. It was in an old multistorey car park in Soho, which made it more of an adventure.

We stumbled out of the lift into a dark room full of video screens with people milling around and we weren’t sure what to do. It turned out to be a sort of virtual recital, with each screen showing one person playing an instrument and singing along with everyone else via headphones. It was filmed in an old mansion so they all started off in separate rooms, then gradually wandered into each others’ spaces then eventually all wandered off over the fields. It’s hard to describe how wonderful this was. Made me really think about how separate we all are in our virtual worlds, yet also can connect with each other. The music was repetitive and beautiful, kind of spiritual and made me cry at one point. From everywhere in the room you could hear all the musicians, even when you couldn’t see them.

I’d be interested in other stuff the Vinyl Factory are involved with.

48. Port at Gordon’s wine bar.

Possibly the oldest wine bar in London, certainly the oldest one I’ve been to. They serve port from barrels with delicious cheese/meat platters, and there’s a cavelike room to gather round candlelit tables, or you can sit outside next to a tiny park by the Embankment.

These pics are from their website:

49. Mudpack

My mate R brought me back a ‘mud mask’ from Jordan 5 years ago, along with scabies which she kept to herself. Nasty business getting rid, I wouldn’t recommend them. She also had a luxurious new bathroom installed last year with a huge walk in shower, so I decided to combine the two on a relaxing winter afternoon. 49. mudpackI’ve now got shower envy- no clammy shower curtain clinging to my back (even though I do have a rather nice periodic table one, also courtesy of R), no black mould and no worrying about falling over whilst washing my feet as it has a very sensible ledge to sit on.

50. Xmas at my dad’s

What a lovely end to my best year yet- a quiet family xmas. Dad’s wife P is such a generous host. 50 Xmas at dad's

Finally, I’ve booked my Fjord visit. Cruising up to Norway with my sister at Easter, can’t wait. Fleetway Travel have such good offers.

I’ve now got a long list of other things I really want to do, but I think one a month is enough and I won’t miss having to write about them. I prefer to write when/if the mood takes me, which seems to be once or twice a year.

Setting myself up to do 50 Things in a year has meant that every week I’ve been thinking about several things I really want to do, then doing at least one of them! A good way to live life I think.

50 Things Part 10

50 Things Part 10

35. Bonfire

I love burning things, but somehow rarely manage to get out in the garden. This list is really helping me do the things I want to do, my new mantra is ‘just do it’.35. Bonfire

So, I spent a day burning a huge pile of mountain of hedge cuttings from the last couple of years, which was a massive undertaking, as it was all so wet I had to put it on branch by branch. At the end I was covered in scratches and insect bites, full of splinters, and I’d bruised my lungs by sitting on an old chair which collapsed and threw me against a tree. But I felt very satisfied and have since had a couple of proper bonfires with dry unsmoking wood. It’s so relaxing sitting and watching flames.

36 Thai Aroi Dee

Great little Thai cafe in Leeds, People say it’s authentic, but I’ve no idea if that’s true. Just very tasty cheap and BYO (for free!). Have been here with work, friends, friends of friends and bf and it’s always a pleasure.

37. LED wall clock

No more ticking.

I’ve included my gorgeous Polish papercut in the pic too.

38 LED watch

I was looking for birthday presents at Bradford IMAX as museum shops often have interesting stuff. What did I see but a plain black rubber watch, which shows the time in LEDs if you press a button. I couldn’t resist. Apparently it ‘looks like a tag’ but I reckon they were just jealous. Reminds me slightly of the Tomorrow People, but I doubt that LEDS were around then.

39 Rug

I’ve had my living room insulated, plus a new painted floor which needs rugs. There’s a whole world out there full of psychedelic designs, it’s amazing. I restrained myself somewhat to this swirly one, cheap because it’s acrylic, but cleanability (think I made that up) is a priority these days. I won’t be changing it before I die, so my green conscience is relatively clear.

39 rug

40 Sagrada Familia BCN

On my third annual trip to Barcelona with 2 mates, we decided to finally go inside La Sagrada Familia. It was incredible! Nothing like the outside, it’s Gaudi at his most restrained. Soaring columns like huge redwoods, fonts made of giant clams. I won’t say any more, as I think you should go and see it yourself. It had the most intense colours from stained glass I’ve ever seen. I could’ve stayed in there for hours. Book tickets online to cut down on queueing.My pics don’t do it any justice, but I’m sure google will help.

41. New bag- Clas Ohlson

41 new bag

Woohoo, huge cheap bag from my current favourite shop. Cross between Ikea & Wilkos, but so much better.

42. Visit York, KT & the Quilt Museum

Lovely weekend in York, visiting an old friend. We saw some amazing modern quilts plus one I loved made out of old clothing labels : Bri-lon and the like. The displays are regularly changed so I’ll be going again, though I was a bit miffed we weren’t allowed to take photos.. We also had a delicious meal at Walmgate Alehouse (I’ve tried to recreate the pea pancakes at home, not very successfully) and went to the Gallery to see hundreds of ceramics, including these beauties by Kerry Jameson.

I even walked some of the famous walls on my way back to the station.

43. Cheese cafe

This pop up in Leeds didn’t exist when I made my list, but luckily I had a few numbers spare. What a great idea. Plates of cheesy favourites like macaroni cheese and aubergine parmigiana, done really well. The rarebit was the best I’ve ever had, made with a layer of melted black cheese in the middle. It looked like molten plastic, but tasted amazing. Apparently it was made in remembrance of the miners’ strike, is called Char Coal, and actually contains cola. Delicious! I’m not sure how long the cafe will be there, so get down to Homage2Fromage soon. You can pop in for a cheesy bite in the bar or go upstairs for a proper dining experience.

melted cheese

I’ve been 3 times already !

I’m a bit behind on writing up, but have 2 to go, so should be on target to finish at the end of the year.

50 Things part 8

26. Butterfly House

Hot and humid day in Leeds, why not go to Tropical World? Well, the clue’s in the name, it was almost unbearably hot. Butterflies everywhere, chasing each other around. Beautiful.

Flowers outside Tropical World, Leeds.

Flowers outside Tropical World, Leeds.

I love the meerkats but can’t help feeling sorry for them. They’re so hardwired to be on the lookout that they must be living on adrenaline stuck in a glass box surrounded by constant ‘danger’. They seem to do the sentry thing halfheartedly and there’s nowt else for them to do. Poor things, just for our entertainment.

27. Lakes

Being chauffered around beautiful mountains, lakes, scary passes (especially Hardknott). Throw in a 4 star hotel offer (Low Wood Bay) and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. Bliss. We also looked for several neolithic stone sites mentioned in Julian Cope’s Gazetteer, but forgot to bring the OS map so managed not to find any of them. windermere

We did find the Blackwell arts n crafts house, which was beautiful. Am now musing on how to incorporate some into my own. First step DECLUTTER.

28. Massage

A birthday present from a friend. Home visit, massage, job done. Thanks Rita.

29. Isle of Lewis

I’ve wanted to visit Callanish stone circle for years. Maybe having my birthday on the summer solstice has given me my interest in standing stones. They’re also usually in beautiful places and I remember leaning against one at Stonehenge thinking it was amazingly big when I was 10. Such a shame what they’ve done to it now. Little did I know that Callanish has 3 circles within walking distance of each other, plus on Lewis they seem to be everywhere. As were golden eagles, beautiful beaches, rainbows, Harris tweed, art galleries, fields of buttercups, stone age buildings. Not sure why there is so much pampas grass blowing in the wind (let’s not go down the Comic Strip presents route).

Pampas blowing in the wind on Lewis.

Pampas blowing in the wind on Lewis.

We visited an amazing bothy built on a cliff edge, attended an art opening, sewed some more of Jasia’s wedding quilt (ongoing for 4 years now) and did a lot of laughing. Thanks to Helen for the marathon drive, and for taking us to the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum. Perfect pit stop.

This year has involved catching up with so many old friends and reminiscing, but I’ve decided that that needs to be balanced by looking forwards, making plans and new memories. There are still 31 things on my list to fit in this year, which is becoming more of a challenge than I expected. A good one though 🙂

50 Things part 6

14. Spa Finally made it to a Champneys spa, which was lovely but my heart remains at Ragdale Hall. There’s sommat about being told to dress for dinner that gets my back up. I spent 2 nights with my remaining friends from school. We all lead very different lives from each other, but an underlying friendship remains. Yoga, meditation, steam room, massage, I feel incredibly relaxed. Mmmmmm

15. Kneehigh Theatre show I love Kneehigh and they didn’t let me down. Lovely afternoon shopping in Manchester then wandering Salford Quays. Rebecca had the usual ingredients of fantastic musicians and high drama mixed in with essential laughs. Beautiful. If you ever get the chance to see anything by them go! One day I’ll see them at home down in Cornwall (maybe on my 60 list).

The Wild Bride by Kneehigh Theatre (my fave)

The Wild Bride by Kneehigh Theatre (my fave)

16 Tharavadu with Calderdaleites Old vegan mates from over the hills, there’s only one place to take them in Leeds for coconutty goodness- Tharavadu. 16 TharavaduTotally delicious. Conversation ranged from gnomes via fracking to the death of an old friend. Getting old is not all good. Our mutual friend the male whore was MIA, which meant we missed out on his usual outrageous stories. The lunch offer here is amazing value at £5. Yes, £5! 17. WHC I’ve been staying at the Women Holiday Centre in Horton-in-Ribblesdale since the 80s, when I was an idealistic young feminist hippy. I’ve not changed much TBH. The holiday centre was set up in 1980 as a charitable co-operative, to provide affordable holidays in an old Rectory, with a sliding scale for payments according to income. The lowest charge for one night, including food, is kept at the daily rate of benefit entitlement. For my ’50’ visit we booked the whole house for a group of friends and chilled, cooked and shared meals, laughed hysterically, shared X rated stories, gave each other ‘advice’, did the silliest Pilates session I’ve ever seen and even managed some countryside walks, some up Pen Y Ghent.. There’s something magical about women only space and I don’t get enough of it these days. I’m not going to post any pics because what happens there most definitely stays there.

18 Luxembourg

Lovely pic of downtown Luxembourg by my sis

Lovely pic of downtown Luxembourg by my sis

Trip with my sister to visit cousins, Aunt and Uncle, who live in and around Luxembourg.It’s hard to keep up with family when they live so far away. What a lovely place- clean, green, spacious and comfortably wealthy. Hal the workforce come over the borders every morning. In one afternoon we went to France and Germany, then mosied up the Moselle to Trier, an amazing place full of history and UNESCO sites.

19 Germaine Greer

The lovely Germaine

The lovely Germaine

At last I saw her in the flesh speaking at Otley Courthouse. I love her outspokenness, her public changing of her mind when she feels like it, her thoughtful musing on the lot of women. She’s definitely mellowed, which is allowed at 76 I think. Perhaps matured is a better word. I dunno, she might hate that. She was talking about women disappearing worldwide, where are all they all? Aborted, killed as babies, even worse? Or is there something causing more males babies to develop than females? Is anyone looking?