Archive for November, 2016

Peter Unwin: Baltic Approaches

November 26, 2016

61tgouatogl-_ac_us160_This was an excellent find in a secondhand bookshop. The author was an experienced British diplomat, and this shows through in the care of his writing, which succeeds in portraying the broad sweep of two thousand years of European history from the specifically Baltic perspective. I hadn’t fully comprehended the vastness of the region, which Unwin likens to a northern Mediterranean, a perspective that had never occurred to me, but which makes eminent good sense, particularly when you take a good map and rotate it a little… it will never be the same in my mind and imagination from now on.

The book was written just over twenty years ago, and it’s quit astonishing how much things have changed dramatically in such a short period of time: he’s writing shortly after German reunification, before the accession of Eastern European nations to the EU, and he’s not able to imagine their joining NATO, which of course has happened. He follows the coastline as it limits Germany, Denmark, Poland, the Kaliningrad exclave, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway and back to Germany again.

He’s particularly thoughtful and sensitive about East Prussia, analysing its contribution both to Germany and to Europe, and expressing sadness at its disappearance, inevitable and understandable though this was. My one gripe with him would be his attitude to Poland and Lithuania which I felt lacked subtlety, especially in his glossing over the significance to Poland of Wilno, and not just in the inter-war years. Overall it is hard to fault his careful, detailed, balanced and sensitive exploration of the complexities of the ethnic minorities questions which have bedevilled the Eastern Baltic region and to some extent still do today. He’s good on national traits and characteristics, insofar as this is possible when one is inevitably generalising. His prognostications about the future, outlined in his concluding chapter, are, unsurprisingly, overoptimistic, dated, and about as far as it’s possible to be from where we have got to today…

But, a good little book that does the subject justice and which has some nice outline maps which help when you turn to the atlas for more detail.

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My A-Z of Reading: K is for Knowledge

November 25, 2016

knowledge_magazine_and_encyclopaedia_issue_1A little knowledge (well, actually it was learning, but that won’t fit so neatly with my subject) is a dangerous thing, said someone, once, long ago.

Part works are a curious publishing phenomenon, a great way of tying you in to buying something every week for a long time, and thereby ensuring a regular income stream; nowadays all sorts of utterly bonkers things are on offer, usually in that dead ‘nobody has much money left’ after-Christmas period, but when I was young it was all sorts of good and wholesome things like encyclopaedias and history books that built up week-by-week.

Knowledge was one of those magazines; it was carefully designed so that it would built up into a proper encyclopaedia for children over a period of four years: it eventually built up into eighteen volumes (for which you could, of course, buy hideous, cheap and crappy binders) each with a table of contents and an index; you removed the outer cover, and then all the pages were sequentially numbered as in a proper book; the covers could also be bound up into another quick reference work. The magazine was evidently pretty successful, as it ran through four editions. My parents bought it for me – two shillings, later half-a-crown a week.

I’ve found myself thinking about these encyclopaedias quite a bit lately; I need to finish binding them all properly, about fifty years after I acquired and read them all, and now that I have a grandson, I’ve wondered vaguely whether he may one day enjoy looking at them…

Although it was apparently an Italian invention, Knowledge was clearly modelled on Arthur Mee’s famous Children’s Encyclopaedia of the nineteen-thirties, a ten-volume compilation of all sorts of knowledge, puzzles and patriotism that is still to be found in secondhand bookshops and at jumble sales even today. We had it in the classroom in whatever was Year 6 back then, and I devoured it… good wholesome stuff that instilled in me the intellectual curiosity that’s driven me ever since.

The clever thing about Knowledge was that, although encyclopaedic in its scope, it didn’t present material in alphabetical order, which would have been a sure-fire way to turn any child off. Instead, a range of the various branches of knowledge were visited in each magazine, in articles of from one to three pages, all illustrated in colour – a bit of a novelty at the time – not photographs but drawings and painted illustrations, the point being that they brought the topic to life and livened up the pages. But the text was detailed, continuous prose: a topic was covered in decent depth. I felt I’d learned something when I finished an article.

Reading the magazines helped me in several ways. I got a broad picture of all the different areas of knowledge, and I gradually came to see which areas interested me and appealed to me more than others: history, geography, astronomy in particular. And then gradually, over time, I could see how lots of different and separate ideas started to link together. Usually I would read each magazine from cover to cover as soon as I got it, and then later I would go through them again and concentrate on the articles which I found especially interesting.

So began my introduction to the wide world of knowledge and understanding. It was money well-spent by my parents; my dad started binding the magazines properly for me, and I learned bookbinding along the way, but he never finished the task. I’ve still got all the books and magazines and will be returning to them, and finishing off the binding along the way…

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My A-Z of Reading: J is for Jacket

November 25, 2016

Don’t judge a book by its cover…

Books didn’t use to have illustrated covers, or dust-jackets; in the early days they often didn’t have covers of any kind – you bought a block of pages sewn into book form, but had the binding done yourself, to match your library style and the size of your wallet. Then came the relatively utilitarian cloth cover; it took the revolutions in printing and binding technology of the early twentieth century to allow paperbacks to become a possibility.

The dust-jacket was originally very plain and utilitarian: it existed to keep the cloth binding of a book clean while it was on sale. You might keep it on the book once you’d bought it and got it home, or you might remove and dispose of it. The earliest paperbacks had dust-jackets, too – occasionally you come across very early Penguins secondhand with the dust jacket identical to the cover. But how to make your book stand out in the growing numbers of books on sale in the shop?

You can still see the basic style of book cover and jacket in French bookshops, where hardbacks rarely appear, and many – not all – newly-published novels appear in the same kind of plain, single coloured paper cover with title and author, just as they did half a century or a century ago. And people buy the books, devoid of picture, or colour on the cover. And German and French paperbacks look a good deal more sober than the garish piles stacked up in our booksellers.

Does any of this matter? Probably not. It’s good to have books that are attractive objects in themselves, a pleasure to look at and hold, as well as read. I wouldn’t say that a cover would attract me to buy a book I didn’t want to read, but, given the choice between two different editions of a classic text, say, or the UK and the US printing of a new novel, then the cover might sway my choice. But it is all about marketing, and it all adds, perhaps unnecessarily to the cost of a book.

Let’s use the Mars Bar test: when I was young, a Mars cost sixpence, and a standard paperback was either five or seven times the price of a Mars. With most new paperbacks in the UK heading for a tenner, how does that square up? And while I’m on, why are our paperbacks relatively more expensive than French or German ones, where they have to pay VAT on them as well? Once you start looking at the difference between A and B format paperbacks you start to get the impression we are being fleeced over here…

I’d settle for a bit of old-fashioned simplicity: what I buy a book for are the words it contains between its covers.

My A-Z of Reading: I is for Illustration

November 23, 2016

I grew up with books, and very dull ones they were, too, to look at: very few illustrations indeed. What pictures there were, even in books for children, were pen and ink line drawings every few pages, and if you were lucky a couple of rather poor colour plates tipped in somewhere in the text, perhaps as frontispiece and somewhere else. The stories were fine, but you needed the stamina to work through text, unrelieved.

Factual books were little better: colour illustrations were exemplified by the ubiquitous Ladybird Books, now the subject of much parody and mockery, but in my childhood they were about as good as it got! Books like The Big Book of Science for Boys (I kid you not, they had titles like that) were illustrated with shoddy artwork by hack artists. Photographs? In your dreams.

In school, the textbooks were grim, dull, again only illustrated with monochrome line drawings. This was fine for charts and diagrams but did not enhance one’s wider appreciation of history or geography, art or science. But, all the observations above come from hindsight: at the time – in my childhood – I can’t say I noticed the poverty or the paucity of illustration. After all, TV was black and white; at the cinema you saw the occasional ‘technicolor’ film…

At some point there was clearly a revolution in printing technology which allowed good quality colour reproduction and the use of photographs. I recall that many of the early illustrated books came from Eastern Europe where presumably cheaper labour, and the desire of those countries for western cash, allowed quality work to be offered at a reasonable cost. And now, of course, pictures are everywhere – high quality, full colour, on every page, in any and every book, for children, adults, school and kitchen. How did people manage to follow recipes in the olden days without all those food-porn photos?

Seriously, no-one would want to go back to those grey days and dull volumes, but I do wonder what the effect has been on the ways we interact with and consume text. I’m sure the magical and beautifully illustrated children’s books available nowadays make reading stories much more appealing and attractive to young children. But eventually they have to move on to novels, which still tend to be mere text, black ink on white paper.

At school, textbooks are now a riot of colour illustrations which often seem to get in the way of the text, which itself has to be chopped up into bite-sized chunks in order to induce children to bother paying any attention to the words. At which point, I find myself wondering, just how much depth and detail about a topic are they actually going to take in? We reached, at some undefined point, the notion that everything, including education, had to be exciting, entertaining, enjoyable and therefore full of pictures – even better if moving ones! – to the detriment, perhaps, of the depth and detail available in those vast tracts of – oh so dull – text, and the concentration that one had to develop to take them in, concentration now no longer required…

I do sometimes feel like a moralising fuddy-duddy when I observe that not everything in life is full-colour and exciting, that many people will have to spend vast amounts of time at rather dull and tedious jobs, and that being mildly bored can stimulate both mind and brain to creative thought. Somewhere there has to be a mean, where real knowledge is not atomised by being smitten into little gobbets and trivialised by pictures, where curiosity can be stimulated, children challenged and creativity awakened.

Meanwhile, I long for the days when my newspaper was only black and white, and I still enjoy black and white films… I need to crawl back into my ark.

Helena Kelly: Jane Austen The Secret Radical

November 22, 2016

41-eofq1hel-_ac_us160_There are going to be a lot of new books on Jane Austen next year to cash in on the bicentenary of her death: this is probably the first of them. It’s a detailed collation of the evidence for Jane Austen’s radicalism, anti-establishment views and so forth, as found in the novels. Kelly is interesting on how Austen’s reputation was carefully crafted and shaped after her death to suit various different purposes and times; she also clarifies how little is really known about the writer’s life, and how much is gossip, hearsay, pure invention, or unevidenced anywhere. It’s therefore in the novels themselves that we might discover what the author’s real opinions were … (or not?) The point that Britain was by and large a totalitarian state during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and that therefore we need to be reading between the lines just as Austen’s first readers would have done, is worth consideration..

John Mullan reviewed this in last Saturday’s Guardian, just as I was getting into it: he basically panned it. What I’m gradually coming to realise it that every generation reinvents an awful lot of wheels: there wasn’t anything radically new or wildly exciting in this book. Most of the ideas I was familiar with from my studies at university and my preparation for teaching Austen’s novels: Kelly packages her material differently, contextualises better and writes in the style of the latest generation of academics…

That Jane Austen was in some ways quite radical was no news to me; she explores the incredibly limited possibilities for women, and their parlous financial position whether married or not; she is aware of the dangers to women of pregnancy and childbirth; she raises questions about the Church and the massive changes – particularly enclosures – taking place in the society of her times, and she is aware of the role of slavery in creating people’s wealth.

Kelly explains entails in detail, clarifies some aspects of how the Church of England worked and its involvement in slavery in the West Indies, and she’s good on family wealth and its transmission in general; it seems to me that the most useful aspect of her book is the detailed contextualisation of Austen’s society and its workings, the outlines of which are already known to many of Austen’s readers.

And yet, nowhere does Austen seem to be advocating the overthrow or replacement of the institutions of her time; she seems innately conservative in many ways, particularly in the complex social novel that is Mansfield Park, and Kelly’s analysis of that particular novel does seem to squash it to fit her thesis. If anything, Austen seems to be arguing for changes in behaviour, particularly in relationships, and highlighting perceived injustices: she is not a political novelist. Austen isn’t a secret radical, so much as a highly perceptive and intelligent observer of her times, whose gaze nothing escapes.

Mullan’s judgement on the book is a trifle harsh: I did find it interesting. But I also thought Kelly imposes rather too much of contemporary sexual attitudes onto Austen and her characters at times. I found the tone of what purports to be an academic work rather too chatty, and having both footnotes and endnotes was unnecessary. And, was it the author or her editor who decided that Beatrice was the heroine of As You Like It? Good grief...

Ronald Blythe: The View in Winter

November 18, 2016

51idp2y8lzl-_ac_us160_I’ve learnt a few things as I’ve grown older. One was that nobody prepares you for how long the middle part of your life lasts, when you have the career and the family and the home… work goes on for years and years. At least I was lucky in enjoying my job immensely. And nobody prepares you for growing gradually and inexorably older, and what this does to both body and mind. So I approached this book with both interest and trepidation, and it was a real eye-opener – frank and open interviews with elderly people from all walks of life in which they speak of their experiences of becoming older and what this has done to them…

Blythe’s lengthy and reflective introduction considers the change in age, ageing and attitudes to ageing that have taken place over the past century or so: pretty nearly everyone now grows old, whereas in past centuries, old age was an extraordinary thing. Although I came across an interesting reflection on Russia the other day, where women reach pension age at 55, men at 60 – and average male life expectancy there is 59…

The interviews are collated thematically in chapters, interspersed with Blythe’s commentary and sharply perceptive analysis – or so it seemed to this ageing reader. There’s a wide range of views and comments, which are sometimes quite shocking, even more so when you remember that the book is nearly forty years old, and always enlightening. I found the thoughts of the matron of an old people’s home quite frightening and scary because she revealed angles on ageing and older people which I had never imagined. And some sixth-formers’ perceptions of the elderly were a bit of a shock, too.

A chapter which interviewed veterans of the Great War was revealing, giving quite a different picture from more recent interviews with the very last survivors; far less about the horrors of the front. The dullest – and most surprisingly dull – chapter was the retired and elderly religious (priests and monks) recollections: dry as dust and empty of any real spiritual depth, I felt.

For me, the most interesting chapter was the one where ageing teachers spoke of their lives, with an astonishing account from a teacher in his eighties – so born at the end of the nineteenth century – in which he describes his own schooling, which might have taken place in Shakespearean times, so primitive did everything sound. And then off he went to university to get a second class joint honours degree in English and French, which was a bit near the knuckle for yours truly.

There are times when I can’t believe I’m past sixty: where did all that time go, can I have some more please, there’s so much more I want to do? And then I start to think about all the places I’ve been, all that I’ve done and the people I’ve met and I’m astonished by it all. At the moment I’m enjoying relatively carefree time and trying to live adventurously (after a fashion), but I do think I could quite easily put together e programmer for my next existence…

RSC: The Merchant of Venice (2015)

November 18, 2016

51jd-sfgbl-_ac_us160_The Merchant of Venice really is quite a difficult play; in Shakespeare’s time it might have been an anti-semitic and Jew-baiting piece, but it really isn’t possible to play it that way in the post-Holocaust twenty-first century. This sets directors a challenge, but also seems to open up the play to more complex and interesting interpretations than Shakespeare might have dreamed of…

I saw the RSC performance that I’m writing about here, in 2015: it stunned me then, and was easily the best interpretation I’ve seen. So I bought the DVD (in fact, I must have enjoyed the performance so much that I accidentally bought the DVD twice) and came back to it the other evening. It’s quite a fast-paced production – sometimes Portia is rather too prone to gabble, but that’s a minor complaint, honestly. It’s a modern-dress performance, though the setting feels timeless, really.

A number of things stand out for me. The Venetians all come across as money-grubbing, fortune-seeking, shallow personalities. Bassanio is a gold-digger, who knows how to say the right things to the right people. Portia is young and frustrated by her father’s will, rather than the ageing woman fearing being left on the shelf as she has occasionally (and convincingly) been played. She clearly fancies Bassanio and gives him obvious hints about the right casket, which he convincingly feigns ignoring…

Shylock is played as someone who’s had enough of the racist taunting and seizes a proffered opportunity to get even: this is understandable and convincing. So far, so good, so obvious: what did the performance do for me that was different, and thought-provoking? Antonio, for starters: a young man, passionately in love with Bassanio – they have clearly been lovers – who is distraught that his lover – bisexual Bassanio – is about to quite that phase of his youth and move rather more seriously into heterosexual fortune-hunting, nevertheless helps him in his quest by signing up to the bond. His looks, gestures, facial expressions and tearfulness say it all: we feel for him. And then he is truly vile to Shylock. So when in the trial scene Shylock advances on him with his knife ready to take the forfeit, we are torn, but we feel his torment and anguish at the approaching doom. And there is a priceless moment as the disguised Portia witnesses the passionate farewell kiss between the two men and realises what their relationship was…

Watching the play again this time, I was struck by how much the play seemed to be about loneliness: Shylock after the trial, Antonio suffering in the happy world of Belmont as his lover abandons him, and – often overlooked – the sadness and loneliness of Jessica who has abandoned father, family and faith for Lorenzo and his Christian yahoo mates, who ignore her, because after all she is still really Jewish… even Lorenzo’s attitude is ambivalent at best. Belmont is not really the place of happy ever after that we might have thought it was; this is a superb version of the play, bringing out the best of both comic and tragic elements of Shakespeare’s creation.

My A-Z of Reading: H is for History

November 15, 2016

With the arrogance of a sixteen year-old, I decided that I wouldn’t study History for A-Level, I’d do English Literature instead, reasoning that I could always just read the history… and if ever there was a life-changing decision, that was one. I have always read history, but I’m not a historian; sometimes I wish I were, but that’s for another existence, someday. With more mature reflection, I still approve of that decision so long ago, since my love of literature has been lifelong, and the basis of three degrees and an entire and very enjoyable career as a teacher.

I can’t count myself a historian because my reading has been haphazard and wilful, because I’m not trained in the evaluation of source material, and I have no way really of knowing if the knowledge and understanding I think I’ve acquired is sound, although it seems to have suited my purposes.

I have read quite widely in the history of Poland and Eastern Europe, and have authors on whom I choose to rely: Norman Davies on Poland I find excellent, and Timothy Snyder on the borderlands and ethnic mishmash that was Eastern Europe before the 1945 ethnic cleansing. I’ve read quite a lot on the Soviet Union, an experiment which has always interested me, perverted though it ultimately was, as well as unsuccessful. This has been as a background to my reading of the literature of those areas and countries: my training as a literature expert taught me the importance of context and background.

I’ve read widely in religious history: I’m particularly interested in the earliest years of Christianity and how it developed before it became an official state religion and more interested in temporal power than spiritual soundness. Again, my reading is rather unsystematic: I have found Geza Vermes very interesting, and Diarmaid MacCulloch most knowledgeable and thought-provoking, but whether that counts as balanced study, I know not. Similarly, the rifts in Christianity that resulted from the Reformation have long gripped me. I studied that period several times in history lessons at school, both from a Catholic and an Anglican perspective. Since then I’ve read more widely; again, MacCulloch has impressed through his thoroughness and contextualisation, but I have also gained much from the work of the relatively little-known Catholic historian Philip Hughes, who wrote serious tomes in the 1950s, particularly on the English Reformation. I have the abiding feeling that an awful lot was lost in the cultural vandalism of those times in England. But is my knowledge and understanding balanced? And then I comfort myself with the realisation that my knowledge and understanding of literature, wide and broad as it is, is hardly balanced or comprehensive, and nor is it capable of so being.

As and when the whim has taken me, I’ve branched out: I needed background on Arabic literature I was reading and so took in Albert Hourani’s History of the Arab Peoples; I’ve found E P Thompson’s history of revolutions very thought-provoking; I have had an enormous tome on the history of the United States on my to-read list for over a decade.

Why history: the triteness of ‘those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it’ is nevertheless true; I want to understand why we, as a species, have made such a hash of our world and ourselves, and to discover some hope, perhaps, that we aren’t permanently doomed to be in a mess, even though we will surely not draw nigh to utopia in my lifetime. At the moment, my feeling is that the tension between the individual and the group or collective is not being given sufficient attention, that competition rather than co-operation is not good for us, and that meddling in the affairs of others rather than just getting to know and live peaceably with them, isn’t helping either. And those are probably not the conclusions of an historian…

On linguistic imperialism

November 12, 2016

I was brought up speaking English; my variety is pretty much Standard English although my south Lincolnshire origins occasionally betray themselves in my pronunciation. I’ve always taught students that SE is an enabler, rather than a replacement for their own variety, wherever they come from: to only be able to operate in a dialect or with a regional accent can disadvantage someone in certain circumstances.

My studies of American literature have made me reasonably familiar with US usages, though not with the many accents of that huge country. I have been aware of Britain and the USA being both connected and divided by a common language, and rather horrified by the vague and characterless ‘mid-Atlantic English’ that has evolved or developed over the past few decades, particularly for the use of non-native speakers… I know very little about other varieties of English, such as those of Canada, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.

What has retained my attention over the years is what having a language shared with the USA has done to us in the UK. Initially, it was our language; the choice of English over German as the national language of the USA was a narrow thing, apparently. I’m aware that pronunciations and usages and some of the spellings in use on the other side of the Atlantic are actually closer to those of Shakespeare and his contemporaries than the English we currently use in the UK. And obviously, as the power of the USA grew and that of ‘Great’ Britain faded with the progression of the twentieth century, US influence on our common language grew ever stronger. Increasingly books are published in a single US English edition, using US usage and spelling, for sale in all English-speaking countries and I have to get used to all those spellings I dislike and regard as incorrect for here… American TV shows, cheaply produced for a much larger audience, are easy fare for our TV companies looking to fill their schedules.

And, rather more alarmingly to me, the shared or almost-shared language means that every idea or theory, no matter how crackpot or bonkers, that someone in the US dreams up, is instantly and too easily accessible to us over here, whether economic, social, political or educational, whether it’s valid only for the US or more universally applicable – it can be in print, online or broadcast immediately and affect and influence us over here, often before we have time to engage our critical faculties.

This might seem blindingly obvious, and to an extent it is, but the point is that countries that use other languages have an inbuilt delay and a filter which is the need for translation, so ideas can and do take rather longer to percolate and infiltrate other countries, if they actually get there at all: they don’t potentially get the same kind of widespread and instant exposure that they can get here. An example: any teacher in the UK can list a great number of crazy theories and practices that have been adopted by or forced onto schools over the last couple of decades, often to the detriment of good education, and many of these ideas – such as performance management, for instance – originated in the corporate US, and have been dropped since. I have noticed from my reading of the French press that many of these half-baked and discredited ideas are now beginning to surface and be implemented in that country’s schools, and have met with the same scepticism and scorn from French teachers that they met quite a few years ago over here… It’s almost as if French, or German, or Polish or whatever is a shield from some of the craziness.

I’m not wanting to suggest that the USA has a monopoly on mad ideas, although I feel they do pretty well. But this linguistic imperialism is not something that seems to be that widely noticed or commented on, although its effects may be profound.

On the United States of America

November 9, 2016

I have never been to the United States, and I can’t see that I ever will: partly because I don’t fly, and partly because I don’t really wish to cope with seeing people carrying weapons in the street. I’ve read lots about the US in my exploration of all sorts of travel writing, from the very earliest days in the explorations of William Bartram, to the later expeditions of Lewis and Clark, and the twentieth century wanderings of others. There are certainly places I’d like to see: Isabella Bird’s descriptions of the Rocky Mountains and Estes Park in particular have fascinated me, and John Muir’s descriptions of the National Parks are wonderful; of course I’d like to see the Grand Canyon and lots of other places I’ve read about, too.

I was fascinated at school when we got to study US history as half of the course for our O-Level, and I’ve read a lot of American literature, too: the American Literature unit in my second year at university was one of my favourite courses. I wrestled with, and enjoyed Walt Whitman’s poetry, and came to read widely in Mark Twain’s novels, essays and travelogues, all of which I really enjoyed and come back to from time to time. And then there were all the writers of the Beat Generation that I came to know during my master’s degree studies. And Catch-22

I grew up during the Cold War; I can vaguely remember hearing news bulletins at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. I came early to realise that what the US was doing across the world was as evil as what the USSR was up to; what was different was that the US was much better at PR and propaganda and held all the pretty cards. They presented themselves very effectively as the good guys, offering the sweet taste of freedom. However, there is freedom to and freedom from, and when you start looking more closely, the cards are dealt rather differently. The US was very good at suggesting it had a dream, that it was a noble enterprise, a moral force for good in the world, and many people swallowed that.

I know relatively few Americans. Those that I have met, as colleagues or a students, I have really liked, have enjoyed talking with: they have seemed just like any other people I have met and got to know from many different lands. I’ve always enjoyed diversity and learning about other nations, people and places, and regular readers will probably have me down as a curious person.

And so I am dumbfounded today. I’ve often thought that many Americans – the ones I haven’t met, but read about – come from a different planet. Make all the allowances and excuses you like for the US political establishment or the Democratic party being out of touch with ordinary people – and I agree with those sentiments – I cannot see how anyone can think that it’s acceptable to vote for a serial liar who boasts about assaulting women; I’m utterly gob-smacked that any self-respecting woman could go into a booth thinking ‘I will vote for this man to run my country’. I’ve read a lot about the 1920s and 1930s (see my previous post) and I’m getting an awful dense of deja-vu, even though I wasn’t alive then…

Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

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