25 April 2008

Bittersweet moment of the year...

Last night JD & I were in bed, ready to sleep, in full spooning mode, when she mumbled: "I hope your dad lives for a long time to come yet because I don't want you to feel the pain and sadness I feel since losing mine."

What do you say to that?

23 April 2008

Feminists and their narrow minded perspective on the world

I read something about feminism in the late 70s on After Ellen. It was a review of an album by Cris Williamson, 'The Changer and The Changed'. This record is seen as landmark in 'womyn's music' (read: Williamson was a lesbian and did not hide that fact). I used to have the album on a tape and I quite liked it. Very similar to Carole King and it certainly deserved a wider audience than the narrow lesbian community. Anyway, the point is that one reviewer, in a lesbian magazine of course, said she liked the album but:

The problem that I have with Cris Williamson's embracing of spirituality on this album is the same one I have with any feminist who makes this personal quest a priority and excludes politics from her vision.

So, in short, women should sing about politics and not about their own personal experiences because that is what sisters are supposed to do.
How narrow minded is that? No wonder most people saw feminists as a bunch of stupid women who were too self obsessed to realise that small steps will eventually lead to a big goal, rather than demanding everything to change at once.

Hard line feminists saw men as the enemy and so no woman should sleep with a man because by default that meant she was being submissive. And so many women slept with women, as some kind of weird sisterhood thing. Not because it made them happy but because they felt they had to do it to fit in. So they swapped one form of oppression for another one. Because 'real' lesbians, those who were with women because they really wanted to, were seen as conforming, yet again, to male stereotypes as soon as one of them had short hair and the other had long hair.

And the worst thing is that after the radical movement calmed down, many women realised they did not want to be with a woman but really wanted to be with a man. After all, you can not change your sexuality to match your political views. And so loads of them got married in the late 80s/early 90s. That just made people think that being a lesbian is just a phase women go through. And so they inflicted even more damage on the public perception of women, lesbians and feminists.

Maybe I shave my legs and armpits because I don't like the hair. As a lesbian, I couldn't care less about the opinion of a man about my body hair. I care about my OWN opinion. Which is: I don't like it. I am glad I did not live in the 70s as I would have been seriously excluded and discriminated against by large groups of feminists.

Feminism was a great movement and it did a lot of good but my God, I am sure it did a lot of emotional damage to many women who just wanted equal pay without having to sleep with other women to get it.

PS: I found some fantastically funny websites against feminism. Unfortunately they are actually serious sites by freaky Christians and I should probably not link to them but they are so funny, I will leave it up to you if you want to go and have a look or not...

- Ladies Against Feminism
- Understanding Feminists and their fantasies
- Council on Biblical manhood & Womanhood

Asparagus quiche

Last night I made an asparagus quiche. I used to make that quite often but I had not bothered in the past 5 years at least. So I tried to remember the recipe and in the end, it was something like this:

Aspagarus - However many I had in the fridge
Ham - However much was in the packet (I actually used Gammon rather than a thick slice of ham)
Cream - Some
Milk - Some more
Eggs - As many as I needed to make sure it compensated for the amount of milk
Cheese - Lots
Onion - The one I happened to have left
Pastry - PUFF pastry thank you very much, none of that short crust rubbish!

Cooking time & temperature: try it on 160c first, if that doesn't work, turn it up higher and decide when you like the look of it.

So, lesson learned: who needs a recipe? Just do what you think is right because I think it was by far the most glorious quiche I have ever made!

21 April 2008

I am calm now...

Now that I have calmed down, I realise I should just look back at yesterday and be proud of what we did. We were GREAT. It would be wonderful (and exhausting) to play at that level every week but it will have to wait for another year. We went to Loughborough with a coach load full of supporters (they even brought pickled onions, quiche, mulled wine and samosas!).

We gave it all we had. For everything that we did wrong, we did some other stuff better than ever before. The Loughborough try came straight after one of our players had to go off injured after she was screaming in pain. I am sure we were distracted by that as they scored within a minute of play resuming. Luckily, our player is OK now, (just keep taking the morphine Sarah!) which is of course much more important.

Oh, and a thank you to our supporters. They were fabulous. And loud. And wonderful to have around.

I feel pleased that, apparently, this year I have managed to play at the higher level without making an absolute arse of myself. My tactical decisions were not always very good, my scrummaging needs some serious strength work and and my tackling is still rubbish, but all in all, I think I did quite well in a team that is certainly of a higher standard than the one I used to play for.

20 April 2008

Olney Ladies (do not) win the league!

Darn. My rugby team has gone through the season undefeated. Today was the final match of the season against our league rivals Loughborough. We were under the impression we only needed 1 point from the match so even when we lost 5-0, I was under the impression we had still won the league. As it turns out, I was wrong. Because we were not informed of certain points being removed from various teams in the league and some matches being deleted from the results (due to not all teams playing all their matches, it is not fair if one team gets the chance to rack up a massive score and get bonus points whilst another team simply gets the points when the opposition cancels the match. This means they do not get the chance to get a bonus point. This makes the competition unfair. I understand all that.)

I have no real issue with us not winning the league, although I am desperately sad about it as we came so close and the match yesterday was fantastic and, with 5 minutes of play to go, it was looking like a draw, which would have given us the championship.

My main anger lies with the fact that the opposition was aware of the points deduction that still needed to be applied. They knew exactly what they needed to do to win the league. We did not. The coaches thought 1 point was enough. And since you get a bonus point for losing but staying within 15 points of the winner, a 5-0 loss would still mean a league win for us. And so, after the opponents scored their try with 5 minutes to go, we were instructed to slow the game down and not run like mad, hoping to score our own try. So we kicked the ball out of play, wasted time, thinking we were OK, even if we lost.

Surely the league organisers should have made sure both teams were fully aware of the situation before such an important match? it is a league decider for God's sake. Can you imagine this happening in the professional game, that neither team knows who has actually won and that the officials say: I need to re-calculate all the scores this season and I will let you know by the end of Monday who has actually won the league?

Surely someone should have done this BEFORE the match and informed both team captains of any changes and points deductions that still needed to be applied?

Oh well, there is always next year I guess... I am now going to hide under a blanket on the sofa and cry silently about what could have been. last year I won the league with my old team, Old Leamingtonians so it would have been cool to win the next league up with my new team.

16 April 2008

Ciao Italia!

One down side of living in the UK is that you never hear any other language than English. There are no foreign language TV shows and non-English films are seen as arty and, although subtitled, only on TV at some unholy hour. Foreign speakers on TV news and in talk shows are always dubbed, never subtitled. And so the people here are hardly ever exposed to other languages. I feel very strongly that this is a big reason for the English being so bad at learning a different language. To them, the sound is completely new as they have never heard it on the radio or TV.

Dutch people speak very good English in general, even those who have not studied it. The reason is simple: they watch English-spoken TV shows and the subtitles help them to learn the language a fair bit, without them even realising it.

Here in England, I have never heard a non-English song on the radio. Never.

Dutch radio plays quite a bit of foreign language music. Especially in the summer, you can hear all kinds of music. People go on holiday to France, Spain & Italy and bring back that song they heard there on the radio all the time. And when the Tour de France is on (3 weeks of minute-by-minute live reporting from reporters on the back of motorbikes on Dutch radio, yay!!) you will hear a lot of French music. Kind of gets you in the mood.

One of the first CDs my parents had was a compilation album called Ciao Italia. it had all kinds of Italian pop songs that I used to love. No idea what they were singing about but that music was part of my youth, my summer. I am sure Italians would consider the songs on that album terribly outdated. Look at any Italian compilation album and you will see the same songs all the time. Like Italian music has not moved on since the late 80s. (a bit like CDs with The Best of French music still having Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel songs on them)

This morning, I suddenly thought of an Italian song and I downloaded a bunch of tracks I remembered being on that CD. I played some songs on iTunes in the office. Everyone looked at me (as if anyone else would play that kind of music!) and said: what the hell is this?!! So I put my headphones back on and worked away whilst listening to Eros Ramazzotti, Toto Cutugno, Gianna Nannini and Matia Bazar. And I don't care their music is old fashioned.

15 April 2008

Healthy Living

JD and I are on a new eating regime. We do not eat enough fruit and vegetables so now we have deiced to make a radical change. On Saturday we went to the market and spent a whopping (duh) £10.20 on fruit and vegetables. According to my calculations, this is enough for us to have 3 pieces of fruit each day (one with every meal) and 2 portions of vegetables. This means we should get to our minimum of 5 portions of fruit & veg a day, without counting things like sultanas, fruit juice and canned fruit we eat as snacks. I thought it was going to be a bit of effort to eat fruit with every meal but so far, it has been really easy. It seems our favourite fruit is spooning out a kiwi. Let's see how we feel about it after a week.

08 April 2008

And All Because The Lady Loves

Yay! Found after having been lost for a long time: And All Because The Lady Loves. They were one of my favourite bands in the 90s. Only made a handful of albums, completely obscure. Listen to samples of their music here. There is in fact a rather lengthy biography of And All Because The lady Loves on the BBC website H2G2.

I first saw them as a support act for a Beverley Craven concert I went to in Den Haag, about 100 years ago. I thought they were fabulous. Two women with a bass and a guitar. And two fabulous voices. They rocked. I enjoyed their show more than I enjoyed Beverley Craven. The combination of the two acts was rather weird actually. I think I became their most loyal Dutch fan. I have been to every show they played in Holland. OK, that was only a hand full of shows but still. One day they were playing a radio show in the place where I loved and me and a whole bunch of friends went to see them play. We chatted with them for a bit and they promised us tickets if we came to their gig that night. The gig was about 40km away and none of us had a car. So in the end, we found people happy to drive us there and back and we piled in to two cars, off to Zoetermeer.

We had a great night, especially since my group of friends were just about the only people there. Just as well we came with about 10 of us. They were opening for some unknown band and after their set, I chatted with Rachel & Nicky, the two band members, and made an arse of myself by trying to play one of their songs in their OWN dressing room... GOD I was so stupid and star struck.

They were way cool. And now I found their MySpace page. Still embryonic but one can only hope their internet presence grows so I can send my friends links to their songs.

07 April 2008

Olympic Torch Relay: I predict a riot

British people like nothing more than a good protest. If there is an opportunity to protest & moan, they will do so with gusto. And good for them. That is their right in a democracy. So I was very happy yesterday that the Olympic Torch Relay through London was totally overshadowed by protesters, demanding attention for China's outrageous politics, especially in Tibet.

However, I do not agree with people attacking the Torch Runners. The Olympics are a sporting event, not a political one. you can not blame people for wanting to participate in a sporting event. by all means, wave your flag and protest, make things as difficult as possible for China, make the world think of Tibet and human rights abuse instead of sport. But do not break the law. Show China what a democracy does: it gives people the right to voice their opinion in a peaceful way. Do not give China ammunition to say: See, that is why we ban protests because it leads to riots. Even the Dalai Lama has called for the Olympics to go ahead so that the world can force China to make changes. Why do protesters say they support the Dalai Lama and then ignore his opinion on this?

I felt the Metropolitan Police did a great job yesterday. They started out with low-level policing but when it became clear the protests became too much trouble, they brought in more police to protect the relay, at some point even abandoning the event and putting the whole thing on a bus along an unscheduled route to avoid protesters. What was their other option: hit protesters with their batons and fighting their way through the streets? Now THAT would have made Western democracies look good. In fact, that would only have strengthened China in its idea that banning free speech is good for keeping the peace.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua says that attempts to sabotage the relay "will surely arouse the resentment of peace loving people". They dismissed the protests as the work of a few Tibetan separatists. If the protests are peaceful, I think there will be more resentment about the 19 people killed in Tibet yesterday than about people shouting Free Tibet along the roads of London.

The whole thing is a PR nightmare for China. Instead of spreading harmony, the Torch Relay looks like a military operation with 3 rows of police cordons to protect the torch and protesters waving Tibetan flags all over the world.

Shame the Chinese and Tibetan people will of course not see any of it. They will just get the picture of Gordon Brown smiling at the Torch.Maybe not a smart move after all.

04 April 2008

Thomas Beatie: A pregnant man?

Right. Thomas Beatie claims he is pregnant. He used to be a woman. Then he took hormones, had his breasts removed and somehow that was enough to convince the authorities to change his gender/sex (what IS the difference between the two?). So now he is a man. And officially married. But he still has a womb. So when his wife could not get pregnant, Thomas remembered he was still half a woman and stopped his steroid injections. Now he is pregnant.

Apart from the ridiculousness of this whole story and the obvious hoax that it is, people are getting quite excited about this. Especially since Thomas appeared on the Oprah show. I believe it does great harm to the transgender/transsexual (what IS the difference between the two?) community as the publicity is simply bad. Thomas wanted to keep his female bits because he might one day want to get pregnant. Right. Sounds like he REALLY wanted to be a man. Not.

What are the legal criteria to change your gender/sex (what IS the difference between the two?)? Surely having fully functioning reproductive organs means you can not legally change sex/gender (what IS the difference between the two?). Also, steroids do a lot of damage to your hormones. He stopped taking them to ensure his woman-y bits started working again. Really? So he got a period? Nice. How much damage will the baby have if the 'mother' is full of steroid hormones?

Much debating going on on the web. I think the whole thing is fake. if it is NOT fake, I think the whole thing is dangerous and extremely selfish and the couple should have their head examined and their kids taken away from them. As a lesbian, I am supposed to stand shoulder to shoulder with other sexual minorities? really? I don't think so. We have our own battles to fight. And so I'll happily say it is ridiculous. if you want to be a man, then the consequences are that you can not have a child from your own womb. If you are not ready too accept that, then you are clearly not ready to become a man.

One of the funniest comments I saw on the web was this one on Guanabee.com:

He is not a she. Just because he is pregnant that doesn’t make him a female. That’s whats wrong with the world today, closed minded people!

OK. Re-cap. being pregnant does not make you a female and thinking that is the way it kind of really should be is an example of what is wrong with the world...

02 April 2008

Thieves again!

JD has a new bike. Her previous one was stolen. Today she took the new bike on its first outing in to town to go to the optometrist. When she came back to the bike, some arsehole had stolen her saddle. The thing was on a quick-release system so they simply flipped the bolt, took the entire saddle pin and ran off with it. Fucking hell. It was a nice saddle as well, especially for women, with a hole in the middle so as to not hurt your girly bits. Attached to the saddle pin was her rear light so that is now gone too.


01 April 2008

Delia backlash

Millions of women have grown up with Delia Smith as their Queen of Cooking. I am sure many British women were given one of Delia's cookbooks by their mothers when they moved out to live on their own. Delia's recipes are safe, easy and very very tasty. She was once described by fellow-chef Anthony Worral Thompson as The Volvo of the kitchen: Reliable, nothing fancy but it just works. I couldn't agree more.

For years I have been getting frustrated with those chefs who cook the most elaborate food on the TV and then tell you that it is easy to do at home if you only try hard enough. I usually end up with my kitchen in a mess and a dish that looks nothing like the picture. Dishes that should take only 20 minutes take entire days to prepare; I am sure you know what I am talking about.

So when I heard about Delia's new book, "How to cheat at cooking" I wanted to buy it. Delia has realised that you can make nice dishes by using ready made ingredients. She calls it cheating, I call it common sense. Finally a chef who understands the constraints of modern living; someone who does not make me feel guilty for using ready made pasta instead of making my own.

But now, something has gone wrong. Delia has a new book out and the BBC has given her the opportunity to maximise commercial gain from this by giving her a new TV show. The show is a big disappointment. Delia is not giving us a break because she understands us. She is cheating at cooking because she thinks we are all stupid and lazy. And, probably, because she is out of money (presumably her toy Norwich City FC is losing money hand over fist...).

Her recipes are boring and the ingredients she uses extortionately expensive. Supermarkets are now selling stuff with stickers that proudly say: This is a Delia Cheat product. And of course they happily double the price in the process, making the food much more expensive than it would have been if fresh ingredients were used. So, the people who are most likely to struggle with preparing fresh, healthy meals (those with little money), will not be helped by this book at all.

The backlash has well and truly started:

Delia's How to Cheat at Marketing - The Guardian
Delia's Cheat recipes: The True Cost - The Daily Record
Demonising St Delia - Daily Mail

But maybe the book is just not aimed at me and I should not complain about a book that may actually be very popular with its target audience. Maybe Delia has taught me how to cook properly and now the student no longer needs the master.