Hello, bloggers. This isn’t a blog. It’s just an attempt to maintain contact with you while I work out what to do next. I seem to have given up so much recently, and I find myself wondering if this blog is the next in line for the chop, so this rambling offering is me holding on, by my fingernails, because I’m not quite ready to give this up yet. I need to hear my voice in order to understand what I am saying, and this is the only way I can do it.
Yesterday a friend arrived for a few days and he’s challenging me to write all sorts of stuff, scripts, books, lessons (!). I could write this, or that, or this… and from this viewpoint, in this voice, or in that voice…. with a view to this, or that…. have I ever thought of this… and then there’s always that…. He’s great. But here’s the thing; a writer can write well only what has spun out of her life and thought, and no matter how good an idea is (and all his ideas are very good) unless it sparks that creative thingummyjig, it won’t be worth writing. And I think that maybe he doesn’t understand how narrow my field of ability is. That’s not modesty – it’s like a painter saying that he paints the small things in fine detail, a dewdrop on the curl of a rose petal, not the slash and splash of a battle scene covering a whole wall. Like the dewdrop painter I write the small things, the prosaic, the domestic, the unnoticed. That’s all I can do. And so I sit in front of my Mac and I wonder what I will write to you tonight. Maybe a little snippet from my day?
OK. A snippet and a photo.
This morning I read a news article about the Garrick Club, in London, one of the last strongholds of overt sexism. A woman entrepreneur is challenging their ‘men only’ rule. It reminds me of a very very wet day in London some years ago, when I was due to receive an award in a presentation ceremony to be held in a famous, plush and exclusive gentlemen’s club – all wood panelling and pale green paint and heavy furniture, squeaky leather armchairs and reading lamps. Just think of Jeeves and Wooster and you have the perfect image. We arrived about 30 minutes before the time on the invitation, having travelled from Derby and trailed across the city, in monsoon rain and howling winds. The club, quite near St James’ Palace, is in a wide street that acts as a sort of wind sock for the area. I had brought my daughter with me, and we were blown through the front doors to land dishevelled at the porter’s feet. We got no further.
He was a very pleasant, kindly Irishman, and full of apologies as he refused us entry. Only women accompanied by gentlemen could be admitted. He understood that I was there to receive an honour but there was no way he could help us. “Isn’t there” I asked plaintively, rain dripping from my head onto his polished shoes, “some little cubby hole or broom cupboard that we could hide in?” But there wasn’t. He managed to let us know, quietly but with conviction, that the club members were a load of bigoted ****s, and the rules were ***t but he had to show us the door until our hosts had arrived. So back we went into the wind funnel, with no coffee bars or pubs or shops (far too genteel an area for commerce) where we could have taken shelter. When we turned up half an hour later, for the ceremony, we had passed saturation point and it’s to be devoutly hoped that wherever we went we soaked their cushions, squelched their carpet, and water stained their mahogany.
You might have thought that twenty years on, things would have changed, but no. I wonder why this clever, articulate woman wants to change the rules of the Garrick? Surely it can’t be because she wants to join them? Surely not? Why would anyone want to be a member of such a narrow minded, snobbish, outdated and dull club? Why would anyone want to join any organisation where they’re not wanted?
I have joined only two things in my life – one was the Army (no regrets there, it gave me a home when no one else did) and one was a local church. Joining doesn’t come naturally to me, and it’s not been a complete success, but at least neither the military nor the church ejected me into the eye of a storm. Don’t do it, woman entrepreneur, don’t join the old fellahs. You’re better than that! Start a club for women and have a big sign on the door “Men welcome”.
I don’t belong in any organisation but around my neck is a pendant inscribed ‘belong’ and it’s a daily reminder that I belong to God. He isn’t exclusive.