Ranty Tuesday: more racism

Remember the 1950s social studies text and its blatant racism?

Well, the author doesn’t confine racist descriptions to First Nation peoples. It must be reassuring to be so certain your way is the right way, the only way. But how unsteady must the ground feel, when the world changes, when orthodoxy is questioned, when values are shown to be hypocritical and views proven to be views, not facts.

The section sweetly titled “Peeps at Peoples of Other Lands” covers quite a diverse range of countries far from Australia. But the attention on the differences seems not to highlight our common humanity. Rather, it’s like a freak show of oddities and amusing tidbits.

  • The Lapps and their Reindeer
  • The Eskimos and their Igloos
  • The Dutch and their Windmills
  • The Arabs and their Date Groves
  • The Malays and their Kampongs
  • The Javanese and their Tea Plantations
  • The Chinese and their Sampans

Some of the descriptions are positive, but while understandable given the one page brevity, vastly generalised. So, it is nice to know the Javanese are fond of music and plays and they work for very long hours picking tea. The author’s advice “when you hear mother telling father that the price of tea has risen again, [it] may be due to some increase in the wages of the poorly-paid pickers and poorly-paid packers” may be to induce some sympathy for the hard working but poor Javanese. To me it reads like blame ‘cause the reality is the price rise is probably to give more profit to the company shareholders.

But the Gold Logie to Racism in this section, the following description of Chinese people:

These cheerful, yellow-skinned people with their straight black hair, slanting eyes and flat noses differ from us in many ways.

So they differ not just with their slanting eyes and yellow skin? But with even more ways?

Ah yes, the author tells us they put their family name first and their “Christian” names last. (Christian! Did you just spurt your mouthful of tea over the device on which you’re reading this? Yes, the author calls the given name, the Christian name.)

The author goes on to say, they “lift their food to their mouths” with chop-sticks. I don’t know, but that just strikes me as strange. They don’t eat? They lift food.

All in all, not as bad as the resoundingly negative picture given of the First Nation peoples. It’d be another decade until Aboriginal peoples were considered citizens in Australia, their own land. Still, there’s no question, all these “odd little peoples” from around the world are amusing and oh! aren’t we lucky we live. in Australia are linked to Britain! [Lets be clear. This isn’t my view but the clear message from the textbook.]

I haven’t kept this book – threw it in the recycling bin.

I wasn’t surprised by the racism of a much earlier text I just read – Captain Cook’s journals. But the violence inflicted was breathtaking.

I know we should judge the past by our own standards but when that past is not so long ago and when the actions contradict with those own espoused values, it’s quite easy to judge. And be shocked.

The whole bravery of travelling in a small boat into the relative unknown is amazing and brave, but the violence is quite distressing. And obviously the precursor to the 1950s text book.

A post in which Lucinda takes a stand on flannelette sheets

Dowdy? Grandma-ish? Lacking in style?

I suppose flannelette sheets are all of these.

They are also these things:

Snuggly. Warm. Cosy.

As a teen, I used to be very cold in bed with icey cold feet. I had to have flannelette sheets in winter.

I went off them for a while. Probably about the same time as locally produced products ceased and cheap Chinese flannelette sheets swamped the market and local producers went offshore. The cheap ones pilled awfully. Fluff everywhere. Despite lots of washes. I also felt they dried my skin. I could feel them sucking the moisture from my skin. No really. I’m not exaggerating. I could feel it.

On the recommendation of a friend, last winter, I bought a set from Aldi. A couple of weeks after they were part of the special buy! As luck would have it, there’s a local Aldi that always has special buys past their set day (it’s a hidden secret that only locals know and seemingly do not buy the special buys – or the alcohol). The sole set of flannelette sheets left were my bed size. It was meant to be.

From the start, they have been wonderfully cozy.

I love lazing in bed. Even more so with the soft, warm, cozy flannelette sheets.

(As to the piling, they are but not annoyingly so. Only a little to start with.)

But I won’t use the flannelette pillow case. Don’t like the feel on my delicate face. I let Mr S use them.

I know! I’m so generous.

Weekly catch-up: empty nesters

Both my sons moved out earlier this year. The oldest to the inner city. Where he feels comfortable. Among the buzz of hip life. Full of intellectuals, hipsters m, wannabes, freaks, drop outs, young urbane types.

My youngest has moved out with another young lad from our street to a flat on the harbour at Kirribilli, that looks directly onto the Opera House. No one can believe what they are paying. The views are to die for. And with its gentility, it’s more The Dreamer’s scene than the city and inner west. He can skate or train across the bridge to the city and then escape back north.

Both are keeping their rooms here. And the spare room which has lots of their stuff. And shoes on the front porch!!!

Even if I was so inclined, I couldn’t empty their rooms. Mr S wouldn’t let me. He wants to boys to be able to come home any time they want.

Older Boy comes back quite often. He is a member of an athletics club close by and he trains with them. He might sleep here about once a fortnight. Or drop by for dinner.

Younger boy is back several times a week – sleeping here about twice a week.

He also comes to wash, to eat dinner with us or to eat whatever we had for dinner (we often cook double quantities to save cooking every night). On being asked, “What’s for dinner?” I asked if he thought dad and I might be cooking for two now. The look on his face told me he hadn’t even considered that option. He just assumed there’d always be enough for him too. Well, there is but it means we will have to cook another night too. And to be honest, Mr S always cooks for about twenty people.

The Dreamer has also said he is returning when his lease is up in June. So he has not really moved out – not physically, not mentally, not permanently.

So while we get several nights a week as empty nesters, we are not really empty nesters. Will we ever be?

I don’t feel deserted. How can I be? They’re here frequently.

I don’t feel at a loose end. I have never defined myself as a mother. Anyway, I am still a mother. Mothering was never my whole purpose and I didn’t live through my boys’ lives.

I can’t miss their mess because it is still here.

I don’t miss their company because we still catch up. One weekend we all went to an engagement party. Next weekend, we all went out for lunch and drinks and chat in the city. And then there’s the nights they’re here. And The Dreamer works at my school a couple of days a week.

I quite like the quiet. No SHOUTY computer game talk. No midnight feasting, klompimg around the kitchen, tinging of the microwave. No loud, not my taste, music.

So no grief here. But then maybe it’s because the nest really isn’t empty as much as it is that I have other things in my life besides mothering?

What do you think? Have you suffered empty nest syndrome?

What I’ve just read: I have several books on the go. None finished yet.

What I’ve been watching: started the investigative 3 part series into the fire in the ghost train ride fire at Sydney’s Luna Park in 1979. I couldn’t watch most of episode 1. It was too harrowing. I felt dread at the thought that the producer was just bringing up the pain of the families of those boys who died so she could have a sensational show; promising them a “real” answer rather than an electrical fault. But fuck, it was powerful and emotional and well done. No one who watched wouldn’t be in tears. Unless you kept turning it to mute and looking away like me. So you could say I didn’t really watch it. But I did watch some, even more without sound.

My pick for the week: Fisk. Written by and staring my favourite female comedian, Kitty Flanagan. Cringy, laugh out loud, nodding in agreement with situations. It’s great. I love the young comedian, Aaron Chen, who plays the “Webmaster”. All round brilliant cast.

Ranty Tuesday: the not so prodigal son

I have always been annoyed by the story of the prodigal son.

What about the good son?

He’s worked hard. He stuck by his father. He persevered. He showed commitment and stick-with-it-ness. Day after day, he just got on with his routine. Maybe he wanted an adventure. Maybe he wanted some fun. But work had to be done. Money was not to be wasted, not to be squandered. He probably practised frugality alongside his father on the farm.

And what happens? His brother, who had been off having fun and having an adventure, gets the party. Do you know what prodigal means? Wastefully extravagant; spending recklessly and freely. That guy’s already had his party. He had nothing but party when he squandered his share of the money.

It’s like people who get cheered for getting out of debt. Or losing excessive weight. Or giving up drugs.

What about the person who day after day practises economy or good choices? Where’s their cheering? Where’s the interest in how they do what they do, did what they did?

Imagine a woman’s magazine having a front page headline: “Susie: how I haven’t got fat.” Or “Lizzie shares her story of not putting her money into pokies”. Or “Read inside for the scoop on how this woman goes to work every day, day after day, on time, for decades.”

So here’s to all the non-prodigals! Here’s cheers to you!

(PS: even if I was religious, I’d still be annoyed with the parable. Yeah, I get the analogy – believers squander God’s Grace but he’ll welcome you back. Still, give the party to the son who stayed and have the party-guy prove himself before he gets a big welcome back party – not just come back because he’s run out of money and there’s a famine in which the pigs are eating better than he was, and “Hey, let’s have a party”. Let the wasteful one do some work first. You know he’ll still want some more of the inheritance when the father dies.)

Weekly catch-up: Hobbies

I’ve never been one to have hobbies.

Once, while in my early 20s, when visiting German relatives in Germany, an aunt asked me what my hobbies were. She was adamant that one MUST have hobbies.

That struck me as quite a strange thing to be adamant about and it stuck with me. Because I don’t have hobbies. And for the next 25 years? I still didn’t have hobbies. Oh god. Am I just a wage slave?!?

I’ve never been into sport. Blah! What is the point?

Dance? I have little rhythm, always start with the wrong foot, can’t tell my right from my left without winking, and can’t move my arms and legs with any sense of style.

I’m not at all crafty or creative. I’ve tried sewing. A practice in frustration. Was going to sew my sister a dress for her 21st. Hahaha. Who was I kidding! She never got a 21st present from me. Who knows where the cutout material ended up.

Knitting? Never finished the jumper I started. Let alone a scarf. Luckily my mother finished the jumper. I think. Anyway, I left the wool and wonky-tensioned piece with her.

Twenty-seven years ago, I found a craft for the non-creative. Cross stitch. All you need to do is count. I can do that. Did several. Then mis-counted on one and couldn’t finish it. “Just make it up,” said my mother. “Improvise!” That just won’t work. I’d end up with a very wonky piece and not in a creative way. I still have that UFO (UnFinished Object) and a few other kits in my cupboard.

I tried some scrap booking. More scrap, less booky. Why stick things around your photos? I don’t get it. And not because my pages look like I fought with the glue and other sticky things. I look at “good” ones and think why?

When I was a teen, my mother made me have music lessons. I won’t say it was a waste of money. But it definitely isn’t a hobby I’ve continued with. Much to the relief of anyone who isn’t tone deaf.

I tend to have challenges. Growing sweet peas. Running. (That one went as quickly as it came. See sport above.) Striking cuttings.

I do like words. Reading. Blogging. Learning languages. I think they’re my hobby.

Last year, I read Miranda Hart on hobbies. She struggles with them too. She outlines the ages of hobbies:

  • Teens – you’re only allowed to continue with your hobby if you’re talented in it. Think gymnastics, ballet, sport. Otherwise, with the need to be cool, you abandon hobbies.
  • 20s – you only need hobbies for your CV for job applications.
  • 30s – you look for some meaning. Search for something. Maybe join a book group. Or a masculine pursuit to find a partner, such as boxing or car mechanic classes.
  • 40s – gardening, but only if you’re professional successful or married. Otherwise you have to wait until you’re 50. Phew, this is now my hobby. My sons say it is a chore, not a hobby. So maybe I still don’t have a hobby.

Miranda says the only acceptable hobby throughout the ages is cookery. For this too, she gives stages, which are scarily accurate.

  • Child – adorable baked items
  • 20s – spag bol
  • 30s & 40s – lovely stuff with butternut pumpkin and chorizo from magazines
  • 50s & 60s – beef Wellington (possibly other comfort food)
  • 70s & 80s – back to adorable baked items

All well and good but last year I largely gave up cooking. I just can’t be arsed. It’s, I don’t know, like I’ve done enough dinners, baked enough cakes. Someone else can do it. Thank heavens, Mr S stepped up to grocery shopping and cooking.

Do you think people should have hobbies? Do you have a hobby? Or three?

One of my hobbies. (Saying something clever/funny but devastating.) When I realised it wasn’t everyone’s normal state. So it must be my hobby.

Last year, I took up “finding” cuttings for plants. I call it helping plants propagate. My friend calls it stealing. But look what it has given me:

What I’ve just read: this week’s read was fantastic. An antidote to decluttering, to simplifying. Miss Savidge Moves Her House by Christine Adams. Google it and watch the videos that were made in the 80s and earlier. What an unusual and independent and tough woman.

What I’ve been watching: it’s been one of those weeks at work when mindless shite on TV is needed to switch off the brain and when you can’t remember what you actually watched anyway.

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: bad – sooooo tired.
  • Water: bad – signs not drinking enough = headaches.
  • Exercise: blargh. Getting off the couch after a 10 hour day is hard.
  • Decluttering: holy t shirt cut up for rags.
  • Main thing I’m too embarrassed to tell you about: nix
  • FIRE: lots of talking and dreaming, little action. Though I did cook dinner on Thursday instead of spending $100 at a restaurant.

Ranty Tuesday: Apostrophes

I don’t get how people don’t get apostrophes.

It’s really quite simple.

Just because a word ends in an s doesn’t mean you put an apostrophe in front of the s.

An electronic sign on a local church made me want to phone and say, “It’s not how the church can help me but how I can help the church.” Apostrophes, people!

There’s only two rules:

  1. To show ownership.
    • Lucinda has a blog. = Lucinda’s blog
    • Jennifer has a book = Jennifer’s books
    • Mummy has a little helper = Mummy’s little helper
  2. To show a letter has, or letters have, been dropped.
    • I have had enough = I’ve had enough.
    • We will persevere = We’ll persevere.

But I just don’t get the mental block that some people have with apostrophes. It’s like they are trying to remember how to add or multiply fractions or do simultaneous equations. Apostrophes are not that hard. There’s only two rules. Learn them people!

There are many times I don’t care if people make mistakes. In texting. In writing me a missive (I am not one who corrects letters, no one likes that. I am thankful for a card or letter or email. And I know when typing quickly, we can all make mistakes.) When used by people who have learnt English as a second language relatively recently or without any classes.

But for a church sign on a busy road! If you can’t learn the two rules, how can I trust you to save my soul?

Ranty Tuesday: Phone calls on public transport

I know I’m old fashioned (as evidence, I don’t like bare feet in shopping centres) but I can’t stand people making phone calls on public transport. Quick, “Sorry. On the train. Can’t talk. But yes, I’ll meet you there” type of calls are fine. But loud, personal, long calls. No. Don’t do it.

Firstly, it is disrespectful to other travellers. Your noise is invading us.

Secondly, why would you want to share private details to all and sundry?

This girl was gabbling on for ages – across several stops. And hey! Face masks were still mandatory on public transport. But if one is busy having a talk with someone and sucking on a thick shake, clearly the law doesn’t apply!!!

[Video deleted not for privacy but because WordPress wouldn’t play it!]

She should have been fined three times:

  1. No mask
  2. Loud talking on public transport
  3. Inane conversation

I will admit to having made a chatty, catch-up phone call on a train recently. But that was because there was a woman talking loudly on the phone, so rather than ask her to stop, I passively-aggressively rang a friend and talked louder. She didn’t stop though!

Your views on this critical matter?

A post in which Lucinda proclaims the correct shape for a tea cup

OK, I’m being deliberately, stridently definitive with the title of this post, but “My favourite shape for a tea cup” just didn’t have the right amount of certainty and authority.

It’s a given that tea should not be drunk from cardboard or plastic cups.

Likewise, thick mugs are a no-no. Ruins the taste. Fine bone china is a must. It’s not that I will not brook mugs; I have a favourite fine bone mug. Had it for decades. I will be sad if they go out of production. Dunoon.

Size is important. I hate those small coffee cups that you always seem to get at conferences and hotels. Not enough volume. And the tea goes cold too quickly. Also hate oversized cup, especially wide soup-bowl-like ones. Again tea goes cold too quickly and they’re hard to drink from.

Within these parameters – fine bone, not too small, not too big, cup not mug – is a wide range of possibilities.

But this is the perfect shape.

There’s a simplicity that is pleasing. It just looks right.

The photo doesn’t show the shape properly. It’s more rounded than pointy at the bottom. (Note: the saucer doesn’t match as the original saucer was smashed but I couldn’t let go of the cup.) The biscuit hanging was from Japan. Also a perfect biscuit to go with a cup of tea. Not overly sweet, simple flavour, firm, no “bits” in it. (I have a position on biscuits with bits in them.)

Yes, whatever this shaped is called – if it even has a name – this is the correct shape for a tea cup.

If you come over, I have a lovely set of perfect shape cups (slightly smaller than my orange one) that I will serve you tea, loose leaf, of course, from a perfect tea pot. Being some bikkies. Or cake.

You need to write a blog post about that

I have a go-to friend who I contact whenever I hear or see things that annoy me. Things that rile me up. That get my goat. That stick in my craw.

Things like mispronunciation of words on TV and audiobooks.

Or horrid accents or disconnect between the narrator and story on audiobooks.

Or people doing stupid things. Stupid as defined by us, of course.

Likewise, she contacts me when she witnesses something that breaks her rules. She tells me that I need to write a blog post about that.

(‘Cause that’ll show ‘em. That’ll put them in their place.)

We also contact each other when we find out something we didn’t know – to check if the other knew it, to confirm we are not strange to not have know it. (Like, did you know riffle – as in to riffle through papers – is not pronounced rifle? We didn’t.)

Anyway, as part of my attempt to routine-ise my blogging, Tuesdays will now be dedicated to blithering. Offloading about rules. Writing about the obscure and the overlooked. Sharing my views on unimportant topics and on strange things learnt.

BTW, I reserve the right to break my own rules. As I did in the previous paragraph. I hate people turning nouns into verbs, or worse just using a noun as a verb (as in “He disrespected me.”)

And as I say to my friend, when she is fired up about something and wants me to write about her issue in my blog, “That’s your issue, you write your own blog,” I expect our views will not always align. And that’s OK.

Answering machine? Home line? What’s that?

I wrote this post in December 2019. Just found it while looking through my drafts.

This post starts with a mystery.

A message was left in my home line answering machine. The caller asked for me by a diminutive form of my name; a form that I used when at high school or one usually used by men when I introduce myself in my full name. You know like Suzanne to Susie! Or Jennifer to Jenny. Or Catherine to Cathy.

(Why it is usually men who use a diminutive form? Recently I was tempted to call a man Stevie who continually used the diminutive version of my name. He calls himself Steve, introduces himself as such and signs his emails the same. I introduced myself with my full name and use the full version in emails. He heard everyone else call me by the full version. Yet he persisted with the -y or -ie version of my name. This is one of the mysteries of this post. Not the main mystery. So let’s return to the answering machine.)

The message left a name of which I had no recollection. And said, very conversationally, “Long time no speak.”

“So what’s the mystery?’ you ask.

Well, who leaves messages on answering machines these days?

And who was this person?

I did what any sensible person did.

No, I didn’t call right back.

I Googled the name. It didn’t help. The name came up as a rural reporter. Was she responding to a tweet I posted? One in which I heavily criticised the state government which is my employer? That would be very paranoid of me.

Had she moved media employers and was trying to contact me about a workplace issue where a parent had threatened to go to the media?

There was a couple of Google results that had same name as a dodgy sounding charity. Was it a marketer, trying to sound conversational?

I turned to FaceBook. No help there.

I used Reverse Australia to see where the landline was based. And then did a street view search on Google maps to see if it was a home or a business. All looked like a private dwelling.

I discussed it with a friend who shared my thoughts that this was strange. (Not my searching. That’s not strange. No, the message was strange.)

After exhausting all search techniques, I returned the call. Turns out she was looking for an old school friend. I was not that friend. We just had the same first name.

Several years ago we would get lots of messages on our answering machine. There’d be no mystery. We’d return the call. Or not.

Now the only people who phone our home line are:

  • My mother
  • Telemarketers
  • An old friend of Mr S who persists in being without mobile or any social media

I’d get rid of the home line except it comes with the internet package.

Anyone who wants to contact me sends a text or a message or a video chat or an email.

Do you still have a land line? Do you use it?

Would you have phoned back? Immediately or when you had time? Would you have searched the net first?