Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunday, Sunday

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Last week, the lovely Lou from the enchanting Lou, Boos and Shoes passed on to me a Grumpy Meme, which appears to be the blog equivalent of that programme on BBC2 about grumpy old women.  (For those of you not familiar with the BBC, they had done a programme called Grumpy Old Men, which was composed of famous and semi-famous gentlemen of a certain age getting cross about things. Even though it was just talking heads, it was actually rather funny and struck a chord, so clearly some clever commissioning editor sat up one morning and thought: Hey! Women can be grumpy too. To which I say: YES WE CAN.)

Anyway, the point is that you list as many things as you like that make you stamp your foot, which must be an excellent psychological exercise, and yet another example of the cleverness of the blogosphere. I see it as a perfect invitation to let off steam, although you may have noticed that I don't need that much inviting.

Here we go.

Number one, with a bullet, is: DANGLING MODIFIERS. As a devoted pedant, dangling modifiers make me crazy. See what I did there? Of course you know what I mean, but that sentence is wrongly and hideously composed; it will arrest the eye, and you might have to go back and read it again. The correct version is: as a devoted pedant, I find dangling modifiers maddening. I am not certain whether it is because I have become more sensitive to them with age, or whether they are increasing in frequency, but I see them twisting through even the most reputable publications now, like Japanese knotweed. I even found one in The Telegraph this morning. This insanity must STOP.

Two.  My astonishing ability to break things. It's not china and glass so much, although I was famous as a child for being radically clumsy, but any mechanical object. I have a most peculiar effect on clocks. Any clock I buy will be guaranteed to stop working within a week of my getting it home. I am far too disorganised to take them to the mender, even should I know where a clock-mender might live, and too sad to throw them out, so I have a house full of stopped clocks. This sounds like a metaphor for something, but I am not quite certain what.

Three.  The expression 'must have', as used in fashion magazines. Sarah and I have a good old rant about this in Backwards. I do not see why perfectly intelligent, sentient women should be told what they must or must not have. As an added irritant, the Must Have is often egregiously ugly and excessively expensive.

Four.  The making of assumptions. I do this myself, because it is a very human failing, and I am not living up on some pristine mountaintop where the air is too pure for flaws.  I do try and fight against it, though. It is a gateway drug: you start off thinking you can handle it, and before you know it, you are injecting stereotypes before breakfast. It's a tiny step to: all women are obsessed with shoes/hate their thighs/are nothing without a husband, and all gay men love Judy Garland records, and all straight men think about nothing but sex and cars, and all lesbians wear Doc Martens, and all Frenchmen are intellectual snobs, and everyone who lives in the West Country drinks only cider, and look how efficient every last German is. Suddenly we are living in a world where complexity and contradiction are banished. This is a slightly trick one for me, because I do love a good, juicy generalisation. It's a work in progress.

Five. My complete inability to keep my office tidy.

Six.  The ground elder which grows and grows in my garden, and laughs at my puny attempts to keep it under control.

Seven.  Lou has this one on her list, and I second it, with gusto. It is: rudeness. In particular, to people who work in shops and restaurants. It's easy to be charming to one's peers; if someone is rude to waiters I take it as a black mark against their character.

Eight.  People who bang on. Again, my house is made of glass on this one. I have been known to harbour several buzzing bees in my bonnet. But life is short and there really is no call for droning on, and on, and on about a thing.

Nine.  The We Are All Doomed lobby. The most visible manifestation of this is the cadre of newspaper columnists who are perfectly furious about everything, and insist that the country is going to The Dogs. The government is useless, the young people are drunken fame-whores, the culture is thin and gimcrack, even the weather is not what it used to be. Oh, and the women are usually ruining everything, you will find. I know we can't all spend every day being Pollyanna Panglosses, but there is an awful lot of daily wonder in life, and if people just run around saying everything is shit they really are doing nothing to add to the gaiety of nations.

Ten.   Anyone who insists that feminists are humourless, po-faced, ugly, man-hating, proto-lesbian harridans. Some of us are very jolly dog people, thank you so much.

There. That's better.

Talking of the dog people, here are a couple of pictures:



(I may be wrong, but I think she is contemplating the Universal Why.)

And the tremendous news is that the very first horse chestnut flowers are out today:


Look how magnificent and green the old tree is:


As if that were not enough, there is also the first, tiny lilac blossom. My lilac did not flower last year, for some mysterious reason of its own, so I was never so pleased to see anything:


Amazingly, the apple blossom survived the seven hours of torrential rain we had on Friday:


(It rained so hard that the entire village was cut off, the power went off, and all the delicate cherry blossoms were stripped off their branches as if by some malign, giant hand. It was quite alarming. One of the dogs spent the whole afternoon hiding under my desk.)

And look what beauty is growing in the wilderness part of my garden:


I never planted these, but there they are, a little miracle, growing like Topsy in all their glorious blueness:


And just so you can see how amazingly verdant everything is after all that monsoon rain:


Don't you love the balls? They are the tops of the old gateposts at the end of my garden, but from this angle they look like a mysterious relic indicating an arcane mathematical formula or some secret of the ancient Celts. Or perhaps not. The whimsy is growing on me, so I shall stop now.

I hope you are all having a lovely, happy Sunday.


  1. I love the picture of your dog contemplating the universal why, it reminds me of the Franz Kafka quote 'All knowledge,the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog.' And I totally agree with number 10 - some of the most beautiful and interesting women I know are raging feminists! Have a lovely sunday afternoon, xxx

  2. Oh I love this post! I completely agree about the "must have" language and rudeness! Those both get me every single time.

    Refreshing post!


  3. The droning on about things every single time you encounter them has me going. One of my girlfriends calls so she can talk about herself? True. Dogs rule as far as I'm concerned. I love your property, the way you say things makes me laugh (which is a really good thing) and one day I would love to visit your country. I am from Texas where we never had grammar lessons so if you could possibly excuse any excesses and/or mistakes I would appreciate it since I think I would love to have you as a girlfriend. xx's Marsha

  4. Ruthie Jay - Kafka quote is BRILLIANT. Did not know it before, so thank you.

    Marcie - so glad you liked it. Was worried the whole thing was a bit lacklustre and Sundayish, so yr comment was most reassuring.

    Marsha - You are so very kind. It is too thrilling to have a reader all the way from Texas. AND you agree about the dog thing, it could not be more perfect.

  5. Lovin' the garden, your writing...and of course the dogs.

  6. I am almost certain that I'm guilty of dangling modifiers and need to re-read The Elements of Style.

    As far as the feminist part is concerned, I consider myself a feminist housewife. Is that an oxymoron?

  7. Connie - you are so very kind, thank you.

    Nappy Valley Housewife - of course, after all that ranting, I am now convinced that someone will find a dangler in Backwards and I shall be unmasked as a fraud. That is why we all need Strunk and White by our side at all times, although in certain areas I think they can be a bit hard line, even for me.


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