Showing posts with label stupidity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stupidity. Show all posts

Monday, 13 January 2014

The two brains have a little chat. Or, do the thing.

I am very much taken with the You are Not Alone theme which developed on the blog last week. How the Dear Readers rise magnificently to the occasion. My only slight dread is that one day I might admit to something and you will all turn round and go ‘huh?’ It is a risk I must take.

Today, my idiot brain and my adult brain had the following conversation.

Idiot Brain: I can’t.

Adult Brain: Yes, you can.

Idiot Brain: I will feel stupid and frightened, and I will be right, because I have made a massive cock-up and shall have to go into the garden to eat worms.

Adult Brain, kindly, sanely: You will almost certainly feel frightened and stupid. There is a real possibility that you will have been stupid and so shall be quite correct in feeling so. But these are only uncomfortable feelings. You have not had your legs blown off or lost your sight. You have not done something cruel and unusual. You have just screwed up a bit, and you may have to sit with that. It’s not the worst thing in the world.

Idiot Brain: IT IS. I shall disappear into a shameful puddle of my own inadequacy.

Adult Brain: No, you won’t. Let me just run you through the worst that can happen again.

Idiot Brain: I might feel frightened and stupid?

Adult Brain: Yes.

Idiot Brain: And that is all?

Adult Brain: Yes.

Idiot Brain mutters something that only dogs can hear.

This conversation (and I screw up my face in embarrassment as I write this) took place because I’ve been worrying about cash and have been quite stupid about it and not planned for contingencies. Contingencies have happened. (Yes, shouts the Know It All Brain, because this is life.) I went into a defensive crouch for a few days and could not face looking at my bank account, because I felt so idiotic and wrong and childish. I did not want to see proof of my lack of budgeting and past profligacy. I was convinced everything would be screaming at me in red and I would have to live off beans for the next year.

Finally, the adult brain won. The idiot brain went and hid itself in the cupboard of doom, and I opened up the computer and squinted at the screen.

It’s not anything like as bad as I feared. I shall still have to keep listening to the adult brain, and my belt shall remain tight, but I’m finding a small pride in saving money and a curious liberation in not buying stuff. The only things I buy now are the odd rug for the red mare, and some supplements to keep her dear hooves hard. (She cannot do without rosehips and seaweed.)

I do still feel a bit stupid, because I did not look far enough down the track, and I let things get away from me. But as the good old adult brain pointed out so truly: feeling stupid is not the end of the world.

I have a real terror of stupidity, and my next private project is to try and work out where that comes from. It’s such an odd thing to be frightened of. I mean, all humans are capable of stupidity, and it’s such a small vice, so tiny compared to cruelty or prejudice or dishonesty. I’ve known people who are utterly brilliant in one sphere be perfect icons of folly in another. Cleverness can be a wonderful and generous thing, but it can also be hard and almost ruthless. My absurd fear of being stupid, a fear so crashing that it can paralyse me and actually stop me doing things, is the next existential tangle which I must unpick.

In the meantime, I feel a streaming relief that the thing was not nearly so terrifying as I had thought. The anticipation and assumptions were perfect carnivals of mortification and fear; the reality turned out to be something which can be managed, with a little stern application.

I think: I must get to work on my tendency to catastrophise. I’m not sure that I can say categorically that things are never as bad as one thinks, because there must be times when they are. But most often, as the fool mind conjures up lurid images of disaster and destitution, as the lizard brain insists that everything shall crash and people will sneer and mock, the actuality is nowhere near as catastrophic. I know I should know this. I have seen Hamlet enough times, after all. I know that nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

Do the thing, is my mantra for the day. Just listen to the adult brain, and do the damn thing. Even if you might end up feeling a little bit stupid.

 

Today’s pictures:

The light this morning at HorseBack:

13 Jan 1

13 Jan 2

13 Jan 3

13 Jan 4

The light of my silly old life:

13 Jan 7

13 Jan 8

The light turns Stanley the Dog into a gleaming streak of red:

13 Jan 9

And, first thing, turns the hill into something magical and mysterious:

13 Jan 10

It’s all about the light, really, literally and metaphorically.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Stupidity.

I have done something amazingly stupid and wrong. I have caused upset to people close to me. It was not anything said, but things done, or rather not done. (The story is too boring to relate.)

It is the most beautiful still, clear Scottish day. There is glorious racing coming up from Fairyhouse. I had a ride on the red mare this morning such as dreams are made on, cantering about on the springing grass as if we had no care in the wide world. Her ears were pricked and her stride was easy and all was harmony and joy.

She even developed her own small fan club as we stopped to talk to a family out for a Sunday walk. ‘Hello,’ said a very charming small girl. ‘I am five and this is my cute little brother. He is three.’

The cute little brother stared at me for a moment, contemplating. He suddenly pointed. ‘That’s a horse,’ he said. I think he thought I might not have noticed.

They duly admired Herself, which of course makes every inch of my spirit sing and dance. She stood kindly, immaculately still, and let herself be admired, taking it as her due. I told them she was a very special kind of horse, a thoroughbred. I heroically restrained myself from telling them that her grandfather won the Triple Crown. I did not tell them the story of the day he won the Leger in a canter, with Lester cheekily easing up at the line. (I’m afraid I rather admired myself, for such titanic self-restraint.)

So it could not have been lovelier. But the moment I got off my good doctor, the one who cures all ills when I am on her dear back, the mortification returned. I feel it now, pulling at my body, sitting in my stomach like a squatting toad. It presses furiously on my head. I shall write a grovelling letter of apology, but still, the thing was done, through my own thoughtlessness and carelessness. I know I’m always banging on about people being human, and how one should make allowances for the flaws and frailties of mere mortals. But still, I am mired in shame, lashing myself with angst. I have been stupid stupid stupid.

It is not the worst thing in the world. Nobody died. The headlines of the papers today are all about the fatal helicopter crash in Glasgow. That is perspective of the most brutal kind. My own puny problems are barely visible to the naked eye by comparison. I must stiffen my sinews and kick on and not give way to self-indulgence. Lashing oneself is a sort of self-indulgence. The grown-up thing to do is to acknowledge mistakes, put right what can be put right, take responsibility, and learn from the error, not fall into a swooning pit of mortification, which comforts no-one and achieves nothing. But still, I wish, as hard as I wish for anything, that I were not quite such an idiot.

 

No pictures today. My angst seems to have paralysed my shutter finger. Just this wonderful sight, from a few days ago, the only thing at the moment which can soothe me at all. It’s not that she is particularly beautiful in this shot. She’s all hairy and a bit muddy and, whisper it, slightly portly. (I am putting condition on her for the winter to come.) It’s that she is so much a horse, at home with herself and at home with the world. Every inch of her great body speaks of authenticity and calm.

1 Dec 1

Friday, 18 October 2013

A slender silver lining.

1943 words of book. HorseBack work; interesting new people met. Amazing level of equine sweetness in the paddock.

And: one of the most difficult telephone calls I’ve had to make since I can remember.

The catastrophically stupid thing which I spoke of a while ago, which is too stupid to elaborate, is not just something which I have to fix up myself. It has ramifications. It means that I have had to let someone down. And that someone is one of the people I love most in the world.

It took a week for me to summon the courage to make the call. Not only would I have to admit the shaming thing, but I would have to do the letting down. I played it and played it in my head, and it never came out any better.

Eventually, I made it. I had to do it on the move. Weirdly, I remember this from after my father died. I wanted to speak to the best beloveds, but I could not do it sitting at my desk. The extreme emotions and the truths which must be told required locomotion. I walked round and round the compound, talking and crying into my mobile telephone, whilst the Duchess and the Pigeon trotted faithfully and quizzically behind me. This morning was like that. I just set off walking, and once I was speaking I was concentrating so hard on the difficult things I was saying that I did not think where I was going. My steps, on automatic pilot, took me straight down to the field. There, my other duchess stood, my equine version, as if waiting for me.

Still talking, explaining, apologising, recriminating against my own folly, I stood, instinctively, next to my horse, one hand gentling the side of her cheek as she rested against me. Some of the time, I was so seized in the conversation that I hardly knew she was there. Then, in the pauses, I was acutely aware of her, of her stillness, her kindness, the steadiness of her; she is always there, in the rain and the shine, literal and metaphorical. She does not care that I have done something stupid; she stays by my side because I am her person. I think, abruptly, that probably the only creature in the world with whom I am not stupid is this horse. For some reason that I cannot identify, she brings out my best self, and that is one of her many, many gifts, which she gives so generously, every day.

The beloved human to whom I was speaking made the awful conversation as easy as it could have been, for all my dread. She did not judge or question. She offered understanding, generosity, sympathy, help. Her good heart was open as wide as the human heart can go. I felt humbled and lucky and passionately grateful. Interestingly, she is also one of those ones who bring out my best self. When I am with her, I am just a little bit funnier and cleverer and brighter. I do not have to explain myself or fake anything or worry about flaws.

Sitting now, writing this, I still have crushing angst, because the stupid thing was all my own fault and I should know better. I should not have had to make that call, nor rely on the generosity of the beloved human. At the same time, I am reminded of my astonishing luck to have such a person. I suppose that it is easy to have friends in the good times; it’s when you are up against it that the great ones rise to their full magnificence and show what they are made of.

I shall remember that conversation, the black box of the telephone pressed hard against my ear, my voice rising strained and fraught into the Scottish air, the good steady mare breathing by my side, the good human heart offering only love and understanding on the other end of the receiver.

The silver lining is very, very thin at the moment, almost invisible to the naked eye. But it is there. Every damn cloud has one.

 

No time for pictures. I have hit the wall. But this is the face which greets me each morning; this is the look which she wore today, even though it was cold and dreich and she had rain in her mane, and she has a little bit of a sore shoulder after a slip yesterday. You have to imagine it accompanied by a sweet, low whinny, which is her customary morning hello:

18 Oct 1

Saturday, 30 October 2010

That's quite enough of that

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Warning for intemperate language. Which is ironic, since I am always banging on about the wonders of moderation.

May we just stop with the whole liberal elite thing? I mean, really? It used to be one of those stupid things that stupid people say which was so stupid that it blended into white noise. Yeah, yeah, I thought: there go those Real America dog whistles again, sing me something else why don't you? It was this old, creaking plank in a certain kind of culture warrior Republican thinking that went something like: if we could only get rid of those latte-drinking, arugula-eating, Com-simping, fag-lovin', tree-hugging coastal types, then we can all be happy and go hunt some quail. (Or something.) The shining city on the hill would finally be built, without those ghastly liberals who hate America, and we can sit and dream of Ronald Reagan. It's what Sarah Palin means when she calls the Tea Partiers 'real Americans'. Which does slightly beg the question: are all the other Americans fake? Have they been kidnapped by space aliens and replaced with pods?

The odd thing is that the liberal elite idea has crept out from its right-wing corral and is tripping about in general discourse. Quite sensible commentators now use it without inverted commas, as if there does exist a cabal of leftist snobs who party with Arianna Huffington on the Upper East Side and look down their noses at people who shop at Wal-Mart and like guns. It was always an exclusively American thing, but recently one of the crosser bloggers over at The Telegraph has started using it. 'Is this the last gasp from America's liberal elites?' yells the headline. It is a reference to an article by the Nobel Laureate, Paul Krugman, which is, according to Crossly Crossington: 'the pathetic whimper of a decaying liberal Ancien Regime which is spectacularly crumbling'. As a humble blogger, I know my place. I too get grumpy about things, but I would think twice before accusing someone with a Nobel Prize of pathetic whimpering. I've seen Paul Krugman in interviews; his calm speech is the farthest thing from a whimper I've ever heard.

Now the liberal elite meme is knocking at my own door, I am digging in my heels. First of all, I could not bear it if liberal became a dirty word here as it so often is in American discourse. It has a storied and honourable tradition; it is Gladstone and Mill and Keynes. I am not going to have it grubbied up by cross people.

Second, what is this Ancien regime of which the grumpy blogger speaks? Until 2008, the Republicans had been in charge for eight years. Where was the Liberal Ancien Regime then? Buggering off to Paris to have its nails done? It's as if the writer is just making things up out of whole cloth.

Third, and perhaps most important: may we start a campaign to stop 'elite' being used as a term of abuse? Ironically, this derogatory usage has not quite caught on here, despite the British being famously anti-intellectual and fond of tall poppy syndrome. We have a blatant adoration of the underdog. It was the Americans always who were supposed to be puzzled by this, with their straightforward worship of success. The whole notion of the American dream is that John (or even Jane) Doe could become President; by definition joining an elite, for there is nothing more elitist than being the Leader of the Free World. So how is it that it is there that elite is becoming more and more a filthy word?

More ironically still, it was Barack Obama who personified this American dream more than anyone. The child of a single mother, brought up without money or power or houses in the Hamptons, he reached the highest office in the land through sheer hard work and force of personality. He has an elite mind, but his family could not be less elitist if it tried. By contrast, George W Bush came from the nearest thing to a dynasty which a young country without an official aristocracy can produce. His family was old school East Coast, with a compound on Kennebunkport, and friends in very high places, most notably the Saudi Royal Family. The Bushes are even related to Winston Churchill, if you believe the internets. Elitist enough for you?

This is why it baffles me that it is the party of George Bush who is always railing against these sinister elites. Do they not see how silly it makes them sound? And on a more general level, would you not want to celebrate elitism? If you have a surgeon operating on you, or a pilot flying the 747 on which you are travelling, or a professor teaching you history, or a scientist working on a possible cure for your mother with Alzheimer's, would you not want them to be the very best in their field? Would you not want them to be qualified and educated and trained up to their elitist ears?

All right. Better now. Time for some pictures of leaves, to calm me down.

This is the acer. Only two days ago it was a nondescript muddy brown. Now look at it. How did that happen?

30th Oct 1

The little Japanese cherry:

30th Oct 2

Fallen leaves, pretending they are in Vermont or somewhere:

30th Oct 3

The new blueberry bush:

30th Oct 4

The view to the south:

30th Oct 5

The eucalyptus, with the thick afternoon light dancing off it:

30th Oct 10

Yearny face:

30th Oct 8

Serious contemplating face:

30th Oct 9

We're just too sexy for our shirts faces:

30th Oct 7

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, 20 November 2009

In which there turns out to be a little rant, after all

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I know I have gone all Little Women on you just lately, but I suppose it was inevitable that I should have to have a small rant sooner or later. When I was a girl of eight, I used to use my hands to sketch extravagant shapes in the air as I spoke. My rather stern school did not approve of such Continental practices: at lunch one day, my headmistress insisted that I SIT on my hands to still them. Without my hands, I could not speak. I stared and wiggled and shifted back and forth, and eventually the hands, as if they had a life of their own, freed themselves, waved about in the air, and I could talk again. I feel rather like that now. However much I sit on my hands, they are inevitably going to escape.

So that was a long, throat-clearing way of saying I have a tiny something to add about Kate Moss. I really wasn't going to. I have the children's tea to think about. We have been out riding and the dogs came and are now covered in plough (there was also some very worrying rolling) so there may have to be bathing. At some stage, I should attempt to do some work. You are all discerning adults; you know what you think about patently wrong statements. I'm not sure I really have anything to add.

But oh, oh, OH, the idiocy. It makes me cross because I have always rather admired Kate Moss. I liked that she smoked and drank and went out with unsuitable men. I liked that she did not seem to subscribe to the airbrush school of beauty. I saw her in life once, and she was oddly unremarkable; not plain, or with bad skin or a crooked nose, but she did not stop a room; she just sat in the corner giggling and cadging cigarettes and you would not have looked at her twice. (On the other hand, I once saw Carla Bruni at a party and she is a showstopper in life, much more than in pictures.) I liked that fact that little Kate Moss from Croydon could become a global brand and still seem to have fun. And then she goes and says possibly the stupidest thing I have heard this year, only slightly less stupid than all those crazy right wingers in America who insist that Obama is just exactly like Hitler except without the moustache. She said, and I am so, so hoping she was misconstrued, and misquoted, and misheard: 'Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.'

My first reaction was to make a list:

Rare fillet of beef with potatoes dauphinoise.

Vichyssoise, hot or cold.

Quails' eggs with celery salt.

Chilled avocado soup at the height of summer.

Prawn and squid risotto with saffron and a dash of Vermouth.

A really juicy roast chicken with bread sauce.

Cavalo nero, dressed with olive oil and lemon.

My lovely little polenta chips that I cooked the other day in the manner of Jamie Oliver.

My mother's scones, the best in the world. I remember her always saying you must just crumble the butter and flour delicately, delicately, with your fingertips, and STOP the moment it is done, because an overworked scone is a sad thing. And you know, she was right. I went to the amazingly fashionable and expensive Daylesford Organic caff in the amazingly fashionable and expensive Westbourne Grove not that long ago, and a scone was ordered and it was not only flat and heavy and made not with delicacy and care but with hob-nailed boots and indifference, but it was so dry I thought it might have been stale. How very different from my old mum's light as air, hot from the oven, melting little circles of delight. We would eat them with whipped cream and the special tomato jam that she made in great vats with tomatoes from the greenhouse. And it's funny remembering all that, because there were bits of my childhood that were nuts, but there were also bits when there were homemade scones, and crumpets with Gentleman's Relish, and Chocolate Olivers for a very special treat, and getting up at dawn to go and pick mushrooms in the valley, and really moments of idyll.

Cockles with salt and vinegar, preferably from a polystyrene pot bought from a stall by a pier, with the smell of the sea in one's nostrils and the wind coming up off the water.

A pint of prawns, with mayonnaise.

And if you're getting fancy pants, throw in a lobster as well.

A really proper spaghetti vongole, preferably a white one, with fat clams and lots of parsley.

Soupe de Poisson, with its rouille. This of course can be a grey and slightly gritty thing, if made wrong, and I don't want to sound like a food snob, but I do start to think that really it is only worth eating in France, and preferably in Tetou, a little blue restaurant that sits on a beach at Golfe Juan. I have not been there for twenty-five years, but I once knew it well, and it did, in my youth, have the best soupe de poisson in the world.

A dark delightful sticky oxtail stew.

Watercress soup with croutons.

Scotch pancakes for tea. Or potato cakes (remembering of course to use floury and not waxy potatoes).

The beef carpaccio at La Famiglia, tender and full of flavour and the most outrageous colour so it looks like art on your plate, with its secret sauce.

The Hainanese chicken rice that you get in wet markets in Singapore, made by flinty old ladies who would rather kill you than give you the recipe.

Vietnamese spring rolls, with mint and coriander and that mysterious sweet and sour dipping sauce, and which, for all my culinary pretensions, I shall never be able to make authentically.

Sourdough bread.

Those little steamed dim sum prawn dumplings that you get in Chinatown.

Salmon sashimi, with enough wasabi to make your eyes water.

King prawn tempura.

Irish stew.

Toast with Marmite.

You know I could go on, and on, and on. And I really shan't, because I know you all have things to be doing. Even in that incomplete list, which I pulled from the top of my head, there is not just gastronomic delight, but memories of childhood, great holidays, places visited, moments in time, little secret habits (the first thing I do when I come to London after months in Scotland is to go straight to Gerrard Street and eat as much Chinese as I can, just me and a newspaper and a Moleskine notebook, because I want to savour the moment of sheer, raging greed all by myself, to distill it to its most potent point). Food, whilst providing so much pleasure in itself, is often not just food: there are all those associations.

To deny all this for the sake of skinny is blatantly bonkers. I'm not going to go all po-faced about the moral question that must hang over affluent Western women purposefully making themselves look like poor women in third world countries who actually do not have enough to eat, because of drought or corruption or the harvest failing or just blunt lack of money. But I do want to know what skinny gets you. I admit that maybe your clothes hang a little better. I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to be one of the Elegant Women, and there can be a keen aesthetic pleasure in someone who can really work a little outfit. But to refuse food simply because you want the admiring glances of fashionistas seems to me a paltry bargain. And anyway, you can be stylish and curvaceous, it just takes a little more imagination.

So again, what does skinny get you? Does it make people love you more? Does it add to the sum total of human happiness? Can it console your friend whose heart has just been broken by a cad? Will it stop your lover leaving? Will it make your husband happy when he has just been laid off? Will it make your wife smile when her mother has been taken ill? I mean, seriously: what does it achieve? Food gives pleasure, comfort, delight. It can console. It is an expression of love. Does skinny do any of those things? I am going to be vulgar now, but this kind of thing makes me so cross I get vulgar: but if someone is having sex with a skinny person, isn't it rather disconcerting to be able to see the ribs and feel the hipbones digging into soft tissue and count every single vertebrae? I'm just asking.

What I know for sure is that no one will ever miss your skinniness. I've said it in Backwards and I shall bloody well go on saying it again until every last woman stops hating her body, which means of course I shall turn into the most roaring bore: at your funeral, no one is going to mourn you because you were a size eight. There are many things in life I do not know, but I know this: no single person will weep at your loss because they will never again see your skinniness. At your wake, no sentient human will speak this sentence in regret and nostalgia: 'Oh, and do you remember how skinny she was? How I shall miss that.'

We have such a short time. I can't bear the thought that anyone would waste a single second of it wanting to be such an utterly pointless thing as skinny. I can't bear that anyone who is not in need of strong medication would think that being unnaturally thin is better than delicious food. It's so fabulously, exuberantly stupid. (At which point the writer is removed, still ranting.)

Monday, 25 May 2009

A heartbreaking work of staggering stupidity

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Four days ago, an article of astounding bigotry appeared in a national newspaper. A prolific journalist called Carol Sarler had seized on a survey carried out by Dr Caroline Gatrell, which reported that company bosses were refusing promotions to childless women. These freakish creatures were, according to the good doctor, seen as ‘cold, odd and somehow emotionally deficient in an almost dangerous way.’ Employers are apparently loathe to have women working in their offices who ‘lack an essential humanity’ (and really, who could blame them? It would be like working with lots and lots of cross-dressing Dick Cheneys.). Ms Sarler was overjoyed; at last, she too could come out of the closet and admit that she too thought childless women were bizarre beyond words. She was giddy with relief and delight. She now had permission to state proudly what she had long been thinking: when she looks at a woman who chooses not to have a child she thinks: ‘Lady, you’re weird.’

For four days I have resisted writing about this. It’s partly that I am so damn bored of the confected mothers vs non-mothers divide that the media seems determined to keep chugging tiredly along. It’s partly that, old feminist that I am, I really hate attacking other women, even ones who write insane columns telling me how weird I am. It’s partly that almost all of my time has been taken up looking for my essential humanity (I could have sworn I left it down the back of the sofa).

I think if Carol Sarler had confined herself to the weirdness remark, I might have left it, and gone and done something more interesting. I might have shrugged my selfish shoulders and muttered about free speech and everyone being entitled to an opinion. But in the last line of her piece, she officially Went Too Far. ‘So three cheers for the employers who are catching on, who don’t want to people their workplaces with the cold, the calculating, the sad and the mad.’ This is so far off the reservation that I can stay silent no longer: I must speak. I must say: how would you like your prejudices Ms Sarler, over easy, or sunny side up?

Let us have clarity: I am not carelessly throwing words about. A prejudice is an unfavourable opinion formed without knowledge, thought or reason. There are no empirical studies that I can find which demonstrate women who have no children to be ‘cold, calculating, sad or mad.’ There are some studies which suggest that women who do not give birth actually have a slightly higher level of mental health than mothers, and the same or better ‘life satisfaction’ but these are quite small scale, and I would not necessarily find them definitive. The only absolute proved characteristic of the non-mother is that she is statistically likely to have a university degree. The number of graduates not having babies hovers around the forty percent mark. This much we know, this can be mapped. Everything else is pure, irrational supposition. It is blind, here-be-dragons, flat earth partiality.

Mothers, as we all know, come in all shapes and sizes. There are kind mothers and drunk mothers and funny mothers and mothers who can’t get through the day without a fistful of Xanax; there are organised mothers and academic mothers and confident mothers; there are tactile mothers and strict mothers and mothers for whom guilt is a way of life. I know very few saintly mothers, but I expect they exist. You could take all those descriptions and apply them just as easily to non-mothers. Women who decline to breed can no more be herded under one simplistic umbrella than can those who long for nothing more than tiny pattering feet. There are twenty-seven excellent reasons for not having children, not one of them on the Cruella de Vil scale; ‘I am evil and I hate sweet chubby little babies,’ is not necessarily the deciding factor.

What is so odd about the cold calculating mad sad vs selfless and filled with essential humanity argument is that it is so reductive. Working by Ms Sarler’s assumptions, we must conclude that Jane Austen and George Eliot and Louisa May Alcott and Helen Mirren are radically worse human beings than Katie Price and Kerry Katona. By this logic, we must infer that Angelina Jolie is six times finer than Oprah Winfrey. To follow this reasoning to its conclusion, we must state frankly that Kylie Minogue, Renee Zellwegger and newly famous singing sensation Susan Boyle are clearly inhumane, drunken, sex-crazed bitches. (Ms Sarler has a lovely little riff in her article that it is not the mothers who are bitching and coming in with hangovers and making eyes at the boss. You see, mummies don’t drink, cannot even see other men because they are so blinded by love for their husbands, and never have a common thought or mean.)

I could go on. I would quite like to explain why it is that not having a child is not a definitive act of selfishness. I might tempt you with a diverting little rant on over-population. But the awful thing is that this whole argument is boring me so much that I am losing the ability to type. There are women, they are different, they make different choices, some of them are nice and some of them are nasty. There are some females who like Play-Doh and some who don’t; it is not a mark of moral courage or higher integrity. So could everyone just stop with the stereotypes, and stop, stop, stop putting the child-full and the child-free into invented conflict, and calm down and have a nice cup of tea. I, obviously, will not have time for the tea part. I still have to locate my essential humanity. I am almost sure I left it in my coat pocket.

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