A couple of recent memes asked who my real-life heroine was, and I was stuck for an answer… aside from obvious responses such as ‘family’. But today I have to say I have a new heroine, a celebrity heroine, without placing her on a pedestal or knowing anything else about her… and it’s Cameron Diaz!
In the interview about remaining childless, she says what I’ve always thought… and I was amused by the (presumably tongue-in-cheek) comment (following the article) that there are so many scoundrels around that there’s a need to refill the gene pool with intelligent people. At least, I hope it was tongue-in-cheek!
I don’t know about workplace attitudes (mentioned in the full article in the Daily Mail but not in the summary), but I have sometimes felt it’s hard to make (or remain) friends with married couples when you’re a single woman… couples of your own age, that is. Perhaps that will change when we get older.
In the supermarket yesterday, I pushed our shopping trolley into the aisle that stored noodles and such things. A man came out just before I started round, then a little boy of about 5 puttered out… my trolley was now between him and the man. Being a little boy, he didn’t want to be parted from his father (or grandfather) for very long, and rather than wait, he twisted to the side and pushed in front of the trolley.
The mother came out after them, and having untangled ourselves, we went on. Mum caught up with me and said “you missed one!”
I went to the end of the noodle aisle and started up the main corridor. I was looking to see if it was safe to turn into the coffee aisle, and who should come out but the mother. She reached out and grabbed the little boy by the hand (invisible, but again close behind), and then the guy followed and caught my eye… I couldn’t help smiling, it was sort of “you again…! We’ll have to stop meeting this way.”
Having bought our food, we went out to the car and Mum drove off slowly. We had to pass the front door of the supermarket on our way out. A car was parked right opposite the door in the ‘mother and baby’ part of the park, with a mother and two or three girls of varying sensible ages all gathered round the boot. A little girl of a much less sensible age decided to show off her independence, and ran across the road to the door. Just as Mum was crawling past, the little girl stopped and turned, gazing back at the family group around the car. She swayed alarmingly towards them, and I knew that sway… it was the one that meant “nobody can come between us if I want to be back there with you,” but the mother fixed her with a stern glare and pointed. I thought maybe she was saying “you stay RIGHT there and not move!” but the girl then turned and ran into the supermarket. I suppose the mother could have been saying “wait inside!”
We pootled out of the park in the car, then I turned to Mum and said “YOU missed one!”
In an earlier blog post, I was mumbling about the ratings received by the more ‘different’ names on Baby Names Country. There are also ratings on Baby Names World, but I couldn’t see a way to do that, so I imagine you have to register.
On Baby Names Country I was reading advice claiming that in the U.S., 85% of first names are chosen from a list of only 200 names – and other countries are more or less the same, presumably including the U.K.
That is shocking – I thought humans were supposed to be imaginative and adventurous? So many people would like to consider themselves as being apart from the crowd, but this naming convention is proof that most people prefer not to be all that different.
Of course there tend to be naming conventions within families as well – the same first name being used for the oldest son (so that you have to distinguish between ‘Carl senior’ and ‘Carl junior’ as in Snow Falling on Cedars), or the wife’s maiden name is used as the middle name of one of her children, or the mother-in-law hints she would be delighted if the first-born bore her name, and so on. Family connections are important, but when they restrict naming opportunities this way, they complicate life.
Perhaps it’s comforting to believe that there will always be a John Brown, son of John Brown, son of John Brown living in the village, and it all runs into one in your mind… you feel that life goes on forever. But sometimes you don’t want the different people to merge in that way.
There will always be bad and unfortunate names as well as good, but I wish we could have the courage to strike out a bit more; to search for a little more individuality.
The local press has been full of the subject of school bullying. The children who are bullied are separated out from the crowd (put in a room on their own etc) while the bullies are allowed to go on as normal. Nothing changes, and the bullied children feel no happier – in fact they start to despair as nothing is being achieved.
Mum has been reading all this and is livid.
Someone wrote in to the paper and said they didn’t even bother trying to deal with the school – they went straight to the police, who had no qualms about dealing directly with the bullies. Problem sorted.
We were discussing this, and Mum said emphatically, “You had no problems with bullies. If anybody tried anything, you turned on them.”
It was one of those comments that leave you feeling a little bemused. It’s true I don’t remember having much trouble with bullies but I was the quiet sort who occasionally attracted unwelcome attention – I wasn’t immune. I don’t remember getting particularly upset, but in those days they didn’t wield knives (well, one did!), nor did they do any happy slapping. They just taunted you or took your tuck shop money. Then I made friends with them so they couldn’t hound me any more.
If I got upset about anything at school, it wasn’t the other kids – I remember hating Wednesday because it finished with Volleyball and Miss Roaralot. Thursdays were dreaded because of the Home Economics teacher. She gave me a real telling off in front of the class for bringing granulated sugar instead of caster sugar.
I remember shouting at a friend who had been showing me some unpleasantness for several days – the look on her face was interesting! I don’t think she thought me capable of it, but we didn’t fall out as a result. It was her boyfriend who was responsible for that, ultimately – he was so possessive he didn’t want her to spend any time with me, and she just accepted it.
I never felt people my own age could do me much damage; there were no fears about what would happen after school or during it. Perhaps I just lived in a different time and place, if not a different planet…
Last summer I had an odd dream. We needed the Easter Bunny to entertain at a children’s party, so I went to look for him. I wandered up a grassy track, knowing he lived there, and groaned inwardly when I stumbled across a military camp with a big fence round it. There was a board at the gate and I stopped to read it, but I had only read the first couple of lines when a soldier appeared and asked what I wanted.
“I just came looking for someone,” I said. “I didn’t know the camp was here.”
“Who are you looking for?” asked the soldier briskly.
“Er… the Easter Bunny.”
“Right,” said the soldier, writing down ‘Easter Bunny’ on his notepad. “If you wait here I’ll send someone to talk to you.”
A short while later a pleasant-spoken officer came and let me into the admin hut to discuss where the Easter Bunny might be found.
The dream tails off, really.
It was obviously based on the G8 security fence, and on the children who were killed in Iraq when accepting sweets from American soldiers.