Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2007

An anachronistic gender bending idyll

I'm still in Edinburgh, which is brilliant. The period I was looking forward to, the fringe, is just hotting up. It actually started today, and I have already decided, it sucks. Edinburgh is already sooo busy, and I don't really have the money to take advantage of it all. I have been here for two months and I already feel like a disgruntled elderly resident. What is going to be really good, is the Book Festival.

I am middle aged beyond my years. Oh well, I'm engaged, so I never need to pretend to be young and exciting ever again.

Talking of Natasha, the best thing about being here is of course, being with her. We have settled into a frighteningly domestic regime. I am a housewife from the '50s, she earns the money, I do the shopping and cooking and stuff, and greet her at the door with a fresh ribbon in my hair. I love it, I would be quite happy to be a '50s housewife. The only thing I could hope for is a bit more personal space. If when we live together we have the most tiny of places, or even if I moved into a room permanently, at least I wouldn't be living out of a suitcase.

Our anachronistic gender bending idyll is threatened however, as is my louche reputation, by the encroachment of 'gainful' employment. At the very least I should have a bit more on my CV by the end of the summer. It is also helpful that I will not be running out of money, even if I have not been able to save, which was my original intention. I got work with a company that did traffic surveys and the like, long days, very boring, and very difficult for me and Natasha, (I had to wake her up at silly o'Clock in the morning, she had to come home knackered and sort me something to eat when I got back) nonetheless, the money was good. Unfortunately the work dropped off, and my attempts to get back in touch with them failed. Oh well, it frees me up to piss around in a cafe! A friend of Natasha's is running a place, profits to be divided by man hours. I'm doing my first shift tomorrow, we shall see how it goes. It could go brilliantly, the location is good, near a couple of decent venues, plus there are people around generally who might be dropping in for the odd cup of coffee. I am technically a volunteer, so there is no guarantee that I will get even minimum wage pay. Here's to hoping.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is Edinburgh a useful term for the study of Medieval Europe?


Well, I am blogging from a bed of purple, Auld Reekie.

I arrived in Edinburgh on Monday, I have, in fact, completed my degree. Its all finished. Come the third of July I will be a "Bachelor", there is something pretty cool about that, after three years, I'm done.

I had two exams, for my two units. I think I did OK in both. The latter I had a bit of fun with, it invited me to discuss the use of the terms "Masculinity" and "Homosexuality". I set up two positions, firstly the unspoken assumption that they are useful terms, then the criticism, the position that seeks to reject the terms completely. I spent most of my time redeeming the terms.

Masculinity is too simple by itself, but there are medieval masculinities, I reject the three gender model, it does not account for the divisions between nuns and monks that develop in the 12th century, or the gender anxiety felt by monks. The man vs non-man model is more subtle than it sounds, but a more useful model is that of a continuum. Fighting man, leading into praying man, alongside working man. Most men fit somewhere between the models. Praying men are more similar too praying women than they are too other formulations of the feminine.

Homosexuality I do have to reject, homosex occurs (look up Peter Damian), homolove occurs (look up Anselm of Bec), they are not necessarily linked. If a monk is celibate, and all sex is forbidden, then there is no reason to get all het up about homolove. Interestingly similar reasonings separating homosex (levitical condemnations) and homolove (David and Jonathan), can be applied to the bible.

So, having done that, I am in Edinburgh, in the real world. I am not qualified to comment on gender/sexuality identifications after the Herrenfrage (see Jo Ann McNamara). I would love to say wonderful things about sunny Edinburgh, I haven't seen it yet this trip. Rainy Edinburgh is pretty nice though. I am having a wonderful time. Natasha is working at the mo, I am split between being a househusband, and job hunting. I'm going to be up in Edinburgh for the whole summer. Eventually me and Natasha will both be working; we'll be living like real people. That is pretty scary. The whole summer is a kind of trial run. So far it is going pretty well, watch this space.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Vote 2007 - The Aftermath


So the headlines are:

Labour: Not as thrashed as expected.

Conservatives: Not as successful as expected, but decent gains.

Lib Dems: Not able to make any progress, disappointing losses and high level gains.

Scotland: Got cold feet and hasn't totally embraced the SNP.

Wales: Moderate push against Labour.

All a bit dull to be honest, those are a precis of the headlines that have been scrolling across News 24 etc. In reality of course things aren't that simple.

Labour HAVE had an awkward election, if it were a general it would have been a '92. They have been under attack on all sides, and although they weathered it, they are still at a comically low base.

The Conservative story is pretty fair as far as I can see. They are STILL incapable of gaining support in proper urban areas. The LibDems are taking the voters who might be natural tory supporters. (Successful yuppie types in Manchester for instance). The woman on TV last night seemed to think that taking the sub-urbs was some kind of first step to storming the inner city. But leafy sub-urbs are natural tory ground, they should be able to assume those kinds of seats. And this isn't a military coup, David Cameron isn't holding his troops in leafy Trafford ready to storm such deprived naturally untory inner city slums as Didsbury...

The Lib Dems, on the face of it, have disappointed. A few councils have fallen, and Gordon is a humiliating loss, which can't help them when they have to bargain around the Scottish parliament. The official line appears to be that 2003 (when these seats were last up) was a high water mark, and they have done well to hold steady. The good news is that they have taken control of a handful of councils, and as I write are (just) in a net gain.

Scotland has been as close as it was always going to be, a combination of a very negative labour campaign, and some very negative headlines, seemed to have scared a lot of votes back to labour. On the other hand: The swing to the SNP has been pretty impressive, and again I have to mention Gordon, a reminder that Salmond is pretty popular personally.

Wales is the place that has given Labour the biggest thumbs down, by my count the seats are tied between Labour and The Rest on 26 each. the news has been making a major fuss about Nye Bevan, and Neil Kinnock.

Manchester has seen a modest Lib-Dem advance, last I heard Bradford is looking alright as well. I'll not be troubling the Jewel of the North with my maiden speech as councillor any time soon though.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Vote 2007 - Polls are Open!


Ok Poll day today. How I wish I could vote in Scotland. (a mix of LibDem and SNP if I could)

As it is I have voted, Lib Dem (although I was tempted to vote Justine - ahh for STV).

Scotland is more interesting so I'll look to them first:

It looks like Labour scare tactics have worked, the SNP lead has done a last minute '1992' collapse. So it looks like a very close tie, with the Lib Dems as king-makers.

The Lib Dems will be in an awkward position if Labour do suffer enough to be almost tied with the SNP, especially if the Lib Dems get a lower vote themselves. It could easily appear that they are proping up labour despite a swing against both of them.

It is also possible that the Greens will have to join a coalition (especially if the tories do any better than expected, or the Lib Dems any worse). Will that change things at all?

I would want a LibDem SNP coalition - if the SNP can drop the independence referendum. Which would be in their interest given they would lose it. The SNP will try and engineer clashes with Westminster in order to gain support for independence. Not Good. I hope the Lib Dems can restrain them.

If Labour are out in front then a Lib-Lab coalition would be my second preference. I would hope the Lib Dems would set out a strong raft of big policies to push through.

No-one appears to be suggesting a minority government (by the largest party). it could be chaotic, or, it could just work. An SNP minority would work well for the LibDems who could vote against the referendum, but vote through the policies (many) which they share with the SNP.

In Manchester I am hoping for some modest gains.

I fully expect to become Bradford's brand new, youngest, councilor...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Vote 2007


Maybe I will be repeating my epic coverage which you will remember from the General Election. Maybe not. (it all depends what is going on thursday evening)

I am looking forward to finding out what happens in Bradford, Manchester and, indeed, Scotland. Especially exciting to a LIbDem is the use of Preferential voting in Scottish Council Seats. I have a special interest in this particular election as I am standing as the Liberal Democrat Candidate in Toller ward, Bradford.

The Ward is currently held by two Labour and one Conservative, I am standing against the Labour incumbent. The seat is actually a weird one (thus the 2:1 split, and this is not unusual at all for the seat.

I am interested in the Scottish elections because I hope to make that cold country my home one of these days. I don't like the idea of Independence, but... PR, Lib Dems in government, Eurozone entry?? Put it like that and it sounds pretty good to me. It has been pointed out to me, by those better informed and more attractive than I, that the SNP's policies are the same as the Lib Dems. I am genuinely annoyed with them for there stance on coaltion with the SNP. Even if they disagree with the referendum I think they should be open to supporting it (and campaigning for a No) if it wins them reforms which are good for Scotland. Bottom line, if the Scottish want independence, they should probably have it, even if they are wrong to want it. That should clearly be the Liberal line.

Manchester is nothing like as interesting as Bradford in objective terms. But I am just as interested for personal reasons. I make no predictions for either council. I say only that the yellows might push forward a bit in both seats, if they are lucky. Both parties deserve it.

That has set my stall out, watch this space...

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The T&A reportage about the council candidatures can be found here. There is a list of candidates at the bottom. The T&A website is, well, the website of a local paper, but it is improving all the time.

I will be keeping an eye on this area of the Guardian website, and these fora.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hail Mary, full of wossname.


Another quick blog before I go to Liverpool, (later today, and I am going to Bradford on Saturday).

I have had to cart quite a lot of stuff to the library today, I had about nine books I wanted to return, plus a sleeping bag that I am lending out for someone who is hiking to Lindisfarne from Carlisle. (I also meant to bring Barbara Butlers book about the St. Cuthbert Way, but totally forgot). I am rid of the books, and am dumping the sleeping back at the chaplaincy, allowing me to re-arrange my bags and leave straight away.

Last Sunday I attended Mass at Avila House, which was an interesting experience. It is a testament to the massive impact of methodism/18th century evangelicalism that in a catholic chaplaincy the three hymns included Wesley and Watts. Metho's rule. I was vaguely familiar with everything, although I was unable to keep up with the Hail Mary beyond "Hail Mary full of Grace...", nor can I recite the creed. (maybe if I had known which creed, and had a chance to think about it). As a result there were times that I thought that they might have benefitted from a printed service sheet. (Of course for Love Divine all Love Excelling I probably didn't need the hymn book provided - ho hum).

The only real theological problems I had were, inevitably the Real Presence. So I wouldn't have received even if I could, it was nice to receive a blessing though. And ummm, hmmm. That is about it.

Of course Marian devotion is not in my tradition, I don't feel the need for her too pray for me now or at the hour of my death. But much of the Hail Mary is entirely biblical. The idea of dedicating a mass to anyone is also alien, and of course the references to the dead went right over my head. The thing is, I didn't really find myself reacting against these. The more I study Christianity the more I can see how such ideas originated out of genuine theology, and real pastoral need. Even today they clearly speak to people. I can't say that they are wrong as such, only that they mean nothing to me. The only thing that threw me was the sacramental nature of the mass.