Sunday, February 7, 2016

Husbands and Sons

Once again, yesterday was super-busy. I guess this is going to be my Saturday pattern! I had French class in the morning -- in which we discussed a new pronoun, en, that I still don't fully understand -- and then a few hours at home before I went to meet my friend Sally on the South Bank of the Thames.

We had dinner at a blustery outdoor food court near the National Theatre, where I had veggie curry on naan bread, and then we drank some hot mulled wine. It wasn't cold out but it was spitting rain and very windy. We walked over to the river and nearly got blown down a couple of times.

We'd met to see a play, "Husbands and Sons," based on the novels and short stories of D. H. Lawrence. It was very good, with a terrific cast, but it left me thankful for modern marriage laws and divorce courts! (Not to mention labor laws, as it took place in a coal-mining town in the English midlands.) There were lots of domestic dramas and tangled emotions and the inevitable industrial accident.

We really are lucky to be living now, you know? It may not always seem like it, with ISIS and Donald Trump and enduring poverty and strife in many parts of the world -- but life is so much better now for so many people. It's hard to conceive of growing up in a coal-mining community (let's say) where virtually your only option is to go down the mine yourself. Most of us can make choices. I understand I'm speaking from a position of relative privilege -- choices may be limited if you're living in a poorer community with lackluster education, or in Somalia or Zimbabwe or Afghanistan -- but it's more true now than it ever has been before. Don't you think?

(Photo: Seen on a recent walk home from work along Finchley Road, North London.)


  1. In general I agree with you Steve. My maternal grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather had little choice - they had to go down the coalmine but my life has been different and in most ways better. Our home is warm. I have travelled around the world, enjoyed a varied diet and benefited from an excellent health service without which I would certainly have died more than once. And yet, and yet - some precious things have been lost along the way. Community. Camaraderie and maybe it is true that ignorance is bliss. We know too much now, face too much temptation. It is not so easy to be happy.

  2. yes for the most part. my life has certainly been easy even considering I lived/live hand to mouth for most of it. but that was the choice I made.

  3. I do think that things in general are better. I am quite aware of the fact that if not for modern medicine, I would have died in childbirth at an early age. I always bled too much and god knows I was a fertile woman. The bleeding was easily taken care of with a shot of pitocin but in the olden days- well, not possible.
    But yes, because we can be aware of everything going on in this world, it is so easy to fall into despair- something also not possible so long ago. We knew what was happening in our own village and that was it.
    I don't know. I'm still trying to shake my morning angst so this is not a really fine time for me to be discussing this.
    But I do know that I gave birth to four children and they are all grown and alive and not many mothers back a few hundred years ago could know that joy.
    So there is that, for sure.

  4. I do pause and feel gratitude every now and then for the random accident of fate that put me where I am, rather than in a war-torn or desperately poor area. While some of my upbringing was a bit messy, still I grew up in educated, middle-class surroundings and supplied with the belief that of course life would continue that way. My husband and I can honestly say that we've earned everything we have, but without the right foundation I wonder how much of that would have happened.

  5. It is better for sure, as a female person I can say that there is more enlightenment to be had about sexism, but yes. better. Our world is extreme, where you lite on it determines the challenge and how to conduct oneself. Sometimes , to make it through to the next stop, we have to accept and keep quiet but, yes, generally- in the Western world things are much better.

  6. The changes in medicine alone make it better to be living now. I agree with Marty, I do feel thankful that I wasn't born in Somalia or Iraq or anywhere in the middle east.

  7. I read awhile ago that although people's perception is that there is more war in the world, currently there are fewer people dying from conflict than at any point in history. The fact that we know so much now about what's going on all over the world makes it seem otherwise. I only wish I could remember where it read it!

    And in a somewhat connected vein, you may enjoy this blog and this post, based solely on reading some of your big-picture posts and the impression I get that you are a thinker:

    If nothing else, he is an engaging writer!

  8. Yes, I agree -- particularly as a woman!

    That photo is fantastic, and I love the new layout of your blog.

  9. I'm definitely thankful to be living now. I have two things working against me with regard to living in long ago day: before my eye surgery I was Blind as a Bat (blinder - no radar); and I'm essentially a lazy person.

  10. All good points and I generally agree though I am often impatient for an even better world...

  11. What a load of old rubbish!!

    No. No. Not your blog post. The photograph.

    Ms Soup