Sunday, 18 March 2012

How Far We've Come?

I finally got time to sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy BBC 4's She-Wolves: England's Early Queens.  Rather annoyingly, I did miss the first episode in the series, as the other half only thought to mention that he had seen it advertised, a few minutes before the second episode and thought it was right up my street.  However for those of you with fast enough internet and who missed the second episode, you will be glad to know you have 11 days still to watch it on BBC I Player or its repeated tonight at 11pm.

In the programme Helen Castor tells the story of Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou, who through marriage became Queens of England, and due to circumstances both women found themselves having to lead in a mans world.  Helen explains, how history has dealt with these two women is not fair. Had they been men their behaviour would have been more than acceptable.

Going slightly off subject, as only a rambling wee lassie can, I have to say well done to BBC4, just lately they have been producing some very interesting programmes.  I'm starting to think that the smaller the budget for the programme, the better the programme is?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Frontstalag - The Internment Diary of an English Lady

I've just finished reading Frontstalag 142 - The Interment Diary of an English Lady by Dr Katherine Lack, a really interesting book.  I often find myself reading about Prisoners of War in the the Far East, so it was a natural progression to pick up this book. 

The book tells the story of the authors Aunt Fan, who was an English Lady living in France during the occupation.  Shortly after the occupation began, Aunt Fan and one of her sisters were picked up, along with other British residents and placed into Frontstalag 142, which would eventually hold around 2400 mainly British civilians.  Later she was transferred to Frontstalag 121, in Vittal, where hotels from the Spa town had been adapted for the prisoners before she was released at aged 60, considered to old to be any trouble.  During this period Aunt Fan kept a diary and drew many pictures of her surroundings, some of which have been included in the book. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

To live in hearts, we leave behind, is not to die

This week I found myself down at Olympia at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event.  Hundreds of people, over a three day event wander the aisles searching for clues to answer the question 'Where did I come from?' whilst various companies flog their wares.   Watching I wondered how important it was for people to know where they came from or was it just an interesting hobby.

I am fortunate that on my Fathers side at least there has been a very good family tree produced, which dates the family back for several hundred years.  Even my Mothers side I have a good idea of where they came from.  I suspect I've always just taken the knowledge of my family history for granted, forgetting that others have no knowledge other than their immediate families names.

If I stopped taking it for granted, would I hold it as important knowledge to have?  Stories of the family member who met his maker, having rolled into the river drunk at lunch time or the unmarried 'seamstress' with seven children in an area known for its bars and brothels, are of course interesting.  They provide a snapshot of social history that I am personally connected to, that capture my attention far more than the facts and figures in some books.  

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Rambling Lassie battles with the High Street

I seem to have a love hate relationship with the high street.  I love a bargain but am finding myself shopping less and less on the high street.  Pounding the street, that looks the same as any other town in the country, trying on clothes that don't fit, in small boxes that smell of someone else's BO.

For me, the main gripe though is the originality.  I love towns where there are still different shops to look at, a place that doesn't have the same stock as the next place, but they are slowly disappearing, so the high street looks the same as every other town.  Some women I've spoken to commented that they prefer a chain store as they can always return an item to a different store.  But ladies how often do you return an item?  Others say its the convenience, which I confess leads me down the road of temptation.  However, when I think of the best service I have had in shops its the small independents.  Where I used to live we had a fantastic ironmongers (I would love to say shoe shop or something a little bit more lady like there, but maybe its quite a nice thing that I'm not stereotypical).  They still sold individual screws, not huge packets when you just want one.  I felt completely at ease to go and get some advice on a DIY project.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A Different Take - Born to Rule by Julia Gelardi

I've just finished reading this week, Julia Gelardi's - Born to Rule.  The book, as you may have gathered from the picture is about the Granddaughters of Queen Victoria or to be precise five of the Granddaughters.  She has selected these five as they went on to be Queens in their own right.  

The one that always stands out is, of course the Tsarina Alexandra of Russia.  The turmoil of the country she lived in, coupled with the tragedy of how the whole family met their deaths is a story that we all know.  I have read a number of books on the subject and wondered how Julia would present this differently.  

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Women who Murder and Remembered

I've just been reading with interest an article on Mary Ann Cotton in the Daily Mail.  Mary Ann Cotton was a serial killer.  She killed 21 people altogether. My reading of women's history, I confess, tends to be the people on the right side of the law, so this article caught my eye. 

A man called David Wilson has just written a book on her (due to be published later in the year) and the article claims she is the first serial killer but no one has heard of her.  Putting aside the fact that I am sure the Victorians were not the first to have serial killers (I suspect they just didn't get caught as often, with death rates and medical knowledge?), it did make me think about fame, how we remember some criminals and not others. 

In the article, I got the impression that it is partly because she is female that she has been forgotten in history whilst Jack the Ripper gripped a nation.  We find it uncomfortable that some one who is a wife, mother and even a nurse for a time should have an evil streak. A woman that brings life, should also take life would not sit well with the Victorians or with ourselves today.  We find it easier I suspect to think of men as murderers.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Living together vs marriage

Interesting conversation came up this week, which made me wonder has living with a person instead of marriage been a good thing for women??

I'm one of the statistics, that something like one in five marriages end in divorce these days.  Having made my vows once, I have for a long time considered my self of in the camp for people not going up the aisle again. 

This week I got talking to a very elderly lady who couldn't understand living with someone before marriage.  One of the points that came up was sacrifice for the relationship and the sacrifices made are often from the woman in relation to careers and children.  If we are going to have families, the family must come first.  A women will often take maternity leave, she may leave the workforce for a while to raise her children, so she makes a sacrifice to her career for the family unit.  Whilst in this country it is established in law that we receive equal pay for equal work, we are still aware that the glass ceiling still exists.  If women sacrifice more for the family unit then what protection is there in case it all goes wrong.