Monthly Archives: January 2013

Weekly Writing Challenge 29/01/13

Embrace

Have you discovered the Weekly Writing Challenge yet?  For this week’s challenge we were given this picture and asked to write a blog around it.

Do you see the activity in the photo?  Several groups of people milling around the tram stop, some ascending the hill and some descending.  And the couple on the opposite side of the road, standing on the rain-swept steps saying hello or goodbye.

Well those of you who have read any of my posts in the past know that I am an incurable romantic.  So I see these two young lovers being forced to say goodbye.  Their liaison is not encouraged by either set of parents and in fact, we can see her parents waiting impatiently on the other side of the road for her to finish her goodbyes and to board the tram with them. And if she doesn’t hurry they will miss this tram and have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.  Why doesn’t she hurry when she knows that it will only make things worse if they miss the tram because of her?

But our two young lovers are in no hurry to part.  They know that once they do it may well be several years before they see each other again – if at all.  He is going off to America to school while she is forced to stay here in Turin to continue her studies and to help look after ailing grandparents.  The young couple has discovered that it is possible for her to go with him  to study in the US but it is also impossible.  Her duty to her family is so well inculcated in her being that she finds it almost unthinkable to walk away from her responsibilities.

But why should this be in one so young?  Why should these responsibilities fall on her young shoulders?  The elderly grandparents have each lived a long and probably useful and happy life; the parents too have lived and have no doubt enjoyed, many years of happiness together, so why therefore, should this young woman not be allowed the same chance of happiness.

For the past several weeks, the mother has been nagging her to stay.  Not to go to the US with the young man.  “Who will help with Nonni if you go? ”  ” I am getting older and I should have some time now to enjoy myself”  “Dont be so selfish.  Think of others” she says constantly.  “But I should also be allowed time to enjoy myself; time to find out who I am and where in this world I fit” responds the young woman.  Then the father chimes in with “Your Mamma and I have spent many years tending you and providing for your health and well-being.  Now it is time for you to consider us”.

The young woman is torn between longing to get away with her lover and her duty to her family.  So many questions plague her mind.  If she doesn’t go with him will he find somebody new in this new world into which he is going?  And will he soon forget her and the promises they have made to each other?  Or will he come back to her after his studies are finished as he has promised.

If she stays will she always regret not going with him and if she goes will she regret not being the obedient daughter she was trained to be.  How can she make a decision, one so important that it could well change the rest of her life.

But now we see from the picture that a decision has been made.  Because she is a dutiful  Italian daughter and has been brought up with the idea of family being the most important thing in the world, she will let him go to America without her.  She will stay to help look after the old grandparents and if necessary, her own parents who are also getting older.  She will keep her love alive by letters and emails and occasional telephone calls to and from her lover and trust that he will come back to her once his studies are over.

But we fear for her.  We think that once he is free from his family restrictions  and expectations (although as a son the expectations of his caring for family members is not so strong) he might find that the attractions of this new life quickly erase the memories of his old life.  And unfortunately this might include the girl.

If this should be so, will she become embittered and blame her parents for her unhappiness.  Or alternatively, with her young lover in America for several years will she be the one who doesn’t keep her promises.?  Will she find another boy to love?  And this one may well be more suited to her and her life; staying in the area and thereby allowing her to fulfil her obligations to her family without surrendering her life to them.

Perhaps we can revisit this young couple and their family at some later stage to check on them and how their lives are working out. I think I should like to do that.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.
Anthony Brandt
, author

A Mistake

Yesterday I published two posts.  The second by mistake.  I was so taken up with the story of Maisie and the Swarthy Gent in the Panama hat, that I hit publish and so it did so immediately. I had meant to programme it for today.

So today I am going to rest on my laurels and hope you enjoy both of yesterday’s posts – the one in response to the Trifecta Challenge entitled An Extremely Difficult Task and the second one continuing the saga of Maisie and her friends.

Two women on beach

Oh yes, they still had their hats but…

 

The Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat

We left Maisie and her friends, way back in October, fidgeting and worrying about the Swarthy Gent due to call upon Maisie the following day.  The story continues..

After a restless night during which Maisie was convinced she had no more than a few snatched minutes of sleep, she was awakened by Jackson with her morning tea and the morning newspaper.

Usually Maisie was content to lie abed and sip her tea while reading the newspaper, but this morning she had too much on her mind to settle.  So she asked Jackson to pour her bath and having drunk the tea repaired to the bathroom to attend to her morning ablutions.

Dressed, she descended the stairs to breakfast.  This over she decided to call her friends to confirm that they would be with her well before the appointed time for Fotheringham to call.  They each assured her that they would and Juliet suggested that they have lunch together at a new tearoom that had recently opened in the area.  Imogen agreed with this suggestion and so it was decided.

None of the three friends felt like shopping even for new hats and so they met at the tea room at the appointed time and it was a subdued trio who sat down to a light lunch.

Lunch over they retired to Maisie’s house to await the arrival of the guest.  They were still worrying about him and the reason for his calling upon Maisie right up until the time of his arrival.

Promptly at 4pm the front door bell rang, followed by the tap-tap of Jackson’s feet on the tiled front entry.  This then was followed by Jackson’s knock on the door of the drawing room.  The gentleman had arrived and Maisie instructed Jackson to bring him in.

What a handsome fellow he was and how gallantly he greeted each of the ladies in turn.  He appeared just a little surprised to see three ladies instead of the one he expected.  However he quickly recovered his equilibrium.

Jackson was instructed to bring tea and while they waited for this they indulged in the usual small talk about the weather (very English), what friends they had in common but no talk about the depression or the recent stock market crash.  Ladies did not discuss such disasters.

Tea arrived and when all had been served, Maisie decided to take charge of the meeting.  She expressed her surprise at the intrusion into her life of a complete stranger and in her usual straight forward manner asked him what he wanted.

Thomas Anthony Winston Fotheringham, aka “Billy” Fotheringham was unused to being addressed in such a forthright way by a lady and spluttered into his tea cup.  When he had recovered his breath he said that what he had to say should probably be told to the Countess of Waverley in private.  “What nonsense” snapped Maisie.  “Whatever you have to say may be said in front of these two ladies”.

“Well then,” countered Fotheringham “the truth of the matter is that I am the illegitimate brother of your husband, the Hon Reginald Benton-Smythe.  His father had a liaison with a local woman in India and I am the result. ”

He went on to say that Major Thomas Fotheringham had been the old Earl’s batman and when the pregnancy was discovered, he accepted a large gratuity from the Earl in exchange for staying in India, marrying the pregnant woman and bringing up the boy as his own.

Can you imagine the looks that passed between the three ladies at this news?  They were stunned; almost incoherent.  “But that’s not possible”  and “How could that be?” and “Reggie’s father would never do anything like that”.

Through all the spluttering and exclamations Billy Fotheringham sat unmoving with a small, sardonic smile playing around his mouth.  He assured Maisie that he was indeed her brother-in-law and proposed to remain in London making the most of this family ties.  Maisie was horrified.  What could she do to stop Reggie being ruined and his father and their family name being dragged through the mud.

“Just what do you expect to get out of this preposterous tale?” she enquired in an imperious voice; the voice that had been known to shrivel lesser mortals in their shoes.

“Just what is mine by rights” was the reply.  “And in case you are asking I can prove my claim.  I have come into possession of a pack of letters sent by your father-in-law to my mother.  And I have the deathbed confession of the man who I always thought was my father.  These things are irrefutable and are available for inspection by you, your husband or any other reputable person you wish to name.”

“Are these papers in your possession now?” enquired Maisie.

“Would I be foolish enough to carry them around with me when London is full of footpads and pickpockets?  No, they are in a safe place where only I can get ahold of them.  So what do you want to do now?  Do you want time to discuss it with your husband and father-in-law, or can we make a deal between us?”

The effrontery of the man quite took away Maisie’s breath.  How was she going to deal with him and the fall out if his claims became known in Society?  She would need some time to think and plan; perhaps consult Reggie; certainly consult Sir Charles (Juliet’s brother) and his friend Sir Hector Ryder, Head of the Metropolitan Police and maybe even  the ailing Earl.

But time was certainly needed.  She would put this scoundrel off for a couple of days to give Sir Charles and Sir Hector time to delve more deeply into this man’s past, although the thought of bringing the fellow’s claims to their attention  horrified her.

“Well obviously I shall need some time to consider what you have told me this afternoon” she said. “And equally obviously I shall need to see the so-called proof of the relationship between you and my husband.  So I suggest that you leave now and come back again in two days time, with some proof of your claim at which time I shall have an answer for you.”

With that, the swarthy gentleman picked up his Panama hat, gave each of the ladies a broad smile, thanked the Countess and took his leave.

A shocked silence remained in the drawing room after his departure.

To be continued….

An Extremely Difficult Task

To say that it was a bitch of a job would be to put it mildly.  I had been asked by an ex-employer to talk to his messenger about her personal hygiene habits.  I didn’t know this young woman; I had never met her.

I had worked for Mr N for several years as his personal assistant.  I had arranged his daughter’s wedding, bought birthday and Christmas presents for his wife and generally made his life run smoothly.  So when this problem arose he immediately thought of me, so sure that I could solve it.

What to do?  First I had to meet this young woman and set up some sort of rapport with her.  I wasn’t looking forward to it I must say.

The day duly arrived and with much trepidation, I entered the office.   I knew the team and spent a few minutes catching up.  This served a good purpose; the girl could see that I was liked by the team and got on well with them.

So having settled down with a cup of coffee I began by introducing myself and telling her a little of my time with the company.  Then we switched to her.  She was not very forthcoming about her life or her upbringing and so I turned to the job.  I asked how she enjoyed what she was doing and what her plans were for her future.  She told me she enjoyed the job but hadn’t given any thought to the future.

I explained to her that she was the first point of contact for many people.  I stressed how important it was to dress appropriately and to be very careful of our hygiene manners so as not to offend anyone.

She looked a little embarrassed and asked if I thought she should buy an antiperspirant.  We discussed this and she agreed to buy it.  So while this was a bitch of a job it had good results and we kept in touch for several years.

Trifecta tricycleThis is my entry in this week’s Trifecta Challenge.  The challenge as stated is:

And now we move on to this week’s one-word prompt.  Apologies in advance to those who are easily offended, though I imagine if you stuck with us through our TrifeXXXtra erotica challenge, we probably won’t scare you off now with a little mild profanity.

This week’s word is:

BITCH (noun)

1: the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
2 a : a lewd or immoral woman
b : a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse
3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant
Our response must be between 33 and 333 words and we must use the 3rd definition.
If you want to know more about Trifecta or join in the challenges click on the tricycle above or visit http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com.  Good luck, it’s fun to try the challenges.
For Your Information, this really happened.
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Well Read on Wednesday

New Orleans was on my Must Visit list from the time I started making such a list, way back when I was a teenager.  I got to check this off in 1990 when my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) and I took an extended trip to the southern states of the US.  I was not disappointed.  I/we loved everything about it.  We loved the Hotel St Marie in the Old French Quarter  just a short walk from Bourbon Street; we loved the food, the beignets at the Cafe Du Monde, the music, the atmosphere and most of all we loved the friendly people we met.

Some may say that I wasted Wednesday afternoon but I disagree;  I spent it reading.  What was I reading all afternoon and well past dinner time?  The latest in the Charlie Fox thrillers – Die Easy, set in New Orleans.  Double pleasure.

If you were reading my blog posts in the middle of last year, you would know that I am a fan of Zoe Sharp and her feisty, female protagonist Charlie Fox.   I read the first book in the series after reading somewhere that Lee Childs thought Zoe Sharp one of the best thriller writers to emerge in recent times.  And I have followed/stalked Zoe and Charlie ever since.

I have awaited with impatience the publication of each book, and have read devoured each of them with undisguised pleasure, always in one sitting.  This tenth book in the series has not disappointed me and has kept me reading all afternoon.

Die Easy

This time we find Charlie and her partner/lover in New Orleans to act as body guards to a wealthy investor from Florida.   Many people feel that New Orleans the city and the people, have been ignored for too long and a celebrity  fund raiser is planned.  This is the reason Blake Dyer, the client, is going to be in New Orleans at this time.

As may be expected, this job does not go smoothly and is complicated by the fact that Sean Meyer, Charlie’s partner, has not totally recovered from the devastating accident that put him into a coma for several months.  He has woken from the coma  apparently recovered physically but there are large parts of his past that he doesn’t remember, including Charlie.

Even some of the skills at which Sean excelled before the accident seem to have deserted him/been forgotten and Charlie is not completely happy to rely on somebody who is not really at the top of his game to be part of her team.  However, she has no choice but to obey her boss when he says Sean is to be part of the close protection team.

Without giving too much away, Charlie has to face an opponent from her past, deal with a threat not only to herself but also to Sean and more importantly the client while all the time not being sure whether she can rely on Sean to watch her back.  A robbery turned hostage situation develops around the fund raiser and while there are many close protection operatives on board the boat, Charlie is thrust into the lead role as the one to ameliorate the situation and get the passengers off the boat unharmed.  As usual Charlie shows herself both physically and mentally able to cope with all that is put in her path, but with some disastrous consequences.

So I urge you to  get your hands on a copy of this book by fair means or foul – buy, borrow but perhaps I shouldn’t encourage you to steal – and set  aside a Wednesday (or any other) afternoon to read this book.

Once again I commend Zoe Sharp on writing this book, her imagination and her characters.  I like to think of her as a friend.

And I think this quote is particularly appropriate for this book.

A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end.  You live several lives while reading it. “~William Styron,  American novelist and essayist
1925 – 2006

Related posts

Nostalgia

“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson:  you find the present tense, but the past perfect! ”
Owens Lee Pomeroy

You have no doubt read about my growing up in the East End of London, during and following the Second World War, and today I am filled with nostalgia for some of the things we had then.

Mother didn’t go to the supermarket for her weekly shopping.  She went to the butcher, the baker, the greengrocer and the grocers for butter cheese etc.  Butter and cheese were cut to order from a large slab that rested on a marble counter.  Cheese was sliced with a wire and butter cut with butter pats.

Model in Nottingham Museum

Model in Nottingham Museum

We were always amazed at the skill of the person cutting the cheese or butter at how close they came to the amount requested.

The shopping was carried in bags and baskets – no plastic bags available then – and taken home to be put away in the larder.  And growing up there were no refrigerators in houses, at least not in any houses near where we lived.

Milk bottles

Milk delivered every morning

Milk was delivered to the door in bottles.  These were washed and returned to the milkman the next day; so were our parents engaging in recycling without being aware of it.  In May last year, I wrote about recycling and how we and our parents recycled things without even knowing that was what we were doing  – That Green Thing.  There was no choice; it’s just how it was.

So back to the nostalgia.  Yesterday I was in a local store and espied a butter dish.  This took me way back to my early years.  The butter was brought home from the store in greaseproof paper and immediately transferred to a butter dish.  The one I saw was so like Mother’s that I just had to buy it.

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I remembered how on Sundays three little girls would be taken by their Mother to the local sweet shop to choose how they would spend their 20z ration of sweets.  The sweets had to last the whole week.  Having chosen the sweets were then taken home and put into the sweet jar from where we were allowed one sweet after dinner each night and an extra one after lunch at the weekend.  Not for us the extravagance of a whole chocolate bar or bag of sweets.

sweetshop1940s50s

Inside a typical 1940s and 1950s sweet shop, where most sweets were weighed out for each customer from large glass jars. Photo courtesy of Send and Ripley History Society.

When my children were small I carried on the tradition of the sweet jar; one candy/sweet after dinner each night and an extra one at lunchtime at the weekend.

When Father returned from the war, he would use his sweet ration to buy a Mars Bar.  He would take it home and proceed to cut it into slices to share with his girls.  For years I thought this was the only way to eat a Mars Bar.  And I did the same with my children when they were small.  It certainly made a chocolate bar go far.

Mars bar

Now if I want to I can eat a whole Mars Bar but I always slice it up first.  Isn’t it amazing how things we learned when we were young stay with us through life.

And then after the war when I was a little older I met a young man who was always buying me presents.  How lucky can a girl get?  Perfume, candies, pretty scarves and one day some Max Factor Top Secret.  Do any of you remember this product?  It was the early runner for today’s hair lacquer and we loved it. I remembered it during my walk down memory lane today.  How innocent we all were.

We didn’t have a car when I was young and so we walked, took a bus or the tube (London Underground) to wherever we were going.  Buses were frequent but we always had a fairly long walk to get to the bus stop – well the walk seemed long to young girls.  As a really small girl,  I thought a trip on the tube was the height of excitement.  To get to the ‘local’ tube station we had to walk through the local park AKA London Fields, then take a double-decker red London bus for a short ride to the underground station.  We thought nothing of a half hour trip just to get to the tube.  And later, when I had left school and taken my first job, this trip was done morning and evening each day.

 

If Today Were Your Last…

If today were your last, would you do what you’re doing?
Or would you love more, give more, forgive more? Then do so! Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity.
Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again. – Max Lucado

That’s one of my favourite Max Lucado quotations.  I first discovered this guy when my life coach – Cari Vollmer in Minneapolis – sent me my often used quote about the sunrise taking away your breath.  I used it yesterday.   I have thanked Cari for the introduction and find a use for one of his quotes more and more.

So to answer the question posed by Max – what would you do?  Some of us blogged about the end of the world as foreseen by the Mayans, which apparently was to happen on 21 December.  However, one thing that worried me about that was that 21 December comes to us in New Zealand well before it comes to my sister in London or my sister in Los Angeles.  So who’s 21 December was it to be?

In an earlier post I told of how tomorrow didn’t come for my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman).  In the early hours of one miserable April day, he quietly slipped away from us and tomorrow never came again for him.

But I digress.  If this is to be my last day on this earth I would:

  • Immediately call each of my sisters and tell them how much I love them and how grateful and lucky I am to have had them in my life
  • I would visit my son, daughter-in-law and grandsons, and my daughter, son-in-law and grandsons and tell them too how lucky I have been to have had them in my life and to have been a part of theirs.  I would tell my daughter and son how proud I am of them and how proud their father would have been of the people they have become
  • I would then call those special friends, some of whom I haven’t contacted for a time and make them aware of the fact that I appreciate them
  • I would call the one or two people with whom I have fallen out, or with whom I have had difficulties to tell them that I am sorry the problem/challenge/difficulty has not been ironed out before now
  • I would of course, tidy my house so that whoever had the job of dealing with it after I have gone would find it in order.  Isn’t that a typical comment from a woman.
  • And oh, I would make sure that my wishes for a funeral are set out succinctly and clearly for my children so that they are not faced with the problems we had when their father died so suddenly.
  • And then I would call my family and friends who live near and have a party.  It’s all very well for there to be a ‘celebration’ of my life after I am gone, but I like a party too and would hate to miss out.

So what will I do?  It’s 10.15pm here and a little late to be calling my friends in NZ and as my calls to my sisters never last for less than an hour, I wont call them tonight.  But  tomorrow I shall make those calls, not only to friends but also to those one or two people to whom I have become estranged.  My wishes for my funeral are written and filed away and my children know where to find the file; rubber gloving will happen in this house tomorrow so that it is clean and tidy once again (and the ironing will be done, my number one hate).

And in a little while I shall have a party.

So what would you do?

Rainbow

My rainbow

Related posts

A Day in the Life of…

 

Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, “
Do you like it? I did it just for you.”
Max Lucado, author, writer and speaker 1955 –

OK, time to throw off the absolute indolence of holiday time and get back to the serious business of blogging.  I see it is exactly two weeks since my last missive and I think it’s high time I started to write regularly again.

Looking back to this time last year, I see that I was still writing/blogging on a daily basis and in fact, on one day 12 January 2013, I posted two items.  How very clever of me.

Noah's ark

I think that my favourite post written last January was headed All I Need to Know. This listed all the things I learned from the Story of Noah and the Ark.  I really enjoyed writing that post and have also enjoyed re-reading it (https://growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/all-i-need-to-know/).

Book cover - Professor and madman

And exactly one year ago today I wrote about Dr Minor, an American Civil War veteran, convicted of murder and condemned to live his life in Broadmoor Asylum ‘Until Her Majesty’s Pleasure Be Known’.  During his incarceration, be became actively involved in compiling the Oxford English Dictionary.  If this is of interest to you here’s the link – https://growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/madman-murderer-and-words/.

But now it is 2013 and we can’t rest on our laurels, so here is today’s post.  The post is titled A Day in the Life so perhaps that’s what I should be writing about.  But nothing worth writing about has happened today except a visit to a friend who is confined to a rest home as she convalesces following breaking a hip shortly before Christmas.  She is rather bored and desperate to get home to her own apartment but unfortunately, the fall has rather knocked her confidence and I suspect/fear that it might be several more weeks before they will let her leave.

This is an interesting place to visit.  Several, or is it many, of the inhabitants/clients/patients, are suffering a form of dementia.  Today one man called out to me in the belief that I was his daughter.  It is pitiful to see these people just sitting in lounge chairs nodding off or occasionally talking, but to whom and about what?  They say that the long-term memory stays with one well into the various stages of dementia, so are these men and women remembering the useful and full lives they lived.  Are they perhaps remembering loved ones lost to sickness or even war and are they wondering why these people are not around to visit them?

I remember when my Mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s she could clearly remember what happened and what she had done 30 years before, but she had difficulty in remembering who her two visiting daughters were.  Although on one occasion she did remember that we each had a son and could remember their names.  What a sad way to end her long and busy life.

However, my friend is not suffering from dementia and we had a lively conversation about what I had been doing and who had been visiting her since my last visit.

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Then when I returned home I opened a street map given to me by a friend who recently visited London.  Apparently, he saw this “A Street Map of Jewish East London” and thought of me.

If you have read any of my posts about growing up you will recall that I was born and brought up in the East End of London in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood.  With the exception of those of us living in our gentile apartment block everyone else was Jewish (or so it seemed).  They were mainly Hasidic Jews, and from Wikipedia, I learned that “the Hasidics is a sect of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith.”  These people did not relate/interact at all with us or it seemed, with anyone outside their own strict community.  They were/are easily identified as the men wore their side hair in curls that fell to the jaw and always wore a round fur hat, called a shtreimel.  I was always intrigued by these men (for it was mostly the men we saw walking in our neighbourhood) and wanted to learn more about their particular area of the Jewish religion.

As an aside, my parents’ house was purchased by the local government for street widening and in part payment, they were rehoused into an apartment complex.  The question is what great mind devised the plan to drop a handful of Christian families in the middle of this enclave of Judaism.  One will never know the answer to that riddle.

So back to my map.   I have always been fascinated by street maps.  Not for me the wide and wonderful world shown in an atlas but give me a map of the streets of any town anywhere in the world, and I can happily entertain myself for hours.

Of course, I immediately honed into the area in which I was born showing that less than 5% of the population in 1899 was Jewish.  So I then had to find out what happened between then and when I was born to change this area from being so sparsely populated with Jews at the end of the 19th Century into an enclave of Judaism.

Stamford Hill (where we lived) is now home to Europe’s largest Hasidic Jewish community  The small Hasidic  community was increased dramatically by the influx of pre-war refugees and survivors of the Holocaust. The population has grown with arrivals from Israel and America.  Now within an area of  little more than a square mile, there are no fewer than 74 synagogues, or shuls, 32 orthodox schools, kosher supermarkets, butchers, fishmongers and a multitude of other businesses.  Growing up I remember the bakers, butchers, fishmongers and while there were no supermarkets, I remember the general food store and the fabulous and tantalising smells that came forth from it.

When I was last there I was reminded of my childhood by the sight of groups of mothers uniformly dressed in the mandatory dark coats and long skirts.  They, of course, were wearing the wigs that are obligatory for married women, many were pushing prams with a handful of children in tow.  Family is of great importance to the Hasidic Jews and families are mostly large keeping the women busy all day.  There were also groups of men, but seldom would we see men and women together.

Modesty is paramount to the Hasidics, and the mingling of the sexes is strictly regulated.  Unmarried boys and girls will have little contact with the opposite sex outside their families.  At social gatherings such as concerts and wedding parties, men and women will always be separated.  An Hasidic man will avoid making eye-contact with any woman other than his wife, and would never shake hands.

While I could find nothing to support this, I think because of this segregation of the young, marriages are probably arranged by the family.  How are young men and women ever going to meet?  I wonder if there are still marriage brokers as Yente in The Fiddler on the Roof.

As you can see there is still much research for me to do in this area.  That will wait for another day.


The purpose of all major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..Related Posts

Wild Windy Wellington Wednesday

Another Christmas has come and gone, another New Year’s Eve celebration followed it as always and has also passed and now we are back to the everyday life that we know.

All the festivities and fun are great.  It’s always good to catch up with friends and family and what better time than at Christmas and New Year?  But don’t you feel rather flat when the day has passed, the friends have left for home and things are really no different than they were on December 24th?  If like me, you were lucky to receive some gifts and now you have a few more ‘things’ to find places for, you will be adding the fact that you have friends and family who care to your Gratitude List.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere of course, it is summer (?)  Well here in Wellington we had a glorious Christmas Day – Mother Nature pulled out all the stops, sunshine, no wind and not even a hint of rain.  The next day was the same but since then we have had a really mixed bag.  Sunny and warm one day, overcast and windy the next.  Today we are living through gale force winds.  We went for a walk  in the Town Belt (625 hectares of Crown-held land “reserved for the enjoyment of the public and not to be built upon,”) that circles our city.  Unfortunately it was a very short walk as the wind was so strong that several times it threatened to blow me over – and Lotte?  Well her ears were blown right back as we walked into the wind and forward over her face when we walked in the other direction.  Really it is not at all the warm, dry summer we were promised.

Lotte on desk

Would have been better to stay at home
writing our blog

Many people are away on their Christmas/Summer holidays and this weather is not helping them enjoy themselves.  In the South Island we have heavy rain warnings in many places; roads are closed; the Milford Track said to be NZ’s premier walking track has been closed for the past two days because of heavy rains.  Approximately 120 trampers were stuck as the track was too difficult to maneuver.  Trucks and cars are stuck in the Buller Gorge in the north-west of the South Island.  And parts of the North Island are faring no better with Severe Weather warnings in place for parts of the lower island.

So what to do in the face of this awful weather.  There is always the television of course and today I chanced on a wonderful programme written and fronted by Griff Rhys-Jones about the “Wind in the Willows”.  Along with Alice in Wonderland, this has been an all time favourite of mine.

In this programme, Rhys-Jones introduced us to Kenneth Grahame, the retiring scholarly man who wrote this story for his somewhat troublesome only child Alistair.  At the time, Grahame was the Secretary of the Bank of England.  He had written some books about children for adults but this was the first (and only) book for children. Do you know this fabulous fable?

The story is set along a riverbank.  In fact, it is subtitled Tales of the Riverbank. We are introduced to the kindly, self-effacing, industrious Mole (Grahame himself perhaps?), Rat, Badger, Otter and of course the incredible, irascible  Mr Toad.  Who hasn’t met a Mr Toad in real life?

These woodland animals are given human characteristics and live an indolent life on the riverbank often messing about in boats.

But Toad it is who fills the book with his antics and exploits.  He is very sure of himself and he is very conceited.  He sings about himself  “Ho, ho!  I am The Toad, the handsome, the popular, the successful Toad”.  And he thinks that he alone knows anything.   Consider –

“The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad”

toad

When Toad sees a shining red motor car he cannot resist it and drives it off eventually being caught and being sent to prison –

“The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop
As it raced along the road.
Who was it steered it into a pond?
Ingenious Mr Toad!”

The book was originally published in 1908 and  my copy of the book is 55 years old, well read, well-thumbed but still securely bound in spite of that.

Quite late in life, by then considered a confirmed bachelor,  Grahame married the shy and retiring, scatty and whimsical Elspeth Thomson.  They had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”).  Unfortunately, he  was born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.  It was for this child that the book was written.

The-Wind-in-the-Willows-001

‘Simply messing about in boats’ …
EH Shepard’s illustration of Ratty and Mole.
Photograph: EH Shepard/PA

So I am glad for a cold, windy January evening that allowed me to find this programme on the TV.  I thank Rhys-Jones for taking us along the riverbank and telling us about Grahame and his strange little family.

And as an aside in 2010 a First Edition of the book was sold by Bonhams in London for 32,400 GBP.