So I'm old, it's official. Senior rail pass, free prescriptions... I bought a ticket for my commute to work tomorrow with a seven quid discount, picked up my first free prescription from Boots and in total saved fifteen quid that I'd have shelled out for the same stuff only last month. But am I happy??? In a pig's arse! I show my senior pass to the conductor with a sense of embarrassment, as if no bugger had ever been 60 before. I'll get used to it. (No fucking choice) Naturally I bought a bottle of wine with the money saved, but I'd have done that anyway.
I did have a nice birthday, though, on the first of the month. I took a train up to Glasgow where my nephew lives and was greeted at Glasgow Central by him and my sister, who'd flown up to surprise me, which was incredibly touching. Glasgow is remarkably well fed, and we had tapas on the Friday evening and a fantastic meal at Mother India on the Saturday (fish pakoras, then monkfish and king prawn with ginger and dill - brill). Bloody arse-numbing train journey (as long as a flight to Abu Dhabi, I imagine) but next time I will at least get a big chunk of money knocked off.
Reasons for feeling old:
1) I had a look online to see what they're offering at Shakespeare's Globe this summer. They're giving us the Henry IV plays and Henry V. It was not total surprise to learn that the King, Prince Hal and Falstaff will be played by women. (So far as I'm aware I am not misgendering them.) I've decided to give the Globe a miss this year. Now, Maxine Peake was great as Hamlet, Polonius was played as Polonia in the same production, and the gravediggers were women and were very funny. Fabian in Twelfth Night has been Fabia, the RSC has given us a female Cymbeline and a female Duke in Othello and the Globe an all-male Twelfth Night. But an important theme of the Henry IV plays is the relationship between fathers and sons, you know, blokes. Is not Hotspur's ideal of honour, the desire that an avenged slight be publicly acknowledged, very much a male thing? And does not Falstaff's contempt for that ideal come from a man who has been fed the notion throughout his life as a nobleman, and seen how much hypocrisy lies behind it? I absolutely cannot countenance a female Falstaff, call me all the dinosaurs you like. The male actor who played Ophelia at the Globe last year (to a female Hamlet) said in an interview that 'we're kind of beyond gender now', which seems to me to be a denial of a fact basic to being a member of a sexually reproducing species on this planet. I suppose everything I've just written is contradictory and inconsistent, especially as I enjoyed Peake's Hamlet so much, but in its inconsistency it is at least on a par with the gender / race / identitarian / intersectionality tripe being pushed by Humanities Departments these days.
2) Just seen on Twitter that Stanford University is offering a course called 'FEMGEN 238: Men's Violence Against Women in Literature: A Critical and Social Analysis', Those who take it will enjoy (?) the opportunity to 'inform and deepen [their] understanding of oppression'. Sounds like a blast! Given that course description - or maybe prescription would be a better way to characterise it - you can bet that diversity of viewpoints will be zealously discouraged, as this seems to be the aim of a university education in the 21st century. What you do now is take books, sculptures and paintings that people produced in time gone by and pick them over for signs of racism, sexism, misogyny, assorted -phobias, marginalisation of identities and all that. Do not even think of actually enjoying the work of art you are pulling to bits. Most of this poker-faced stuff seems to come from the United States, but I'm seeing signs of it in the place where I work. From a paper I found on the windowsill of a classroom last week:
Media, Gender and IdentityAssignment 2: Research Project Proposal1) Which group are you going to study? [seems you can't study individuals] How are they stigmatised or marginalised in the media?
2) Explain the role the media play in characterising/stereotyping the group with examples.
3) They start them early on this. My niece told me yesterday she'd had to sit through a talk given by a sixth former who argued that Friends is racist and transphobic, and she had detected some 'problematic' elements in Disney films as well. I don't know what these were, but there's a killjoy article here that may have been one of her sources. Well, I don't teach this stuff. Maybe it's fascinating and I'm pretty sure it engenders in its students a pleasant feeling of self-righteousness and superiority. But watching films and reading books to sniff out reasons to despise them seems joyless and pointless to me.
4) A young lady photographer has put up posters around the 'uni' to recruit female models whom she will photograph 'honestly, to protest today's airbrushing culture'. Has she only just noticed that artists and photographers have been improving on nature for rather a long time? Nobody depicted on an Ancient Egyptian wall has acne or a club foot and almost every human body in Ancient Greek or Roman art is idealised. Now, she can of course photograph whom she wants in whatever way she pleases, but why such drab resentfulness of physical beauty? It's magnificent, it's transient, hence poignant, 'youth's a stuff will not endure', and all that. I'm a gay man and like most gay men, I'm all for it. Here you go:
To cheer us up (?) here's the oldest known melody in Europe. Don't kvetch, 'cos there isn't time.