Writing as Mother

ImageThis week I started reading ‘Mary Barton‘ by Elizabeth Gaskell. Five chapters  in I’m loving it.

I’ve always loved anything written by Gaskell. During her time she was called Mrs Gaskell which a 21st century feminist might take offence at. However her life as a wife and mother comes across so strongly in her novels.  She includes details that you would never find in Austen’s clean and tidy novels.
For example in ‘Mary Barton’ a couple are comforting their baby twins. The mum breastfeeds one baby while the father tries to comfort ( unsuccessfully) the other baby with bread soaked in milk.
In the novel Gaskell has strong opinions on class divisions and the apathy of the wealthy towards those struggling with poverty. It’s interesting to see her sometimes apologise for these opinions.
I’ve been teaching Fay Weldon this year. She would see this as an example of the “angel of the house” whispering in Gaskells ear, warning her not to be too opinionated. After all, she is just a woman. Luckily Gaskell doesn’t listen too closely to the angel.
Early on in ‘Mary Barton’, Mary’s mother dies in childbirth. It made me think how lucky we are in Australia to have such good medical care when giving birth. We don’t need to fear death when we have a baby. Not long ago, death would always be a real possibility.
Here in Australia we completely take it for granted. In fact if you listen to some women talk about birth, you’d think it was just a complicated yoga position, a few deep breaths will see you through it. For centuries women never had the luxury of turning their nose up at medical support. Personally I’m so grateful to be alive at this time, in this country.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the rest of ‘Mary Barton’.

Why I respect Julia and Tony

julia abbotMy interest in Australian politics is fairly superficial. I’ve enjoyed this week because it’s been filled with drama.

I would like say a few things about knitting and the Ironman challenge.

One of the last memories we are left with of Julia Gillard, is of her knitting a kangaroo for Prince William and Kate’s baby. Commentators have scoffed and laughed, implying that by spending her time knitting she was a disgrace to feminism and to the office of Prime Minister.

Well I challenge any of those scoffers to knit a furry little animal.  My Mum is a prolific knitter and my sister has whipped up a few knitted toys in her time. Personally I look at those knitting patterns in sheer dread and confusion.

It takes tremendous patience, precision and skill to knit very well. I’m guessing the kangaroo knitted for Royalty would be of a pretty high standard. Therefore we can assume Julia Gillard is an excellent knitter. And for that  reason, she has won my admiration.

Tony Abbot has long been a running joke for wearing lycra and budgie smugglers. Abbott, who is in his fifties, has completed the Ironman challenge. In 2010 he completed a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run in just under 14 hours.

Even with these figures in my head I still joined in the jokes about Abbot looking a little silly. That was until I saw my husband and his friend complete a Half Ironman. It looked absolutely awful and I now thoroughly respect anyone who takes it on. This is no fun run. It’s gruelling to the extreme. I saw them thrash around in ice cold water for 1.9km, ride on their bike for 90km and after all that, they had to run 21.1km.

I sipped on a cappuccino and watched in disbelief from from the sideline.

I remember thinking, “Not bad Abbott, not bad at all.”

So I would like to suggest, that all those scoffers, take a good look in the mirror. Unless they can knit for Royalty or complete an Ironman, perhaps they should show a little respect.

That’s all from me on politics.