Thursday, April 13, 2017

A choice of reading

I was awake and ready to write a jolly post this morning about what is on MY bedside table, in response to a comment from Sally on a recent post, but I glanced at the news first and something upset me so much I am going to do the bedside table and then the other thing, and you can choose which you care about.

My bedside table will shock you if you're a minimalist.
This is what I currently have on the top shelf alone:

The Siege by Helen Dunmore, Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley, and Homestead by Rosina Lippi - all of which are there because I wanted to look at the way the authors wrote specific scenes. Where'd you go Bernadette by Maria Semple, which I am supposed to be reading (for a second time), Word Painting - a guide to writing more descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan, which I am dipping into, Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor - because it lives there. Garrison is always there for good cheer, and for comfort reading in the bleak hours of sleepless nights.

Other items:
My journal, two copies of Country Living, the latest edition of the journal of the Society of Authors, a Guardian supplement about the 1930s and whether current times are comparable, a ripped-out magazine feature on the best new mascara and false eyelashes, Mary's funeral programme, an old birthday card from Mary's younger daughter, a thank you card from Isaac and Wendy, three emery boards, three pens, a pad of post-its, aconite pills, a bedside light, and a Google guest identification tag from when Isaac took me to Boulder Google last September. This is not it: this is the souvenir

Part 2:

I walked along the lane and back last evening at dusk because I needed fresh air. The pheasant that makes that awful croaking noise in our garden every morning, and is doing it as I write, was roosting in one of our beech trees. His black silhouette against the sky made him look like a skinny peacock. It was cold. I had thrown on a fleece and a long wool scarf and I had to wrap the scarf around my head against the wind.

What I first read when I woke up this morning was a Guardian piece about the refugee families in Dunkirk, whose meagre belongings were destroyed in the Dunkirk fire that also destroyed their shelters, and who last night slept on the roadside because they said the emergency facilities provided for them were unsuitable for children. 

I thought about the refugees - all the refugees - sleeping out on cold spring nights. I thought about the refugees who were sleeping out last night. How can it be that just the other side of the Channel there are hundreds of destitute, embattled and traumatised people who are homeless, whom our government refuses to give shelter to? Surely it is the normal human response to offer help to people in desperate need.

I am deeply ashamed of this government. I have given up writing to my MP. He is chairman of the Conservative party and only ever tows the party line of Theresa May. I now write to the boss and copy him in. Perhaps if enough of us write to her she will listen. Public pressure is the way to go with people who appear to have no inner moral compass. Or you might like to write about the UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia used in bombing civilians in Yemen, or about the cuts to benefits of the disabled or...or.... Take your pick, but write. Please.


marmee said...

oh my....this really resonates with me. I am normally a news junkie but I have had to withdraw, there is just too much that is too painful to know about ...both abroad and in my own country. We had a bright spot last friday when hundreds of thousands of people protested peacefully across the entire country ( asking for our corrupt president to be removed) the protest was across party lines , across lines of any sort and the trucks and taxis that had difficulty navigating the narrow main road of my village because of all standing in the middle of the road simply slowed down, opened windows to high five the protestors...we all now have to keep the pressure up. But back to the horror that people who have no choice but to flee are subjected to...I have found myself retreating into
the comforting ( but not saccharine) world of the books of O Douglas ( sister to John Buchan) . My favourites are The Proper Place and its sequel The Day of Small Things.

Sue Hepworth said...

What I didn't say, Marmee, but what is true, is that for the past week I have not read the news for the same reason as you. I have done the quick crossword and then started writing. "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."