Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Not sure what my compatriots will be doing on Wednesday… well, that’s not strictly true. They will get up, go to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in whatever Irish city they live in, have a few pints and enjoy the day off work.

We in London have to satisfy ourselves with a parade the Sunday before (missed it myself) and a full day’s work.

With the size of the Irish diaspora, it should be a national holiday in all the nations of the world!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Beannachtaí na Féile Phádraig oraibh go léir!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Girls vs Women - Update

So, we women don’t mind being called girls if the context is right. Or, Bonnie Grier had her knickers in a twist, and the whole thing was political correctness gone mad.

The final result of last week’s poll on Girls vs. Women was a dead heat in favour of these two opinions, and only a small minority thought being called a girl was something to be offended by. Great to see that the women who read this website have their heads firmly screwed on, and their senses of humour in place.

Favourite comments included:

“The term 'girl' can only be seen as condescending if the receiver sees it thus….Have you ever heard a man complain about being called a 'lad' ? Or 'one of the BOYS' ?” (Mena from Melbourne)

“I was going to rant about this harridan's inability to notice that she's living in a different country to the US, and that she should cease the usual American practice of trying to homogenise every "foreign" country into a facsimile of the land of the free as a means of causing less confusion in her tiny little brain.” (Nick from London)

“I think I'll reserve the title 'woman' to when I have earned it...hopefully sometime in my future when I am wiser and can reflect on a more fuller and more participatory life !!! Until then I remain happy to be called 'girl' Go Girl! Be proud, be fearless and live life!” (Mel from London)

Thanks for the great debate all!

Monday, March 08, 2004

Girls vs Women - The Debate

To highlight the ongoing inequality of women on International Women’s Day, US-born Bonnie Grier raised the issue of British women being referred to as girls on this morning’s Today programme. “It was one of the first things I discovered when I moved here 20 years ago”, she said. “I found that quite shocking, to see grown women call themselves girls and to allow themselves to be called girls.”

Politician Ann Widdecombe stoutly defended her right to be called a girl, and branded Bonnie too politically correct, asking “Haven’t we got more important things to worry about?”

See this BBC link for more on this interview.

This was quite a relevant story to me, because as some of you know one of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop referring to myself as a girl and start calling myself a woman. This was for no other reason that I am closer to menopause than puberty and really had to start facing the facts!

So, what are the views of the honourable readership of Is Bonnie Grier a ridiculous Yank who has let political correctness go to her head, or is Ann Widdecombe ignoring the fact that women continue to be confronted with prejudice and condescension in the workplace? Are words like this so important, or is it all in the context?

Is it OK to refer to women as girls?
This voting was closed on 15.03.2004.

Grier needs to get a life - this is political correctness gone mad!

Grier is absolutely right - we must insist on more respect than this.

It all depends on the context in which the term is used.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Barry Lategan

Walking back to my office from a meeting today, I stopped at my car to pick up my laptop. A middle-aged man was standing outside our car park with a camera in his hand, considering the wall of the parking lot with some interest. As I walked past, he smiled and said he was glad I had come out, as he needed a bit of elegance for his shot.

We got talking and he explained that he was a photographer, and that whilst travelling in Egypt recently had stumbled on the idea of advertising boards and other hoardings being the artistic backdrop of city life. The wall of our car park had been pasted with a light blue paper, which had been painted with graffiti images of people – an artistic effort rather than an act of vandalism, we assumed.

We waited a moment until a good-looking young girl walked past with some coffees in her hand, and the gentleman took his shot. He showed me the image in his digital camera, shielding the view screen for me with his scarf. The composite image of the girl striding past this unusual backdrop was indeed striking. This man was indeed a photographer and a good one at that.

He asked me if I was Irish (the accent is always a giveaway) and said that Seamus Heaney had just inspired him to notice place names, as he had been listening to him on a radio programme earlier talking about Irish place names. We chatted about this, and I said that Irish names mean nothing to others but to the Irish they are really significant and often beautifully descriptive.

The gentleman pointed out the name of the street we were standing on - Valentine Place - and how the name conjured up such a different image in one's mind to the one he had just captured.

As I made to leave, he tipped his hat to me in an old-fashioned but genuinely natural manner. He extended his had to shake mine as he introduced himself as Barry Lategan, a photographer who took the very first pictures of a young model called Twiggy. I walked back to my office thinking how amazing this part of London is with all its theatres and art houses so close by. Just by wandering about at lunchtime I have bumped into Sir Ian McKellan and now a famous London photographer.

Don’t you just love this city?

Walking in Oxfordshire

We had a day in the country on Saturday. Despite the cold, we wrapped up warm and headed off into deepest darkest Oxfordshire to See Some Nature. Orlando is a city man at the best of times, so he still looked somewhat urban in attire as we parked the car in Wallingford and wandered off to find the footpath along the Thames.

We walked for almost three hours beside one of the loveliest stretches of river, with lots of wild birds to watch, and the sprouting buds on the weeping willows promising springtime coming soon. We saw bullrushes and wild daffodils, watched Oxford University rowing teams doing their stuff in the water, got followed by a bunch of hungry-looking ducks and drakes, and got covered in mud for our sins. Fantastic.

As we drove up the motorway towards Banbury we were knocked out by an amazing sunset that literally painted the sky red as a huge sun dropped beneath the horizon.

A couple of visits to cosy country pubs completed our day, which was a welcome change from London City.