The Handmaid’s Tale—Atwood—recommended reading

…watched adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale on Channel 4 on Sunday night.  Oh—I was going to say that I was going to blog that and recommend the book for reading—and then I thought I wouldn’t—but I’ve just quickly looked on the net to see if that The was there in the title—and glimpsed favourable reviews and something about it being able to tell us something about Islamic extremism.

I read the book years ago, and saw it as a re-take on Christian practices of the Old Testament.

And so—I will put this here—it signals to people where I am.

I would recommend that everyone reads this book.


I’ve realised—I’ve been saying for long enough that I don’t explain—I use theory so much and to explain negates that.  There need to be instances where I can explain if I think that would be useful—I’m talking about not being bound in, necessarily, by rules—not as a way to give myself power—but as a way of starting to understand the world for myself.

But—I don’t have to say what I am doing.  I don’t have to try to encompass every contradiction that I may come across—no matter from where—in an effort to account for every nuance.  I think that isn’t possible.


The ghouls come out…(unfinished fiction)

Bobby is ill.  He could be on his deathbed.

She would have preferred to keep him at home but the doctor came out and then the ambulance swung by.

She would get some soap and a flannel from the chemist, she thought, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and then she’d go to the hospital.  Nothing was imminent, she’d been told, though a procedure would be done that would keep Bobby in, at least overnight.

She felt the presence of her dead father by her right shoulder.

“Hi, Dad,” she said.  “Hope things are okay where you are.”

“Ye-es,” he said, in that considering way he sometimes had.  “Don’t worry about me.”

He kept her company all the way down the hill.

She could see someone at the bridge—it was the ghoul, Elmo.

The ghoul’s eyes were wide and alarmed as she approached.

She knew that Elmo the ghoul had already heard, and was waiting for further bad news.

There was no way she could avoid him.

Elmo waited at the start of the bridge and she had to cross.

She had no choice but to meet Elmo the ghoul head-on.

Elmo the ghoul was just that bit fearful—to her, he was—beyond a doubt, there was no fear in the ghoul himself at all.

She lifted her hand to her brow, shielding her eyes from sunlight that wasn’t actually there.

She didn’t want to show her feelings—she knew Elmo the ghoul would lap them up.

“How are things?” the ghoul Elmo said as she reached him.

“Oh—not bad,” she said.

“Not bad—or does that mean not good?” the ghoul Elmo said.

She knew that Elmo the ghoul looked for any chink in armour through which he could send his barbed poison darts.

Elmo always did—and she always fell for it.


She got back home.

She put the things she had bought for Bobby into his toiletries bag.

She had just called for a taxi to take her to the hospital and put the phone down, when it rang.

It was the ghoul Beedee.

“Where are you?” the ghoul Beedee said.

“I’m at home,” she said.  She knew that the ghoul Beedee had already heard.

“Is he very bad?” the ghoul Beedee said.

“Oh—not too bad,” she said.

“Or not so good,” the ghoul Beedee said.  “I’ve come across these things before—it’s unusual if they turn out well.”

“I’m sure everything will be fine after the procedure,” she said, concealing any truth of the matter—if the ghoul Beedee knew, he would feed from it.

The taxi hooted then, outside…



The Manchester Muslim community distances itself from such a heinous act.

Trump met the Pope yesterday.

Trump seemed to think it had gone okay.

But there was that thing where the Pope had said that if Trump built a very big fence—no, wall—between the USA and its neighbour, Mexico, then that wasn’t a Christian act.

See comments at–

An open letter—upon the anniversary of my father’s death—to absent friends, and the Scottish relatives, with whom we have lost touch

15 June 2016

Dear Christopher

I’m sorry to have to let you know that Dad died suddenly on Saturday, 21 May 2016.  He was 87.

It was an abdominal aneurysm, and both Jean and I were with him.

He was a remarkably fit man for his age, but things had started to go wrong with him the last few years.  He had trouble with his eyes, and could no longer drive (he’d been driving for 70 years).  He had also been troubled by a pain in his shoulder for quite some time, which was getting no better.  Pain-killers didn’t help and neither did physiotherapy.  They got him on codeine, which did take away the pain, but upset his stomach.  He finally had a scan, though we never did get the results from that.

Jean took on most of the looking-after of Dad, since my husband is still getting over side-effects from treatment—it is a case of him building up again, though it is still difficult for him to eat.

Someone or other was over at Dad’s every day—I saw him when I could.  Tommy visited Dad just about every day—Tommy could hardly walk, but could drive, and Dad could no longer drive, but could walk better than Tommy—they managed things between them pretty well!

Dad tried to keep the garden going—he was interested in that, Sudoku and crosswords—but it was getting more difficult.  Again—Tommy would help—they would do a line each with the lawn mower!

So, all in all, Dad was beginning to lose his independence, and we feel that the way he went was the best for him.

He didn’t suffer much, or for long.  I went with him in the ambulance to the hospital, and Jean followed in the car.  We both spoke to him, and then they got us out of the room.

Not long after, someone came to tell us he’d taken a turn for the worse, and we should go in.

Jean and I both told him what a good Dad he was—he was conscious at that point, and then—it sounds like a cliché, but the light just went out of his eyes.  His heart had stopped, and that was it.

They suspected the aneurysm, and did get a specialist there before he died, who confirmed it.  They also gave him a scan after death, for final confirmation—and so he didn’t have to have an autopsy.

The funeral was on 3 June, and everything went well—we had garden flowers for him, and there was a framed photograph on his coffin, which set everyone off crying.

Connie and Dennis are still reasonably well.  Connie sends you her best regards.

I believe you wrote to Dad, quite some time ago, to tell him that John had died of a heart attack—we were so sorry to hear about that.  He said he was going to write, but I’m not sure if he did.

I hope that you and everyone else are okay.

Yours sincerely


Tied up tight

I have difficulty getting along with fundamentally religious folk—I try—I meet them half-way, where I can—but they can’t do that with me, a person of no religion—because their religion forbids it unless they attempt to convert.


Now who’s wearing the straitjacket?

Slipperiness of language

I’m going through my blog—I do get to this point with all my writing—I can’t go on until I have looked back and seen what I have there—I said early on—I haven’t got up to that yet in the updating—that I don’t edit—and then said, in the next post, I think—that of course I do edit—and explained (I think I did) that it was academic essays that I didn’t edit.

That is because what I produce—I write piecemeal—I’ll write something, see where I am—know, from there, where to go next—

And there would be nowhere else to go, see—

Unless you get into multiples and variables—which I have, I have—

But once it’s done, it’s done—done up as in stitchery—all attached, in fact—and no odd bits to fall out anywhere, you could say—

My cousin John gave me a tip to get myself organized, time-wise, when I was doing my degree (he was a year—or two—ahead of me)—that, from quite early on, each academic year, there was roughly two weeks to produce each essay—and to organize yourself around that.

He was right—that advice was invaluable—by the time you got to reading week (we had reading weeks then)—there were essays given out with due-dates that meant—yes—you had two weeks before each needed to be handed in.

You could have an extension if you needed it—but I worked out for myself that it wasn’t worth getting an extension—get an extension of, say, a week, for an essay—and, on this two-week thing (no one told us this—you worked out your own procedure, your own timetable—except that John did tell me this)—well, take the extension of an extra week—term finished at the same designated date—you therefore only had a week to do your next essay in—unless you were going to get extensions on them all and run out of time for your last one…

The course I did was heavily weighted towards essays and assignments—or, ‘how long is a piece of string?’ portfolios with no word-lengths attached to them at all—though there were exams at the end of it all.

Oh, I could go on and on—how we wrote our own essay-titles for one course—that astounded me, I must admit—but I did it.

Slipperiness of language—a term bandied about in seminars by tutors—you didn’t know what it was—you thought you should—you didn’t ask the tutor—but found out about it yourself—if you had time—or picked up what you thought it might be.

As far as I am concerned, it is basically Derrida.  I don’t know if he used the term—it’s a while since I read Derrida—ah, deconstruction—that was the thing…I tend to read Derrida from a consideration of Saussure—love Saussure, though he stopped at the structuralist position, they say…

And Saussure is known through his students—now there’s a turnaround—it is only through his students’ notes taken through lectures that we know what Saussure thought at all—