Like the start of a movie about a dystopian future, in recent weeks we have seen a major bank having its computer system fail completely, chaos in the train system, leading to cancellations and buses replacing trains, the faked death of a journalist as a way of prevent his actual assassination and now what the papers decribe as an “unprecedented crash in Visa’s payment system”. Is this the way the modern world gradually grinds to a halt?
In a curious piece of journalism I read about a cow which wandered across the border from Bulgaria into Serbia: an illegal immigrant. It was returned to its Bulgarian owners but now it is being suggested that the cow, and its unborn calf should be put to death because of EU regulations regarding the movement of cattle. The world has clearly gone mad!
Now, this is an article about women in New Zealand who are pregnant at the same time as their prime minister. They give their reactions to her pregnancy and talk about their own. Alongside one of the interviews is a photo the interviewee with her large, pregnant belly sticking out, revealing a tattoo!
This is part of a weird, modern trend to put photos of your pregnant self - usually photos like the one mentioned above, with the expectant mother wearing a kind of bra top and leggings and with the bump sticking out - on Facebook and other media is really odd. A number of my former students, having now reached an age where they feel it is time to reproduce, are indulging in this. Why do they do it?
I know that we have gone way beyond the time when pregnancies were hidden away and women stopped going out in public once they started to “show”. And I also know that we have gone beyond the rather discreet cover-the-bump maternity dresses that I wore. I have nothing against pregnant ladies wearing figure hugging clothes. But I draw the line at admiring photos of the actual bump, in the flesh, as it were.
Related to that is what I regard as the fashion mistake of confusing leggings with trousers. This means that you wear leggings with a short top, sometimes even a cropped top, and look as though you have gone out in your tights and top and forgotten to put your skirt on. Even on slim young girls this is wrong!
Yesterday, picking up odds and ends in the co-op store in the village, I saw a pair of identical twin girls. I have seen them before but now they are three years old, quite articulate but still being pushed around in a double buggy. Maybe their mother finds it easier to control them if they are tied down. At one point someone commented on the difficulty of telling them apart, something that the mother says she, naturally, has no problem with. The original commenter said that, of course, dressing them identically just added to the problem. “Ah, well,” said the mother, “they’re twins. You have to dress them the same.” Well, actually no, you don’t. Maybe allowing them to develop separate personalities could be a good thing.
But then, one of them is called Ocean - that says quite a lot, in my opinion. The other small girl has a perfectly normal name and I find myself wondering if she will feel less special than her oddly-named sibling. I was sorely tempted to ask if they have a brother called River but I restrained myself. Sarcasm in the co-op on a Saturday afternoon is not really advisable.
I find these names really odd though. Over time I have come met a number of Summers and read recently about someone called Autumn. There seem to be no Winters or Springs around, just as their are Oceans and Rivers but no Streams. Maybe I should be more accepting. After all, there have long been girls called Dawn. And although I might find Fern an odd choice of name for a girl, nobody objects to Rose or Violet, Daisy or even Pansy.
Mind you the name Holly once had my niece spluttering drunkenly at a children’s party about the daftness of calling a child after a prickly bush.
I am tempted to start promoting Puddle as a trendy name for a child - of either gender.