Parliament has resumed today after the summer break. Why do thy have a summer break? Is it because the first MPs were landowners who needed to oversee harvest?
On Women's Hour on BBC Radio 4 today they played an interview from 1963 with someone called Rachel who had walked out on her job and her family one day and set off on the road, hitching her way up and down the country. There was none of the sociological experiment about this, no Road to Wigan Pier. She had just had enough and off she went. One of her favourite places to go was Brighton. She described cooking kippers in a park there, much to the dismay of well-to-do residents of the area who objected to the smell.
She may well have 'just set off' one day but she explained that she always had water and a little cooking stove with her and a change of clothing. She never went dirty, she declared. As for money, in the summer she did casual agricultural work, picking potatoes or strawberries. Winter was harder.
So she was a kind of female tramp (albeit a very weel-spoken one), living a life that some men opted for at that time, very different from the homeless we see on the streets of our cities nowadays.
What about the children she left behind? She said that she saw them from time to time and that they understood that this was something their mother had to do. Of course, the interview did not include the children and their reaction.
Jenni Murray, Women's Hour presenter, intrigued by the interviewer's assumption that Rachel had perhaps reached the point of no return, beyond which she would probably never get back into "normal" society, asked for listeners' reactions. She wondered if Rachel was even the woman's real name and if perhaps one of her listeners might be Rachel's child.
Here's some more women's stuff. I saw a headline that said that Missouri was giving employers the right to sack women who practised birth control. After spluttering somewhat about the appalling implications of this, I did wonder how they would know! The article revealed more details:
"A new Missouri bill would target abortion providers and sanction employment and housing discrimination against people who use birth control or have an abortion.
Yesterday, the Missouri House voted to pass SB 5, a bill imposing several highly burdensome and even more unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers; for example, the bill would require abortion providers to send fetal tissue samples to a pathologist within five days. While supporters of targeted restrictions of abortion providers claim they’re supporting women’s health, regulations like these often serve no medical purpose whatsoever. In reality, anti-choice legislators use them as a pretext to impose costs and red tape on abortion clinics, forcing them to close.
But SB 5 has another insidious purpose: to overturn a St. Louis ordinance to that bans employers and landlords from discriminating against people on the basis of their reproductive health decisions. In other words, if SB 5 is passed, you could be evicted in the state of Missouri for having an abortion, using birth control, or becoming pregnant while unmarried."
We are still in the 21st century, are we not? Or have we perhaps taken a trip back in time to an age when only men got to vote and even then you had to own a certain amount of land in order to do so?
The mind boggles!