Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Keeping hold of an identity!

Andrea Camilleri, creator of Commissario Montalbano, has died at the grand old age of 93. We visited the places where the Montalbano television series was filmed during our visit to Sicily earlier this summer, on two occasions narrowly missing seeing the filming taking place. We seemed to be following the film crew around. While there, we heard the news that the writer had had a heart attack and was in hospital. So really his death, although sad, has come as no real surprise.

A friend of mine will be extra sad, however, for the death of Camilleri signals the imminent demise of Montalbano himself. The final novel in the series was written 13 years ago, but has been kept in Camilleri’s publisher’s Palermo offices for safekeeping. “When I get fed up with him or am not able to write any more, I’ll tell the publisher: publish that book. Sherlock Holmes was recovered … but it will not be possible to recover Montalbano. In that last book, he’s really finished,” Camilleri said in 2012. So there we are, some time before too long we shall see the end of Commissario Montalbano. 

Camilleri commented on Sherlock Holmes having been revived, recreated, restored. Indeed recent adaptations of Sherlock Holmes might well give Sir Arthur Conan Doyle pause for thought. I was talking about Sherlock Holmes yesterday with my sixteen-year-old granddaughter. She was expressing her disgust at the idea that in a new adaptation Dr Watson could be a woman. The very idea just seemed wrong to her. In fact, she told me, it all seems like a bit of token “inclusivity”, and something that she regards as historically inaccurate as women could not have been doctors in Sherlock’s time.

Her attitude to the transgender question was interesting as well. On the whole she is very tolerant of all the varieties of lifestyles that exist nowadays. She was, however, quite scathing about girls in her form at school who appear to choose their gender as they might choose an outfit. And a choice of outfit goes with at her school as boys wear grey blazers and girls wear purple. Confusion on the corridors! A few girls of her acquaintance, definitely not in her friendship group, first said they were lesbians and later “identified as boys” and had their hair cut short. Not long afterwards they decided that they regretted having had their haircut and missed their flowing locks, as now they declared themselves to be very “girly girls”. This led to some sarcastic comments as their classmates wondered which gender or sexuality they would select next. Maybe they would arrive at school and say they “identified as trees”.

I wonder what my granddaughter would make of this case of a transgender man who chose to pause his/her hormone treatment in order to become pregnant, by donor, and have a baby. The problem was registering the baby’s birth. He wanted to register as the father but the registrar said he had to register as the mother. Much of the concern centres on the child and fears that he might be bullied at school because of his parentage. This will no doubt spark even more discussion about the social education of children and the LGBT question.

Am I being unkind when I find myself thinking that the parent of that child is being a little selfish, wanting to be both male and female. Thoughts about wanting to have your cake and eat it come to mind.

It seems to me that future society is going to get more and more complex and difficult to deal with. Here’s another example of modern oddness:

“A Zen meditation group is to cease meeting in the grounds of York Minster following controversy over “bilingual religion”. The group has been told that its weekly 90-minute silent meditation sessions in the Old Palace must end in the autumn. The sessions were initiated by Christopher Collingwood, the canon chancellor of the minster, who practises and teaches Zen meditation and has described himself as “religiously bilingual”.”

“Bilingual religion” is not tolerated by all, apparently.

 “Christian Concern said that mixing Buddhism and Christianity was “deceptive” and dishonoured Jesus. “It is remarkable that this is happening at one of the country’s best-known cathedrals,” said Andrea Williams, a member of the Church of England’s general synod.”

Well, well! It would seem that there are more and more areas of life where we need to choose our identity. I am quite relieved to be a relatively simple soul.

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