Sunday, 24 November 2019

Stuff on the radio and in the papers. An odd world!

I just listened to a Conservative politician on the radio explaining how his party has spent the last decade putting right what the Labour Party did wrong. All these years on and they still have to blame someone else! Then he went on to talk about investment in public services. So cuts to health and education = investment in public services, does it? There’s a decided double-think going on.

The BBC seems to be on the side of the Conservatives, judging by the shenanigans that seems to have gone on over Question Time this weekend, between someone popping to ask a question for what might be the fourth or fifth time and then laughter at Boris Johnson being edited out of a news report. We live in curious times!

Curious times indeed. Kenan Malik is an Indian-born British writer, lecturer and broadcaster, trained in neurobiology and the history of science. He’s well known. Yet he reports being asked to produce his passport when going to speak to an Oxford college - to prove that he has the right to work in the country. This is what we have come to!

So let’s look at other things.

Some time ago I read about a hummus crisis, a shortage that was going to affect all us middle class hummus eaters. Now it seems it is the turn of halloumi cheese; demand is going to outstrip supply. This is not a problem which is going to affect me. Other foodstuffs with similar problems are coconuts (coconut water and coconut oil having become very popular and the trees that grow them becoming what the article describes as “senile” - who know that such a thing was possible?) and avocados (recent bad crops have caused problems).

At the other end of the spectrum of foods becoming in short supply because of food-faddery is quinoa. Originally there was a bit of an outcry because The Peruvians who depended on it as a staple food could no longer afford to buy it. “But subsequent reports have shown the high price improved the welfare of poor rural communities, whose dependence on the grain for personal use was also widely overstated.” There you go.

Today’s Observer Magazine seems to be full of birth-related stuff. First Eva Wiseman has written about gender reveal parties, a practice I find really strange. She seems a bit miffed about it as well? If you must discover what gender your bump is going to be, then surely you can just tell, or not tell, all your friends and relations without having to make it yet another occasion for people to give you presents. This is without considering all the other such parties - the baby showers and the like. And, of course, the card manufacturers have taken advantage of it, producing series of cards saying “I am one week old”, I am one month / two months/ etc old”, leading to cringe-making photos of a poor child squashed into the same pose again and again, said photos then being inflicted on everyone through social media!

Then the magazine also included a feature on birth stories, some joyful, some sad, and one almost a sociological study from a woman who had her first child when she was 14 and had that child and the next four taken from her and straight into care.

Even Catherine Bennett wrote about childbirth in the main news section, asking “Why is it so hard to allow mothers the kind of labour they really want?” “Natural” childbirth has morphed into “straightforward” childbirth, which surely is what all women want when it comes down to it. It’s an area where women are pulled by the medical profession on one hand, by pressure groups for different birth styles on the other and over it all the need to instagram this experience along with all the other things going on in modern life.

On the fashion front, once again fashion reporting has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous on the fashion page, Style Notebook - there’s a dress from H & M for £34.99 and a pair of Stella McCartney/Adidas trainers with rainbow laces £235.

Life goes on!

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