Thursday, 27 September 2007

And so another year of study begins.....

Well, I've been cheating somewhat. The submission date for my dissertation is the end of January so I've been doing some long overdue study the past few weeks. Originally it was going to be a vast work looking at the concepts of individual and community within the context of the reigns of James IV, V and VI of Scotland. It would be a work encompassing gender, social and cultural identity within the royal court and the outside world of Scotland, excluding the Highlands. Nothing personal against the Highlands but the events going on during the periods I was looking at would be a dissertation within itself.

My supervisor took a look at my proposal and told me "There's too much here for 10, 000 words." As a result, my labour of love has been cut down to studying certain individuals (the three James) and within the confines of the political community based in Edinburgh. I seem to be developing a fondness for James V. Scottish historians seem to adore James IV. I don't. I think he's a sneaky little arsehole who helped killed his father then used religious acts to pretend he was sorry. I do have some respect for James VI but find certain aspects of his character rather amusing. In Elizabeth I's final years he was practically rubbing his hands in glee at becoming king of England. In between burning witches of course.

But James V was a different kettle of fish. The main reason I like him is the way he played Henry VIII and the Papacy off against each other. The Vatican were a tad nervous that Henry would convince his nephew to join the new faith. So what did James do? He screwed the Papacy for a hellva lot of cash and had a lot of power over appointments of archbishops. Then sucked up to his uncle in return for even more cash. It may sound mediocre by today's standards but, if you had power over the clergy, you had power over most of the political community. Who were the most educated people in Scottish society? The clergy, hence their roles in administration within the political sphere.

He also got to shag Marie of Guise who was one tough lady. Unfortunately she didn't do an extremely good job of passing her wisdom onto her daughter who would become Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, cousin to Elizabeth I and more right to the English throne than her. Elizabeth wasn't called a witch's bastard for nowt ya know.

So, instead of waffling so much I have to produce a well argued dissertation on the above topics.

Friday, 14 September 2007

"Old age. It's the only disease...that you don't look forward to being cured of. "

It's somewhat appropriate I am posting this today. This evening I am going to a 90th birthday dinner for my Great-Aunt. She still lives in her own home and is going strong for entering her ninth decade. To kill time I was browsing on You Tube for some music videos and I came across some clips from Young at Heart . This documentary was repeated on UK television during the summer and I accidentally bumped into it whilst channel hopping. I was intrigued by the topic. Most members of this choir are in their 80s yet still give unique performances of modern classics such as Schizophrenic
by Sonic Youth and the above performance of Fix You by Coldplay. One gent (I forget his name) was in his late 80s but was an enthusiastic mountain biker whilst another guy was proud to have an active sex life and claimed that was the secret behind a long life.

The documentary played on my heart strings. Fix You was originally meant to be a duet but the second performer died a few weeks before the concert. Other times, the choir gave a performance at a local prison and it was heart warming to see big tough guys with tattoos crying during some of the more ironic songs.

As the title of my entry says, old age is one disease few of us can escape from. But at least you can go out in style.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

New Blog

A friend of mine has set up a new music blog which is fan-bloody-tastic. There are tracks for you to sample as well as detailed descriptions for each one. There are 'You Should Know This Artist' posts and recommendations range from podcasts to indie to cheesy pop. Without further ado, here is a link to this mecca of knowledge: Wolf Lullaby run by the domineering Ms Alex. She has kick started my fading interest in podcasts and I'm now listening to the wonderful Jobacle - The Podcast For Workers Who Still Have A Personality... which is one of the best podcasts I have come across. It's interesting from a sociological point of view for me at the minute but the guy who presents this is hilarious and has an interesting take on life. It's well presented and sounds more like it belongs on a radio station.

So go have a browse through the blog and make Ms Alex's day by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007


As usual, today's edition of the Guardian flopped into my inbox. One of the stories is an issue that makes me furious.

Gender pay gap amongst executives.

On a side note, it always amazes me how these stories pop up in the media so often. People seem to react as if it's a big surprise and how can this be happening with the Equal Pay Act in force? The excuses given in the article are pathetic. "There are more female executives in some sectors." And your point is? Just because you are a woman doesn't mean you should be getting paid less than a male counterpart for the same job. Again, one of the downfalls of living in a patriarchal, capitalist society.

Still on topic, I went to a talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival. It was a discussion about feminism and the panel consisted of Lynn Segal and Laura Kipnis. The former a British academic who was part of second wave feminism in the 70s, the later an American academic who seems to equate sexual identity with gender. It was a lively discussion but seemed to be dominated by audience members asking questions about child rearing and so on. For me, the subject of children is a battle ground for heterosexual couples, less so with same-gender couples.

The decision to have a child ultimately lies with the woman, this cannot be a truly equal decision made between the biological parents. The female can decide to remain pregnant or make decisions to remove that feature. Legislation caters more to females remaining the care giver after the child has left her body. Paternity leave for a father is, on average, two weeks whilst the mother is entitled, with recent legislation, up to nine months. Why should one assume the mother wants to remain the primary care giver? But, as Lynn Segal at the above talk argued, being a mother only lasts proximately 20 years of an estimated 60-80 year life span. It can be easier for the male to walk away. After all, he doesn't have it growing inside him. In the first 9 months of development, the mother suffers and this suffering is continued through to the birthing process. Talking to friends who have given birth, it sounds like a humiliating experience. Your body is no longer your own property, it is given over to midwives and nurses to stretch and tear and rip and pull and force. No orifice is safe, the body expels some matter through every one. Then there's dangers of your entire body going into shock after the birth which can lead to death. Meanwhile, the father struts around the waiting room, wondering if handing out cigars is a little ironic. And please let it be a boy so they can do worthwhile bonding activities like attend sporting events and learn it's not masculine to show your emotions.

Both genders suffer in this life but I feel that women are paid less, treated badly and generally fucked over because they had the rudeness to come into this life missing balls. And that's partly why I'm a feminist. Rant over.