CATALUÑA: The regional parliament has yet again upped the stakes by approving the creation of agencies previously run by the Spanish state. Madrid has immediately gone to one of Spain's numerous courts to get the (inevitable) verdict that this is illegal. The lawyers are rubbing their hands but the rest of us are wondering what on earth will happen after the court pronounces, with a speed unprecedented in Spanish justice.
ALZHEIMER'S : The latest on this is that it's significant if your sense of humour suddenly changes and you develop a love of slapstick. Or, say, Mr Bean. I always knew there was a connection beween intelligence and a sense of humour but this is way beyond that. Suffice to say slapstick stll does little for me.
THE MODERN WOMAN: Twenty odd years ago - when arguing (as a pro-feminist husband) with a (very) feminist wife - I quoted a feminist writer who'd warned women that they could have a perfect marriage, a perfect job and a perfect marriage - but not all at the same time. Since then, as the father of 2 daughters, I've frequently wondered about the unwanted consequences of the feminism I endorsed when they were young. I was reminded of this by this observation in an article by the estimable Alison Pearson:- "Here’s the reason the equality thing is wrecking female health. Women have done their damndest to suppress their biology and become men in the workplace." Frankly, I would have ended this sentence after 'men'. Anyway, here's the full article. Or you can it at the end of this post.
FINALLY . . . INEBRIATION: Dipping, as you do, into Chaucer, I happened on these wonderful lines. In the original, of course. This is my transliteration. I guess these observations could have been made at any time in the history of
man. And, these days, of women:-
A lecherous thing is wine, and drunkenness
Is full of striving and wretchedness.
O, drunk man, disfigured is your face
Sour is your breath, foul are you to embrace.
And through it your drunk nose resembles the sun
As if you say, aye, 'Samson, Samson!'
And yet, God knows, Samson drank no wine.
You fall over like a stuck swine;
Your tongue is lost and all your honest cure
For drunkenness is like a true sepulchre
Of man's wit and his discretion
He can no counsel keep; there is no doubt
And namely from the white wine of Lepe
That's sold In Fishgate Street and in Cheap
This Spanish wine creeps insidiously
Into other wines, growing quickly thereby
So there rises such fumosity
That when a man has drunk draughts but three,
When he is at home in Cheap,
He is in Spain, right in the town of Lepe, -
Not in La Rochelle nor in Bordeaux town;
And then he will say 'Samson, Samson?!
Why women who think they 'have it all' are now at breaking pointBy Allison Pearson
Mothers are tearing themselves apart trying to work and look after their family - it's time for men to step up, tooAt an event for Working Families in London recently, the conversation turned, as it always does when tired mothers clutching white wine are gathered together, to family responsibilities."If the childcare fell through, it was the mother who would be ringing round frantically to find alternative cover. Daddy, however good and loving, would simply not have a mental Rolodex full of babysitters’ numbers and favours owed"The charity had done some research into what happens when an elderly parentfalls ill. Invariably – and regardless of geographical distance or job status – it was a daughter, not a son, who took time off work and rushed to the aid of mum or dad.“So what happens in a family where there are no daughters to help out?” asked one woman.“They send the daughter-in-law,” quipped another.We smiled, we shrugged, we moved on. Despite the sly jibes about Having It All, to a remarkable extent my sex still accepts society’s default setting: women are the care-takers. When I was researching my first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, I spoke to scores of mothers who revealed that the childcare was paid for out of their salary, not their husband’s.A small point, perhaps, but still indicative of the fact that a working woman was expected to provide a Mummy substitute if she left home.Similarly, if the childcare fell through, it was the mother who would be ringing round frantically to find alternative cover. Daddy, however good and loving, would simply not have a mental Rolodex full of babysitters’ numbers and favours owed.This is the great, untold inequality behind the triumphant story of female advancement over the past half century. Hardly surprising, then, that doctors have just warned that a generation of women is at breaking point and far more likely to experience work-related stress than men.Figures from the Health and Safety Executive for 2014/15 show that the number of women experiencing strain balancing a career and family is 50 per cent higher than for men the same age. Some 68,000 women aged 35 to 44 in the UK are stressed at work.Sixty-eight thousand. Hello? I can count more Loopy-Lous than that in the banana aisle in Waitrose."Women are not cracking up because we’re weak; it’s because we’re amazingly strong and test that resilience to the limit. It’s only when those two, nightly de-stressing glasses of Sauvignon Blanc become a bottle, or the GP says, “You’re not 'just a bit tired’, madam, you have clinical depression”, that the inner turmoil announces itself to the outside world. And that world, still largely run by men, simply doesn’t get it."The study suggests the “have-it-all” generation of women may also feel insecure at work because “they spend less time networking with colleagues in the pub after work”. No kidding. Someone has to get home for bathtime and to retrieve the foetid games kit from the Boy Bag of Doom.Here’s the reason the equality thing is wrecking female health. Women have done their damndest to suppress their biology and become men in the workplace – “We are our dads with ovaries,” as one American writer put it, unimprovably. Men, on the other hand, have been rather more reluctant to do their bit and become women in the home. Frankly, who can blame them –why be Mrs Hughes when you can be Lord Grantham?If I could download the software programme for Motherhood and Household Management into Himself’s brain, I would, but experience shows that if I ask him to take a jacket to the dry cleaners, purchase some dishwasher tablets and defrost a lasagne, he goes into anaphylactic shock. And this is a highly evolved New Man we’re talking about, not Nigel Farage. It’s so much easier to do it yourself, isn’t it?Women are not cracking up because we’re weak; it’s because we’re amazingly strong and test that resilience to the limit. It’s only when those two, nightly de-stressing glasses of Sauvignon Blanc become a bottle, or the GP says, “You’re not 'just a bit tired’, madam, you have clinical depression”, that the inner turmoil announces itself to the outside world. And that world, still largely run by men, simply doesn’t get it.Just look at the recent Conservative Party Conference where both Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt said that Britons – for which read British women – can learn from Asian societies about caring for elderly relatives in their own home, rather than letting them go into institutions. I wanted to slap the pair of them. Here were two Cabinet ministers in a government that boasts about getting more women into full-time employment than ever before, and they had the nerve to suggest that, in addition to the demanding day job and looking after the kids, we should take in grandma as well! How ignorant can you be of the burdens women bear?You can either help women (or men, for that matter) to stay home to take on the caring the state doesn’t want to pay for, or you can push as many mothers into full-time work as possible (even though most with small children say they’d rather not). But you cannot have both.I am halfway through Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family by Anne-Marie Slaughter, an American professor and policy adviser. It’s a fearlessly honest and brilliant analysis of “having it all” – or, rather, trying to do everything and going crazy while your teenage son goes off the rails and gets arrested.Slaughter understands the huge stresses women today are under. They want to be good at their jobs, but they also want to take great care of their children, partners and elderly parents. Why should women tear themselves apart trying to honour those deep, instinctive impulses? In a sane, healthy society, fathers and husbands would feel just the same. Slaughter summed it up perfectly in a tweet: “Caring is 4 men as much as working is 4 women.”So, next time an elderly parent needs help, send a son.