Sunday, November 13, 2016


I woke up at 3am on Wednesday morning, looked at Twitter to see what was happening in the American election, despaired, fell back asleep and didn't wake up again until I should have been on my way to work. Neither Donald Trumps victory, or my oversleeping, were auspicious starts to the day. I wish the results had been different, but they're not, and at least against all the odds I got to work on time. The rest of this week has been about seeking comfort.

I don't want to be overly pessimistic about what the future holds, or even to speculate about it, but at the moment it does feel like old certainties are dissolving. The ensuing uncertainties are not comforting, and nor is the rise in racist harassment some of my colleagues are being subjected to. It was bad enough after the European referendum result, it doesn't seem likely to get better now after Trump's anti Muslim rhetoric- even here in the UK.

Meanwhile I decided to go to London on Thursday for a change of scene and to see the Abstract Expressionists exhibition at the Royal Acadamy. It's excellent, though perhaps not precisely cheering. What really struck me was how much impact these paintings still have, despite 60 odd years in which the world has had the chance to become familiar with these images some of them still feel quite shocking. The Clyfford Still's felt particularly challenging - or maybe untamed is a better word. The Jackson Pollock's have far more impact in life, and en masse, than any illustration suggests, it's also suddenly clear how controlled they are, and interesting to find how desperately eye and mind start searching for recognisable figures (it seems like they're there, just lurking out of reach). It's all good though, in that it's an exhibition that provides a lot to think about.

Much more traditionally comforting was a quick visit to Persephone books to buy a copy of 'Long Live Great Bardfield', Tirzah Garwood's autobiography. I'd like to start reading it now, but think I'll keep it for when I'm away over New Year. It's a longish book, and deserves a bit of time to get really stuck into it, and there a few things I've committed to read first, or have half finished (which feels annoyingly untidy) so should be dealt with first.

Another book I'm really trying to keep my hands off of is an arc of Carol Dyhouse's 'Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire' from Oxford university press. It's not out until February, if I read it now I'll forget about it by then, but it looks so good that I haven't been able to resist dipping in and out of it (so far it's as good as it looks). It turned up all unexpectedly on Wednesday And definatley lifted my mood.

I also bought Trine Hahnemann's 'Scandinavian Comfort Food', it suggests it'll help me embrace the art of hygge* - about which I have my doubts, but I have no doubts about Trine Hahnemann, who's books I generally like.

*I don't really know much about hygge beyond that it's becoming an irritatingly overused word and marketing tool. That's been enough to put me off learning more.


  1. So many people woke up at 3 am (in this country) and were distressed beyond words. Many in tears, including kids, who fear that they and their families will be deported. What is even more distressing is reading of the possible Cabinet choices. Many, many of us were not Hillary fans (although we voted for her) but after thoughtful, intelligent, engaged, knowledgeable and dignified Michelle and Barack Obama we have an angry and ignorant vulgar bully. I don't have a TV but have been watching Saturday Night Live and the Steven Colbert show on the computer. Thanks for them!

    1. I actually am a Hillary fan, I really admire the way she's kept on fighting for what she wants despite everything that's been thrown at her. I would have loved to have woken up to the news she'd won - but not to be. I found after the brexit vote it took weeks before I could have conversations with customers without one, or both, of us, becoming tearful. It also took weeks before I stopped feeling an urge to apologise to people, or explain that it wasn't my choice or how I'd voted. The increase in racist incidents that some of my co workers have experienced since then is really upsetting.

      The numbers are frightening too, so many people didn't vote, and then of those who did the split is close - again like brexit, and to a lesser extent, the Scottish referendum. It's hard to be dragged along by such a slim majority. (I'm hazy as to exactly how the American system works, but guess understand that Hillary won the popular vote by a good margin even if she didn't get the electoral collage votes).

  2. I'm so devastated by the election. We have students who are scared and I'm wondering how my husband will have health insurance. We're about to go into the Christmas season and I want to focus on home, warmth, and comfort. I also don't want to be shallow. I'm trying to find a balance between panic and peace.

    1. I don't think it's shallow to want to regroup and focus on home and comfort for a bit. It seems like a positive thing to do at the moment. It's not Trump himself that worries me so much as what it says about how the world is going. I think back to my childhood and the uncertainties of the Cold War, the worry when things hotted up during the Falklands conflict (second hand and half understood fears for me as a child, but frightening nonetheless) and the nagging paranoia that the troubles in Northern Ireland caused, and which came far closer to me than Islamic fundamentalism so far has. For the last twenty years it's felt like the world has been on the right track, and now suddenly it's as if we've taken a giant step back.

      I really hope your husbands health insurance doesn't become an issue, that your students are alright, and that the New Year brings optimism with it (it would be about bloody time).