Posted in Uncategorized at 9:47 pm by rachel

so tired today.

I woke up at 5.30am as I’d not shut the blind; then dozed a bit. Then woke to a text about the Daily Mail’s front page. It went downhill from there.

I hate the Daily Mail, and Nadine Dorries for giving them an excuse to trot out a load of crap about abortion. She launched her campaign to reduce the time limit today, and got acres of coverage. It’s worrying. I know the majority of the media is ideologically conservative anyway, but they are running with this. I hope the silent majority (if they are still the majority, and haven’t all defected to the Tories) will pull their fingers out and demonstrate to MPs that this would be a bad move.

So, I’m feeling a little weary. I wish Burly was here.

Yesterday at Jenny’s birthday was good, although I roasted my back in the May sunshine. Ended up getting home pretty late, and not able to do anything. Really need to clean, the mess is starting to annoy me.

Today – MP meeting (“why don’t girls just keep their legs closed?” ARGH) then back to work, lots of work, then another trip to Parliament. So tired now, and have another couple of months of it. Am getting quite sick of abortion. 

Anyway, it doesn’t look like Burly is going to call me, so I’ll head to bed. Night night, dearest, if you are reading this. xoxox


Behind the veil

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:55 am by rachel

Another day, another visit to the cinema. This could well be my strategy for the next ten days – losing myself in a film each night so I’m not staring at the walls of the empty flat. We’ll see. Anyway, Sunday’s movie was the 2007 Cannes Jury prize-winning film, Persepolis. 


It’s a great film. Absorbing and poignant and inspiring and thought-provoking and enraging, it tells the story of a young girl who is growing up in Iran, and come the revolution in 1979, her world is turned upside down. Come the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, the chaotic world becomes even more treacherous. Family members are killed by the regime, either through negligence or execution. She leaves to stay with family friends, lives in Europe – but can’t fit in – before returning to Iran after the war. She is struggling to survive, but also struggling to come to terms about becoming a woman and what that means in the Islamic Republic.  

It painted a picture of a previously hedonistic society dying with the Shah, and sharia law imposed against the will of the educated, freespirited people, but especially women of the country. I don’t know how accurate this portrayal is, I know so little about Iran. The only other thing I’ve read is Reading Lolita in Tehran, which painted a similar picture; but was written by an independently minded academic who loved English literature and escaped to America. Perhaps there were women who were used to the sharia state of being. However, I guess they may have been living in similar conditions before the revolution, so this imposition of the male order was nothing new, and they would not have been asked how they felt about it all.

I’m coming at this from both a feminist and an atheist point of view, which inevitably skews how I see things. Perhaps, as some Muslim women have told me, the veil empowers women, because it protects them from the weaker and more corruptible men. I can’t agree with that, I just can’t. It’s probably cultural imperialism, but I can only see it as subjugation, forcing women into thinking that their bodies are shameful and sinful. Since the word of God was written down, certainly from a Judeo-Christian-Islamic point of view, man’s weakness has been blamed on women’s wiles, and the solution has been to distrust the woman, punish the woman and restrict her choices. Never the man, who could show some self-control! 

But to the film. I tried to imagine how I would feel if I woke up one morning to the sound of gunfire, marching, and bombs going off. Revolution. The tyrants being overthrown and the feeling of excitement, exuberance, of history happening around you. After long years of discrimination, there is finally hope. Following the coup, there would be an election, and suddenly, things change. 99% vote in favour of fundamentalism, and against your freedom to live as you wish. 

How I would feel if I had to cover my head, because apparently it was the source of corruption for men? If I had to cover my face, on pain of death, as the women of Afghanistan did, and despite the brave new world, still do? If I had to stop studying or working, if my worth was deemed half that of a man, if I couldn’t walk the streets unaccompanied, if I couldn’t speak to a man, or walk with him (or live together unmarried!), or get a divorce even when he was beating me to death every night, because this would be against the law, which is enforced with rigour and an almost sadistic pleasure. I do not know how any woman could bear it. 

To go from being a person to a non-person, overnight. I cannot imagine it. I feel physically sick thinking about it, to be honest. 

While Islamic scholars say that the veil is to protect women’s modesty (unlike the imposition of hats in Christianity, where you could not enter a holy place without a head covering until a generation ago), there seemed to be an awful lot of male imposition, on pain of whipping, of the veil in Persepolis. Women could either stay in their homes, unclad, or wear the veil and have limited movement outside. Not much of a choice.

I decided to walk home from Brixton, and saw quite a few women hiding behind the veil. There is no compulsion by the state here to wear it, but many do. I remember living in Walthamstow and seeing little girls wearing it, which reminds me of Dawkins’ assertion, that there is no such thing as a Christian child, just a child whose parents are Christian.  Are these women wearing it because their husbands insist? Because they are truly god-fearing and believe they should? Because they are afraid and they feel it offers them some protection from men? 

I’ve spoken to Mayyada about this. She has not yet taken the hijab, as far as I know, but I know Ehab wants her to. Before she was married, she said that she was not ready to do it, as she believes it is an indication to the world, and therefore God, that you are devoting your life to Him, and despite her five prayers a day, she had not yet decided to live so piously. I suppose it is a matter of time before she becomes another woman in a hijab. 

I have a book on my bookshelf about this, I should probably read it and re-write this post.



Posted in Uncategorized at 10:19 am by rachel

In a superb effort of will late yesterday afternoon, based on calculations that the other cinema times weren’t going to suit me and it would take my mind off all that is wrong in the world, I got myself down to Leicester Sq and went to see the Coen Brothers excellent film, No Country for Old Men. 

I love the Prince Charles Cinema. They show brilliant, non-blockbuster films right in the centre of London for £5, cheaper earlier in the day or if you are a member. It’s fantastically comfortable, has a seating arrangement where every seat has a good view, and I could probably spend a day there quite happily. Genius. The cinema was packed, and I realised that I’d not been there for years, since Molly was in town. The last film I saw there was the Motorcycle Diaries. In my absence, they have instituted cool new things you can do, like bring alcohol in while you are watching a film. And so, clutching my red wine, I lost myself in the film.

It’s brilliant, from start to finish. Perhaps I should say, they have realised a brilliant book. The book was wonderful, but the treatment that the Coens have given it has made it jump off the page, visually communicated the little complexities in the story which I didn’t get in the reading and had to keep going over, and hiked up the tension. But it remains utterly true to the book. Tommy Lee Jones was wonderful,in fact  everyone was great. Javier Bardem deserved his oscar as the merciless psycho killer. It was engrossing, really good. 

I came out as the sun was setting, at about 8.30pm. I also couldn’t remember the last time I’d been in that part of town at the weekend – Leicester Sq was packed, everyone sitting on the grass in the centre; Trafalgar Sq was also teeming with people, but it had been a beautiful day, and I think a lot of the people were tourists or students, so they were enjoying the last dregs of sunlight. It accentuated my being on my own a little; also, having just spent two hours of jolting out of my seat, it felt strange not to be hearing bullets going off or seeing people covered in blood – strange in a good way, of course, I suppose I must have been absorbed. Waterstones was still open, so I went in and had a browse, and ended up buying something for Burly. 

Then the bus home, and an evening with a couple of sex and the city episodes – the first two actually, which I’d never seen. Good to get myself back into the ways of Carrie and co, as the film will be out shortly. I know Aoife is counting down the days for it to come out. Don’t know who I’m going to see it with – maybe I’ll suggest a work night out, there are enough of my colleagues who will like it.

Also got home to an email from Pete, so I’m going to see him and Jenny on Monday for drinks to celebrate her birthday. Sounds like it will be fun – soho for lunch, pub crawl to Westminster, then the boat to Greenwich. Very excited about sailing up the river, I’ve never done that before. I may nip into town and do a bit of shopping this afternoon, possibly go to the cinema this evening. 

Silence this morning from the stupid neighbour. I couldn’t sleep last night; for some reason, I thought Burly would be arriving at 2pm, i.e. 10pm my time and was worrying about him.  Then he sent me a text. Then some sleep. Instead of the knocking this morning, I slept and slept until I woke up and found another text. That made me happy. 

The morning is almost over. I haven’t turned the television on, I can’t be bothered with the various political commentators pontificating about the renaissance of the Tories, or the smug Tory spokesperson gloating about their gains. Better to ignore it and not get annoyed. I shall read my book instead, and plan my day.



Posted in Uncategorized at 3:23 pm by rachel

I am struggling to do anything. I made a list earlier of all the things I should do over the next twelve days, while Burly is in California, but getting motivated is proving very difficult. 

I feel sad and empty. Tired, from a late night and an early awakening by the stupid, noisy neighbours. Disappointed, not for the first time, to find that the vast majority of people don’t see the world the way I do and seem to think it is alright to elect someone who is either an idiot or a smart man cynically impersonating an idiot so that people are too busy laughing while he makes offensive remarks and passes stupid, illiberal laws. Either way, I don’t trust him: he’s an incompetent fool or a lying fraud.

I miss Burly. If he were here, I’d have a lot more idea what to do with myself – even if he was shut in his study and buried in work, for some strange reason I’d be feeling a lot more inclined to do something. Probably go into the study and cuddle him. As it is, I am not even energetic enough to get off the sofa to turn on the TV, let alone go out for a bike ride or a swim. 

I miss my friends who are no longer in London, or even the UK. It makes me sad that I don’t get to see them anymore – it took long enough to make friends in London, to then lose them to sunnier climes. 

But to the planning, as I’ll only get maudlin if I’m sitting here missing everyone. There are many things to do on my list. I plan to read Fisk while B’s away, and it’s sitting on the coffee table now, intimidating me. Everestian in its proportions. I want to do some writing and some exercise, and get more sleep, and eat  dinner at a civilised time of day. I’d like to go to a gallery or maybe listen to a lecture for an hour or so. There is my CV, I suppose – meh. I should definitely look at that and try to get it sorted out. There is my West Wing marathon. However, I’ve still not had the energy to turn on the TV.

I am sad about the election results – sad so many people voted for Boris, sick that so many people felt it ok to put an X beside the box marked BNP. The breakdown for the vote in Lambeth and Southwark is here – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/elections/london/08/html/10.stm – amazing that Boris did so well in this part of town. I guess people decided it was time for a change. In which case, Brown is doomed. I don’t like Brown’s stealth taxes, but I like him as a person. I don’t like anything about Cameron, and when he comes up with some policies, I’ll probably dislike him all the more. I may have to leave the country if the Tories get in.

This bank holiday weekend is stretching out in front of me and I’ll probably be really glad to see Tuesday morning at this rate. I had a flash of inspiration a second ago and went to the London Freelist website, to see if anything was going on this weekend nearby, which might be worth a look. It’s closed down!! Gah! 

There are some films on that I quite want to see. Persepolis is on in Brixton tomorrow afternoon, I might go and see that. No Country for Old Men is still on at the Prince Charles Cinema, it would be good to see that as well. 

So far today I’ve bought some books online and some clothes. I hope Burly comes back soon. I won’t have any money left at this rate 🙂

Wish I’d been a bit nicer to him last night – sorry for being so grumpy dear. I miss you. xox.