It was one of those March days,
When the sun shines hot and the winter blows cold,
When it is summer in the light
And winter in the shade
I started the week by attending a distinguished lecture by Marina Warner, historian and mythographer, on “The Tales Things Tell”, a scholarly dissection of the Arabian Nights and its impact in the West. I was quite confused when, with no introductions, she went straight into "a polyvocal anthology of world myths, fables and fairytales". This is where oral and written traditions, poetry and prose, demotic folk tales and courtly high culture mutate and interpenetrate. I persevered and finally managed to capture the tales she told which was interspersed with beautiful illustrations.
She started on the jinn (or genies) who behaved badly, capriciously, illogically and explored the figure of the dark magician, from Solomon a master of the jinn in his Islamic version, to the wicked uncle in Aladdin. There was the Arab and European habit of attributing foreignness to evil magicians. These dark enchanters come from dark places (Africa and India) and profess dark (pre-Islamic) faiths.
She touched on the derivations and meanings of the word “talisman”. There was a fascinating discussion of the talismanic properties of paper money and how magic helped to create the modern world, and how it was still inscribed in the way we think today. It was an interesting lecture and unfortunately, we were too tired to stay for drinks and nibbles.
I’m sure you too was disgusted when President Karzai, who was backed and funded by the West, endorsed a non-binding edict saying that women were worth less than men. This was issued by Afghanistan’s highest religious authority. His government was selling out on Afghan women's rights as it tries to woo the Taliban into peace talks The move was part of his attempts to reach out to the Taliban in the lead up to the planned withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014. And as the West was so desperate to leave as soon as possible, they seemed to be allowing it!!!
Then 6 soldiers were killed in the deadliest single attack on British forces when their Warrior armoured vehicle was blown up by a massive improvised explosive device (IED). The loss of life was the greatest suffered by our forces in a ground attack since the Afghan conflict began 11 years ago. It took the number of those who have died to 404. Every death was a terrible blow. None is worse than another — but six young men at once was devastating. I don’t want our soldiers to die fighting to prop up a government trampling on human rights, in this case women’s rights.
On International Women’s Day, I tweeted, what should we be fighting for? I’m fighting against the inhuman treatment towards Muslim women.
The Quran says: "O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward God in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bear you)"
This verse clearly demonstrates that men and women in Islam are equal to each other both intrinsically – within the very act of creation – and extrinsically, with respect to both their relationship with one another and their duties before Allah. In fact, the singling out of women at the end of this verse for special reverence as de facto mothers is the only indication of relative inequality, albeit in favour of women.
“None but a noble man treats women in an honourable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully”
Taking a very deep breath, in…out…very, very s-l-o-w-l-y
I needed a break. I started the weekend by taking Friday afternoon off. Actually, I was accompanying Babe for his medical assessment. This assessment was designed to find out about how a claimant illness or disability affects them in their everyday life. I can’t elaborate on the procedures except that it went smoothly. I find it interesting that the lovely doctor kept on reminding us that she does not make the final decisions. Hmm…but what she wrote do count. Now the waiting game begins…
Since we were in town early, I wanted to check out and give our full support to Stuart Kettell, a charity fundraiser, in the West Orchards Shopping Centre. We saw him sitting in a harness floating about 14m up in the air being held by helium balloons. He was spending 12 hours a day for a week to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. This was the second time I’d met him. The first time was when he was suspended outside the Cathedral Lanes in a box. We made a contribution and gave him our thumbs-up. Well-done http://www.willthemadfoolmakeit.co.uk/ Then we amble towards the Coventry Cathedral as the clock strikes 2 pm. We haven’t been here for ages and it was lovely to be back in the magnificent ruins. We surveyed the crumbling walls where an appeal was made for donations. Nearby, a tour guide was making rounds with a group of very enthusiastic school children. We took the opportunity to listen. We’d prawn sandwiches and bottled drinks for lunch in the sunny Bullyard watching the pigeons edging closer and closer, begging for food. As usual, I couldn’t resist them and shared my food. After a quick stop at Body Shop for my favourite shampoo and hair-conditioner, it was time to head home. We’d a shock when we’d to pay £6 for 4 hours parking!!! No wonder the city-centre was empty.
At home, we had our 22nd visitor to our garden. It was a Mistle Thrush, singing his heart out. I don’t think he will be a bachelor for too long.
“At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited
~Thomas Hardy ‘The Darkling Thrush’~
Saturday was spent at our usual playground. The reserve was bursting with a symphony of songs. As we walked towards the hide, we were serenaded by robins, dunnocks, chaffinches, great and blue tits. Everyone was desperate for a mate. But not Mr and Mrs Golden eyes. They were busy making sweet love. It was intriguing to see the mating behaviour. The male was performing spectacular and complex displays which included the head fast thrown towards back, The female lies low in the waters, invitingly and waiting.
Apart from those 2 lovers, we spotted the Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Mallards, Shelducks and Shovelers enjoying the afternoon sun. The Gulls were making the most noise while Coots and Moorhens were being territorial. As I continued scanning the edges of the island, I spotted a familiar quiff. Oh hello, it was a pair of Goosander. A pity they were quite a distant away We checked out the rest of the hides but there was not much going on.
I spent a lovely Sunday morning doing the household chores. I changed all the heavy curtains, cushion covers, throws and carpet for a lighter and fresher colours. It really made a difference to the room. Babe said that it looked cold but I think it was still early spring and winter hasn’t left us yet. In the garden, I replanted the dahlias and hollyhock in the front garden while the clematis and hydrangea was at the back. I couldn’t wait for summer when everything will be in full bloom. The daffodils in the front garden were flowering beautifully, making everything feels all right.
Sunday afternoon was spent in IKEA. SA had just moved into her new pad and CC, RC and moi were helping her pick a few bits and bobs. We’d lunch in the restaurant and this was the first time I’d a meal here. I’d fish and chips with peas and drowned glasses of lingonberry juice. Then we dawdled slowly around the floors, checking and testing every piece that caught our eyes. It was quite funny because each of us had different taste and we never seemed to agree on anything. Luckily, SA had a mind of her own. There were a few things that caught my attention and I’m trying to persuade Babe to come to IKEA for a visit.
We’d a lovely time but I’d to leave early. I’ve got a bus to catch. I walked past a duo playing some very up-beat Peruvian music with the panpipes. And, I still managed to pop into Primark to get a pair of very Cath Kidston-like cushion covers and a pair of socks which were on sale. Thankfully, the queue on the home section floor wasn’t too long. A pair of polka-dot palazzo pants which caught my eyes but I need to queue for the changing rooms. Hmm…I’ll check them out later.
This week was also the birthdays to two very dear women in my life, my Emak and my sister. It was also my sister’s big birthday and I hoped she enjoyed the parcel that I’d sent her.
I hope each and every day, hour and minute of this year in your life is filled with fun, happiness and good health.
I love you.