A job well-done to Caroline Criado-Perez who led the campaign on the principle that if the Bank of England wanted to take prison reformer Elizabeth Fry off the fiver note, it had to be replaced with another woman. We couldn’t live in a society that was only prepared to celebrate the achievements of men. Campaigners threatened to take the Bank to court for discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act and launched a petition on the campaign site Change.org which secured 35K signatures and 220K tweeted about the Facebook campaign. The £13K raised to challenge the decision in court were distributed among women’s charities, including Rape Crisis. Simply amazing.
Criado-Perez, co-founder of feminist blog the Women’s Room, was called in to discuss the issues with Chris Salmon, the chief cashier whose signature appears on bank notes. Then Sir Mervyn King, the Bank’s former governor, had let slip to MP’s that the author of Pride and Prejudice was “waiting in the wings”. Finally, after a three-month storm of protest, his successor, Mark Carney confirmed that Jane Austen would feature on a £10 banknote in 2017, the bicentenary of her death.
As well as a portrait of Austen, the new note among other things will feature a quote from Caroline Bingley, in Pride and Prejudice : “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” Why celebrate the pleasures of a good book when Pride and Prejudice was, conveniently, about money in the first place?. Also, an odd choice since it was spoken by one of the most deceitful characters, a woman who has no interest in books at all. She was sidling up to Mr. Darcey whom she would like to hook as a husband, and pretending she shared his interests. He was reading a book, so she sat beside him, pretending to read a book too. Time for a campaign to use a different quotation????
There were plenty to choose from since the theme of money ran through Austen’s novels, from Mr. Darcy reported £10K a year fortune in Pride and Prejudice, to the Dashwood sisters’ lack of cash in Sense and Sensibility. I particularly like this line from “The Novel and Letters of Jane Austen” where Lady Susan wrote to Mrs. Johnson: “When a man has once got his name in a banking-house he rolls in money.” A little too close I think, especially the recent debate surrounding the £874K annual pay and perks package handed to Carney. Imagine him holding up the enlarged mock-up note with that line. It would be hilarious :-)
Criado-Perez concede that Austen wasn’t top of her wish-list and I wished she would say who she wanted. As for me, I would definitely picked Lady Godiva. An 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to a legend dating back to the 13th century, rode naked through the streets of Coventry in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants.
According to the monk Roger of Wendover, Godiva begged Leofric to reduce the heavy taxes on the townspeople. He became so exasperated that he declared that he would only reduce the taxes if she rode naked through the streets. In "Flores Historiarum", Roger quoted Leofric: “Mount your horse, and ride naked, before all the people, through the market of the town, from one end to the other, and on your return you shall have your request.” She agreed, with her hair covering her body except her legs. The cunning and boldness to get what she wanted was not typical of a woman at that time. Whether the tale of Lady Godiva’s ride was true or not, she was an example of persistent courage and dedication to helping others that demanded admiration. She was willing to sacrifice herself, to face shame, ridicule, and infamy that, in her time, could have ruined her for the sake of the people who looked to her for their well-being. Leaders of such calibre were rare in any age.
Also quietly waiting in the wings is Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge born at 4.24 pm weighing 8 pounds and 6 ounces, third in line to the British throne. The Royal heir was born on Monday, after we woke up to the news that the Duchess had gone into labour with the couple’s first child. A shame it wasn’t a princess. She would have changed history by being next in line to the throne after Charles and Williams. It was lovely to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the hospital with their precious little bundle.
This Baby is Your Blessing,
I wish Happiness in every way,
Good Luck God Bless, I say
And Many Blessings and Wishes,
To Welcome Baby Into Your Life Today.
This week we came to work with a hole in the wall. The contractors were busy during the weekend and drilled a tunnel connecting Room 021 to our office. Finally, we were now one big family. We were promised that the whole wall will be demolished and the manager’s office will be moved to the back and then we will have one big open office. That was the plan anyway. It took us years to get this far and it was only possible when Room 021’s door to the corridor was sealed off because of Health and Safety regulations. The contractors were supposed to cover everything before they started work. But when we came in, all surfaces were covered with dust. So we started our day by wiping our work surfaces clean and vacuuming the floor.
The University was buzzing with the Teach First Summer Institute. We welcomed 1.5K delegates, with numbers increasing to over 2.5K for the 2nd. week of the event, when some of last year’s participants returned. Teach First is an education charity, working in partnership with schools and other organisations to ensure that all children have an excellent education, regardless of their background. The Summer Institute was a six-week intensive course designed to prepare participants to begin teaching in September and for the rest of their training which will continue whilst in school. The first four weeks are spent in the area in which participants will teach and the final two are held at the University of Warwick. So it was queue galore everywhere. My colleagues had to timed their breaks so as not to coincide with the delegates.
By learning you will teach;
by teaching you will understand.
I took leave on Wednesday to accompany Babe to the city of peace and reconciliation. It was raining when we’d completed the chores. After more than two weeks of glorious sunshine and searing temperatures, we would be forgiven for thinking that we were in the Tropics. But we were back in familiar territory with the arrival of thunderstorms and heavy rain. Heavy storms struck across the country, bringing the longest heat-wave in 7 years to an abrupt end. These thunderstorms were triggered by intense heat and humidity rising into the upper atmosphere. I’m thankfully that it rained because it washed away the mugginess in the air and I’m sure I could hear the vegetation slurping in the water. It was magical after it rained, as everything turned green again.
Since I was on leave, we decided to check out a few shops. I was on the look out for cotton tops to keep cool in these humid conditions. There were plenty of floaty floral maxis about but not as work wear. We went straight to good old M&S and I tried 4 different tops and brought 2 home. I would love to add another top but the total was beyond my budget. Anyway, I was very pleased with my purchase and guess what. It was still hanging in the wardrobe because the weather had turned a bit cooler and I could wear my normal clothes again. Sods law eh…
I ended the working week with another meeting with the Library Working Group For International Students. EM from the International Office finally made it to the meeting and gave us an overview of what to expect during the next student intake. She’d taken our views into consideration which was very promising. After she left, we proceeded with our meeting where we were introduced to 2 new members from Customer Service and Student Support. We hoped that they will bring fresh, new ideas to a really dynamic group. KH as usual had some brilliant ideas and we were looking forward to implement them.
This week was the National Dragonfly Week which coincided with the British Dragonfly Society 30th Anniversary. The aim was to raise awareness of these fantastic jewels of the air and introduced them to a new audience. I loved these flying aces of the insect world. They were not only among the fastest of flying insects, they also performed a number of amazing aerial manoeuvres, such as flying upside down, straight up or straight down, or hovering like a helicopter as they mate or catch their insect meals on the wing. And trying to photograph one in the air was the biggest challenge of all.
Many species of Hawker and Darter Dragonfly can be found in BMNR. The Common darter and Azure hawker were among the two species most likely to be spotted flying around. The best places to see them were along the reed-beds, by the lakes, the ponds as well as along the length of the river. Dragonflies feed on other insects, especially flies, which they normally catch in mid-air, swooping about to scoop them up in their spiky legs, which were held like a net under the head. The Hawkers remained airborne for long periods, often hawking to and fro along a particular beat such as a pond or a hedgerow. The Darter, on the other hand, spent much of their time on a perch and dart out from it when prey approaches.
Unfortunately there were no dragonflies in our garden. But, we were inundated with beautiful animated confetti, patrolling, basking, greeting, mating, feeding among the plants. They were the most welcome sights in the garden. It was our little heaven on earth. Everywhere I turned there was something beautiful, quietly settling on a flower or a leaf, some bright and fresh, others faded and worn. I crept up very slowly on them as they hold their wings shut at first, then slowly opened, catching the sun’s rays. I watched them as they fed, completely mesmerised by their beauty. Simply beautiful.
After a glorious July providing perfect breeding conditions, they hatched out in the thousands after the heavy rain and were frantically doing what butterflies do. Some of the Whites fancied our greenhouse and were always getting lost in it. I tend to leave the flap open in the morning to let some fresh air in. I didn’t expect the Whites to flutter in too. We’d to free about a dozen during the weekend and found at least half a dozen dead ones, caught in between the flaps.
To A Butterfly
I've watched you now a full half-hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;
Here rest your wing when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We'll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.
Stay near me--do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring'st, gay creature as thou art!
A solemn image to my heart,
My father's family!
Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days,
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chased the butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey:--with leaps and springs
I followed on from brake to bush;
But she, God love her, feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.
~William Wordsworth ~