Friday, 30 March 2012

Wherever you go………………..

Back to the same old question, asked this time in the USA, in an interesting, if not exactly surprising article from the New York Times.

The Second Shelf

On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women

Published: March 30, 2012

If “The Marriage Plot,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, had been written by a woman yet still had the same title and wedding ring on its cover, would it have received a great deal of serious literary attention? Or would this novel (which I loved) have been relegated to “Women’s Fiction,” that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated?………………

and so on. Nothing new here, just further confirmation, if we need it, that we are not imagining the unfair  discrimination.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The finished copy!

I had always dreamed  of holding a hardback volume with my name on the cover, and that was one of the ambitions which, achieved, did not turn to dust and ashes. It was just  as gratifying and exciting as I had always imagined to unwrap the parcel containing the author's six free copies of my first book, a crime novel called A Charitable End.

Two dozen books and a lot of journalism later, you might think that I was immune to that naive emotion, but as a matter of fact I was thrilled the day before yesterday to be sent one advance  copy of The Feminine Mystique. I like the look and feel of the book. As for its contents………….. well, I don't expect many reviewers to share my opinions.

But one of the curiosities of modern publication is that the book seems to be available and can be bought on Amazon a good month before it’s  officially published, on 26th  April. It gives me a whole month to be nervous in!



Saturday, 17 March 2012


“Millions of teachers, nurses, civil servants and other public sector workers are to lose their right to national pay rates, the Chancellor George Osborne will announce in next week’s Budget.”


If I’d followed Katharine Whitehorn’s  sensible advice from many years ago, never to read anything in the newspaper which is in the future or conditional tense, I would not now be getting steamed up over the proposal to introduce regionally differential rates of pay.

I'm old enough to remember when salaries were lower in Cornwall, where I live, than in London  and other prosperous areas. One of the effects was to render the difference permanent, since nobody would move to a job that paid less than their previous one and   people who wanted to move away from the poorer area couldn't afford anywhere to live in a richer one. Far more noticeable was the fact that ambitious,  highflying professionals would obviously not move here for a  smaller salary. This had the inevitable bad effect on the  NHS and other professions.

In spite of generous European subsidies to Cornwall, which have certainly improved the environment and the economy in the last few years, it is still one of the poorest areas in Europe. If George Osborne's alleged intention is carried out, it will be put off the  ladder laboriously climbed during the last few years, and back to institutionalised poverty.

And what has this got to do with the usual subject of this blog? It's obvious: who are the majority of the nurses, teachers, public sector workers to be disadvantaged by this new policy? Answer: by a sizeable  majority, women.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


So I’m not the only one thinking  the 1950s are relevant just now. Have a look at this:


Actionaid UK’s message is: INEQUALITY IS NOT JUST A THING OF THE PAST – and to illustrate the point, shows those who look at their facebook page what life  would be like in that inegalitarian age, the 1950s. It’s amusing and also salutary. And it’s what THE FIFTIES MYSTIQUE is all about.