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One of my favourite writers and illustrators is Mervyn Peake.
I’d rank his Titus Groan trilogy alongside the best of Charles Dickens and the works of Lewis Carroll.
The gothic world within a world of Gormenghast is peopled by freaks, outsiders and eccentrics; in other words, the kind of folks that make life interesting.
Peake’s first published work from 1939 is also full of weird and wonderful characters. Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor was written and drawn for children or, as the back cover blurb says, for “all adults who have not yet lost the gift of dreaming”.
The protagonist is a big, bullying pirate who terrorises his crew and enjoys killing people. But this is before he meets a curious animal in human form “as bright as butter” known only as Yellow Creature.
Slaughterboard who “had never been pleasant to strangers before” is immediately smitten. He and the creature eat, dance, fish and laze in the sun together. He discovers an idyllic life on a pink desert island with his new soul mate.
The moral of the tale? If the circumstances are right, even pillaging pirates can change their wicked ways.
If only more real life tyrants would follow suit.
To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I’m sharing this song and video.
It was written for the documentary The Hunting Ground which highlights the shocking number of rapes that take place on US college campuses and the subsequent cover up by the institutions involved.
The song written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga is entitled “Til It Happens to You” and the video graphically addresses this important issue:
When you are in your teens anyone over 30 seems ancient. Only when you start getting on in years do you come to redefine what it means to be middle or old-aged.
I am 57 I can wholly relate to Oscar Wilde’s statement that “The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young”
I was struck by this thought again when reading a blog post by children’s author, Stephanie Faris entitled ‘There’s no excuse for being a perverted old man’.
This relates to a series of sexually explicit comments made after an ‘innocent’ photo uploaded to Instagram by a 17-year-old actress, Ariel Winter. As you can see, this is not by any means an overtly sexy pose but the amount of bare flesh on display was enough to get some men excited all the same.
Faris writes: “Blaming the young girl isn’t the answer. Saying the men are wrong for looking isn’t the answer, either. However, there is a difference between looking at someone and saying extremely disgusting things to that person”.
I agree with this and would add that dumping all this venom on ‘old men’ isn’t all that helpful either; particularly when ‘old’ seems to extend to anyone over 40 – presumably on the basis that this is the age when they are technically ‘old enough to be her father’.
These salacious comments would have been equally inappropriate coming from a boy the same age as the girl. The routine objectification of women is the issue here and this can, and does, start at any age. Perversion and creepiness may become more embedded in the individual as the years pass but I take issue with the implication that these negative traits are confined to men of a ‘certain age’. I’m just saying.
Today is International Men’s Day (IMD), a fact likely to be met with a combination of puzzlement and resentment – a mix of ‘why” and ‘how dare they?’ What’s the point of it?
It has long been established that, in the name of equal rights and justice women should have their day. Given the male-dominanted world we live in, there’s a strong argument to say that if men have problems, they have only themselves to blame. View full article »