Saturday, May 16, 2015

Independent? Quelle surprise!

During the week I read an article by Helen Garner, recounting how tired she was of being patronised because of her white/grey hair. I knew exactly what she meant.
I think it was P.D. James who said that she was ignored at  functions until people heard her name, at which point they flocked to her.  As an older woman, the assumption from her appearance was that she was of no interest. Why is this? Do they think she will try to teach them how to crochet? Or, sew lavender bags?
Today I went to the book fair. When my collection became too heavy, I paid for it, thinking I might put it in my car and then return for more. I bought an omnibus of 5 Muriel Spark novels, "The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne", Robert Dessaix's "Night Letters", Stephen King's "Dolores Cläiborne," "For Love Alone"by Christina Stead and her biography by Hazel Rowley, (One of the finest biographies ever written about and Australian  - The Age). "Asta's Children" by Barbara Vine, Deborah Mitford's "Wait For Me,"  "Behind the Scenes at a Museum," (K.A.). and "Death in Kashmir" by M, M. Kaye. Some of these are errors: I don't need anything as sad as Judith Hearne, so I won't read it. Deborah is no writer - I read a chapter here and there, and, eg, although she speaks of the close association with JFK, her visits to the whitehouse, inauguration etc, Jackie seems absent on each of these occasions. Why is this? It's possibly the most interesting aspect of well recorded occasions. The Dessaix is not the one I thought it was, but I will still re - enjoy it.
My books cost $45.They weighed a little over 10 kilos.$4.50 a kilo! What a bargain. (irony alert).
I really was hoping to find some Barbara Pym's or Elizabeth Taylor's, neither in the library these days.  No chance.
"Would you like someone to carry them to the car?" the man asked.
"No thanks. I'm fine,"I said.
"Ah, fiercely independent," he said. Everyone else in the hall, save those in wheelchairs, were independent. Why single me out?
Fiercely. Fiercely. There's the rub.
Perhaps I should have said, "Yes," and he could have seen me as "gently dependent".  Perhaps I could play on this and ask if there is someone who might like to vacuum my house. Cook my meals. Launder my clothes. Do all the chores I have no interest in. Perhaps I could soulfully and dependently suggest that they pay my bills as well.
Until six months or so ago I posted on a partisan political blog. I gave up this addiction because I thought I was often intemperate, immoderate. By chance I clicked on it this week when some were nostalging about the past, and my name came up - (I posted under my own name). "Stalwart and courageous", said someone.  "What a dame," said someone else. "Quite a dame," was another comment. Some remembered how I had defended them. Happier appraisals than "fiercely independent."
Helen Garner recounts in her article how she accosted a badly behaved teenager who was bullying passers by, yanked her ponytail, sent her on her way. I don't have the kind of courage that would allow me to do that.
On the other hand I suspect that if I were hauled before the beak on such a charge, my grey/white hair might prove to be a totally mitigating factor.


Elephant's Child said...

I like your selection. Have you ever read Joe Cinque's Consolation, also by Helen Garner.
I am in multiple minds about my invisibility. Sometimes it suits me to fly under the radar and on other occasions I find it patronising and infuriating.
I think I have most of Barbara Pym's work, and a few of Elizabeth Taylor's too.
Old, but gold.

Frances said...

Yes, I've read Joe Cinque: excellent, infuriating, tragic. Helen at her best.
Lucky you with your Pym's and Taylor's.