There has been a lot of debate here in Australia of late about bullying in schools. Students seem to be beating other students up at regular intervals. Yesterday, I heard on the radio the story of a child routinely bitten and urinated on by another student...they were both five years of age. Where is this coming from? Is it worse than when I was at school? Than when my parents were at school? Than when my grandparents were at school? I don't know.
I finished school twenty years ago, so I started school thirty-two years ago. Certainly there was bullying. I should know - I was on the other end of it. I was a shy, delicate child by nature who had grown up without siblings. I found making friends difficult and, as a result, I didn't circulate amongst a wide circle of children. Add to this a lack of co-ordination, and I was a prime target in the boisterous, games-mad world of primary school. During physical education classes, I was always the last one picked to go on a team and only then with groans from the team's captain. At one stage, I couldn't cross the playground at lunchtime without having a ball aimed at my head. And it's a vicious circle - the more you're targetted, the more you retreat into your shell. At least, that was my response. At high school, I was in an all-female environment and while physical beatings were not common, certainly verbal ones were - and they could leave you just as bruised. I have heard many people say that school is a microcosm of real life, but I would beg to differ. There is something distinctly uncivilised, brutal and lord-of-the-flies like about school. Bullies neither seem to know nor care about social niceties and being mindful of the feelings of others. The object is to humiliate, to break down one's opponent, to win.
And this leads me to wonder if this is not why bullying seems to be getting worse. As I've opined on this blog before, so much now seems to be about winning, success and coming out on top. The rise of cyber-bullying, wherein victims can be humiliated on an international level, feeds into this. Not only will I beat you down in the schoolyard, I'll show the whole world me doing it.
The other thing is bullying doesn't end when the abuse stops. Personally I feel it has fed into - at least in part - my overall understanding of self...and even now, I flinch when I hear a ball being kicked.
I have been happy to rescue and resuscitate a few objects this week. I ran over the geranium stem above when I was backing the car out of the driveway the other day. Not only has it recovered but it is now flowering!
I love foxes and have been doing some reading about them lately. It was definitely an omen that I found this forlorn little fellow in the thrift store on Monday.
While we were out walking last night, I found two shelving units like the one above discarded on the curb as part of the area's annual hard rubbish collection. I have converted the one below into a 'bookshelf extension' for a pre-existing bookshelf in our living room and I am still thinking about what to do with the larger one above.
This may not look like much. In fact, upon reflection, I should have taken a 'before' shot. But yesterday I made some real headway in getting my home office into a happier state. In this corner-where you can at last now see...wait for it...the floor-there was a music stand set up when no-one is currently playing a musical instrument, an old armchair that no-one can sit on because the seat is broken, four dusty teddy bears and assorted empty shopping bags. In order to get to the bookshelves, you had to move all of that around. But now, you can just walk right up to the shelves and pick out a book. Little by little is the way to go, I think... If I think about everything that needs a spring clean around here, I'll freak out!
Went to a fascinating workshop which focussed on the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Did lots of thinking about spirituality.
Ate delicious Japanese sushi. Love, love, LOVE Japanese food.
Finished two interesting books - Drugs are Nice (Lisa Crystal Carver) and Dead as a Doornail (Charlaine Harris) and wondered how I could make my own writing more engaging. Still wondering.
Saw some gorgeous sunshine - today especially - 29 degrees! **** Started making some wristbands for my Etsy shop which involved me successfully using my sewing machine. Woo-hoo! **** Saw a massive redback spider in our backyard - very poisonous - and my DH saw a brown snake at his work. They are the second most venomous snake in the world. Now, who wants to come to Australia for the summer! No?
Watched the Sherlock series which was really good.
Planned yet more spring cleaning adventures for my weekend.
A bid for freedom detected... Our neighbourhood cat who lives next door has a penchant for eating the local birdlife. Recently he has been fitted with a collar and bell. Yesterday I found said collar and bell undone and abandoned in our yard. How does a cat undo a collar? Gotta admire his determination. And I wonder what getting a collar off feels like for a cat? Something like finally unwedging something that has been caught in your teeth, I should imagine...!
I am doing some reading about Poland at the moment for the writing I'm doing and I have just been reading about the town of Zalipie, where the women of the town do folk art paintings both out and inside the houses. Lovely! I love folk art and I am slowly amassing a little collection of it (mainly from Russia), so I would love to visit this town one day.
I couldn't resist posting this video, which had me laughing out loud. The Old Spice ad is certainly funny but I think Grover's take on it adds a whole other dimension.
The weather has done a complete backflip here since yesterday. It had been beautiful - blue skies, sunshine and really quite warm - but today it is grey, overcast and pouring with rain. I don't mind it, though - there was such a wonderful, fresh smell to the air this morning.
I have had (what I think is) a good idea for a novel so I am writing furiously at the moment. Keep your fingers crossed for me that the creative well doesn't go dry on me before I have a first draft done! This has happened to me before - I have a great idea, I start writing and then - bam! - the Muses up and leave.
I am hoping we will get away on a little mini-trip before this year is up. I am plumping for either Japan or Singapore, since both are quite close to us. I saw a documentary last night on how the Geisha are trained and so I am super-keen on Japan again (not that I would make it as a Geisha, I don't think!)
Whether we get away, though, is a tricky question. The year is fast disappearing and the 'Only...weeks until Xmas' ads have already started on the TV. I know I have railed against it here before, but the whole thing just turns into such a commercial fest of bleugh. Any real meaning to it all but completely disappears. My real celebration will be at Summer Solstice, anyway. Christmas, I have to admit, has become a bit of a case of just turning up. Bah! Humbug!
So, what's news with you?
PS Sorry the video has loaded in wide screen. Have no idea why it has done this. Any thoughts?
"As you start traveling down that road of life, remember this: There are never enough comfort stops. The places you're going to are never on the map. And once you get that map out, you won't be able to refold it no matter how smart you are. So forget the map, roll down the windows and, whenever you can, pull over and have a picnic."
I have been having some fun fiddling around with my new(ish) camera and the computer. The photo on top looks to me like something from a hyper-exaggerated Willy Wonka world with its bursting colours while the second one looks like an old photo to me - 60s or 70s - taken on a Polaroid. My husband thought it looked like something taken on another planet!
I have to show you this beautiful neck adornment made by my grandmother (I think) many, many years ago. It's made of black beading to look like (I presume) the popular Victorian material, Jet. Having said this, I wonder if it isn't in fact older since my grandmother was not even an embryo, let alone making jewellery in the Victorian age! I'll never know for sure now but I found it languishing in an old tin in the sleep-out. I now have it on display on my dressing table.
Another football season has passed here in Australia (and that's AFL not soccer), with the Grand Final having been played on Saturday. I don't really have any feelings about football - I neither like nor dislike it. I am fairly rare in this viewpoint - most people either love it passionately or avoid it like the Plague. Perhaps this is because of how I was brought up - my mother was always happy to watch a game but my father was a member of the Anti-Football League. Add to this the fact that I am not really a sporty person within myself anyway and you come up with an attitude of basic ambivalence.
What I'm thinking about today, though, is the behaviour of players off the field. Yet another rape allegation has cropped up here involving players from the team that won the Grand Final (http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/magpie-denials-as-smears-emerge-20101005-1663y.html) What's interesting is how the media and the public in general have responded to it. An ex-footballer has tweeted that women who go home with men at 3 o'clock in the morning should not be surprised when sex is demanded of them (even, as in this case, if it's group sex) while a local tv identity has described women who go out with footballers as "strays".
At the heart of all this is an enormous disrespect for women and for their sexuality. Women are still being identified as available playthings for men if they dare to mix within certain social circles or if they conduct themselves in a certain way. In short, as this argument always seems to return to, they are 'asking for it' if they ignore society's apparent rules. There are still significant restraints upon women's freedom as this case (and the many like it) clearly illustrates.
What do you think? Is there a similar situation within other countries?