What’s Been On My Mind This Week

Question Mark1. There was a brilliant feature about classicist and historian Mary Beard in the New Yorker this week, including how she often takes on those who criticise her online by responding to their vile messages and even in some cases meeting with them and forming a relationship. Quite something.

2. Following events in Ferguson, Missouri, there have been a lot of articles on the question of race relations, both in America and further afield. I can recommend two articles in the New York Times: this one which looks at America, and this one which considers the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

3. The Scottish referendum is now only a few weeks away. In the most recent debate, Salmond came out on top – which he needed to do if the current polls are to be believed. When I was in Edinburgh for the first weekend of the Fringe, there was barely any sign of the impending vote, but when I was up last weekend, there were a number of ‘Yes’ campaigners out on the streets, convinced that their side was going to win because those who want to maintain the status quo are ‘complacent’ and won’t turn out to vote. There was an interesting article in the Financial Times this week on the nature of Salmond’s ‘inclusive nationalism’.

4. There’s a first-person account of abortion in the New Statesman here. Not easy reading, but worth it.

5. Also in the New Statesman was this article about the changing attitudes towards domestic abuse. I feel very strongly that domestic abuse should be a crime, and that it should be acknowledged that it happens just as frequently in same-sex relationships as it does in heterosexual ones, and that women can be the perpetrators of violence against men. Moreover, domestic violence isn’t limited only to physical acts. There needs to be much more discussion about domestic abuse in this country; hopefully this is just the start.

6. Some good news – finally – for LGBT couples in Italy, as the courts in Rome recognised an adoption by a lesbian couple. The girl, born to one of the two women via fertility treatment (undertaken abroad, as was their marriage) and now aged five, was legally adopted by her mother’s partner, in what the Italians call ‘stepchild adoption’. If you read Italian, there’s information on the case and the laws in question in La Repubblica here. There was also good news for same-sex parents in Switzerland, where surrogacy is illegal, as this week two men were officially named as the parents of a child born to them by a surrogate mother.

7. The Emmy Awards were handed out this week. I was pleased to see Julianna Margulies win for The Good Wife, which I think is one of the best-written television shows out there, with great parts for actresses, though I did read this interesting take on the winners in The Wire, which argues that the voters simply stuck with what they knew and picked the safest options, again.

8. When my friend and I returned from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last Sunday evening, we had a nightmare journey. Due to a passenger on our train suffering a heart attack, and someone jumping in front of the train ahead of us, we were stuck at Potters Bar for a very long time on Sunday evening. We ended up being rescued by my friend’s girlfriend, who – amazingly – drove all the way from Brixton to collect us. At this point – half past midnight – we had been stuck at Potters Bar for two hours with no sign of movement in sight. Another friend of mine returned to London on Bank Holiday Monday, where it seems travel conditions were even worse. For those of you who are – like me – passionate about the theatre – she wrote a rather amusing, and brilliant, blog about her journey, which you can read in Exeunt here.

9. I’ve been reading The Repercussions by Catherine Hall, a friend of mine who just happens to be one of my favourite writers. Her first two books, Days of Grace and The Proof of Love, are both brilliant, and I’m really enjoying The Repercussions so far. Half of the book is set in the present, and is narrated by war photographer Jo, while the other half is a series of diary entries written by Jo’s grandmother, who nursed Indian soldiers in Brighton Pavilion during the First World War.

10. This week I’ve been listening to the new album by La Roux, after seeing lots of friends raving about it on social media. However, despite my very best efforts, and repeated listenings, I just don’t like it. I did like a couple of tracks on her debut record, but perhaps not enough to make me think I would love this second album. Maybe it has something to do with the change in band members of the band as one half of the duo left, leaving Elly Jackson to record this second album alone, but I think, really, I’m just not a fan of commercial pop music.

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