Tag Archives: sex

The virgin Virgil

Bird life other than barn owls is however in a very healthy state. I have great, coal, and blue tits in numbers, robins, dunnocks, house sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes and each day now two herons, frogging in the pond. A neighbour saw a goldcrest, but sadly it did not make its way up here. I worry over the frogs, but it is plainly a bad time of year for herons.

I would love to have ducks, and last year I was visited by a flight of my favourite of all ducks, Muscovies. They sat on my gates and talked to me. I was so tempted – but ducks eat frogs. Muscovies would soon clear my pond of all amphibians. Despite their intelligence (Muscovies are at the top end of farmyard avian intelligence, just as guinea fowl are at the bottom) I cannot permit all my frogs an toads to be annihilated.

I am however going to try my luck with the geese again. Horatia and Virgil have never manage to have any babies, and I suspect they have never mated. I don’t know for certain that Virgil is male so I am buying in a young gander and two geese. If Virgil is in fact a goose and not a gander, the gander will have four wives, not an impossible thing and if Virgil is male, but not able to bring himself to mate, the new geese will in time provide fertile eggs for Horatia to sit on. I am eagerly anticipating the delightful task of finding suitable Roman names for the new trio – preferably from among the ranks of writers and not the warlike or statesmen.


Don’t worry

Of course I’m happy with the ruling that hotel owners cannot discriminate against gay guests. Since the case got itself all over the newspapers, I’m sure you have caught up with it. A gay couple in a Civil Partnership could only stay in The Chymorvah if in a twin-bedded room.

Actually my youngest son and his girl-friend would have found themselves in twin beds too. The hotel owners only let married couples have a double bed. The hotel owners were guilty of discrimination because they failed to recognise that Civil Partnership confers the same legal status as marriage. Mistaken as I feel they were in that, I feel they were even more mistaken in not recognising the limits of proper responsibility

Bluntly, I do not think we are bound to police the morals of others. Within limits.

The first limit is this: I think we do have a responsibility to prevent the abuse of one human by another. I thin hotel owners do have a responsibility to prevent the sexual abuse, or the violent abuse, of a child or of what is known in care shorthand as ‘a vulnerable adult’, that is, somebody who from mental or physical infirmity is unable to give real and informed consent to what is going on. This abuse would also include taking advantage of a sleeping or absent fellow hotel guest by stealing from them.

I also think we have a right to be allowed to express in polite and non-confrontational terms what our own moral code is. I think, for instance, that I have a right to tell others that I never buy battery-farmed eggs because I think keeping chicken in small cages is cruel. I do not think that in the real world we can expect we will never hear criticism of our own conduct. I think it would be more politic in a hotel simply to say: ‘all the eggs I serve are free range’, but let us admit that even in doing this I am making a moral statement. If, let us say, Richard Dawkins turned up as a guest at this imaginary hotel, I would not myself think it good sense to tell him I was a Christian, but I think I should have the right to do it. I guess I therefore have (reluctantly) to concede that Mr and Mrs Bull, who own the hotel in question, had a right to inform guests that they thought gay sex was wrong.

There, it seems to me (and if you think otherwise, it might make a good discussion) there my responsibility stops. Christians have a right to follow their own moral codes (plural, mine in no way resembles the Bull’s) but none of us are enjoined to make sure other people follow it too.

Not only I am not obliged to enforce my moral code on others. Indeed, I am obliged not to enforce it. It appears that God, too, takes this approach. He offers advice (and how irritating is it that ‘Don’t worry’ appears high up the list) but he leaves it up to us. If we want to worry, the most he will do is set things up so as to point out, gently, the error of our ways. Even if he could, one cannot imagine him dragging himself through a law court to prove that he had a right to discriminate against people who worry.

Ideals and realities

Over on Kelvin’s blog we are once again discussing the rights and wrongs of consecrating partnered gay people as bishops. And one of the reactions is: ‘Why cannot we all stop talking about this and instead discuss things more relevant to the daily life of the church?’ Which is a good view.


In principle.

Only by and large, and with honourable exceptions, people don’t. They do not discuss: ‘How to find ways of being of service the the church without getting ordained’ or ‘How to decide what my money ought to be doing this week’ or other topic, or they do not discuss them with much verve and enthusiasm. Whereas a discussion of the ordination or consecration of those in same sex partnerships is usually guaranteed to get a big big list of comments.

With honourable exceptions.

Monsterous regiment

Yesterday somebody told me he had changed his opinions on women priests. Older than I, he felt he had grown up in a world where it was natural for men to be heads. At first he had voted against women priests, then, knowing some good ones, had come to support them: ‘But when we have women bishops, they will just run everything,’ he added, gloomily. A monstrous regiment of women, more total than anything against which Knox protested.

I can’t actually see it myself, although with so many old women in church, of whom I am one, I suppose it is natural to suggest that old women may end up running everything.

The ability to change the mind strikes me as laudable. I don’t think I am good at it. I was born into a family where concern for the environment was part of daily life, and parents got more exercised over felled trees than many another outrage. My mother had been a career woman, and I was not the first person, nor yet the first woman, in my family to go to University. In assuming that one’s sex was irrelevant to one’s career choice, I was just taking on the values of my parents. Racism was sin, and closed minds a crime. One of Dad’s closest friends was gay, and actually Mum didn’t think it was all the same to be gay or straight, but I did from my earliest understanding of such matters. Dad was a socialist, and although Mum was, on paper, a Tory, she was an old fashioned ‘one nation’ Tory, and her dislike of Mrs Thatcher was intense. The infamous ‘There is no such thing as society’ damned her for ever. Care and concern for anybody unfortunate was just part of the home ethos.

I am a card-carrying liberal from the cradle. And like all card-carrying liberals I find it natural others should join us. I fear I would not find it natural should I suddenly find myself no longer believing in the equality of all people.

But liberal converts, male ones, should calm their fears. Should we female liberals ever happen to find we actually ARE running everything, we would know we had got it horribly wrong. We would know we needed to get somehow to a happy state where we are more concerned with the person than their gender. Something that for all the time elapsed between my parents’ deaths and now, we still seem to struggle with. Extraordinary that the church, with all the tradition that all ‘souls’ are equal before God, should still struggle so hard with this.

… if winter comes…

Each winter, early, some acts of faith take place. Today two. The broad beans were planted. Polly and Cassie went to the tup. That used to be difficult – catching sheep, loading them into a vehicle, and saying good bye, until summoned to catch them again, and re-load them. This latter usually took place on the least convenient day and in the most impossible weather. If there was a day when sleet was horizontal, and driven in a force eight wind, that would be the day for wandering a vast hillside rattling a bucket, and shouting :’Polly! Polleeee!’ Every sheep would run from me until at last two valiant little figures would come hurtling towards me and the bucket (especially the bucket.)

Here it was breathtakingly simple. Catch Polly, mark both sheep with the painless orange spray just behind the head, giving a general impression of fierce coloured highlights, and walk them out of my gate and straight through the shepherd’s field gate – all of five yards. Now they are just over the fence, where I can keep an eye on them while they wait for the sudden madness which will overtake them and turn the tup into an object of irresistible desire. And when I rattle a bucket, it will be in just two medium sized fields, for a short walk home.

..she took three paces through the room…

The Lady of Shalott left her looking glass for the real world and died of it.

I kind-of assumed my peers had taken three paces, not died, and all woman kind now was free.

I never was a beauty, and I always assumed that that did not really matter. I assumed that my intelligence (or lack of), my personality and my application of my character to life were what really mattered.

I have always enjoyed clothes, and in some ways I felt a little inferior to women who were genuinely happy to totally disregard dress and appearance. It mattered a little to me, and I assumed that for a new generation it would matter less.

Not so. Arleen Philips is too old to judge ‘Strictly’. (So I won’t be watching, not that I suppose the Beeb cares.) Even in Galston there are spray tans and waxing. Young girls spend a fortune on how they look, and high heels, far from vanishing, seen de rigueur . I am astonished, dismayed. Women trade their ability to run for a better shaped leg. Not just for an evening out, not for dressing up, as though with the contents of the toy box, but for real life situations.

And the tabloids lambaste women in the public eye for failing in some area or other of conventional female dress, or grooming or deportment. Who cares? Well, thousands, apparently.

And two dear friends tell me they mourn the going of their youthful looks. If I do not misunderstand, seriously mourn. Well, sure, I’d like fewer wrinkles, and a better ability to lift, run and work … and there you have it. To me the ability to put in a full day matters a heck of a lot more. Hundreds of times more.

What the heck happened? Should I have been more militant as a girl? A young woman?

I wish we could all grow up and see people and not fa├žades.