My blog has a bug and wants me to upgrade Internet Explorer. It won’t let me post comments on my blog page right now. Apparently I pose a security threat to my own blog. Story of my damn life. I may have to pretend I am somebody else and sneak in my comments.
The rugby world cup continues. Ireland has beaten Australia. South Africa beat Namibia 85-nil. Rumania is due for a beating from England. Yay! Boo! Beyond that I know nothing. At a neighbour’s house I watched a TV food programme on Greek cooking while everyone else talked rugby.
Did I feel excluded? Yes
Did I mind? No. Rugby does not feature on my personal radar. I don’t get it.
In the Greek foodie programme, the camera panned down to scanty bushes of thyme, origanum and sage growing on a bare rocky hillside baked by the sun and nibbled incessantly by goats. The programme presenter, a pale-faced and suffering Brit, was amazed by the strength and pepperiness of the dusty small leaves. ‘Good God,’ he said.
This made me so happy. Some time in the summer of 2002 I found myself in a London Tesco’s supermarket shopping for a Mediterranean supper I would prepare for my friend Nomphisa who was staying in a smart Georgian townhouse in Chelsea. I picked and tested a few basil leaves from a bright green, lushly leaved bush (fortunately unspotted by a shop detective, that kind of tasting before you buy is seen as grand larceny in the UK). The basil tasted of nothing. Water and juiciness and nothing. It was locally and organically grown in a polytunnel or greenhouse. I made shepherd’s pie instead.
Herbs thrive on sunlight and ferocious heat. Heat means sugar and the deprivation of water means concentrated flavour. Luscious red tomoatoes in the UK swell to majestic proportions in even a wet summer and taste sweet and watery. Unless you have eaten a sunbaked Mediterranean or African tomato, a little scarred and misshapen and intensely tomatoey, you haven’t lived. In the garden my thyme and origanum bushes are thriving as the days get hotter and longer. The chillies are just starting, fierce little piri piri African chillies from Mozambique and Zanzibar. Piri piri is a savage relative of the Caribbean birds-eye chilli..
In between watching rugby matches next door with the rugby-loving neighbours, the housemate plans to take the new puppy to a Bark for Life fundraiser dog show organised by a group of villagers collecting money for cancer research. The housemate has no doubt that the dog will win all categories and come home covered in blue rosettes and ribbons. She intends to put his engraved silver cup and rosettes on top of the armoire in the living room. I doubt the huge disobedient Great Dane pup will win anything because the judges all own small pretty poodle-like dogs themselves, but I can’t go along because I am catching up on work. We had a power cut the other day and I lost a whole file of notes.
Myself and the housemate are completely different personalities and (mostly) enjoy the differences. We are both regarded as left-wing radicals by some of the villagers and sexual deviants by other villagers and as friendly helpful neighbours by other villagers. Some villagers hold all three views at once.
Difference and commonality is one of those topics I keep coming back to. Right now my fictional mermaid is feeling very different from those in her underwater world as well as those in her landloving world. She loves someone who will only love her back if she changes herself to fit in with his way of living. Lose the tail! he has commanded. Lose the legs, why don’t you? she mutters under her breath, flaunting her glittery scales and fishiness
It isn’t a mystery why we think differently. Some of it has to do with privilege or deprivation and some of it has to do with the ideologies that are spooned into us with smiles and rewards from when we are little children.
Some of us grow up convinced the world is against us, some of us feel our families and countries are misunderstood and betrayed, some of us feel we are better than and some of us feel different from. Some of us feel it is disloyal to challenge the beliefs held by our parents and grandparents. Some of us came out of the womb screaming our difference. Some of us woke up one fine morning and realised we need to fight against inhumane and evil policies or wars. Some of us go on thinking that politics spoils art or that we need to be positive and not negative even if the negative is sitting right there at the kitchen table like Goldilocks eating up all the porridge in the littlest bear’s bowl. Any mention of religion or Higher Powers brings some of us out in hives. Some of us don’t mind gay or lesbian people so long as our children don’t become them. Some of us think of immigrants as human cockroaches. Some of us are ashamed of how we secretly feel about Jews or Muslims and some of us get frightened or enraged when we see angry teenagers looting shops on television. For some of us the Third World is somebody else’s problem. For others of us the Third World is just another damn thing intended to make us feel guilty. Some of us are the Third World.
We go on listening to and reading one another on blogs and forums and mailing lists and in meetings. Sometimes we go on disagreeing and sometimes we change our minds. Sometimes we stop listening. Sometimes posters get silenced or excluded from the conversation. Sometimes they refuse to belong. That’s just how it is.