Wimbledon, and am I too much of a feminist?

So, Wimbledon is over for this year. Wimbledon

I watched both finals with both being only competitive in first set. I also watched the almost hysterical reverence for  Roger Federer by the British media.

Yes, he is a great champion. Yes, he played beautifully. But Greatest of all times? Nope, not in my eyes. That is a comparison difficult to make.

Just watch the You Tube videos of some old matches like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8IJ0F01IiU

Good, ha?

I also feel that we should stop saying that this is the best tennis record – 8th Wimbledon singles title, and 18 grand slam singles titles. Yes, but how about Martina Navratilova with 9 Wimbledon singles titles and also 18th singles grand slam titles?  I just watch her, age 60 in Ladies invitational doubles. She won. Still playing brilliantly. And what about all those women who have more grand slam titles than Roger Federer? Margaret Court 24, Serena Williams 23, Steffi Graff 22, Helen Wills Moody 19.

Isn’t it time that we don’t say “Best tennis player” about a man, but “Best female tennis player” about a woman?

And no, I do not agree with those (lately John McEnroe) saying that if men played women, women would have no chance. It is comparing oranges and apples. Nonsense. We are built differently to men.

But that should not take anything from those brilliant female athletes’ achievement. And while I am ranting, what about the nonsense of using ” Miss” but not “Mr”. Murray to serve, but Miss Hingis to serve ( they just won the mixed doubles championship. Great match, too.)

Am I too feminist? No, I do not think so, but I do believe men and women are different, but equal.

The tennis world need to catch up with this.

Do you agree?

 

 

No, I do not want to live in Middle Ages

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In my eyes, the world we live in is paradoxically a strangely medieval world. Drawbridges being drawn up, not letting enemies in, religion yet again ruling people’s violent actions. Name of a God, Allah, being called by foolish teenagers dying in vain. Politicians talking about their Christian beliefs. “I am a Christian,a Conservative and a Republican, in that order. I am a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican, in that order…”( Mike Pence Vice President of  USA)

People talking about threats to our civilisation. Comparing it to Rome and the Barbarians at the gates. Well, those Barbarians brought something, their heritage is part of our European history, too.

I find it scary. I am thinking about the 1930s, the time when my Czech ancestors found out in one month in 1939 that they are not really Czech, they are Jewish. And that being Jewish is something inferior…

I believe in melting pots and mixtures. When I cook, adding almost too many ingredients.  My lover, a Jazz journalist, calls it my jazz cooking, He likes my jazz cooking. I am a good cook. Mixing is good, all those ingredients adding to the taste.

I see all those generalisations coming back, the “Us and Them, The Fanatical Muslims, The Unsophisticated Americans, The Evil Russians, the Snotty Europeans, Those Lazy Greeks, those Wasteful Puerto Ricans…”  also “the Nasty Misogynistic men, those Crazy Feminists…”

I do not believe those clichéd generalisations, and they scare me.

Yes, maybe some of those things are true about some people. But even if the majority of those groups fitted those clichés, what about the ones they don’t? By enclosing them in those groups, we are doing them irreparable harm…Not dissimilar to the harm done by the Nazis. Yes, I am being a bit melodramatic. There are no gas chambers, not yet.

But I am scared, and I do not scare easily.

I am promiscuous as far as friends go. I have at least five “best friends”, some of them men, some women. I am close to many others. They come from various nations, ethnic groups, religions. I am a non-believer, but I believe in humanity, in that unwritten moral code of respecting the similarities AND the differences. And I believe in Kipling’s

“We are of same blood, thou and I”

My world has got strangers who are friends, and friends who are strangers. I am often close to people who are of different gender,nation, religion, and I am sometimes distant from people like me, Czech Jewish intellectuals of my generation.

I want those drawbridges all coming down, those borders open, those newcomers given a chance.

In 1986, I got a chance, a political asylum in the UK. I want other people, those escaping from unspeakable horrors I never lived through to be given a chance, too.

I do not want to live in the world of drawbridges. They should have gone out of fashion 500 years ago. Their return scares me, and I do not scare easily…

I do not want to live in the middle ages.

 

 

 

 

I like social media, but they steal my time. Should I write my books instead? Am I a writer? And my grandmother’s dress. A very disorganised blog post.

I like social media.

I got my connection to the wonderful Women Reading Aloud group through a friend on Goodreads, a lovely woman who I now met in the USA and became real, not just Goodreads friend with.

When I get the time, I follow twitter and Facebook entries and find them often very interesting.

However, it is all very time consuming.

And I find that instead of editing my second book and writing my book, I type emails, Facebook entries and Goodreads emails.

I need a systematic approach. Limited time for some things, extended and protected time for writing. Or is my writing just a silly hobby, easily dismissible? I hope not.

In my long American trip, I spent 3 days in Sea Girt on a Women Reading Aloud retreat. Writing to prompts. And again, like in Greece, I loved it.

So instead of carrying on with this silly blog entry, I will add one of the things I wrote.

The prompt was:

A piece of clothing in a closet at home that you cannot get rid of but you never wear

I wrote it in 30 minutes, without corrections. But I kind of like it. Do you? Here you are:

“I have a wardrobe full of clothes I might never wear, but I often thing; Well, what if…?

But there is one dress hanging in my wardrobe that I KNOW I will never wear, but I also know I will never get rid of it. Will I give it to my non-existing granddaughter one day? We’ll see. But no, maybe not. I might not have a granddaughter anyway…

That dress was made in 1922 in a very expensive salon called Rosenbaum in Prague for my grandmother. It is made of thin see-through black chiffon silk, crepe de chin my grandmother called it. It is long, mid calve length and very elegant in that beautiful fashion of that time. I can imagine cocktail parties, dances, conversations about the war that recently finished, a war that will never happen again.  A happy, frivolous time, at least for people with money. I imagine introductions of men in tuxedoes and women in similar dresses and diamond and gold jewellery. I imagine my grandmother, young, just after getting married, trying to please her formidable mother in law. She never managed to do that.

I found the dress in my mother’s closet when I was 16.I asked her what it was. My grandmother died that year. “Oh, we still have that dress? I remember mother bringing it back from the Kubicek family after the war. Not sure why she kept it, she never wore it again.” Said my mum. It fit me beautifully, it fits me now, too.

The underlying, not see through part is missing. That dress was hidden with many other things with some Czech friends during the war, when my grandmother went to the concentration camp. She got it back again in 1945 when she came back from the camps, with my mother, but without her beloved husband and son. For a while, it was too loose for her, then she put on weight and could not wear it. But there were no opportunities to wear it in communist Czechoslovakia anyway.

I do not have occasions to wear an evening gown to either. My world is more casual.

But sometimes I take that dress out, it is part of my family history. And I can remember my wonderful grandmother, that brave, kind, simple woman who coped with horrors of her life by finding positive things in a way I have never seen anybody to do. Waiting in the long queues for meat in Prague, she said how nice it is not to have a cook and to be able to walk in the street without hat and gloves, and not to behave like a lady…A woman, who, unlike my mother, did not have a manipulative streak. She was simple, in the best possible meaning. She never read books, but unlike my mum, who never read much either, she thought her granddaughter, obsessed with written words was great. She gave me the unconditional love people sometimes get from their mothers.

The grandmother I knew was dressed in casual, non-elegant clothes, a heavy woman, no make-up. A woman with a laud not ladylike contagious laugh.

But when I touch this dress, I see her as a young slim beautiful woman, smiling, carefree, with no need to find a brave face to put on. That dress is not just a dress, it is a reminder of life’s many twists. And the reminder that one can survive, change, adapt, and still be happy.

Will, I ever wear it? No. But they will find it in my wardrobe when I die.”

So, am I a writer? Maybe. Maybe not. But I will carry on trying.

 

 

 

How learning French made me appreciate the countryside. Win Win situation.

swan

I am a city girl.

I grew up in the centre of Prague, and wanted to stay there. Trips to my parents’ country weekend cottage bored me. I was happy to sit indoors and read. They kept chasing me to go out. Get some fresh air. Do I mind a not so fresh air? Nope, not in the slightest. I never smoked, but smoky atmosphere of Prague coffee houses was just fine.

In the end, my dislike of the communist regime made me emigrate. I live in green England. The English love their countryside.

I would prefer not to be so close to nature. But I am not a millionaire, so I will never live in the centre of London, I am destined to stay in the leafy suburb.

When I say that where I live is “too rural”, people laugh. They think I am joking. I am not.  Yes, we have an underground station in my village, but it is still a village. I do not go for walks, unless I can talk to somebody. I get bored by nature.

I remember a friend I was skiing with telling me off when I started typing an email on my phone when we had a break. “Why are you not looking at Mont Blanc?” “I have already seen it.” I said.

But recently, I bought a French course to refresh my rusty command of the language. Audio. Michel Thomas. It is very good. So, thanks to Monsieur Thomas, I started going for walks, listening to him on my iPod.

And you know what? I am enjoying it, and the area round the Grand Union Canal is really beautiful.

Mind you, it is nature + entertainment and learning. I am not sure if I could cope with just a walk.

 

Book review – a Slave narrative

I just got back from Mauritius. And this is something I also copied to my Facebook. Sorry for duplicating ! I am a bit busy!

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I am reading an interesting book, appropriate for reading it in the hot African country. Slave narrative, written by an African man who was kidnapped, age about 10, and sold into slavery, eventually, he buys his freedom, moves to England, writes this book. It was first published in 1789.

If you do not want to read it, I found a summary:

http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/equiano1/summary.html

Written by a man born in Africa, slave since childhood, this is an intelligent honest person, navigating through life, slavery, learning English and many skills, becoming a Christian and abolitionist. The language is simple and archaic, and there is a certain charming naïveté, combined with a smart brain. I liked his arguments for better treatment of slaves, which later changed to conviction that any slavery is bad. There is a development in the character, who grew up in Africa where slavery was part of life, black slave owners.

It made me think about racism, and how I hear all those prejudiced idiotic generalisations about Muslims, Gypsies (Romany), Black people, Chinese etc.

It is not only white people who are racist. I heard racist anti-Chinese remarks by the Indian Mauritian guide, and from what heard there is a lot of racism between Indian and black people in Africa.

Reading about the horrible conditions of slaves reminded me of the war and the Holocaust. Many of my relatives were treated by the Nazis similarly to the slaves in this book. The degradation, cruelty, treating them as if they were vermin.

Those Nazis, like the white slave owners, did not consider their victims truly human.

For me, Olaudah Equiano is a hero- a man who starts as an 11-year-old illiterate “savage” and becomes an articulate adult, freeing himself from slavery, enduring terrible hardship, and yet remaining kind, optimistic, forgiving. I am sure some black people would dismiss him as an “Uncle Tom character”. I do not think they would be right, despite certain things – for example he buys his own freedom, de-facto recognising slavery as an institution. But to criticise it would mean we do not realise people belong to their epoch and cannot be judged by contemporary standards.

This I worry about the fact that the tribalism, nationalism, and hostility to people who are “not one of us” is growing, rather than getting smaller. Having said that, I know plenty of people who are tolerant, open, non-racist. So, I am sure there is hope.

Of course, I read good books about slavery written by white people, or people who are not contemporary- like Toni Morrison. This is different, and very powerful. It talks with a voice from 18th century.

” Assisted Living”, yes, but how about ” Assisted Dying”?

Often Victo Dolore inspires me with her blog “Behind the White Coat – Beats a real human heart”.

rose

In her blog, she wrote about her 90-y old patient who wants to die.

It happens a lot, sometimes, life just stops being fun.

I remember an elderly woman Mrs B. in a residential home- you call it “Assisted Living” in the USA.

She asked them to call me for a visit. Didn’t tell the staff why. AN intelligent witty woman, an ex-head teacher.When I came, she said “I have had enough, doctor, I would like you to kill me.”

She was blind, chair bound, had no relatives. Her brain was working perfectly, but her only stimulation was radio and her audiobooks, and her hearing started to deteriorate. I told her I couldn’t do that. I held her hand, and told her I understand. To change the subject, I asked her what audio book is she listening to. She wouldn’t budge.

“If I stopped my tablets, would I die, doctor?”

She was on heart failure medication.

“Yes, I said, but you would get very breathless and uncomfortable.”

“You are being a great comfort yourself, doctor,” she said with a smile.

Next day, the staff called me telling me that she is refusing her medication. I told her to leave her alone, she is fully with it, and that she discussed it with me.  “We should not force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do”.

Mrs B. died two weeks later. She died when she wanted. I think that is a blessing. Maybe the idea of Assisted dying as well as assisted living would not be such a bad idea…