Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Last week finished reading Dervla Murphy's "In Ethiopia with a Mule."

Currently reading "The English Patient."

NOT TIE-IN it says on the still-attached price tag. It is radically different from the movie; the main character is not quite the eponymous English Patient or Katharine; the love story is less lucid; and, though the metaphors are beautiful, I am not entirely convinced in the end.

It's strange not to be drawn to a book about names, maps, national identities and shifting stereotypes.

I overheard the very masculine P.E. teacher just now being hateful about a Peruvian student, Emilia, whose name she can't even remember and who is "dirty." She also talked about a girl who is very tall and one who is very short.

Oddly, yesterday, for the first time, she jumped up to get me a cup of tea. Very feminine behaviour in these parts.

I don't know her name and I've availed myself of trying to be her friend. I can give her a truthful nickname. I thought, would Lady Lumpybutt be a good nickname? It is certainly alliterative.

But I don't want to reduce her to just a physical defect. That is not what is irritating about her. She is, rather, sullen, unsmiling, unresponsive to friendliness, critical, xenophobic, perhaps racist.

During a Sports Day rehearsal two years ago, she berated the dancing girls for their lack of zeal: they should have been smiling during the umbrella cute dance. The girls should be more receptive to proscribed femininity.

The male teachers, and the female other teachers, looked on, allowing this woman, a veritable Trunchbull, bellow orders. She who has shunned skirts and frills has the gall to force lacy mannerisms and manacles on her children. I thought of the groups of women who hold down little girls suffering through clitoridectomies.

What do you call such a woman?

My yarrow is flourishing and I added a pineapple mint.

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