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What's In A Name? or Put Not Thy Princes in Trust
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:06 am    Post subject: What's In A Name? or Put Not Thy Princes in Trust Reply with quote

Keith Vaz promoted the British monarchy going over to sex blind succession. He said that all Britain's female monarchs had been tremendous. He'd probably forgotten about Bloody Mary whom we could well have done without.

It's hard to say if queens are really better at queening than kings are at kinging or if they just stand out because of their rarity. In any case, monarchy is inherently elitist. If we really cared about equality, we would abolish it.

The British monarchy has now accepted sexual equality. The English aristocracy has gone in the opposite direction.

A book on the year AD 1000 was published to mark the year 2000. It noted that at that time, at least in the absence of sons, daughters automatically inherited lands and titles in England.

Perhaps in response to a craze for heiress abduction, the practice later grew for noble titles, stately homes and the attached acres to be 'entailed in the male line.' Eventually almost all noble titles and estates in England were debarred to women.

It is no longer possible to entail an estate but all existing entails remain in force. 'So What?' you may ask.

It only affects a few people. But for them, it can cause massive human dysfunction.

Princess Diana's grandfather John Earl Spencer was a morose bully, ironically known as 'Jolly Jack.' He was 'very rough' with his wife Cynthia who 'never had a day's happiness with him.'

He was 'mean, cruel and nasty' to her. At least Cynthia produced a male child Johnny at the second attempt.

Johnny's wartime commanding officer thought he was 'very nice but very stupid, very slow and lacking in go...you could set his trousers on fire and it would be ten minutes before he realised his arse was burning.'

Johnny was 'a bear of very little brain' but he had dangly bits. That was all that was needed.

His teenage fiancée Frances Burke Roche knew exactly what was required of her. She had been the second daughter of Baron Fermoy, and was described at birth as 'bald head, long legs and the wrong sex.'

The reaction was quite different when her younger brother was born. 'Boys were like precious china.'

Frances conceived a honeymoon baby. It was a girl Sarah. Jack was 'delighted but that was not his first reaction.'

The teenage mother was quite timid. The hospital matron told her she had a lot of milk. She didn't need all of it 'and we have illegitimate triplets to feed.'

It went without saying that their mother had been told to bugger off. They would be put up for adoption.

So Frances had to breastfeed four babies in rotation. 'It was exhausting - slave labour.' She didn't dare refuse.

Perhaps it was graciously overlooked when Frances had a second girl Jane. But during her third pregnancy in 1960, her in-laws and her own family were 'fiercely determined' that she would have a son.

Baby John was male but he was too ill to survive. Frances always denied that he was 'extensively malformed' as his death certificate stated.

She said he had a lung malfunction. But as she was never allowed to see him or hold him, she couldn't really have known.

She was now quite fragile. She said her 'arms still ached from the longing to hold him.' Far from showing her any sympathy, her mother and in-laws treated her like a genetic delinquent.

They thought there was something wrong with her that prevented her having healthy sons. She was apparently sent to be examined by Harley Street doctors, an experience she found humiliating and barbaric.

Apparently it was not then widely known, even by doctors, that it is the father who determines the sex of a child. Frustrated in his desire for an heir to Althorp, 'Gentle Johnny' developed a 'strange, spiky, spiteful side.' He became almost as abusive as his father.

On holiday without Johnny, Frances experienced a spontaneous abortion. She didn't dare tell anyone, let alone consult a doctor. It was medically risky ' but I honestly felt it was the only way for me to survive.'

When Diana came along, she must have been like the proverbial ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah. She always felt she was a nuisance, 'the girl who was supposed to be a boy.'

Three years later, her parents did have a healthy boy who would be briefly eligible to sit in the House of Lords. Jolly Jack lit a bonfire at Althorp. Frances joked that had she got it wrong again, she would have been on the top of it.

The boy was christened Charles with the queen as his godmother. But by then, the damage was done.

Charles Spencer couldn't remember his parents 'together as a unit in any way.' He remembered his mother sobbing brokenly while his father smiled weakly at him.

When they split up, everyone took Johnny's side as he was in line to inherit the palatial stately home, Althorp where they hoped to stay for weekend parties. As Frances saw it, her own mother betrayed her, doing 'a hatchet job' on oath so the children would stay with Johnny.

Sarah became anorexic, looked like something out of Belsen, lost all the enamel on her teeth, broke the furniture and was expelled from school for drunkenness. Jane became very quiet.

Writers who say Princess Diana had Borderline Personality Disorder have received death threats. But it's not an insult. It's just a fact.

She later tried to blame Prince Charles for her bulimia but she had it at school. She was mentally ill long before she met him.

Charles Spencer is still erratic and confrontational. He also has BPD.

Charles Spencer went to Eton and Oxford. The education of the other kids wasn't a priority for Johnny. He wasn't surprised or bothered that Diana failed all her O levels twice.

Johnny was awarded a misogyny prize by the TV show 'Watch the Woman.' He had said that women rarely had much intellectual ability.

Even his children's school friends thought that his second wife Raine, the daughter of Barbara Cartland, 'seemed manipulative'. She infantilised him while convincing him that he was the boss.

Both she and her romantic novelist mother made public statements to the effect that 'men matter most!' They were both domineering go-getters under the pink fluttery froth.

Charles Spencer impulsively married Victoria Lockwood, a painfully thin middle class model he had only just met. He said, ''I knew she was the one for me. We are both dead certain.''

A friend thought she was 'extraordinary ... and totally unsuitable.' She looked like a 'little waif.' She was distrait, 'obviously cracking up.'

She wore a wedding dress based on an eighteenth century original as seen in a portrait at Althorp. It had been dyed in domestic bleach.

A fashion editor remarked, 'She looked like Anne Boleyn going to her execution. She must have been in a terrible state of depression.'

Diana distracted attention from how out of it the bride was by deliberately pushing Raine down a flight of stairs at the reception. It was something she had been itching to do for a very long time.

Victoria had to endure Charles Spencer's infidelity and intrusion from the 'insensitive, evil, evil' press in her first pregnancy. The child was a girl Kitty.

Charles was vocal in his anxiety about who there would be to inherit Althorp after him. Victoria lived on alcohol, ice cream and hard drugs which was not a good pre natal diet but she became pregnant again.

Her twins were delivered by Caesarean section. The midwife thought it was just as well they were both girls.

Otherwise the first one she lifted out would have been heir to Althorp. She couldn't cope with the responsibility.

Charles was now Earl Spencer. The Sun newspaper joshed him, 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again!'

This was a tall order for the now extremely vulnerable Victoria. She didn't eat enough to sustain her own life, let alone that of a foetus.

Charles didn't exhibit an eating disorder himself. But psychologists seriously think he chose a wife who could be anorexic for him.

Anorexics generally can't menstruate let alone conceive a child. But by some miracle, not long after the birth of Amelia and Eliza, Victoria had a son Louis.

If she had been one of the wives of Henry viii, it would have saved her bacon. But it was too late.

Charles behaved like an 'imperious little boy of four.' Calling out from his bath, he announced to Victoria that not only was it all over between them but she had never been any good as a wife.

In the divorce proceedings, Victoria and Charles ex-mistress ganged up on him. Victoria said she had 'never been allowed a voice.'

Charles went through several girlfriends and ditched a long term fiancée just before the wedding to marry someone he had quite recently met. At least one of his children by his second wife is of the desired and necessary sex.

His eldest child Lady Kitty Spencer is now making a career for herself as a model. He doesn't approve of all the photo shots.

I saw pictures of her in a magazine in the hair dressers last week. In at least one she looked lush, divine.

You might hope there was something behind the beauty, considering she has a BA and an MA. We know that you can be a graduate and still be as dense as the day is long. But I was prepared to see Kitty as something other than a bimbo.

If Kitty had said in the accompanying interview that she didn't mind her younger brother inheriting because she is not the jealous type and does not want to cause acrimony, that would have been fair enough. But one would expect that she would look forward to the abolition of entails in some future generation on principle.

After all, it is insulting that she is not only not the immediate heir but might as well not exist as far as the earldom is concerned. It is reminiscent of Breton farmers in the nineteenth century who greeted the birth of baby girls by saying, ''My wife has had a miscarriage.''

Then, the Spencer dynasty is the text book example of the emotional havoc that an entail can cause. But that's not how Lady Kitty sees it.

She approves of noble titles descending to boys only, not just to avoid rocking the boat but for all time as an inherently right arrangement. She says it is 'correct.'

And this is someone born as recently as 1990. WTF? What is she thinking of?


Last edited by marianneh on Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:25 am    Post subject: Generally totally in favour of equality Reply with quote

Perhaps it was Thomas Jefferson who said that no titles of nobility should exist in the United States. After all, they would compromise the cherished value of equality.

Maybe Indira Gandhi was barking up the same tree in reportedly stripping all the maharajahs in India of their titles although she did not touch their wealth. One of the Channel islands - I think it was Sark - was threatened with expulsion from the European Union for an egregious human rights abuse.

It would not allow its filthy rich tax exiles to leave their wealth in equal shares to all their children. Everything had to go to the eldest son. The island capitulated.

Considering how petty potentates in the UK have been enabled to persecute their wives - and Althorp is set in a park the size of Monaco- maybe they should have both their titles and their lands confiscated. If they can't play nicely, we should take the ball away.

The journalist who interviewed Kitty Spencer was surprised she did not present as fragile given her family history. Perhaps her family have made a good recovery.

When they divorced, they gave her the textbook spiel. They no longer loved each other but they did love her. Victoria is now a drink and drugs counsellor.

Kitty has two degrees. I imagine that neither is in logic or flexible thinking.

Why does she think it is 'correct' for the Salic law to operate in Britain in a minor way? She says she is 'generally totally in favour of gender equality but...'

These are weasel words. Is it generally or totally? It can't be both.

She 'likes it that' the estate will remain in the 'same family'. What she means is that each heir will share the surname of the last incumbent.

She talks as if the transmission of surnames exclusively through an unbroken male line is biologically determined, as if it was inevitable. She need look no further than her cousins, the dukes of Marlborough, to see that this is not so.

The first duke, John Churchill, the idolised victor of Blenheim had the good luck to be married to a woman who was almost certainly the lesbian lover of Queen Anne and who undoubtedly dominated her politically. When their only son died, they easily persuaded the queen to let the title descend to their daughter.

For some centuries, the Marlboroughs went by the name Spencer. By the nineteenth century, their ancestor John Churchill had been almost deified in the family mythology. So they decided to re-adopt the name Churchill.

It wasn't difficult. It wasn't impossible. It didn't even hurt.

People are often confused about the British royal family. They think they must be called Mountbatten.

But they are still the Windsors at the insistence of Winston Churchill and others.

Philip was not too happy about it. But he only adopted the name Mountbatten just before his wedding, and it was an anglicised version of his mother's name. She had been born Alice of Battenberg.

When Philip was a prince of Greece, he had no discernible surname. He told his schoolmates, ''I'm Philip - just Philip.''

Even Kitty's ancestor, a sister of Lady Jane Grey, accepted female succession in the sixteenth century. An earlier ancestor the Empress Matilda was surprised that some people were old fashioned enough to think she should not inherit England just because she was a woman. After all, it was the twelfth century now!

In Jane Austen's novel 'Emma' Frank Churchill, the legitimate son of his father, has adopted the surname of another relative so he can inherit his estate. These things can always be stipulated in wills.

It might be a bit savage to pull Lady Kitty to pieces over her sclerotic thinking. But it is not unjustified if she really is the sixth most influential person in the country as the Tatler gushed.

Anyone who can seriously mouth garbage like this needs a good kick up the backside. For goodness' sake, Kitty, pull yourself together and plug your brain in!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 3:46 am    Post subject: A Rose by Any Other Name Reply with quote

It seemed unfair to me as a kid that women had all the hard slog of pregnancy and childbirth but weren't rewarded by the resultant children inheriting their surnames. They weren't even expected to retain their own surnames after marriage.

No one else I knew seemed to have a problem with this. People would be up in arms if a beloved old pub had its name changed. But women didn't have the same significance.

I told myself that perhaps I was wrong. Maybe I had a damaged sense of identity as an adoptee. Both my names had already been changed in tenderest infancy.

Not only had I had no choice. I wasn't even permitted to know what my original name was.

I told myself that it was possible that most women complied with this custom not because they lacked self respect but because they had such a firm sense of identity that it didn't bother them. Maybe they were brimming with confidence. They were just not narcissistic. Wasn't that healthy?

Juliet asked, ''What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.''

Admittedly, Anne of Green Gables disagreed with her. She said, ''I don't think a rose would smell as sweet if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.''

I was nearly convinced by my own argument. Then as a school kid in the 1980s, I saw a TV documentary that shook me up quite a bit.

Of course this custom doesn't matter in itself. But it is important because people think it is important.

A muscular young man had two daughters and a quiet miserable looking wife. He was desperate for state of the art medical technology to ensure that his next child would be a boy.

It was vitally important to his ego that his surname be passed on for another generation. There was a subdued boy in the family but he didn't count as he was only a stepson.

Perhaps in those days, laboratory staff didn't know how to isolate a sperm with the 'correct' sex chromosomes and artificially inseminate a woman with it. He was told there was no fool proof method of giving him a son.

But he was bound and determined to give any innovative technology a trial. He spoke about his urgent quest in front of his daughters and stepson who looked upset and couldn't bring themselves to raise their heads.

Neither he nor the interviewer noticed this. I was absolutely appalled.

He could have adopted his stepson and given him his name. He could have implored or bribed his daughters to give their children his name.

He could have told himself that his daughters had his genes which is more important than a name. He could have stopped being such an uncaring self obsessed arsehole. But that didn't occur to him.

Similarly, Hindu ladies will use modern technology in the form of the contraceptive pill to regulate their periods so they will be eligible to attend religious festivals. But they won't use modern thinking and say, ''Stuff this ignorant primitive menstrual taboo!''

It's not necessary or desirable to use modern technology to shore up unhelpful or primitive customs. Just ditch the custom. Even our ancestors said, 'Custom without reason is but ancient error.'

Lady Kitty thinks that descendants in the female line are somehow part of a different family. This is felt even more strongly in the Orient where people say, ''Bringing up a girl is like watering a bush in your neighbour's yard.'' No wonder they don't think it's worth the effort.

According to John Lennon's first wife Cynthia, she was given different and poorer quality food than her brothers as a child. This was quite usual in the past.

The whole of society has suffered from this. It is women who nurture children of both sexes in the womb. So it's in no one's interests if they are stinted of nutrition as children.

My partner and I once attended a lecture on sibling rivalry by the psychologist Dorothy Rowe. She said that she knew of grandparents who regularly visited their grandchildren, bearing expensive gifts for their grandsons but nothing for their granddaughters.

Rowe said, ''You might think it wouldn't happen these days but it does.'' I don't think they even consciously tell themselves that their granddaughters are dynastically irrelevant. It is just mindless adherence to ingrained practice.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:23 am    Post subject: Brown Dog Blue Bird Reply with quote

On message boards discussing whether Henry viii was a psychopath, some contributors seriously stick up for him on the grounds that he needed a son. They honestly haven't noticed that he didn't need a son. He just thought he did.

Edward vi comes across in surviving accounts as an able and very likeable boy. We don't know what he would have achieved if he had grown up. But we do know that Elizabeth Tudor was 'the greatest king this country's ever had' as Dafydd ap Geler Thomas would say.

It's hard to sympathise with Bloody Mary but she wouldn't have turned out as she did, if Henry had had the sense to appreciate what he had instead of pursuing a will o' the wisp aspiration, based on entrenched attitudes. Like the arsehole mentioned in the above post, he had no emotional intelligence.

I'm now extremely glad that all my children are male. But when I was growing up, I would have hoped that at least one of them would be a girl.

I thought it would be easier to identify with a child of my own sex. Life has educated me. I now know better.

My husband did emphatically want our first child to be a boy. But he initially hoped the second would be a girl as that would make 'a change.'

But in reality, you always get a change. Each child is completely different from its siblings because it's another person.

People always comment on how unalike Taliesin and Byron are. On the face of it, they are polar opposites. Perhaps they have reacted against each other.

While looking for story books for my sons, I came across a book with lavish, tremendous illustrations. It imperceptibly taught children about emotional intelligence

A little girl lived alone in a dirt brown hut in a forest with a big brown dog. One day as they stood at the window, they saw a heartbreakingly beautiful blue bird fly past and disappear into the setting sun.

For the little girl, it was an epiphany. Always after that, she stood at the window, yearning for the unattainable blue bird to come back.

The brown dog beside her looked increasingly glum. He was really cute, but always the girl was scanning the sky for the pastel blue feathery biped.

It never returned. In the last illustration, the girl hugs her constant companion and says, ''Oh Brown Dog, I love you!''


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:00 am    Post subject: 'Only a son can...' Reply with quote

People often used to express a preference for male offspring on the grounds that they would 'carry on' their names. It's impossible to say if this was the real reason or a rationalisation for an atavistic instinct.

These days, prospective fathers are more likely to express a preference for boys so that they can play football with them. A visitor from outer space could easily get the impression that girls are born without feet and legs.

In southern India there has been a tradition of matrilineal surnames. Yet sex determination tests in India triggered female foeticide on a colossal scale.

Parents are expected to beggar themselves by laying on ruinously expensive weddings for their daughters. Then, they are supposed to give the groom's family a dowry worth a king's ransom.

Notoriously, abortion clinics used to advertise, 'Spend 300 rupees now. Save 30, 000 rupees later.'

What is more, a devout Hindu will often say that 'only a son' can crack open his father's skull on his funeral pyre and allow his soul to escape. His immortality depends on having a son.

An Orthodox Jew might say that 'only a son' can recite 'kaddish.' This is a memorial prayer to be said after the death of a parent.

I don't know what the rationalisation is in China but, traditionally, foreign visitors were horribly distressed by the cries of baby girls emanating from the 'dying rooms' where they had been left to starve. They couldn't understand why the parents were stonily indifferent.

The One Child Policy led to a revival of the dying rooms some twenty years ago. Newspaper headlines said, 'In China, sex matters. Boys live. Girls die.'

In a particularly noxious case, a man was assured by a fortune teller that his wife was pregnant with a boy. So he threw his two year old daughter down a well, and lit a fag to pass the time as he waited for her to drown.

My husband saw a story about female infanticide in China in a British newspaper. He lost it in a slightly solipsistic way.

He shouted, ''They kill their own children! And yet they think they have a right to tell me what to do!''

I was confused. I hadn't been aware that any Chinese people had ever tried to push him around.

When he cooled down, he felt more positive. He said, ''In twenty years' time, women will be valued because they will be scarce.'' I doubted this.

The twenty years have now elapsed. Young men can't marry or have a heterosexual bonk.

They are frustrated. Women are not valued. They are abducted.

From an Olympian height it is obvious that these quaint and endearing customs do no good, only great harm. They should be discontinued.

But that's easy for an outsider to say. In the case of Indian wedding customs for instance, it's hard for an individual to bring about transformation. The whole society has to agree with you before you can achieve anything.

But on the family level, when people say, ''Only a son can do such-and-such'', it is easier. A second's thought reveals that, in reality, any human being can do these things. Furthermore, it doesn't matter one iota if nobody does them.

Let's go to the mind gym and exercise our brains. Then we can begin to eliminate the pointless suffering in the world.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:28 pm    Post subject: The Badge of Bastardy Reply with quote

The arsehole in the last but one post should logically have been grateful to his daughters if they had non marital births. Their children could then be expected to have their mothers' surnames.

But this can't have been an invariable practice. Pope Alexander vi aka Rodrigo Borgia can't have been eligible to have married any of his children's mothers. But they still answered to Cesare Borgia, Lucrezia Borgia et al.

In 'The L Shaped Room', a novel published in the late 50s, an older woman counsels Jane Graham who is unmarried and pregnant that on any logical showing, her miserable old bugger of a father should be grateful to her. She was an only child, and he was probably expecting his surname to go extinct. But if she now had a boy, it would be given a new lease of life.

He wasn't grateful though. He had thrown her out of the house.

I remember a mildly camp gay man giving his take on how the world should be transformed for the better on an opinion slot in the early days of Channel 4. He thought the Catholic Church should welcome gayness and especially mutual masturbation. He thought this would ameliorate the world's population problem.

It must have been the early 80s. I remember that as late as that, he said the birth of a girl was usually greeted with restricted rapture compared to the unrestrained joy expressed when a boy was born.

He put this down to a fear that teenage girls might show their parents up by becoming pregnant with illegitimate babies. Apparently, it hadn't yet been worked out in the 80s that boys could have any role in reproduction!

Parents were not generally at all happy to have a grandchild with their own surname in these circumstances. It just rubbed in the embarrassment.

There was a mind virus that a matrilineal surname didn't count. It wasn't really valid.

A few decades earlier, people would have implored the mother of a non marital child to do the right thing by it, at least if it was a boy. She should marry someone - anyone - and 'give the boy a name.'

The writer Vera Brittain was ahead of her time in many ways. She married George Catlin - the political philosopher not the portraitist of Native Americans - in 1925. She declined to use his surname in any circumstances as that was a practice she abominated. She was quite upset if his colleagues at Ithaca addressed her as 'Mrs Catlin.'

When her daughter Shirley - later the Lib Dem peer Shirley Williams - was born, she stuck to her guns in filling out the birth certificate. A clerk said that the registrar had asked him to say that this might cause the child some difficulties in later life.

It might be assumed that she was illegitimate. Vera Brittain was not impressed.

Urged by Churchill and other royalist purists, Elizabeth ii proclaimed in 1960 that the House of Windsor still reigned. She wasn't having any of this Mountbatten nonsense.

Eleven days later she gave birth to Prince Andrew. The Bishop of Carlisle was most upset.

He said he did not like the idea of any child 'born in wedlock' being deprived of the right and privilege of every other legitimate child.

While appreciating that the good bishop was expressing memes typical of his era, I have to say that this was a statement devoid of sense. It's incredibly misogynistic to think that it is infra dig and even a disgrace to have a surname that comes from your mother's family.

We might also wince at the idea that a child deserves a gold star for being born in wedlock while those who are not should be made to stand in the corner, even though this supposed status has nothing to do with personal merit in either case. It does offend egalitarian sensibilities and any idea of justice.

The bishop didn't shine as a logician or as an exponent of Christian charity. But at least one person thought he made good sense.

This was one Edward Iwi. He said that to the man on the Clapham omnibus, Prince Andrew 'bore the badge of bastardy.'

He told Harold Macmillan that he had 'strong conscientious feelings against allowing a legitimate child to be born with its mother's maiden surname or family name.' He said he had 'reason to believe that many right minded people share my view.'

Macmillan denied the premise that female monarchs ever took their husbands' surnames. He said it was wrong to assume that Prince Charles and Princess Anne had ever been called Mountbatten.

Mary Tudor remained Mary Tudor after marrying a Habsburg. Queen Anne had married Prince George of Denmark but she and her children never bore the name Oldenburg. They were the Stuarts.

In any case, it was all academic. Royal people had latent surnames.

When George v changed his surname to Windsor in 1917 in deference to anti-German hysteria, he didn't even know what his surname had been before. He'd never needed to use it.

Hanover and Saxe Coburg Gotha were territorial designations. George might conceivably have been called Guelph. Some theorists favoured Wettin or even Wiper.

To placate Philip, the queen later agreed that their remote non-royal descendants would be permitted to call themselves Mountbatten-Windsor. It shows that even hidebound traditionalists can be a bit flexible sometimes. The rest of us can allow ourselves some flexibility too.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:32 am    Post subject: A Person or a Parcel? Reply with quote

Alwyn ap Huw put up a post speculating if postal votes were sexist. If a woman registered in one name, then married or divorced, and voted in another name, the vote might be disallowed.

'Welsh Agenda' said it was not postal voting that was sexist but name change on marriage itself. I agreed. But it doesn't mean the women who subscribe to it are zombies or doormats.

It's something that's so ingrained in society that they don't even think about it. The wedding ceremony itself preserves ceremonial based on dodgy and archaic attitudes.

My friend Judy was taking a superior attitude to her friends of the Sikh persuasion. She claimed to have attended a wedding in a gurdwara where the bride was led in by a rope round her waist!

She couldn't understand how her friend could agree to degrade herself publicly like that. I said, ''Well, maybe it's something that's so taken for granted in her culture that she doesn't even think about it.

''After all, if a being from another planet or even another continent came here and went to a Christian wedding, what would they think? They'd probably be appalled to see the bride's father frog marching her up the aisle and giving her away to the groom.''

''Well, who do you think should give her away then?'', asked Judy, missing the point as usual.

''Why should anyone give her away?'', I asked, ''The groom's mother doesn't give him away.''

I do think it's quite obnoxious as the bride's being treated like an old parcel or another inanimate thing. Also, there is the implication that she is being transferred from one owner to another.

'Welsh Agenda' agrees with me on this. So, apparently, does the Church in Wales. I've heard this is something they abolished in 1974.

I believe that in Jewish weddings, both parents escort the bride under the wedding canopy. But it's probably kosher in both senses of the term. It may represent emotional support only.

'Welsh Agenda' lamented that women 'who would be regarded as strong feminists in other regards are [now] taking their husbands' names as a matter of course', reversing a trend in the 80s and 90s.

Perhaps this is because of the flak you get if you defy the tradition. Sophie Couloumbeau who lectures at Cardiff University was about to marry. She decided she couldn't give up her lovely name. It was part of her identity.

But she recounted how women who had made the same decision in the past had been told they were ridiculous or needed a 'competent psychiatrist.' People who talk like this need to travel to broaden their minds.

They'll find barely a trace of a tradition like this in the Iberian peninsula, Latin America, Iceland or much of the Arab world.

I remember going to inform a public body that I had just married but had not changed my name and didn't intend to. The silly teenage girl behind the desk told me I wouldn't be allowed to do that.

She said, ''You signed the wedding certificate with your husband's surname, didn't you?''

''No, of course I didn't!'' I exclaimed, ''No one ever does that anyway!''

I finally had to demand to see the manager. I decided not to announce the lack of change to any other organisation. They didn't need to know.

A good number of people think this onerous tradition is a legal requirement. They will tell you it with great assurance and often with belligerence. They are talking out of their arses but perhaps this is a belief that most people share.

Another reason to succumb is the reflection, 'What about the children?' The Aztecs, Maya, and /or Incas or somebody had bilineal descent. People had the same surname as their same sex parent.

It sounds equitable to me. It's what happens in Harriet Harman's house.

I know people mock her, calling her 'Harriet Harperson.' It does make you wonder what a harman did. And what did jaggers and keelers do ?

It is a nuisance to change everything on your cards. But this is a sexist custom that is self inflicted.

Women shouldn't comply with it and then complain. They have no one but themselves to blame.

No one is making them do it. If they think the law is forcing it on them, they're wrong.

It now seems particularly pointless as marriage is no longer a rite of passage. People cohabit for years and have children before the wedding.

Instead of addressing everyone formally as 'Mr' and 'Mrs', we are usually on first name terms with everyone. We often don't even know the surnames of quite close friends.

You're causing massive inconvenience to people who want to trace you if you effectively change your identity. Of course, if you want to shake off your past, that might seem like a very good idea.

But perhaps female dentists, MPs and ombudsmen for instance should reflect on how selfish and uncalled for this is, and what a nuisance they are creating for people who need to contact them in a hurry.

I don't especially welcome a slight rise in men taking their wives' names. It shows flexibility, but if this becomes general, it will amount to anti-male sexism.

Perhaps the advent of gay marriage will be a watershed. It may shape how marriage evolves in the future.

I would welcome civil partnerships for heterosexual couples. Then you will be able to make a commitment to someone without having that terrible crushing burden of historical tradition weighing you down like a mill stone.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:46 pm    Post subject: The Weight of Tradition Reply with quote

Sophie Couloumbeau found that her soon to be married friends who planned to do the conventional thing said ''It's traditional.'' Of course it is, but so is bull fighting and many other regrettable things.

My personal feeling is that it is a tradition that would be 'more honoured in the breach than the observance' in the original sense that Hamlet meant it.
I don't expect everyone to share my priorities and opinions, but the least they could do is think.

Doing things automatically because they are 'the done thing' can be an easy substitute for thought. I don't say that eating mince pies at Christmas should be proscribed - although Oliver Cromwell apparently did - but a tradition can be good, bad or indifferent.

If it's going to have a significant effect on your life, it's worth pondering whether you should bother with it.

It's a terrible argument to say, ''That's how things have always been'', and in this case it's not even true. People used to be relaxed about their surnames which were often indistinguishable from nicknames.

A male person might have more than one surname such as John Smith alias Baker. I have heard that Oliver Cromwell was born and christened Oliver Williams.

Harold ii wasn't bothered whether people called him Harold Godwin or Harold Godwinson. By feudal custom, if a man married a widow on a manorial estate, he was often expected to take her surname which was often that of her first husband.

Some kind relative presented me with 'The Guiness Book of Names' one Christmas. I was surprised to see that a minority are derived from the names and status of female ancestors e g Anson, Widowson, Nunn [!], Catlin, Mallison, Moggs, Pogs, Betts.

Chaucer referred to a barmaid as a 'tappisterre', a tapster. On the understanding that 'ster' was a feminine ending, it looks as if Brewster, Baxter and Webster are maternal occupation surnames.

Some bearers of these names bitterly resent the inference. They are defensive about the perceived accusation of 'the badge of bastardy' in their past, even if it's as far back as the Middle Ages. It's pathetic really.

Before it became common to give children first names like Hudson, Tyler and Taylor, an unhappy grandmother wrote to a newspaper. She was perturbed that her son and daughter-in-law had called their daughter Tiffany.

She demanded to know if it was 'really' a girl's first name. She was only familiar with it as a surname from Tiffany's the jeweller's.

It must be a first name that developed into a matronymic surname. Apparently, it was associated with Bretons who helped the Normans to subdue England.

An English rhyme grumbled:

'William de Coningsby /Came out of Brittany /With his wife Tiffany/And his maid Manfas / And his dog Hardigras.'

In the 'White Queen' TV series, which was a bit of an hors d'oeuvre for 'Game of Thrones', English noblewomen such as Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Wydvil and Ann Nevill were always known by their natal surnames. But they used their husbands' noble titles.

Over the centuries from the Norman Conquest, the ethos of marriage slowly degenerated. From a partnership, it became a form of ownership.

According to feudal law, women could not be executors of wills or argue their own cases in court. But the records show that women did these things regularly. Margaret Beaufort and one other woman sat as JPs.

Feudal law mandated that women could not run their own businesses. But they did.

It may be that feudal law was not believed to apply in towns, but only on certain lordly manors. Even there, it could be sidestepped.

Even the wives of the notorious Bluebeard Henry viii were known as Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour et al, never Anne Tudor or Jane Tudor. Lady Jane Grey signed herself 'Jane Duddely' [sic] after marrying Guildford Dudley but that is not how history remembers her.

The Normans had a feudal concept that a married woman was a 'femme covert' whose identity was subsumed in her husband's, and could only sue or bring any legal action as a joint actor with him. This was as opposed to an unmarried femme sole who was an independent actor.

But this had always been a wistful legal myth. It was not enforceable.

Things had changed when Blackstone wrote his 'Commentaries on the Laws of England.' Alluding to the line in Genesis that a man should leave his parents and 'cleave' to his wife and they would become one flesh, he said 'husband and wife are one - and that one is the husband!'

The very legal existence of the wife was suspended for the duration of the marriage.

The deterioration is reflected in Jane Austen's novels. When someone asked in 'Pride and Prejudice' if Lady Catherine de Borough is going to be a JP, it was supposed to sound ridiculous, almost like asking if a toasted sandwich was going to be a JP.

The novels also have instances of how the 'one flesh' ethos had affected nomenclature. A married woman might be referred to as 'Mrs', followed by her husband's full name as in Mrs John Smith.

It sounds awful to me, like a linguistic burqa. She is invisible. Yet the usage was just about standard in some contexts into the second half of the twentieth century.

It sounds funny now. In a sit com, a news room is raided by the police.

A female journalist tries to pull rank. She tells a burly policeman, ''I'm a personal friend of Princess Michael of Kent.''

Unimpressed, he says, ''And I'm a personal friend of Princess Gary of Essex.''

The judge who expressed the view that a husband should be allowed to clobber his wife with any stick no thicker than his thumb, was merely stating his own view. Many thought it was outrageous and disgraceful. Some in the judiciary thought he was wrong in law.

It was uncontroversial that the husband was the sole legal owner of all the property the wife brought into the marriage, and any she earned or inherited later.

In 1891 a landmark decision held that a man had not been within his rights to lie in wait for his estranged wife as she was going to church, abduct her and keep her prisoner. The wife's sister was elated. She said, ''Coverture is dead.''

It's no wonder the husband thought his actions were legally sound. Case law earlier in the Victorian era had indicated that judges whole heartedly approved of this sort of behaviour.

Even as these restrictions were lifted, others took their place. For part of the twentieth century, a British woman who married a foreigner lost her nationality. This was justified on the grounds that it would make her think seriously about the commitment.

No one thought it necessary for her fiancé to cogitate deeply about it. It was as if the wife is more married than the husband.

Also most local authorities refused to employ married women teachers in defiance of the law. This continued until nearly the end of the Second World War.

I think the idea was that they should have been concentrating deeply on housework as if they were married to the house. It's exhausting just to contemplate it.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:25 am    Post subject: troed mewn Cyffion Reply with quote

According to Sophie Couloumbeau, the custom to which I have been objecting didn't make significant inroads into the Celtic parts of the British Isles until the nineteenth century. This is clearly true in Scotland. Rabbie Burns' wife was always Jean Armour, never Mrs Burns.

It wouldn't have been very practical in a country that recognised 'marriage by habit and repute.' If you cohabited long enough, it would be recognised as an irregular but valid marriage.

A comic film in the earlier twentieth century was based on the theme that if a coupe in Scotland told people they were married, it became true even if they were joking. The film maker had probably got the wrong end of the stick.

Scotswomen began to ape the English custom of using their husbands' surnames in day to day life. Everything English was posh.

But this is not something that Scots law really endorses. In signing contracts or appearing in court, you would be known as -say- Morag McPherson aka Weir. Perhaps Scots law doesn't accept that you can ever give up a natal name.

An Irish friend tells me that an attack was made on Irish names during the Great Famine. If you entered the workhouse with an obtrusively Irish 'O' in front of your surname as in O' Hara or O' Leary, you would have to give it up or be turned away.

After Bridget Boland married Michael Cleary in late Victorian times, her Irish speaking neighbours continued to call her Bridget Boland because that was the Irish way. But to English speakers, she was Bridget Cleary.

None of her neighbours can be seen as exponents of progressive thought. They either stood by and let Michael Cleary set her on fire because he thought she was a fairy, or participated in it!

In Wales, most of us didn't have surnames until recently. We had patronymics except Twm Sion Cati. He had a matronymic.

English writers in the nineteenth century said that in the more uncivilized parts of Wales, men still insisted on calling themselves Rhun ap Iorweth or whatever. Economic incentives encouraged the adoption of English style surnames.

But for some time they functioned as patronymics. So Evan Thomas' son might be Robert Evans. His son might be William Roberts. Even in the male line, the family name changed in every generation.

Even after the situation stabilised, a limited number of names were in use. They had to go round all sorts of people who were not related to each other. They didn't sound distinguished.

Welsh names don't work from a genealogical point of view. They're hopeless. Once you've traced a family back to where the aps begin, it will usually be impossible to go any further.

A woman would traditionally have a patronymic, say Gwenllian ferch Gruffudd.

Because people lived in small communities and had no surnames, they didn't go in much for courtesy titles for those below the ranks of the nobility.
Perhaps in North Wales, they sometimes said Boneddig or Boneddiges but it didn't come naturally.

In Kate Roberts' novel 'Troed Mewn Cyffion' or 'Feet in Chains', our protagonist has had a telegram to tell her that her son has been killed on the Western Front. She can't read it. It is in English.

She takes it to the post office for a translation. The post office person reads it and goes white. He says gravely, ''Sit down , Jane Gruffudd.''

In formal and defining moments, you were addressed by your first and last name. It was like Russian serfs addressing the estate owner's son formally by his first name and patronymic.

We did lazily take on English courtesy titles for common people in South Wales. Perhaps married women aped English customs while their spouses still used the ap system.

For there was a word fluency game for children which ran:

' I saw Mr Ap Gruffudd and Mrs Griffiths/ I saw Mr Ab Evan and Mrs Evans/ I saw Mr Ap Robert and Mrs Roberts ...and so on.'

It seems to me that Dafydd ap Geler Thomas was in the vanguard of re-adopting the patronymic system. But devolution has given it a shot in the arm.

A lot of young men do it now. The son of the actor Brinley Jenkins is also an actor. He calls himself Alun ap Brinley.

Because having no surname at all causes hopeless confusion, I would suggest following Dafydd's example and combining a patronymic with a surname. It's what the Russians do.

But as Welsh surnames are not usually very memorable or imaginative, perhaps we should seize this liminal post devolution moment and trade them in for something more portentuous or more fun even if it does cause initial confusion.

I'm not sure if Angharad Mair is using a matronymic. Is it Mair as in Mary or Mair as in Eddie Mair? I've never heard anyone say it.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:06 am    Post subject: rabbi Reply with quote

It's been a problem in the west and elsewhere that succession to the throne or to real estate has preferentially passed from father to son. Yet, as we all know, maternity is a certainty; paternity is a matter of opinion.

So how could a man be sure his children were really his own? All sorts of more or less gruesome methods have been found to patrol women such as infibulation, chastity belts, menaces, moral injunctions and many more.

But the best way is to get biology on your side. Dafydd ap Geler Thomas tells me that the Picts didn't have marriage. In Pictish succession, a man's heir was his sister's son.

He could be sure they were related. And perhaps he felt about him as a father would about his son in other cultures.

In Orthodox Judaism, women have been almost invisible in liturgical life, however dominant they may have been in the domestic sphere. Yet, almost unbelievably, Jewish identity is transmitted matrilineally.

Jews have a history of being very logical. This was a pragmatic solution.

There may be many candidates for a given child's paternity. But unless it is a foundling, there can't be much doubt about who its mother is.

It was a triumph of logic over anti-female prejudice - at the time.

'Della' is the eldest daughter of Justin de Villeneuve ne Nigel Davies. He was well known in the 60s as the manager and boyfriend of Twiggy.

Della has the surname of her Welsh grandfather. But she identifies as an Ashkenazi Jew.

Her maternal grandparents came from Poland and Russia. The Russian side had come to the East End of London in 1906 to escape the pogroms.

As a professed feminist, Della is proud that Judaism is matrilineal. It's certainly different. But why is it better?

We have a friend who is an adult adoptee. Like me, he uncovered the mystery of his past.

His father was Jewish. He got the hell out of Latvia just in time and became cantor in a temple in New York.

But in the eyes of the strictly Orthodox, our friend has no right to Jewish status. His mother is not a Jew after all.

He would be designated a 'mamzer'. This term of abuse has connotations like 'bastard' in the original sense.

The supple thinking for which Jews are sometimes known is not always in evidence. It can't be when religious precepts fossilise and become senseless taboos. One foolish rabbi said, ''Everything new is forbidden!''

Some poor child was forbidden admission to the Jews' Free School in London because he was Jewish on the wrong side. His parents lost a costly legal challenge.

I have a memory of seeing a rabbi justifying this on a TV show, oblivious of the hurt, rejection and dejection the innocent child was experiencing. I was shocked as I'd previously thought he was a really nice guy.

Matrilineal descent was sensible before we had DNA tests. Now that we do, it can be confidently replaced by bilineal descent.

At least it can be if you are not a narrow minded rabbi who says ''All innovation is forbidden!'' This is just bigotry. It is anti-male sexism.

Della once told me off for supporting a male friend against her in an argument. It was not that she was in the right, but she thought I should have supported her on principle because she was a woman.

I didn't think that that was what feminism should be about. In my view it should be about egalitarianism, not alternative sexism!


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 1:45 am    Post subject: Gong Reply with quote

I spoke to a friend 'Dora' a few days ago. She has recently completed degrees in history and psychotherapy. She has begun treating people in her new role as a psychotherapist.

She had had a pretty unenlightened upbringing and had been through not one, not two but three abusive marriages. She had been in a Women's Refuge more than once.

This enabled her to attend the 'Freedom' project which opens your eyes to how unhelpful attitudes in parents can set you up for other abusive relationships. It is not that you are a masochist.

It's just that you have no concept of a relationship that is not abusive. Young men often encounter violence on the streets from troublemakers looking for a fight. That's horrible but they know who their enemies are.

Women are more likely to suffer violence at the hands of someone who previously claimed to love them. That's very crazy making.

Often there's a desperate hope that you can take someone who doesn't care about you or has a negative attitude to you, and by your loyalty and devotion, force them to admit that you are worthwhile.

It's like trying to relive your relationship with your obtuse parents. The idea is that you can get it right this time. You never can.

The Freedom Project can open your eyes to this self defeating behaviour. It can free you to look out for warm supportive partners who are interested in you. After all, good people are found not made.

Dora is a success and a survivor though it's taken her a while. So many women I've seen in refuges are damaged fruitbats.

I said to Della that we could do the Freedom Course. We'd both had unfortunate relationships. Her mother's idea of child rearing could get you a prison sentence today.

Della said, ''Yes but it was good for us. It's made us what we are today.'' ''And what are we today?'' I asked.

Dora told me quite excitedly that she had now changed her name by deed poll to that of her partner with whom she was in a supportive relationship. She expected me to be happy for her.

Given what I'd been thumping out on the computer in the posts immediately above this, I couldn't immediately manage it. Blankness and horror struggled for mastery of my face.

It was a salutary and educational experience. Meanings are nuanced. Symbolism evolves.

Dora can't bring herself to remarry as she associates marriage with misery. But to her, sharing a surname symbolises not female subjection but closeness.

She can't change her name back to her birth name by deed poll as that would reconnect her to her parents which would trigger unhappy associations.

I'm so far gone that the expression 'maiden name' makes me grind my teeth. It implies that unmarried women should be virgins.

It would be bossy of me to try to impose my perceptions on others. Are Barbara Cartland and Katie Hopkins who are known by their birth names to be preferred to Emmeline Pankhurst who wasn't? Of course not.

My adoptive mother was domineering in a secretive and manipulative way. She was the dominant partner in her marriage but allowed my adoptive father to think he was the boss. She also sometimes made misogynistic remarks.

My adoptive father lacked perception. He really thought he was the boss.

I find her lack of honesty and authenticity appalling. But it was usual at one time.

And she was no doubt better off than someone who theoretically subscribes to equality but stumbles into an abusive marriage.

Liz Hutchinson -or was it Hodgkinson? - made a case in the early 90s that marriage was inherently undesirable. it tended to make men angry and frustrated and women anxious and clinging.

At the time marital rape was still legal. I read of a husband who committed this after reading in a Reader's Digest guide to the law that he was entitled to!

Until the early 70s, a husband could sue a man who 'alienated his wife's affections' for enjoying her housewifely functions. It was expected that she would be waiting on the new man hand, foot and finger, instead of on her husband as she should be.

A woman couldn't sue her husband's mistress in the same way. It was assumed that he would be thinking of something other than putting up a few shelves or attaching a new washer.

It was just not true that everyone was equal before the law. In the 1300s, it was enacted that anyone who murdered an immediate feudal superior would be guilty of petty treason. This would include a serf who killed his lord, a monk who killed his abbot or a servant his master.

The penalty for petty treason was burning at the stake. These relationships were inherently unequal and open to abuse anyway. As late as 1939, an encyclopaedia felt the need to state that a master had no right to chastise his servant.

Now if any underling stood up to an abusive feudal superior physically and it ended fatally, the poor serf or servant or monk would meet a sticky end or rather a hot one. It just reinforced abuse.

Perhaps it had not originally been intended to apply to spousal murder. But that was how it came to be interpreted. A wife was seen as a definite inferior.

Long after feudal oaths had gone the way of the three field system, a woman who murdered her husband was guilty of petty treason. She was dragged to the place of execution on a hurdle and burnt at the stake.

A man who murdered his wife would only be hanged - if the jury felt like convicting. This discrepancy continued up to 1790.

In the 80s, a police spokesman said, ''There haven't been many murders in London this year and some of them have not been serious. Some were only husbands murdering their wives.''

In the early 90s, controversy raged about a Sara Thornton who had been convicted of murder for stabbing her physically abusive husband. She had received a mandatory life sentence.

This sounded a bit harsh. At approximately the same time, men who killed their wives for nagging or moving the mustard were convicted only of manslaughter and immediately released.

Liz H recounted exceptionally distasteful examples of domestic murder committed by men who evidently hated and despised their wives. She wondered how they had come to feel like this about women they had once sworn to love for the rest of their lives.

We don't know what they were thinking of. But it may be that spousal violence - if not deadly violence - is still taken for granted in some subcultures.

A witness in court was asked why he did not intervene when he saw the defendant assaulting a woman in the street. He replied innocently, ''I thought she was his wife!''

Since Liz H was writing in the early 90s, the institution of marriage has been cleaned up. It is in law a contract between equals - except perhaps when it comes to divorce. Perhaps women are unfairly privileged in divorce.

Name change on marriage is the only remnant of coverture. While it may have connotations of ownership, it would be wrong to say that a spouse cannot be seen as a possession without it.

In Rajasthan, India in 1987, Roop Kanwar was a school leaver in her late teens. She entered an arranged marriage with a Maal Singh.

She wasn't very interested in him and hardly spent a night under the same roof as him. She had an affair and may have become pregnant as the result of it.

Maal died either of gastro-intestinal problems or suicide after failing his college exams. Roop's in-laws thought it would be a great opportunity to get rid of her as well.

They could chuck her on the funeral pyre and pass it off as Sati. She was such a devoted wife that she chose to go with him!

Some guests, sickened but lacking the courage to help, turned away in disgust as the burning girl under the firewood screamed for someone to rescue her.

In Rajasthan, a woman's continuing existence has traditionally been seen as redundant and inappropriate once her husband is dead. She is only here for his benefit.

Curiously this does not mean that she is expected to have his surname. Big deal!

Was this woman's fate any less painful because she was called Ms Kanwar instead of Mrs Singh? Of course not! Perhaps, it is marriage itself that should go!


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:20 am    Post subject: The Pillars of the Temple Reply with quote

I have found a teenage girl on the internet who is the Indian equivalent of Kitty Spencer. She says she is normally in favour of sexual equality but can't see why anyone objects to Sati! I'm not making it up.

A volatile former friend accused me of hypocrisy for marrying although I disapproved of marriage. I demurred.

I said that hypocrisy meant pretending to a virtue that you don't possess. I was not hypocritical but inconsistent.

He who became my husband claimed to have found legal advantages in marrying. I kept putting it off but finally succumbed.

I intended to make the wedding a statement of what I really felt about the situation without actually making fun of the celebrant. So I wore a sparkly black dress as if going to a night club.

I needn't have bothered. My husband was capable of turning it into a farce without any help from me.

He proudly wore our pre-marital baby Taliesin in a sling on his chest, not unlike a medal. To prevent Baby Tal waking up and crying, he kept jumping from one foot to the other throughout the ceremony to create a rocking motion.

This conveyed the impression that he was either dying for a pee or couldn't wait to rush off and consummate the marriage.

As a native of ex-Yugoslavia, my husband didn't previously know that you were supposed to say ''I do'' or ''I will'' at a British wedding. The registrar had told him what to say but he hadn't been paying any attention.

When it came to the point, he said emphatically, ''Yes.'' He didn't just say it once. Whenever the registrar paused for breath, he said, ''Yes.''

The registrar looked at this hyperactive Croat, bouncing round like a grasshopper, with some consternation, but obviously made a snap decision that getting the lines wrong didn't invalidate the ceremony.

My husband fluffed some of the other lines too. When it came to my turn, I enunciated them perfectly with cutting superiority.

It must have been voted the crappiest wedding of the year at the registry office Christmas bash. One of the few witnesses told me she'd had a hard struggle, not to give in to her impulse to fall about, laughing helplessly.

I later said indignantly to Dafydd ap Geler Thomas, ''It's my job to fluff the lines, not Andrej's!'' ''The two shall become one flesh'', said Dafydd.

Andrej lost his 99p ring from 'Claire's Accessories' within days. We had rings only because it was impossible to get through the ceremony without them.

An acquaintance praised me. She thought it would be stabilising that everyone in the family had the same name. I had to bite my tongue.

This is obviously never the case. Statistically, if a couple live together for a long time and then marry, they are likely to split up shortly afterwards. Perhaps marriage creates pressure.

Andrej's Croatian surname sounds a bit like a much more famous Ukrainian one. I was a bit upset to get a letter from my adoptive sister addressed to Mr and Mrs [Husband's Full Name]. But when a lady greeted me, ''So, you're Mrs Trotsky?,'' I laughed.

I felt like saying, ''Yes, I wrote all Leon's speeches for him. I was with him in Mexico. Thank God, Mercader missed me with that ice pick.''

Our friend who found out his father was a Latvian Jew, has been married since his early 20s to a violent and enmeshing woman. The marriage has never been consummated but he agrees with his wife's hypothesis that he has to account to her for everything he does.

He plays the flute in a local church. She threatens to tell the vicar he is not a good husband ie not abjectly obedient enough. He just doesn't have it in him to tell her to bugger off.

It reminds me of Ambrose Bierce's definition of marriage: 'an institution consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all two.''

I was sorry that Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan lost their case to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. They are determined that their relationship be legally recognised but object to marriage as it is a 'patriarchal' institution. It certainly is.

Steinfeld says that civil partnerships give 'almost equal rights and responsibilities but without its history and social expectations.' I hope they win on appeal.

I'm sorry to say I've become unduly dependent on my partner. I really shouldn't be.

Ideally, it should be as Kahlil Gibran put it:

'Love one another but make not a bond of love.../Give you hearts but not into each other's keeping/...And stand together, yet not too near together/ For the pillars of the temple stand apart,/ And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.'
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 4:29 am    Post subject: Romain Reply with quote

In my first edition, I said that it was Rabbi Jonathan Romain who had made intolerant remarks about a child who was Jewish on the 'wrong' side while appearing on 'The Big Questions'.

Not only did he not say anything of the sort, but I now realise that he would never say such a thing. He is not that kind of person. I had mixed him up with someone else.

Mae drwg 'da fi. I haven't been able to discover the name of the real culprit but I would know him if I saw him.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
An Irish friend tells me that an attack was made on Irish names during the Great Famine. If you entered the workhouse with an obtrusively Irish 'O' in front of your surname as in O' Hara or O' Leary, you would have to give it up or be turned away.


So, by the work-house door was a big box overflowing with the 'O's they had given up. And when Liver Twist asked for food, the Beadle reached into that big box and gave him zero.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:58 pm    Post subject: Os in South Africa Reply with quote

What I forgot to say, Moritz, is that the Os were exported to Britain along with the cereal crops. Some were also sent out to South Africa at the time of the Zulu War and both Boer Wars.

The British officers often had dealings with speakers of click languages such as !Kung Bushmen. The exclamation mark, as you know, represents a click sound which Europeans find hard to pronounce and was not traditionally found in the Roman alphabet.

Again, the British made no attempt to assimilate or go native. They might ask a local, ''What's your name?'' ''J!hn'', he would reply.

''Good God, man, we can't be expected to pronounce that!'' exclaimed the leading Briton in the foraging party, ''Here, have an O. Now, you can answer to John. That's a great improvement.''

And so uniformity and conformity spread over the empire on which the sun never set.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Keith Vaz promoted the British monarchy going over to sex blind succession. He said that all Britain's female monarchs had been tremendous. He'd probably forgotten about Bloody Mary whom we could well have done without


Good news: Elizabeth and Victoria were Great Britain's most glorious days.
Bad news: Bloody Mary the Tyrant.
Medium news: Empress Mathilda was both bad-ass and not very nice.
Medium news: Anna and Elizabeth II were well intentioned non-entities.

Many male kings have been non-entities, but no-one makes a big deal.

Anna was wise-ish and lucky-ish. She knew her own limitations, so she took advice from Mrs Freeman; but later she took wrong advice from traitors.
Elizabeth has no power. Who can guess what she miht have done?
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marianneh



Joined: 30 May 2013
Posts: 2019

PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:48 am    Post subject: clarify Reply with quote

So you're taking Sarah Churchill's side in her lover's tiff with Anne? I can't remember what it was about except that it may have turned on misreading one word in a letter, turning 'notion' into 'nation' and thus starting a feud.

We know Sarah later wrote scurrilous poetry accusing Anne -er, Mrs Morley- of a lesbian affair with the unlettered Abigail Hill. It sounds a bit hypocritical for it was not jealousy she was outwardly displaying but moral outrage or at least a combination of puritanism and sniggering prurience.

We know Anne lost her grip politically later, and as she is not thought to have ever had any judgement in the first place, it is likely that she had turned to poor advisors.

But why do you call them traitors? Do you mean they wanted her brother - if that's what he was - as heir - after all Anne's children succumbed to whatever genetic curse the Stuarts had?

Do you think giving the queen bad advice is ipso facto treason? I feel quite sorry for Anne because of her disastrous obstetric career - she should have had an A for effort and an E for achievement as John O' Farrell said.

It shows what a non-entity her sister Mary ii was, that you've forgotten to mention her at all. Of course Mary was fearful than in usurping her father's crown - as critics - would see it - she was breaking one of the commandments.

It was forbidden to produce 'King Lear' in public all the years of her reign. Mary just disclaimed responsibility by saying ''It is not my act!'' Like Chris Huhne's ex-wife, she pleaded 'marital coercion', putting all the responsibility on William.

Lady Jane Grey was a true heroic martyr but also necessarily a fanatic. Eric Ives argued that she was the rightful queen and Bloody Mary was a usurper. He says that just like Henry viii, Edward vi had the right to leave the throne by will to whomever he liked.
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marianneh



Joined: 30 May 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:04 pm    Post subject: imagine that! Reply with quote

We can't imagine what Elizabeth ii would have done had she been absolute monarch. We know just about nothing about her personality and ability or lack of these qualities.

Perhaps we will find out after her death when her diaries are published. During the last but one jubilee I heard some guy who had met the queen say, ''The queen's a lovely lady.'' I expected him to continue with more gooey platitudes.

Instead, he continued, ''She needs her head read though. Why does she want to go on doing this job at her age?''

As far as we can tell, the queen is a slave to duty. She feels she must go around visiting hospitals and factories, murmuring, ''How do you do?'' and ''What exactly do you do?'', or the world will come to an end.

We know she's allergic to abdication. When she was offered first refusal of the table at which Edward viii made his abdication speech before it was floated on e-bay, she said she needed an abdication table like a hole in the head.

Like a lot of people born in the 20s, she is anal, pernickety and focused on unimportant tasks. At royal occasions others might enjoy, she has a 'There's no fun in this for me, you know' expression. I think you can hear suppressed anger in her voice when she has to read the annual speech to parliament.

I've said we don't know what she's like, and now gone on to say she's very OCPD. That's a normal trait for people who endured a typical 1920s upbringing. It's all about appearances, making sure the curtains are perfectly aligned so the neighbours won't be scandalized.

If she'd been brought up differently she might he able to say, paraphrasing a Borgia Pope, ''As God has given us the queendom, let us enjoy it!'' You or I might find endless opportunities in the role for fun or mischief or holding the country to ransom by refusing to sign bills into law or declaring war on the Congo every Tuesday morning.

But the present queen is not like that. She sees her job as something that has to be stoically endured like working in a sausage stuffing factory.
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marianneh



Joined: 30 May 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:53 pm    Post subject: What was wrong? Reply with quote

It's a great virtue to be aware of your limitations as you say Anne was. This becomes obvious when you come across narcissistic nutjobs, oblivious to their own ignorance. They're really dangerous if they get into power.

We often get the impression that Anne wasn't too bright. It might just have been that the fashion for giving girls more than an extremely perfunctory education had gone with the Tudors. Even Sarah Churchill misguidedly bragged, ''I am no scholar, nor a wit, I thank God!''

In one respect only Anne's education was considered of extreme importance. She and her sister Mary were 'children of the state.' When their mother Anne Hyde and then their father later James ii went over to Rome, they were allowed no say in the religious upbringing of their own children. This was held to be essential to safeguard the Protestant succession.

You say that Anne was lucky. Yes, she had a glorious reign more by luck than judgement. But she was not very lucky from the point of view of gynecology. When her son William died aged 11 in 1700, sparking a succession crisis, it might have been of hydrocephalus or spina bifida which is not likely to be hereditary.

But he was the last survivor out of at least 15 and maybe 17 pregnancies. Mary ii thought she had two unsuccessful pregnancies but they may have been phantom pregnancies. Anne's mother and stepmother had gynecological histories almost as disastrous as her own.

OK, according to Pepys, this was a time when people would shit in the fireplace or any convenient corner. Neither hygiene nor medicine had really got off the ground. But even by the standards of the day, the Stuarts were really not heir conditioned and it was for no lack of trying.

Have you heard what the cause was eg rhesus negative blood or placental insufficiency? I'd love to know. The new science which combines history, archeology and DNA analysis is so fascinating. Has the cause been established beyond reasonable doubt?
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Moritz



Joined: 10 Mar 2014
Posts: 232

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:36 pm    Post subject: Re: clarify Reply with quote

marianneh wrote:
So you're taking Sarah Churchill's side in her lover's tiff with Anne? I can't remember what it was about except that it may have turned on misreading one word in a letter, turning 'notion' into 'nation' and thus starting a feud.

We know Sarah later wrote scurrilous poetry accusing Anne -er, Mrs Morley- of a lesbian affair with the unlettered Abigail Hill. It sounds a bit hypocritical for it was not jealousy she was outwardly displaying but moral outrage or at least a combination of puritanism and sniggering prurience.

.1) We know Anne lost her grip politically later, and as she is not thought to have ever had any judgement in the first place, it is likely that she had turned to poor advisors.

.2) But why do you call them traitors? Do you mean they wanted her brother - if that's what he was - as heir - after all Anne's children succumbed to whatever genetic curse the Stuarts had?

.3) Do you think giving the queen bad advice is ipso facto treason? I feel quite sorry for Anne because of her disastrous obstetric career - she should have had an A for effort and an E for achievement as John O' Farrell said.

4) .It shows what a non-entity her sister Mary ii was, that you've forgotten to mention her at all. Of course Mary was fearful than in usurping her father's crown - as critics - would see it - she was breaking one of the commandments.

It was forbidden to produce 'King Lear' in public all the years of her reign. Mary just disclaimed responsibility by saying ''It is not my act!'' Like Chris Huhne's ex-wife, she pleaded 'marital coercion', putting all the responsibility on William.

.5) Lady Jane Grey was a true heroic martyr but also necessarily a fanatic. Eric Ives argued that she was the rightful queen and Bloody Mary was a usurper. He says that just like Henry viii, Edward vi had the right to leave the throne by will to whomever he liked.


.2) Harley etc surrendered to Louis XIV.

.3) It's a nice point, I don't know that I've met it before. The distinction is either honest mistake or deliberate and malicious mens rea. I suggest taking bribes from the King of France is proof of mens rea.

.4) Mea culpa! I forgot Mary II another age of Britain's Glory.

.5) LjG was the true-born Queen of these Islands. All the necessary legal shenanigans, were done. Later, Bloody Mary won and they did the legal shenanigans to make Mary Queen. tlc.

My main point was that your Salicistas and Primogenituristas are saying "You cannot let a woman be queen, look how many queens were tyrants or non-entities." Your Salicistas conweniently forget ALL the males kings who were tyrants or non-entities and quite frequently both. Your Salicistas conweniently forget that ALL monarchs are ipso-facto tyrants regardless of race, colour or creed.
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