Doing the uncomfortable

I should endeavor every day to make myself do something that I don’t feel comfortable with. Yesterday it was going into the shop of sacs. Under the arches of one of the blocks overlooking the park has been a shop that is always closed when I don’t have the dog and open when I do. Yesterday we made a special trip at the right time, collected our number like the dole queue and hung around trying to remember what 1/2 a kilo was in Spanish ( Graham has only got to the number 20 in his class ) and what all the different flours were and if any were bread flour, until we were served.

We chose from a spread of white beans in white sacs their tops rolled down to expose their shapes and sizes, cannelloni, butter, fava etc etc and then some turmeric and curry powder, he recommended the London Curry mix to our amusement, and 2 kilos of oats and puy lentils were chosen from greens, browns and orange. Much chuffed we managed to also get the wine shop at the right time and with an ornate metal bottle carrier we selected Torres because we have had that from Corks ( cotham ) white rioja,  and a selection of local, some from Grahams dad’s area, ranging from 2.50 to 5 euros, not quite the bottom end of this shop but bumping along there.

For today I pushed the boat out on the uncomfortable front and went swimming with strangers. I was warm when I left but writing this now, drinking warm tea and in a jumper and jeans, I feel as if a little section from the freezer compartment has cemented itself in the middle of every bone which the warmth from the terrace tiles cant reach. I asked them if they went all year round, suggesting I would only come for the summer, they said ‘oh are you not coming back again?’ I said for me this is the summer!

It was amazing to be in the bright sea, a real thrill to look out to the big boats, and although the boys crawled 1k to the rocks and back I did a fair bit of splashing around and swallowing seawater and crawling and heavy breathing and with goggles steaming managed to get halfway across the bay. So probably 1/2k in waves, which is not so bad, I haven’t been swimming for at least a year and if I don’t wear flip-flops next time I might not be too much of an embarrassment for them, although they were really very friendly and the lady looked out for me the whole time we were in the water which was really nice of her. She also lent me a cap to help the cold but it didn’t stop my forehead freezing so I could only do a little bit of head down crawl.

Cycling back with bare legs, a skirt, t-shirt and flip flops, past the girls in bikinis; ‘guiris’* like me, I don’t mind if I am not wearing enough clothes, I am going to enjoy what I think is summer, I will not get burnt and I will try and learn Spanish (sorry not Catalan, it’s just way out of my league) and I will definitely respect the people and the place but my instincts are within me and I am afraid I am who I am, and I am British down to the core of my now frozen bones.


I go out to walk molly in 4ish sunshine in jeans and jumper and shoes and long socks and if my jumper wasn’t bright red and my hair wasn’t so arian I could almost…er not…look like I lived here!

Whether it is the episode from “The Killing” we watched last night or my constant need to drag up the darker side of life, I think about why the woman is always the victim. Is it our shear physicality? Is it because we are always the receptacle both in the act and the consequence. Does this always make us the victim? This trundles around my head in a park full of laughter and sunshine and people, easy as you like, practise type rope walking, juggling, handstands and the violin.

I guess we are all selling sex. Life is sex. Why should I turn my nose up at the titillation on a video being filmed on the beach earlier today, the backdrop was the blue sea but nobody will be able to see the cold wind as it blew over naked flesh.

But why should I look in distain at the fully clothed man in white long trousers and white long sleeved shirt prancing about to unheard music with his harem of bikini clad ladies supposedly seduced by the very nature of him being there. He is just paying them to back up his on screen libido. If I were he would I not do the same?

I talk of sex in flowers and I draw their beauty and sexuality, it is about nature, without sex, or pollination there is no life. But I try to show a respect for nature and a vulnerability of form, so is it ok then? Is my work more like a Catalan that goes out dressed discreetly and modestly? When I myself would happily wear gold hot pants if I had the legs for it!

Is it all actually ok and its just how the world ticks? Some people are paid to dance in bikinis and smile at the camera and others wear burkhas. Or do they both in fact both wear “the ultimate visual symbol of female oppression”. I have read there is a choice in both, a lot of the time.

We have come so far. My Grandfather thought it was best not to educate the female mind. Should I be thankful that they have the freedom to choose to be in a video, that we have the right to choose to drive, to work even if it is usually the woman who has to give up work to have children.

I am trying to locate my ideas in difficult territory, I am unclear and muddled and ignorant but I know that life is full of compromises and balances.

har·em n
1. the separate private quarters reserved for wives and concubines in a Muslim home
2. the wives and concubines who live in a harem
3. a group of female animals of the same species associated for breeding purposes with one male
4. any group of women admirers or followers (humorous) (sometimes considered offensive)
Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.