Posts Tagged ‘Germaine Greer’

The pernicious Comma and other Dodgy Literary Devices.

January 27, 2016

Reflecting on the many omissions of commas and other matters of punctuation in ‘Almost There,’ I read some more of Anne Tyler’s ripping tale  ‘A spool of blue thread.’  (Note the quotation mark after the full stop.  I have come a long way!)

With so much still to learn, I now seem to read only the punctuations and not the story anymore. I just want to find out how to go about it. The little booklet; My Grammar and I, by Caroline Taggart is most helpful. Actually, I am reading Anne Tyler’s tortuous tale of family upheavals and other disasters, more for the quotation marks than the story. I have enough on my plate just with that.

I mean, what to make of a dangling participle, or modifying clauses? Are my dangling participles showing up as well? As soon I conquer one of those grammarian items another pops up. Give us a break.

Our home

Our home

Here another bit to pore over from, ‘Almost There.’

Those with good memories would know that, thanks to Germaine Greer, the bra was more and more seen as a fashion article of enslavement, a tool to keep them (breasts) propped up, purely for the sake of looks and salivating males. It went further and it was suggested, they were designed together with girdles and make-up, as a ploy to keep women shackled to the kitchen sink and nappy buckets. It was therefore also suggested to ditch the bra and if a droop resulted, be proud and walk tall. Together with ditching the bra, radical lesbianism was embraced.

I never witnessed any bra burning or rampaging lesbians but do remember going to a party held at a professor of philosophy house who insisted all women hang their bras on the front door knob before allowed in. They all did, and it was one of the more memorable parties in Balmain.

I have been credited in Balmain, still even today, of having lifted the ban, not on bras, but on men not being allowed to babysit. The stranglehold of some women on insisting only women would be allowed to babysit was broken when in all innocence I turned up one evening. A nervous mother made a hurried telephone call to the secretary, and after a while, it was decided I could baby sit. The year was 1973. With my Dutch and Helvi’s heritage I never even thought that it was solely the domain of women in our home countries to sit on babies. Anyway, it was different then in Australia. From the early seventies, 1973 to be precise, men were allowed to babysit at each other’s houses. It was a male revolution on par with bra burning. You can thank Gerard for this!

It was odd that some women felt emancipated by going bra-less and yet thought that it was a bit dodgy for male friends to do some babysitting.

It should be written up in our history books or at least on Wikipedia.

Extract from ‘Frank’s story’ Babysitting in the seventies

January 20, 2014
The curry of G.

The curry of G.

These were happy times, and soon Helvi and I had another daughter, delivered at the same hospital and by the same doctor. Our children were growing up with many other young children in the same area. We befriended many other couples. None of the child-care centres that are now so proliferate existed then and one enterprising mother thought up the idea of playgroups whereby both children and mothers could get together. These were supreme examples of communities getting together.

The playgroups and babysitting club came to being through a community organisation that was set up to preserve an old police lock up and ‘watch house’. It was an historic double story sandstone structure and in need of restoration. The National Trust which was set up to preserve old and historic buildings of national significance also included the ‘Watch House’ and decided in its wisdom to fund some of the cost of restoration. Money was also raised through the community having ‘fund raising’ dinners or events and through membership fees. Those members belonging to the association were mainly young and professional couples with children and it was a logical extension to get together with the kids and parents, mainly mothers. This was happening in parks, playgrounds or people’s homes.

As many of the couples became friends and started to socialize it was inevitable that someone thought up the idea of setting up a baby-sitting club. This would then allow parents to sometimes go out and know that their baby or young child was well looked after and at no cost. For every hour a baby was looked after, mainly during evenings, the parents of the baby would be charged a minus point and the baby sitter would get a plus point. To get rid of the minus points it was expected for parents to baby sit in return. There was a limit in racking up minus points and anyone exploiting the system would receive a notice that baby-sitting was expected, or else the baby- sitting for the offending couple would cease.

The system worked perfectly, and by and large the point system remained fairly balanced. After all, who wanted to be known for being a perpetual ‘minus point couple’? There was one hiatus, males doing baby-sitting. The last bastion in the late sixties for males to break down was the right to baby-sit. Women were in the throng of burning bras and going girdle less, stockings with seams were passé and Germaine Greer had announced ‘Bras are a ludicrous invention’. So, while women burned bras because they were seen as accoutrements of torture, men burned their draft cards avoiding real torture and felt liberated until they tried to baby-sit in Inner West of Sydney.

As it was I turned up one evening and with the household all dressed to go and dine somewhere or see Zorba the Greek, I noticed a distinct cooling towards me. They made a discreet phone call and decided it would be safe for a man to be allowed to baby sit, just this time. ? Of course, many of the parents that knew each other through social events knew each other as couples or, in the case of play groups, were mainly always women. For a man to be on its own, solo, and at baby-sitting in the evening was not that far advanced in acceptance yet. There was a meeting and the majority approved ‘male baby-sitting’.

I don’t know what the objections or criteria were for being suspicious of males doing baby-sitting. Curiously enough, the mother that was surprised and taken aback somewhat when I presented myself to baby-sit, thought nothing of taking her clothes off for a life drawing session. Were males going to do evil things or was the reluctance because of lack of skills? It was not that much of a challenge though and much depended on what sort of facilities the parents had provided. Real coffee instead of the instant variety was preferred. Sometimes, there was a good book or a television program. Sometimes, especially if it was after midnight (double points) you would just go to sleep on a couch if available.