[Guest post] Growing up in words

Nathan Ditum is a man who writes words about films and games, and is married to me

“But daddy, it’s sad. Because Eleanor Gale says she had a sister called Lola, who was killed.”

“Well, that is very sad.”

“By a whale.”

The first time I can ever remember being truly bowled over by something my children said – rather than by the fact they were saying anything at all, instead of sitting pinkly and staring – was when we were living in Sheffield. My son and I were playing football in our back garden, a small square of grass, and I asked if he wanted to go to the nearby park to play there instead.

“But daddy,” said Jay, who was two at the time, “we’re already at the park.” “No, Jay,” I replied patiently. “We’re in the garden, but we’re going to the park, aren’t we?” “We are in the park,” he insisted, “because the park is all everywhere, under the ground.” Oh, I thought, suddenly seeing the grass we were standing on as a canvas upon which the roads and pavements had been scrawled. Shit. Continue reading

After the aftermath

In this special exclusive extract from her controversial and emotionally searing new memoir, Leah Tusk explains how it’s feminism’s fault that her perfect marriage was destroyed by her freeloading husband’s completely unjustified hatred towards her.

Recently my husband and I separated, and over the course of a few weeks, the life we made fell apart into splinter-edged bits, like a self-assembly bookcase that collapses under the weight of several volumes of artfully constructed and very clever memoirs (such as How I Went To Italy Like One Of Those Romantic Poets So My Extreme Cleverness Could Find Full Expression, and I Know All About Motherhood Because I Read It In A Penguin Classic). Continue reading

[Comment is free] Childcare costs mean a choice of debt or unemployment for many parents

Originally published by the Guardian.

I could understand why my bank manager was looking at me like that. It did sound a bit stupid. “You’re about to start a job, and that means you need to extend your overdraft?” he said, dubiously. After years of scratching around as a student, I was finally about to draw a wage – but first, I needed to get myself just a bit deeper in debt. Continue reading

The mix-up

My dad is a king of mix-tapes. His great works have included “original versions of songs which are better known for a cover”, the Ian-Dury heavy “list songs” and the great, unending project to get every track in Dave Marsh’s Heart Of Rock And Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made onto cassette. And he made one for me this weekend, so I’ve been piecing together a reciprocal playlist. Jiggling stuff about on iPlayer isn’t quite as fun as working with a C90 – when you’ve finessed the track listing to the exact distance the tape has to unspool, everything has a feeling of rightness that can’t be found by any amount of matching up outros and intros. After the jump: the first seven tracks of my dadmix, seven songs I love because they come from the music my dad has always played me (and as Fleshisgrass asked me ages ago to name my seven songs of the spring – here they are).

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Messy Tuesday: What’s The Shorthand For “Mess”?

I am an inveterate scribbler and incurably disorganised. I am frequently struck quite suddenly by a Brilliant Idea which I will immediately scratch down on a handy piece of paper – usually the first page my notebook flips open on, sometimes the back of a letter or the margin of a newspaper. One consequence of this happenstantial habit of notekeeping is that the same Brilliant Idea will quite often show up several times in one notebook – recorded, forgotten, recurring as if new, recorded, forgotten again, and so on into the future along with all those other Brilliant Ideas of mine that never get executed. (NB previous Brilliant Ideas have included “a poem about jam” and “Fight Club for girls”, so Brilliant is possibly a misleading term here.) Continue reading

Knit Is A Feminist Issue

I grew up in a political household. Not political in the sense that I belong to a political dynasty like the Benns or the Foots, but political in the sense that we listened to the Today program at breakfast and watched the Six O’Clock News after tea, read The Observer on Sundays and talked Issues betweentimes. General Elections were treated as a sort of feast day in our home, with normal bedtimes rescinded for the evening, and shopping trips involved hunting around for the right kind of apple. One of the commonplaces of our family discourse was the statement, “everything is political”.

I and my sister were raised in the belief that every opinion held and action taken manifests a political statement – even if the statement is of apathy or ignorance, no-one can evade their relationship to political debate. You may object to the system, but you cannot remove yourself from it. Mamacate’s latest post has set me thinking, though, and I have started to wonder whether I’ve allowed the doctrine of “everything is political” to stand in the place of actual politics. I still read a lot of political journalism in the form of daily papers and fortnightly reviews, but, like Mamacate, I leave the Serious Stuff alone when I blog. Continue reading