Just wanted to view something on the television and when I switched it on I saw a large group of people among whom some dignitaries all dressed on black with a very sad song being sung by a lady supported by a large choir. As quite a few disasters have been happening lately I though: “What has happened now?”, thinking to hear about another earth quake, tsunami, terrorist plot or forest fire. But no it was the Memorial of the surrender of the Japanese, which factually ended World War II. They were remembering the thousands of people who died in the Japanese camps. It was 73 years ago this happened. The Indonesian earth quake in Lombok which happened not even 10 days ago is almost forgotten in the news and the death toll stands now at 450 people, thousands of injured and the rest robbed of their livelihoods. Look at this list of ongoing wars still being fought as I speak.
Some started before the start of World War II!!
So what do all these Remembrance days of the fights in the past mean? When I asked some people they say to make sure it never happens again. Well that did not quite work out did it? Or some say to thank the people who died for our freedom. One would think the best thing to do for freedom is not to go to war for it.
And it is getting easier not to feel guilty when your country kills thousands of people in the name of religion, safety or some other trumped up (no pun intended) reason. Because drones and other remotely activated killing machines make sure we don’t have to look the people we kill in the eye. Instead of attending these memorials with a sad face and quietly listening to speeches of our leaders and clergy we should attend with placards with slogans telling these selfsame leaders how disappointed we are in them. The dead won’t mind as they are dead, but maybe some people would listen. I would definitely make the news. Will it make a difference? As we are all killing our climate with full abandon it might not really matter as earth will do her best to make us, terrible virus that we are, extinct. She is already heating up the pot.
Suddenly various books are being published about ancient Greek times through the eyes of one of the bystanders of the story. Circe, Silence of the girls, The song of Achilles and there could be more. It is a sort of condoned plagiarism which can be very enjoyable to read. But it often puts 21st century thought in ancient minds. And that is where I get a bit bored. Where they try to catch the historical mindset as in Pillars of the Earth, or all of Dorothy Dunnett’s books it can be beautiful. Probably because we have written evidence of what people were thinking in those eras.
Science fiction is the same where we try to describe how people will think and act in the future. Is that easier? I don’t think so as we will still be writing from the perspective of our own times. I like it best when old tales are reworked to modern times. Shakespeare was excellent at this. According to one of my creative writing teachers only two story lines were invented by himself. Often I read thrillers or detectives that remind me of one of Shakespeare’s plays. As the same teacher said: “There is only one story line and that is The Quest.” We have all those trilogies, which end up as quartets or more such as the famous Lord of the Rings or much later the Game of Thrones. He also pointed out that there is or are always orphans who have to find their way to happiness and often a Jesus Christ figure who is the good side of the powerful main character and helps him to be a better person. In Pinocchio it was Jimini Cricket, even with the same initials. these sidekicks often to great sadness of the readers dies sacrificing him or herself to the main character.
But most of the time I don’t want to analyse my books. Just dive in and forget the world around me. A passion for books is the best gift you can give another person, be it your child or someone else. My father gave me mine and I always try to pass it on. There is nothing more wonderful than sometimes meeting a person with whom you can share your thoughts about the books you read. Though book clubs are not my thing, because I am too selfish to spend time reading books other people liked. I am more talking about meeting someone on a party or somewhere and finding out you have practically the same taste in books. Strangely enough it were always men. Though I would not like to be married to one because nothing would get done. I have failed exams, forgotten appointments and had to do a lot of last minute work because I was engrossed in a book and found it impossible to stop reading until the end. Finally I am now in the stage of my life I can spend as much of my time as I want in the worlds of my books. Luckily my husband does not care what he eats as long as it is warm. And those spider webs will be there tomorrow still….
My washing machine broke down and I had to do one load by hand as it was stuck inside half washed inside.It made me think of my mother and how she had to do her washing. In her early marriage she had to boil a large tin tub on the stove to have hot water.In went the sheets and other very soiled clothes She would then use a wooden broom handle to lift it on the ground to cool off enough to be able to put her hands in it. The latter once was almost fatal to me. My brother who liked to tease me had put on some large gloves and was trying to get me and I backed away from him in the garden en fell backwards in this boiling hot cauldron. I was about 2 at the time. Luckily my mother saw it happening as apparently I was in shock and did not even scream. She rushed outside held me under the ice cold tap and rubbed my body in with butter. The problem was that they only had a bike and my dad was in school. So she ran to the neighbor whose husband was a taxi driver and at home because of some strike! They brought me to the university hospital a good 10 kilometers away, where as luck would have it a professor from the United States was visiting who was an expert in burns. He used the novel method on me by wrapping me up in plastic and putting me in an oxygen tent. And that is how I kept the skin on my back and did not have to go through life with terrible burns. As was lucky even then.
But back to my mum. Later when she had moved to Curacao she became the proud owner of a washing machine, which we filled from the tap and the good old tin bucket, for hot water. The only thing the machine did was swishing the clothes to and fro. When they were done they still had to be put through the wringer, which was later made slightly more advanced by my dad by putting a motor on it so the rolls would run by themselves and we only had to feed the washing through. The latter was my job with the only warning: “Do not put your fingers between the rolls”. As the sun is hot in the Antilles the drying was easy. You had to check pockets and lining afterwards to make sure no creepy crawlies such as big brown grasshoppers had holed up in them.Nothing more scream worthy than putting your hands in your pocket to feel one of those there. You could hear me 10 blocks away. Still I remember it as great fun to mess around with all that water when it was hot and sunny. Only when we finally moved back to the Netherlands in 69 my mum got one of the modern ones, which did your wash and spun it more or less not so wet. She still put it in centrifuge to get it as near to dry as possible so it would not take so long to dry in the colder Dutch climate. But she felt like a queen. The machines of today do it all, which is great as it gives me more reading time.