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At the start of the year I set myself a target of reading 12 non-fiction books and 12 novels. It’s only now that I’ve decided to keep track of what I’m reading on this blog so I’m going to give a brief run-through of what I’ve read so far.
Novel # 1 First I read Love in Winter, written by Storm Jameson and published in 1935.
Just one of her 45 novels and part of a trilogy, Love in Winter is one of just a handful still in print. It was a gem of a Christmas present: discovering a writer is a real treat and being introduced to one who writes so sparingly on such a large scale, touching on the political and individual – and has written so many books – feels like a ticket to explore.

Non-fiction book #1
One Dimensional Woman, Nina Power, Zero Books
With a title taken from One Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse the book explores how contemporary woman is defined by consumerism and feminist language hijacked to present liberation and fulfillment in terms of shopping, pampering and indulgence.
I will write some of the key points I picked up in this book in a later post, but reading this book, which posed the question ‘where have all the interesting women gone?’ reinforced the idea I’d had writing posts here and here that the interest in French women may represent a search for something more deep-rooted and perhaps philosophical about what it is to be a woman.
This lead me to Non-fiction book # 2 which I have recently finished.
Simone de Beauvoir, Philosophy and Feminism by Nancy Bauer
I read the Second Sex as a 20-year-old but reading this book opened up Simone de Beauvoir’s writing to me in a new way. It examines how Beauvoir engaged with big name philosophers such as Hegel and his .
My plan now is to be lead by Beauvoir who grappled with his idea of the Master/Slave dialectic in her attempt to answer the question “what is a woman?”
It feels like a big project and I’m not sure where it is going to end up. But on this blog I plan to keep track of the books I read and the theories/ideas I come across. It will be like setting out a map of sorts of the route I’m taking.

I just shouted at the builder working next door that he is a “bastard”. He’s more than likely not but he (or they) have been drilling at the site next door from 8 am every week day and it’s getting on my nerves. Now I didn’t say it to his face and probably wouldn’t. After all, in the clear light of day he’s probably a perfectly decent bloke who is perfectly entitled to do his job and part of me might be “mortified” if he heard some of the things I say about him.
I have been listening to the radio with a sense of unease today as journalists position themselves as champions of the (good, honest) working people like Gillian Duffy who are perfectly entitled to raise reasonable questions about race and immigration.
Of course Gillian Duffy is entitled to her opinion and she is probably a good, decent woman who certainly didn’t deserve the humiliation of being told by a breathless producer that the PM had said she was bigoted. (Bit too reminiscent of the playground?)
But I’ve climbed out of a cab wondering why oh why I started a conversation with a cab driver who then went on to give me his particular version of the “I’m not racist but..” line.
Sometimes I”ve been bolder but there are times when I’ve only offered a mild “yes but..” – as Gordon Brown did yesterday – and longed to get away.
I can lay claim to a working class background but admit to a complex range of feelings when I hear those familiar lines about immigration. Because even if they have a right to say them they fly in the face of principles I hold dear.
One thing that seems to have been established after yesterday’s incident is that the (good honest) working class have a right to talk about immigration because it’s a legitimate area of concern.
Although I may have a wry smile at the thought of the media championing a woman from Rochadale’s right to speak out, I am just making a marker that those views don’t make for easy discussions. Brown, like Cameron the day before, probably would have preferred to keep away from the uncomfortable territory of immigration. Now could you imagine if he said “I’m sorry Madam, I find your views very bigoted?”

New post looking at women in this General Election here – NOT SamCam, Sarah Brown and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez.

The beginning of the week was all about the manifestos: On Monday it was the Labour Party’s; on Tuesday Conservative leader David Cameron said he wanted to put people in charge but as the leaders debate loomed the Liberal Democrats’ alleged that Team Cameron had insisted on the no clapping rule during the leaders’ debate because Vince Cable received more applause than George Osborne during the Chancellors’ debate.

The leaders’ debate transformed Nick Clegg’s fortunes, with the majority of polls narrowing the gap between the Lib Dems and Labour, and in some cases putting them ahead.

As for the wives, 20 per cent of those polled by the Telegraph poll thought Samantha Cameron was the most impressive, 15 per cent preferred Sarah Brown and eight per cent rated Miriam Gonzalez Durantez .

However, the Telegraph pointed out, 57 per cent of those polled said they either do not know or declined to express a preference.
The People, which reported Lord Mandelson’s attack on Cameron’s tactics, a paragraph at the end said that “almost a quarter of women are taking a keener interest in politics because of Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron”.
What about the others – the 75 per cent who aren’t more interested in politics as a result and the 57 per cent who had no view?
To use a well-used phrase this week, “I met a woman..” who said she can’t follow politics because she can’t bear the media focus on the wives: “They are all capable talented women in their own right and yet the media trivialises them,” she said.

If David Cameron and his party stole the show in the early part of the week with their “invitation to government” his wife Samantha Cameron was making the headlines in the Daily Mail, which was agog at her bump and the colour of the nailpolish on her toes. A certain victory over Sarah Brown, whose toes got another airing.


Point-scoring over looks was in the air again when Samantha Cameron visited the Surma Centre in Camden Surma Centre, and talked to some girls who cooed over her “pretty” hair and clothes.
In the looks-stakes, Sarah Brown was credited with “channelling” Jackie Kennedy with her “prim and proper” sky-blue coat in the Guardian’s stylewatch on Thursday.
But there were signs of a Sarah Brown fightback: Lisa Aziz in the Daily Mail drew a very flattering picture of Sarah Brown, wife, mother, friend and devoted charity worker on Saturday.
We learn that Sarah Brown sometimes forgets to cook “GB’s” lunch and resorts to throwing “a frozen spag bol ‘meal for one’ into the microwave, does her own shopping at the supermarket and sends flowers to friends.
After the furore over Stuart MacLennan’s indiscretions on Twitter and his rant against Fairtrade, Sarah Brown opened up her secret garden at 10 Downing Street and in the first-person piece in the Observer reasserted her commitment to Fairtrade and sustainability.
She urged women to use their vote in her Sunday Mirror election diary

Our right to vote was hard-won in this country, and in places like Burma democratically-elected leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi are in captivity because the results of the ballot aren’t respected by the military.
We owe it to the suffragettes and to our brothers and sisters in Burma and elsewhere to use our precious crosses, so please remember that the deadline for registering is this coming Tuesday, April 20, and visit www. yourvote.co.uk.

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez continued working this week. In an interview with Mark Austin on ITV she criticised the media focus on the leaders’ wives, which she said was “very patronising” for the public. This prompted a jibe from the Daily Mail, which slyly suggested that her “dry-stone walling exploits on the moors of South Yorkshire” last week were “inconsistent with her argument. Will the press turn on Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who announced she would quit her job is her husband became PM, if she doesn’t play the game?

Photocredits: Labour

Sarah Brown, according to the Daily Mail did damage to her “credentials” because of her rather unsightly little toe.
Called Gordon’s “human stick-on face” by the Telegraph, Sarah Brown is considered an “operator” with her background in PR, her prolific Tweeting and speeches.
Dubbed “passive” by the Times for being the “loyal and dutiful wife trailing slightly behind her husband” Sarah Brown was also criticised on Comment is free for appearing to want it all: claiming that she would continue to tweet purely about her day – only her day now involves 24/7 campaigning alongside her husband.
been heckled by journalists and members of the public.
Photos of Sarah Brown campaigning with Stuart MacLennan, last year had to be deleted from Flickr after he lost his candidacy for “offensive” Tweets.

She may have a long way to go to match Sarah Brown’s million plus followers on Twitter but this week Samantha Cameron posted her second webcam on WebSamCameron.
Praised by the Times for going on the campaign trail without her husband but attracted criticism after she was spotted driving without a car seat belt.
We learnt that she isn’t good at flower arranging.
She also that she stopped off during campaigning to visit her father.
Her husband defends her from accusations of a blue-blooded background by saying she is “actually very unconventional. She went to a day school”.
Still no consensus on the issue of who is the best dressed: On her first day on the trail she wore Jigsaw trousers, a casual jacket and a white designer silk vest by a little-known British label called Sykes “that showed off the beginnings of her baby bump“.

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