Social justice in Harry Potter

Under the hood of this fantasy series, this Christian allegory, this festival of fun in seven volumes, lies a certain concern for social justice. Besides the ‘strong female leads’ – sporty Ginny handy with a Bat-Bogey Hex, cleverest in her year Hermione, stay-at-home mother and serious destroyer of Dark Witches Mrs Weasley, etc etc – the dispelling of the stigma around blood-transmitted werewolf condition claimed … Continue reading Social justice in Harry Potter

Choices I could do without

How many times a day do you think you exercise your decision-making capabilities? The little choice cogs are constantly whirring, continually re-evaluating whether scratching that itch is worth the energy right now; whether you need the loo badly enough to pause iPlayer now or wait for a natural break; at what point during your friend’s monologue is it polite enough to interject (Now? Now? Now … Continue reading Choices I could do without

This House Believes … we should all be nice to each other

Amid the recent political turmoil I’ve found myself rewatching old reruns of the UK Parliament’s Prime Minister’s Questions: the highlight reel. I suppose given recent events in Turkey (etc) I can’t complain that the worst our parliamentarians have to deal with is a David Cameron calling his opposition a ‘muttering idiot’ or telling someone to ‘calm down, dear’. Yet one does wonder whether the snide … Continue reading This House Believes … we should all be nice to each other

Midsummer jollity at the Globe

I first encountered A Midsummer Night’s Dream while reading Ballet Shoes as a child. The three Fossil sisters are enrolled at stage school, where reluctant actress Petrova is nearly fired from her role as the fairy Mustard-Seed in the play, after repeatedly struggling to intone correctly the very simple line ‘And I’. Yesterday I saw a hilarious and mad production of the play at the Globe. It … Continue reading Midsummer jollity at the Globe

9 Quirks of Everyday Language

How many times a day do we come out with a sentence like this: ‘It was, like, a sort of profound experience, d’you know what I mean?’ About 50% of that was filler that adds nothing to the content of the sentence, and there are good arguments for expunging it from the lexicon. Yet the numerous verbal tics, tags and fillers that litter our everyday … Continue reading 9 Quirks of Everyday Language

Bad taste & good art

“I just don’t get why you want to keep me away from her, though?!” “Alright, I’ll tell ya! I slept with her, din’t I?” Dum, dum, dum dum dum dum-dum-dum-dum – And the Eastenders credits roll down on yet another cliff-hanger. There’s something in the overly dramatic ending that causes a little cringe. It’s the same, sometimes, in books: At the sudden knock on the … Continue reading Bad taste & good art

Politics of oppression

If you’ve ever been told that you’ve internalised the patriarchy, that your feminism isn’t up to the mark because you don’t take specific account of ethnic minority women, that you can’t talk about abortion because you’re a man, that you should probably not even talk in a public place because as a cis white straight man your very words, dripping with the lard of privilege, … Continue reading Politics of oppression