Thursday, 14 July 2011

"Not in these trousers"

I am absolutely loving being made redundant. I've been doing some adult literacy tutoring, group work and creative writing groups at the wonderful Glasgow Women's Library, and it's where I'm going to be doing my plaement for my Masters degree. It's a lovely place to be. Sometimes it's quiet and restful to be there, at other times it's noisy and vibrant. It's always fun and interesting. They do so much there - adult literacy and numeracy sessions, trips to Glasgow's Buddhist Temple or Jewish archives, galleries, films, museums, arts and crafts. There's a group of learners who are involved in researching, setting up and delivering women's heritage walking tours of Glasgow, and they have a BME women's project. Everyone who works there is absolutely lovely and really friendly, and the learners are great fun and so enthusiastic. It's an absolute joy to go in there (I sent Ewan a text after a particularly great day there, saying "I love my job." He sent me one back saying "Just to remind you - you're not getting paid." Details, details).

They also have an archive of fascinating treasures - loads of Suffragette and women's history artefacts. They have a list of what's available and you have to find it yourself. There are loads of boxes, each of which contain several items. It's like a treasure hunt - you have to locate the shelf, then the box, then dig inside the box. One box has pulp fiction - including the marvellous - THE GIRLS IN 3-B ("They came to the city - fascinated, frightened - hungering after life with that desperate, head-long impatience of the very young...There was Annice...Bright, curious, full of untried passions, she let Alan drag her into his beat-generation world of parties, jazz, booze, marijuana and sex. And Pat...She was big blonde and built for love, but she was saving herself for marriage. Until she met her boss. Right from the beginning Pat knew she'd do anything for him - anything. And Barby...She was the most vulnerable. Men terrified her and for a good reason. When she finally fell in love it was with a woman.) How can you resist that?

There's also a beautiful Suffragette brooch, all wrapped up with tissue paper and ribbon, a card game called PANKO which has supporters and opponents of the suffrage movement and includes cards such as 'Votes for Women' showing a fight between Suffragettes and the police, and 'Gaol ! Gaol ! Gaol !' showing a Suffragette refusing a meal while on hunger strike a 'Votes For Women clock/paperweight (it's weird, but it works), 1950s knitting patterns, ancient sex education leaflets ("Should I let my boyfriend touch me below the neck?"), and my favourite find - Suffragette postcards. They have a collection of postcards - mostly cartoon-y, many of them taking the mickey out of the Suffragette movement. Some of them have been sent to people and those are the most fascinating "Dear Alice, I hope you don't hold with all this nonsense" type of stuff. But my favourite was one which has a young man wooing a young woman, and it looks as though he's trying to get her into a cosy love shack. She's wearing the new fangled trousers of the day - like golfing plus fours - and she's saying "Not in these trousers."

The back of the card says "Dear Alice, Shall not be over on Saturday, Frank." Now, doesn't that make you wonder what happened? Was Frank chucking Alice by the Edwardian era version of text message? If so, why did he send his message on a jokey postcard? Was she a Suffragette and he didn't approve? Or was this their usual form of communication, given lack of phones and difficulty in locating a carrier pigeon? Had they earlier agreed that he would come over either on Saturday or Sunday, and he was just letting her know that Saturday was out? Was Frank really Francesca?

Amy - I read your mail 100 years later and I'm worried about you and Frank.

Anyway, on to the usual crime fiction news.

A review for Allan Guthrie's TWO-WAY SPLIT, and one for Kate Atkinson's WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?

In DEAD SHARP, Len Wanner interviews Scottish crime writers Allan Guthrie, Ian Rankin, Christopher Brookmyre, Louise Welsh, Neil Forsyth, Stuart MacBride, Karen Campbell, Alice Thompson and Paul Johnston. Excellent stuff.

A literary festival in Soho with Philip Kerr amongst others.

Can you tell a Scottish novelist from an English one?

Ian Rankin on the new sculpture on the border between Scotland and England.

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