Thursday, 26 November 2015


I drag Husband to see Spectre. He has a day off so we go in the afternoon hoping he might stay awake. He doesn't, and I don't blame him. I love Bond movies, especially Sean Connery ones, even some of the Daniel Craig ones. Casino Royale for example, love that scene where he's going into cardiac arrest and has to use the defibrillator in the car. Genius. And all that Vesper stuff, so romantic, and I'm big on romantic. And if you haven't seen On Her Majesty's Secret Service, with George Lazenby, you must, it's the best. Basically I fancy Bond, which I know no self-respecting feminist should admit to because he's an unreconstructed misogynist bullying assassin, but hey, he's also entirely made up. Husband's happy to go with me to see it because he usually benefits from the afterglow. 

Unfortunately there's no afterglow because Spectre is crap. It's dark, both literally and metaphorically, shot in a gloomy black, white and grey palette. I don't think Bond smiles once, let alone cracks a joke, and I like jokes. It takes itself way too seriously. Nicely acted and constructed and all that but not fun, and Bond should be fun. Not sexy either. Gone off Daniel Craig. Maybe because of those dismissive things he said about the franchise when he was meant to be publicising it. He's obviously grown to hate playing Bond and it shows. Andrew Scott, on the other hand, who plays 'C', now he can come round and do a bit of surveillance on me anytime. Although I'm sure he wouldn't want to, not least because he's gay.

"What did you think?" asks Middle One when we get home.

"Didn't like it," I say, "but that could be because I could tell Daddy didn't like it."

"I thought it was good," says Middle One, who has already seen it. "But I was in a really good mood when I went with my mates, so maybe that helped."

Good point. The mood you are in and who you're with has a huge effect. I always regret seeing Mama Mia! the first time on my own on a drizzly afternoon in Clapham, sitting next to a dodgy geezer in a mac. But I had no one to go with and I was desperate.

Next morning at breakfast as I'm stirring the porridge Middle One has another question: "Do you think we should stay in the EU?" he asks. 

Jesus. I haven't even had a cup of coffee yet, my eyes aren't fully open, my brain hasn't found first gear. This is one of the difficulties with teenagers - with children - they ask questions you can't always answer, sometimes early in the morning. I prefer it when they ask about films.

"Er, well, tricky isn't it, I mean…"

I recall this wasn't a problem for my parents. They were confident. They had answers. They gave them to us. And they agreed with each other. (That's teachers for you.) God? There isn't one. Really? No. In fact you don't even have to say the Lord's Prayer in school assembly if you don't want to, Libby (that's me). I don't? No. I don't have to put my hands together and my eyes closed, like they tell me? You don't. Wow. So I didn't. Instead I had a high old time watching which of my primary school teachers did and which didn't (lots didn't). No one ever tackled me about it. So I'd know what to do in the cinema if that controversial Church of England Lord's Prayer advert came on before Spectre, which it won't. I'd just look around to see who's praying and who isn't and then carry on munching my Minstrels. 

I have a go at the EU question. "Well, on balance," I say, "I think we should remain a member of it. Better to be in the tent pissing out than out the tent pissing in. Or something."

"Humph," says Husband, from over at the dishwasher where he's re-stacking everything in his own image, as usual. The 'humph' is probably because he doesn't agree, as usual. Our children are growing up in a different atmosphere from the one I grew up in. Lots of discussion, as in my own childhood, lots of debate. Very little agreement. I'm hoping this is healthy and means they can draw their own conclusions.

"Why? Give me some actual reasons," says Middle One, rather unfairly singling me out. "Everyone gives an answer but no one gives reasons."

"Right, good point. Again. Um, yes..."

Somehow I find myself dragged into a discussion about open borders and free trade between nations with Middle One calmly shooting down every thing I say, pointing out that what I profess to like about the EU we could happily have without being a member of it. Apparently. Like Norway. He suggests that I, and lots of other people, equate not wanting to be a member of the EU with UKIP and racism and lack of tolerance about migrants and immigration, when the two things are not inextricably linked and the Schengen Agreement is a completely separate thing. Another good point. In fact all his points are good.

I think it's safe to say I'm intellectually out of my depth, which has started to happen a lot lately, particularly if I mistime picking Youngest up from his Maths tutor and instead of merely handing over cash and smiling winsomely, must perch on the edge of a chair while the exterior angle of a dodecahedron is being calculated. The lovely tutor actually looked in my direction this week, as if expecting some sort of response. Me? Suddenly I must deal with something urgent on my phone. Ah yes, someone important has liked my tweet.

I will have to begin answering tricky questions in the manner of my paternal grandmother. If someone asked her something to which she did not know the answer (to be honest most things fell into this category), she would say she gave all her brains to her two clever sons. Not a great retort for those of us who profess to be feminists - and yet who like a bit of Bond - but it seemed to work for her.

"You know what the EU is, don't you?" says Middle One as I'm spooning the porridge into bowls.

"No," I say, "apparently not."

"It's Spectre," he says.

I don't think he means it's monochrome and humourless, although that kind of works. I think he means it's without a mandate and yet controls almost everything we do. But at least if it was headed by Andrew Scott and not Jean-Claude Juncker I would definitely know which way to vote when the time comes.

Love E x


P.S. "Oh she's not a feminist," Middle One said a few weeks back, talking about a girl he knows, as if this is a good thing. Hang on a minute. "Any woman who says she's not a feminist, is mad," I told him. "Being a feminist means you believe women are equal to men and should have equal rights in the eyes of the law. There's nothing not to like about that and some women died for it." 

I might not know anything about the EU, or how to calculate the exterior angle of a dodecahedron, but I know that.

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