Tuesday, 3 July 2007

How pleasant to know Dr Greer

Oooh, ooh, I am starstruck. I just met Germaine Greer in Budgen's. Actually, I passed her in the High Street and took too long to recognise her, then dithered for five minutes before going in, running her to earth next to the cat food, and introducing myself. She was extremely nice, cosidering how weird it is to be accosted by a stranger (I know this because I occasionally meet someone who knows me because they've seen me sing, so I don't know them.): friendly to Sasha and quite chatty. She was buying a Guardian because she's got an article in today about the Australian Aborigines, which sounded suitably polemical.

I just wanted to tell her that if there was one book that changed my life, it was The Female Eunuch, which I read when I was about fourteen. If nothing else, it makes other feminist writing pale into the shadows, being both logically argued, fiercely polemical and in places very funny. I stopped buying Spare Rib (yes, cast your mind back to the eighties...) when it started carping about Victoria Wood not being radical enough and I realised that they had missed the point. Which is that humour is a far better tool for changing people's minds than aggression can ever be. Proven, in fact, by comparing the longevity of the magazine, and Wood, who seems to be turning into a female version of Michael Palin and therefore quite a national institution.

Anyway, we talked about The Thorn Birds , as she is writing about it, she said. It has interesting comparisons with Gone with the Wind, which -- in my opinion -- has interesting comparisons with Vanity Fair. Dr Greer (except I bet I'm years out of date and she's Professor Greer by now, isn't she? Rats) said she's never been able to get through Thackeray, which surprised me as I think compared with, say, Dickens, he's easy to read. And Vanity Fair is a fabulous novel: Thackeray has a wonderful narrative voice, generous but cynical, and there isn't a two-dimensional character in the book. And it has one of the most devastatingly written deaths in literature. And of course Becky Sharp is an incredible creation.

I haven't read any of his other books, mind you. Someone once told me that the others are more populist, since he felt that VF didn't make him enough money. I'll have to try one day, though.

I wonder if there are any phrases in Bunyan that haven't been used? Could you have a magazine called Slough of Despond? I suppose not...

Sasha is wrestling with a banana skin and now has a facepack of brown slime. The child seems to get rather more fun from the skin from the banana, but hey, this is a household that eschews petty convention, no? A recent visitor warned me solemnly that banana skins are poisonous. It's odd how people will do that.

And larger conventions too, of course. Apparently some people *did* object to my breast-feeding at a parish council meeting. The comment was (I'm told): "Who is that woman? And is she married?" Priceless. I told my informant I hoped he'd let them know that I most certainly was not...

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