People are inordinately fond of telling me what I think and my motivations for my courses of action. It happens a lot on Twitter, of course. If ever there was a medium that enabled people to pass a swift, wrong, judgement and move on leaving a trail of devastation, that is it. As on Twitter also in life, and favourite tipsiness are listed below. I apologise for the rather defensive tone. It’s not that I feel I have to explain myself to anyone but it seems as good a time as any to dispel a few of the hoarier old chestnuts:
- My children are independently educated because I am a snob and because I want them to have connections and privilege in life. This is a subject for a whole blog post that I’m not going to tackle here but the day is coming soon when I shall. However, I can assure anyone who cares to listen (and let’s face it, no-one will because they’ve already made up their minds) that connections were the furthest thing from my mind when deciding on my children’s schooling. There were all sorts of factors involved and the process was agonising. However, I’m glad I had the opportunity to go throughout that process;
- OK, I don’t travel into London on the tube everyday but the OH and many other people I do depend on it for work. I know that their already long commute on top of a long London working day – an hour is deemed normal or even good – is more than doubled on strike days. It causes them grief. So being told by people from other parts of the country who never have to depend on the tube that the strikes are for our own good as Londoners, or that Londoners are too stupid to realise that the strikes are not about pay is galling. Really galling.
- That being a stay at home mother, household manager, means that my whole day is free and that I spend my time having my nails done. Again, this is another subject for a whole blog post but suffice it to say that my nails desperately need doing.
- I have a pedigree breed dog and he isn’t neutered. Apparently this makes me one of the worst people on earth. My dog is my first ever dog and, having looked at rescue shelters, I was told that they are (quite rightly) reluctant to rehome dogs to inexperienced homes with small children. So I chose a breed of dog known for their friendliness, biddability and lack of aggression to start off with. My ideal next dog would be a rescued flatcoated retriever but, funnily enough, they don’t come up for rehoming very often.( I’m wondering whether my choice to rehome another dog, inherited from my cousin but originally purchased in a foreign pet shop is a good or bad thing in these people’s eyes.)
- He’s not neutered. No. Because having carefully considered all of the pros and cons, we decided not to interfere with him unless and until it was strictly necessary. He does not stray and is always with us and under control. Careful weekly training mean that he is obediently bonded to us. Did you know that in Scandinavia, less that 7% of adult male dogs are castrated? My dog is not a living fluffy toy. He is a dog and behaves like a dog. A lovely dog and we know him far better than the people making these pronouncements.
- Apparently, not wanting my difficult, dementia-addled, uncooperative mother to live with our family and turn our lives upside down, rendering us prisoners in our own home is disgraceful. This remark usually comes from people who are either halfway around the world from their own parents, have no experience of dementia, let alone caring for someone with this disease or both. Nuff said.
- I cannot be a proper feminist because I take an interest in my appearance or that I like cooking, so some people say. News to me. Feminists have to eat, don’t they? And surely the point of feminism is self-determination? Wearing lipstick doesn’t of itself make people unable to think.
I wonder how these people know all these things for certain. Perhaps they have found the fount of all knowledge and swallowed it. Or maybe they have read the whole of Wikipedia and therefore know all the things. I wish I had their self belief and absolute confidence in their own judgement and judgements. I often don’t know where to start to make pronouncements on all sorts of things. Doubt and hesitation creep into my head before the words have time to leave my mouth. I’m obviously a failure. How I wish I possessed their certainty.