​Gosh, I woke up in a cold sweat this morning having dreamnt I was on a ten day cruise round the Greek Islands on a private yacht … then I realized I was just confused.  I’d been watching the film Sleeping with the Enemy!  Thank God for that.  No superficial tan to maintain as it fades into the past …
Playing with words.  A game of eternal fun.  Let’s talk about books, though – yes, the tangible kind consigned to the past by many but flooding the market in the build-up to Christmas.   How can it be that suddenly everyone can write?  Every celebrity seems to harbour the concept for a wonderful children’s book at the very least if he or she hasn’t already penned the first autobiography by the age of twenty-five!  Seriously.  Is writing a book that easy?  At least Katie Price had the decency to own up to a ghost writer.  The rest?  Hats off to hidden talent!  Meantime, I shall continue the hard way, content in the knowledge that my words are my own …
Before I forget, apropos last week’s subject of equality and the accompanying gender battle, I must mention a little aside from Nigella on Wednesday’s  The One Show.  Congratulating Zoe Ball for securing the coveted job of Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter from January, much was being made of the fact that she will be the first female in the prime slot – in the same way that she was the first female presenter of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show back in the day.  Another opportunity grabbed!  Nigella, however, was having none of it insisting, instead, that Zoe was a ‘brilliant broadcaster’ and it was ‘not about ticking things off!’.  The voice of reason; nay, intelligence.  Knew I liked her.
I wonder what Nigella would have to say, then, with regard to Manchester University Student Union’s proposal to replace clapping with jazz hands?  Supposedly the age-old tradition of clapping can trigger anxiety in students with autism, sensory issues or deafness.  Oh, help!  Over to Piers Morgan who took to twitter with his response: ‘Britain’s losing its mind.’  Jeremy Vine, meanwhile, posted a photograph of soldiers in the trenches during WWI, alongside an announcement of the ‘ban’, with the words “Glad some brave young souls decided to ignore the difficulties caused by sudden noises 100 years ago.’  Amen. 
Do you know, there is a positive to emerge from all this ludicracy: there are still some intelligent individuals prepared to question – and, where necessary, denounce.  Individual being the key word.  In this day and age, there is a propensity for blind acceptance giving carte blanche to ‘the tyranny of tolerance’.  A phrase that I once heard on the radio some years ago, I have never forgotten it.  Sadly, applicable to so much today, it suggests a form of silent bullying.  Take this gender fluidity movement, for example.  Surely the end of life as we know it?  Encouraging, nay promoting the ‘birth’ of another entity, the gender neutral, is certainly one way of controlling the population but what of mankind? Actually, that word, itself, must be on borrowed time along with the phrase ‘man up!’ which I heard picked up only yesterday!
Back to gender neutrality and its effect on mankind …  Adam and Eve?  Man, woman – procreation.  Gender neutral – no procreation!  It’s not rocket science.  Understanding the mentality of some, however, may very well be.  There is always going to be the existence of the ‘norm’ and that is comforting.  However, there should also be an acceptance and understanding of that which is different.  The problems arise when the lines become crossed. 
I have extensive notes on a certain interview on This Morning, some weeks ago on 11th September.  Phillip and Holly were joined by a transgender couple, parents to a five year-old child.  I have tried to explain the scenario to several friends since and it is more than a little confusing!  Suffice to say, ‘Louise’ was born a male and is in the process of changing to a female while ‘Charlie’, born a female, is en route to becoming a male.  ‘Charlie’, meantime, gave birth to their child.  Still with me?
They continued to explain that they are bringing up their child as gender neutral enabling the freedom of choice to wear what he/she wishes, to play with whatever toys he/she prefers and so on.  The child’s name is Star, suitably obscure, but they are now able to refer to Star as ‘he’ given that he has chosen to be a male.  Speechless.  I can only assume – or hope – that Star was born with male genitalia; there, again, with both parents changing sex, perhaps he regards that as ‘the norm’?
This really needs no further comment but …  Let me describe ‘Louise’ and ‘Charlie’ in appearance: ‘Louise’, extremely pale, had several piercings on her face and huge discs in her ears, her lobes stretched around them.  A shaved head, ‘she’ spoke extremely slowly.  ‘Charlie’, too, had many piercings and hair shaved at the sides, dyed blond on top.  A photograph of Star revealed a five year-old with shaved hair and a dummy in his mouth!  Asked what it felt like to be gender neutral in their house, the reply was ‘It’s, basically, happy, safe, secure’.  Obviously.  
Perhaps what I found most interesting was the attitude of Phil and Holly.  One quote from Holly was, ‘It’s that freedom of choice that you want for your child’, while Phil ended by saying, ‘I hope that your appearance today will garner a lot more understanding, compassion and love.’  What of that poor five year-old child with the dummy in his mouth?  How the hell is he going to negotiate his way through life given the confusion in his own home?  This gender fluidity may be ‘fashionable’ but, far from ‘the norm’, it should be accepted as such.  Daring anyone to challenge, effectively denying any voice to the contrary, defines ‘the tyranny of tolerance’.
I really didn’t intend to go down that road but there we go.  There is a lot to be said for anonymity!  On a completely different – but, perhaps, equally controversial – note, what of Westminster Abbey and its new stained glass window?  Commissioned by the Dean of Westminster, enter David Hockney, stage right.  Just one question – why?  Known for his pop art, he is famously outspoken, refusing a knighthood and declining an opportunity to have the Queen sit for him claiming he was too busy painting landscapes in Yorkshire.  Apparently, he accepted the invitation to design a new window for the Abbey partly because he believes the original ones aren’t up to much.  Talk about alarm bells!  Too late.  Unveiled it has been and … Westminster Abbey shall never be the same again.  The Dean says he wanted the new window to be striking; to be noticed.  A celebration of the Queen’s reign to be admired for generations to come.  Well, no denying it is striking, uplifting even but most definitely impossible to ignore.  Focusing on the Queen’s love of everything rural, the artist worked with the idea of the Hawthorn bush symbolizing the English countryside at the height of Spring.  Yes, the concept is obvious but the interpretation is …  child-like?  I’m sure I have some cherished ‘nursery’ originals in the loft which are not too dis-similar!  The colours are bold, brash and the images unrefined lacking the subtle elegance and respect of the original windows.  In juxtaposition, they do not work.  That, however, is only my opinion and art is nothing if not subjective.  I was never going to like the work of David Hockney in the same way that Picasso leaves me cold but, now in situ, would those responsible ever admit they had made a mistake?  
‘I didn’t like the play. But I saw it under unfavourable circumstances – the curtains were up.’
 Groucho Marx
This is Trish, signing off.