IMAG1336_0The other day I made a big mistake. I took the kids out, intending to be gone for several hours, and only took one dummy with me.

We were walking along the path beside the train tracks, on a lovely day, and Evelyn had her dummy in her mouth. She dropped it. Not normally a problem. Elspeth picked it up for me. Again, not usually an issue. But then Elspeth dropped it. And it clattered away. Under a five foot high fence.

It went too far for my short arms to reach, and so I had to climb over the fence. Yes, had to. Only had the one dummy with me, remember? So, over I went. Now, the cross-bars on that wire fence are on the side of the path, giving me a few millimetres to stick my toes on. Climbing over was no worries.

But deary me, trying to get back was not quite so easy! I am not as young as I used to be. (I just said ‘deary me’, see?) I had to wedge my feet into the holes sideways, and taking weight in that position is no picnic. For a few rather horrid moments I thought I was going to be stuck on the wrong side of the fence, separated from my children and all my belongings by a few impassable centimetres. However, I made it at last. I rather fudged the landing, and jarred my legs painfully, but I made it! One dummy, successfully recovered.

Day 10

Day ten. Still no murderous rampage. Sufficient sleep is being obtained by plonking children in front of the TV and going back to bed when required. Outdoor activity is facilitated by lovely weather. Sanity being maintained just barely.

Yes, I’m single mumming it right now. Aidan is away for a month. I’m not sure if I’m meant to say why or where, but be assured it’s not because of any personal issues or anything!

In his absence, a great many friends of mine and colleagues of his are offering assistance if I need it; people have offered to bring me groceries (because I don’t drive), or look after the kids (so I can study), and some have already brought me food. I’m realising how fortunate I am to have people willing to do these things for me, even though I will probably never need to accept most of those offers.

I sort of want to write nice personal letters to all the real single mums out there congratulating them and asking for tips.

Anyway, I haven’t gone totally mental yet. It’s all good.

Lies, lies, lies

It is human nature to look at the past through rose coloured glasses. Things were always better when you were younger, and morals are always deteriorating. Once upon a time, when somebody said something you knew it was a fact; people simply didn’t lie. People are so much more violent these days, too.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Take it from a history student. The more I study, the more I see that human nature really has not changed significantly in at least the last 3,000 years. Ancient Romans even used to make the same complaints about how much better things used to be!

In the year 41, Seneca the Younger was exiled. When the emperor Claudius’ wife wanted her sister-in-law out of the way, she accused her of adultery, implicating Seneca. The charge was completely false, and yet he was banished to Corsica for it. There’s some nice morality for you, from 1,972 years ago!

Going even further back, to 133 BCE, we can find the death of Tiberius Gracchus. He was a Roman politician who had proposed a new law concerning the use and distribution of agricultural lands for the benefit of the poor. The law threatened the land holdings of the very rich, including many other prominent politicians. It ended when members of the Roman Senate brutally murdered Tiberius and 300 of his followers and threw the bodies into the river.

As for sexual assaults and the subjugation of women, I find it hard to track down specific ancient cases. However I do know that in countless societies around the world, female inferiority arose alongside the advent of agriculture. That means that women have been looked down on for at least 10,000 years, and I see no reason to suppose that brutal rapes have not occurred with some regularity from that point onwards.

So no, things didn’t use to be better. People were not magically nicer. The world was not more peaceful or loving. The sun didn’t always shine, and the grass wasn’t always green. People have always been people, just like us, moved to act by essentially selfish motives – to gain something, or to get away with something.

If you want something different from the world, don’t look to the past. Work on it for the future.