Friday 28 June 2019

In Honour of Our Patriarchs

A rough morning today: I turned up at the gym and discovered that I had come 20 minutes late for my scheduled class. Without thinking, I agreed to take the 7:30 AM and then realised that I schedule a 7:00 AM class on second Fridays because of an unmissable second Friday 9 AM appointment. Then I discovered that I couldn't hear the 7:30 AM  instructor over the music. By the end of class, I was a frazzled mess, dropped my phone, which now doesn't work correctly, and it was all a nightmare.

However, I learned three things:

1. As a beginner, I will have to endure the humiliation of looking like someone who doesn't know she shouldn't be in front of the class because I have to be in front of the class in hear the teacher. 

2. I'm trying to cram too much into my day. 

3. I'm stressed beyond belief. 

That said, my nose isn't bleeding. The last time my nose bled from stress was during an argument about whether or not to add a friend's boyfriend to my spouses-and-fiances-only wedding guest list. Curiously it was that, not B.A. almost, you know, dying. Interesting.  

Anyway, the reason why I didn't check the time of my scheduled class last night was that I was wiped out from going to a friend's book launch during work hours and trying to write and send emails on the bus there, in the bookshop before the meeting started, etc. Should I have just asked B.A. to represent the both of us? In hindsight, yes. 

But the event made me think about one of the most oppressed and unhappy groups in Scotland because one of the female contributors talked a lot about how "patriarchal" Scotland was 20 years ago: that reminded me that suicide among young Scottish men is at a ten year high. 

The contributor works with victims of domestic abuse, who are mostly women, so I understand why women's issues were at the forefront of her mind. However, I was unconvinced by her reference to the Scottish women's national football team and the increase in the number of female MPs and MSPs (Members of Scottish Parliament) as proof that women's lives are so much better. Possibly the female footballers and MPs feel great about life, but the mothers of the 581 men who died last year probably don't.

I was also a bit taken aback when the contributor spoke in a disparaging tone about Scottish soldiers--not in themselves, which would have been unkind, but as a symbol of Scotland, I think. Not to get all Jordan Peterson here, but scrubbing Scotland of its myths and legends is no way to prevent young Scots from killing themselves.  

No doubt there have been unpleasant kinds of masculinity involved in Scottish politics. Not too long about some male MSP got caught slavering over a young woman in Holyrood's spectator gallery. However, there have been men in Scottish politics since there has been a Scotland, and insinuating that they were all rubbish because they weren't turned on to "gender equality" makes for depression. 

(I won't get into how another contributor thinks the belief 20 years ago that "homosexual families" were not "equal" was from the "Dark Ages". This belief, held long before and after the so-called Dark Ages, is still held by hundreds of millions of people, but what interests me the most is that he used the word "families" as a touchstone of goodness.)

After the disparagement of "Scotland the Brave" as being too macho and soldierly, I thought at once of George MacDonald Fraser and his McAuslan stories, which I have so much enjoyed, and then I thought of two Scottish-Canadian soldiers, the first born in Scotland and the second born in Canada. These were my great-grandfather and grandfather, and in times of distress or a real need to push myself, I have thought about them and what they must have gone through during the World Wars. 

Despite the horrors of war, neither of them committed suicide--although my grandfather did smoke like a chimney and died relatively young, aged 65. My grandmother (another chimney) was crushed. As far as I know, neither my grandfather nor his father ever raised a hand to their wives, just as my father never raised a hand to my mother and B.A. certainly has never raised a hand to me. 

Possibly it is easier to love and honour one's patriarchs if they have been, by and large, good to their wives and children. And I think it is necessary to find patriarchs to love and respect so as to feel connected to the greater human family and feel that you have some stake in both the history and the future of your country. I also think this is probably even more true for men than for women.  

Anyway, I'm not interested in throwing away Scotland's myths and legends just to feel super-woke. There's got to be a better way to stop domestic violence, and I am absolutely sure it will do nothing to stop Scottish suicide.  


  1. I sometimes do wonder how you fit your family, job, languages, gym, hens??, friends, prayer and reading all those books on your list into a week.

    I really like the ground-up organised Men's Sheds. I don't know if you have them there. I have a friend who committed suicide when we were around 20, his stepfather and mam went on to have children together and I think he felt isolated. Then he took to the drink. His voice is exactly that of The Butcher Boy film's narrator. I remember looking through the credits to see if he had a secret film career. I miss him. Likewise a relative who smoked cannabis and then job went out the window, depression then suicide. My friend, a priest, just asked me to pray for a young chap who killed himself this week a few hours after bringing his folks to the airport, found by his sister. RIP all of them. I think it is very hard to be a man hoping for respect and feeling entitled to a dedicated, valued place in the world today. We have become very vicious towards men and women columnists (not your good self, clearly) are often at the pot, stirring the poison.


  2. Oh, horrible. I'm so sorry about your friend and your relative and this poor young man--and his sister!

    In more cheerful (?) news I decided against the hens because we don't have secure fences and I was concerned about our less sociable neighbours. This will make things easier, too, when we get our puppy. Puppies and hens are not a good mix, apparently.