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The subjects for this post, in the order of brain power occupancy, are Suffragettes, Capital in the 21st Century, Antigone, elderly mothers with aggressive neighbours and erm… rhubarb … which I include because according to Wiki “Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits.” So my dear Rhubarb – you ARE actually a political vegetable! It is only those pesky trade tariffs that are obfuscating the truth of your true identity. Just like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which is about to be signed by the EU and US. ‘Harmonisation’ really means more profit and power to corporations while the true nature of the food that is ‘traded’ will be hidden from us. Yuck!

But back to my bursting brain. I found out VERY recently, courtesy of a long lost and now found half brother in Australia that my paternal grandmother Norah, two of her sisters Elsie and Laura (my great aunts) and her mother Emily (my great grandmother) were all suffragettes. They spent time in prison. They went on hunger strike. They were force fed. In 1910, Norah’s brother, Victor (my great uncle) founded THE MEN’S UNION FOR WOMEN’S ENFRANCHISEMENT and he went to prison too. So stuff that in your ‘can’t be bovvered to vote’ pipe and choke on it!

Subsequent to this discovery, I have been consumed with obscene inquisitiveness about this family which is MINE!

My mother and father split up when I was a baby and I saw little of my father and his family but I gather they were ‘posh’. I was brought up by my maternal family who were working class. My parents marriage was a post war union resulting perhaps from a certain levelling of the classes which the Second World War facilitated. On the few occasions that I saw my father and his parents not a word was breathed about their militant past. I cant get my head around why. As the years went by were they ashamed, embarrassed, forgetful, disinterested or depoliticised? Or did they think it was not suitable subject matter for a child? But strangely my father was not coy about telling his son by a later marriage which is how I come to now know about it. Gettit??

So with everyone who would have known anything long gone, I am trying to research the family and find they are not registered in the 1911 census. But of course they boycotted it! And by chance a woman who lives in the same small town as me has written a book about just this issue.

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And by further chance I have bumped into said author twice since I learned of this and she has advised to go to the Women’s Library both on line and in person where I will find out more. On pursuing this, I notice an unusual but strangely familiar name popping up in the references and on googling it, I find I have stumbled upon an old classmate who shared my London girlhood. Oh my word ……. this is getting ghostly!

The suffragettes were faced with the same political, philosophical and ethical dilemmas we are faced with today and differing viewpoints split my family. How far do you take direct activism to stop injustice? Do you concentrate on influencing and working with the system to bring about change or do you resort to smashing windows or throwing yourself under the king’s horse?

A ground breaking tome has recently been published by a French economist.

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I haven’t read the book but I’ve read about it and the gist is that he has PROVED through a mountain of research what we intuitively know. Capital will continue to grow faster than incomes causing exponential global inequality. Inheritance and super managers (CEOs of corporations who are NEVER worth their money) are the cause. But Piketty postulates that only a world war, a revolution or a global wealth tax will prevent it. Which is the more likely?

I think Antigone (hot headed idealist) would have gone for revolution and Creon (elderly pragmatist) may have implemented the global wealth tax. Only supposing. My take on reading Jean Anouilh’s play for the French book club confirms that nobody is ever right! So the author, who wrote this during the German occupation of France in WW2 got stick from both sides for showing both sides. Despite him highlighting the autocratic cruelty of the oppressor, the Resistance apparently condemned him as a collaborator.

I’ve subsequently read that fortunately there might be more options to save the world from unequal and unjust Armageddon. “It will be much more effec­tive to fix the prob­lems at the source than just to apply tra­di­tional retro-active bandaids like taxes” says Geoff Davies author of ‘Sack the Economists’http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2014/04/23/more-effective-remedies-for-inequality-than-pikettys/

In the interest of getting this posted, I’ll return to elderly mothers another time and move straight onto rhubarb. The only ‘vegetable’ I’ve harvested from my garden thus far this year. But I do live at 1100 feet. My favourite discovery has been Rhubarb Cranachan – a Scottish recipe which is usually made with raspberries – but works well with rhubarb and makes a change from crumble. Its a patriotic mix of fruit, oatmeal, whisky, cream and heather honey. I always roast my rhubarb with sugar and NO liquid to try to keep it chunky and not stringy. Its best prepared the day before. So get the oven on and get roasting. At the same time, in another baking tray roast some fine oatmeal. When the rhubarb is soft and the oatmeal slightly brown take them both out of the oven. I sieve the rhubarb and then reduce the crimson liquid by simmering until it thickens. Stir from time to time because if it catches it will turn caramel brown. Then pour back over the rhubarb. A good twist here is to add some grated fresh ginger to the simmering liquid. Meanwhile, pour some whiskey over the toasted oatmeal and leave to soak overnight. Next day whip double cream up with some runny honey and a tad more whiskey. Then you layer up your ingredients – soaked oatmeal, rhubarb, cream mixture and so on. Thin layers. You can do this in individual glass dishes which makes it look exquisitely stylish or you can make it in a glass trifle dish for easier transportation. Monday Club, here I come ……..

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