Tuesday, 28 May 2013

sick wreck

    It had to happen eventually. And I had a while to think about it, leaning as I was against the front wing of the Wreck on a perfect May evening on a country road.
    A trickle of coolant was inching its way down the road and a nasty smell of hot oil hung in the air. The Wreck was very sick indeed.
    OK, so what's up? Oil control ring on number three cylinder, a knackered head gasket, and now I have an unreasonable suspicion of the water pump.
    No worries, I've been here before. Engine out, fortunately easy on a Wreck, then have it to bits and do what's needed. Last time I did this I had the option of another engine, but the supply of Wrecks has dried up in the two decades since. A call to the World Authority on Wrecks is in order.
    Why do this? If you have to ask, you won't understand.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Dog's life

IMG_20130519_161705_688    It's really nasty, getting a cold at this time of year. Well, colds are nasty at the best of times, but as spring slowly morphs into summer the traditional winter response to a cold of holing up for the duration seems inappropriate. And this one's particularly annoying and long-lived.
    So here I am, between bouts of sneezing. Yesterday was a perfect May Sunday here in my part of the world, so as well as getting a load of essential tasks done I took my parents dog for an extended version of our normal walk.
    The picture is of one of our local ponds, sporting an early season algal pattern. Hidden away from view and in the shade, I spent quite a while sitting on the bank, the dog happily stretched out in a patch of sun.
    My friend R remarked not so long ago that in my scruffy guise I am now visibly leaking girl. I guess I ain't the bloke I used to be, what with the beard removal, long hair, and given a few years of anti-androgens, a few extra curves here and there.
    Looking in the mirror and seeing the girl looking back at me does help. But it doesn't fix anything, really. I know sometime soon it all ain't going to work no more.
    By coincidence several friends have had GRS in the last few weeks or are likely to do so before too long. It's funny, I find myself slightly envious of them, not for the procedure itself but for the moving on. Time will tell if for them it marks the end of their quests or if they become members of that group who protest just a little too much, but wherever they end up I can't help feeling a little more isolated.
    I tell you who I really envy though, that dog. She's a rescue dog, formerly feral in one of England's larger cities, so living in a small village with plenty of food and lots of exciting places to explore is an existence in which she is very happy indeed. In her patch of sunlight she lay with her belly lapping up the rays, not a care in the world.
    Wish I could do that.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Teenage minefield

    Some people should engage brain before talking. This morning the news comes that a prominent lawyer has suggested that the legal age of consent for sex should be lowered from 16 to 13. OK, you might think, perhaps there's some clever legal argument or something, so you read on. Unfortunately then the wheels come off her argument, her reasoning is that it would end the current spate of prosecutions of aged celebrities for their youthful sex crimes. As if we lived in a world in which unwarranted sexual attentions were merely comedy in the style of the Benny Hill Show and it was somehow excusable for a dirty old man to molest a schoolgirl or schoolboy.
    The trouble is, we do need to have a national conversation about teenage sexuality. At the moment we infantilise our young adults until their sixteenth birthday, at which point they are somehow magically ready for relationship with whoever they choose. Yet we tacitly acknowledge that a percentage of under age teens are sexually active. We are quite rightly concerned about inappropriate attention to the extent of imagining paedophiles lurking behind every lamp post, yet our culture will quite happily ogle teenage celebrities without the tiniest shred of guilt.
    It seems insane to me that a consenting teenage relationship strays from a grey area of semi-official disregard into outright illegality when one partner turns sixteen, while a 40-something could legally have a sexual relationship with a teenager one day after their sixteenth birthday. The former criminalises the innocent while the latter legalises the questionable at best.
    It's an area in which angels fear to tread, but in not doing so we do our teenagers a disservice. We need to recognise that as young adults they are between childhood and adulthood, and capable of making some of their own decisions while still needing some protection under the law.
    Our lawyer in the link at the top of the page seems to be more interested in excusing the criminal actions of dirty old men than protecting the interests of young adults. One does not however join her in the rape apology camp  by saying a consenting teenage couple whose ages span a sixteenth birthday should not be criminalised.
    Sadly though this debate is forever doomed to descend into a mire of "think of the children" politics. And as always those who gain least are the young adults themselves, because one thing you can guarantee is this: nobody will have asked them.