Day 2 – Chedworth

Very Welcome Guest

We were met by a charming group of ZANE donors who cheered up our day.. and it needed cheering up when it was discovered that “we” had left the walking “SATNAV” behind, our lifeline. It consists of a little man on a screen who leaps about indicating which way to turn: without him, we are “Babes in the Wood”, more or less lost.

I say “we” left the SATNAV to be gallant: actually it was wholly the fault of General Jane, but, when it comes to apportioning blame, a lack of generosity is simply not in my nature.

That’s when I realised how much we miss driver Markus who would have gone to pick it up, but because of COVID 19, he sits, disconsolate, in Bulawayo.

Thankfully our arrow prayer is answered. One of our guests is a retired land agent: his responsibilities covered much of the land we were walking on. He has an unerring instinct – wholly alien to me – of knowing which track to take and which to ignore. He is a living manifestation of the flawed officer selection procedures in the army: he failed, I was accepted. Need I say more?

The scenery was the best the Cotswolds can provide: gently hilly, beautifully kept woods, with fields of pampered cattle dreaming flatulently in the sun: classy horses grazing, as sleek as seals. The gardens of the manor houses are manicured to screaming point: as a rare treat, we could snatch the occasional glimpse of his-and-hers Mercs squatting aggressively behind wrought iron gates, all carefully designed to keep sweaty scruff like us out. It made me wonder what God would love to do if he had had the money.

A Mother Loved

Then my delightful Daughter in law, Lois Benyon, rang to ask how the walk was progressing? She is the French mother of our three gorgeous grand-daughters, Amelie, Annabel and Eliza.

These girls are lucky: the best gift a man can give his children is to love their mother; knowing our younger son, that’s secured and in place.

But it’s a troubled world and danger prowls around like a roaring lion.

My Thoughts Exactly…

Our three granddaughters came to stay at the time I was reading Lily Allen’s book, My Thoughts Exactly. No, I had never heard of Allen either – but Miles Morland told me about her, and she’s a darn good singer, aged 34 or so (and good looking too! But what can I do about that these days…).

I have never believed the contemporary nonsense that claims young men and women are usually the same in terms of sensitivity and vulnerability. I think that in general, boys/men are the more aggressive and predatorial sex and that girls/women are gentler and should be honoured and cherished. And sex shouldn’t be downgraded so it’s no more important than having a pizza. 

Don’t You Love Me?

Anyway, I read Lily Allen’s book and something clicked into place. Much of her book is too salty to quote directly in a family blog but the essence of her message is that although Harvey Weinstein may be on the extreme edge of sexual predators, he’s by no means the only problem. There are a vast number of men out there in their thirties/forties/fifties who are lethal to women aged between 17 and 25 or so. These girls want to be thought of as desirable and pretty, and they want to be loved. The vast majority are floating on a sea of promiscuity with no moral guidance worth a damn, and they’re hugely vulnerable. And to many in their peer group, saying “no” is a joke.

Many parents lose control of their children in their late teens – if they ever had any – and weakly believe that, as the old song claims, “Everyone’s doing it, doing it… so anything goes”, and if we try to spoil little Emily’s “fun”, we may lose her altogether. But, from what Allen writes, I don’t think little Emily is having much “fun” at all.

To quote Allen, who writes from her own experience: “Many of these young women have a very low self worth, they claim to have few sexual hang-ups, but they crave security… They cry to older men, ‘Don’t you think I’m pretty? Don’t you love me? Don’t you want to marry me now? Can’t you be the one I hitch my wagon to, as you are here, and so am I, and I need to be loved?”

Allen goes on: “Often, if a guy fancied me, that was enough for both of us. My self worth was so low, being fancied translated to being wanted – and thus loved – and this felt intoxicating enough for me to agree to sex. I used to want to shout: ‘You can be the one to look after me.’ That’s what I did with all the men I dated. I was confused at the beginning of my sexual life about my own desire for other people. I now know that a man wanting to have sex with you is not the same as him wanting you. He’ll have sex with you even if he doesn’t want you, just because he can.

“These men are in their thirties and forties: they are older and vastly experienced and they know exactly what they are doing. They will take you to bed just for a laugh, just because they can. Some genuinely want intimacy and to connect with you, but some don’t. They want sex if they fancy you and they want sex even if they don’t, just to prove they can. Some like humiliating you as a turn on. Some even like you resisting because knocking down the wall you have put up is a turn on for them.

“I gave myself away but men also ‘helped themselves to me’ and took from me (yes I’m talking about having sex with me) when they knew, or should have known, that I was too young and inexperienced, too naïve and too pliant to say ‘no’. I know a great many women know what I am talking about. It happens all the time. It’s not rape and it’s not quite assault, but it’s not right and it shouldn’t happen.”

And I pray not to my granddaughters either. 

Rhodes Must Fall

There are cries to have the Cecil Rhodes’ statue removed from Oriel College on the grounds that he was a “genocidal racist”.

The protestors may be puzzled to learn, however, that at Rhodes’ funeral in 1902, the hills were lined with thousands of Ndebele tribesmen chanting, “Our Father is dead”. And perplexity will mount further with the news that three weeks after his funeral, the Ndebele chiefs agreed to guard Rhodes’ grave – and they did so for decades afterwards.

The reason for this was that during the bloody revolt of the Ndebele against the South Africa Company in 1896, Rhodes – unarmed – entered rebel territory to parley. Sitting amongst the rebels, he came to appreciate their grievances and he promised reform, which led to the leading chief calling him “Peacemaker”. In fulfilment of his promise, Rhodes bought back from British settlers 100,000 acres of prime farming land and gave it to the Ndebele. Later that year, he resolved to make the building of trust between whites and backs a major part of his work.

In his will, Rhodes donated the totality of his fortune to fund scholarships for the young, irrespective of race or colour.

Perhaps we might persuade some of the Ndebele tribesmen to come to Oxford and guard Rhodes’ statue!

1 comment

    • Jon Taylor on September 9, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Hello Tom, Jon Taylor failed selection board guide of yesterday reporting in to say it was great fun meeting you and Jane yesterday. Glad I didn’t lose us all in the woods! Have an excellent walking adventure this year, just think everyday you will be getting fitter and fitter! All the best with ZANE.

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