Women of Iron

Hilary Mantel has a terrific article in today’s Guardian that evokes to a tee the monstrous regiment of women that I remember from my childhood. They were epitomised by the granny in the cartoons by Giles, and Mantel’s marvellous words bring the memories flooding back. Sample:
When I was a child – in Glossop and district – no one supposed that women over 50 were invisible. On the contrary, they blacked out the sky. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder like penalty walls, solid inside corsets that encased them from neck to thigh, so there was no getting past them: if you’d rushed them and butted them with your head, you’d have careened off, sobbing. They stood in bus queues muttering dark threats against the driver. They stood in line in the butcher’s shop, bloodied sawdust clogging their bootees, and amid the loops of sausages and the tripes they talked about My Operation – they boasted of their surgical crises, as Coriolanus boasted about the wounds he got for his mother country. Almost every one of these women was called Nellie, and the others were called Cissie. Why these names are synonymous with effeminate weakness I cannot imagine. 
Now go and read the rest…

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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