Bill & Annie

Have a look at Bill and Annie, choose a box for them, some labels.

While I read a very interesting thesis on respectability this afternoon and tonight, my daughter cut a big chunk of her hair off and later drew all over herself and the walls. I guess Virginia Woolf didn't have kids.

Some questions in my head at the moment:

1. Why has Annie left her hair down for a formal studio portrait?

2. How far am I with unravelling the thorny issue of representing voiceless women in academic studies? It's kind of cool, this post-modern theorising, with its multiple attendants with their different voices and subjectivity and so on until I wonder if I am on drugs and then realise I mustn't be because that would surely be less cluttered. But it's still fancy academics colonising silent women for their intellectual sport.

And I have played that sport. And I know that I sort of fell in love with all those women of the past and spent hours just finding the most basic of facts about every single one I could. And then at the end what really mattered was the dressing, not the actual women. Theory, framework, argument.

3. Are only the already privileged allowed to want to be capitalists? Is the decline of the labour movement in New Zealand (and elsewhere, thinking particularly of England), really to be placed in the letterboxes, summons to a coroner's inquest, of Maori, homosexuals, women? What about [naughty?] white men, keen for a life outside the factory, the mine, the sawmill, the car assembly plant - are they answerable to a decimation in traditional labour values? A class analysis of power reveals a lot of interesting things about society. But a class analysis of what action should be taken to confront capitalism and its intrinsic exploitation, well that seems to require that working people think and act as one. All the time. Which seems pretty bloody patronising and problematic.

4. When will it stop raining? Will town flood tonight?

Just questions, no attempt at lucid elaboration at the moment.
Yesterday was less complex. We went out in the mist in search of some kai moana and came back with beautiful mussels. Nothing wrong with the camera in the photo below. It really was that misty. You don't need long distance vision to collect mussels, though mist like this precludes making a fire on the beach to cook and eat them straight away.

Which is why we came back home via the great kai shop of modern times. Where I bought food for my short people who have no taste and thus leave the mussels to the adults. See, I do feed them. And where I live, wearing your gumboots to the supermarket is not totally unusual behaviour. Still a bit hard to see, but I'm wearing my new skirt again. The one that I sewed all by myself. I've got more sewing stuff going on, involving making a dress all by myself. Got more reading to do first.

I've been thinking about Bill and Annie for a long time. Especially Annie. Almost twenty years. Silence. One whisper, repeated only once. Drink. Otherwise no one ever spoke of her, only of Bill. I've seen the certificates, with an x beside mother. He wrote his name. Had a business. That part was before he got married. About 16 years between Bill and Annie, if the records are even vaguely accurate.

I don't know whether you would have been nana or grandma or something else. Dead while your kids were kids. But, you Annie, my Irish great great grandmother, I think of you every time I read things which purport to say something about working class women in colonial New Zealand. This photograph, some certificates of marriage, births, death, that short sentence. And silence.


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