POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE 14
The full holiday season is upon us. The weather has been good enough for my butcher to reflect on the allure of young women as they stroll up the high street. It is the sort of private conversation that males conduct with each other in safe company: as with farmers discussing the problem with badgers and its solution. This is not to imply that we should conflate male attitudes to women with badgers. Merely that nowadays men have to be very careful that even politely appreciative comments about women or a mild critique of badgers are not misinterpreted. Although the thought occurs that a reversion from the ‘Brazilian’ might take us to the ‘Badger’, in terms of female pubic grooming.
But then, it is also the time of year when, given good weather, everyone feels sexy: it is the climate in which we think of hotel rooms and whirring fans in the afternoon; the consequences of a jolly al fresco lunch; a siesta when a swimsuit-clad body – which hinted at sensual delights around the pool and is now perceptually refreshed by a few glasses of wine – becomes naked on the cool sheets.
The Old Doom Bar is pretty short of locals at this time of year. Our host has summer tourists to please, there is silage to be mowed and experimental new computerised milking systems to be installed. No one wants to drive about the lanes too early in the evening, and especially at midday. Our ‘visitors’ have no concept of reverse gear.
Still, we try to get together now and then and because business slows after mid-September, sensible hospitality-providers like to keep residents happy. So, when we met the other evening (it was change-over day and hence quiet) we started on a review of the Carnivals that all our village communities schedule for the holiday season.
Most striking of all of the (excellent) local floats was one that featured a Country and Western, Dolly Parton theme. But instead of the local rugby club dragged up, the actors were teenage girls who had borrowed the rugger-buggers bosom-enhancers, and to great advantage. There seemed here to be a serious satirical commentary on gender attitudes, and yet a humorous and positive reclamation and affirmation of female ownership of bodily identity. Next year we may look forward to the float whereon the male performers are dressed with similar wit: possibly as tampons.
We didn’t discuss the parades in quite these terms. Nonetheless, the overall discourse led us to be both nostalgic about past times and (perhaps sentimentally) empathetic about the challenges faced by young adults in fluid and uncertain cultural and economic times.
Revenge Porn featured on Channel 4 (17 August) as one exemplar of the hazards affecting modern sexually active and intimately sharing jeunesse. Also trending are fitness monitoring wristbands that do everything 24/7 to assess your diet, exercise and sleep patterns. It seems that many companies encourage their staff to wear these and use them not only to monitor their ‘lifestyle health’, but also analyse the data to evaluate performance at work in pursuit of team excellence.
We’ve already learned to cope with our employers’ use of Facebook to determine our suitability as salary-folk. But now they want to track our patterns of eating, drinking and sexual enjoyment. So if they clock that we were awake with an enhanced heartrate at 02.30hrs on Friday, will they then try to correlate this with data from a fellow team member, and would this be good for team spirit?
That we all need to learn to control our urge to broadcast digital images of our naked selves is a sad reality of internet technology. To submit our biorhythms day and night to these increasingly Orwellian corporations is surely too much intrusion even for our let-it-all-hang-out culture.
As either retired folk or independent farmers, we could only shake our heads at social progress of this sort. It is one thing for cows to wander in from the fields as they wish, to be automatically milked and fed and generally monitored. The extrapolation to other and not so remote versions of control in human terms is another. Eric Blair, we need you.