Sciatica, Sensitivity and Strange Collapses

I have just spent the last few weeks shaking off sciatica. I have been lucky as it was only really bad for a few of days and I was able to work out the likely cause and a possible solution. So far, the solution (padding on my typing chairs) seems to be working. I’m also walking round instead of sitting all the time and limiting my typing time in the evening. It’s not 100% gone but it’s gone for 95% of the time and the severity is much reduced.

As that declined, I found myself becoming more agitated about Roald Dahl and the Sensitivity Readers. The more I read about it, the more I realise it’s about money and pushing an agenda rather than real sensitivity, and when I see that Matilda’s favourite authors have been changed from Conrad, Hemingway and Kipling to Austen, Hemingway and Steinbeck I find myself completely lost.

I don’t understand why Hemingway is seen as more sensitive than Conrad and Kipling. And I don’t understand why Austen and Steinbeck are considered adequate substitutes. Dahl presumably wanted to portray Matilda as a girl who enjoyed reading the sea stories of Conrad, a Polish emigre who had been persecuted by Russian invaders and taught himself to write classic works in English. The revision sees he as a girl who enjoys reading the mannered stories of jane Austen –  undoubtedly a writer of great stature, but not at all the same. As for Steinbeck, I don’t know what to say. It just seems a random selection, probably from an American reader, as he doesn’t feature heavily in UK reading lists.

And then we have the drive . . .

Our drive adjoins the drive of the people next door. The previous people damaged the edge of ours when they had their new one laid and the present people tend to catch ours as they swing into theirs. It’s one of those things that is no big deal, but just a minor irritant of suburban living.

Yesterday morning we stepped out to go to work and found that the cast iron drain cover in the drive has collapsed. It’s been cracked for years, but I never drive over it, so I’ve never done anything about it.  I think that the neighbours have driven over it as they swung in and it has collapsed. However, it may have simply collapsed under it’s own weight, or the footsteps of a passing fox may have been the last straw. We will never know. All I do know is that they rushed past us last night without stopping as they took the dog for a walk, which is suspicious behaviour. . .

I’m currently waiting for quotes, which are, no doubt, going to look more like ransom demands than the bill for a simple repair job.

14 thoughts on “Sciatica, Sensitivity and Strange Collapses

  1. Laurie Graves

    I’m with you about Roald Dahl. It is probably a good publicity stunt. It is also a good way to sanitize history. While fiction isn’t considered history, it does give us a glimpse into a different time, a reflection of what people were thinking and saying. If writers feel comfortable mocking something in a book, you can sure as shoot conclude that they felt comfortable doing it in everyday life. I’ve read quite a few books written in the 1930s where the N-word was bandied about like it was some kind of jolly joke. I cringed and stopped reading those writers, but it certainly was instructive.

  2. tootlepedal

    Imagine how much publicity the publishers of the new edition of Dahl have created for free and to which you have contributed. These people know how to generate a buck or two. It is a problem though. When I was teaching, a parent asked me why I didn’t include the story of Noah’s flood in our assemblies. I asked her if she wanted me to teach her five year old child that if she was bad, God would drown her. She said that perhaps I could leave the flood out when she thought about it.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      We did “A Town Like Alice” t school – about the age of 12 or 13 I think we were. We didn’t have enough copies, so I took one from home. Imagine my surprise, then my popularity, when I discovered I had a copy which had the rude bits left in. Of course, they weren’t terribly rude, this being Nevil Shute rather than D H Lawrence . . .

  3. paolsoren

    I have only recently become aware of ‘sensitivity’ in books. My first reaction was to ignore it as a passing fad of a few overly sensitive people, but now I realise it is a lot bigger. It is a bit like people objecting to vaccines because they have to be injected into the skin. Have they deleted Epaminondas yet? I hope not

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      My first thought was to wonder how Ancient Greece got into the conversation. Then I Googled him to see if he wrote about vaccination and, when the pictures of the book covers appeared, it all became clear . . .
      I try not to let stuff get to me, but the issue of sensitivity has really rattled my cage. Most of what has been reported seems to be just tinkering for the sake of it.

  4. Lavinia Ross

    I am sorry to hear about the drain cover. I can just imagine the cost of a replacement for cast iron. I don’t have a good feel for driveway entrances since they are close, but you might be able to put some orange safety cones or some kind of planter where they clip your driveway.


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