Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I talked to the postie yesterday (about Archie's yarn) – but ParcelForce and the Royal Mail are two separate things, so she couldn't help. She said to leave a note – they don't like taking a parcel away any more than we like not getting it. We've got a bit of that hurricane this morning. It will be hard to leave a note that won't blow away.

The Economist seems to be off the hook (see yesterday). The phrase that alarmed me is “...the transport links that shuttle virus from villages to the town and back into uninfected country”. In a leader about Ebola, of course. But apparently “virus” is not a plural, there – “the” has dropped out.

I achieved two more scallops on the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl yesterday. It is getting harder and harder to remember where I am from minute to minute. I'll take it along to the dentist today.

Something very peculiar has happened to all my pictures – but here's a new one. Mungo got an Outstanding Achievement Award at his Athenian school yesterday for getting A* in all his GCSE's. No one else in the school did that. Here he is receiving it. He is there on his half-term break from his new Scottish school. Helen will bring him back on Sunday, and then come here to look after us for a few days – including the wedding the following weekend.

Anyway, Mungo:

I think the trouble with that NYTimes article (yesterday, again, with comments) is that the author was trying to write light-heartedly about two different things – the decline of Home Ec, and gender-specific crafts. I think gender-specificity is declining, at least to some extent and in some places. Grandson Alistair showed great promise as a knitter but couldn't pursue the subject in China because boys simply didn't. It was very sad.

And I wonder if Home Ec will come back. Archie's all-boys school teaches Man Skills such as ironing in the final year, and cookery is available throughout as an optional activity. They couldn't be the only school to do it. But on the other hand single-sex schools are something of a rarity these days. Cookery might be hard for all but the boldest of boys, if the class was full of girls. It's an interesting topic.


  1. KarenE10:58 AM

    At my children's mixed gender school, all students learn to cook (a bit), sew (very basic) and use some workshop tools (slightly more fun than the cooking and sewing). No gender discrimination allowed.

  2. Congrats to Mungo! Quite an achievement. He's a tall lad!

  3. Virus is an interesting word. I actually like the Economist usage. I tried to think of another collective word which we use in that way, and came up with 'wool'. We have 'wools' - meaning wool derived from different sources, and we have the collective -as on 'the wool market/clip'. One could substitute 'wool' for the 'virus' in the sentence and it would make perfect sense.
    Language is evolving; if it is not current usage, I think it might become so.

    Congratulations to Mungo for hard work and the ability to comprehend and test well.

  4. I never took Home Ec. The ostensibly "College bound" were not permitted in my all girls school. My friends son is at an all boy school with uniforms, and the mothers are prohibited from touching them starting in high school. The boys have to mend, iron, polish etc. Sloppy uniform = demerits. Not a bad plan, but no knitting. I will start using virus as singular and plural to avoid mishaps.

  5. When my son entered middle school (7th grade) he attended an all boys school. There was no home ec, but I was overwhelmed with the idea of washing and ironing 6 dress shirts for both my husband and son. It would have been a total of 12 shirts weekly I taught him how to launder and iron his shirts for the week. Fast forward to college his skills earned him extra money, when there was a dance he would charge the guys on the floor money for a pressed shirt on Saturday night. He went to ND in south bend where there were quite a few dress up dances. Now he lives in the hong kong and you would think the land of cheap laundry services, but it costs 5 to 8 hong kong dollars to do a shirt. He is still doing his own!

  6. When my youngest son was in school, he took a semester of "Home Ec," because, in his words, "that's where all the girls are!" He loved it. He learned basics of cooking and some nutrition, shopping and balancing a checkbook; he simply flew with the sewing though, and soon had a business making and selling "Hammer Pants" out of wild fabric for classmates and adult friends. He still loves to sew and cook, makes pasta from scratch and does all the cooking for his wife and two sons, in addition to his full-time accountancy job. He's also currently remodeling both their bathrooms! What a guy!

  7. What a triumph for Mungo! And no kilt in evidence.

  8. Anonymous9:58 PM

    My 15-year old daughter is doing an optional GCSE in catering. This seems very similar to the Home Economics 'O' level I took at school. When I was at school in the 1970s there was a very clear segregation with the boys taking woodwork and metalwork while the girls did cookery and needlework. Laura says there's about 15 in her catering class including two boys. It's the reverse of course in subjects such as engineering and technology.
    Jan, North Yorks