The Quiz – Background

Early on in the COVID lockdown my step-family suggested that we meet up on Zoom on a weekly basis. The three glamorous ‘girls’, consisting of my step-mum, half-sister and niece all live together. A group of more spunky business-headed, consumer-aware girls you could not find. We are joined by my brother. The get-togethers worked well from the outset, I helped to lift them from their COVID worries, while they distracted me from my eco-crisis anxieties. I have always had massive respect for my half-sister, who is very clever and has been the major bread-winner for all three most of her adult life. They are vastly different to me in their outlook, but with regard to intellect we are all well matched. The Zoom sessions have helped hugely with our mutual understanding.

The Quiz is a regular feature of the get together, it tickled me greatly to see how much the ‘will to win’ drives the ‘girls’, especially my niece and her Nana who have some striking similarities. Both my brother and I are extremely laid back in this respect. I indulged in teasing my niece on this characteristic and am delighted to see her lightening her outlook as time goes by. Our relationships are greatly enhanced through this time together. I had seen them very rarely whilst my mother was alive.

My mother was a very jealous woman anyway, she was jealous that I loved Al more than her, and at the start she made it clear that she really did not want me to marry him. She was especially jealous of the woman who had succeeded in prising my father from her. Therefore Al and I had to ensure that she never knew that we had visited them. I have huge respect for my step-mum who is African by birth and succeeded in enchanting my father, who had been looking for an escape route from his marriage for many years. They came back to England when their daughter was still very young.

The three generations are all fiercely independent and very good-looking women. After my father’s death, they came to pride themselves that they did not need any men in their lives. They were somewhat horrified, along with many of my friends, when I found another man to love, very soon after I lost Al. Like many other friends they feared that this new chap might be just after my money. Even when I explained that it was me chasing after him, they remained concerned for my welfare. Unlike the glamorous ‘girls’ I am something of an anti-feminist. ‘Vive la difference’ is more my motto. I confided in my niece recently that Al and I used to privately chuckle when we speculated whether she (my niece) would ever be permitted to fly the nest. It would certainly need to be a clever man to know how to handle all three of those powerful ladies.

Al and I were god-parents to my niece, and although I am not affiliated to any religion I have a lot of respect for many of the aspirations behind spiritual and religious thinking. However it is evident that throughout mankind’s recent history our spiritual and our secular thinking have both failed to enable us to avoid the trap of the Growth paradigm. Nevertheless I am delighted to see that attitudes have improved so much with regard to some tricky issues of the past, namely:

  • Trans and Gay recognition – my best friend from my years at a girls boarding school is gay. Our relationship was always platonic, as I never had any doubt where my own preference lay, nevertheless our friendship at school gave me an insight into the anguish of being on the wrong side of what was then considered ‘normal’. She had several admirers and I was her confidante when she was seeking her own identity and debating what to do. My time as a climate activist has reopened my eyes to the anguish of being out of line with the ‘herd’.
  • Abortion – it may help to stretch this relatively new open-minded outlook a little further as the eco-crisis escalates

There is one key area that still needs addressing. Categorising ‘suicide’ as a cardinal sin seems unacceptable. The judicial system, at least, recognises that it is simply not fair to further punish someone who has already reached the end of their endurance. However we still have no help available for the poor souls who seek the exit door but are so physically debilitated that they have not got the power to end their own life. The absence of ‘help-to-die’ in this awful scenario seems the most cruel omission. In the same way that we now aspire to have enlightened attitudes to the other thorny issues mentioned above, secular and religious leaders need to find a way with regard to the issue of choosing to die. All the while that we pursue the suicidal path of the Growth paradigm, one could argue that we are all committing a cardinal sin with our objectives.

Until we ask questions
That matter the most
And think of some answers
Our future is toast

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