I've had a lovely Mother's Day, thank you...going out to dinner with a mad gang of friends (and yes, of course, my child) and having one of my favorite things to eat, which is shrimp in a basket - well, yes, I also love nice fresh caviar and filet mignon and Dover sole, but there's not a damn thing wrong with the aforementioned shrimp in a basket or pigs in a blanket. Wide ranging tastes, that's me. In fact, I'll eat damn near anything that'll hold still long enough, with a few exceptions (things in aspic, tripe, tuna noodle casserole - and marzipan, to which I am, bizarrely, allerhgic, which is fine because I hate it...it has something to do with a preservative they put in it, I think) - and even then, due to early training in the years before everyone was encouraged to be a goddamn bore about eating (no, I can't eat...oh, just fill in the blanks here), if you cook dinner for me and put it down in front of me, I will eat it.
My mind has just traveled some 12 years back to London when Sarah (my wonderful offspring) was about 12. We were in London, and some friends invited us to spend an afternoon and evening with his parents.
Well, our pals Krisia and Angus took us out to the suburbs of London to a community called something or other on Thames...it'll come to me. Walton on Thames? No. At any rate, it was, in fact, on the Thames and was more or less right across the Thames (at that point quite narrow) from Hampton Court, and we took the family rowboat out before dinner to go in the back door of Hampton Court. We saw the royal deer, and the kids (Krisia and Angus have a son Sarah's age or thereabouts) got under the locked gate (this was after hours) to the famous maze. You would not believe this whole place in April...coming from the train walking down little lanes arched all over with enormous lilac bushes...I decided then and there to retire to it. It was beyond belief gorgeous. Ah hah! Thames Ditton. I knew it would come to me. You take the Tube to the end of the line from Wimbledon and then go one stop on British Rail.
However, once we got out of the boat and got back to Angus' parents place and his father served dinner, things got problematic. What he had cooked (Angus' mother had gone out to the Women's Institute or something for the evening) was a fish casserole which was without a doubt the worst thing I've ever tasted in my life. I think it was one of the recipes left over from the post-WWII rationing era. It consisted of mackerel which was close to being over the hill in a cream sauce made, I believe, with condensed milk - or perhaps library paste. It was beyond belief awful. When Sarah was still living at home, every time thereafter that she complained about dinner, my invariable response was, "Shut up. It could be fish casserole."
I can't imagine how I got off on that subject. Ah, well. I feel that the whole point of a blog is to be able to meander.
Anyway, what I meant to get off on was something I've thought about for years, and it was brought back to my mind by this heinous idea of making the homeless pay rent in the shelters.
It should be stated here that I am by nature a Socialist, if I'm political at all. I don't believe that change happens in governments, or Senates, or Congresses...I believe it happens with people. You know, the ones who have to actually LIVE with the changes. And I quite firmly believe in "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." I have, in fact, a whole ideal of a Utopian Socialist society, on which I shall expound at a later date. (Those of you who are completely uninterested in this should look out. I'll try and signpost the blog so you can avoid it; far be it from me to attempt to engage you in this sort of thing when you are in fact waiting for me to be madly witty. You are waiting for me to be madly witty, aren't you? AREN'T you?)
What happened was that Seth (Sarah's boyfriend) and I got talking about the homeless thing, and I laid out the idea (I knew I'd get around to it) that I've had for years for solving at least some of the homeless problem...and now that I write it, I think I've mentioned it before. This is my thought about getting the unions to partner with the agencies that oversee the homeless population to teach people trades.
We've got a lot of abandoned city-owned buildings in the five boroughs, and a lot of people who need homes. Why not get the unions to teach the homeless to renovate those buildings, with the carrot on the end of the stick being A. a decent place to live, and B. a skill that is marketable? Surely this is a neat, simple, and elegant solution to any number of problems. Fewer families in shelters, fewer crumbling buildings, and, because it logically follows, revitalized neighborhoods. Although I hate the term revitalized...somehow it reminds me of very early 20th century newspaper ads. Drink Lydia Pinkney's Tonic! You will be revitalized!
Ah, well. Now that I've had my nice evening's blather, I shall go to bed, and think (in a slightly evil manner) of all those sweet young things in tomorrow's yoga class very politely edging their mats away from mine as the beer and fried shrimp sweat exudes from my body. I have a ghastly suspicion that a lot of these people eat tofu for fun. Good God.