A Pox on the Patriarchy
- Caroline Criado-Perez
Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth,
that are written down old with all the characters of
age? Have you not a moist eye? a dry hand? a
yellow cheek? a white beard? a decreasing leg? an
increasing belly? is not your voice broken? your
wind short? your chin double? your wit single? and
every part about you blasted with antiquity?
- Henry IV Part ii
Last night I dreamt I went to Pemberley again. But just as I was reaching that hallowed hall, wherein moodily paces Darcy, patriarch of my dreams, I was awoken. ‘Damnit’ I said, ‘what is this dog doing on my face?’ (For there was a dog on my face).
I can’t be entirely sure what led my aunt’s dog to seek refuge on my face, but I believe he was actually trying to wake me, in order that I could share his pain. Because, in the misty midst of recognising that I was having my dreams dashed, I became aware of some thudding. And as I floundered in Austenian fog, the thudding got louder – or maybe my hearing became more acute.
I was reminded of a memorable occasion when, after an all-nighter followed by a day’s work at a bookshop, I found myself at a friend’s flat. She had put on Sense & Sensibility in an attempt to cope with the shivering, gibbering shell of a wreck that had melted onto her sofa. But, hang on, I thought, terribly confused, why is there a cracking bassline coming out of the TV? Did they have breakbeat in the eighteenth century? These were the erudite thoughts going through my addled mind. It was surreal, and frankly, it was a little disturbing.
So you may imagine how I felt last night to not only find that it was happening again, but that on top of everything else, I had to cope with this mind-chilling flashback while a dog settled himself callously on my face. And added to this was the smarting realisation that I had yet again failed to seal the deal with Mr Darcy.
Oh cruel world! Here I was, taking the summer off from the city, and now I had to cope with a dog/techno/darcy menage. I tried to put the pillow over my head, but what with the dog already there, I couldn’t breathe and, on balance, it seemed advisable not to suffocate. I removed the pillow. The dog started to howl. I started to weep – and not just in anger, but in sorrow.
Yes, sorrow, dear reader, sorrow. Sorrow, because this was my Falstaff moment. And yea verily was I blasted with antiquity.
Gone were the days when I verily merrily stayed up all weekend and emerged at the end of it only in need of a hamburger to set me straight. Oh no. I knew what lay ahead. I knew that the next day was going to be a day spent flopping over my laptop and shoving food down my throat in a desperate attempt to garner up enough energy to string a cogent sentence together. Or even just a sentence. Cogency optional.
What had become of me? What had become of the girl who was to be found striding down the Farringdon Road at seven in the morning, wearing massive sunglasses and my treasured sleeping bag coat?
Reader, she had died, never to be seen again. I had killed her. And the dog on my face was not helping to soothe my troubled ego – I was old, I was past it, and I was in a very undignified position.
Morning came, the thudding continued, my metaphysical, existential musing reached a crescendo.
Unable to bear either the music in my ears, or the elderly nimby in my head, I decided to kill them both off at once. I grabbed the dog and rampaged across the countryside in search of the rave. I ran across fields, I struggled through hedges, I slipped into ditches, I got stung by nettles. But I was Week Woman. I acknowledge no obstacles. I would persevere, and I would overcome.
Except, then it started to rain. And I got cold. I got wet. The dog had its tail between its legs and stared at me mournfully. ‘You are mad, Week Woman’, he said. ‘I have lost faith in your sanity. You have let me down. You have let yourself down. You have let your past down. I demand that you take me home.’
So I did. Head hanging, pride pounded, I tried to saunter with panache, even as the water trickled down my face. But I knew, and the dog knew, that this bravado was fooling no-one.
I, an ex-raver, arrived home, soggy and defeated, never having found the rave.
The music continues.