The Servitude Of Service


I possess a fascination for all things historical, but especially those things which relate directly to my own family history.

Unlike most of my peers I took an avid interest in the stories that my grandparents, and great grandparents imparted to me about our families lives. They talked of a different time, a different world, but nevertheless what once transpired, what became collective experience, created a sort of ripple effect upon the lives of subsequent generations. This impact was so severe, the effects remian evident today.

My family is of mixed heritage and fortune. Some are Irish, English and of course Welsh. They have been rich, poor, immigrants, miners, ladies maids, officers, gentlemen and in business. Some have lived abroad and others never left their home town. They spoke foreign languages and played musical instruments, skills which they never thought to teach to the next generation.

In all of this history, throughout all of the stories two threads were always woven the deepest; poverty and domestic service.

Apparently one in ten of the current UK population had an ancestor who worked as a domestic servant. Not so surprising I think considering the perpetual imbalance between wealth, the staunch class division and poor educational standards of the past, if not the present too.

Poverty was, and is of course very real. Although now there are mechanisms in place to help alleviate such misfortune, in my grandparents and great grandparents lifetime this was not always the case. It was a very real threat to be poor, to be below the bread-line.

People couldn’t survive on benefits, they didn’t truly exist as we take them for granted now. People had scant opportunities if they were poor, often becoming a domestic servant or indeed being admitted into a workhouse was their only option.

When people now think of domestic service, the imagery which might spring to mind is the popular Downtown Abbey series or, as I prefer the 1970s British television series Upstairs Downstairs.

Yet, neither of these programmes are a true reflection of what life was like as someone else’s servant.

Below stairs gossip, flirtation, autonomy, opinions, democracy, individuality, freedom, holidays, good food, parties and camaraderie are all fictitious story lines to create good television.

A servant was seen as the other, them, the underclass. Even looked down upon by fellow working class people in other professions.

Servants new their place. They didn’t deign to question their place or to challenge their betters in society. They were the silent majority in the UK workforce.

Mistreatment was normal. Sexual, physical and verbal abuse was common place, and not always at the hands of their ’employers’ either.

Servants were often under paid, they held no employment rights, they ate left overs, were permitted no free time or holidays, no sick leave and no entitlement to medical care. They could be sacked for illness or any minor misdemeanour without reference, they couldn’t marry, their wages would be docked for anything broken or food wasted. They were controlled by their masters and mistresses, but also by the strict hierarchy of the below stairs staff chain of command.

Plus, it was a 24/7 365 days a year job or grind, with no real scope to develop or progress.

The life of a servant in comparison to other people in other forms of employment was vast. Being a servant was a different kettle of fish. Nothing compared then or now to what these people experienced and were subjected to.

A good servant would be deferential, know and accept their place, display loyalty, follow unquestioningly, never be seen to want or expect more, surrender themselves to be used and abused.

All of this indoctrination still lingers somewhere in my genetics, so much so, it frightens me! Yet, it doesn’t inspire me to listen or to comply, but to rebel.

My families history in service heralds as a warning. It made my family question their status, life, desires and wants. They were not comfortable ‘doffing’ their cap to their betters. Subsequent generations learnt the lessons of those in service, they were inspired to be the complete opposite of what their heritage and ancestry had told them to be. No longer were they content to be seen as somehow less of a person because of their class. They wanted their children to achieve, to be educated, to progress to go out into the world and claim a stake of it for themselves.

This whole rebellion against servitude in service still remains, as I have stated previously. I know it is derived from, and linked to my families experiences as house-maids, laundry-maids, ladies-maids and cooks. I suppose such ingrained ideals and attitudes just can’t be over-thrown at once, they tend to make an impression.

I look at my ancestors lives and still think; no one will treat me like that, I won’t be anyone’s servant.

I suppose this attitude should be celebrated, but, it also has a sting in the tail. It could be seen as a ‘chip on my shoulder’.

Any time I perceive I am being treated like an underling, I cannot accept it, it infuriates me. I have actually left jobs because I felt as though I was being treated like a servant and not an employee! No, I was beaten or whatever else, but sometimes employers do treat staff like usable and abusable, never ending resources. They often forget we are humans with rights. It can be all too similar to how servants were treated in the employ of Lords and Ladies. The echoes of these times too close for my comfort. In my opinion the attitude of the ‘master of the house’ hasn’t altogether left society, merely mutated into another form of abuse of power.

Sometimes though, I find myself envying the servants life. It was certain, it was a path deemed destined and people knew nothing more. Their aspiration were not as complicated as ours are today, their disappointments therefore not as many. It was what it was, a means to an end.

All things considered we look back with the luxury of hindsight, and think that they had to be thoroughly miserable. Yet, I actually believe they wren’t.

Who are we to really judge their lives on our standards! The other side of the coin can present another set of questions; is it better to be master of your own uncertain life, or a servant knowing your place, your path? Or, is it the case that we are all merely servants conning ourselves into thinking we have miracously become the masters? What in fact are we masters of? In reality how far has society fundamentally progressed since the time of domestic service?

Servants and masters, masters and servants; isn’t it all really the same thing in today’s world?

Advertisements

30 Days Of Change


Interesting concept; in 30 days you can either adopt a worthwhile lifestyle choice or delete a negative one from your world.

In just 30 days we, the humble human, can be re-programmed!

It doesn’t take a lifetime then? No, just 30 days. So, a Leopard can change its spots? YES, I suppose it can if you think 30 days is all that is required to change!

In ‘Try Something New For 30 Days’ Matt Cutts talks about how he begun embarking on his quest to change, in, you guessed it, ONLY 30 days. He also talks about how the tasks then grew in difficulty, how they challenged him and what profound changes actually occurred.

Inspiring? Well, I think so ūüôā

 

The ‘talk’ is really short so; please, please, please watch this link!

Try Something New For 30 Days

Let me know what you think; are you willing to take the challenge?! 

Oh Dear, I’m In Trouble.


Just want to follow up on my last post.

What can I say, sorry perhaps for concerning and worrying family members who read it, and thought it pertained to my current relationship with my boyfriend.

It didn’t.

I don’t want to excuse my writing the post though, as it is my blog and it is where I commit feelings, thoughts, concerns, ideas and so on and so on. Also, I often include generic scenarios, and ‘Devil Advocate’ posts too. Not everything I write is personal or indeed about one person I know or about my family, friends or boyfriend.

I would never write about anything as personal on my blog anyway! Reason being, well, people do get the wrong end of the stick, that is natural!

The reason for writing my last post, was merely for it to be read, and to receive comments. Also it was a chance for me to perhaps clear some long languishing emotional cobwebs. As those who read regularly know I am on a mission to change, and also progress. I write every post as a kind of therapy, for me, and not necessarily for the reader to like or even identify with. Writing is after all a personal pursuit.

I feel a little upset that the post was interpreted wrongly, as this could have caused me some trouble, and upset. Yet, I hope this explanation will clarify, what my previous post did not.

The post wasn’t intended to discuss one person, but things that have occurred to me or been said to me from time to time, in varied situations.

For reference, my boyfriend and I are not perfect, then what couple are?! We do have our share of problems, arguments and general ‘argh’ moments, but after many, many years I deem that quite acceptable.

Thanks all for reading, and hopefully this now makes sense.

This Is Hell


So, waiting for my flight back to the UK to be confirmed, I am left cooling my heels and feeling the angst of the mini catastrophe awaiting me there, build about me like a dark shadow.

I truly am angry and upset. I am shocked and looking for revenge – yes, revenge!!!!!!!

After posting ‘M’ Is For The Many Ways I’d Maim ‘Her’¬†, and re-reading what I have stated there, I could laugh!!
“Rise to the bait and it is you who are maimed” said I, even though I knew I would always respond so angrily; even if someone had crossed me half as much as they have this time!! At this moment I really couldn’t give a damn if I burn in Hell for feeling so angry or so full of malice. I mean at the moment I feel I am in Hell, so why not consider the many ways I could maim those people who have hurt me. They deserve it for what they have done; how they rip people’s lives apart in one moment, and don’t care.

Basically, if I could grab the very fabric of the ethereal world that surrounds me, and use this as a weapon to wrap around those people, I would try to suffocate them, I would!!!

I really have seen this as a final ‘slap in the face’, the last ditch¬†attempt¬†of some messed up universal plan to ‘pull the rug’ out from underneath me. I feel I can go along and all is fine, and then suddenly, wham, bam, slap and down I go. It is like the universe is saying; ‘Hey Bex, you can’t have too much of a good thing. We have to ensure you get slapped back in line’.

I mean if I explained to you all the dirty tricks I’ve had played on me you’d¬†probably¬†say; ‘no way, I don’t believe it’. Yet, life, me and cosy and wonderful don’t go hand in hand. Never or ever!

Yet, until now I haven’t mentioned it, I haven’t harped on about it, I haven’t been sour over it – I just accept that is life and move on. Yet, this time, I feel my level of tolerance and the ability to move on has suddenly vanished.

I am truly dented; angry, hurt, and I am fed up with being pushed around by unseen decision makers who govern ‘fate’. Why is any of this considered as¬†character¬†building?? I could live life quite happily forever and ever without any more such ‘character¬†building’ antics, thank you very much!

I am left feeling paranoid – this could happen again, I am at the mercy of things I can’t control. I have no power to alter anything. I am just me and I am not enough. I just want to go back to before this – so I don’t have to feel this way.

I have posted this, because I need to get some of these emotions out in the open. Stating them to the whole world (OK,¬†exaggeration¬†I know), but letting others see how I feel at this moment, well, it might just help me to release the negative and¬†damaging¬†vibes. I can’t explain in any detail anything that has happened, so I am just¬†miscellaneously¬†venting¬†in a way, but that is OK, as I feel a weight could be lifted from my soul by merely doing that.

I basically need to vent!!¬†I need to scream how I feel from the roof-tops, but I am trying to keep a lid on it too for everyone else’s sake. Others are worried and affected by all of this also. So, it isn’t so fair to load them down with my own selfish needs.

Consequently, you my wonderful WordPress readers are my free counsellors, my helping hands, my sounding boards, my sanity.

THANK YOU FOR READING!  Though I know none of it really makes a whole lot of sense!

Family, Friends Or Foe?


Recently, well after events unfolded my with Grandmother (Nanna) breaking her hip and leg bones. I have begun thinking of the above labels, and how we apply these to people; how often these labels overlap, freely and disconcertingly.

Family; our kith and kin, our blood, our own, firm relationships and bonds.

Friends; connection, understanding, empathy, shared experiences and interests.

Foe; can be a stranger or the above turned sour and against you.

Family to me seem the strangest ‘kettle of fish’ of all the labels.¬†Fathoming why they are as they are, and why they often profess to be on your side, but all too quickly forget that if the ‘chips are down’, is life’s impossible task.

Why are these kins folk so quick to turn against you, abandon you and use you??

Surely that isn’t in the definition of what a family¬†member¬†is supposed to be??

Yes, family are still people, humans; just¬†because¬†they are flesh and blood or linked by marriage doesn’t mean they will naturally be my firm allies. I know that. Yet, the very ones who let me down first are the ones I think¬†wouldn’t, the ones who claim they are on my side.

In fact there has been one person whom has adopted a complete silence about even¬†acknowledging¬†there has been any problem, that my Nanna has been hospitalised. This person hasn’t even asked once if all is well. I always hear about this persons problems, yet now this person can’t be bothered to even enquire how I am!!!

Nice!!!!

Yet, they seem happy enough to brag up how wonderful their family is; yes, I bet they are Рperfection personified РNOT!    These silly little acts meant to gloss over their recent conduct, and the issues they choose to ignore!!! Goodness me.

I really am stumped regarding this silent treatment, but feel that enough is enough. This is not the definition of family I recognise. If I am good enough to be there for them when they need something or require advice, well, consider this privilege rescinded. I am fed-up of being there for others and having nothing in return. The selfishness of some people knows NO bounds!!!

I can turn my back too, so don’t worry. YOU will need me before I will need you.

 

 

Madrid’s 3 Kings Parade – Cabalgata De Reyes


Last night I got to witness the celebrations, and parade of the 3 Kings or Cabalgata De Reyes here in Madrid.

By the teeming crowds and absolute bedlam, I think all of Madrid and then some showed up too! I think last years parades pulled in over 500,000; but standing there amongst so many people it certainly felt as though much more were present this year!

It was lovely being able to inhabit the roads leading down to Plaza de Cibeles without the usual multitudes of cars. The people of the city reclaimed the streets for themselves and the celebrations. The sun setting over the Metropolis building was lovely, with the soft glow of the Christmas lights hanging from the trees.

I couldn’t believe the crowds as we got ever nearer though; a sea of people were waiting patiently and without trouble for the night to begin and the arrival of the 3 kings.

The night began with choirs singing out carols in Spanish and English, then came the colourful and lively parade with beautifully decorated floats. It is customary for sweets to be thrown into the crowd, and this year was no exception. Apparently, during the parade 7000 kilos of sweets are thrown into the eagerly awaiting crowds. Many onlookers came prepared with bags and umbrellas to catch the tasty delights.

Here are some photos of evening, along with a couple of the firework display that ended the evening with a bang.

The view to Plaza de Cibeles as dusk falls.

The view to Plaza de Cibeles as dusk falls.

One of the choirs singing beautifully to the masses.

One of the choirs singing beautifully to the masses.

Just a small glimpse of the massive crowd surrounding the area - which covered many, many of the streets.

Just a small glimpse of the massive crowd surrounding the area – which covered many, many of the streets.

The first of many parade floats.

The first of many parade floats.

Awwww, a Ballerina.

Awwww, a Ballerina.

DSCF7666

Alice In Wonderland - I saw but couldn't photograph the wonderful Mad Hatter walking alongside the float. He was Johnny Depp's replica from the movie!

Alice In Wonderland – I saw but couldn’t photograph the wonderful Mad Hatter walking alongside the float. He was Johnny Depp’s replica from the movie!

Angel and the North Star - beautiful acrobatics from a girl attached to, and suspended from a floating balloon of massive porportion! I felt sorry for her in the freezing weather!

Angel and the North Star – beautiful acrobatics from a girl attached to, and suspended from a floating balloon of massive proportion! I felt sorry for her in the freezing weather!

One of the 3 Kings

One of the 3 Kings

Another crowd shot after the parade ended.

Another crowd shot after the parade ended.

The beginning of the fireworks.

The beginning of the fireworks.

DSCF7723

Tired, Irritable And In Pain


I need to apologise if I am not as ‘thorough’ as I could be with my blog at the moment. I think I have let my interaction and posting slip a little. I can and will explain why though.

Well, from Friday until today has been extremely strange. I seem to be feeling more tired than ever, and have developed the most annoying headache that Paracetamols don’t seem to have an effect upon! I know that I shouldn’t be perhaps continuing to work on the computer, but then between my new Facebook page, this blog, responding to and sending emails, research and other work; I just haven’t had the option to say ‘I quit, I need rest and time out’!!!!

This feeling ill properly kicked in on Thursday. I had to miss my usual evening catch up with one of my friends, as I just felt so tired I didn’t have the energy to even move from the couch! Friday I had to miss my Spanish lesson too, the first one ever!! I felt tired with a horrendous headache which had developed and wouldn’t leave. I had so much pain that I had to stay in bed until the afternoon, which I never do! Today, the same head pain has returned; it is concentrated on the left side of my head, and sits behind and into my left eye, which is annoying me!!!

Anyway, after missing my lesson on Friday I felt guilty. I hate to miss anything as important, especially as by about 4:00 I felt better!! Typical!!! My friend then paid me a visit with some Turron to cheer me up, which we ate during that same afternoon. I really like Turron, but I regretted the food splurge as it is so heavy on my stomach. Plus, the calories I must have consumed was crazy, not to mention merely eating the food just to cheer myself up; not a good way to stabilise my emotions or increase my health!!!!! Anyway, what is done is done!

Saturday I felt better, and we went out to the Fine Art Museum. We had lunch, took some photos and just had fun. Sunday, yet again I felt tired and drained with a damn headache. I did exercise as usual though; I was determined not to be defeated, but my left eye felt as though it was going to pop from the socket. The pressure was painful inside the head. I have no idea what the Hell that was all about. I just felt weird to be completely unscientific in my description. I can’t explain the pain, but I know I am fed up of it now. I think I have to be over tired, no, I know I am! Though I am having better night’s sleep than I have had for months, it is never enough!!!!!! Now the nights of being awake have stacked up against me, and lack of sleep is seemingly beginning to have it’s effect on me.

I have to admit that I am irritable too. I just feel ‘so what’ about everything. Though, I am trying not to be this way, I am struggling! I am being horrible to everyone, short tempered (more than usual!); I feel sorry for anyone having to tolerate me! I have to get on with my day though, regardless of how tired I am I can’t just say; ‘I am going to rest, sod everything’. I have things to do for God’s sake, life doesn’t live itself!

Also, we go to Rome on Friday, Yippeeeee!!!! I can’t wait to be honest. However, I don’t want to be so unenthused, lethargic and in pain that I miss the chance to fully enjoy being there. That would just make me more infuriated with myself than I already am! I just want everything to be as perfect as it can be, and not be a complete nightmare.

I have so much to do before I get to Rome though; meetings, Xmas stuff to prepare, work to complete, so on and so on!!!!!!!!!!! It is never ending.

Yet, all I can do is think; is it sleep time yet?

Ooooo, my headache has just eased!! It has only taken 7 hours!