Amongst celebrating my beautiful mother this week, I have found myself in three different libraries. I learnt just how much I take after her this weekend, when on Mother’s Day we found ourselves holding up a cohort of people as neither of us could open a door. I am lucky to have a mother who has always encouraged my independence and positivity; it has helped me to achieve the things I want. The one thing I have learnt about mothers is that they are usually right, and although I wanted to do more than just take her for lunch, I resumed research in the British Library. This is not ideal. Having to leave a potential night out with my friends and many potential glasses of Sauvignon Blanc for a Megabus back to Bristol before one of my hours was taken away by Greenwich Mean Time; even less ideal. Whilst in London I experienced a shocking situation. A Scottish lady came into the coffee-shop I was queuing in and demanded two coffees in a rude manner. Despite her wishes being fulfilled quickly, she sighed for the two minutes she was waiting and then said ‘You foreigners working here, this wouldn’t happen in Scotland’ to the employee. What?
Having recently worked on a dissertation and presentation about racial typology and national character in the eighteenth century, I find it even more shocking that things like this are still said. Similar to the situation with sexism, we are confident that as an informed society racism will not be tolerated, yet it happens every day. National characters are still tainted by racial stereotypes, and these are reinforced by the media and the government; you only need to switch on the news to find the next big immigration commotion. What do we fear, and why? My world-view is that people should be allowed to live wherever they want. Although I am prone to idealistic reasoning, I prefer to see this as an innate confidence that people are the same, despite socio-cultural, physical and religious differences. With the psychological and scientific research we now have, the reason anybody would feel qualified to attach a stigma to different nationalities can only stem from ignorance or jealousy, which both imply fear. Perhaps the western world is stuck on the inexorable truth that the consumerism we indulge in today was built on the profits of the Atlantic Slave Trade and the British Empire. Perhaps, this ‘fear’ is masking a long-held national guilt, reinforced daily by the news. Do you buy it?
After an emotional week involving final coursework deadlines and seminars, I found myself with some real time to spend on my dissertation. This led to wondering what I would say if I met the actual Mary Wollstonecraft in the library, despite the fact that she died in 1797. Other mad moments involved becoming a chef, getting my first mention by another writer and the discovery of a library-intruder putting pornography on display screens. Not even April-Fools. I learnt that my best friend went on an actual school trip way back when, to a brand new, state of the art Zebra Crossing. Yeah. In scholarship news, I managed to reach 122 sponsors, which has quite literally made my life. Until the results in May, I am on a one-woman mission to find my tuition fees. I contemplated and then immediately discarded the concepts of egg donation, a sugar-daddy and selling a kidney. In an attempt to find an alternative, I have decided to set up a page on a donation website. Needs must?