Wednesday, 11 July 2007

“Come on people!”

I was sitting in my bedroom working at my laptop on the bed, bemoaning the lack of a breakfast table (sigh), and basking in the delicious breeze from the fan, when from outside I heard, in the exact intonations that I use the phrase ubiquitously to the children and tourists in the street, “Come ON people!” as I make shooing motions with my hands. Goose bumps went crawling up my neck (considering the temperature it felt pretty good). I tell you, just when you think no one is listening… you are caught out influencing the youth of a foreign country! One of the little beauties who plays house on our stoop and is always out front with her friends was trying to organize a game (next item) and she was corralling them around with MY phrase – “Come on people!” In ENGLISH. I cannot tell you my chagrin and my feelings of flattery, perhaps misplaced but I tell you all I am smiling still.

The game she was organizing was Ring around the Rosie - in Darjia. I have a photograph for you. It was somewhat surreal, and then the unkind fellow from next door yelled at them and made them all go home! Harrack!

Another great surprise I had today and I’m sorry oh ye of staid personality and reserved emotions but I am so tickled, I smile still (lots of smiling today, which was good after writing that post this morning). I sallied forth to my BlogPower blog roll to read some interesting, fascinating, technically (will someone teach me the secret to making the page go from one side to the other?) savvy, tasty, and other brilliant adjectives, blogs, and lo did I find there my OWN little blog title, sassy and proud to be among such company. I must do my thank you, like a well brought up person, and that is to Sir James (I can’t recall all of the new moniker) of Nourishing Obscurity. Three months ago when I was just an infant blogger he wrote some delicious and kind words about my blog on his site. I was beside myself with glee to even be noticed by someone of his obvious blog-caliber, but to be reviewed and brought to notice was heady indeed. He has since that time not only read my blog but offered comments. He has been a cyber friend of the very best kind. He is generous of spirit and someone to emulate. Thank you james. You are my cyber hero.

After my verbal decanting this morning, Q and I left the house with arms full of dirty laundry in two bags full to find the Press that the girls down the way had told us of. Words on laundry in Morocco: when we were at the Villa in Fez we had a washing machine (sigh). Everyone, really everyone, hangs the laundry out to dry. I suppose in Agdal and Souissi there are a few dryers and in the Presses of course, but the majority of the country hangs to dry, and why oh why would you not? Since moving to the Oudayas it has been a constant struggle to get clean laundry (something I am a real stickler about). We don’t have a washing machine and I looked in to buying one of those toy ones – you know the baby machines, but there is no hook-up for it in the house at all unless I put it in the shower… all right I DID think about it, but only for a minute. For a few months the housekeeper was washing the clothing by hand and taking the linens to be machine-washed. I was not happy with this arrangement for a couple of reasons – she was overcharging us (by quite a bit) and she put everything in the same load or basin. Once I told her (idiot me thinking she would know to separate) I wanted the linens Clorox-ed, she dumped it on everything. Q has some lovely tie-dye shirts now.

The odd part is Presses are thick on the ground in Fez. I mean really they are everywhere; you stumble over one going to the cookie cafes, but here – thin on the ground. I have looked and looked. I did find a Cleaners nearby, but … hmmm a bit dodgy I think. I ‘m still looking. We have been washing our lingerie, and I my gym clothes by hand, easy enough in the summer. We have lines for hanging the wet clothes on the roof and truth be told I find that a hoot. Finally today we found the Press, she took the two bags of linens, and the first question was, “Can everything go in together?” Hey, at least she ASKED. I pick them up tomorrow, and we shall see, the price is very reasonable, around 120 dirhams I think. In Fez at my favorite Press where I had them clean my djellabas they were wonderful, EVERYTHING was 30 dirhams. Bring in two sweaters, 30 dirhams. Bring in one djellaba, 30 dirhams. Bring in two djellabas, 30 dirhams. I was very tempted to bring in the cat.

When we were leaving the Post after Q picked up her package, we passed a shop with pens, pencils etc and a GLOBE in the window. I have not told you the difficulty of obtaining a world map in Morocco. There are “political reasons”. “You know Africa yes, well these countries are always changing their borders who can keep up. Would you like a map of Morocco?” I did find one old world map hidden away at the Villa with the labels in Arabic and the sizes of the countries and continents somewhat distorted.. So when we saw a bright orange (perhaps I should get it to match my new shoes. I could carry it like the new ‘it” accessory? No? eh.) But it was just 1300 hours and the store was closing, so another day will have to do for Arabic globe shopping.

We went ahead to La Comedie, which is a place Q really likes for their deserts. Today we tried lunch and were convinced that this is an excellent place to come for café au lait and dessert.
Another cultural oddity (to us) is the eating of pastries with fresh squeezed orange juice. It makes my blood sugar rise just to watch it. I went to the loo after eating and I felt like I had entered downtown Delhi. The bathroom was so thick with smoke I could barely make out the faces out EVERY SINGLE waitress! After I left I felt in need of an x-ray, but I had chocolate instead.

Q and her professor had a discussion about arranged marriage and forced marriage – the differences thereto. One where the parents are indeed looking for your best interest, and the second more their own interest. The professor’s point was that the divorce rate is comparable in both so it can’t be so bad. Q pointed out that only in the past few years have the women been able to get a divorce and they may well have slanted the statistics a bit.

That’s over a thousand words friends and you have things to do. Tomorrow: Q and Katie’s Excellent Adventure in Tangiers, women in positions of power, the patriarchal bent of history, a inadvertent purchase, all right four purchases at the jewelry store, the state of politics in Morocco, and the Moroccan’s love for the melodramatic when it comes to love. “Don’t you find that romantic (sigh) that he was willing to cut his wrist for his love!” said the Arabic tutor
My pragmatic child said, “No not really.”
“But it is so, so romantic!” We are constantly beset with the love of the Egyptian soap operas in every hannut and shop, and Othello is bigger than Elvis.

What is this? “Concern grows in Britain over female genital mutilation”

All right we may not be able to change this practice in Africa but we can bloody well keep it from happening in Britain. I say write some letters, give the MPs something to read. Email to anyone who has an address and especially the media. I am sending off a little note to CNN and the London Times stating that this subject should remain a news item! This is not just Muslims, it is also Christians; the practitioners are mainly from the Nile Valley region and parts of sub-Saharan African, Yemen, and Oman. Britain is our country, a country in which women have rights, and control over their bodies. A country where we protect our children. This is unspeakable. Tell everyone you know about this article, e-mail it around; get people talking about it. When this sort of thing is dragged out into the light of reason, it cannot continue. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men/women do nothing.”

# Story Highlights
# Female genital mutilation is becoming a growing problem in Britain
# Police campaign beginning Wednesday will highlight that practice is a crime
# 20,000-pound reward offered for information leading to UK's first prosecution
# Problem mostly involves first-generation immigrants from Africa, Middle East
-400-500 victims every year.
Police estimate up to 66,000 girls in Britain face the risk of genital mutilation.

I have to begin to post BEFORE I read the papers… To bring things back up to a cheery note. Look right to see some of the cats of Rabat. I told you they are everywhere, and generally well cared for as far as feeding. You can see someone had just left them lunch. If you look carefully you will see the kittens all about hidden in the grass. I tried to get some photographs for you but I kept shaking the camera as I was so busy going, “Awww.” This is a small meditation park in the Medina.


The Good Woman said...

Great voyage into your life, Lady M. I completely agree with your words on taking a stand in the UK. I find this a very hospitable country with a proud history of helping others. That said, I wonder that it doesn't do more to protect it's own values in that process.

Kaycie said...

Lady M, I have to say that having to go to so much trouble for the laundry spooks me a bit. There are five of us. I do laundry every single day of my life. I think I would be worked to death in Morocco!

Liz said...

I'm not surprised you were smiling when you heard the child echo your words! How delicious.

Female mutilation on the other hand is totally horrendous. I had no idea it was being done on such a large scale in the UK.

i think if there is one kitchen appliance I could not live without it would be the washing machine. I have destroyed jumpers hand-washing them in the past. I hope your Press does a good job.

marymaryquitecontrary said...

No washing machine! I know my mother survived for many years using a washboard in the sink. Monday was wash day;it did take all day. Everyday is washday in our home.
It is lovely that children can play in the streets, I think that is probably not the case in most areas of the UK.
It is horrible to think that female genital mutilation still goes on today. I have recently read two books dealing with this subject. The pain and suffering is horrific. 'Do they hear you when you cry' by Fauziya Kassindza and 'Desert Flower' by Waris Dirie tell their stories.

Drunk Mummy said...

I had no idea it was difficult to obtain a map these days - seems a bit daft when you can access anything online. It reminds me of 'The English Patient'!

Annie said...

A migraine and two cranky children mean I haven't read this whole post - but female mutilation? huh? I'm still getting my head around the fact that circumcision of male infants is still the 'norm' here in the US - I can't even imagine what is involved in female genital mutilation - or what possible purpose it can serve. Makes me want to stay under my rock of bilssful ignorance!

Omega Mum said...

Wow, what a post. Everything from washing tips to mutilation....The problem about genital mutilation is that we're terribly worried about cultural imperialism - it's all that guilt from Empire days. Honour killings in the UK are on the increase, too - not that I want to bother you.

mutterings and meanderings said...

I wanna see the kittens!

lady macleod said...

good woman

thank you. I think the political correctness has the better of us.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


I don't doubt it, why do you think there is so little obesity here?

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


I was shocked by the article as well.

I am pleased to say the Press did a great job. I am so relieved.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


I had to look "washboard" up on the internet - ow ow ow. Now that looks like work. Can you imagine blankets and towels?

It's one of the things I love about this neighborhood. The Oudayas is safe and everyone looks after each other and each other's children.

Thank you for the books reference. I will put them on my list.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

drunk mummy

Not so easy online here. Google Earth is censored, and in Algeria and Tangeria it is much worse.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


you poor dear. I hope you are feeling better, that's a bad combination.

You stay under the rock for now. You can be aware when your head is better.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

omega mum

I agree I think the political correctness has run amuck.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


I'm not a good photographer, I hang my head. I'm good at other stuff... Next time I go by there I shall try again.

thank you for coming by.

jmb said...

Hi lady M,
Another post about so many things. You are very good at this indeed. It makes it hard to comment on since we don't want the comment to be as long as the post.
Still, I love the local colour, children and cats and other stories and then you throw in the serious stuff in case we were cruising.

I do think that it is up to Great Britain to take a very strong stance on the female circumcision cases. This is definitely child abuse at its worst. Incidentally I had no idea that the Christian community also was involved in this heinous practice.
Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Brillig said...

I lived in the Middle East for some time, and i was familiar with (and duly HORRIFIED by) female mutilation. But I had absolutely no idea that it was happening in other, more "progressive" parts of the world, though I suppose it makes sense.

And good for Q in pointing out the obvious flaw in the professor's statistics!

I Beatrice said...

I'm intrigued to know the circumstances in which you wave your arms and shoo the tourists....?

I've heard of shooing geese (the ones that bite your backside if you don't feed them fast enough). I can even envisage a situation in which you might shoo a group of unknown children. But shooing tourists - now that's something else! (Do tell me how and why - it's a brave woman who could bring it off without insult or injury I think!)

So far as female circumcision and so-called 'honour killings' in this country are concerned - well, there ARE laws against them you know. One of my sons is prosecuting in a distressing case involving a 15-year-old Iraqi girl even as I write...

The trouble is, so much of it goes on clandestinely, and with the connivance of unscrupulous back-street (or Harley St!)doctors. It's often very difficult to detect such things, much less bring them before the courts. But I don't think that means that nobody is trying.

It's a part of the price we have to pay here for being a free and welcoming society, I daresay. If we were prepared to be as oppressive as some of the regimes from which these people have escaped to find refuge with us - well, we wouldn't have so many young men prepared to bomb us for a start!

As someone else said though - the comments here are sometimes longer than the posts themselves|

A pity that - because I'd love to be able to relate some of the splendidly funny London and Glaswegian anecdotes that emerged following the recent failed attacks...

debio said...

Love to follow your tripping round many subjects, Lady m.

We too have Google Maps censored - well, the internet is censored generally - but works in my favour with daughter in the house. Acts like an extra 'parental guidance' filter...

Female mutilation is just one of the unacceptable customs which have been imported into western cultures. Good for you for drawing attention to it!

Love the interview btw.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fantastic post, Lady M. I feel I am on a voyage of discovery with you. Very interested in the part about the washing. We all hang it out on the balconies here [not acceptable in the UK] and no one has a tumble dryer. I'm still getting over the miracle that it dries in anhour in summer! Couldn't manage without a washing machine, though. Also a great story about the children shouting "Come ON, people!" Love that. Female mutilation is a scandal anywhere and it is awful that we let it go on in the UK because of political correctness. Glad to read, in the comments , that the Press did a good job.

lady macleod said...


thank you and you comment as long and on whatever you please. This is MY blog and so say I.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


Thank you and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

i beatrice

As I said to jmb this is MY blog and you can write as much as you want, about whatever you want, when you wish.

I 'shoo' the tourists whenever they NEED it! They fill the street so you can't pass and then stand there watching me come out my door (as they stick their heads in, uninvited - that guillotine thing is looking attractive) NOT moving!

Good for dear son, is it a difficult prosecution?

..relate away, and thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


Oh thank you, thank you, and I am glad. thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

welshcakes limoncello

The two things you see on all the rooftops in Fez and out in the countryside are a satellite dish and the washing!

I feel like I am voyaging myself, and it's quite a trip; but then so are you! It's more fun with friends I must say.

thank you for coming by.

Shauna said...

Like the new look, Lady M.
Your posts amaze me. I'm speechless.

Lord Straf-Baghdad said...

Aw shucks - thankee. but my little efforts pale into insignificance against your female genital mutilation story.