Triggered by Jemima Puddle Duck

I bought a pristine copy of ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck’ in a junk shop for fifty cents the other day. No great grandchildren in the offing to receive it, but rather on account of the nostalgia I felt at the very words Jemima Puddle Duck.
I was given a copy of this classic on my eighth birthday, and mightily disappointed I was too, by the waste of a birthday present.

Having read ‘Robinson Crusoe’ in my grandmother’s original edition, published in 1719,  having given up on ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ in another original edition, when I got to the unbearably depressing engraving of the Slough of Despond, and having wept over ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, and become an abolitionist on the spot, Jemima Puddle Duck was small beer.

But I do remember when I rather contemptuously read it, my feelings of alarm when Jemima encountered the polite gentleman with a bushy tail and sandy whiskers. In today’s parlance I was ‘triggered’, and quite anxious until I reached the happy ending and violent demise of said sandy whiskered gentleman. Oh dear, violence too… Beatrix Potter is obviously on the slippery downward slope to becoming cancelled -violence and cruelty to animals being very good reasons for Beatrix to go on the Index ( the list of banned books by the Vatican, but in this case, banned by the guardians of our thoughts and minds  – the virtue signalling woke brigade.)

I was not much surprised after the continual fanatical research by the Thought Police, to read that the Declaration of Independence being displayed at the National Archives in Washington has now attracted a ‘trigger warning’ on one of the original copies. How could we even hope that those resounding words: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’  would be acceptable in these days of endless virtuous Thought Correction.

But I Am surprised that ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ hasn’t received a trigger notice yet – however virtuous the subject- as it contains a great deal of violence which might upset snowflakes.

If Browning and Wordsworth – the latest culprits –  can be cancelled, I’m just waiting for Shakespeare to go on the index too, as he qualifies for it over and over again  – sexism or violence in just about every comedy or tragedy I can think of…

I read that Hollywood is not prepared to film any plot line that doesn’t cover diversity and inclusion, and any other popular buzz word at at the moment… (sigh)… so no more corny re-makes of ‘War and Peace’, or  ‘The Dambusters’, all populated by macho white men, and not a coloured person in sight, just macho men and violence the backbone of  ‘The Dambusters, … and class, snobbery,  materialism, and  conspicuous consumption as well as violence, the themes of Tolstoy’s masterpiece. Trips down memory lane to ‘The Red Shoes’, the story of art versus true love, a giggle over ‘Some Like it Hot’ .feeling guilty about laughing at cross dressing, and no more fun with Georgette Heyer, and her regency frolics, no diversity, no poverty, but lots of gorgeous men with money and poor girls who marry them…..are these all verboten in this new age of compulsory virtue and righteousness?

‘Zulu’ comes up to scratch on the diversity scale, but the violence, and defeat of the natives/ tribes/ noble indigenous fighters  – not sure what description is acceptable these days – might not go down well with BLM, and the on- the- edge- of -your seat- violence, would probably cause snowflakes to have a conniption.

‘Cry, the Beloved Country,’ one of the most powerful novels about apartheid ever published, triggered such buckets of tears from me, that it must be a candidate for being plastered with trigger warnings, while I fear for that magnificent novel ‘Middlemarch’, by George Eliot and indeed, for all her books, for they contain no diversity at all – nineteenth English society being a fairly mono-cultural one, and therefore diversity an unknown concept.

Liberal thinking, modern concepts of liberty, equality, and diversity, whether in terms of race or gender, were not common in previous ages, so most of the great classics, though they often helped to push the boundaries of thought in all these things, are doomed, I fear.

Literature, described by one writer, as the ‘logbook of the human race,’ will struggle to exist if the woke mobs have their say – and history and theories that enlighten and educate and shift our thought processes, and initiate new paradigms. The creativity of uncensored minds is what leads  civilisation and lifts it to greater heights..

Power corrupts, and the power of virtue signallers of all colours seems to have brought about the disgrace and cancelling of numerous forward looking thinkers, of established and reputable writers like JK Rowling, and even of ordinary people who posses the common sense to see things in  perspective and the courage to speak out, and who lose their jobs and reputations as a result of this persecution.

For every righteous campaigner against Western racism and slavery, there are few who dare to point out the horrors of the slavery as  practiced by the Barbary Pirates of the North African coast for three or more centuries, when they  rampaged along the shores of nearly every country in Europe from Iceland and Cornwall, to Italy and Greece. These merciless pirates captured white men and women from sea-side villages far beyond the Mediterranean.

Spanish writer Cervantes was the most famous of all, only being ransomed after five years when his family was finally able to raise the money. At least million and a quarter were enslaved to work as galley slaves or in other brutal activities. Ethiopia only closed down the slave trade in the mid nineteen thirties, and a huge slave trade of Nubians and Abyssinans from the Upper Nile had sustained the Egyptian economy for centuries until the nineteenth century.

Yet no-one seems to have been cancelled  in any of these places, or had their memorial destroyed –  maybe, because those slave traders hadn’t also been benefactors of their societies by endowing schools, hospitals, universities, libraries and orphanages, along  with the other benefits, that so many cancelled historical figures in Britain’s history did. ( And those who so righteously condemn Britain for the slave trade, forget that she was one among many at that time, and was also the first nation to abolish it, spending large sums of money and several thousand British sailors lives,   maintaining a naval squadron to patrol the seas for sixty years, intercepting slave ships, and freeing the slaves.)

Will the Thought Police cancel our favourite classical composer, the mainstay of British musical life – the magnificent Handel, who even the wonderful Beethoven acknowledged as the greatest composer who ever lived. Handel, who had no family, put his money into the shares of the infamous Royal African Company, the main British trading organisation which was formed as early as 1660.

So I fear for Handel , as I do for Jane Austen – no diversity, but worse still, in Mansfield Park the whole plot hinges on the paterfamilias  being absent looking after his estates /plantations in Antigua, a sugar producing slave working island. Jane Austen’s novels of course, were bereft of diversity, gender re-assessments, abolitionist sentiments, or of any redeeming woke features.

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this sort of censorship is the way employees of publishers now seem to hold the upper hand, and refuse to work if they don’t like the content of a book, so that publishers and writers are intimidated. They have become fearful of publishing or writing any book which doesn’t conform to the guidelines of the new groups who demand that we all think like they do. An example of this was the boycotting by staff of every publisher of a book by an American expert who had reservations about the exploding numbers of teenagers having re-assignment surgery in the States. She couldn’t get her book published.

Not only does this sort of policing of our minds and thoughts have terrible similarities both with the Nazi era, and the unforgivable brain washing of the Russian population during this latest unspeakable war, but it also limits the creativity and diversity of thought by which a society itself expands its perceptions, and explores the further reaches of thought and creativity, and the possibilities of the human spirit.

It’s called gaslighting when a person undermines the feelings of another person, making them feel that their feelings have no validity and don’t matter. What is happening to our history, to our literature, to our culture, is another form of gaslighting, which can also be described as bullying.

Therapists say it’s important to call out the attacker if we feel we’re being gaslighted. It’s just as important to do the same to those who would undermine our inheritance of books and poetry, our literature, and history, our precious customs, and even our favourite books. If Black Beauty gets a trigger warning, which for a number of woke reasons, I think is due, I shall despair. It’s books such as these, which educate us and civilize us, and in this case has taught generations that other species matter, which are irreplaceable.

 These are the sort of books which teach us to be better humans, as did Beatrix Potter’s legacy of sympathy for animals, and her legacy of love which so many share, for delicious little Mrs Tiggywinkle and Peter Rabbit, and slightly simple Jemima Puddleduck who longed to hatch her eggs before they were taken away for eating.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

I wanted a quick meal for one, but I ached for something delicious. This was it. Pour a cup of cream into a frying pan, and grate a good handful of parmesan cheese into it. Chop smoked salmon finely, add to the cream, and boil them all up together.At the same time pour boiling water onto two minute noodles.
When noodles are cooked and drained, pour the salmon and bubbling cream over the noodles, grate more parmesan and some black pepper over and eat !

Food for Thought
“One man with courage is a majority.” —Thomas Jefferson   Founding Father, philosopher and lawyer, diplomat and architect. A superb portrait of both he  and his fellow Founding Fathers is the TV series called ‘John Adams’, a magnificent account of the American Revolution and creation of the US.



Filed under books, cookery/recipes, culture, history, jane austen, literature, shakespeare, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

17 responses to “Triggered by Jemima Puddle Duck

  1. Dear Valerie,

    This post makes me weep. I fear for the fall we are hurtling into head first. Whitewashing history doesn’t change it. It only puts us in more danger of repeating it. (As I watch the reports from Ukraine, my blood turns to ice).

    As for the publishing trends these days. My agent tried for a year to sell one of my novels. It boiled down to one of my main POV characters was Native American, therefore it was considered cultural appropriation. How could I, a white Jewish woman write from the point of view of a Black Bob Shawnee. Mind you, I did extensive research and had 3 friends of Native American descent who kept me on the straight and narrow…and, I might add, loved my story. At any rate, the agent released me from my contract and said in thirty years she’s never seen such censorship in publishing. (At least I can paint. 😉 )
    Your salmon dish sounds delicious.
    On the subject of children’s books ask Himself about our adventure with “Kirie, Pirie and Kalikoolin’s PIpe”.
    Now I’ve taken up enough space. Good to see your thoughts on my screen.

    Shalom and hugs to your both,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear from you Rochelle. How frustrating that the cancel culture has reached you and your work .. one of the side effects of these strange times is that it makes one feel redundant – that what we have to say has no relevance or place in this strange new world ( can’t call it a brave one ! ). Ah well, the pendulum will swing I’m sure, but how long it will take is another matter…
      Hope you can try the salmon… you can gussie it up of course with proper pasta, but this was my short cut when in need!
      Thank you for your interesting take on my thoughts, so good to know that we are not alone !
      with love, Valerie

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Angela Ogden

    Oh Valerie….thank you for putting into words the decimation of our loved literature, writers, musicians, history …indeed very way of life. Where did this all come from?? It seems to have suddenly become an avalanche of pious hatred against anything that was considered enriching in previous times. It’s so sad….I mourn for times past…and I’m glad I’m old!!
    So nice to see you back

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Angela,
      Always so good to hear from you … you are always on my wave length, and it’s always comforting to know that others understand and feel the same about the things that disturb us… and goodness – , there are so many disturbing things going on at the moment, and you don’t need me to list them !
      It’s hard not to look back and feel that the past was a better place,.. for the sake of my grandchildren, I try not to despair, and try to look at things more positively – and also to keep my mouth firmly shut !
      With love, Valerie

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I read this this morning and just couldn’t respond but not because I didn’t agree but because I so overwhelmingly did. I wonder every day what the world is coming to and where common sense has gone. Perhaps Elon Musk sent it to Mars ahead of humans although I fear it’s been gone much longer than that. What frightens me is the lack of “common” in that phrase. We seem to be a nation of splinter groups, most of whom are trying to impose their thoughts and values on all the others. BS has become common sense. Reading Rochelle’s comment made me furious. Cultural appropriate my hing patotootski! Imagination. Experience with others. Research. Appreciation of aspects of the culture of others. Are these bad? Of course not.

    Evidently the “woke” are saying two other things. First, no one can ever change. They’re completely formed and informed as a child and any mistakes or stupid things can never be forgiven, forgotten, or learned from. Secondly, the “woke” have been perfect for their entire lives, giving them the prerogative, indeed, duty, to bring to light the faults of others. They have no sense of humor, no sympathy, empathy, or anything resembling an understanding of others. Must be nice to be so perfect. As for me, I just wish they’d go back to sleep, possibly hibernate until the next century. That would improve life immeasurably!

    Thanks for always being so articulate and, an a very nice way, so very cutting to the heart of the issue. Much love from us to you both.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Janet,
      Thank you so much for your long and thoughtful comment…
      Yes, common sense seems to have disappeared… and been replaced by the right to feel offended, and to punish the offenders for having a different opinion.
      I see I was right to fear for Jane Austen… Stirling University in Scotland has now banned her, in the interests of ‘decolonising’ the curriculum.

      A quick look at the history of Africa before colonialisation, massacres, genocides, torture, famines, epidemics, endemic diseases, wars – you name it, and then a look at colonialism, – the coming of law and order, bridges, roads hospitals, schools, drains, hygeine, etc etc, along with the insensitivity of a civilised nation towards one they consider backwards, is surely infinitely preferable to the misery which existed before the coming of the white man.
      A little knowledge of history might educate these ignorant reformers who think they are so pure…

      I lived under colonialism in the forties and fifties in various British outposts, and know that for the most part, the servants of the Empire did see themselves as servants of the people and country they were working in..

      Hey-ho, one of my hobby-horses… but the ignorance of our history, our culture, our civilisation by the self satisfied mostly prosperous virtue signallers who can afford to protest and demonstrate and ‘save’ us from ourselves is very galling to an observer who has actually Lived through hardship, war, misery, danger, deprivation etc etc..


  4. Yes, yes and yes to all you’ve written.

    If only the cancellers understood this: “I think we’d all be better readers if we realized that it isn’t the writer who’s the time traveler. It’s the reader. When we pick up an old novel, we’re not bringing the novelist into our world and deciding whether he or she is enlightened enough to belong here; we’re journeying into the novelist’s world and taking a look around. . . .
    “When we imagine that writers from the past are visiting our world, it subtly reinforces our complacence, our tendency to believe that the efforts at moral improvement made by earlier generations attained their climax, their fulfillment, their perfection, in us. The idea that we are the ones who are doing the time-traveling doesn’t carry the same implication. . .
    ” If we arm ourselves with a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of curiosity (those essential tools of the time-traveler), we’ll be able to see the writers of the past more clearly when we visit them, and see ourselves more clearly when we get back. We’ll be able to appreciate that in their limited ways, sometimes seeing beyond the prejudices of their age, sometimes unable to do so, they — the ones worth reading — were trying to make the world more human, just as we, in our own limited ways, are also trying to do.”

    Thank you for helping to make the world more human.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Ele,
      Thank you for your wonderful and erudite comment – as soon as I’ve replied to you, I will go to the link you sent me…
      I see I was right about Jane Austen – I read today that she’s been banned from the curriculum at Stirling University, in the interest of decolonising the syllabus.
      I wrote a long diatribe on this is my reply to Sustainabilities, above, so I won’t repeat myself.
      It is wonderful to connect with other like minds and know one isn’t quietly going mad, and if one is, it is in good company !
      We’re reading Alan Moorehead’s fascinating book on the Blue Nile ( next up, his White Nile ) and the descriptions of Africa, before the coming of colonialism are hair – raising.
      I will defend colonialism to my dying day, though I may be cancelled/ bullied by virtue signalers with no knowledge of history, and precious little of literature !
      The writer VS Naipul once said that for every year of independence , India has regressed by ten since the British left…nuf said !!!


      • Dear Ele,
        Just read the link you sent me – and all the comments – very thought provoking, and so much to discuss … in the end I feel it all boils down to judgement – and I’m right and they’re wrong.- ( the writers and readers who enjoy them
        I actually loathe Tolstoy, who judging by his private life, was a number of un-woke things – but I still read his books and learn both from his insights and from the depiction of his times and of history through his lens… when will he be cancelled I wonder – or indeed the Old Testament…
        I also wonder how much the author’s childhood and personality influence their writing, so that condemnation of their attitudes or prejudices is a lack of understanding of their maybe painful early experiences, environment and so on. So why not just read a book if you enjoy it, and let others make their choices!!
        I don’t read Hemingway because his relationship with his mother seems to colour his attitudes to women, and when one of his wives lost all his manuscripts, and was too frightened to tell him he guesses, and the worst thing he could guess was that she had been sleeping with a ‘black’ -when is he going to be no-platformed !
        Yet people have found such pleasure in these writers and so many others- including Enid Blyton – are we all so unreformed and ignorant that we need help in rejecting our past, and becoming as virtuous as the woke !


  5. I have been so depressed by the decimation of our loved literature, writers, musicians, history, and everything else in our lives. Beloved statues of times long gone and monuments to the very people (although, a product of their times) that loved the world and everything about it. I get so discouraged. Even the lack of belief in the horror of Hitler and what he tried to do to the world and to the Jewish people. My heart breaks…as I know yours does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda
      In complete agreement as usual ! Yes, holocaust deniers are very worrying…and they probably forget that Hitler didn’t just kill the Jewish people, but anther eight million or so others – gypsies, homosexuals, handicapped, and protestors among others. The protestors murdered for their bravery, rather than being victims of their race or physical attributes. And how ironic that Russia should make Nazism the excuse for attacking Ukraine when they signed a pact with the Nazis before Hitler turned on them…
      Yes, I find it discouraging that history is disowned and ‘cancelled’ by people who know very little of history, judging by their actions and pronouncements…
      Love Valerie.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember in the early nineties (I think) when there was a lot of talk about how we should treat people and the terminology we used – this was dismissed by many at the time as political correctness, but much of it was badly needed to make a step change in the way we included people. In the end, it all settled down and we were left with some good legacies of it and some aspects that either didn’t stay or that there was a backlash against.

    I’m viewing the ‘woke’ movement in the same way. I think some of the debates are badly needed to take us forward in an inclusive way, but I do think the cancel culture is damaging. I found myself quite upset by the JK Rowling debate – I disagree wholeheartedly with much of what she said about transgender people, but found it quite difficult that my definition of myself as a woman was being fundamentally challenged.

    I don’t think it’s right to ban books / films, but there should be a societal context in which we can view them. I think what they’ve done with the statue of Colston in Bristol is a good way of approaching it – it was put into a museum so that the statue can still be seen, but it is on display with some of the protest material putting into context why it was toppled.


  7. Dear Andrea,
    thank you for your long and thoughtful comment -much food for thought and many more debates and discussions !
    I feel if the people who ‘cancel’ etc knew a little more about history, and were more tolerant, and respectful of the thoughts and feelings of others as well as of our history, many people like me and the commenters on this blog would not feel so hurt and discouraged.
    Intolerance and judging seem to be the new norm, and it stifles thought and free speech. So many of the judgements and cancelling of people seem to be based on misinformation,or too little knowledge or understanding of the background their cancelled victims are coming from.
    I feel that JK Rowling is a case in point – a thorough reading of everything she has said does nothing to disrespect any gender. She seems to be making the point that women are losing their status as women, is how I read her words.
    One of the reasons I’m against capital punishment is that too often all the facts are not known, and the wrong person is punished, and it feels the same with so many of the judgements and cancelling by the woke – and indeed, what gives them the right to judge others…
    I was interested in your view of the Colston statue controversy – it ended comparatively well, but I felt that the hysteria and vandalism before it was fished out of the water were unacceptable in a civilised society. I also felt that the actions of the people who did this, denied many other decent people who disagreed, of their say in the matter … and we all have the right to our opinion, and I respect yours,
    I really appreciate the time and thought you put into your comment, thank you, Valerie

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well-spoken Valerie! I tremble to think of the consequences of this madness. I appreciate all the examples you give, showing such a broad knowledge of literature. PS Have just re-read Jane Austin’s ‘Emma’ with much enjoyment, despite the values and lifestyles belonging to a time unlike our own. It makes me realise how far we’ve travelled in enlightenment – until now with the cancel culture tying itself in knots.


    • hello Juliet,
      So good to hear from you, and thank you for your comment… it does feel like madness, doesn’t it… I feel sad for my grandchildren and their generation, it feels like such a gulf between our thinking these days…
      I love Emma – I always think that Knightly epitomised the English gentleman, and the values of people like Edward Grey, the foreign secretary who tried so hard to prevent WW1, and said those famous words, ‘the lights are going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again ‘…love V


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