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Bluebells & willow-seeds

I went for a long walk over Dartmoor last weekend and must dig out the photos.  Too hot for a long walk today, but in the shadow of the woods the bluebells are at their peak, and the sunny fields are white and golden with lady's smocks and buttercups.

The willow-trees are seeding, too, a million tiny fluff-seeds floating lazily through the air.  When you are walking through the bluebell woods in sunlight, this is lovely thing to see, the seeds catching the light and turning golden.

We have been watching the Stranger Things TV series recently.  It's very good!  It's set in a 1980's small American town, and features 80's music, children playing D&D,  plus some dark-ish horror fantasy elements, with really interesting writing and beautifully layered characterisation, (though as always with American series that feature some 'high school' children, I always wonder if the 'high school' bits are supposed to look quite as horrifyingly dystopian as they appear to my eyes...)

Anyway, the series uses tiny drifting dots of fluff and gloomy blue lighting to indicate that the characters have moved from the 'normal' world to the dark horror fantasy world, and I admit when I came out of the pet-shop the other day, having gone into the shop in sunlight with people all around, to find that dark blue clouds had rolled across the sky, the car park was now completely deserted, and tiny willow-fluffs were still blowing in vast numbers through the air, it did give me a moment's pause. :-D 


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
19th May, 2018 14:05 (UTC)
(though as always with American series that feature some 'high school' children, I always wonder if the 'high school' bits are supposed to look quite as horrifyingly dystopian as they appear to my eyes...)

I don't watch much TV and what I watch does not include much American TV in contemporary settings. I wonder if they would look that way to me? I know I really dislike "high school" AU fanfic in every fandom I have been involved with. On the other hand, I like those British boarding school ones--hardly a better model--but not my model, so they are exotic to me! There is, however, something vastly creepy to me about easy access of kids to cars and wide-open spaces with little to no adult supervision.

Love the opening descriptions above.
19th May, 2018 14:23 (UTC)
I think it's the normalisation of violence and cruelty that seems particularly jarring, though I remember when first watching Buffy that what seemed to be a kind of baked-in anti-intellectualism also seemed odd. Admittedly, my own school, a rather dismal British private semi-boarding school, was not typical (or of particularly good quality) and I have not had much experience with schools since, but I don't remember anyone looking down on clever kids purely for their cleverness.Perhaps it's just the format that makes that seem unfamiliar...

I agree the lack of adult intervention seems disturbing, but perhaps that's partly fiction?
19th May, 2018 15:25 (UTC)
I agree the lack of adult intervention seems disturbing, but perhaps that's partly fiction?

Only partly! I know I had the earliest curfew in high school of any of my circle and had strict parents. They were perfectly happy as long as I was home on time and allowed a lot of liberal entertaining within the house.

Think the anti-intellectualism is bullshit. Smart/accomplished kids were always admired in my high school days and, as far as I can observe from my children's and grandchildren's school experiences, still are. There are lots of problems growing up in this country involving racism, class differences, rural and urban poverty, unequal access to good schools. Those things produce some extremely negative effects within U.S. culture. Trump's slogan "Make American great again" is particularly offensive in light of all that--the good old days were bad and the present needs some serious work!
21st May, 2018 17:27 (UTC)
I don't remember anyone at my school having a curfew, though perhaps they did. At primary school, yes, or a bedtime if it was a school night.

I was thinking less that sort of thing, and more that there seem to be so many situations where children are bullied and there seems to be no appeal for them, and no authority figure that can step in to help. Though I know teachers do complain of not having time to teach properly here, the idea that a child is being physically beaten up or persistently bullied and that's just how it is, no way out, seems often to come up in these series. It's horrifying, yet seems to be presented as a fact of life?
21st May, 2018 18:23 (UTC)
so many situations where children are bullied

One does hear a lot about it. Although, more these days related to social media pile-ons than anything else. I think these TV shows/movies are always looking for conflict/drama and that is an easy one. Lazy writing.
19th May, 2018 16:19 (UTC)
Yes, they look down on clever students for being clever. And the clever students are lucky if the adults merely refrain from intervening.
21st May, 2018 17:30 (UTC)
That is a thing in British culture too, sadly, but I would say very much a thing coming from the bottom of the economic ladder (a 'don't try be better than me' thing), rather than from people who have well-paid jobs. And (I hope) much less widespread here too.
21st May, 2018 17:03 (UTC)
Having been in high school in America in the 80s, can totally confirm dystopia. Especially if it's a small rural town*--EVERYONE had a car, because in a small rural town you need transportation and most of the kids could drive a tractor by the time they were in their early teens.

I went to a very large, very urban high school, and it seemed that the kids from the richer side of town had a lot more freedom than I did, but I had a lot of restrictions** due to a very religiously conservative mother.

*My cousins all went to HS in a small rural town, so, yes, can also confirm small-town dystopia.

**Mom wouldn't let me go over to anyone's house unless she could confirm that there would be a responsible adult present. She would have preferred the responsible adult be in the same room, because apparently teenagers are completely untrustworthy and need tight supervision for our D&D playing and movie-watching.

For instance, there was an incident when I was 17 (yes, 17!!!!) where we were all at a friend's house, watching movies, and Mom called his mother for some reason, and was absolutely appalled that his mom had no idea what we were up to because we were in a different part of the house. Because heaven forfend she trust us to not be stupid or anything. Decades later, on her DEATHBED, my mother was still obsessing over that incident. I believe my exact words were "Mom, that was NINETEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN. I've been married for ten years. I don't even know where any of those people ARE anymore even. Let it go."
21st May, 2018 17:38 (UTC)
I begin to see why it is that in American culture, people are desperate to get away from the rural town where they grew up, whereas in Britain, it's more likely they would be complaining that they can't afford to buy a house there!

Wow. That level of supervision seems... very odd to me. At 17! Good grief!

I was going around to visit friend's houses unsupervised before I ever went to school! And when I was 13 and we'd moved to Devon, I went to see my old friends in south wales, travelling alone on the train, stayed there for a week... Her mother was dead and her father was at work most of the time. I guess her older brothers probably had some idea where we were, but we certainly weren't notifying anyone of our location! But if someone had bullied us or attacked us, we would have had loads of choices on safe people to appeal to for help. Though I hear from friends that there is a lot of pressure for children to be much more supervised here now than they were in the 80's.

...Still, wow. The US seems such a scary place.
22nd May, 2018 00:30 (UTC)
You must remember that when a small town is described as being in the middle of nowhere in the US, it's much more isolated than the equivalent in the US.
22nd May, 2018 08:26 (UTC)
Yes, I know - I'm used to a tiny micro-culture where 'the sticks' can be an hour's cycle ride from town, it's hard to adjust the expectations!
22nd May, 2018 20:23 (UTC)
There's a LOT of nowhere in the US to be in the middle of, and there's not a lot of transportation infrastructure to support it.

For example: My aunt and cousin live in a small town (actually about five miles outside of town) in rural Wisconsin, which as a state is about in the middle size-wise, but larger than the entire of England (but not including Scotland and Wales). It takes five hours for us to drive there, on the highway. Google Maps says it's 270 miles, the route we usually take. To get to their place, you MUST drive. The closest train station is 45 miles away by car. There is no bus.

One could bicycle into town--the safer routes would take longer than 5 miles, of course--but that's only viable when it isn't winter. One could walk--again, not really in the winter--but there aren't any public footpaths, you'd have to walk on the road--and that's two hours of walking just to get into town.
22nd May, 2018 23:13 (UTC)
I know a guy online whose Japanese wife thought they were out in the sticks in the suburbs.

Then -- a trip to the Southwest. They were driving along a road where the only evidence of humanity as far as the eye could see was the road.
22nd May, 2018 20:26 (UTC)
My mother was very restrictive and I had a very conservatively religious upbringing. I got better. ;-)
22nd May, 2018 05:24 (UTC)
I have a friend, from a diplomatic family, who suffered through an American high school in the 80s (and not in the backwoods either, this was an elite school in New York city). He told me that it was indeed as dystopian as the films make it look, down to the anti-intellectualism and petty tribalism. He said the strangest thing was the way that clever girls were pressured to pretend to be stupid in order to attract boys (which in our own societal context is...unimaginable).
22nd May, 2018 08:21 (UTC)
That's... really sad and upsetting. :-(
23rd May, 2018 04:35 (UTC)
Yes, it left him with a somewhat...ambivalent attitude towards the US, though I believe his university experience there was somewhat better.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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