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parrot_knight [userpic]

Canny Newcassel

August 16th, 2008 (01:27 pm)

Heard in the basement of Waterstone's on Blackett Street, Newcastle:

MOTHER (to SMALL BOY, aged about two and a half, waving book): No. You can't have that. It's for girls.

SMALL BOY: I want this one!

MOTHER: No, it says 'Little Miss'. It's for girls. You're a boy!

I think she was joking.

Otherwise (from my couple of hours around Eldon Square and Northumberland Street) the former Bus Concourse underneath the northern half of Eldon Square Shopping Centre (running east-west) has now been completely converted into a new shopping mall, St George's Way (running north-south), accessed by new escalators in the middle of Chevy Chase (the central square of the northern half of the shopping centre) and opening out into the northern side of Old Eldon Square, roughly where the entrance to the George and Dragon pub used to be (a dismal place, in my recollection, to be moved through quickly as a short cut to the bus station). The star attraction of St George's Way is to be Waitrose, opening on 28 August as an extension to the basement of John Lewis; other usual suspects already there are Argos and Starbucks.

Other changes are the disappearance of the original 1980 Haymarket station building, with a larger office building rising above it. Further out, along Stamfordham Road, the St James's Retail Park is still largely empty, presumably a victim of the economic slowdown.


Posted by: richenda (richenda)
Posted at: August 16th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)

I hope that she was - and I hope that he knew that she was!
But I'm impressed by him - I know plenty of small boys who would reject the book for that reason!
Even more appalling, in this supposedly civilized age, is the number of small boys who remark loudly that the bus driver is a woman.
And I still get patronized by plumbers and electricians who think that there is no point in explaining joints, taps, settings and switches to me, and say things like "Just turn that to there and you'll be fine, dear."

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 16th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)

Yes - why should a small boy be deterred from reading a book because its principal character is female? How strange.

Your reportage about boys objecting to women bus drivers is alarming. They wouldn't get far around the city in Oxford - about a third of the drivers seem to be women now, up from almost none about ten years ago.

Posted by: brewsternorth (brewsternorth)
Posted at: August 16th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)

Female bus drivers (and subway conductors) are reasonably commonplace (maybe one in five or better) in New York, too.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 16th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)

There seem to be more women bus drivers in London than there used to be, too.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: August 16th, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)

I sincerely hope she was joking, too - I recently overheard a similar exchange where I'm pretty sure the mother wasn't.

Boys who are interested in "girly" things still have a harder time of it than the other way round.

Posted by: brewsternorth (brewsternorth)
Posted at: August 16th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)

Good lord.

Tempora mutantur, indeed.

I wonder what impact this will have on the tendency for disciples of 'alternative' cultures to hang out in Old Eldon Square, aka "The Green"?

And considering how much of a nexus (pun not intended) Haymarket Metro has been, I'm not altogether surprised they're doing work on it, but I am surprised at the scale of the job.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 16th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)

I didn't notice any of the 'alternative' culture people; but then I walked straight across the middle, and the east side of the square (the one which retains the John Dobson architecture) always seems to have attracted most. At 10.45am it might still have been a bit too early for them.

Nexus (in the sense of the former Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive, to explain the pun to the unaware) wanted to redevelop the site of Haymarket Metro Station to raise some money - a bigger building means more tenants, including offices and more shops.

Posted by: helflaed (helflaed)
Posted at: August 17th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)

Regrettably I'm certain that the mother was entirely serious. I've met plenty of parents just like her, which saddens me.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 22nd, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)

So have I, alas.

Posted by: didiusjulianus (didiusjulianus)
Posted at: August 21st, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)

In my experience, there is a strong likelihood that she was NOT joking. You would not believe the sexism that still exists in many quarters towards things (whether material or otherwise) for children, it's bizarre and seems to be a last bastion (or rather, greater bastion) of the sort of thinking that is gradually not being applied to adults eg. in the workplace, sports and so on, and to things like career choice in teenagers.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: August 22nd, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)

I fear you are right; I've seen horrifying examples of boys being encouraged to be brutal in one way or another by parents in the belief that this will entrench their masculinity.