Rosie Barton is a contributing London-based writer.

Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit

To shamelessly quote Earth Wind and Fire, “September” has sprung upon us, having crept creepily round the corner of August, like the child catcher upon those unaware little darlings (although, I think you have to be fairly stupid not to have noticed that was a giant cage…). And with this tumbling into the autumnal months comes the regrouping of Parliament (if but briefly), and a general back to school feeling of new pens and childless streets… (turns out September’s effect is similar to the child catcher’s in more ways than one). ‘Silly Season’ is out and Brexit is in and with 68 percent of the House of Commons and 74 percent of the House of Lords being male (as per a 2018 survey) – what better time to read Rebecca Solnits Men Explain things to Me, to remind ourselves what we are in for with Bojo and his motley crew’s return.  

Although a bleak prospect, don’t be too downhearted – it could be worse, you could be Britney Spears in 2007. So suck it up: be grateful for your non-shaven head and pick up Solnit’s short collection of essays to remind yourself of a cause worth fighting over. In an age of what I like to call the three-disgraces (a.k.a. Trump, Putin and Johnson), the discussion around silencing women is filtering back into common discourse, with Solnit’s phrase “mansplaining” an ever-present motif. This book cleverly encapsulates the argument, highlighting tropes of the patriarchy that are so ingrained into our behaviours that at first, it seems unreasonable to question them. Yet, do not feel overwhelmed by this book, it is sharply witty and frequently funny, and quite frankly, you will soon come to the conclusion that anyone who tries to explain something to Rebecca Solnit is, as the phrase goes, bordering on teaching their grandmother to suck eggs (a phrase I’ve always found a little peculiar as who wants to suck on an egg, unless maybe of the Haribo variety).

So get stuck in and if nothing else enjoy the vibrant blue hue of the cover that matches the poles on the Piccadilly line. Hashtag #Blends.

Click here to get stuck into Men Explain Things to Me.

Desert Island Discs with Boris Johnson, Interviewed by Sue Lawley

Before you shy away, unable to listen to another bumbling, mutton headed, mugwumpian utterance from our yellow-haired and loose-lipped Prime Minister, bare with as this deep dive into the archive of one of the all time classic podcasts, which needs no introduction, has served up a piece of the puzzle that is Boris Johnson. And as they say, ‘know thy enemy, know thy self’, or get Sue Lawley to back them into a corner and unashamedly mock them for their middle name (I mean… call your child Alexander Boris de Pffefel Johnson and your asking for them to become a bicycling catastrophe). 

From Boris’ c*ck-up over the Ken Bigley affair to his great, great grandfather’s wife, a Cappadocian slave who he bought, the national treasure that is interviewer, Sue Lawley, makes this delve into Bo-Jo’s past quite a happy selection of fuel to add to the burning fire that is his shambolic self. Things begin to add up when he mentions that as a child he had Grommets (although, if you ask me, he is more of a Wallace than a Gromit), and so with the effect of impaired hearing came an ability to evade answers and in his words “be a bit vague” to “make up for the fact that you don’t know what is going on” – sounds suspiciously like he might still have those Grommets now…

Give this one a listen and learn a thing or two about our current PM, most importantly, that his luxury item would be “a very large pot of that French seedy mustard” – you know what they say – your chosen condiment is a reflection of your true personality, ergo. seedy, garishly yellow and with the ability to remove taste, whilst holding up a pretence of French charm: there he is Boris de Pffefel in a nutshell.

Click here to tune into Desert Island Discs. 

Also on Because Magazine:

+ Read more with Gale Straub's anthologised first-person stories, artwork and photographs.

+ Get to know what's happening in London this September

+ The latest link in the #WomanCrushWednesday chain: Cynthia Nye.