Friday, 29 April 2016

Singles Villages for real

Update 2nd January 2017: What is there not to like about this? If I were a young single professional, this will be ideal.


Some weeks ago someone in Singapore suggested that 'singles villages' be built in Singapore.

As if with one voice, the writer was showered with brickbats and worse.

So I stood up for him by providing a different perspective of the appeal of living as single adults in Straits Times Forum. Clearly something else more important was happening that day as nobody seemed to have read my piece.

A stone's throw from Wembley Stadium a huge block of 'singles rooms' has just been completed.

The objective here is not to match-make singles. Single adults from all over the country come to London to work and they need a place to live.

What I found quite astonishing was that Singaporeans objected to singles living apart from their parents. Some say this is equivalent to student housing.

It is not.

Clearly those who made such comments have no idea as to what student housing and/or single living is like.

Then there were comments, hinting at fears, about indiscriminate sex if singles were allowed to live apart from their families liddat.

Come on. Let us not be naïve. Young adults will indulge in sex whether or not they live with their parents if they are so inclined. Living in one's parents' home does not preclude promiscuity.

It seems so totally illogical to me that parents think it is OK to send teenagers across the world to live with strangers in student housing, or shared houses in order to gain an education.

How do they ensure that their children do not indulge in indiscriminate sex when these children are times zones away?

What about graduate children who work abroad, living on their own, or with colleagues, etc?

If that is OK, why is it so objectionable for unmarried children to live with other singles away from their families in Singapore?

The objection is just nonsensical, as far as I am concerned.

An old classmate posted a photo of her son working abroad, ironing his own shirt. Yes, that is just what we need. Getting sons to iron their own shirts whether or not they live with us.

Monday, 18 April 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! and my own Wilde comment

I was not kidding when I said in my last post that I have developed great respect for my teenage son.

Yes, of course, he has his silly and awkward moments. We still do not see him except at meal times. But meal time conversations have become much more interesting.

Last Friday we went to the British Museum. He is very keen to study classics at university at the moment. Not terribly pragmatic, his father thinks. Still, Dad researched the British Museum online and decided that he would enjoy nosing around Rooms 77 and 78.

So you can understand Dad going nearly ballistic as we approached Rooms 77 and 78 and a sign said the rooms were closed. No explanation given.

We tried to get Dad to enjoy exhibits in the surrounding rooms, but Dad is Dad.

I found an intelligent looking staff sitting nearby and I thought, 'Perhaps I should ask him when the rooms would re-open.'

His answer surprised me, 'It's unlikely to open today.'

Me: I wasn't expecting it to be opened today. But is it going to be weeks, months?

Then he said they decided to close those rooms that day due to a lack of staff.


So it is best to phone on the day to find out if those rooms are open.

Me: That's no good. If I told my husband that, he will go ballistic.

Him: [laughs]

Me: That's not funny.

Him: Sorry.

Anyway, we walked around other rooms with Greek and Latin bits. Then I realized that Son was telling us about the various exhibits there without him even having to look at the information on display. He was explaining how the pots were made, for example, and what they were used for, and by whom.

Clearly he knows much more about Greek and Roman civilizations that either my husband or I.

'I learned this at school, you know.'


Earlier, as we entered the Museum (after walking past my former university and pointing out the Senate House doorway that I walked out of as I phoned my husband about being successful in my PhD viva) the security man looked into my bag and asked, 'Anything sharp?'

I looked at him after a momentary pause and replied in all sincerity, 'Only my mind.'

His response was loud laughter, 'Very good. Very good. Enjoy your visit!'

Thanks, we did. Despite the incredibly expensive food there. Having said that, the carrot cake I had (£4.75 or something like that) was the best I had ever tasted.

And we did not tell Dad about why Rooms 77 and 78 were closed until we got home.

Monday, 4 April 2016

No mothers-in-law in heaven

This thought suddenly struck me. An epiphany?

What if we stop looking at our mothers-in-law (and father-, sons-, daughters-in-laws) as if they are our obligatory family by marriage and simply treat them as a neighbour?

You have heard it said, “God has no grandchildren.”

Yes, we are all, as believers, ‘children of God’.

In heaven it matters no more that we might have been related as fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, or in-laws, or even ‘out-laws’!

In heaven, believing sons- and mothers-in-law are brothers and sisters.

Even slaves are no longer slaves in God’s sight (Galatians 4:7): “you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, also an heir through God”.

Here, of course, Paul is teaching of how slave and free alike become the sons of God when they believe in Jesus. If the boundary between slavery and liberty can be broken by the broken body of Christ, why not the boundary between in-laws?

OK, that is not very good for stand-up comics who thrive on ‘mother-in-law’ jokes.

What about Jesus’s commandment that ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

If I love myself, then, in obedience, I must love my mother-/father-/son-/daughter-in-law. As MYSELF. No more. No less. No but’s.

My son turns sixteen in a few weeks’ time. The last two years had been difficult for me.

My sweet young thing whom I had taught “hooligan or gentleman?” and “time and place for everything”, p’s and q’s and a firm handshake, he wanted little to do with mum because he is a teenage boy.

Sometimes he was so rude and scathing I physically hurt. I wondered whether I had wasted a lifetime being a stay-at-home mother, giving up all possibility of becoming a university professor.

I would say that I am seeing some light at the end of this long, long tunnel. Hallelujah!

More importantly he is growing up in such a way I found myself thinking: respect.

I have to respect my son for his insights. I have equipped him with the tools to get on with life and now he is helping me to get on with my life by sharing his insights.


These things I wish to remember, God willing:

First, whatever differences I might have with my mother-in-law, she played a big part in making my husband what he is: that husband I chose to marry.

The Chinese has a saying, ying shui si yuan: when you drink water, reflect on its source.

My wonderful husband is what he is because of what his parents made him.

Second, in anticipation of the day I acquire a daughter-in-law, I want to respect her decision in choosing my son as her husband. Surely a person who makes that very wise choice cannot be a ‘bad’ person.

I remember vividly the first time my in-laws stood at my front door after my mum died. Mum-in-law said, “We are your only parents now.”

I nearly cried. I was their daughter. Full stop. No hyphens.

In view of what I have been thinking today, maybe I don’t even need to aspire to be a good mother-in-law after all.

If there are no mothers-in-law in heaven I should jolly well start practising loving my (future) daughter-in-law first as a fellow believer/neighbour/friend, and then perhaps the in-law/out-law business would ‘fall into place’ (ie become unimportant).

We manage to love so many others despite their faults. Why should we set higher standards for a daughter/mother-in-law?

8 Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another, for the one who loves someone else has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does not commit evil against a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)