TEXT 9 AUTOBIOGRAPHY
by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie (1891 – 1976) – a British crime writer of novels, stories and plays
There seems to me to be an odd assumption that there is something meritorious about working. Why? In early times, man went out to hunt animals in order to feed himself and keep alive. Later, he toiled over crops, and sowed and ploughed for the same reason. Nowadays he rises early, catches the 8.15, and sits in an office all day – still for the same reason. He does it to feed himself and have a roof over his head – and, if skilled and lucky, to go a bit further and have comfort and entertainment as well.
It’s economic and necessary. But why is it meritorious? The old nursery (10) adage used to be “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do”. Presumably little Georgie Stephenson was enjoying idleness when he observed his mother’s tea-kettle lid rising and falling. Having nothing at the moment to do, he began to have ideas about it …
I don’t think ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ – invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble. That is the big secret that has brought us down the ages hundreds of thousands of years, from chipping flint to switching on the washing up machine. <…>
The position of women over the years has definitely changed for the (20) worse. We women have behaved like mugs. We have clamoured to be allowed to work as men work. Men, not being fools, have taken kindly to the idea. Why support a wife? What’s wrong with a wife supporting herself? She wants to do it. By golly, she can go on doing it!
It seems sad that having established ourselves so cleverly as the ’weaker sex’, we should now be broadly on a par with the women of primitive tribes who toil in the fields all day, walk miles to gather camel horn for fuel, and on trek carry all the pots, pans and household equipment on their heads, whilst the gorgeous, ornamental male
sweeps on ahead, unburdened save for one lethal weapon with which (30) to defend his women.
You’ve got to hand it to Victorian women: they got their men-folk where they wanted them. They established their frailty, delicacy, sensibility – their constant need of being protected and cherished. Did they lead miserable, servile lives, downtrodden and oppressed? Such is not my recollection of them. All my grandmothers’ friends seem to me in retrospect singularly resilient and invariably successful in getting their own way. They were tough, self-willed, and remarkably well-read and well-informed.
Mind you, they admired their men enormously. They genuinely thought (40) men were splendid fellows – dashing, inclined to be wicked, easily led astray. In daily life a woman got her own way whilst payingduelip serviceto male superiority, so that her husband should not lose face.
“Your father knows best, dear,” was the public formula. The real approach came privately. “I’m sure you are quite right in what you said, John, but I wonder if you have considered …”
meritorious – deserving reward or praise
the 8.15– the local train leaving at 08.15
adage- a well-known phrase that says something about life and human experience
George Stephenson(1781 – 1848) - was an English engineer who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives
a mug – a person who is stupid and easily deceived
on a par with- the same as or equal to someone or something
on trek – during a hard long walk over desert, mountains, forests etc
save for– except
to pay lip service to smb – to express fake respect