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Claire Black: Chauvinists, jokes and bacon butties

Mid-Atlantic Region third baseman Mo'ne Davis (3) warms up prior to the game against the Southwest Region at Lamade Stadium. Picture: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Mid-Atlantic Region third baseman Mo'ne Davis (3) warms up prior to the game against the Southwest Region at Lamade Stadium. Picture: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

  • by Claire Black
 

TALK about throwing like a girl. That shoddy bit of misogynist banter just got a serious dead arm from 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis (below). A pitcher for the Taney Dragons of Philadelphia, last week she became the first female baseball pitcher in Little League history to throw a “shutout”. And when I say history, I mean she was the first person to achieve this feat in a competition which started in 1947. She’s a bona fide, fast-throwing phenomenon.

‘I’VE decided to sell my Hoover… well, it was just collecting dust.” My sister almost did herself a mischief when she heard Tim Vine’s gag, which bagged the funniest joke of the Fringe this year. But little did she – or he – know he was poking fun at an issue which could ignite the latest brouhaha in Brussels.

I heard it on the Today programme. There I was, coming to, shortly after 6am, when Jim Naughtie issued a stern warning to get down to the shops as soon as possible if you’re in the market for a vacuum cleaner because within weeks those bureaucrats in Europe are going to do something dastardly.

As of next month, new European Union energy rules concerning vacuum cleaners come into force. As well as being labelled with ratings from A to G regarding energy use, cleaning performance and dust emissions, the motor sizes available will also be restricted.

Companies will no longer be able to make or import vacuum cleaners with a motor more powerful than 1600 watts. By 2017, the maximum will be 900. This means my 1800 watt vacuum will be contraband, a souped-up mean machine, the domestic equivalent of those cars with fat exhausts, bucket seats and lowered suspension.

The announcement of the 1 September crackdown has made me fantasise about a black market springing up to service the needs of those power hungry people who just can’t take the reduced suction. Soon there will be a network of mechanics whose names will be whispered in electrical stores who will pimp your Hoover. I’m thinking monster wheels, extra long hoses, customised crevice tools as well as a wee engine tweak. “I’ve stuck in an extra 500 watts,” they’ll say in hushed tones, wiping greasy fingers on overalls. “I think you’re going to like the results.”

If you are struggling to take this seriously, I’m not surprised. The gross structural inequality of our society in which housework doesn’t enjoy the same status as, well, anything that men do, means it has been spared the rampant commercialisation we’re used to. DIY? You get the B&Q superstore, Wickes and the Screwfix catalogue. Housework, there’s Lakeland.

Housework was taken extremely seriously in my family. If it was possible to get a doctorate in domestic cleaning, my mum would’ve been wearing a mortar board decades ago. She is an expert – a woman who can transform a domestic space with only a packet of J-cloths, a bottle of bleach and, of course, a good Hoover.

I don’t think I ever saw her more proud of me than when I told her I had bought a Miele. A look in her eye let me know she felt deep inside she must’ve done something right since I had made such a discerning decision.

I’ve not spoken to her yet about the impending clampdown. I’m assuming she’s knee-deep in strategy meetings for her campaign to overturn the ban. I can imagine the slogan: “EU Hoover rules suck!”

Chauvinists thrown by a girl

TALK about throwing like a girl. That shoddy bit of misogynist banter just got a serious dead arm from 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis (below). A pitcher for the Taney Dragons of Philadelphia, last week she became the first female baseball pitcher in Little League history to throw a “shutout”. And when I say history, I mean she was the first person to achieve this feat in a competition which started in 1947. She’s a bona fide, fast-throwing phenomenon.

I’ve read all about what a shutout is but I still don’t fully understand it unless it is deceptively simple (like the off-side rule). What I can tell you is this – Davis’s pitching was so fast and accurate that none of the batters on the receiving end could hit the balls she was throwing, so whenever she was pitching no-one on the opposing team could score. You don’t have to be Babe Ruth to know that’s impressive.

The fact that she is as cute as a button and has plaits down to her waist is just an added bonus. And have I mentioned she’s got spectacular charm? “Throwing 70 miles an hour,” she told CBS News in a post-match interview, “that’s throwing like a girl.”

Mo’ne Davis, we bow before you and not just because we’re trying to avoid that ball ­hurtling towards our heads.

Bacon buttie breaks bank

I’ve been riffing on a theme of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” this week.

It was a bacon roll that kicked it off; a breakfast bap in a service station. But it could’ve been the Luton Airport drop-off point at which you can only stop for ten minutes and pay £2 on exit, contributing to Luton being voted worst airport for a second year in a row; or cash machines that charge; or anyone who thinks a fiver for a bowl of soup is reasonable.

“How much?” I asked. Answer: £4.50. And it was inedible – rubber bacon, doughy roll just thawed, no butter. But it was 8am and I’d been on the road for three hours. I’d have handed over my identity if that’s what she’d asked me for. But that doesn’t make it right. «

 

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