I’m standing firm in the sunshine in Grantchester village hall, arms out ahead of me, palm to palm with a partner . Pushing against his hands, using my body strength to match his, to resist his. To exercise my boundary-keeping.

Or, I’m standing, slightly slouching in a lanky, pre-teen way (“all bones and elbows” said my big sister), in a confectionery shop, spoilt for choice at all the enticing coloours, the array of shapes. There is a pervading fragrance of caramelised sugar, a heaviness of saturated pastry (this is 1965), a subtlety of baked almonds. How can anyone resist? How can I choose?

Or, I’m sitting across a desk from two suited men, on a dampish morning in January. I’ve just had a cup of milky coffee and a sausage roll in the Institute canteen, a pre-interview treat from an unsuited and unsuitable man. He has recognised me from the choir in which I sing alto, and where he (lustily) sings bass. I am wearing my alluring damson coloured maxi-coat and the PVC boots (this is 1971) that will split soon after.

The man who is interviewing me (and who’ll soon move away north to take up a professorship, abandoning me before I even take up the studentship) is Dr Gordon Russell is in the middle of the second-to back row. We don’t meet until 21 years after this photo is taken.

The Plant Breeding Institute staff in 1954, taken at the entrance to the University Department of Agriculture, Downing Street, Cambridge. Source: Plant Breeding Institute.

He explains that they are interested in finding the mechanism by which a particular variety of wheat, bred in Cambridge in the 1900s, has somehow maintained a resistance to yellow rust disease. This is a serious cereal pathogen, but Little Joss shows a durable, lasting resistance. That’s despite other, more productive varieties’ susceptibility to rapidly-evolving strains of the fungus. The other man, whose jacket is much lighter than his trousers, chews the end of his specs and tilts back his chair, scrutinising me as I plant the case for my suitability, nay desirability, for the project. He becomes a friend, albeit at a much more senior rank, and on at least one occasion in his frustration at my obstinate temperament bursts out with “You’re a little buggar aren’t you?”

Or, a friend shares with me a deep unease about a significant relationship. I feel for her, a heaviness lodging itself in my chest, like an obstacle that resists any attempt to push it away. She’s facing an immovability, a resistance, to moving on. And together we recognise an inner resistance to change, and it’s called fear.

Four versions of resisting. Or at least, striving to investigate resistance in four of its manifestations.

Which is what we are going to do today:

Brain dump

Writing without hesitation or resistance in your ThoughtBook, complete several of the following phrases, at least once and up to thrice per phrase.

I am resistant to the notion of …

I can’t resist …

I can’t resist taking a …

I feel an intuitive resistance to …

I find it easier to resist …….. than …

I find it easier to resist …….. if …

I have a healthy resistance to …

Of course there are other ways that Resistance can be used…

including as a means of subterfuge in warfare, as in the French Resistance movement during World War 2.

Many books have been written about that, some of which you may have read, or watched in film adaptations . You can list some of those below, or follow the link above to access Literature and Culture, section 8.3 and Popular Culture, section 10 in the Wikipedia article.

Book and film library

‘Allo ‘Allo! intertitle of “Puddings Can Go Off” from

Benefits of ‘resistance’

In other ‘writing our way whole’ sessions such as this, we have used as a resource the words that we can find hidden within another, topical, word.

So how many words can you find concealed within “resistance” or by rearranging any of the letters it contains? Just now I’m leaving this for you to do, although I may weaken and add a few of what I’ve found, under Further Resources. But not tonight: it’s getting late and I have better things to do than staying up until midnight playing solitary word games.

What time is it, and in what country, when you read this?

Do let me know!

Golden Threadwork

By now you know what Golden Threads are, or if you are new to this game, you could read this earlier post to get up to speed, or even to reach escape velocity.

You may have stumbled upon your own Golden Thread prompts from the Brain Dump activity. Or my introductory stories may have triggered memories or associations from your own experience.

Or you might select a word – or a cluster of words – from the list you created from the “Benefits of ‘resistance’ ” exercise above.

Go, write!

And if you are really resistant to threading your gold in that way, then perhaps exam questions are more your style. Test yourself with these essay titles, and please submit your anwers in the Comments Section to this blog.

Just don’t expect me to stay up all night grading your assignments.

The first water-resistant material to be invented was …
“Resistance is futile.” Discuss
An investigation into the resistance of a sub-group of teenagers to putting various items anywhere other than the bedroom floor, a study including the characterisation of this particular sub-group, and an examination of the variousness of items so deposited.
The wax-resist process of patterning textiles by dyeing involves the use of …

And please don’t forget to count your blessings before you go to bed, up to at least three:


Today I am grateful for: