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(un)Happy families

“You’re posting a lot about politics, these days,” said a friend, concerned, “I’d been enjoying the family pictures. You guys always look like you’re having lots of silly fun.”

But here’s the thing. Right now we’re not a happy family – because of politics -and I don’t see why I should lie about it.

Today, this happened:

brexshit

My husband’s rights to live here, in the house that he’s bought, with the money that he’s earned (from clients on the continent btw – he ‘stole’ no job when we moved here and has claimed no benefits) are under threat.

In two years time, if he has to leave, how do I explain that to our children?

“I’m sorry, babies. Daddy had to go because people wanted different shaped bananas.”

So, yes. I’m posting a lot about politics right now. And no, the pictures of the kids aren’t going to increase, because unless this gigantic mess gets sorted, it’s not a given that we’re going to be able to live as a family and have those fun times.

You want to change that? Stand up, and fight with me.

https://euromove.org.uk/join-the-european-movement/get-involved/

Check out the suggestions on the site above.

Write to MPs and Lords. Often. Tell them how you feel about Brexit, about Trump’s visit, about the dog-poop left out where you walk your pram. These people are paid to be your voice. Make them earn your money, in this and all things.

Join a political party – find one which reflects your values and join in. You want to stay in Europe? Find out who’s pro-EU and sign up. Give these guys your support – not just on the ballot but in things you say and do. You might inspire someone else to vote your way and spread the word.

And MARCH. http://www.uniteforeurope.org/ March 25th in London and Edinburgh. Will this change anyone’s mind in the next five minutes and make everything better? Probably not. Will it show public opinion and influence future policy? Possibly. Is it better than sitting on your butt doing nothing? Absolutely.

 

 

 

Take it back.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I’d ask of a genie if I had a magic lamp.

That sounds bonkers, I know, but given that the world is absolutely mad right now I thought I might as well join in with this batty fantasy and start getting my wishes ready – just in case.

At first I got my rage on and thought about the obvious things.

I thought about wishing Trump would choke on fumes from his own fake tan, or some equally unlikely and unheroic death. I thought about wishing that Farage gets strangled by a Polish immigrant with an EU flag, and that the nation realises what a twat he was then declares the day a national holiday, so that we may better reflect on the beauty of our Eastern European brothers.

I thought about wishing for an unlimited supply of gin to see me though this train wreck of a society with my humour intact, if somewhat inebriated.

Then I realised I had no gin and started thinking properly; what would solve all this?

And honestly? I think we should just burn The Sun. Not just each individual copy, but every office, every computer, every printing press from which this bastard thing springs forth.

Because last week, the NHS – and therefor the people of Britain – did something amazing, but The Sun took it, and twisted it and turned it against everyone.

In short, the NHS saved two babies of a quadruplet, and The Sun sold it as health tourism, when actually it was just a case of someone passing through at a difficult time.

Right now, when the nation needs something to be proud of – because let’s be right, is anyone proud of our prime minister, holding the tiny hand of a fascist tangerine? – that bastard paper is robbing us of it. The NHS – something we’ve all paid for and so all share ownership of – saved the lives of two tiny people who wouldn’t have otherwise made it. We did that. Us. Please, World, see our national beauty as well as our warts.

It’s time we take back control – that’s what those nationalistic pricks say, right?  But this time it’s true. I want my country back. I want to be proud of saying that I’m British again, rather than mumbling something about how, actually, I can speak Danish too. I want to be able to say, “You know what? I’m from that awesome place that helped that woman save her babies without asking for money, just because it was the right thing to do.” And I hope… no. I believe, that the majority of my fellow countrymen do too.

So yeah, take note any genies in lamps. My wishes are as follows:

  1. Destroy The Sun. Stop Funding Hate is a good place to start, if you want to make it look natural and not like magic did it.
  2. Reverse this whole Brexit thing. Because really, Britain. What the actual fuck? Again, if you want to make it look natural have Theresa May and David Cameron hold a press conference. Make Cameron say, “You know what?  I was just trying to appease some cunts I had to work with.” And have May say, “I was doing it for the Lols. Figured I’d call your bluff. Sorry about that – no hard-feelings, yeh?”
  3. Have Trump choke on the fumes of his own fake tan.  Because actually that’s a pretty good wish.

Come on, friends. Take back control. Find the good in our tiny island rock – the NHS, my right to call the prime minister a cunting-fuck-face-cockmupper-donkey-wank-sack-shit-bag if I so choose, and tea – and share the fuck out of it. Applaud the times that kindness has won. Challenge hate. And BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER.

Take it back.

Take it back. ❤

Dear John Lewis

Hello,

I’m sure you’ve been inundated with lots of other people, emailing on behalf of the StopFundingHate campaign. I’m another one of them.

I’m a UK national who moved back to Britain in 2007 after a brief stay in Denmark. My husband and I chose to live here because people were tolerant, and that was an enormous change compared to the bigotry I faced in Denmark. But slowly, the UK has grown increasingly worse, and in the last few months, has surpassed anything my Scandinavian home ever managed.

I don’t want to go back to how things were here – -I know that there is no going back. I want us to move forwards as a nation until we are truly tolerant, rather than merely hiding our prejudices in the shadows whilst waiting for the chance to spew our malice. But for us to move forward, large, trusted retailers like John Lewis need to take their social responsibilities seriously and stop funding the hate-filled rhetoric of the tabloid press.

Please, if Lego – a product of a nation whose inhabitants repeatedly told me to ‘Go home’ – can lead the way in this, then John Lewis can absolutely follow.

Many thanks,
Fran Moldaschl

We are not the 48%

“Suck it up – you lost. That’s democracy.”

But it’s not. Democracy is when everyone effected by an issue has a say in how things proceed. The Brexit referendum was a fiasco which so far has achieved nothing but damage to our economy and a deep chasm of divide between the people of Britain.

Time and time again, the numbers 52 and 48 are quoted to me, but these are false. Leaving aside the fact that in amongst the 52% are people who regret believing the lies about NHS, those who voted leave to spite Cameron and those who didn’t think their vote would make a difference, the referendum turnout was only 72%.

52% of the population did not vote to leave the EU. 52% of the 72% of the population that was eligible to vote opted to leave the EU. 37.5% of the population voted to leave.

You could argue at this point that even fewer people wished to remain in the EU. And if you’re talking about the people eligable to vote in the referendum then you’d be right. But the referendum didn’t take into account the opinions of a whole bunch of folk who matter just as much – if not more – than those who got a ballot paper.

So sure, go ahead and say that only 48% of voters – or 35.5% of the electorate – wanted to remain. But stop telling me that only 48% of the population wanted to stay. Because that 48% doesn’t account for the EU citizens living in this country. It doesn’t count the 16 & 17 year olds who voted in the Scottish referendum  and showed their maturity and passion. It doesn’t account for the children of families with parents of more than one nationality.

So stop telling me I lost, and that it’s democracy. True democracy would have meant a vote for EU citizens living in the UK too – the place of your birth should not give you less of a right to have a say in your future.

When the MPs vote on whether or not to pass Article 50, I pray they’ll consider all of their constitutes, not just those lucky enough to have held a ballot paper.

We haven’t lost just yet, and we are more than 48%.

An open letter to the people of Britain.

Dear Britain,

Whatever you voted for yesterday, we’re leaving the EU.

Regardless of what your opinion about the outcome is, or what should have been, now is the time to come together and work with what we’ve got.

We’ve got each other.

We’ve got a chance to show the world that we can support one another regardless of the circumstances.

The pound has decreased in value and in all likelihood will remain unstable for some time. This probably means that necessities will rise in cost. As a nation with a significant number of the population already reliant on foodbanks, I’d ask that if you can, please consider donating food items, funds, or your time as a volunteer. I hope that the Brexit campaigners are right and that our economy will eventually grow stronger, but as we find our feet, there are those who’ll need help to make ends meet.

With the strong possibility that our avenues of trade will change, I feel it’s important to support businesses which will not.  Our food producers, as well as our small and local traders need our support now more than ever. If the option is there to buy British, please do so.

And more than anything else, be excellent to each other. My dear friend decided to pepper the world with random acts of kindness to counteract the negativity that has flooded our country over the past few weeks. Whether your camp won or lost, co-operation in the face of change is always the strongest way forward.

Sincerely,

Frankiesoup

Stay.

It was late 2004  – no longer autumn, but not quite winter – and the trek through the woodland was like walking through a rainbow (albeit a cold one). Glorious halos of bronze and red crowned proud trees against a backdrop of crystal waters and sharp, blue skies. My world looked like the pages of a story book – illustrated in perfect, rich detail with strong, beautiful colours. I couldn’t have asked for a better setting against which to fall hopelessly in love.

I was living in southern Denmark at the time – it wasn’t where I’d planned to spend my 19th year, but the world (and somehow, miraculously, my dismal grades) had taken me there regardless. It was my second year of an undergraduate degree in Scandinavian Studies and with no further planning than, “I’ll book my flights, pack my suitcase and go,” I now lived an ocean away from my homeland. To me, it was magical – like someone had waved a wand and transported me to a world I’d never seen before.

And in the midst of it all, was a man. I’ll try to do everyone a favour by downplaying just how hard I fell for him – anyone reading this probably knows me (and by proxy, him) and it would just be awkward and weird – but given the chance I could describe that first meeting with paragraph after paragraph of gushing, chick-lit-esque prose (sans ‘member’ – I’m not that kind of girl!*) . Suffice to say that it really was love at first sight. Etched in my mind until the day I die is the way he walked across the school courtyard and glanced back at me over his shoulder as I returned from my walk amongst the trees. Only, I’d been stomping through the woodland to try and forget someone else, to persuade myself that I was now a woman of the world – jet setting to foreign shores and in no way upset at the loss of a partner from gray Aberdeenshire. I tried to tell myself that I didn’t need to meet the attractive blond man I’d just seen, that I needed to touch his golden, curling hair even less… I even tried to set up a meeting for him and a friend of mine in an effort to save myself the inevitable heartache further down the line when I had to return home.

Only it turns out that I couldn’t live without him. Not then, or now.

I lived for a year in Denmark after I finished my degree. It didn’t work out. We moved to Britain and thrived. We’ve been happy here, raising two hilarious children. They have my husband’s glorious, golden looks and my appetite for olives and malted milks (not at the same time). Our daughter is already smarter than I am – a real powerhouse of quick thinking with a heart of gold. Our son adores animals and food, and animals as food. I am confident that as they grow, they will make beautiful additions to humanity.

These two, brilliant and bright souls wouldn’t exist were it not for the EU. I couldn’t have gone to study in Denmark for that year, nor could that beautiful viking man have come home with me, back to my little Atlantic rock peopled entirely with tea addicts and those with a genetic predisposition to discussing perfectly average weather as though it were anything but.

I could tell you all about how that man did not steal a job, but created one. I could tell you how he is self-employed and brings in taxable revenue from outside of the UK – money we would not otherwise see. I could tell you that no Brit will ever be qualified to do his job as translators are required to translate only into their mother tongue, and where – if not in our household and those similarly placed mid-north-sea – will you find a Danish-speaking-Brit? I could tell you how we make a conscientious effort to spend our money locally, how we research where our food comes from in order to support local farmers. I could tell you about how we chose a Nissan, based on the fact that it was produced in the UK. I could demand to know how those of you who fall in love with a Brit have more of a right to live together as a family than those of us whose partners were not born on the same scrap of land. I could ask how my going away to study and bringing my new knowledge back to our little island is a bad thing – because it’s not, by the way, it’s an amazing thing which only benefits us.

But I won’t. What I’d like to ask of you is that while you’re deciding which way to vote tomorrow, to consider things other than immigration. I know… I just wrote a whole screed about how I was an immigrant in Denmark and how my husband is one here… but stay with me.

Despite being part Danish and a bilingual family, ours is pretty much the same as yours. Our babies have two parents who love them very much. None of us get enough sleep, we eat more sugar than we should, can’t function without tea and are more than usually interested in the weather. I can’t say it loudly enough – PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE, regardless of where they’re from.

You shouldn’t be voting on whether someone with an accent can live here or not, despite what the major campaigners on both sides are saying. What I’m asking is that you look at what the EU actually does in the UK… like open doors academically which might otherwise have been closed. Like make it possible for those running small businesses to easily bring in taxable revenue from overseas. Like making it possible for those from the UK travelling within the EU to present an EHIC card and receive free medical treatment that might otherwise be charged. Like protecting UK workers from attempts to introduce unfair UK labour laws.

Look at what the papers are telling you over the next 24 hours objectively. If something sounds wrong, check your facts. This website is a mine of information about the times the UK press hasn’t been honest about what’s happening in Brussels.
Obviously I’d urge you to vote ‘remain’ but even if you don’t, I do ask that you vote because of issues outside of immigration. Because EU immigration isn’t an issue. There’s no ‘us vs. them’, there is only us. And please, even if you believe that we are paying more the the EU than we are getting out, remember that some things aren’t quantifiable in terms of money – Sterling, Euro or otherwise. By joining with the other nations on the continent we’re helping to build a bigger world, one which can not be torn down by wars and segregation. The more countries which stand together, the fewer countries there are to fight one another. It is in all of our interests – now and in the future – to pool our wealth, our knowledge and our passions. Because as cliched as it sounds, love must win. And the more we understand about one another – and therefore about ourselves – the more love can prosper.

And the sooner we smudge our borders** then the sooner there won’t be any immigrants, there’ll just be a migrant workforce.

__________

*That’s not a ‘anyone who puts out on the first date is a slut’ comment, just for the record. It’s a ‘I don’t use the word member‘ comment… just so we’re clear.
**Again, let me be clear, I’m all for national identity and customs. But pride in our heritage is not the same as nationalism. Scotland is a convenient and beautiful example – it’s easy to name so many things which are inherently Scottish, but we’re still a functioning part of a larger whole.

A beginner’s guide to meal planning

Feed Yourself For £1 A Day

So you want to spend less at the supermarket? There are four little words you need: Meal plan. Shopping list.

Search through your cupboards and write a list of what you’ve got. And I mean everything – half-eaten jars of peanut butter, that weird looking bit of cheese which has been around forever but hasn’t gone off, those healthy snacks that everyone buys with the best intentions and then never eats… Everything.

Then sit down and figure out what you can do with the food you have. You’ll probably surprise yourself – I can usually manage at least one meal with what I’ve got in, if not more. Things like chickpeas and canned tomatoes are the basis of so many tasty dinners that if you’ve got them and some spices you can usually rustle something up. Next step – which meals have you almost got enough to make? Write down the…

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Gender Neutral

Humour me. Just for a second.

There. Didn’t take long, did it.

Now repeat after me: EVERY TOY IS ‘GENDER NEUTRAL’. Every toy is for girls or boys. Even if the damn thing says, “Toys for boys,” it’s a girl’s toy if it’s owned by a girl, regardless of what the text says. My sewing machine says ‘Jones’ on it – that doesn’t mean that only Harrison Ford can operate the damn thing.

The end. Fuck you, Goldie Blox. Fuck you, the-“I’m not buying my girl pink Lego”-camp.

Fuck you all. You’re making it worse! That you can’t just give your girl any old construction toy, that it has to be, “For Girls” makes you part of the problem. That you won’t buy something because it’s pink and that’s apparently stereotyping makes you part of the problem. If your son asked for pink Lego, I’d bet you’d get it for him, because that makes you open-minded and progressive. Well, if you wouldn’t do the same for your daughter, you’re just as fucking sexist as the next prick.

Fuck you.

End rant.

Details

It’s been a long time, but I’ve started writing again.

I’m still not touching any of the great works I’d had planned, but instead I’m trying something completely new. Or rather, incredibly old-hat. I’m writing with Biro on paper.

The last time I did this was in my various classes at school. I’d have my work on my desk, get bored of that and then take out my identical-looking jotter (which I’d thieved from the RE department) and used it to pen stories in. And my goodness, I told some stories! Great pirate airships taking on authoritarian Zeppelins, fairy tale characters in reality TV shows somehow solving crimes*,  epic treks through mountains and valleys all ending with unsuccessful heroes lying forgotten on a moonlit beach…

There’s something about the process of totally narrowing the world around you to a small square of paper and some black squiggles which really focuses my mind. I used to be fine working on the computer, but that was in the days of dial-up and expensive software – when there was so little to distract that a word-processor really was just like using a very good typewriter.

Aside for aiding my concentration, the whole process has really made me aware of the details in what I’m doing, and how such small things as a character’s morning ritual – do they have breakfast as soon as they get up, or do they nurse a cup of tea for hours? – can say a great deal about them.

Some of my favourite examples:

The Bloc Party song, Trojan Horse; “You used to take your watch off, before we made love/you didn’t want to share our time with anyone.” I mean, it’s pretty perfect. It’s succinct, poetic and tells us a crazy amount about the person it’s describing without using a single adjective. Beautiful. Wish I’d thought of it.

Elton John’s Tiny Dancer; “Pretty eyes, pirate smile.” The juxtaposition of pretty and pirate just really does it for me. I think it hints at a darker side to the girl’s personality.

The age difference between Shepard and Garrus; Yeah, Mass Effect was always going to feature somewhere. I freakin’ love this game and I’ve played through most combinations of options now… and to be honest, ‘Shakarian’ never used to by my favourite coupling. I really loved Shepard and Thane to begin with – he had a grown up family whilst no previous significant others were mentioned for Shepard. The difference in where they were with their lives made this a fascinating pairing (to me at least), especially seeing Shepard with Thane’s adult son in the final game. I played through the Garrus romance simply because he’s great and I’m a completionist, but I never really invested in it. Until I read somewhere** that Garrus was younger than Shepard by about four years – which altered the dynamic to the point where I invested heart and soul. And I’ve no idea why that number made such a difference for me, but after learning that, the relationship felt warmed and wholly more satisfying.
Joe Abercrombie’s character ‘Dogman’ in the First Law trilogy; Just before every battle, this guy needs to pee. It is such a tiny detail and it’s only ever mentioned in passing (pun not entirely intended). It just makes him feel human, despite the incredible things happening in the world around him. I actually think that’s the main beauty in Abercrombie’s writing – he’s taken the time to make the people seem whole and plain, and as a result even the incredible seems plausible.

I still haven’t figured out which little details will make my characters special – I guess if I’m doing a good enough job I’ll find out when I come to type up all of those paper scribbles  – but I hope I can come up with at least one sparkling example I can be proud of.
_______________

*I’m not making this up – that’s actually one of the best things I’ve ever written. Little Bo Peep makes an epic private eye.
** https://twitter.com/PatrickWeekes/status/211110027774275585

Dear Facebook…

Or more specifically, “Dear everyone posting about Denmark and the Dolphins via that Chinese site“:

Firstly, it’s not Denmark – it’s the Faroe Isles*. It’s the same distinction as Australia and the UK. So… you know, not cool.

Secondly, they’re whales, not dolphins** – not that that makes bludgeoning them any better but get your facts right.

Thirdly, What do you think reposting a poorly translated story is going to do? If you want to make a difference, either go to the Faroe Islands and protest this thing, or – more sensibly – donate to/volunteer with WWF, Peta or a similar charity with some clout. In fact, why not write to various animal charities and ask what they’re doing to prevent this and make your choice accordingly.

I’m so damn sick of this popping up on my news feed (seriously – it’s been up there at least 4 times in the last 2 hours) that I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore.

THINK. Don’t post.

Ta.
___________
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faroe_Islands “under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark”.
**Long-finned Pilot Whales to be exact http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-finned_Pilot_Whale

If you’d like to learn about this phenomenon and pledge your support in a way that actually matters, you can read about the hunting here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling_in_the_Faroe_Islands  and then visit Peta here: http://action.peta.org.uk/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=5&ea.campaign.id=1911&c=pukfpaa

FYI – this is not me endorsing Peta. I don’t see eye-to-eye with them on lots of points, but since it’s the first charity actively engaged in this campaign that google threw at me, I’ve included the link anyway.