Monthly Archives: June 2016

No man is an island

Like most of my blogs, I debated whether to publish this post or not. In the end I thought it would benefit me to get some of the thoughts swirling around in my head on paper (or at least a laptop screen!).

It’s probably not that surprising that I voted Remain. Immigration is one topic that always makes me get on my soapbox. After all, my husband is a migrant. He’s also a migrant who has set up his own business, buys goods from British businesses, ships them using British logistic companies and also pays a lot of tax. More than me. He also speaks English fluently and works harder than anybody I know. So when the leave campaign focused on immigration it automatically peed me off.

It might be surprising that I do get why some people voted leave. I might not agree with them but I get that people see people who need benefits be forced to undergo quite frankly humiliating assessments and deal with the impact of benefits being taken away from them. I get that people see schools full with children having to travel miles to get a school place. I get that people see the NHS creaking from the pressure of too many people and not enough staff. What I don’t get is why people who voted Leave believe that getting out of the EU would solve all of the issues that the UK has.

I’ve heard a few people voted Leave as a protest vote. I don’t understand that but I’d like to. What were people protesting about? The government? The campaign? I always think a protest is only valuable if the aim of the protest is clearly communicated and I don’t think it has been. I also think a vote is something really special to have. There are a lot of countries who don’t have a luxury of a free vote and I feel it should be respected.

I do think some of the blame for the result should not be argued out between Leave and Remain voters. From stories in the media, it’s becoming clear that people are confused about what the EU means. The fact that Africa is not in the EU and therefore this result doesn’t mean that people from Africa will be shipped back ‘to where they came from’. The fact that the EU is not the same as the European Court of Human Rights or the continent. I don’t understand the EU even though I studied EU and Constitutional Law. How can people be expected to vote for something they don’t understand. Instead most of the campaign leaflets I read focused on what would happen if we left the EU rather than the benefits of being in the EU as it stands and also what the EU is about.

I don’t think this is a unique situation. Long words. Long legislation. Long regulations. For a country which places emphasis on the Plain English Campaign, I don’t think there is much Plain English going on.

With the exception of those voters who voted Leave purely motivated by racism, I don’t blame those who voted Leave. I’m just sad. I’m sad that my timeline on social media is full of sad people. I’m sad because my timeline is full of people angry. I’m sad that the UK is seen as a country that is falling apart. However I’m also hopeful. Hopeful because my timeline is full of people standing up to racist idiots. Hopeful because my friends and family are focused on the future. The UK will have a future. What that will be remains to be seen. As a Remainer I need to continue to speak to those who voted Leave. I need to understand their reasons even though I don’t agree with them so that I can provide them with a different perspective and view. Which they might not agree with. But that’s okay. We are all part of humanity. We all have similarities and differences. Let’s try to understand the differences and focus on the similarities. Unless they really are a numpty. Then avoid them because life is for living.

Take me back to Glasto

I don’t have a bucket list. If I did have one, then I would probably have had Glastonbury on that list and I would have been able to tick it off now.

It’s difficult to describe how brilliant Glasto is and why I’m already saving for next year. I’ll give it a go though.

I never thought I’d be in a place where being knee deep in mud in some places would not really bother me. In fact the mud added to the experience because it also brought out the best in people. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world as my friends and family know. I regularly fall over and not through alcohol either. It is probably unsurprising I fell over twice during the festival. If you’ve never fallen over in mud, it’s really hard to get back up by yourself. The first time a guy who reminded me of my dad gave his hand to help me up. At first I refused as I was really muddy but he persisted and hauled me back up. The second time I was really stuck and a guy stopped and tried to help me up. At one point he did say “C’mon love, make an effort, I can’t do it all myself” but he persisted as well! There is a sense of camaraderie and respect I have never felt at any festival before.

Glasto is more than just music as well. It is massive, like a little village. There are so many areas and as we got there on the Wednesday, it was good to just explore and relax. There are so many highlights, from standing at the top of the field near the Glasto sign overlooking the whole festival, to exploring the Healing Fields, to just sitting and people watching. This is the place where everybody can be whoever they want to be, wear what they want and it’s brilliant.

There is obviously the music part of the festival. The feeling of being in a crowd of over 100,000 people singing along to one song is unlike anything I have ever experienced and cannot describe but it just feels like a massive celebration of being part of humanity. I went along to see the headliners (Muse, Adele and Coldplay) who were all out of this world but it also gave me the chance to experience some other acts including Frightened Rabbits, Ellie Goulding, Lumineers, PJ Harvey, Of Monsters and Men, Madness, Daughter, Wolf Alice and Christina and the Queens. On the first day I saw The Syrian Orchestra with Damon Albarn. Amazing, Syrian musicians who had gone through so much already in their country but were so humble to be able to play again. I’d love to see any of those again. Kate Tempest was also an incredible spoken word/rapper/poet.

Obviously there was the EU Referendum result. This blog post isn’t about that but like many of the acts, Glastonbury was probably one of the best places to be when the decision happened. Nearly all the acts referred to the referendum but chose to focus on the fact the people at the festival were all united and we should celebrate common interests rather than looking at things that divide us. I spent a lot of time crying, not because I was sad but because there was something in the air at Glastonbury that made me think that good things do still and can happen. I can understand why people go back to Glasto year after year.

It was also the only festival I’ve been to where families are so obviously welcome and it just made the environment even more safe and lovely.

So that’s it. I have so much more to say but basically go. Go and see it. Experience the mud, embrace the music and just go. I will end with a poem PJ Harvey shared during her show.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne 1684

Opposites attract

I was really debating with myself about whether to write this blog but I’m just going to go for it because I find writing helps me a lot. I’ve compromised with myself by not posting the link on facebook but just on twitter because not many folk IRL follow me on twitter and those that do…well there’s a reason I follow them on Twitter because I trust them.

I don’t often speak about my marriage other than when I get irate about racism against Muslims and immigration. A couple of weeks I had a Talk with my husband. I spell Talk deliberately with a capital T because we spoke about a serious thing, whether we should stay together. Good news, we are staying together so you know this blog post has a happy ending already.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of the lead up to that discussion as it’s not really important anymore. It did however make me look at the reason for that conversation happening. It made me look at why I doubt that we are…well…meant to be together (pass the sick bucket). I thought I’d write about it.

Part of the Talk involved the fact we are completely different. Different countries, different cultures, different religion, different likes in music, different habits, different different different. Opposites attract right? Why do dating websites talk about ‘matching’ people, making matches in harmony? The conclusion I came to? Maybe looking at similarities rather than differences so for my husband we are similar in that we care about our friends and family, we both want children and we both like our own space.

We also don’t have children at the moment. I can’t think of any of my friends who have been married or in a long term relationship who haven’t had children. The pressure of people asking when we are having them, when will we hear the sound of tiny feet? The conclusion? It’s nobody’s business but ours when we have them and if we have them. People get married and don’t have children forever and they don’t spontaneously combust or die because they have no purpose in life.

There is also a part of me that recognises losing my mum when I was younger probably has had an impact greater than I originally thought. She left me so what will stop everyone else leaving me? The conclusion I came to? I’d rather be with my husband until that happens rather than make it happen now.

My husband has his faults, I’d never have met him on a dating website but I’m starting to accept we’re in it for the long haul. It only took me 9 years..

Volunteering

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged as lots of things have been going on (sounds more dramatic than it has been!). For those who don’t know I’ve volunteered at a children’s charity for a number of years, since May 2010 to be precise. As it’s Volunteers Week this week, it naturally made me think about my role as a volunteer and what makes me volunteer.

Volunteering is not a completely altruistic thing, at least for me. I remember studying altruism in Psychology and my tutor claiming there is no such thing as true altruism. I naturally thought about volunteering as giving up your time for no money, isn’t that altruistic? For me, part of my volunteering is that feeling of giving something back, it makes me feel good about myself. I’m not ashamed about saying that is part of the reason I volunteer. I like feeling good about myself and knowing I’m helping someone.

Volunteering also makes me more aware of myself. It’s no coincidence that awareness developed during my counselling role led me to become very aware when I needed help a couple of years ago and sought that help, something I probably should have done a long time ago. Sometimes hearing about the lives of others makes me have a massive reality check and appreciate what I do have rather than what I don’t.

It’s also led me to create and maintain some friendships which I am increasingly grateful for. I ended up being bridesmaid to one of my fellow counsellors as a result of our friendship created through our volunteering role. There is a core group of 7 who still regularly see each other outside of our shift and the content of those meetups…well…shall remain secret!

I can’t see a time when I will stop volunteering. It makes me get up on a Saturday morning (admittedly not too early) when I probably would have slept in. It is there in the back of my head encouraging me to do better, to reach out and speak to new people and ultimately is one of the things I add to my list in my head when thinking about the purpose of life.

There are lots of people I know who don’t class themselves as volunteers yet who spend a large part of their day doing things over and above what they are expected to do, either through their work or personal lives. Reaching out to other people, being considerate, caring. It may just be part of being a decent human being but during Volunteers Week it’s particularly poignant I think to remember and take the time to thank someone for being that person who was there when you needed them, not because they had to be but because they wanted to be. I definitely have had to rely on a few people recently for various things so thank you. You know who you are (Yes you!).