Category Archives: musings

Five Parallels between Brexit andTrump

puzzle-268905_960_720On November 8th I went to bed feeling cautiously optimistic. Surely the American public can’t really elect someone like Donald Trump, I thought. The polls were putting Hilary Clinton in the lead.  I awoke the next morning and listened to the news in shocked disbelief. It was a feeling I remembered from June when, on the day of the EU referendum I also went to bed with the same optimism that surely everything would be OK, surely we wouldn’t really vote to turn our backs on the organisation that had protected me and safeguarded me all of my adult life, and I also woke to the devastating news of a terrifying unknown future.

That feeling of sickening dread and disbelief was so similar to how I felt the morning after the EU referendum that it got me thinking about other ways in which the two events were alike.

  1. The Polls. All through the EU referendum campaign the polls put Remain ahead. Sometimes Leave managed to close the gap a little but they were always far enough behind to make a victory for Leave look unlikely . Likewise during the US election campaign, although at times Trump managed to inch forwards in the polls he never got close enough to make a Republican win seem at all likely .
  2. The Lies. There were so many lies told by the leave campaigners that I wrote a blog post on the subject which you can read here. Trump’s campaign also did not let the truth get in the way of success. Trump said that Hilary Clinton wanted to let anyone come into the USA without doing anything about it. Trump also claimed that Obama founded ISIS and Hilary Clinton was the co-founder. I could go on but Trump’s lies would need a blog post all to themselves.
  3. The Slogans. Some of the slogans used by the Leave campaigners were remarkably similar to Trump’s slogans. “Let’s take back our country!” “Make America /Britain great again!” These slogans are actually completely meaningless but I can see how they might sound appealing if you don’t think too deeply about their lack of meaning.
  4. Targeting immigrants. With Trump it was Mexicans. With Brexit it was EU migrants and also, rather strangely, Turks, who are not even in the EU. Outlandish claims abounded about how many would arrive and what they would do .
  5. Hate crime. Perhaps partly as a result of number 4 above, hate crimes against foreigners increased after the referendum result and now sadly the same thing is happening in the USA. Trump’s appeal to the perpetrators to “stop it” is perhaps one of the most insincere things I’ve ever heard him say. I don’t think people suddenly started hating foreigners when before they hadn’t, but they believed that the vote legitimised their hatred. Whereas before they kept their hateful opinions to themselves, now they feel they have the right to act on them.

It has been said many times that the popularity of Trump and of Brexit are due to the fact that politicians are not listening to ordinary people. These are protest votes by people wanting change. But is this really the sort of change we want? By all means let’s protest and demand change but not like this. We are better than this.

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Twelve Months of Blogging and Fifty-Six Blog Posts

So my blog is a year old give or take a couple of days. Happy birthday Ten Things!

I have enjoyed blogging about many and varied topics, brought together by the fact that they are all lists of things.

The most popular post of all has been Nine Signs that David Cameron Might Be a Psychopath, which was actually one of my first posts. It went a bit viral a couple of months after I wrote it, and that was a very exciting time. I remember sitting and constantly refreshing the stats page to watch the number of hits rise. It was a great feeling.

I hope you have all enjoyed reading my posts and if you have any ideas of things I could list then please let me know in the comments.

Here’s to many more years!

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Two Fun but Annoying Gifts from Pringles

My kids love Pringles and so do I. I know they are probably really unhealthy but there is something compulsive about eating them. When I saw that they were giving away free gifts I stocked up.

The first gift I sent off for was the Pringles Bowl.pringoalsIt consists of a plastic bowl with markings like a football. It has a white ring-shaped insert that makes it perfect for arranging Pringles in. A whole packet will fit in it, and will go all the way round the bowl. In the centre of the ring there is a space for a red cylinder into which you have to put batteries (which are included!) If you make the mistake of switching on the little switch, every time you reach for a Pringle, the bowl will let out a roar and shout, “Pringoal!” whatever that means. I guess it’s good if you are on a diet as it will certainly put you off eating Pringles.

The second gift I sent off for was the karaoke kit.karaoke

A free karaoke kit! Sounds like a great deal. This gift comes with two sets of batteries – one for the speaker and one for the microphone. The speaker and microphone fit on the ends of a Pringles packet, so if you forgot to keep one of the tubes you have to go and eat a whole packet before you can set up your karaoke kit. (Or you could just pour the Pringles into your free bowl.) There is a jack that connects to your mobile phone and you can play any music you want on your phone and sing into the microphone. Your voice will mingle with the music, and come out of the speaker. It is really quite ingenious, but the novelty soon wears off when your children won’t stop using it. But I did get my own back by forcing them to listen to me singing Adele.

Three Thoughts on the Burkini Ban

Some areas of France have banned women from wearing the burkini – the Islamic swimming costume – on the beach. This ban caused controversy in the media a few days ago when police (fully clothed and brandishing guns) obliged a woman to remove her long sleeved top. Here are my hurriedly typed thoughts on this incident and on the ban.muslim-354190_960_720

What exactly is banned? The law seems unclear. The woman who was so humiliated was not actually wearing a burkini but a long sleeved top. Does this mean that nobody is allowed to wear a long sleeved top on those beaches? I sometimes put on a long sleeved top on the beach if I feel that my shoulders and arms have had enough exposure to the sun. Would I be forced to burn my skin? I have friends who cover their arms to hide the scars from past self-harming. Would they be forced to bare their scars for all to see and judge? Or is it only Muslims who have to expose their bodies, and the rest of us have the freedom to choose what to bare and what to cover?

Why is it banned? I have heard a number of explanations for this law, which seems strange, as if you are going to pass a new law, the reasoning behind it should be clear.

Some say it is because France is a secular state and bans religious clothing. Does this mean we will have armed police checking that Christians are not wearing a crucifix around their neck on the beach? In any case, the law on secularity, which among other things bans Sikh turbans, only applies in schools. Anyone is free to wear a turban on the beach should they choose to do so.

Others say it is a security measure – a bomb could be concealed under a burkini or a long sleeved top. But surely this isn’t specific to beaches. A bomb could be concealed under somebody’s clothing in a shopping centre. Or in a church. Are we to bare our bodies in these places too? It would make no sense to force people to uncover only on the beach if this were the reason.

One explanation that I have heard for the ban is that Muslim women who wear the burkini are being oppressed by men. They are being told what they can and cannot wear. So, how do we fight this oppression? By getting different men to tell them what they can and cannot wear!

Another justification I have heard is that it is because Muslims must integrate into French society. Do they really think this is the way to encourage integration? To humiliate a woman by sending armed police to order her to undress? Will that make her feel included in society? If a new neighbour from another culture moved into your street and you wanted to encourage them to integrate, what would you do? Would you pop round with a homemade cake ask how they are settling in? Or would you take round some western clothes and force them to undress in front of you and get changed into something that fitted in with your culture? Imagine you went to a country where it was the custom for women to walk around topless. I’m sure such places exist. If you were not used to baring your breasts in public you would probably prefer to keep your top on. I’m sure I would. How would you feel if a policeman with a gun forced you to remove your clothing in a public place with lots of people watching? Would this help you to integrate and to feel part of society?

Freedom and Judgement Whenever people debate Muslim women covering their bodies, or their hair or their faces, people always talk about freedom, and about being judged. Some argue that women are judged if they cover up, so they are more free if they uncover. But does uncovering free you from judgement? I never wore a bikini until a few years ago because I thought I was too fat and I feared the judgement of others. I only wear one now because I lost enough weight for me to feel as though my body was acceptable enough to other people. So does uncovering really make you more free? Some Muslims who cover their hair or their face, say that they do it so that nobody can judge them on their looks, their hair or their face. They can only be judged on what they say and do. So I guess we will be judged whatever we do; at least we should have the freedom to choose whether we wish to cover up or not. We should be the ones who decide whether we feel free with more clothes or fewer clothes. Nobody else can decide that for us.

France has been the victim of some horrendous terrorist attacks recently. They are very worried about Muslims becoming radicalised. But is humiliating women at gunpoint the right way to protect them from being radicalised? I think it’s more likely that this ban will make French Muslims feel less included, less welcome in society, and therefore more likely to listen to the people who would radicalise them.

 

One More Analogy About the EU Referendum

euflag.pngYou may have read my recent post Why Brexit is Like a Mid Life Crisis. Another analogy came to my mind the other day. Many people are complaining that we are not being given any facts and figures about what would happen to the UK if we leave the EU. Well the reason for that is that there are no facts or figures. It hasn’t happened so nobody knows. We can predict what might happen but we don’t really know what will happen to the economy, immigration, and all the other things that people worry about.

It’s a bit like your house. Do you like your house? There are probably things you like about it, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought it or rented it. There are probably things you don’t like and things that you would like to change. Some of the things can probably be changed with a little work. You might be able to afford a new bathroom. You could easily fix that dripping tap in the kitchen if you put your mind to it. Other things are not so easily fixed such as the area in which you live. But if somebody asked you to hand over the keys to your house, and they would give you another house instead, would you accept the exchange?

You have no idea where this new house is. You might need to look for a new job because it might be too far from where you work. It might be in a much nicer neighbourhood than where you live now but it might not. Think about a neighbourhood that you really wouldn’t want to live in. What would you do if this new house was right there?

You have no idea how much the rent or the mortgage will be. It might be cheaper than what you pay now, but it might be completely out of your budget. It would be nice to think about all the things you could spend the extra money on if it turns out to be cheaper, but what would you do if it was much more expensive and you couldn’t pay?

You don’t know how big this new house will be or what it will be like. Will it suit your family’s needs?

What if your new house has even more defects than your old one? You might be lucky and find the house of your dreams but what are the chances? You are not the one making the choices.

And there would be no going back. Once you had made the swap you would have to live there forever.

The EU has its defects. There are things we like about it and things we don’t. We might be able to change some of the things we don’t like with a bit of work; others we might just have to put up with. But if we leave, what will we find? I have heard people saying that the money we pay to the EU could be put into the NHS, but do you really believe it would be? This government has shown utter contempt for the NHS. If there really is any money saved, which is not certain, you won’t have a say in where it goes. It is more likely to end up in some Panamanian bank account. I have heard it said that we need to leave the EU to stop immigration. It won’t stop immigration. Yes, there will be fewer legal immigrants – the ones who pay their taxes, employ UK citizens and make a net contribution to the UK economy – but how is that going to solve the problem?

If I knew what house I would be moving to, if I had chosen the new house myself and had surveys carried out, if I had done the maths and made sure I could afford the mortgage, then of course I would move if I was sure that it was a change for the better. But let’s not take a leap in the dark when the issues are so huge.14444-illustration-of-a-house-pv.png

 

Take a look at my other post on the EU referendum: Four Reasons Why Britain Should Stay in the EU

 

 

 

 

Why Brexit is like a Mid-Life Crisis

 

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Recently I have been listening to the arguments put forward by the leave campaigners, and they bring to mind the whinings of a middle-aged spouse in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

For the purposes of this blog post I will call our middle aged person “he” although I am aware that women can go through this too.

Our middle-aged man looks around him at his single or divorced friends and is envious of their lives. They don’t have whingey children whodrain their money and need attention. They can be completely selfish, spending all their money on beer and all their time playing video games. They don’t need to follow rules made up by a controlling wife who insists they do their share of the housework and put things away when they have finished with them and don’t come in drunk at 2am. They don’t have to do any housework and can come home as late as they wish. Our man’s children invite their friends into his house, and some of them are even foreigners! Why should foreigners be allowed to come into his house and eat his food? He wants to take back control of his house and lock the doors.

Likewise the brexiters look at other countries outside the EU and wail, “Why can’t we be like Norway or Canada or Albania? Why should we have to take other people’s wishes into consideration? Why do we have to follow these pesky rules made by other people? Why do we have to pay money to the EU? Why do we have to welcome other people into our country?”

But beware. What happens to our middle aged man if he does decide to leave his wife and family? Does he live a blissful independent life of freedom with no rules and no responsibilities? After an initial period of euphoric partying he starts to realise that there is a reason for most of the rules he so resented. If he doesn’t do housework he quickly runs out of clean dishes, and he can’t find anything because the house is in such a mess and he never puts anything back in its place. If he comes home drunk at 2am he wakes up feeling terrible and there is vomit on the carpet which he has to clean up by himself because there is nobody to do it for him. In fact he is beginning to realise just how much the other people in his family did for him now that he has to do everything by himself. Even his children’s foreign friends used to help fix his computer and plaster his living room. Now he has to pay someone else to do all those things. His money, which he thought would be his to spend as he wished, suddenly seems to be disappearing even faster than before because he still has to support his children but now he has to pay rent for his own flat too. He’s getting a bit worried about what might happen if he loses his job – his boss has warned him about being late because he’s been out till 2am and there’s nobody there to make sure he wakes up and gets out of the house on time. And he still has to look after his children every other weekend while his wife goes out enjoying herself, only now he has to do it alone so he can’t pretend to be asleep and let his wife get up when one of them has a bad dream. And there is nobody else there to cook their meals or clean up their sick when they are ill.

I fear that similarly, Britain will not enjoy the benefits that the brexiters hope for if we leave the family of the European Union. We will find that those pesky EU rules that we resent so much are actually quite important for protecting us. Rules about clean beaches may seem harsh but guess what? They serve to keep our beaches clean! Rules about what we can and can’t put into food serve to keep our food safe. I fear we might learn this the hard way. And we will still have to pay the EU if we want to trade with them, but we won’t get anything in return. And all these foreigners we like to complain so much about, what will we do without them? Who will nurse us when we are sick? Who will take care of our teeth and clean our offices? And who will look after all the pensioners who, waking up one morning in Spain to find themselves Non-EU Citizens, will flock back home to the UK where they can still enjoy the rights that they are now denied such as free health care?

When our middle aged man realises his mistake he goes crawling back to his family but it is too late. they have grown accustomed to him not being around. They thought they needed him, but they are getting along fine without him.

Don’t let’s be like our middle aged man. Don’t let’s grow old alone and unhappy. If we are tired of our life in the EU then let’s express our mid life crisis in a different way – let’s go out and buy a sports car or dye our hair purple. But don’t let’s throw away 43 years of marriage on some misguided idea of sovereignty or freedom.

Five Things that Have Made Me Happy Today

Today is International Happiness Day. There are a lot of things going on in the world and in the UK that make me unhappy so I thought I’d take some time to make a note of the things that have made me happy today.

  1. My husband brought me breakfast in bed this morning. It was eggs and mushrooms on toast with a cup of green tea. It is a habit of ours that I bring him breakfast in bed every Saturday and he returns the favour on Sundays.
  2. I took my children geocaching today and we actually found three caches! We are relatively new to geocaching and we are not always so successful. Last time we went we didn’t find anything.geocache
  3. I made rice pudding in the oven with lots of cream and freshly grated nutmeg. It was delicious.
  4. After the children have gone to bed I will be settling down to watch The Night Manager on BBC1.  It is a gripping drama and if you haven’t seen it you really ought to. I’ve been looking forward to it since last Sunday evening.
  5. There are only four working days next week because Friday is a holiday.

Have a happy International Happiness Day everyone!

Six Reasons to Go and See Nativity 3: Dude Where’s My Donkey?

OK, so I’m a year late seeing this film as it came out last Christmas. That’s because I never go and see family films until Cineworld show them in their cheap Saturday morning “movies for Juniors” showings. It has been slated by reviewers but I took my boys to see it last weekend and we all loved it; I think I enjoyed it even more than they did. Here’s why.

  1. It has some great British comic actors in it such as martin Clunes and Catherine Tate. Anything with Martin Clunes in it has got to be worth watching.
  2. It was filmed in some fantastic locations such as London and the charming model village at Bourton-on-the-Water in my own county of Gloucestershire.
  3. It will make you cry. I’m not usually one for sobbing in the cinema but there is something so sad about a little girl who has not only lost her mother, but now her father has lost his memory and doesn’t recognise her, and can’t even remember her late mother.
  4. It will make you laugh. As a teacher, the idea of an Ofsted inspector turning up in a school where a live donkey is wandering around pooing all over the floor, appealed to my sense of humour. There are lots of humorous moments all through the film.
  5. There are some great, original Christmas songs that will have you singing along.
  6.  The film tells the timeless, heart-warming story of a woman who is just about to marry the wrong man when suddenly the right man turns up just in time. Been there, done that.

 

Three Reasons Why I Like T0-Do Lists

I love a good list, which is one reason why my blog consists mainly of them. One of my favourite kinds of list is a to-do list. The only problem I have is that I write them on little bits of paper and then I lose them. here are some of the reasons why I love to-do lists.
  1. Writing a list means I don’t have to carry all that stuff in my head because it is on the paper instead.  If I have a lot of things to do, I sometimes can’t sleep at night with all the things going round in my brain because I don’t want to forget them. If I get them out of my brain and onto a piece of paper then my brain can rest and I can sleep.
  2. It makes me feel organised and in control if I have a list of all the things I need to do. Then I can focus on going down the list and doing them one at a time instead of running around trying to do things as they come into my head, which is usually while I’m already in the middle of doing another thing. If I write down approximate timings by each task I feel even more purposeful and less likely to get distracted.
  3. There is nothing quite so satisfying as ticking things off a list. And as I see more and more ticks congregating on my list, I feel a great sense of purpose and achievement. If the things are just in my head so I can’t tick them off, I don’t have the same documentary evidence and my achievement is not measureable. Sometimes I write down really little tasks on the list that don’t really need to be listed, just so that I can have the satisfaction of ticking them off.

So there you have it. To-do lists are a great source of satisfaction, purposefulness and relaxation. Now I’m off to write myself a list. And the first item on the list is to write a list.

To-Do List

Seven Things I Have Learned from NaBloPoMo

November is drawing to a close which means that I will soon have completed the challenge I set myself of posting one blog post every day for National Blog Posting Month. It has been an exciting challenge that has taught me a few things.

  1. I love a challenge. Well I guess I already knew this as I often set myself challenges – a month without added sugar, the plank challenge (which I failed as I couldn’t make it past about 2 minutes without sticking my bottom up in the air), NaNoWriMo to name but a few. I get a great sense of achievement from completing challenges. And it’s been nice looking at my stats and seeing new followers and increased views.
  2. A challenge shared is more likely to be achieved. I have been posting my blog posts daily on facebook and twitter, and reading other bloggers’ posts on twitter with the hashtag #nablopomo. Sharing the challenge with others makes me more accountable so I am more likely to stick to it than if I kept it to myself.
  3. How Little Free Time I Have. I come home from work in the evenings and spend time with my kids until they go to bed. I switch off their light at about nine o’clock. Then there are all those little jobs that need doing – loading the dishwasher, making packed lunches, washing clothes, ironing clothes, sorting clothes. I like to watch the ten o’clock news, and at some point I have to go to bed. It’s not easy to fit in a blog post every single day.
  4. How much of that time I waste. Considering I have so little time, it’s surprising how much of it I manage to waste on unproductive things like reading pointless stuff on the Internet, or just sitting on the sofa trying to summon up the motivation to get up and do something.
  5. I can find time if I want to. Since I have managed to write a blog post a day, it means that I can find time to do the things that are important to me. Sometimes I manage to stop myself from wasting time, sometimes I multi-task, and sometimes I just don’t get as much sleep as I’d like to.
  6. It’s OK to let people read what I write. I have done NaNoWriMo a few times but I’ve never shown my novels to anyone. But a blog is a public thing. So I have been forced to allow people into my thoughts and to let them read my imperfect writing. And it’s OK.
  7. It’s OK to rush things sometimes. Right now I really want to go to bed. So this post will be rushed and I won’t have time to edit every word. It won’t be perfectly polished. But that’s OK.

The month is not over yet but the end is in sight.

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