Sunday, May 31, 2015

"In My Day"

I suppose it's because there is a big birthday coming up in just under three weeks that has me thinking about being one of the elderly -- a 'senior' -- an old fart -- etc. ad nauseum. Some friends of mine tell me that being around the grandchildren makes them feel young -- not me -- it wears me out and brings on serious bouts of impatience and grumpiness.

More and more I am using expressions that I remember my grandparents and aunties using, like 'in my day' or 'when I was a girl' or even 'back in the 60's' or worse, 'back in the 60's when I was young...'
When I was a young woman, it wasn't a problem finding a job -- there were always loads in the paper ...
In my day, I had no trouble getting an apartment that I could afford on my own ...
It was all so Happy Days and comedy sit-com-land! Can you tell I come from white middle class America? Indeed!

I used to love comedy programs -- now I can't appreciate the comedians my children find hilarious. Most movies do not interest me at all and when I go The Man doesn't want to go with me because the sound is so loud it hurts his ears. We are both old codgers and there is no going back...

We are going away for two weeks for my birthday to a warm Mediterranean location. I have not been told exactly where -- which is fine with me as I do like surprises. And old codger that I am I do still enjoy travelling -- although the long haul trips do take their toll on me when I get back home. And my back aches a lot -- well everything aches first thing in the morning.

The weatherman said this morning that for the next couple of days it will feel more like the end of October and early November than the 1st of June. Needless to say, he got that right. I am off now for my slippers and very cozy dressing gown  before settling down with a hot drink and  the next installment of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell...


Monday, May 18, 2015

In or Out, It's a Referendum They Shout!

In my last post Rosaria Williams asked in her comment, what the disadvantages were for Britain not being in the EU. That is a question that will be dominating UK politics from now until the promised referendum is held -- by 2017 at the latest.

I fervently hope that this country decides to stay part of the European Union. But I can understand why more and more people now have a negative attitude to our membership. First there were the annoying rules from Brussels that seem to most of us to be ridiculous -- from the curves in bananas and cucumbers to how food must be labelled. Why were certain countries allowed to become members when they did not meet the financial criteria that were supposedly required for membership. (France did not meet the financial criteria and it was one of the original members!)

When a country joins the EU they join as an equal member -- with the same rights and privileges as every other member state. And part of the equality is that its citizens are allowed to travel and settle in any other member state. Many people in Britain and in other of the wealthier countries are very unhappy with number of immigrants that are now here quite legally -- because there is work and because there have been very generous benefits given by the State.

The Man and I have several Polish friends who have very freely admitted that the reason they have come to Britain is because "of the benefits"! But now that they are losing many of those benefits, they are busy getting themselves second and third jobs -- jobs that are all low paying -- wives are no longer staying at home, teenagers are finding work after school and on weekends. Every foreign worker that I have met is contributing to the economy, many with jobs that no Brit can be found to do.

Two of my sons have had jobs in the EU -- one now in Italy and the other a few summers ago, in France. The Man and I can visit our vacation home in France as often and for as long as we like. We can travel throughout the EU freely, buy goods and bring them home pretty much without restriction. We even have a medical card which gives us the right to receive the same care as each state provides its own citizens.

But the most important disadvantage to Britain not being in the EU is 'commitment' to Europe. By being part of the Union we are giving substance to the belief that we are part of Europe and that we can find ways of working together to solve problems and find solutions -- both economic and social. Seventy years ago we began the process of ending our mutual history of being one of many warring European nations. The EU has been part of that process and Britain was slow to become part of it. To quit now seems to me a backward step and one made out of fear -- to the detriment not only to Europe, but especially to this country.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Home Again, Home Again, Windblown and Fit

Well, the election is over, my visit to the States is over and now life gets back to its more or less ordinariness.

Since my political leanings are more to the left of Centre, I am not exactly thrilled with the outcome -- but satisfied at least the we have one of only 8 Liberal Democrat MPs. I am now in the midst of filling out my citizenship application so that next time, God willing, I shall be allowed to cast my ballot and not feel 'left out' of the proceedings!

I sincerely hope that by the time of the next election the UK will still be a member of the European Union -- that will be the next big fight. And the Conservatives will probably be doing most of it amongst themselves! Apparently, One of the first bills to be put through by the new Government will be the Abolition of the Human Rights Act. Sounds ominous to me -- doesn't quite have the same 'ring' to it as say the Abolition of Slavery...

It is good to be home, though it would be nice to suffer from a bit more warmth in the air. The winds are up, but the sun is out. The cherry blossom lasted all of two days -- one of which was all but lost on me due to jet-lag. And speaking of the 'lagged-jet'!

Our arrival back to Britain was delayed by 10 hours, which means that we are each receiving compensation from the airline to the tune of 600 Euros! The Man remembered reading that EU passengers have the right to compensation for delays over 4 hours and so he duly wrote to the airline and was rewarded with a prompt and positive reply.