Archive for the 'Britishisms' Category

Eating with the enemy

NS January 26th, 2011

After swearing many years ago that I would never, EVER allow this vile substance to pass my lips, I have somehow come to end up blimmin’ loving it in the past couple weeks.

I live in fear that my American passport will be revoked upon producing photographic evidence of culinary treason but my cheese sandwiches, thankful for the reprieve from mayo, have promised to raise the necessary funds to finally secure British citizenship for me, thus making my transition complete and official.

Pot Kettle Capitalism

NS November 11th, 2010

I took a quiz the other day on Facebook, a bit of cheeky fun called ‘What type of Leftist are you?’ I answered a few questions and then my result popped up on the screen. ‘You are a Marxist!‘ it declared. No great surprise to me, I suppose —  I knew that my political beliefs were left of what passes for liberal these days — but Marxist? Really?! Hmm.

I know a bit about Marxism, studied it as part of my poly sci degree and have a book about it on my shelf, but I devoted a good hour or two to brushing up on its principles and figuring out whether, actually, I do have a bit of Marxist blood running through these veins.

Turns out, I do. At least partially. Regardless of whether or not I think Marxism could ever become a (successful) reality in this day and age, I do admire and agree with many of its tenets. Not those that were hijacked by dictators and despots looking for a cause to cling to and give rise to the power they so desperately crave, but the core belief that capitalism is inherently anti-proletariat and oppressive to the people, despite attempts of throwing ‘democracy’ at its wretched, greed-encased feet.

In typing these words, I keep expecting a trapdoor to open up below me, sending me into a political black hole that transports me directly back to the United States to face hanging, drawing and quartering for treason. At the very least, my nerves will be heightened when I go through US Immigration in three weeks’ time. What would they care about a simple little mommy blogger like me? Probably diddly squat. But people have been snooped on and detained for less.

So if you don’t hear from me for 24 hours after my flight was due to land, know that I’m paying the price for this post somewhere in a little room with a large woman and a pair of rubber gloves. Maybe George Bush will be there, reading passages from his new memoirs while he chucks bucket after bucket of water down my gullet to try to force me into a confession. By writing it all down here, out in the open for all to see, I save them (and me) a  lot of time and water.

As a friend of mine on Facebook said when he commented on my quiz result, “Is it legal for an American to be a Marxist?”

I very much doubt it, Stuart, but we’ll soon find out.

Anyway. The real reason I’m writing about Marxism and my frustration with capitalism is because of these student protests that took place in London yesterday, which everyone in the UK is talking about today. Essentially, up to 50,000 people turned up to protest the coalition government’s plans to increase tuition fees by up to three times the current limit, something the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg specifically said he would not do in his campaigning during the election period. In fact, he went further than that and said he would reduce tuition for university students. He then got into office and, after ‘realising the enormity of the nation’s debt’, promptly forgot that promise and agreed to screw all the students (and millions of others) who voted for him and his party.

I don’t like that a fringe group became violent and started breaking shit, I don’t think it was the smartest idea, but I can certainly fucking understand why they were so angry. Hell, I’m not even a citizen of this country (and therefore couldn’t vote) and I’m STILL angry that the Lib Dems completely screwed their supporters by bowing down to the great Tory machine. Nick Clegg is but a puppet and David Cameron has got his hand shoved so far up his felt-lined backside that I do believe he’s moving his mouth now as well.

Listening to a call-in show about the topic this morning on BBC London, I heard over and over again people talking about violence never being the answer, how we have to be peaceful and use democracy to get what we want. This, coming from the same people and the same government that is quite happy to go to war and tear apart entire countries over boundary squabbles, ownership of natural resources and to force democracy and capitalism onto those not fortunate enough to live in a country where we worship the dollar and the pound and the lifestyle that goes with it.

War in Iraq and Afghanistan = fine but breaking windows because you’re pissed off at your government = deplorable? Where’s the common sense in that? If you’re going to condemn violence amongst your own people but then use it as a tool to control, threaten or coerce other nations, you’re really just talking a load of bollocks.

We live in a hierarchal, patriarchal, class-driven society. As much as we like to pretend that we’re all open-minded and liberal and independent, we’re ruled and oppressed just as much as those living in the so-called ‘third world’. We’re just too blind to bloody realise it.

History shows us, time and time again, that those in power will not relinquish it easily. The upper crust of society — the wealthy, the male, the white, the educated, the able-bodied, the privileged — will always have the upper hand, even in our ‘democracy’ where every vote is counted but rarely matters or changes anything. After this election, I found myself thinking for the first time: “Fuck it, why vote? IT DOESN’T MATTER ANY MORE.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pacifist. I think war and violence and breaking shit is awful and pointless. But if you think you can condemn these students out one side of your mouth and wage war out the other in the name of something YOU believe in, the hypocrisy is almost more than I can bear.

So yes, I understand why these students and activists did what they did. I understand their anger, frustration and helplessness. I too want to kick at the gilded tower from where the fucking bastards are laughing at us, knowing they’ve got the keys to our cages.

But I’m afraid that while we’ve still got a Pot Kettle Capitalism instead of remaking society into something that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few, this shit is going to keep flaring up and then fizzling out. People will whinge and nothing will change, unless we get not 50,000 but 500,000 protesting, then 5 million, then 50 million.

Realistic? No. Idealistic? Sure. Delusional?

Go ask Marx.

Of Tories and t-shirts

NS May 11th, 2010

If you haven’t already heard, the Tories are in. David Cameron managed to convince Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to sell their souls to the devil and form a coalition with the Conservatives.

I think we all know how I feel about that.

I made an offhand comment on Twitter tonight, in which I said, “Making a t-shirt: I voted Lib Dem and all I got was this lousy Tory government.” People seemed to like this idea so I thought hell, I’ll actually make a t-shirt. With Noble Husband’s graphic design skills, we put a little something together for all of the other Lib Dem voters who feel betrayed and disappointed with this new ‘coalition’ government.

Get yours here and wear it proudly angrily. And don’t say I never made you anything.

Vote. Because I can’t.

NS May 6th, 2010

I haven’t ponied up the £800 needed to become a British citizen yet (things are a bit tight after I quit my job to become an at-home parent to my own two British citizens — cough) and so I will not be voting today because I’m not allowed. I sent off my husband’s postal ballot last week so at least I know he was able to exercise that right since he’s away on a business trip right now. All I can do now is watch, wait and hope that the British people don’t let the Conservatives back in. If you’re still on the fence about who to vote for, read this and this and particularly this. A little excerpt:

The Fawcett Society have today released the results of a survey of parliamentary candidates, including the party leaders,  asking whether they would support action on women’s inequality in their constituencies and nationally (1)

Of the 3 major parties 23.1 per cent of Labour candidates and 19.9 per cent of Lib Dems and 2.6 per cent of the Conservatives committed their support. (2)

Candidates were asked to say yes or no to whether they would support local and national action on tackling the gender pay gap, improving support for women rape victims and assessing the impact of deficit cutting proposals on women. Both Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg are amongst those candidates that answered yes to all three questions. David Cameron responded with the Tories policy position in the relevant areas ( 3)

The figures aren’t great for any of the parties but 2.6 per-fucking-cent?! You’ve got to be kidding me. As the Fawcett Society report notes, the support they were asked to commit was for pretty uncontroversial things like support for rape victims and equal pay. If the Tories aren’t even willing to come out in support of that, what else will we find they don’t support? I fear know that a Conservative government will roll back at least some of the gains we’ve made in the last decade and prevent gender equality from progressing any further.

If you care about women, children, education, the arts, community, health, the poor, the disadvantaged, the downtrodden and the vulnerable, remember whose interests the Tories really serve (rhymes with ‘schmorforations’) and the 97.4 per cent of them who refuse to support even such basic rights for women like rape crisis centres and pay audits to address the unconscionable epidemic of the gender pay gap (which is really a mother pay gap).

Come on, Britain. Speak up for those who, like me, have no voice and no choice in this election.  I am a proud, tax-paying immigrant. I am a woman who demands equality. I am a mother deserving of support and recognition as I help raise the next generation of British workers and pension contributors. I am a feminist who will always be there, breathing down the necks of those who cling to the last vestiges of white, male, Christian hegemony.

I may not be officially British, but I am Britain. I dare the Conservatives to tell me otherwise.

The Candidates of Oz

NS May 4th, 2010

My daughter has been really into The Wizard of Oz lately. I’ve been into the UK election. So I thought, why not combine the two? And so I present:

The Candidates of Oz

Cast

Dorothy – Me

The Wizard – British Voters

The Tin Man – David Cameron

The Scarecrow – Gordon Brown

The Lion – Nick Clegg

__________________________________________

First up, the hollow-chested one :

When a man’s a plummy Tory
There’s more there to the story
And Cameron plays the part
He shouldn’t be assumin’
That we think he’s at all human
He doesn’t have a heart
He’d be tough, he’d be “fair”
And slash the budget bare
For the poor and art
He’d ban Islamic veil
And be the darling of the Mail
He doesn’t have a heart
Picture Dave, a modern slave
To the toffs and richest men
Equality for you and me
Stuffed in the nearest bin
Just imagine the commotion
That he’d set into motion
And tear us all apart
I’d rather leave here in a coffin
Than be governed by that boffin
Long live bleeding hearts

______________________________________________

Next, the one whose head is stuffed with straw:

Brown had countless hours
To convince us of his power
But it just felt all too tame
While his frown was busy twitching
We were busy bitching
If he only had a brain

When we all have lost our jobs
And are fed up with the yobs
We’re keen to share the pain
What was Labour thinking
When they thought we had no inkling
If they only had a brain

Oh, I can tell you why
They’ll do poorly at the polls
I could list a hundred things
You’ve heard before
But it’s clear, I do fear
That we’ll rake Brown o’er the coals

It may not have been too late
But then came Bigotgate
In which he showed disdain
I think Brown’s a decent guy
But there’s been a lot of lies
Oh, he doesn’t have a brain

____________________________________________

And finally, the one who needs some courage:

Yeah, it’s sad, believe me Mister
When you’re not a known A-lister
And no one takes your coat
Oh, I could be the PM
With my mantra ‘carpe diem’
If I only had the votes

I’m afraid there’s no denyin’
The other two are lyin’
Which none of you deserve
I’m as brave as a lion
You won’t see me cryin’
Your interests I would serve

I’d be different, this I know
Because the other parties blow
On the public I would dote
I could be your anti-Tory
Give the Lib-Dems all the glory
If I only had the votes

_______________________________________________

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