Sunday, 26 June 2016

Moving On...

You've probably gathered now that I'm firmly in the Remain camp. Two days on and I'm still angry, confused and upset over the decision. But the majority have spoken.

If I put aside for the moment concerns about the economy, about jobs, about political stability and so on, what has really worried me over the past 24 hours is the way people are treating each other.

There have been some messages on Facebook which I've found genuinely upsetting. Members of the Leave camp telling others to grow up, to get over themselves, to stop being hysterical. Members of the Remain camp making personal and insulting comments about those that have voted to Leave.

These kind of comments show a basic lack of understanding and compassion for what other people are going through. The irony being that the people making these kind of comments are banging on about democracy in action and then want to deny people their freedom of speech.

And let's face it. If the vote had gone the other way we would be seeing exactly the same kind of uproar on social media, just the other way round. 

I've seen debates go on for weeks in the media about the winner of the Great British Bake Off, about dogs cheating on Britain's Got Talent, about controversial voting in X Factor and yet only 24 hours after a vote which could potentially change every aspect of our lives we're supposed to just accept and it move on!

The real cause of anxiety for many people is the fear of the unknown. No-one really knows what's going to happen and there will probably be winners and losers. But I do believe that this will impact people's lives.

What about the Brit living and working in continental Europe who is paid in sterling and suddenly has no idea how much money they have to live on?

What about the Europeans living in the UK, or the Brits living abroad who suddenly have no idea what their future holds?

What about those working for companies based in the UK who may see their job shifted to the continent?

Only 2 days on and we're already hearing that the House of Commons is in turmoil. 

One of the shadow cabinet is sacked and approximately half have threatened to leave. 

The Prime Minister has stepped down and somewhat churlishly refused to action Article 50 until his successor is in place. 

The Conservative party are fighting over who will be the next PM and are already backtracking and saying there is no need to rush to invoke Article 50 while the EU are telling us to get out already! 

The Lib Dems wade in by saying they will rejoin the EU if elected, but I think you'll find they don't want us after this! 

Some organisations and countries around the world must be rubbing their hands together in glee at the fact that we've pressed the 'Self-Destruct' button,

A petition demanding another referendum has reached over 2 million signatories and will therefore have to be debated in Parliament. Personally I think this is a backwards step. After all the pain the referendum has caused why the hell would we want to go through all that again? And where does it end? If the vote went the other way on the second attempt would the Leave campaign demand another referendum. 

We have to accept the decision and plan for the future but we also need to understand that some people will find this difficult. 

The irony is that at the moment we've chosen to break free we actually need to show unity. We need to stand together to make the best of what we have. And the first thing we can do is show compassion towards our friends who might feel differently to us. 

People are upset. Let them scream. Let them shout. Freedom of speech is one of the important pillars of our society. Let's not lose that as well. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Better Out Than In?

I promised myself I wouldn't touch the keyboard today but my fingers are twitching and better out than in...apparently.

The Kubler-Ross Change Curve, also known as the 5 stages of grief, is widely used to try and help people understand and manage their feelings whilst going through a period of change. I'm firmly entrenched in stage 1: shock and denial, and decided to get my initial thoughts down before I move into stage 2: anger and blame.

I went to bed about 1am last night. There was no way that I could stay up and still function today so I decided to call it a night. I slept fitfully, waking at 3am and 4am, checking my phone for updated results. When I woke at 6.45 the decision had been made. We're out.

I'm devastated. There are simply no other words for it. 

Cameron played the biggest gamble of his political career and he lost. But he didn't just lose for himself, he lost for all of us and now he's simply stepped aside to let others clear up the mess (some stage 2 feelings creeping in there!)

The past few weeks have seen some truly ugly scenes and I fear that this is only the beginning. A 52% win for the Leave side is by no means a landslide and there are millions of people who will feel lost and disenfranchised by the decision.

The school playground was abuzz with political chatter this morning, groups of parents standing round after drop off to discuss the outcome. The vast majority appear to be in shock. Fearful of the future.

Having said that I have friends and family who have voted Leave. None of them are the skin headed white supremacists that some people would have you believe, but normal everyday people living normal everyday lives. Whilst the fascists clearly exist they are certainly not in the majority. Leave voters are people like everyone else, concerned about jobs, about democracy, about corruption. They believe they have voted for a better future. I hope they're right.

I fully respect the democratic process and will eventually accept that the majority of the country want this, but at the moment I'm struggling to understand how anyone could want a leap into the great unknown given the instability of the global political climate. 

I'm English. I'm British. I'm European. I'm Human. 

But at the moment I'm struggling to feel proud to be any of them. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Love versus Hate

We live in a climate of fear.

Fear of boarding a plane, a train a bus. Fear of walking the streets in broad daylight or at night. Fear of acting or fear of not.

Some people are able to deal with these fears head on. Take them in their stride and go about their everyday lives. Others are not so fortunate. 

In the last few weeks at home and abroad we have been reminded almost daily about the horrors around us. 49 people shot dead in a nightclub, an MP brutally shot and stabbed in the street, a road rage incident leaving a man fighting for his life, a young woman killed in a car accident at a notoriously dangerous junction in my home town, another shot dead whilst meeting and greeting fans in the US. And these are only the ones that come to mind.

It's only natural to feel anxious about the world around us when confronted with stories such as these and after the horrors of last Thursday I felt that I had completely lost my faith in humanity. 

The introduction of 24 hour news, of rolling coverage, of social media may mean that we are more informed (although whether being constantly updated with speculation and opinion rather than fact is useful is debatable) but it has also made us more fearful of the world we live in. 

Horrors, tragedies, accidents, atrocities take place on a daily basis around the world and always have done, we are simply more aware of them now. 

I didn't watch the Referendum debate on TV last night, in my mind there is nothing more to be said. The campaigns on both sides have been fuelled by fear, hate and anger with both sides working hard to debunk the facts and statistics presented by the other. There has been nothing positive about this campaign and I have been reminded of a GCSE History project I did (many moons ago!) regarding Nazi propaganda.

In an interview with the Guardian, Brendan Cox said that his wife was killed because of her political views. He said that she had been worried about the direction of politics in the UK and abroad, "particularly about creating division and playing on people's worst fears rather than their best instincts."

Sadly, this seems to be the way that the media and politics work today. Scaring people into submission, into making decisions based on fear and lies. 

Today would have been Jo Cox's birthday and I have decided that today I will not be driven by fear but by love and gratitude. I am grateful for my husband and my boys, for my family spread around the UK and abroad and for my friends who are always there with a shoulder and a cup of coffee. I'm grateful that tomorrow I have the power to go to my local church and put a cross in a box and I'm grateful that I live in a society where I can put my thoughts down on paper and send them out into the world.

Fear and hate may be powerful but they will not rule my life. What will you be grateful for today?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

A personal take on the horrific events of today.

I was sitting on the side of the swimming pool today waving at the 3 year old splashing about during his lesson, browsing Facebook on my phone when I read the status, "Been a shooting in Birstall. Lock your doors."

A quick scan confirmed that the unthinkable had happened. A woman had been shot in the centre of Birstall.

My mum, sister and members of my extended family live and work in Birstall. A small market town in West Yorkshire it seemed unbelievable that anything like this could possibly happen there.

I called my mum who confirmed that it had happened in the last hour, she'd brought the kids inside and locked the doors. As far as everyone knew the gunman was still on the loose and people were rightly terrified.

The rumour mill was soon in full swing. She had been stabbed as well as shot. There was more than one gunman. They were still on the loose. It was a targeted attack. She'd intervened in an altercation. 

What was clear was that no-one really knew what had happened.

At home I watched the rolling news coverage in disbelief. The market square I've driven up and down countless times swarming with armed police and journalists. The bustle of market day replaced by something much more sinister.

It's at times like this I should step away from social media. There's nothing that Facebook and Twitter could add to the situation that I need or want to know. But I didn't.

I soon found myself in a bit of a Facebook spat about the claim that the shooter had shouted "Britain First" before shooting. To my mind there was no evidence to support this and turning the incident into a racist/religious/xenophobic attack without proper facts simply feeds hatred and ignorance. Some people seemed to think I was defending the shooter. That I wouldn't feel this way if the shooter had been Muslim. This was an argument I was never going to win and so I stepped away from the conversation. 

In the last hour I've read that the eye-witness was misquoted, but this was immediately tweeted and reported (or copied and pasted) by other media outlets and the damage was done. The BBC are now running the story that the shooter may have shouted 'Put Britain First'.

We might not know whether the shooter shouted 'Put Britain first' or 'Britain First' but the media, social media and members of the public were very quick to draw their own conclusions based on a potentially incorrect quote from one eye-witness. 

The way the media, or at least some media outlets, operate in this country disgusts me. No longer content with reporting the news they seem intent on creating or manipulating it for their own gain. The need to create the most inflammatory click-bait headlines seems to over-ride any form of decency or common sense. 

What better news story than to link an attack on an MP to the upcoming referendum? Don't even get me started on the bile that spewed forth from the Twitter account of Nick Griffin today. 

The motives of the shooter are as of yet unknown but there are those who feel the need to slap a label on it. Was it terrorism? Was it extremism? Was it politics in action?

No. It was murder. 

Jo Cox was a wife, a mother, a proud Yorkshire lass, and she was ripped from her family through the actions of one man. Her husband released an incredible statement this evening. "She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous." 

From one proud Yorkshire lass to another, rest in peace Jo. 

Monday, 13 June 2016

Got the Holiday Bug?

I guess we've all been there...

We're in the middle of an amazing holiday with extended family at The Old Mill in Norfolk (check out their 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor). The sun is shining, the pool is heated, the Prosecco is flowing and the BBQ has been fired up, when all of a sudden I start to feel decidedly dodgy. Assuming I'd had a little too much sun (in England?! During half term?!) I went for a lie down. Later that evening I spent a considerable amount of time attached to the loo whilst simultaneously vomiting into a Buzz Lightyear potty. A feat I am still incredibly proud of.

Turns out it wasn't sun, anxiety or too much Prosecco but a bug which was slowly working its way through the Crosby clan. Not a great way to end a holiday but one must keep calm and carry on. 

Thankfully the effects were short-lived and I awoke feeling wiped out but capable of making the 150 mile journey back to Grandma's house. 

Then disaster struck!  The 3 year old had thrown up. 

Granny sprung into action like a cleaning ninja! Stripping the 3 year old, disinfecting the floor, rinsing the clothes. I could only step back and marvel whilst trying to hold onto the now severely depleted contents of my stomach. 

The 3 year old took it all in his stride and carried on as if nothing had happened. Making the most of those last few moments with his cousins. 

Crisis over...Or not.

Half an hour into the journey I was roused from an attempted nap by strange sounds coming from the back seat. The 3 year old had thrown up. And was continuing to throw up. All over himself, the car seat, the portable DVD player and the BRAND NEW CAR! The brand new, shiny, sparkling, company car which had been on order for months and was delivered the day before we were due to go on holiday.

Hubby tested out the new brakes and pulled into the nearest available spot. A spot which just happened to be the only driveway for miles around and, as per the law of sod, approximately 30 seconds later after jumping out of the car to attempt the clean up the owners of said driveway arrived home. After causing a minor traffic jam the owners gave up and parked on the grass verge. I mouthed a rather pathetic 'sorry' and carried on with the task at hand.

Obviously, we had no idea where anything was having just piled the bags into the bag for the journey home. The poor 3 year old ended up half naked on the side of the road, standing on his Batman coat in bare feet. 

Ten minutes later, having done the best we could with the roll of toilet paper we found randomly stuffed into a bag, we were on our way. Not wanting to spread the bug to the other half of the family the journey to Grandma's was abandoned and we headed home.

The journey took 7 hours. The same amount of time it had taken Grandma to fly from New York to Manchester that morning. During those 7 hours we experienced monsoon like conditions as we crossed the Pennines, two more vomiting sessions from the 3 year old (all skilfully caught in the now indispensable Buzz Lightyear potty) and a queue of traffic on the Woodhead Pass to rival anything the M25 can throw at you.

But finally we were home. Travel weary we emptied the car and slumped onto the sofa. An hour or so passed when hubby came downstairs and put his arms around me. "Now I don't want you to get upset...but the cat's been sick. Behind the bedroom door."