Last night I was at a march through the centre of Manchester where we were shouting "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!" Of course I know that this is an aspiration and not a description, yet, but I'm dismayed to see how quickly we are proven wrong.
Unless we can stop it, there will be a chartered flight tonight from an airport the people of Manchester own, deporting refugees who in some cases never even had their claims processed and thus are being deported unlawfully.
You can find more information about it here: http://unitycentreglasgow.org/mass-
Please use Manchester City Council's shareholding in Manchester Airports Group, who own Stansted, to prevent this flight, and any others as I'm sure the next ones are already being planned..
I'm an immigrant to the UK and I know how horrible our immigration and asylum system is. I know it's not keeping us safe, it's keeping us ignorant of what refugees and asylum seekers are actually like. Deportation ruins and even ends lives, and I don't want it to happen.
I had a chance to make a sign, modeled on a piece of art my friend Maria shared from MoonStoneClare:
Here's my version:
Here's me standing with a lot of my friends who were there (including a new friend I made because the aforementioned Maria who's in Swansea mentioned both of us as having been at the Manchester demo. She's an immigrant and she knows someone in Edinburgh who is from Wisconsin who's found out ways to help out there from over here so I look forward to picking her brains about that!).
And since I was holding my sign almost all the time ("You must have strong arms like a rower's!" Birgitta said at one point; I don't really but I do feel totally vindicated in not being able to be at yoga tonight!), I didn't take many pictures but I couldn't resist this sign. Birgitta told me people were taking selfies with him in a "now here's more than one..." kind of way but I thought a picture of just him was easier.
I'm really glad there were Lib Dems there, marching as Lib Dems. We did have someone yell something about tuition fees and call us pricks, but honestly at this point that seems so fucking quaint. When a Nazi's writing Trump's executive orders, I wish I had nothing better to care about than one mismanaged decision the Lib Dems had five years ago. Meanwhile we have 82,000 members, 3786 ("as of an hour or so ago..." says Andrew who found that figure for me, clearly expecting it to have nudged up another one or two since then!) in the last three months, and we're trying to save the country from Brexit which is more than you can say for the rest of the parties with more than 9 MPs (in England anyway).
Hywel made the point at Winter Strategy Conference that we should be out there doing these things as Lib Dems (at least some of the time; almost every Lib Dem I know has a lot of hats to wear: some of us were draped in bi flags today) and I find myself definitely agreeing. It feels so good to be part of a party that's got my back here as I'm watching my country fall apart from a distance and mostly feeling pretty helpless about it.
As a Senator and a member of the Judiciary Committee, I had the opportunity to question Senator Sessions during his confirmation hearing. That's a role I take very seriously. During Senator Sessions' hearing, I pressed him on his misrepresentation of his record on civil rights, as well as on the issue of voter suppression, and I shared a story about the impact of Trump's divisive rhetoric on Minnesota's immigrant and refugee communities. I was not satisfied with the answers he gave to me and a number of my colleagues' questions, and after careful consideration of Senator Sessions' record, I do not think he is up to the task of being an attorney general for all Americans. I cannot vote for an attorney general nominee who is not fully committed to equal justice for all, including the LGBT community, minorities, immigrants, and women. When his nomination comes up for a vote in the Senate, I will vote no.Shame he voted for some of the others though.
And my other senator has voted for all of them so far.
It's just another way for Facebook to gather saleable data on you, but it's successful enough that I find it appealing enough to use sometimes. As I did the other day when I started watch my birthday present from miss_s_b, a box set of the Sherlock Holmes ITV series from the 80s (well, mostly...it looks 80s to me anyway).
To distinguish this from all the other Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows I might have wanted to say I was watching, I saw that Facebook called it Sherlock Holmes With Jeremy Brett, not quite its official name but how a lot of people refer to it, perhaps because all these shows and movies seem to end up being called "Sherlock Holmes" and hopefully partly because Jeremy Brett is just so great. (I call him my favorite TV Sherlock Holmes because that means I don't have to decide whether I like him or Clive Merrison better.)
So such Facebook posts end up being structured: "[person] is [reading/watching/eating/doing] [book/movie/food/whatever]. Mine said "Holly is watching Sherlock Holmes With Jeremy Brett."
The first comment underneath says "I like the way this status makes it look as though you and Jeremy are cuddled up on the sofa together, dissecting the plot.
An, of course, irresistible idea. I declared that this was exactly what I would imagine happening.
And, true enough, tonight I am doing the unusual thing of watching stuff in bed, just because I'm too cold to be anywhere else (this afternoon I spent, for reasons I'm too tired to go into, an hour outside without my coat and then three hours in a flat with the door open...). I'm under all the duvets. And if Jeremy wants to cuddle up and dissect the plot again, I'll warm up quicker!
- Bring a bottle of water next time. You meant to do that last week, and forgot until you got there and saw someone with one this week. You get more thirsty than you think.
- Don't wear the green leggings again. They're in danger of falling down.
- You really like yoga even though you worry it's taking an approach to life with a long, complex history and making it into appropriative exercise for white people.
- It is okay that you're the only person in the class who can't do a shoulder stand. It's okay that you could do one last week and not this week. You have been reassured that the version you can do (basically, a bridge up against a wall) is just as good. It would help if you believed this but it's something that you know is true and that this is what you'd say to anyone else in your (ha) position.
We got settled into seats right in the front row, folding chairs in tightly-packed rows. The woman next to me started chatting; she was friendly and enthusiastic about her boyfriend's tastes in music, totally new to folk. Hadn't heard of Martin Carthy before. I almost envied her the revelation ahead of her, but had to hope she'd see it that way: as Andrew and I told each other on the walk to the bus stop, there must be people who don't like Martin Carthy, but we can't understand how.
I was just playing The Imagined Village songs to Stuart yesterday; he'd done me the favor of giving me a good excuse to get out of the house and away from social media on such a dark day for my country and the world and I repaid the favor, inadvertantly, by introducing him to this music. Looking through my Recently Played, I thought this would be most to his liking and it turned out he hadn't heard of them and was delighted.
So the version of "John Barleycorn" we got as the second or third song tonight was familiar to me from one of the Imagined Village records...but so much more captivating in person of course. I'm someone who's lacked the attention span to read a paragraph lately, whose biggest problem with running 5k is I get bored and want to see if I've got any new things to look at on the internet about one hundred times while I'm running. But here I was tonight, listening to all umpty-million verses of "Sir Patrick Spens" and all that time I am not doing anything else. I'm not thinking of anything else, I don't want to be anywhere else.
There's something compelling to me about folk songs, old songs: you can almost feel the weight of the years on them, the different people who've sung them in different circumstances. Carthy introduced "Sir Patrick Spens" by saying that if this were a real event it would've happened in 1282, and my mind got a bit dizzy trying to imagine such a year, much less that anything could tie such a time to us sitting now in our folding chairs. Of course the song itself is nothing like that old (Wikipedia tells me a version was published first in 1765), and of course many older artifacts of our culture persist, not least the language we speak! But still I am a little in awe of how casually this man carries around in his head versions of things that have been in so many other people's heads, and ears, and voices.
My attention span didn't last the whole evening (and this was an old-person's gig for old people; it had a curfew of 9:45, so it wasn't a long evening!), but it did spike up again when I heard another Imagined Village favorite, "My Son John."
Fred Hamer collected this song in Bedfordshire from the singing of David Parrott. A father and his disabled son are before a naval surgeon who is trying to cheat him of his disablement pension by claiming that he was careless to stand in the way of the cannon ball which shot his legs off.It fits right in with Atos and the DWP today, doesn't it, to blame a man for getting his legs shot off so that they don't have to give him any money.
I always come away from folk gigs wishing I listened to more folk music. Andrew likes it fine (of course he's the one who's introduced me to Martin Carthy and all the British folk, just as the nice lady next to me (Debbie, she was called) is being introduced to it by her boyfriend tonight) but it's not as well represented in his music collection as other things, and it's usually his music that's playing. He's always careful to tell me I can play whatever I want, and of course I know I can, but if I'm not bothered about whether there's music playing and he is, we mostly hear his music.
But, the Unthanks are playing in March. I really like them. I think I'd like to go see them.
Signed up to Swing Left, which seems to embrace the strategic thinking necessary for Democrats to win a lot more seats in the House in 2018. In the process I found out that mine is one of these "swing districts," which to my chagrin I didnt know. (I do have a Democrat rep, but only by 2,548 votes.) I don't know how much I can do from so far away, but one of the strengths of this is that it allows for geographically distant help...even if it's not usually going to be as distant as mine, the structure shouldn't require too much modification from me.
Went on the Women's March Manchester this afternoon. SurvivorKatie didn't want to go on her own so asked if I'd join her. I was conflicted about it right up until I was happy I'd gone.
Not only could I not consider that kind of purchase myself right now, I couldn't face the pre-sale process that was happening today (or, frankly, the regular selling process that happens in a couple of weeks) so I didn't expect to see Hamilton until, well, the touring production gets here?
And now I get to go with other excited people, for someone's birthday (when this is better than anything I've gotten to do for any of my own birthdays!), and it's going to be awesome.
Its also going to be next year, so I have a long time to wind Andrew up about how excited I am. He finds Hamilton viscerally unpleasant to listen to, so after years of me having to listen to his music in the excited lead-up to him going to a gig, the boring details of the gig when he comes back from it, and probably some more of the music then for good measure, I may finally have my revenge.
Meanwhile, MPs from both major parties had the switch flipped in their heads that makes them link everything to immigration, causing their jaws to mechanically flap open and say: “Well, Nigel Farage is basically right about everything but you should still vote for us because $ERROR (Reason not found, please restart your political process).”
It's pretty well understood in my circles, which involve a lot of disabled people and a lot of politics people, that disabled people get a lot of shit from the DWP.
Very few people realize how strikingly similar am experience immigrants can have in dealing with the Home Office.
There really are a lot of parallels. Look at this Guardian article I read today:
It starts right in the subhead.
the Home Office is driven not by reason but by keeping numbers down.And it just goes on.
Not only is the Home Office understaffed and under-resourced as the result of public sector cuts, it is also under pressure to deliver whatever results the government needs to stand any chance of meeting its immigration targetsHaving tried and mostly failed to get blood out of the stone that is the DWP, I don't relish dealing with another system that is similar in any way (and I heartily wish I'd been able to do this while Andrew still had a steady and quite healthy income, because I'm terrified of how expensive this could be... I know I Kickstarted the money for the application fee but, as this article alludes, anything that doesn't go perfectly smoothly will cost a lot more).
The guiding Home Office principle seems to be reject first, ask questions later, and in the meantime hope the applicant does not have the connections or resources to appeal. Immigration lawyers have told me that officials were at one point being incentivised, on the basis of how many applications they rejected, with Marks & Spencer vouchers.
the Home Office in particular, and the immigration system in general, has long made decisions not on the basis of merit or reason, but as a way of filtering out as many applicants as possible – either via exhaustion of resources or impossibly high barriers.
If the waiting or the rejections or the appeals don’t exhaust the anxious applicant, the costs involved in protecting themselves from the relentless machine surely will.
Already there are reports of EU citizens being questioned about their right to use the NHS, and concerns about poor and elderly people who may struggle to fortify themselves against whatever ultimate decision will be made about their status.
these deficiencies yield great consequences for ordinary people who suffer when a bureaucracy turns brutal. It has also revealed the extent to which immigration law is damaged by populist thinking and underfunding.
But now that Christmas is out of the way and I have a nice long stretch ahead of me where I don't expect to need my passport, it's time to put the final touches on my citizenship application and send it off.
And then the weekend came and went, it was New Year's so I was sort of relieved and we hadn't been gone a whole week yet so it didn't seem like a big deal.
Then last weekeend arrived. I was a lot less busy. And I'd actually...kind of missed my parents. I feel like this isn't a thing I usually get to do. Usually having to talk every Sunday regardless of whether I feel like I have anything to say, I can get resentful. It feels oppressive. It's really a chore. I appreciate the regularity of talking around the same time every week, I know my parents really like that, but I am the ungrateful, ungraceful child.
Sunday wore on and I hadn't heard from them. Eventually I sent them an e-mail asking if they were around to talk, which I don't know has ever happened before? I mean, we don't talk every Sunday and it's become less rigid since Dad retired -- it used to be the only day in the week he was guaranteed not to be working, and now they're as likely as I am not to be around on Sundays, as they're settling into their life of day trips and season tickets to the local am-dram and whatnot -- but usually if they're not going to be around Mom will have already e-mailed me to let me know. She's really good about this stuff, much better than I am.
But this time I went to bed not having heard back, which left me feeling a little unsettled. Not upset or worried or anything, but it was odd.
I got an e-mail from Mom the next day saying sorry and was I around then. I wasn't, I was trying out a yoga class (it was my first time trying yoga and I ended up really liking it). She was busy yesterday having a meeting about the kitcheen renovation they're having done.
So finally we caught up today. She couldn't get the video working on the iPad, which is a ritual that happens probably 50% of the time and she'll probably never learn to hold it in such a way that I'm not looking up her nose. She interrupted my dad lifting weights to get him to talk to me too. They told me my grandma's sight in her right eye is getting better, enough to read her mail and read the newspaper a little it, which seems to have had a pretty awesome effect on her quality of life.
Mom also told me they'd been having prolems with their e-mail: somehow she thinks their e-mail address has been changed to one that's about bikers?...or something... and from her description I have no idea what kind of problem they've managed to make for themselves this time: she says she has to "go out into the e-mail and delete that and put our e-mail address in," and then when she comes back to send another e-mail that one's back so she has to do it again. So she thinks their e-mail has been hacked, but luckily she knows little enough about hacking that she isn't worried abbout this. And their e-mails have looked perfectly normal by the time they've arrived with me. How do parents manage to do these things?
It was just nice to see them again, nice to see my mom's very My-Mom kind of top she was wearing and the bits of the house I could see as she walkd with the iPad down to see my dad. Nice to catch up on all this normal stuff. Nice to miss them.
It's not hard work -- I just folded and (mostly) put away a load of laundry with about as much difficulty -- except that it's hard emotional labor.
New stuff. And we don't need more stuff.
There's nowhere to put what we already had.
I need a better system.
I need fewer t-shirts.
I need Andrew to tell me which clothes he doesn't wear any more.
It's hard to get rid of stuff my parents got me, though. There is so little of them in my life as it is.
But... Some of what they've given me is control-top tights and I'm never gonna wear those; I've got tights that actually fit and aren't trying to make me into a different person!
I'd sort of like to be a different person in other ways, though. I'm angry so much of the time lately, which is so weird for me so it's disconcerting too.
I'm connumicating badly, to the extent it might've cost me one of my volunteering roles -- something that's still too stressful to think about enough to write it, but suffice it to say it's the one I'll miss least.
It'd be a relief not to be doing it except I don't know what's gonna happen with that thing now and I do really want it to happen, and because I think I was unfairly maligned which hurts my pride but honestly pride is pretty far down on the list of things I get to worry about.
This is a big deal because I've been meaning to since my friend Stuart joined the band a while ago. He's the drummer, and the only man of the eight or so of them in the band. It is a thing that's brought him much happiness and sense of achievement at a time in his life when there are not enough things to do that, so for that alone I'd be grateful but it turns out they're a great band too.
It was the first time I'd been to A Gig By A Band That My Friend Is In for quite a while, and it was possibly the best one yet. All three bands were from the label Poppycock is on, which Stuart told me has rules like "If you sound like Oasis, Coldplay or [something else he forgot but you can probably get the idea], don't bother with us." Andrew and I had both bought tickets but he wasn't feeling up to going which is a shame because I think he'd have really appreciated this. He used to be an a band, and thus listen to other bands, at a time when everybody did want to sound like Oasis, or the Fall, or whatever. Except him. He still wants to be in bands that don't have guitars in them and wishes for things like a bass harmonica or a harpsichord.
Poppycock have guitars, a fairly standard line-up really -- though everyone but the rhythm section and one singer played more than one thing and there was a flute put to good use in some of the songs -- but they still stand out. Just having that many women on stage gave me a weird feeling I am starting to have more often, like when I saw Ghostbusters last year: there's something crazy about seeing more than one woman in any group, and her not being "the girl one." And they are great at it, and Una writes good songs, and it was so good to see Stuart play guitar again.
I call him a friend but he's not just that; he's an ex too, singular in several ways because he's the only one I really talk to and also the only one I really miss. It was bittersweet to watch him play again, reminded me of going to see his old band (and there I really was there just because he was in it! -- they were all right but not really my cup of tea) and feeling like I might burst with pride and happiness at getting to know and be involved with such a person, and just having the joy of watching someone do something they're really good at.
Extra-surprisingly for going-to-see-your-mate's-band, the other two on the bill were pretty good too! First was Four Candles, whose set I arrived halfway through and the second half I confess I mostly spent catching up with Stuart and scarletts_web because it was the first time I'd seen her in four years, how did that happen!?
It's extra a-thing-that-should-not-have-happened because she's a huge fan of Poppycock and travels from the other side of Warrington to see them play in Manchester all the time and this was the first gig I'd managed to get to and that only because it's literally a five-minute walk from my house.
Anyway, Stuart said of the first band "brilliantly venomous and heartfelt lyrics combined with fantastically inventive playing from guitar, bass and drums." The singer had been in a band called The Hamsters before and people seemed to know and like him.
And the second band, Patchwork Rattlebag (good name but oh my god everybody I talked to kept forgetting it, it's just lots of interchangeable nouns!) I probably liked more than most; scarletts_web pronounced them a bit fey but I love that kind of chilled out music, it's what I play whenever Andrew's not around. So that wouldn't have been his favorite, but he'd have had to agree the singer had an incredible voice, strong and laden with emotion over the electronica background, I was a bit disappointed none of the merch at the little stall was their music (though I was reassured it's on the way) or else I'd have bought some. Which is really much more an Andrew thing to do than a me thing to do; I think the last time I bought a CD at a gig was at the IPO (International Pop Overthrow, a fun thing in Liverpool) maaany years ago and mostly that was because the guy made me laugh by asking if anyone had heard of Des Moines and then didn't believe me when I said I'd been there.
And then Poppycock, but not before some in-between, setting-up music which I thought I recognized as one of my favorite albums from last year -- it's a few years old but I didn't hear it until last year -- by The Imagined Village. As it was playing I was chatting to someone who said "oh, this is Poppycock...they've started?" I chuckled and said no, this was Eliza Carthy singing, but that as far as I was concerned if they could be mistaken for sounding like this I'd be pleased.
And I was!
Afterward I helped a little (hoping I wasn't more of a hindrance) get the gear packed up and out to the car, stuck around for a drink (someone I remember from the last time I was at this place, getting drunk on Han's birthday, bought me a pint and we talked about 80s Bob Dylan; old men with beards and rollies are so easy for me to get along with) and I'd meant to stick around and say hi to Stuart again but there was Important Band Meeting going on so I just went home. All gigs should be so fun and so easy to get to.
Went swimming with haggis and Katie today, first time I've been able to join them in more than a week of trying to go together. haggis and I are going to try out the yoga class tomorrow evening, whiich I'm intrigued by. I've never done yoga.
Then Tea Hive, then haggis got me my Christmas present, which was to drive me to B&Q and buy me a ladder because it'd be impossible for me to get one home on the bus.
This is unreasonabbly exciting. A lot of stuff at B&Q was exciting: well-designed kitchens! Nice light fixtures! I had a moment of oh god I'm so old and boring..., etc., but part of me didn't even feel it as I was thinking it. Part of me was already thinking well, actually... DIY stores were always boring as hell when I was a kid but that doesn't mean being an adult is boring.
I was bored when I was a kid because I didn't have any say in the choices being made, couldn't pick a new light fittng or be allowed up a ladder so of course I was bored. Now I can do what I want (well exept I have no money but still), and that's never boring. In a similar way, grocery shopping, which I considered its own circle of hell as a kid, got a lot more fun when I went to college and could buy whatever I wanted (until my money ran out).
It might be exhausting (there's a lot of decision-fatigue in my life!), but not boring.
I wouldn't want to be a kid again. I feel enough like one when I'm back at my parents, and that's bbad enough even knowing now what I didn't know then (like that the internet exists, and I can escape in a week!).
If I was a normal person I would probably have thought this was a nice, relaxing day. But since I'm me and don't know how to relax I've only done this because I'm too stressed and anxious (cf yesterday, it kinda carried on into this morning) to do anything else.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in Anglo-Saxon meter, by Philip Craig Chapman-Bell. Via Etymonline on Facebook, who says “An Internet classic; but I can no longer find it where I first found it (Cathy Ball’s Old English reference pages).”I was delighted when I first read this that it really is following Old-English rules of poetry, which didn't expect rhymes like modern English poetry but rather Anglo-Saxon meter, which has alliteration rather than rhyme and uses a lot of compound nouns (known as kennings).
Incipit gestis Rudolphi rangifer tarandus
Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor –Rendered literally into modern English:
Næfde þæt nieten unsciende næsðyrlas!
Glitenode and gladode godlice nosgrisele.
Ða hofberendas mid huscwordum hine gehefigodon;
Nolden þa geneatas Hrodulf næftig
To gomene hraniscum geador ætsomne.
Þa in Cristesmæsseæfne stormigum clommum,
Halga Claus þæt gemunde to him maðelode:
“Neahfreond nihteage nosubeorhtende!
Min hroden hrædwæn gelæd ðu, Hrodulf!”
Ða gelufodon hira laddeor þa lyftflogan –
Wæs glædnes and gliwdream; hornede sum gegieddode
“Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor,
Brad springð þin blæd: breme eart þu!”
Here begins the deeds of Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer
Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer –
That beast didn’t have unshiny nostrils!
The goodly nose-cartilage glittered and glowed.
The hoof-bearers taunted him with proud words;
The comrades wouldn’t allow wretched Hrodulf
To join the reindeer games.
Then, on Christmas Eve bound in storms
Santa Claus remembered that, spoke formally to him:
“Dear night-sighted friend, nose-bright one!
You, Hrodulf, shall lead my adorned rapid-wagon!”
Then the sky-flyers praised their lead-deer –
There was gladness and music; one of the horned ones sang
“Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer,
Your fame spreads broadly, you are renowned!”
My (sadly never finished, thanks nervous breakdown!) senior-seminar in college was about Old English riddles, which meant I had to read and write so much about kennings, clever/poetic ways of describing things (like "hoof-bearers" or "sky-flyers" in this). Often, it seems these clever constructions were not intended as solely poetic, artistic turns of phrase but created in order to keep to the rules about alliteration. Even if you don't know how the Old English is supposed to sound, you can probably see the alliteration in most of the lines about good old Hrudolf here.
From the same website, All Things Linguistic, where I learned about Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor, I also recently discovered the existence of the History of English podcast which goes into all this stuff in so much detail it's about thirty episodes before you get to anything recognizably English at all. I'm used to the history of English beginning after the Romans left Britain, and this is so much better, going all the way back to Proto-Indo-European and covering thousands of years of linguistic development as it affects English. It might be too detailed for a lots of people but I'm absolutely loving it.
...and still feel like I've done nothing and am way behind already and need to get started.
This is the problem I have with all this New Year motivation and ambition...doing what I do never feels like enough.
Though really this problem has been going on since I got back from my parents', just because I think I felt so frustrated there and so badly missing all the things I couldn't do, from going to the gym to working on my book, that now in the evenings when the day has calmed down I just feel exhausted and overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything but waiting for it to be bedtime.
I think I'm finally caught up on sleep, which I didn't need so much for feeling-tired purposes as my-brain-needing-to-sort-things-out purposes. I don't feel like that's happened but at least I was able to do all the chores and stuff today.
And I'd have gone to the gym if they'd been open past four; I've been hampered by their reduced hours since I got back and am looking forward to it getting back to normal tomorrow. And to stores being open normally again tomorrow -- we need food, too.
Maybe I'll get back to normal tomorrow too. My normal isn't so great that I'm really looking forward to getting back to it, but it's better than this.