Living on the grim Edge

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The UK is the most unequal country in the developed world according to the latest report from Oxfam.

In response to the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge Edge

Brexit Hangover

Economic Times India
Economic Times, India

Well that’s it!  We’re coming out of the European Union. It was a close call.

No jubilations – even for Exiteers: just an exhausting hangover and the reality of Divorce. We’ll have a short period of chaos and name-blaming. We’ll be on our guard against anyone who may take advantage while we’re down. We’ve a tough time ahead but we will survive!  The Dunkirk spirit – Keep Calm and Carry On.

Numb – looking at the headlines from around the world.

Brexit Spain

Sydney Morning Herald

 

Europe – Brundecided

Should we remain in the EU?  Should we leave Eurovision?  Will we be kicked out of the Euros?

Daily Mail Euros Wallchart
Daily Mail Euros Wallchart

Europe is dominating the British media at the moment. If it is not The Euros (European football) its debate about a crucial vote on 23rd of June, as to whether Britain should exit the European Union (EU) branded as Brexit, or whether to remain (Bremain).

brexit-jigsaw-750x320I am a person who usually decides on things quickly, but this vote has me bench-crossing frequently. The Media predicts that we are split 50-50 on this decision. And there are advocates for and against, across the political spectrum.

I lived in other European countries for 18 years of my life and took full interest in the politics of the country I was in and voted where I could. I have voted for my MEP regularly from the beginning even when the majority of British never bothered.

The main problem, as I see it, is that Britain has never taken the EU seriously, putting it on par with Eurovision. Britain has taken part in Eurovision since the late 50s. It later became obvious that the winners were not those with the greatest talent, but those with the most political clout, voted for by neighbouring partners.

While most countries send their best performers to Eurovision, Britain, after feeling let down, started sending unknown singers or our once-good, but now has-beens. Any talented British act would lose kudos if they took part: you wouldn’t catch The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Adele… going anywhere near.

Similarly with the EU, and to our great expense, we have left it to fringe MEPs (Members of European Parliament) to make decisions for us. Many did not even bother to turn up in the beginning. Embarrassingly anti-EU MEPs such as Nigel Farage (enigmatic speaker and far-right-winger) got voted in and used luxury Cunard cruise-liners (he brush passed me to board so I know) to travel to Brussels meetings and verbally insult ‘Beaurocrats’.

EU flags

As the EU has grown, encompassing many more countries that we didn’t sign up for – (Just like Eurovision – since when has Australia been in Europe?) more economic demands have been made of Britain. With increasing numbers of EU immigrants arriving daily on our small island, especially in the South East and Europe’s borders straining with refugees and economic migrants, plus suicide-bombers blasting-off worldwide – now everyone is sitting up and is being forced to make decisions.

I have seen, in person, how the division between the rich and poor is growing wider throughout Europe. Those heading the top of the EU political committees, being wealthy bankers, do not need to be elected. So if you don’t like what they are doing you cannot vote them out. This is my main worry with the EU. (Unfairly, even in Eurovision those countries who put up the most money automatically get to the finals, although this doesn’t automatically make them winners).

I believe in Democracy and do not want to become some sort of United Colors of Benetton that could easily be taken over in the near future by gangsters in a type of Mafia (I share exit thoughts here with left-winger, the late Tony Benn).

Since WW2, Churchill (a Conservative that I agree with here) felt that there should be a United Europe, especially with regard to defence and security. But is this EU working towards this aspect?

In India everything stops for tea.
In India everything stops for tea.

If we had taken the EU seriously at the beginning, it might today, have been something that we feel proud of.

As it stands now, I feel that we share more similarities with Commonwealth countries like Canada than we do with, say, Italy.  Commonwealth countries who we have historically traded with from India to Australia, not only share our similar views on democracy but share English as their common language. The World Wide Web (thanks Tim Berners Lee) has made it easier to communicate and the world is, metaphorically, shrinking.

On the other hand, most of the EU’s ‘green’ ruling that British politicians have dismissed as ‘beauracracy’ I am supportive of.  Because of these rules, Britain is leading the development of a communal ‘Big Science’ and we are producing alternative energy sources, our carbon omissions are down, our seas are cleaner, we recycle, we have more freedom, we are striving for equality of people and an end to repression of peoples because of their race, religion or sexuality.

Conchita Wurst - winner for Austria of Eurovision 2015
Conchita Wurst – winner for Austria of Eurovision 2015

I also loved the fact that Conchita Wurst won last year’s Eurovision for Austria and quite enjoyed Croatia’s song this year. If you don’t regard any of those wins as political then think again!

My dilemma now is: Is it better to REMAIN and hope that Britain will work within to strive for change, or is it too late?  Versus:  If Britain decides to LEAVE to keep our identity, will we come out of the frying pan and into the fire? What extreme unsaid right-wing policies might be implemented if we do?

So are there any others out there still undecided?

I welcome any comments or debate – but please don’t be rude!

Camden Lock: When is Dinnertime?

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P1110321P1110313P1110314Camden Lock’s ‘Global Kitchen’ in London is a great place to go for dinner* or lunch. The market stalls have a plethora or fresh dishes cooked by various nationalities that go to make up London (observed by strict food health regulations). Choose your fare and eat at communal tables under the canopy or by the river. Open 7 days from 10am to 6pm. www.camdenlockmarket.com

 

*When is dinnertime in Britain?  This it depends on which Class you are from.

The upper-classes, including those at private boarding schools have dinner around 8pm and dress up (you’ve seen Downton Abbey?) The day’s feasting order is:  breakfast – morning coffee – lunch – afternoon tea (or tiffin for those returned from the Continent) – dinner.

But for the working classes: including state school children, dinnertime falls somewhere between 12 noon and 2pm. These hours were settled during the Industrial Revolution in the Victorian era. Factory workers would go home for an hour’s dinnertime when the bell rang and be re-fuelled on a big meal for manual labour, served up by a mother or daughter who remained at home slaving over a hot stove. Order: Breakfast – tea break (at work) – dinner – tea (high tea which includes food) – (+ supper for those in heavy manual trades). There were usually stalls selling beer at the end of a shift at the factory gates.

Theatre performers and crew traditionally have their dinnertime in the middle of the day also, so that they fully charged for rushing about the stage in the evening.

For the last few decades however, industries and schools have tried to standardise the hour’s break as ‘lunchtime’. However this is still confusing when for many children of working parents, this may still be their main meal of the day.

This post is part of the WordPress Photo Challenge: Dinnertime. To see others or take part yourself visit: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/dinnertime

Future: Museum Photos

I imagined that I was a person from the future, taking photos in a museum about the history of this decade (2010-2020 The Shrinking Age). Here are 12 photos I might have taken of relics in cabinets.

2010-2020 The World Shrinking Age.
2010-2020 The Shrinking Age. Attempts to leave earth to live on other planets.
Vacuum packed travel food known as 'Space Food'
Vacuum-packed travel food known as ‘Space Food’ with ‘bar codes’
Glass bottles of wine with corks and labels from around the World
Glass bottles of wine with corks and labels from countries around Earth
chef's utensils
A chef’s utensils circa 2015
This decade saw dawning of 3D printing
This decade saw the dawning of 3D printing
British police uniform - 'rapid response'
British police uniform – ‘rapid response’
homeless deterrent spikes as the numbers living on the streets increase
Homeless deterrent spikes as the numbers living on streets in cities increased
Robotic arm
Robotic arm for warehouse workers employed by ‘online shopping’ sites on Earth. Companies later set up off-world finance accounts to avoid paying taxes and minimum wages.
ATMs
ATMs for collecting bank notes that were exchanged for goods. These were used from the 1980s until near the end of this decade
Same sex marriages - bridal fashion
Same sex marriages – bridal fashion mixed traditional with new
handbags
Handbags were only carried by women, as a fashion statement. It was their most expensive status symbol.
garden sheds/pods originally offered a private place to potter but became living spaces due to home shortages.
Garden sheds/pods originally offered a private place to “potter about in the garden”, but became living spaces when homes were in short supply.  The ‘Green-space Uprising” brought about vast changes in architecture following this.

This project is in response the WordPress Photo ChallengeFuture

All taken in 2015 © Southampton Old Lady. They were snapped at various exhibitions in England as well on streets and in auction houses.

To see others or submit your own click here: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/future/

Let me know what relics you think you might find at in a future museum…

Victorian Festival of Christmas 2015

Oliver characters: Mrs Bedwin, Bill Sykes with his dog Bullseye and Nancy.
Oliver characters: Mrs Bedwin, Bill Sykes with his dog Bullseye and Nancy.

I took part in The Victorian Festival of Christmas at Portsmouth’s Historical Dockyard this year. If you have ever wandered why so many British actors get the best parts in Hollywood movies, then perhaps take a look at this year’s festival slide show on YouTube (by photographer Steve Spurgin)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mPDpbDtbO8

Most chimney sweeps were children.
Most chimney sweeps were children.
The prostitutes
The prostitutes
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Mr Darcy, Florence Nightingale, Prince George, Lady Pennywhistle.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Mr Darcy, Florence Nightingale, Prince George, Lady Pennywhistle.
Queen Victoria with John Brown
Queen Victoria with John Brown

With very little rehearsal, over 400 volunteers dressed in Victorian costume to bring this attraction to life, for thousands of tourists from all over the globe.

In the UK, we live and breath theatre from an early age, starting with making costumes to take part in the school’s nativity play. History is now taught by people dressing up and re-enacting the period they are learning about, be it Romans or WWII. To learn Shakespeare for exams we do not just read the play, we act it. More people belong to amateur drama groups in Britain than sports societies.

Portsmouth is the birthplace of Charles Dickens. The Historical Dockyard is where centuries-old ships, such as Nelson’s Flagship The Victory, HMS Warrior and The Mary Rose etc are moored.

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The dry dock is also where parts of Les Miserables was filmed. So all these scenes were brought to life by costumed actors, singers, school groups, historical and Victorian interest societies such as steam-punks or the Victorian Strollers.People from 5 to 80 years-of-age played famous Victorian or Dickensian characters for three full days and with very little breaks. It was in the open air while the tale-end of Hurricane Desmond was blowing a gale and in addition there were a few down-pours.

Suffragettes
Suffragettes

First visitors are greeted by carollers, then those in Victorian Uniforms, dockyard workers, stilt-walking-police, postal clerks, servicemen, sailors. Then by beggars, prostitutes and suffragettes – undertakers, a ruthless judge in a courtroom setting, prisoners, gliding angels, pearly kings & queens singing cockney musical hall ditties, workhouse children being enticed to steal by Fagin and the Artful Dodger, chimney sweeps, a green-gowned Father Christmas. There were snow machines, carousels, a Downton-Abbey type dinner table set with turkey and trimmings, various stage sets. There were three a pubs – one mock, one real with bands singing sea shanties and even an inflatable one. There was a market selling Christmas crafts and fayre from mulled cider to hog roasts.

Victorian Dinner Party
Victorian Dinner Party

I was part of Groundlings Theatre that organised around 200 of us. I played an aristocratic snob preaching Victorian manners. “It is the height of rudeness to have one’s elbows on the table.”  At the end of each sketch, Charles the Butler pushes a custard pie in my face. I endured around 40 of those!

Police with penny farthing bicycles.
Police with penny farthing bicycles.
Children learn about Victorian history by dressing up
Children learn about Victorian history by dressing up

The finale each year is a parade lead by a full pipe band in kilts and bear-skins and headed by Queen Victoria. We were not allowed to carry phones and cameras, so I could only took a few snap-shots in the Green Room. Most of these photos are from Portsmouth News.

Father Christmas at the helm.
Father Christmas at the helm.

For more info about Portsmouth Historical Dockyard visit: www.historicdockyard.co.uk

Homeless and Hopeless in Southampton

Anyone who comes to visit any country in Europe must notice at first hand the increase in the number of its own citizens sleeping rough on the streets. Depression like this – we haven’t seen since the 1930s. Let me tell you about my City…

Homeless teenager feeling very depressed and trying to keep warm
Homeless teenager feeling very depressed and trying to keep warm in Southampton’s town centre

When I was a child, the only homeless people one would see on the streets in my town were alcoholics. These were normally Merchant Seamen, who had spent their whole 6-months pay on booze and women in one go. Every December 25th, my father, usually a bit of Scrooge all year, would invite someone off the streets in to join us for Christmas Dinner. My brother and I would be quite put out about this and thought it diverted attention away from us. Not least of all because the invited guest would hit the free booze as soon as possible. They would swear and tell tales of sexual exploits that were not suitable for children’s ears. My mother would hide herself away in the kitchen – we kids would hide under the table. Once there was a Canadian novelist, who made money from selling his books all about the sea. He told some very interesting stories – but he still drank heavily.

Homeless couple who met on the streets. He is Eastern European, He lost his 0-hours contract job after an accident and was unaware of  sickness pay. She used to have an antiques business which failed.
Homeless couple who met on the streets. He is Eastern European, He lost his 0-hours contract job after an accident and was unaware of sickness pay. She had an antiques business which failed.
This couple live permanently here and have  made a tent-like structure to gain shelter and some privacy
This couple live permanently here and have made a tent-like structure to gain shelter and some privacy
This ex-serviceman is honoured with medals. He suffers  from Post Traumatic Distress Disorder since he came back from Afghanistan. His family were evicted for non-payment of rent after benefits were stopped after a discrepancy. His two children are staying with friends and he is hoping to raise enough money today so that he can spend an evening in a hostel so that he and his wife can be together.
This ex-serviceman claims he is honoured with medals. He suffers from Post Traumatic Distress Disorder since he came back from Afghanistan. His family were evicted for non-payment of rent after benefits were stopped after a discrepancy. His two children are staying with friends and he is hoping to raise enough money today so that he can spend an evening in a hostel so that he and his wife can be together.
These two women were both evicted onto the streets from a block of flats in Portsmouth. Everyone in the block who owed rent were evicted, some have come to Southampton to try and find work.
These two women were both evicted onto the streets from a block of flats in Portsmouth. Everyone in the block who owed rent were evicted, some have come to Southampton to try and find work.

Today however, many of the homeless are just normal people, who have hit bad times. Many cannot afford to drink or smoke. I have talked to a variety of homeless people in and around Southampton. I do not offer any analysis, but here is my general observations: The youngest I spoke to was 14 years-of-age, the oldest was 82. Other vulnerable people included those with mental illnesses. I have met five couples and two families. Most are single. All of them were white. About half were British (from every country except for Wales) and the other half were from a variety of Eastern European countries. About one-quarter were ex-servicemen. Two years ago, I noticed many with dogs, now however, I notice very few with dogs.

P1130006Before I go out, I try to make up bags of sandwiches using up any leftover ingredients that we would not get through ourselves. I include fruit and unwanted chocolates. If they are sleeping in nearby streets to where I live – I take cups of tea, coffee, soup or hot-chocolate. I have also recently discovered an organisation called Curb that re-distributes food waste via pop-up shops and cafes.

My own husband has debts to pay to the Department of Work and Pensions. Last Christmas he was informed that his Pension had been over-payed for the last eight years and sent a bill for £12,000 !  We are paying this back in instalments somehow. This Government is clawing back as much money as possible from the “welfare” budget (we had no idea that pension was welfare).

A New Help The Homeless in Southampton Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-the-homeless-in-southampton
A New Help The Homeless in Southampton Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-the-homeless-in-southampton

We are certainly not alone, we were told that thousands were in the same situation.  The “trickle down theory’ is obviously not working here. When billionaires walk past the homeless to buy a new yacht at the marina, it is obvious to me that the rich are getting rich and the poor are getting poorer. It doesn’t seem too long ago that we thought of ourselves as comfortably off.

However, I am truly thankful that I am alive, with a roof over my head, I am not at war, I eat well and have a wonderful happy family.

So though I cannot hand out money, left-overs cost me next-to-nothing – and after all – “There but for the Grace of God go I”.

homeless man with his dogs in Salisbury
Homeless man with his dogs in Salisbury

So how is it where you are?

Snap as Seen 1: Boat with Discarded Alien

Boat with Discarded Alien, from Discarded Objects series © Southampton Old Lady
Boat with Discarded Alien, from Snap As Seen series
© Southampton Old Lady

WordPress Photo Challenge: CONNECTED

Connected ©Southampton Old Lady
Connected
©Southampton Old Lady

I took this at Southampton Boat Show as part of the WordPress Photo Challenge on the theme: CONNECTED.

I don’t know if there is a similar word in your country but here in Britain, as well as being physically attached, ‘Connected’ can also refer to someone who has an unfair power or wealth because of who they know. Examples: part of the Aristocracy or Royalty, having the King’s ear, sleeping with the director or related to your boss.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/connected/”>Connected</a&gt;