Back in the dark days immediately post-WW2, when Britain was desperately trying to rebuild itself after six years of war and five of bombing, an appeal went out to the nations of the Empire (yes, we still had an Empire back then. Just.)
"Come and help rebuild the Mother-country."
Many thousands of Empire citizens responded to 'the call'. They came from countries which were rich in sun and raw resources but poor in jobs, to a country grey not only in weather but in the trauma post-war - which was to last for at least another eight years in forms of rationing (among other things,) but rich in jobs.
At first it was the men who came, many on the ship the Empire Windrush - hence the 'Windrush Generation' appellation for those who came in the fourties and fifties. Then women came, eventually they brought their families - small children.
They came to find 'housing' in roughly set up 'barracks' immediately, then to try and find rented accommodation - in houses often displaying signs "No Blacks, No dogs, No Irish" I suppose they at least got first billing (and the Irish held that against them as well as the unwelcoming landlords/ladies.)
They nursed in the hospitals of the newly-formed NHS*, they took low-status jobs in various industries, they eventually rose to driving what is now Transport for London and 'conducting' on bus services of other cities (Bristol Buses has a shameful record of colour bar against primarily West Indian drivers until the mid-Sixties.)
All of them worked hard to rebuild the Mother-country. Many also sending money 'back home' to support family members still living there. This made a big difference to their lives.
Eventually the children who'd been brought grew up, got jobs, worked hard, paid taxes and (kinda) integrated into British (mostly urban) society. The government was glad of their parents' work, and tax-paying. They still are glad of their work, and tax paying.
Never-the-less the Home Office has in recent years decided to pursue this generation of 'Windrush children', claiming that, as neither their parents nor they have formally registered themselves as British Citizens, they are illegal immigrants.
Cue much distress, putting it mildly.
Now the whole debacle has been brought to light, and the News. It seems that, in later years, the Home Office destroyed the registration cards filled in by those who'd come in the Windrush Generation, including records of the children they brought with them.
If you're read the above link, you'll see that many of the Windrush Children have tried registering themselves - only to be told that the Home Office has 'lost their paperwork'.
And to compound the offences, the Home Office decided to go after these Windrush Children fairly aggressively. Assuming, against all the rest of British Law, that they were each and entirely guilty until they could prove themselves innocent.
How many of us has official paperwork from back when we were children? Specially if we've moved home a few times.
The Home Office has been grossly incompetent and they are treating the Windrush Children as the criminals.
Strikes me that not a few of the real criminals are hiding inside the walls of the Home Office itself. Although this hard-line policy was institued back in the days of David Cameron, who promised to dramatically cut the levels Immigration**.
Now the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, is apologising and calls are being made for her to resign. Which may, or may not improve matters. Probably not.
Prime Minister Theresa May is apologising too. Though people are wondering whether she really means it. I tell you one thing, she is a Prime Minister with a very limited future. Once Brexit is over, and probably before the worst effects bite, the Conservative party will ditch her and then fight each other as the politically ambitious (generally men) claw their way to the top. It won't be pretty, it probably won't be for the best of the country either. Just for the advancement of each man's career.
Meanwhile what the rest of us are waiting for is justice for the Windrush Children, and official recognition of their status as British Citizens. Soon.
It might come sooner, it might come later. Hey, it's distracting attention from what's happening over Brexit!
Cynical? Moi? Mais bien sûr. You don't get to my age without acquiring a certain level of cynicism, specially when it comes to politics and politicians!
*The NHS was formed and brought in, against a certain amount of opposition, back in 1947. It was set up to provide a comprehensive Health Care system, from cradle to grave, FREE at the point of need, paid for from general taxation.
It was set up in the immediate post-WW2 period, when the UK really was cash-strapped. Now we're among the 25 richest countries in the world. Don't give me that guff about 'we can't afford it' and 'we need Austerity'. Bollocks! We can afford it. We just don't want to pay/charge the necessary taxes.
We don't want to look after those less fortunate. We are increasingly judging things by their monetary 'cost', regardless of the 'cost' to society and to ourselves. And we have the nerve to call ourselves 'civilised'!
**What is it about 'Immigration'? Why are some of us so precious about our 'racial purity'? What 'racial purity'? Go look at your history - and not the kind of 'History' various Nationalist groups try to sell you. Every country is a racial mix. Every country has been conquered, invaded, re-conquered, re-invaded. Every country has had waves of immigrants - and has benefitted immensely from their coming. We still do.
People don't go to all the trouble of uprooting themselves and their families from their homes, travelling across countries and oceans, unless they have to. For reasons of war, persecution, famine, extreme poverty, lack of jobs at home, whatever.
They don't 'come here to live in council houses on benefits'. They come here to work, to support the family-members they've brought with them and those they've had to leave behind.
You really want to stop immigration? Then work to stop wars, relieve famines, alleviate extreme poverty, increase the supply safe water and sanitation, reduce climate change, press for fair treatment of all people everywhere, whatever it takes. If life is at least bearable and liveable at home, people won't want to leave. They won't need to leave. They won't be forced to leave.
And as for America and its attitude to Immigration - have they looked at their history recently? Apart from a few remaining Native Tribes, they're all immigrants!
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
Or maybe that's the real problem. 'White' people with over-inflated senses of their own importance and a big downer on people with 'brown', 'black' or 'yellow' skins. Or hair that's a different colour, or very curly, or straight, or whose eyes are a different colour or shape.
Or in other countries, people with 'brown', 'black' or 'yellow' skins with a big downer on people with a slightly different shade of 'brown', 'black' or 'yellow' skins. Or hair that's a different colour, or very curly, or straight, or whose eyes are a different colour or shape.
Or maybe we're scared that there really isn't 'enough' to go round? There is. There is enough food produced worldwide to feed everyone adequately. Only some of us are obese, some morbidly so, while others are starving. It's a case of wanting to do something about it again.
Similarly there is enough money (even if eight, 8!, people worldwide have most of it,) enough land, enough water, enough of everything. We have to learn to share. Remember our parents telling us to share our toys? Did we learn?
Put like that, doesn't it seem ridiculous?
Oh boy, they've gone and bombed Syria. Again.
Like the regime took so much notice the last time!
Yes, I know, you can't just let governments go round using chemical weapons. Particularly not against their own people; but also not against anyone. Although the attack on Douma last week was only a 'suspected' chemical attack.
However the Assad regime in Syria is supported by Russia, and the UK has had enough 'diplomatic interaction' with Russia over the past month with the Salisbury Spy Attacks.
Not heard about that, Dear Reader? Go look it up. I realise that Russia gets very pissed off when their spys defect to the West and they want to get back at them. They did it before, and had radioactive Polonium across parts of London. Mind you, they killed that particular ex-spy. It looks as though Sergei Skripov is going to survive - as he's merely 'very ill' now and not in a 'dangerous coma'.
His daughter, Julia, over here visiting her defected Dad, is also making a good recovery. She was discharged from Salisbury Hospital earlier this week, then promptly vanished. Possibly for her own protection.
However relations between Britain and Russia are pretty grim at present. There have been accusations, counter-accusations, tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and all sorts.
What hasn't helped is that our beloved Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson (aka 'Ol' Foot-in-Mouth',) has been saying that the nerve agent used in the Salisbury Spy Attack, was definitely 'made in Russia' so it had to be an officially sanctioned Russian attack.
Yerse, well. All that scientists looking into the nerve agent could say was, 'the nerve agent is of a kind made in Russia, but we cannot say that this batch definitely came from Russia.'
Strikes me that our Boris needs to learn a little diplomacy, not to mention accuracy. Mind you, he's a politician, and you know how they like 'spin'. All the same, whoever put Johnson in the Foreign Office . . . Tallk about 'loose cannon'!
And now, having expressed severe concern to the Syrian regime about the second chemical attack made on their own citizens, the UK, US and France have gone and bombed specific targets in Syria. Like that might make Assad sit up and take notice and, maybe, not do it again. Aaaarrrggh!
So who's looking to be remembered (one imagines terrifically briefly) for starting World War 3?
Meanwhile today is the day of the Grand National horse race at Aintree. This year there are three women jockeys, out of a field of around thirty runners (sorry, couldn't find the actual number, they keep pulling horses out and entering new ones!) So if one of them comes in first it will be a First for female jockeys. Also the various betting establisments will be paying out hansomely, because they odds against any of them are pretty heavy. Apparently the going is 'soft' (cos it's been raining, for weeks, and months.)
Pardon? Will I be watching? No. Today is sunny. H and I are going out. I'll tell you about it later, maybe.
Meanwhile, pending Syrian (and Russian) reactions, perhaps we should all get out, enjoy the sunshine, and be nice to each other.
Y'all have a good day now!
I've written before about being careful of your personal data, what you post and 'skewer tea' (security.) Now the whole 'Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data-capture and possible selling on' affair has blown up.
Dear Reader, when you go online and just browse the web, someone, somewhere, is tracking you and cataloguing the sites you visit and things at which you look. Even LJ.
How do I know? The ads that come up at the top of the LJ page when I'm posting. If I've looked at a yarn website recently, the ads will be for yarn, from that website. If I've looked at clothes, they'll be for that/those clothes sites and the styles I've been looking at. Not, I add, that I'm about to buy those dresses. Not at those (even Sale) prices. I just look for ideas. Then, when I can get across the back bedroom to my dress pattern collection (now there's a job we still need to tackle, Hi H) I'll see what I've got and what I can create with them. Meanwhile I tried on an old dress the other day and it was too big for me! Hmmm.
Ahem! The point I'm trying to make is that my online viewing is being monitored and ads are being 'tailored' to it. Surprise, surprise. This account is still free. LJ has to make it's money somewhere.
So something to bear in mind and to teach to your children and other people you know who are 'always' online - your browse history is being monitored. 'They' will be sending you ads and articles they think, based on your browsing history, will a) interest you and b) get you to spend money. And we've all heard horror stories of people who've tried to buy things online and ended up with virtual turkeys. It's caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) in spades!
It's also caveat scriptor (let the blogger beware) and also in spades. So, Dear Reader/Fellow Blogger, watch what you write, about whom you write (particularly if it means you/they can be identified easily) and watch where you go browsing. And if you're on Social Meeja, eg: Facebook, watch what you post, particularly personal details. Have you checked your privacy settings recently? Did you know there were privacy settings? Do young Social Media users you know know there are privacy settings? And are they set?
Right, off to peg out as the forecast is for dry today, then to raid the market. Hmmm, is that TM(commercially valuable)I too?
Y'all have a good, and protected, day now!
As regular Readers may know, I campaign on occasions about various things close to my heart - justice, poverty, mental (ill) health pollution, to name a few (gosh I have dyselxic fengirs today!)
So todays entry links Readers to a few. I leave it up to you to decide what to do, if anything, about them.
First Up: - Justice, in this case for workers in the garment trade in Bangladesh.
( Garment TradeCollapse )
Second:- there's the matter of plastics pollution, you've probably heard about that, Dear Reader. The trouble is that most types of plastic are so durable that, even if the items themselves fall to bits, the bits persist somewhere in the environment for decades, quite possibly centuries, if not longer. We've only had plastics available for just over a century, and look at the mess we've made with them!
( Single-Use PlasticsCollapse )
Pardon? Yes, of course I've signed the petitions. Haven't Tweeted or Facebook-ed Sainsbury's though. I'm not on Social Media, and hearing the current brouhaha about Facebook and the data-mining and re-selling I'm glad I'm not. Heck, I can waste time perfectly well just pottering around the intarwebs checking out links in emails and writing this blog.
So I shall stop. The dust needs chasing and, as it's a nice and sunny day, the washing needs pegging out too.
Y'all have a good (and campaigning?) day now!
Not, however, the high cocoa mass kind that H loves. You know, Dear Reader, the 75-90% cocoa mass Seriously Dark Chocolate you can get from Good* chocolate makers. I think it's 'orrible, which may be why H likes it so much. He knows I don't like it so it's safe for him to leave his lying around while he eventually gets round to eating it. Something with a cocoa mass content of 30-50% just wouldn't stand a chance. That said, I still have some chocolate Easter egg (30% minimum cocoa mass) left, while H's is eaten. Entirely by him.
Alas, this is about the kind of cocoa beans grown secretly, often in illegally cleared areas of supposedly protected rainforest. Grown and harvested by people who are so desperate for paid work that they'll do almost anything, under almost any conditons.
Naturally enough, these 'dark' cocoa beans are available on world markets at a lower price than major plantation-grown, Fairly Traded, or Rainforest Alliance grown beans. And companies with an eye to their profit margins and profit-hungry shareholders often buy these 'dark' beans. Do the chocolate companies know that they are buying 'dark' beans?
Some people think so. Apparently 'dark' beans are a fairly well-known commodity on world cocoa bean markets, along with the conditions of their production. See here for more details, and try not to let the 'Easter Bunny' disguise distract you from what is being said.
Readers who prefer their facts to be presented more Scientifically might like to look here at a report by Mighty Earth published in February this year. You can even check out their references.
Meanwhile, as the 'Easter Bunny' (see SomeofUs video) said, "It's Easter. . . People should be concerned about the Truth!"
And the Truth is that God loves you and sent His Son to die for you. God puts such a value on you.
And everyone (including those so desperately poor that they'll work on illegal cocoa plantations in poor conditions.)
So while you're enjoying your Easter chocolate, should you have any left** by now Dear Reader, remember those who grow the cocoa beans, and remember what Easter is really all about!
Y'all have a good day now!
*That's Fair Trade, where the cocoa growers, usually small independent farmers, receive 44% of the price we pay for their cocoa beans and are guaranteed reasonable working conditions. Or Rainforest Alliance, who think that the Fair Trade conditions are just not good enough! They're usually smaller chocolate firms, though Cadbury's sports the Fair Trade logo on some of their chocolate. As you can see, above, this may not necessarily be true.
**And having reminded myself of its existence, I don't now either. But it was very nice. Hmmm, inspects packaging - plenty about cocoa content (and other ingredients), which bits of packaging are recyclable (and recycled), but, alas, no Fair Trade or any other credentials. Though, as we've seen, having a Fair Trade logo on the packaging doesn't actually guarantee components are indeed Fairly Traded.
Aspex gallery on Friday was interesting. It usually is. The Endless Village exhibition comprised a film - a satirical sitcom from General Public, set in an imagined future post-Brexit Britain.
( Brett and MarketCollapse )
( Bollards, Bread and BulbsCollapse )
How was your weekend, Dear Reader?
I had Pilates again this morning, after a two week break. Then there's Knitting Group this afternoon. It's all go again!
Y'all have a good day now!
I've just been informed by BiL that the app he uses to read this blog on his mobile phone has been updated. To version 5.2.
What, I hear you ask (listens carefully, ok, perhaps you don't but I'm going to tell you anyhow) does this entail?
Call me old-fashioned (cos I am) but what are the advantages of this update?
'Bug fixes' - for things that, had the app been designed properly, having sufficient time for the designer to think things through carefully (always a very underrated and un-allowed-for part of any design process) they would have sorted from the beginning.
Dear Reader, often such 'updates' are but marketing ploys. After all, these days everyone knows that 'New' and 'Shiny' is automatically 'Better' no?
No! Not necessarily. I mean, look at the mobile phone itself. Great if you break down somewhere 'away from it all'. Great if you're going to arrive late. Brilliant if you need to pass on a query/information/link. The latter two of which can be done by text.
Then there are the apps. Some swallow battery just by being there. H recently un-installed the National Trust app from his phone. All those scenic pictures just ate battery (it's not that big to start with.) Why, he wondered, couldn't they just do an app which put up the information, which is useful, without all those battery-sapping pictures (which aren't, necessarily.) Email them about it, I suggested, after all, you can't be the only one with that problem.
What d'you think, Dear Reader. D'you like your apps to be bright, colourful and 'interactive'? Or do you prefer them to give you the information you require with the minimum of fuss and leave you with sufficient battery so you could still make that emergency call?
And as for the people who are almost at one with their phones, looking at them every few seconds, checking things, scrolling, whatever. Those 'phone zombies' who are so intent on their screens that they don't see anyone or anything around them . . .
Apparently FIMO is a real thing these days. That's Fear Of Missing Out, rather than the modelling clay (which is Fimo, but that's another story.)
Missing Out on what? Cos they're missing out on Real Life for sure. Missing Out on where they are (which may or may not be a good thing.) Missing Out on being with the people they're among - you've seen them, sat round a dining table, eating, still glued to their screens. Maybe you're one.
These days I ask people to leave their phones in the other room at meal times (while thinking that I shouldn't need to!) I've spent time and effort preparing this meal for you, you are going to eat it mindfully. You have, often, spent time, money and effort getting here to visit, you are going to interact with us, not your phone, while we eat! Together. If you need to check something, it can wait. If someone texts you, it can wait. Honestly, it can. And so can you.
But to return to the 'updates' for BiL's app, which now make it more awkward to read this blog, or anything else electronic for that matter. Just because something is marketed as 'New' or 'an update' or looks 'shiny' doesn't mean that it's automatically better. Hey, that's why I'm still using the old version of the Post Editor. I've tried the New version. It's not an improvement IMHO.
And writing of marketing, I'm off out to raid the market, via the Aspex Gallery as it's a nice day again. Gotta make the most of the sun when it shines (pity there's not enough washing to do a load!) After all, it's April. Showers and all that. I might have gone further, but we're almost out of fruit and veg and we're off out somewhere else tomorrow. Maybe I'll tell you about that next week.
Y'all have a good, and thoughtful, day now! Maybe even try putting your phone down/switching it off for a few minutes. You can do it!
*And, of course, the converse is also true. 'Old' may be better, it may not. We have to think about these things, that's why we have brains!
It's official. Knitting is Good For You - for chronic pain management, eating disorder management, aiding memory and holding off dementia, management of depression and anxiety (among other things.) Not that I am biased!
Yes, yes, I know - that particular article is written by a large yarn supplier. That's a large supplier of yarn, not merely a supplier of chunky, bulky and super bulky yarns, btw. But look a little closer and you'll see that the claims are based on proper scientific and medical studies.
And on top of these benefits you have something:- warm for the chilly weather; unique and original; handmade; to show for all the time spent - which you ain't going to get playing computer games or just watching TV or Netflix.
Then it's something to help keep you sane while you're hanging about waiting:- to be served in a restaurant; for a bus; travelling on a bus; for a train; travelling on a train; at a hospital appointment; travelling by coach; travelling by air (definitely the hanging around at the airport while they check everyone in three hours ahead of the flight!) Feel free to add your own ideas, Dear Reader.
The same arguments also apply to crochet, before a Hooky Reader gets ansty.
Y'all have a good and creative day now! I'm off again to enjoy the sunshine, and get a bit of washing dried.
Oh look, it's just been reported that Good Causes are loosing out to profits with the company running the National Lottery.
You don't say?
Well, what d'you expect when you (the government) award the contract to Camelot, which is a for-profit organisation. Rather than to Richard Branson, who promised, both times he's applied, to give all the profits to Good Causes cos he reckons his other companies make him enough money.
Should you be buying lottery tickets, Dear Reader, bear in mind the odds. You're hardly likely to win even a small amount. Should you be buying tickets thinking 'well, it goes to support Good Causes', maybe it's time to think again. See link, above.
For that matter, if you really want to support Good Causes - give the money directly to them. Do not go via the National (or any other) Lottery, you probably won't win anything anyway.
And should you seriously need the money, I suggest you put it in a savings account. That way, if you spend, say, £2 per week on lottery tickets (and I know some people spend a lot more) by the end of the year you will definitely have £108, plus interest.
Y'all have a good, and careful, day now! I'm off out to enjoy the sunshine. Yes, the sun has finally located its hat!
*Literally 'Who benefits' - an idea also used by the police when considering reasons for and likely perpetrators of murder.
Carrying on from yesterday - poverty and homelessness - I've just picked up an email from Shelter (major charity working for the homeless in the UK) telling me that yesterday the Homelessness Reduction Act came into force - brief explanation of what this entails here. Brief explanatory video here (scroll down a bit if necessary.)
This Act is a Good Thing. Now single people in danger of becoming, or who already are, homeless will have importance when it comes to local councils having a responsibility to do something for them. Hitherto councils have prioritised (you have to when you've limited resources - homes or funds.) Consequently families were prioritised and single people came way down near the bottom of the list.
The problem is, even with new legal responsibilities, councils are in difficulties. Go read some of the links in yesterday's entry. If 30,000 families were made homeless in the UK by private landlords then clearly the system is in a parlous state.
It seems that councils cannot house all the families, their number one priority when it comes to housing. So how are they going to be able to house single people too?
I wonder, is central government going to provide more money to local government to help them carry out their new legal responsibilities? Or is it just making them responsible (call it devolving responsibility/power or 'sloping shoulders' as you will) and also responsible for finding the money and accommodation to do so? I know which I think more likely, Dear Reader. Grrrrr!
I shall continue to write to my MP. I'll write again to the Prime Minister when she responds to yesterday's letter - which I did print out and H posted - when she tells me about the Homelessness Reduction Act. Cos it's all very well saying someone has to do something, but . . .
Meanwhile it's not all bad news - Shelter is working hard to help people (stories here.) As are lots of other groups. It's all too easy to look at the figures and be overwhelmed. 30,000 families for goodness sake! But look at it one family at a time, one person at a time.
As has been said before - One person may not be able change the world, but I can change the world for one person.
Y'all have a good day now!