Gorgeous Blog

Gorgeous blog 7

I love a circular story.

“Thank you very much,” I said to the man who ushered me before him onto the Morrison’s elevator.

“You’re American, right?” 

Who am I to argue with a stranger in a dark Morrison’s car park?

“Check this out,” he said, whipping out his phone. He shows me a picture of a girl’s bike with pink tassels streaming from either end of the sparkling handlebar. 

“This was 10 quid on ebay! That would never happen in America!” 

I don’t have any idea why not but perhaps because in America, it would more likely be 50 cents at a garage sale hence why no one would pay $10 for it on ebay and then have to go and pick it up. But again, who am I to argue with a stranger in a dark Morrison’s car park? 

Faster than a Boris Johnson denial, he was on to his main complaint: “I live in a building with 9 Sudanese and they’re all liars and cheats. All of them. They come over here pretending to be refugees and they steal everything. They steal and after a year they save up enough money for a plane ticket back home. I can’t afford a plane ticket. I’m not going anywhere!” 

Before this ‘foreigner’ talk goes any further I point out that while I am now a British citizen, I am also, as he has already surmised, American. 

“I know America. I was living in Tennessee and I had a business installing tiles. I did some martial arts and I needed some money. I had this friend of mine down in Florida, right, said if I lost a fight to him, he’d give me $400. I get in my truck and there’s all this traffic because there’s something on the road. So I drive up on the wrong side, the British side, because I’m in a hurry and there was this python crossing the road and so I killed it so everyone could go but they caught it on camera. So I did the fight and got my money but the next day a state trooper came to the house where I lived with my girlfriend. He didn’t have a problem with me killing the snake but then he asked if I had any papers. He wasn’t going to turn me in but I had to leave town. When I told my girlfriend I was coming back to the UK, she was mad and would you believe it, all my equipment for the business and the ladders and the truck, it all amounted to one plane ticket!”

“Funny,” I say, “so you were in the US illegally and saved up enough for a ticket home!” 

“Oh no, I paid my dues in America,” he assures me. 

I think of my mother-in-law’s frequent phrase: ‘I believe you, thousands wouldn’t.’

But really, who am I to argue with a stranger in the dark Morrison’s car park?  

Blog 7 February 26, 2019

I love a circular story.

“Thank you very much,” I said to the man who ushered me before him onto the Morrison’s elevator.

“You’re American, right?” 

Who am I to argue with a stranger in a dark Morrison’s car park?

“Check this out,” he said, whipping out his phone. He shows me a picture of a girl’s bike with pink tassels streaming from either end of the sparkling handlebar. 

“This was 10 quid on ebay! That would never happen in America!” 

I don’t have any idea why not but perhaps because in America, it would more likely be 50 cents at a garage sale hence why no one would pay $10 for it on ebay and then have to go and pick it up. But again, who am I to argue with a stranger in a dark Morrison’s car park? 

Faster than a Boris Johnson denial, he was on to his main complaint: “I live in a building with 9 Sudanese and they’re all liars and cheats. All of them. They come over here pretending to be refugees and they steal everything. They steal and after a year they save up enough money for a plane ticket back home. I can’t afford a plane ticket. I’m not going anywhere!” 

Before this ‘foreigner’ talk goes any further I point out that while I am now a British citizen, I am also, as he has already surmised, American. 

“I know America. I was living in Tennessee and I had a business installing tiles. I did some martial arts and I needed some money. I had this friend of mine down in Florida, right, said if I lost a fight to him, he’d give me $400. I get in my truck and there’s all this traffic because there’s something on the road. So I drive up on the wrong side, the British side, because I’m in a hurry and there was this python crossing the road and so I killed it so everyone could go but they caught it on camera. So I did the fight and got my money but the next day a state trooper came to the house where I lived with my girlfriend. He didn’t have a problem with me killing the snake but then he asked if I had any papers. He wasn’t going to turn me in but I had to leave town. When I told my girlfriend I was coming back to the UK, she was mad and would you believe it, all my equipment for the business and the ladders and the truck, it all amounted to one plane ticket!”

“Funny,” I say, “so you were in the US illegally and saved up enough for a ticket home!” 

“Oh no, I paid my dues in America,” he assures me. 

I think of my mother-in-law’s frequent phrase: ‘I believe you, thousands wouldn’t.’

But really, who am I to argue with a stranger in the dark Morrison’s car park?  

GORGEOUS BLOG 6

Blog 6 Social Media is the new Economy When ‘the economy’ is suffering, that usually means you have less money and when it’s booming, you’re probably dining out which is exactly how we can tell that the economy is booming! The economy is not some abstract concept, it is you. You are the economy. Every pound, inherited, earned or doled out is the economy, each bill paid or not, every visit to the grocery store, what you buy, what you don’t, each bus trip or petrol purchased is part of the economy. It’s the same with social media. Each picture posted or liked, every rant or tweet read or dare I say blog or podcast uploaded , is social media. Social media is not some run away train. Never has it been so easy to live as Gandhi suggested: “be the change you wish to see…” And conversely, don’t be the social media you don’t want to see! Je suis social media. I thought it was the journey? I understand why we have such a problem with what Liam Neeson confessed while selling a revenge movie but he also claimed to have gone through an evolution with his racist thoughts. I experienced what his friend did and it took me a while to recognise and consciously change my prejudice. It was one man, not all men. A world without prejudice and racism is the goal of political correctness but I think we forgot that it was a goal, not a given. With all the #metoo out there, there must be a whole lot of #youtoo and yet if one stood up and said, that was me, I was wrong, I have learned, is there any hope we would welcome that journey? That we would believe and support it? If not, how can we expect any change. Blog 5 I take back all those nasty things I’ve said, invariably through gritted teeth, about British red tape. My first spluttering rant was when my brother-in-law forwarded mail from down the road without enough postage on it. After dutifully queueing, I turned over the missing 17 pence along with the mailed notification. The clerk found the offending envelope, added the requisite stamps and put it in the post instead of my outstretched hand. Three days later the paperwork for Gordon Brown’s generous £250 Child Trust Fund was stuffed through the door. The strict timeline and rules around visas meant that I only applied for unlimited leave to remain with a path to citizenship in the UK eight years after my initial arrival. While it was a more expensive way to go, it did fit in with my holiday schedule (my advice to immigrants: do not arrive in the summer!). In 2013, I posed next to cardboard Queenie after my swearing in – my proudest UK achievement after my hard won driving license. By this time, my father’s health was frail and his situation unpredictable due to a girlfriend with dementia. Their 2011 visit to London aboard the Queen Mary involved the police and an early departure so I had to be prepared for anything. I looked into getting a British passport but abandoned the application when I simultaneously read that they needed my current passport for 14 weeks and an email with the news that the girlfriend had knocked out yet another of my father’s teeth. Time for a family intervention! As a professional silver lining hunter, I immediately spotted the upside in my father’s recent death and applied, online this time, for my British passport. My application was accepted on January 15 and I got my passport on February 2 of the same year!!! This unprecedented efficiency has left me reeling and slightly suspicious but hopeful. This same tendency to look for silver linings has seen opportunity in the back stop negotiations. Is it just me, or does anyone else see room for smuggling? I know, it’s cynical and opportunistic and in the face of my new found respect for the efficiency of British bureaucracy, probably foolhardy.

GORGEOUS BLOG by Donna Freed 

BLOG 4 January 28

Patchtastic! My mung beans have not yet arrived so I am all oestrogen patched up while I wait for hormones to sprout on my windowsill. As my son is male and an only child I feel it’s up to me to teach him about lady things so I made the whole patch event a family affair. Predictably, he was horrified. I laughed uproariously and put PATCH DAY on the family calendar.

The new vacuum purchase is on hold as I obviously can’t get a Dyson even with free Nectar points. Needless to say, my miniscule protest will do nothing to damage the Pro-Brexit billionaire nor effect the headquarters moving to Singapore but I also don’t really need a new vacuum cleaner!

My moments of thinking as a mother, “I’ve got this” have been few and far between but I’ve felt more competent lately, until Friday night that is. Mr. I’m Not a Baby Anymore came home late and “tired.” We took that at face value.

He was on his way to bed when he started talking about a guy he used to know who had been stabbed. The guy was older and lived in the same block of flats as a friend of his and they used to wait for him to stop playing some video game before going to Poundland and getting Vimto sweets. He was part of a gang, the same one his friend has now joined, and that was why he got stabbed and is now dead.

I mostly listened and remembered the tsunami of emotions that accompanied my original rush of oestrogen. Despite growing up far quicker than we did, kids are still kids and their first brushes with harsh reality are shocking and scary and it’s our job to cushion the blow and provide perspective so I said: “Life isn’t all Vimto sweets.”

BLOG 3 January 21

I am grumpy! It is not Mr. I’m Not a Baby Anymore’s birthday sleep over – I drank through that – nor the inevitable talking to at Parents’ Evening, or the special meeting with the head of year and the form tutor about ‘organisation’ or even the paucity of choice in GCSE’s for these 14 year olds. I am disheartened yet resigned that we have extended adolescence and done away with jobs for life but held on to this idea that 14 year olds should choose subjects based on careers that won’t exist by the time they graduate. I’ve even lowered to a murmur my outraged cries of: “Whatever happened to learning for learning’s sake?”

At this point Brexit is more confusing than angering. I don’t understand why the Irish backstop was such a cock block? It’s hypotheitical! Okay, there is precedent to say that 2 years of negotiation would not end in agreement – that’s where we are now – but it was presented as an eventuality instead of a possibility and if we leave without an agreement we would definitely need a border between the EU (as represented by the Republic of Ireland) and the UK (as represented by Northern Ireland) otherwise that freedom of movement would still keep pouring in! And yet Leavers get to reject it on a hypothetical and blame remainers. Perhaps the GCSE History topic will enlighten me: the run up to World War II which will mirror the current run up to WW III.

However, my Backstop Blues have given way to BBC Box Set Blues. With a glut of house guests and birthday celebrations, January has turned out to be more damp than dry but things have finally quietened down and I was looking forward to catching up on Little Drummer Girl only to find that it is no longer available! Yet I can listen to John Humphries bray indefinitely on BBC Sounds? I don’t understand what it costs the BBC to have programmes available and now I never will because Mr. I’m Not a Baby Anymore has not selected the career enhancing Computing for GCSE.

 

 

 

 

Blog 1: January 7, 2019

We bid a fond farewell to 2018 and a final farewell to my father. After a beautiful memorial concert we paid tribute to him by visiting the Blumenthal patio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walking over the Brooklyn Bridge – 2 of the many projects he worked on as a civil engineer.

The new year started with a bang: a bang to the chest as the fourth iteration of the never-ending cold hit with full force. How all this coughing results in a pulled stomach muscle but no tone is insult to injury not to mention the middle aged indignity of pissing my pants with every sneeze.

But lest you think I started 2019 on a downer, it also started with a bung: I won 1 million Nectar points! This is said with the raised eyebrow and pinky finger to the mouth of Dr. Evil. My eyes bulge as I glean that 1 million Nectar points are redeemable for 5 thousand pounds worth of groceries at Sainsburys or strimmers and diaper genies at Argos! So yes, 1 million Nectar points!

Too bad Harrods doesn’t take Nectar points and I can’t buy a house in Greece to hide from Brexit!

“So, did you splurge on anything?” the Pater asks after my first outing with my fattened Nectar card.

“No,” I responded immediately, but then remembered, “oh, I got the Clarenece Court eggs, but that’s it.” But then, “oh yeah, I tried some Ruggaleh, I never saw it there before, but that’s all.” And then I remembered the Taste the Difference butter but by that time I had hung up.

I have yet to peruse the Argos catalogue but I am deeply grateful that we have just renovated the kitchen so I don’t have to waste my points on a very unsexy, however magical, dishwasher. A new vacuum might find it’s way into the understairs cupboard but that shouldn’t deplete all 5 thousand, or rather the 4, 900 after the coddled egg blow out.

In the silver linings department, I was cheered by the coining of 2 new phrases. The haranguing of pro-remain Conservative MP, Anna Soubry, prompted Helen Lewis on Radio 4’s The News Quiz to wonder if she should call the haranguers: “members of the harassment community.” I believe it was Paul Sinha who immediately piped up with the delightful: “harassholes!”

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