Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day

There’s been some shocking revelations this week about the number of people who either don’t know or don’t believe that the Holocaust happened.

While this is disturbing to say the least, because if you don’t believe that something this awful happened, perhaps because, maybe it is unthinkable or too awful to believe it’s even possible, then you won’t recognise the triggers that caused it, or could potentially cause something unimaginably terrible in the future.

That being said, we live in an age where, on the one hand, we have access to information and education, literally in the palm of our hand, but we also live in an age where the most powerful people; whether that’s wealth power or celebrity power; control the messages that are being shared. Fake news, manipulating social media algorithms, technology, whatever, we’re all at the mercy of being told what to believe by people who have their own agenda – and let’s be realistic, those that use their power to control the messages you hear are unlikely to do so in YOUR best interest.

I have always known, on a basic level that the Holocaust was something that happened during World War 2 when the Nazis killed the Jews. I couldn’t picture it, I accepted it as a fact but I had no real feeling other than, “God that’s awful”, but I couldn’t really imagine it. I believed that, because it was so awful and because people are more enlightened these days, more culturally aware and more socially conscious, that there is simply no way anything like that could ever happen again.

However last year I watched Schindler’s List. And it stayed with me for weeks. I felt almost bereft in some way. I felt remorse that I hadn’t really understood before what the Holocaust meant. I felt pain for all the suffering of the millions of Jews who were killed. I felt anger at the injustice of it all and finally I felt fear that this could happen again.

Some bloke with a platform and a prejudice, finding a common problem that his country can get behind and blaming all their problems on one particular race? Sounds a bit mad, but when you consider President Trump wants to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out… it’s not that much of a leap.

What got me the most about Schindler’s List was the apparent glee with which Nazi officers shot and killed people in the street for no reason. There’s a scene in which Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes) is shooting at Jews in the ghetto from his balcony. That these people treated it like a sport, is abhorrent. It is frightening just how much evil there is in the world and how quickly people would be willing to embrace murder and torture if it was suddenly legitimised.

A few months ago I visited Auschwitz. We toured Auschwitz 1 but we couldn’t face making the trip to Auschwitz 2. We’d seen enough. The vast piles of hair, the room full of shoes, the cabinet filled with glasses and other items left behind by those murdered in the gas chambers. It is, quite frankly, horrific.

But the reason I’m writing this is because, until last year, I didn’t really understand what the Holocaust was, because I simply couldn’t imagine it. I’m 41, I learned about the World Wars at secondary school, but it was pretty boring and difficult to take in. I forgot it all as soon as school ended. I don’t watch news or many documentaries. The masses, perhaps, don’t generally want to watch documentaries about things like war and politics – not when there’s a chance of watching a celebrity fall over on ice, or a chance to make fun of a kid who mistakenly believes he can sing.

The point is, I’m not surprised, the further away we get from the 1940s, the less people remember – or believe – that the Holocaust happened. We really must make sure that it is never forgotten, and that it is never allowed to happen again.

 

 

A New Year, A New Me.

A New Year, A New Me.

We’re already 8 days into the new year but I finally know what I want to do differently this year:

I want to be visible.

I want to stop worrying about what other people think of me, to the point where I don’t raise my head above the parapet.

I want to share my knowledge and experiences with people without feeling self conscious.

I want to get rid of my imposter syndrome. I want to like myself. I want to enjoy the achievement and successes of my work and creativity. I want to not care if no one else likes me or my work.

I want to learn a new hobby to give me something to do other than wasting time on social media.

I want to widen my tech skills. I know I can learn and understand pretty much any software or hardware that I’m presented with, but I want to learn to code things from scratch. Coding could be a fall back option should I ever find myself seeking employment.

I want to talk more. Do assemblies, talks, presentations etc so that I get more comfortable speaking in public and improve my confidence generally in myself, my skills and my business.

I want to use my voice, my writing and any other skills I have to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.

I want to talk about the things that rile me, I want to do something to make the bit of the world I live in better for those of us that live in it. I want to make a stand.

I want to get more politically active. I’ve been a member or the Labour Party for a few years now but I’ve never been actively involved. I live and work in the same CLP and if I want to start trying to make things better this seems like a good place to start.

I can’t make a difference in my community if I can’t be heard or if no one knows I exist.
So this year, I’m going to change my ways. No more hiding behind my computer and hoping for the best.

And if I remember, I’ll even try to document my progress!

Patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue

I seem to recall hearing that when I was younger and rolling my eyes dramatically.

But today, in a world where everything happens at the touch of a button, maybe we could all do with strengthening our patience.

Gone are the days when you would wait 14 days for delivery, Amazon even has same day delivery on some items. Technology – and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE technology – has evolved so that all our gadgets are small and fast. We click a link and if it doesn’t open immediately we click it again, and again and then several times to demonstrate our annoyance that our computer isn’t fast enough today. Actually all we’re doing is giving the computer several duplicated commands to process, making it even slower and if we’d just exercised a little patience we’d be browsing the desired page already.

Most of us are pretty decent people, but we’re all guilty of being a little self centred. I mean I’m rather fond of saying I hate people. People ruin everything. But I’m a person, my family are people, my boyfriend, my business partner and my best friends are people and they’re all pretty awesome.

But sometimes, like when you’re driving to work and you’re late and you’re trying to get through that amber light before it turns red but the driver in front of you is slowing down you’ll no doubt fume and call them names. All they’re doing is being a good, safe, responsible driver and if you weren’t running late for work, you’d no doubt have done the same.

Sometimes we take risks and then get angry when the strangers around us don’t do their part to minimise the risk. Like stopping in a box junction and then causing an obstruction coz the queue of cars before us didn’t move before the lights changed. That’s on us, and shouting at people and getting angry with them is really unfair.

And don’t you find it just a bit exhausting? All that anger and aggression. Maybe we should all stop for a second to notice what’s happening around us, to see what others are doing, to take some time to just be in the moment while we’re waiting for something beyond our control to catch up.

Drink some coffee, eat a biscuit, read a book – one of those paper ones – Maybe start your journey earlier to account for those annoying slow drivers. And when you feel yourself getting angry and impatient, just stop and ask yourself why.

We can’t control everything. And trying to isn’t going to make us any happier. Is your life improved because you angrily overtook a learner driver and beat them to the red light? No it’s ridiculous and all the other road users thought you were a dick*.

We’ve all been that person. And we’ve all seen that person and raised an eyebrow and though “jeez, calm down.”

So let’s all just calm down. Next time you get impatient, or want to shout abuse at someone for unknowingly not behaving the way you wanted them to behave, just stop. Stop, and ask yourself, ‘does it really matter?’

And then enjoy those couple of moments of calm.

*OK I’ll admit it. This post was inspired by yet another impatient driver incident on my way to work.

Tripawd Moggins

Tripawd Moggins

Like many crazy cat ladies, I am the proud owner of two cats. Well no, that’s not entirely true – I am merely fortunate to be living with the human that two cats selected to be their human slave carer.

Today we took our youngest cat, Dexter, to have a front leg amputated. Just one week to the day we found out he had a bone tumour, he was in having, what felt to us like, a drastic procedure, that would give him the best chance at a fairly normal, lengthy life.

It’s been an emotional week. Swinging wildly from, ‘yes it’s the right thing to do’, to ‘I feel so mean cutting his leg off’. I just couldn’t shake the thought that we were doing something awful to him.

Thankfully I found lots of support around the world, through the Tripawds community – a blog space for owners humans of amputee pets to share their stories and the progress of their 3-legged 4-legged friends. I eventually adjusted my mindset to the idea we’re doing it for him, not to him.  Following their stories, I’m confident that our little Monster Muncher, will be back to his old self in no time.

Over the course of the last week, he stopped using his paw. It clearly hurt to put weight on and he’d been limping around for a while – which is why we took him in for a (De)X-ray in the first place.

And in the last few days he’s started moving much faster using just his good front paw. Hopefully once he heals he’ll at least be out of pain and no worse off in terms of his mobility, than he was before.

Have to say a huge thanks to the team at Adams Vets. They’ve all been brilliantly supportive, kind, and reassuring.

When we went to collect him, the Vet opened the door to the waiting room and called ‘Dexter’s Mum’. I’ve never been called a mum before. But our cats are like children to us. We worry about them, love them and enjoy their company as much as any parent does a child.

It’s been a week filled with worry and concern but now it’s behind us and we can all start the recovery process.

The Unelectable Corbyn

The Unelectable Corbyn

Don’t let my title fool you. I love Jeremy Corbyn.

The media has been biased against Jeremy Corbyn, yet despite that, the Labour Party membership has grown to become the largest party in Western Europe. More than 300,000 members voted him as labour leader this week, after an unnecessary leadership contest which wasted both members time and money and could have been better spent campaigning to win over the electorate and oust the Tories from power.

And while the number of members have swelled since Corbyn first became leader, and more again, since the attempts to remove him, many of those new members were not eligible to vote (myself included).

I am concerned by the bickering and the backstabbing. The PLP need to accept that 62% of party members and supporters have chosen Jeremy Corbyn to lead the party. Let him get on with it.

We don’t know if Jeremy Corbyn is electable. The media say he isn’t, ignoring the fact that neither Ed Miliband nor Gordon Brown won an election. The 62% of Corbyn voters in the leadership election think he can be the next Prime Minister, but they make up less than 1% of the voting public. And latest polls suggest Labour are still falling behind. But then the polls also said Labour were likely to win the general election the last 2 times and look what happened there.

46 million people are on the electoral register but only 66% of those voted in 2015. I know many people who don’t bother voting because they don’t see the point, There’s no clear party that they relate to. There’s a lot of confusion about politics, and lots of people don’t bother for that reason. I know of people who vote because a party’s branding is the same colour as their football team. (Thankfully I know a lot of Liverpool supporters. But worryingly I know a lot of Everton fans too). It sounds daft, but seriously – how can they be expected to understand what they’re voting for if all they are faced with is media lies and party propaganda?

Jeremy Corbyn is something different.  Maybe, just maybe, Jeremy Corbyn, man of the people, voice of the disenfranchised, is EXACTLY what the Labour party needs to galvanise those 15 million non-voters to get off their arse and get to a polling station. Because finally there’s a clear alternative to the current leadership. In 2015 Labour won 9.1 million votes and Conservative secured 11.3 million. Let’s imagine for a moment, those 15 million non-voters have just been waiting for a Labour Party that they can relate to?

Suddenly Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t look quite so unelectable.

 

 

 

 

House Wars: A New Hope

House Wars: A New Hope

It’s been a week since a slim majority of the UK decided we should leave the EU. I’ve felt a strange sense of depression and sadness since then, a tight ball of panic has set up camp in my stomach and I have this horrible sense of despair that no amount of playing Lego games seems to shift.

I voted remain. Not because I’m a sheep, or because I am happy with the status quo. I voted remain because, having weighed up all the pros and cons, looked past the propaganda of the leave campaign and assessed the likely outcomes of the vote I realised something quite significant. Leaving the EU will only make one major difference. We’ll have less money invested in deprived areas, to address issues of disadvantage.

Think about it. The leave campaign focussed on 2 major things: immigration – taking control of our borders etc,  and the membership fee – saving money to decide where to spend it, say, on the NHS for instance.

But somewhere underneath it all, we knew that in order to continue to access the single market, we would have to pay… probably more than we pay now… perhaps closer to that £350 million a week that was wrongfully bandied around throughout the campaign. And we knew that a condition of the single market would likely include free movement across the border.

So not only will we still not have control of our borders, we also won’t actually have any extra money to invest in the NHS.

The EU invests money in its member states, to address issues of disadvantage. In areas like Liverpool, which has been largely ignored by the government since the 1980s, EU funding has been particularly good to us, turning us into the cultural tourism attraction that it is today.

On a personal note, my business has been able to provide training and work placements for unemployed women interested in digital media careers, thanks to a grant from the European Social Fund. I’ve even been employed in jobs that were funded by the EU, tasked with providing opportunities to improve learning and job skills in deprived areas. These opportunities have been proven to help people enter the labour market and wouldn’t have been available if it wasn’t for EU funding.

So to recap. No matter what happens, we’ll have to pay money to the EU and accept free movement of people across the border. But we’ll no longer have a say in what happens and we’ll no longer get funding that has been vital to local economies.

Well that’s just awesome isn’t it? So how has this been allowed to happen?

Politics. I hate politics. I hate smarmy politicians in slick suits who are trained to speak in a certain way, so they say stuff without actually telling you anything. I hate that there’s a huge chasm between the people who run our country and the people that have to live with the consequences of their decisions. We’re so disconnected that we’ve turned a blind eye.  Everything seems to be so cloak and dagger, that no one really knows what’s happening anymore and because we’re ignorant we just assume that they know what they’re doing and leave them to get on with it.

It’s a shame that many leave voters have since admitted that they didn’t really want to leave the EU, they just wanted to show their outrage at the austerity cuts and tax increases implemented by our government. This was not the time to do that. The time for that is at the next General Election.

My friend, Ruth, likened the Leave vote to a hangover… Like they all got drunk at a work do, told their boss he’s a prat, and threatened to quit. Then woke up the next morning with a bad head and sense of guilt and regret.

Perhaps the one good thing to come out of the referendum is that people are waking up to the idea that there seems to be a lot of corruption and bad decisions being covered up. There’s a lot of lies being told and we’ve had enough.

I’m so outraged by the whole thing, that the EU referendum turned into a popularity contest between one posh git and another posh git who both think they have the right to run the country when they don’t give a crap about the people of Britain. This egotistical contest has torn our country apart overnight. And while there’s plenty of infighting and backstabbing happening in the Tory party, this was the perfect opportunity for Labour to ride in like a white knight and steady the ship… but no. A Coup started, planned months ago, to oust the democratically elected leader. Rather than emerging as the stable party, they’ve completely deflected attention away from the shambles of the Conservatives. it’s almost like those Labour MPs are closet Tories. Is that why “New Labour” was also referred to as “Tory Light”?

Well. That’s bollocks – excuse my language! I grew up believing that the Labour party represented workers. And as a worker, I have never felt any kind of connection to the Labour party. In all honesty, since I was old enough to vote, I’ve sided with Lib Dems. The so called centre party, which, seems far more left wing than the lefty labour lot.

Then Jeremy Corbyn popped up and won the leadership contest. What a guy he is. A genuine, community activist. A man dedicated to improving the lives of people. Not just the 1% but the people that really need a voice. This was what I expected Labour to be. This was a guy I could trust to represent me.

I’m appalled by the coup. So much so, I joined the Labour party, to make sure I can cast a vote should a leadership contest happen. 60,000 people have done the same thing this week. Now that people are waking up, perhaps they’re also realising that Jeremy Corbyn offers a new hope to us. Something has to change. Leaders must be held accountable for their actions. The whole country needs to have their voice heard.

Gosh, it’s like Star Wars!

So this time round, rather than moaning about it, I’ve felt compelled to do something. Joining the Labour Party feels like the least I can do. But who knows what happens from there. I’m interested, for the first time ever, in politics, in the decisions being made on my behalf. I’m concerned by the lies and the propaganda and I want to know the truth.

I suggest, people do the same. Not join a party necessarily, but seek the truth. Don’t be getting all your facts from the news, because the media is corruptible. It tells us what it’s paid to tell us – and for the most part, that’s more lies and propaganda. Seek the truth and then make your voice heard. Make your vote count.