Why Leave Rhetoric Scares This British Mum

I am a Mum of three young children. I am British. I am scared by the rhetoric of the Leave campaign.  Let me tell you why.

I have always been British but I have not always lived in Britain. I was almost three years old when I moved to Britain, having been born in Germany. My father was serving in the British Army and was posted to Germany, hence I was born there. So far so good. This confers on me British citizenship as an automatic right. Kind of. Births such as this have to be registered with the British Consulate, in my case, the British Consulate in Düsseldorf (and I’ve read recently that this needed to be done PDQ otherwise German nationality was conferred on the child, along with all that entails, including National Service for some unfortunates. And this has happened in many countries, not just Germany). I have a birth certificate (quite a fancy looking one, as it goes) from the Consulate, half typed, half written and with the birth year crossed out because the century and decade (195_) were preprinted and clearly there hadn’t been as many births as they had expected, because they were still crossing out and reusing two decades later!

The British Consulate on Oststraße in Düsseldorf

The British Consulate on Oststraße in Düsseldorf

So why does the Leave campaign worry me? Well. It worries me because if the result of this referendum is “Leave”, it will give a boost to the right wingers, the far right racists. Let me clear. I am not suggesting that those people with genuine and legitimate concerns about sustainable migration are far right racists. There are concerns over sustainable migration and they need to be addressed. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those right wingers who would divide us all into “us and them”. Those right wingers who want anyone who is “other” to be cast out from the UK. Those right wingers who want to turf out anyone not born here, or whose parents weren’t born here, or anyone who isn’t white, Christian etc.

If the result is Leave, they will get a little boost. They will feel more confident. They will garner more support, and they will gain more power. It might seem like there’s a mile long gap between a decision to leave the EU and getting rid of all immigrants from our shores, but there isn’t. They are poised to take advantage of every little boost. And it will happen. 

If this lot get their way ...

If this lot get their way …

And it scares me. It scares me for all those people who live here who weren’t born here, or whose family heritage wasn’t originally based here, or who isn’t a white Christian. Those people who contribute masses to our country, economy and culture. Those people who we need, but who would still be out on their ear if the right wingers got half a chance. 

And it scares me for my own sake too. Sure, I am a British Citizen, and always have been. I’ll be fine. Except that it wouldn’t be that easy. The legislation needed to perform their goal would catch many people it didn’t intend to catch (and I hate thinking about this, because I wouldn’t want anyone who has made a life here to be forcefully removed, no matter their “heritage”). It would get sorted eventually, but not without worry and hassle.

When I was at school, my German class went on a trip to Germany. The teacher arranged a group passport, and we all had to get ID cards issued. Mine was the only one that caused a problem. Extra paperwork was needed. I had to prove I was indeed a British Citizen and not German. It was all sorted out, but I felt different. My teacher said, in front of the class, “We can get you in, but we can’t guarantee to get you out”. I still have no idea how much of that was his sense of humour and how much was true. Thirty years later though and I still remember it.

Fast forward to university. In my second year, I took out a student loan (this was the old, old kind, when grants were still available, uni courses were free, and the newly created Student Loan was an option if you found yourself short of funds or wanted a cheap way to finance your summer of travelling). They were only available to British students. A passport or birth certificate was required. I didn’t have a passport at the time, so used my birth certificate. My application came back to the university with a question. Where was my proof that I was entitled to the loan. I was born in Germany and therefore the Student Loan Company of the day wanted proof that I had British citizenship, that I was not German. My birth certificate was not proof enough for them. It took calls to the Home Office. It took a lot of sorting out to get it approved.

And so here we are, talking about who would be allowed in and who would be kicked out. And I find myself wondering what side of the bar I would be put and how long it would take to sort out.

me, wearing my tichel

me, wearing my tichel

And then today something else happened. I always wear a tichel – a headscarf that completely covers my hair. I’ve discussed my reasons for doing so in previous posts. I’ve been doing this for several years now and rarely get a second glance from people, except when someone says how great they think it looks or asks if it’s easy to do (it is!). Today however, I have been openly stared at in my home town. By men. By women. By the young and the old. I have had racial slurs screamed at me from the pavement, and openly hostile looks at my son’s swimming class.

And so it begins. I am white. My husband is white, my children are white. We are all British citizens by birth and still, already, the hate has started. I can only imagine how awful it will become for others who, according to this mentality, have something that marks them out – their skin colour, religion, mother tongue, style of dress….

We cannot sit back and let this happen.

Revisiting Battlegrounds – A Poem About a Psychopath

Fifteen years ago, Stonelaughter and I had not yet met, but we had begun to have the odd conversation on ICQ (remember that?), having been introduced to each other. We wouldn’t actually meet for another three and a half months, but the events which led to me writing this poem were already lining up, ready to knock me for six.

Those events have been on my mind a lot recently, and no wonder; they threatened to end my relationship with Stonelaughter before it had really begun and caused us both a world of pain. They also led to a conviction for the instigator of that pain. The effects of those events are still being felt too – they’re the reason I still hate answering the phone, amongst other things.

stalking-01

I wrote this poem shortly after the trial that it all led to, after the guilty verdict came, when I hoped, rather than felt that I could get my life back. It was several years before I truly felt that it was behind us, that I stopped being afraid of it all starting up again, that I could leave the house without wondering if today was the day it would start again. But to be completely honest, deep down I know I’ll never be free of that fear. Does a psychopath ever let go, move on? I often think that the best I can hope for is that he’s moved on to someone else but I also hope, for the sake of the someone else, that there’s a cessation of that behaviour. That’s not too much to ask is it?

Battleground

You thought that you could mould me
and make me just like you,
but I escaped your clutches:
I had a different view.
I wanted something extra,
someone strong and loyal and true.
You said that I betrayed you
when that someone wasn’t you.

You imagined we were laughing
and to start with you were wrong,
but as the pain continued
our laughter made us strong.
You fed your pain to anger
and watched your anger grow
’til it was all-consuming
and you thought the world should know.

You hoped the press would hound me
and reveal my wicked ways;
the career I’d worked so hard for
would disappear in days.
But people saw you coming:
they read your lies and laughed –
not at me, as you’d hoped;
the laughs were on your path.

You said that you had done this
because you loved me dear,
but love knows not the actions
that build themselves on fear.
Your actions came not from love,
but from your insanity
(and tho’ you won’t admit it,
from spite and jealousy)

Perhaps you saw more sorrow
as surely we would part?
But you didn’t hear us promise
to face this heart to heart.
We faced the pain together
and kept each other strong.
You said that we would falter
but we knew that you were wrong.

And now that it’s all over,
do you still think you were right?
Did you forget why you admired me;
that I would stand and fight?
And that was your big mistake –
to think that I would fall.
You forgot that I get stronger
when my back’s against the wall.

So here I am, standing strong,
even stronger than before.
You didn’t win this battle
and you will not win the war.

written by Mahala in 2001

Learning to Manage Money: A Real Life Lesson for Tweens and Teens

As children get older, the list of things they want gets longer. Inevitably, at the same time, the size of things gets smaller and price tags increase significantly. Children rarely appreciate how much these things cost or where the money comes from to buy them. Of course not, they’re not in a position of having to maintain a budget.

This is what we are currently experiencing with Bean, now ten. He is really into Minecraft and wants all kinds of things to go with it. He sees games he wants for the XBox, different games consoles; all the usual things at his age. And we can’t supply all of those things, and neither do we want to. Time for a life lesson.

Bean gets pocket money from us each month, in exchange for doing a (very) few chores. A few months ago we came across a debit card specifically designed for children aged 8+. It’s a pre-paid card, not linked to a bank account, and it’s impossible to spend more than is loaded on to it. We got one for Bean.

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Osper is a brilliant idea. As the parent, you order the card and activate it when it arrives. You manage it via a free app on your phone or tablet. You choose how much will be paid onto the card – we have it set to pay £10 on the first of each month.  You also choose whether you want to allow your child to use the card online. You get to see the balance and all the transactions that have taken place.  You can also change the amount you send each money, so if Bean didn’t do his chores, we could deduct an appropriate amount from next month’s allowance.

Bean manages his money via his own app. It shows him his balance and what he has spent. He has a PIN, so he can use the card in shops (the card itself is a Mastercard debit card) and he can use it to spend online too – lots of the things he wants to buy come from online.

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It’s been interesting. The first couple of months, the money was spent within an hour of arriving on his card, and Bean, having not taken the time to prioritise his spending, ran out of money before he had got all the things he wanted. It took a little while, but he is now beginning to realise that there may well be lots of things he wants, but his money will only go so far. He’s taking time to work out what he can actually buy with his allowance, and making decisions about whether he thinks item x is worth spending his precious money on. Things he would have bought in a heartbeat a couple of months ago are now dismissed as expensive, or not worth the price tag, to him at least. It’s had the added benefit that things he has bought using his card have much more value to him – he looks after them because he appreciates just how much they have cost.

And he now has a much better understanding of the value of money, which shows itself in all areas of life. He gets that we also have to work to a budget and prioritise our spending. He understands (even if he doesn’t like it!) that boring things like heating bills and mortgage payments have to come before days at theme parks or going out for pizza.

It’s making him think more about money in a realistic way, but not in a boring “this is how money works” kind of way; he’s getting to spend his own money and be responsible for how it’s spent. A feature of Osper Learn is an enforced saving option – where you can insist that x amount of each month’s allowance is saved rather than spent. and I think that will add another interesting dimension to the lesson in money management. It will also hopefully help children form positive habits for later life – the ability to put aside some money each month is one that many adults don’t have, but something we could all do with. Having a “rainy day” fund to deal with unexpected expenses helps keep us out of expensive debt.

osper

An Osper card is free for the young person who has it. The parent is charged £1 a month to administrate it, although there is a 3 month free trial available. Family and friends can also add funds to it (if you upgrade to Osper Learn), perhaps for a birthday or Christmas present. There’s also a Facebook group that parents can join called “Osper Insiders”. This group asks you for feedback on the way the card operates, on future plans and gives the children the chance to take part in challenges which can earn them credit on their card or goodies – Bean recently had a bright orange (and good quality) Osper t-shirt arrive in the post for him, which he loves. He also received an Osper card wallet to keep his card in.

If you’d like to know more about Osper, you can find answers to all your questions on the Osper website. If you use think link, Osper will add £5 credit to your child’s card when you activate it (and Bean will receive some credit too). If you want to know more about our experience with the card, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.

Info: I have not been asked to write this post and am not receiving any compensation for doing so. Bean will receive credit for each new activation using his code and each new activation using his code will receive £5 free credit on their card too.

Bean’s HE Project

Mahala   3rd February 2016   1 Comment on Bean’s HE Project

So yesterday I wrote about how our HE journey had changed shape several times over the last two years, but now we feel like we’re in a place that suits us all.

Bean is throwing himself into his new found love of all things Minecraft, and as part of that he has begun making his own videos. In order to do that, he’s researched which software he needs for the tasks he has in mind, taught himself how to use it, recorded and edited his videos, added soundtracks and voiceovers and uploaded them to his own YouTube channel. He’s done all of this on his own and I’m really proud of him. He turned 10 last month.

So I thought it was time I introduced you to his work. He’s actually got two YouTube channels now, since he created one just for vlogs (something I’ve never felt comfortable enough to do, but he loves it!). So his first channel is THE Diamond Steve and this is the latest video on that channel

His vlog channel is called More TDS and he has just one video on there at the moment.

He is determined to add at least one new video a week so if you or anyone in your household is at all interested in Minecraft, please do watch his videos, and even subscribe. Your support would mean a lot to him!