Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A strange perspective

I was looking through some old photos of Amaia today for a photo of a coat she had as a baby. We happened upon this one of her with dad. She looked at it sadly and said 'My Pumpa must miss cuddling me'.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Targeted ads

Targeted ads piss me off! You know that way you look at something on the Internet and I from that moment, every time you are on the Internet they are all over the page, down the side bar etc Take this for example:

Léon asked for a Pikachu 'dressing-up'costume for his birthday because he wants to go out as Pikachu for Halloween four weeks later. So now I am trying to hide from him constantly as this is dancing all over my bloody screen! 

Last Xmas I bought Thomas an engraved beer glass and it did the same, which isn't ideal when we're sitting side by side in bed in the run-up to Xmas.

But worse still, I was sitting in bed recently without my computer when I asked Thomas to check if anywhere cheaper than M&S sold teenage bras - I wanted something suitable for a child but Charlotte, despite being very narrow, takes a D in a bra, so now poor Thomas is subjected to constant streams of scantily-clad 14 year olds with push-up bras parading down his sidebar... It doesn't look good in a business meeting, I can tell you!

Don't they realize people don't necessarily want others to see what they've been looking to buy, even for the most innocent of reasons. Older people even often share accounts, which is worse.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Time for a couple of days off?

You know it is probably time you took a few days off campaigning when your four year old spontaneously bursts into 'BBC, walk the plank!' while you're wandering round Primark looking for a new cardie!

The first week

I've had good days and bad days over the last week. Well, that's not entirely true. It's been more like good and bad hours, to be honest. But mainly good, I have to say... For the  most part the positivity of my post written last Saturday has remained, but I have had moments of despair, as I look at the size of the mountain I need to climb and the obstacles that are being erected upon it, and I've had moments of frustration and anger.

On Saturday afternoon we took ourselves off to the coast to try to let the sea air blow away the cobwebs. It worked well.

At least it worked better than staying home moping...

It was clear from all social media that the Yes movement had had its one day of mourning on the 19th but that we had all woken up on the 20th with the sudden and joint realization that we may not have been on the winning side, but we were on the right side so we had no choice but to roll up our sleeves and carry on. Maybe we're just a little ahead of the curve... After all the SNP was never meant to get that majority that forced the Indyref this soon in the first place. After a few more years of cuts and austerity, a few more illegal wars, a few more years of rule by an elite group of millionaires who can't even begin to understand our day to day lives, it might have been easier.

Of course Day 1 had seen the 3 stoogies break their first promise but there was no surprise there.

By five days in the ever-so-efficient journalists at the BBC had finally managed to lay their hands on the positive report I tweeted and facebooked on August 22nd about the Clair oilfield.

Interestingly the BBC reported this negative story on the left hand side, on the very day I found the positive one. But how could BBC journalists be expected to find something like that on a big, complicated Internet when it takes a busy mum of five a few hours to track it down?!

Since this revelation we've had parliament recalled to voted on bombing Iraq. Of course last week there was no intention of starting any more illegal wars but today, all that seems to have changed. Last week we were too skint to pay for weapons, but now we, the people are getting to pay for the foodbanks, because they the politicians are busy spending our new oil money on our very own UK WMDs. We didn't see that coming, did we?

And good old fracking across the central belt has been rubber-stamped this week too. We did jump up and down for two years pointing out to people that if we took control over our own affairs, we would have the power to allow or outlaw fracking as we saw fit but hey, wasn't it all simply about Eck being a fat w@nk?! Today I had to bite my tongue long and hard when I saw several BT and no-leaning acquaintances on facebook and twitter sharing the 'Sign the petition to ban fracking in Scotland' URL. Give me strength! You voted for it a week ago and now you want me to sign a petition against it? I already signed against it with a wee cross in the YES BOX on the 18th!!!!!!

Oh and I hear we're rumoured to be upping the retirement age to 70 as well. That's a hoot in a city where some parts have a life expectancy of 59. And Labour are trying to get people to join up the their party by telling people it'll save the NHS... would that be the same NHS that was safe with a No this time last week?

We've had Scottish budget cuts, we've had let's get rid of the Barnett altogether, we've had right-wing nutters burning Saltires in George square. Need I go on?

Angry and facetious, me? Never!

But (as you can see this is one of my more cynical hours of despair at the moment...) taking several deep breaths and counting slowly to ten, I remind myself that in just a week all the pro-Indy parties have doubled or tripled in membership. Marcel and I both joined up this week too, without mentioning to each other! And I have never been a member of a political party in my life! People who have simply voted up to now have suddenly decided to become activists in their own right and the tidal wave is hard to stop. Marcel has also notice a distinct unease amongst his no-voting friends as each and every one of his predictions has come true, not over the year he had estimated but arrogantly within less than a week, accompanied by the monarch's happy purring. Sigh! He said by Wednesday they were looking decidedly sheepish and they were hurriedly trying to change the focus of any conversation he seemed to be steering in that direction.

Thomas has been to two Yes meetings already and there is some very positive stuff appearing around the idea of finally infiltrating the Scottish media so we don't need to put up with the BBC bias any more. Ordinary people have picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and decided this is worth fighting for. No one is for taking off the car stickers and when the Yes bar in Glasgow suggested reverting to its old names thousands had tweeted to disagree within hours. I think they are slowly realizing that they are the Yes bar and will be till Independence day. There are marches and meetings springing up all over facebook too and my kids are already asking when we can go on a nice flag-waving, face-painting day out in Edinburgh, so all-in-all it feels good. My main issue is that I am suffering from a lack of patience. I am already at the place another 5% of us need to get to and waiting for them to catch up is frustrating.

I've also seen a great number of different sources starting to question what will happen in 2017 if Scotland and England vote differently in the EU in/out referendum. Scotland needs its EU subsidies and knows it, England, for the most part, needs them too but given London doesn't, it and the tabloids together could force them out. I don't see us simply sitting back and watching England drag us out... but I'll be watching carefully how that develops.

Of course some things never change. The BBC is still trying to pretend we don't exist:

Notice how the news reader suddenly moves to her left during tonight's report when someone holds up a 45+ sign in blue behind her on live TV! But we are working on that, and we are stubbornly attached to our goal of a fairer, more equal Scotland, so long-term, I don't rate their chances. We're watching you BBC! (Well, not literally, I am deliberately no longer watching them at all, but we're watching what they're up to!)

The most amusing thing this week is the gutter press down south stirring up such a frenzy against us 'subsidy junkies' up here that the English are now starting to demand their own indyref! Hahaha, bring it on! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Great view today

I was over at Whitelee again this morning taking a walk when I noticed it was much clearer than usual. It was so clear, in fact, that I could see not only the Ailsa Craig but also Arran and

Ben Lomond. . It's a shame I only had my phone with me and not my proper camera.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Civic nationalism

One of the things that angered me most was the media's attempt whenever possible to gloss over the difference between civic nationalism and that horrible right wing version down south that we see in Farage's party, and that we saw from the extreme unionists in George square on the night after the referendum.

I,  a Scottish woman with a Danish Yes campaigner for a husband; someone who has lived in France, Italy and Germany, who has studied foreign languages and culture, someone who has been married to a French person in the past and who currently has family in Denmark, France, Germany and Italy could be taken as a nationalist? I was asked on the day after the European elections this year if I had voted for those 'racist Scottish Nationalists?' by someone who should have been well enough educated to check facts of this basic type. If Farage has his way in a couple of years my husband isn't even eligible to live here with his Scottish-born children under his current European right to work arrangement. I also have Scottish friends living on UK passports in Germany, Spain and other places who are suddenly left at the mercy of EU governments letting them stay if England pulls us pro-EU Scottish inhabitants out of the EU. These are amongst my most prominent reasons for supporting Yes from the outset. Right wing nationalism and civic nationalism are at opposite ends of the tolerance spectrum. It is such a shame the two types haven't more diverse names. I am a civic nationalist and as we said all along in the Yes movement and will continue to say, for us 'A Scot is someone born here, and anyone who has paid us the compliment of settling here.' 

So when I came across this today and it made me smile because it showed me my Scotland.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chuggy fun

It's just for fun, but Fiat have introduced a chuggy-patterning app. It's nice to do something mindless to ease the pain of the last few days...

So I started with covering the new one in old ones...

And then I tried some odd combos like Léon's eyes and Amaia's face!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sweet little girl

So I'm lying in the bath this morning when Amaia appears in the doorway:

Amaia: What's your favourite animal, mum?
I think it through and assume she wants the answer 'hamster' given we have one. 

Me: Hamsters
Amaia: That's my favourite too... but I have two other favourite animals too!
Me: Yeah?
Amaia: I like chickens.
Me: Really?
Amaia: Yeah, chickens lay eggs and I like eggs, so I like chickens.
Me: Oh
Amaia: And I like pigs a lot too. Because pigs lay bacon!

Gathering strength, post Indyref #1

I've taken myself by surprise this morning...

I was asleep, or rather dozing at 5am when Thomas came in from counting votes in East Renfrewshire in the early hours of the 19th. He didn't waken me. I knew instantly we must have lost. I lay in bed dazed. I don't know why it surprised me given we'd been the subjects of much hate and lies in every part of the press every day for more than two years, but I am an optimist, and I had been in George Square the night before where optimism was buzzing.

I got up to do the school run. The little ones asked the result. Charlotte and Marcel had been following it through the night on social media, so knew already. Léon's face crumpled over his cereal bowl and he started to wail: How can people choose bombs over us kids? he sobbed. Anna, tears leaving her eyes in a perpendicular trajectory, shrieked: How can I be expected to pay for uni if they bring in tuition fees? Quite clued up for a six year old, really! I tried smiling optimism, kind of like you do if you're telling your kids someone died, or you're divorcing their father. They weren't fully convinced but went with it for the duration of breakfast, at least. Léon then claimed he felt too ill to go to school, but I felt too deflated to deal with him, so told him school was on.

I drove the biggies to high school and dropped them at the gate, no issue there. I drove the little ones to primary and dropped them at the gate too. I had to say hi to the janitor who was on the patrol. That was harder. I've known him 12 years. I barely nodded and legged it back to the car. I drove Amaia to nursery. I had to sit in the car and compose myself for a full five minutes before I went in. I live in a wealthy 'no-leaning' area so most parents were greeting each other in a happy enough manner. I was concentrating on getting in, walking to the correct room, getting Amaia's shoes and jacket changed and putting on her badge, signing her in and saying hello to her teacher and the head of her room without bursting into hysterical tears and falling to the ground in a heap. I walked through smiling little four year old faces and all I could think was how close they had got to a rosy future and how it had been stolen from them. I wanted to hug each individual child and apologize for the failings of the adults around them. I got back out and sat crying in the car, unable to move off because I couldn't see to drive.

On my way back the petrol light came on in the car. I would need petrol to go back to nursery for pickup. I considered it. I realized I could not physically bring myself to buy petrol because firstly I'd need to greet the garage till attendant without crying and secondly I would need to walk past the stand of thirty newspapers lying some more and gloating at me from the stand. I could not bear to watch TV or read newspapers to see their spin on the whole thing. I couldn't even look at facebook. I was actually physically incapable of doing so. I opted to drive my people carrier for the rest of the day despite its diesel-guzzling 2.7 litre engine. And at 3pm, I sent Charlotte to pick up the kids from primary because I knew I couldn't stand there at the gate without sobbing my heart out and quite honestly making a spectacle of myself.

I went home after nursery at 9. I went back under my duvet and I wept like a baby. Fortunately I had no work that day - the advantages of freelancing! I didn't eat. I didn't drink. I lay in bed and cried all day. And I tried to work out how to move away. I went through all the problems of where I could go that all my kids speak the language (the biggies are French-speaking, the littlies Danish.) Marcel is applying to uni here - I didn't want to live in a different country from him. I didn't see how I could go anywhere till after Lots finishes school as she's already in third year at high school but by then I would have two here and potentially children as old as twelve having to pick up schooling in another language... and that's without even considering my poor mum who lives alone, round the corner. I felt utterly trapped.

 The last time I felt like that was nine years ago. Thomas and I were best friends and had been for many years. I had begun to realize I was in love with him but I was married, albeit very unhappily, to someone else. I wasn't sure if he was aware of my feelings towards him and he had never told me either if he saw me as anything more than his best friend. Somehow we got into a conversation about the state of my marriage and his lack of partner and it all came out. His reaction towards me was fine that day but the next he popped up on MSN and told me that he would never find a partner if I continued to be his best friend because he couldn't see past me and he told me I should try to fix my marriage. He said he had decided he could no longer be my friend and that he intended never to speak to me again. It was a revealing conversation as it gave me the jolt I needed to realize I had to leave my husband but from the day he told me we could no longer be friends to the day we decided to talk about an alternative to his proposed plan (this was a period of nearly a month) I felt the way I did yesterday. My life had been snatched away from me. It had become meaningless. So having felt this way once before I fully expected to wake up feeling the same today. I even optimistically remembered I'd lost 10kg in the month Thomas had stopped being my friend and was already mentally clothes shopping two sizes smaller for the end of October!

So I woke up this morning and I was no longer crying. My eyes were dry and I jumped out of bed. Today I woke up with a 'let me at them' attitude that took me completely by surprise. Instead of giving up, I'm already angry enough now to ask myself what more I can do next time round. It was too good a movement to die. And my kids deserve the future I'd got close enough to touch. Too many lies and broken promises marred it this time round and we now know we need to find a road into the media. So I sat on Facebook and Twitter regrouping with the people who had inspired me. I sought out friends of friends I had met and been inspired by and I decided I didn't need heavy baggage so I also decided to unfriend those who bring me down and stress me out and one or two others who I actually enjoy talking to but who had mentioned they no longer wanted to see indyref posts. I knew I couldn't adhere to that and the cause was more important to me! I was amazed to see National Collective, Wings, Ginger Dug, the Common Weal people and all the others had woken up in the same state. We had managed to galvanize 45% of the national vote despite being demonized and marginalized, despite being lied about and vilified. In a single day the SNP, the Greens and the SSP have added a third new members. Despite never having been a member of a political party, I suddenly find myself googling join-up pages. If that's what it takes, I'll work on it from the inside! With a media presence we'll manage it next time round.

As I watched the Orange Order and the BNPites fill George (Independence) Square with hatred just 24 hours after the photo above, full of hope for our babies' futures was taken, I vowed that I will fight this cause until my dying breath or until we achieve it. 54% of those under 65 voted for this. The over 65s are the ones who had no real access to the truth as they read only newspapers and watched the TV news. They were lied to about pensions and threatened about benefits so we can hardly blame them. We need to find a way to adapt to their needs so they get the same information as we did. Failing that it should be possible in my lifetime and if it isn't at least no one will say I didn't try.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Time for pragmatism

I have a million reasons I am voting Yes tomorrow that you can find if you got through this blog or my husband's... hope, prosperity, democracy, tuition fees, trident, NHS, my kids having an opportunity to work in Scotland, elitism, social justice etc etc the list is endless. I have absolutely no fear - the media has been so OTT, it has become irrelevant. But if you're still on the fence maybe a simple pragmatic calculation should be made:

There are 4 possible outcomes, as I see it.

  1. A huge win for No
  2. A tiny win for No
  3. A huge win for Yes
  4. A tiny win for Yes
Let's take each one. One isn't going to happen. It was Westminster's intention at the outset - to put the question to bed for a generation but they hadn't counted on people power or the charisma of hope.We're neck and neck in the polls and people are beyond scunnered. If they've decided they've got the balls, few will bottle in after the last week's threats and panicked empty promises. 

Three is also unlikely. It could have happened but every newspaper (except the Sunday Herald) has printed exaggerated accounts of Armageddon for two years now, lying through their teeth about our wonderful peaceful, intellectual renaissance, branding us Cybernats from hell, so three is not going to happen. 

So two and four are most likely. 

Four will cause a wee market wobble. If Yes wins say 51/49 markets won't be happy but there's no going back so once the negotiating teams are established, things will stabilize. 

That leaves two. Say No win 51/49. Nothing will be put to bed. Those who voted no because of the offer of powers will quickly become angry when they are voted down by backbenchers - remember the Libdem pledge on tuition fees? I voted for that one - ha! Those who believed the newspapers will also feel robbed. The tiny percentage of people who just voted no because of fear will quickly become disenchanted and start to look into joining the Independence movement, which will not be going away. Too many of us have invested too much in this and will feel cheated. That will lead to claims for a new referendum, next year, in ten years, in twenty. (Look at the history of Quebec). Over and over again. It will not be put to bed with a 51/49 win for No so the markets will wobble and keep wobbling. Some companies will pull out of Scotland and the UK while they have the chance so they aren't mired in the instability for decades. 

So basically, pragmatically the only bearable outcome from this is actually number four. Think of that if you're on the fence.

Still undecided?

May I suggest you read these two posts by my husband:

A letter from a No future
A letter from a Yes future

A sweet misundrstanding

As the kids were getting dressed for school this morning, Thomas was preparing breakfast for me. The conversation went like this:

Me: What are you making?
Thomas: Idlis
Me: ok
Thomas: I've found the mango chutney, have you seen the idli mix anywhere?
Léon (rather shocked): You're having 'Tiddly winks' for breakfast?!!!


A feel for how things really are

Every time I open a newspaper, turn on the TV or radio or go on the Internet I hear how we on the Yes side are an aggressive mob who go about intimidating all the poor No voters who are afraid to leave their homes. Did it ever occur to anyone that when 100% of the mainstream media is on the No side, they are only likely to report misdemeanours on the Yes side? It would be nice to see the truth in black and white for a change. That truth as far as I have encountered it is that if you walk about in a Yes badge or drive about in a car with a Yes sticker someone will shout abuse at you occasionally but for the most part you simply get a sour look as if you smell bad. The same is true presumably of the other side. So we're talking about 99% good tolerant-natured people on both sides and 1% idiots also on BOTH sides. Sadly the 'no' baddies don't exist, of course, because they don't get mentioned in the media.

Anyway I saw this video from George square yesterday and I thought I'd share it because it feels in nature to be exactly the same as all the rallies I have attended - for instance the BBC bias one that I keep reading was 'terrifyingly aggressive'. Maybe you could take five minutes out and watch it, if you'd like to decide on the truth using your own eyes, for once? Does this feel like an aggressive mob, or does it simply feel like a crowd of people full of hope enjoying a sing-song?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A reply to the Times

The Times newspaper decided to write an article today covering yesterday's BBC bias demo using a photo of my three youngest children to illustrate it. So I feel, given they didn't ask me my permission to use my kids in their 'article', I feel I am quite justified in rewriting their article from my point of view. I'll add a photo of it so you don't need to waste your money on their paywall. Let's take in paragraph by paragraph.

Firstly, I have to say I think there's a slight exaggeration in the title. Yes, there were a number of people outside the office but I hardly call a few thousand people singing and giving talks for approximately two hours 'under siege'. Don't worry, no one starved to death waiting for supplies to get in, no large wooden horses were used and we would have allowed them to leave the building at the end of their shift, had anyone come out, which they didn't.

Now, moving on to the article itself. Anger didn't boil anywhere. People are indeed frustrated with the BBC (and the rest of the media) but there was definitely no boiling of anger. People met up at George square and walked to the BBC. They sang Flower of Scotland and Caledonia. They sang 'we're all voting Yes' to the tune of 'She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes'. We cheered the words 'Yes', and 'Scotland' but mostly we walked fairly quietly along the route being cheered and tooted at by passing cars with saltires and Yes stickers. We were clapped and cheered back and enjoyed the positive atmosphere that has been everywhere in Glasgow these last few sunny weekends while we await our fate full of hope and anticipation, positively buzzing with excitement.

The second paragraph tells me the police are scrutinizing the protest, juxtaposing this with a mention of violence, hinting the protest was violent. The protest, as you can see from my many, many photos consisted of many women, small children, babies, people in wheelchairs etc. I didn't photoshop all 125 of them in the past 24 hours, I have better things to do with my time! Ironically, I even mentioned to my husband after the event yesterday, (he'd been away on a different Yes mission) that in all the protest marches I've ever been on (and there were a good number when I was a student and recently for the Indy movement) that I had never, ever seen the police so cheerful, relaxed and joking on a march. They beamed at us and chatted away in a way I have never experienced on a march in 30 years. But the Times thinks all us mums, kids and couples are in need of scrutinizing!

The anti-BBC slogans in paragraph 3 were the ever so sinister and terrifying 'BBC Shame on you!' and 'You can shove you TV licence up your arse!' (Again to the coming round the mountain tune.) I looked round as they sang that one. It was started by a bloke with a deep voice, then it was taken up by the teenagers, giggling at their own naughtiness and finally on the fourth or fifth chorus I saw a wee old granny standing alone on my left looking like it was the most daring thing she had ever done, joining in and blushing slightly. I fell about laughing, and certainly didn't feel intimidated! It was done in good, childish humour. We did shout 'Booooo' about three times, maybe that's what scared then? Or perhaps when we sang 'Where's your cameras BBC?' after sitting there for an hour and not being reported, only to then be told they'd reported 350 of us were outside! (Yeah, and the rest! I thought they were under siege!?) Sounds well worth police scrutiny, if you ask me.

As for Nick Robinson... there was a banner going round but even if the BBC 'believe[s] that [their] coverage of the referendum has been fair and impartial' we are all at liberty to make our own decision on that, watching the Youtube clip. I actually made an official complaint about this item to the BBC, something I have only done three times in all my years of BBC watching. And it isn't an isolated slip.

And then we come to the inevitable paragraph... as always we start on 'Alex Salmond and his fellow Nationalists'. Are they ever going to change that boring, boring tune? No, of course not, because by pretending that only Alex and Nationalists are interested in this cause, you can demonize and marginalize it. But doing some scrutinizing of my own, I can honestly say I didn't see a single SNP-related banner (check all 125 photos, taken randomly in all directions). There was a CND presence, especially at George square and some Gaza protesters, there were many simple Yes banners, homemade banners, Socialist ones and Radical Independence ones. I saw a few rainbow LGBT ones. I saw a few Green ones. Women for Indy were there too. I saw jokey ones and ones full of hope but nothing connecting anyone to Alex or the SNP.


It's easy to dismiss us as 'the SNP'. I often meet that opinion when I say I'm YES. 'Here comes the Nat', they say, without even ascertaining whether or not I have indeed ever voted SNP in my life. Many of us have simply come to the conclusion that Independence is necessary with no party affiliation. We've read the hard facts, we like the idea of democracy and the ability to vote for change and have your vote count, not just this once but forever more. I am 46 years old. I have never once voted in an election where my vote changed the outcome. I am not a member of the SNP or any other party and never have been. I will vote at every election after having read the party manifestos on offer, not based on an idea that I 'always' vote one party or another. Sorry, if that doesn't fit in with the stereotype you want, but unlike patronizing BT lady, I do have time to sit down and spend more than 2 minutes on my political decisions, or rather I make time, because they matter and that is despite having five kids and a business to run.

'If they think you are against them they go on the attack'. No one was on the attack. Look at the photo above you used to illustrate it - an 8, 6 and 4 year old holding balloons!!!! What were they going to do? Bite someone's ankle? Balloons and flags were par for the course for the whole afternoon.

There were many, many children and young teenagers all sitting happily around. This was a singing, cheerful, family day out!

'...the Nationalists want a Salmond Broadcasting Service'. How dare he? No one mentioned Salmond. We don't want Nationalist propaganda on the TV because we are a movement, not a party. From Labour for Indy through Greens and everyone else, we want impartiality. Complaining about the issues I linked to above doesn't mean we want Alex Salmond or any other political person setting the TV schedule. Alex is quite frankly irrelevant to most of us. We want Independence so we can vote for our own futures not just during Alex's lifetime but for generations to come. It is simple to lump us all in together, but it's lies and you know it, Mr Ian Davidson. I actually, ironically, saw more Labour for Indy people yesterday than people affiliated to the SNP. It's underhand and lazy to assume to opposite.

On to the next paragraph I am told tempers were fraying yesterday. If they were, they weren't fraying at Pacific Quay. Would I have taken my babies to a place where people felt in any way intimidated? Look at the photos above! Babies on shoulders, in papooses and in buggies! And they are content-looking babies. Does the baby in the papoose above, look in any way distressed? Do my kids?

As for the rest of the article. I have no idea what the police have or have not been told to do after Thursday so I won't comment. But all in all this article does not in any way represent the march and rally I attended with four of my kids and my old friend from uni yesterday afternoon. Thanks, once again, to the mainstream media for letting us down. The description I put on my demo photos as I uploaded them to flickr before I saw your article sums things up quite nicely: One thing's for sure - win or lose on Thurs - the mainstream media will not be trusted by half the population ever again - not good.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I worry about accountability: I heard one of Léon's friends (8) say yesterday 'I don't believe I'll have to pay for uni when I'm bigger and I don't believe that we pay a fortune for nuclear bombs at the moment, like you say Léon, because if those two things were true, my mum and dad wouldn't be voting for them'. It'll be interesting to hear what those neighbours have to say in 8 years time when that child reaches uni age. Especially in the context of this article by someone from Quebec. This paragraph really resonated with me: "Scotland is not Quebec. The UK is not Canada, and Europe is not North America. But believe me, if there’s one thing you don’t want to have to tell your grandchildren 34 years from now, it’s that you thought you were protecting them when you decided to make them experience the next era’s world as spectators, not players."

Friday, September 12, 2014

What I'll say to my kids

Whether we win or lose next week I will be proud to tell my kids and theirs that I did not stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tory elite - the millionaires who auctioned off the NHS while millions queued at food banks in one of the richest countries in the world. I rejected the call to stand with UKIP, the BNP, the Orange lodge and Britain First, the xenophobes and racists who want my foreign husband ejected from the country his kids were born in. I stayed away from the insipid Libdems who lost their souls the day the reneged on student fees and Labour who call them socialists while calling free tuition and medical care 'a something for nothing' culture. I will have tried to rise above the BBC and its lies and manipulation and I will have ignored the gutter press for the piece of toilet paper it is.

I will have stood shoulder to shoulder with those who have been striving for social justice, for a future where young people can learn without taking on loans that will mar their entire lives, where women with degrees can get a job because childcare isn't 70% of their salary. I will have prioritised that childcare over paying for a 1980s style nuclear deterrent in my own back garden, that is so out of sync with the world I live in today. Millions are spent of WMDs while millions queue at food banks. I will have stood with those who have fought for the sick, and the disabled. I want my children to grow up knowing that they will only have to leave their country of birth if they choose to, rather than growing up with that as an inevitability if they want to succeed in their careers. It shouldn't be like that. I don't want to have to be a once-a-year granny one day, just because there were no graduate jobs in this country for my kids. I will have been part of one of the most vibrant, inclusive, intellectual and inspirational movements in Scottish history that will live on whatever the outcome.

I have asked myself one question from the outset: Is this really the best my country can be? And I have concluded it is very far from that. 

I will have taken Mandela's advice to prioritise my hopes over my fears and I will be happy to look at myself in the mirror.

Old pink chuggies

I was looking through Flickr today for a photo of the new pink Fiat 500 to show Anna when I came across these original Fiat 500s in pink. I want one!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Such a sweet little boy

Léon has been writing his birthday wishlist. He turns 9 in 18 days. My other two kids were both quite mature and wordlywise at 9. They both remembered my divorce so had to grow up a bit quicker. They'd also grown up during a boom, when I had been much better off. Léon doesn't remember the divorce or the boom times and it makes me feel quite privileged when I see he is still quite a little boy, really, and a thoughtful one, at that.

What a list! It melts my heart to see that in this age of technology, he puts 'granny hug', 'mummy and daddy hug' on as he can see they are as precious as to him as the material things most children his age have become accustomed to. He still wants cuddly toys to sleep with, and though he craves the usual PS3 type nonsense, as they all do, they are minor points on his horizon. I do like the wee chancer in him too... I almost didn't notice he'd squeezed on 'a holiday to Spain!' hahahaha

The last week before my divorce... and Scotland's?

I'm divorced. You probably know that! So I've been through that last week of a relationship before. And like this one, it was a fairly big step, ending that relationship. We'd met when I was 17 and he was nearly 22 and at the point I walked out we were 38 and 43. We didn't remember a time before but things had been going wrong for a while, our paths diverging. I still felt young and vibrant, he had become middle-aged, conservative (with a small c) and jaded. He constantly wanted me to 'act my age' - that meant no blogging (and here I am still doing it eight years on - what a rebel!), no Flickr, no tweeting, you name it. I was meant to work fulltime, then come home, and do everything at home and everything with the kids. I was actually meant to be Mrs Career Woman and Patronising BT lady all rolled into one. Anyway, I'm off on a tangent. We saw our futures in very different places, a bit like you would if one of you wanted to lurch to the right politically and the other was still striving for a socially just society.

The last week was a roller coaster. I had flowers bought for me. They were beautiful. I hated them. I remember thinking it was ironic that in 20 years I had never been given anything like these flowers, not when I'd had our babies, not when I'd  had special birthdays or anniversaries, just when I told him I intended to leave. I also had a laptop thrown at me. He'd installed spyware on my machine to monitor my emails and didn't like what I'd been writing. I was offered expensive jewellery, I was offered a car. I was hissed at in anger. He frothed at the mouth as he told me I was a worthless person who would amount to nothing alone and that I would come back on my knees begging both forgiveness and a second chance and that he'd decide at that point whether he felt like granting me it or not. I was told I needed his money. I was told he'd take me to court, have my children taken from me as I was the 'worst mother in the world'. I was offered holidays, meals in restaurants... It was a surreal week. The night I told him I had made up my mind and nothing would stop me, he asked me to stay just till the morning because it would be easier to leave in the day light.

But left at nearly midnight. I found the courage and I walked away. I was calm and somehow I knew that no matter where I ended up, it would be better than continuing to live with my wealthy husband, in our middle-class house with our foreign holidays and café lifestyle. I was right. Eight years on I sit here and I shiver at the thought of what would have happened if I'd stayed just till the morning, and then just till the next. Our problems were insurmountable and without him I am me again. The promises, the abuse, the ignoring, the diverging viewpoints would simply have got worse over time. I would have danced on eggshells, embarrassingly and pathetically while he toggled between abuse and ignoring, seething self-righteousness and condescending nastiness. And I would have regretted over and over my passing up of that one chance to change my one life on this planet for the better. Once you get to that last week, once your mind is made up, threats, bullying and rushed empty promises are not reasons to change your mind.

Now you see them, now you don't!

Charlotte goes really quite freckly in the summer, especially if we go abroad. When I was playing around with this year's summer photos, I decided to turn a few black and white. I accidentally hit the black and white with red filter button, instead of the normal black and white and suddenly 90% of her freckles disappeared! It was odd to see a summer Charlotte with no freckles for a change. Even she was amazed at the effect.

Family words

It all started when we extended the lawn in the summer. We'd always had way too much mono-blocking and I'd been nagging Thomas to change it when our next door neighbour had his lawn dug up and thrown in a skip outside the house. I noticed as they were about to remove the skip, so 'acquired' it and added a few strips from B&Q to fill in the rest. Feeling smug that we'd managed to double the size of the back garden for less than £100 made us more than happy, especially after our neighbour told us how much he'd paid for his new lawn (which was a third of the size (and more than three times the price)).

On the second morning I noticed the new strips had been turned over at the corners. And on the third whole chunks had been overturned. I was at a loss as to what was causing it. I went through the possibilities - kids, foxes, wind etc and still couldn't work it out until a week in Amaia came running and shaking into the living room and very seriously exclaimed 'Oh, the badness of birds!' I looked outside in time to see a humongous crow picking at the grass, looking for worms. For a week I put heavy objects on all the corners to try to annoy the crows but often Amaia and I would be forced to open the window and shoo them. It became the norm to pass each other in the kitchen, shaking our heads and proclaiming to each other 'oh the badness of birds'. It never occurred to me, however, that Amaia might misconstrue things. After a couple of weeks the crows stopped attacking my lawn and life went back to normal.

Recently the weather has improved again and we've been sitting outside a lot. A couple of days ago a crow landed on the garage. 'Look mummy,' she said, pointing, 'a badness of birds.' I didn't really pay much attention. Today two landed on the lamppost beside the house. 'What's that up there?' I asked, just to check my hunch. 'Two badness of birds.' came the reply. So we have a new family words. Crows will henceforth be know in the Buchanan-Widmann household, not as crows, but as 'badness of birds (n inv)'.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another good Indy article

I've been reading this. I really agree with her - is this the best such a rich country can provide its kids? No.

I know I'm a bit of a one-track bore at the moment, but this matters to me! So tough!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


My baby is starting to look much more grown-up suddenly. In this Instragram from today, I can almost imagine her ten years into the future already.

Another nice one

For A'That from Fraser Croall on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Flashmob fun

Well, there we were in Buchanan bus station renewing the kids' school bus passes when we got notice of an imminent flash mob opportunity just the other side of the Royal Opera building - what else could we do but whip out a few flags Thomas had prepared earlier and join in. The atmosphere was electric. You could feel the lurv! ;-)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Granny and her grandchildren

I think we're running out of space on the couch! Here's mum with all her grandchildren: Anna (6), Alasdair (4), Amaia (4), Charlotte (14), Léon (8), Marcel (17), Mum, Catriona (2), Gordon (8).

Humans of New York

I've raved about Humans of New York before. Now he's gone on a UN mission, some of his posts just stop you in your tracks and really humble you. They are well worth a coffee-break, that's for sure.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Italian baby food

I consider myself European, always have, so when everyone was in a tizzy last year about the Tesco horse scandal I did find myself looking on as an alien. To me, if you eat cow, why not eat horse? Anyway, wandering round the Coop in Bibbiena on holiday this year I loved the little jars of horse-flavoured babyfood smiling down at me from the shelf. I wanted to transport them (and the rabbit ones) back to the shelves of my UK supermarket, just for their shock value! Tee hee.

Too wee to remember

I was talking the other week about how the two or three youngest children would have very few memories of Denmark and their grandparents' manse because they came along just as they retired.

Tonight Léon was doing his homework and one of the words he had to write a sentence about was 'pray'. He wrote down 'My Danish granny likes to pray because she used to be a minister'. He read it out, and Anna looked completely blank. 'Farmor used to be a minister????' she asked, really surprised. 'I always thought she just wrote dictionaries like everyone else in the family and she just tells us about religion because she likes god!' I guess it is hardly surprising given Anna was last in the manse when she was eleven months old, but it is odd to think she doesn't know that side of her grandmother at all. As we are not religious as a family, that topic rarely comes up. To Anna, Brita is more a lady who lives in the Tuscan hills tending her roses, than a Church of Denmark minister!

US journalist discussing Indyref

How refreshing to final hear it with the UK media bias stripped away.

Science Centre fun

This topsy-turvy room in Glasgow Science Centre definitely offers endless possibilities for the fun photographer!

Hamster wheel

I have a new-found respect for Rosie the hamster. Having watched Thomas, Charlotte and Léon attempt the Glasgow Science Centre hamster wheel at the weekend, I have to say she makes it look so much easier. Yes, the humans can get it going but they have no notion of how to stop it again in anything resembling a dignified manner. They invariably fall on their face, whereas Rosie calmly slows down and happily rocks from side to side smiling out at us!