Saturday, 4 March 2017


From the day it was born, the NHS has been a thorn in the Tory side. The very notion that there is this free, accessible to all, equalitarian, based on need rather than money or status, system is anathema to them.

They never voted for it, they never accepted it, and have sought to destroy it ever since its inception.

At last, they are succeeding. It is no coincidence that this should happen at the same time as the rise of the extreme right, the hardening towards foreigners, poor, disabled, etc. They would have dismantled it for free, they so hated it, but it turned there was a lot of money to be made out of the old lady, so they sold her bit by bit.

And we let them. We were complacent, we forgot what a truly beautiful institution the NHS was, we bitched about waiting times and bad food, we made endless movies poking fun at hospitals and nurses and its sometimes creaky bureaucracy. But we forgot what an amazing thing it is to be able to have free medical care at all times. We took it for granted. And we, and our descendants, will suffer for generations because of their purulent hatred and our own carelessness.

Monday, 23 January 2017

“That doesn’t affect YOU, you have been here for years!”

Hey, followers (if any), long time no see! Well, here I am again...

This is written for people I speak to, who seem to be unaware of how this Brexit bullsh*t is affecting me personally, not just as a vague concept of "getting our country back" and "saying no to Brussels" and other hollow sentences. This is where that sh*t gets REAL.

When I first arrived here in 1985, I still needed to register with the Home Office, which I did, and got my temporary residency permit. Then, in the next 18 months or so, the rules changed, and I no longer needed to apply for permanent residency, as an EU citizen, I was automatically granted permanent residency, but, here's the kicker, the Home Office didn't bother sending out permanent permits, because it was no longer necessary to have one. With me so far?

I have toyed with the idea of getting British nationality over the years, sure, but, well, it was never urgent, it was expensive, and I always had other things more important to do, and after all, what did it matter? I married my British love, our kids were British, we have a mortgage and one day, our house will be ours outright, and I have never been one to bother with nationalism, and flags, so what if I kept my French passport rather than getting a British one, it was not important.

Fast forward to, well, now. Post Brexit, not being allowed to have a say in the matter despite living here for over 30 years galled me hugely, and spurred me into action, and I decided to go for it, apply for British citizenship. It shouldn't be a big deal, right?

Ah ah ah (hollow laugh). Turns out that, behind the scenes, over the last few years, the goalposts have been moved.

For starters, since 2015, in order to gain citizenship, you MUST have permanent residency; despite the fact that you haven't needed it since 1986 or so. They quietly reinstated those rules for EU citizens, but didn't tell us.

Ok, so I'll apply for permanent residency, shouldn't be a big deal, right? I mean, I have been here over 30 years, paying taxes, National Insurance, I have bank accounts, a mortgage, a permanent address, kids, a British husband etc...

Ah. Well, the forms are 85 pages long. 85 pages long. Question after question after question, asking you to list every single time you have been in and out of the country (WHY?), where you've been, for how long... It wants bank statements, it wants to know every bit of your life detailed since you've been here. P60, P45, Piss Off... How have you been supporting yourself? Can you support yourself?

And, here's the absolute kicker of them all: Since 2005, yes, you read that right, 2005, every EU citizen resident in my kind of situation* in the UK MUST have comprehensive private health insurance. Say what, I hear you say? Yep, that's right. First I've heard about it. I also fail to understand how and why, when the whole point of reciprocal agreements is that I can use the local health services, and what's more, I have done so since 1985 without any issues.

I can also tell you that no-one, but absolutely no-one in my situation, EU residents in the UK, knew about it either. No-one was ever told. Not those who, like me, have been here before the requirement came in in 2005, no-one who settled in the UK after 2005. It is buried somewhere in the paperwork, and doesn't get pointed out or stated at any point.

And guess what, apparently, if you haven't fulfilled this criteria you weren't aware of, you cannot get permanent residency, and if you can't get permanent residency, you can't get British nationality. Ta-DA!

So there you go. As we speak, people like me are being turned away, are being refused what they thought would be a fairly easy piece of paper to obtain, for failing to have something they didn't know they were supposed to have, and which of course cannot be got retroactively. What's more, the same people, people like me, who never questioned their right to be here, are being told they need to make arrangements to leave the country, I kid you not.

There are 3 millions of us. 3 MILLION EU citizens who have settled in the UK, for work, for love, for whatever reason, and who suddenly do not know what the future holds for them. Let me tell you that it is terrifying.

*My kind of situation: Not having 5 years of *continual* employment, carers, stay at home parents, sick or disabled people, etc, etc. Please note that even if you have a British partner who has been earning enough to support the family, it does not count.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Burkini: the world upside-down (Translation)

This is the translation of the article which appeared here in French:

Because I wanted English speakers to be able to read it too. All credit goes to the author of the article, of course.


The debate on the burkini is truly surreal. Take Agnes Cruda from "La Presse".

"The burkini doesn't imprison Muslim women, it frees them" she wrote a few days ago.


Because if the burkini didn't exist, Muslim women wouldn't be able to go to the beach or the swimming-pool.

Therefore, hurray for the burkini!


It is as if I congratulated the 1960s white supremacists to have created the "coloured seats only" at the back of buses.

"Wow, it's so cool to allow Blacks to travel at the back of buses. This way, they can travel, go to work, instead of staying at home... Really, segregation in buses does not imprison the Blacks, on the contrary: It frees them!"


Can you imagine the reactions if a journalist dared to write such things about the law which forbade Blacks to sit in the front of buses?

She would be called an idiot and a racist! But, in the case of the burkini, there seems to be no problem in saying that kind of things.

The burkini, liberating outfit...

How, by what twisted logic can one reach such an absurd conclusion?

Some ultra-misogynistic religious men force women to cover from head to toes because their body is dirty and this liberating?

The Western world really has been dropped on its head!

Soon, if it carries on, we will congratulate Islamists who whip their victims because that's less serious than chopping their heads off.

"Wow, the whip, that's progress! Say what you like, it's more humane than beheading, no? Really, ISIS is heading in the right direction..."


This is the point we've reached.

Instead of destroying a backwards ideology which smothers women, lefties and feminists praise the virtues of the veil and the burkini!

It's a good thing Simone de Beauvoir is not alive any more, this debate would kill her.

The lefties and feminists would never ever hold this type of discourse if it were Catholic extremists who wanted to force women to cover up before bathing.

These people would be down in the streets and would condemn the Pope's misogyny.

But, because it's an "exotic" and "Eastern" religion which forces 1/2 of humanity to wear a burkini on a beach, it's cool and "liberating".

There was a time where the feminist movement used to defend women. Nowadays, it defends an ideology.

That's not the same thing at all.


Its hatred of the Western world is blinding the left.

Feminists should be condemning with one united voice Islamist misogyny. Instead, they waste time and energy justifying the unjustifiable, under the pretext that the Eastern misogyny (which is "cultural") is more acceptable than Western misogyny (which is "political").

Today, we're being told that the burkini liberates.

What will we be told tomorrow?

That the ban on driving for Saudi women protects them from car accidents?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Loneliness of the Long-Suffering Autism Parent

It's half-term, but I'm up.

I'm up because T. has an interview and assessment at our local college today.

I'm up, but he isn't.

Once again, his anxieties got the better of him and he's in hiding under his multiple blankets and quilts, the portable air-con machine blowing and buzzing away to create the droning sounds he needs to soothe him.

Once again, my hopes are shattered that he would actually attempt this; but not that shattered, let's face it, I was expecting it. I was hoping to be wrong, I was hoping I was under-estimating him, I was hoping that all the professionals telling me he would be fine with my support were right this time.

But no, as per usual, it turns out that I am yet again the only expert who got it right, no, I wasn't being melodramatic, or over-protective, or dismissive of his abilities. Nope, I had him pegged just right. I knew this would prove too much of an obstacle, I knew this would happen, I knew that I would be left feeling yet again inadequate, unable to get my child to accomplish one of the simplest steps of the day: get out of bed.

Right now, as I can hear the low purring of the machine in the bedroom above my head, I am despondent, but numb to yet again another disappointment. To be honest, I am at the point where I just want to shrug and give up... except I can't, can I? If I give up, then what? What of the future? What will he do? What will become of him?

And so, the cycle continues; I have phoned the college to make his excuses, I am now going to e-mail his school and the Local Authority to let them know that, yet again, they have failed my son in their duty to support him, and I will try very hard not to say: "I told you this was going to happen!" even though I feel that they set him up to fail. Again. And so, we will start the dance again after 1/2 term.

Regrets will be expressed that he couldn't overcome his anxieties, that he isn't seizing the opportunities offered to him, and I will yet again think: But this isn't news! He didn't turn up for his English GCSE last year, because of his anxiety getting the better of him, what made you think that just letting him loose with only mum's support to go to college, a completely unknown quantity, was going to happen? All his life, anxiety has paralysed him from doing things, even things he does want to do, what on Earth made you think this time was going to be different? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it? Because I am out of ideas here.

It feels like a giant game of Jenga here, where they are removing the struts of effective support for my boy, one after the other, and I seem to be the only one to realise that once they remove one piece too many, too early, this human being precariously perched at the top will be left without support whatsoever, long before he is actually stable enough to hold on.

And here I am, writing this in a blog, because those who have the tools to give the support don't seem to understand, whilst those who do understand don't have the tools to give the support, so I am left, yet again alone, to worry about the future...

Friday, 2 January 2015

Saturday, 27 December 2014

So, what has Europe ever done for us, apart from... (March 21, 2007 6:00 PM In The Independent newspaper)

REMINDER: This article is from 2007, BEFORE the US-created, but soon worldwide banking crash which derailed some of the predictions in the article. This explains why some of the economic views are so hugely out of sync with what really happened. By and large, however, most of the list is still very much relevant and accurate. 


So, what has Europe ever done for us? Apart from...

(March 21, 2007 6:00 PM In The Independent newspaper)

1. The end of war between European nations - While rows between England, France and Germany have been a feature of EU summits, war between Europe's major powers is now unthinkable. The fact that the two world wars that shaped the last century now seem so remote is, in itself, tribute to a visionary project that has permanently changed the landscape. As the EU celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome it is clear that while the detailed topography will always be difficult to agree, it is an extraordinary achievement that we are standing on common ground.

2. Democracy is flourishing in 27 countries - Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the EU's 10 ex-Communist countries are parliamentary democracies. None of these nations were truly free in the decades following the Second World War. Each is now a democracy anchored within the EU and is unlikely to change course.

3. Once poor countries like Ireland, Greece and Portugal prospering - EU subsidies well spent have been crucial to the lift-off of the Irish economy. Once firmly in Britain's economic shadow, the Celtic tiger has emerged. Gross domestic product per capita in Ireland in 2005 was 137.1 per cent of the EU average, compared to 116.8 per cent in the UK.

4. The creation of the world's largest internal trading market - The 27-nation EU now around 500m people making it the world's largest economic trading bloc. By comparison the US has a population of around 300m. The old EU 25 had 19.2 per cent of the World's exports as compared with 14.4 per cent from the US. This gap is set to grow following the last enlargement in January to 27 member states.

5. Shopping without frontiers has given consumers more power - European consumers can buy goods for their own use in whichever EU country they choose - in person, on the internet, over the telephone, or by mail order - without paying additional taxes. This competition is driving down prices and increasing quality

6. Co-operation on continent-wide immigration policy - Though EU countries set immigration levels the EU is increasingly active in the fight against illegal migration and in trying to match the labour needs of European countries to the supply of migrants. On the downside, the EU is increasingly an impregnable fortress and many lose their lives trying to get here by boat from Africa

7. Crime-busting co-operation, through Europol - This provides a clearing house for EU police forces. The police in EU member states can now use an EU arrest warrant to get suspects moved from one country to another where they will face serious charges without lengthy extradition procedures.

8. Laws which make it easier for British people to buy property in Europe - It may not be good for the environment but access to second homes a short-haul flight away has fulfilled the dreams of millions of Britons. Retirement or regular holidays from the south of Spain to the east of Bulgaria has become a reality for many and a legally safeguarded one at that.

9. Cleaner beaches and rivers throughout Europe - EU law and peer pressure - including annual reports - have forced the UK to clean up its act, for example bringing the once-dirty waters off Blackpool beach up to standard. The first EU legislation was passed in 1976 with two more pieces in 2002 and 2006. Now you can monitor the quality of bathing water by checking on a website.

10. Four weeks statutory paid holiday a year for workers in Europe - The EU Working Time Directive ensures that all Europeans get at least four weeks of paid holiday per year. In the US many workers get a fortnight. The same directive provides for 11 hours rest in every 24 and one day of rest per week plus a rest break if the working day is longer than six hours. Minimum standards are set for paid maternity and paternity leave.

11. No death penalty (incompatible with EU membership) - No EU member state has the death penalty and reintroduction of capital punishment would not be compatible with EU membership. Even countries outside the EU are having to review their policies if they want to be considered for membership of the club, most notably Turkey.

12. Competition means cheaper phone calls - Since the liberalisation of telecommunications in the 1980s loosened the grip of the monopolies, prices have plummeted. The European Commission says the cost of international calls in the EU has fallen by 80 per cent since 1984.

13. Small EU bureaucracy (24,000 employees, fewer than the BBC) - Despite the eurosceptic claims, the number of EU officials is surprisingly small. After the scandal of 1999 when the Brussels based European Commission resigned, strict new rules were imposed on spending.

14. Making the French eat British beef again - When the BSE crisis subsided and British meat was judged safe, the European Court of Justice ordered France to resume imports. France contested the ruling but had no alternative in the end. By contrast, the US retains an embargo.

15. Minority languages, like Irish, Welsh and Catalan recognised and protected - Minority languages are gaining recognition. Be it Irish, Welsh or Catalan, minority languages are getting a greater role thanks to the EU which even has a Commissioner for Multilingualism. Irish became an official language of the EU this year. Catalans have lesser language rights because their tongue is official only in one part of Spain, their member states. The EU - with 23 official languages - is doing more to keep lesser tongues alive than some individual member states.

16. Europe is helping to save the planet with regulatory cuts in CO2 - The EU has announced the most ambitious targets for curbing carbon emissions, promising a cut of at least one-fifth on 1990 levels by 2020. Other parts of the world are being challenged to follow suit. The EU also has blazed a trail with its carbon emissions trading system which, despite teething troubles, is still a model for other parts of the world.

17. One currency from Bantry to Berlin (but not Britain) - The Euro is now the only real alternative to the dollar on the international stage. You can travel throughout 13 countries and use one currency. Slovenia became the 13th and latest nation to join the single currency this year. Several more nations have yet to meet the necessary criteria.

18. Europe wide bans on tyrants like Robert Mugabe - Smart sanctions on the Zimbabwean President and his cronies have been negotiated through the EU and prevent those on a list from visiting all 27 nations. Though countries differ in the way they believe the EU should treat the government in Harare, they all agreed to renew the sanctions for another year.

19. The EU gives twice as much aid to developing countries as the US - The European Union and its member states paid out more than €43bn in 2005 in public aid to developing countries. This is the equivalent of 0.34 per cent of GNP of the 25 member states, and is higher than the per capita aid levels of the United States at around 0.2 per cent. More than €7bn is channelled through the EU.

20. Strict safety standards for aircraft - Airlines deemed to be unsafe are now banned from travelling into any EU country. Recently some of Pakistan's national carrier were barred because of safety fears.

21. Free medical help for tourists - Any citizen of a European country is entitled to free medical treatment if he or she is taken ill or suffers an accident in another member state. So long as you carry the correct form from your national health service, no questions will be asked.

22. EU peace-keepers operate throughout the world - The EU is building its crisis intervention force and has taken over operations in Bosnia from Nato. EU forces have also been in action in Africa helping avert humanitarian crises. In addition the EU has a big policing project.

23. easyJet and Ryanair can fly anywhere without national rules protecting high cost flag carriers due to liberalisation of air travel - easyJet and Ryanair can fly anywhere without the national rules protecting high-cost flag carriers due to liberalisation of air travel. Any airlines granted a licence in an EU country - meeting safety standards and other conditions - can operate services anywhere within the EU. Between 1992 and 2000 prices at the cheaper end of the market fell by 40 per cent.

24. Introduction of pet passports - Since 2004 travelling across borders with pets has been easier. In addition to pet passports with a vaccination certificate pets require permanent identification which can be either a tattooed code on the skin or a microchip which can be read by a special machine. In the future the microchip is likely to be obligatory.

25. It will soon take only two hours from London to Paris by Eurostar - The Channel Tunnel, and high-speed lines in France and now Britain are not, properly speaking, EU projects. However, the tunnel was built partly as a means of reducing the mental barriers between Britain and the Continent. With the opening of the final section of Britain's fast line to St Pancras this year, trains will travel to Paris in two hours.

26. Prospect of EU membership has forced modernisation on Turkey - The presence of an affluent and stable bloc to its west has given the modernisers in Turkey the ally they needed to create a democratic constituency for change. That change has been pushed through with the promise of a European future.

27. Unparalleled rights for European consumers - Any consumer can send back a product if it breaks down within two years of purchase. Manufacturers often claim that they offer only a 12 month guarantee, but EU law states otherwise and consumers are demanding their rights.28. Study programmes and cheap travel means greater mobility for Europe's youth - Through the Erasmus programme, in the 2003-4 academic year, 7,500 UK students spent between three and 12 months at a university in one of the other member states.

29. Food labelling is much clearer - All ingredients used in food products must be listed. Any GM ingredients must be mentioned as must colouring, preservatives and other chemical additives.

30. End of the road for border crossings (apart from in the UK) - Frontier posts have been abandoned between the 15 countries that have implemented the Schengen accords. This agreement means that EU nationals crossing most borders in continental western Europe do not need to show passports. The newer nations plan to join in soon.

31. Compensation for air delays - Passengers must get immediate help if their flight is delayed by more than a few hours, cancelled without notice or if they are denied boarding because the plane is overbooked. The carrier must make alternative travel arrangements unless the passenger asks for their money back instead. Depending on the length of the delay they must provide food and refreshments and accommodation if necessary.

32. Strict ban on animal testing for the cosmetic industry - Since November 2004 the EU has banned animal testing on finished cosmetic products entirely. Remaining safety testing on animals of ingredients for cosmetics will be ended.

33. Greater protection for Europe's wildlife - Tough European laws protect birds, flora and fauna, although the EU bird directive is widely flouted in southern Europe, particularly in Malta where 2m migratory birds are shot each year, including 80 protected species which are shot or trapped by hunters.

34. Regional development fund has aided the deprived parts of Britain - Some of the UK's poorest regions have benefited from massive handouts from the EU which has been used to regenerate some of the country's most run-down areas. Scotland's Highland and Islands have benefited enormously as have the Welsh mining valleys, Cornwall and deprived inner cities like Liverpool.

35. European driving licences recognised - Driving licences issued in one EU country are valid in any other, providing they are modern, EU-standard, ones with a photo identity. This means that the old days of having to gain translations for a UK permit to drive in Italy are over.

36. Britons now feel a lot less insular - A famous newspaper headline (perhaps apocryphal) once read "Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off". Remember the 1960s, when Ostend seemed like an exotic destination? EU membership has not dried up the English Channel but is has helped to remove the psychological barriers between Britain and the continent.

37. Europe's bananas remain bent, despite sceptics' fears - The suggestion that the EU wanted to impose straight bananas, or blue bananas, or ban all but Caribbean bananas, is one of the oldest of Euro-myths. Obsessive euro-harmonisation of rules is a thing of the past.

38. Strong economic growth - greater than the US last year - The EU's ambition to overtake America economically by 2010 has been ridiculed. The German economy has picked up with the UK and Nordic nations are performing strongly. Even Italy, thought to be in dire straits last year, is clocking up reasonable growth. The European Commission said it expects the economy of the 27-nation European Union to grow 2.7 per cent this year, ahead of the US's estimated 2.5 per cent

39. Single market has brought the best continental footballers to Britain - The Bosman ruling, based on European law, and other decisions, have freed up football transfers. From Eric Cantona to Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo, British fans have been enjoying watching Europe's finest talent for the past 15 years.

40. Human rights legislation has protected the rights of the individual - The introduction of the Human Rights Acts has provided a legal framework to prevent abuses of power.

41. European parliament provides democratic checks on all EU laws - The European Parliament, directly elected since 1979, has been given increased powers over the years. The parliament has made a significant impact in areas ranging from the environment to animal rights.

42. EU gives more, not less, sovereignty to nation states - Switzerland and Norway, two independent countries have little or no negotiating leverage when they deal with the EU. In fact they have less sovereignty than member states who decide the policy. Britons are more able to control their own destiny - in areas from international trade, to environmental protection, to consumer rights - because they are part of a 27 nation, democratic bloc. Real sovereignty, rather than theoretical sovereignty, is enhanced by EU membership.

43. Maturing EU is a proper counterweight to the power of US and China - As it develops common foreign and defence policies, the EU is finding its voice. Europe's interests and those of America and the emerging powers, such as China and India, will sometimes coincide, sometimes conflict. Could Britain's interests be protected if we stood alone or if we became a junior partner of the US?

44. European immigration has boosted the British economy - Hundreds of thousands of Poles commute between Poland and Britain. More surprisingly the economies of both countries are booming. The UK economy has benefited from a surge of well-qualified, highly motivated workers.

45. EU common research programme - Job opportunities and Europe-wide access to education mean there really are Europeans now who see the need to speak at least three modern languages.

46. Europe has set Britain an example how properly to fund a national health service - Some continental countries have health funding problems but several, the Dutch in particular, provide quality care while keeping down costs. It took the EU to rule that British patients had a right to seek care abroad.

47. British restaurants now much more cosmopolitan because of European influences - Britain has become - let us admit it - a more continental country in the last 34 years. We now care about what we eat. Nowhere has this been more marked than in the quality and variety of food being offered in our restaurants.

48. Mobility for career professionals throughout Europe - Professionals from doctors to architects now have a right to have their national qualifications recognised across the EU. Language and cultural barriers will always remain a problem for professionals but there are can no longer be purely protectionist obstacles to a career in another EU country.

49. Europe has revolutionised British attitudes to food and cooking - Despite major drawbacks, the bloated Common Agricultural Policy has enabled small family farmers to flourish in Europe. Its support has led to the birth of the Slow Food movement and arrival in British towns of farmers markets, growing with quality organics produce. Bon appetit!

50. Lists like this drive Eurosceptics mad - In the Daily Mail-Sun universe, the EU can never do any good. Brussels is an insane bureaucracy, which secretly plots to have all donkeys painted blue (with yellow stars). The 50th birthday of the European project is a time to celebrate the many positive things which the EU has brought us.

NOTE: I did not write this - I wish I had. I do not know the name of the author, I had copied and pasted the contents on a note which I have kept and cherished since. No breach of copyright or appropriation is intended here, if you are the author of the piece or know him or her, please get in touch, I would love to give them the credit they rightly deserve for it. The piece can't even be found on the Independent's website any  more! 

Monday, 3 February 2014

NHS Records for sale, opt-out NOW

Contrary to what the above logo says, the NHS is not only for sale, it has already been sold.  The figures are scary, and it's only the start. If you are interested into what's happening to our Health Services under our very noses, it won't take much of an Internet search to find out.

But this isn't the topic I want to discuss today. Amongst the rest of the dismantling of this august institution, our own data, all of our private information, all our most intimate details, is now going to be sold to private companies for data mining purpose. In theory, it's supposed to be all anonymous and only compiled for statistics, but the reality is somewhat different.

We should have all been sent this leaflet:

through our letterbox, but a lot of people won't even notice it, or if they do, will think it's just another junk mailshot, and even if they read it, how many will realise how sinister its significance? How many will know how to do something about it, or even if they should?

Make no mistake: Under the pernicious Health and Social Care Act 2012, your GP can not refuse to provide the data to these private companies. So, unless YOU tell your GP you do not want your data shared, shared it will be.

I strongly recommend people read this here:

then download and print this letter:

Then just take it to your Surgery and hand it to the receptionist. You can do it for all the members of your family.

WARNING: Data extraction is scheduled to start in March 2014.

If you do not want your confidential medical information scattered all over, 


Please feel free to share these links and/or this blog far and wide across the Internet. 
Me, I'm off to my doctor's to hand over the opt-out forms for me and my family.