Friday, January 21, 2022

so sweet and so cold

I've been sitting in bed not wanting to get out because the next step would be  going to the bathroom and having the 30 second cold shower (before the hot one) that is on my taking-myself-in-hand agenda. See the last post.

So here I am blogging, as a delaying tactic.

Do I feel better as a direct result of following my new agenda? or do I feel better because I have something else to focus on besides feeling fed up? Who knows? It's been working anyway. 

I began on Monday and have been doing well. I've managed all the daily things on the list, including the cold shower. Yesterday I nearly chickened out of that, but managed to push through. 

The biggest challenge has been not being rude to rude motorists. I barely managed this on Monday: I said something charming in a sarcastic voice. They never hear me either way, but I suspect that shouting rude things is not very Quakerly.

The best idea has been to read a poem in bed first thing, partly because it helps to counteract the news, but then, when is it not a good idea to read a poem?  I have a shelf full of poetry books in the bedroom but hadn't picked one up since Christmas. This week I've been reading from Billy Collins' collection Sailing Alone Around the Room. Check this poem out as an example.

Going outside within an hour of getting up is also good. I saw the sun shining on the clump of snowdrops that come up first every year. They are along the lane and back onto a wall that faces east. 




They're the snowdrops that make a guest appearance in Even When They Know You.

And talking of poems, and Even When They Know You, do you remember this snippet of conversation between Joe and Jane?

‘I’m sorry, I’ve crushed the marsh marigolds. Forgive me, they were so-’

‘This is just to say I have crushed the marsh marigolds that were by the spring, and which you were probably saving for dinner. Forgive me, they were delightful, so bright and so jaune.’

‘Jaune?’

‘Well, you think of a word for yellow that has one syllable!’

Did you realise it was an allusion to this poem by William Carlos Williams?


This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

The format of this poem is often copied and used in parodies, and this week a writer called Tom Sutcliffe put this on Twitter:

It is not for me to say whether I ate the plums that were in the icebox. As you know Sue Grey is investigating this matter We await her conclusions so sweet and so cold


(note to non-Brits - this is a reference to our disgraced and disgraceful Prime Minister, his Party, and his parties.)

And now I need to get upstairs and persuade myself to take the cold shower. 





Sunday, January 16, 2022

Taking myself in hand

How are you feeling as we go forwards into another difficult year?

Do you remember 18 months or so ago I came up with a pandemic motto for myself:  'Stay healthy, stay cheerful, and try to be kind'?

I'm still managing to stay healthy by keeping fit, and I'm trying to be kind, but the cheerfulness bit has gone out of the window. 

This could be for several reasons -

1/  general pandemic malaise:



2/   impotent rage about Johnson and his cronies

3/   plain old January blues


Whatever the cause, I've decided to take myself in hand. 

I'm going to take steps.

A couple of weeks ago I read a piece in the Guardian called A hundred ways to slightly improve your life without really trying, which sounded understated and realistic and helpful without being so challenging as to be offputting (e.g. training for a marathon.)

And yesterday in he Times there was a similar piece called How to get a happy fix: 27 easiest ways to lift your mood. 

I already do many of the things they suggest, but I've chosen some items from both of the lists and added some of my own and come up with a cunning plan. 

Starting tomorrow, I will:

1/     Take a cold shower for 30 seconds before my hot one. (Cold showers were suggested in both of the lists.) They are supposed to be good for one's physical and mental health. 

2/     Clear out my in-tray and desk drawers and filing cabinet, and throw away (i.e. recycle) all old manuscripts.

3/     Read a poem every morning before I get up.




4/      Send postcards even when I'm not on holiday.

5/      Phone old friends I haven't seen for over a year.

6/      Always return my keys to the hook, when I come home.

7/      Do that one thing I've been putting off.

8/      Cook one new recipe a month, or an old one I haven't done for at least a year. This may sound pathetic but for one who is uber-bored with cooking it is still a challenge.

9/      Listen to the albums I loved as a teenager.

10/    If I'm going less than a mile, walk or cycle, whatever the weather.

11/    Go outside every morning within an hour of getting up. Apparently, David Ray,  Professor of Endocrinology, says that 'even the daylight on a cloudy day in winter has a powerful effect on re-establishing the rhythms that help to improve mood and energy levels.I did this yesterday, a dull, grey morning and snapped these beauties:







12/    Stretch for at least five minutes daily.

13/    Stop swearing at rude motorists when I'm on my bike, and say something charming instead, even though they never hear me, either way.

14/    Spend a few minutes every day breathing deeply: in through the nose, out through the mouth, making the exhale longer than the inhale.   

15/    List three things every night that I am thankful for. Try to make them different every day.


I'll leave you with two ideas which have recently spoken to my condition. The first is from The Wind in the Willows, and the second is from The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse.










Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Could do better

The title of the post refers to me, not to our rancid government.

How are you? 

I'm not sleeping well. 

And I'm drowning in apathy. 

January 1st was the first New Year morning in 20 years that Dave and I did not go out early to feed the ducks or walk on the Trail. Neither of us could be bothered.

This is the first New Year I did not sit down and consider some resolutions, aims, or plans for the coming year. All I could come up with was a word - love - and a poem - A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson.

And all I can muster the energy for, day to day, is forcing myself out to take some exercise, and painting.

Every spring I have pots of tete-a-tetes on the doorstep. Every summer it's geraniums. And in the winter I bring the pots of cyclamen from under the tree and put those on the step. This year one was flowering and one was not and it's been like that for two months. Terrible feng shui. Usually I would have gone out to the garden centre and replaced the non-flowering one, but I can't be bothered. 




This advice from Neil Gaiman is my solace:

Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too.

So I am trying my best with my painting. I made good progress yesterday and I'm no longer discouraged.

And since I started writing this post the sky has cleared and the sun has come out on a frosty morning.

This is the view over our garden wall right now. 




There is one other thing I have enthusiasm for, besides painting, and that's Wordle.

Have you tried it yet?


I heartily recommend it. But beware...the designer is American so American spellings are used. Today it mattered. So if you're a newbie, I recommend you start tomorrow.

OK, it's 9.38 and Dave has been rebuilding the back wall for an hour while I've been sitting here in my pyjamas talking to you. It's time I had a shower and put on my dungarees and my mother's waistcoat and started painting.








 


Saturday, January 08, 2022

Letter from home

I'm sorry not to have written, but it has been a bad week, apart from Tuesday which was wonderful, because I went for a New Year's picnic on Stanton Moor with Liz 




and we had hot cheesey-veggie flan, crisps, mince pies, chocolate brownies, satsumas,  Christmas serviettes (get us!) 



mulled wine out of a flask, and crackers.

"What did the beaver say to the Christmas tree?"

(answer below)


The rest of the time has been - as my daughter says - pants. 

And I have not blogged about it because I know that there are millions of people worse off than me and it didn't seem right to complain. But then a friend said to me yesterday that everyone is fed up, so I guess I am telling you now because sharing is good.

I am fed up with the smallness and sameness of my life in a pandemic that goes on and on. 

And out there, always in the deep dark background - down there in London - the architects of our national debasement and resulting crapness go on and on. This tweet I came across today sums it up:



And trying not to read the news and to focus entirely on my painting has not brought me joy. I am painting my much-loved quilt again, trying this time to get the colours right and failing. This is the work in progress. There is shading to be done on some of the colours and there are some flowers to add, and the pale yellow at the top has yet to be painted. There are some good bits, but overall I am sick of it. I am going to plow on and then do something big and impressionistic to cheer myself up.






Anyway...I don't know how many of you read the comments section on the blog, but a new blog reader asked under the last post, which of my books she should start with. Please will you tell her what you think? Either in the comments section below, or under the last post. There are quite a few there now.

Thank you.  

* Cracker joke answer - It's been nice gnawing you.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Thinking things over

When I was staying with the family in Boulder in November, Isaac took me out walking in the countryside where I was wowed by the grasses. I’d been painting grasses at home so it was natural to notice them over there.


Photo by Isaac





The landscape was golden. We commented on the restricted palette, and 

I tried to capture it in my painting

Colorado colours
Acrylics on canvas board. 25 by 37 cms


I pointed out the dried leaves to Isaac at the time - they were hard and crispy like the best kind of potato crisps.




and not like the leaves back home in Derbyshire:





You will have read about the dreadful fire in Boulder County.  It raged across grasslands and could not be stopped because the winds were so fierce. Those towns damaged by it - Louisville and Broomfield - are just ten miles south of Boulder and we drive past them on the way to Denver. 


I know what it's like to lose all one's possessions in a fire because it happened to us. We did not lose a house, though. We had sold our house and our things were in storage while we looked for another. It felt devastating at the time. But how does someone feel whose home has burned down? How does someone feel who has lost everything  - house and home? 

‘Each house is not just a house. It’s a home. It’s a sanctuary of comfort and a reservoir of memories,’ said Jared Polis, the Governor of Colorado. 

Isaac and family were away on holiday when the fire was raging. The 100 mph winds brought down a 60 foot tree in their front garden. It fell on their car and their Vespa. 



When I spoke to Isaac on the phone he was sanguine. He said they were counting their blessings. Not just about the fact that the fire didn't touch Boulder itself, where they live, but that the tree had not fallen on the house, or worse, on a neighbour. And he spoke of the sad, sad stories he'd read about the people who had lost everything.

This tragedy so close to Isaac’s home makes my heart ache not just for the people of Louisville and Broomfield, but for people everywhere who have lost their homes because of floods or hurricanes or landslides or earthquakes or war. And following on from that it aches for refugees who have had to flee their homes. 

I have always felt an affinity with refugees, perhaps because my home means so much to me. Seeing refugees in Bosnia in the 1990s inspired me to write this poem:


Knitted Blanket

Before this week we shared a pattern for our lives,

The texture, yarn and colours of a kind,

But war has wrenched the needles from your hands –

And stitches dropped, your world unravels and unwinds.


To see you there with every line cut off, and torn

From home and husband, warmth, support and friends,

Stranded hopeless on a brutal border,

I feel there’s paltry comfort in the threads I send.

 

This soft white wool is from our son’s first baby coat,

The 4-ply’s from a v-neck made for school,

The chunky red is from his sledging scarf,

The black a teenage sack he wanted to look cool.

 

All you had is lost. How can you pick your stitches

Up, begin again on your design?

I long to lend you my security until

Your future, present, past, are re-aligned.


Sue Hepworth



Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Love and fun and paradise

I had the most wonderful Christmas Day at Zoë's house with her and Brian and my grandsons. There were a lot of laughs and much cavorting  and it pains me that now the boys are teenagers I can't show you what they look like and I am not even free to describe them or tell you what we did. I understand and accept it completely, but they are a part of my life, and I talk about most other parts of my life (don't I?) so it's hard.

I will say that it was two years since I spent a reasonable amount of time with them, because I have not been inside their house since the arrival of Covid, and when I have met up with Zoë outside, the boys have usually been out or in bed. 

This has made me worry that I was no longer relevant or a part of their lives, but the hug that one of them gave me on arrival was as warm and heartfelt as the one I received from the girls in Colorado last month. I was moved at the time, and it moves me now, as I tell you.


The girls greeting me at Denver airport

I came home on Boxing Day, and Dave is so anxious that I have brought Covid home that I am keeping my distance and wearing a mask until the weekend. 

It was worth it. Don't tell Dave but it would still be worth it if the 'isolation' was for a fortnight.

My life for the last two years has felt impoverished by a dearth of adventure and variety and fun and hugs, with only occasional oases.  I was brought up on hugs and I need them now, which is why I drew that picture last year.


The other thing I want to share is a link to a moving piece in the Guardian: The best photographs of 2021 and the stories behind them.

It is not just about the photographs themselves but the picture they paint of our world in 2021 made up of personal experiences from around the globe - the  humanity.

I just read Simon Parke's blog post in which he says his word for the coming year is courage.

I'm wondering what mine is. 

Is it grit? 

Hope? 

I think it has to be Love.

And also the message in Roger Robinson's poem:


A Portable Paradise

And if I speak of Paradise,
then I’m speaking of my grandmother
who told me to carry it always
on my person, concealed, so
no one else would know but me.
That way they can’t steal it, she’d say.
And if life puts you under pressure,
trace its ridges in your pocket,
smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,
hum its anthem under your breath.
And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,
hostel or hovel – find a lamp
and empty your paradise onto a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep.


Roger Robinson

© Roger Robinson, from A Portable Paradise, 2019. Used by permission of Peepal Tree Press.


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Your NHS needs You

It seems a shame to be blogging about politics in the Christmas break, but I am sure you care about keeping the NHS as much as I do.

Have you heard of the Health and Care Bill 2021/2022 that is currently being pushed through Parliament? 

It entrenches privatisation within the NHS, harms patients and doctors, and increases profits for private healthcare corporations, especially from the United States.

My Aging Hippie friend Karen 

The Aging Hippie and me in California

Face-timed me on Christmas Eve. She was going to dinner at a friend's house and was going to take a lateral flow test before she went. I asked her how you get tests in the USA. She said you buy them from the pharmacist  - a pack of 2 tests costs $26.  That is £19.34 GBP.

Can you imagine?

In September 2015 when I arrived in Colorado, my always healthy heart felt weird, and Isaac took me to the Emergency room to get checked out. I was there for a couple of hours having tests. I got the all clear but the bill came to $12,000.*

Can you imagine?

We must not let our NHS be destroyed by the government.

There is a campaigning group called Your NHS Needs You which wants to renationalise the NHS.  In order to counter the Health and Care Bill they have gathered together research from some of the country’s leading experts on the NHS, which taken together, shows that the Bill:

  • Reduces access to medical services and emergency services

  • Enables closures of services, pushing those who can afford to do so into paying for their healthcare.

  • Enables more public money to be diverted from patient care to private corporations and their shareholders.

  • Enables private companies to make decisions on allocating public healthcare budgets.

  • Completes the legal framework underpinning the transition of public healthcare assets into the private sector.

  • Moves us towards the United States model of privatised healthcare.

  • Abolishes the universal care guarantee long enshrined in the NHS.

You can find more specific research findings here which appear under the ones I have listed.

Please find time to write to your MP, and a Lord, and tell your friends about what is happening.

Don't assume that if you have a Labour MP you don't need to write. The Labour Party leadership has failed to make the arguments the public need to hear, or to come out in favour of renationalising the NHS. Added to this, Keir Starmer recently stated his support for ‘partnering with the private sector to deliver healthcare.

Please - do something this week. It's urgent. 


*My travel insurance paid the bill


Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve

Covid or no-Covid, lockdown or no lockdown, ON Christmas or OFF Christmas, there is something magical about Christmas Eve: I always wake up feeling happy.




That's pretty much all I have to say. 

Except.. I'd like to know why people write in their Christmas cards that they hope I'll "have a peaceful Christmas."

Don't they know me?

Don't they know that what I want is a noisy, busy Christmas with the house stuffed full of family, eating and drinking and laughing and joking and playing games?

Well I've just checked, and all the people who wished me a peaceful Christmas are all younger than me, by one or even two generations. Have I reached that decrepit age where people think I want to sit in my chair by the fire and sink into a reverie of happy memories, rather than being out there, swigging champagne and enjoying the action? More fool them.

Last evening on Facetime a friend's young adult daughter popped onto the screen for a moment to say hello, and I told Dave afterwards: "She's even more beautiful than last time I saw her."

"Of course she is," he said. "All young people are. Their muscles still work, their sphincters are in good order..."

He WILL be sitting by the fire tomorrow - probably watching re-runs of Who do you think you are? - but I shall be at Zoë's house, cavorting, and absolutely not having a peaceful Christmas. 

Happy Christmas, dear readers. Wishing you whatever kind you long for. And as Chrissie said yesterday - May all of your test results be negative.


The sitting room side of my painting table





Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Thinking about something else

Although I suffered a bout of despair last Thursday afternoon, when I threw myself down on the bed and covered my head with the pillow for half an hour, this week I'm strangely not brought down by the utter crapness of the people "in charge."  Yes, they're beyond the very worst word you can come up with; but I've been thinking about other things, such as reading memoirs from the home front in WW2, and painting.

I've just finished this one of the Colorado landscape:


Colorado colours
Acrylics on canvas board. 25 by 37 cms


and decided that next I want to paint a snapshot of something around the house. Technically it would be a still life, but I have a personal horror of posed, artificial still-life paintings, however exquisite the painting. I was mulling this over and decided I should look again at one of my favourite paintings which oddly, happens to be a still life. It's called The Red Chair and it's by Cadell.



And I realised that it must be posed, because no-one would leave a tablecloth draped over a table like that with a lemon and a book resting on it, so I should get over my 'horror'...unless perhaps they were in the middle of clearing up and the phone rang...

Anyway...every morning when I sit in bed eating breakfast, I think how much I love my patchwork quilt that I made last year, so yesterday I spent half an hour taking photographs of the tray on the quilt to see if I could come up with a composition I liked.

I must have taken 30 photographs in all, and in the end I decided I didn't like any of them. Here are 20.



Then I realised that I love the quilt itself, so why not just paint that? I did one of the quilt in January:


The landscape of my bed.
Acrylics on canvas board. 37 by 55 cms


but why not paint another? This one could be in a different style. So that's what I'm up to.



In between times I am seeing no-one but Dave, and I'm hoping that 
Zoë and family don't test positive before Christmas Day when I am due to be with them.

Fingers crossed for you all, too - that your Christmas is as happy as possible in these deep dark times.




Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Looking for joy

I'm wondering if this feeling of weariness and apathy was shared by people in the run up to the second Christmas of WW2. Somehow I can't imagine it. I'm going to check my home-front-lit and find out.

This is the first Christmas in forty odd years I have NOT made a Christmas cake.

It is the first Christmas ever I have bought mince pies. 

It's the first time I've reached December 15th without making some myself. But I do have a small jar of mincemeat left over from last year and I will be using it next time I make some pastry. 

See what I mean? - "next time I make some pastry" - not "I must do it today!"

My son-in-law Brian gave me some holly on Sunday - which I was delighted with - but then instead of dealing with it, I left it on the bench by the front door and the thing that prompted me to bring it in was seeing a blackbird eating the berries. Now I have this lovely wreath. 




In an effort to kick myself out my lacklustre mood I made a flask of coffee and set off for the river on my bike.

This was the river yesterday - a gushing torrent:




This was the same stretch of river in May, just downstream a little:



I loved the bike ride, and the river, and came home and set to work on a painting that I started two weeks ago and I've made little progress with. This is mainly because the daylight is so scarce and so poor in December, but it's also been about my mood. Once I got started of course I loved the activity of painting.

In another effort to break up the apathy I made myself a new soup for lunch, and it was good.

Last evening we had a power cut and the only thing giving any light was this year's 'Christmas card' from Dave to me:



It's a collection of stars fashioned out of copper wire and it's one of my favourite Dave cards. 

He's such a talented and generous dude, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. He has done so many DIY jobs and made so many things for Zoë and Brian that Brian (another talented dude) made Dave a non-Christmas advent calendar. Inside every door there is a tiny photo of some job that Dave has done for them, something he has fixed for them, or something he has made for them.



It is beautifully made and utterly delightful, and every morning brings a new surprise - a reminder to Dave of things he'd forgotten he'd fixed - the dishwasher, the light switch; things that he's made - the crokinole board, the wooden heart, the garden coffee table, the guitar stand; hard work he's put in - moving the gatepost, breaking up the old path.

Looking behind the door every morning is the most fun we're having in this run-up to anther Covid Christmas. It is such a joy, and so, so heart warming. Bless you, Brian.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Christmas spirit, anyone?

How is the Christmas spirit in your house right now?

Long time blog reader Jenetta left this comment on a recent post:

...I got THE boxes down from the loft, wore a silly hat for our church table top sale today and now I want to put it all back up in the loft and skip the decorating and all the fuss this year and fast forward to Christmas Day, have family together, eat too much and move on....And I usually love the decorating bit.

I share her feelings. Hepworth Towers is awash with apathy, although I have dug up and potted the tree to bring in from the garden next weekend. And Dave's home-made wooden tree and the lighted bottles are in the kitchen, but that is only because I had to find some stuff in the attic to take to the Meeting House yesterday, and I thought - oh, I might as well.



Christmas has certainly become less sparkly for me as I get older. All I want is to be with family and to have a tree. 

Also, it's harder to get into the Christmas spirit when I'm not buying presents. I left the girls' presents in Colorado, and my local teenage grandchildren want money, of course. The rest of the family want donations to charity, and Dave doesn't do Christmas - as well you know. So I just have one present left to buy and wrap. 

Then there is Covid. Things relaxed a little after we had our boosters, but now Omicron has arrived, Dave is on high alert, so our Christmas is not looking very different from last Christmas.*

What is different is that since last December we have had one more year of lies, corruption and mayhem and I am spending too much time checking the news online to see if the Tories have given him his marching orders yet. As the Observer said this morning: 


Enough!

I have had my SAD light on for an hour first thing every morning, and I'm getting out under the sky when possible. I don't have the winter blues. Maybe I should bring in the tree a week early. Maybe I should try harder to think of things to blog about, because having been writing this for half an hour I'm already feeling more cheerful. 

Thank you for being there, dear friends. 

Let me know how you are.


*Zoe has invited me for Christmas Day and I have told Dave that I am determined to go, even if  he makes me self-isolate for ten days when I get back to Hepworth Towers.









Thursday, December 09, 2021

Things that matter


Perhaps you are hoping I'll be writing a cheery/funny/seasonal post today. I'm sorry. I have serious things on my mind.

Yes, I care about the parties at Number 10 breaking Covid lockdown rules, and the lies about them. But it is only to be expected, as Boris Johnson cares for no-one and nothing but himself: he only has to open his mouth for a lie to come out, and his toadies back him up.

What I am even more upset about this morning is that yesterday Parliament passed the third reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which does many evil things, including cracking down on the right to protest. 

But it also punishes refugees and asylum seekers. This Bill has been extensively criticised by virtually all those who are authoritative on asylum matters – the UN High Commission for Refugees, the Refugee Council, some 450 immigration scholars at British universities and various organisations representing refugee women. 

*see below

This Bill will particularly harm women seeking asylum because of their specific vulnerabilities, and their particular experiences of violence.

One huge shortcoming of the Bill is that it requires judges to give ‘minimal weight’ to evidence produced later in an asylum seeker’s time in the UK ‘unless there is good reason’. But there are many reasons why women who are fleeing sexual or gender-based violence will not share relevant evidence at the initial stage. These include trauma, guilt, shame and fear of family members, or of traffickers.  

I know how vulnerable refugee women are, how traumatised they are, and how hard it is to have to put their case with supporting evidence, because revisiting their experiences to give this evidence is deeply upsetting. I also know that many staff in the Home Office are not sympathetic to these difficulties, and many refugee women don't feel able to talk about their experiences at the first interview. Many women need mental health support and legal advice before they can open up about their suffering. 

Another problem with the Bill is that it introduces a new two-tier system under which those who come by irregular routes could be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to four years. Such detention or imprisonment would be traumatic for refugee women.  The Home Office would also seek to remove the woman, regardless of her needs, to a country it considers safe. Women for Refugee Women comments:

‘Contrary to Home Office claims, women are often compelled to take irregular routes to reach safety. Even if new safe routes were created by the government, they would simply not be available to all those in need of protection. Many women would not be able to safely reach an embassy to apply for a humanitarian visa or cross a border to access a resettlement programme, if those routes did indeed exist. Others would only be able to disclose their stories once they reach a country they consider safe.

The Government has ignored Article 31 of the UN Refugee Convention which specifically requires contracting countries not to penalise people for ‘illegal entry’.

The Bill makes asylum seekers’ claims ‘inadmissible’ if they could have applied for asylum in the first safe country they entered. But the Refugee Convention does not state that asylum seekers must claim asylum in the first safe country they come to. 

Lastly, the Bill enables the Home Office to remove asylum seekers while their claim or appeal is proceeding. 

This is unjust.

As for 'off-shore processing' this would pose a serious risk to women and children of sexual abuse and re-traumatisation.’  Holding women in isolated centres where they cannot access community support is particularly unfortunate for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence including rape, forced prostitution, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse. Some may have been victims of trafficking or compelled to work in garment factories.  It will force them to relive traumatic memories of confinement and abuse.

Lastly, the Bill re-interprets the UN Refugee Convention, which is, in effect, the UK Parliament attempting to change international law. This is hugely  damaging to the international system of protection and to the UK’s international standing.

The only small strand of hope is that the House of Lords might make some changes when the Bill is passed back to them. Some members of our local refugee support network have each written to ten Conservative members of the House of Lords about the Bill and asking them to speak out. I did it too. And you could, if you're so minded.

What is morally wrong, cannot be politically right.  

John Bright (Victorian MP)


*We have hosted refugees and asylum seekers in Bakewell at our hospitality days and I wish I could post a photo of these happy times on here, but we need to protect the privacy of survivors of human trafficking, so I had to use the photo above that I found online.