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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 27 February 2017

Marketing The Future

I took the above photo in a branch of Claire's Accessories last week.  [Bless Claire's for the service it provides to tweenies and teenagers everywhere.  All their favourite tat under one convenient roof.  And at twice the price of the nearby market stalls.]

The picture shows the cover of a notebook but there was a whole range of stationery and accessories bearing the same slogan.  And I was terribly struck by the juxtaposition of this marketing with the likely future facing the shop's target market.

British children are going to lose their rights as European citizens.  They may still Dress Italian but it will cost more to buy the stuff or to visit Italy.  To say nothing of the passport queue when they reach their destination, while the rest of Europe streams through to claim their baggage and hire their cars.

Speak French?  Well, my son has to choose GCSE options shortly.  I am encouraging the taking of a language but I begin to wonder whether Chinese or Russian might not be of more use - not that our school can offer either.  None of our children will have an automatic right to work in France, holidays there will be more expensive and if our government is to be believed (hhhmm), we will be striking deals with India, China, anywhere but Europe.

And Dream American?  They have spent their childhoods bombarded with American TV programmes and You Tube 'stars'.  But now they are being daily faced with Trump and all he has brought (!) to the world.  They see and hear the news.  (Real news, incidentally.)  My children also saw the downside of the American Dream in California last year.  Streets and streets of homeless people living in tents in San Diego.  The already tight security at the Tijuana Mexican-American border.  The sleazier side of LA.  And that was before Trump even took over.

So what should we be telling our children?  How should this marketing look, if we really have to have these sorts of slogans for children to aspire to?

Dress How You Like
Because It Is No-One Else's Business and You Don't Need to Look the Same as Everyone Else.

Speak Up For People Who Cannot Speak For Themselves
And Speak Kindly to Everyone

Dream Of A World Where Democracy Actually Works
And Where Everyone has An Equal Share of Our Planet's Resources

Not exactly catchy but far more realistic, don't you think?  I will be contacting Claire's forthwith...

[P.S.  I find that more and more I am blogging about current and possible future events.  I do still very much work on genealogy and family history.  However, I feel very strongly that our descendants' futures are now in the balance in a way which we have not seen for decades.  And sacrifices made by our ancestors are going to be torn up if we are not careful.]

Monday, 20 February 2017

No Time for Melt Downs

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Last night, I had just sat down to watch the new BBC series SS:GB when I heard weeping from upstairs.  Somehow, in the space of twenty minutes, my daughter had worked herself into a complete meltdown about all manner of 'what if' scenarios.  Any of us dying or having accidents, grandparents dying, losing all our money, flooding, something happening to the dog.  Failure at SATs (don' get me started).  And Donald Trump starting World War Three.

Needless to say, I haven't yet managed to watch SS:GB.  But I was struck by the irony of dealing with such a stream of nameless but very real worries when I was supposed to watching a dramatisation of one of the ultimate 'what if's' of recent history.  What if the Germans had won World War Two?  According to this series, the British lost the Battle of Britain and things go from there - that much I saw.  Terrifying as we did come very close to this being the case.

Matt Haig, an amazing writer who I follow on Twitter, recently commented that his day now consisted of regular breaks to stop and worry about racism.  And I know what he means.  Despite the fact that in our day to day lives, we can do nothing to influence world politics, there is still a sense of worry hanging in the air.  What hideous thing will happen next?  What will the next newsflash bring?

I have been listening on Audible this week to The Romanovs by Simon Sebag-Montefiore (a history of the imperial family of Russia).  I have just reached the last chapters - an assessment of Russia's part in the World War One .  I did 'Causes of the First World War' at A Level.  It is an unbelievably complicated subject for historians and it has been fascinating to hear it from a Russian point of view.  But I have really had to stop myself from going into my own private meltdown.  So much of it still resonates today.  The machinations.  The awful influence of strange and difficult personalities.  The decades-long slide into war.  The national aims of the countries.

We 'ordinaries' are deluged with more information than our counterparts had a hundred years ago.  About people, organisations and possible outcomes.  There is a lot we still don't know but we are definitely exposed to more.  

We must try not to melt down in the face of this.  Yes, it is important to live our lives as best we can and to enjoy every day.  No, we don't know what will happen.  But we do need to use the resources available to make our views known.  All nations are still plagued with elites who wish to control our destinies.  History has many examples of ordinaries being used as cannon fodder.  Let's not let our generation or our children join that list.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Share, share, share

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So what to write about in the face of seemingly endless new political crises?  And endless awards ceremonies too.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good look at the frocks for the Oscars but the build-up to that seems to be longer every year.  As do the arguments over the bias/winners/losers/participants.

Cinema is something I love.  One of the few things to survive parenthood too.  Initially, the cinema seemed a dreadful luxury - paying a sitter to go and see a film cost more than the actual tickets.  But then one of my pre-natal buddies and I struck a deal.  Take out membership of the local independent cinema (it serves alcohol - what's not to love).  Make a pact to go whenever possible.  All George Clooney and Brad Pitt films would be seen, regardless of reviews - this condition has since been amended to include Jamie Dornan and Ryan Gosling.

Once the children were old enough to go to the cinema, it was (eventually) bliss.  There were a few false starts ('Oh no! Dark, Mummy!  Really dark!').  But mainly, film has been something to share with both of them.  New films to look forward to.  Details to pick over afterwards.  (Although I have been known to nap during some of the more obscure Disney epics.)

And don't we all need things to bond over?  Whether it be a viral video from YouTube, a set of jokes, a book or a shared meal, film or outing.  I do always wonder what it must have been like in, say, Regency times.  when news travelled so slowly and books were not easy to come by.  I always love the Back In Time programmes which explore ordinary life in different ages.  I have posted about them before, in fact.

However, in these darkening times, commonalities are more important than ever.  The more people who see, for example, the US Saturday Night Live sketches of Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, the better.  Ridicule is a powerful weapon.  On Twitter, Right wing commentators are saying that such satire is simply being performed because 'the liberals' are angry at having lost the election.

But here's a thought.  Maybe if more people had laughed at Hitler's posturing, poked fun at Mussolini, been able to share videos of the ridiculous rallies with added comedic commentaries, possibly their vile messages would have been diffused.  If not diffused then at least had a light shone upon them sooner.

[And by the way, with reference to my post last week, I have just rematched another episode of The Nazis: A Warning From History.  It talked about Hitler's refusal to deal with paperwork, his lack of concentration or interest in policy and his indolent approach to government...]

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Warning From History

I am starting to rewatch a series which I first saw a while ago.  Called The Nazis: A Warning from History, it is an excellent, if horrifying survey of the roots of Nazism and its terrible consequences.  It was first shown twenty years ago.  I don't think it is any coincidence that it is back on BBC iPlayer but I am grateful it is, however it got there.  Frankly, it should be required viewing for all adults on the planet.  Do watch it if you can.  (It used to be available on DVD too, if you cannot access iPlayer.)

There have been many mentions of Hitler and Nazism in relation to what is happening in America and Europe at the moment.  And obviously, the exact conditions which led to the rise of the Nazi party were unique and could not be repeated action for action.  But the polarisation of politics is being repeated.    Just ask the French.  Scapegoats are once again being found - immigrants, immigrants and more immigrants.  Appeasement is hovering around.  Holding  hands with Trump, Theresa May.  Really???  Bad for our country and appalling for feminism.  And our judiciaries and democratic institutions are under attack - don't get me started on examples for this.

This blog is often about lessons to be learnt from our history.  Fifty four million people died as a result of the Second World War.  Scariest lesson ever, surely.  What about the following, if you need more:

  • The Nazis, in their early days, promised to strip the Jews of their German citizenships and possibly expel them from the country.  Ringing any bells with 'it is not a ban'? 
  • Their slogan included 'Germany First' and 'Germany Awake!'  
  • Hitler Youth members talk, during the programme, of 'World Jewry' which wanted to 'rule the world'.  The message pumped at ordinary Germans was that it was morally okay to remove the Jews from public life because they were not innocent of any wrong doing.  They were part of a worldwide conspiracy.  Anyone thinking about the terror claims of the Trump government?

I have felt bizarrely proud to see the continuing protests at what is going on.  I can't help worrying though that things are going to have to escalate a whole lot more before any real changes can come about.  The quote below refers to America but is just as true when it comes to Brexit or to the ambitions of someone like Marine Le Pen.

Keep up the pressure.  Protest as much as possible in as many ways as possible.

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