I miss the days where I could take joy in the absurdity of real life, be that me mistaking a fellow commuter for a hell-beast cat, or me accidentally cock-punching a rather surprised businessman. OK, so the absurdity of my life, anyway.
I haven’t written anything on this site in a while for a few reasons. One is that I’ve been working on other things. I’ve recently finished the first edit on Echoes of Bethaira, a fantasy novella featuring a female protagonist who doesn’t really give two shits about discovering who she is and quite likes denial, thank you very much.
I’ve also written a one act play and some short stories, with plans to write another short play. Yay me.
The other reason is that, well, it’s become increasingly difficult to find pleasure in the ridiculousness of reality when that reality has been 2016. An international refugee crisis used as propaganda for the extreme right wing during Brexit. That bloody bus. Being told that the reward for austerity is, surprise surprise, more austerity. The NHS being dismantled as a man with no employment experience in any health service bleats on about how doctors and nurses should be working harder, seemingly ignorant to the fact that these people do work hard and aren’t exactly buggering off every other week to Tuscany. A candidate for the UKIP leadership getting into fisticuffs with some UKIP MEPs. A Labour leadership election that was, at the very least, ill-thought out, as the PLP believed that by stamping their feet and showing Corbyn that they didn’t like him, he would just have to go, ignoring the fact that this isn’t Mean Girls.
And then there’s Donald. Fucking. Trump. A man so vacuous he resembles a black hole, except instead of absorbing light, he obliterates hope and logic. A man who literally just ordered terminally ill people to vote for him. A man who insulted everyone struggling with PTSD by calling them weak. A man who brought up how much he hated Rosie O’Donnell at a fucking presidential debate. Good luck to you, America, because he isn’t popular without reason – there are people in your country who genuinely agree with him, and that’s a national issue you need to discuss, relating back to the schism in the US between the land of the free and the land of division.
Now, we have Andrea Rudd, stating businesses should be named and shamed for how many foreign workers they employ; that non-British doctors are less desirable that British ones (a particularly galling insult considering how ridiculously understaffed the NHS is); that international students don’t speak English well enough and should be made to take a test.
The fact she announced these measures on the anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, where anti-fascist Londoners fought Mosley’s Blackshirts, nearly made me die from irony overload.
I wanted to weep when I read her speech, mostly because it seemed that she had no idea what she was talking about. Let’s take the students: there is a test for English skills. It’s called IELTS and, on most university courses I’m aware of, international students need a level 6/7 to meet entry requirements. If they can’t, no course. I noticed there are no statistics floating around to back her up about how many students studying at English universities do not have sufficient language skills.
As for amount of workers, we’re enjoying a relatively high employment rate. A foreign worker isn’t stopping a British person getting a decent job: crap employers who are incentivised to pay below minimum wages are, or the government, vicously cutting funding to public services and reducing the amount of jobs available full stop.
Also, the idea that only foreign workers are willing to work lower than minimum wage is laughable. There’s nothing about being British that makes you immune from desperation, from working for cash in hand or “under the table”.
There’s this odd theory that if all foreign workers left, there would be enough jobs for British people. The only problem with that is it assumes there are skilled and qualified British workers to fill all of these roles. There was no talk of investing in British education, of training more people. If you think Jeff from Basingstoke is more qualified to be a doctor just because he’s British, you have a profound misunderstanding of the role education and hard work play in obtaining these skills.
Angela Rudd has been quite upset about being called a racist, or having her speech likened to Mein Kampf, to which it does bear a striking resemblance. She asks why we can’t have a conversation about immigration.
The problem is that the speech wasn’t a conversation, but a declaration that employing foreigners is bad. Why not say “we need to work out a points system” or “we need to decide how many foreign workers can come into the country based on economic factors”. Those would have at least started an intelligent debate about how we measure this, the real benefits we get from EU and international immigration, why nationality matters so much, why there aren’t enough jobs altogether, and how the British people deserve better education and services in order to do the jobs required. An opportunity to stop, breathe, and think.
Instead we got the old Tory line of fear, of saying foreign = bad, of “if you want a coloured for a neighbour, vote Labour”.
I hope that explains a little of why it’s hard to write silly stories about my adventures in London at the moment. After all, how can you take joy in how ridiculous life is when it keeps upping the ante?