The Day After The Night Before

Here we are, in the middle of the day after the referendum decided that United Kingdom would leave the EU. And a funny day it is – my twitter feed is  now somewhat calmer than yesterday when people in the academia were scared of the what would happen to them, and uncertainty spread around followed by rage from those 75% of under-25 year olds who saw their EU citizen state snatched away from them by the older voters.

As I stated in a previous post, spend a lot of time outside the academia with people who are largely very much against the EU, and there was no-one apart from my closest colleague who voted to stay in. But yesterday there was no leering from them (apart from one person who had the audacity to call out my colleague for no intellect for voting to stay in, then claim that the EU had no effect on workers’ rights). Oh no, no rejoicing. When the markets stated to plummet, all you could hear was a stunned silence. Some people have exclaimed ‘what have we done’, however, they now need to face the reality of what is happening.

There is so much I could say about what is going on. But I am taking it in myself right now. The implications of the referendum are multiple, and the current situation has revealed a rift between the older generation and the younger one, who voted overwhelmingly to stay. Scotland wanted to remain, so did Northern Ireland. Scotland may reconsider its position as an member of the United Kingdom, and there are calls to join Northern Ireland together with Ireland.  Will this become an issue of the dominance of England over the smaller nation-states, who knows. It might, and it is understandable – the focus is so much based on England and always has been.

Clausewitz said, ‘although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.’ And I’ll tell you what – politically this is probably the most interesting thing that has happened in a long time. Will the EU see this as a situation where they need to punish GB? Will they see this as an amazing situation where they could reform totally now that GB will no longer be a part of it, having a say and veto-ing things. Will the EU use Article 50 to keep all the free movement of the people? The possibilities are endless. Among all negativity, could this be something that might be positive for the EU?

I will leave you with another Clausewitz quote:

Two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.

Let there be light for those of us who need it.

In Other News..


…here’s a lemur I saw on Tuesday.

I don’t think I can comment anything else after the EU referendum and dealing with people calling my pro-EU colleague and idiot and having a go at me at having the wrong passport. Sometimes I feel like my life an a psychological experiment that I do not know anything about.

 Tomorrow is, however, another day, and I have a mug of coffee with my name on it. Life does carry on, and we have to pick up where we left off. All of us.

The Boundaries of Tolerance

aka ‘how the Brexit/Bremain debate  has destroyed some of my friendships and made me hate the people I have to spend time with’ 

I have been pondering on writing about this for a while now, and the draft has been sitting in my file for weeks. Then the murder of Jo Cox happened, and nothing felt like the appropriate thing to say. But the EU Referendum day is only a few hours away, and this feels like the time to let out a small vent before returning to work tomorrow.

I’m the only non-British EU citizen in my team where I work at. I’m the only immigrant in the core team of all the supervision and management team in our building. Everyone else is very English and occasionally quite vocal about it. Especially right now, and, God help me, during the football European Championships. I supported Wales recently which might explain my particular pain about that particular aspect of life. Outside the university I spend a lot of time with very anti-EU/ immigrant people. Who knows why. 

 I have heard the whole ‘all the immigrants don’t speak English and come and work for us’ which makes my ears bleed since it is yours truly who constantly gets asked how to spell English words by our native British peers. There irony is sadly lost on those who ask me these things. And believe me, I have heard some similar things about people ‘not bothering to learn our language’ from a hell of a lot of people who haven’t got dyslexia but who struggle with the most basic english language. But enough about that particular frustration.

As you can guess, the upcoming EU referendum has been the one thing that has been talked about for weeks now. And apart from my own work colleague, nearly everyone I know thinks that Britain should vote leave. Now, knowing my own long-term plans and how long the process to negotiate a departure would take, the result in itself would make no difference. As I cannot vote, I am not going to comment one way or another in the actual process and the arguments that go with it, although as a someone who researches media I have to say it’s been painful to watch. And also a great source of material for anyone researching the topic! Too bad it’s too late for me to change my own research areas now..

 But the whole period has brought forward a new dilemma. Just how long should you tolerate the ideas and opinions of others if they are against your own ethics and/or violently offending to you?

 It has been said that the problem with places like Facebook is that people have lost tolerance. If one of your friends has opinions that differ from yours, you can just unfriend them. because of the relative easiness of blocking those who do not agree with you, it has been suggested that it is easy to live in a happy little bubble where everyone agrees with you and you do not have to question your own values and attitudes. Now, for me, I represent the kind of demographic that in the Brexit- debates is more likely to be pro-European. Discounting the fact that I am European myself, I am reasonably young and educated. On top of that, I view my post-PhD life as one that exist in an international stage, and I currently work in a project that exists in web 2.0, and is done internationally.  My colleagues on the other mainly represent the kind of demographic who are more likely to vote for Brexit, when you look at the age and education levels.

 So here I am, logically thinking that everyone votes based on their own perception of life and interpretation of their circumstances. I live my own life based on those perimeters that my own experience creates. However, recently there has been an increase in the xenophobia at work, and someone recently made a comment about possibly sharing some offensive racist material on Facebook, finding it funny. Here is where it gets difficult. Do I note in my next review that I have an issue with the climate at work, or do I keep quiet because of the likelihood of being told to ‘lighten up’. You see, people, when challenged about behaving in an offensive way, often retaliate by either moaning about having to be politically correct, or tell you to lighten up. So then you have to try and figure out a.) how to react and b.) whether you really ought to lighten up.

 And should you really have to lighten up if someone is offending your values, and offending you? I certainly don’t think so. I don’t think that you ought to threaten the persons in question with ‘I’ll take you to court you b****rds’, but there is nothing wrong with some gentle challenging. As long as you do not call the other person an idiot, even if you want to. Or do a Boulton on them, even if violence does not solve the matter.

 boulton

This Brexit debate.. I am glad that it will be done whatever way things turn. I think I will concentrate on the NHL Draft instead, because of the whole ‘it is not racist to be concerned about immigration whilst simultaneously supporting negative stereotypes based on nationality‘ is getting a bit old now.. Give me a day or two of hockey chaos, and maybe then I can get my sociology hat on and start focusing on what the EU Referendum really means for Britain and my research. But for now.. just get it over and done with!

claudejulienguffaw


The Joys of the Holidays

aka ‘the things you don’t have to worry about if you are a full-time student’. 

Dear diary,

a few weeks ago I accidentally started a minor war at my work place.

let’s set the context. In August last year my colleagues TUPE‘d over to the company we all work for now from another company which had its specific processed and ways of doing things. Some of them, I hasten to add, had nothing to do with anything more than ‘but we’ve always done it’. Boom, the change is done, and I enter the workplace as a complete newbie to my job but a veteran of the company with a good few years behind me. It goes well. I learn my job and enjoy it, and bring in a few new ideas.

Being tied to my PhD as the academic year that goes with it, I calculated my shift pattern for the next three years on a very boring night shift. Let’s be honest, sometimes the only thing that saves a boring night is planing your next getaway.  Looked at next year, looked at our online booking system and put some holidays in at a time I knew people rarely wanted. Job done. next step, booking a hotel that was recommended to me the last time I was at my location.

Except it wasn’t that simple. One of my colleagues hit the roof, her argument being ‘but we’ve always waited until we have drawn the rota up’. I could insert a comment here about how she always used to draw the rota up and how mysteriously year after year this rota had her on a holiday for the Christmas period. but I’m not passive aggressive unlike some people *insert a cheeky wink here*.

Now, the only person who my holidays have an effect on is my working partner as both of us cannot be off at the same time. He was fine with it, so there was no issues.

However, there was a great big argument about why it was unfair that I booked my holidays : it was ‘because the rest of us don’t know when we want our holidays’.

Now, here is where the fundamental difference between my life as a PhD student comes to the forefront. I have deadlines, academic years. technically I am supposed to ask for my supervisors for permission to go on holiday – and I emphasize the technical here because as a part-time PhD student I live in a wholly different world to my full-time colleagues. My life is mapped out. I have sent myself a fantasy date by which time I have packed my things up and moved away, changed jobs, started a different life. My life does not have the luxury of not knowing when I want a holiday – it has the luxury of being structured in a way where I know I can toddle off to Seoul for a spring break (which I intend to do) and fly off to Tokyo to see some snow (and hopefully some ice hockey because as John Irving said,   ‘you’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed’).

And somehow people struggle with the concept of planning, of structure. In this modern world where you can do anything anytime, it seems that having a structure is somehow frightening. But you know what – there is nothing frightening to me in knowing that come the first week of May in 2017, I will be making like a panda!