Honestly, I have felt better

Sometimes it just feels like everything is falling apart

Sometimes it just feels like everything is falling apart

Today I am really quite depressed. Usually I do not let politics impinge much on my life… I know that what happens in my country and the rest of the world is important, but I prefer to focus on things that I can have a direct impact on: my garden, my community, my local economy, my buying choices and so on. Today, however, I am very upset by the results of our recent elections – those to select our representatives in the European Parliament. I’s not so much the fact that he highest number of votes cast went to UKIP – a bunch of racist, homophobic, climate-change deniers – although that is bad enough. My real issue is that so few people actually voted – only about a third of the population were bothered enough to turn out.

Now, I accept that you might now want to vote for any of the parties or people on offer, and that it would be great to have a box to tick for ‘none of the above’, but failing that, just go and spoil your ballot paper – that way at least you have registered your involvement. Many commentators much more eloquent than me have described why it is important to vote, so I don’t plan to go into the arguments here. I do, however, wish to highlight the fact that the right of ordinary people to vote in Britain was hard-won and it’s a privilege that many people in the world still don’t have. Let’s not give a mandate to dictators just because we can’t be bothered to participate.

Pre-felting

Pre-felting

So, to cheer myself up I decided to be simultaneously destructive and creative. Some people break things when they are upset, but this just upsets me more. However, today felt like a day for transformation… and I have directed my attention to a cashmere cardigan. I loved this cardigan… it was very expensive… I wore it until it started to fall to pieces… then I mended it and wore it some more. Finally, however, it was beyond hope and I put it in a drawer because I simply could not bear to throw it away. But I decided that today was the day to transform it. I thought about cutting it into pieces to make a cushion cover, scarf or even a square for the masterpiece, but I knew that it was really too fragile for this and so, the only answer was washing-machine felting.

Post-felting

Post-felting

First I put it in the machine with a throw that I use on my work chair and that Sam had slobbered all over this morning (thank you Sam), but I was nervous and only risked a temperature of 50ºC. It came out a bit felted, but not very. So, since it’s a sunny day and the solar panels are doing their stuff, I then put it in with some towels at 90ºC… kill or cure! The result was a bit scrunchy, but definitely felt and usable for something… I just have to decide what now. It’s interesting that you can still see the knitted structure:

Knitting still visible

Knitting still visible

But that closer inspection reveals the felting:

Felted cashmere

Felted cashmere

Well, at least I’ve achieved something positive today.

 

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25 Comments

  1. I too was deeply saddened by the European election results. Although the far right in The Netherlands did less well than last time, the overall result across Europe was deeply worrying and the turnout was not great either! The far right in the uk votes against all initiatives from european regardless of their impact. That’s very disturbing too. A grim day all round. A colleague of mine said the other day that she didn’t vote and I said I vote because people died to give me that right. I’ve never understood those who don’t bother.

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    • I don’t think people realise how UKIP vote in the European Parliament – they have voted against all sorts of positive measures – for example they voted against a clampdown on the trade in ivory… I could cry 😦

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  2. I’m sorry the results have been so upsetting for you with turnout, perhaps the apathy is because it’s the European Elections and not the General Election.I think people are not enamoured of our Euro MP’S and their gravy train/ expenses issues as they once were though one thing does puzzle me, Why, if the UKIP party wish to withdraw from Europe are they having people stand as MP’s within Europe?
    Mr Farage may be beaming over these results but I don’t expect the beam to be as wide when it comes to voting at home.Before then I assume some of the other parties will understand just how important the British populace find some UKIP policies to be and not ignore them.
    Meanwhile, well done on the felting.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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    • I think that the media are partially responsible – huge amounts of coverage of UKIP, but not discussing their broader policies, whilst almost no coverage of the greens who have so much that is positive to say.
      I seriously don’t believe any party currently has a mandate since by far the majority of the population didn’t vote 😦

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  3. In Australia the right to vote is reinforced by the legal requirement to vote. If you don’t, they fine you! We also have multiple choice voting papers, elections for both lower and upper house, and state and federal elections. Believe me, voting here requires concentration! And they hold elections on Saturday, open from early to late, so that people have no excuse not to go, with postal votes very common for those who live in remote areas. But all this doesn’t stop idiots being elected….
    I have a beautiful cashmere cardigan in similar condition. First I darned it, then when the holes got too big I made patches from matching fabric. Now, it’s gone past that, and I shall have to repurpose it some other way.

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    • I think the thing that gets to me so much is that people are so disengaged… they simply don’t care about voting… how depressing.
      If you have a good idea about your cardigan, do share it!

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      • That is the one positive that has come out of the dreadful government currently in power in Aus: people have started to pay attention. Unfortunately we still have no real alternative party to vote for (Labor don’t know which way is up right now) and no contrasting voices in the media.

        I am worried for my country.

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  4. Yes, it’s so depressing. If one good thing comes out of this, I hope all the people who didn’t bother to vote will wake up and realize how important it is before the general election.

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  5. Good for you for taking your snail-steps today. And every day you speak for a greener future: that is hugely important, and I thank you. We’ll just have to be the grass and out-grow them!

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  6. I’d swap your lot for our lot any day (I’m in South Africa, just as a reminder!). We held national elections 2 weeks ago; of those who were 18 or 19, and therefore born after the end of apartheid (referred to in the press as “the born frees”), more than TWO THIRDS didn’t even bother to register to vote. And that’s not including the older people who either didn’t care, or didn’t understand what the long-term consequences of their apathy will be. It is beyond my understanding, that people can be so ignorant (black, white, ALL races!!)
    I won’t even mention the violence and harassment and threat tactics that happen at so many polling stations.
    It’s extremely sickening.

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    • Oh, that’s terrible. Not even thinking it’s worth registering to vote speaks volumes. I am probably naive, but I would have expected that in South Africa of all places the people would understand the importance of participating. Perhaps it tells us a lot about the human mind – perhaps we really can only work sensibly in small communities, and we get overwhelmed by the big stuff… or perhaps, at heart, we really all just want to focus on ourselves.

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      • Peru makes me think that the small communities thing is key. We can understand issues well at this scale, interpret what they mean for ourselves and those around us, and feel as if things we do actually matter. It’s much tougher at the big scale to feel that (even for me! I feel so far removed from the outcomes of my work that even though I KNOW how important it is, it FEELS pointless).

        *hug*

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  7. I too was saddened by the vote. Have complained to BBC about bias in their coverage of greens. While not a member did do some leafletting fpr them. Felt good to be involved in preliminary discussions about lessons learned for next years campaign.

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    • I was heartened by the green’s performance.. I just wonder what the result would have been if the media had given them as much coverage as UKIP before the election.

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  8. I agree with you about the right to vote. We fought so hard to get the vote, especially for women, and so many people don’t have the opportunity to vote freely. I haven’t been following the elections but from what you have said I can understand your frustration and anger. Just as well you had the cardigan to take out your frustrations. Something good to come out of it all.

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  9. I’ve been rather glum about Australian politics too, for some months now, and really should try to write it all out to try to make some sense of what’s happening. As far as I can tell, the Right and the Left need to stop shouting at each other, start listening, and work together to build a shared vision for the future. If we don’t do that, nothing is going to change: we will remain divided and easily controlled and manipulated by those who love power. Sad times.

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  10. Also, I though I should share this rather insightful comment by a friend of mine who works in education for the disadvantaged in London. Her perspective often helps me understand a little better the choices people outside of my demographic make.

    By Rosamicula: It’s a mistake to assume the only people who are going to vote UKIP are white, middle class, middle-aged and male. Though I did read some research recently indicating they were more likely to be young, white male and unemployed or in low paid jobs, their support in London, limited though it is compared to elsewhere, is far from exclusively white or confined to a narrow band of those who can be dismissed as merely nasty and the stupid.

    I was teaching a literacy intervention class last week. It was a group of four, year eight, black and mixed race kids; all under-achievers, all in single parent families and all in receipt of free school meals. The last detail is important because the funding that pays for the additional lessons they have with me is the Pupil Premium funding for those on benefits or who are ‘looked after’, that was brought in (with some attendant horse-trading, no doubt) by the Lib Dems.

    They all said UKIP were brilliant and that their mothers are all going to vote for them. This is partly because they are homophobic and anti-Islamic. In most secondary schools in London, teachers would make more effort to challenge these views, or at least attempt to endow them with the social skills not to make those views clear, but this is a faith school where less than half the staff went through the British education system themselves; they have different priorities. These kids will cheerfully declare they hate Polish (by which they mean all East-European) people. They cannot countenance racism being anything but the prejudice of white people for black ones. One of them said of their peers, ‘The only white people in this school are Polish. That isn’t right’. One of their mothers is desperately looking for work. She applied to the Starbucks in the redeveloped railway station close to the school when they were advertising in February. She didn’t get an interview. All the staff I have seen there in the last ten weeks are European migrants (Poles, Ukrainians and Portuguese, though the latter might have been South American, I suppose).

    A former colleague of mine is also going to vote for them. She’s black British, now married to a white British man, but with a son from a former relationship with a black man. Her younger son is in a primary school class where he is one of only two native English speakers, and the classroom assistant is Polish and only really works with the Polish kids. Her significantly older son didn’t do too well at school, but went to college to study motor vehicle repair. They live in Ealing, but despite getting excellent grades on his course, he can’t get a job in any of the garages anywhere near where they live. They are all run by Asians or Polish people, and the workers in them speak Urdu/Hindi/Gujerati/Polish. He expressed his frustration about this when he went for his fortnightly signing at the Job Centre. His claims advisor had a long discusssion with her colleague in their mutual language (prob Hindi or Urdu – this was Greenford in Ealing Borough, where the mayor can’t speak English) and suggested he looked for a job in Brixton.

    She is also one of the classroom assistants I had problems with when I was teaching sex ed, and she was uncomfortable with me ‘encouraging special needs kids to be gay’. The tacit view of many of the staff there, especially the black British Christians, the British Asians and some of the older ones (with ableist/patronising views about how people with special needs should remain innocent and have their sexuality suppressed/denied) is that they were doing the kids a favour by not doing ‘all the gay stuff’ with them, because they already had enough problems being special needs. They also thought that people like the head (and all the typical teachery white middle class leftie types) just didn’t understand what terrible problems they would face being gay in their communities. Umi, my TA, had been there nine years and I was the only teacher she had worked with who did the sex ed stuff by the book.

    A lot of our mutual acquaintance on FB etc assume that UKIP supporters are white racists spurred on by what they read in the Sun or the DM; but the situation is much more complex. People vote for them because they appear to address their concerns and broadly – very broadly – reflect their views. They aren’t gullible morons or raving bigots. They have gay friends and immigrant friends, but they don’t want their children to be encouraged to be gay, or try to learn in classrooms where native English speakers are a minority. When Nigel Farage says ‘British’ and ‘we’, his most ardent supporters and fiercest critics assume he is talking to football hooligan Essex man and curtain-twitching Cheltenham woman, and when he says ‘immigrants’ they assume he is talking about all the darkies and all the European migrants. But black, third or more generation anglophone Britons include themselves in that ‘we’ and that ‘British’. They, and white British working class people, perceive recent immigration from Europe and elsewhere to be a contributory factor in the problems they face, because in the position they are in it would be very hard not to. They feel no attachment – cultural or otherwise – to Europe. They aren’t particularly religious, but are culturally/historically inclined to be pro Christian-ish and anti-gayish. They have been let down, badly, by the current and previous administrations and won’t vote for them anymore, so UKIP are appealing enough to them for them to overlook the unpleasant and lunatic aspects of it. Assuming every UKIP voter supports every aspect of their ‘policies’ is as facile as assuming every Labour voter supported the war in Iraq.

    I’ve seen lots of reposts on FB of memes with stats about how much immigrants bring to the economy and seen a very few about what a giant drain they are. I don’t have much faith in either of them, but I do struggle to believe there is a net contribution overall. Take the school I worked in in Ealing, which was special needs with a very high pupil-teacher ratio, so much higher per capita cost to the borough than a regular secondary. 80% of the kids were from immigrant families. 80% of those qualified for free school meals, which meant their families were in receipt of means tested benefits. You’d need a hell of a lot of healthy, childless tax-paying migrants to offset the cost of migration in benefits, health and education represented by that one school, and that pattern is broadly repeated in all schools over the poorer London boroughs, where youth unemployment has been a steady 20% or more for two decades.

    Those who are not affluent and educated enough to insulate themselves from the problematic aspects of immigration are treated like fools by those are. I couldn’t tell you how many memes and protesting statuses have appeared in my cosy, affluent, well-educated, choice-laden, high social capital corner of the internet, bewailing the results of these elections. There’s some more thoughtful commentary, too, of course – see poliphilo and qatsi. But the general tenor has been how dare people with different views and priorities and needs exercise their right to vote for the ‘wrong’ candidates? Assuming that those who didn’t vote are simply lazy and ignorant, and those who voted against you are dupes of the media and riven with baseless prejudice, and bleating on and on from that privileged, pompous, patronising standpoint will not quell the tide of support of Ukip, but it might well be a contributory factor in driving people to vote for them in the National elections.

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    • That is really fascinating… I wonder what the turnout was in those London boroughs. I also wonder whether Farage and the rest of UKIP actually get that sort of perspective.
      It does, however, only describe one part of the country. Here in Wales the social problems are very different, but still, one out of four of our MEPs is UKIP… even though we have a Welsh party (Plaid Cymru) and I would have expected many many votes to be directed towards them.
      I just wish we had politicians who wanted to do the best for the country, but they seem to be few and far between.

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  11. Sometimes that’s all we can hope for “achieving something positive in my day” and at the end of said day…we have that to be thankful for 🙂

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  1. A thing for string | The Snail of Happiness

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