“Someone’s going to blow that place up soon.”

Said to me, in 2004, by a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. It was a few days before I flew to London, England, United Kingdom.  I answered him, “That’s why I have to go see it now.”  I got to see Big Ben, and Southbank, and the Inns of Chancery.  The next year, London was bombed.

As I write this, I am in Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey.  Forty-five people were killed here two weeks ago, by terrorists who apparently believed the same things as those who attacked New York City, London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Baghdad, THREE cities in Saudi Arabia, and as of TODAY, Nice, in the south of France.

I am in Istanbul waiting to catch a plane.  To Nice.

I have been teaching English for the last ten months in Southern China. Almost without exception, all of my students are from very wealthy families (and, obviously, because I’m teaching them, they’re learning a foreign language). Yet almost NONE of them has ever been outside of China, for a vacation, or to hear English. For Chinese citizens, visiting other countries is extremely difficult. My students are in awe when I’ve told them I have visited NINE places: Canada, the United States, England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Iceland, and China.

I’m not going to see Istanbul beyond the airport today, but I WILL. And I am scheduled to be in France for a month. I’m not changing that.

I speak English and Spanish. I’m learning Mandarin. One of my favourite books growing up, Mischief in Fez, was about Morocco. I adapted it into a play because I wanted kids to know more about Islam, because I think Islam, and Muslim people, and the places where they live, are cool.

And YOU will not change that. You don’t get to tell ME or ANYONE else what they are allowed to be.

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I wrote a brief thing about #Brexit and #Discworld

Wyrd Sisters is the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett’s take on The Scottish Play.  The nefarious but inept Duke and his nefarious, clear-headed Duchess have murdered the king of Lancre, and have begun a campaign of rumours against the only people who may be able to stop them: Lancre’s three Witches.  For a while, the rumours against the witches work. One peasant says:

‘All this burning and taxing and now this. I blame you witches. It’s got to stop. I know my rights.’

‘What rights are they?’ said Granny.

‘Dunnage, cowhage-in-ordinary, badinage, leftovers, scrommidge, clary and spunt,’ said the peasant promptly. ‘And acornage, every other year, and the right to keep two-thirds of a goat on the common. Until he set fire to it. It was a bloody good goat, too.’

Funny ha ha.

Until this recent writeup from the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce):

“Last Friday morning an angry woman from Hartlepool rang the BBC; ‘we voted out but I’ve turned up at my hospital and there’s no sign of any extra money’.”

That “last Friday” was June 24th. The DAY AFTER the referendum.

The United Kingdom has had public education since 1902.  There are no ‘uneducated peasants’ anymore. What’s happened??

On 5 July 2016, teachers in the United Kingdom had a one-day strike to protest the underfunding of the school system.

Well.

Photos from China – more new food, and tastes of (my 2nd) home

 

I can never go back to Scotland?

Faithful readers will notice I’ve been quiet for a while – I’ll explain why tomorrow: this must come first. It won’t change anyone’s mind, but I’ll say it:

I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 2004 to 2008. Because my paternal grandfather was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, in 1900 (yeah), I was able to get a UK Ancestry visa. The rules have now changed: at the time, I was allowed to live, and work, anywhere within the UK, for up to four years – and after staying for four years straight, I could have applied for “indefinite leave to remain”…one step short of citizenship in the European Union.

I fully intended to take that route. Obviously, it didn’t happen that way. I could’ve settled anywhere in the UK, but the second I arrived in Edinburgh, I thought “Why wasn’t I born here?” I utterly loved it there, and I have harboured a hope that one day, I could move back. So I’m being utterly selfish when I say I hope Scotland votes NO to independence from the United Kingdom tomorrow. I’ll know by the time I wake up in the morning.

I could say – I did on Facebook earlier today – that independence won’t solve Scotland’s issues as many think it will. Scotland can’t deal now with the highest heroin abuse, teenage pregnancy, and knife crime in Europe. I know for a fact that Scotland has a separate legal system – I worked at The Law Society of Scotland, as opposed to that of England and Wales. However, not ALL the laws are different: immigration, for example, which I also know about, because I had an Ancestry Visa! And I can just imagine everyone in the Eurozone looking at Scotland, using the British pound, and thinking “Are you NUTS?” What’s it going to be like for artists to go to the Edinburgh Fringe next year? If they’re coming from the US or Canada, will they need a visa for the first time ever?

The government of the UK are twats – Canada has a conservative government too, we sympathize – but that government will end. And as for the animosity some in England have for Scotland? Too many Scots feel the same way about England. I lived there. I know.

Finally: Many people in Scotland are convinced that being a one industry economy will be fine, as long as that one industry is oil. Please, please, if you vote yes tomorrow, LOOK TO NORWAY. Everything Norway has done, do that. DON’T look at Canada for oil advice. We’ve cocked it up.

Slainte.