Having been a while since we last travelled to the old land, there were some things we noticed and others we had forgotten about. Some good, some less so..
- People seem to be smoking everywhere. I’m not sure if there is actually a greater portion of the population smoking, or it’s just that they do not have many of the laws regarding public smoking that we do. (Ok. Googled. There are slightly more people smoking there, but only a percent or two.) We hate it when we come out of a shop or something here and get hit in the face by the stink of someone smoking just far enough from the entrance. When it’s anywhere outside in public and the shopping areas are open street malls… it sucks!!
- Also, there are shops everywhere for electronic cigarettes/vapes, and you see people using those walking along the street too. I know that people do have them here but I’ve only ever seen Neil using it and that is at home. Possibly because Queensland prohibits using them if the liquid contains nicotine, and isn’t that kind of the point of smoking? So maybe people just don’t bother. So that was kind of strange to see.
- I went into a shoe shop and I tried on like 8 pairs of shoes. I’ve never had this happen before in my life. And there were lots in my size that I didn’t try on, as well. Amazing.
- You can buy alcohol in some strange places. Like the supermarket. And the cinema. Now I think you can get a glass of something if you go fancy and do Gold Class here, but you can’t just get it at the general snack and drinks counter. Strange. (And I thought Aussies were the ones who had the reputation for allthedrinking?)
- Do they have something against salt? We kept noticing when we had fries from a variety of places that they had practically no salt on them. WTF? As Neil likes to say, if you don’t have salt, your arteries won’t harden and you won’t stand up straight. (And I need that, since I have a problem with that.) Also, it tastes nice.
- I can’t understand how 90% of the population is not suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. It starts getting light a little before 8am and getting dark around half past three. That is only 7 hours of light, which is not even that light anyway! I found the strangeness of light patterns made it particularly difficult to have my body orient itself in time. I would wake up and it’s pitch dark outside so I think it must be like three in the morning or something. But then I will glance at my watch and see that it’s actually 7am and it’s just so disorienting. Strangely, I don’t recall noticing the light thing to this degree either of the other times that I have been there at the same time of year. Perhaps because the first time, I was 18 and had just arrived to be with Daniel after six months apart. We didn’t notice much of anything except each other. And the second time we had a 10 month old baby and I was not well.
- Bread clips. Why do you not have them, UK? It’s so freaking annoying to open and close the bag of bread with a bit of tape that gets progressively less sticky every time you do it.
- Cadbury Drinking Chocolate, we likes it. It’s quite different from the Aussie version of exactly the same name. We also likes Galaxy Hot Chocolate. We also discovered that it is quite pleasant to put some of each in a cup and have double hot chocolate. Mmm.
- So many channels on the TV. SO MANY. Not really that much more to actually watch. Though we did enjoy watching the Doctor Who Christmas Episode live on it’s first showing.
- Squirrels! So cute. So, so cute. There were some playing in Allan and Lisa’s garden but I suspect not as many as there could be since Allan doesn’t like them and won’t let people feed them :P And the neighbour has a squirrel feeder. Stephanie did try sneakily leaving some nuts out there but they must not have been the right kind because they just stayed untouched for a few days.
- We drove down to Reading one day, to visit Daniel’s brother and sister and to see some friends. Daniel sent a general invitation out to a bunch of his old friends to meet up with us for lunch and in the end only two were able to make it. One was Melissa (accompanied by her own personal Antipodean/husband Steve who is from NZ) and the other was a guy called Mark that Daniel went to school with. I have never met him before. So he introduced himself and then he said “And this is my husband, Jason.” And I restrained myself from squeeing. Because they are the first really truly legally married same-sex people that I have ever met. And I’ve been waiting a really, really, really long time for that. So that was a small moment that was really special for me.
- Tampons. It was an unfortunate set of timing that both Stephanie and I needed tampons while we were over there. We did each bring a whole box with us but we ended up needing more. So we went to the shop to get them. There were, and I am not joking here, only TWO to choose from.. the supermarket’s own brand and one other brand. All the rest of them were those spring-loaded missile-firing applicator shite. Are British women delicate about touching their vaginas or something? I was really not feeling the luxury of the feminine hygiene product buying experience.
- The passport stamping lady when we arrived in Manchester stamped my passport and Stephanie’s passport and Abigail’s passport and Kristian’s passport but she didn’t stamp Daniel’s. Because he has a Danish (EU) passport and there is freedom of movement between countries for EU people so he didn’t need one. And when I asked her if she could just stamp it anyway, she refused. Big stupid meanie head. The Australian passport stamping man, on the other hand, was quite happy to put stamps in ALL of our passports when we came back when I asked if we could have them. He seemed a bit amused that I was so pleased at his willingness to do this. AU 1, UK 0.
- I saw nieces and nephews and cousins with numbers that I have never seen before and that was really awesome. I liked seeing them all but it was especially cool to see Stephanie, David and Sammy because Sammy is the youngest member of my level of the family tree by far so he is kind of extra special :) And he also has a ridiculously cute baby french accent that could turn anybody’s ovaries to goo. And the other that was a little bit extra special was my birthday niece, Cerys. Who is now 6 years old!
- There are people we saw while we were there that.. it’s likely we won’t ever get to see again. This was the main sucking thing about the trip. Some are getting old, some are sick, some are both. I knew that they were old and/or sick before we went, of course, but it is a little different to see it in person. To see just how much time and illness have taken their toll on them. So while it was lovely to see them, the very visible reminders of their (well, and everyone’s) mortality was sad.
- One last thing. On the plane on the way there, four or five hours away from Manchester. Completely tired, very sore. I was sitting next to Abigail. She was awake after having slept through most of the trip so far and she decided to look out the window. She asks me about a green thing she can see. I somewhat sleepily tell her that planes have various coloured lights on the wings and underside and she can probably see one of those flashing. She didn’t seem quite satisfied with that explanation but left it be and continued looking out the window. Then, a few minutes later. “Is it possible… like, can you see the, um Northern Lights from where we are?” And I sat up very fucking fast and leaned across her to look out the window, because I knew that we were in fact flying up over the far north of Russia and yes, you CAN see the Northern Lights from there!! It wasn’t a particularly intense display and we were approaching the end of darkness by that stage but we still saw them! Bucket list item achieved!
First of all, I do understand that this lady’s post was somewhat tongue in cheek and exaggerated for the comedy value, but these kind of posts kind of disturb me. And I have nothing against her personally, it’s just her post has gone viral and is being talked about a lot right now.
But.. is it literally “just me” or is this what most people’s lives become like after they’ve had kids? Or been married for more than 5 minutes? Why is it almost always implied that it’s inevitable that you either lose interest in each other or have no time for each other after you add young people to your family? A recent group conversation that Daniel and I were a part of, someone made a comment about how “[they’ve] only been married for a month and aren’t having sex anymore, so there’s no way that you can be still!” (Because we have been together for 17 years.) And then there are comments on this lady’s post to the effect of “omg you’re going to emotionally scar your children by having sex while they are awake/in the house you suck at parenting and marriage.”
I thought part of being a good parent was to demonstrate a happy and healthy relationship for your children? But why does that mean having to have a super-quickie in 3.5 minutes (and that implies one person got much more enjoyment out of the activity than the other) so that they don’t know what you’re doing? I know you’re not going to leave a baby crying while you get busy, but if your kid is more than like, two, then they’re old enough to understand that they don’t always get what they want immediately and that parents have needs too, which – shockingly – might not involve them.
I really am curious about this. Though my children might like to pretend that Daniel and I do not ever do anything but lay together in our bed reading our iPads and being completely boring, I know that they know that is not actually reality. (And we readily admit to finding great amusement in jokingly reminding them occasionally that such activities do occur. It’s like feeding your toddler lemon.. you know you probably shouldn’t, but it’s just so easy and their reaction so hilarious that you really can’t help yourself.) I don’t understand why they think it is disgusting for us to have sex/make love/fuck (whatever term floats your boat). I don’t recall thinking that way when I was younger. I’m not talking about considering the ‘in-and-out’ (soz), logisitcal, nitty-gritty details of what we do, because yeah – thinking about anyone else’s sex life apart from your own in that kind of detail is kind of weird. But they’ve picked up the idea from somewhere (certainly not here) that the very concept of there being a physical aspect to our relationship is gross. Even kissing (and not even fully gung-ho kissing, either) each other in their presence is enough to elicit complaints. But I just don’t know why. It could just be yet another example of how I was not a typical child but I always understood that kissing, hugging, touching, making love were all pleasant ways for adults who love each other to share affection and I don’t remember ever thinking that was disgusting. (Now that I am an adult I also understand that some people like to do these things with people they don’t necessarily love, and while I don’t personally relate, neither do I particularly care as long as everyone is informed and consenting.)
But back to the whole “parent sex” thing, where you’re just about acting like fugitives to hide from your children to get a few minutes together when it’s been “almost a month.” Is this really real? Like do normal everyday reasonably young and healthy couples really go that long without fucking? It’s like that whole “six week rule” after you have a baby. No one actually does that and waits for permission from someone not attached to your genitals before starting to use them again, do they? For most people, does becoming a parent really mean that other people get to set the rules for your sex life?
When you are a person who is very far to the “left”.. (and by ‘very far’ I mean sitting with your back to the wall on the furthest side of leftness, because that way there is one less side that you have people on) sometimes a it is easy to forget that most people are not like you. Most people don’t want to sit near you. That many people will actually take offence that you don’t take offence at things other people do that have nothing to do with you and hurt nobody. Sometimes it almost feels like in these non-open-minded people’s views, my open-mindedness actually makes me worse than the people doing something that the non-open-minded people don’t like, because I think it’s fine for them to be doing that. Because some of the people going around doing shocking things like being gay or tattooed or sweary or female or black or .. whatever.. some of them feel guilty because they have been conditioned to feel that they are less because of this arbitrary attribute. And if they feel guilty then clearly they know that they are bad and wrong. Which just demonstrates that the non-open-minded people are right. And that makes me more wrong, because not only do I not believe that anyone in one of the aforementioned minorities is doing anything wrong, I also believe that people who do think that way shouldn’t be allowed to be assholes about it.
How does it make any sense that this part of myself, my determination to be accepting and non-judgemental – what I think is one of my best qualities – is also what makes me feel most judged and isolated when I encounter people with less leftliberalhippy views than me?
This entry has been a casualty of blogus interruptus, which is an ancient Latin term meaning 'life got in the way.'
A few weeks ago Stephanie had an assignment for English where she had to write two things, and one of the suggested types was a persuasive essay. She wanted to do it about the current issue du jour.. marriage equality. But what she came to me and asked for some assistance with was “why gay people should be allowed to get married.”
She decided in the end to two imaginative pieces, but her question, combined with the prominence of this issue in the media (wtg, Ireland,) and some discussions happening on my local MP’s facebook page have caused me to think further on the topic. (Not that I have ever really suffered from a shortage of thoughts in this arena.)
It was the way Stephanie worded her question. Why should gay people be able to get married? Well, why does anyone get married? I simulated* a highly scientific, carefully planned double blind placebo controlled survey, and asked already married people why they got married. 98% of people said “Because I love [the other person] and I wanted to.” 2% said “Because [the other person] is really rich and I wanted to.”
So, why should gay people be able to get married? Well, how about BECAUSE THEY FUCKING WANT TO. The question should not be why gay people should be able to get married, but why should selfish ignorant bigots not be allowed to prevent marriage equality becoming a reality?
One of the problems you encounter when you are
* Because I couldn’t be bothered actually asking.
This entry has been a casualty of blogus interruptus, which is an ancient Latin term meaning 'life got in the way.'