#Brexit – A Letter to my MP

#Brexit – A Letter to my MP

Dear Ranil,

I’m contacting you as one of your constituents [address redacted] because I have grave concerns regarding the handling of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

My daughter is [age redacted] and has been living in Sweden for about 18 months with her Swedish partner. [Personal details redacted] the continuing uncertainty regarding her status as a UK national living in a EU country after the 29th March is causing her immense distress. Nobody, not the Swedish authorities and certainly not the UK government (it seems) are able to provide guidance as to what will happen to her.

I also have concerns regarding the preservation of the Good Friday Agreement in the event that the UK does not manage to avoid coming to the end of the withdrawal period without an agreement in place. I remember all too well the IRA mainland bombing campaign, the bombings in Manchester and Warrington especially since I grew up near Wigan and my father worked in the city centre of Manchester in a street that saw damage from that blast. I rightly fear a return to those days if the peace agreement that has lasted half my life is not protected.

My feelings about the unutterable folly of Brexit aside, I urge you and your colleagues in parliament to seek a rapid conclusion to this sorry episode so that we can all finally have some stability in our lives. After promising strength and stability, Theresa May triggered Article 50 without any clear idea of what our future relationship with the EU would look like, and she has led the UK into some of the most turbulent times I’ve experienced in my 45 years. I am watching in dismay as our global reputation sinks below the waves that surround us.

The past two and a bit years since the referendum have been truly awful. I’ve felt constant anxiety and I’m not sure I feel like I belong in this country given the isolationist direction in which it is heading. I have ties of friendship and family across Europe (and beyond) and having my EU citizenship taken from me against my will feels like a betrayal, and not one I think I can easily forgive.

Yours,

Alexandra Forshaw (Miss)

Attachment

Attachment

I’m very attached to this scarf. What a strange thing to say! After all, it’s not tied to me or glued to my hand. Except…

Even without looking at it or touching it–if I appear to ignore it for days at a time–it’s here with me. It’s connected to me, attached by invisible strings of memory and emotion to my mind and my heart, to my very soul.

I look at it with eyes that span decades, seeing it adorn my mother in far-off places and times. The threads of the fabric are intimately woven with the threads of my memory, inseparable.

When I hold it I am holding my own history, holding a piece of my mother close to me, holding her even though she’s been gone all these years. Gone from life perhaps, but still very much alive in me.

Objects and memory are entwined, carefully packaged, wrapped in each other so that they will be protected and preserved.

Of course it’s still a scarf, not a museum piece, and I wear it often when winter’s chill is in the air. With its gorgeous crimson, russet and bronze, and the silky sheen of its fabric, it whispers seductively to my sense of beauty and I love it in its own right.

It would feel wrong to let it languish in a drawer, unseen. My mother was very sociable, having a wide circle of good friends, and enjoyed being around people. To see and be seen. And so it feels fitting that I wear this scarf, let it be seen.

Objects can be cherished and cared for while also being used. To me their value comes not from being pristine, but from having a history. Each association, each memory, each attachment adds some intangible value beyond price.

In the case of my mother’s scarf–now my scarf–the value might only be fully apparent to me. Others might admire it as a desirable accessory, but its deeper connections are mine alone. To me it’s unique, priceless, irreplaceable.

I could never let it go, except to my daughter in her turn. It represents a family bond back through time. This object is tied in to my fondest memories, embroidered with the love between my mother and me, and I’m far too attached to part with it.

Food: My Best Frenemy

Food: My Best Frenemy

Food is my best friend and worst enemy. Few pleasures compare to a good meal, and few leave me as wracked with guilt.

I’ve always liked to eat. As a child I rarely had to be encouraged to finish my plate; indeed I would often go back for more. My parents encouraged me, praising my appetite, and I have long sought to feel accepted and secure through praise.

Food became a source of comfort, making up for a dearth of friends. Reliable: a sure rush of pleasure and a slow come-down in the warm afterglow.

I might often feel lonely but I can always rely on eating to take my mind off that for a brief spell, fill the aching void and dull the pain.

And yet…

As I gnaw my way through the pile of food, gnawing back at me from inside comes my guilt. Guilt at overindulgence, guilt for my lack of self-control, guilt for my obesity, guilt for my weakness.

So I purge. Put my finger down my throat as far as I can reach to trigger the gag reflex, make my stomach spasm and eject the food I just ate and that weighed so heavily on my mind.

I keep going until I am dry retching, nothing left, red-faced and struggling for breath. Eyes blurred by tears. I blow my nose, clean up, rinse out my mouth and wash my hands. Realise that the emptiness remains, that the aching remains, that the guilt remains and was not voided along with the food.

My thoughts turn to food again, my desire for comfort warring with what remains of my will. I choose emptiness this time and sit in melancholy silence while the void inside feeds itself on the remains of my tattered soul.

Making A Mark

Making A Mark

I stare accusingly at the blank page in front of me. It doesn’t flinch, but returns my glare with the knowing mockery of one who has engaged in this battle of wills many times before only to emerge triumphant.

“Damned if I’m going to be beaten by a glorified scrap of wood pulp,” I mutter to myself, oblivious to the irony that I am succumbing to its challenge by raising the stakes.

The empty page doesn’t dignify this with a response. Instead it continues to flaunt its unblemished face while mine grows increasingly furrowed by the effort of remaining in this unequal contest.

“To hell with planning!” I cry, grasping my pencil with what I hope is a keen sense of purpose. I move to sketch a bold line, firm right up to the last moment of failing nerve. I hesitate; I am lost. My nemesis sits untouched.

At this point I would usually resign, metaphorically topple my king and step away from the field of combat. But not today. With the vow, “Today will be different!” echoing in my mind I take up arms and head once more unto the breach.

“Aha! Got you!” rings out. I raise my arm in victory as I regard the new mark adorning my erstwhile foe. Phlegmatic in defeat, the page simply accepts its fate without comment as I bask in the glow of success.