dolorosa_12: (tea)
After my month of posting every day about books, I seem to have completely vanished from the internet, and Dreamwidth in particular. This was mainly due to illness, brought on by intense stress about the political crisis in the UK and the impending Brexit catastrophe. More about that below.

But first, I'll talk about nice things.

I spent last weekend in Germany for the wedding of one of Matthias's cousins. The cousin (and indeed that whole part of the family) live in Iserlohn, and the wedding and reception were all in that part of the world. Matthias and I flew in to Dortmund on Friday afternoon and were collected by his parents, who drove us to the hotel where we were all staying (and which would also be the reception venue). We all had dinner on the Friday night in the hotel with another aunt and uncle. The wedding itself was on midday on the Saturday, in a castle on the top of a hill, and sadly I didn't get any photos of the ceremony itself, but trust me when I say the setting was very picturesque. We then returned back to the reception for what ended up being an entire day of being fed. The reception meal at German weddings (at least in my experience) is always dinner, but as it was about 2pm at that point and no one had had lunch, we were given open bread roll sandwiches as canapes with our sparkling wine. This was then followed by coffee and a variety of cakes at 3pm, and finally the huge buffet dinner in the evening. There was also apparently a midnight snack of cheeses and fruit, but I was certainly not hungry enough by that point to investigate!

There was a DJ playing (as always) the cheesiest collection of both German and English-language music, and I danced for hours. We finally staggered up to bed around 1am. Now normally I would be able to sleep fine, even with the DJ still going several floors below, but because my body's been in panic mode pretty much for the past three weeks, my sleeping abilities are wrecked, and I ended up not being able to sleep at all that night, even though the DJ finished up around 2.30 and then it was deathly quiet. Luckily I didn't need to do anything on the Sunday beyond being driven to the airport (with a detour to a nearby lake which we walked around in the sunsine).

On Monday I went down to London after work to go to a panel discussion at the Piccadilly Waterstones between Samantha Shannon, Zen Cho, Tasha Suri, and Zoe Marriott, moderated by their fellow author Katherine Webber. It was a fun talk — all, with the exception of Marriott (who was a bit rambly) were great speakers, and although it didn't really tell me anything new about their books, it was great to see them in conversation, bouncing ideas off each other and gushing over one another's books.

From the heights to the depths: the ghastly, stressful political, economic, social and psychological catastrophe that is Brexit. For several weeks, I was feverishly following every moment: Twitter open with various commentators live-tweeting sessions in the House of Commons, the Guardian's frenzied politics livefeed open in the next tab over. This did serious damage to both my mental and physical health (I couldn't sleep, I had panic attacks that lasted all night, I had nightmares, the lack of sleep gave me a cold, at one point I literally vomited from stress at work), and in the end I had to stop. I had been following every moment because I was afraid something terrible would happen and I would miss trying to stop it. On Wednesday last week, after a particularly bad night of panic attacks, I realised that I had to just completely switch off everything. So no Twitter, no news — I can't even go to news websites to look up articles on something else, in case I see anything Brexit-related. I've been living in a sort of cone of silence for over a week now, and it's helping, mostly.

I do know that the EU allowed Britain a longer extension, because Matthias told me this morning, meaning that the country will still be in the EU tomorrow, and I will still be an EU citizen for now. I'm assuming we'll have to hold EU parliamentary elections now, although even that was unclear (but surely the EU would be mad to offer an extension to October without making the EU parliamentary elections a condition?). But the panicked uncertainty was too much for me, so I think I'll have to maintain my distance.

I see also that Scott Morrison has finally called an election, so that will be another thing to vote for in May. I'm hoping desperately that all the polls are right and we're going to get a change of government (although the prospect of Bill Shorten being rewarded for essentially not being Scott Morrison is pretty depressing; I met Shorten at a dinner party before he was an MP and I was not impressed). I'm imagining that the campaign will be dismal and ugly.

So that's been my life for the past couple of weeks. I've been listening to a lot of M83. Carry on, carry on/ and after us the flood indeed.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Yesterday, like (literally) millions of other UK citizens/residents, I went along to the anti-Brexit march in London. I've been going to protest marches since I was fifteen years old, and they've ranged from the tiny and scary (a rally against ongoing involvement in Iraq which ended up with several protesters hurling chairs and tables from a cafe along the march route into and out of the crowd) to gigantic (the huge anti-Iraq war march in Sydney when Australia was on the verge of sending troops in support of the US), and to warm, fuzzy, and little bit smug (when the EDL held an event in Cambridge and we turned out in droves to counterprotest), but I've never experienced anything like the march yesterday. I'd been on a similar anti-Brexit march around the same time two years ago, and it was huge, and it took time to get going, but eventually you were able to move at a normal pace, and you could get to the end of the route and hear the speeches.

This march was something else. I went with Matthias, and with a friend of ours, and we firstly decided to take an earlier train from Cambridge to London — it was already packed, mainly with protesters, but the one leaving an hour later was so full that people were being turned away — and secondly decided to walk from Kings Cross to the start of the march route, because the Tube was already overflowing. We got to the start of the route about half an hour early, and it was full to overflowing — in fact, I learnt later that the organisers had been advised to start half an hour early because the starting point was becoming dangerously overcrowded and couldn't accommodate the people who were still showing up. I am not kidding, but it took more than two hours for us to actually move from our start point, those at the head of the march had reached the end before we even left, and there were still thousands streaming in afterwards, and spilling into side streets. It took us three hours to walk what was really a half-hour walk, we never made it to the end point, and we missed all the speeches (not that I really needed to hear them, as I know what the speakers would have said). It was overwhelming. Estimates of numbers vary wildly — the most conservative estimate seems to be one million, and the highest two million. Meanwhile, the petition to revoke Article 50 has just hit five million signatures.

These numbers make me happy, but they don't make me optimistic. The anti-Brexit campaigners I follow on Twitter have been making wild predictions about what will happen next, based on numbers of petition signatures and feet on the ground at the march. I imagine they have to keep putting this sort of positive spin on things to keep hope alive and keep people fighting, but meanwhile there's talk of a leadership coup afoot in the Conservative Party and Michael Gove is being talked about as a credible prime ministerial candidate. And, as I say, I marched against the Iraq war, which achieved precisely nothing in getting the Australian government to change course, and we knew it wouldn't. People march for all kinds of reasons, and chief among mine is to register my dissent and be counted as a statistic, a pair of feet walking to show that I disagreed with a government decision, and, when history comes to judge us, be a part of the record that shows the government did not speak for me.

On a more nitpicky level, I am uneasy about the anti-Brexit movement pinning its hopes on a 'people's vote' (i.e. second referendum), and that the march was branded as such — although many, like me, were treating the march purely as an opportunity to register their opposition to Brexit and calling for Article 50 to be revoked. The actual People's Vote campaign is still full of those who lead the Remain campaign, including divisive figures like Tony Blair (who I heard on a podcast saying without a scrap of self-awareness that he felt it had been a mistake to keep him at arms' length during the referendum), and polling is less in favour of remaining the European Union than the People's Vote crowd like to imagine (basically, it depends on how you ask the question). What if we had a second referendum, and the answer was still to leave, and to leave with no deal? The first referendum was so painful and cruel to so many migrants, and its result was treated as license to unleash all manner of violent, abusive attacks on migrants and/or non-white people. The idea of a rerun is concerning.

In my ideal scenerio, we would simply revoke and never speak of this again (and go on to deal with the damage done by austerity on which many Leave voters had erroneously blamed EU membership), but that's unrealistic because it would be electoral suicide for both major parties and thus career suicide as well. My more realistic — but still overly optimistic — preference, therefore, would be to revoke Article 50, and undertake a series of consultative citizens' assemblies (with representative groups of voters and, crucially, experts from sectors that are going to be most affected by leaving the EU), and then come up with a way forward. Again, this is never going to happen, and I'll accept the 'people's vote' option if it comes to pass, but at this stage I think even that is too optimistic.

Going on the march felt good, and it was definitely the right thing to do, but I'm deeply worried about where we're heading next. We marchers are right, but it doesn't mean we'll be listened to.
dolorosa_12: (vampire gif)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 12: I pretend to have read it

I don't have any books that fall into this category! What would be the point? I don't view reading as some kind of competition, where you must read the most, or the most widely, or the most 'classics', and what other reason would someone have for pretending to have read a book. I'm not reading to impress people, it's not a public performance.

That said, given my love of all things vampire, people are often surprised that I haven't read the nineteenth-century classics such as Dracula, Carmilla, and so on. At this point, they've been adapted, subverted, and turned into pastiche so many times that I basically feel as if I have read them. Some day I will probably get around to it.

The other days )

I spent most of last night feeling profoundly despairing at the current state of affairs in Britain. Theresa May's 'legally binding assurances' are nothing of the sort, but they might be just enough for the hard Brexiteers to change their tune and vote for her deal. I didn't realise how much I had been counting on (and assuming) an extension to Article 50, and how upset it still makes me to sit here hopelessly, watching the days count down until rights are taken away from me without my consent.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Thirty Day Book Meme Day 9: Film or TV tie-in

You know, I don't think I have ever owned, or even read, a book in this category. I've read lots of books that went in the other direction (i.e. were adapted for film or television), but not tie-ins. So rather than rack my brains trying to think of a book that I know doesn't exist, why don't those of you who do read tie-ins use the comments to tell me about your favourites?

The other days )

Matthias and I are heading out later today to catch up with two of our friends who are visiting from Vienna. They're just two among the many people I know who have left the UK because of Brexit. It will be good to see them (we're all going out for a curry at a new restaurant), but I'm sad about the circumstances.

I don't have much to catch up on in terms of reading. I finished P. Djèlí Clarke's novella 'The Haunting of Tramcar 015' (another story set in an alternate, steampunk Egypt when djinn and other supernatural beings live openly among the human population), which was excellent, although as with all of Clarke's work, it left me wishing that it had been expanded to novel length. I also read 'Lullaby for a Lost World,' a creepy, gothic short story by Aliette de Bodard (freely available on the Tor.com website should you want to read it), and have begun reading God's War by Kameron Hurley. I'm nearly finished it, but it's left me with the conclusion that Hurley's writing is just not for me. It's grimdark in a specific way that I find really repellent, and I particularly dislike that she writes societies where women are uniformly violent, cruel, and exploitative (I do know that this is kind of her thing, so I wasn't unaware of this element going in). This is the second book of hers I've read, and I think it's probably time to stop trying her writing.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Firstly, and most importantly, [personal profile] firstaudrina is hosting a multifandom friending meme. If you're interested in participating, follow the link below:

multifandom friending meme

A few people have added me as a result of the meme, and rather than doing an entirely new introduction post, I'll point you towards my most recent one, done in January after my post-reveals Yuletide friending meme. Feel free to ask me anything about stuff I brought up in that post.

I'd also like to put in another plug for [community profile] waybackexchange, a fic and art exchange for fandoms older than ten years. Nominations will open in a couple of days' time, and in the meantime, the mod is going through a review period where you can make the case for borderline canons (such as works older than ten years which have been adapted more recently, or canons with various continuities, such as comics). Given most of my favourite canons are old, this is definitely the exchange for me, and I'm looking forward to taking part!

A few links to things I found interesting )

What I've been up to this weekend )

You might have noticed that after my flurry of posting about books read in January, my reading has slowed to a crawl. I can't say I've read anything that's blown my mind: I read a theological history of Judaism in the centuries on either side of the BCE/CE dividing line, as well as early Christianity. While many of its specifics were new to me, its overall argument was not (to sum up: Judaism was in a great deal of flux during this time, and Christianity, when it emerged, was in no means contrary to Judaism at that point because at that time there were several competing understandings of what Judaism was, and basically religions are fluid, evolving things that change to address the concerns of the times), so it didn't exactly blow my mind. I guess it would do if you had a much more rigid understanding of religion, maybe? The other book I've read so far this month, The Pale Queen's Courtyard by Marcin Wrona, is historical-ish fantasy set in an alternative version of ancient Babylon, with fake fantasy Babylonians, Persians and I guess Egyptians. Matthias and I have been on the lookout for books set in this region (not so much Egypt, as it's fairly well served), but there seems to be a real dearth. I found this novel frustrating: flimsy characterisation, cartoonish female characters, and an anachronistic understanding of religion which the author admits in his afterword he added for a sense of conflict. Basically his 'Persian' characters try to impose their religion on others and stamp out the worship of a particular goddess, but in pre-monotheistic times (and even afterwards), peoples might decide to worship a single god, or that other nations' gods were weak or evil, but they generally accepted that other pantheons existed. As I say, the book was frustrating.

I'll wrap this post up here, as it's a bit of a mishmash, but as always, I'm keen to hear what you're reading, watching, cooking and so on. How have your weekends been? And, new people adding me from the friending meme, feel free to ask me anything about stuff raised in my intro post.
dolorosa_12: (doctor horrible)
So, I woke up to the news that Theresa May has described EU migrants in the UK as 'queue jumpers' (or, to be more precise, that making use of — entirely legal — EU freedom of movement rights is somehow jumping a non-existent migration queue) and implied that most of them are worthless people whom Britain has been forced to accept at the expense of hordes of highly skilled non-EU migrants such as 'software developers from Dehli' and 'engineers from Sydney'. Moving on from the utterly despicable ploy of trying to pit different groups of migrants against each other (and make British people sort us into categories of 'good' and 'bad' migrants), Theresa May in her capacity as Home Secretary oversaw most of the law changes that made it more and more difficult as a non-EU migrant to migrate to the UK, even more difficult to stay here permanently if you'd migrated on a temporary student or work visa, and vastly more expensive to apply for all visas, so it's a bit rich for her to suddenly deplore this situation as if it were out of her control. She's trying to make it seem as if the EU is to blame for this state of affairs, whereas in fact non-EU migration has always been something for individual countries to handle according to whatever laws they set. And let me tell you, as a non-EU migrant who's lived in the UK for ten years, I have a pretty good idea what sort of welcome her hypothetical Indian software developer and Australian engineer are likely to get from the UK government, and it is an expensive, stressful and hostile one.

At virtually the same time, the prime minister of my country of origin (Australia) made some ghastly statement about migrants being to blame for overcrowded schools and traffic jams, clearly gearing up for an election that's going to be fought on ugly anti-immigration terms. (In Australia, these kinds of elections are ... not good. Not that I think there is a good kind of anti-immigration election campaign.) When Morrison came to power (a few months ago, in the revolving door of opinion poll results paranoia, backstabbing, and coal industry manipulation that has been Australian federal politics for the past decade), I posted despairingly on Facebook that any upcoming election would now be fought on despicable, anti-immigration grounds, and most of my Australian friends and family handwaved my concerns away, or said that it would be over quickly (Australian election campaigns are, thankfully, brief) and Labor would win, anyway. It gives me no pleasure to constantly be right about this kind of thing, but here we are.

I'm so tired of it being acceptable to give migrants a good rhetorical kicking whenever political leaders are looking threatened in opinion polls or within their own parties. I'm so tired of us being talked about as if we're thieves and parasites whose very presence in the countries we've made our homes is illegitimate, a drain on resources we have no right to access. I'm so fed up with this going largely unchallenged, other than in outraged Twitter threads or a few hand-wringing op-eds in The Guardian or similar places. And I'm so tired of being told to have empathy for people's 'legitimate concerns' about migration when those same people are never told to spare a scrap of thought for the experiences of the migrants who have made a home beside them.
dolorosa_12: (le guin)
Matthias' birthday is 16th November, and, in a rather uncharacteristic manner,* we celebrated it early, in London, on Friday night and most of Saturday. This is because four of the '90s Eurodance acts that he grew up adoring — but, as a young teenager never had the opportunity to see live — were performing together in a club in the O2 Arena, cashing in on Gen Y nostalgia, on Friday night. Given the closeness of the event to his birthday, I offered to get us tickets as a present, and he overcame his squeamishness about 'pre-celebration'. While theoretically it would have been possible to make the last train back to Cambridge after the concert, we opted to stay overnight in a budget hotel, in order to see the British Library exhibition on the Anglo-Saxons (which covered history, and Old English literature and intellectual culture) on Saturday morning.

Both the concert and the exhibition ended up being all about international connections, openness, intercultural exchange, and the 'outward look' more generally.

I had been dubious about how four groups/singers — Maxx, Masterboy, Haddaway, and 2 Unlimited — notorious as one-hit, or at best two-hit wonders, were going to find enough material to fill an entire concert, but I shouldn't have worried. They knew why they were there: to play that handful of hits, and get a crowd of nostalgic thirty- and forty-somethings dancing, and on that they delivered. It certainly worked for me, and as for Matthias, he was bouncing around in sheer energetic joy. If the bands resented having to play the songs that made them famous circa 1992-1995 they gave no indication of it, and treated the audience in that tiny club as if it were a sold-out stadium tour.

As we queued to go into the club, we heard no languages other than Polish, and, judging by the makeup of the audience, I would say it was mainly Polish, Romanian, and Lithuanian people. And, as I jumped around enthusiastically, being elbowed in the face by the extremely tall, very perky, glowstick-covered Lithuanian guy in front of me, and being hugged and danced with by the very drunk, very friendly Irish woman next to me, while an ageing Dutch popstar yelled 'TECHNO, TECHNO, TECHNO!' at us, I felt a bittersweet kind of joy at this easy, effortless, pan-European sense of community, at home together in London, brought together by cheesy Eurodance nostalgia, and a fury at how easily it is about to be taken away, by people who never saw its value.

The Anglo-Saxons exhibition was excellent.** I didn't really learn anything new — although my major in undergrad, MPhil, and PhD are in medieval Irish literature, my department where I undertook the MPhil and PhD are multidisciplinary, focusing on the languages, literatures, history and material culture of medieval Ireland, Britain, and Scandinavia, so it's impossible not to learn about Old English literature and Anglo-Saxon history by osmosis in an environment like that (and indeed, as the exhibition makes plain, to study any medieval culture in isolation is absurd). However, it was great to see so many important manuscripts all brought together in the one exhibition space. Matthias was like a child in a sweet shop, and in particular was deeply moved to see the Vercelli Manuscript, Junius Manuscript, Exeter Book and Beowulf Manuscript — representing the entirety of extant Old English poetry — side by side. (Whenever I'm reminded that those four manuscripts are all that survive of the Old English poetic corpus I am deeply grateful that I chose to study medieval Irish, with its embarassment of riches when it comes to vernacular manuscripts!)

The exhibition as a whole was mainly manuscripts — the vernacular poetry ones I mentioned above, law codes, religious writing, hymn books with musical notation, saints' Lives, grammatical texts to teach Latin, legal codes, medical writing, history, and charters — with a few other artifacts of material culture, such as jewellery (including the famous 'Alfred jewel'), pottery, and weapons. What I particularly appreciated (and overheard many other exhibition attendees remarking on) was the relentless emphasis on the international component and outward-looking nature of Anglo-Saxon societies. The enduring networks, reinforced by diplomacy, political marriages, trade, and the exchange of ideas, were mentioned in all the displays' descriptions: the movement of manuscripts between ecclesiastical establishments in Britain, Ireland, and continental Europe (and even, in some cases, from places further afield such as North Africa), the movement of people between royal courts on both sides of the Channel, and the exchange of ideas apparent in more prosaic form — in the design of jewellery, belt-buckles, coins, or calligraphy. On one level it was dispiriting to overhear so many other attendees remarking on how astonishing they found all these connections, because this made it plain how pervasive is the common perception of medieval insularity. But I suppose on the other hand at least those attendees will go away with a new understanding of how international, interconnected, and outward-looking medieval people could be, and that the concept of national borders and identities has always been fluid and complicated. That the ocean was not a barrier, but rather a highway. That the lies nationalists tell about the peoples studied in my former academic discipline are just that — lies, deceptive myths designed to comfort and simplify for people who find complexity discomforting. That the wider world has always been there, and even premodern people engaged with it. That intellectual and creative culture has always been a collaborative effort, in conversation with itself, open to 'outside' influences.

In other words, there has always been migration, and migrants. And, as was made clear in the Eurodance concert on Friday night, we migrants are still here, and this is still our home, and we will remain, and we will go on dancing.

__________

*'Uncharacteristic' because, as a German, he has a deep aversion to celebrating birthdays in advance, which is felt to be tempting fate.
**Inevitably we bumped into someone we knew from the department at Cambridge where we did our degrees. She was there with her husband and small son. Cambridge is a very, very small town, even when it's in London.
dolorosa_12: (doctor horrible)
  • Marriage equality has been passed into law in Australia (in spite of some histrionics by conservative politicians attempting to stall things by trying to make absurd 'religious freedom' amendments before the bill was passed; thankfully these were all voted down), and the first same-sex couples have given notice of their intent to marry today. There's a one-month notice period, which means the first marriages will happen in early January next year. I'm glad we have marriage equality at last, but my heart hurts at the convoluted and cruel way it was achieved, and the fact that Malcolm Turnbull (and, even worse, Tony Abbott) are claiming credit for this makes my blood boil.


  • In other Australian news, the horrific blight that is imprisoning refugees on Manus Island and Nauru continues. Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish refugee and journalist who has been held on Manus since 2014, has been an eloquent and vital voice of the resistance, and his latest piece, published in The Saturday Paper, is well worth a read. I urge any Australians reading this to contact both their MPs and Malcolm Turnbull and request that the refugees be moved as soon as possible to a safe country and the camps on Manus and Nauru be closed.


  • Brexit shambles on. I have to admit I greeted the news of the 'sufficient progress' statement with hysterical laughter. All that posturing, all those lies and nationalistic chest-thumping, and the result, is, apparently, that we're going to end up like Switzerland. I notice that all the Brexiteers are the ones suddenly bellowing for a second referendum.


  • Patreon made some changes to how it will handle payments, and these changes seem likely to screw over the vast majority of its user base. There have been calls to make formal complaints and sign petitions, but my feeling is that nothing will make them revert back to the way things were before. As I said on Twitter, platforms not created by and maintained by the community they're designed to serve will always eventually change in ways that render them unusable by that community. The only guarantee that your chosen platforms will continue to work in ways that suit your needs is to build them yourself, or have them built by people from your community, sadly. I'm very sorry for all the creators and patrons who have been affected by this.


  • In slightly happier news, I finished another Yuletide treat, which means I've hit the writing targets I set for myself this year. I might poke around the requests summary and see if any other requests take my fancy.


  • It's going to snow tomorrow in Cambridge, and I am very pleased about that.


  • Edited to add: it did snow! Here are a photoset and a video that I took.
  • dolorosa_12: (Default)
    So, here we are. It's been a pretty awful few years of British politics, and this election -- the reasons behind it, the campaign, and the past twelve months in general have been ghastly. I'm not very happy to be going to the polls tomorrow, and although I'm happy with the person I'm voting for, I'm furious with his party for a variety of reasons, and feel pretty dismal about the outcome of the election.

    And yet, I'll be there at the polling station to cast my vote at 7am.

    I can vote in three countries, and have been doing so in all three, in every election (local, state, national, and referendum) since I've been eligible. In most, I've been voting against the tide; usually my chosen candidate got in, but frequently their party did not win office. It's not been a good decade for politics in my countries. And still, I vote. In one of my countries it's against the law not to, but even without this incentive I would still vote, as I do in the other two countries in which I vote. Over the years I've come to see my vote less as a marker of tribal affiliation and moral purity, and more as a shield, the last line of defense I have available to protect those more vulnerable than me, including those who live in my countries but cannot vote. I would urge all my fellow UK voters who feel ambivalent about the choices put before them on the ballot paper tomorrow to try to view their vote in the same way.

    I want to turn from fellow voters for a moment to address a group with whom I feel a great deal of empathy, and whose plight weighs on my mind: the vast majority of migrants in the UK who live here, but cannot vote. Although I am a British citizen now, before I became I citizen I was a migrant who could vote, as Commonwealth and Irish residents of the UK are allowed to vote in all elections here. However, my partner is an EU migrant, as are a great many of my friends, and still more are non-EU and non-Commonwealth migrants, and it has been awful for them to sit out election after election in which decisions are made that have monumental and terrible effects on their lives. My fellow migrants, I am so sorry. I am so sorry we have had to endure yet another election campaign in which we are painted as thieves and parasites whose motives for wanting to be in this country are suspect and illegitimate. I am sorry that the Tories have been campaigning on a platform of anti-migrant hysteria, and that the result tomorrow may have an impact on people's migration status. I am sorry that EU migrants have now lived for close to a year with no clear certainty about their ongoing right to live, work and study in this country. I am sorry that non-EU migrants are facing the prospect of even more restrictive, expensive and cruel immigration rules that will separate families, possibly permanently. I'm sorry that while Labour has been bold in offering a genuinely social democratic alternative to the Tories' vile austerity, this welcoming welfare state doesn't appear to have any room for migrants, unless you read between the lines, where Labour pledges to leave the single market, and thus free movement. I'm sorry that whenever we raise these concerns, talk about how unwelcome and afraid we're being made to feel, we're met with either open hostility from the Right, and accusations of being divisive from the Left (minor parties notwithstanding). I'm furious that the future of the NHS can be a major part of this election campaign with barely any mention of the fact that a drastic limiting of immigration will cause the NHS to cease to function.

    I want to say to my fellow migrants that you are wanted. You are loved. I am voting for you. I beg any reluctant voters who cannot muster up the enthusiasm to vote for themselves to do the same. Vote for those who live and love and give and contribute so much here, but cannot vote themselves. Convince others to do the same. Please. Vote.
    dolorosa_12: (sleepy hollow)
    I was going to write today about the wonderful trip Matthias and I made to visit friends in Poznań -- our first time in Poland -- and how it was restorative and healing and hopeful. I probably will still write about that trip, but events have pushed it from the front of my mind.

    I'm writing, of course, about the dismal UK local election results (and what they appear to predict for the general election in June), and the crushing sense of hopelessness I'm seeing all around me -- both among friends and colleagues here in Cambridge, and among friends all over the world more generally. My colleagues and I had a big screaming rant over lunch, and I think it helped. I thought I'd share with you what I said to a colleague who was feeling particularly down. These are the things I remind myself when I feel at my most hopeless. I'm not naive enough to think they'll save the world: the situation is dire in so many places, and the barriers we face are considerable. But I've been repeating these things to myself to keep myself going after Brexit; they've been helpful to me, and maybe they will be helpful to you.

  • I take satisfaction from knowing, if humanity survives, that in twenty, fifty, one hundred years' time, historians will judge harshly those who got us into the various messes currently plaguing the world. Children will learn about those responsible at school, and write essays castigating their failures. People will build careers explaining the political, social and moral failures of those who are currently running things. This may not comfort you, but it comforts me.


  • We may be powerless against the vast political tidal waves currently sweeping the world, and not everyone will survive them. But we have power to be supportive, uplifting and kind in the smallness of our everyday lives. We have the power to donate to or signal-boost a fundraiser for friends in need, to buy a cup of coffee and sandwich for a person sleeping rough, to be polite to a retail worker or call-centre worker or barista, to donate to a food bank, to join a refugee support network, to make art that comforts the powerless, to build, to teach, to vote, to love.


  • It is impossible and overwhelming to try to fight against every injustice and cruelty. It will grind you down and erode your capacity to help and hope. It's far better if you pick just one (or two, or three, or whatever you feel able) issue or cause to support, and throw as much of yourself and your energy into that issue, or those causes. And make sure it's a cause or issue where you can actually help in a meaningful way. By all means boost the causes of others, and, where appropriate, join forces -- we are stronger together. But focusing on one thing doesn't mean you care most about it, or don't care about other causes. Don't get hung up on doing activism in a certain way -- not everyone can march or demonstrate, not everyone can attend meeting with political representatives, not everyone can phone or write letters, not everyone has money to spare to donate to their chosen cause. Don't beat yourself up about this: it doesn't mean you don't care or aren't helping. It means you are using your energy and skills in the most practical, helpful way.


  • Be as pragmatic as you feel comfortable. By this I don't mean accept the status quo, or allow harmful people to be involved in your cause because they achieve results. Instead I mean don't strive for instant perfection, instant results, or instant, monumental change. Learn to think of incremental change not as a compromise, but as a starting point for further changes. (By this I do not mean people should accept scraps and be grateful for them, but rather to think in the long term and focus on survival.)


  • I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, but I have to be able to get out of bed in the morning, and these things help me.
    dolorosa_12: (sleepy hollow)
    It was fairly inevitable that I would eventually come down with a cold: this week has been heavy on activities, and short on sleep. As well as going to two back-to-back concerts (one of which necessitated travelling to London after work, and thus not arriving back in Cambridge until after midnight on a work night), I was at yesterday's anti-Brexit march in London, and followed that up with a friend's birthday party in the evening. It seems to have been that, combined with last night's arrival of daylight savings time, that finally brought the cold on. I'm feeling decidedly exhausted, and don't think next week is going to be all that much fun...

    The march itself was well attended (estimates put the crowd size at about 100,000, which is not massive, but not terrible), although I'm aware that it's a fairly futile gesture at this point. It mattered to me that I was there — as it has mattered to me that I've been present at other large marches that were nothing more than symbolic, futile gestures to register discontent. No matter how many people showed up at yesterday's march, Article 50 is still going to be triggered on the 29th, and the UK is going to continue on its dangerous course towards isolation, nationalistic extremism, and impoverished decline. But it's precisely for this reason that I felt people's presence at events such as yesterday's march were important: there needed to be a recorded, visible historical record that showed that not everyone in the country was marching in ideological lockstep out of the EU, and that leaving was not done in everyone's name, nor with everyone's consent.

    Next week is going to be difficult, particularly for EU friends living in the UK (and their non-EU family members whose immigration status depends on Britain being a member-state of the EU). I wish I could offer words of comfort or courage, but I've got nothing. It's a terrible thing that is happening, a decision made by people who voted to take something away from others, something they'd never understood, never knowingly made use of (the irony being that all the times they did make use of it were invisible to them), and whose value they were unable to perceive.
    dolorosa_12: (le guin)
    This has been my tradition since 2007, and I've found it to be a good way to take stock and pause for reflection in the moment as one year slips into the next.

    Questions and answers behind the cut )

    Happy 2017, everyone.
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    Previously in this series, applying for an EEA (QP) registration certificate.

    The usual disclaimer: I am not an immigration lawyer, and I am not an immigration advisor. Do not take this post as the be all and end all on this particular subject. Your first port of call should always be the official guidance on the UKVI website.

    Today I'm going to look into applying for EEA (Permanent Residence) documentation, usually known as the EEA (PR) document certifying permanent residence. This document is applicable for the following people:

  • EU/EEA/Swiss residents of the UK who have held the EEA (QP) card for a minimum of five consecutive years, continued to exercise treaty rights throughout those five (or more) years and have not done anything to break their continuity of residence in the UK (i.e. haven't been away for long periods of time since receiving the QP card).

  • EU/EEA/Swiss residents of the UK who have lived in the UK for a minimum of five consecutive years and exercised treaty rights for those five consecutive years without any gaps, and who have not left the UK for any extended periods of time during those five years.

  • Non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members of either of the above who have held an EEA (FM) or EEA (EFM) card for a minimum of five consecutive years and whose EU/EEA/Swiss family member still lives in the UK and exercises treaty rights, or already has their own EEA (PR) document.


  • I will cover the last category of people in another post, but suffice it to say now that non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members can apply on the same EEA (PR) application form as their EU/EEA/Swiss family member, and I recommend doing so as it will mean both applications are assessed at the same time.

    Instructions on how to apply behind the cut )

    In the next post in this series, I will cover the process of making an application as the non-EU/EEA/Swiss family member of an EU/EEA/Swiss person.

    Please feel free to comment with any questions, corrections, or requests for clarification. If you want your request kept private, you can send me a private message via Dreamwidth or Livejournal, or comment with your email address and I will email you.
    dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
    Previously in this series, choosing the right residency documentation, and ways to exercise treaty rights in the UK.

    I'll reiterate my disclaimer from the last post: I am not an immigration lawyer, and I am not an immigration advisor. Do not take this post as the be all and end all on this particular subject. Your first port of call should always be the official guidance on the UKVI website.

    In today's post, I'm going to focus on applying for a reigstration certificate, otherwise known as the EEA (Qualified Person) (or QP) form.

    This form should be used by people from the EU, EEA or Switzerland who are in one of the two situations:

  • Intending to move to the UK to exercise treaty rights (see previous post for information on the various ways you can exercise treaty rights)

  • Already in the UK exercising treaty rights, but haven't done so for five or more consecutive years


  • A successful EEA (QP) grants the applicant a registration certificate, which is a formal recognition of their status as a 'qualified person', i.e. a person from the EU, EEA or Switzerland residing in the UK and exercising treaty rights.

    Why apply for an EEA (QP)? )

    How to apply )

    In the next post in this series, I will cover the process of making an application for a document certifying permanent residence (otherwise known as EEA (PR)).

    Please feel free to comment with any questions, corrections, or requests for clarification. If you want your request kept private, you can send me a private message via Dreamwidth or Livejournal, or comment with your email address and I will email you.
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    The latest rumblings from the Tory party conference have prompted me to put this together. This will be the first of a series of posts. Once I've finished them all, I'll add an index to this first post. Please feel free to share as widely as possible, to anyone who thinks it may be useful.

    A quick disclaimer, before I get started: I am not an immigration lawyer, and I am not an immigration advisor. Do not take this post as the be all and end all on this particular subject. Your first port of call should always be the official guidance on the UKVI website. However, I have, in the past, found the guidance there to be opaque, unclear, contradictory, or failing to include advice relevant to people in certain situations, so what I'm hoping to do here is to provide clear, concise information relevant to people in a variety of situations.

    A bit about me

    I am an Australian immigrant living in the UK. I arrived here just over eight years ago, and have held a series of visas over that time period. Last year, I successfully applied for an EEA (Extended Family Member) residence permit as the family member of my German fiance. At the same time, he successfully applied for an EEA Document Certifying Permanent Residence. (Don't worry if you don't know what these types of documents are. You will do by the end of this post!) Due to a law change, I was able to become a British citizen this year, and my partner is on track to become a citizen by naturalisation early next year. I have a great deal of experience with EU-route residence documentation in the UK and the strange quirks and pitfalls involved in making these applications.

    Who this guidance is intended for

  • EU/EEA/Swiss people currently living in the UK, or who intend to move here in the immediate future

  • EU/EEA/Swiss people who have lived in the UK and exercised treaty rights for at least five years (again, I will explain what 'exercising treaty rights' means below)

  • Non-EU/EEA/Swiss people who are the family members of an EU/EEA/Swiss person, such as dependent children, spouses, long-term partners, dependent parents, and so on


  • Which document is right for me? )

    What is meant by 'exercising treaty rights'? )

    What to do next

  • Work out which document is appropriate for you

  • Figure out which category or categories you fall into in terms of exercising treaty rights. If you are applying for a document certifying permanent residence, it may be that you fall into several categories across the five-year period, so make a timeline of what you were doing (e.g. September 2011-June 2012: student; July 2012-August 2012: jobseeker; August 2012-present: worker).

  • If you are the non-EU/EEA/Swiss family member, your own activities are irrelevant. Instead, work out which category or categories your EU/EEA/Swiss spouse, partner, or relative falls into. In your application, you will need to provide documentation for their exercise of treaty rights.


  • In the next post in this series, I cover the process of making an application for a registration certificate.

    Please feel free to comment with any questions or requests for clarification. If you want your request kept private, you can send me a private message via Dreamwidth or Livejournal, or comment with your email address and I will email you.
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    Earlier this year, due to a law change, I was able to apply for British citizenship by descent through my father — something that had previously been impossible for me due to various quirks of British citizenship law. I put in my application, which was approved in May, and had my citizenship ceremony shortly thereafter. This was the last in a run of extraordinary good fortune for me and Matthias. He had received permanent residency in the UK (the optional equivalent of Indefinite Leave to Remain for EU residents in the UK, and a prerequisite for applications for British citizenship by naturalisation). We had got engaged and set a wedding date. He had successfully applied for a new job, which represented a significant promotion. My job had been made permanent. In other words, we had been putting down deep roots, taking steps towards the future we were choosing to build in the UK.

    On Thursday, that future became a lot more shaky and uncertain.

    By a bitter twist of fate, my new British passport, which represented the final stage in my immigration journey, something that I had been looking forward to so much, arrived at my house in the early hours of Friday morning, at almost precisely the moment Nigel Farage was crowing on TV about 'independence day' and his 'revolution achieved without a shot being fired'. A moment that I had been dreaming of for years had become a sick joke.



     photo Image-Passport_zpsmdvxd8sr.jpg

    I keep looking at that top line on the passport and feeling bitter, bitter sadness.

    It's not just about me. Over the past few days, I've been hearing story after story from EU migrant friends, as well as non-EU migrants, and non-white British friends of acts of appalling racism and xenophobia, of feeling unwelcome in their own homes, of the feeling of suddenly facing uncertain futures. I've heard from countless people about various ways this referendum result is likely to affect their current or future employment, their visa status, their ability to sponsor non-EU spouses and other relatives for visas, as well as from British people furious and terrified that they have been stripped of their ability to live, love, work and study in 27 other countries. The loss of free movement is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for me, as someone who has lived visa to visa, keeping track of the implications of small changes to immigration law. A whole world — cosmopolitan, international, collaborative and outward-looking — has been rejected.

    I'm particularly furious on behalf of the Scottish and Northern Irish citizens/residents of the UK, and those of Gibraltar, who are being dragged into this by Little Englanders (and the Welsh) without their consent, as well as residents of London, and the bigger cities and university towns of England and Wales, all of whom voted overwhelmingly to remain. My own second home of Cambridge voted to remain by 73 per cent, so at least I don't have to look around and wonder which of my fellow residents are frightened racists. I'm proud of my city. I'm also enraged on behalf of the millions of EU residents of the UK who were denied the ability to vote on their future and forced to watch helplessly as others decided it for them. (A post of Matthias' to this effect caused an ignorant Tory friend of his to question why he hadn't become a citizen if it mattered so much to him, which I must admit gave me a white hot fury. The reason why he hadn't become a citizen was that it would have invalidated my previous visa. He was on track to become a citizen in January next year, but that's now up in the air, as Germany only allows dual citizenship with other EU nationalities.)

    I have particular contempt for David Cameron, selfishly bargaining the futures of millions of younger Britons, UK citizens' lives in the wider EU, and all immigrants here in the UK for a shot at stabilising his ailing leadership. Close behind come the Tory Leavers, opportunists stirring the pot for their own personal gain, as well as the Farages and Rupert Murdochs of this world. The Leave voters who didn't actually want to leave, but just wanted to register a protest are utterly beneath contempt. Don't make protest votes unless you actually want to live with the consequences. Otherwise register your disenchantment with spoiled ballots, or by staying home. The rest of us have to deal with your mess.

    There was a lot of talk of reaching out and finding common ground, but to hell with that. I, and most people I know, are not taking this lying down. I will be writing to my MP and MEP, urging them to fight against the decision, given that it is an advisory, rather than binding referendum. I strongly encourage you to do the same. You can find your MP here and your MEP here. I would also encourage EU residents in the UK to write to the MEPs of their home countries. A friend of mine has written a good letter and is happy for it to be used as a template, so please get in touch if that's something you would like, and I can pass his template on to you.

    If you're based in Cambridge, there is a rally on Tuesday, starting at 5pm at the Guildhall. Details are on this Facebook event, which also includes links to equivalent rallies in Bristol, London, Exeter, Liverpool and so on (although be aware that you'll have to wade through a lot of awful comments from gloating Leavers). I'm almost certainly going to be attending, although I will be late coming in from work, and I encourage anyone who feels up to it to do the same (or at equivalent rallies in their own cities).

    There are also various petitions floating around, which I encourage people to sign and share. Most importantly: demand for a second referendum, and guarantee the status of EU citizens currently resident in the UK. If you have any other relevant petitions, feel free to share them in the comments.

    I also want to say that I have extensive experience dealing with UKVI, deciphering their incomprehensible forms, gathering the extensive documents required for visa applications, and understanding the byzantine requirements for various visas, including the EEA (Permanent Residence) cards that are a prerequisite for British citizenship. If you or any EU resident friends and relatives want help making such an application (although I can understand if you don't feel welcome and want to get out as soon as possible), get in touch and I will help in any way I can. Please stay and help me vote this pack of fascists out!

    Most importantly, if you see any acts of racist abuse, please do what you can (and what you feel safe doing) to challenge them and protect their targets. This result has emboldened a lot of racist xenophobes, who suddenly feel they have a mandate to unleash their vicious, vicious hatred. We need to speak out against this behaviour when we see it, and not yield the public square to them. I'm not naive enough to think that Britain was entirely free of racism, but I have never seen it so blatant, and so publicly acceptable. I am not exaggerating when I say that I feel like I woke up in 1933.

    But I still love this, my second home, my international city, my found family of friends from all around the world. I love my job, my university students and researchers, my NHS nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers, who enrich my life every time I teach them.

    As I said on Twitter on Friday, I will remain here until the lights go out.
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    I. A friend of mine, a (white) university lecturer from Canada who did his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the UK, was in a pub with his wife, a (white) British secondary school teacher. One of the other patrons started ranting against 'the immigrants'. My friend pointed out how expensive and difficult it was to emigrate to the UK, using his own situation as an illustration.

    'Oh, I wasn't talking about you,' the ranter said. 'It should be easier for people like you to emigrate. You're not like all those others.'

    II. I have been in the UK on several student visas, and the process is extremely complicated and very strict. You must prove yourself able to support yourself financially, prove that you're a genuine student, and, if English is not your native language, prove English-language competence. I am now on a one-year post-study work visa, which is similarly arduous to receive. If I were not in a relationship with a person from within the EU, I would have to leave the UK - the country in which I have lived for the past seven years - next June.

    Almost all my non-EU friends in the UK who have finished their postgraduate studies are here on spouse visas. Employers don't want the expense and hassle of applying for work visas. Those friends of mine who don't have a partner from an EU country have left.

    III. A friend of mine, an American woman who did her undergraduate and postgraduate study in the UK and is married to a British man, recently took the test to apply for indefinite leave to remain as the spouse of a British citizen. Every single question was a variation on the following theme:

    'Are you eligible for benefits in such-and-such a situation?'
    'No.'

    IV. As a German citizen, my partner can waltz through passport control in seconds. He can earn as much or as little as he likes. He can stay in the UK forever. But he cannot vote in general elections.

    As a non-EU citizen, I am occasionally hassled at passport control (although less than someone non-white and non-native-English-speaking), as if my student status might be suspect. I must prove that I have access to funds beyond my actual daily needs every time I apply for a visa, even though I am eligible for no state benefits. I can vote in general elections, but my time in this country is measured in visa expiry dates.

    V. Were I to want to move to Germany with my partner, we would have to get married, as although the UK treats de facto relationships as equal to marriages, Germany does not recognise them. However, since same-sex marriage is illegal, same-sex de facto relationships are exempt from this restriction.

    VI. I come from a country whose leader - an immigrant from the UK - locks up refugees in internment camps in various Pacific countries and denies that the situations from which they've fled are really all that bad.

    Anti-immigrant rhetoric in Australia suggests that the country is being overwhelmed by floods of these refugees, but in actual fact, the number of refugees who have arrived in Australia by boat in the past decade is a fraction of the number of refugees who arrived in Italy in a single year.

    VII. One of my colleagues at Original Library Job is a (white) British man. Two years ago, he got into a relationship with a Chinese woman who had entered the country on a partner visa with another British man (that relationship had since ended). My colleague and the Chinese woman got married and applied for a spouse visa.

    This was denied on the basis that their relationship was not genuine, and because the UK Border Agency believed that because the woman was a political dissident, she was using my colleague to get out of China. Their case is still dragging through the courts, and apart from one brief holiday together in Thailand, they have not been able to see each other. As she was refused a UK visa, the woman is denied entry to all other EU countries as well.

    VIII. I reject the dichotomy by which a wealthy, educated Westerner who emigrates for work or study opportunities is an 'ex-pat' while a poor person from a non-Western country who emigrates to escape dangerous or difficult political, social, environmental or economic circumstances is an 'immigrant'. I am an immigrant. My German partner is an immigrant. The Polish woman who cleaned my former college accommodation is an immigrant. The girl I went to school with whose father was jailed for political dissidence in Thailand was (originally) an immigrant, though she may identify as Australian now. Our relative privilege levels mean that we are not treated equally, nor should we pretend that we are all the same. But on a basic level, we should reject any language that implies that one type of immigrant is excellent (and should have an easier time of it) while another type is to be despised and mistrusted.

    IX. In other words, if you are arguing against racists by saying that not all immigrants are brown and/or Muslims, I don't want you on my side.
    dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
    So, as you might've noticed, there was a tiny general election in the UK on Thursday. As a Commonwealth citizen currently living in the UK, I was able to vote (although I'd thought I was only allowed to vote in the council elections, and rather hastily had to make up my mind about who to vote for at national level, once I got into the polling station). As a voter (and a political - and more specifically, election - junkie) I think I'm as qualified as anyone to offer my 10 cents on the result, the situation that's unfolding, and electoral reform. These are just some scattered thoughts, based on my observations and conversations over the past couple of days. I'm not sure I'm qualified to offer anything more comprehensive than that.

    The political ramblings of a disgrunted social democrat. You've been warned. )

    That's it from me. Feel free to disagree, vociferously, in the comments.

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