MEMORIES

Memories are such a funny thing aren’t they?

The past two weeks I’ve been applying the KonMari Method of tidying to my house, going through every individual thing and asking myself if it makes me happy.

It’s a bizarrely thorough process of decluttering, one that at the beginning seems quite over the top and you ask yourself if it’s all really necessary. But while you’re doing it, something changes. It becomes much more than just tidying away things. You remember the fabulous little boutique where you bought those slippers. You remember wandering the streets of a wonderful city till your feet blistered and your ankles hurt. You remember the holiday you wore this dress on, the person you were with, you see the waves on the beach.

And then it just keeps getting harder and harder. You get to the point where you come across stacks of old postcards and photographs.

Hand-written words.

Stolen moments that for some reason meant enough to you to print out the picture.

How much you’ve changed and how ridiculously little you’ve changed.

Bittersweet.

We hang on to things long gone and we try protect ourselves from the future.

Because we don’t hang on to things, we hang on to memories.

 

WTAF is the EU even good for?

What does the EU actually do that is good for Britain?

I’m going to try and achieve in one post what the UK government failed to do with a £3M website – to try and explain why the EU is good for the UK and why Britain should stay in the EU.

The main points everyone seems to argue about are the economy (OMG, we pay them soooo much money and we get nothing for it!!!) and immigration (all those bloody immigrants stealing our jobs AND claiming benefits!!!!) – but there are some more points that are very important as well (in my opinion anyway) so I’ve listed them all out.

If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, here is a quick summary:

The EU saves the UK shitloads of money.

The EU also makes the UK shitloads of money.

THE EU makes the UK safer.

The EU makes sure that you have paid annual leave.

The EU is not the one fucking with the NHS – that’s the Tories.

The EU immigrants are not the ones claiming benefits – that’s mostly the lazy-arse British chavs. AND there are just as many British people claiming benefits in other EU countries – say whaaaattt??

What do they even do all day taking all our money and doing nothing?!?! They make laws, agreements, negotiate terms and rights. They do all the same things that the UK parliament does but on a much bigger scale and level covering 28 countries rather than just one.

And here’s the whole thing:

Economy – Trade & Investment

  • the EU in 2014 accounted for 44.6% of UK exports of goods and services, and 53.2% of UK imports of goods and services
  • In terms of overseas investment into the UK, the proportion of assets held in the UK by EU residents and businesses stands at 46.4% in 2013
  • Free Trade Agreements – the UK benefits from the EU by not only being able to trade with EU members freely but also with non-EU states that the EU has FTAs with (currently applied in 32 states worldwide and initialled in a further 19)

Surely the UK can leave the EU and then go sign FTAs with a lot of other countries to make for any losses? Apparently not easy at all, each one would need to be individually negotiated and the UK as a single country would have little negotiating power – and even if that did happen, it would take serious scraping to make up for losses – the USA only makes up 8.5% of the UK’s trade for example and EU rules don’t cause big hurdles for the British economy anyway which might restrict British exports to countries outside Europe, so ‘Brexit’ would not be the economic liberation people claim it would be. Do it like Norway!! Uhm yeah, Norway has to spend a lot of moolah to be part of the FTA and still needs to comply with all the required regulations (and because it’s not a member it can’t influence any regulations – such a good deal right?!). Norway also had a lot of oil which made them a bit over-confident…and now they’re quite fucked actually.

The UK has also been making some very poor investment choices – between 2010 and 2013, the UK’s net position with the EU fell from a surplus of £185.9 billion in 2010 to a deficit of £5.1 billion in 2013, and from a surplus of £134.6 billion to a surplus £64.7 billion with non-EU countries.  So yeah, the UK is facing an asset deficit with the EU – but from what I’ve been able to understand this is the result of poor investment by the UK rather than the result of anything the EU has “forced” the UK to do as it’s the same trend/ result with the UK’s non-EU investments.

Economy – Jobs & Benefits

  • 3.5 million UK jobs are linked to the EU

Yes, they are linked to export and trade (44.6% of the UK’s export trade is to the EU) and not to a political union – but as per the previous point the export & trade benefits are linked to the political union. So will these jobs suddenly disappear overnight, will everyone lose their jobs? No, that’s not likely but restrictions on free trade will have a big impact on efficiency, ease, restrictions, quotas and cost of exporting – which can result in job cuts.

  • The BLOODY immigrants – all those East Europeans are stealing the jobs of low-skilled British people and driving down wages right?

There is no actual proof of this that I was able to find anywhere on the internet and I like to think I’m good at finding stuff on the internet. So if anyone has actual facts and stats that can prove this – please do share. Actually, it seems like EU immigration is good for the public finances, as the EU immigrants are legit and working legally and pay more in taxes than they receive in public spending. These economic immigrants are mostly young and here for work – they cost less in healthcare and pay taxes – and no they’re not claiming benefits because they’re busy stealing jobs instead. Also – 1.8 Million British people live in other EU states and they are mostly retirees that do cost a lot in healthcare – Spain and France are the main ones getting hit by this. Also – every EU member state can invoice other states for this cost of healthcare for their citizens – the UK has repeatedly failed to do this. There is one seriously incompetent team at HMRC losing the UK money it could be claiming.

Human/ Worker’s Rights

  • European Labour Law (including the Parental Leave Directive) – the EU requires its member states to adhere by the guidelines laid out in the European Labour Law which enforces things like equality at work, child care support, sane working hours, health & safety, pensions and paid annual leave. This was laid out in 1989 as “Fundamental Social Rights of Workers” and adopted and applied by all member states – EXCEPT the UK under Margaret Thatcher (**hahahahaha**)

This is one of those awful “regulations from Brussels” that is crippling British “democracy” you see. Because who wants paid annual leave & maternity leave anyway? People argue that this is nothing EU-related and that leaving the EU would totally still mean that worker’s rights would apply – are we really that sure? Maggie Thatcher didn’t want them in 89…tssk tssk, those pesky Tories.

Europol/ Police

  • the European Joint Police Force is one of the things that the EU does that no one talks about enough – police and intelligence from all member states work together to apprehend criminals across borders in each other’s jurisdiction thanks to the European Arrest Warrant.

Why would anyone not want this? Ooohh, “police state”? Bit rich coming from the country of CCTV…

Immigration/ Refugees

  • the UK is not a member of Schengen
  • the refugee crisis is not caused by EU immigrants
  • the refugees are not coming from the EU
  • the flow of refugees is not uncontrolled or unlimited (yes it may seem uncontrolled – but there’s a reason some of them are stuck in Calais and not flooding the streets of Slough)

One of the best things about the EU is the Schengen agreement – and the UK is not part of it. The Schengen agreement is what allows you go get on a train in Amsterdam and get off in Paris without having your passports screened at the Dutch border, the Belgian border and the French border. But the UK is not part of this – this is why you still have to queue for a million hours at the UK border when you fly back from Paris or Barcelona or Berlin.

I also absolutely do not understand how anyone with even half a brain cell can blame the EU for the refugee crisis? The refugees are not coming from the EU. And people also really NEED to understand the difference between economic migrants and refugees.

Refugee: in fear of death, running away in fear, running away from war and murder and torture – at the moment mostly from Syria but also Afghanistan and Somalia. No parent gets on an inflatable dingy in the middle of the night to cross an entire sea with their little children/ babies at risk of death if they had any other choice.

Economic migrant: looking for a job, usually from a country where there are no jobs and no money so they go somewhere else to work – they are not claiming benefits, they’re working – at the moment mostly from Poland and Romania.

The existence of the EU makes it possible to “spread” the refugees – imagine how fucked Greece would be otherwise? AND most of these refugees don’t even want to come to the UK, they’re all headed for Sweden and Germany anyway (hit me up if you want my stats on that – I can give you the uncut extra long edition)? So exactly how, where and why is the EU causing the UK’s *non-existant* refugee problems?

Regulations

  • in the past 12 months only 4 out of 121 bills that were passed into law by the British parliament were related to EU regulations and directives

All these cries about how the UK isn’t “free” or “democratic” anymore and we are now being “ruled by Brussels” is such a pack of lies – the UK very much still makes its own laws and rules and decisions, in the past year only 4 bills were affected by Brussels. Also – what do people think are in these directives from Brussels? It’s worker’s rights, trade agreements, security agreements – all good things that we should want (unless if you’re a Tory maybe).

  • Norway is not a member of the EU – but it has to pay a hefty price to be part of the FTA and it also needs to comply with and abide by the EU regulations on all product and services
  • Democratic deficit of the EU? A lot of people argue that the EU is not democratic because “we’re now being governed by Brussels that we didn’t vote for”. This is incorrect, you actually totally do vote for them – the members of the European Parliament are voted for by the citizens of the EU. The European Commission in turn are chosen/ nominated by the European Parliament. The same way you would vote for a party who then nominate the leader.

So, hopefully I’ve been able to address some of the main issues at hand – there’s a million more points you could comb through for days. I’m also not a lawyer or an economist or a politician, I’m just a normal person who is just sick and tired of all the lies being spread about how the EU is apparently a bad thing.

A “to-do” list for 2016?

Something I’ve been doing the past few years is make a to-do list for the year every year. Nothing too detailed, just really general topline “goals” to keep reminding myself of stuff I want to do. I keep this list on my phone and update it all the time but the general core stays the same.

So I’ve just been putting together my list for 2016 – so let’s see what I’ve got on the list so far:

  1. Do a Spanish course – Spanish has long been one of my favourite languages, I want to travel South America more and I also have the Spanish wedding in September 2016 – so a perfect excuse to do a Spanish course right?
  2. Learn how to play golf – now this is going to be a loooong process, but I’d like to get started in 2016. I’d like to have an outdoor activity that clears my mind, that calms me down, that makes me a bit more balanced and less anxious.learn how to play golf for women
  3. Travel to either Belize or Honduras – maybe over Easter? I have no idea if that is a good time to visit the area, but I’ll look it up…                                                                                               roatan island honduras beach
  4. Travel to Istanbul – always been on the top of my list and it’s really just a long weekend, so I need to get my shit together and get this one off the list                                                  istanbul sunset
  5. Finally learn to drive and get my driving license – I got halfway through this in 2014 before giving up – so I need to pick up where I left off and finish this one
  6. Visit Banff in Canada – my Pinterest is full of beautiful pictures of Banff and Jasper and this coming summer might be the time I finally make it over?                                              banff national park canadian rockies canada
  7. Lose weight – this is a serious biggie, over the past 18 months I have put on SO much weight. Only in the past 5 months alone I’ve put on over 6kgs – I really really really need to lose atleast 12kgs running rhino on treadmill dreams to be unicorn
  8. Run 10K for charity – I last did this in 2013 when I did my previous weight loss (that I have now waaaay more than put back on) and it’s a good motivation to getting fit and losing weight as it gives me a fixed date/ deadline to work towards
  9. Save money – I need to start thinking of buying a flat, getting a mortgage and getting my life together – I need to grow up and out of my current juvenile lifestyle, there’s no point putting this off or avoiding this anymore, the more I put it off the more painful it’s going to get                                                                             drake make it rain
  10. Visit the Fjords in Norway – maybe a bit similar to Banff/ Canada but again one that’s been collecting digital online dust on my Pinterest and needs to be ticked off the list

Soooo….that’s my list so far, what do you think is missing and needs to be added?