To the Royal Mail woman who had my Southampton address in her route

12 Oakbank Road

I lived there between roughly the start of 2005 and the beginning of 2009 when I left for the oh so charming-looking but immensely sadistic cesspool known as Portsmouth.

Thank you. Unlike most of your country people, your fellow English people, you never insulted me, you never lied to me, you never abused me in any way and you never stole any items from my mail.

To you, I was a fellow human being, not some piece of stinking excrement.

When I gave you an ice cream from the freezer I had until people in Portsmouth stole if from me, you were happy with that but it made no difference in how you treated me. I did not suddenly stop being excrement.

YOU never saw me as excrement.

You are one of the very very few English people who considered me a human being in the now nearly 16 years that I have lived in this vicious, bile-spewing mess of a country.

I don’t remember your name and that saddens me.

Thank you.


PS
Something similar goes for the receptionists at Strathmore Veterinary Clinic in Andover, which I frequented between roughly 2006 and 2011. Thank you.

It’s all gloom and doom

Many of the UK’s newspaper headlines this morning are about how the sense of entitlement of some people clashes with the practicalities of being alive during a pandemic.

Sure, the pandemic is causing hardship and heartbreak, but less so for the more fortunate in society.

Can we please remember that the pandemic is also creating some unique opportunities for good?

  • It highlights weaknesses in society, so it makes us see where we should focus our priorities. 
  • It also is sparking a lot of creativity, for example, by offering VR versions of experiences that are currently no longer possible for most of us.

Dear DVLA, where is my driving licence?

After weeks of trying to access its dysfunctional website, I took my driving licence to the Post Office where an employee took my photo, my payment and also my licence, which she snipped into pieces and discarded. It had not expired yet but was about to.

That was in late May, about ten days before the DVLA retroactively extended the validity of all licences as of 1 February 2020. With SEVEN MONTHS!

It later amended this information and added that it was implementing this automatic extension because of the EU. The UK left the EU at the beginning of the year.

In July, I was still without licence and I enquired at the Post Office. I was told that the DVLA was handling March applications at the time and that it would take a very long time for my licence to arrive. I figured that it would take about four months, then.

There is no way to contact the DVLA, which stubbornly refused to acknowledge any difficulties for months.

(At least now, its voice mail acknowledges that they’re having issues and that there is nothing they can do for us. We must wait patiently.)

At some point, I was able to access a part of the DVLA site that informed me that my licence was renewed in early June. WTF?

I continued to wait, as it is clear that the DVLA is in deep shit, but some weeks later, I sent a letter by special delivery asking the DVLA to let me know whether or not the licence had been dispatched as so many items are getting lost from our postal mail and deliveries these days.

I haven’t had a response to that either. So what shall I do? Report my licence as stolen or lost? To avoid being told later that I should have reported its disappearance sooner?

Ten years ago, I exchanged my Dutch licence – acquired in 1984 – for a UK one as I’d been living in the UK too long to still be allowed to have a Dutch licence.

I wonder if there is some kind of international law that I can apply to this as the DVLA is withholding an important form of ID for me that was initially issued in the Netherlands. I have been without it for four months.

I happen to have met the guy who runs the DVSA – not the DVLA – and he is one of my LinkedIn connections. He has a chunk of oceanography in his past.

But the DVSA apparently has similar issues as the DVLA.

It appears that he knows it, too, as his LinkedIn profile summary at some point made him sound so much like the manager of a hedge fund or manufacturing plant that I concluded that I must have remembered his professional context wrong. Then I ran into an article in The Guardian that mentioned him.

He’s leaving the DVSA. Smart choice. I think he is a very capable guy. And he can’t do a thing about my driving licence.

I am lucky. Lots of people have actually been forced to send original documents such as passports and marriage licences to the DVLA and being without them and their driving licence for too many months has led to issues such as being unable to get the visa for a planned trip, being unable to start the new job and problems with the Home Office.

 

Are EU citizens in the UK the only officially undocumented legal migrants in the world now?

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/sep/26/eu-citizens-uk-brexit-settled-status-jobs-banking-healthcare

The entire thing, the application, the status and the many empty promises made and reneged on, it means zilch.

We’re still vermin.

Previously, at least one person was blocked from boarding a flight for the same reason as why the people in the above article in The Guardian ran into hurdles.

Now look into this first (PDF, opens in new window): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249250/Factsheet_11_-_Driving_Licences.pdf

Then read this post: https://angelinasouren.com/2020/09/26/dear-dvla-where-is-my-driving-licence/

I contacted Cygnet Healthcare this morning

This is what I wrote:

“Hello,

Yesterday, I ran into the following article about Yew Trees hospital in Essex and I learned that you used to operate another hospital that had similar challenges.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/24/essex-hospital-where-staff-abused-patients-was-warned-by-cqc

I wonder if I could help you address such issues, for example, by visiting your facilities and talking with staff about what happened to me after I moved from Amsterdam to England.

To my utter bafflement, I became bullied in England. I suspect that this may have had something to do with some people around me assuming that I was learning-disabled in some way and on disability benefits because they didn’t see me go to work every day and noticed that I was living on my own (which also seems to carry a stigma here).

I am – or was – a geologist and marine biogeochemist working from home. Remember the attack with flour etc on Janice Morris who was sitting on a bench? That photo went viral; I heard about it from the US, where I have also lived for a while. Well, something like that happened to me too, for example, except that I got stones, sand and water thrown at me and two stones hit my head.

Please forward and discuss my offer. Let me know what you think of it.”

I am also in the middle of editing a new video.

Both were sparked by this:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/24/essex-hospital-where-staff-abused-patients-was-warned-by-cqc

This is the video I made:

How is workplace bullying affecting your business?

(image from the NY Post)

Do you know?

I am aware of two cases in England in which employees were set on fire at work and Landrover / Jaguar has just experienced a landmark case of constructive dismissal to do with workplace bullying.

In the UK, the incidence of workplace bullying is around 30% (2015, Trades Union Congress), with 71% of disabled women reporting some form of abuse and 91% of workers stating that bullying in the workplace wasn’t being dealt with appropriately.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (HR professionals) found a percentage of 15 for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 yet added that more than half did not report bullying.

  • Most bullying at work in the UK appears to take place in London and the southeast.
  • Most bullying is carried out by someone higher in the hierarchy.

In a study by Kew Law (employment law), 71% of the employees at 131 companies in the UK stated that they had either been bullied or witnessed bullying.

Workplace bullying is very costly. Are you sticking your head in the sand over it, conveniently closing your eyes? Well then, with most staff still working from home, NOW may be the perfect time to wake up and address it. Workplace bullying. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening.

 

Another case of “not workplace bullying”?

Landrover / Jaguar:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/17/gender-fluid-engineer-wins-landmark-uk-discrimination-case

Constructive dismissal. Thank you, Judge Hughes.

All people who suffer from workplace bullying, certainly if it concerns the extreme kind of workplace bullying that George Cheese and Harry Hayward suffered from, should document what is happening, then leave and sue their employers. 

Mr Hayward was set on fire at his place of work. Although it was an accident, it was an accident waiting to happen.

Mr Cheese was locked into a trunk (boot), punched, verbally abused and deliberately set on fire. The abuse of Mr Cheese continued after his death. His colleagues / manager(s) continued to scapegoat him when they said that what had been done to Mr Cheese was not bullying but horseplay and the coroner who ruled in George Cheese’s case was a coward.

I wrote about both cases in my latest book.

Horseplay is like sex. It requires consenting partners. 

Without consent, it is rape or bullying. Period.

Setting someone on fire is not horseplay. It’s sadism. Cruelty.

https://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/ (=employment law specialists and tips)

Information for employers:
https://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/employers.html

 

And now, for a good laugh,

read this:

Article in the Guardian.

Sounds like more people should learn how to “go floppy”. (It’s good to see police officers finally wearing masks too, by the way.)

Meanwhile, Priti Patel continues to be devoid of any semblance of a healthy perspective:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/08/extinction-rebellion-criminals-threaten-uks-way-of-life-says-priti-patel

A suit that I used to have

This is an image that I associate with me, or rather with my pre-England me and perhaps even with my pre-US me.

I even used to have a suit like that too and I bought it before I moved to the US. Very fancy. I bought it at De Bijenkorf in Amsterdam. 100% cotton. By a German fashion brand that no longer exists.

This image is almost the exact opposite of how women are seen and supposed to behave in England… It is good to be reminded of that on a daily basis so I just selected it as my screen photo.

Me and the world’s most openly misogynistic nation do not get along and I doubt that we ever will. And I am probably living in its most misogynistic city.

In any case, it is a nasty, sadistic form of slavery that I am living in. (Characteristic for the local culture, according to Portsmouth City Council, in private. In public, they desperately sell the city as rose-coloured and vanilla-flavoured.) I genuinely wish that I could kill the people who are doing this to me, who are continuing to keep me in slavery.

So that I could be free again, smile again, LIVE again. Not to mention “make a living again, support myself financially again”.

So that I could do and be all the many things that women are not allowed to be and do in Portsmouth, England (according to Portsmouth City Council). 

 

She Speaks (by Debbie Cameron)

Reposted!

language: a feminist guide

Three years ago, to mark the political party conference season, I wrote a post about Great Political Speeches—or rather, Great Male Political Speeches. On most Anglophone lists of the best speeches of all time you will find just one token woman, or if you’re really lucky, two. British list compilers typically select from a field consisting of Elizabeth I, Emmeline Pankhurst and Margaret Thatcher; their US counterparts, who (still) can’t choose a female president, tend to go for Susan B. Anthony or Sojourner Truth.

Of course, it’s not surprising if the female speechmakers of the past can’t compete with the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. In addition to being gifted orators, these men were leaders of global stature, speaking at key historical moments on subjects of grave import. Until recently very few women, however gifted, were in a position to tick…

View original post 1,513 more words

Access to the spoken chapters of “Is cruelty cool?”

This monthly contribution of £2.50 will give you one-by-one access to the 13 spoken chapters of “Is cruelty cool?”. Your subscription will stop after 12 months; the 1st chapter is free. (See below. It is also available on SoundCloud.) You can cancel your subscription at any time.

You can also make a one-time contribution of £12.99.

Stripe will process your payment, in cooperation with WordPress.com. I will e-mail you after your payment.

I have just completed the audio file for Chapter 1. In case you wonder about this, there is no music or other audible background decoration. There are a few notes on marimba at the beginning and the end. The notes at the beginning – 3 seconds – will give you some idea of whether you need to adjust your volume. The notes at the end – 2 seconds – tell you that you’ve reached the end of the chapter.

 

 

When is it time to leave?

A father said to his daughter “You graduated with honors, here is a car I acquired many years ago. It is several years old. But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you. The daughter went to the used car lot, returned to her father and said, “They offered me $1,000 because it looks very worn out.” The father said, ”Take it to the pawn shop.” The daughter went to the pawn shop, returned to her father and said, ”The pawn shop offered $100 because it was a very old car.” The father asked his daughter to go to a car club and show them the car. The daughter took the car to the club, returned and told her father,” Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it since it’s a Nissan Skyline R34, an iconic car and sought out after by many.” The father said to his daughter, ”The right place values you the right way,” If you are not valued, do not be angry, it means you are in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.

 

 

I so agree with this headline by George Monbiot: “If you think the UK isn’t corrupt, you haven’t looked hard enough”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/10/uk-corrupt-nation-earth-brexit-money-laundering

But it does not happen only in London and only on a large scale. It happens everywhere, also here where I live, and on all kinds of scales.

DVLA update

Regarding this post: https://angelinasouren.com/2020/06/30/dvla-chaos/.
I sent a letter by special delivery, haven’t heard back.

I just rang them again and now at least their automated voice system says that because of social distancing, they are experiencing delays and that they cannot give any updates on when we will receive our documents.

It just so happens that I met Gareth Llewellyn and that he’s one of my LinkedIn connections, but he runs the DVSA, not the DVLA (and he is leaving).

By the way, the delay is about four months, according to a Royal Mail staff member I spoke with in July.

What do I do? What value do I offer?

What do I do? Good question. Keep reading.

I used to help people succeed in their work, mostly. That is not something I can do within England, is it?

I started up several other new businesses focused on adding something worthwhile to local people’s lives such as enabling them to stay in their homes, fight injustice done to them or adorning the walls of their homes with beautiful art reproductions. That didn’t work.

I slowly started learning more and more about this country works, which challenges it has and which pluses.

One challenge, apparently, is workplace bullying. According to various reports and newspaper items.

Because workplace and community bullying is immensely destructive AND expensive for business owners, I just posted an article on LinkedIn about this. With most people still working from home, businesses now have a unique opportunity to ensure that workplace bullying does not resume when their businesses return to somewhat normal operations.

The problem with that is that bullying and cruelty are glorified in England. (Otherisation is; it starts with that.) How do you break through that? By pointing out that it is not okay and repeating that over and over and over. Eventually, some of the message has to make it across.

My own value has always been that I am a catalyst for change. This includes change that results from painful realisations. This function of being a catalyst seems to be my inescapable role in life. The harder I run away from it, the more it always seems to follow me, confront me. So at some point you have to stop running away.

It’s part of the reason why I am still in England. Someone in the Netherlands has said to me, a few times, that staying in England is like hitting myself with a hammer. I don’t see it that way. I see it the way psychologist Kelly McGonigal puts it. Seek meaning rather than to focus on avoiding discomfort.

 

Impostor syndrome

In England, perceived “impostor syndrome” among women (as perceived by men) likely has more to do with a woman having to wonder whether someone peed into her tea or coffee when she turned her back or whether that client meeting will end up with her walking into a sex shop because her male colleagues believe that this will prove how incompetent women professionals are.

(How that works? Tell her that you’re about to meet a client at a restaurant, keep talking with her and distract her, then lead her into the sex shop. If the men surround the woman, obscuring her view, that’s likely easy enough to do. Happened to a top accountant in London. Ha ha.)

If you are asking yourself if your company or department might be like that too, let me know. I can help you figure it out and if needed, help you resolve it.

Personally, I have never met a woman with impostor syndrome, to my knowledge, but many men seem to be obsessed with it as “something that women suffer from”. 

Yes, “impostor” can also be spelled “imposter”.

The break-ins continue

The anonymous break-ins that have plagued my life since I moved into my current flat at the beginning of 2011 continue.

There was one on 19 July, which included vandalism, business sabotage and theft.

There was another one today. (I suspect that it happened when I went to the post office. It appears to have been aimed at making me feel unsafe in my own bed as I found out about it late at night.)

I expect there to be another one on 13 September.

If you want to know more about how something like this comes about (otherisation), read my latest book, “Is cruelty cool?”:

 

Continue reading