What it is – can be – like to live in Portsmouth

Years ago, someone at the local Salvation Army (where I volunteered briefly) told me that I saw Portsmouth in a much too positive light. I think I now know what she meant. For a long time, I thought that a lot of the nastiness of Portsmouth came from the poverty here. Nope. We were talking about the theft of wrapped Christmas gifts at the time.

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Lovely Portsmouth in the UK’s top spot again for discrimination and intolerance

This fully fits with my own experiences of Portsmouth where I’ve been living since early 2009. If you’re one of the victims of this discrimination in Portsmouth, feel free to contact me if you think I may be able to help you.

Dear Gerald Vernon-Jackson – dyslexic and gay – this appears to have happened UNDER YOUR WATCH. The LibDems pay very little attention to all kinds of diversity issues in Portsmouth. It’s the main reason if I recall correctly why I asked to be removed from the LibDem mailing list some years ago and stopped voting LibDem. The aggressive prejudiced bully of a volunteer you had during the last elections did not serve your cause either as far as I am concerned. She’s exactly the kind of person that causes these kinds of disparities. (Steve Pitt knows who I mean. She comes within an inch of being downright vicious.)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55221474

Portsmouth, a “strong sense of community”? My ass. It’s much too often a hotbed of intolerance, corruption and intimidation but there is a lot of, how shall I put it, cosmetics going on. The “guy in the dress” is welcome here because it is felt that he enhances Portsmouth’s image of contrariness.

But people with Parkinsons and autistic people or even normal professionals are seen as not “sexy” enough for Portsmouth.

Some of the staff at the Civic Offices is an utter disgrace – a Mr Thomas Young, for example, but he may no longer work there – and should be sued because of how they violate English law (and are completely unfit for the work that they do for other reasons as well). Some should probably even be charged. I mean that. It’s disgusting, some of the stuff that goes on there.

People with Parkinsons can also get a hard time because other people – including police officers – mistakenly believe that they’re drunk. Did you know that?

 

Brexit, cultural differences and negotiation styles

Captions below. More information and some tips under the captions. Also available on YouTube.

READ THIS: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/25/make-what-you-want-seem-normal-david-frost-and-the-brexit-deal

“It was a Trumpian use of alternative facts,”
said one EU source.

(It is not tied to the Trump era, however. I first ran into the above in Southampton, in 2006 or 2007. It’s part of the silly games the English often play. It renders you powerless and speechless, pulls the rug out from under you, thus putting them in the driver seat. Be prepared for this. Stay focused!)

…as a British official put it:
“They found it very difficult to deal with our obstinacy. It was wearying.”
)

READ THIS: https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Cultures-Collide-Leading-Across/dp/147368482X/

READ THIS: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/02/uk/2020-hurt-the-uk-2021-could-kill-it-intl-gbr/index.html

READ THIS: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-3-types-of-negotiators-and-how-to-tell-which-one_b_594378c5e4b0d188d027fd4c

About Chris Voss: https://www.blackswanltd.com/our-team/chris-voss

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The Dutch Financial Times about Brexit

Echoing what I’ve been moaning about since I moved to “Britain” (that “Brits” are recalcitrant by definition and difficult to work with) and saying that Boris Johnson is full of it, with one major difference – and this is important – namely, equating English and British. (I stopped doing that after a while.)

In the Netherlands, the UK is called “England”. The distinction between Britain’s four nations barely ever features in the conversations there.

If you’re a non-English business Brit who deals with Europe and may have to do more negotiating now, this is something to keep in mind and be forgiving about.

This too is diversity.

(I’m about to make a video related to this, so be on the lookout for that post here, if the topic is of interest to you.)

(Also, I too am now often perceived as “difficult to work with” for Dutch people and Americans, I am sure, after 16 years in England.)

Nah, we don’t need stupid Europe and its silly backward countries

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/23/lufthansa-fly-fresh-food-uk-shortage-fears-fruit-vegetables-border-french-blockade

“Lufthansa flies 80 tonnes of fresh food to UK amid shortage fears”

Meanwhile, those same lorry drivers we so depend on are getting whipped by Kent Police and ignored by the authorities so that it’s charities – thank you! – who are keeping these lorry drivers alive now by supplying them with hot meals etc.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55420193

Right.

And yet there are still people who think it’s crazy that I think that England is a big bizarre mess on way too many days of the year. There is a giant disconnect from reality in England, the kind of disconnect displayed by Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Here’s to hoping that that disconnect will now start to dissolve.

(Some of this has to do with the vast difference between how the English negotiate and how the rest of the western world negotiates, I am sure. I may do a video on that one of these days.)

Wanna do something extra against Covid?

Wipe down some of those traffic light buttons at pedestrian crossings. A bit of tissue paper and a 45-pence bottle of hand sanitizer from Aldi is all it takes.

If everyone who walks to a local supermarket or whatever wipes down just one traffic light button on the way, you could be making a big difference. And it can’t do any harm.

Since the start of the pandemic, I have been carrying a tiny bottle of disinfectant – yep, from Aldi, but other chains carry them too, as you know – and tissues in my right pocket. You are likely doing that too.

So it’s an easy peasy thing to do. For me too. Let’s see if I can remember to do it in practice. 😉

People in Kent to provide coffee and tea for nearly 3,000 stuck lorry drivers, both English and European

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-55410114

This is easy peasy. Lots of things you can’t do right now. Tons of stuff you still can, and should. Because these lorry drivers too help keep Britain going, whether they take meds to Europe or a ventilator or produce to Britain. So people in Kent have decided they are going to do it. Period.

And the city councils are going to give them access to the public toilets. I mean – (LOL) – would you prefer the alternative, folks? What do you think that might be?

Curries, too!

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/gravesend/news/hundreds-of-curries-delivered-roadside-to-stranded-truckers-239717/

Meanwhile, we have a pandemic on our hands

Turns out that the three-tiered system that the UK government introduced a while back is the old five-tiered system with the two top tiers removed because they thought that the worst of the pandemic was over.

Locally, we are a tiny blob on the map of the UK that is now in Tier 4. Petersfield is not. Southampton is not. Neither is Chichester. As far as I know, that is.

Turns out that the UK has a second strain of the virus going around that does not appear to be more deadly and does not appear to make people more ill but that is much more contagious. So the hospitals are being flooded again.

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Someone should fine him

An asshole at a small local Tesco just touched my arm, not wearing a face cover, and started hassling me with some inane waffling. He was not mentally ill or anything. He was merely being an asshole to a female stranger.

No wonder we’re going into Tier 3. 

I told him he was hassling me. “I am not hassling anyone” he said while he continued to hassle me. I repeated that he was hassling me and that he should leave me alone.

We’re moving into the highest Covid alert tier locally, I found out yesterday, by coincidence. We are that tiny dark blob on the map on the page if you click on the link below. It is so small you won’t even see it on the map unless you know where to look for it. So, too many people haven’t been sticking to the rules, locally.

Me too, I no longer automatically wash hands when I arrive home. Not sure how that came about. Too much is simply exactly the same again as before the pandemic, I suppose, other than that many offices etc are still closed so there is a heck of a lot you can no longer do or arrange. (Not that that much was necessarily possible before.)   

Me, I’d forgotten my stupid mask. Yes, I am fed up with the damn masks too. Of course! So I tied a scarf around my face, twice around my face, and did my best to get out of the Tesco again very quickly.

But I don’t go around hassling strangers up close without a face cover. Jerk. Then he moved on to the security guard. She was new. I understand that the guy may have been feeling lonely and was desperate to exchange a few words with someone, but still.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52530518

 

Well well well

And THAT little (non-)incident answered THAT question. Or should I say “confirmed that assumption”?

Like I said, Portsmouth is immensely toxic. Vicious.

I wrote this after having been terrorised since…

6:30 this morning!

(On my computer, I mean. The newer computer.)

It’s 2:30 in the afternoon now. I hate Portsmouth. 

Ah. Now I also know why my screen looked so vague this morning that I adjusted the screen settings. Someone’s been fucking around with this website again, and it was not me. But I think I do know who it was now. 

(Of course, those settings have now mysteriously disappeared too. Ha ha.)

“I wasn’t even home, honestly, so how can you claim that I was sabotaging that poor woman to death?”

Okay, turns out I am being sabotaged to death by random haters in Portsmouth. Nothing to do with autism, or DID or with NPD and/or psychopathy. Just random haters.

Is NatWest’s online security feature down?

Haven’t needed 2FA codes for several days in a row now. 

I also can’t access some of my WordPress features at times; have to take a detour to be able to select categories.

 

PS 17 December 2020: The VISA verification feature for online card payments has not worked for years either. The verification screen does often come up but then it flashes forward to the “payment completed” screen.

A letter that I expect to arrive today

Update Thursday 17 December 2020, 9:58
Still the same. Royal Mail has not attempted to deliver my letter, according to its website. I wonder if a guy I know as Nathan has anything to do with that. He once walked up to me at the local large Tesco (Craswell Street), made the mysterious statement that he and I had never seen eye to eye or something along those lines – huh? wtf was he going on about? – then said that Royal Mail had offered him early retirement because of his severe problems with his spine and that he had accepted the offer. It turned out to be complete bullshit. I have no idea what this dude wanted from me. I don’t know him. He is someone who works at Royal Mail, who (says he) has severe back problems and I’ve brought him and his colleagues refreshments once on a hot day. (I also brought a tea from Greggs to a woman at Wilko on a freezing cold day once and I’ve once given my postie in Southampton a refreshment on a hot summer’s day. I don’t do that kind of thing in other countries, can’t recall any instances.) Other than that, I don’t know him, but he seems to have had some kind of issue with me for a long time. No idea what it might be. I saw him walking toward me on Arundel Street a few weeks ago and I decided to cross the road so that I could avoid him. I have no idea what his problem is and what his problem with me is. He initially seemed really friendly, just a regular guy, friendlier than his colleagues. The guy meanwhile has started to give me the creeps. He was also the one who handed me that package with wet and muddied fairly random letters from about 6 months and he was the one who told me about the package with the SSE modem that apparently had been sitting at the post office for a while after I tried to switch broadband providers for so long, in vain, when he saw me in Lake Road one day.

Portsmouth seems to abound with these types of folks. (Like this “Nathan”, I mean. But he used to have a genuinely pleasant and sane colleague whose son is a scientist. That guy left, though. Overall, Portsmouth is toxic. A lot of that has to do with the widespread deep poverty here as a result of the staggering inequality in England.)

 

Update Wednesday 16 December 2020, 11:45
The item was posted First Class Signed For on Saturday 12 December 2020 at 2:34pm at the Portsmouth Post Office [PO1 1AB] and still Royal Mail has not attempted to deliver this letter, according to the Royal Mail website.


This one (PDF): Letter Dated 11 December 2020

That older letter that I mention in the above letter had been sent “1st Class Signed For” and it was signed for. So was another letter I sent at about the same time. There was no response to either letter.

There was no response either to the e-mail I sent to Grant Murphy on 30 August 2019, in which I wrote that it was high time for a genuine and serious talk. I suggested meeting at his office on 3 September 2019 at 11am or 2pm.

I usually get ignored when I contact him or his staff for whatever reason, but when they want me to stop by and I contact them and say that I will do so two workdays later because I am hard at work for a client who I can’t let down, I often get a lot of angry words back.

When I wrote to them on 31 October 2016 about “problems at 6 Kingston Road”, I got no response back.

Mon, Oct 31, 2016, 11:23 AM

This was right after I spoke with Grant Murphy on the phone when I called him while I was at Fratton Train station, waiting for my train. He picked up the phone with something like “Student accommodation” but when I said that I thought I had called a different number and was looking for a Mr Murphy, he said that it was him. He told me that people picking the locks all the time was no big deal, but if I wanted, I could install different locks. (I have done that, but it has not helped.) He also said, I think, to go talk to my MP because he seemed to agree more or less that Portsmouth Police is useless (after he suggested I contact police after which I told him that I had already done that many times).

Grant Murphy and I made an appointment to meet on the Saturday after I arrived back because he said he was often at our buildings on Saturday anyway, which surprised me (but I had never met him, so it’s possible). That Saturday, I waited and waited. He never showed.

The e-mail I sent after I spoke with Murphy on the phone I wrote on the train, I am sure, as it was far from my most eloquent e-mail message, but I was upset and I felt that the problems at 6 Kingston Road were seriously getting out of hand to the point of the situation now becoming completely unworkable. (Someone had just emptied dumped one or two liters of ice cream on the doormat of the ground-floor neighbours in some kind of bizarre prank. It is one of the many results consequences of the building not being secure.)

Some weeks ago, I contacted Hants Fire about the rubbish again, which I had wanted to do many times before. (But it all feels soooooooooooo futile. Nobody in England or Portsmouth gives a damn about anything, it often feels like, to me. Nobody here cares. Is that too the result of Britain’s staggering inequality? If not, where does it come from?)

This is part of what I received back.

This below is what I got in the end.

 

What has also happened is that someone closed my water account one or two years ago – I think it was Portsmouth Water – and a year ago, someone took control of my electricity account and apparently transferred it so many times in a row that the account completely got lost along the way. I have electricity but I don’t know who supplies it (though I probably have made some calls about that by the time this post goes live). The account was transferred by someone who had the meter’s number and all my personal data, such as DOB and address and postcode; such data are in the possession of many people, of course, hence offer no security at all.

This is what happened the previous time, which must have been about a year after I spoke about this at the offices of Grant Murphy and had given up on the rubbish as I couldn’t afford to remove it myself:

I have also previously advised Ruth Mbvundula not to accept Grant Murphy’s refusal to refund her deposit as, in my opinion, his reason for refusing to return the deposit was likely also his fault and I felt that a compromise might be in order. I referred her to the tenancy matters department at Portsmouth City Council.


For the record this is more or less what I recently wrote to Hants Fire, part of which I also let them know in 2018:

Good afternoon Mark,

Thank you for your message.

1. It concerns two buildings, an older one and a newer one, each housing three flats, at 6 Kingston Road, Portsmouth PO1 5RZ. These buildings are owned by Mr Grant Murphy and/or one of his companies. He and his companies can be reached via the Royal Beach Hotel, St Helens Parade, Southsea PO4 0RN; the hotel is currently closed, however. (Guinness owns the newer buildings next to Murphy’s. It was Guinness that removed the rubbish previously, indeed.)

2. The lock to the back door of the older front building is often jammed from the outside. I do not know whether that means that the lock is also jammed for anyone wanting to exit through that door as we in the building at the back do not have keys to the front door of that building. Last time I tried that back door to see if I had any postal mail, a few days ago, the lock was jammed again.

3. Before the start of the present lockdown, some of the landlord’s staff removed a lot of branches among other things. These branches have been on our patio since then, though someone moved them slightly because the heap of branches (dead wood) was blocking access to the back door of the front building. They were in front of the door there.

4. The rubbish is mostly in an open shed and includes a mattress that sticks out a bit. When this area was filled with junk before, it was deemed a fire hazard by your colleague. I had already gotten rid of as much as I could (called scrap metal people and had some people from a charity shop take a look), thinking that it all had been dumped there by others, not by our landlord. When I went to talk with the landlord about getting the remainder removed, I was admonished when I said that I had already gotten rid of some of the junk. I have also offered to help the foreman clean out the area, but my offer was ignored. Last year, I took photos of what the situation was like back then and included printouts of the photos in my letter to the landlord.

5. It may also be helpful to know that my landlord’s legal adviser is a Mr David Lancaster.

I hope this gives you enough information.

Best regards,

Angelina Souren


 

It may be generally interesting to know that I also once caught a landlord/lady dumping stuff in my forecourt when I was living in Southsea. I talked with her about it. I’d previously taken stuff to the tip that had left behind by another landlord/lady as I happened to have rented a van anyway at the time.

I have also heard this rubbish dumping being blamed on foreign tenants, at the Portsmouth Environmental Forum. In my experience, it’s usually landlords who do this.

I know that a lot of English people are not going to understand anything of the above. Why do I bother? One thing I’ve learned in my 16 years in England is that, here, it makes absolutely no difference what you do. True. So you might as well do the right thing. In my view, it means that you stay true to your values even if there is nothing else you can do. And that feels a heck of lot better than just rolling over and closing your eyes.

Brexit

I’ve been wanting to make a video about this – about negotiating – for a while. I may do that today.

In the Guardian this morning:

After a three-hour summit with the European commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, failed to bridge major gaps between them, the prime minister said he was prepared to “go the extra mile” by flying to Paris or Berlin for face-to-face talks with EU leaders.

But he said the EU’s current offer was unacceptable because the UK could not be treated like its twin.

“It was put to me that this was kind of a bit like twins, and the UK is one twin the EU is another, and if the EU decides to have a haircut then the UK is going to have a haircut or else face punishment. Or if the EU decides to buy an expensive handbag then the UK has to buy an expensive handbag too or else face tariffs,” he said.

“Clearly that is not the sensible way to proceed and it’s unlike any other free trade deal. It’s a way of keeping the UK kind of locked in the EU’s … regulatory orbit.”

Johnson’s language echoed his condemnation of Theresa May’s Brexit deal. After he resigned as foreign secretary in 2018, he told that year’s Tory party conference that Britain must not be “locked in the tractor beam of Brussels”.

It all sounds… really childish to me, sounds like Boris Johnson did not really hear – understand – a word of what Von der Leyen said.

And what in god’s name is “Britain must not be “locked in the tractor beam of Brussels” other than ridiculous rhetoric, the kind of emotion-triggering language that got Trump into the White House and got many English people to feel terrified of the EU without being able to explain why they felt that way when they voted “out” in that non-binding referendum.

Johnson: “What I told the cabinet this evening is to get on and make those preparations.”

Same language we’ve been hearing since the day after the referendum, isn’t it? It is not the government’s fault. It is never the government’s fault. Never the fault of the PM who tells us all to get on with it. It is the fault of for example Britain’s businesses “not getting on with it” while it’s the government that has been sitting on its ass since the day after the referendum and done absolutely nothing.

Other than waste the taxpayer’s money on things like reports that sounded as if they’d been written by a 12-year-old, literally, for a school project, and “Brexit coins” and other ridiculous nonsense.

And antagonize the rest of the world.

And not only turn Britain into a laughing stock but expose its flaws, the flaws that all Brits are only too familiar with but that the rest of the world had not been aware of yet.

The UK government has undermined Britain’s position in the world substantially and this is also painfully clear to many millions of helpless Brits.

The original tractor beam. Yes, the phrase comes from science fiction. American science fiction.

 

Turns out that Anastacia predicted this (in the year that I moved to the UK). Sort of. Video below.

All my life I've been waiting
For you to bring a fairy tale my way
Been living in a fantasy without meaning
It's not okay, I don't feel safe

I don't feel safe, ohh

Left broken empty in despair
Want to breathe can't find air
Thought you were sent from up above
But you and me never had love
So much more I have to say
Help me find a way

And I wonder if you know
How it really feels
To be left outside alone
When it's cold out here
Well maybe you should know
Just how it feels
To be left outside alone
To be left outside alone

I tell ya
All my life I've been waiting
For you to bring a fairytale my way
Been living in a fantasy without meaning
It's not okay I don't feel safe
I need to pray

Why do you play me like a game?
Always someone else to blame
Careless, helpless little man
Someday you might understand
There's not much more to say
But I hope you find a way

Still I wonder if you know
How it really feels
To be left outside alone
When it's cold out here
Well maybe you should know
Just how it feels
To be left outside alone
To be left outside alone

I tell ya
All my life I've been waiting
For you to bring a fairytale my way
Been living in a fantasy without meaning
It's not okay I don't feel safe
I need to pray

Ohh, pray 
Ohh, Heavenly Father
Save me, ohh 
Whoa

And I wonder if you know
How it really feels
To be left outside alone
When it's cold out here
Well maybe you should know
Just how it feels
To be left outside alone
To be left outside alone

I said I said
I wonder if you know
How it feels
To be left outside alone
When it's cold out here
Well maybe you should know
Just how it feels
To be left outside alone
To be left outside alone

All my life I've been waiting
For you to bring a fairytale my way
Been living in a fantasy without meaning
It's not okay I don't feel safe
I need to pray

Theory of Mind and empathy OR “why the English often behave in crazy ways” (with a gift at the end of the post)

Years ago, when I was discussing some of my experiences in England with a woman who happens to have a Master’s in cultural psychology, she wrote back that it sounded as if English people lacked Theory of Mind. I looked into it because I had never heard of it.

It certainly seems to hold true for a large part of the population of Portsmouth that they do not possess Theory of Mind or only limited Theory of Mind. People here seem completely oblivious to what goes on in other people’s minds and often seem to have no idea of the effects of what they do on others.

Though often they are only too aware of those effects, for example when trolls pester the family of a missing person or when people deliberately make appointments to collect something through Freecycle and then don’t show up. The latter happens so often here that there is a name for these people – “time wasters” – and the practice is often mentioned as not appreciated in “offered” posts that local people make. It is a local thing, yes.

One reason why these “time wasters” do this is when something that has been offered is a word that has a meaning in urban or English slang, often with a sexual connotation. It took me years to figure that out. They also some sometimes flood you with expressions of interest and then don’t respond when you reply, apparently for the same reason.

Many here have no respect for other people’s – random strangers’ – boundaries, even to the extent that they easily violate criminal law so blatantly that they’d be tucked away in prison for quite a while if anyone ever decided to investigate the matter and prosecute it.

I don’t believe that it is typical for Portsmouth, but it does seem to be more prominent in Portsmouth. English people as a rule seem to have very little Theory of Mind. I think it has to do with the stiff upper lip phenomenon, the admiration and misinterpretation of the stoics that turned into the glorification of callousness and cruelty.

It stunted people in England psychologically. They are often so completely out of touch with (hence also not in control of) their own emotions that they are not able to recognise emotions in others and are blind to the effects of some of the things that they do have on others.

This also plays a role in the violence that erupts in England as soon as alcohol comes into the mix. The brakes go off and all the bottled-up emotions come pouring out. It is why a man may bite off another man’s ear in a pub and then go to prison for four years. It is why domestic violence soars in England over Christmas and during football championships. It is why the UK has much more domestic violence and violence against women and girls than the EU.

Another reason is that English people are so extremely reluctant to interact with strangers that there is no reality check on the assumptions that they make about others. An example? “Women looking miserable = pining for a man (whether a specific man or not).” Women can look miserable for all sorts of very different reasons. Another example? “Woman looks happy so she had sex with a man last night.” There are many other reasons – including no reason at all beyond deciding to be happy – why a woman can look happy. (The problem is that people often ACT on these assumptions and also share these assumptions as the  truth in the pub on Friday in village-like England, meaning that these assumptions can affect all your interactions with others where you live.)

One more… “Man looks happy so he has something that I do not have so he probably took something from me.” Seriously?

Below is a video about a small boy learning something the hard way. He has the sudden insight that the girl who hides behind her painting does not want to say whose painting she likes best because she senses that the little boy feels very vulnerable and would like her to say that she likes his painting best and at the same time, does not consider his painting the best and knows that saying that out loud would make the boy feel hurt. She has tons of empathy. She is an empathy superstar.

(Also, here’s what lots of women all over the world do, folks. We erase ourselves so as not to upset men.)

There are two flavours of empathy: cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. Almost everyone possesses cognitive empathy. Not everyone is capable of emotional empathy. (People with NPD may not often be capable of emotional empathy; this is reflected in their brain structure.)

My bet is that many English people would assume that the girl who holds up the painting behind which she hides is shy because they focus too much on exterior factors. Appearances. That the child actually has a brain and has thoughts and draws conclusions about others, that seems to be hard to fathom for a lot of English people. I run into this all the time. A similar one is “looks a bit shabby = has no taste or fashion sense” or “does not go out = does not want to go out” when the real reason is deep poverty.

One of the reasons why I consider Portsmouth so toxic is because strangers here push themselves into your life – without ever having a conversation with you – in a way that forces you to almost obsess over them and deal with the effects of their stupid game-playing – which costs a lot of time – rather than just be allowed to live your life or – hey, what a thought – work. You find that you increasingly have to find ways of escape to kick your brain out of local victim mode, for example by watching YouTube videos of inspiring fun Americans, people who are proactive and who cooperate with others (instead of what local people often do, which is their best to make the lives of others as difficult as possible). It’s exhausting.

And they are too quick to conclude that you are being dumb and stupid when they don’t realise that you’ve gone into “last rites” mode because they keep stealing your tomorrow from you so you have no more reason to keep tomorrow in mind in anything that you do.

Too many people here believe that pushing others into deep poverty and keeping them there is a really cool thing to do, but that is often because they genuinely have no clue what they’re doing.

To end this on a positive note, I have a great tip for anyone dealing with a lot of stress. Google “binaural beats”. I stumbled upon this technology in the US in the mid-1990s. Sadly, I recently discovered that I had forgotten that I have these files, below, but I am going to create a daily habit of using them.

You play these sound files over your headset; it does not work when you play them on speakers. They kick your brain into a different state. I, for example, use an old phone as MP3 player and I put one of those files on repeat and my headphones on my head.

This is effortless. You do not have to do anything! You can lie down on your bed or sit in a lazy chair and may find yourself drift off into deep meditation, but they also already have an effect when you are going about your life doing things in your house or office.

The designations “delta”, “theta” etc refer to brainwave frequencies that show up on EEGs. They may not work for everyone – and, do NOT use them while driving a car or are operating any other kind of machinery, not even a bicycle – but for many, they can really work wonders, effortlessly. 

You can download this one (delta range) just to help you relax: 

 

You can download this one (mid theta range) if you would like to feel inspired:

 

If you have half an hour and are able to lie down on your bed or relax in a lazy chair, you can also try this 30-minute meditation tape by Paul McKenna:

Paul McKenna used to have this on his website as a free download and maybe he still does. He also added it as a CD to one of his books from years ago.

English insularity versus continental craziness?

Some years ago, someone offered a bookcase on Freecycle. I wanted it.

The someone turned out to be a young German woman who was living in what seemed to be just one room in one of those very-hard-to-find addresses along Kingston Road (very close to where I am) that are very  different from some of the other hard-to-find addresses along Kingston Road (such as where I am). 

(I couldn’t find her address, no. I called her and she had to come outside, go into the street.)

How did she end up there? She had been married to an English guy who was in the military. Went to Afghanistan and in a nutshell. everything went pear-shaped. She was preparing to go back to Germany. Waiting for the divorce to come through. And had found some work here.

She and I, well, we ended up getting pizza (Papa Johns) and eating it at her place. 

The mere idea is bound to give any English person an instant heart attack!

But this is how most of the rest of the western world lives, folks.

And it scares the shit out of you English.

I continued to e-mail with her for a while after she had moved back to Germany. The last thing I heard from her was about either about going to talk about or having been hired for a job in Dubai. Not the Portsmouth shopping centre but the real Dubai.

Foreigners who have the audacity to go live in England, they go places.

English people, by contrast, are scared of even sharing a pizza.

That is an example of why life in England is so dreary and so limited for so many of you. 

This woman and I instantly crossed a ton of “otherisation” thresholds because she and I instantly knew that we had so much more in common than what set us apart.

And her bookcase is still in the same spot in my little office and I am still very happy with it. 

Yeah, we foreigners are really crazy. We socialize… We aren’t terrified of one another. Not as a rule in any case.

Also… this is how we crazy foreigners “network”.

When I started out as  a self-employed person, this sort of thing is how I got almost all my work. I used to know tons of people in all sorts of work fields. (And some people knew that, LOL.) On LinkedIn, I am now connected with some of the people I used to work with because they remember me. From decades ago. From before I went to university in quite a few cases. Crazy, isn’t it?

Let go. Be free.

Here’s to you, Meike.

What I learned? English vets – veterans – coming back from Afghanistan were not getting the support that they needed.

Okay, maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe it’s – also – me. In the Netherlands, a guy told me and only me about his wife’s suicide attempt. Until then, we had no idea why he was missing meetings, which was so out of the ordinary for him. (I don’t think I told anyone else, after that, as there was no point, though I must have mentioned to at least one person that I knew what was going on.) Another guy told me and nobody else what was going on in his family, why he had been missing many meetings; the next thing I was told was that he never shared anything with anyone, by someone who had been on the same team much longer than I and who would have loved to know more and assist if he could. In the UK, one woman told me about the affair she’d had with someone she should have married but did not because she was waiting for her partner to return from abroad – which he never did; instead he let her know he was marrying someone else. And then she said that she’d never never even told anyone about that second relationship. In the Netherlands, a woman told me about the relationship she was having with a neighbour that she did not think her daughters would understand. And some other stuff. So, maybe, it is – also – me? If so, what does it mean? I am just like everyone else. Just as fallible and human.

What it means?

  1. Forgive yourself. For anything.
  2. There is no right way or wrong way for living your life. Just live it (already).

A reminder. How is workplace bullying affecting your business? Do you know?

(image from the NY Post)

Since the start of the first lockdown, the number of internet searches for “workplace bullying” went down. As of about July, the number began to increase again. This indicates that now is a good time to ensure that such practices do not flare up again once the bulk of the pandemic is behind us.

Because workplace bullying is costing businesses a lot of money and not just that, business owners are expected to deal with it. They must look after their employees.

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.

Are you sticking your head in the sand over it, ostrich-style?

Workplace bullying. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening when you know it is.

 

Okay, something else now (’nuff moaning)

 

I was cooking buckwheat (superb protein source) and brown rice, walked toward the kitchen from my office, thought “what is that smell?” and then it hit me. It was a rhubarb-like smell. Buckwheat is related to it.

3 cups of water, half a cup of buckwheat, half a cup of brown rice, 10 minutes on full power and 20 minutes on medium power. I usually add 2 cups of water and then add the 3rd cup after the first 10 minutes. 

Okay, an entire paragraph just magically disappeared and yeah, poltergeists stopped by earlier too (in my older computer), today. I spotted them several times. They can be quite bossy. Understatement.

(The paragraph mentioned chilli powder and ground almond, among other things.)

 

For those who haven’t realised it yet, I just spent a few days trying to revive my “new” computer but failed. I also applied for a Trustee position that I would really like because I think I can contribute, but I am not sure how my local situation will combine with it, as with everything that I want to do. I continue to be sabotaged digitally just about 24/7.

 

De Pfeffel’s priorities

Trump may be on his way out but we still have a vindictive irrational narcissist at the helm of the UK, where the situation was already beyond the havoc that Trump created before De Pfeffel hopped into the saddle.

26 June 2020: 26 pence per day increase for refugees

20 October 2020: Covid-19 support for Manchester 22 million instead of 66 million

21 October 2020: No free school meals for poor deprived kids during school holidays

30 October 2020: 3 pence per day increase for refugees (who by the way often become homeless as soon as they get refugee status) so they now get £39.63 per week.

19 November 2020: 16 billion increase in defence spending

“Assuming the worst of others”

“Because that is what people do, in the UK.”

I just heard it said by an Englishman. In a video.

See? It’s not just me who says stuff like this.

The guy also said that during his trip to Europe – for non-Brits, that’s the EU, or the continent – he learned that there are still a lot of good, nice, friendly people in the world.

Yep.