27 June 2016

Why did my partner vote to leave?

After the 2nd world war, to encourage peace the EU was created. Britain joined in 1973, when I was just 3. So basically I don't have a concept of Britain not being a part of Europe.
In 1995, Austria became a part of the EU. In 1996, I went over to Austria to work and met and fell in love with Gunter Hollenstein. I was able to stay there without a problem, open a bank account easily, be taught German, have a job as a singer and a dancer and sometimes barwork too, all easily because we were united. Gunter came with me back to the UK to live and to work, he easily got a NI number, he easily got German speaking jobs and a bank account. I went on to broadcast the traffic and travel news for ten years and we had Joshua and Elijah on the way. Then Gunter and I decided to open a coffee shop in this country and for a while we had two coffee shops in this country.
Then one day, somebody decided we should have a referendum about something that I thought had already been decided in 1973.
So, I went along and voted. Gunter is Austrian and wasn't meant to be able to vote but he had a polling card and his name was on the list at the polling station. I told him he'd better vote, just in case he is allowed and he did.
We are living history, that is why both sides of the debate feel so passionately, that I can see but what I don't think I'll ever understand is why an imigrant in the UK would vote leave, after enjoying all the freedoms that EU gave him.
Why would a man with two sons in Britain and two sons and a Dad and brothers, sisters and lots of family in Austria vote for the UK to leave the EU?
Being in the EU was a strategic idea to keep the peace, that worked. I still do not understand why my own partner would vote leave. I wish I could.
At the moment I am in bed with flu, I'm calling it the Flexit virus because it bowled me down on Friday when the Leave win was announced.
Illness always makes me think things through and think about life and I've been mulling that one over big time, I can tell you. When I saw the online petition stating the grounds for a second referendum, I thought that it was a very good idea. I posted it onto my Facebook profile to encourage a friendly discussion but generally leavers accused remainers of 'Throwing their toys out of their pram' and 'Childish-like tantrums' and yes my glee was delightfully childlike when it was revealed in the press that the petition was started in May by a Leave campaigner, in case the vote hadn't gone his way!
Like many others, I am left wondering why a person so close to me voted for something that would tear his family apart and give his two youngest sons less opportunities than they ever had before.
Hey, forget the 2nd referendum petition, the poll wasn't run properly and no one is even admitting it.
The truth will out in the end but at the moment each one of us is living with this great divide, this great rift and one day, when people read our history they will wonder why we let it happen and how it came to pass.

22 June 2016

Bin There, Done That But...

What a great job, in front of the iconic Pyramid Stage!

The reason that I find it difficult to imagine enjoying Glastonbury Festival is because I do not enjoy being in any type of queue, the traffic chaos of last night (June 21st) is something that I would not be able to put up with at all, I cannot tolerate changes in temperature very well at all, especially cold, so being wet and muddy and feeling cold doesn't appeal to me whatsoever. For many years I thought I was just a snob, as I felt the only way I could enjoy the festival would be in a special bit away from the crowds and with no queues and looked after properly. Then after photographing Collett Festival, the other week and being able to go backstage and right up in front of the stage, to get my shots, I realised that perhaps I need to be just working at Glastonbury Festival, in order to enjoy it, rather than being a member of the public. I need to be involved from the inside. I find the whole concept rather overwhelming and the space huge and the amount of choice of what to do just incredible, so for me the whole thing is about getting myself accustomed to the sensory overload that I would experience in these conditions. I've suspected for a long time now, that I am on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum and that is why I have these issues, that 'Neuro Typical' people just don't seem to have. So, when a very special family, customers of our shop, told us that they were organising bin painting at the festival, I was very interested in seeing what it was about. They told me that if I did 10 shifts of bin painting, that I would be able to get free tickets to the festival! I didn't know if I would like the vibe, or painting bins, or even if I would be able to do it, or anything, so I just kept saying 'No'!

From left to right: Andy, Thali and Holly.

However, Holly, Andy, baby Thali and brother Sky, are lovely, lovely people and really encouraged me to do it, even if it was for just one hour. (Well baby Thali didn't encourage me verbally but he has such a lovely way with him and a gorgeous beaming smile too, very hard to resist!) My problem was I was just very, very scared! I was worried about going there, finding them, doing it and just everything. I was frozen by the thought of stepping a bit outside my comfort zone. So frozen that I dressed in old clothes specially for bin painting for three days in a row before I finally managed to convince myself to get into my car and drive down to where I didn't know where I was going.

When I found the Worthy Farm Festival site, the security where wonderfully smiley and welcoming and not intimidating at all and there was a very friendly lady in the office called Emma, who offered me chocolate biscuits as I awaited Holly to pick me up in her 4x4.

I eventually got dropped off in a field and Sky, Holly's brother was my leader. I was introduced to his team of bin painters and then given brushes, paint, a bin and instructions to do something happy and bright! So before lunch, I painted bunting going round my bin and then after lunch, which was a very delicious vegan option from Goose Hall, the onsite restaurant for staff, I painted flowers around the bottom half. I took a sneaky peak at some other finished bins to get an idea of the technique that I could use to paint some pretty flowers. I LOVED being let loose on a bin! It was a happy, relaxing time. I didn't really want to chat, I loved being in my own little world just happily painting, whilst someone blared out some tunes from their phone and a speaker. ( I think I was expected to interact a little more though, as John, another volunteer bin painter told me about the bonding exercise that they had done as a team and how it was really good to break the ice and so on). After I finished my bin, I said goodbye to everyone and planned to come back again the next day.

My first and only bin so far, with bunting and flowers.

The next day, I had to park up in a lay-by and then walk into the site. I found a great little spot to park up and due to my inexperience with Glastonbury Festival and where everything is, I ended up walking, not knowing where I was going for a couple of hours, I was completely lost and found a perimeter fence, there was a sign about a gas main and phoning the site office for permission to dig, so I decided to phone that number to find out where I was and how to get in, then as I dialled the number, Michael Eavis' office number came up, I described to them where I was but they didn't recognise it either, there are a lot of places looking the same, so they advised me in the end to just keep walking around the fence and I would bump into someone to help me eventually. I had actually got straight through to Michael and I was really shocked that it was him who answered the phone and he was just as shocked that it was me who was phoning, different reasons to my shock of awe and admiration, I think! After a quick chat his PA, was the one who gave me the guidance to follow the fence and there was I imagining special treatment, like a rescue helicopter loaded with food and drink for me and a special guided tour by Michael himself but I really should have known better!

Eventually, I came across the right people to help me and I marched all the way to the Bin painting field where I discovered, there was no-one and I realised that it was lunch! Yippee, so after walking all that way, pass The John Peel Stage, pass The Pyramid Stage and taking some pictures too, I arrived just in time for lunch. There was a queue, I didn't have a meal ticket but for some reason the very lovely security took pity on me and put me at the front of the queue and asked a bin painter, with purple paint marks on her face to explain why I would need a meal. Then I bumped into Sky! So synchronicity was starting to kick in at last and it kicked in so perfectly, that as I sat down to enjoy another beautiful vegan meal at Goose Hall, torrential rain banged on the tin roof of the structure we were in and I felt extremely lucky to be fed, watered and dry and not still lost!

In the afternoon, we were told that we wouldn't be painting bins but we would be painting a mural! Which sounds really exciting but I just wanted to go home, as I find working in a team really difficult indeed, unless I have my own role nicely mapped out, starting to panic a bit, I made a joke about there being no 'I' in team, so I'd better F@*"k off then but Andy told me to stay and paint my own little piece of wall on the end. That felt ok to me, so I stayed. It suddenly felt very not ok when other painters came by looking at what I was doing, maybe thinking I must be a really good painter to get my own bit of wall, until I explained to them that I'm rubbish at working in a team, that put the score straight for them and immediately lowered their expectations of what was going to appear on that wall. I was blown away by the murals that they were creating, I couldn't understand how they managed to communicate with each other within about 5 minutes what they were going to map out and how they were going to paint it, they were all extremely talented! The rain was relentless whilst we were painting but we kept going as luckily we were undercover. Then, when I finished my piece, Holly, Thali and her Mum picked me up and very kindly gave me a lift to my car.

Do I want to do this next year? Oh yes please! Would I like to do the ten days for a ticket to Glastonbury Festival? Absolutely! So yes, I've 'Bin There, Done That But...' I haven't done the festival yet and I really would love to because now I see that the festival is a place that pulls many like-minded people together! How could I, a lover of performing arts, not be involved in the festival in any way, when I live in the nearest town? So, yes, I am a convert, I admit it, I am a Glastonbury Wannabe and I want to paint those bins next year!

If you would love to be a volunteer bin painter for 2017, then you need to email Holly!