alithea: (Mucha Fran&Katchoo)
National identity is a funny old thing. As a young person, I think you probably start off inheriting your national identity from your parents but as you get older, particularly if you move away and make your home some place else, it becomes a more complicated. Unsurprisingly, the indy ref has brought up a lot of issues regarding national identity and one person of my acquaintance just straight out said to me 'I'm surprised that as a recent immigrant to Scotland, you are supporting independence'. Now as it happens, my support for independence is not about national identity, it's about democracy and representation. I'm a federalist at heart but as we are quickly finding out now, the UK is not in the least set up in a way to achieve federalism any time soon. But the national identity thing is still an interesting discussion. So here are my thoughts:

I don't think I've ever felt British in my life. I was always English.

For context, my mother's family are very English on both sides and probably go back to the Doomsday book in the Beds/Bucks region. On the other hand, my father is Irish Catholic on one side and German Jewish on the other. Rather than being 'British', he has always referred to himself as being a mongrel and I think would probably identify as a European more than anything else (he infamously had a blazing row with the modern language teachers at my high school about how they should teach Spanish rather than German because Germans spoke English anyway and communicating in Europe was the future). Scotland was never on my radar until I lived here (my parents used to holiday in Kirkcudbright but the last time we did so as a family was when I was still too young to remember), Wales was somewhere my father hated with a passion (he lived there for a few years as a small boy and got bullied pretty badly for being English I think) that I only ever went to on biology field trips, and Ireland was a place across the water that my name and love of potatoes came from (a day trip to Dublin was my sole experience of the place until I met the Boy).

So regardless of actually *being* British, if you'd have asked teenage me what I was, I'd have said English every time.

Then I moved to Scotland.

Now for those of you who have never lived in Scotland (or Wales, or NI) let me share this - you don't have to live up here very long at all before you quickly realise how England-centric all the national news/media/whatever is and how utterly ignorant your average English person is about life and politics up here. I know because I *was* that ignorant English person. When I announced I was moving to Aberdeen to my friends at uni, one of them thought it was in Wales, and believe me, lack of knowledge of geography is only the start of the issue.

Now in Aberdeen, I was only at home in the bubble that was the old city, the university campus populated by folks from all over the world, so my Englishness remained. Also, I was miserable and there is nothing more inward looking than a depressed PhD student (I exaggerate for effect).

But when I moved to Dundee, I made a *home* for myself. Now home is a funny old concept just like national identity. Home had always been a difficult subject for me because I had been an outsider growing up because my parents weren't local and no-one ever believed I'd been born and bred in Staffs because I didn't *sound* local. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't an *outcast*, I made friends for life at school, but I also spent my entire school career being bullied about my voice/accent, and not just by the other pupils. Anyway, at some point in the last 10 years, Dundee has gone from being the place I live, to *home* and therefore *where I come from*, and similarly I've gone from feeling English to feeling Scottish.

But you're not Scottish, I hear you thinking. Ah well, feelings don't always fit with logic now do they? So here is the thing you are missing - unlike in England where, in my experience, immigrants identify as British if they aren't *ethnically* English, Scotland in the last decade or so has successfully made Scottishness a civic identity rather than just an ethnic one. Obviously not entirely and completely but for example, you often see Asian immigrants on Scottish TV who identify as 'Scottish Asian'. Now I don't know about you, but I have never come across any Asians or indeed anyone else with non-British ancestry who identifies as 'English' anything.

And then there is the other side to this - why don't I identify as British? And now we get to the bit that is further complicated by having an Irish Catholic (pagan) husband from Northern Ireland. It's hard to be a proud Brit when a lot of stuff you are supposed to be proud of involves an army who terrorised your husband as a child, empires and wars when you're not far off a pacifist, and sporting tribalism when you are the sort of person who enjoys watching people triumph regardless of their nationality (I love ice skating; I don't believe Torvil and Dean were cheated of gold at their last Olympics, I think they were damned lucky to get the bronze and probably didn't deserve it). Visit NI in July when you have catholic family that you love and then tell me the sight of a union flag makes you proud. Listen to the anti-immigration nonsense parroted by all the Westminster crowd when you have very dear friends who have been at risk of being deported because of the stupid new rules despite Scotland desperately needing more working age immigrants and tell me it makes you proud to be British.

And then there are the great British institutions we can all be proud of like the NHS and the Welfare State. But what are we doing to these things in modern Britain? Tearing them apart is what. The more I see of the modern Labour party and the rise of UKIP in England, the more I buy into the notion that the post war to 1970s period was the blip and actually the majority of folks in Britain basically want to live in the 19th Century. And I don't thank you very much, regardless of how much I love the fashions, architecture and Arts and Crafts, and I think the majority of Scots agree with me, whereas I'm afraid despite knowing English folks who do too, I don't have faith that they are a majority.

So there we have it, I might *be* British, it is after all what it says on my passport, but I don't feel loyalty to a nation that doesn't really exist (our country is the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) over a place that is my home. If we can be the Scotland I want us to be within the UK that suits me just fine, but if we can't then I'll be Scottish even if that means I'm not British any more.
alithea: (Default)
My middle name is my paternal grandmother's. I think my parents just liked my first name, although coincidentally, I seem to remember being told that one of the midwives who looked after my Mum was also called Helen.

At the weekend.

No, it's appalling with a biro and just about passable with a fountain pen.

Ham, although I do have a soft spot for corned beef because it reminds me of going on trips as a kid.
continue reading )
alithea: (Books)
This is my reading list from 2009; I managed 29 novels, 5 trade paperback collections of comics and the entire of Strangers in Paradise (I'm not sure how many that counts as, it's about 150 comics all said and told I think!). Not bad going really.

My stand-outs for the year were definitely The Dark Tower series by Stephen King and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. The first being the kind of archetypal story that haunts you forevermore once you've read it; I see Roland and his quest everywhere these days. And the second being the first novel I've ever read that makes me wish I could write. I don't really know why that is, I've loved a lot of novels over the years but usually I'm most content to admire from afar in a 'that's fantastic but not something I could ever do' way. Whereas reading this book made me wonder if actually maybe I do believe in that old adage that everyone has at least one novel in them. It spoke to my soul in a way which made me wish that I could tell a similar story about my history...

in which I witter like a crazy person about having an idea for a novel. Which is crazy because I don't write fiction )And the last thing I need at the moment is another creative obsession with no hope of paying the bills...

In other book-related news, my copy of An Echo in the Bone (Diana Gabaldon's latest time-travelling historical romance about Claire and Jamie) arrived yesterday and I'm currently reading the first Lucifer Box book as I bought the set for the Boy for xmas and he's already finished all 3. Also on my reading list for the next little while are the 3 trades of Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez, which make up the Las Locas storyline about Maggie and Hopey, which the Boy bought for me. Better start my 2010 book list I guess.
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
The last couple of nights, I've been watching Electric Dreams on BBC4 - it's a reality show documentary thing where a family live like people from 1970 onwards, with all the gadgets of the period to see how it affects their family life. The first episode which covered the 1970s reminded me very much of my childhood even though I wasn't born until 1978. I grew up eating home cooked family meals together when Dad got in from work each evening, playing on bikes in the street, and watching TV on a big set with push buttons and fake wood trim, in the lounge with my parents.

Much of last night's 1980s episode was completely alien to me, I never ate microwave meals or hid in my room playing hand held computer games. We did have a spectrum computer though, I remember it having two games which you had to load on little cassettes. One involved swimming a little man through shark infested waters and then dodging coconuts thrown by monkeys, and the other was a treasure hunt text adventure thing where you just had to type commands and text descriptions came up. It recognized hardly any commands and we always ended up locked in a dungeon with no way out! After that, we had an Amiga, which I used to get copies of games for on floppy disk from the lads in our tutor group at high school.

Even in the early 90s, I only had a little Morphy Richards radio alarm clock with a cassette deck in my room, which I used to listen to Atlantic 252 and homemade mix tapes with dodgy clunks and whines between tracks. If I was hidden away in my room as a teenager it was because I had my nose firmly buried in a book, and the only time I've ever had a TV in my room was when I was doing my PhD and that was black and white and had been given to me (funnily enough, the TV licensing people were somewhat disbelieving about someone only owning a black and white TV in the year 2000!). My parents bought me a stereo with a CD player for my 18th birthday and I still have it, and I was given my first CD by my then boyfriend in my first year of university (August and Everything After by Counting Crows, incase you were wondering).
alithea: (footprint (made by girlyboheme))
Words from [ profile] gothadh this time:
Quite possibly the most under-rated city in Scotland. People tend to be really rude about it because it is kind of down-at-heel but there are some really lovely bits, the people are friendlier than anywhere else I've lived, and I really love the position of the place. I love the East coast, it is softer and more homely than the very rugged West coast, and lots of places are within easy reach, it's just over an hour to Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Stirling and only about 2 hours from Glasgow. Plus, I can afford to live here and I have a lovely view across the Tay from my flat. Having beaches, hills, fields, forests and rivers all close by is the best of all worlds in my book.

The Boy and I are members of Historic Scotland and love visiting castles. I'm a big fan of castle architecture, they are generally in commanding spots with fabulous views, and the history is fascinating too. I find it really quite moving to stand within stone walls and think of all the history they have seen. It seems such a shame to me that so much of what gets built today is so flimsy and impermanent. EDIT: Elcho Castle is one of my favourite places in the world; it is a lovely homely castle in a most beautiful setting down by the river Tay with a lovely orchard in the grounds.

My dislike of intellectual snobbery extends to the art world too, I don't understand why some people look down on 'crafts' like anything that is useful can't be considered proper art. Lots of things can be beautiful as well as practical. I'm a big fan of the arts and crafts movement, and love beautiful wooden furniture, pottery and textiles. Of course these days my interest is more than just intellectual because I aspire to being a crafter myself, but I guess I've always been a bit of rebel when it comes to art, because I insisted on doing a mixed media Art GCSE even though my art teacher told me I was just making life hard for myself.

I'll tackle past and future later, I should really do some more flat wrangling since I'm using the mess to excuse my inability to concentrate on work!
alithea: (footprint (made by girlyboheme))
[ profile] frankie_ecap gave me the following words that she associates with me:
creating, colours, outdoors, research and individuality, and what they mean to me )

If you want words of your own, feel free to request them, but I'm supposed to be working so I can't promise how quickly I'll get around to replying :)
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
Somewhat random find - interesting personality test with pretty pictures. Certainly accurate for me anyway :)

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

NBPC - The Daydreamer

Nature, Background, Big Picture, and Color

You perceive the world with particular attention to nature. You focus on the hidden treasures of life (the background) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the colors around you. Because of the value you place on nature, you tend to find comfort in more subdued settings and find energy in solitude. You like to ponder ideas and imagine the many possibilities of your life without worrying about the details or specifics. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You are a down-to-earth person who enjoys going with the flow.

other possible results )Take The Perception Personality Image Test at HelloQuizzy
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
1) If you could get people in the US/ Europe to do one thing to improve the sustainability of their homes, what would you suggest?
The main problem in a lot of cases is that many modern houses are not built with sustainability in mind and aren't designed to minimise heating/cooling or lighting requirements. But for existing homes, everyone can improve their energy efficiency using measures like buying the most energy efficient appliances you can afford when replacing worn-out ones, using low energy light bulbs, and most of all, never leaving things on standby (I am completely anal about this, everything in my flat gets turned off at the wall socket when not in use!). Using renewable energy would be a close second, but not everyone is in a position to invest in a wind turbine or solar water heaters.

2) What was a favorite book of yours as a kid?
William The Outlaw by Richmal Crompton. I was a bit of tomboy and loved climbing trees, making bows and arrows, and building dens in the local woods, and I loved reading about William's antics for inspiration :)

3) Babies (in the future, on your schedule): Maybe, Yes, Notonyourlife?
Oh you are new here, aren't you? ;) Notonyourlife, for many reasons ranging from the logical to the highly emotional. I have never wanted children, ever - I'm not a fan of babies in general, I cope appallingly with disturbed sleep, the idea of being pregnant and giving birth is utterly terrifying, psychobitch genes run in the family and if I gave birth to one, I'd either end up locked up for murder or in a mental institute... Having my heart belong to another adult is scary enough. Having said all that, if I ever grow up and get clucky, there are plenty of children out there in need of a loving home, so I'd foster or adopt older children. But babies, no can't see that ever happening!

4) Fill in the blank: A girl can't live without her _____.
Boots. Boots are my main weakness as far as 'girl' things go, I'm not into handbags, or shoes, but boots, boots are the thing!

5) What has been the thing you have most liked about reading/ writing on stylishly_yours?
I love that it does actually feel like a supportive little community most of the time, and that we actually make connections that people value. Several of the people on my flist that I've never met in the physical world, I connected with via that community, and doing so has exposed me to some new ideas and points of view, and opened up thought-provoking discussions which I wouldn't be without now.
alithea: (Warrior_River (made by brokenharlequin))
[ profile] woodwitch pointed out this article about overly skinny models being banned from a catwalk show in Madrid.

I'm all for models portraying healthy bodies and I agree with everyone cheering this article and hoping more action like this will help to reduce the social pressure on women to starve themselves to feel beautiful. I entirely agree how important this kind of action is.

But i do have a different point to make. And I know it isn't as important as stopping young women growing up thinking that they should look like skeletons to be considered beautiful, but I do think it's important and woefully neglected:

Further down the article, it is revealed they are using BMI to decide whether a model is unhealthily thin. And that annoys me. In my opinion, our obsession with weight as a indicator of health is almostly entirely misplaced, and indeed, a good part of the problem. And height is not the only thing which controls what is a healthy weight for any individual.


Why can't they just look at them! I mean it's not that hard is it?? Bones should have some flesh on them; if your rib cage sticks out and your belly is concave when you're standing upright, you could do with some feeding up, right?

I know I'm one of those infuriating, rare people, who is naturally very slim and has to eat like a pig in order to put on any weight at all, while losing it exceptionally easily*, but despite being only just into the normal BMI category, my ribcage does not stick out, I have a bum and thighs, and my belly maybe small but it's soft and round. No-one with any sense would look at me in a bikini and think I was anorexic but that doesn't make my weight healthy for everyone my height - I have a very petite frame. So for once, rather than making everything about a target weight for ones height, I wish they would concentrate on preaching a common sense approach which takes in people's natural build, and really does focus on looking and being healthy not just on what the scales tell you.

*Don't blame me, it's in my genes, my Mum is tiny and my Dad's pretty small too and fast metabolisms run in his family.
alithea: (Kaylee (made by viadisaster))
The weather is absolutely beautiful, and forecast to last into the weekend, when I'm off walking somewhere with Alex :) I have tomato plants courtesy of Amy, and my kitchen is all clean, even if the lounge is still a complete pigsty! I've even done some work this week ;)

I'll have to update my book list 'cos I finally finished A Hundred Years of Solitude, and although it took ages to get into, it was indeed worth the effort :) Quite unlike anything i have ever read before, and written in a very distant third person voice, which makes no judgement but also makes it very hard to form attachments to any of the characters. But the story was quite something. Since then I've been reading some short stories from Legends II, trying to decide whether to tackle Don Quixote or Birds without Wings by Louis De Bernieres, of Captain Corelli fame (which Jakob gave me for my birthday), next. Today however, I decided I had a craving for Sarah Waters (as you do, particularly after Bookslut pointed out this from the Guardian) so I succumbed to The Night Watch in hardback and I rather suspect I'll start on it later. It even has a character called Helen ;)

Oh, and i got tagged by [ profile] smallbluesphere so here are six strange/random habits/facts... you get the idea:
memeage )

I tag [ profile] purple_bug, [ profile] gothadh, [ profile] essbee80, [ profile] sera_squeak, [ profile] pluginchris and [ profile] vodkafrenzy.


Feb. 11th, 2006 12:41 pm
alithea: (Default)
This is a cool new thing:

Go to my johari page and select 6 words which you feel best describe me and then see how this fits with mine and other peoples' perception of me.

From [ profile] woodwitch
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
Didn't get to the cinema early enough on Friday so Brokeback mountain was full and no-one else wanted to see Match Point so we ended up back at [ profile] mcwoof's watching Tremors which is a very amusing roleplayer film (Ahah! I have a plan! Let us pole vault between the rocks using these handy 11' poles!). Then proceeded to spend most of the weekend flat wrangling - washing up, cleaning kitchen and bathroom, turning mattress round and changing bedclothes, sorting clothes into new wardrobe and constructing new bookcase. Did make it to Nobilis last night though so haven't been in hiding all weekend!

Soul meme - surprisingly insightful )

A-Z meme

Jan. 7th, 2006 11:46 am
alithea: (Kaylee (made by viadisaster))
A - Accent: Unique combination of home counties and North Staffs, tempered by moving increasingly north for the past 9 years.
B - Breakfast Item: bran flakes.
C - Chore you hate: drying up, which is why I very rarely do it.
D - Dad's Name: Brian
E - Essential everyday item: tea pot
F - Flavour ice cream: that Ben and Jerry's chocolate one with fudge cooky pieces in it
G - Gold or Silver?: Silver
H - Hometown: Leek
I - Insomnia: Only when really stressed
J - Job Title: Research Fellow
K - Kids: None, the cat is quite enough!
L - Living arrangements: Flat; The Turret overlooking the Tay
M - Mom's birthplace: Ridgemont? Somewhere in Bedfordshire anyway, I'm not sure of she was born at home or not
N - Number of significant others you’ve ever had: Depends on what you class as significant, only 3 lasted beyond the 8 month I-know-this-isn't-going-to-work-now stage.
O - Overnight hospital stays: None
P - Phobia: Small or crowded enclosed spaces
Q - Queer?: Increasingly so.
R - Religious Affiliation : pagan
S - Siblings: One younger sister
T - Time you wake up: when Gizmo starts pesting for her brekky, normally about 7.30 am
U - Unnatural hair colours you've worn: Various shades of red, red-black, currently gold streaks 'cos my red highlights have faded
V - Vegetable you refuse to eat: Can't think of any I absolutely won't eat
W - Worst habit: Procrastination
X - X-rays you’ve had: Jaw many times, head once
Y - Yummy: Many things, not all food ;)
Z - Zodiac sign: Taurus
alithea: (Default)
This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz
alithea: (Default)
I used to have a plan. I was going to get my PhD and then move back to Lancaster and work at Merlewood (what is now CEH Lancaster). It didn't work out like that for lots of reasons, like enjoying living in Scotland, making new friends, and wondering if Lancaster would still be home now most of the people I care about have left too, and now I've moved on and grown. But I need a new plan now, 'cos this, this isn't working for me. I'm crap at home working 'cos I'm not motivated enough. I'm not enjoying my job because I don't believe this project is going to change anything. I have no intention of being a career academic so maybe it's about time I found something that I'll still want to be doing in 10 years time. I don't like living in the city and much as I love Scotland, I'm not sure this land will ever be home.

A friend wrote this morning that you only get one chance at this life. How true. Maybe it's time for a new start. Maybe when my contract finishes next year, I should up sticks and move on. Stop watching out the window and waiting. After all, when it comes down to it, I moved here to make a home with someone but it didn't work out. There's no shame in admitting defeat when you tried. And I'm really sick of living on my own.

I need a new plan.
alithea: (Default)

You fit in with:

Your ideals are mostly spiritual, but in an individualistic way. While spirituality is very important in your life, organized religion itself may not be for you. It is best for you to seek these things on your own terms.

90% spiritual.
80% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz at

Hmmm, I was kinda surprised by having such a low 'faith' rating but then I guess, I do equate 'faith' more with 'spirituality' than anything else. And in this quiz, 'faith' basically seems to equate to 'belief in organised religion' so I doubt many pagans would score highly. It's interesting to consider what we define as faith though. I consider myself to have a great deal of faith because I am unshakeable in my belief that the Divine exists, but on the other hand, my understanding of Divinity is something which is inextricably linked with the world as we know it, and therefore not believing it exists, would be the same as not believing the universe existed. Which I guess is rather more 'reasoned' than what most people would call 'faith'.

It also brings up my age old bugbear about people refusing to accept that you can be scientifically minded AND spiritual. Many early scientists were religious men, they viewed their work as trying to understand the mind of God. Trying to understand the mysteries of the universe is only opposed to faith if you believe that God wants us all to be ignorant of the wonders around us and never question anything!
alithea: (Default)
Your Soul is Grey - Maverick, pariah, twisted. Well
aren't you just the unique one? People have a
hard time understanding you in general, and you
don't understand them. Your strangeness has set
you apart, and made you a loner. But have no
fear, there is so much beauty in individuality!
Embrace your insanity, and be known for it.
Don't change, there are those who will love you
for who you really are.

What Colour is Your Soul? {8 results + artistic pics}
brought to you by Quizilla (with spelling corrections by me!)

So there you go (as if you didn't know anyway!) ;)

Feeling a lot better this week despite the foul weather (I even succumbed to putting the heating on briefly this morning), think i needed an wake-up call like Sunday night to remind me to be alive. Now I just need to be constructive, so it's off to do housework and make the first batch of soup of the season :)

Also this week, I'm going to:
Measure up and draw out kitchen plan in the hope I can afford a new one in the autumn sales
Finally construct my chest of draws for the bedroom
Make progress on my Halloween party costume

There, if I put it here so I stare at it everyday, I might be more motivated ;)
alithea: (Default)
click here )
alithea: (Default)
Because I feel crappy today (yucky chesty cough which disturbed my sleep, and generally ucky headachey unpleasantness) and need cheering up:

One little compliment can make you feel amazing.

So give me a compliment, anything in the entire world, even that my shoelaces are pretty. Put this in your journal. And once you get some comments, put that entry in a memory or tag and when you are feeling down, just go to that entry and this will remind how great you are.

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