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Posts Tagged ‘local color’

I have been eligible to vote for 14 years now, and have rarely used my enfranchisement to much good. Though Florida, where I was raised, is a swing state, I was only able to put that to use in the 2000 elections, and we all know what good that did! Actually, do we? I wonder how much of the fiasco made it through to the average British citizen, and especially those who were my age at the time. Recently, I had a near-altercation online with someone who thought it was “ironic” that America went to an illegal war over oil, killing British soldiers, and civilians, and now oil was washing up on our shores. I countered that the American government had started that war, and that neither I, nor anyone I cared to know, had supported it. This person came back with something along the lines of “By the people, for the people and of the people”; I responded, “Yeah, because everyone in this country is a chav or a Tory,” very close to blasting them about civic participation, gubernatorial representation, and did they feel their government adequately reflected their opinions and ideas? In my froth of rage, I wanted to school this person on the 2000 elections and the recount that was called off by Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who just so happened to be under George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, and then, shockingly, working in Washington soon after. My subsequent realization that I was being trolled cooled me off, but it made me think about elections and my part in the various states in which I’ve lived.

Florida: just 18 for the 2000 elections. Paid attention, discussed the happenings with friends. Ignored local politics. Voted.
Minnesota: The first place I wasn’t oblivious to politics, excited about being a social worker and living in a historically politically active, liberal, democratic state. I wasn’t there long enough to delve heavily into local politics, but I voted for governor, though I suspected that Tim Pawlenty would win, once it was known he had George W. Bush’s support (I was right).
New York: Though I lived in NYC for 6 years, it never felt permanent, and I moved so often, through various municipalities, that I lost steam for local politics.

Local politics are extremely important, moreso than a lot of people think, yet we often neglect them in favor of national politics. Presidential elections only come around every four years but local elections come around much more frequently and have a much larger effect on day-to-day life. I’m really feeling the need to get involved in local politics again, and as such, was extremely excited when last night, a Briton told us that based on his French partner being able to vote, he thought that we, as leave-holders, may vote in local (council) elections. This morning I did a little research, having been saddened that my residence didn’t come through until three days before the election, much too late for me to vote. I did a little searching this morning, but it didn’t take more than a cursory read to realize that neither I nor my husband are eligible to vote in any kind of election in the UK. It would take citizenship for us, though it seems like practically the rest of the world is allowed to vote in, at least, council elections. Below, the requirements. I make sad face now.

Who can register to vote?

You can register to vote if you are:

* 16 years old or over and
* a British citizen
* or an Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen who is resident in the UK

If you are 16 or 17, you can only register if you will be 18 within the lifetime of the electoral register. You cannot vote until you are 18.

Below is a full list of Commonwealth and European Union countries. If you are a citizen of one of these countries, and resident in the UK, you are eligible to register to vote in UK elections. To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a ‘Commonwealth citizen’ includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

Citizens of the European Union who are not Commonwealth citizens can vote in European and local elections in the UK, but are not able to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections.

European Union countries

Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy

Latvia
Lithuania
Luxemburg
Malta
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
United Kingdom

Commonwealth countries

Antigua and Barbuda
Australia
The Bahamas
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belize
Botswana
Brunei Darussalam
Cameroon
Canada
Cyprus
Dominica
Fiji Islands
The Gambia
Ghana
Grenada
Guyana
India

Jamaica
Kenya
Kiribati
Lesotho
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Mauritius
Mozambique
Namibia
Nauru
New Zealand
Nigeria
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Rwanda

St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia

St Vincent & The Grenadines
Samoa
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Swaziland
United Republic of Tanzania
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tuvalu
Uganda
United Kingdom
Vanuatu
Zambia
Zimbabwe

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Can you believe it’s raining again? Oh wait, no, the sky is a beautiful blue. Wait, no, it’s cloudy again. Were it not a complete and utter shock every single time the weather did its highly-varied dance of confusion, I wouldn’t post about it so often. I swear, it happened all within about 20 minutes yesterday.

Yesterday we biked about 20 minutes to The Worst Car Boot Sale In London. At least it was after 8 a.m. and we got in for 60p total. And I did get two cds: Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain and The Dandy Warhols’ 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia at £2 each (high price for a boot sale, I’ve lost my head for bargaining). Too bad Goldfrapp is boring and I already had a copy of 13 Tales. FYI: Courtney Taylor-Taylor is gorgeous in a slightly frightening way. Maybe it’s the no-bangs thing in that video. Other than that, I got a 15mm spanner (what we in America would call “a wrench”) for a quid and two glass plates suitable for placing under plants in pots for 10p each. Worth the entrance fee, I suppose, just to see the woman selling dying houseplants and to poke through large bins of tools, not to mention the van selling good-smelling yet disgusting roadside food that is, without fail, at every car boot sale.

I’ve decided to post some photos of coffee because I’m happy to be drinking some but also because I want to show to you in still photo form what I go through every morning.

Hand-ground coffee isn’t as sexy as it sounds.

Aaand, perc’ing. I think this is technically a percolator. Finally Flickr decides to work properly!

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In the past few days I’ve taken the tube a lot more than normal. On Sunday, I just couldn’t come up with an easy way to get from Ealing to Camden town, and was running out of time to pick up a bicycle stem (for the boyfriend), so ended up just going on the train. Delays, Camden Town tube station closed for 4 hours (on purpose) when I wanted to go home, more delays on going home. It ended up taking me a total of three hours to get there, pick it up, look in five or six shoe stores for a particular pair of Vans, and get home. Partway through the trip, the Picadilly line shut down going west due to signal failure. Thank god I had just transferred from the Northern line, and it would take me to Embankment, where I could pick up the District line. That was almost fubared, though, until I remembered that District is only closed from Embankment east. Weekends are a bitch for taking the tube in London. Central line, partial closure; Circle line, complete closure; District line, partial closure; and others I don’t use so don’t know of.

Then yesterday I took the Central line to Stratford to see Star Trek for the gloriously low price of £3.50 with O, K & H. We giggled about our campy bartender, drank beers & ate smuggled in chocolate and legally purchased caramel corn. The movie was EXCELLENT, I must strongly advise others to go see it. Since the boyfriend won’t be playing polo for a few weeks (yet again, he fell playing yesterday and has injured himself), maybe we’ll go next week to see it again.

On the way home, delays, delays, then complete closure of the Central line going west from White City. No indication of how to get to points further west that did not include going to West Ruislip (the tube line often splits, you have to know the end point before you get on in case you get sent somewhere you didn’t plan on going). I asked someone and was told to take a bus, outside, to the left, numbers that did not call at the stop I found when I went where directed. Called the boyfriend, freaked out mildly, then got some cash and hailed a cab. It went past me and a dude almost took it. I yelled at him, kinda under my breath, calling him a f-head for stealing my cab.

But then I heard he was going to Ealing Broadway and asked if we could share. This is just not done in England! But in NYC, no one bats an eyelash if you want to cabshare. Anyway, we had a nice chat and he told me I didn’t have to kick in, it turns out that in cases like this you can retain the receipt and claim the expense with TfL. Sweet! So all in all, I got home faster and was dropped off right outside of Ealing Common, thus saving me a 10-15 minute walk. Whee!

I really hate public transport here in London.

Edit: Just bought the shoes through UK Amazon for £5 less than Office. Now I just have to sell the gift card from Office (their form of in-store credit).

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Sorry about the terrible quality of the photos, the light was really bright and I don’t know how to use this camera. 😦 But on with the show!

Fuschia!

Britain must not have the same stigma against the number 13 as in America. I wonder if there are 13th floors in buildings? I love this house, look at that branch arching over the walkway – three weeks ago it was covered in beautiful, tiny red cherry blossoms.

The only one out of the bunch that I actually like. It’s a big puff ball of a bush covered in these pretty little white flowers!

Tons of these in the n’hood.

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Earlier this week I complained about meat being left in the kitchen garbage bin overnight, not wanting there to be flies in the apartment, and the boyfriend said, “This is England. There aren’t any flies in England!” In some respects, I almost believed him, there are no snakes, right? (heh…) But what about gnats? I’ve seen plenty of those. And midges? They’ve got to be here. And this isn’t just England, it’s London, and big cities always have flies.

Today I was vindicated, though I’m not happy to have this victory, when I saw a fat fly buzzing its way around the kitchen. There is a small hole in the top pane of our kitchen window, it happened before we got here when a workman unlocked the window and instead of pushing open the bottom one, the top one came crashing down, smashing his fingers in the process (so I hear). Having lived several years in New York City, and being from Florida, I was understandably worried about flying insects coming into the house via this aperture and then completely flummoxed when I realized that none of the windows in the house have screens on them!!!

*blink blink blink*

What will we do in the Spring? It’s been gloriously cool a few times in the past weeks, and I had the windows open happily, but it didn’t occur to me the first time I opened it that we lacked a screen. I must conclude that bugs will not be as great a problem here as in my past.

On a related note, what the heck do I do regarding storm windows? The bay window in our habitacion has two big and two small sash windows blocked by storms. I cannot raise them up, as I was used to doing in NYC, and my landlord has asked that we not remove them as apparently they are wicked difficult to get back in. Does it really not get that hot here? This means we can only have one window open at a time (we can slide one of the big ones over) and I dread the summer.

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A friend I met here, D, and I went to Lisbon this weekend. It was three days/four nights of happy exuberance. We cracked ourselves up, laughing so hard we cried, saw various, wonderful things, ate wonderful food, spoke in Espantugese and played “spot the drug dealer” on Rua do Sao Augusto. It’s not hard. They’re in their 50s or older, shifty, wear sports coats and make eye contact and beelines at the tourists. No, thank you.

More later, when I’ve downloaded pictures and reconstructed events.

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Last night was my second foray into late night Madrid. Normally I can’t handle dancing past 2 or 3 a.m. and most places I’ve lived don’t offer diversions much later than that. Madrid’s clubs and bars close at 5 a.m. Until recently they often ignored the official hour and stayed open until 6 a.m., when trains start running again. However, after the death of a young man outside a Madrid club, and a few other violations, there was a wave of club closings and the municipality is cracking down on code violations. No one knows whether or not this will be a temporary state of affairs.

The largest club in Madrid, Kapital, close to Atocha railway station on Calle Atocha, has 7 floors with lounges, table dancers and various styles of music playing. Desafortunadamente, not a single one of those floors played indie or new wave music. Where was my Bon Iver? Where was my Wolf Parade? Franz Ferdinand? Did you take The Smiths with you? We ended up bumpin’ & grindin’ to my least favorite style of music next to death metal – hip hop. Officially, I did have some fun. But I also got bored of the beats and we went back and forth between the house techno on the main floor where one of the table dancers had holes in her panties (above and beyond the three necessary holes) and someone lit a pile of weed on fire in the palm of their hand, apparently to “make a ball” with it. Why? I don’t know.

We high-tailed it over to a certain super hot table dancer, the gayest of them all, with some sort of weird backless, frontless leather jacket (essentially it went across the shoulders and ended in tatters of leather just below the deltoid muscles) and boot covers that I’ve seen before and have been dying to find. Two youngy young young girls started to talk to us, mostly because I was looking up at the table dancer and she jokingly put in her claim on his affections. I assured her that I didn’t want him, I only wanted to look at him. It is so annoying that I have mild hearing loss in one ear, I have trouble understanding people in loud situations when they speak English and for the most part my comprehension is completely fubar when the person is speaking Spanish. I just sort of laugh, shake my head, point at my ear and then give up. Usually running away is involved. For most of the night, my friend, his boss and I spoke Spanglish and I had a great time. What cracks me up is that one minute I’ll look at the clock and it’s 3:30 a.m. and the next time it’ll be nearly 5 a.m. Whoa. Thank god I got a ride home last night; I fell into bed around 5:20 a.m., ate some Sticks (cheese & ketchup flavor, please bring those to London and/or the States, Cheetos) and read Twilight before passin’ on out, earplugs firmly in place.

Oh, I should note that I finally sang karaoke and that Objection (Tango) is not La Tortura (both by Shakira, if you’re out of the loop). I can sing one, not the other, and was reminded forcefully of this when I accidentally picked the latter. Later, I managed to redeem myself with Let It Be. There were some fantastic older folks who sang lovely ballads I didn’t know but actually liked. I can’t wait to get to England and sing some karaoke in English. The offerings are thin here.

Rocio Jurado – Como Una Ola

Mecano – Hijo de la Luna

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