Lessons Notes and Plans From a Post Brexit Hangover

 

Still feeling knackered and drained by the referendum, and what it means for our future? Butt-clenchingly embarrassed that we are the laughing stock of the world? Putin is salivating. Hell, even Isis are having a good chorlte.

So am I.

But today is the day to take stock, assess and learn some lessons. Remainers, step back for a moment.

I’ve had this uneasy feeling for a while that we have been coasting along unaware for two long. My generation has been cushioned by this comfy bubble, which we have allowed to steam up by our own hot air. Whilst happy to call myself a politically engaged lefty liberal, what have I ever really done to stop this from happening? The answer is: not enough. Complacency has ‘Trumped’ us.  Farage snuck in via by the back door when we were too busy patting ourselves on the back for ‘doing the right thing’.

So what next?

Well for starters, if everyone who feels the same way takes from this experience the lesson to be less politically apathetic then we are already inching forward. If this all feels like the end of the world then turn it into a wake up call. Let this be your clarion call to future action. A political awakening is nothing to feel awkward about. Like a love of slippers and a slanky on a Sunday, its something we should all ease in to at some point.  But first we need to eat and digest a fat wad of humble pie. Consider that we need a moment of humility as a nation. We have been at the top of the pile without checking our privilege for too long.

We deserve an international shit storm, and that is what we will get. Newton’s third law in action right here, right now. And to a degree my side of the fence have brought this upon ourselves. We did too little too late because it was all too obvious to us. Not so obvious to others though, was it? And as lefties we have all been guilty for failing to tackle glaringly apparent sociodemgraphic issues. Applying your politics only to or with those who agree with you doesn’t make for political progress.

In the short to medium term we need to ride it out. Democracy must happen as intended.

The vote has happened. We can not turn back time. We can’t ask for a new referendum because all hell will break loose, and even just asking for one is damaging our integrity. At least we are not rioting or calling it a fix.

We are now in for the long haul. I think the history books will not be kind to the referendum. A vote can only be truly democratic if people knew exactly what they were voting for. The reality and all its ramifications will come home in due course. The public deserved an independent fact checking body. The appropriate framework was simply not in place given the magnitude of the question. We were failed by politicians who manipulated rather than represented. Cameron will be used as a cautionary tale of the politician who sold his soul for power and then had to return it, and some, when the devil cashed their cheque.

I am already seeing the lights flickering on. It is starting to dawn on some Brexiters that they have signed up to something bigger than they understood. Those who didn’t realise a particular charity got their funding from the EU…. Who now expect the government to step in and replace the funding… The Cornish who want are now pleading for their EU subsidy to be…subsidised. Equally people will wake up to the facts that immigration the EU are not behind their problems. Now that the cogs are turning I predict we will see a steady outpour of this kind of thing as time goes on. But it will take time.

Look at what you need to do for your own circumstances.

My business, which is the main source of income for our family will be hit (import/export) but I am already working out ways round this. My mother’s B&B in France which we run once a year…not even got my head round that yet. Personally Brexit has cemented my one kid policy. I no longer feel we are as safeguarded. We are hardly going to be at the top of anyone else’s priority list should we ever need help, seeing as we have so readily jumped out of the frying pan. What exactly are we offering in return? An aircraft carrier with no planes? I’m not expecting neighbourly help after this. Have we ever had such a long-span of peace on UK soil? Will it last for ever? Considering that history has a habit of repeating itself, I think not. I like a good prepper fantasy but I am not forecasting the apocalypse. I am not burying the bakelite in the back yard. This pragmatism.

Keep focused on what is coming but try to not panic.

My daughter will grow up as Generation Brexit or ‘Broken Exit’ as I see it in my mind’s eye. She will be affected the most when those that chose her future are long dead. I grew up, studied and worked in three different EU countries for almost 30 years. She now faces a much more restricted landscape, and I am heartbroken that my choice is no longer hers. I am determined she will not the pay the price for the ideology of long departed and the career politician, but I am equally determined not to contribute to the hate and damage.

I am also super concerned about the need for the government to quickly untangle and rehash a lot of legislation. At law school I was taught that laws were formed carefully over time by the appropraite bodies. Who will oversee this? Will the judiciary, executicutive and legistalture all merge into one? In most democracies these three branches of the state are separate from each other. Keep up to date with the news as it happens. I know people my age who will not follow current affairs as its ‘too upsetting’. That needs to change.

I for one will concentrate on writing and using the platform that I have built up over the last ten years

My heart is heavy with the belief that this is the greatest political tragedy of my generation. Not enough people knew what they were signing up for.

However nothing will be gained by fighting. In law we are taught to concentrate on getting your point across rather than using up energy by being overtly responsive. We must step back, reflect learn and then mobilise or there will be nothing to be gained at all from this whole sorry eposide of our history.

 

The day I Spotted a hacker.

Last week I noticed I was being hacked on Facebook. It was quite a shock. I naively believed that if I changed my password enough and kept my account as secure as possible then it wouldn’t happen to me.

I use Facebook for my business but also to share pictures of my daughter who is only two. Her dad and I are not keen on sharing our little cherub elsewhere, so they remain firmly in my personal account for family and friends.

I discovered the violation when a post appeared in my name on a Facebook page that discusses local politics. It was done in a manner that screamed ‘look at me, in your account’. It wasn’t very subtle… A comment straight under one of my own.

I guess the urge to peacock became overwhelming.

I immediately accessed my Facebook log to see who was logged on as ‘me’ and found a disturbing history of log-ins from other operating systems and locations around Portsmouth. If you want to do the same, its under Security/Where you’re logged on.

I had my suspicions so I copied the Facebook log  and sent it off to a web whizz.

The report returned to me indeed confirmed that someone had indeed been having a jolly old time in my Facebook account.

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In case it doesn’t immediately jump out, all roads point to Paul Nelson (profile one) aka Mr Albert Jones (profile two) aka Scott Chegg (previously Dan Gullberry). I can’t link to Paul’s Facebook page as he has blocked me, so the report of his conviction will have to do.

And here is Scott Chegg claiming he is not Paul Nelson on the same politics page. Right…(a hint – numerous profiles, one writing style).

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I can’t say I am surprised about any of this, and this is where things go a bit deeper.

Last year I set up a petition relating to a local ‘community’ page called Spotted Portsmouth. The page had published an image of a woman whose underwear was on show as a result of her skirt ridding up. A prolific amount of abusive comments followed. The page also allowed comments that speculated on her identity and where her children went to school. The woman who was the subject of the photo did try several times to get the image removed, with no success.

The petition made our local news. I declined to comment at the time as I felt too many voices would detract from the severity of the issue. Instead Shonagh Dillon, CEO of Aurora New Dawn (AND), a local domestic violence charity, commented.

Like magic, a post attacking Shonagh and AND appeared on Spotted Portsmouth shortly thereafter.

‘MA Goldman’, a chap also with a very distinctive writing style, swiftly published a rather hasty missive on the little used Spotted Portsmouth blog.

Spotted claims it is run by team of people who merely post what they were sent in by members of the public. They deny creating content. But this doesn’t add up and they have never provided any evidence to back up their claim of a team of moderators.

Instead, there has been clear pattern of the page being used a personal platform for grievances and vendettas.

Other previous Spotted delights included  ‘ XXX is the biggest cunt in Portsmouth. Discuss’.

Not long after the petition was set up, a friend of mine who had recently been featured in the NME discovered one morning that her feature picture had been doctored with the image of a pig and published on the Spotted Portsmouth page. She also happen to run a feminist group at the time, which had been discussing the page.

After the petition launched something interesting happened: I started to receive messages of support from people wanting to share their experiences of being bullied or harassed either by the page or the person behind it.

Messages telling me that the page had falsely tried to accuse a man of paedophilia. That businesses had been targeted. Personal testimonies from the people of Portsmouth.

In hindsight I should have probably started checking my activity log then.

Amazingly, even a current Portsmouth City councillor even got in touch to share their info, keen to name the person behind the account and share a link to their conviction.

Moving back to the current issue. With a security buff at hand I figured now would be a good time to see if there was any connection to my hacker, the above profiles  – and Spotted Portsmouth.

Have you guessed the answer yet?

‘The IP that was used to access your profile, and the one associated with those profiles, is also associated with Spotted Portsmouth. He looks to use deflectors by either using a Trusted Proxy, or VPN (Virtual Private Network) – these show a different IP address to the rest of the world, thus showcasing a different location, hiding web history, avoids leaving a digital footprint etc. I’d guess he’ll be using a VPN, probably Hide My Ass as that is the easiest system to use for an amateur…’

The answer was ‘yes’.

In a nutshell, you can hide all you want, but you still leave a footprint for those who are looking for them.

Spotted Portsmouth have always strenuously denied any links to Paul Nelson. Tellingly, and comments linking him to the contents of SP have been instantly deleted.

Now lets add a little cherry to the cake.

Take a look at the caption to this photo.

And so we come full circle.

What I am surprised about is how little recourse there is to stop this happening, and I have a very strong feeling that I am not the only person that has been targeted.

Yesterday I called the Police to report the breach. After taking sometime to figure out if it was a crime, they told me all they could do was advise that I tighten my security settings.

And this is why I have published this blog. We have a man convicted by a court of harassment (via Facebook amongst other things), involved in a sizable ‘community page’, hacking my account and using countless other profiles. And he is free to continue, until someone else finds out they have been hacked. Even then, he is free to continue.

And Portsmouth is lumbered with a so called community page with a totally opaque moderation ‘team’ that is being conveniently used as personal soap box, and worse.

Does this sound right to you? And Facebook, how are you letting this happen? You are allowing people to build up and hide behind followings that are then used for nefarious purposes.

Has this happened in your town? I am curious to hear.

 

 

 

 

“Today, Matthew, I am the Sartorial Socialist”

Last week I did a giant pole vault over the perimeters of my comfort zone and landed firmly in uncharted territory: Protestlandia.

I live in Portsmouth. I am a mother with a lovely partner and a small, but nice home by the sea. I lead a pleasant life ensconced firmly in the middle classes. I buy and sell pretty things for a living.

But around me things are starting to erode. Little chips and drip drips. They may not be affecting me but what of the people who are already suffering from cuts that only serve to improve a balance sheet?

I’ve recently opened my eyes to the wider world. If you take your privileges for granted then you run the risk of losing them. So off we went – myself, my partner and a few friends – down to the protest against huge cuts to Domestic Violence services, taking place outside Portsmouth City Council.

Just before leaving I had pondered the challenges of going to an outdoor protest. Must be 1) warm and 2) have presence. Huge Emmanuelle-esque shoulders attached to a vintage tweed Laura Ashley riding coat and a hat did the trick – see this huge skirt? That’s my own portable perimeter. Always wear wide clothes when you don’t want your personal space to be compromised.

It was bitter weather but I was warmed to see that there were other ‘normal folk’ like me joining the politicians, seasoned protesters, various left-wing tribes and of course the ladies of the moment, Sisters Uncut.

To be honest, I also wanted to get a good look at Scott Harris. I wanted to study his face to see if there was a glimmer of remorse. You may have read about him here, here, here, and here. I would have felt this way had he been a councillor of any party.

Back to the protest. ‘After an hour of solidarity on the steps of our iconic Guildhall, we filed into the upper galleries of the council chamber. I was looking forward to hearing what everyone had to say. Unbeknownst to us we were in the row directly behind Sisters Uncut (it’s quite dark up there). When the confetti popper (not a ‘firearm’, nor a ‘weapon’) burst I must admit it did make us jump but only because we were at such close proximity.  We all burst out laughing.

There we were, three normal mamas (and one papa), agog at the guts and gumption of these youngsters. In my opinion these women are the Suffragettes of our era and I will never forget seeing them in action. I can only hope my one grows up with such conviction and courage in her heart.

The leader of the council left in a bit of huff. She looked annoyed, peeved, impatient…but not particularly scared as she later claimed.

The message sent out was loud and clear: these cuts are dangerous, the ‘provisions’ are insufficient and this is clearly the only way government will take notice.

Unfortunately we had to leave soon after said confetti shower since we all had children to collect from nursery/school and you can imagine trying to explain that one: ‘Sorry we are all currently being detained at her Majesty’s pleasure due to being confused with Sisters Uncut. Little Jemima will be picked up by her gran shortly’.

On the way out we witnessed members of Sisters Uncut being pushed back by the police. One of their own was being detained behind guarded doors. On her own, without any representation, by gung-ho guildhall security staff while police guarded the door. It felt over the top and heavy handed.

I thought that might have been the end of the show, but no. The real comedy villain appeared later on at the council meeting and I only heard about it via social media.

Introducing Councillor New; The Judy to Harris’s Punch.

His increasingly heated diatribe at Shona Dillon, the CEO of Domestic Violence Charity Aurora New Dawn, just gets shriller and odder. It all turns into a giant game of ‘he said, she said’.

He did this knowing Dillon had no right of reply. This is not the first time he has personally attacked her.  According to local political pundits, he is well known for being rude. I’m sure she felt truly ‘enlightened’. New makes me think more of a petulant child enjoying grassing up another, rather than an elected councillor. The naughty step for you New.

I’ll leave you to judge for yourselves.

So there you have it. We have a local council dedicated to cuts; merrily closing ranks to protect their own rotten apples, a bungling councillor who can’t use email, a national protest group having to resort to theatrics to get their message across and a councillor claiming a local domestic violence charity are somehow responsible for the actions of national juggernauts, Sisters Uncut.

And in the midst of all this Portsmouth is yet again in the national news for all the wrong reasons. They should move the whole shebang to the Kings Theatre and call it what it is: a pantomime.

Its totaly valid to feel this sad about the death of someone you never met.

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Surprised by how you feel at today’s news? Well so was I.

It started with shock and disbelief and then the tears trickled into a hot sticky torrent. By 11 am I was home alone, blubbing.

I have to confess, the death of David Bowie hit me harder than any family death I have yet to experience (at this point I should add, they have been mercifully few and far between). With elderly relatives I felt sad for the spouses and children they left behind. Today this grief was my own.

I refuse to feel ashamed or embarrassed for feeling intensely sad at the passing of someone I didn’t know personally. I will not dismiss my own feelings. Enough people do that for me.

We have the freedom to choose who, and what, we care about.

Good art transcends the sensory experience. It creates and evoques memories. Hearing a song can pull you back quicker in time than time moves forward. If he accompanied and shaped your upbringing then it is personal. Bowie didn’t belong to me or you, but he lived in little pockets of our lives.

If you want to plaster Facebook with links and tributes, do it. You will feel better. And it’s ok to feel sad when there is one less thing out there to provide colour, escapism and emotional respite.

Someone has left the planet that made a lot of people feel better about being different.

Someone has gone who contributed a lot of beauty to this world.

We won’t be getting one of these again.

If that is not reason enough to be sad, then I don’t know what is.

 

REVIEW * Style Me Vintage, Home*.

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The lady to go to for vintage home wear and the organiser of arguable the best vintage fair for shopping in the UK has joined our Style Me Vintage family. Keeley Harris has penned Style Me Vintage, Homes (Pavilion books) an ode to all things house and home. Her book is beautifully designed, full of colour and laid out in the style I set with Style Me Vintage Clothes (decade by decade, introductions to vintage, suggestions where to shop).

I found it clearly written and satisfyingly devoid of hyperbole. Its is truly a feast for the eyes and my pics don’t do it justice. This book shows you how to do retro style with colour, not darkness and dust. As an avid collector myself, it’s the little snippets of previously unknown information that give me the instant hit of gratification. I admit I didn’t know that Art Deco is a term that was coined in the 60s. It simply never occurred to me to question the origins. You can tell the author is a lover of china. Lots of collectables that I have seen before are featured, which allowed me to put a name to pattern. A good friendly mix of practical and historical, I liked Keeleys’ helpful suggestions for alternatives: bamboo frames of all eras for a 20s living room for example. Keeley touches on one of my favourite thing: THAT 30s green – but why were so many things made in that colour?

SMVH is a visual feast, peppered with good knowledge and useful suggestions. I particularly liked the fact that she touched on modern visions of vintage style, such as Eclectic ( my own home) and Industrial – a style I first saw in France. I know first hand how hard it to cover decades of design in one book and I think Keeley has more than done this justice.


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