#hungparliament · Expats · General Election · Politics · Repatriation · Trailing Spouse · UK · Uncategorized · vote2017

Repatriation, a general election and cookies…

Standing Still20 years living overseas and I manage to repatriate to my home country, the UK, the day the Brexit results came in. As if repatriation wasn’t going to be hard enough without the added political and social turmoil that Brexit has created!

Suffice to say I was, and remain, shocked at the extent to which I seem to be out of touch with what is going on in the minds of the British people, or half of them anyway. I have, in my time away, kept reasonably abreast with what has been going on in the UK. Or so I thought. It is easy to form opinions when you are thousands of miles away and are unaffected by them. It is easy to form opinions when you are thousands of miles away and have a very global perspective on the world. I didn’t realize quite how different my view of the world and what is important to me is from the average person who engages in political or economic debate in the UK. It is a shock to realize that I just don’t get it anymore. And now, almost a year down the line, the results of a snap election are in and nothing is any clearer.

I just don’t get it. I have spent almost a year in the UK and have already experienced first hand the state of the education system. The local state funded secondary school, which is rated good by the government inspectors, is in such a dire state that I had to move the Teenager to a private school, which I frankly can’t afford, in order for him to be able to achieve what he is capable of. The local state primary school that the Tweenager attends is rated outstanding by the government inspectors, yet all they do is the 3Rs. There is no art, there is no music, and there are no foreign languages. They are limiting our children. And their funding is cut and cut and cut. There will be an entire generation of children who are brilliant at spelling and know their times tables inside out, but that will be the extent of it. There will be no creativity or any thinking outside of the boxes they are in. It is shortsighted and narrow-minded and yet people in this country seem to just accept.

University education is getting more and more expensive and will prohibit more and more capable young people from getting a decent education. The NHS seems to be in disarray, the welfare state is being cut back and cut back and cut back, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly are all having their services cut and cut and cut. And that’s not even going anywhere near the impact of Brexit on my passport country!

After Brexit I realized that my social media feeds were full of people expressing the same opinions as me yet the policy responses of the current government were directly opposed to those opinions. So I decided to find out why I wasn’t seeing people expressing the opinions that reflected government policy. The answer was quite simply ‘cookies’. My social media feeds reflect what I look at on the Internet and are filtered to reflect my interests back to me. It has left me with a sense of being a bit out of kilter with what was actually happening in the political world. And when you feel a bit out of touch anyway because of repatriating after 20 years away it can induce a bit of an ‘am I going mad’ response! As it turns out, I am not going mad, I was just being ‘cookied’.

So in an attempt to uncookie myself, I started to look for other opinions. And as I read more public opinion about who to vote for in this upcoming election and why, I am shocked. I am shocked at just how out of touch I am with what people in the UK believe in. I am shocked to the core by it. I do not understand at all. I feel like I am standing still whilst everyone around is rushing past. People are running to a finish line that I can’t see and none of what they are shouting on the way resonates with me at all. My view of the world and of being a human being has moved in such a different direction to the cultural values of my home country that I am not sure who I am anymore. It is a very uncomfortable feeling.

Divorce · Expats · Moving House · Rabbits · Repatriation · Third Culture Kids · Tweens · Uncategorized

The Tween-Ager, The Rabbit and The Internet.

Mr Rabbit

One night in Bangkok, when the world was my oyster, and the bars had been temples for the evening, a little tween-age angel slid up to me via a text message.

The text messages were photos of extremely cute rabbits and then the killer question ‘Can we get one please?’

ABF and I had been in the ‘temples’ all evening and the tough guy tumbled… ‘Go on he said, let her get a rabbit’. And so the fatal response was sent over the airwaves, telephone, fibre optic, broadband, internet, however it gets to where it’s going…’Yes Darling, of course we can get a rabbit’.

What I thankfully didn’t say out loud was ‘you can actually have anything you want if it makes it easier for you to deal with moving to a country that you think is home but you have never actually lived in. You can have anything you want if it makes it easier to deal with having your life turned upside down and inside out again, leaving all of your friends, your school, your house and everything you know, again. You can have anything you want if it makes it easier to deal with living on the other side of the world to the Dad you adore but who I am in the process of divorcing.’ No, that would have been a bad thing to admit to a 9 year old but it is an emotional I have felt many times when uprooting the kids from the life they love to a new, uncertain one. It is one of the perils of being and expat.

And so a few weeks after we had moved into our house we went rabbit shopping and came home with Mr. Rabbit. He is gorgeous, cute, clever and has become a much-loved member of our family. The only problem is he eats the walls…He hops around the house eating the walls, pulling the wallpaper off the walls, eating that and now he has started on the furniture.

I am not very happy about it and nor is ABF, because he is the one who will have to do the fixing of the rabbit house demolition. Tween-ager decides to do some Internet research into how to stop the rabbit eating the house. Genius plan – get Mr. Rabbit a friend, so he won’t be so bored and he will stop eating the house. Mmmmmm, I am not sure about this plan…how about we keep the rabbit from running around the house and restrict his movements to rooms where we have rabbit proofed the walls instead?

Cue Internet assault from Tween-Ager… The Rabbit now has an Instagram account. He posts a lot of ‘selfies’, him sitting around in the kitchen, in the living room, maybe licking himself. He has posted a portrait of himself that he sat for and a meme of what happens when you insult a rabbit, that kind of stuff. Like I said, he is a very clever rabbit! This morning he posted a very sad looking photo of himself with a comment about how having his movement around the house restricted is making him really sad. So I responded to poor Mr. Rabbit with a suggestion that maybe if he stopped eating the walls and furniture we could reconsider our position on his freedom to roam the house. His response – I’m just bored and need something to stop my boredom!

I am being emotionally blackmailed by an instagramming rabbit, or is it a very clever persuasion technique employed by Tween-ager? Whichever, that answer is NO to another house eating rabbit. One is ENOUGH…

addiction · Alcoholism · getting sober · Uncategorized



You learn something new everyday…the Latin name for the humble daffodil is Narcissus. They are everywhere at the moment, a symbol that spring is finally on it’s way. Personally I think they smell of pee but I think I might be alone in that!

The Latin word Narcissus is related to the Greek word narke, which means numbness. This is a reference to the daffodil’s narcotic nature because the daffodil bulb contains a toxic substance. But who knew that the little yellow flower Narcissus is also relevant in the word Narcissist. It is believed that the name of the humble daffodil was probably borne in Greek mythology.

There was a young man Narkissos, he didn’t value the people who loved him and was often cruel to them. He rejected the love of a the nymph Echo and the Gods were furious with him, so they cursed Narkissos that he would fall in love with his own reflection. He spent hours gazing at his own reflection in a lake, ultimately drowning there. In death the Myth holds that he became a flower. Yes, you guessed it, the little yellow daffodil Narcissus.

Narcissism is a much-used word now days. In all honesty I didn’t exactly know what it meant until I looked it up a few days ago whilst reading an article about the current POTUS! So, I do not profess to be an authority, I have done no research, I don’t have a PhD or even a GCSE to my name on the topic. I do know though that reading Hotchkiss Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism there is a lot that feels familiar, in particular the question ‘Why is it Always About You?’

And that brings me to ABF, who is drinking again… I say drinking again, he never actually stopped; he just stopped drinking vodka, his problem drink, for a few weeks. It was fairly predictable though because replacing vodka with any other spirits he could get his hands on was never going to solve a problem like alcoholism!

Alcoholism seems an extremely self-centered past time, particularly when you have to live with it’s effects. It seems quite narcissistic; a lot of the tendencies seem to be similar. So I am left with the question has alcoholism created the narcissistic tendencies or does he just suffer from extreme selfishness? More importantly, I guess, for me at the moment is whether knowing that will actually make a difference to my own life or how I deal with and feel about his alcoholism?

So, as well as being a sign that spring is on it’s way the humble daffodil could also be the symbol of those who suffer from the affliction of arrogance, superiority, excessive self-centeredness, and a complete failure to understand the concept of empathy. The symbol of those who have such fragile egos that they cannot tolerate criticism and who need to inflate their sense of superiority by belittling and demeaning others.

Mmmmm, I know a few people like that…I might just send them a bunch of daffodils to welcome the spring in!

addiction · Alcoholism · getting sober · Middle Class Britain · Uncategorized

Small Town Surreal Moment No. 1

We live in a small town. A small town by the sea. A small town by the sea that is full of older, greyer people. ABF (Alcoholic Boyfriend) and I are also keen photographers, so in a bid to join the local community we decided to join the small town photography club, which, as you’d expect, is also full of older, greyer people. We have lowered the average age of the club by about 20 years, and being that neither of us have age on our side particularly, I guess you get the picture.

At the last club night, we were in groups critiquing each other’s photos. Generally not much to report, pretty average comments and discussions going on between the 6 of us in our group, until a photo of a bunch of mushrooms growing out of a tree branch covered in moss appeared in front of us. That’s when it all got a bit surreal.

The very ‘Tim-nice-but-dim’ lady sitting next to me looked at the photo and said “I wrote a children’s book when I was younger. I called it Magic Mushrooms but everybody said it was a bad title for a children’s book, I am still not sure why”… ABF and I glanced at each other with a raised eyebrow…

The very nice double-barreled-surname lady sitting next to ABF, who looks and sounds like she should be a lawyer living in Surrey but actually makes donuts for tourists in our very small town, responded with “have you ever tried a magic mushroom?” ABF nearly choked…

Very nice man with a mono-brow that rivals Basil Brushes tail, sitting opposite Donut lady, replied “No, which country do you get those in? I haven’t travelled that much, I have only really been caravanning a lot in Cornwall.” ABF stared speechlessly across the table at me…

Very nice man with hand-knitted cardigan on, this week it was green but he also has a red one, an orange one, a blue one, a yellow one and a grey one – same pattern obviously, mused “is that a photo of a magic mushroom? Is that why it is growing from the tree branch? How clever.”

ABF mouths across the table “I need a drink”. Me too my friend, me too…

I’m not sure that this photo club is going to do much for the reduction in alcohol intake!

addiction · Alcoholism · getting sober · Middle Class Britain · Neighbours · Teenagers · Uncategorized

How to Upset the Neighbours

How to upset the neighbours…

So we, my slightly insane crowd of special people (and the rabbit), moved in to our middle class house on our very quiet middle class street 6 months ago.

Until recently I thought I was pretty middle class so I’d fit right in, I have a barbeque after all so I must be. In fact I googled it! I have a smart TV, a Dyson hoover thing, some vinyl (but no record player, the ex-husband has that), an IMac, Samsonite AND Antler luggage (only one is stipulated on the list of things that makes one middle class). I have at least 2 sets of matching coasters and a Mulberry bag. So there you have it, I MUST be middle class…

It was all going swimmingly well with the neighbours when we first moved in, they were super friendly, anything they can do to help, there were bin collection day timetables posted through the letter box, sweet conversations about how to prune the apparently rare apple tree in the back garden, I even got a card and a kiss on the cheek at Christmas. Through January and February though it all got a bit frosty. Not so middle class anymore, a bit trailer trash instead I’d say. I think they could have coped with my not very middle class looking front garden, and I have to say it is a front garden disaster, a disaster that will be dealt with when it’s not bloody raining. It’s the noise that comes out of my house that is more trailer trash than middle-class. It’s impossible to be middle-class or even slightly civilized with a teenage boy and an alcoholic bf in the house (or face planted in the front garden at 1am for that matter) the shouting is astonishing. The teenager is shouting, stamping around the house, the ubiquitous teenage, and extremely loud door slamming. The bf is shouting, mostly at the shouting teenager, or he is pissed, throwing stones at my bedroom window because he has forgotten his keys again. If it wakes me up, it wakes them up. Where did my middle class ‘I must talk things through rationally and with respect’ attitude go? I must find it again and quickly because all this shouting is bringing my house into disrepute and I am no longer as middle-class as I thought I was. It is written all over the neighbours faces. My declining status as middle class in this very quite neighbourhood is either a result of the noisiness of my special people or it’s the Mulberry bags, have the neighbours worked out that I have a load of fake ones?

addiction · Alcoholism

A Trip to the Cinema


So he has a plan. The plan is, wait for it… to stop drinking vodka. It is not to stop drinking; it is just to stop drinking the ‘problem’ drink. The other half of the plan is to stay at my house for a bit so I can stop him drinking the offending drink. Now I am not hugely convinced by this plan but let’s roll with it for a while and see where we end up.

The first hurdle in this new plan was Friday night, normally we would have gone to the pub for a few hours, I would have come home and he would stay out for a while, bring a take away home, then sit there drinking for the rest of the evening. That normally culminated in an argument as he got more and more pissed and all logic went out of the window. Far from looking forward to Friday nights, I had come to dread them a bit. They would always start off ok but the endings were never pretty.

This week I thought we would give the movies a try. I love going to the cinema, I love sitting in the dark, throwing popcorn down my throat as fast as I can, being half deafened by the noise. I just love it. I have been to the cinema loads in the time I have known ABF (Alcoholic Boyfriend) but he has only ever come with me once, the pub was always his choice of venue for a night out and I think the cinema was always a bit of a no no with him because they don’t sell booze. So, with new resolve, off we trotted for our Friday night at the cinema.

First challenge, to popcorn or not to popcorn – now I am not normally mean but I DON’T share my popcorn. Not with anyone. Ever. He got the message pretty quickly. In the absence of either booze or minstrels (we live in a small town with a small cinema but even I was shocked at the lack of minstrels) on my advice, he settled for a pack of Revels. Revels are one of those packs of sweets that are made for cinema trips – I don’t think I am alone in that I wouldn’t ever consider buying a packet of revels unless I was in a cinema setting, let alone eat an entire bag. But it’s all part of the cinema experience, along with ridiculous amounts of popcorn, ice cream and giant bottle of water to wash it all down with that will hopefully stop you feeling too sick to enjoy the film.

I hadn’t even considered for one second that he had never had a bag of Revels before, so when the first handful was met with loud protests that went something along the lines of ‘what kind of shite is this, this isn’t proper chocolate’, I was a bit taken a back, until that penny dropped. Cue lesson in cinema Revel eating…It’s all about what they feel like, because obviously you can’t see shit in the cinema. The flat ones are Minstrels, the big round ones are Maltesers, the really small round ones are toffee (why do the makers of chocolates insist on inflicting toffee ones on us?), the funny shaped small ones are raisins (ditto previous question Mr. Chocolate Maker) and once you have eaten all of those you are left with the ‘good’ ones – orange centre, strawberry centre and coffee centres.

Lesson in cinema Revels eating dispensed he starts on consuming said bag of chocolates. We are still only at the advert stage at this point. An ad for Wild Turkey flashes across the screen and with a gob full of chocolate he proclaims loudly again that ‘Wild Turkey’ is awful stuff because it is too sweet! Speechless!

He was quickly told to shut up and watch the movie. Which he duly did and it was brilliant.

I fully expected to be dragged into the pub ‘for a quick one’ on the way home but there was no mention of it. Woo Hoo, are we getting there? My elation was short lived because he got home and poured a glass of whiskey instead of the usual vodka. Now anyone can see that whiskey is never going to be a good replacement for vodka. But I am not giving up hope you; let’s see how this goes…

addiction · Alcoholism · Uncategorized

Apparently It’s Funny

Apparently it’s funny. Opening the front door at 1 am to your bf of 3 and a half years who has blood all over his face, dirt and mud smeared and stuck all over his clothes and who can’t really stand up properly because he’s so drunk. Apparently that’s funny. To all you alcoholics out there, just so you know, it ain’t funny….

It isn’t funny at the time, it isn’t funny when you are wiping the blood and mud from facial orifices at 1 in the morning, whilst you are in your pj’s and had been asleep for an hour and a half already. It isn’t funny when you have 2 kids upstairs who could easily be woken with all the kerfuffle. It isn’t funny in the morning when you are recounting the story of how you face planted the dirt in my front garden and you are telling me how comical it was. It just ain’t funny. Full Stop. Never was, never will be.

I don’t know how I got here. The last time I wrote anything like this, and these things are very cathartic for me, I was recounting the story of sitting in an addiction counselors office, with the man I love being told he was an alcoholic, feeling very sad and a bit bemused as to how I got there. But I was full of hope that the roller coaster might end and I might have the man I love full time, not just when he is sober.

Right now I am not just bemused, I am full of anger. I thought I knew quite a lot about addiction and I guess I do. I have spent quite a lot of time between these 2 incidents reading countless articles and blogs on addiction and recovery. I am a serial visitor to the AA website, trying to understand the ‘disease’, trying to get the man I love to see some sense and deal with his addiction. And to be honest, I am pretty sick of reading about how the alcoholic has no choice, it’s a disease, that the alcoholic will either die or somehow hit rock bottom and seek help. Bollocks to that, you have a choice, stop drinking.

There is a lot of literature out there on addiction from the addict’s perspective, a lot of how the ‘disease’ works, on how the disease affects the alcoholic mentally and physically, a lot of accounts of recovery. There doesn’t however, seem as much on the wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner of an alcoholic and the impact on us. How are we supposed to deal with the destructive behavior of the man/woman we love? The stuff that’s out there tells us to protect ourselves and leave. I don’t want to leave. I want the man I love to be the man he can be, if he is sober. I want him to stop the self-centered, self-pitying, self-destructive behavior and, in the immortal words of Irvin Welsh (or was it Wham?), I want him to Choose Life. I want him and every other alcoholic to choose themselves, choose the people stood in front of you, the people who love you, the people who offer and want to support you, the people who want you back. Stop turning up on our doorsteps pissed, stop shutting us out, stop blaming us, manipulating us, emotionally blackmailing us, stop your sniveling whinging and whining and, for god’s sake, stop choosing to drink. It’s not funny…

According to government statistics 1.4 million people in the UK are dependent on alcohol. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of not very funny alcohol induced dramas. That’s a lot of people like me, people who love an alcoholic and who have all these feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment, hope, trust, miss-trust, a whole host of conflicting emotions. And there isn’t a lot written about the hope, fear, disappointment, guilt, shame, worry for the people who have to live with these not very funny alcoholic incidents.

So what will happen next to my alcoholic and to me? What happens after 3.5 years of roller coaster hope and disappointment, 3.5 years of will he stop/won’t he stop, 3.5 years of he’s stopped drinking, oh no, he has started again? What happens after this latest 2 weeks of blaming and shaming me whilst he was on a mad boozing frenzy that culminated in my not very funny 1am visit?

He has a plan. Let’s see…