Thursday, 9 June 2016

A Spring in your Step - Banish the Blues.

I don't know about you but at this time of year, when the weather improves, I often develop a spring in my step.  I dust down my summer wardrobe, stick a glow-white in the wash to brighten everything up, identify the must-haves from the glossies and step out ready for bright days in florals, stripes and shorts. Summer is great isn't it? This year, so far at least, we have been blessed with hot sunny days and here in the North West of England, the evenings have been warm and humid. It is the perfect weather for floating chiffon, billowing cotton dresses and pretty open toed footwear.

I have been searching everywhere for suitable sandals but I insist on leather and this year because I haven't been able to get abroad to buy any at the markets of Spain, Greece or Italy, I find myself resentful.  Leather sandals in the UK are vastly over-priced. The major department stores are full of 'looks like leather' plastic uppers.  Foot wreckers with leather price tags. I don't understand why this is the case. In the last ten years, I have bought soft, chic, leather sandals very cheaply in Positano in Italy, Calpe in Spain and in Greece.

It seems that in the UK - quality merchandise is moving out of reach of the average pocket. Across Europe, V.A.T varies from 17% to 27% - here it is 20% but that doesn't explain the price difference.  Labels reveal that shoes manufactured in the UK are a very illusive commodity and perhaps that is the problem.  Import tax on goods manufactured abroad hike up the price.  Oh there are plenty of Chinese and Indian shoes here but they are not traded without duty but if there is no import duty on shoes produced in Europe, then why can't I buy cheap Italian or Spanish made sandals in the UK? It is a mystery.

Last week, I saw a toaster and kettle for sale in the Co-Op with the Hotpoint brand name.  Examining the boxes, I discovered that they were manufactured in Italy by Indesit.  The iconic Mini, beloved by Brits young and old, is now manufactured in Germany by BMW.  The search to buy British is problematic. British meat is usually more expensive on supermarket shelves than meat produced in the EU. I am always suspicious of the 'produced in the EU' labelling - let's face it there are now 32 countries in the EU and many of them I would hesitate to visit  - so I certainly wouldn't knowingly eat their meat. Tethering pigs, (a cruel practice banned in the UK for many years),  is still standard practice in many of the newest member countries and food safety regulations are not enforced as well as they are in the UK.  I stick with what I know is safe.

I am undecided about the advantages of being in the EU. My father fought in WWII and as a young man, worked manufacturing shoes.  When war ended and shoes were still rationed, Dad made wedged heel sandals in the shed and my mother sold them to her colleagues at Vickers. All his life, he bought British whenever possible and I have tried hard to follow in his footsteps.  What is the point of importing milk, meat and veg from over there when we produce it better over here. I remember the Common Market butter mountain; the milk lake and the outrage caused to English fruit growers when the French Golden delicious began to flood our greengrocers shelves.

I like a ripe juicy cox's pippin, prefer to wait for the Kent or Lincolnshire strawberries and will buy Scottish raspberries until my own are ready.  I adore English asparagus, Jersey cream and new potatoes and would rather support local producers than buy tasteless produce from further away.  I am not sure how I will vote in the up-coming referendum but I am unconvinced that there are any benefits to our farmers of remaining in the single market.

It is reassuring to know that our homeland security is safe - we are protected by our natural border - the sea - with the exception of what my father would have said was the 'biggest mistake this country made post-war' - the channel tunnel. We are members of NATO and The Commonwealth. Leaving the leaving the EU will not affect that.

My real concern, should the country decide to remain in the EU, is for the future of our next generation.  I worry what life holds for them when five more poorer and hugely populated countries join and the floodgates open to more unskilled workers, usurping jobs that should give security to our own, less academic young adults. I am witnessing, in my lifetime, the rise of Nazism, just as it happened in Europe when my parents were young. The depression in the 1930's that seeded nationalistic movements in Austria and Germany, turning them against immigrants, has been similar to our own economic depression.  History as we know from experience, is capable of repeating itself.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, at this time of year, I usually have a spring in my step. This summer, I am worried, more than a little depressed and nervous about the future of our once 'Great Britain'. We need to start real manufacturing again: make durables that we want to buy and that people in the rest of the world will want to buy.  'Made in Britain' was once the bi-line for quality. We need to support our own farmers and we need to buy British grown produce.  Perhaps we don't need to leave the EU to make our own lives better but being in Europe is not the solution to our future prosperity: We the British people are.





The sun wears a sombrero
as the mercury starts to rise,
now scuffed and saddening Winter boots
are cleaned and consigned away
and last year’s well worn slip-ons
come out of their box to play.

You are pulling on shorts and a tee-shirt,
checking your buffed up heels,
with vividly painted toenails
you tap on the laminate floor,
and then with a little spring in your step,
you are heading for the door.

Bouncing along the high street,
you keep hearing the siren’s call.
It’s sandal time,
let the frenzy begin,
as faithful fashionistas,  
tell you what’s out and what’s in.

A pair of Cameron staples,
remaining the same with a twist,
a touch more fringing and winging,
a promising veto, in last season's hue, 
but you will be slightly different
from the rest of the thirty-two. 

Or how about 'Brexity' Rollers?
A retro design, re-packaged as new, 
Union Jack with a sling back, 
psycho-seventies shock,  
the wheels may come off, but baby,
wear these and you’re sure to rock.

Over-priced, over here, Italian heels,
throw-away, fast-fashion, Chinese,   
before you step up to the ballot box,
try them all on and then choose.
It's the only sure way to banish,
EU Referendum blues.


Thanks for reading.  Adele

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