How Brexit ultimately points out the fatal flaws of first-past-the-post

Britain, and maybe all of Europe, is in shock. The people have decided. Democracy at work. Disappointment on the part of the Remain voters is understandable. They turn to demographics to vent and to petitions to soften the blow. But Leave voters? Really??!

The bubble burst early when the pound plummeted and people watched their pension funds crumble. This, at least, proved those wrong who thought nothing was going to change anyways. Way more shocking and puzzling, for many of those who are not Britons themselves, is the fact that there is a potent call for a second referendum and frequent reports of Leave voters voicing their regret and ignorance.

To some extent, this can be credited to the media and its dedication to tell customers what they want to hear. Of course the metropolitan readers jump onto the idea of the ‘ignorant, old and rural’ masses coming to their senses, cling onto the hope that maybe this is just a temporary nightmare. A second referendum, of course, is absurd. That is precisely NOT how democracy works. You cannot simply hold referendum after referendum until everyone agrees and lives happily ever after. Changing rules about voter participation and then applying them on a past decision is also out of the question.

“I thought we were going to stay anyway, otherwise I would have never voted leave”, this seems to be the common argument of those going back on their already cast and counted vote. Ignorance is the motive for such a choice that comes to mind first and seems plausible. The fact that many of those picked by journalists to say such things on the record seem to think that the UK has already left the EU supports this. It is more though. Especially English voters (as opposed to, e.g. Scottish ones) are simply not used to their vote making too much of a difference in who ‘wins’, courtesy of their lovely voting system: First-past-the-post, where only the candidate with the absolute majority troops off to Westminster.

When you think about it the way people vote (or rather, the way their vote counts and takes effect) might have had more long term effects as well that play a role in this decision. All those ‘old, rural, English racists’ have been voting and supporting UKIP for years. 12.5% of the entire electorate voted UKIP during the general election in 2015. That is 1 in every 8 voters. And how many UKIP MPs are there? One. One out of 345. Does’t add up, does it? No wonder people are a little bit disillusioned by the establishment of mainstream politics. I doubt these people cared particularly whether the EU has a democratic deficit, seeing as their own democracy does not seem to help them make their voices heard.

Well, those votes, may they be ones of anger, confusion or ignorance, have been cast. Democracy in the end is the right of the people to make stupid decisions (and funnily enough, most people seem to agree now that it is indeed one).

While proportional representation certainly has its flaws, maybe it would have saved us from a Brexit in the long term… But oh well! Britain, we still love you. All the best and good luck (you’ll need it, by the looks of it)!

B x

Prosecco, Coughing and the Juno Soundtrack

People, why isn’t it Throwback Tuesdays?? I, for once, mostly get nostalgic on a Tuesday. And, funkily, I don’t seem to be alone with this sentiment. Part of that is remembering that I have a blog.

Basically, it started off as as an attempt to study with my coffee and wine buddy, Charlotta. Clearly this was going to be a focused and sober enterprise. But what can you ACTUALLY do if there’s prosecco in the fridge, right? So here we are.

Charlotta is struggling with her essay writing and I’m struggling with actually saying anything substantial here – the unanimous solution: bullet points.

  • The indie phase I had when I was around 15 was actually really really fun.
  • The Juno soundtrack never gets old.
  • I need the loo, give me a second.
  • Back.
  • Maybe this (annoyingly persistent and painful) cough is finally going to put me off smoking.
  • Probably not.

Oh, yeah, and I’m finally doing something with my life (something that allows me to apply my excellent procrastination skills) – uni in Scotland!!

B x

A Chronicle of Nothing, Really

It has been exactly a month since I last posted on this blog. Long time no see, folks.

So what has been happening… Not too much actually. The usual every day jazz. I might be having a very mellow quarter life crisis (usually people pin this to your mid-twenties, but I think that might be a bit too optimistic – how many of us are actually going to live to be a hundred or older?!). I only noticed this because the other night I just wouldn’t fall asleep. This is a first. I can always sleep, I sleep way too much, it is the only thing I’m truly and reliably good at! Something’s up, but I’m not entirely sure what exactly it is. Maybe it is a mosaic of lots of tiny little factors.

So I’ve just finished watching the last season of Gilmore Girls in its entirety – following the tried and tested Gilmore Girls Therapy (courtesy of me, myself and I) and I’ve recently been reading an astounding amount of self-help literature, although I’m not sure whether this isn’t more of a symptom than a remedy (I can warmly recommend Katie Couric’s “Best Advice I Ever Got”).

Things must be getting better though – I’m making lists again and I’ve put my iPod on shuffle (always a bold move…). I’ve missed blogging, and although I’m not sure why exactly I’ve stopped, this shall be a new era – it’ll be just like the British election results: same crap as before with a little extra shit on top. Enjoy!

B x

Mandatory Reading: A Family History

My grandpa, who turned 90 this year, used to have a habit of reading all of the books on the “Spiegel Bestsellerliste”, which is the German equivalent of the New York Times Best Seller List. “Spiegel” is a weekly current affairs magazine, which means the lists (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) got updated weekly.

Sometimes, this led to some interesting pairings between my conservative, elderly grandpa and the book he was reading: I still remember how appalled he was about Charlotte Roche’s ‘Wetlands’ (which was on top of the list for weeks on end) and how amused I was when I saw it on his shelf.

On the other hand, however, I am still impressed by his ability to be so open as to give everything a chance, even ‘Wetlands’. I admire this and I have been thinking for a while about a way in which I, too,could widen my scope in terms of reading material and I think I have found it. Not so long ago I found out that Amitav Ghosh was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2015. I simply adore that man. The original Man Booker is not new to me either and many of my favourite authors were short or longlisted for it at some point.

So, here we go: From now on I shall read a work from every author

  • on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize (6 books a year)
  • on the list of finalists for the Man Booker International Prize (10 authors every 2 years)

This way, I will stay on top of what’s hot in the literary world in a manageable way (6 to 16 books a year can’t be that hard, especially considering that I might also have read some of the authors before).

Of course, as I have only just vowed not to read any books that aren’t to my liking, I don’t have to read books I really don’t want to read (after all, my grandpa never finished ‘Wetlands’), which generally includes any kind of crime fiction.

Wish me luck (please, don’t let this become yet another empty promise to myself)!

B x

Paperworld

It must be my German blood coming through, but not only do I take great pleasure in the acquiring and possession of stationary, I also find something deeply satisfying in filling out forms. Just now I am organising the paperwork for moving within Germany and boy, there is a lot of administration to such a small task. I mean, I am literally just moving my shit back into my parents’ house before going to university in Scotland in autumn. It’s not even that much stuff. Yet, so many forms.

Even I am perplexed when people ask me about what I like so much about filling out forms. But it’s just SO GOOD. Everything has its place and it’s all neat and orderly. Real perfection, if you ask me.

It has gone so far that I ended up applying for a new passport, an EHIC and insurance for a friend (after having done most of her UCAS form). But, although it may be odd, it is certainly not an unpleasant quirk. I mean, forms drive most people mad. They cause a considerable amount of frustration and panic, and here I am thinking “Oh I need a visa? YAY!!”.

So yeah, at the moment making good use of this pleasure by helping asylum seekers with all the forms necessary to grant them permanent residence. I still love it.

B x

Tying Loose Ends

I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody gets them, but I have days where I feel like cleaning the bathroom or doing laundry or filing the piles of paper on my desk. I should clarify though, that these are single, very rare occasions among endless days where I find myself too lazy to take a shower or eat breakfast (it’s more the preparing of the breakfast… it involves going to the kitchen).

Today, you guessed it, is one of those days. As I am still staying with my parents, I have not had an outlet for my cleaning energy (my Dad, I’m pretty sure, suffers from an undiagnosed case of OCD and would go batshit crazy if he came home to find that I “messed up everything” – I am not even allowed to hoover) and it has accumulated over the course of the day. Around midday I found a source of relief in my laptop: when was the last time I tidied up my files? How long has it been that I de-fragmented my c-drive?

I went a bit too far, I guess. I accidentally deleted a file that apparently my email program depended on (causing a moment of terror) and my I had to re-install some programs that I had enthusiastically de-installed moments before. Everything is now up to speed, I have run a complete check for viruses and as we speak I am performing my first ever back-up. Hooray!

Somehow having accomplished something (ANYTHING) makes this day a success. And as we all know, success is highly addictive. So I shall give in and dedicate some more attention to this lovely little blog that has been so horribly neglected in the last few weeks. I’ll start now by tying some loose ends: I’ll update my record of books I’ve read, write reviews of the books I’ve been reading as part of my “Around The World Reading Challenge“, maybe a happiness update and finish some drafts that I’ve left unfinished. Well, let’s wait till I’ve done it. Promises are just promises, aren’t they…

B x

Having The Crazies

It is official: I am literally going insane. As in, I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. My mind racing from one crazy thought to another, I’ve come to the conclusion that my momentary insanity is caused by a number of reasons.

For once, I have been around my parents for over a week now. I love my parents, but we really are better apart. When I’m in my flat two hours away from my parents, we skype every Sunday, and occasionally message or email to let each other know what is going on in our lives. Apart from that, they leave me alone and I leave them alone. This seems to be ideal for all parties involved. From time to time I come down for the weekend, we spend two pleasant enough days all together and then, on Sunday evening, I am glad to be on my way home again, back to my own life.

Naturally then, being together for an extended period of time is unusual territory for all of us, seeing as, despite being only eighteen, I haven’t lived with my parents for three years now. Also, I am generally not that good at cohabiting with anyone over a longer period, I need my own space and my own rhythm of things. There is nothing that makes me more anxious than having someone around who questions what I do, when I do it and especially my way of doing things. Somehow it makes me very defensive and angry and I really don’t like feeling that I have to justify my ways. I’ve got enough insecurity as it is, no need for more external sources of it to open up. For some reason, parents are champions at questioning your every move. Drives me crazy. See, I’ve had my every move questioned for more than a week now, the crazy accumulates.

Another major cause for panic and doubt is the future. Both the immediate future and the wider one. In the immediate future I am awaiting a new semester, fair enough. I’m actually quite looking forward to that, doing nothing for months established the base line of insanity, so yay. But on the other hand, my flatmate has moved out and the university has automatically assigned me a new one, which technically means that I will come home to find a stranger in my flat that I will have to live with for the next few months.

The less immediate future, often just called “the future” or “my life”, I’d say, generates the highest level of anxiety. I’ve applied to universities in Scotland back in October and I’ve heard back from most of them. That is, all but one. Of course, this one has to be just the one that I really really really want to go to: the University of Edinburgh. Now, you might think, if I’ve been waiting since October to get an offer or be rejected, why does this propel me to the verge of a nervous breakdown now? Well, thing is, they told me I’d hear from them by March 31st, WHICH IS TOMORROW!!! I swear letting me hope for this long is pure cruelty on their part. I literally don’t even care anymore what their response is, as long as they give me one and let me move on with my life. It is the uncertainty that is making me crazy. If they don’t want me, I can arrange for accommodation, insurance and all that jazz for my second choice of university (who have presented me with an unconditional offer months ago) and I can just live my life.

I am now doomed to spend another 31 hours checking my emails and having frequent panic attacks. Part of me is filled with rage and the other one is begging for mercy. “Desperation” is the word that sums up both aspects.

Have mercy on me, University of Edinburgh, you f****** bitch!

B x