The end is here for some…

This week has been an interesting one politically.

I’ll be honest, I have been working some crazy shifts lately, awake at night, asleep through the day so I feel like I’ve been in a perpetual state of limbo, not quite awake, not quite asleep but drifting between the two. Today I woke up, and found my country in a mess, our genius of a Prime Minister thinks that it’s better to got it alone than to stick with Europe. apparently he has put the importance of the city ahead of businesses and industry.

Sarkozy today said in an interview that “there are now two Europes”

It seems that not only has Cameron severed our relations with the EU, but by doing so has weakend our position with Beijing, and the US, as Britain is now not sitting in a decision making seat in Europe, we are of significantly less use to them.

It seems that Europe is split, and that the UK itself is splitting in two, one side who want to stay with our European brothers and one who do not.

I know nothing about politics, but I know about people, and I know that when people work together they get further than if they work alone.

Let’s hope that Cameron’s decisions do more than just help rejuvenate this blog, but if not then there at least is one positive.

In the spirit of rejuvenation, I have decided to post a video, as seems to be the fashion, that I know you gentlemen will enjoy as much as I did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8C-qIgbP9o&feature=share

From your friEnd in Isolation.

Yes… but

You see, actually I wanted to write about something completely different today. Something that I have been thinking about lately – especially since the time we all were together in Norway for Hans and Signhild’s wedding. But I shall write about it next time. It simply isn’t the right answer for what Eyal wrote.

The past days of riots in London and also Liverpool started quite a few discussions amongst colleagues and friends about why this is happening in England. People that know me will know, that I might not always paint the brightest picture of the country. That is simply what happens when you live somewhere foreign for a longer period of time than just for holidays: You make your own picture of the place. You gain an insight into how the system works. And that ultimately leads to a decision about whether you like the place or not. So my opinion is that there is a lot of positive things, especially when it comes to people, in England. But the system in general failed long ago and it seems that nobody ever realized the days of the Empire are over.

But now: the generation of people that get left behind. This is our generation ladies and gentlemen. And everyone following up on us! When did that happen? And why?

It was very late a few years ago even, when I did my apprenticeship in Munich. I came home after one of those usual jobs. Very late, very tired but couldn’t sleep right away (as always after work late at night). I switched on the TV and there was a documentary on about unemployed young people. All the kids there quit school. No degree, not even finished school. My parents – as Eyal mentioned – would not have allowed for that to happen. (We think – coming back to that point). So there is this guy who get’s a chance to get work at a local place that does removals and furniture transportation. Obviously this is physically heavy work and you don’t have to be very bright to do it. Therefore the pay is not great – but it is payed work. This guy gets offered to work there and if he doesn’t do too bad, may become a full time position. But for now, he only has to come with them for half a day, 6 hours in total.
When he comes back, he says this work would be absolutely stupid, everyone could do it, it would be too hard and would not pay enough. And that he would not go there again. Asked what he would expect from a job, he says that is has to pay well. He wishes to have a house, garden, car, pool and so on. He would need about 3000 Euros a month to even feel he has a quality life.
So I sat there, after 16 hours of work, that payed me around 500 Euros a month and thought – what the fuck?
(I had to check again, but that really was the salary… 😉 )

Another story: In the gymnastics class I used to coach, there was a really talented you boy. When he came to our club, it became quite clear after no time, that we were not the right place for him. He was too talented not to make something out of that talent. We wanted to send him to the Olympics team that trains in Augsburg. And they wanted to work with him – but he didn’t want to. He wanted to stay. So he did. He was about 9 years or so (cannot remember) and his parents used to bring him to training as they lived several towns away. They cared for him, where always there, went with us to competitions and events and so further. I watched him grow up and he was a nice guy and remained the best one of the group.
During my time in Liverpool I was home for the summer and on a train from Augsburg back home. A guy that somehow looks familiar comes in the train and passes me. He was a punk, with all the usual accessories, like the spiky collar, run down clothes, coloured hair – the whole enchilada. Somewhere in my head, this little man was saying: You know this guy. But I could not work out where from.
A few days later I meet a friend from my time at the gymnastics club. She is a social worker now and told me the story that this guy I once knew has basically abandoned his family. No contact what so every. Lives on the street and became a punk. So what happened with this guy? He was the one on the train. At some point in our lives, our paths crossed and there was a chance to possibly change his life. To divert it into a different direction. His parents did everything they thought was good for him. They cared and they were strict. And now?

You see, the thing with the blaming is really difficult. I agree with Eyal, completely. The parents are to blame. But, it isn’t that easy. A lot of the kids of the lost generation have really young parents. Especially in England there is a trend to become a Mom at a very young age. To gain some perspective in life again. As everything else is useless. No job, no money, no perspective. Why not have a baby. Thinking does not always go much further as the next few weeks. And the fact that having a child means lifetime commitment is not the first thought that comes to mind.
So now, kids having kids is a problem. Kids with no perspective in life, no money, no job, no education having kids themselves… who do you blame now? When does the chain start? Where in the line is the one person that we could blame? The one that had a proper job, was clever, raised a family and made it through? There must be someone to blame..?

I know this is a very provocative line of argumentation. But it is what I spotted a while ago. And since then, I keep wondering all the time how to solve that riddle.

To be fair, you know how my thinking is. I might be too idealistic and have a very pragmatic view on things. But I do honestly ask the question: How do we want to go on as a society? We cut down jobs in constant strive for more money, the better paid job. We cut down the money for anything that is not related to economy and its constant growth. Did anybody ever think about, that constant growth is something unnatural? And that within our physical restrains infinite growth will never happen – no matter what we are looking at. But we built our society on the basis of constant economic growth… That is odd.
So, what do we do with all the kids that have no perspective in their lives? Do we go to them and tell them: Learn something, you will find a job and be happy? Well, there won’t be any job. We all know how hard it can be to find A job. But everyone strives for THE job, the one that makes you happy, pays well and has short working hours…

I honestly am furious about rioters like the one we have seen in England lately. There is no excuse for this.
But there is the unsolved question of whom to blame. I don’t know. But I feel it is time that people – young people in particular start to become more present in the minds of the people that do leave them behind. We have the right to speak freely what we think. We can demonstrate for the good cause. So, why not organise some useful things with a Blackberry and march for a good thing. To really change something…?

It is only us, human beings, that are able to change the way our world goes. At the moment, we are heading for the ice-berg, straight ahead and with full speed.

Maybe we should go and slow down a bit.

an embarrassing truth

Lately, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve been having some troubles in England.

I have received many phonecalls and messages from my international friends (I kind of love saying that) asking if we’re alright, if we’ve been affected by the ‘hooligans’ rioting.

First I should say that I am fine and that London is an incredibly large city, so large that until you’ve spent an entire day trying to walk from Shepherd’s Bush to Islington because you forgot your oyster card in your other trousers will you realise just how large this city is.

One week ago on Thursday the 4th of August a 29 year old Father of 4 Mark Duggan was shot by police in Tottenham North East London, shortly following this was a peaceful protest outside the local police station in Tottenham consisting of the victims friends family and community members. Within a few hours, after the peaceful individuals had left and the not so peaceful ones arrived, the protest became a riot, where people broke through the police ranks and stormed the police station.

This is where the trouble seemed to have begun, and although this was the catalyst that started the trouble of the past week, it is not the reason behind it.

We have had in the Capital alone at least 4 nights of major rioting, in over 50 separate locations, where (the latest count) almost 900 people have been arrested, this is a small percentage of the people involved and this is only talking about London, the riots peaked in London three nights ago on Monday, but spread out to the rest of the country following that with rioting groups in Oxford, Reading, Gloucester, Southend, Gillingham, Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester, Huddersfield, Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

I cannot talk about other cities as I have only experienced what is happening in London, but the rioters ran free through the streets with little or no resistance from the police on the first few nights, while we have had two police chiefs resigning over the past few months, both our Prime Minister, Mayor of London and half of the cabinet of Ministers were away on holiday. In short we were caught with our trousers down.

The big question that everyone has been asking over this week is, what do we do about it?

How do we go about and apprehend all of these people, how do we teach them that they cannot just burn down buildings and cars, steal from shops, run people over or beat them up. Yes this is an important question, but the main question should be, why did they not already know this?

Why have we got a generation of children who do not want to work, do not want to improve the world, are happy to destroy their own community at night for an adrenaline high only to find that they are the ones who have to live in it the following morning.

The country has illustrated the reason why they do these things, we described them as ‘human waste’ a term which describes people who were born because their parents needed to have children in order to claim more on living benefits, that they are children who have nothing to contribute to society, who are uneducated, do not have work, nor want any they are the unwanted generation.

This has shown me the problem, their parents? yes, but not just them.

When I was younger, not even much younger if I wasn’t home at night my parents wanted to know why, if my reason wasn’t good enough then I wasn’t allowed out again. That’s not special treatment, that’s just good parenting. Where are the parents of all of the children out on the streets? Why are they not on the streets hauling them back home? What do they ask their children when they finally do get home?

The parents are as much to blame as the children committing these crimes for not instilling morals in their children.

Who else is to blame? Well, we are, society in general, for allowing England to be come a society about rights and not about responsibilities. English people feel like they are owed something, as if by the virtue of their existence they should get homes, food, transportation, welfare, but not have any responsibility to have to repay this back to the community.

Yes it is good to help those who are in need, yes everyone should have a home, but everyone should work for it, whether you’re working to buy one, or working to pay the government back for buying one for you.

The Laws of theft in this country are laughable, or should I say, the convictions of theft.

We have members of parliament claiming all sorts of things as expenses, essentially stealing money from the public sector, and getting off with a slap on the wrist.

Parents are told they cannot be strict on their children (and I’m not talking about beating kids). Police aren’t allowed to even take masks off of people rioting so they can identify them, and then all in all when they are finally sent to court they are let off with a provisional warning.

This is parenting 101, everyone knows that if you tell a child not to eat that ice cream or you’ll lock him in his room. You HAVE to lock him in his room when he does it, otherwise all that child will learn is that he can do whatever he wants and that there will be no consequences.

So the question we are asking of the young people doing the rioting is; Why? And the answer they give us is; Why not?

Why Not, smash up shops for televisions, our parents won’t punish us, we wont get sent to prison and we’ll get a new T.V.

The problem isn’t the riots, the problem is society, English people complain that there are Eastern European workers coming to England and stealing our work, well of course they are, because all we have to offer is a generation of people who want to get paid but don’t want to do any work.

England was caught with it’s trousers down, and in the midst of trying to pull them back up we have discovered that it’s not our belt, but our legs that are broken.

This is sad…

 

 

This all reminds me of the famous scene in the 70’s movie, ‘Network’ where the Character Howard Beale, a news reader in the US shouts on live television, “I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore…”

The link to youtube and Quote are below.

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dib2-HBsF08

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s no one anywhere that seems to know what to do with us. Now into it. We know the air is unfit to breathe, our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in a house as slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and TV, and my steel belted radials and I won’t say anything.” Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being. God Dammit, my life has value.” So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Things have got to change my friends. You’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

 

 

 

Im mad as HEll, and I‘m not going to take it anymore.

The journey (1)

After we actually reached the one month where nobody posted on this blog, this would actually mean it is probably dead. However this could happen, I don’t know. But… I will now take you with me on a journey of a few days here in Bournemouth in England. I returned in the third year to do a show for the Big Little Theatre School and once again, I have been doing mad design work as I tried to design 17 completely different musicals for one show.
For the next days here I will try to take you with me on a journey, not only through the different states of the work process, but also into my mindset. Coming to England always provokes different feelings in me and not all of them are entirely positive. But let’s start in sunny and hot Zürich, on this Friday the 9th of July 2010…

I am approaching the train that connects the main terminal building with the E-Gates. This is where my lovely orange (guess who is flying me to London… – yes, I know it was quite easy…) aircraft A320 is waiting for me. But there is still a long way to go before I can actually board the plane. The very accurate lady at the security checks for example (who refuses to talk to me in German but keeps replying to my German answers in English – how odd…) holds me up for a little while because I have a dangerous item in my bag. Even after personally inspecting the x-ray image of my possessions I have no clue of what appears to be extremely dangerous – and so I end up emptying my bad and having it x-rayed again and again to eventually finding an DMX 3 to 5 pin adaptor that turns out to be the dangerous item. I think from now on the guy at the check-in will add this to the list of dangerous goods…

So while putting my belt back on (and trying not to lose my laptop and camera besides the other stuff I am juggling while walking to the gate) I am approaching the large crowd of people that looks like it has gathered around a small little desk where they must apparently give away free food and drinks. At least the behavior of the crowd lets me think this. It turns out that this is all down to the brilliant Easyjet idea that free seating is a good idea.
I step back and let all the people that still haven’t understood the system of boarding groups, speedy boarding, families with small children under 6, no more than 1 piece of hand luggage, easy card plus, easy card plus gold, easy diamond plus gold minus silver card and so on, have their go at the check-in lady. Obviously they all have not purchased what was necessary to enter the plane before everyone else and so they all end up where they were before. And the one person that actually was stupid enough to buy a ridiculously expensive speedy boarding ticket combined with the golden diamond and platinum card is proudly entering the gangway to the aircraft – just to get knocked over by the 6 (!!) obviously helpless women with small children that have picked up so much momentum while running down the gangway that they lost control of their high-tech prams (where they are also hiding 5 additional pieces of hand luggage) and are now crashing into the open door of the aircraft.

So when I finally manage to arrive at the bastion of Easyjet – the senior cabin crew member, who is the felt 5th person to check my ticket (after the boarding pass inspection, the security control check, the passport and boarding pass check – with permission stamp – and the gate-check) I feel like having been on a turkish bazaar. I fall into my seat just to find out that the senior cabin crew member might actually be my Easyjet highlight when she says: “Good morning ladies and gentlemen – if I promise you that the front and the rear of this aircraft will both be lading in London today, would you then please go down the back first and fill up the plane from there?”. I like people that do things differently and follow their own style. And she is unique. “This aircraft has 3 toilets – two in the back and one in the front. All of them are equipped with baby changing units and unfortunately also with a smoke alarm. So please don’t smoke there. If you are not nice and follow this advice it will be my pleasure to show you our secret balcony.” “We will come around once again for any rubbish, newspapers, credit cards, babies and little children you don’t wanna take with you.” And so it goes on. I had a fun time with her and wished more flights were like that. By the way, she looked just like Whoopie Goldberg and I am sure if Whoopie wasn’t an actress she might have become the funniest flight attendant of all times.

A good hour later I arrive at my destination (apparently “Welcome to Copacabana – the sun is shining”) I realise I am back in England and the question whether HSBC owns all UK airports comes back into mind once again. With my heavy trolley with scripts, plans and clothes – that happens to arrive together with me at the baggage belt – we go off to find the train station and the ticket machines. After having had the choice of at least 20 different ticket options between 16 and 104 GBPs I decide to buy the ticket off the nice guy at the counter and pay 11.40 GBP. He also sends me to the right platform with instructions where to change. I seem to look a little hard of understanding as he keeps shouting where to change after me while I am already leaving the station… odd moment.

The past couple of days I had no desire to go to Bournemouth. I don’t like traveling with computer, camera, all sorts of stuff and a huge suitcase on any train – but especially not in England where there are no escalators. And no space to store it on the train. And no seat on the train where you could already not store your suitcase. And ice cold aircon. Or no aircon. – Am I complicated?

Everytime I come to England there is this emotional undertone which doesn’t feel good. I have tried to find out where this comes from, because I have been living in this country for three years and I did indeed have a great time then. Probably the best time ever. But the picture of England as a country has also been damaged over these three years. It became cracks and like the country itself, the paint flakes off. To me it seems the country missed the right moment to realise that the former empire does not exist any more. That there are a lot of problems and that a vast part of the population has been left out of the good times. That there is a working class of which an escape seems difficult. That the country as a whole has an alcohol problem and that the word “pub culture” actually is a cover that only works for so and so long.

But is that it? I don’t know. I like Bournemouth in the summer. When the sun is shining like today, it is a really nice town. With old trees along the streets. With the sea near-by. With the opportunity to design lighting for a 1500 seat theatre. With people that are interested in theatre.

And still there is some negative touch that I didn’t have before I lived here. A friend of mine keeps saying that it seems like I really don’t like England anymore. Is that true? Maybe it is just me not being able to adjust again. Being used to a structure that is different to the one here might make it difficult to adopt again. But then I mean still, this is not an answer.

When I arrived here – I am staying with a lovely family – I went for a walk in the surrounding area. There is a golf course next door basically and it is also a park for everyone to enjoy. That is when you eventually find the bench(es) of which there are some. I sat at a nice little river and the sun was slowly setting and it was very nice. Calm in a way. Over the past weeks while working on this project – and solely working on this one project) I realised it was good for me not to be working in my job for almost three months now. It took this time, together with some physical distance, to actually calm down my mind and not think of it all as a pile of rubbish. I have feeling that I have to be very careful in the future of how I look at the job. Because I feel I was very close to lose the most important asset there is in our business: Passion. I would not go as far as to say that I regained it completely. It seems it is buried somewhere and over the past weeks I have slowly started getting the layers of dust and dirt that have come to cover it up removed. But still – I have not retrieved the treasure yet.

OK. Don’t think I want to compensate for all the months where I posted nothing or very little… 😉 And don’t expect it to be such long – and random – posts every day now. But I feel that I have the time now. And the right topic. So here we are. Oh, and very nice… The people here seem to think of me. Now that I tried driving on the left side of the road on Cyprus – scary thing to do – in the UK they wanna make sure I find the right way and have even translated the instructions for me: (Maybe this one only works for people with a German background…)

Good things happen every day. Bad things too. It is called life.