We’re All Mad Here

Armed with six passports (my kids have dual citizenship) and a flimsy piece of blue paper documenting my status as a legal alien, we left Britain on a chilly April morning, heading south towards Tenerife, my family’s favourite home away from home.

With an overactive mind that is prone to anxiety, I don’t usually do relaxation and vacationing very well, but tasked with no serious decision making other than having to choose between the beach and the pool I managed to switch off sufficiently to enjoy the pleasure of doing nothing.

Being a news junkie, however, I couldn’t resist the urge to check the news on my phone a few times a day, just in case, something earth-shatteringly important had happened in the world while I lay basking in the sun. Thankfully, with the latest threat of a no-deal Brexit temporarily averted,  there was blissfully little newsworthy about Brexit, a fact that further aided my relaxation. Instead, I gorged myself on articles covering the other subject, aside from Brexit, that keeps me up at night: climate change.

‘Did you know,’ I said to my husband who was lying on the sun lounge next to me, ‘dying of heat is apparently excruciatingly painful, worse than dying from hypothermia.’

‘Mmm,’ my husband answered, too busy worshipping the sun to bother feigning interest in his wife’s ramblings.

‘As temperatures rise, people will practically be burned alive,’ I continued, shuddering at the prospect.

Given that my ideal weather is 15 degrees Celsius and drizzling rain, the relatively mild 23 degrees in Tenerife already felt like a hot oven to me.

As much as I enjoyed the holiday, I was surprisingly happy to return to my dysfunctional adopted homeland ten days later, but the feeling didn’t last long. As soon as the Easter bunny was well and truly gone, the Brexit monster re-appeared, devouring everything of importance in its way, and my mood sank.


Writing in the Guardian, Hannah Jane Parkinson suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that the farcical list of British MEP candidates put forth by Britain’s political ‘elite’ was turning her into a Brexiteer only to save Britain from further humiliation. I’m prone to agree with her. If staying in the EU means Britain will be represented in Brussels by people such as UKIP’s Carl Benjamin, famous for making less than funny rape jokes about female MPs, and whose racist beliefs are well documented on YouTube, then I’d rather we left the Union straight away.

Not to mention the cartoon-like characters fielded by Nigel Farage’s latest enterprise, the Brexit Party; an unhinged Ann Widdecombe and Annunziata Rees-Mogg, the younger sister of the other Rees-Mogg. There’s also Change UK’s most recent recruit, Rachel Johnson, whose tendency to switch party affiliation like she switches jobs (she was first a member of the Conservatives, like her brothers, before she defected to the Lib Dem in 2017) says all you need to know about the strength of her political convictions.

The last thing we need is Brexit becoming a pawn in some drawn out, infested sibling rivalry. As a younger sister with a successful older brother, I completely understand the urge to get back at your know-it-all sibling, but for goodness sake, keep it in the family!

While the main protagonists in the latest chapter of the Brexit farce ran around screaming like a bunch of spoiled brats on an Easter egg hunt, a 16-year old Swedish girl arrived in London to offer a much-needed adult perspective on what really matters in the world. Addressing members of the British parliament, Greta Thunberg Tehran didn’t mince her words as she called them out on their fake numbers and empty promises.

In an era increasingly governed by fake news and alternative facts, it’s becoming all too apparent that if it is wisdom, common sense, empathy and leadership we want, we have to look to the younger generations. For it is people like Greta Thunberg and the thousands of children across the world she’s inspired, as well as Malala Yousafzai, and the high school students of Parkland, Florida, to name but a few, who offer us hope for a saner, more just and sustainable future.

The Lesser of Two Evils

Jubilee TeaNever mind Brexit, we have a bigger crisis to contend with at home:

Cupcake Armageddon.

Younger daughter turns nine this week and wants to bring cupcakes into school. But we’re not talking ordinary cupcakes, and definitely not store-bought ones, but custom-baked rainbow coloured cupcakes with homemade icing.

My children’s fine taste in food and pastries is entirely their father’s fault. A trained chef-turned psychotherapist, he treated our daughters to homemade white-wine risotto when they were barely a year old; ready-made baby food from the supermarket was banned from our home. No wonder our children turned into insufferable food snobs who approach dinner-time at home as if they were choosing off the a la carte menu at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

Until recently, we were fortunate enough to be able to call on our former nanny for help with all things baking – her cupcakes were nothing short of pieces of (edible) art with their Harry Potter and emoji-themed decorations. Unfortunately, she now lives back in Sweden, which means it’s up to my husband to try to live up to our children’s expectations.

As for me, I am utterly useless in the kitchen, and if it weren’t for my husband, the children would probably starve, especially since they stopped eating the one food I know how to cook: fish fingers. Thank goodness I married a man who loves to cook, and who takes enormous pleasure in preparing tasty and nourishing food for his family because I have none of those skills. Sometimes I even complain about the fact that children need to be fed at all. It’s such a hassle!

‘But don’t you have the urge to nourish your children,’ my therapist once asked me, clearly struggling to comprehend my total aversion to cooking.

‘Eh, no,’ I replied, ‘I guess I’m missing the cooking and nourishing gene.’

My mother, herself a more than capable cook, tells me to accept that I hate cooking and to rely on Marks & Spencer’s ready-made meals whenever my husband hasn’t got the time to prepare food. Yet I fear that my husband and therapist are in cahoots, working to transform me into a passable cook against my will.

‘Look at how fearful you were of driving only a year ago, and now you drive all the time, and you enjoy it’ my therapist says.

‘But I don’t want to cook,’ I say. ‘I hate cooking, it makes me moody, antsy, and I am always wishing I was doing something else.’

‘But don’t you take pleasure from knowing you’re nourishing your children?’ he insists.

‘Nourishing?! Bah, don’t give me that mumbo-jumbo crap.’ Actually, I don’t say that aloud – I’m far too polite to shout at my therapist – but inside I’m screaming.

I love my children more than anything in the world, but if I had to choose between cupcake Armageddon and Brexit, I’d go for the latter.

Speaking of Brexit, we’re escaping London for a couple of weeks, flying off to sunny Tenerife this weekend, and what Britain we will return to is anyone’s guess. So to be on the safe side, we’re bringing the children’s British and Swedish/EU passports with us, along with my newly acquired permanent residence certificate, to ensure that all of us are allowed back in the UK should Brexit have come to pass at last.

That said, I don’t think any of us would complain if we got stuck in Tenerife a bit longer than intended. Far away from both Brexit and rainbow coloured cupcakes.