Of Migrants and Mongrels

‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…’ So go the words of The New Collosus by American poet Emma Lazarus and made famous by their being engraved on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty. Over time those words have become a symbol, a rallying cry to immigration. The words are a statement which says we should welcome immigration, that we should embrace it. All too often, however, this is not the case. Immigrants are often treated with derision and suspicion, an unwelcome blight… Those against it will say that immigrants take jobs and resources and they do not integrate into the local culture. Of the first two it is difficult to argue against… Of course they take jobs and resources, they have to make a living don’t they? They have to eat? As for the integration… Well that takes time. Moving to a place with an entirely alien culture can be daunting and frightening and by holding onto their own culture and identity they are able to feel more at home in their new and strange land. But eventually immigrant populations will integrate and they often become an integral part of their new society- There is a blending of the old and new and quite often this blending is beneficial to both sides of the coin.

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The Road To Culinary Self Sufficiency

You could quite easily be bowled over by all the things you can do for yourself that are actually really easy. I’m talking in particular about food and drinks here, especially things like sauces and cured meats and that sort of thing. Some of them seem like they might be really complicated- For the most part you buy them in a tub or a jar or a packet from the supermarket (or wherever) and you can’t even begin to get your head around how some of these things are made. How, for instance, would you make a patĂ©? Where would you begin? It must take ages and a lot of work, right? Well in many cases making these foods yourself is actually a simple and straightforward task, and more often than not the end result is tastier and comes with the added benefits of having fewer additives or preservatives. With most foods in fact, you do need to use pre-prepped. You can do it yourself. You can be entirely self sufficient if you want to be. Continue reading

Wales on Film

I was watching The Constant Gardener the other day, you know that film where Ralph Fiennes looks into the suspicious death of Rachel Weisz and which has absolutely nothing to do with Wales apart from one newspaper headline in the middle? It was the Kenya parts of the film that got me thinking, specifically about how nations are portrayed on film. I realized that this film might be one of the better portrayals of modern Africa on film. Modern Africa, on film, is hardly ever pictured accurately. It is presented, usually, as one country (even The Constant Gardener comes close to making this assumption, often using the term ‘Africa’ instead of Kenya) that is mainly full of grasslands, deserts and tribal people when in actual fact it is a huge, sprawling continent of fifty four nations which does have grasslands, deserts and tribal people but also city dwellers, rich people, poor people, farmers, mountains, jungles, great cities and magnificent architecture. Now The Constant Gardener, though not a perfect portrayal, does a good job of portraying a small aspect of the real African continent rather than the usual Hollywood stereotypes. As I watched I started to reflect about how nations are portrayed on film and after a while my mind settled on my adopted homeland of Wales and the films that are set there.

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Poisoned!

Barely an hour after eating a Lamb chop I was on the floor in agony. I thought it might be gas and, usually, a couple of sit ups and a bit of light exercise would relieve it but this time it didn’t and I mereley ended up on the floor, wondering what is going on. I’ve had gas before… The first time was on a night out during my first year of university and I had to cut the evening short because of it. This is similar but I get the impression, when the sit ups don’t work, that this is something worse than gas. Also, a regular gas attack (for me) is higher up than this. This is right in the pit of my stomach, which isn’t normal. I begin to feel ill, like I’m about to vomit and then I know that it is worse than gas. This is serious… This is food poisoning.

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Dancing on the Left

I was obsessed with John Major as a child… Each time he came on the telly I would point and shout out his name. I had no idea who he was or what he did but for some very odd reason I liked him. So you can imagine how horrified I was when he one day disappeared from the television and this smug man who looked every inch the greasy used car salesman started appearing in his place. I hated him… I didn’t know who he was but I didn’t like him for the sole reason that he looked like a smug used car salesman. This was my first glimpse of a little thing we call British politics and what happened the day John Major disappeared from the television was to be a defining moment in my ideological development. I never did like Blair in the end, still don’t. I have always seen him as a seedy individual. As I learned more of what was going on in the political sphere my dislike of him reflected back on the Labour party too. I couldn’t bring myself to like them either…

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