Sunday, 26 January 2020

How we see people.

On a cultural review programme on the radio they were talking about an exhibition of depictions of pregnancy through the ages, from classical,paintings to social media. I found myself thinking of a young friend of mine, a former student, who posted a photo of herself month by month throughout her pregnancy with twins and then a series of posts on how she dealt with being a mother of twins, the latest being the twins at six months enjoying solid food. It struck me that she should put the lot together, with commentary, and publish it as a book.

On the same programme they discussed a recently made BBC film “The Windermere Children”, a story of Jewish children settled in Windermere during the war. Much was made of the fact that at the end they show the actual children as successful adult professionals. Nobody made a comparison with the end of “Schindler’s List”, where they do something similar.

On the 75th anniversary of releasing prisoners from Auschwitz the writer Howard Jacobson has questioned the rights and wrongs of portraying the holocaust in films, especially films with comic content.

“Howard Jacobson: 'A feelgood Holocaust exploits the dead and demeans the living' It once felt impious just to mention Auschwitz.
Now, 75 years after its liberation, the death camp has spawned a literary subgenre – and Hitler is in Oscar-nominated comedy Jojo Rabbit. Are we betraying the dead?”

And yet if nobody speaks of it, there is a chance of it being repeated. Indeed some would say it has already been repeated, just on other countries and against other groups of people.

A friend of mine, a German national who has lived in this country for over thirty years and has her settled status and everything necessary to be here legally, has nonetheless recently come across difficulties with documentation because at some time in the far distant past she decided to change the spelling of her name. So some documentation has her original name and some has her re-invented self. She has had to jump through a whole load of hoops to prove that the two selves are really one and the same. Would my sister have the same difficulty as she added an E to her name long ago? I wonder which spelling she has on her passport.

My German friend solved her problem but I keep hearing stories of EU nationals having such problems. Here is one example:-

“A two-Michelin star chef who has lived in England for 23 years has had his application for permanent residency rejected by the Home Office. 
Claude Bosi, who was born in Lyon, France and now runs Chelsea restaurant Bibendem, was told this week his application for a document certifying his permanent residency in the UK after Brexit has been refused. 

Mr Bosi told the Standard the Home Office letter denying him EU settled status says he did not provide enough P60s to prove he had lived in the UK continuously for at least five years.  But, he said the same letter recognises he has been self employed in the UK since 1997.
 "It was very upsetting to receive that letter," Mr Bosi said. “I’’ve got a wife, three kids I've been here for 23 years, it's not like I've just arrived. "I can't afford just to decide to leave. "It's like as long as you've been here and as hard as you've been working and as much as you love the country you're just not welcome."
Mr Bosi said he has been told he has 14 days to reapply and after that he is not sure what his next steps will be.  He said he has tried talking directly with people with the Home Office but "keeps getting passed around to different people".”

 This seems to be what our country has become.

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