Friday, 29 October 2021

Staying in hotels. And wearing masks.

Our daughter tells me she had a lovely time staying in a hotel in central Manchester. She might have preferred Leeds, she told me (“We can go to Manchester any time!”), but in the end it was very pleasant playing tourist in her own city. And sometimes, it’s nice just to be looked after for a while and not to have to do all the meal planning and sorting out yourself. 

The important thing is to have the choice. Not everyone has it. And not all hotels are as good as they might be.

According to reports in publications such as The London Economic, “Priti Patel has claimed that people crossing the Channel are “not genuine asylum seekers” and just want to stay in hotels.

Speaking to MPs, the home secretary claimed single men arriving via small boats are “economic migrants” and the Home Office’s use of hotels as asylum accommodation had acted as a “pull factor” for people to enter Britain illegally.”

Perhaps she should look at reports like this one from last Friday’s Guardian:

“After a hellish journey involving wading through sewage to reach Kabul airport and cramming into a military plane with no seats, Farukhzad was relieved beyond belief to reach England in August.

But after six weeks in a hotel, the UN worker was hungry for a taste of home. The Home Office pays for three meals a day for her, her husband, Farhad, and their three young boys, but the children in particular are struggling with the food in Manchester “All they will eat are chips,” she despaired. “They like chips but chips are not good every day for their health.”

So she took matters into her own hands. “Last night I talked to the cook and I sent him some recipes of Afghani food and he is going to buy some big dishes to make them,” she said, delighted.

She longs for a kitchen of her own where she can rustle up the family favourite, Kabuli pulao, a rice dish with carrots and raisins, but she knows it could be many months before they are rehoused. “We are not sure but we have heard from others that it could be between three and five months,” she said. Farhad hopes to go to university to study management but they worry about the tuition fees. “Perhaps I can receive some scholarship?” he asked hopefully.”

I’m assuming that when Priti Patel’s parents came here from Uganda, well before Uganda Asians were forcibly expelled, they were able to bring their belongings with them and so were able to set up shops here and continue to make money. A different kind of immigrant altogether! An experience that perhaps does not encourage empathy. 

That’s enough of that. 

We’re all packed up and ready to travel  - well more or less! We have our face masks at the ready and all our bits of documentation sorted out. We’ll see how it goes.

I notice in photos of parliament in the last day or so that more masks are appearing but there are still lots of face mask refusers it seems to me. Then I read this: 

“Boris Johnson faces fresh claims of 'one rule for them' after masks were made compulsory for everyone in Parliament - except MPs.

House of Commons officials have decided to reimpose mandatory face coverings for employees, contractors, visitors and the media as cases rise.

But the Commons cannot compel MPs to wear masks as they are not deemed to be Parliament employees.

Instead, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will be encouraging them to put one on in the chamber unless they are speaking or are exempt.”

It’s nice to see the speaker encouraging everyone. But isn’t it odd that MPs are deemed not to be employed by Parliament. I know that really they work “for us” but “we” do not constitute a “place of work” as such! 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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