…But the world at the moment is playing out like a bad 90s disaster movie… I mean Boris for Foreign Secretary? As in Mr Brexit Break It Don’t know How to fix it?
And then we have the Labour Party trying to destroy the first true Labour leader (pronounced decent human) that it’s had in decades. Apparently, democracy is only allowed if it supports the people on power..
At first it seemed ridiculous to believe that people would believe that all of England’s problems were the result of the EU and of course those “terrible immigrants”.
We laughed about it in the staff room. The same staff room where for the past year, disgruntled colleagues have viciously blamed and attacked the Head Teacher for staff cuts that are solely the result of Government cuts to education.
I remember a boy at our school who was an amazing football player. Even at the tender age of five he had incredible ball control.
The problem was he was arrogant, rude and violent to children and adults alike. But when reprimanded for his actions, it was never his fault. Spurred on (particularly) by his mother, it was always another child’s fault or the teacher had a personal vendetta towards him. Rather than changing his behaviour, he changed schools.
Unsurprisingly his misbehaviour continued.. So he moved back to our school, blaming the teachers and children at the previous school for the move back. Of course, as soon as he got into trouble again he resumed into his usual routine of pin the blame.
And that’s how it continued.
One day he was scouted by one of the big UK premier league teams. Such a life changing opportunity.
But he was dropped.
He wasn’t a team player, couldn’t handle feedback and didn’t respect authority or his team mates. But, of course, it was the coaches/team mates fault, “they didn’t respect him” enough.
Such a huge opportunity lost because he had failed to take responsibility or learn from his mistakes.
If you were at a gym class and the song being played repeatedly used the N word, would you say something?
Walking into my body conditioning class this morning, I was greeted by the N word blaring out of the studio speakers. The class instructor seemed completely oblivious to the word, blonde pony tail swinging in the air, she skipped around the classroom merrily encouraging us all to warm up.
My fellow class mates, if offended or disgusted by the repeated use of the racial slur, did nothing to voice their displeasure.
I alone complained.
I alone was the only person in the studio to whom the N word could be applied.
I wonder how many of those in the class would have unequivocally answered “Yes, of course!” to the first question, yet remained silent during the class? Are we only offended if we deem the word a personal offence? If the song repeatedly used the word K*ke or fa**ot would that be acceptable to anyone who wasn’t Jewish or homosexual in the room? Are our responses different to different racial slurs?
This is the week that six students in Arizona thought it perfectly acceptable to spell out the N word on their T-Shirts at a school event. From the students gleeful smiles and their school’s lacklustre response in reprimanding them, it would appear that the word is acceptable to them. Even here in the UK, the lip service apology, wrapped up in excuses, delivered to me after my conversation with the gym manager, seemed to imply that the N word is (secretly) ok, nothing more than a social faux pas.
This is same week that Macklemore released a song entitled “white privilege”. He tackles the position and influence he has in the fight for racial equality being a mainstream white artist performing black music. He was prombted to write the song after his conversation with a fellow hip hop artist…
‘You have a platform, but silence is an action, and right now, you’re being silent.”
Maybe we don’t have the platform and influence of a multi platinum selling artist. But each one of us has a voice. Maybe the people in the gym class were just as offended by the music, but because they remained silent we will never know. All I know is that if I had remained silent, I would be condoning the use of a word that for centuries has been used to ridicule, hurt and divide.
*You may have noticed the deliberate over use of questions in this post. This post is an invitation to discussion. Only through open dialogue can we learn from each other, as we all have different perspectives and experiences.
Exit the tube station, politely avoid free newspapers and exhausted rat racers, navigate the Shibuyaesque traffic lights, then walk along the side of Morleys department store.
The mood changes. It’s a quieter. Quiet enough to hear Rebel playing. Dark enough for the candles to illuminate the graffiti messages adorning the Iman cosmetics posters on the department store windows. People are still…and smiling.
Locals and travellers from afar have congregated on the Bowie mural in Brixton to pay their respects. YouTube is full of footage from the impromptu Bowie Party held shortly after Bowie’s death was announced on Monday. The duality of the peaceful and party remembrance seems the perfect fit for both Brixton and Bowie.
As Brixton bids goodbye to the Duke, the universe reclaims back it’s star.
It’s been almost a year since my last post and it’s not really a coincidence that my little, no longer a baby, baby has just turned one. But I cannot put the blame for my lethargic state solely on the babe.
Wading through the daily sludge of fad humanism (I think we are still on only welcoming a la mode refugees?) and the brutal everyday reminders of the social cleansing of London, I’ve been a devoted follower of the Church of Escapism. Spending sacred down time scouring the property pages, I became an extremist addicted to all More 4 house porn programming. Escape to the country. Another country. Escape.
But something enticed me to change the channel.
The results of the labour leader election was a very welcome surprise. A break from the political monotony which has plagued our country since Blair proclaimed This Is New Labour.
Certainly to early to say it has restored my faith in our political system, it has at least offered me a glimmer of a hope for the future. A society who recognises and nurtures the human side of our nature.
This was the first ever blog post I wrote on BHW (almost 3 years ago) – It’s seemed to have got lost in the move so I thought I’d repost.
“Gentrification seems to be the buzz word of the moment but as a born and bred working class Londoner what does it actually mean to me?
It means, I need to be “gentrified”, this is definitely news to me. I generally have excellent table manners, have a good job and almost never, hardly, well definitely only sometimes use OMG in a text message.
On a more serious note, I feel unwelcome on my own street and on a deeper note, it means, my face, my family and my culture are deemed to bring down property prices.
I am considered of less value, less desirable than my new neighbour, who is considered “trendy” and “aspiring”.
But am I any less aspiring than my middle class counter part? I would argue to the contrary. When you come from very little, every day you aspire and work hard to have more. Of course, we do not have the gift of “connections”, financial backing or the ability to “fit in” as others deemed “more desirable” do and so, the journey may take a little longer.
More significantly, we are not the gatekeepers of our media perception. Chav much? Yes, tastes in clothes, music, food, dialect and socialising may differ, but why is “organic bean paste” considered “gentrified” whereas freshly made Roti with Chicken Curry or Pie and Mash not? The colonial mentality pushers i.e media, corporations and government, always have something to sell, whether it be vegan children’s clothing or the argument to reduce public spending. Sadly, often the average person buys it. Just take a look at these delightful comments from a couple of Guardian readers on the topic of gentrification.
“Gentrification makes everyone safer, and if it de-concentrates criminals out of centralised ghetto zones into a broader, narrower ring on the outskirts it reduces their power to affect society and their relative proportion, and hence power..”
“Places like Harlem or Brixton – areas famous for their long histories of independent political and cultural scenes” – What a great way to cloak the words crime ridden and hell holes“
“Its [gentrification] people aspiring to own their own property, its people taking a risk and moving to an area that has potential, its people developing their homes and like minded people doing the same. Its about not crossing your arms and saying “I’m a vulnerable person, do something for me” but doing something for yourself and actually trying to selfishly better your life, largely through your own efforts.”
Apparently, we (the undesired working classes) are all criminals who refuse to do anything for ourselves.
But is this a fair portrayal of the average working class Brixton/Peckham/Hackney resident? The average working class person in London often has a university degree, white colour job, mortgage,is traveled and owns a car. Surprisingly, we are not the “Chavtastic criminal underclass” that many pro”gentrification” would have you believe. And if our area and communal facilities and services are run down, what does that say about “our” government? The class and colour of the majority of an area’s population determines the level of government service, investment and respect that the area will receive.
But this reality just doesn’t fit in with the opportunity for many to buy property in central London cheaply and claim it is for the “good” of the people.
“The best books are those that tell you what you know already”
George Orwell 1984
I can’t shake it. That niggling feeling I get every time I use the “Contactless” paypoints. Contact. less. We are becoming further removed from our money. It all feels very Orwellian. The quote plays again in my head.
“Do you know about this?”
A random conversation strikes up with a fellow commuter as she hands me a leaflet stating that cash will no longer be accepted on buses. My fellow commuter is called Amanda, she is a debt councillor and is concerned about the effect a “cashless” society will have on her clients. Cash. Less. society. A society without any money.
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
George Orwell 1984
Is the answer to why I feel so uneasy about a cashless society hidden in plain sight? Contactless, Cashless, it feels like we are definitely losing something. Did it start in 1971 with the loss of the Gold Standard? Is the move to a cashless society a bid to prolong the life of our Fiat currency? After all, if we get rid of the promissory notes, will the government have to keep it promises? Or am I just being pessimistic… In our digital age do we need a “currency” to match? A digital currency, where billions can be created at the mere touch of a button. But who’s finger will be on the trigger?
Or is the drive towards a cashless society driven by a much simpler motive? The sights of South London speed past our window as Amanda shares her fears. In hushed tones, we discuss the desire for retailers to further remove consumers away from the reality of their purchases. Studies as far back as the 1970s show that cards are not seen as “real money” and that consumers have a tendency to spend more when using plastic rather than cash. The popularity of our “flexible friend” has probably had a significant part to play in helping nearly nine million people across the UK into serious debt problems.
The bus slows and abruptly stops outside of a betting shop and a Cash Converters, Amanda bids me farewell and disappears under her umbrella. As the bus pulls away, our conversation replays in my mind; debt, cash, currency, money, profit, greed, retail, shops, shoes.. I press the buzzer. The weather outside is dismal, but I look up and feel a warm glow from a beautiful window display.
“Have you seen these? They’re on special offer £131”