Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink


Over the past 100 days I have:

pottered in my garden.


helped my husband lay new flooring.

written school reports.

protested for Palestine.

bitched with friends.

received flowers.

been overdrawn.

attended a street festival.

laid in the sunshine.

argued with loved ones.

bought new artwork.


witnessed the dashed hopes and dreams of a nation.

taught Zumba to my class.


received callaloo and cabbage seeds from a stranger.

hoovered (ok I’m not fooling anyone) hoovered.

listened to my unborn baby’s heartbeat.

felt fat.

stalked on Facebook.

watched a human chess match.


found it impossible to sleep.

eaten Nandos.

watched TV.

participated in a treasure hunt.

joined the TEDx Brixton event team.

had a pedicure.

rushed to hospital.

attended a beautiful wedding.

Over the past 100 days the Chibok girls have:


How quickly the world forgets. ©Sarah Peace
How quickly the world forgets. Photograph S Peace ©

Yesterday marked 100 days since the girls were kidnapped from Chibok Girls Secondary School in Nigeria by the group Boko Haram.  In the 100 days since the kidnapping the people of Chibok have continued to face daily assaults from the terrorist group; 11 parents of the kidnapped girls have since died in the fighting.  



We have no idea if their daughters know of their death.

We have no idea if their daughters are still alive.  

We have no idea.


We must keep the pressure up and continue to ask questions and demand that they #BringBackOurGirls.

To find out about how you can show your support visit:


“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.
Is it just me?
Is it just me?
“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?
I promise to pay the bearer the sum of 10 pounds.
I promise to pay the bearer the sum of 10 pounds.
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.
Swipe all your troubles away with your flexible friend.
Swipe all your troubles away with your flexible friend.
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”
A tap on the machine and they’re mine.





“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”.   

The writing is on the wall.
The writing is on the wall.

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.  

This is what gentrification means to me.


BH xx


20 responses to “Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink”

  1. Gentrification works. I’m tired of the middle class guilt trip! Everyone is finding it difficult to buy a home at the moment at least we are trying.

  2. Thank you for your comments Outnabout. I agree, “gentrification” is working, but what it the ultimate goal? and does it benefit everyone. I love London because of the mix of classes, ethnicities and cultures that can live all on one street as seen in places like Camden. We are all trying to succeed and make homes for our families, gentrification however is homogenising areas so that only one type of resident remains.

  3. Thing I find very difficult to comprehend about this is, yes everyone is trying to get on the property ladder-I have no qualms,if it’s fair and level with no under hand dealings,these schemes are happening only at the expense of the so-called ‘minorities’ the system is a’ll find that the minorities start the building and the establishing and then suddenly the goal post and rules get amended and others are bought in to take over and make profit purley from these hard working honest living minorities.

  4. Yes I agree Amie, the system makes it very difficult for the original residents to benefit from any type of improvement to the local area. If you are able to hold on to your property and afford to stay in the area then you can make a profit by selling your house, or if you owned your house originally you can sell off at the beginning and make some profit – but then you still have to leave your area and have to move further out to be able to afford something similar to what you already had.

  5. This post was extremely eye-opening. I live in Jamaica and we are fed such a great deal of American content that we rarely hear about the other Hemisphere (gatekeeping once more) unless there’s a war or political unrest. I must say that I understand why you feel this way for this simple reason: most countries are run with this capitalistic “all about the profit margin” mindset. If reputation remains true, then this gentrification is probably to improve the particular community, rather than those living in it. Any benefits derived by the working class is sadly probably just a by-product and not a deliberate goal (even if they claim it to be) of those who engineered this plan

    1. Thank you and I really agree with you on both counts (gate keeping and gentrification). As I have often complained to my friend of the bias news beaming into our homes every evening, by friend gave me some links which you might also find useful if you want a broader perspective on the world. I will find the links and post them it a bit xx

  6. I hear hear you…

  7. I found this post to be one of the most interesting that I have read. I am from the working class – my father worked in a sugar mill as a metal-worker. It seems that the class system is not so entrenched here in Australia.

    I was sixteen before I heard the term ‘working class’ and did not know what it meant. My parents never discussed ‘the working class’. I thought everyone worked so then everyone was working class, right? (I still think this actually). Look forward to reading more of your thoughtful posts.

    1. I love this comment! I love hearing how things are different around the world! I didn’t realise how different it is in Australia, I think it’s brilliant how class is viewed I wish it was the same here!

  8. BH – keep writing, sharing your stories with us. You have a fresh voice that needs to be heard!

  9. Very nice post. I’d like to encourage you to forget about being ‘gentrified’ and be yourself. Seems to me you don’t need much improving. Thanks for the follow, and thanks for NOT using OMG!

    1. Thanks for commenting! I’m thinking really carefully now about my word choices and desperately trying not to use LOLs or OMGs 🙂

  10. I don’t know anything about London really, or the neighborhoods you’re referring to, but I know they ‘gentrified’ the little fishing village I grew up in (Florida USA). They ran all of us REAL fishermen out of town (we were too smelly, crazy, cussed too much, etc) and then built a bunch of FAKE fishermen houses for the tourists. Turned all our favorite bars into ‘fern bars’ and made it too expensive for us to stick around there any more. Now, there is no more community there, it is all a bunch of older retirees.
    I moved away when all that happened and hate to even go back there to see what it has become. All in the name of ‘tax revenues’ and profits (for some). I don’t think we have as much interest in ‘class’ here as in the UK, but we do have it. The people who left my town and the people who came were all ‘working class’ but the people who brought about the changes were not. That’s what bothers me the most, that the people most involved really had no say so as to what was going to happen to thier lives. What we wanted made no difference in the end, it was the people with the money and power who wound up getting thier way (and ALWAYS manipulating things instead of allowing any kind of honest debate).

    1. This was the first ever blog I wrote, and it was the reason that I started blogging. I am so glad that I over came my nerves and wrote it because now I see I am not alone in my passion and that so many of us are having or have had similar experiences around the world.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me, it just sounds so heartbreaking. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to see your village, your home, gutted and sold off to the highest bidder.

      You summed up my feelings exactly with..

      “That’s what bothers me the most, that the people most involved really had no say so as to what was going to happen to thier lives. ”

      We are powerless pawns in a game where the rules are against us.

      1. Yeah, it was a really bad feeling. I agree, we are pawns. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to change the rules of the game so that we are playing checkers instead of chess??
        I think this whole blogging thing might have some kind of possibilities in that direction. At least I hope so.

      2. I hope so too!! I agree the internet is a powerful tool, so let’s keep positive and keep blogging and coming together! 🙂

  11. gentrification is an interesting concept and political hot potato. there are indeed many layers to it

  12. Working class. All the way. I work. I sometimes dare to expect. But, by god, if you live in the UK, you better expect that working values and ethics count for next to nothing except to fund tax margins. Who else pays? Not the elite. Not those who can’t or won’t. A new terminology is needed to define those classes that once were distinct. Education was once perceived to be the way to rise above station, to aspire to other goals, to better the next generation. No longer. And not for a long time. A different species rules. Class becomes an indistinct barrier. How to fight the invisible but the ever present? Money=power=control-decisions. I don’t know what else to say. Except. Not if I have my way and others who see injustice inherent everywhere by powermongers choose to speak and act.
    For a first post a very brave stance. You must feel it strongly.x

  13. mixedracemum Avatar

    It just seems so Victorian!

  14. I decided to take a look at your blog and this was the post that called out to me. So powerful. I’ve lived in the same house in Seattle (U.S) for 40 years. My children are mixed race so we made a point of picking a neighborhood with a lot of diversity. Over the years, it has changed so much, especially since the light rail was put in. There is still more diversity than in most of Seattle, but it is just a tiny fraction of what it used to be. There has been a huge shift to white professionals.

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