It’ll End In Tiers.

I’m trying not to write every time something happens during lockdown but, here I go again.

London and the South East are now consigned (or condemned?) to Tier 4. Thanks to rising COVID cases across the region and a ‘new variant’ of the virus running amok in the region, all non-essential shops are now closed (excluding supermarkets). Gyms, leisure centres, hairdressers and beauty salons are shut once more. The only social interaction you can have is with one person outside your household and you can forget about Christmas, because you can only be around the people you live with.

Places of worship are to remain open, which is a bit ironic considering the government have literally cancelled Christmas.

For the last nine months, people have been going stir crazy from staying indoors for so long – with a brief break of freedom in late summer. Working from home, baking endless banana breads and counting the days until normality comes around again and there is no real care or regard for the mental wellbeing of people from our government. When all this is over, they had better throw serious amounts of money at providing mental health facilities because everyone – young and old, black and white – is going to need access to them.

Christmas was the one time people thought there would be some respite. I noticed that the media recently published a number of feelgood news stories: the creation of the vaccine; the administering of the vaccine and the R rate going down, culminating in the announcement of relaxing of the rules from the 23rd to 27th December, as if COVID is out of office during the festive period. Then, fully aware that people had booked their tickets and were preparing to travel, they pulled the rug from under their feet and said, ‘It’s not happening. Sorry for the inconvenience.’

Much as I’m going nowhere this Christmas, countless experts told the Prime Minister to review and revoke his Christmas relaxation plan, but he waited and waited until Saturday evening to scrap everything. Did you hear how Boris said ‘Tier 4 starts from midnight on Sunday’ so casually? I thought I misheard him because it sounded like a throwaway remark, then I quickly realised the magnitude of it.

How can you give millions of people a window of less than eight hours to pack their shit and get the hell out of Dodge (currently known as London)? So many live away from their nearest and dearest and want to be with them at this time of year. They have been forced to stay away and the majority have followed the rules, so to dangle a carrot in front of their faces and snatch it away and expect them to just accept it was never going to happen. Also, what about those who live in other parts of the country and want to come in to London for Christmas? It’s such a mess.

The government were better off telling everyone a few weeks ago that Christmas is cancelled, rather than providing a false dawn. The now-defunct rule relaxation encouraged people to buy train and bus tickets in advance; now those people are out of pocket and out of time, struggling to get home for Christmas.

Social media had footage of crowds at train stations trying to get home before their carriage turned into a metaphorical pumpkin. Professor Chris Whitty told Londoners to “unpack and stay home” but a lot of them refused to listen and had enough of seeing their plans dashed by a government who think they can drop everything at the very last minute. Surely Whitty, Boris and the rest must have known that people would take matters into their own hands. We know the government do not like the public going rogue (see when the Education Secretary ordered schools not to close early for Christmas under threat of legal action, even though they had a few days left and that was mainly to hold Christmas parties), yet that taxing time frame had Londoners throwing all they needed into their suitcases with one aim: to get out of London before midnight.

They encouraged them to get ready to spend Christmas with their loved ones, despite the rising infection rates, then took away the opportunity (and choice) with the shortest of short notice.

This could have prevented if a lockdown was imposed a few weeks ago. Or better yet, when London and the South East moved into Tier 3 last Wednesday, non-essential shops should not have been allowed to stay open. But they did because of money. So what was the point? It defeated the main objective of implementing it, especially as there was no leeway when areas in the North East and North West were forced into the same Tier.

Anyway, I’m hoping that everyone manages to make the best of this shambles and stays safe over Christmas and the new year. ❤

Vaccination Station.

Break out the confetti, people – WE HAVE A VACCINE.

Yes, the first vaccinations took place yesterday; a few days after batches of the new COVID vaccine arrived on British shores, its journey followed by journalists like paparazzi hounding celebrities. Anyone who had a vaccine ended up on TV, including this charming man. Fingers crossed, this will be the beginning of the end for people across the country over the next few weeks and months, especially those eagerly waiting while saddled in Tier three.

It’s all very exciting and though I’m cautiously optimistic about this monumental development, ten years work done in ten months means there are some doubts about this vaccine. For a start, two nurses suffered allergic reactions after being given the vaccine. Apparently, they have made a full recovery, but medical regulators have issued a warning to those who suffer from ‘significant’ allergic reactions not to take the vaccine. Inexplicably, nobody mentioned side effects before this happened, even though we all know that many medications and vaccines have them. The question is, who exactly is excluded? People with food allergies? Hayfever sufferers? Epileptics?

I can’t help but wonder if this fast-track vaccination station is a ploy to deflect from Brexit and the stalling in the talks between the government and the EU. Don’t forget that by being the first country in the world to be ‘all systems go’ regarding the vaccine, Britain is clearly trying to show that they are a force to be reckoned with and that we will thrive after January 1st (when everything kicks in… including the vaccine).

Personally, I will wait until this vaccine is fully and firmly established before I take it and that it’s clear it won’t turn me into a werewolf or harbour other unwanted side effects.

The L Word.

So, Trump has conceded defeat. Sort of.

Last week, he tweeted about allowing the transition for President-elect Joe Biden and his administration to be in the White House. Then – while berating a reporter for not showing him the level of respect fit for a President, and while sitting at an unfeasibly low table – he said that he was finally willing to step aside, but only once the electoral college officially confirms Biden as the winner.

Cut to this week and we now have the US Attorney General William Barr admitting that no voter fraud has been found during this election. Even Kelly-Anne Conway has acknowledged that Biden and Kamala Harris have won. But those objections and legal battles keep on coming from Trump’s team, even though each one is being thrown out of court every time.

Through all his empty posturing, Trump is merely delaying the inevitable and it means he will finally have to bring himself to say the L word: he is a loser.

The thing about Trump is that he cannot bear to be seen as such. Throughout his presidency, we have seen how he treated those who he perceived as ‘losers’; taunting them, slating them on Twitter and implying or outright saying that they are weak or brought things on themselves.

He is used to getting his own way, even more so as President; bulldozing, belittling and bullying people, in order to get what he wants – with full backing from the Republicans, of course. So long as they retain the majority of power in the Senate and the Supreme Court, that unscrupulous bunch will continue to back him.

When Trump caught coronavirus, the narrative used by his team was that he had it and beat it with his bare (tiny) hands – a true American hero, right down to the slo-mo video of his return to the White House. It smacked of triumphalism and he was in full ‘me me me’ mode, which seemed like the height of crassness in the wake of the over 250,000 coronavirus deaths in America alone. He went on about how he conquered COVID’s sorry ass, but I don’t remember him offering much in the way of condolences to those who died or were affected. It was all about him: his massive ego, his journey and his battle with the virus – unsurprising when you consider how much of a narcissist he is.

There are less than two months to go until he leaves the White House. Unless he chains himself to a tree or a desk in the Oval Office, he’ll have to leave, no matter what his sycophants tell him. Imagine if he didn’t go and a SWAT team had to bust through the windows and drag him, kicking and screaming, out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? What a sight for sore eyes that would be.

Most of the world will likely breathe a huge sigh of relief, but his supporters will stick by him – but for how long?

It’s Not All Gravy.

Sainsbury’s are at it again!

Fresh from having an attention-seeking actor publicly vow to never shop in their stores because they had the temerity to celebrate Black History Month, the supermarket chain have released their new set of adverts; one of which has a Black family at the centre of it.

This should not cause concern but, in this day and age, some people have taken great offence to the idea of showing a Black family celebrating Christmas on TV. These viewers seem to think that Black people should not be centre stage in such campaigns or programmes, and have hurled abuse and vitriol at Sainsbury’s on social media.

In response, Sainsbury’s defended their ad campaign, saying that they want to be “the most inclusive retailer,” and “throughout all [their] advertising, [they] aim to represent a modern Britain.”

Now, who could argue with that? Oh, of course, those folks who love to bring out their Big Book of Statistics to justify their virulent strain of racism. Here’s a good one:

This person seems to imply that because Black people make up a small percentage of the British population (allegedly), we do not count and therefore, should not be represented. 

Yet again, this is a situation where Black people should apparently ‘know their place’. Never mind that many of us we’re born and raised here – that does not matter. We should sit down, shut up, look pretty and never be at the forefront of anything, unless we get explicit permission from those who will always see us as beneath them; hence why they never want to see us painted in a positive light.

People like this will continue to think that we should not be allowed to showcase who we are, even in an advert where the story revolves around something as innocuous as Christmas gravy. It’s funny how none of these fools start foaming at the mouth when a certain advert for sportswear comes on screen – I’m guessing that’s where ‘our place’ is, right?

Well, I’ve got news for you sad-sacks out there: not only do Black people in Britain celebrate Christmas and other holidays, we also work and (gasp!) shop in supermarkets including – you guessed it – Sainsbury’s. We do exist – we’re not unicorns.

If you have an issue with Black people being in the spotlight for a Christmas ad, then I shall suggest that you are the one with the problem. If you think that showing a Black family on a thirty-second advert is ‘alienating the White majority’, then I honestly don’t know what to tell you, apart from that your mindset is both ignorant and idiotic (what a combination).

If you are offended by seeing Black and ethnic minority people in adverts, magazines and television programmes, imagine what it’s been like for the very same people seeing nobody like themselves in similar campaigns for decades (whether deliberate, or by accident or thoughtlessness) and feeling like you don’t count because you are constantly left out.

I will never understand people who view more diversity on TV and across the media, as a stain on the fabric of British society. What you are saying is that you will tolerate (I hate that word) Black people, so long as we don’t draw attention to ourselves; something that we do anyway as a visible minority. We could be walking down the street or sitting on a bus and we get attention – noticed for doing nothing.

I’m surprised none of these people have complained about us shopping in supermarkets… although maybe that’s next on their paranoid agenda.

What Black History Month Means To Me.

It is fair to say that issues concerning Black people have been at the forefront of many people’s minds and headlines recently. The Black Lives Matter movement, statues of slave traders brought tumbling down, Notting Hill Carnival being cancelled for the first time in its history…

As a Black British woman born and raised in this country to West Indian parents who have been here for over half a century, my history and culture mean a lot to me. There is a sense of pride in seeing and hearing about Black people enriching British life over the years. That said, you sometimes would not know about it. The Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in June 1948 and is obviously a hugely important aspect of Black British history, but often, it feels like this is the one of the few bits of history that was reported on. For a long time, Black British history has been ignored and overlooked. The spotlight often focused on African-American events such as the Civil Rights movement, instead of looking on our own doorstep. But so many significant and, at times, uncomfortable events have occurred here over the years. How many of us know about the Bristol bus boycott of 1963, where a bus company refused to employ Black and Asian bus drivers, effectively enforcing a colour bar? It was eventually (and rightly) overturned, but when you consider the diversity among bus drivers in most major British cities today – and the huge West Indian community that settled in Bristol – it sounds absurd to think that this actually happened.

Everyone knows about Florence Nightingale, but what about her nursing counterpart Mary Seacole? She was voted the greatest Black Briton in 2004 for her work during the Crimean War, and a statue of her was unveiled outside St Thomas’s Hospital in 2016, after a campaign to get her some long-overdue recognition. Also, there was Walter Tull, a professional footballer who then became was the first Black British Army officer. He led his comrades during World War One, but sadly died during battle aged just 29. He was subsequently recommended for the Military Cross for his heroic efforts.

It often feels like Black British history is not seen as ‘proper’ history. So landmark events such as the murder of young Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 are not perceived as such, even though his murder resulted in a public inquiry and the publishing of The MacPherson Report, which was a damning indictment on the culture and cultural attitudes within the Metropolitan Police. Also, the double jeopardy rule of law was changed to allow the retrial and subsequent conviction of two men for Stephen’s murder nineteen years later.

There are countless significantly historical events that are worthy of note and a part of Black British history: from Windrush to the birth of the Notting Hill Carnival; to the Toxteth riots in the 1980s (in protest to the ‘sus’ laws implemented by Margaret Thatcher which mainly targeted black and mixed-race communities); to iconic programmes such as Desmond’s and The Real McCoy premiering on TV in the 1980s and 90s respectively. Plus, let’s not forget the achievements from homegrown Black British talent past and present, all of whom have and still are, blazing a trail. Whether in sport (from Cyrille Regis to Dina Asher-Smith), acting (Idris Elba, Michaela Coel and David Harewood, to name a few) and other fields, including music. Stormzy headlined Glastonbury last year, making him one of only two Black British artists in history to achieve this feat (Skin from Skunk Anansie was the first). 

Black History Month is a celebration, but the vast contributions that Black British people have made cannot be condensed into one month. It should be taught in the national curriculum alongside other significant historical events, such as the Tudors and Stuarts and the World Wars, instead of ‘othered’ into submission like it is a separate part of this country’s past. It is something to be celebrated and highlighted because Black British history is everyday history and should be treated as such, rather than anything but the norm. 


Bristol Bus Boycott: 

Notting Hill Carnival: 

Black Is the New Black: 

Mary Seacole: