Grenfell Tower and the Dignity Debate.

It is almost two weeks since the Grenfell Tower tragedy occurred, a horrific incident that shocked the nation and dominated the news headlines. But ever since this disaster happened, a weird kind of narrative has begun to rear its ugly head. The narrative of ‘respectability politics.’

Some people started commenting on the behaviour of the survivors and the families of those affected, saying that they were not showing enough ‘dignity’. Oh, where do I begin with this…

This is not a time for people to engage in the social and political football of respectability politics. These people are angry, in shock and devastated beyond belief. They have lost their families (entire generations in some cases), their friends, neighbours, everything that they worked for, everything they own including their identities because their passports or ID were destroyed in the blaze. I heard people say that the people affected should ‘think logically’. I have never heard such nonsense in my life. All these people judging the survivors and demanding that they show dignity and be rational while they watch sitting on their sofas is downright insulting. 

Not everything in life requires a dignified response

People use the word ‘dignity’ as a way to patronise and guilt-trip others so that they tone down their reaction, as if they are less worthy of notice if they shout. Dignity is a good thing in certain circumstances, but who are these armchair commentators to tell those who have lost loved ones and everything they know and care about how to exercise self-control? 

The desire to be dignified causes people to react in different ways. It often hinders their natural response because they feel like they have to show that they calm and collected, almost professional. There seems to be a shift over recent years where you cannot show anger about something (even when that reaction is more than justified) as it demonstrates a lack of self-control. Since when did we become robots? 

Furthermore, people from certain backgrounds or demographics have to be careful as anger might get them killed- look at what happened to Eric Garner or Philando Castile. 

I’m tired of the opinion that, in order to be heard or taken seriously, you have to look and behave a certain way. Sometimes, people approach situations with dignity and respect and still get patronised and ignored in equal measure. When the community around Grenfell Tower marched down to Kensington Town Hall the Friday after the fire, some commentators muttered disapprovingly at their actions. Those people need their heads checked to see where their empathy disappeared to (up their backsides, maybe?).

Imagine seeing your whole life reduced to a smoking shell. All your family and friends gone. All you own are the clothes on your back. You look at what used to be your home and are haunted by the events that preceded it. You’re suffering from ‘survivor’s guilt’, traumatised and weary and wanting to burst into tears at any moment but you can’t because you need to keep hoping that all is not lost. And in the aftermath, not one council member came to visit or provide assistance until much, much later. Everything is being done through voluntary and community outlets, not the actual council that hoovers up their council tax every month without fail. Communication is key. Talk to those directly affected face-to-face, not via a carefully-worded statement on BBC News. Don’t do what Theresa May did. 


Yes, they could have been sorting accommodation- but then these are the same people who still have not put together a list of residents who lived in Grenfell Tower. Nearly a fortnight after the fire and the official word is that 79 people died- but there is still no definitive residents list. Despite being told there are no more survivors, people are still desperately hoping to find their loved ones alive. But it is highly unlikely and what’s worse, it is like they never existed. Ironically, they are given no dignity in death because the powers that be are not acknowledging their existence. But some armchair commentators will continue to carry on telling people how to grieve and how to behave. It needs to stop. 

Theresa May: A Rant.

Theresa May is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Six weeks ago, she announced a general election and since then, she appears to have discovered her dislike for debates. 

She refused to participate in televised debates with other party leaders- the only one she has done so far is the one-on-one conversation with Jeremy Paxman and (carefully selected) members of the public. Now she has refused to appear on Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 tomorrow, sending Justine Greening instead. 

This woman is supposed to be the Prime Minister. She should be fighting off all-comers and taking everyone on. Her team should be preparing her for these verbal battles like a prize fighter. She should be the one shouting, ‘Oo wants some?!’ at her opponents and calling them out. She called the bloody election, after all. To see her shirking her responsibilities and ducking and diving debates in her role as leader of the damn country is astounding. The nerve


Why should anyone trust her? As Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The first rule of leadership is to show up. You don’t call an election and then not show up for a debate.” Or in other words: don’t shit where you eat.

By avoiding almost every debate, I feel May is disrespecting the British public whose vote she depends on to get back in at 10 Downing Street. She’s fast proving to be a slippery, duplicitous politician who is a leader in name only. This is someone who said she was not going to call an election before 2020 because there was no need. All of a sudden, she changed tack and called one so she can solidify her grasp on the country and do whatever she likes if she wins.  

Jeremy Corbyn rocked up on Woman’s Hour the other day and was torn to shreds by the presenter. It did not sound like a pleasant experience but the point is he put himself out there and turned up, even if the end result wasn’t quite as he’d hoped. May is sending her lackeys to events that she (and I’ll say it again for the people in the back- AS PRIME MINISTER) should be doing. Her excuse is she is going around Britain meeting the public and ‘thinking about Brexit.’ Absolute bollocks. The public that she meets are specially selected like fine cuts of meat. Anyone remotely dissenting is turfed out of sight and mind. 

When she is asked a question she skirts around it and never actually answers it. We all know most politicians do this, but she takes it to another level. She is taking the piss out of her own people- and the worst bit is they will still turn out in their droves and vote for her waffle and bullshit. 


Is she taking things for granted? Possibly. When she called the election it took most by surprise and at the time she was streets ahead of Corbyn. Six weeks on and it’s anyone’s game. 

I have seen numerous commentators say that she’s not obliged to go to these debates. Yes, that is the case and the one on the BBC last night was rather shambolic, but still- she is the Prime Minister. She is supposed to be fronting up on television telling us why we should be voting for her and her party, not hiding in a bush until the latest debate carnival rolls out of town. Most people do not want to hear from her deputy or other party members, they want to hear from her. May drones on about ‘strong and stable’ government and every other word she says is ‘Brexit’, but is too weak to go on national television for two hours and talk about the topics that matter? Does she have that little faith in her ability, or is she being arrogant? She’s the one wielding the power but keeps sending lackeys in to do her work. She has been rightfully lambasted on social media for how she has run her campaign but it feels like it’s been swept under the carpet by certain media outlets. She wasn’t even at the BBC debate and those ‘media outlets’ berated the Beeb for a ‘left wing bias’. Seriously? 


No matter who you support in this election (or even if you’re still on the fence) there is no doubt that her behaviour in bailing out of nearly every debate smacks of rudeness and is an insult to the public and maybe she will fall flat on her face come June 8th. 

A Plane Disgrace.

United Airlines are doing their utmost to divide public opinion on them from ‘bad’ to ‘downright despicable’. A thirty-second video emerged yesterday of a male passenger being dragged off one of their flights, kicking and screaming and sporting a bloody nose. 

This incident was in full view of the other passengers and several security personnel carted him off while passengers voiced their anger and horror at such a thing. 

Where do I start with this mess?

Firstly, United overbooked this particular flight and then realised that they needed four seats to accommodate members of their cabin crew because they needed to get to their next flight. Oh, so sod the other passengers who want to get somewhere. The cabin crew asked for four passengers to give up their seats. When they refused, they played ‘eenie meenie miny mo’ and forced them to give up their seats.

United have a lot of nerve. It was their fault that the flight was overbooked and they wanted passengers to pay the price for their cost-and-corner cutting. Why should they? If they are so desperate to get their staff from A to B, use the CEO’s private jet, dammit.

Everyone I know who has seen the video had the same reaction: sheer disbelief. They can’t believe that if they go on a plane, they could go through the same thing and be treated as less than human for something that was not their fault. 

The passenger in question is a doctor- he could have been on his way to perform life saving surgery, plus…HE’S A DOCTOR. I’d rather he stayed on the flight and got to his destination and saw his patients than the airline staff. Couldn’t United have called on other staff members to stand-in? A big old airline like that had no extra cover for four people? Come off it. 


United Airlines gave the go-ahead for security to treat the man lower than a dog- and then had the nerve to defend it! The passenger booked and paid for his seat in good faith, checked in, had his luggage in the hold and was all buckled up and raring to go. His journey ended with him being dragged off a plane and into the world’s spotlight. A paying passenger was treated like a criminal. I could understand if he committed a criminal act but all he did was (rightly) refuse to give up the seat he paid for to accommodate United Airlines’ foolishness. 

In the last few hours, the CEO of United Airlines said sorry for the ‘truly horrific’ incident. It took him long enough. 


This was a disgraceful incident, no matter which way you look at it. I hope the passenger sues United Airlines for every penny because they have behaved in a shockingly callous way and shown that they clearly have no regard for their customers. 

Pepsi Lost Their Fizz.

The internet has gone bananas about the new Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner...and not in a good way. Naturally, I have to throw in my two cents:

First of all, why is this advert nearly three minutes long? Unless it’s a charity appeal, there’s no need for any advert to have that duration.

Secondly, what was the point? I watched it thrice and still didn’t get it. I thought it was a parody. It was like a stylised, ultra glossy version of an American protest, with extra layers of FA-SHUN added by bringing Ms Jenner to the mix. 


What were Pepsi thinking? I wasted my time watching something that felt like a very colourful Gap ad or a music video than a pointed illustration of modern American life.

The advert was utterly pointless. Even if they were attempting to make a point (and I still don’t know what that was), this was probably the dumbest way to do it. Was there no person of colour at Pepsi HQ (or any person, in fact) who could have said, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ 


Who decided that little ‘Wonder Woman’ bit where Jenner whipped off her wig was a slice of genius? It only succeeded in making me laugh. The fist bump between her and the black guy dancing throughout was cringeworthy, as was the mini-flirting with the violinist who cannot sip properly from a can of Pepsi. But let’s be honest, the entire ad was two minutes and forty-six seconds of cringe and I’m still trying to figure out WHAT THE FRIGGING POINT OF IT WAS. 


So if peaceful protestors of the past such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had a Pepsi on their person, maybe the powers-that-be would have been more sympathetic to their plight? If Black Lives Matter had a Pepsi multipack, things might have been less problematic? If only real life was as simple as handing a fizzy drink to a member of the riot police, eh? Why did Pepsi think they could crowbar themselves into this issue and turn it into something palatable, edgy and trendy (ugh)? It’s as bad as that time Sky Sports turned their Super Sunday credits into WAG Central: an unrecognisable football crowd full of gorgeous model-esque women, suited blokes and happy families all waving their hands to ‘Loving Each Day’ by Ronan Keating, with not a single regular-looking football fan in sight. 

Pepsi released an apology which only apologised to Kendall Jenner rather than those who complained about the ad- why I do not know. Ms Jenner is twenty years old. She is not a child. She can make her own decisions regarding which projects she takes on and those she does not, so why they aimed their apology at her and her alone is weird. 

Seriously Pepsi, stick to what you’re good at. In fact, all big brands should probably do so unless they’re absolutely sure they have got their message right. I’m not looking to you to make a statement on the world today- I want you to carry on making mindless and insanely expensive adverts that I can roll my eyes at and not expect anything other than you selling your cold beverage to me through heavy-handed product placement. Trivialising the protests of recent times into happy vignettes of aesthetically-pleasing young people in technicolor (I saw no diversity in terms of age in that crowd at all) walking through sun-drenched streets clutching cans of your drink is not the one.


© isanynamefree 2017

Heading For The Brexit.

Fresh from watching Alastair Campbell and Nigel Farage squabbling on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday morning (with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid grabbing the metaphorical popcorn), Britain’s European Ambassador delivered a letter yesterday lunchtime to trigger the start of our departure from the European Union. 

Yes unfortunately, the time has come for Brexit and for those of us who voted to remain, there’s not a lot we can do about it. We have to endure the incredibly smug faces of Farage, David Davis and the like blabbing haughtily about how Brexit will be A Good Thing (even though they don’t have a clue what’s going to happen next). 


As I wrote after the referendum was done and dusted, many Brexiteers seem to think that Britain still has an empire and we can lord it over our foreign neighbours. They think that we can swan into negotiations, demand what we want and not face any consequences for what we have voted for. They think that other member states of the EU such as Germany and France will not (for want of a better word) punish us for leaving. What a load of bollocks. 
The EU will be driving a hard bargain and will make life very difficult for us when the   negotiations begin. And when those talks are in the hands of the likes of our foreign secretary Boris Johnson, you’d be right for thinking that this could turn into an almighty shitfest. 


I keep hearing the phrase ‘global Britain’ being used over the past few days. What does that even mean? It’s just another bullshit soundbite- an empty phrase meant to have the public nodding their heads furiously in agreement even if they are as baffled as I am. If they mean ‘global’ as in selling our companies and industries off to China, Saudi Arabia and America, leaving us with no industries to truly call British then yes, they might be right. 

Bake Off Blues.

So Bake Off goes on without Mary Berry

No Mel & Sue either- it’s all so very

Abrupt but it was inevitable,

But still, the outcome is incredible,

Paul is the only quarter of the pie

That’s staying in place but I’m not surprised,

He’s a bit of a (Bakewell) tart and I couldn’t see him leaving

But still next year’s series will have viewers disbelieving.

Some say they won’t watch when it moves to Channel 4

They’ll show no love and leave it forevermore

But I cannot lie- I’ll watch it to see

The new format, the new presenters- I’m interested to a degree

I’m hoping it doesn’t change too much

But with The Big Three departing, the viewers will clutch

Onto anything familiar that remains

But with commercial breaks included, it won’t be the same.

No more soggy bottoms, the innuendo depends

On the new presenters and how they blend

Into the show- I wonder who they’ll pick from the crop?

(Please God, don’t let it be Kirstie Allsopp).

 

Black Lives Matter.

Sunday. Oxford Circus. London. 9:30am. 

I stood waiting outside the station with a group of friends and a large crowd of strangers. Not much gets me out of bed that early on a Sunday morning- especially in central London -but there I was. Everybody was there for one reason: the Black Lives Matter march. The one held last Friday was a resounding success and now it was our turn. Forty minutes later, we set off down Oxford Street towards the American embassy, back down Oxford Street then onto Marble Arch and Hyde Park.

As the day went on the crowd grew bigger and bigger, almost like people dumped their shopping to join us. It was amazing to see. We were loud, we were proud, we held up traffic on Oxford Street (not something I thought I’d ever say) and we were peaceful. People of all backgrounds, ages, races and cultures- people who might not speak to each other at any other time were marching side by side on that rainy Sunday.

Bus drivers beeped their horns in solidarity (though I’m sure some of them wanted us to just get out of the way). An old woman gave everybody two thumbs-up while sitting upstairs on the bus. Some people we walked past gave us approving nods- very British.

Eventually we left after four hours with the several-thousand strong crowd still chanting and protesting as they walked down Park Lane, past The Dorchester hotel- again, not something I thought I would ever see! Instead of heading home, I had a little wander around London for an hour or two and saw that the protesters had made it to the Houses of Parliament. No rain or terrible British summer (because this is definitely the worst summer this country has ever had) could put them off as they stood there, while bewildered tourists wondered what was going on. 

The next day I discussed the march with a couple of friends. They wanted to attend but could not make it, then one of them declared, ‘I don’t see the point of protesting. What’s the point? Nothing is gonna change anyway.’ I was disappointed by his reaction but also unsurprised. If he had that attitude throughout life, I argued, then what’s the point of getting out of bed in the morning? What’s the point of going to work to pay for your car? You might as well give up. The point of the protest was to show solidarity in the aftermath of the terrible deaths/unlawful killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in America, as well as highlight the injustices towards black people in this country and worldwide. It was to show that any injustices perpetrated in future will not be taken lying down. It was also to (literally) demonstrate that we are here and we are as important as everyone else. 

There is a long-standing debate concerning the tagline ‘All Lives Matter’. Some people feel that by having the Black Lives Matter movement, it is encouraging a new kind of segregation and racism, to which I reply: No. As one placard said at Sunday’s march: ‘Pro-Black does NOT mean anti-White’. I wish some people would realise this because it’s not that hard to understand. I have friends and family of various races and religions and I am very proud of that fact. Of course all lives matter- that is obvious. Everybody matters on this planet. But I am also proud of my colour and my heritage and there is nothing wrong with showing that. 

The problem is sometimes, underneath the banner of All Lives Matter, black people can tend to be forgotten, unheard or even misrepresented. This may be due to certain people being pushed forward as the voice of our community who, let’s face it, have nothing to do with us. People who think they know everything about us and our culture because they’ve been around us for longer than 10 minutes. Too many times we have seen people represent us who are not of the same colour or, even worse, those who describe themselves as ‘politically black’. Where on earth did this nonsense come from? You CANNOT (and never can be) politically black- you either are or you are not. Being black is not a piece of clothing that you can throw on or off whenever you feel like it. 

It was fantastic to see so many people come together in London and across other cities in Britain (Birmingham and Manchester respectively) to show solidarity, love, peace and positivity while also shining a light on the issues that black people have to face here and around the world.