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. 

In (Self Imposed) Exile.

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. The holy trinity of social media. I scrolled through them everyday looking at updates, funny gifs and random shit because let’s be honest, that what we all love: the lack of thought that goes into reading these things. It was a bit of escapism.

I was going to give up Twitter for Lent because over the past few months, it appears that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Even though I try to stay away from all the nonsense swirling around the Twittersphere (especially since Brexit and Trump becoming President), it feels like it has been hijacked by the alt-right and leftists slating and baiting each other online.


It is full of trolls and jackasses who need little invitation to act that way. There have been times where a picture of a beautiful black woman is posted with a caption along the lines of, ‘she’s too dark’ next to it. It’s usually followed up by the tweeter gloating about how much attention he got from those who took the bait and snapped. It’s unbelievable and mind-numbingly stupid. I started muting and blocking people who were getting on my nerves or receiving too much attention for their trolling. And still I scrolled through my timeline everyday, reading about various events (or non-events) in people’s lives, various arguments unfolding before my eyes, constantly refreshing the page to see if anything new came up even though the last update was five seconds ago. It got to the point where it became exhausting to look at yet I couldn’t turn away, almost like I was rubber-necking an accident. Also, I realised the amount of time I spent reading tweets was time that I could have been doing something productive, which annoyed me even more.

This was also the case with Facebook, where I scrolled down the list of friends posting about their lives or some random video that they wanted a reaction from. As for Instagram, that just made me feel like I was wasting my life or I was inferior. All these people posting selfies with their X-Pro and Mayfair filters and pouting like models when I don’t even know how to pout like that (and when I try I look like I’ve been punched in the gob), talking about how amazing their lives are. I know 98% of the time it is a picture that is not a genuine reflection of their life at the time, but sometimes it made me feel like crap and was not what I wanted to see when I was in a mood.

Before this sounds like an ‘I hate social media’ rant, let me say that there are positives to all these apps. I found some of the funniest things I have ever read or watched in my life on Twitter, tweets that made me howl with laughter while thinking ‘I’m going to hell’ at the same time. Not everybody is a troll- there are decent people behind some of the usernames, it’s just that so many of them get caught up in the madness. 

Facebook is a good way to keep in touch with people from your past, whether it be former classmates or colleagues. Also (like most social media) you control who sees your life- I have friends who have 400, 500, even a thousand ‘friends’. I’ve barely got eighty. A few years ago that actually bothered me for some stupid reason, then I quickly realised that I didn’t give a shit. At least the people who are on my timeline are people I don’t mind reading my business. 

Anyway, I was going to give up Twitter for Lent but decided to do it sooner rather than later. When you’re talking to your family or friends and only half-listening to what they’re saying because you’re reading some nonsense on social media, you need to make a change. Or you’re bored and end up absent-mindedly scrolling through a shedload of tweets before moving onto see who’s saying what on Facebook then rolling onto Instagram where everything makes you feel inferior. It was like some weird form of punishment/self-flagellation. I was addicted to it (especially Twitter) and found that social media became a habit that I could not kick. Well, not this time. It’s been seven hours and fifteen days (not really, more like twelve hours and six days) and it’s going well. The first couple of days were a bit odd- I found myself opening my phone looking for those apps and realising they were not there. But since then, it’s a case of so far, so good. 

Social media can be like a drug if you’re not careful. The need for validation from (mainly) strangers…the constant pressure to post the perfect selfie…or tweet something funny…or look like you’re doing something amazing for fear of looking like you live a boring life. Honestly, who gives a toss? It was addictive to me for various reasons and it became unhealthy for me. So I’m in self-imposed exile for a while, bar posting some of my articles on Facebook. Wish me luck. 

Love Yourself.

This year I am trying to do better in various aspects of my life. One of my main goals is learning to love myself because such a thing does not come easily to me. 

So imagine my interest when I came across an article today which listed fifty ways to love yourself. I had a read and it was ok, but I soon realised that this list was for someone who most likely lived in sunny California, not in wintry London Town. 

Telling me to ‘skinny dip in the ocean’ as an act of self-love is not going to work. The nearest thing to an ocean where I live is the River Thames and I would not wish skinny dipping in there on my worst enemy. There are absolutely no healing properties in that murky river, unless you count the ice-cold feeling that envelops you as you dive in.  

Another thing they mentioned was to ‘catch the sunrise’. This sounds lovely and I’ll admit it is nice to wake up in the summer to the sun shining and birds chirping, getting a fresh cup of tea and eating grapefruit in your garden or on your balcony, feeling like you’re in Florida. But when it is winter it’s a different story. It is pitch black when you wake up and the last thing you want to do is look at the sun. You flinch at the bathroom light when you wash your face. Then you moan about your impending commute and having to stand next to someone who either: 

A) has smelly armpits 

B) coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth

C) is playing music which is leaking through their tinny headphones while you’re trying to have a nap. 

By the time you get to work (or your train comes up from underground) you have missed the sunrise.


Another one was to breathe deeply all the time. Let’s be honest, this is not really feasible. Meditation is a great thing, but breathing deeply all day every day will result in people looking at you as if you’ve gone mad. It’s not a doctors appointment! There will be times when your breath will be shallow as a puddle, so maybe you should save your (deep) breath for those moments instead. 

So here are a few of my ways to love yourself. There aren’t fifty of them…but at least I won’t be telling you to go skinny dipping in an ocean:

•Stop comparing yourself to other people. 

Do not feel inferior just because someone you know has achieved something big, or that random woman on the bus looks amazing and full of confidence. For all you know, they might be comparing themselves to you. There is only one of you so own it. 



•Have a chat with someone you like/love about life. 

This might sound like small talk but it’s not- it must be with someone you can tolerate for more than five minutes. Bonus points if you start talking about random crap. 

•Laugh like a hyena at something funny. 

I was in a mood the other day and sat moping on the train, when I came across a video of a man in a polar bear suit falling over on an ice rink several times. It did the trick because I cried with laughter and the woman sitting opposite me momentarily looked a bit worried.



•Wear something that makes you happy. 

It could be the brightest or the blackest item in your wardrobe. It could be a red lipstick or a fedora for all I care, but if it makes you feel golden when you wear it, then put it on. 

•Dance.                                                             

The thing about dancing is that a lot of people get nervous about it. I love dancing but even I take a while to feel comfortable enough to get on the dancefloor (once I am, everybody. Stand. Back.). Don’t worry if you have no co-ordination or rhythm or you don’t look ‘cool’- just embrace it. If you’re still unsure, two-step all the way and add a bit of your own sass. As choreographer Martha Graham once said: “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.”

Do not put yourself down.                  

There are enough people out there doing that for you. When that feeling comes a-crawling, shake it off and think of something that makes you feel good. Keep hold of that thought for as long as possible and go on from there. Yes, you can’t be positive twenty-four hours a day but there must be something about you that makes you go, ‘yeah…I’m alright, y’know.’

Take heed of your own advice.        

If you’re the one that your friends turn to for advice, but you never take heed of your own words, you need to start doing so. Now. 

List your favourite things, or things that happened that made you smile. 

These things could have happened today or across an entire week but whatever they are, write them down (and no, I don’t mean seeing someone you don’t like having karma pay them a visit. It has to be positive, so your negative thoughts about that man/woman in the other department can wait until another time). 

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. 

Brexit: The Aftermath.

So Day One in the Big Brexit House and everything has gone to hell.
The people (52% of them) have spoken and the result is that we are leaving the European Union. In the aftermath of the shock result, our Prime Minister resigned on the steps of 10 Downing Street two hours later and social media went into meltdown. The Chancellor, George Osborne, appears to have gone into hiding. You couldn’t get rid of his face during the campaign- now nobody has seen him for several days.
People who voted to remain in the EU are clinging to a faint hope that they can somehow overturn the decision via petition. They say that the referendum was not legally binding. Now, I wanted to stay in the EU and as much as I disagree with the decision of ‘the people’, we cannot disregard it and stamp our feet like children because we dont like how it turned out.

Some people who voted to leave have regretted their decision since they went to the ballot box, thinking that their vote ‘wouldn’t count’. I’m not sure how these grown people could have such a mind-bogglingly stupid way of thinking but well, you learn something new every day. The world and his wife knew that this vote would be very close and could go either way but you thought this- the most important decision made by the British people for a generation -was one big irrelevance and your vote was the same. Well, you made your bed (a bed we all have to lie in, the most uncomfortable bed possible) and we all have to lie in it. In other words, like those memes you see on social media, we have to deal with it.

The EU want Britain to get out as soon as possible. Boris Johnson said yesterday that there was ‘no rush’ to leave, which is funny considering how much he was urging us to do so with haste before last Thursday. Our European neighbours ‘urgently’ want us to trigger the mysterious-sounding Article 50 so they can kick our backsides to the kerb and get on with their lives and their union. They are not here for sitting and waiting for us to pack our bags and wave us off at the door. They are the person who’s throwing their cheating lover’s clothes out of the window as the whole neighbourhood watches while shouting, ‘I DON’T NEED YOU.’ And rightly so. The arrogance of the Leave campaigners is astonishing. Why should they wait for us to get our shit together? 

The EU powers-that-be are furious with David Cameron because his resignation will not take effect until October. As a result, changes cannot be made until then and naturally, the EU are probably looking for loopholes right now, trying to find a way to get us out immediately.

Nigel Farage has popped up on my TV far too often during this event considering he is not an elected member of parliament. His smug grinning face has annoyed the hell out of me and I hoped- really hoped -that once this was over, he would be too. But no, that would be too simple, wouldn’t it? So get ready for him to be plastered across our screens on Question Time from now til the end of time. 

That said, he and his cronies have started back-pedalling on a number of issues. The £350m a week they will ‘reclaim’ from the EU will not go into the NHS because that amount of money was a barefaced lie. Although it was emblazoned on the side of their bus throughout their campaign, he admitted that it was (and I quote) ‘a big mistake’. 

Immigration will not stop overnight and gates will not rise from the ground at the cliffs of Dover to stop all those pesky immigrants coming in and taking our jobs, our women, etc. It will take a few years for certain things to be implemented and any issues to be smoothed out, but some people seemed to think that this would happen.

I live in London (or as it is now known, the ‘London bubble’) where the majority voted to remain in the EU and it felt like everyone was waiting for the pub to open at 8 o’clock in the morning because they were so downhearted about the result. My friend took the afternoon off work because he was so angry. Seeing people’s reactions to the result was an eye-opener. Some were crying out of sheer disappointment, few were quietly elated, some were stoic, trying to be optimistic and just got on with it…then they got drunk as skunks.

What happens next? Who knows. Not even the winning side know. Everyone is waited on tenterhooks and craning their necks to see. I’m just taking stock and reflecting on what has happened.

The EU Referendum: My Vote.

With less than two hours to go until polling stations close, the people of Britain are voting in the biggest and most important decision in years: to determine whether we remain or leave the European Union.

Over the past year (and particularly the last few weeks and months) things have become very nasty and fractious between both camps. Inflammatory campaign posters, snide and vicious comments which has not done either side any favours.

Whatever way the vote goes, I’m not sure this country will ever be the same. There’s too much distrust and fear and loathing that’s been whipped up on both sides and it’s all been very ugly.

I know which side I’m on: I voted to remain. Yes, the EU is not at all perfect but I’d rather be in than out (shake it all about, woooah, Hokey Cokey…sorry). I would rather keep our friends close and our not-so-close-acquaintances closer because at least we can influence and make a difference rather than go it alone and hope for the best.

Many British people think that we can prosper and flourish without being shackled by the EU, to which I reply: with what? We have no industries- look at what is happening with the steel industry. Tara Steel is up the creek without a paddle and who is having to bail them out? That’s right: us, the taxpayers. When are people going to wake up and realise that BRITAIN DOES NOT HAVE AN EMPIRE ANYMORE. 

The world has long moved on and we are not at the centre of it. The world is now a global community, therefore things such as free movement and human rights are an absolutely essential part of our lives. Immigration has been the buzzword for the Leave side. They want a points-based system like the one that Australia has, where people enter based on their skill set and what they can offer to the country. In an ideal world that sounds good…but this isn’t an ideal world. Immigration will happen regardless of how we vote- that is a fact. 

If we leave the EU, the government- the majority Tory government that the public inexplicably voted into power -will get rid of workers’ rights to the point where there are none. The powers-that-be will pick and choose elements of the Human Rights Act that they want to follow and interpret it in their own unique way. You know those certain aspects of the law and the EU that make you puff out your cheeks in despair when you read about it? You ain’t seen nothing yet because if we vote to leave, our exasperation will be on another level. They will eliminate our right to strike and all you numpties out there who think this isn’t a big issue…well, when your employer screws you over and you want to exert your natural right to protest, make sure you re-read the above before you hold your head in your hands and cry.

There is an arrogance around that school of thought among potential Leave voters that worries me. So many people seem to think everything will stay the same if we leave the EU. As if the likes of France, Germany and Spain won’t make things harder for us if we dare to vote no. Those countries will stick the boot in if we leave- in fact, they will relish it. 

The ease with which we travel to our European neighbours will disappear and we will have to get visas to go there. Budget airline fares will go through the roof until they are no longer deemed ‘budget’. 

Our (current) European neighbours will be reluctant to do business with us. Even those outside of Europe will make life very difficult because they want us to stay. I know things won’t be easy in the short term, but that’s expected. It’s the long term situation that unnerves me should we leave. 

The NHS is the elephant in the room and it is likely it will be privatised within a couple of years should the leave vote be successful.

If my arguments have failed to convince you then ask yourself this: do you really want to be on the same side as Michael Gove (the pillock who is currently our Education Secretary and is unanimously despised by all teachers), Boris Johnson (who was the Mayor of London until last month and was pro-EU but has now changed his mind. What’s that all about, eh?) and Nigel Farage (whose only topic of debate is immigration. Countless other topics that he could talk about but no, he’ll only focus on that). 

My main hope is that things get better politics-wise and those talking head wind-up merchants (I don’t need to name them, you know who they are) somehow cease to get work in the aftermath of this vote, but I cannot see that happening. I hope that whatever the outcome, this country can learn from the numerous mistakes made during this lengthy, exhausting process. Fingers crossed. 

Popping My Intergalactic Cherry.

Tonight, the force awakened and I did something I never thought I would do. I lost my cherry…with Star Wars.

I am one of about seven people on this planet who has never watched a Star Wars film. I didn’t care for it- a bunch of people in space fighting each other. A battle of Good vs Evil within one family that affects the entire Galaxy (I’ve known the spoilers for years so it makes no difference to me). I once confused Star Wars with Star Trek and my friends were so stunned they actually gasped and shook their heads at me. I’m still not sure they are over it.
But tonight- to coincide with ‘May the 4th and With You’ Day (still can’t believe that is an actual thing) -I am no longer a Star Wars, ahem, virgin. I watched The Force Awakens…and do you know what? It was rather good!
Despite some slightly cringeworthy bits, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film. It was exciting, scary at times and delivered some shocks (although my friend told me the big twist before I went to see it). Yes, there was no Jar Jar Binks in this movie so that was a bonus (I’ve been warned about that character many times) and found myself thinking that I wouldn’t mind seeing the next one. Considering that I often wondered what the fuss was about with Star Wars, I’ve come a long way(from a galaxy far, far away…ok I’ll stop there).
There is still no chance of me turning into a Star Wars geek, but I’ll admit I can see why people lose their minds whenever a new film is announced. It’s literally another world where everyone can escape- a bit like a futuristic soap opera. Looks like I’ll be hitching onto its next ride into the Galaxy in 2017.