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. 

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).

 

Un-Fare. 

The barefaced cheek of rail companies to announce an increase in train fares in England and Wales is something that people should be striking about. 

Yesterday it was confirmed that fares would rise despite certain train companies cutting down the number of trains they run everyday because they cannot cope (yes, Southern Rail, I’m talking about you in particular). 

How can this fare rise be justified when train delays and cancellations are the norm and passengers are treated like cattle every single day? (Mind you, we don’t help ourselves when people shout, ‘Can you move down please?’ when there is CLEARLY NO ROOM). Oh, and don’t forget the issues at stations such as London Bridge where people had to fight through disgruntled crowds and slide under ticket barriers in order to have a chance of getting their train. 

Fares are rising at ‘double the speed of wages’, although this is denied by government officials (of course). Yet, passengers appear resigned to such terrible service. Can you imagine if this happened in France? The French do not need much reason to down tools and flex their striking muscles, but over here we do our usual, incredibly annoying reaction of shrugging our shoulders and saying that there is no point in protesting. If anyone does decide to stand up and strike, they worry they will lose their job. Well, considering the threat of losing employment hangs over them on a daily basis due to being late everyday and it takes many people several hours to get home, sometimes I think that they have nothing to lose. 

Then these rail companies have the nerve to ‘award’ their chief executives a multi-million pound bonus. For what? Incompetence? Stupidity? Outright arrogance? These men (for it is usually men in these high-ranking positions) spout waffle about how they try to make the service better everyday while sitting in their ivory towers. I bet they have never travelled on one of their trains and if they have, it’s usually on an empty train with a government minister and a camera crew, slapping each other’s backs and laughing about how they keep getting away with this. When they say they are ploughing money back into the rail infrastructure and service, I think they mean they are talking about those undeserving bonuses that they trouser every year. 

If Europe can provide cheaper rail fares, why can’t this happen in Britain? If anything, people should be getting refunds and rebates for the shocking service they have had over the past few years. Not year…years

It is disgraceful that fares are rising in the wake of so many problems with train services across Britain. Fares should be frozen rather than thawed out and hiked up. 

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. 

Bond Song Gone Wrong.

Alas and alack, the new Bond theme has premiered- Writing’s On the Wall by Sam Smith. All I can say is I have no desire to listen to it again. Why? I hear you ask.

It is DULL. Seriously dull. How on earth was such a boring song chosen to be a Bond theme? Now, I have no problem with Smith himself- I know for some people, his voice is like Marmite (you love him or hate him), but this song is a dirge. Where is the fire, the passion, the sass? Damn it, where is the sexiness and sensuality that were in abundance in the majestic previous Bond theme, Skyfall? In fact, after I managed to listen to Writing’s On the Wall in its entirety, I put Skyfall on and was amazed at how brilliant it still is and how marvellous Adele sounded and how much it craps all over the new song (in case you wondered, it’s all over it like a bunch of pigeons on Trafalgar Square).      

I am so disappointed because when the one minute snippet of Skyfall was released the day before its world premiere, I was curious to hear it but wasn’t expecting it to be a classic.How wrong was I? I found myself listening to it on a loop for a day and a half until the full song came out. I thought it was- and still is -utterly magnificent and one of the best Bond themes ever.

I’m not a Bond film aficionado but I know my Bond theme songs and there are few which I would consider to be classics. Goldfinger (of course), Goldeneye, A View To A Kill, Licence To Kill. I adored Tomorrow Never Dies by Sheryl Crow. I liked Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name because it sounded different and in-your-face compared to the usual Bond themes, yet it worked. I also have a soft spot for Madonna’s Die Another Day, an underrated song lambasted by people who were snobbish about how a Bond theme should sound, although let’s not discuss Another Way To Die because that song was a mistake.

This is how dire the situation is: I have  found myself wondering how the song will fit in with the opening title sequence and I never do that.
Writing’s On the Wall is similar to Smith’s old song Stay With Me- it starts off promisingly then peters out into nothingness, plodding along when instead, it should reach a triumphant and satisfying ending. 

According to Smith’s tweet, the song is already number one on the iTunes charts. I’m not sure why because it really does not deserve it. Skyfall only reached number two (you FOOLS!), so for this blandness to get all the credit that its predecessor should have got would be wrong in my eyes. It looks like social media sees the song the way that I do: a Bond theme that is as flat as a pancake and not up to scratch.