TC.

IMG_5581Have you ever fallen in love for a night!
Met an insignificant other who does not put up a significant fight.
Found love that fits like a lost glove!

Love that is just enough for you to lose your powers

If only for a few selfish hours.

That happened to me on Wednesday. He was walking his dog and I was walking it off. No sex, just context. I laid in the arms of someone who made me forget that I had ever been troubled, let down or lost. I laid there and listened to flamenco lullabies. I laid there and listened to the love of my night cry, think and run my fingers through his wiry hair while I watched him sink into me and then as quickly as it rose, the love went down and I left his life to return to my prose.

He made me no promises. He made me promise him that I would always smile, but I’ve already let him down.

The loneliness is worth the bliss, if only for nights like this.

(15. Nov.2013)

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Assassins & Advocates.

Photo by Alex Winn Photography | alexwinn.comWhen you find a good friend hold on to him or her. Good friends are hard to find and very easy to lose.

For the past few months I’ve found myself pretty isolated. Surrounded by nothing but space and, at various intervals, I’ve struggled to feel anything for myself other than disdain, partly because in the past three years, since I walked out of the closet so many people have used it as an excuse to walk out of my life, partly because I have got myself into some stuff it has become increasingly difficult to escape from and partly because I have made some mistakes that I have since been paying a copious price for.

I’m not innocent. I have been defensive. I have been guarded and on many occasions these things have manifested themselves with disastrous consequences but in spite of it all, I am still here.

The more things fall apart is the more things fall into place and the more I move away from those who no longer matter (or they move away from me) is the more I realize I was right to do so (and so too were they). Our alliances had become unproductive, displeasing, inefficient and unhealthy and had affected the fluidity of our friendship. Now there is only silence I can hear that still small voice telling me everything that has happened to me and everything that has happened because of me will be the makings of me. Though it is difficult to accept, I understand that I deserve more and I deserve to desire a better life for myself and I deserve to be surrounded by advocates rather than assassins.

Assassins! You know those people. The ones who listen to others but refuse to hear you out; the ones who make up their minds before asking what you were thinking or even if you were thinking; the ones who judge you when they promised they would always love you and then leave you even after insisting they would be there until the end (of your friendship, not your life). They all have one thing in common – they are people and though their greatest success in life may seem to be pointing out the failings of others, they are not wrong; they are completely within their rights to dismiss you and denounce your efforts because, in spite of the years you have accumulated, they do not owe you anything, but you owe yourself peace and it is that you should be doing everything in your unfathomable power to uphold, not people and their opinions.

The peace that surpasses all misunderstanding.

I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for two decades. When I was younger I would often make the mistake of thinking people I worked with would work with me through my dilemmas and my dramas but I was wrong and so are you if you think people are obligated to love you because they love what you do.

Then there were the family members, the people who shared blood who find it so difficult to share love.

Like I said, I am not innocent.

I have been treated exactly as I expected to be and while it burns in places, for the most part there has been nothing more liberating than being freed of people who attach themselves to you out of some distorted sense of duty rather than a desire to be there through the shit and the shame that comes in the struggle towards self-actualization.

I’m moving into a new phase of my life and as is the case with all unknown territory, it is as frightful as it is fascinating. You know that point right! Where you either proceed or perish and if you do proceed you must do so unapologetically, which means having to break bad habits and the baddest habit and the hardest one to break for so many of us is trying to please others; trying to fit great talent into small spaces; trying to follow trends rather than set them and trying to hide your light rather than letting it shine.

Now’s the time to have faith in yourself and in your ability and in the ability of your god or the universe or the love of that one good friend or that devoted family member to help push you into the purpose you went through all that pain for.

Choose life and live it, because in spite of everything you had to lose to find yourself, you still have everything to gain.

Be encouraged. I most certainly am.

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The Streets of Philadelphia

2014-09-25-gaybashingsuspectsharriganknottwilliams940x540.jpgAs long as heteronormativity continues to dominate mainstream thinking, promote sexual oppression and place homosexuality at the amoral end of its sexual hierarchy, acts of sexual terrorism will continue to be committed against homosexuals. As long as gay people are stigmatised and vilified for practices that straight people practice also, there will always be the gay slurring and brutal gay bashing that happened on the streets of Philadelphia on Thursday 11th September 2014, forcing LGBTQ people everywhere to live in constant fear for their lives.

According to their Defense Attorneys, on Thursday 11th September 2014, Phillip Williams (24), Kathryn Knott (24) and Kevin Harrigan (26) did not commit an act of sexual terrorism against two homosexual males, they were involved in a “mutual confrontation”; a simple “fist fight that got out of hand”. According to various news outlets highlighting their ‘surrender’ in reports on Wednesday 24th September this was neither a fist fight nor a confrontation, this was a ‘beating’; a ‘late night encounter’. According to the gay slurs hurled before, during and after their vitriolic attack on two gay men aged 27 and 28 that resulted in both men being hospitalized due to the severity of their injuries, what happened that night on Chancellor street in Philadelphia, PA was a hate crime and should be treated as such, but because Pennsylvania’s current hate crime law does not extend to include those crimes motivated by a person’s perceived sexual orientation, sadly, this is not to be the case.

This means that the best justice both victims can hope for are reduced convictions for aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment of another person. This severely undermines the rights of all LGBTQ people to feel safe and protected by the law of the land they live in and makes the declaration made by District Attorney Seth Williams that ‘an assault on people because of their sexual orientation has no place in Philadelphia’ fraudulent as long as legislature in the state of Pennsylvania continues to protect homophobes from their homophobia and persecute homosexuals for being homosexual.

“Three guys just started pummeling me, and knocked me to the ground. I hit the ground hard and I was out hard.”

There is significant racial bias in the way corporate media reports acts of violence when those acts of violence are committed by whites. The severity of the incident is often reduced by the rhetoric used to report it. The attackers have been called a ‘well dressed crew’ rather than what they actually are – thugs; a gang of up to a dozen adults who beat two males so badly that between them they sustained an orbital fracture, extensive facial injuries and a jaw wired shut, not to mention the emotional impact of such an assault.

I think it’s interesting that the state has enabled this behaviour. I think it’s interesting that the father of Kathryn Knott is a police chief in Philadelphia who has a history of abusing his privilege to protect his daughter from the reality of what she is (a racist, homophobic, binge-drinking menace to society) and himself from what he is (a bad father), just as corporate media has a history of protecting whites from their thuggery while gladly making sure other races are constantly reminded of theirs.

It’s telling that the media have highlighted how the attackers ‘turned themselves in.’ As if the act of ‘surrender’ somehow reduces the impact of their assault or improves the character of any of them when the fact is that due to social media intervention they had simply run out of places to hide despite having done so, willingly and successfully, for thirteen days.

It’s also telling that while the cultural practice of lynching (which is exactly what homophobia is) among white Americans is still so popular and widespread, it is colloquialized and downplayed and not treated with the same alarm as similar acts of hatred in countries such as Uganda or Jamaica where homosexuals being mobbed and beaten in public places is depicted as an act of barbarism and a human rights violation. Well … it’s an act of barbarism and a human rights violation in Middle America too.

The mugshot is the most interesting and telling aspect of all of this. Three young white bigots visibly alarmed that for perhaps the first time in their privileged lives they are being held accountable for their actions.

*

“We’re standing here in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the birthplace of freedom, where the founding fathers authored the Declaration of Independence, and I don’t recall that glorious document saying anything about all straight men are created equal. I believe it says all men are created equal”

(Ron Nyswaner, Philadelphia, 1993)

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Songs I Don’t Remember.

IMG_5369Most nights when I can’t sleep I scour the internet for the reggae riddims my dad used to run during those Sundays we’d spend in the backyard. Days that smelt like fried plantain, carrot juice, snapperfish, kookoomba, tobacco and burnt wax from spinning so much vinyl. I know as much about that music as I do about the man who loved to play it, but I do know that the only thing that ever lifted my father above whatever it was in his history that made him so insufferable for so long were those songs I don’t remember.

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Remembering Diana: The Death of A Princess.

diana_toutIt was a Sunday. Just like today.

That morning at 5am while getting ready for work I switched on the telly box in the dining room, the news ticker crawled across the bottom of the screen with the reluctance of a hearse.

PARIS CAR ACCIDENT: Princess Diana seriously hurt.

According to Stephen Jessel, in a BBC News bulletin, a concussion, a broken arm and lacerations to the thigh were the extent of the injuries the princess sustained in a collision in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris until Nik Gowing interrupted his conjecture with something a little more concrete.

‘The Press Association in Britain, citing unnamed sources has reported that Diana Princess of Wales has died.’

The first thing I noticed was the smell of the iron burning through my disbelief and into my work shirt as the news burned through the screen and into my thinking.

When I left the house that morning the streets were still dark and it was as though God had flicked the mute switch and the world was just one big rotating bubble of no sound. Even the winds made no noise, instead they moved calmly up the street on their way to nowhere. A middle-aged white male in glasses with rims as thin as chickenwire circling ball bearing eyes that rolled around in his head, shuffled towards me as I made my way onto the swell at Sumner Road.

My eyes said Diana. His stopped rolling long enough to for him to say, The weight of the crown, before he flung a bundle onto the ground by the newsstand and hopped back into his panel van. It was the newspaper delivery man. The same man I’d seen every single Sunday for the past 13 months as I made my way up the road to catch the 36 bus to Victoria Station where I worked as a Customer Service Assistant at W H Smith. My first job and still (despite that Sunday) the most favourite one I’ve ever had.

I kept walking. I think we all did.

In the brave new world when a dignitary, celebrity, relative or famous person dies the public feel an overwhelming need to share the news with friends and strangers. We do this, in part because we care and we want others to care also and because we have sustained a genuine connection to an individual that has inspired us and we are now moved to mourn them. We also do this because we could not care less; because their loss is our gain. In this day and age the best thing any human being can be is informed. All of us are striving to be relevant and the more we know the more relevant we are.

This is why Twitter has become the success it has, it adds great value without great effort. So when Alexander McQueen, a leading coutourier, was found hanging by his favourite brown belt on 11 February 2010, many people who had no idea of his talents tweeted, not because they cared for his clothes, but because it was the fashionable thing to do. The trendsetter had become the latest trend. When Whitney Houston, lost her coloratura and then her life on the exact same day two years later in room 434 at The Beverley Hilton Hotel in LA many who had disparaged her for her drug use, deified her in death because for so many of us the greatest love of all is the love of attention.

If they are hip like Peaches Geldof we want to prove that we were in the know. If they belonged to the Golden Age of Hollywood like Lauren Bacall we want to prove that we, like they, are timeless. If they commit suicide like Robin Williams, we want the world to know that behind our smile there is the same intense and aching sadness that drove that brilliant man off the edge of the world into that place where couturiers, coloraturas and comedians, like bad punchlines, go to die. We use the death of our heroes to reveal our humanity, but that Sunday morning in 1997, the death of Princess Diana did what death used to do (if only for a while): it silenced us.

Within days we were pleading with the Palace to speak up. We called the Queen indifferent, ignoring how despondent the death of our own loved ones had once made us. We didn’t care that two young boys had just lost their mother and might want to hide in the curtains, we waited under the windows for them to show and acknowledge the people and because grief really is the height of all narcissism, when Elizabeth finally did show we smiled inside because who is really subject to who if even in death one cannot neglect duty.

I remember there were no newspapers on the shelves in W H Smith. Many of them had been sent back to the printers to be reissued with the news that broke that morning and flooded an entire nation in rivers of grief. I remember being forced to tell people why the papers they wanted to read weren’t available. I remember a white woman screamed at me in disbelief; asked me why I would make such a terrible thing up. I remember wishing I had, made it up that is. I remember a black woman dropped her jaw; another dropped her change; a father almost dropped his child like a bogus charge. Everything was heavy that day. A Sunday. Just like today.

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Let Her Go.

IMG_5337“The winds that sometimes take something we love, are the same that bring us something we learn to love. Therefore we should not cry about something that was taken from us, but, yes, love what we have been given. Because what is really ours is never gone forever.”

(Bob Marley)

 

Gran lived at 20 Marie Curie at Sceaux Gardens on The North Peckham Estate for the best part of my young life with her. I will ever remember being sat behind a bolted door on her bedroom floor in that flat, nibbling my McVities chocolate biscuit (to make it last) while my brothers (two elder; one younger) watched Top of The Pops, Gran watched us all and I watched Gran put her rollers in before bedtime.

In those final years when she’d come home with us after church on Sundays, I’d comb her hair. By this time I was working at W H Smith in Victoria Station, towering over her and helping her to take care of herself, but I was always so gentle with Gran. Gentleness was something I’d learnt from the holes in the shoes she repaired over and over again that now sit in the bottom of my wardrobe; the matches she used to light up the stove on which she roasted breadfruit that she’d then slice into half moons that would eclipse my hunger and glow in my belly; the gas stamps in the book that had its home in the black leather purse and the envelope with half her pension in it, that she pushed through the letterbox early every Thursday afternoon. The harshness of life lingered but there was only compassion in how hard she worked; how hard she loved; how well she seasoned her chicken and how hard she would conk me in my forid if I ever yanked at her hair. Compassion and gentleness. No matter how big we got, none of us were ever too big to be brought back down to size.

Gran’s hair was always very compliant, it wasn’t the stubborn black clumps that stuck to my scalp the way we all stuck to her right up to the end. The truth is we are still clinging. In the bedroom upstairs there’s a big blue barrel with housecoats and church frocks in it. There’s a thick red plastic bag with small balls of wools she used to crochet leg warmers, winter hats and blankets for us in her ongoing efforts to always keep us warm; her blanket, the one that was always laid out across her bed, is rolled up in a plastic bag beneath my bed and my favourite blouse of hers is hanging quietly in a corner of my wardrobe. There are Christmas cards her neighbours addressed to No. 20, they never knew her name because she never gave it to those who didn’t need it; names, she used to say, will travel to places you never will if you let them. Give them a smile but never give them yuh name. She also used to say something else I remember. Every Sunday it would cut through the cartoons,

You goh cry when me dead?!

Rivers of love Gran. Rivers of love.

But I’m tired of crying for her and I’m tired drowning in my tears and I’m tired of not being able to move ahead with my life because there are balls of wool and barrels of clothes blocking the way. I want to move past this grief and so I am actively doing so.

On Saturday 30th August 2014 I will be walking 10K for Marie Curie Cancer Care to help raise funds and awareness for those living with cancer and other terminal illnesses throughout the UK. I will be doing so with my mum who – a month or so ago – brought one of her monthly magazines upstairs, put it beside my laptop and said, my knees are bad but my heart is good so I’m going to walk for Gran. To honour my great grandmother’s life in this, the 16th year of her passing; to honour my mother’s wishes and to finally gain some closure.

When we return home after that walk that night, I am going to burn every last one of her possessions so that they will no longer possess me. All the good things I’ve learnt about Jamaican independence, I learnt from the most independent Jamaican woman I have ever known. She loved us all equally and she devoted her life to making sure we were aware of that, the least I could do for her is let her go.

It’s beyond time.

https://www.justgiving.com/Delores/

 

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In a Constant State of Undress.

Photo on 31-05-2014 at 03.16 #4I wake up naked

Wearing only him scent

Him put him clouds in my coffee.

Black. No sugar.

Him is plenty sweet for me.

 

But. I am not a caffeine drinker

Him put doubt in my daydream

But I am not an overthinker

I just think things over

And over. And over

 

Like. How I did speak too freely

About how trapped I have been.

Like how I just stepped over the last snare

This Babylon set for me.

 

That bandulu. That bhuttu.

That tattoo-sleeved-teef

Who kept his heads together

With my stolen sanity.

 

And when him rise like a hymn

In the church of my thighs

And when him worship and him praise me

With him prophetic lies.

And drink saltwater

From the mouth of my mountain

I pick clouds from the sky

Like de lickle pickney dem

Pick penny outta water-fountain

 

Him pull my body across him.

Without a single visible string.

But I will be him bow.

The fiddler tell me say, I am reggae music.

I tell him say, I know.

 

From Charclit To G Major.

A Perfect Fi(f)t(h).

Him voice rises seven semitones.

And him spill cumulus clouds on my coffee-coloured-skin

And my coffee-coated-bones.

 

I clean him.

Him dress.

I miss him.

Before.

Him left.

Me with the sound

Of free-thinking.

Mingling with the taste

Of a long night of whisky-drinking.

Him left me. Overthinking.

 

And now my soul is sick

With longing for him.

And now my hair is thick

With thoughts that escaped when

I decided to cling

To this man without a single fucking string.

 

And I think the colour of our heat just grew colder

Than a London summer morning.

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