I sometimes bump into an older lady when I am walking my dog in a local park. She`s about seventy and has long dyed blonde hair and wears below the knee pleated skirts and open toe sandals with socks. She always has a gaggle of miniature dogs with her on leads, the sort where the main lead has lots of attached smaller leads so the dogs spill around her ankles like a hairy tiara. If I spot her a mile away, I turn around and do a detour as I dislike her views and the way she expresses herself. Sometimes though, she will appear from behind a bush or a tree and I can`t avoid her. She always begins her sentences with, `I`m not prejudiced but,` or `I`m not racist but,` thus throwing out a huge clue that she is all of those things.
I was half way round the lake at Elmdon Park a few days ago and there she was, right in front of me. I had dense woodland to my right and water to my left – there was no escape!
`Hello,` I said, trying to scoot round her but too late, she launched herself into,
`I`m not being funny but have you heard about the new housing being built at` (she mentioned a part of Solihull near where I live.)
`No, no I haven`t I lied,` not wishing to engage with her.
`Well,` she said, `They`re being built by a Housing Association and we all know who they`re being built for! All those illegal immigrants coming over here.`
It put me in mind of a brilliant comedy sketch by one of my favourite comedians, Stewart Lee who delivers about ten very clever and hilarious minutes of a piece called `They Come Over Here.`
I thought about how I should respond so as to get away as quickly as possible, so I said,
`I don`t think there is such a thing as an illegal immigrant since many people are compelled to enter the UK without permission, which human rights law entitles them to do and for this reason, the term illegal is incorrect and pejorative.`
She looked at me blankly.
I continued, `Secondly, Housing Associations generally operate on a needs basis and those in highest need will obviously be supported first. Someone seeking refuge here in the UK will certainly not be able to immediately access social housing unless they have permission to stay or are at least on the path to obtain leave to stay and thirdly…..`
She was looking distinctly uncomfortable by now,
`Thirdly, you and I have had similar discussions in the past, you already know I don`t agree with you so next time we meet, shall we just stick to hello and isn`t it a lovely day?`
She hurrumphed at me and quickly walked away. Thank the Lord.
Sarah Everard was abducted and murdered as she walked home one evening last week. Her kidnapper and killer as charged, Wayne Couzens, was a serving police officer in the Metropolitan Police Force, a father of two with not an inkling of the chaos within showing upon his handsome, smiling face. He awaits his trial in a cell. During custody he has sustained two head injuries, it is easy to imagine the first injury may have been inflicted by his custodians, the second I am surmising was a self-inflicted injury. He will I am sure appreciate, there will be lots of prisoners and others already wishing him ill.
In response to this terrible crime, women around the UK organised Reclaim These Streets vigils in honour of Sarah`s memory and to demand women`s safety on our streets and one such vigil was to be arranged at Clapham Common, close to where Sarah was abducted. The Metropolitan police denied this gathering and instead told the organisers to “stay home.” Did they honestly believe women would take notice of this?
Mourners became angry after police tried to forcibly remove speakers from the bandstand at the south London park. So as thousands of women gathered at Clapham Common yesterday daytime including our future queen, Kate Duchess of Cambridge, and continued to gather into the night, they were eventually surrounded by aggressive police officers who pushed them about and manhandled them. One woman was pinned down and knelt on by four police officers. To say the women were manhandled is a misnomer since it seems there were a number of equally aggressive female officers present. Four women mourners were arrested and charged with breaches of the peace, officers clearly not recognising the strength of feeling women have about violence perpetrated by men towards women.
Home Secretary Priti Patel described footage circulating of the police’s actions as “upsetting” and confirmed she has demanded a full report on what happened. This is a huge hypocrisy on the part of the Home Secretary since separate leaked reports have already confirmed she and the government are holding secret talks in order to push through legislation making it illegal for us, the people to peacefully gather and demonstrate.
Dame Cressida Dick who is one of the UK`s most senior police officers and Commissioner for The Metropolitan Police Force described the shock and dismay felt by the Met`, when they discovered it was one of them who had been arrested. Why? The guy is a male, does the Met` think that male police officers don`t abuse women? There are calls for her resignation following the media reports from Clapham Common last night.
Men call too, for us women to understand that they aren`t safe on the streets either. It is true a man is far more likely than a woman to be assaulted with a weapon on the streets but that isn`t what this is about so please don`t make this about you. Fact is, most women are injured, raped, killed and abused at home by someone close to them. Their husband, boyfriend, a male member of the family or a close neighbour.
During lockdown one hundred and eighteen women have been killed by men. I was extremely moved to hear their names being read out in parliament last week by my MP Jess Phillips,
“Men should have a 6pm curfew imposed on them!” I hear some men and women cry. What difference might this make? Do people believe rape and abuse and violence towards women only happens during the night?
When I worked at Rape Crisis in the nineteen eighties, I quickly learned women and girls, old age pensioners and babies, are ALL in a world where violence towards females is common place and is not taken seriously. Punishments for violence towards women requires an urgent review. Only recently a man who killed his wife by battering her head head in with a claw hammer, received just six years for his crime, he was convicted of manslaughter and not murder. Less than two percent of men accused of rape are ever prosecuted. Fewer even than this small amount received custodial sentences and these statistics have not changed in many, many decades. Lots of women do not report their perpetrator`s crime so we also know that the figures are hugely underestimated.
I don`t profess to know what the answer is but I do think that educating our youngsters about respect for one another is of vital importance. When my daughter was five, she was asked where her mummy worked and she said, “A rape crisis centre.” The head teacher took me to one side and expressed her concern that my daughter used the word `rape`. In response I said that my daughter understood children were vulnerable to being hurt by adults and understood who to tell if an adult was doing something to her that made her feel uncomfortable. That`s a start but we have a long, long way to go in order to teach our males that it is they who attack women and it is their responsibility on every level, to speak up and say why this is so wrong.
My mother was just four years` old when she was sexually assaulted by one of the farm hands on the farm she grew up on. Perhaps because the sexual abuse of children was not widely talked about, if at all in those days (around 1915) she felt able to tell my grandmother what had happened and the man was subsequently arrested by the local police. I do not know if he received a sentence. By the time I grew up my mother was already giving me instructions like, “Let me know where you are going/ three rings when you get back/ do not get into an unmarked taxi/ do not go home with a man unless you want to have sex with him since that will be his assumption,” etc. etc. I still do not know how I feel about these messages I was given. Should I be grateful for her advice? Should I stand up with my sisters and protest male violence towards women? Should I have told my daughter when she was growing up that it is ok to get drunk with your mates, leave the pub alone, jump in to any car that calls itself a taxi? Because it clearly is not a good idea. and I remain unconvinced of any talked about changes to the law that will alter my viewpoint. Male violence towards women is as old as time and in order to restore balance and sanity, men must be willing to give up their power and I do not see that happening any time soon.
Sarah`s appalling death has my three teenage granddaughters talking about prison sentencing, chemical castration and the death penalty and honestly, it takes me back to the nineteen eighties when I first joined rape crisis, still severely underfunded even in these times.
I would like to be able to say that now I am heading towards seventy, it is no longer my problem but that is not the case and violence towards women is all of us – our mutual problem.
For some time now, I have been a member of a writing group. The pub where we meet is some way from where I live so I don`t always attend our weekly get togethers and obviously over lockdown it hasn`t been possible. To keep us all in the creative mode and still in touch, one of us has organised for anyone interested to submit a few hundred words each week or so for others to read, one person chooses the subject. A few weeks ago the subject was Penance. We were instructed to write three episodes in any style we wished. I was really taken with this idea so here are my three episodes……
In the style of Mills & Boon.
Karl padded across the hotel bedroom his white towelling robe parting slightly as he trod the marble floor towards the bed, his magnificent manhood outlined in shadow against the ruby coloured flock wallpaper. Hermione gazed at him adoringly from the gold silk sheets, her voice throaty with desire.
“Come to bed darling,” her chest heaving slightly, her pulse quickening in anticipation of the delights to come. She was recently widowed and now fantastically wealthy.
Karl turned his gaze to hers as she pulled back the sheets inviting him to join her.
“God almighty,” he thought, “this woman will not leave me alone!” He couldn`t wait to get her off his back, literally and return to the casino and the real source of his desire, Diamonique. What a woman, alas, Diamonique would have to wait!
Hermione was in her late fifties and following her husband`s untimely death was now a multi millionairess. Karl knew she had no idea he was cheating on her; she was completely swept away by his charm and the sycophantic attention he paid her. “Silly old fool,” he thought, smiling to himself.
Karl was a rough diamond, made good over the years through careful restyling of his physique which was magnificent. His hair, now perfectly coiffed, a convincing shade of sun kissed blonde and his accent altogether changed over the years. Gone were the cockney tones of his tough youth, replaced through careful study of James Bond films and a lot of voice coaching. Now he spoke with a deep velvety purr. He had a pleasing way of tossing his head back to run his fingers through his silken curls, which Hermione found completely irresistible and this he did now. A smile upon his face. Sighing, Karl climbed into the sumptuous double bed.
It was never an issue for Karl to satisfy the lusts of these rich old ladies, he merely looked upon it as a job for which he would be richly rewarded later. Over the years he had acquired fast cars, beautiful apartments and on one occasion even a boat so he had no qualms whatsoever about servicing Hermione. Clasping Hermione to his manly chest he kissed her hard, beads of perspiration glistening on her brow as she arrived at a shuddering climax. Climbing swiftly off her mature body, Karl said, “Darling I must shower, I have that meeting at eleven, remember?”
Hermione gazed at him, her desire satiated, for now.
“What a fool he must take me for,” she smiled at the thought.
“A business meeting at 11pm, he must think me an idiot.”
Stretching lazily she said, “Off you run my pet, see you tomorrow.”
One final glance over his shoulder as he left her apartment, he said,
“Ok darling, see you then.”
Hermione picked up her phone and pressed a button.
“Yes madam,” a male voice answered.
“Have him followed the moment he leaves his room oh and Charles – bring me a bottle of Bolly will you. I feel like celebrating.”
In the style of a V1 form textbook.
Hermione was awoken by the sound of the maid moving about in her room. She opened her oculus dexter, her gaze falling upon the breakfast tray left by her bed. Hermione had always experienced experection at the start of day and today was no different. A groan escaped her pharynx, oesophagus, larynx and trachea, she couldn`t face breakfast yet. The dilemma she had was, to tell or not to tell……
Karl came into the element or complex of elements in Hermione`s head that felt, perceived, thought or willed. She sighed heavily as she knew what kind of day lay ahead.
Picking up the phone by her bed, she rang Karl`s. After some time, he finally answered.
“Yes?” came his gruff responsum.
“Darling,” she purred via her faculty of utterance, “Shall we meet up for lunch? Oh! Talking of meetings, how did yours go?” Her mandibular prominence curled into a mordicus arripere as she recalled what her man had reported to her the previous night.
“Oh, you know,” said Karl, totally assured of himself, “I had my fovea on the ball all the time, it went very well, I`ll tell you all about it later.”
“See you soon darling,” purred Hermione as she replaced the receiver.
Little did Karl know that she knew what he had been up to in the casino, with that femina!
They met at lunchtime in the hotel restaurant. Hermione`s venter was rumbling, she hadn`t had any breakfast and she verbally acknowledged to Karl, “sentio esurientum.”
“What?” said Karl, he was getting just a little fed up of Hermione`s hyperliteracy, it was becoming tiresome.
As the waiter set down a large plate of fresh oysters, lifting a juicy shell to her pharynx with one set of eight carpal bones Hermione said, “Let me get straight to the point Karl. I know what you were up to at the casino last night and I know who you were up to it with!!”
Karl raised his hair follicles which share the same basic structure as hair follicles elsewhere on the body but are distinguished by their shorter anagen (growing) phase.
“How did you find out?” he questioned her.
“Oh it wasn`t difficult,” Hermione responded, the odd clue here and there, a scent of perfume on your clothes, an earring in your Mercedes which, if I may remind you, I purchased for you.”
Karl knew his cover was blown. Placing his knife and fork back on the table he quietly enquired,
“What do you intend to do with me?”
“Oh I have plenty of time to work that out,” Hermione spoke in barely a susurrare.
“Believe me Karl, it isn`t going to be pretty.”
Throwing one last oyster down the part of her body joining her head to her shoulders, flinging her napkin down, Hermione stood and walked haughtily on her heels to the restaurant entrance. Her fundus rumbled.
She whipped around to find Karl`s steady gaze upon her still form.
“Be at the beach tomorrow night – midnight. Prompt!”
Episode 3. In the style of Marvel Comics.
“YOU THINK MY NAME IS HERMIONE? YOU ARE WRONG!”
“MY NAME IS BIG HEL. DON`T EVER MESS WITH ME KARL!” DO YOU TAKE ME FOR AN OLD FOOL?!”
“SO NOW YOU MUST PAY PENANCE!!
WHAT MUST I DO HERMIO – I MEAN BIG HEL?”
“YOU MUST TELL THAT DIABOLICAL DIAMONIQUE YOU HAVE BEEN LEADING HER ON. TELL HER IN REALITY YOUR NAME IS NOT KARL, YOU ARE ACTUALLY TRANSGENDERING INTO THE WOMAN YOU REALLY ARE AND FROM NOW ON, YOUR PREFERRED NAME IS GERTRUDE!!”
“NOW TAKE THIS DRESS AND THESE HIGH HEELS,” (THRUSTING CLOTHING INTO GERTRUDE`S ARMS) “AND PUT THEM ON!”
“YES BIG HEL, I WILL DO ANYTHING YOU SAY.”
“GIVE ME BACK THE KEYS TO THE MERC, THEN COME AND CLEAN MY BATHROOM – NAKED!”
“YES BIG HEL, I WILL DO THAT IMMEDIATELY.”
“THEN, AND ONLY THEN, I MIGHT THINK ABOUT ALLOWING YOU BACK INTO MY BED”
(BIG HEL GIVES GERTRUDE A GENTLE NUDGE WITH THE HEEL OF HER BOOT.)
“NOW RUN ALONG.”
About two years ago, my partner Tony (who you may have become acquainted with in previous blogs,) decided to buy a piece of exercise equipment to which you affix your road bike to so that you can exercise indoors. It was quite expensive and weighed a ton. He announced he was going to erect the bike stand in the garden so that he could exercise to the sound of the birds.
“Lovely darling,” I said. “What a splendid idea.”
He spent a while securing it and fixing his bike to it and then at last, after an hour or so, he was able to mount up and start pedalling. I would say he was out there for at least, ooooh, ten minutes before he dismounted, came into the kitchen beads of sweat upon his brow and flinging himself onto a chair said, “Well that was a complete waste of time!” before disappearing upstairs to his bedroom for a rest. I did not enquire why it was a waste of time, it did not seem a terribly good idea.
The bike stand remained in the garden for a few weeks, the grass growing around it until I finally took pity upon it and heaving it up from the lawn, hauled it into the shed where it has remained until today.
This morning Mr. Inman announced he was going to erect the bike stand up in his bedroom and have his sport bike up there for indoor exercise and his road bike downstairs. (Tony has many bikes, bike parts, spare bikes, spare wheels etc. etc.) I commented that perhaps the bedroom was not the best place to put your exercise equipment, after all it was not a massive space and a bike stand and bicycle might not be especially conducive to a good night`s sleep. “Well that depends on who you are,” he said and duly heaved the bike stand up our very steep staircase. I should perhaps mention, we have our own, separate bedrooms.
There followed much banging, thumping, shuffling and dragging noises from upstairs, then an almighty crash accompanied by a long tirade of various expletives.
“Are you alright darling?” I helpfully called. Answer came there none.
After a few minutes Mr. Inman appeared, slightly red faced, somewhat out of breath and asked, “Do you know where the hammer is?” I walked to our kitchen tool drawer and handed a hammer to him.
“Why do you need a hammer?” I enquired.
“To put right the damage I`ve done to the spokes with that (expletive expletive) machine! It is going back in the shed.”
And that dear readers is the extent of Tony`s exercise for today………..
Stay safe my friends and where a mask.
Carol, my friend across the water, you are so gifted a writer and post some absolutely beautiful photographs of the area where you live and of your family, I thought I would reciprocate with a few pictures from Birmingham, where I live in the UK. Oh and one or two of my family.
The picture above is of my little Yorkie, Alfie, my constant companion and Elmdon Park nearby, there are seven cygnets on the lake.
When people read history books, Birmingham is often portrayed as very industrial, a smog of dirty air sitting above it and old, tumble down factories and chimneys dotting the landscape. In reality, Birmingham is an architecturally beautiful and culturally diverse city of almost one and half million people speaking over 200 different languages. We have lots of green spaces and some of the most beautiful parks in the UK are situated in Birmingham. And lakes, we have several lakes here too, where if you fancy it you can go wild water swimming.
In 1984 we bought our house in The Avenue, it was £22,000. Now it is valued at £245,00 pounds and we are currently updating the kitchen and dining room. It`s a lovely old Edwardian villa and we have some of the best neighbours imaginable.
This is my front garden.
Every day I walk my rescue dog Alf, he is joined to me at the hip and has been my companion for almost ten years. Alfie is my social life, there is a large community of dog walkers out there and I have come to know some of them well.
The black cat Mixie, belongs to my daughter Rebecca. Mixie came to visit one summer while Becky was on holiday and just decided to stay. I love his snaggy tooth.
I hope you like the pictures, my daughter Becky has five children and they are all gorgeous. They take after their grandmother ha ha.
My next novella is up on Amazon today.
Leaving Lewis is what my children refer to as a faction, a little bit true and a large amount of made up. The story is a savage, sometimes racy tale with a bit of comedy thrown in and it won`t be everyone`s cuppa but if you like Lemony Snicket, then you`ll probably like Leaving Lewis.
Katia lived with a hoarder; her house was stuffed to the brim. Over the years and to hide her embarrassment she had made something of a joke about it with her friends. They were happy to support her valiant attempts to stay on top of it and from time to time would call round and help her organise the chaos of furniture, especially chairs, cupboards and tables lifted from skips. They laughed with her as she described her husband as `potty` or `barmy` or any other amusing adjective to distract them from her increasing dismay.
One time she decided to go away and stayed away for some years as she had had enough and needed a change of scenery. When she returned, she found six bicycle skeletons in the back garden, propping up half a ton of old wood resting against the tumbledown fence. In the outhouses were more bicycles, more wood and lots of odd pieces of marble he had painstakingly carried to the house from a nearby stone masons. It took two skips to sort out the garden and the house, which looked like a bomb site. After negotiations he agreed to part with some of the wood, but the bikes and the marble remained.
Every conversation became a battle ground. In the side entrance to the house Katia found a load of floorboards he`d had secretly delivered. She enquired why and he told her they may `come in useful`. She pleaded with him to at least meet her halfway and allow her to take some of the stuff down to the local tip. He retaliated by bringing more things home and hiding them in the attic, in cupboards, in the recently acquired garden shed.
One time, Katia had a clear up and discovered six hefty, extending lamps which he told her were for when he sorted out a studio for his painting. In his bedroom and even though he did not play, there were no less than five guitars. In the attic, bags of clothes from thirty years ago which he said he would one day slim into. An entire wardrobe was host to hundreds of tubes of artists` oil paints and dozens of unused canvases leaned up against the wall of the spare bedroom. He hadn`t painted for years, which was a shame because he was a very talented painter.
Katia became quite depressed and sad and when he noticed he asked, `What is wrong?` She told him she found his collections difficult to live with.
To satisfy his deep need to surround himself with `stuff` but also worried that Katia might leave again, he changed tactics. He started to bring home food. He would go out to the supermarket just before closing time, when he knew prices would dramatically drop. Standing up and pulling on his braces he would announce in a loud voice, `I`m not going to bring any food back.`
Katia would sigh and the following day inside the fridge she would find six iceberg lettuces, three large punnets of mushrooms, half a dozen blocks of blue cheese, several heads of broccoli and enough meat to feed a small army. She became used to throwing away food that was well past its sell by date, packets of salad leaves that were beginning to rot, potatoes going green and sprouting, bendy carrots and squishy oranges and lemons with beautifully coloured, pale green powdery mould appearing on the skin. One time he came home with a huge plastic bag containing fifty hard boiled eggs. Katia pickled them and gave them away as Christmas presents.
Katia hated throwing food away. She became adept at creating a meal from diverse and unusual groceries, for he never cooked. One day they might have Duchy of Cornwall organic asparagus spears with Thai fish cakes and spinach. Another it might be a salad with spicy venison burgers and sweet potato fries. The freezer was full of dead animals and fish with their heads still on. This distressed Katia as she preferred not to eat meat and kept to a mostly vegetarian diet with a lot of pulses thrown in.
When she explained to him that she felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fresh food he was purchasing, after all there was just the two of them, he met her consternation by bringing home two dozen tins of spiced cauliflower soup and six large cans of mackerel in tomato sauce.
So Katia worked out how to live with this strange man who, in spite of it all, she loved. Before he arose, she would cook or bake or shred or pickle or mix. Her sottaceti pickled vegetables became legendary, her cakes sought after by family and friends, her banana bread recipe asked for on social media. She wrote a book, she called it, `Living with a Feeder.` She was invited to guest on local radio and television stations and to her great delight, was offered payment for her appearances.
Although she had retired, Katia eventually opened a consultancy to inform and assist people and professionals who lived or worked with hoarders. She called it `Get Down and Get Dirty plc`. It became a massive commercial success.
With the proceeds Katia bought herself a small villa in Tenerife where from time to time she would escape to sit in the sun, her kindle in one hand, a gin and tonic in the other and a kitchen full of nothing other than several small bottles of Budweiser on ice and the occasional packet of Twiglets.
Following the horrific and very public murder of black African American George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there has been a global display of grief and outrage. Even though George had been apprehended and was lying face down on his stomach surrounded by three other police officers and even though George was handcuffed, nevertheless, Derek Chauvin found it necessary to kneel on George Floyd`s neck for a period of nine minutes, ignoring George`s pleas for his mother and his crying out “I can`t breathe.”
George died of a cardiac arrest resulting from asphyxiation.
Derek Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and is being kept, awaiting trial in Oak Park Heights state prison in Minnesota. I imagine Chauvin is probably shitting himself, I would be and when he meets his end, most likely in prison, I can also imagine someone kneeling on his neck to see him off. I do not condone this, I hope it doesn`t happen as there has to be a better way to combat blind hatred.
prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.
• the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.
I am sixty six, a little bit older than George Floyd was when he was murdered. Can you imagine me, a white OAP being murdered in that way by a black police officer? No? Precisely.
My family and extended family include white Jewish people, Black African Caribbean people, my five grandchildren are all of mixed black and white heritage including white Irish and one of my nephews is of white/Pakistani heritage so we are a proper mixing pot and I feel very much part of a big love in my family, it`s good, it`s enriching and I am really lucky because it has educated me a great deal about other people`s lives, cultures and experiences and that is a two way process.
I grew up in the nineteen fifties, my mum and dad were both white and middle class and had scarcely seen anyone who wasn’t white other than in the context of war, my dad served in the Scottish Regiment in WW2 and was posted to Egypt, Syria, Israel and Greece. The first time I brought home a load of black kids I`d met at Rebecca`s night club when I was about 18, my parents didn`t know what to say to them, there was a lot of respectful hand shaking and `how do you do`s` it was uncomfortable.
Understanding their learned racism, by the time my parents got to know these young men, when they left the house mum would ask to search their pockets and out would tumble a variety of small objects the boys had `stolen` from the house. It had become a joke which we all found funny for these reasons. My parents were trying to `un-prejudice` themselves and rid themselves of negative stereotypes. I admired them for that, it was bold and they were old. I admire the boys I brought home who were fabulous and forgiving and wise.
On my husband`s side of the family his aunties and uncles were white, working class Brummies through and through. Even in their seventies they were still calling anyone whose skin was anything other than white, `Paki` or `coloured,` Tony and I had so many heated arguments with them challenging their language until in the end, if they began going down the familiar route, we would just go home and leave them to it. One of my dearest friends, an old lady in her nineties, used to describe her neighbour Charlie who was Indian as;
`a lovely man, coloured like but lovely – and friendly`.
I did not fervently try to re-educate her, I think it is sometimes more difficult for someone who is very old, to grasp the issues and it would have upset her a great deal, so I left it. Was that right of me? She has died now, bless her. She would have done anything for anyone regardless of their colour.
I have been watching videos of Jane Elliott, the creator of the `Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes` experiment with schoolchildren in America. She is now in her eighties and still lecturing and saying the same things she has been saying for fifty years.
She is videod speaking to an adult audience, `If you as a white person would be happy to receive the same treatment as this society, in general treats our black citizens, stand up.` No one stands. She says, `You know what`s happened – you know it`s wrong and you don`t want it to happen to you, so how come you are accepting for it to happen to others?`
Jane Elliott makes a vital point which is the only point that makes any sense to me, and it is that there is just one race and that is the HUMAN race. No one race is better than, superior to, or intellectually greater than another and until I, as a white woman and you and everyone else gets that, then atrocities such as George Floyd`s death, will continue to happen. Racism can be UNLEARNED, it is not innate, it is not inherent.
John Rawls states this philosophy in his work, `A Theory of Justice,`
1. “Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all”. 2. “Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both: (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.”
The first principle is often called the greatest equal liberty principle. Part (a) of the second principle is referred to as the difference principle while part (b) is referred to as the equal opportunity principle.
Rawls orders the principles of justice lexically, as follows: 1, 2(b), 2(a). The greatest equal liberty principle takes priority, followed by the equal opportunity principle and finally the difference principle. The first principle must be satisfied before 2(b), and 2(b) must be satisfied before 2(a). As Rawls states: “A principle does not come into play until those previous to it are either fully met or do not apply.” Therefore, the equal basic liberties protected in the first principle cannot be traded or sacrificed for greater social advantages (granted by 2(b)) or greater economic advantages (granted by 2(a)).
It`s a wordy piece but in the end, I can see he is simply putting into writing what Jane Elliott has been repeating all her life.
I think George Floyd`s death is the saddest, most horrific murder I have ever witnessed and we are not just hearing about racism nowadays, we are videoing it.
When my beautiful black grandchildren go out clubbing with their mates my heart is in my mouth, and when my beautiful white grandson goes into town clubbing with his mates my heart is in my mouth and we should all `take a knee` as the saying now goes and remember George Floyd with huge amounts of love, respect and hope amongst the deep well of grief because I believe his death will literally, change the world and I think he will be recalled for centuries to come, and missed and celebrated as the man who changed the world.
RIP George Floyd.
1st December 1960 – 25th May 2020
I had been away for all of the very hot summer of 1976, it was my first time abroad and I was staying with friends who lived in Athens. I spent a wonderful six weeks partly in that beautiful city and partly island hopping, which was terrific. I met a gorgeous Egyptian boy there, called Mido and he added an exciting and romantic element to the whole holiday, Mido and I remained pen friends for several years when eventually, he finally confessed to me that he was gay, which I had already figured out, silly boy.
After the Athens experience, I reluctantly returned to my parents home, my mother was cross with me for having stayed away for so long, so she hardly spoke to me for several days. I was growing up and we were growing apart a little bit and I can only suppose she resented me for leaving her on her own with my dad who was rather deaf which frustrated her and her sister, my aunt Muriel, who was significantly disabled. We overcame those few cold days together and life went on.
It was approaching autumn when I ventured to my local pub, The Bulls Head and this is where I met Tony, an old boyfriend who I hadn`t seen for several years. Tony was about to become the father of my first child only we didn`t know that yet….. when we finally reconciled as a couple again, within two weeks I became pregnant.
My parents had me in their mid-forties so they were very unhappy about my expecting a baby. My father shouted at me, (the only time he ever shouted at me in his life) “Did you expect us to be happy?!” and I said, “Well yes dad, I did actually.” My mother trailed after me into the kitchen and said, her face a mask of tragedy, “Well you can`t stay here Helen.” It was the shame you see, of having a child out of wedlock, it was a lot for them to deal with. So I left, taking all my belongings with me and found a room in a shared house in Church Road in Moseley. I think the rent was £12 a week and the Landlord was called Kovaks.
The room was a bedsit and I shared the toilet and bathroom which I later discovered were so filthy, I couldn`t bring myself to use the bath and used to visit friends to use theirs until I could summon up the necessary courage to thoroughly scrub the place down. When I needed the loo, I crouched standing up or lined the seat with a gazillion pieces of loo roll. I cleaned the little kitchenette and lifting the rug to vacuum, discovered maggots underneath it munching on some rotten food, it really was revolting. But I continued to scrub and clean and made it mine in a sense. Kovaks would call round with two henchmen every Friday night to collect the rent. He didn’t scare me but I was told by other tenants (mostly young girls) that if they didn`t pay up on time, or if they weren`t in when he collected rent he would have them harassed and intimidated, ringing their doorbell or banging on their doors at three in the morning or opening their post and taking their benefit cheques.
When I was 12 weeks pregnant, Tony and I were offered a short life housing association flat which we readily accepted. It was in a beautiful old house in Poplar Avenue in Kings Heath, so I left that little room without giving in my notice to Kovaks and did a runner in the middle of the night so as not to bump into him and his bodyguards.
Some time later I read in the papers that Kovaks had been arrested and charged with a number of offences, similar to the nefarious Peter Rachman of the nineteen fifties and sixties. Rachman was mentioned in court during the Profumo affair as someone who had kept both Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies as mistresses and it was the unfurling of the Profumo scandal that gave the public a clear understanding of the term racketeering.
Kovaks was charged with procuring young women for sex, in other words he was a pimp. He also regularly gave his tenants notice to quit and then put the rent up by astronomical amounts and re-let the houses to more vulnerable young women. He was further charged with racketeering. He received a nine-year prison sentence and I realised what a lucky escape I had had. I sometimes wonder what became of him, I imagine he has long since left this earth, I wonder if he redeemed himself in any sense before he died.
His own beautiful house, his family home remains of course as a legacy to his criminal past and I hope it has been passed on to be nurtured by other, much more caring human beings.
Oh and when our son Jesse was born, all was forgotten and forgiven and family rifts were healed. Babies have a habit of doing that!