Saturday, 20 August 2011

random freewrite

sat listening to nizlopi (half these songs are about you) and trying to bring myself to get through some personal admin.  so this is a little bit of procrastination.

(in other news, i am in edinburgh, still in love with this country.  the weather has been kind, and the natives also.  the past few days have been scattered with beautiful running into friends, conversations with strangers, laughter, a brilliance of variety, and a gradual re-engagement with myself).

-this makes me hurt right here
she points to her stomach
-and here
she touches her chest
-you have left me so that i no longer know the right way
to breathe air
every time i inhale, bronchiole become broken glass
shards of air mock lungs no longer interested in using them anyway
and that part of me that you loved best but couldn’t stand
it does all it can to keep me crushed
god, this isn’t crushing
but it has left me immobile, pinned to the point
of no return
returning nonetheless every day to this -
after ruminating on every alternative -
that my mother was right:
you can only know who you love,
never who loves you

sat 20 aug 2011 16.33 dalkeith road

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

== down to the ground ==

"it's the mystery of iniquity
it's the history of iniquity
it's the misery of iniquity
and i'm telling you oh, it all falls down"

they ask if he's shocked*
his 'no' brings an accusation, condemnation
slithering from her flailing, failing fork of a tongue
as though having seen the signs is akin to encouragement
an anchor way out of her depth in the face of honest argument

this has been coming for years, decades,
simmering on heat for generations
and those charged with watching
choose blinkers and blame
throw off responsibility, create more of the same

disaffection as standard

they turn two blind eyes
so while some say 'tinderbox' i say bonfire heaped high
seasoned with the finest black gold
and all parties, red, blue, new and old,
skitter about it with firecrackers and sparklers lit

chowing down on the finest fat of the land
double fistfuls of dirty cash in hand
as they spit paltry promises with a main order of lies
then feign surprise as those most firmly downtrodden arise dirtied
dispossessed and determined to take their self-proclaimed prize
surmise only mindless thuggery, blind greed
it's all congenital, it's just the way they breed

and no-one takes responsibility 
for the first torch lit
first brick thrown
first clenched fist

as iniquity becomes the new equality, elite the new mainstream
whole populations brought up on a diet of low esteem
on 'you are what you own' and celebrity dreams
and stuck on repeat, on a loop, to the street:
you are nothing, you are worthless, don't bother to aspire
to think you deserve to attain, or achieve, or reach higher

so these ones go the only way they see to go
already taken so low, naturally inclined to down
they're taking homes, razing them down to the ground
taking their homes, razing them down to the ground
they're taking away your promise, because you gave them none
taking for themselves what they've decided they're owed
deciding themselves now they feel they’re all grown
and you groan that relationship isn't one of the issues
they're just thugs playing out their misspent youths
and to offer root cause is condoning  – we refuse!

and we? street level, the you, and the me?
we just try to rock ourselves back to sleep
hope the morning brings less reason to weep as
siren song lullaby and rotor-blade beats keep time
with the keen and the thump intertwined
of our unsettled head and our now nervous heart
through the smoke and the chaos and tearing apart
through the shattering, as community divisions start
we dream of sleeping, dream of dreaming
of cohesion and of hope

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

a response to the riots

this is the blog i would have liked to write - says all the things i was trying to, but coherently and eloquently.

Laurie Penny's blog

or just read it here:


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Panic on the streets of London.

I’m huddled in the front room with some shell-shocked friends, watching my city burn. The BBC is interchanging footage of blazing cars and running street battles in Hackney, of police horses lining up in Lewisham, of roiling infernos that were once shops and houses in Croydon and in Peckham. Last night, Enfield, Walthamstow, Brixton and Wood Green were looted; there have been hundreds of arrests and dozens of serious injuries, and it will be a miracle if nobody dies tonight. This is the third consecutive night of rioting in London, and the disorder has now spread to Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham. Politicians and police officers who only hours ago were making stony-faced statements about criminality are now simply begging the young people of Britain’s inner cities to go home. Britain is a tinderbox, and on Friday, somebody lit a match. How the hell did this happen? And what are we going to do now?

In the scramble to comprehend the riots, every single commentator has opened with a ritual condemnation of the violence, as if it were in any doubt that arson, muggings and lootings are ugly occurrences. That much should be obvious to anyone who is watching Croydon burn down on the BBC right now. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, called the disorder 'mindless, mindless'. Nick Clegg denounced it as 'needless, opportunistic theft and violence'. Speaking from his Tuscan holiday villa, Prime Minister David Cameron – who has finally decided to return home to take charge - declared simply that the social unrest searing through the poorest boroughs in the country was "utterly unacceptable." The violence on the streets is being dismissed as ‘pure criminality,’ as the work of a ‘violent minority’, as ‘opportunism.’ This is madly insufficient. It is no way to talk about viral civil unrest. Angry young people with nothing to do and little to lose are turning on their own communities, and they cannot be stopped, and they know it. Tonight, in one of the greatest cities in the world, society is ripping itself apart.

Violence is rarely mindless. The politics of a burning building, a smashed-in shop or a young man shot by police may be obscured even to those who lit the rags or fired the gun, but the politics are there. Unquestionably there is far, far more to these riots than the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked off the unrest on Saturday, when two police cars were set alight after a five-hour vigil at Tottenham police station. A peaceful protest over the death of a man at police hands, in a community where locals have been given every reason to mistrust the forces of law and order, is one sort of political statement. Raiding shops for technology and trainers that cost ten times as much as the benefits you’re no longer entitled to is another. A co-ordinated, viral wave of civil unrest across the poorest boroughs of Britain, with young people coming from across the capital and the country to battle the police, is another. 

Months of conjecture will follow these riots. Already, the internet is teeming with racist vitriol and wild speculation. The truth is that very few people know why this is happening. They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

There are communities all over the country that nobody paid attention to unless there had recently been a riot or a murdered child. Well, they’re paying attention now.
Tonight in London, social order and the rule of law have broken down entirely. The city has been brought to a standstill; it is not safe to go out onto the streets, and where I am in Holloway, the violence is coming closer. As I write, the looting and arson attacks have spread to at least fifty different areas across the UK, including dozens in London, and communities are now turning on each other, with the Guardian reporting on rival gangs forming battle lines. It has become clear to the disenfranchised young people of Britain, who feel that they have no stake in society and nothing to lose, that they can do what they like tonight, and the police are utterly unable to stop them. That is what riots are all about. 

Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves, and it spreads like fire on a warm summer night. And now people have lost their homes, and the country is tearing itself apart.

Noone expected this. The so-called leaders who have taken three solid days to return from their foreign holidays to a country in flames did not anticipate this. The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it ain’t Twitter.

I’m stuck in the house, now, with rioting going on just down the road in Chalk Farm. Ealing and Clapham and Dalston are being trashed. Journalists are being mugged and beaten in the streets, and the riot cops are in retreat where they have appeared at all. Police stations are being set alight all over the country. This morning, as the smoke begins to clear, those of us who can sleep will wake up to a country in chaos. We will wake up to fear, and to racism, and to condemnation on left and right, none of which will stop this happening again, as the prospect of a second stock market clash teeters terrifyingly at the bottom of the news reports. Now is the time when we make our choices. Now is the time when we decide whether to descend into hate, or to put prejudice aside and work together. Now is the time when we decide what sort of country it is that we want to live in. Follow the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter. And take care of one another.


Monday, 8 August 2011

say what you see

Police in riot gear in Enfield, north London, on Sunday night. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
well, if you've any kind of social networking, internet access, or even (failing all that) the news, you'll have heard about the london riots by now.

i've nothing very new to add to the pot - a number of other people already blogged much better on the earlier happenings (collection of links below), and the media finally seemed to have caught up with the facts, just in time for widespread coverage of the looting that seems to have become the main focus.

first - in my opinion - simplistic overview:  police shoot a man - police fail to make statement/answer family's questions - vigil becomes riot - riot becomes widespread property damage and looting

here are some earlier blogs which discuss this or at least provide some on the ground updates:



- - - - - - 

my brother came home, telling me some kids had barricaded the street oustide our house (coldharbour lane).  my sister and i have been in touch by phone to make sure she got home in peckham safe - she told me about police officers guarding the shops, whilst sending women and young children through back alleys to get to their homes, instead, perhaps, of watching out for the welfare of the residents themselves.  my mum just managed to make it to old kent road mosque before walworth road came in for similar treatment as many other areas.  i am not writing this from some ivory tower, or far removed from some of what is going on. just saying.

now, i am NOT commending the acts of looting, the destruction of people's homes or livelihoods.  BUT i think, whether or not this is the intention behind them (and to be fair, i doubt very much most of the looters sat down and had a political game plan before they set out to greggs, footlocker and argos), it is sad but true that this is a crude but effective way of people getting their dissatisfaction, anger and frustration seen and heard. 
yes, many people will dismiss it as opportunistic 'violence', and unfortunately a lot of it does seem at risk of turning into that (i.e. in the cases of people's homes being set alight).  But i think it is dangerous to so readily ignore it, claiming that, given that it is not directly linked to the killing of mark duggan, then it is not relevant.

Theresa May apparently said earlier: 'this is not a relationship problem' - WHAT? Dear Ms May - do you really believe that? That this is not in any way linked to the Government's complete disconnect to the country they are 'governing'.  You don't think perhaps this has any links to cuts in benefits, to 'unnecessary' services such as youth centres, refuges, esol, oh yeah, and nhs services?  

perhaps nick clegg remembers mentioning last year that tory cuts would cause riots? no?

An article in the Guardian highlights the need to think about context.  Nina Power writes:
"As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett point out in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, phenomena usually described as "social problems" (crime, ill-health, imprisonment rates, mental illness) are far more common in unequal societies than ones with better economic distribution and less gap between the richest and the poorest. Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness – combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalisation of dissent – have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.
Images of burning buildings, cars aflame and stripped-out shops may provide spectacular fodder for a restless media, ever hungry for new stories and fresh groups to demonise, but we will understand nothing of these events if we ignore the history and the context in which they occur."

in a discussion with a friend of my brother's earlier, he gave another view point - we live in a capitalist society that actively promotes materialistic wealth. so why is there so much surprise and shock when looting is the reaction to what's seen as opportunity? just one more thing to throw into the mix. again, not a commendation, but a comment to be considered.

i think unfortunately the events of thursday/friday in which a young man was killed by the police, with so far no explanation having been made public, have sparked something the police could not have imagined.  the danger now is twofold:
- that these events overshadow those surrounding mark duggan's death, allowing this to go unexplained or at least muddying the waters;
- and perhaps more dangerous, that this is dismissed, ignored by the government, as so many of the riots and protests of recent time have been dismissed, with a result that real violence does erupt, as people get tired of being ignored.

and one last thing:
i am so angry at the repeated statement of this image 'not being the image that London wants the world to see ahead of the Olympics'. right now, i do not care about the olympics. i think right now, the government perhaps needs toget their priorities straight if they want the olympics to go ahead at all.  

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Then there are times like this...

...when things seem like they can't possibly be that bad after all.

peaceful moments

when just the cat for company is perfect, and online articles inspire (thanks zaufishan)

and uplift (thanks ray).

and friends appear unexpectedly, and help make things feel better. (thanks j).

"How foreign policy blunders helped create the famine in Somalia" - New Internationalist

An excerpt from this article, which you can read in full on the New Internationalist website.

"How foreign policy blunders helped create the famine in Somalia

Posted by Mark Bradbury

Famine has returned to Somalia, and so has the US military. This is no natural disaster. Just as the US sent its first drones to Somalia, targeting leaders of the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab, tens of thousands of Somalis were crossing into Kenya, fleeing a catastrophic drought and conflict.

While US drones were able to find their targets in Somalia with pinpoint accuracy, humanitarian agencies have had less luck. They have experienced a catastrophic decline in access that has destroyed their ability to assist and protect civilians. The families crossing into Kenya are escaping from a severe drought but they are also fleeing a war.

This is a conflict between the internationally sponsored Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and a militant Islamic movement al-Shabaab, which is listed as a terrorist organization. The political use of aid by the warring parties has eroded the humanitarian space that agencies need to operate safely and securely.

Read the rest on the New Internationalist website

pictures of ramadan around the globe

something a little more pleasing to make up for the last - all these and lots more at

Friday, 5 August 2011


i've not been able to fast since ramadan started - i'm praying tomorrow will be the day that i begin. it's left me feeling empty - floating in some kind of limbo - surrounded by ramadan but not feeling a part of it yet.

i talked to a friend at work about 'ritual impurity' today - explained it doesn't just relate to women's periods, but other things too - her 'ah' when she understood, and former knowledge was replaced with new, was a good sound to hear.

i'm not quite sure what's going on in my head at the moment.  i seem to be in some stateless state, stuck nowhere in particular, with everything fuzzy and out of focus, too blurry to get a hold on.

i don't remember the last time i felt quite this flat for such a prolonged period of time. i had a conversation with a friend the other day, that started quite innocently, and ended with me in tears that mystified me.  in a skype chat with another friend, i complained so much i got to the point where i irritated even myself.  

my sense of humour seems to have taken a sabbatical, and taken balance and rationale with it.  watching/reading the news does nothing to help matters.  

there's not even any real ending to this except maybe to consider it a point of need to return - i have to sort something out.  this is a bit ridiculous.  apathy is far too irritating to stick with, and definitely does not make for readable blogs.

any suggestions welcome.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

There really are no words - help any way you can

Donate through any of the following, or any organisation you trust, if none of these (I haven't checked the authenticity or reliability of these organisations ). 
Spread the word to others.

Islamic Relief

Save the children

Oxfam East Africa Appeal


Medecins Sans Frontieres

UN Refuge Agency

Human Crisis

Just to add, a report from Islamic Aid.  Important, as many aid agencies are stating they are unable to get aid through.

"Working in this war-torn country – as Islamic Relief has done for the past five years – is certainly a complex business, fraught with danger. But we have not experienced any insurmountable problems so far in getting aid through to the areas we target – whether controlled by the government or by armed opposition groups."

Read it all here.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

missing, inaction

despite the flux of old blogs from my old facebook account

i realised that i haven't actually written anything in a long while.  kind of been missing in action...

you'd be forgiven for thinking i've just been sitting around with my feet up

actually, i've just retreated a little from the virtual world

i have been doing a fair bit of stuff, though...
my niece and i started a whole nursery of seedlings on our balcony - that deserves  blog of its own.

i've been taking a lot of photos and expanding my stash of camera bits

the other day i actually referred to myself as a 'freelance photographer' - more in jest than anything else, really, though, just mimicking what a friend had just described me as.  not quite there yet.

i've discovered new places 

made first visits

and had brilliant times learning from new friends

developing friendships is one of  the things i've had a lot of time for other the past few months.  so whether it's been in libraries

in parks

in restaurants

or even underground

i have spent more time doing things i love

with people i love

it hasn't all been sunshine and smiles, though

there've been times where i've just felt lost

and confused

where my whole life seems to just be one big mess

and everything's going too fast

other times i've just found myself so angry about different things happening - in the uk and further afield

but frustratingly, equally incompetent to make real change, so that, even as i rise up and take what little action i can, it all sometimes seems so pointless. it just feels like everything is just out of reach, like any power i have to change things has slowly faded

maybe the only way is to accept that things change - and sometimes i can affect them directly

and sometimes i can't

and all i have is the time i have

to keep believing that there will always be reason for hope