24 Hours In Manchester

Last Friday, I headed up to Manchester for a brief visit to celebrate several birthdays. As I was teaching and doing some messy art, I dressed practically. After a long journey, I was met by Flick and Steph. We dropped off my overnight stuff and headed out to El Capo for dinner. Yummy food and excellent margaritas were just what the doctor ordered!

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After a very restful slumber, we got ourselves ready for a day out in the city. I forgot to take outfit photos so I took them when I got home. All spruced up, we headed into Manchester. Our first port of call was Primark as Flick was in desperate need of flat shoes. We then walked around and found Trof – a cute and cosy bar/brunch spot. It was a lucky find! We had great service and the food was top notch.

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With full tummies, we went mooching around some shops (looked at a lot of fabric). We met up with Karen and Jen in the process, finally heading off for afternoon tea at Richmond Tea Rooms. We all had a good natter and caught up. It was lovely!

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Travelling so far is tiring and a lot of effort but it’s so worth it for good friends.

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A Lonely Journey Through Hell

Uncomfortable reading ahead:

Last night, I caught the train home from a brilliant weekend in Manchester. Long distance journeys on public transport make me pretty anxious anyway but when I found my train completely crammed with drunk football fans – I was close to panic.

I managed to shuffle my way to my seat but a woman in a head scarf was sitting there with her daughter. Aware of the atmosphere and fearing the worst, I told her to stay in my seat until her stop. The football chants continued in full force – loud and constant. I couldn’t think and I was desperate to get off the train but I had to get home.

When the woman left with her daughter, I grabbed my seat by the window and a quiet guy who was standing with me sat beside me. He was as desperate as I was for the chanting to stop so we chatted about anything and everything to take our minds off of it.

After a while, I said I’d try to drown things out with my music. It didn’t really work – it was more of a distraction at least. A moment later, I noticed a change in tone and one of the men was looking at me and smiling as he was chanting. I took out my earphones to listen more clearly – the guy next to me told me to keep listening to my music and ignore it. The chanting had moved on to the mocking of South Asian accents filled with stereotypes. To say I was upset is an understatement. I was filled with a terrible mix of rage, pain and fear.

During all of this, the same chanter looked at me and smiled. The guy next on me continued to talk, telling me they were ignorant idiots and they that were nothing. I told him I was going to shout at them and tell them to shut up. He told me that I needed to keep myself safe and that it could escalate things. He said if I had to do something then I should just call the police. I did.

Once I’d reported what was happening, I sat, watched and waited with my heart hammering in my chest. They’d gone on to illegal immigrants and the like. I kept switching between weeping and swearing. The man next to me kept talking to me throughout – a great comfort. I messaged my friends and tried to take my mind off of the fact that I was sat in my own hell, unable to leave for over two hours.

The chanting returned to football stuff. A woman shouted at the men to shut up but was met with the chant of ‘she’s going home in an ambulance’. No-one said anything to that.

When she left the train, the police arrived and the carriage became totally silent. No-one said a word. One of the chanters was loudly complaining to the police about the woman who told them to shut up. I couldn’t take it so I called over one of the officers, explaining what the woman said and that I had reported the chants. They asked me to identify anyone I could. The only person I could clearly identify was the one who smiled and stared at me while he chanted. The rest had their heads turned or were obscured by seats or other passengers. They said they’d remove him and asked me to make a statement – I said I would. As they escorted the man off the train, I stared at him and smiled.

What happened afterwards, upset me most. The guy next to me who heard everything wished me luck and got off at his station – he didn’t want to talk to the police. The other passengers on the same carriage who heard everything remained silent as I called my better half and told him what had happened in tears. They looked at me and I looked back – then they averted their eyes. My statement would be the only one. I was painfully aware of that fact.

As I sit reflecting on the events of last night, I feel so frustrated and self-doubting. Did no-one say anything because they didn’t think the chanters were being racist? Did they think I was being sensitive or over-reacting? Thing is I know – everyone should bloody know – that you don’t have to use racist language to be racist. Mocking accents and laughing about illegal immigrants while you’re staring and smiling at a brown woman and the brown man in front of her surely is not OK. Am I wrong?

I wish sometimes that I had the privilege of being ignorant. I wish I could hear this stuff and not register it – it’s drunk banter, it’s nothing. Being drunk doesn’t make you racist or xenophobic though. You were those things already but alcohol loosens your tongue and gives you enough bravado to say that ignorant rubbish in public. I wish I could ignore it all. I wish I could say that my brown skin doesn’t spark some vile thought in someone’s brain. The fact is I know far too much. I know it’s not drunk banter. I know that it’s about brown skin.  I know that it’s racist. Sometimes I hate myself for knowing so much. Knowing so much is incredibly lonely.

Twinwood 2018 In Photos

This year’s bank holiday was spent catching up with friends, trawling through stalls and enjoying some fabulous tunes at Twinwood. Saturday was the busiest day for us – we did so much. The weather was pretty grim on Sunday so we made most of the day and rested up in the evening. On Monday, we had to head home pretty quick so we had a final stroll around and catch up. Twinwood 2018 was seriously chilled and it was bliss – a great end to the summer holidays

Saturday

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Sunday

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Monday

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Such a fabulous weekend spent with good friends – just what we needed!

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Turning 30

This summer, I turned the big 3-0. I’ve got to a point in life where I much prefer experiences With that in mind, my better half and I organised an awesome weekend in London

DragWorld

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore drag so going to a drag convention seemed like the right thing to do on my thirtieth. My buddy Kelly had been the previous year and really recommended it. I’m not that confident with make-up apart from what I do on a regular basis so I stuck to my usual style of dress and make-up. I wore a vintage dress I picked up from Brighton and earrings I got as a birthday gift from my mum.

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It was such a great day! I got to spend it doing what I love: spending time with friends, watching great performances, fangirling over drag talent and engaging in big discussions. We’ll definitely be returning next year.

The Cheese Bar

Food is another one of my great loves in life. The Cheese Bar was recommended to me by a few friends so we thought we’d give it a bash. Needless to say it was brilliant from start to finish: incredibly delicious food, good atmosphere and fantastic service.

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Club Swizzle

Before I broke up from school, I found out that my friend, Dandy, would be performing at The Roundhouse over the summer. Seeing as we didn’t have plans for the evening portion of my birthday, we booked tickets for Club Swizzle.

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It was a pretty spectactular evening of acrobatics, singing, burlesque, jazz and comedy – we bloody loved it. I hope we get the chance to see the show again.

Outsider Tart

Next morning, we headed over to Turnham Green for a yummy brunch at Outsider Tart. This place NEVER disappoints.

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It was an amazing weekend and I need to thank my better half for being the best company over the weekend and for helping to organise everything.What a great way to turn 30!

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Fierce Females: Friends, Frida and Hot Brown Honey

Ah, the end of term is most definitely a time for celebration and what better way to celebrate than hanging out with my favourite people doing my favourite things!

As it was another incredibly hot day, I went for a light but bright and bold outfit. My dress is repro and I added a turban and hair flowers to top it off. I felt both wonderful and ridiculous.

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To kick off the day, I headed to the V&A to meet up with Kelly. I arrived early so a mooched about on my own. Oddly enough, I was approached by a very desperate American tourist who was looking to get into the sold out Frida exhibition in the final few hours before his flight home. I couldn’t really say no so we took a whirlwind tour before I found Kelly. With my buddy in tow and my trusty V&A membership, we went from exhibition to exhibition and took in as much as we could.

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Seeing as Kelly and I were both on our school hols, we decided to treat ourselves to the Frida Kahlo-inspired afternoon tea at The Lanesborough in London. The space was absolutely stunning to say the least and it was so serene – just what a tired teacher needs. Tea began with a palate-cleanser, which was a refreshing hibiscus concoction. This was followed by some really scrummy sandwiches. I particularly enjoyed the cucumber one and the guacamole one. Scones as always made us very happy indeed. Now, I’m such a stickler for good cakes and patisserie – I was slightly worried that this afternoon tea would be more style over substance. Boy was I wrong! Every single morsel was utterly delicious and if I hadn’t have been so painfully full, I’d have happily eaten them all again. I should also add that the service was particularly brilliant; from the doorman to the pianist, everyone was warm and courteous. Both of us left with big smiles on our faces.

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After I said my goodbyes to Kelly on the tube, I moved on to Covent Garden to meet up with Jennifer. We chewed the fat as we always do and sat about in the sunshine. A  few months back, we heard about a Hot Brown Honey show at the South Bank Centre so we snapped up some tickets. I never fail to have a wonderful time with Jen and this was no exception. I won’t give any details but the show was pretty mind-blowing. It explored race, identity and gender in such a thought-provoking and intriguing manner. Both of us cried, shouted and laughed in the space of two hours. If you get the opportunity to see it, please do. Afterwards, we took time for a drink and post-show contemplation.

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Not bad for a Tuesday. I’m so grateful to have such awesome women in my life!

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Your Silence Will Not Protect You

After nearly three weeks in Costa Rica, I can get back into my normal routine. I’ll be returning to my usual Sunday blog posts but before that I feel I need to get something off my chest.

For most of my life, I have bitten my lip and done my best to be polite when dealing with micro-aggressions. I don’t always practise what I preach, which I find really frustrating. If I find myself angry or upset, I tend to check with others to see if my feelings are justified – I often wonder if I’m going mad so I seek validation from others. I want to challenge this pattern of behaviour and that’s why I’m writing this today.

A couple of months ago, I participated in a discussion on pin-up subculture. After the interview, I entered into conversation with my interviewer which ended up being problematic. I cannot post the conversation because the interviewer was very clear about not giving permission. I am sharing my experience and reactions to the conversation. I am sorry that the lack of screenshots and quotes removes context and meaning but I can’t risk the repercussions.

I spoke to several friends about this conversation and now I feel comfortable enough to share my opinions on the matter.

  1. I never gave permission for my information to be shared outside of the interview itself and posts on their social media pages.
  2. I didn’t feel comfortable being approached about participating in a contest when I know that many others do not receive the same treatment. It’s unfair; it gives me an advantage (even though my name wasn’t mentioned) and others a disadvantage. How is it a fair contest if some people are approached and encouraged and others are not?
  3. I have the privilege of having the time and means to share my writing with the world. My ability to write is subjective too. There are lots of people out there who can write much better than me – they’re just not able to share it. Again, that is unfair.
  4. I cannot stand the how do you improve diversity without tokenism? question. Marginalised people are not a tick-list, we are not a bloody pick ‘n’ mix. It’s demeaning to be told that they’d like a south Asian one, a trans one, etc. I think I find this question so aggravating because I know people have written to organisers with suggestions of how to make events more inclusive. Alixis Lupien of Ains & Elke StyleHaus wrote a letter with a list of suggestions from banning the confederate flag to offering hair classes for more than one hair type. Listening to POC and other marginalised groups to create an environment of inclusion will have more impact than a token tick-list.
  5. I’m tired of performing emotional labour and having to justify my feelings. There is a wealth of information online – I shouldn’t have to explain why I feel uncomfortable or what you can do to improve diversity.

I know full well that this post will not make me popular (to be honest, I never have been). Some will say I’m being over-sensitive, some will say I’m being aggressive. However, in the immortal words of Audre Lorde: ‘Your silence will not protect you’. I won’t make things better for myself or those from other marginalised groups if I remain quiet and polite. Of course, I’m fully aware that there are bigger and worse issues in the world but I’m starting here. I can’t encourage others without acting myself. I have to practise what I preach.

Marginalised people do not have to be grateful for bones thrown to them. Marginalised people must not be tokenised. Marginalised people deserve better.

Thanks to several incredibly supportive friends for giving me the confidence to write this. We fight the good fight together.

 

Ladies In Liverpool

Apologies for the lack of posting over the past two weeks – the end of term has been really full on but thankfully the summer holidays have started and I am FREE (for a few weeks at least). Next week, I’ll be heading off to Costa Rica so hopefully I’ll be able to post from there.

Amidst reports, data and getting ready for the next academic year, I’d made plans to go see my friend Steph who lives far up north. Last Friday after school, I grabbed my backpack and hopped on the train for a seriously long journey. As always, I was greeted with a warm smile, some form of gin cocktail and a home-cooked meal. You can see why we’re friends.

The next morning, we set off for Stockport to get our hair done at I Love Lucie hair salon. I was definitely in need of a good chop!

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I do envy Steph’s hair colour palette – it makes any hairstyle look even more fabulous. I went for something a little different that could withstand the breeze.

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After a bit of sprucing, we caught the train to Liverpool for afternoon tea at The Panoramic. Steph had brought me here before for cocktails in the evening but it was great to come during the day so I could see even more of Liverpool

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We obviously had to have cocktails and they were so ruddy tasty. The afternoon tea itself was an absolute feast for the eyes. The savouries were really varied and delicious. Scones were warm and a great texture. To say we were very happy is an understatement. Finally, we got to the dainty cakes which tasted as good as they looked. At one point, I nipped to the loo and returned to find Steph with a tie. One of the waiters gifted it to her after she complimented it but she felt it was a tad overgenerous so she returned it as we stepped out.

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Post-tea, we took a stroll over to the docks to check out the Finely Tuned vintage event. There were some pretty amazing buildings en route and there was a warm and friendly atmosphere as we walked around. We also got to spend some time catching up with the Ford sisters at their stall – always a good giggle.

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Later in the evening, we popped back to Steph’s to change outfits and freshen up. Since we’ve met, I’ve known her to take these beautiful walks around the marine lake near where she lives. As I was staying over, she wanted to take me round before we headed off for dinner. Of course we dressed appropriately in nautical style. When we go to The Tapas Kitchen, we were both ready for more yummy treats.

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The next morning, we had breakfast at Steph’s parents’ cafe (so needed) before I got the train home. I also got one of her mum’s ridiculously perfect scones to keep me going on my journey. A great end to the weekend.

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Another fabulous weekend up north and I’m sure there’ll be many more to come. Thanks so much for looking after me, Steph!

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