It Is Here! My New Book!

I never thought I would do a follow up to The Key, which was out last year (on Amazon). However, I was hoovering at work and a thought occurred to me, “What if a woke person met these characters?” The idea was too delicious to ignore.

I didn’t want to write a two dimensional character in Chloe. I wanted to make it clear that she was intelligent and very able, but also has been emotionally neglected by her mother most of her life and so has found solace in the internet. Chloe has been given a chance – she is given a lot of chances and is treated very well and lovingly throughout this novel. The characters all affirm Chloe in her abilities, and they give her opportunities to gain more abilities, to grow and to add to her CV (resume).

At the end of this chapter, Chloe is advised on what not to wear for the job. It is the same advice I was given by a manager – a tough gay woman – in one of the services I worked in in Edinburgh. I had worn a short dress over a pair of tweed trousers. It looked good, believe me. The manager told me to not come back in a dress because the clients will want to protect me. People I’ve told this to have gasped and said how awful the manager is. I said, no, she is right. The work we were doing, the clients we were working with, she was right to tell me what she didn’t want me to wear in the workplace.

We return to the house where the security firm is run from four months after the events of The Key. The Key is still available on Amazon, £7.99 as a paperback and £1.99 as an ebook, and so is The Underground. Please do enjoy this glimpse into the new book.

Chapter Two

Chloe smoothed down the front of her blouse as the breeze blew the hem of her skirt about her legs. She took a breath, remembering how her last job had ended the previous month. She knew it wasn’t her fault, no matter what they had said. She took her phone from her shoulder bag. Her mother hadn’t answered yet. Chloe took another breath and rang the doorbell.

Inside the house, Graeme Evans shouted from the kitchen, ‘Jack, answer the door!’

The slight man in a denim jacket and jeans, whose head was crowned with untamed hair, looked up from his black phone and called back, ‘Why me?’

The Welshman replied, ‘Because of what the rest of us look like.’ He pointed a finger at his shaved head, hard muscled body and black T-shirt and jeans.

Jack got up from the armchair that he always occupied, put his phone in his pocket and went to answer the door. He opened the door to a young white woman with spiralling dark hair, dark eyes and pleasant make up. Jack took in her white blouse with a black bow at the neck, and he took in the billowing black above the knee skirt and black with black heeled sandals.

‘I was told to ask for Graeme,’ Chloe said.

‘Kitchen,’ Jack said. He turned and went back to the living room to his chair.

Frowning at the rudeness, Chloe followed him along the hallway. She saw two small flags on the hallway wall that she knew; the flag of France and the flag of the UK, but there was another small flag with pink and white stripes that she could not identify. Chloe stood by the open living room doorway. Graeme left the kitchen with two cups of tea in his hands.

‘Shoes off love. Do you take sugar?’

‘I have a name.’

‘Right you are. Chloe.’

‘Do you have any fruit juice?’ Chloe asked. ‘I try to not drink caffeine during the week.’

‘Right you are,’ Graeme said. ‘I’ll find you some juice. Shoes.’ He handed Jack a cup of tea and put the other cup on the carpet next to a teenager who was sitting on the floor with his head down, reading a graphic novel. His fingers twitched.

Chloe sat down on the hallway stairs to remove her shoes. As she did, she looked into the living room. All the others in the house were men. This was a risky situation for any woman to be in. She also said to herself that a business that was run from a backstreet terraced house could not be legal. She had spoken to the Frenchman on the phone. He was the manager of the company and he had told her that this was an internationally recognised security company. Chloe’s own research online had confirmed this.

Chloe went back into the living room where Graeme handed her a glass of orange juice. ‘One hundred and eleven calories per every one hundred and twenty millilitres.’

Chloe looked up at him, unable to gauge from the tone of his voice whether he was mocking her or simply being helpful. ‘Where is the manager?’

Graeme sat down on the sofa in front of the window and indicated for Chloe to sit down on the sofa to his right that ran along the wall. As she sat, Graeme pointed at a photograph on the mantlepiece. ‘Yannick and Gillian are away and will be back on Wednesday. They’ve had Easter in the Seychelles, the lucky buggers.’

He pointed to himself. ‘Operations manager.’ He pointed to Jack who was tapping out an email on his black phone. ‘Communications manager, which is ironic considering he hardly speaks.’ Graeme pointed to the teenager with the comic. ‘My protégé. Eh?’ Graeme tapped the teenager’s head.

The young man looked up. ‘What Dad?’

Chloe’s eyes widened as she saw the scars on the teenager’s face.

‘Steven, this is Chloe. She’s going to do the books.’

‘Cook the books?’ Steven asked with big eyes.

‘You misheard me son,’ Graeme said, tapping a finger against Steven’s skull. ‘Chloe’s a business graduate. She’s going to do all the paperwork, that sort of thing. She’ll make sure we do everything right now that the business has boomed.’

‘Oh.’

Graeme asked the teenager, ‘Have you had your meds?’

Steven’s face was blank when he said, ‘I forgot.’

‘You’d forget your cock if it weren’t sewn on,’ Graeme said. ‘Go and take your meds. Go on.’

Steven scrambled to his feet and ran out of the living room to the kitchen and took some boxes from a cupboard.

Chloe’s fingers clenched the glass that stood between her hands.

‘Don’t worry yourself about Steven,’ Graeme said. ‘We all have problems. He’s been with us for nearly two years now. He’s learning to read, and he is doing something productive with his life.’

Chloe’s eyes darted from side to side as she tried to understand.

‘He’s not my son,’ Graeme explained. ‘My own son is a tiny bit smaller and shits himself more often than Steven does.’

Graeme took out his phone and showed the screen saver to Chloe. Chloe leaned forward and squinted at the picture of the newborn wrapped in a powder blue crocheted blanket.

‘He’s cute,’ Chloe said, noticing Graeme’s simple gold wedding ring as he held his phone in front of her. ‘How old is he?’

‘Seven weeks. My little Spencer.’

‘Spencer?’

Graeme put his phone away. ‘Joe’s family name is Spencer. Spencer Wyn Evans. We decided to not double barrel.’

Steven came running into the living room again and sat down again on the carpet. He closed his comic and looked up at Graeme.

‘Boyos?’

Jack put down his phone and Steven picked up a writing pad and pen.

Graeme sat back on the sofa and said, ‘So this is Chloe. She is joining us to help with the books and paperwork and she will put systems in place for us all. Chloe is a Business graduate, so she knows much more than we do about these matters. She speaks Chinese too, is that right Chloe?’

‘Mandarin.’

‘So, you can order us take out,’ Graeme said.

Again, Chloe could not gauge if Graeme was merely joking or making fun of her.

‘This is a security business?’ Chloe asked, despite having researched the company online. ‘What kind of security?’

Graeme stretched out his arms and then said, ‘We are the Stockport Team, and it all started here, in this very room, with me and Yannick.’ Graeme pointed to a photograph on the mantlepiece of an athletic man with short dark hair and a short beard. ‘Ugly bastard, isn’t he?’ Graeme didn’t wait for Chloe’s response. ‘He was an inspector in Paris, he came over this way and we worked together on the local police force. We wasted a lot of time, we had few resources, there was too much red tape and we weren’t helping anyone, so we set up our own security firm to deal with all the low-level crime that blights the lives of normal everyday people that the police nowadays simply ignore.’

‘Oh.’ This caught Chloe’s imagination. ‘So, this is a community project?’

‘No, this is a business,’ Graeme reiterated. ‘We have a team here, we have the Bolton Team run by security specialist Donald Fairbank, and a new team in Blackley run by our very own Nigerian soldier Anderton Garba. Residents in these areas pay us ten pounds per person per year, and we take care of any low-level crime that comes their way.’

‘Ten pounds per person,’ Chloe wondered out loud. ‘On a street of fifty to one hundred houses, that’s five hundred to one thousand pounds, assuming everyone on that street buys your services.’

‘They usually do,’ Graeme smiled. ‘When people see their neighbours getting their stolen goods back or us removing the graffiti on their walls and stopping the little pests from coming back, they hand us ten of their British pounds.’

‘How do you get stolen goods back?’ Chloe asked.

‘We know people who know people,’ Graeme said. ‘We keep our ears to the ground on many matters. Our girl Gilli deals with much of the underground rumblings. She’s still officially a detective sergeant, so she has all her police informants, as well as a few other characters that her husband Yannick keeps an eye on.’

‘I see.’

‘On top of all of this, as though it weren’t enough, we have the overseas work, body guarding for VIPs, and this is where your Chinese will come in handy,’ Graeme told Chloe. ‘I was told you write the characters?’

‘I’m at B2 level,’ Chloe said.

‘That sounds wonderful but I have no idea what it means,’ Graeme replied. ‘Will you be able to read and translate documents?’

Chloe nodded. ‘I’ve got an app for anything that’s beyond me.’

‘You’re not just a pretty face,’ Graeme said.

Chloe’s jaw clenched.

‘Now,’ Graeme continued. ‘Your pay -‘

‘The Boss will like you!’ Steven interrupted.

With flared nostrils, Chloe stood up. ‘I don’t think this “job” is for me.’ She put her glass of juice down on the carpet, picked up her handbag and went to the hallway to retrieve her shoes.

Graeme tapped Steven on the head. ‘Look what you’ve done.’

‘Sorry Dad.’ Steven put his head down and began doodling on his notepad.

Graeme went to the hallway, where Chloe was struggling to put on her shoes without falling over in her effort to leave as quickly as she could. ‘It helps if you sit on the step.’

‘You patronising bastard!’ Chloe said, shocked that someone was mansplaining to her, but she knew that in reality she shouldn’t be shocked. ‘What was I thinking? A business run from a house!’

She finished fumbling with her shoes and stood up straight. She pulled the strap of her handbag onto her shoulder.

Graeme stood between Chloe and the door.

‘Let me pass!’

‘In a moment,’ Graeme said.

‘What? Are you kidnapping me now?’

Graeme took a deep breath. ‘I think you’ve misinterpreted my sense of humour for something it isn’t and -‘

‘Do you tell the men they have a pretty face?’

‘Yes I do,’ Graeme replied. ‘We try to keep things light around here because of the severity of our work. Did you hear about the woman who killed herself and her disabled daughter because of the campaign of anti-social behaviour against them? Or the four teenage boys who committed suicide last year because of the bullying at their secondary school?’

‘I heard about the woman and daughter,’ Chloe said. ‘I didn’t know about the boys.’

‘We’re trying to make a difference in people’s lives. We take it seriously. That’s why we piss about when we’re in this house.’

Chloe looked past Graeme.

‘Look,’ he said, ‘if you don’t want to come back, we’ll pay you until the end of the week. If you do want to come back, come back on Wednesday. Gilli will be here. You’ll have another woman here.’

‘I might do that,’ Chloe said.

‘Don’t pay any attention to Steven. You can see his lift doesn’t go all the way up to the top.’

Chloe nodded, noting that Graeme had a problem with people with mental health conditions.

‘You’ve walked into a house full of men you don’t know,’ Graeme said. ‘We should have arranged for your first day to be when Gilli is here.’

‘OK.’

‘Can you drop me a text to let me know your decision?’

Chloe nodded.

‘And if you are going to come back, can you not come in a skirt again? Jeans and a top will be fine.’

Chloe sighed. ‘Right.’

Graeme put his hands up. ‘Women can wear whatever they want. I really don’t care. But we’re in the business we’re in. If you come here in a skirt, some of our clients will want to protect you, and the others might not be so polite.’

‘I can’t believe I’m hearing this.’

‘Chloe, this isn’t a perfect world,’ Graeme said. ‘We work with people as they are, not how we would prefer them to be. Do you see me and the others in suits? We’re all in casual.’

‘OK.’

‘This isn’t Paris Fashion Week, even though I wish it were.’

‘OK.’

‘Come back on Wednesday,’ Graeme said, trying to smile. ‘Gilli will be here, in jeans and a top. Yannick will be back. He and Gilli can go through things better with you and take you out and show you what we actually do.’

Chloe nodded.

‘We could really use someone who speaks Chinese,’ Graeme said. ‘We’re not used to having women folk around. Forgive us for any mansplaining or manspreading or whatever we’ve done.’

‘See you on Wednesday,’ Chloe said in a tight voice.

‘That would be wonderful Chloe.’

Graeme held the door open for Chloe, who left, unsure if she were really going to come back, but the hope of another woman being around and the Frenchman who had sounded so nice and intelligent when she had spoken to him on the phone was enough to keep her interest.

Graeme waited until Chloe was halfway down the street before he closed the door. ‘Well!’ He exhaled and staggered back into the living room.

‘Whipped by a woman,’ Jack said without looking up from his phone.

Steven sniggered.

Graeme sat down on the sofa. ‘Enough of my private life. Boyos, we need to become conversant in Woke.’

Jack raised his eyebrows and Steven carried on sniggering.

Graeme decided, ‘I’ll call Anderton. He knows about all this modern talk.’

Steven looked up from his doodling. ‘Bin her Dad!’

‘No son,’ Graeme said wearily. ‘Out of the list of candidates, Chloe was among the most able, and the one most in need of help. I think we can help that girl.’

Graeme leaned back on the sofa, hoping he, Gilli and Yannick had made the right decision.

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Sam Smith and LGBT Visibility


So Sam Smith had released a new song and video and they’ve attracted positive and negative comments and commentary. Let’s have a look.


OK, I found the choon quite milk toast. I found the choon – the music and the vocals – just like regular radio music. If I just heard this track without seeing the video, I would forget the track straight away. It’s average. I can hear a little influence from George Michael’s Outside track in the opening bars. But really, the track is forgettable.


I’ve had to go and look up the lyrics because the track is so forgettable. I can remember Stay With Me, who can’t, one of Sam Smith’s older and more famous tracks. So, the lyrics of the new track are basically about wanting a hookup. There’s nothing clever about the construction of the verses, and the verses are the same two verses/choruses over and over. It’s not high quality work.


There is a verse at the beginning and statement about the necessity to love oneself. Yes. Absolutely. There is the statement “I’m a blessing of a body to love on.”


We are all blessed with bodies. As such, we need to take care of our bodies. As I’ve said before, I fight my weight problem that is part and parcel of my genetic condition. Why? Because I want to be healthy. Why? Because being healthy puts me at less risk of a heart attack and diabetes which is a more serious condition than most people realise. With the shape of my body, I am at high risk of heart attack and diabetes. A round stomach pulls the internal organs forward, out of line of where they should be in the body, thus putting more stress on the internal organs.


Whether someone is “fatphobic” or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is health, living our best lives and living well. We can’t live our best lives if we are hooked up to hospital equipment and snuff it before the age of 50. Here in the UK, the NHS is not exactly amazing – as in it’s utter shite – and so people are more likely to be ill and snuff it than they were 20 years ago when receiving NHS treatment. In the USA and other parts of the world, people have to pay for treatment and medication. Life becomes expensive and miserable when you are carrying too much extra weight. So let’s park fatphobia for a while and just acknowledge that being seriously overweight or obese is not someone living their best life.


OK, let’s get to the video. The video where all the dancers are thin and the male dancers are muscular…

That big pink fluffy thing Sam Smith is wearing is reminiscent of the big progressive rainbow thing that Joy Lycett wore when he lied about shredding£10000 because David Beckham went to vehemently homophobic Qatar for the football World Cup.


People around the world are told by their governments that LGBT people are degenerates who live obscene lives and paedo children. That is the message that governments in many parts of Africa and Asia give to their citizens. I know because I have worked and continue to work with people from around the world.


LGBT people need to ask ourselves what do we want people to think of us? Do we want people to think we are normal people who live normal lives, or do we want people to think we are freaks who live obscene lives? When I look at people like Sam Smith and Joe Lycett, I wonder which mothers would want their gay or non-binary sons to be influenced by these people? Which fathers? When someone holds their baby, whether in India, Congo or Scotland, do they want their child to grow up to be someone who flashes their bum and nipple tassles to the world? When we live in times when homophobia is growing, especially among people under the age of 20, and parents now say they don’t want their teenagers playing with LGBT teenagers, we have to start asking why.


I think a lot of the surge in homophobia has to do with the image that people have of LGBT people. Homophobia isn’t just a few nasty names. The murder rate for gay and bisexual people in the UK has shot up in the past two years, with most cases not making it into the news at all. Here in England, gay and bisexual people have been murdered openly in the street, in front of witnesses or CCTV cameras, with the murderers shouting homophobic abuse as they murder gay and bisexual people.


Ten years ago, not many people had an open problem with LGBT people. Of course people did – I know from workplace discrimination – but people kept their genuine bigotry quiet in public. Now, people are fed up of LGBT stuff being pushed at them all the time, including LGBT people. It’s also not high quality entertainment or knowledge that is being pushed at people. In the past, we had Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf and Michael Stipe and Angelina Jolie as famous LGBT people to look to and learn about if you wanted to – people who produced world class literature, intelligent music and humanitarian work. Now it’s nipple tassles and pronouns that you have to accept or you’re a bigot.


We also need to think about the impact that the only visibility of LGBT people being so outlandish actually has on LGBT people, including young people who are only just realising they may be LGBT.
We know from male rugby players and soldiers who have come out as gay that they struggled with being gay men because they never saw any gay men in public life who were masculine and tough men. They only saw effeminate men as gay men in public life. It led to a lot of confusion, denial and hurt for some gay men.


One of my gay man friends is an ex soldier and oil rig worker. I showed him a photo of Dave Rubin. My friend was shocked. He said no way would Dave Rubin ever appear on UK TV. Why? Because Dave Rubin is a masculine gay man. He plays basketball, he wears suits and he hosts a serious news and debate programme from the home he shares with his husband and children.


Now look at all the gay men on UK TV. They are all – all – effeminate. There is nothing wrong with effeminate, but when this is the only representation of gay men on UK TV, we have to ask what is going on. And these effeminate men are not effeminate men who are amazing finance advisors or personal trainers. The gay men on UK TV are the joke. In every TV programme where there are gay men – including drag queens – the gay men are the joke. Bruno Tonioli, Louis Walsh, Graham Norton, Gok Wan, Rylan Clark, Alan Carr… All effeminate and all there for straight people to laugh at. Sometimes laugh with, but mostly laugh at.


Shows such as Big Brother, X Factor, anything on the BBC, seeks out young gay or bisexual people who will fit a certain mould that TV shows want to present. The TV channels say they want to represent LGBT people, but actually, they want to put out an image of LGBT people that is a piss take of LGBT people.


When I was at university 20 years ago, the LGBT group was approached by Channel 4 for people to appear in Big Brother. Why was a TV channel keen to get hold of young people who were away from home for the first time, some were coming to terms with being LGBT for the first time and some were struggling with self love and self acceptance? Why was a TV channel so keen to get their hands on this group of people? And they tried it with LGBT groups for young people across the UK.


A bisexual group I helped run four years ago was invaded by TV researchers wanting bisexual women to appear in a dating show. I told them to bugger off and I knew exactly why they wanted bisexual women to appear in a show. I also had to alert everyone in the group that we had been invaded by heterosexuals who wanted to exploit us and as a result we had to change all of our protocols. I was concerned for several vulnerable members of the group who were mentally unwell at the time or were survivors of sexual abuse. Our safety and confidentiality as a group had been broken by a group of heterosexuals who wanted to treat bisexual people like animals in a zoo on a dating show.


This is how TV channels behave. They expect that they can invade an LGBT space and make demands of the LGBT people so that they can make money off straight people pointing and laughing at us. The mainstream media is not on the side of LGBT people.


TV channels in the UK seek out young LGBT people. This is because they know young LGBT people often struggle with self image, identity, mental health and some are desperate to be loved and will do anything to be loved. People with such needs “Make great TV”. As in people who will behave in outrageous ways for likes. TV channels deliberately set up young LGBT people to fail in front of a national audience with mainly straight people laughing at them.


How does this affect gay and bisexual men and teenagers who think they may be gay or bisexual?
As I said, it makes some gay men think that they cannot be gay. Gareth Thomas, the rugby player, said he struggled with the idea of being gay because the only gay men he saw were effeminate. He was not effeminate so he couldn’t reconcile his attractions to men with what he saw as “gay”.


I also wonder if, seeing gay men as clowns for straight people to laugh at on TV, makes some boys who think they may be gay or bisexual want to stay in the closet or actually hate being gay. We know from anecdotal evidence that young gay women sometimes hate being identified as “lesbian” because, as they say, “lesbian is a porn category”.


I know I am so lucky to have been in a school where my teachers were not screaming about being LGBT, they just were. They never talked about being LGBT because we were under Section 28 in the UK where the government banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, but my gay and bisexual teachers were just themselves and any bullying was stamped on. They were excellent teachers, most had been social workers or youth workers before becoming teachers. The school I went to offered one of the best educations in the entire area. I didn’t learn about moon gender from my gay and bisexual teachers. I learned about phases of the moon. I learned how to speak French. I learned how to craft pots from clay. I am so lucky to have been a teenager back then and to have gone to that school.


I am lucky to have been a teenager when the gay and bisexual pop stars were normal people who dressed and acted normally… because being LGBT is normal for 2% the population. The charts were full of gay and bisexual people who were successful, out and proud and just normal. They didn’t sexualise themselves or others beyond Brett Anderson wearing a shirt that was partly open or showing his midriff or both.


If I was a teenager now, I don’t know what my reaction would be to LGBT people in the public eye. I don’t know if I would be proud to be LGBT.


People say that no one complains when Rihanna has her butt and boobs out in videos. I have. I have always found Rihanna’s videos and songs to be far too sexual. I have never found her attractive, I just find her vulgar. I did a blog post on WAP and how disgusting a song about vaginal fluid was, plus how horrible it was that the video and song featured two straight women who were using faux lesbianism to promote their track.


Skunk Anansie – whose front woman was bisexual and is now lesbian – never used sexual imagery in their videos and they were an incredibly successful band. David Bowie – who was bisexual – never used sexual imagery in his videos and is the most famous bisexual in history after Julius Caesar. Freddie Mercury wore a clone suit and his videos had sexual imagery, but he was also making fun of everything at the same time. Same with Frankie Goes To Hollywood. They were being in your face at a time when same sex relationships were illegal for any adult under 21, and they were famous and at the top of the music charts when homophobic violence and murders were the norm for gay and bisexual people in the UK. But Freddie and Frankie were also making fun of everything, too.


Sam Smith is being serious. Or is they? Some people believe that this is Sam Smith just trolling us.

The green arm length gloves look positively reptilian to me, so is that a nod to the reptiles who are ruling us? I hope so because otherwise, the gloves are a really odd choice of clothing. They clash with the rest of Sam’s outfit.

The West has become aware that China’s TV stations regularly show pictures or videos of queer people or LGBT people with strange appearances behaving in strange ways. The question that goes with these photos or videos is “Look at the West. Do you want to be like them?”


When outrageous behaviour and strange appearances are what people around the world as well as in the West see of “LGBT representation”, it is no wonder that homophobia has increased. It is no wonder that normal gay teenagers and gay men can’t reconcile being gay with the strange things they see on TV and on the internet of LGBT people. Most gay men are normal men. Some are effeminate but most gay men are masculine, and gay men – effeminate or masculine – have normal jobs and want normal lives. Some want to get married and raise a family.


I remember seeing the film A Beautiful Thing, which was a late 1996 film about two 16 year old gay boys who lived on the same council estate, kept seeing each other around and got together. One night, they ventured out to a gay pub. It was a tatty place with a third rate drag queen, but the wonder on the teenagers’ face was plain. It was as if they had finally come home. I thought to myself that this was a load of crap. How many working class gay teenagers think a tatty pub and a drag act are the pinnacle of life?


A lot of gay people find gay pubs an embarrassment. They certainly were in the late 90s. Canal Street was glam. Some gay pubs, like the one I went to with friends in Blackpool, were fine. Others were tatty, creepy, pervy and bitchy, such as the ones in Stoke where I went to university. I stopped going on the local gay scene within a couple of weeks. Other LGBT people warned me that it wasn’t a good environment. They were right. “Friendships” were shallow and sexualised, and the drag queen was bitchy. I remember being in a pub one night and the drag queen was making fun of the one transvestite in the place. The transvestite looked to me like someone who struggles with self confidence. We were supposed to be a community, supporting each other, and here was one person loudly taking the piss out of another and encouraging other people to take the piss out of the transvestite, which thankfully no one else did.


In the city I live in now, the two gay clubs have been closed by the police due to the large amount of rapes connected with the clubs. One of the venues has re opened with different closing times and on the provisor that there are no more rapes in or around the club. What wonderful representation to show the world. Lots and lots of rapes.


And we wonder why homophobia is on the rise.


I did ask friends what one of the clubs is like. I joked, “All I ask for is a quaint place with no locks on the toilet doors, fights on the dance floor and weapons and bags of heroin behind the bar.” People joked back, “I thought you said you’d never been in.” I was just describing several other gay clubs I had been to when I was 18 and discovering the gay scene. No locks on the toilet doors for group sex, fighting on the dance floor over partners and sex, and weapons and bags of heroin behind the bar. Apparently, the gay club in this city is an absolute hole. It looks like an absolute hole from the outside. And this is what people see of LGBT people. This is our representation.


And we wonder why people stay in the closet or have trouble reconciling their upstanding personality with their attraction to the same sex.


People say all the time that representation is important. We have to ask just exactly what representation we are getting.


Back to Sam Smith. The video and the song are not great art. Sam Smith was up there with some greats. Sam did the theme song for James Bond, up there with Shirley Bassey and Tina Turner – seriously famous people who were also people with class. There’s nothing classy about Sam’s latest video. It’s trashy. The song isn’t great. It’s forgettable.


Sam Smith’s artistry has gone backwards. They is not progressing. They is regressing. I commented in a past blog post that Sam Smith saying we are all own our creations is regressive. When we focus our time on our appearance and not on our work, the quality of our work suffers. When we focus our creativity on our appearance only, the creativity in our work suffers. This is evident in Sam Smith’s recent photos where it is obvious that Sam’s creativity is going into their physical appearance.
As an LGBT person and a creative person, I’d like to see pics of Sam Smith studying the craft of singing, lyric writing and music making. MC Solaar – a refugee who started the rap scene in France – went to college in Cairo to learn wordsmithery. Solaar is known for his use of double meanings and homophones. He writes tracks about the environment, the effects of the First and Second World War on a village and the freedoms France enjoys today, and of course he writes tracks about love. Jane Et Tarzan is pure joy with sound effects of elephants trumpeting and monkeys cheering the woman and man flirting with each other.


As a writer, I have attended courses, read books about writing, listened to highly recognised writers talk about the writing process. I have learned a lot about devices. For example, in my new book The Underground, there is foreshadowing. In Chapter Ten, Yannick throws a scone up into the air and catches it. In a later chapter, Yannick throws a weapon that has just been used up into the air and catches it. The fact that Yannick treats a bloodied weapon in the same way he treats food is an insight into Yannick’s psychology.


As a writer who is an LGBT person, I am keen to put out a positive view of LGBT people as well as raise issues that LGBT face. The character Graeme is based on several men I have known. He is a gay man married to a man, he is muscular, he uses violence when necessary, he is an ex police detective who now helps to run a security firm. Graeme is the one who holds everyone together, he is the best friend anyone could ever want, and he is a man that most men – straight as well as gay – can identify with.
I also wanted Graeme to be a role model for gay men. I want gay men to know that they can have a monogamous relationship, get married, be successful in a normal job, do something positive for society and be a genuine, decent human being instead of being forced into the tiny boxes of sluttery and vapidity that the mainstream media and the gay media push at gay men.


With their latest offerings, Sam Smith appears to be going for the easy route to fame and likes in the same way Lady Gaga did. Lady Gaga is a classically trained musician and can play the harp, piano and various other instruments. She could do something truly great. So could Sam Smith. These artists have the ability to be the great composers of our time. Jaron Lanier is composing some interesting and fun stuff. Tokio Myers is fantastic. Sam Smith and Gaga could be truly great. Lady Who? Exactly. She’s already forgotten because she went for the quick route to fame and likes, and that is short lived.


I would like to see Sam Smith stop banging the non-binary gong and simply get on with being non-binary and attracted to men, and get back to turning out great work. They has the ability. They could refocus their mind away from their physical appearance and the labels they uses and turn their mind to producing great music. Sam Smith has the voice for greatness and the talent. I would love to see Sam Smith move beyond this awkward phase and become truly great.


And yes, I have used the pronouns Sam Smith prefers because I do not want to distract anyone’s attention away from the message I want to give. I never used different pronouns when I had a different gender, and neither did anyone I knew. However, I don’t want people to huff off and not take away the message of hope I have for Sam Smith.

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Low Self-Esteem in LGBT People


I thought the L Word did some good and some damage to gay women. One of the things I think the L Word did well was to encourage gay women to be successful in their chosen profession and to be more confident. Series 3 addressed Alice’s emotional dependency and addiction issues, but only in a brief overview way of dealing with an issue.


Both the UK and USA versions of Queer As Folk did address to some degree self esteem and drug misuse, and when low self esteem and drug misuse are linked, and are much higher among LGBT people than heterosexual people, we do need to take a good look at these issues. So let’s do just that.


According to psychologytools.com and the NHS website, low self-esteem “means not holding yourself in high regard. If you have low self-esteem, you might feel shy or anxious around other people, think of yourself as incapable or criticise yourself harshly.”


When people have good self-esteem, they are able to list positive and true attributes about themselves such as “I am kind”, “I am a good employee” and “I am a good friend”.


Some people with low self-esteem feel that they have to do more, go the extra mile, to people please, in order to be seen as OK, as acceptable to others. However, this people pleasing, always trying to be better to be seen as acceptable, is not healthy. It can make a person stressed, depressed and anxious.
Low self-esteem makes some people more vulnerable to the misuse of alcohol and illegal drugs.


What causes low-self esteem?


According to psychologytools.com, causes of low self-esteem can be abuse or neglect and some people believe that they deserved whatever was done to them, insufficient warmth, or insufficient love and praise in childhood so that the person does not feel loved, the failure to meet other people’s expectations in childhood or the inability to fit in with a peer group in childhood or adolescence which can make the person feel like the odd one out or that they are different in some way.


LGBT young people are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual young people, according to Tom Bruett Therapy’s website. According to this LGBT therapy page, LGBT people abuse drugs and alcohol at a rate of 20-30%, whereas the rate for heterosexual people is 9%.


Tom Bruett Therapy’s page talks about the body issues that some gay men have. This is something that I have heard gay men talk about but I have never seen any articles written about the subject. Tom Bruett Therapy talks about the endless images online of gay men as being muscular white men, and that this is held up as the standard for gay men’s bodies.


According to research by Feldman in 2007, 15% gay men have an eating disorder, whereas 5% heterosexual men have an eating disorder.


Why do more LGBT people struggle with self-esteem and addiction than heterosexual people?
According to Medical News Today, LGBT young people are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem. The possibility of rejection by family, friends and anyone a person knows for a sexual or gender orientation causes insecurity and problems relating to others confidently.


LGBT people report more loneliness than heterosexual people according to Medical News Today, citing the disappearing of LGBT venues as a problem as the dating world moves online. This means LGBT people might find it difficult to locate and interact with other LGBT people for friendship, not just relationships. This creates isolation and makes it easier for LGBT people to be horrible to each other.
To find more on what we as LGBT people all know but LGBT organisations tend to sweep under the carpet – I’m talking about adverse childhood events – I had to go onto Brave search engine, away from Google, to find some research that speaks to what we as LGBT people all know from our own lives and the lives of our friends and the people we love.


The paper Stressful Childhood Experiences And Health Outcomes in Sexual Minority Populations: A Systematic Review by Schneeberger et al Sept 2014 looked at 73 different articles that addressed issues in the childhoods of LGBT people, including dysfunctional families in childhood. The studies covered childhood sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse and neglect and childhood emotional neglect. Household dysfunction covered a parent or caregiver with a substance misuse problem, parental separation, a family history of mental illness, the incarceration of a parent or care giver and witnessing violence.


The conclusion of this paper was “LGBT people showed high prevalence of SCE” and stated that the results were physical illnesses as well as psychiatric symptoms. Most of the research was based in the USA.


Another paper titled Does Maltreatment In Childhood Affect Sexual Orientation in Adulthood by Andrea L Roberts, M Maria Glymour and Karestan C Koenen found that there was a “positive association between physical and sexual abuse, neglect and witnessing violence in childhood and same-sex sexuality in adulthood” but they also said that this is all a difficult field because there are so many variables.


This paper did find that sexual abuse in childhood raised the incidence of same-sex attraction in adulthood, and that “the effects of sexual abuse on men’s sexual orientation were substantially larger than women’s.”


Another paper by Christopher Zou and Judith Anderson showed elevated levels of abuse in the childhoods of LGBT people, plus bullying by a peer group in childhood and a dysfunctional family. This paper drew together research that showed that lesbian and bisexual women experience sexual assault at any point in their lifetime at 15.6% – 85%, and gay and bisexual men at 11.8% – 54%. These figures are much higher than for heterosexual women which is 25% and heterosexual men which is 14.28%.


Trying to find statistics on other adverse childhood events such as having a mentally ill parents is difficult, so I will now talk about four friends I have had and what they said to me about their childhoods and how it affected them.


One of my friends loved men and not women, even though he found women sexually attractive. His mother had schizophrenia, and as a child he found her scary, but his father always took care of him and protected him from his mother’s outbursts. My friend learned that men were love to him and women were scary and to be avoided.


One of my friends, when I told him about the friend whose mother had schizophrenia, he told me that his mother had had severe post-natal depression after he was born, but his father took care of him. His mother could not take care of him, so his father met all his needs. He thinks this could be why he loves men and not women after many years of saying being gay is how he was born.


One of my female friends said it was obvious that there was a strong genetic factor in her family, her sister and her brothers all being same sex attracted. Her brothers are gay and she and her sister are bisexual. She said that her father was “a tyrant” and her mother developed a nervous condition when she was 6 years old. Her mother stopped hugging her and her sister, and her father beat them regularly. The girls learned to be scared of men and be in need of the love of a woman. They needed to be cared for by a woman and protected from abusive men in a way that their mother did not. She said her brothers needed a man to love them.


One woman I met who was married to a man said that she was raped by a man when she was 6 years old. She told her mother and her mother said that she didn’t believe her. So my friend said it wasn’t the rape that made her need a woman to love her, but her mother abandoning her when she needed her, and her mother saying she didn’t believe her when she said she had been raped.


So we know that mental illness and low self-esteem in LGBT people is not solely caused by discrimination and prejudice, we need to address adverse childhood events in order to be mentally and emotionally well.

How do we get help?


CBT is a great therapy. You talk about what happened, but you look at ways you can change how you deal with something that happened. CBT covers the way you think, feel and behave. If you change the way you think, you will change the way you feel and behave. If you change the way you behave, you will change the way you think and feel. If you change the way you feel, you change the way you think and behave. CBT is proven to be extremely effective with people who engage with it.


You will probably need person-centred counselling, which is the opportunity to work with a trained counsellor through your issues and traumas. This is possibly needed before CBT as a way of getting the emotions out with a trained professional, and working through what happened.


How do we build up self-esteem?


Affirmations. Affirm yourself. It worked for me. Standing in front of a mirror and speaking good messages to yourself. You are good looking. You are kind. You are intelligent. You are gifted. You are able. You have a good future ahead of you. You are lovable. Stand in front of the mirror and affirm yourself every day.


Next, whenever you have a negative thought about yourself, call yourself a name, stop and give yourself a positive message instead. Say something good about yourself. It worked for me. I found that within 3 months, the negative thoughts stopped. But you have to challenge every single negative thought. It takes time, it takes practice, but it works in my experience.


Let’s take this to the next level. Build up evidence of how amazing you are. I did this whenever my dad made up nonsense about me and shouted at me about the nonsense he had made up, or he tried to use my values against me and call me names etc. I weighed up what my dad said about me against what my bosses said about me, what my friends said about me, what my coworkers said about me, what people I met on courses say about me.


When all these people say positive things about me and one person shouts bad things at me, I’m going to go with the majority, especially when I listened to my bosses when I worked with vulnerable people. I would never have been allowed to work with vulnerable people such as people with long term mental health conditions if I was the awful person my dad shouted I was. My bosses were famous in our field, were among the top people for what we did, and they thought I was good. So I went with their expert opinions and not the rantings of a bizarre man who made stuff up on a regular basis and who had no friends for some reason!


I recently watched the interview with David Goggins on the Modern Wisdom podcast. Go and watch or listen to it. This guy is insane! He went from being an abused child to a Navy SEAL to a fire fighter who jumps out of aircraft with a backpack of water and he and his team stay in the forest fire until they have defeated it.


Chris and Goggins talked about affirmation. I can’t repeat what Goggins said about affirmation, he swears A LOT, but he said that looking at the evidence is the best way to build up self-esteem. Did you finish a race in the top three places? Did you pass a test? Did you help someone today? Did you do something that very few people can do?


Build up experiences, work towards a project, achieve it, stack it up as evidence of how amazing, intelligent, able, capable, kind and wonderful you are.


I am very much of the opinion that there are many reasons why LGBT people struggle with mental health and emotional health. I started seeing patterns when I was 16 among my gay and bisexual friends, and I also saw those patterns of adverse childhood events in my gay and bisexual friends at university.
As an adult, I have met more and more LGBT people. We are overcomers. I see this in every LGBT person I have met. We are strong overcomers. We are able, we are intelligent, we can build ourselves up and be truly wonderful. I wish LGBT organisations and media would stop lying to us so that more LGBT people can go and get the help that they need.


We are worth it.

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A New Year – Refocussing As An LGBT Blog

Hello and Happy New Year!


I hope that everyone has made resolutions and has kept them so far. If we continue to keep our resolutions beyond February 1st, we truly have evolved!


I can see that this blog has explored racial matters lately. Moving to a major city brought racial issues to me that I had never really thought about before, but now it is time to return this blog to having more of a LGBT slant.


Most of the hits I get on this blog – several times per week, every week – are for two posts from a year or so ago; “Whatever Happened To Transvestites?” and “The Danger Of Saying Love Is Love.” People come to these blog posts through online searches. Some leave and some stay. I am a LGBT person who thinks differently, partly due to my Christian faith, and partly because of my lived experiences and the lived experiences of people I have met. I also am interested in actually helping LGBT people by equipping us with genuine information, data and how to help ourselves.


I am recommitting this blog to the LGBT slant, and I am going to be more intentional about the direction of what I post.


I would like to start posting about important LGBT people throughout history. The first I would like to post about is Marcus Aurelius. He is know as “one of the last five good Roman emperors”. He was an avid journaller, and he wrote for his eyes only, for his personal growth only. But someone got hold of his journals and put them together to make the book “Meditations”. I have heard so many podcasters recommend Meditations and Aurelius that this bisexual who ruled half the planet needs a blog post writing about him.


The other person I really want to put a blog post out about is Malcolm X. I read his Autobiography around March last year and wow. The intelligence of the man is stark, and the change in him when he found genuine Islam was also a revolution. The book also contained a lot of social history, so I loved reading about things I didn’t know about, from the American Depression to the 1950s dance styles. Malcolm X was blatant and natural about his sexual experiences with men and his relationship with an older white man who paid him for sex, as well as his admiration for a lesbian who looked after Malcolm during difficult times.


I also feel as a Christian that I can speak to and should speak to unholy mess of the Church of England. There is so much mis reporting and misunderstandings that someone who has been and seen should speak about what is going on. Also, with the Gender Reform storm in the UK, again, as someone who had gender dysphoria for 25 years and no longer has gender dysphoria, I would like to speak about what is going on with that.


People come to my page and stay because I think more widely than most. I think about the long term consequences of what may seem like good ideas on the face of them, but carry them through to their fullest conclusions and they actually are not the best ideas for LGBT people and our lives, our happiness and our wellbeing.


It seems there is a Crazy Trans story every day of the week, every week, and this detracts from the genuine issues LGBT people have, it stops people from having any sympathy with us, and it stops us from gaining more insights that can help us. So let’s get the focus back and do better for ourselves, and for LGBT people in general. Heterosexuals are welcome to learn what they can from the issues I cover because they will affect heterosexuals, too, but a lot of issues tend to affect LGBT people in larger numbers. So whoever you are, whatever your situation, welcome, and have a great and successful year.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Toxic Friend: What I Did Wrong

So I had a toxic friend. I’ve talked about what he did wrong. Now I need to examine what I did wrong.


We shouldn’t victim blame!


That’s a nice sentiment in the right context, eg a child grabbed off the street.


Grown adults in relationships – friendships, romantic partners – are accountable for our own actions.
Do I want another toxic friend? Not really. So I need to ask what there is about me that attracted a toxic friend. As I said, with Matthew, I was “too kind”. I excused him at times because BLM had stirred up bad memories for him and he had an incredibly demanding job with mentally ill youngsters. I shouldn’t have excused him. If I were to do things again, I would say something like, “I missed you the other day. Did you get caught up at work?” But I should have quiet quit the friendship before I did. Definitely, I should have said something like, “I’m at work, chat later” when he sent me message after message about how awful the UK is.


I should also have gone with my gut feeling in the first month of knowing Matthew. I commented to another (Black) friend, “It’s like hanging out with Malcolm X!” My friend said Matthew was older and had been through bad stuff. I get the impression that this friend has also quiet quit on Matthew in the last six months. I should have gone with my instincts.


It was the same on Teesside with the writing collective and some of the people in it. I thought I was the uneducated one because there were so many accolades and “X person is an award winning Y” and everyone said how wonderful several people were. I thought their writing was crap and creepy, in more than one person’s case. But everyone else said how recognised these people were. So I went along to activities and yes, I had a good time.


I did have a good time, however I saw that little by little, people dropped away, and I was aware of a couple of bullies who had driven people away. That was around the time I’d quit because I just didn’t like the vibes from the key people. Negative, bitter, resentful, people who were anti everything and anti everyone except themselves. The Teesside scene has some people who had no real successes bigging each other up. There was talent, and a few people who are successful were attached to the scene, but there were also some big egos attached to people with less talent.


So I have been too forgiving, too understanding and too kind. I need to stop doing that. I mostly have, and don’t people know it! But I still need to keep going over why I need to stop accepting behaviour that is not OK. It is not my responsibility how someone else behaves, but my reactions and how I behave are my responsibility.


I’ve done well with recognising when women have dependency issues and are clinging to me. I can recognise that and cut those friendships off and not give any attention to women I think will try to cling to me.


I am keeping an antennae up for friends who want a 50-50 friendship. So the friend who I offloaded my issues with Matthew to, she has just suggested we go hiking in the Spring and she’s sent some information today. Great! Another friend wants nothing but a fun chat, which we have when we meet with friends, so he has asked to hang out.


I know that I need to seek out people who are independent thinkers. Everyone likes to think they are independent thinkers, but most people, especially heterosexual women, think as a group and operate as a group. The Mothers At The School Gates is an example. Women fear this group, but they still join it, and are kept in line by their fear of the group. Gay women can have emotional dependency issues which stagnates both the “strong” friend and the “weak” friend in the friendship. LGBT social groups often fall foul of group think, too.


Straight men want to keep their woman happy, so they “hold opinions” they don’t actually hold and they cut off friendships with women – including me – because their wife has had a scream at them. I felt so sorry for some of the young, middle class and boring guys at the church I went to back in 2004 when Strictly Come Dancing started and the wives all wanted to go to dance lessons and the guys pretended they loved it all, too, so that they didn’t get hit with the rolling pin every Saturday night.


I stopped going to church because most churches are corrupt and have very little to do with Jesus. A by-product of stopping going to church is that it cut the needy, emotionally dependent and plain odd people in my life by 98%.


Dave Ramsey said that one of the keys to achieving financial independence is fostering high quality friendships. What’s that got to do with money? Everything! We become like the people we hang around with. We don’t let our kids play with Little Timmy The Little Shit Down The Road because we know our kids will become little shits, too. (Note: Dave Ramsey’s example was Little Johnny The Weed Head). But we think we can hang out with people who are negative, odd, creepy and bitter and it won’t have an affect on us.


Also, our income will be within 15% of the income of our 10 closest friends.


We can be kind to people and be positive to people and encourage people without them being our best mates. I never got that distinction in the past. I thought being kind to someone and being best mates were the same thing. And it got me shit friends who treated me like shit. I have been given a hand up by so many people and I thought other people would respond as I did. That was my reasoning.


Or I thought someone had changed in the space of 15 years, but it turned out that they hadn’t. I grow, I develop myself, I change what needs to be changed and I assume that other people do the same. And we know what assume does. Some people do change. And some people don’t. I need to walk away the first time someone shows that their character is not the kind of character I want to be around. Even if they say sorry, I still need to walk.


Foster good quality relationships. Be around people who have similar goals to you. Be around people who are as generous as you want to be. Be around people with similar values to you. Iron sharpens iron.


Foster good quality relationships this year. May God be with us all x

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Toxic Friends

I think we have all had a toxic friend or six. Today, I’m going to look at what different websites say are signs of toxic friendships, and then I will talk about a toxic friendship I had last year.


“Toxic friendships happen when one person is being emotionally harmed or used by another, making the relationship more of a burden than a support.” – Suzanne Degges-White, author of Toxic Friendships.

Signs of a toxic friendship
(According to thesource.org)
It’s all about them.
They don’t respect your boundaries.
They’re trying to change you.
There’s always drama.
You feel uncomfortable around them.
They’re unpredictable.
They gossip regularly.
They rarely apologise.
They constantly put you down.
They are jealous of your other friends.

(According to today.com)
They don’t take accountability.
They may weaponise their struggles.
They dismiss your values.
They ignore your efforts to be a good friend to them.

(According to therapy.com)
You give way more than you receive.
They are entitled.
They make themselves the perpetual victim.
They want your attention on demand.

We all mess up. We all need to forgive other people as we are forgiven. The first question we need to ask is, “Am I a good friend?” We need to reflect on our own behaviour and attitudes first and foremost.
Next, decide if you want to keep the friendship. If yes, you need to find a way to talk to your friend about their behaviour. If not, that’s cool.


I have made the mistake several times of fighting for a friendship that the other person didn’t want to fight for or they didn’t want to change their behaviour.


choosingtherapy.com says that toxic friendships can be exhausting, frustrating and disappointing. They give you a feeling that either you are not good enough or whatever you do is never good enough. The toxic person can be pessimistic, hurtful or manipulative. They can be selfish and/or challenging. They may or may not be aware of their behaviour and its impact on you and others.


choosingtherapy.com also raises the issue of the offended friend being “too kind”. I think this is where I have fallen down with my friend Matthew.


Matthew is funny. He is kind. He has a gentle way of speaking. He has normal hobbies such as watching the football. He shared useful information such as if he got a good deal on a new phone. Matthew was part of a small friendship group that met loosely in Nero’s coffee shop (it’s a bit like a Starbuck’s) before the lockdowns, between the lockdowns and for a short while after. Different people in the group have had children, got a job with more hours, don’t have the money to go to Nero’s every day now etc etc. So the group is no longer a group.


Matthew is Black and in his 50s. He went through some hard stuff such as street attacks and police violence when he was younger. So did I as a gay person. BLM stirred up bad memories for him, and I did listen, but I also asked, “Is this still happening now? No.” And I said, “I’ve been through all that you have and more and I’m not Black and I’m not talking about it.” I did message him an apology, that he needed to talk about things, and I was angry about what I had been through.


So gave Matthew more leniency with some things such as when he said he would meet up and didn’t because I knew some bad memories had been stirred up. I knew he was inundated at work. He’s a youth mental health worker so he gets to deal with ten year old girls who have almost been raped by other ten year old girls in the playground, such is the effect of pornography on children. So again, I gave him more leniency because I understood the nature of his job.


As a Christian, I could understand a lot of Matthew’s opinions as a Muslim. We both believe in the spiritual realm, we both believe in right and wrong, and that the pain we see people in today is partly a result of sin – people harming other people and people harming themselves, sometimes without realising. He was keen to hear how I had had gender dysphoria 1989 – 2014 and what had caused it because he worked with a lot of teenagers with gender dysphoria who also self harmed regularly. We did end up talking a lot about the box ticking stuff, and this was mostly positive, but I found Matthew brooded too much on the gender issues, probably because of what he saw in his work with young people and the pain they were in.


Matthew said things like, “One afternoon, I’ll take you through my hip hop journey.” That never happened. “I’ll teach you kung fu.” That never happened. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow.” That never happened.


Even though I messaged Matthew saying I wanted to talk about hip hop, I wanted him to teach me kung fu, those cool things never happened. I was going to pay him for 1:1 kung fu lessons, since it’s not appropriate for me to be taught in a class with other students. Matthew knew I have been a big fan of MC Solaar – the guy who started the French rap scene – for 20 years. He knows I like French and Belgian urban music so I wanted to hear his journey through UK and USA hip hop.


One night, I was struggling with my personal issues. Matthew happened to message. I said I was struggling, and it was similar things to something a prominent Muslim in the UK had spoken about. Matthew didn’t engage with my stuff. He said he didn’t like the prominent Muslim because he capitulates to the British idea of what a Muslim should be and a Western view of Islam. I don’t know what Matthew meant by that. He said we can talk about my stuff tomorrow. We didn’t.


Yet Matthew was quite demanding on my time and my energy from time to time. The last time was during the summer. I was at work and had quite a lot of cleaning to do in a specific time frame. Matthew sent me message after message about the evils of the UK, how racist the UK is and how terrible the UK is for sending Windrush people back to Jamaica.


I felt like I was placating a toddler who was throwing a tantrum. I had no idea why Matthew was sending me these messages. He just started sending them. No “Hi, how are you?” Just message after message about how evil the UK is and how evil the UK is for sending some Windrush people back. I pretended to be sorry for the Windrush people and stated that I thought they should be legally allowed to stay in the UK.


I did think the Windrush people should stay in the UK. They came after the Second World War to help rebuild the UK. They mainly worked in transport and in the NHS (Health service) in several cities. They faced genuine racism, denial of housing and sometimes violence. However. I was an immigrant once. I was in touch with Immigration and officials every week. I went to every appointment I was given. One office realised I had been sent to them by mistake, so they faxed all of my documents to the office I was supposed to go to, and I went to that office the following day. I held my file. I watched the workers do everything they said they would do. I was ON IT.


To live in a country for 70 years and just assume that all is tickey boo with your immigration status is just silly. Especially when the country you have moved to and want to stay in is the UK. The UK is brimming with incompetence. Paperwork gets lost all the time. Some of the tax I paid two years ago has gone missing, so I had to pay more. The UK is brimming with incompetence. Why the Windrush people thought that they would be an exception and that all was tickety boo with their immigration paperwork, I do not know. None of them checked on their immigration status for 70 years. That is just stupid. They don’t deserve to be chucked out of the country, but none of them checked on their paperwork in 70 years. Why?


But of course I did not say that to Matthew. He would have gone apeshit. He would have inferred I was racist for wanting Black people to do the exact same things I had done when I was an immigrant. And this was the thing with Matthew. I had a growing sense that the accusation of racism was only a heartbeat away. I found with Matthew that the only way I could stop him from saying that something was racist or cruel was to say, “I did it.” For example, people should move house to get a job, or move to another part of the country to get a better job. I did it. I moved from England to Scotland for a better job.” And that would stop him from being able to say that things were not that easy, I didn’t understand etc etc. Me saying “I did it” stopped Matthew from providing excuses for people in the UK to not take responsibility for their own lives.


The one thing that stopped Matthew from going on about how persecuted his middle class life in a major city with a big family who love him, in a professional job with good pay, where he can go on a day trip at the drop of a hat and go on holiday several times per year, the one thing that stopped Matthew from banging on about how terrible his life as a Black man is, was saying that my white skinned husband has two degrees and all he can get is care work paid at below the minimum wage because that is the only work available on Teesside. (Yes, my husband is mixed race, and if Black people want a blood transfusion, my husband is the man for the job, but he has white skin and most people think he is white.) Stating the reality of my husband’s life was the only thing that stopped Matthew from banging on about how awful his beautiful life is.


It actually shut him up one night when he was on a rant in the middle of the street. He actually stopped and asked if I was joking. No, my husband has two degrees, is an ex teacher and all he can get is care work paid at £5 per hour. And that is true of many people on Teesside because there is no industry, there are no major businesses in the area, crime is massive (the highest rate of crime outside of London) and anyone with any sense and ability has moved out of the area. The crapness of Teesside was why I moved to this city because all I could get on Teesside was care work paid at £5 per hour. One day, I did a 16 hour shift and was paid £42 for it.


That made Matthew stop. He has no idea about how life is for most people. One of the last things he said to me was £30k was poverty wages. I told him I am on £16k and most people I know are on £14k. He has no clue about the realities of life for most people in the UK. But life is so terrible for him because he is Black.


One day, Matthew sent me a message of poverty stats and of course in his stats, Black people were the poorest. I sent a message back saying I had worked with homeless people for 10 years and I saw less than 5 Black faces in that time. I saw quite a number of homeless Pakistani Asian men in the Manchester area, but less than 5 Black people wherever I had worked in the UK. The vast majority of homeless people in the UK are white heterosexual men. His response was the stats were correct.


I’ve seen the stats. The people with the highest level of poverty in the UK tend to be Asians of Pakistani background. Travellers and Gypsies – who often have white skin – are also not so wealthy. Black is just under white. And other Asian groups are among the wealthiest in the UK.


Another example of how much of a spoiled brat Matthew came across as was complaining that he never learned about African art during his three years at university studying art. So, Matthew studied art, which is a bourgeois degree if there ever was one, he studied at a renowned university, and he studied at university during the time when no one paid to go to university, but the government actually gave grants to students. I went to university when I had to pay every year, and I studied a social care degree so that I could go on to work with people who were homeless and had long term mental health conditions.


So Matthew did a bourgeois degree in art, and complained that he was hardly able to study African art in that time. Firstly, Matthew is not African, he is British born of Caribbean parents. Secondly, if Matthew wanted to study African art, the best place to study African art is in Africa. In Africa, the professors as well as the students have a collective consciousness about the African continent, languages, cultures, religious expressions and more. The best place to study African art is in Africa, not in Europe.


It is not surprising that a European professor is better at teaching European art than African art, even if the professor is Black. The cultural immersion a person needs to be able to teach a culture is to have been immersed in that culture for decades. I speak French, but I haven’t lived in France. So when I was running a security team in the south of France and a man ran up to me asking where the fountain was, I was so confused. I spoke to my superior and he told me the man wants a drink of water. He was asking where the drinking fountain was that all local villages have. This is the difference between head knowledge and the immersion in a culture.


So if anyone wants to learn African art, go to Africa. Don’t expect a UK university to be able to teach African art, culture, languages at any level of competence. It’s just unfair and silly to expect that.
Matthew has a very privileged life, a very beautiful life, but the accusation of racism is never far from his lips. I came to feel that about our friendship. I felt I was one step away from an accusation of racism at any moment. So I quiet quit the friendship. I never had it out with Matthew. I never said how I was feeling. I have tried that with people in the past, tried to explain how things affected me and I fought to keep the friendship, only for the other person to treat me like shit. Maybe Matthew wouldn’t have done that. But I’ve had far too many negative experiences.


So I quiet quit my friendship with Matthew back in October when I didn’t respond to two of his messages about local history and something else. He has never messaged to ask if I am OK. He never messaged to wish me happy Christmas or happy New Year. He has walked past me twice in the street or walked to avoid me in the street. I am no poorer for it.


My friendship with Matthew had some great points, but the negatives outweighed the positives as the friendship went on. Some friendships are for a season and some friendships are for life. It’s knowing the difference that can be tricky.


Stuff with Matthew became galling – his complaining about his beautiful life – around the time when the Notting Hill Carnival with its murder, stabbings, sexual assaults and utter carnage took place, and there had been several absolutely brutal murders and rapes committed by illegal migrants and immigrants (mostly against immigrant or ethnic minority women – one woman’s head was almost completely cut off in an alleyway in London), and it was emotionally difficult for me. I was surrounded with so much negativity about brutal crimes committed by Black people, I felt so much horror and despair, and there was Matthew constantly saying that Black people were the innocent victims of white oppressors.


Thankfully, one of my new good friends is an African Muslim lesbian. She knows the horrific side of African cultures – which is why she came to the UK – and she celebrates the good. She listens to her home country’s music and we go to African and Arab restaurants a lot together. I was able to talk with her honestly about how I was feeling and get it all out. I knew that I could not talk to most people about how overwhelmed I was feeling because the accusation of racism is always closeby. I don’t get overwhelmed often at all. I’m not a very emotional person. So this was something new to me, and I had to keep it to myself.


This is what drives people towards racism. If people cannot voice genuine feelings and concerns about murders and rapes and how shitty a friend has behaved, people could easily go towards people who have other agendas. I remember being at the Beautiful Days Festival – a lovely festival run by The Levellers who are very much on the Left – and I said I worked with asylum seekers, and two middle aged ladies said how wonderful that must be.


I said that my clients were not really asylum seekers but illegal immigrants abusing the asylum system as the back door to immigration. The two ladies leaned forward and both quietly said, “We want to talk about immigration but we are scared of being called racist.” This was 12 years ago, and the situation with immigration and the silencing of genuine concerns about the number of people in the country, housing, health care services, rapes and murders have only increased.

The censorship around anyone speaking about these issues has increased to the point where if you raise concerns, you could face arrest or you could be referred to the UK’s anti extremism programme Prevent – a programme that was devised to tackle people planting bombs and stabbing people in the name of any belief system.


My African Muslim lesbian friend listened, and that was all I needed. I felt fine immediately after talking. She didn’t accuse me of anything. She listened and she gave her own opinions on friendship and trust and we carried on eating in the African restaurant.

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Why Do Boys And Men Like Andrew Tate?


I am not going to comment on the recent arrest of Andrew Tate. I believe in the rule of law and the legal system, even though they are not perfect.


For four months, I have noticed that the mainstream media want me to hate Andrew Tate. The BBC, The Guardian, ITV and the i Newspaper constantly run hit pieces on this social media influencer, so I decided to go and look him up and watch some long, unedited interviews and make up my own mind. I have noticed “news” outlets running hit pieces on people they want to destroy, most of whom are successful men, and so any time I now see that the mainstream media want me to hate someone, I go and look up that person in unedited interviews if I do not already know of that person.


I am a masculine woman. I considered myself as third gender – a term used 30 years ago for a person who does not see themselves as man or woman – for 25 years and most of my friends are men. I am also a Christian and I have had friends who were evangelical – good people – and so I am used to terminology that some people are not.


OK, the first thing that can be said about Andrew Tate is that he is entertaining. He is a larger than life character, he is amusing. He has a huge ego, he talks himself up constantly, he is brash, flash and abrasive. Andrew Tate likes to show off his sports cars, his designer clothes and cigars.


Let’s go beyond the superficial. Andrew Tate believes men are good. Andrew Tate tells you that you can become rich. He tells you that you can be successful. He tells men that they need to stand up, be courageous, be strong minded, have a strong body and “be a man”. I believe this is why boys and men flock to him.


Boys are crying out for affirmation. Changing sex is to be affirmed and girls and women are championed. No one in public life is affirming or championing boys and men. 74% suicides in the UK are committed by men. 1/7 men are sexual abuse survivors, and that rises to 1/5 men who are gay or bisexual. 1 million children in the UK are growing up without a father, and that includes boys. 120 000 or 1/10 children in the UK are growing up in temporary accommodation – in other words are homeless. 1/3 children in the UK are growing up in poverty.


We know that boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to be involved in criminality, abuse drugs, join gangs and are more likely to be violent to a female partner or spouse. This is because they do not grow up seeing a loving relationship between a man and a woman, and they are not shown a good role model of a man who is consistently there.


Boys and men are crying out for role models. Boys and men want guidance and help from men who are successful, masculine and speak to the inner needs of males. If you don’t want the boys or men in your life to be influenced by men such as Tate or the manosphere, you need to surround your sons with male role models – your boyfriend or husband, your brother, your male cousin, your father, your male friends. Boys need role models. If you do not provide the role models the boys in your life need, they will look for them in other places. The men in your life need male friends.

One of my friends stayed in contact with our drama group but started playing baseball. One night, he leaned towards me and said quietly, “I just want to be around other straight men.” I told him I totally got it and it was fine. There was nothing unusual about it at all. Men need men.


Society has been feminised. Women complain of how everything is invented for men’s benefit, how society is shaped for men’s benefit. That is simply not true today. Society has become more feminised. Education has become feminised. Jobs have become more feminised. The stats back this up. Girls outdo boys in school by a wide margin, women outdo men in university by a wide margin. Some subjects hardly have any men in the class, especially in the Humanities. The groups that have fallen behind in education are boys of white British, Pakistani and Traveller backgrounds.


In schools, boys are told to behave just as the girls do; be obedient, sit still, read and write. Boys are not girls. Yes, boys can and should be obedient, sit still, read and write, but boys also need more rough and tumble play, they need to physically test out their boundaries more than girls and they need to develop their natural muscles. Think of lion cubs playing together. They are actually playing at catching prey. If for some reason the lion cub does not gain these skills, it grows to be an adult lion that cannot catch prey and so will die. Likewise, boys need rough and tumble play, they need to test themselves physically and push themselves physically or they will grow into weak men – both physically and mentally – and so will be unable to defend themselves against other men, they will be unable to defend a woman against a man and they will not be respected by other men which is terrible for a man’s self esteem.


Mainstream Christianity has been feminised. This is why so many men have left the Church. I find attending any church difficult both as a Celt and as a masculine person. Churches are so feminised. The worship songs used today are wishy washy emotional splurges. Mike Pilovachi – big Christian name – called these songs “The Jesus Is My Girlfriend Songs”, and that was 22 years ago. Things have not improved. Sermons are now talks on social justice issues rather than the teachings of Jesus and the lives of the prophets. I simply cannot worship God with most of the songs in churches, whether they are happy clappy churches or traditional Catholic churches, and I struggle to find the actual Christianity in sermons in many churches. I am a masculine person, so I relate to God in a masculine way. Same with most guys. Hence guys are missing from churches all across the West, and it’s incredibly noticeable, and Christian women find it difficult to find a husband as a result.


The feminisation of Christianity has been cited as one reason why men convert or revert to Islam. Islam requires discipline, it is physically demanding with the required fasting and kneeling and men see each other as “brothers” (and women as “sisters”) and hang out a lot with each other. (The same is true of traditional Christianity, but is no longer promoted.) This is all hugely attractive to men. One of my friends – a champion boxer – was drawn to the demanding nature of the Muslim faith.


I’m a Celtic Christian. We fast – as do the evangelicals – but also physically demanding activity is a requirement of our faith. All the saints of our branch of Christianity engaged in long distance walking around the kingdoms and in all weathers. St Aidan refused to ride the horse that the king gave him because sitting on a horse would put Aidan physically higher up than all other people, and he thought that was egotistical, so he remained walking alongside his horse. One of our religious practices is to walk barefoot in watery sand to and from islands and along coastlines.


With folk music, I noticed I was getting turned on listening to some bands. I wondered why at first, and then I realised it was because the male singers sang with deep, strong, masculine voices that are antipodeans of the “honeyed” male voices in R&B music. In mainstream music, male voices are higher pitched and the lyrics are emotional, appealing to a stereotyped image of what a female fan is looking for in a male singer. Mainstream music is feminised, which is another reason why I can’t get with it.
UK society, and much of Western society is feminised. No wonder so many boys and men are struggling to find their place in the world.


I went to a football match for the first time these holidays. I used to play football, I used to watch football on the TV but I had never been to a game until Boxing Day. It was always too expensive to go to a game, but my hometown has a small time team now who play at the Sixth Form College. So I went. It was great. Saw a couple of friends from my old gym – one of the nice older guys who used to make everyone laugh was there at the match with his wife.


I saw what I had heard men on the internet talk about while I was at the football game. Men need outlets for their aggression, and sport is a great environment that allows for boys and men to get their aggression out in a controlled way. The men in the stands were cheering on their team, or asking the referee why he wasn’t looking behind him. There was no aggression, no unpleasant behaviour. The ref, and everyone else, was safe. No one was physically aggressive. But I could see that this small, local game was a great way for guys (women were there as well) to meet with friends and get out some of their natural aggression.


Two years ago, one of my friends said that her son’s school had complained that her son was being too rough while playing with the other boys. He was now bigger than the other boys and had worked out during lockdown. It was agreed that he would only do rough and tumble play with his dad and step dad at home and leave the other boys to play together in the playground until they were as big as him.


I wished that my own childhood and growth from pre-teenager to teenager had been guided like my friend’s son’s transition had been guided by two grown men in his life. In my family, there is a genetic disorder that affects the females. My sister has most of the symptoms, and I have all of the symptoms. We are physically stronger and more aggressive than most females. I needed a man or a woman in the family to guide me, but my parents were both stressheads who took out their stress on me and my sister in violent ways. So I learned that violence was a great way to get what you want, and my sister learned that, too, and she was far more overt about it. She broke another girl’s nose in her first semester at high school and it went on from there.


I voiced the want to work out and have a muscular body, but my parents never paid any attention to that. Maybe actively so. They had very fixed ideas about what a girl should be. So my sister and I made makeshift weights and lifted in our bedrooms. I would have loved to have been taken to a gym as a teenager. I would have loved to have done boxing. When I got to university and one of my classmates was a champion boxer, bingo. We used to go to the gym he had set up in his grandmother’s barn, put the gloves on and we knocked the punch bag around for an hour at a time.


So, boys – and girls with high levels of testosterone – need rough and tumble play and need guidance on how to channel aggression and physical strength. Along comes Andrew Tate, a multiple times champion kick boxer.


What other traits would boys and masculine girls like about Andrew Tate? He gives good business advice. Yes, some of his advice is not great. Tate is open about getting women to webcam and he takes a commission. Now, I’m against webcamming as it is the sex trade and I believe all people are sacred. However, women often webcam with no male gaining any of their money, and gay men webcam too. It’s not a career path I would choose, but it is a career path other people choose. As adults, webcammers are free to choose this, whether I agree with it or not.


However, some of Tate’s business advice is great. It makes perfect sense when you think about it, but until someone says something, we might never actually think about it. One example I have heard Tate give is that he pays $5 for a coffee from Starbucks. Then he sits and thinks about what he has bought. It is 95% hot water, but he has just handed over $5 for it. Why? He talks about marketing, giving the customer what they want, upselling with cakes, targeting the audience, and the example he gives with this is most of the people in the cafe are men doing work, so have a pretty young woman on the till instead of a male, and you might get more return customers. Give the buyer what they want. It’s not politically correct to say it, but men do like to get coffee from a pretty young woman and have a small chat with that pretty young woman. If men are the main area of the market, you target your business at men. Tate’s main question here is how do other businesses get you to part with your money, what do they offer you, and what can you learn from this? Learn from this and use what you have learned in your own business.

I think one of the obvious things people don’t like about Tate is his recognition that sex sells, and he is cruder about it than most. In the UK, we have had naked women and men in Pepsi adverts on giant billboards in the street. We have had naked women in bed together in perfume adverts on giant billboards in the street. Sex sells, sadly. Tate works this angle, and does so very vocally.


Tate’s way of talking about business is aggressive, but the actual content is reasonable. For example, he talks about taking money as opposed to making money. He says that only the royal mint actually makes money. The royal mint puts metals together, melts them and shapes them into coins. When we work, we are not melting metal and shaping coins. Therefore, in Tate’s mind we are not making money. He says we are to take money from other people. He says that money is always moving around. Money moves from one person to another, from one business to another. He tells people to get in the way of money moving around and take that money. In more PC terms, he means earn that money. This is what I mean by being accustomed to hearing other terminology and being able to see what the person is really saying.


Claims about Andrew Tate:


Tate is racist. Tate is mixed race. He is proud of his Black American father and his white British mother and he speaks about both regularly. Tate has recently converted to Islam, a religion from the Arab world, most of whose adherents are brown or Black.


Tate is homophobic. I’ve not seen or heard anything yet. Not saying Tate has never made phobic comments, but I have not seen or heard any yet.


Tate is a misogynist. Perhaps. Perhaps in certain circumstances. What do I mean? I’m thinking of the first interview I saw Tate in when I went to look him up for the first time. He was being interviewed by an American woman, and he was full of respect for her and they treated each other as equals. She asked him about misogyny, and he said that some women behave like children and so they need to be treated like children. The interviewer agreed with him, saying some women in Miami do behave like children, and Tate agreed that this was the sort of woman he was talking about.


One obvious criticism to make about Tate is he stereotypes men and he has a clear picture of what he thinks a man should be, and he projects that image to other men. He also uses insults about men who do not fit his stereotype of the super rich, super buff man who is surrounded by bikini babes.


I watched a video by a man who had joined Tate’s “academy” for a year. He said that he found some of the business advice was good, but the academy was a let down, that shaming unsuccessful guys or guys who left the academy was de rigeur and that Tate outsourced the classes to mates who didn’t have Tate’s charisma and know how. He also said he didn’t like the way he started to think about women during this year and how his marriage suffered as a consequence. It wasn’t Andrew Tate who was involved in this talk, but it was the talk under the banner of Andrew Tate’s business.


Tate beat a woman, it was caught on video and so he was kicked out of Big Brother. The woman has gone on the record several times to back up Tate’s version of the story, which was they were shooting an anti-domestic violence video.


Tate said women should bear some responsibility for being raped. I have seen this claim countless times now. Tate said that women should never be abused, women should protect themselves and not put themselves in positions where they can be raped, and women should never be raped.


Chrissie Hynde, the singer from The Pretenders, wrote in her auto biography that she was to blame for going off with the Hells Angels who then raped her. She said she was to blame for approaching those men and going off with men who she knew had a record for serious violence. She was clear that those men should not have raped her and they were to blame for raping her, but she was also clear that she should not have gone off with them.


Helen Mirren, the darling of the Left, the feminist icon, said that she was to blame for going behind closed doors with some men. Helen Mirren went further and said that some rapes should never go to court. How Helen Mirren has not been cancelled for saying some rapes should never go to court, I do not know. How the Left did not disown her, how feminists did not disown her, I do not know. I think most people have no idea that Helen Mirren gave this opinion in an interview with a lads’ mag.


So Andrew Tate’s words are women should never be abused or raped. Helen Mirren’s words are some rapes might be OK.


I would say to anyone wanting to know more about Andrew Tate, go and look him up on Youtube and make up your own mind. With the recent arrest, we can let the law and legal sphere deal with that and we can make up our own minds after any court case.


I have noticed in the last year that the mainstream media – the BBC, The Guardian, The i Newspaper and ITV among others – want me to hate certain individuals. All but Katharine Birbalsingh (what a woman! And she always has time for a chat on Twitter and if you want to ask questions about education and your kids’ schooling) are men, and these men promote especially the need for boys and men to be disciplined, physically strong, mentally strong, emotionally strong, well-read, intellectually strong and be able to provide financially and emotionally for the woman – or man – in their life.


Katharine Birbalsingh’s “crimes” are running one of the top four performing schools in the UK, providing a top level education to children who are mainly Black from deprived backgrounds while being a brown woman. So a brown woman teaching Black teenagers to be disciplined, intelligent, mentally strong, emotionally strong, well-read… I see a pattern forming in the people the media want me to hate.


The media wants me to hate Jordan Peterson, whose work I was quite familiar with before the furore. Peterson spent 20 years as a clinical psychologist helping women to achieve their goals in the workplace. Boo! Hiss! Peterson put 400 hours of his university lectures online so that anyone of any nation and financial situation can hear his work. Boo! Hiss! Most of his audience are young men who learn from Peterson to take responsibility for their own lives and to find something that they really want to do in life. Boo! Hiss! But he’s transphobic. No he isn’t and Peterson has clearly said numerous times that he would use the pronoun that seems to be in line with how the person presents.


The media then wanted me to hate Joe Rogan. I was very familiar with Rogan at that point. I was a fan. Apparently, Rogan is a big racist who drops the N word right, left and centre. There were clips all over Twitter of Rogan saying the N word. Yes, Rogan did say the N word in conversations – often with BAME people – where he was talking about how to fight racism. I have heard Rogan correct Professor Gad Saad about something Saad said about rape and rape survivors. I don’t like Rogan’s comedy. Rapey jokes, not my thing. But I know that that is not who Rogan is. I don’t know why that is his comedy act, because who he is as a person is someone who is compassionate with a big heart.


The media want me to hate men. They want me to hate men who are smart. They want me to hate men who encourage men to be men. They want me to hate men who encourage men to stand tall, to take responsibility for their lives and to be able to provide a stable, loving home for their woman – or man – and children. They want me to hate men who are pro-success and emotional stability.


Why? Why do the media have such a downer on men who promote all-round well-being and success for men?


Jordan Peterson spoke positively about rap. He said that the aggression and the disillusionment some young men feel, especially lower class and poor young men, can be channelled if the men learn how to write well. He said writing well was crucial to good mental health (journalling anyone?) and rap music can be an excellent outlet for frustrated young men. The right words, the right rhythm can be a great outlet for everything negative a young man might be feeling.


Andrew Tate was a kick boxer, and then educated himself. I think Andrew Tate has a good intellect and encourages other men to grow their intellect and read. I have heard Tate talk about the colour blue, how it is seen in different cultures and religions around the world and how it has been mixed for use by artists through the centuries. He is clearly intelligent and educated.


People talk a lot about Diversity, Inclusion and Equality or Equity these days. But they balk at Andrew Tate’s larger than life personality. They balk at Rogan being super buff at the age of 50. The balk at Peterson being an emotionally sensitive, well dressed professor. So people are not for Diversity, Inclusion and Equality or Equity.


The one major thing I disagree with that I have heard Andrew Tate say is that I think fathers should be in the home with their wife and children, to be a good role model in the home and be emotionally available for their wife and children. Tate believes a man should visit the home and go away to work. That is what Tate’s father did, and that is what Black men in the Caribbean and parts of Africa do.


The media came for Peterson. But he spoke back, and he spoke with accuracy and clarity, backing up everything he said with the most up to date research. He had already put 400 hours of his teaching time online and nothing could be found in those 400 hours to hang him with. When it became public that Peterson had been in detox and rehab for a sleeping tablet addiction (when he was doing a half world tour with Dave Rubin, practising as a clinical psychologist and speaking on TV programmes), the media came for Peterson again, making fun of him crying in an interview, asking how someone who advises men to take responsibility can be credible when addicted to drugs (sleeping tablets) and then producing a graphic novel in which Peterson was depicted as a satanic Nazi. Taking the piss out of someone in severe, constant physical pain is never a winner. A fan of Peterson’s in central Europe put out designs of Peterson’s core teachings interwoven with mythical creatures. Peterson loved them, put them on T shirts and all proceeds went to local children’s charities. Peterson has won despite all the mainstream media’s attacks.


The media came for Rogan, but by that time, Rogan was already a well-known, huge name, although many people in the UK had never heard of him. Spotify continued to support him, and Rumble, fronted by the lovely Dave Rubin, offered him A LOT of money to move to Rumble, but Rogan said he wanted to stay loyal to Spotify because Spotify had stayed loyal to him. Thus, Rogan showed great integrity. Rogan won and got more fans.


The media have come for Andrew Tate for the last few months. Tate has an over the top public persona. His recent interview on Piers Morgan’s show showed a different side to Tate that was more serious and he spoke more thoughtfully. Tate has made stupid jokes about women that he claims were not meant to be taken seriously. He said in the Piers Morgan interview that he regrets some of the things he has said. He claims he said these things when he was younger and knew less about the world, or he said when he was half joking, and he regrets those comments. I think these comments and how Tate presents himself are easy ways in to destroy Tate, arrest or no arrest.


From what I have seen of Andrew Tate on Youtubes, in interviews and finance videos, there are some good things about him and some things that I very much disagree with. There are some things he says that I am not sure what to make of.


Tate has been arrested on serious charges. Let’s see what happens.


I think boys and men are desperate for role models. They are looking for men to show them how to be men. There has been a huge focus in the last 30 years on women, which needed to happen. However, men and boys have been left behind. Raising one group up should never mean another group has to be squashed down. The meme says that rights are not like pie; more rights for one does not mean less rights for another. But that is what has happened, for men in general, for same sex attracted people and for white working class boys. Any void will be filled. There is a void in boys’ and men’s lives, and that is the void of role models.


The take away from this is don’t let the media do your thinking for you. If the media are telling you to hate someone, go and look up that person for yourself. Watch them in unedited interviews. Listen to their heart. Make up your own mind. Don’t let the mass media do your thinking for you. You’re smarter than that.

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Fighting Fibromyalgia

As someone who has had fibromyalgia for 34 years, what I want anyone with fibromyalgia to know first and foremost is you are not alone, and second, you must be tough. You must take control of this illness if you do not want the illness to control you.


I have had fibromyalgia for 34 years. So I was a young child when I started getting severe pains in my lower legs. These pains spread to my upper legs and my feet. Then to my back, around to my ribs, and I remember the night I was sleeping on the floor because we had guests in the house, and the pain spread up the back of my neck and to the back of my head, and to parts of my face.


At the time, no one knew what fibromyalgia was. I was also in a family who couldn’t be bothered with me unless they were hitting me and telling me what a nuisance I was to them. I was never taken to a doctor until I was 16, and he misdiagnosed me as having rheumatism. He also could not be bothered with me – he did not do any tests, he didn’t examine me, nothing, just “Rheumatism, take paracetomols. Close the door on your way out.” This is what we pay our taxes for. I was on my own with an illness that was getting worse, it was painful, and often my limbs simply stopped working. When I was 17, my ability to speak started to be affected. I was on my own from a young age so I had to learn how to take care of my illness myself.


I enjoyed tap and ballet dancing. I was on the local stages several times per year. That all stopped. The ballet stopped two years before the tap dancing stopped. My feet simply would not do what I needed them to do, not landing with the heels on the ground when I was jumping. My teacher thought the tendons in the backs of my legs were too short and it was something we tried to work on but to no avail. I gave up ballet because I could not do simple things like jump and land correctly, and it was more painful than tap dancing.


I needed a lot of sleep. I spent most Saturdays as a teenager lying on my bed, exhausted and unable to move properly. Rolling from lying on one side to lying on my back was an effort. It was an even bigger effort to roll onto my other side. Just rolling onto my side caused me to be breathless. I had a large beanbag that I sat on with my back against the radiator. I found the heat from the radiator took the pain in my back away, and the beanbag meant I could position myself in a less painful sitting position. I read a lot.


As a 9 year old, I found that binding my legs at night stopped the pain. All trial and error, me doing frontier medicine on myself at the age of 9. I found that binding works to stop the pain so I used to get the ties from my dressing gowns and wrap them tightly around my legs, and I elevated my legs by putting pillows under my knees. And thus I got a good night’s sleep. I once worked on a hospital ward with both knees bound with bandaged. No one knew. I did a 12 hour shift on a ward, hardly sitting down, with bandaged knees. It works.


When I was 17, I came home from college, concerned about my speech problems that had been apparent in class that day, and my parents held open a double page of Readers’ Digest, and the list of symptoms on the page corresponded exactly with mine, including the speech problems. Sorted. Went back to the doctor and showed him the article on fibromyalgia and the list of symptoms. He said it was possible that this was the condition I had. I was sent to a neurologist who ruled out motor neurone disease and MS and he said it was probably fibromyalgia or something like it. I have some of the “tender points” that people with fibromyalgia have, and the number of tender points I have increases if I don’t taking care of myself.


I did the Duke of Edinburgh Award when I was 17 and 18 through my church. Our youth club leaders wanted to organise stuff for us that would give us something to put on our CVs, to put us head and shoulders above other people our age for employment. I am extremely grateful to them for that. So I did the 15 mile walk over a two day period with camping overnight. The first day, I was like a spring chicken. The second day, I was like a knackered old dog. It was tough, and a couple of people in the group were not so understanding. However, I did it.


Part of the award also involved circuit training. I could do press ups, sit ups, weights, but I couldn’t run much. But I did it. I finished the laps of the church hall in searing pain and struggling to breathe, but I did it. I got my D of E bronze award.


I went to university at 18. I had my trusty Dictaphone so that I could record all my classes in case I fell asleep – which I did, regularly, and so I still had my class information. I was lucky that I was not the only disabled person in class, and there were a number of Dictaphones in my social policy class – the class I talked about a while back where people kicked off – and the tutor would time his class so that halfway through, he would pause to turn over the tapes in all the Dictaphones before he recommenced his lecture.


I went swimming most evenings after class. My classmates – who were mature students due to the course we were doing – all played squash together. I sometimes watched. The Christian Union played football. I had played football in the church team, and I was the goal keeper because I couldn’t run around, but I didn’t play at university. Every year, at the Freshers’ Fair, the women’s football team all came up to me and asked me to join and I had to say, “Sorry girls, I’d love to but I’m not well.’ Same when the women’s rugby team approached me. “Sorry girls, I’d love to but I’m not well.” They all voiced their disappointment. I was like, “Yeah, I’d love to get hot and sweaty with you too.”


I did walk a lot though. I got into walking at university. If I had a few hours, I would get my DMs on and go walking along the canals with my Walkman playing whatever tapes I had taken with me. People got used to seeing me walking places. Most people had no idea I was ill. I did limp sometimes, but I had decided long before that point that I loved the UK countryside more than I loved being indoors and suffering, so I made the decision to walk through the pain and walk beyond the pain.


When I worked in Edinburgh in the NHS and for a private company working with homeless people, I came back from a holiday on crutches. It was the first time I’d ever used crutches. Don’t know how! Serious pain and a leg that would not move. My NHS ward manager asked me what happened, and I told her, “I don’t know. I woke up one morning and my leg wouldn’t move.” As if I was going to tell the NHS – one of the most bigoted and horrendous employers I’ve had – that I have what can be a serious neurological condition.


One of my ex-homeless clients saw me in the street on crutches and asked what happened. I said, “You should’ve seen the other guy. No seriously! You should’ve seen the other guy. Six foot tall, big muscles, little red sundress. I had to dance with that guy!” Yes, I’d been at the Beautiful Days Festival, dancing all weekend and I had the obligatory dance with the hairy mate in the long blue dress before I got to dance with the shaved down guy in the red sundress. My weekend was complete. When I was waiting for my bus the next day and went to get up to go to the toilet, I found that I couldn’t. My right leg just wouldn’t move at all. I was off work for two weeks.


In my 30s, I developed The Cough. People with fibromyalgia develop more mucous – sorry, this is gross – than other people. So the dairy was kicked to the kerb. The Cough itself is not so bad, but the pain that comes from coughing for three months is bad, so it’s best to not develop The Cough. In the winter, to avoid The Cough in the evenings or mornings when it is cold, I am under the duvet or wear a scarf that wraps loosely over my mouth. People with asthma do the same.


So Catherine, I hear you ask, how is it that you do active jobs, you go to the gym and you are planning to do the 26 mile walk for McMillan this summer if you have this severe neurological condition?


Two things:


1) Fibromyalgia is hellish in the first few years. Then you get your plateau, and that is the condition balancing out, being less severe, but that is you for the rest of your life. Whatever your plateau is is how the rest of your life is if you look after yourself. Some people have a real balance problem so can’t sit in a chair without arms or they will fall off the chair. Some people have severe migraines regularly. Whatever you get at your plateau is what you have for the rest of your life if you look after yourself. I got my plateau when I was 22.


2) If you don’t look after yourself, you will go downhill, be in a lot of pain, be unable to walk, be unable to breathe properly, unable to speak etc. So you need to take care of yourself.


How do I take care of myself with fibromyalgia?


1) Hit the gym.


What?! Hit the gym when you have a condition that affects all the muscles in your body?! Yes. I hit the gym. With fibromyalgia, you need to keep all your muscles functioning well. You need to keep your body strong. Most people with fibromyalgia have a problem with the lower back. This causes pain that wake me up in the night and the weakness in my back is uncomfortable when lying in bed, and the weakness stops the legs from working. So I need to keep my lower back strong. It was a GP I saw when I was 21 who explained this to me.


To defeat this back problem, I started off exercising for fibromyalgia gently and slowly. I got down on the floor and put my toes under a piece of furniture as though I was going to do sit ups. I leaned back about 45 degrees and then sat up at 90 degrees. I kept doing this maybe 10 times for the first time and then rested. This exercises my stomach a little, but what it is doing more so is exercising the muscle in the base of my back. This is the exercise the GP recommended. She demonstrated and then watched me practice. This IS what we pay our taxes for!

I worked my way up to doing more demanding lower back exercises. My go to homeboys and homegirls are the hang deadlift, weighted squats and leaning back 45 degrees on the sit up bench.


The hang deadlift, if you want to try it, please get a personal trainer to show you how to do this properly and practice in front of a mirror. If you get the posture wrong, you can hurt yourself. I see mates teaching mates the wrong posture in the gym and I hate it every time. I started with the 10kg bar. To do a hang deadlift, hold the bar in your hands in front of you. Keep your chest and face pointed at the wall or mirror in front of you and lower your bar to the knees. You move from your hips. Your butt should be out. Then slowly stand back up again. This exercise is felt in the backs of legs, butt and lower back.


Weighted squats. Again, I started with the 10kg bar. To do this exercise, lift up the bar and put it along the back of your shoulders, against your neck. I do wide leg squats to start off with, and I do 5 to start with. This challenges the legs so I can’t be silly and do too much or it’s going to hurt for days and it may put me on crutches if I go wild. I work up to doing 15 squats, rest and then do 15 more with a heavier bar.


If I haven’t done squats for a while, I do them without the bar, otherwise it will hurt for a few days.


With I use the sit up bench, again, I work up slowly. I do some small movements, leaning back and then upright again. I now have the bench down at its lowest angle and I lean back 180 degrees and do 10-20 sit ups from that position, rest, and then do 10-20 more, and some 45 degree sit ups. Again, this works the muscles in your lower back. I feel it in your stomach, too, but it is the lower back is what I seek to strengthen.


Next, I tackle my diet. I think diets differ for a lot of people, but I keep fizzy drinks to a minimum. They have aspartame in them and other toxic stuff that replaces sugar, so I keep them to a minimum. When I was 16 or 17, I realised that severe pain was often precluded by tea or coffee with sugar. So I cut out the tea and coffee. Caffeine is a no no for me. Coffee smells amazing, but smell it is all I do.


Sugar? Did I cut out sugar? Are you crazy?! I definitely cut down sugar. Definitely. With fibromyalgia,, I need to keep my weight down. This is tricky when I might be in bed for the day or lying on the sofa – which is rare now but was a thing when I was younger. I also used to get the munchies big time when I had no energy, so I surrounded myself with apples and potatoes so that I didn’t raid the fridge, and I made sure I didn’t eat crazy amounts at these times.


Fibromyalgia affects all the muscles in the body. Guess what is a muscle? Yes, the heart. My heart is affected by fibromyalgia. I found this out from a friend’s mother. She asked, “Do you wake up in the night gasping for breath?” I was like, “Yeah! All the time!” She said, “That’s your heart. Your heart stops and the rest of your body kicks it back into action.” It used to happen to me a lot. I always had a dream about a glass falling off a cabinet when it happened.


These days, when my heart stops, which is every two or three months, it is during the day time. To anyone else, it looks like I am coughing. Look closer, you will see I have my hands on the sides of my neck because I am measuring my pulse. My pulse is pretty crazy for a few minutes but calms down on its own. I just need to sit, lean forward a bit, take slow breaths and do nothing for a few minutes. It’s fine. It passes within five minutes, and then I get back to whatever I am doing.


So, I keep my weight down because the less pressure on my heart, the better. The less pressure on my muscles, the better. The less weight I have to drag around, the better.


Much of how I deal with fibromyalgia has been mind over matter. It has had to be. Even when I am in the gym, lifting a fairly average load, if I say to myself, “Ooo, I have fibromyalgia”, guess what? I stop being able to lift the weight. I get exhausted straight away. The same with the pain. I now have to stop and think if I am in pain, and then I will realise I am in pain and where. Right now, forehead, left arm, right leg. But I have to stop and think.


I have had fibromyalgia for 34 years. I have moved beyond the pain.


When it comes to dealing with long term conditions with pain, pain specialists now advise the low use of pain killers and advise the patient to instead let their body get used to the pain. This sounds cruel, but if you have experienced this for yourself or have researched this matter, you will know that by allowing the body to get used to pain, the body stops reacting badly to pain, and the mind stops reacting badly to pain. I am at the point where I can recognise I am in more pain than usual but most days, I simply do not even think about pain or lack of mobility in a limb. I have more on my mind and more in my life.


So fibromyalgia doesn’t affect my life? Of course it does. I will never have that gorgeous, toned and muscular body some women have. I accept that, and I work with what I’ve got. I’m never going to be able to run a marathon so I focus on walking distances. I can’t party all night, and that’s fine. I developed a dance style that involves no jumping but lots of joyous movement.


I book a seat when I go to a gig and a find a place to sit down when I’m at a festival. I can’t swim across The Channel, but because I’ve kept myself well, I can get on a plane to North Africa and ride a camel. I can’t do rock climbing but I can walk to the top of Whistler’s Mountain in British Columbia, in searing pain due to the lack of oxygen at that altitude, having to stop every four steps, falling over, getting up and determined to get to the top. It took me a while and I was in a lot of pain, but I got there. I sat on top of that mountain for quite some time, and I took photos. Lots of photos.


Life with fibromyalgia is a balance. I have to listen to my body and take it easy at times, but I also have to do mind over matter and push myself a bit to increase my body’s abilities. I have to exercise to keep my body functioning but I know when to rest and have a day off. I have a condition, but I also have a life to live.


This is all my lived experience, with input from doctors and specialists to whom I am thankful.

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Granite Harbour v Tokyo Vice


Gather around, I am going to do a compare and contrast. The BBC seems to be a genius at picking foreign dramas that are fantastically wonderful, and it has a certain flare of commissioning writers and dramas under its own name that are, simply put, utter crap and one reason alone why the licence fee should be scrapped. I’ve snapped on the blue latex gloves. Let’s get forensic about these two crime dramas.


Granite Harbour is a fictional drama set in the grey city of Aberdeen in the north of Scotland. I wish that was all I knew about this badly written and badly acted drama series. I was shocked to see that Granite Harbour is written by the same lady – Sarah Deane – who wrote Broken, the BBC drama starring Sean Bean, about a Catholic priest serving an underclass community in Liverpool. That was a stunning drama. How the chuff did Sarah Deane go from writing such class, poignant and wonderful stuff like Broken to such chuffin awful shite like Granite Harbour?


Granite Harbour is the story of a Jamaican Military Police army officer who comes to the UK on a multi cultural programme for Commonwealth members to train as police detectives in the UK. Why? Don’t know. Optics maybe? Enter Davis Lindo, the walking embarrassment, striding around Aberdeen in his military uniform, grinning with awe at the granite buildings like Lucy entering Narnia. I’ve been to Aberdeen. Two hours was enough and I got back on the train.


With my hands over my eyes, I’m going to try to describe in nice words what Lindo’s attitude and game are. Lindo is over the moon that he is training to be a police detective, with his sights set on New Scotland Yard (which is in London, England, and Lindo is in Aberdeen in Scotland, so maybe not?). Lindo knows he is in the UK because of the colour of his skin and his nationality. He’s a token. He’s an affirmative action. He’s not earned his place on a team of detectives by working up through the ranks of police constable and sergeant. He is there because of the colour of his skin and his nationality. He is a box tick and he’s over the moon about it. He goes on quite a bit about how wonderful it is to have the opportunity due to his nationality and ethnic background.


Lindo thinks he is amazing. He thinks he is detective material. He thinks he is a maverick. He thinks he knows everything, that he is perfect as he is, he needs no help from anyone, he asks for no help from anyone. He gets off the plane, and straight away, he is working on the murder of a local lad made good and Lindo dives into it, blunders into it, assuming all sorts, assuming he doesn’t need any help and assuming he is doing a good job. His work colleagues are locals who have lived in Aberdeen all their lives. His boss personally knows the murdered man and his family, and the team all have local knowledge. Lindo doesn’t seem to even grasp this. He is amazing and he knows it.


Now, let’s look at the true story that is Tokyo Vice – well, mostly true with some artistic licence applied. Jake is a white Jewish American in Tokyo. Jake loves Japan. Jake loves Japanese culture. Jake speaks fluent Japanese, writes almost native standard Japanese and he has lived in Japan teaching English to middle aged ladies for quite some time. Jake has little money so he eats at the crowded, cheap outdoor noodle bars and then he studies Japanese language there among the shouting customers late into the night. Jake works incredibly hard.


Jake sits in an exam hall. He is the only white person or foreigner there. Everyone else is Japanese. It is an exam for the job of trainee journalist at the best newspaper in Japan. This is what Jake has been training for for months. This is it. His big shot. This is what he wants. He completes the exam twenty minutes early. The examiners call time. Jake closes his answer booklet and sees that he has missed the questions on the back page. He didn’t know they were there. He panics. He think he has lost his chance.
Jake is called for interview by the examiners and men who work for the newspaper. They point out that Jake did not complete the exam. They then say that his writing is impeccable, that he writes Japanese very well. They ask him why he wants the job. Jake makes a joke, but is also humble and relates hs joke to a Japanese proverb. They offer him the job due to the quality of his work, and one of the interviewers found him amusing and different from the other candidates and thinks that Jake might bring something unique to the newspaper, especially as Jake was inspired to be a journalist by his father’s work as a coroner. Jake had witnessed his father piecing evidence together to come to a conclusion about the cause of death of the bodies in his care. This interested the interviewers. It showed that Jake had something about him and was able to learn from his betters and elders.


Back to Aberdeen. Lindo has been given an apartment – maybe he rents it out of his salary, but it has been organised for him. It is a beautifully done out place, with brand new kitchen units and all the mod cons. The place will cost a bomb. How Lindo can afford a place like that on his police detective’s salary, I don’t know. Lindo faces no racism. He gets one odd look, but that is it. He is welcomed into the bossom of his small police detective team that is female led, his partner is a young woman who lets Lindo call her by her nickname, and the Bad Guy – the only guy – on the team is an Asian man of a Muslim background who Votes Tory. Boo! Hiss! We are supposed to hate him. He votes Tory and he can’t stand being a box tick. He studied hard, worked hard up through the ranks and hates the fact that his photo was used for the police diversity programme that has brought Lindo to the UK. I like this guy. Worked hard for 20 years and hates being a box tick.


Back to Tokyo. Jake goes to work as a trainee at the newspaper. He is constantly referred to as “Gaijin” which means “Foreigner”. One of the newspaper team leaders starts giving the trainees the low down, he sees Jake and starts shouting for someone to get the Gaijin out of his office. This was Tokyo in the late 1990s. Jake’s line manager is a woman (we later find out she is an immigrant from Korea who is living with the stress of sharing her home with her mentally ill brother), and she has a go at Jake for referring to her by her first name. This is Japan, and you will speak to your boss as the Japanese do, with utter respect and you only call them by their first name when they invite you to do so.


Jake’s apartment where he has lived for months is tiny. He has a rickety bathroom and a non-functioning kitchen and one room with a thin mattress on the bare floorboards. He has one cupboard in which he keeps his paperwork, and that is it. He sits on the floor next to the mattress with his back against the cupboard. He has paper on the windows to act as curtains. This is it.


Lindo wears garish clothes. A puce coloured shirt with an orange Paisley tie and a waist coat. He looks like the old stereotype of a Commonwealth immigrant, just off the boat. He makes no attempt to blend in with the locals. It’s a chuffin wonder that he gets no stares bar one. In Tokyo, Jake wears a simple black suit and tie with a white shirt. He says to another Gaijin that knows what is expected of him at the newspaper, and he dresses accordingly.


Whenever I think of Granite Harbour, the words “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” just scream in my mind. Whether I am at work and thinking about Granite Harbour, or brushing my teeth in the morning, if I think about Granite Harbour, these words scream in my mind. Lindo is a trainee with zero experience. Lindo is arrogant, smug, over the top, speaks in clichés and behaves like a total know all about British people and our lives, giving monologues about what he assumes about us and our psychology and our ways. Lindo believes he is the best thing since sliced Taggart. He thinks he is the maverick who is going to shake things up.


If Lindo came to work on one of my cleaning teams, I would tell my boss to get rid after the first shift. I’d refuse to work with such a loud mouthed, arrogant, know all who chats shit incessantly. My religion forbids me from insulting people or calling people names, so please insert any word you wish. He really is. I would not have this guy on one of my cleaning teams. I’d bounce him out on the first shift. No way someone like him would be a detective, and definitely not military police. He would have been beaten out of the army in his first week by the other recruits.


Let’s bring my blood pressure down and head back to Tokyo. Jake keeps his own counsel. Jake took on board that he was too forward using his line manager’s first name. He learned from that. In Japan’s culture where respect and respect for elders and betters is king, Jake knows when to keep his mouth shut and simply bow.


Jake knows he is a trainee. He knows he is lacking, even though he has lived and worked in Tokyo for some time, so Jake seeks out older and wiser advisors and role models. Jake makes friends with the one incorruptible police detective who is able to control some gang activities simply by appealing to gang members’ notion of the peace that has existed between Yakuza clans for years and their sense of honour. Jake also makes friends with a new Yakuza recruit, a white American hostess who is also a lover of everything Japanese and several guys on his team. Jake is someone who can get on with most people he meets, while keeping his integrity intact and keeping his work goals as central to everything he is does. Jake exudes maturity beyond his years.


Lindo is a pathetic excuse for a man. He is supposed to be an experienced army military police officer who has seen frontline combat. Lindo simply does not have the character, inner steel nor emotional maturity for a military police officer of ten years nor of someone who has seen frontline combat. He is weak, overly emotional and childlike. He needs the (white) women, including his mentor who is a similar age to him, to nanny him. His colleague/mentor tries to treat Lindo as an equal, but really, it’s like she’s babysitting a toddler. He burps and they both laugh.


Lindo’s mentor has to cover for his mistakes, she has to tell him to shut up when he is behaving inappropriately with the family of the murder victim. Lindo can’t help but question the family of the bereaved as though he is Poirot because he is keen to pin the murder on the brother of the deceased. (And he is totally wrong. And he continues to be wrong multiple times.) His mentor constantly has to cover for Lindo and his fuck ups.


Lindo consistently screws up even after being told explicitly to not speak to people. Seconds after being told to keep his mouth shut, Lindo launches more insensitive questions at people who are grieving. Lindo thinks he has the case all worked out – which he hasn’t – so he is ploughing ahead, despite being warned by his boss that he is on his last chance. He blows his last chance straight after being told he is on his last chance by telling his boss that she is so wrong and needs to listen to him because he is so awesome and he knows everything and she needs to listen and learn from him. Rightly, the boss kicks Lindo off the team and tells him to go back to Jamaica. Why it took her so long, I cannot fathom. If Lindo was a real man on a real police team, his head would have gone down the toilet way before this point.


Over in Tokyo, Jake has found sources, he follows the guidance of the hefty handbook that all trainees are given and he follows the guidance of his line manager. He listens to her and takes her advice. He writes a report, and she tells him to rewrite it, and rewrite it. Out of all the recruits, Jake is the first to get a report published in the newspaper. Jake has humility, he is teachable and he knows his limitations. When he is told to rewrite and rewrite, he is frustrated, but he doesn’t kick off. He goes back to his desk and rewrites. He is keen to learn and become better than he is. He becomes his line manager’s favourite trainee, and she trusts him to work alone and find stories in the criminal underworld while all his fellow trainees work on petty thefts, writing up whatever the coroner tells them to write.


In Aberdeen, I’m with Malik, the experienced detective who can’t stand Lindo. There are times when Lindo is on duty in the car with his mentor and he is leaning against the door and staring out of the window as though he is in a fugue state ie not mentally well at all. We know he has some issue with his father but we are not party to what.


Over in Tokyo, Jake is struggling to deal with his sister’s mental illness and his parents’ reaction to it. His sister sends him her news and fun chat via audio cassette which Jake plays on his personal stereo or walkman – remember them? Jake blocks out his family issues by working harder.


Lindo is supposed to have experienced frontline combat in a war. When he tackles a small time criminal – the climax of the story – Lindo is amateurish and crap. There is no experience, no muscle memory. His movements are that of someone who has never been in a fight in his life, never had a playground fight, let alone seen action in a war. There is no power in his movements, there is a total lack of steel and brutality that guys who fight on the frontline are taught. Guys who are on the frontline are taught to take a life with their bare hands. Lindo looks like he’s trying to catch a missing cat. So amateurish, like a GCSE drama student.


Over in Tokyo, Jake does martial arts. We see this in the first episode. We see that Jake is experienced at martial arts, but he gets his butt kicked by his elders and betters. Jake is keen to learn and become better at martial arts. He bonds with a dodgy vice cop by sparring with him. Men respect Jake because he can fight and he can choose a perfect gift and use the perfect proverb in any given situation. Three Yakuza – men who murder frequently – go to kick Jake’s butt in his tiny apartment. Jake does fight back and manages to get some moves in, but he gets his butt kicked. He wakes up the next day covered in his own blood. He is in pain and can barely walk, but manages to go to work with a mashed up face.


Lindo gets kicked off the team, but he is the maverick who goes off on his own. He goes against his boss’ commands to bugger off back to Jamaica, and he saves the day and now everyone loves him. Totally unbelievable, not because Lindo is a foreigner but because he’s so lacking in skills, lacking in intellect and his ego and self regard outweigh his ability. I would not want this guy on my cleaning teams. No way on this earth would he be able to solve a murder mystery. Just no.


Quite a lot of racist tropes are on display with Lindo’s character and I am surprised that a Black actor today would accept a role with so many racist tropes, but Simpson hasn’t had any big roles to date. His “big role” was in Noughts & Crosses where he played a man who slept with a secondary character. He was in Small Axe, the episode called Lovers Rock, which was an episode about a house party in 1980s London where there was violence and rape. Small Axe is supposed to be a pro-Black TV series on the BBC, and rape and violence at a party was accepted by all the characters as a normal thing that just happens at Black house parties. There were big bouncers at the house for when the women move into the kitchen at 10pm, clearing the room before the men got violent, which apparently was a custom at Black house parties according to Small Axe. Just what are we supposed to think about that? I was left thinking that I’ve been to a lot of house parties and there was no violence and no rape at any party I went to.


I am really confused by BBC dramas. They are full of racist and homophobic tropes and negative, bigoted characterisations which are promoted as pro-Black and pro-gay. To me, it says a lot about the writers and the actors. Sarah Deane is white, so I wonder where her thinking is when she wrote such a racist trope of a main character who is a Black immigrant.


I had a homeless client 20 years ago who was from Pakistan. He had been brought to the UK to marry a woman who was British born. She kicked him out into the street. She hated being married to an immigrant. She reguarly called him “Banana Boat” which was a term British born people of ethnic minority groups used as an insult to people who had just arrived in the UK and did not dress nor behave like UK people did. Lindo dresses and acts so bizarrely by UK standards that people from his own background would call him “Banana Boat”.


How did Sarah Deane – who wrote Broken – turn out such utter crap like this?


Broken was awesome. It was subtle, it was real. It was something most Brits can identify with – money troubles, working men’s clubs, family disputes, crap emergency services, the priest who is trying to hold everything and everyone together when he himself is struggling with being a survivor of sexual abuse. The way Broken portrayed Christianity and Catholicism was sensitive, respectful and observant of real priests’ lives and their service to their communities. It conveyed genuine love, and it was utterly inspiring. I wholeheartedly recommend Broken.


Over in Tokyo, Jake has won some minor battles and lost a major battle. He is literally beaten and defeated. But he goes back to work and plans further action with his police detective friend whose respect he has won. I can’t wait for any follow up series.


You might be able to tell that I just hated Granite Harbour. It’s an insult to Black people and it’s an insult to anyone who sits down to watch it. The lead character’s arrogance, know all attitude, lack of humility, lack of any kind of awareness of how crap he actually is while he constantly bigs himself and his ego up just makes me hate it. The other characters are all paper thin with no background, no depth to any of them. They are all there simply to serve Lindo.


Romario Simpson who plays Lindo got the job because he’s Black. Ansel Elgort who plays Jake got the job because he is Jewish American AND he speaks amazing Japanese. There are plenty of Black actors in the UK, most of whom are far better than Romario Simpson. There are not many Jewish American actors who speak fluent Japanese, do martial arts and can act.


Granite Harbour follows The Capture whose lead female character is a smug know all who outwits experienced intelligence bosses despite being a detective who is only where she is because she’s on an affirmative action fast track scheme.


BBC writers are youngsters who seem to have little experience of real life and real people. They write characters who have huge egos with no substance to back up those egos. They have done nothing to achieve the praise and accolades that they have received. The characters are all box ticks. The characters are all smug. They are all young and outwit older and far more experienced characters who have far more knowledge than they have. The lead characters all show utter disdain for everyone else. They have no friends. They don’t like or admire anyone. They have no respect for anyone. It is a window into the lives and minds of the BBC writers.


SHUT THE FUCK UP!


Now, Tokyo Vice, I found it inspiring. I speak basic Chinese. I know Chinese and Japanese are NOT the same thing – no offence to anyone reading who is from either background. However, there are some similarities in the written script. When I saw Jake writing Japanese, I got a scrap of paper and started to write Wo, which is Chinese for “me” and “I”. I am absolutely crap at writing Wo, and my Chinese handwriting is disgusting at the best of times, but watching Tokyo Vice, I was inspired to up my Chinese. I’ve been back on Duolingo killing it every day since.


That is the difference. Tokyo Vice inspired me to be better with my language skills. Broken inspired me to care more for other people. Both dramas featured lead characters who knew that they were lacking and they strived to be better. To me, that is one of the hallmarks of a good drama; it touches our hearts and inspires us to be better than we are.


I only hope that I can write something as good as Tokyo Vice or Broken.

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Royal Racism Row: The Winners and The Losers

Let’s check in with our favourite cosplayer Ngozi Fulani. If you can’t remember who Ngozi Fulani is, she is the lady who accused Lady Hussey, friend of the recently departed Queen of England, of racism.


Ngozi Fulani is a London born lady of Caribbean origin whose original name was Marlene Headley, and has chosen a southern African name, particularly used in Zimbabwe. NF is British. NF’s parents arrived in the UK from Barbados as part of the Windrush generation. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a British Rail worker. Any Brit of a Caribbean background will tell you that Caribbean and African cultures are different, have different histories, racial mixes, behaviours, psychology, they are different.

We know from school pupils’ success rates, exclusion rates, single parent family rates, involvement with crime rates and more, there is a radical difference between African school students and Caribbean-British school students, which I covered in a previous post, with graphs. So African cultures and peoples and Caribbean cultures and peoples are not the same. Any African person and any Caribbean person will tell you that.

I asked one of my friends of a Caribbean background how he is Muslim, how Islam came into the family because Caribbean people are usually Christian or Voodoo. He told me that his great grandfather was Mongolian hence Islam entered the family with him. His great grandfather in Jamaica was East Asian. The Caribbean is not Africa. Just like Poland is not Scotland. Both Polish and Scottish people have white skin, but they are totally different cultures with different languages, different ways of doing things and different psychologies due to different histories. The claim in the i newspaper that NF choosing an African name is fine and normal because Africans were “kidnapped” by “white” people and taken to the Caribbean (when it was Africans who sold Africans, and 9 million Africans are enslaved in Africa today, and Black Caribbeans enslave Black Caribbeans today and kidnap, rape and murder them too – I’m looking at you Haiti) is just ignorant of the differences in racial mixes, cultures, histories and languages of the Caribbean.

NF dresses in clothes and jewellery that can best be described as pan-African costume. NF is the lady who was asked by Lady Hussey where she was from. Considering that most Brits ask most people they meet where they are from, this was not unreasonable behaviour, and considering Ngozi Fulani was wearing exotic looking clothes that certainly set her apart from all the other attendees who had been invited to Buckingham Palace, it is not unreasonable for someone to take an interest in her appearance and to ask her country of origin.


It has been suggested by one African British youtuber that perhaps Lady Hussey thought that Ngozi Fulani did not understand the meaning of her question, “Where are you from?” because Ngozi Fulani gave evasive answers and seemed to want to cause an issue. Lady Hussey said that she had spent time in France, and then asked NF again, where are you from, which suggests that Lady Hussey was sharing a little of her own background in the hope of her and NF reaching an understanding that they had both lived in different countries. That is one African British woman’s take.


Anyways, let’s catch up on the poor love who was assaulted and abused at Buckingham Palace by Lady Hussey. NF’s charity Sistah Space – a domestic violence charity that caters for Black women – has had to close its doors in recent days. They have released this statement.

Now. Did anyone see coming the torrent of abuse that NF would get? Did anyone see it coming six months ago? I am against personal abuse of any kind. I liked Jeremy Corbyn for his stance against personal abuse… unless the person was Jewish, but that is another matter. I am against personal abuse of any kind, any kind of bullying. NF should not have been on the receiving end of any abusive messages, let alone a torrent of abuse.


We are where we are because NF made a big issue out of a tiny matter, calling racism where none was intended, causing an elderly woman to lose her job over a question that, being British and knowing what British people are like and what British people say to each other, I am fairly sure that Lady Hussey meant no harm. Like many, I believe that she was merely curious about someone who looked very different from everyone else.

Spot the odd one out. Who is dressed in the way that most Brits dress and who is not?

Is this what NF thinks African people look like? How African people dress? Maybe Scary Spice back in 1998 with the leopard print, but not any African I’ve ever met. The leopard print, the shell necklace, the African nations’ flag coloured head band. If a white person dressed like this, it would be assumed we were off to one of Prince Harry’s Colonialist And Natives parties and we would be rightly slammed for being racist.

For someone with a list of qualifications in African Studies, African dance and is the boss of a Black women’s organisation, I would have thought that NF would have known better than to play Dress Up As An African.

When someone asks, “Where are you from?” and your reply is, “I don’t know, they didn’t leave any records” (according to NF’s own twitter post), then perhaps NF’s conduct was not unimpeachable. Her words are hostile at best.

Yes, when I was younger, I dressed a little out there after trips to Camden Market, and my hair was cornrowed to an afro’d pony tail on top of my head. I was ill and could not take care of my hair, so I got it cornrowed. It was purely for health reasons, so with strong Celtic hair, it was either cornrow it or shave it off, and I don’t have the bone structure to look good with a shaved head, sadly.

My accent does drift because I have lived abroad and speak other languages and I spend a lot of time with non British born people. However, if someone asks where I’m from, I tell them, and I tell them I am English with a Scottish background and I apologise if my accent is off and I explain I’ve moved around a lot. There are times I can’t get the right word in English out so I hit my head a few times until I get the word out, or I switch languages. There was a moment over the summer when both my boss and I couldn’t get out what we wanted to say about losing a key, but we couldn’t say “key” and we were dancing around the word, so in the end, I said, “Sleutel”. Relief flooded over us both and we could then say, “no, I can’t find it”. I am proud of being British and that I come from such an amazing country with such an amazing history and culture.


NF could have thought ahead about her charity and she could have sought to protect her charity. NF could have been gracious and just let the matter go. She could have put her charity first and put the women who use her charity first. NF could have been the bigger person. Instead, NF put herself out there on several news channels, using the words “abuse” and “racism” about the royal household. Now her charity has had to close its doors. Those women who use the services of her charity no longer have access to it.


Who wins?


I know recently I have made a bad call on builders shouting at me from the building next to one of my work places. I should have ignored it, but I know that sometimes when you ignore things they get worse, but sometimes when you ignore things, they go away. I made a bad call and challenged the builders. They were not being sexist, just annoying. I should have ignored them like my colleague had. I didn’t ignore it, I made a thing out of it and it all blew up for an hour. Sure, the men and their female manager should not have threatened my manager but also, if I had ignored annoying but unimportant behaviour, it probably would have gone away and not blown up.


I get stuff wrong, especially with issues like this. That’s why I’m not the boss of a company. I make bad calls on some things. I know my limitations. I should have ignored the annoying but harmless comments. Ngozi could also have ignored annoying but harmless comments. Sadly for her, she is the boss of a company, and that company helps vulnerable women. She has a responsibility beyond herself. She has a responsibility to those women. When Sistah Space reopens, there will be more negative publicity and unnecessary focus on it and this will deter some women from using the service.


I guess the winners are the media who have sold more newspapers because of Ngozi’s claims of racism at Buck Pal and also all those sites that have got more clicks. So the wealthy have made more money out of this. The losers are the women who might be homeless now or staying in a house where they are in danger.

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