Wednesday, 8 February 2017

too good to be forgotten

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If I lost my sense of taste tomorrow I would miss the coffee that kick starts my writing day; that takes an age to make it just so - three spoons, no sugar, splash of milk.

I would miss the sneaky Wispa bar that I pop into my Friday morning shopping basket with the milk and bread and fresh fruit and veg before we start the start the weekend, with everyone in the home peering in cupboards for quick snacks. I wave the Change for Life sugar swap app in my family's face smug with the knowledge that I have snaffled the secret chocolate treat in my car on the way home from the supermarket. Savouring each melting mouthful at the traffic lights.

I would miss the big Sunday Roast that has our dining table groaning under the dishes laden with everyone's favourites.  This is the dinner where all plates are scraped clean and no morsel left uneaten.  We rest full bellies in front of the telly waiting for the moment that we can squeeze in dessert.

If I lost my sense of taste tomorrow I would miss the cakes and cookies my middle daughter likes to bake on quiet Saturdays; the sweeties from my youngest daughter's party bag sweetie box that never seems to empty; the dishes that my eldest daughter presents with pride, hot from the home ec room, onto our kitchen counter.  These are their tastebud heavens and they share them with me.

I would miss the tiny bones that disappear in the saltfish salad, that detract me, momentarily from the sun-yellow plantain and the golden brown bakes. The food of my childhood. The meal that brings love.

I would miss cardboard boxed fries dipped in banana milkshake and the greasy wrapped chips shared on seaside seafronts and the first slurp of a cuppa getting home after dark and the silk of a rum punch in the garden, in the sun.

If I lost my sense of taste tomorrow I'd miss the way a bite or nibble or swallow or chew can take me to a moment that sparks a memory; a meal that creates a story.

This post is in response to a #Post40Bloggers : Writing Prompt no72 : Lose your sense of taste tomorrow

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

1st of da month

Goodbye January. 


 The month where I have woken up every morning to the words 'Today, Donald Trump..' on the six o'clock news.  Followed by my immediate thought of ...What now?


Here are my January #smallmercies



  





What did January do for you?



Hello February!




Tuesday, 31 January 2017

last dance


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Two thousand, zero, zero, party over, oops, out of time. Tonight we gonna party like it's 1999.

That's the song on repeat in my head every time I get to go out.  Which isn't often. I mean the real go out, not the going out to the shops to fill up my cupboards out, I mean out out. Handbag, phone, keys, purse, nail varnish, lippy (and inhaler) out.

These nights are few and far between. And I'm beginning to understand why.

My knowledge of where to have a good night has disappeared.

Now I'm not looking for the nights of the past where I'd be stepping out when everyone else is heading home; freezing my ass off because queuing up for the cloakroom wastes valuable dancing time; leaving someone mid-conversation because the DJ is playing a 'Tune' - cue one hand up in the air.

No that's not me anymore. But not through want of trying. It's because I simply don't know where to find a decent venue to groove, rave or mash it up on the dancefloor, anymore.  There are bars and clubs aplenty in this city but none offering a night with the music that'll make me get off my coveted bar stool.  When I've tried a 70s/80s / soul night before, the best tracks are played pre 7.30 to a few bar huggers and then ditched for chart noise when the young 'uns arrive. Time to queue up to collect my coat.

I refuse to believe that there isn't a disco night out there that conjures up the spirit of Studio 54 or a funk night to raise the ghosts of soul groovers or... I know, I know a ska night - where you skank 'til you can't skank no more.

Don't get me wrong, I'm partial to a bit of the stuff my girls listen to but if I get the chance to be out dancing, I need to be among my crowd; my tribe; my people who wanna get on the good foot.

I long for a club where you enter like the Soul Train dance line. Or failing that, I am invited a Blues house party, that my parents used to talk about, where you'd feel the bass of the music in the walls and in your chest. I've considered holding one myself but doubt my neighbours here at Twickers Towers would approve.

I'm determined so I'll keep looking and be content with that one 'tune' on a night out that I know all the words and dance moves to.  Or just save my shapes for the kitchen where I hear the resident DJ spins tunes to make you cut a rug.*  


*I was referring to me...with my own playlists..in my kitchen...alone.



Friday, 27 January 2017

a little peace

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I've only written about the glorious Eurovision Song Contest once on my blog, I know - a travesty, right? I need to write about it so much more.

For those of you who aren't in the know, I love it. Me and my sis were raised on it and make no apologies for loving our annual Eurovision tradition. It's one of the few things we look forward to passing onto our daughters - they simply won't have a choice.

In the run up to this year's contest, things are looking a little bitter sweet.

Sweet that I'll be attending my first ever actual, live Eurovision event. Cue sequins and glitter. Bitter that this is the inaugural post-Brexit Eurovision. Cue side eye at the already Brit hating judges.

Luckily this isn't that actual Eurovision Final, it's Eurovision You Decide - the contest that decides who represents Britain in May.  So at least we're guaranteed a home win!

I'll be honest since the decision in June I've been a little unbalanced about my Britishness, it hasn't sat well; I'm not going to delve into that now, you can read about it here. Suffice to say I did bin the  Union Jack flags I own, the ones that only make a Eurovision or Olympic appearance, but I was hurting, I wonder whether I acted in haste. 

So I'm hoping that tonight's show will restore a little peace with my country and that we choose a song to proclaim our love of all things European.  Before the sharpening of Euro knives in Ukraine at the next stage.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

name of the game

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Confession: I have a Starbucks name. What do you mean you don't? In this era of re-branding without the rigmarole of deed poll, how could you let this opportunity pass?

It took me a while to own the shortened version of the one I was given, I love it now but didn't back in the day.  And today, in every high street, I am presented with the occasion to try out a new one and see how it fit. Metamorphosing under the green Liberty-esque Lady of the coffee haven I become Jasmine.

Yes, Jasmine. 

A name I have cossetted since I was a kid. It offered a future free of restraint and rules. A life of freedom and creativity; funky shoes, rainbow fashion and the ability to play any Radio 1 Top 40 chart hit by ear on the piano...straightaway...no rehearsals or anything.

However 'Jasmine' lay dormant until the common practice of requesting your name in a coffee shop came into being. I, fumbling for change and truly unsure if I had ordered the correct drink having spliced three hot drink related words together, hesitated.

"Madame, your name?" the barista repeated, pen poised over the titled empty cup,

And there she rose from the depths of 1984, enveloped in Le Jardin perfume and wearing Doc Martens.

"Jasmine"

"That's a cool name" the barista smiled swooshing the letters J-a-z-m-e-e-n-e across the label. 

"Yeah" Jasmine (me) nods loftily "I've always liked it"

And so, still she remains, strong and sweet; an embodiment of the Mocha she regularly orders.  Presenting her reward card. Purchasing the occasional shop blended coffee granules to take home. 

Yet Jasmine only bursts into life at that moment, in that establishment.  Until the trend extends to other institutions, she remains a parallel solo me.  Who knows the other mes that could be birthed into existence? I'm thinking Cleo... Letitia... Rainbow...the possibilities are exquisitely endless.

This post is in response to a #Post40Bloggers : Writing Prompt no54 : Change your name

Thursday, 19 January 2017

good thing

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What a time to be in right now. I often wonder how the history books will write up the last year and the days to come; whose feet will they choose to lay the Brexit blame and how will they compare President 44 to 45? Cartoonists and Exam Board Question Makers must be sharpening pencils as the political roller-coaster ride twists and turns.

As Trump's inauguration looms I've been reading about how Obama's lack of achievement and how any accomplishments will be erased by his successor anyway. Haters gonna hate and theorists are always gonna miss the lay person's view. Here's mine.

In 2016 the country where I was born and bred, educated and worked, raised my daughters and probably will end my days, has turned the other cheek and is making a hateful noise. Not everywhere, mind. I'm a Londoner, most of the time people here can handle a range of face colours, divergent accents or an assortment of religions. But still the mood has definitely changed. And then we witnessed an eruption of overt hate spewing out of our tellies during the US Presidential Campaign. I am amazed that so many people can invest so much time to so much hostility; they seem to live and breathe a continuous rage against people who don't mirror themselves.

We have been invaded by an influx of slogans saying which lives matter, people filming death on their doorsteps and which 'race' is at fault for the demise of the others happiness. All raising relevant and necessary debates because all views need their day in the sun.

For me, the way the Obamas, especially Michelle, have engaged with society has been genuine. The images that fill my FB timeline highlight the joy, the decorum and respect for their position during their time in the White House. Michelle Obama's work raising the profile of girls education has been inspirational to many and long may her work continue in the organisations she has supported. Their collective message has always been about doing better, working hard, supporting one another and the necessity for heightened gun security. Okay I don't live in the States; many policies Obama imposed don't affect me directly but as the first black family in the White House move out of the spotlight and back into their private lives I believe they were always going to be scrutinised moreso than any other Presidential family. And how refreshing that they completed their tenure without scandal or mighty blunder as we have witnessed before, imagine if this President with a Brown Face committed a socio-political crime? Like getting Twitter trigger happy or mocking the afflicted.

Many may belittle those who rejoiced in the ethnicity of the First Family but there is a truth in how it has opened doors of self belief or understanding of journeys that can be taken by people of colour - when history lessons omit sections of society, if someone in power has experienced and refers to elements of your struggle, you are referenced and therefore can take your place in the future.

In their short lives, my three mixed heritage children, have grown up with classrooms and communities that reflect a whole world; a white male followed by a white female UK Prime Minister; a black American male president - their norm is that different people attain different successes.  Maybe they're too young to realise the power of prejudice, they will learn in time but I hope their future will be one where they use their voices, their strength, their abilities to improve their world - that's a message I taken away from the Obama years. 







Monday, 16 January 2017

MLK

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Happy Martin Luther King Day!

"...the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others"

Apparently today is 'Blue Monday', the most miserable Monday in the year. After the bright lights of Christmas have been dismantled and unless you have a birthday imminent, your high street and home street are defunct of colour until Valentines. As a teacher, this week was bang in the middle of an uphill slog to the dark February half-term which would then be crammed full of the joy that is  assessment and coursework marking.

But luckily (and so immensely relevant in light of US activities this week) there is a little red, white and blue glimmer of light for this week. Today is Martin Luther King Day.

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way!

It's been a pretty muddy, rainy, cold, kids-in-the-middle-of-the-term-tired weekend so I'm looking to start the week with love and a bit of history thrown into the mix.

MLK's life and work may be taught in some schools but I'm going to add a little bonus learning to our afternoon and open up a discussion about prejudice and tolerance. I want to hear what they think (and see whether we' ve been raising 'em right!).

The 'apple' or 'egg' experiments could be a starting point and I'll let them take it from there.

Or asking them to imagine life in a time of segregation: How would it change the life they have now? What would happen to their friendships? Or family? Being mixed heritage, I imagine my 3G will be throwing some interesting questions my way.

"What matters is not how long you live...but how you live"

To avoid a 'you must talk now' moment, whilst we chat I'm hoping they're up for writing their views encompassing MLK's desires.

So a poem entitled 'I have a dream' or 'My dreams for tomorrow'.
Or filling in a template cloud with finished sentences : A dream for me, A dream for my family, A dream for my world.  Hang it up and display the wishes of your offspring...then tuck it a box ready to whip out on their 18th birthday!

"The time is always right to do what is right"

Then to the conjuring up the atmosphere of MLK's time - well the good bits anyway - the music and the food. My lot are used to hearing an eclectic mix of music at Twickers Towers and today will be no exception. 1963 Soul can ease our way into dinner time. This may not bode well for the 3G but I'll keep them busy with the cooking and enjoy some solo-boogieing!

Tonight will be a dinner that has been alleged to be MLK's favourite Southern Soul Food : fried chicken, sweet potato, green beans and mac & cheese.  This is definitely food to warm the greyness out of a grizzly Monday.

"I have decided to stick with love. 
Hate is too great a burden to bear"

And finally, forgiveness. Many of MLK's words reflect on the power of forgiveness. Something that can be hard but required during all our lives. Who and why should we forgive? What might happen to us if we don't learn to forgive others?

I'm not one for heaping my political opinions onto my children - they read therefore they will find their way - but the messages here are about being a good human. That is one rule in our home that they must abide by.

"Our lives begin to end the day 
we become silent about the things that matter"