Refugee Week and Poetry (by )

I found this podcast which explores the refugee crisis etc... through poetry and musical expression. It contains an amazingly beautiful and sad Wade in the Water which has been cleverly adapted. For those of you who don't know the history of Wade in the Wader it was part of the Slave/Freedom Train in the US before the full abolition of slavery (and in some cases even after it). It was a sung code as were a few other songs.

This is something else that has been breaking my heart over the last few years - when we were trying to adopt (on hold now due to head injury) I felt I was doing something to help because we'd been told that refugee kids were the largest group and I don't care where a child comes from a child is a child and I just want to keep as many safe as possible weather from here or abroad. But obviously that didn't happen and now I sit in my house with spare rooms... and all any one tells me is that it would have been dangerous for my kids :/

I wonder if the households that took in the evacuees and the jewish kids in the second world war had the same sort of issues?

A few years ago Neil Gaiman made this video whilst visiting a refugee camp and highlighted the efforts that are being made and also the plight. He like many in the UK is descended in one branch of his family from refugees - pretty much anyone is going to find foriegn links if they actually bother to look and investigate and just ask. Many families have tended to keep that sort of ancestory secret but not all.

You can read his write up about here on the UN Refugee Agency website.

Currently I am putting together some more political poetry pamphlets/zines just my poetry at the moment - within which I have a few poems about refugees. This one is called The Journey and shamefully I can not even remember which group or news report it is about because there have been so many - so many little bodies and big bodies and just people - washed up along the shores - lives gone and wasted.

A Journey

The journey was across the water
And was flimsy with grief
The crowds swarmed
Desperation palatable
In the tang of stale sweat

Grey waters ebbed to black
Hiding those who could not make it
Or were Unwanted
Thrown to the cold placid stillness
Breath gone

Bodies bloated and rotting
Effluent choked to the fish
So they could no longer
Nibble the corpses
And still the people came
Fleeing, frightened
Seeking sanctuary
That so many of them
Would never reach
The waters filmed with grief


Years ago now I remember sitting in the Wilson Museum and Art Gallery at an event where the guest poet was a refugee - I wish I could remember the mans name - he was seeking asylum at the time - in many places poetry is outlawed, poets especially political poets are actually risking their lives for something that gets seen as "a bit prissy" in this country.

I think that for next year I will try and get the Gloucester Poetry Society to organise an event.

For more information on Refugee Week go here.

More Death :'( (by )

Last night I awoke crying - my brain had only just worked out why the trainlines we wanted weren't working - it had been a long day getting from Essex through London and out to Gloucester with the final walk home. I should have realised as I was there on Wednesday and knew those lines were shut then but... head injury - Jean was having to read signs and things for me in the end.

Also I know too many firefighters, nurses and police, I know too many people in council flats/housing, I over heard conversations I wish I hadn't on Wednesday - I can't bring the dead back - life is so easily snuffed out - we are so vulnerable. Horrible accidents, natural disasters and disease... you'd think we'd all huddle together against the nightmares.

The fire would have claimed more lives if it hadn't been for Ramadan, if the diversity of the city was less more people would have died. People were up observing their religion and so spotted the danger and warned others.

But still I awake to the sicken news that a van has ploughed into people outside a Mosque, more senseless death, more retribution agains the many for the actions of the few. More people killing people when we are all on the edge of annhilation anyway.

There are horrors happening all around the world - so much of it and we only hear a fraction... often I can not cope with it all - all the pain and hurt and grieving - the utter utter waste of life, of mind. And this time it is my home. London.

Grief is out pouring in the Capital - that is what the "riots" are, people feel powerless and they are angry and rightly so.

And then this... this attack on people going to pray.

I feel sick.

I Suck at Father’s Day (by )

So today is Father's Day - me and the girls kind of forgot - to be fair we kind of forgot about Mother's Day too though I think we squeezed in a meal or something - none of us could really remember it was too busy a day.

On this Father's Day Alaric left early morning to get to his flight for America and my Dad cooked me and the girls pizza to have as our packed lunches on the train - he then drove us to the station and I had completely forgotten :/

I also messaged them both last night demanding we all write a novel together... yeah I fail at Father's Day.

London’s Burning (by )

London is reeling - everyone knows someone who lives in a Tower Block - London has a lot of Tower Blocks full of families - the fire by Latimer Road has shook the foundations of the city - and as the situation unfolds it looks more and more like we may not be able to tell how many have died, the fire spread in a way that was unexpected due to the cladding causing issues with people following the advice and how fire services initially reacted and advised people.

Fire fighters risked their lives and are still currently working - many of them have been injured but they kept going to get as many out as they could - they went in knowing they themselves could die - it was a write your name on your helmet just incase situation.

This is the sign I saw on my way home from London yesterday and my facebook post on return.

Tower Hill Tube station message after the Tower Block Fire

My heart hurts from the news - I had to walk part of my journey yesterday and that is a small price - I would have walked the whole thing to undo this tragedy- Alaric Blagrave Snell-Pym contacted me to warn me - I panicked when he initially said a Tower Block in London but it wasn't the area that sprang to my mind - that doesn't alter the horror just the likelihood of me knowing the people living there and highlights a huge issue - there are many tower blocks and flat complexes and even the "luxury" ones give me the chills when I hear from people living in them that they've turned out to be structurally unsound and are being re-built around them and so on. Many are old and do not follow the modern regs. The fire fighters fought and rescued and did amazing things - and I know their work is still on going to find what exactly happened - they sustained injuries, they are heros. I cried when Al told me and then later on when I saw the news before I went to the memorial reception I was heading too. I saw this sign on the way back home today from East London, at least I couldn't smell it on the way home - I did on the way in yesterday and that sickens me :'( It's a nightmare, a pure nightmare.


My mum was struggling with the news - this is an old nightmare of hers due to the flats that were opposite her as a child and the fear of collapse from fires etc... Mum and Dad were both surprised that there was gas on in the flats due to a blow out when they were younger, that had collapsed a block of flats - there is sadness and anger.

When I got into London on Wednesday there were harrowed faces and people dashing for the newspapers as soon as they hit the stands - those who were talking had the event on their lips. London is a sprawling hive of people, mainly in the last century it has sprawled upwards.

There are regulations - each flat is supposed to be a sealed fire safe unit, they are designed and often retrofitted to contain fire - that is not what happened here. Grenfell went up like a candle with the fire spreading around the building, violently, unpredictably and rapid. People jumped and threw kids out of windows from the 15th storey and so on.

Many things appear to have gone wrong. I can not get it out of my brain and it hurts. I was visiting South Ken the Fire was North Ken. a) there was no sprinkler system and they had just redone the plumbing - apparently not adding it was not about money b) the alarms were all in the corridors outside the flats and were not loud enough to wake people c) the advice was to stay still which if it had been a normal fire would have worked sadly it didn't and that has cost lives and will continue to do so as now no one is ever going to stay still whilst the fires burn themselves out d) the cladding...

Now obviously lots of investigations have to be done but from the information that's come out so far this is what I think happened - the plastic was not fire retardant, it caught fire and was wrapped around the building - worse it had huge air gaps behind it causing a flu effect that sucked the air through making the fire burn more viciously and helped it spread upwards. The company that make/instal? the cladding are saying they followed regs in which case those regs need to be looked at. But more than that - where were the engineers? Did no one stop and thing what could the down sides of this be? What might happen if a) b) c) were to happen? One report was suggesting the cladding had been involved in other fires in India if that is the case then they must have known it was a potentially fatal issue?

The cladding also fell down meaning that police and fire fighters had to clear the local area and evacuate near by buildings. The gutted block is however still structurally sound enough for the fire fighters to be wondering around looking for bodies.

The emergency services were all maxed out and then some and they still saved lives, they still risked their own.

Nearly 9 million pounds was spent on tarting that building up - mainly spent on the cladding - to make it look nice so the expensive flats didn't have to look at the ugly mostly social housing. Yeah... so if the cladding was the problem those families, that community have been decimated because they didn't fit with gentrified London. They were the working class that had to be covered up and hidden - the asthetics of the building to the outside gaze was more important than the internal functionality and safety of its residents.

I am so ********* angry right now.

There are kids/whole families missing, out of those confirmed dead there are refugees who had already fled horror only to die like this, the young, the old... people - The People - just a standard mix of Londoners - wiped out.

And I mentioned the community, those who got out watched their homes and neighbours go up in flames - that is not going to be easily if ever forgotten - pretty sure the emergency services people will struggle too. Ontop of that what happens now? There are displaced families - some had bought their flats so now we wait to see if the insurance companies are going to be evil or not and the others? There aren't any new council houses being built - social housing has been being whittled away so where are they going to go?

London/Britain is having a bit of a time at the moment - and that is when heros emerge as the Underground sign says and not just the emergency services - various religous and social communities have stepped forward to help shelter and provide - even back here in Gloucestershire people are trying to work out how to help.

As I left South Ken and made my way through central and East London to my parents home I passed many many blocks of flats and the fear curdled my stomach - and the next morning too on my way back to Paddington Station - seeing them in day light with washing and bikes and sundries showing just how full of life those blocks are. All I can hope is that things will be done to make sure this is the only time this was allowed to happen. But that's what my parents thought about the gas blow out...

Yes I think this was preventable and that the chase for pretty penny has cost families their lives and their homes and worse of all I think those who should answer for it wont.

All I can do is offer love to those who are affected but that wont bring the dead back to life :,(

Worried nay Petrified (by )

So I mucked up which month was which and we ended up over booked for June (we were pushing it with May!), this is over booked due to head injury recovery etc... well I am having virtigo issues and have a bitten tongue again... I need some down time but that is not really going to happen because today I have to go to the hospital by myself for physio which has whacked me out every other time leaving me exhausted and dizzy.

I've been at the hospital once or twice a week for months now and Al's work have been amazing but... but today he can't come due to meetings. Getting to the hospital is not the problem I can just walk there - it is the getting home again - it is the getting home in time for children to get out from school.

There is a planned work around, that I worked out yesterday but haven't heard back as to weather it is a go or not yet!

Then tomorrow... tomorrow is a memorial reception for one of my Undergraduate lecturers in South Ken. I am desperate to go but a) I am already so tired that I am whoozy and the tinitus is high b) there goes the money for my laptop! I may stay over and come back Thursday. I may yet bail - it leaves Alaric running Scouts with Mary in tow.

I have a meeting Wednesday morning - I am taking music and sleeping on the train - it is the only way!

The weekend we are back in Essex for a few hours and then me and the girls have to come home on the train as Al is off to the US for the worst timing - he gets back the day before my cousins wedding so me and the girls are there on the train too and I am reaching the stage of over tired where I can't read properly and I don't want to rely on my 11 yr old to read all the tickets and signs and things because that isn't fair!

I am being taken and met at the stations and hotels are already booked but it's still enough stress - it would have been stressful without head injury stuff.

So yeah feeling edgy about the whole thing.

Plus I am already making mistakes - we turned up to the school fair not realising that we had to bring our own tables - we set up on the blanket - Alaric looked after it all while I did face painting for pretty much the whole duration (4 hrs - I'd promised the neurologist I'd only do 2 hrs of such activity :/). And we sold one pair of ear rings for £1 - these are earrings I have made including the beads and for some of them the metal work too. I don't do selling for less that material costs and it urks me to sell below time cost etc... This confirmed things for me - the last few years we have sold one or two small thing at events in Cranham - the last craft fayre we actually took NOTHING so it just cost us the pitch fee and a day of our time. So I'll come to the things and spend my money on stuff for the kids and no more pitch fees. I am still doing the comic cons and zine fayres and trying out some of the inner city crafty type stalls but really I fell out of love with the craft fairs about 5 odd years ago now - they'd been in decline (for me I don't know how others were doing) for a couple of years before that and I personally need to cover more than my pitch fee and then they haven't even been doing that.

I'm good at workshops and people pay me for them and they tend to eat my weekends so there is also not really enough time for fairs and fetes either.

Plus you know I didn't enjoy Sunday - I felt a sense of acheivement over the face painting - it raises lots of money for the school and makes all the children happy - I LOVE that sort of thing and will do my damndest for that sort of thing. But the stall thing is soul destroying - the knitting and jewellery and fimo etc... represents hundreds of my hours making and creating so it always feels like a rejection when this sort of thing happens. And to be honest I don't think it would have been much better if we'd had a table.

And yes I'm in a negative funk - I've been doing events non-stop since the end of April and it's been amazing and yes there was only one or two events in a week but that is the limit! This last week was an over reach as we knew it would be - it was supposed to be fine but then a memorial and US trip and more hospital appointments got thrown in on top.

Someone asked me at the weekend what I do when I am not at events - I get up and help get the girls ready and Al out to work, then I have a little 2 hr window where I can work on the computer or intensively read - it is not really a solid 2 hours as 40 mins or screen staring is enough to plunge my poor brain over the edge so it is broken up with house work.

I do physio and rest/nap for half an hour, then I do crafter-maker-art bits until my next scheduled break of 10 mins, then I make my lunch and eat it and do more physio and go for my longer sleep which is 1-2 hrs, then I tidy up and finish off the morning jobs and have my next half hour break/nap and then I do domestic stuff until evening when I may or may not get some time with Al for us to just be and then it's bed time - sometimes I spend the evening riding my exercise bike - I like to do 10km min on it. These are actually very productive days - I get a hell of a lot done and a lot of resting but yes they are not full "working" days. And on top of that I can't do too many workshops or too long but the amount of time I am good for is increasing but it is a long slow road peppered with naps!

A key thing is that I have to loose expectation - other peoples and my own of what is "enough" work etc... that is the hardest - I hate watching people work when I am not.

WordPress Themes

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales