Archive for June, 2017


“Cancelled: Jackie Kay and Zaffar Kunial”. Their appearance at the Brighton Festival I assume – not them. I saw Jackie Kay a few years back at The Festival and thoroughly enjoyed her calm, sorted, humorous and informed story. I was looking forward to hearing from her again. But not this time. As a gesture of goodwill we were offered up to 4 complimentary tickets to “Songs for the end of the world”. A good customer relations move.

My friend suggested we check out The Warren. A selection of bars placed sensitively next to St. Peter’s Church on the London Road. Alcohol, fringe shows and salvation within yards of each other. I thought why not. Let’s be young, free, wild and reckless. It was like being in a mini festival and because the area is walled off you don’t see the outside world. Or the traffic and taxis and buses that haunt the London Road at 7.30p.m. The seats and benches are surrounded by an array of mini theatre and show venues. A few burger stalls and a few stalls selling bags. In addition, a couple of bars. The tables were all a splutter with what felt like reams of flyers, mainly about the same few shows. And a couple of times we were calmly accosted by jovial, happy people sharing more flyers about award winning shows. It was a good environment to sit and chat and linger. Might be manic on a Friday or Saturday night. Nevertheless, an enjoyable space. What happens to these endless extra flyers? I remember coming out of nightclubs in my youth and taking, ditching and walking over endless flyers about some event, somewhere at some time. Of course you kept the flyers that gave free entry next week. There was a talk – I think after a show – about refugees and the camp at Calais. I often wonder about these things. Is it the right place? It’s raising awareness I believe. On the other hand, does it just help to wrestle from me a few moments of concern and philanthropy for those less fortunate than me. Before I get my Burger, Beer, ticket and a show.

There is something interesting about “London by the sea”. I hear about it being so diverse and open and welcoming. Brighton enveloped itself in a pro Europe stance. I agree with a friend’s assessment – it is not a diverse city but a cosmopolitan one. Because whenever I attend many events in this city I notice the lack of colour diversity. When I sit and people watch over my fry up on Blatchington Road I see this colour mix. But not here.  Why?


Sometimes I touched the handles of doors to public toilets and find them wet. Dry your hands you lazy……… On the other hand, I observe guys leaving and not washing their hands – don’t shake my hand. I think I may develop one of those behaviours where I only touch the handles with disposable gloves I carry for such an occasion.

It’s not paranoia but clear observation of the facts.

1- The CIA have been using Samsung T.V.’s to spy on us in our living rooms – even when they are turned off they can still hear our conversations.

2- Revelations continue about trump, Russian cyber invasions and now North Korea is included. They are believed to be behind the recent attacks on the NHS computer system.

3- Barack Obama announces a visit to Edinburgh.

4- I post on Facebook and twitter my apologies that I won’t be there- didn’t want him waiting at Cafe Nero on Princess Street for me.

5- All my data from my hard drive disappears. Files on my cloud storage are mysteriously deleted.

6- I am keeping an eye on the friendly new neighbours downstairs.

I’m selling my Samsung TV and phone. I may have to go underground until this all dies down. Moreover, I thought I would be safe living in Portslade.

A friend has just told me they received a letter from their children’s’ school asking for ten pounds this school year. And twenty-five pounds next school year towards school costs. They don’t agree. I don’t either. It’s for the running of the school. Not for any extra trips or events. Schools in Brighton and Hove face cuts. Equivalent to £193,425 pounds per school. Or £487 per pupil ( What a state we are in and some people don’t notice. Especially when they do not use the facility. Schools, The NHS or care services. In a year’s time the letter will ask for fifty pounds and then…….

A very successful morning sorting out problems with my cloud storage, tidying paperwork, checking my to do list, packing my bag for tomorrow and overall being wonderful.  After the longgg hike up the hill of Elm Grove I pulled into The Flour Pot Bakery. An artisan haven in Hanover.  A delicious coffee and chocolate and orange cookie. A chance to start typing this, refresh and prepare for dance. Still don’t understand certain things in life. As I sit with my coffee a young guy runs past in a blue dressing gown and flip flops to pop into the local shop. Some things aren’t right. I can imagine how my mum would rate that. Anyway – dance!


In 2016 I was invited to take part in the South East Dance programme – Dance Ambassadors programme ( An opportunity for non-dance people such as me to experience dance. I was invited to see the Belgian dance artist Vera Tussing at the intimate Dance Studio. I am always happy when I attend something and haven’t read the background. All I saw was dance and thought “o.k.”

This was a magical, stimulating and thought provoking afternoon with Vera and Esse as we explored with them a work in progress. There were about ten of us in the audience. Intimate. Connected and in the moment. It is such an honour to be allowed into the thought processes of artists. And especially when they are playing with and developing ideas.

Vera and Esse are Dance Artists from Belgium. This was their first time in Brighton. They have performed across Europe and usually London. Their work has moved through stages in their exploration of their dance – sight and now the physical. Safely wrapped in the imagination of dance and expression I was able to exclude the dreary May rain. I was entranced from the beginning. They showed us four pieces and each time we were able to be inside their thoughts. In addition, share our reflections that could help them think about how to grow the work. They move in “duoglide” ceaseless and creaseless harmony. It is wonderful to watch two women who are so in tune with each other and for whom touch and movement together is energy. We were given permission from the start to be part of this process. To speak, to take part in a dance, to change our angle and move to other parts of the studio. We had ownership of the space and this participation is integral to their work. The audience is done with not done to. They helped make this dance experience accessible to me on a physical and emotional level. Even bringing us all into parts of the dance -touching fingertip to fingertip with the dancers. I enjoyed collaborating with other audience members to narrate their movements in one piece. Some of their work is shown to audience members who are blind and use their vast array of other senses and methods to feel the dance. Touches such as braille notes designed by various artists increase participation and understanding. Contemporary dance of this calibre offers so many opportunities to break barriers and create avenues. Watching two women dance together without the male lead raises questions. How often do you see women dance without men leading? The women are the flexible feminine input. While the men are the “strong anchor”. Or so we are taught to accept.

Movement like this reflects and challenges some of the “isms” of Society. This graceful, strong, solid, confident pair reword some of that language. I experience this as “movement” and more than “dance”.


Dance for me was always jumping up and down to the latest or oldest disco classic. This experience allowed me to break down my barriers about dance being “arty farty” and immerse myself in movement. And in process. To imagine what this movement means to me. Even calling the experience “movement” allows me to feel more in it.And how others might experience it. And to be part of the endless flow to influence creativity. The dance they are creating will be shown around Europe and I hope one day in Brighton. If not maybe we will get another chance to reflect on their work. I sit in my cafe writing with renewed inspiration, colours, and the flow of movement around me and a slice of carrot cake. Stillness and harmony.


In the global safety of Cafe Nero five French teenagers sit and chat gently. Across from them there are two guys. One older, one younger sat together and reading their books. At once close but not separated. The future, the present and the past.



MAY 2017

Clapham Common, South London was once my daily destination. From 1970 to 1975 the 37 bus carried me from Battersea to The Pavement. And a few hundred yards away was Henry Thornton Comprehensive School. I believe it’s where I am supposed to have spent the best years of my life. As I come up from the underground station I know things have changed. Clapham and Balham and Brixton are young, white trendy enclaves. I can’t find a black hairdresser to get my hair cream. There is a “Little Waitrose”. Byron burgers. A Strada Cafe. A wave of trendy places to eat. A WH Smith. In addition, reassuringly a KFC and the essential McDonald’s. It is at once strange and fun to be here. A place I frequented as a teenager. I recognise the streets but not the people or the atmosphere.

I returned to Clapham Common for a Polish Writers event. It was part of the Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival 2017 at Mary Seacole Centre, Clapham Library. The event was organised by “Poles Connect”. They are funded by Lambeth Council and the Polish Embassy. This is a grassroots project where over 20 Polish speaking local residents come together to run community events. I read that the event will highlight Polish hand crafted folk art and workshops. A tour of Modern Polish literature. And a panel discussion. This is a great way to highlight the diversity, culture and contribution of the Polish community.

The U.K. has a very long history and life with Poland. Much, much more. Moreover, much longer than migration from the E.U. Since the Second World War and before. Hammersmith and Lambeth have well established Polish communities. There is more to Polish people than working in the NHS, Hotels or the building trade. There is much more to be being Polish than the war and the Holocaust. The Polish spirit has endured and flourished through many hardships of war and occupation. I love events like this. They give a chance to taste and view people from so many angles.


Solzhenitsyn or Chekov are Russian authors I have heard about many times. Now I know much more about and am reading Polish authors. I am not an expert just more informed. We were treated to readings from a range of authors. Writers for children and adults. The “short tour of Modern Polish Literature in Translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones” was exquisite. I was taken from the beach where I played in the sand of not knowing. Through the surf by readings from Jack Dehnel. Lifted by the waves of Wiesław Myśliwski, who writes the first line of the book and then follows where it leads. No set plot, characters etc. His books sound like a labour of love, confidence and intuition. No return, just keep swimming. Olga Tokarczuk’s moving story of returning Chopin’s sister returning his heart to Warsaw. Diving deeper with the detective trilogy by Zygmunt Miłoszewski – Rage. An exert from the children’s writer Krystyna Boglar – Clementine Loves Red. When I surfaced I had to buy a book. Well two. Actually three. Having someone choose exerts and read them with such poise, ease and intonation is a splendid way to get the flavours of different writing.

I immediately started my book Kolyma Diaries. Hugo-Bader is my kind of writer. Reportage is a Polish school of writing. – where he travels to areas and speaks to and spends time with people to hear their stories. From an interesting position we are told about their experiences and lives. A citizen of the “second world” – Eastern Europe. He travelled extensively to “the Third world” to write about his experiences.

The panel discussion just added more fuel to the fire of my Polish literature knowledge.

Now safely ensconced on my coffee table are my fresh, new books:-

1- Stone upon stone – Wiesław Myśliwski. (isbn 9780982624623)

2- Kolyma Diaries – Jacek Hugo-Bader – (isbn 978184627502-9)

3- Chernobyl –The zone–Natacha Bustos and Francisco Sanchez. A graphic novel – (978-0-9933951-1-6)

Have to worry about excusing my dancing

Have to worry about being crushed when I am seated on the bus or train. People always find other seats.

Look cool in suits.

Work twice as hard as my white equivalent to stand still in my career.

Know that trump is undoing anything to do with Obama just because Obama is a strong, black man.

Know that you are v racist-it’s an instinctual thing.

“Know who I am and where I am going.l
A bomb explodes and you are outraged etc. and blame those Muslims. Your outflowing of racism is loud-for a few days. It is not the bombing that made you racist. You always were. The bombing gave you an excuse and opportunity to say your stuff. The bombs are the excuse for your explosion.
A guy sat next to me on the train. I didn’t squeeze up just to let him take over my space. Then I noticed the paper he was reading. The telegraph! The business section! I won’t let him be comfortable next to me with his tory graph attitude. Anyway I kept reading my article about the closure of the immigrant camp at Calais.  It’s a terrible life they have. The prejudice.  Just because of one thing people pick on. Disliking someone they don’t even know for a small petty reason.


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