RAT

I won’t be herded

Only to be murdered

By the feudal rules

Bootprints on my head

Leaving me for dead

 

Could turn any man to drink!

To stop the over-think

Of swimming against the tide

Universal truths denied

 

Left drowning in this madness

Hiding from the sadness

That futility brings

Like a never-ending Autumn

Where everything’s decaying – dying

Those of us who have stopped trying

Picking plastic flowers

Fighting against dark powers

This the eleventh hour

Such terror it will bring

 

Yet deep within my soul

A constant song I sing

Of hope, of love, of freedom

New life – forever Spring…

 

 

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©M.C. Bolton, October 2018

 

Photo by Angel Lewis, All Saints Road, October 2018

Grenfell & Not Just the Air that we Breathe

People in North Kensington have been raising health concerns since the Grenfell Tower fire. Following Friday’s news that ‘huge concentrations’ of toxins have been found in the soil around the tower, fellow local bloggers, THis Is North Kensington – THINK, have some more concerning news for local residents, which they have shared with Urban Dandy…

 

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On Friday, The Guardian reported that Public Health England have not acted upon a report of early findings by toxicology expert Dr Anna Stec showing huge concentrations of potential carcinogens in the air and the soil around Grenfell Tower. Prof Stec has urged PHE, the Department of Heath the Police and RBKC to organise tests on local residents so health risks in our local  North Kensington community can be assessed properly. Read about it here

Many of us here have long held these concerns, and they appear to be validated in Prof Stec’s early findings. Sadly, we can’t exactly say we are surprised – local residents have been voicing very real anxieties about health here for well over a year – concerns that have mainly fallen on the deaf ears of our government, Public Health England and our council.

We could remind them of  the cyanide gases released by the burning insulation from the Tower in the fire, of numerous local residents calling for soil and water and cladding to be tested on countless occasions since the fire, of people from Grenfell Tower suffering cyanide poisoning after the fire, of the “Grenfell cough” which is no figment of peoples’ imagination in North Kensington (several locals had respiratory problems after the fire), of the burnt cladding and insulation that landed in people’s homes and gardens up to a mile away, or of this post of ours from August last year:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/grenfell-the-rotten-borough-and-the-terrible-mismanagement-organisation-now-is-the-summer-of-our-discontent/

Public Health England were delayed in their responses at the very least, relied on air quality tests alone (again ignoring residents’ concerns) and flat-out refused to investigate the rest of the environment surrounding Grenfell Tower.  Many concerned local residents at public meetings were dismissed by PHE – utterly shameful.

We sat at one meeting where one of them was saying that the air and soil here were perfectly safe and made out that we had nothing to worry about. It is bad enough that they refuse to take our concerns seriously, but they really should at least now listen to the concerns of a world-leading expert….

It also appears to many of us in our community that there have been concerted efforts on the parts of both this government and the leadership of our council from day one to minimise what has been a not just a local but a national disaster – shame on them.

We warn RBKC, Public Health England and the government that failing to act upon this is in itself a neglect of duty of care at the very least.

Local Labour Notting Dale Ward councillor Judith Blakeman has also constantly raised concerns over this and she informed us that she has also again raised these matters with RBKC.

Some might remember Sir Derek Myers, former joint Chief Executive of both RBKC and Hammersmith and Fulham. He stepped down, coincidentally –  or not   – enough at the same time Sir Merrick Cockell quit as leader of our council.  Back in 2013, The Guardian published an interview with Myers in which he downplayed this council’s then-policy of negotiating the purchase of properties in Peterborough and then relocating local families there (Peterborough’s then Conservative MP Stewart Jackson condemned this at the time and said: “This is about social cleansing in Kensington and Chelsea. It’s about getting rid of people they don’t want in their borough, who are on benefits, who they have a responsibility for – to house – who are statutorily homeless.”)

Well, talking of homeless people, after his departure from the Rotten Borough, Myers then ended up chair of the board of trustees at Shelter until resigning last year alongside then trustee of Shelter, Tony Rice, who was also chairman and sole shareholder of Omnis Exteriors – who allegedly sold the Grenfell cladding – disgraceful.

But if last year’s news was shocking enough, some readers might be wondering why we are bringing all these old revelations up. We remind them that Sir Derek Myers’ “home” now is on the board of PHE.

We will also remind people of the Notting Barns South Masterplan, obtained by the Grenfell Action Group under the Freedom of Information Act and that Derek Myers was chief executive of this borough at the exact same time these plans, which proposed the demolition of Grenfell Tower, were drawn up.

https://grenfellactiongroup.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/notting-barns-south-masterplan.pdf

No, we are not going into “conspiracy theory territory”, but Myers’ involvement with PHE certainly raises more than a few red flags here.  His Guardian interview finishes with the line “like all natural leaders, where others see a problem, Myers sees an opportunity” – make of that what you will…

THINK believe it to be a real conflict of interest for Sir Derek Myers to be in such a position given his former role at RBKC and we say that it is time that he takes the “opportunity” to resign from Public Health England now.

We also say it is time for the government and the council to take the very real concerns about our health raised by residents, local councillors, health professionals and toxicology experts seriously and to act upon this immediately.

As things stand it appears to us that some in authority have not learnt anything after Grenfell; about listening to this community and its concerns and acting upon them responsibly. And we are less than reassured with the very important matters of our health, our environment and our futures being their call.

 

Tower block fire in London

By THINK for Urban Dandy

@THisIsNorthKensington

 

Rodent Spirit

I saw something last week and it has stayed with me.

The image was that of a dead rat, laid out near the Grand Union canal, limbs spread, claws raised and torso twisted…the moment of death had been perfectly captured and temporarily preserved.

Its body was ravaged but its eyes were wide open and bulging, jaw clenched, with its head turning to its right, bearing its teeth in a last-gasp attempt at self-defence.

The rat was surely never more alive than in its last moments. Death and life were equally there, with the exact crossover point on display. This was a warrior posture, pure yoga-unity.

The predator

I presumed it was the prey of the urban fox that has been sniffing around the canal side, ripping apart black bags and other foxy things. I’d seen a big rat scuttling by the kerbside a few days prior, the fox sniffing the same path shortly after.

Death comes to all creatures, but the rat’s fighting spirit was striking. I stopped and admired it. I have seen death come to people’s spirits long before their physical demise. The dead eyes of the addict in Ladbrokes, not so different to the eyes of the politician at the press conference justifying dropping white phosphorous on children.

But the natural death of the rat is not mirrored in our unnatural environment. Our number one predator is not a stronger creature, but the very economic system we live in. Stripping lives of their meaning, atomising people, herded with officespeak, corporate mediaspeak, propaganda, consumerism, the housing crisis and more. Lives are directed to acts of malice, avarice and injustice.

We all know people born in the wrong place at the wrong time, ill equipped for the assault that can come; not given time, let alone guidance. Then blamed as they suffer. From individual despair and loneliness to North Kensington suffering the slow puncture of jadedness. It’s not the chem trails, it’s the system that deadens the soul.

The end

Seeing the deceased rat, I took out my phone to take a photo, already knowing I would write about the morbid scene. But the grisly sight would not have portrayed the inner disturbance. My eyes took in the image, my mind furnished it with the nightmarish detail. An inverse of Proust’s madeleine, the dead rat took me into the future, right to my very end…

The one inevitability for all of us, but how will I go out? Quietly content with how I lived? Happy with what I did? Did I challenge injustice? Did I look after my offspring with benevolence and wisdom?

How will I live? In fear – clinging on to a wage and a hope for a better future? At what point will I fight? And when will I let go and accept?

Alive

What was truly alive was the rodent’s spirit; its desire to stay alive was the equivalent of the human whose eyes flicker with love and openheartedness, who can’t be beaten down by the trials and hardships they face.

Horror and death captured perfectly until an environmental health employee shovelled it up. We all face that fate, however we dress it up. How will I live? Playing the game to get b(u)y? Or honouring my aliveness and humanity? If those are the alternatives, I choose the rodent spirit.

 

 

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

RBKC Bites Back @ Canalside House & the Community

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The council of Kensington and Chelsea has revived its plan to get rid of North Kensington community asset Canalside House and replace it with flats. The resurrection of the plan will be viewed by many as signalling the explicit return of the council’s long-standing policy of asset-stripping North Kensington. Will it be third time lucky for the council? 

What is Canalside House and Why Does it Matter?

Opened in 1929, Canalside House is an integral and much-loved part of the North Kensington community, serving many hundreds of local people each year, including hundreds of children, the disabled and other vulnerable groups. It is ideally located at the north end of Ladbroke Grove, with excellent transport links. It continues to play a vital role for people in West London, including with its role as a hub for Grenfell recovery and support.

Background Continue reading

Autumn Nights

Staring through the flames

of my inner fire

smoke filling the dark echo chamber of my soul

where whispered words

emerge as a desperate scream

 

What is truth?

This eerie place

without birdsong or dew

what is truth?

 

Slowly the heavens open

like a giant peach bursting

exposing a new dimension

torn apart like a repentant saint

rending his garments

frustrated in defeat to God’s grace

 

This pitiful last stand

of self-righteousness

vanquished, destroyed

Falsehood – like dross

burnt into a fine powder

blown away

by that eternal whirlwind

of revolving dust

 

A sandstorm to the masses

blinding what little vision they possess

deluded – beyond hope

For they did not reach in or reach out

to the almighty creator

who will cut my silk thread

where I will float above the trees

like a lost child’s baloon

looking down upon my body

Finally free – finally home…

 

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M.C. Bolton, September 2018

Grayson Perry – Descent of Man Review

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Picture from Penguin Books

 

The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry is not a forensic study of its subject and so doesn’t lend itself to a particularly academic review. However, it introduces a couple of phrases to the lexicon that are well worth contemplation.

The book is premised on the notion that ‘upgrading’ men to improve their ‘adaptability’ to the modern world would be of huge benefit to men, women and the planet. Grayson Perry’s premise is well understood, and his opinions which fill the book are intelligent and apt.

Ample ink is spent pointing out male domination of various aspects of human affairs, something of a stream of consciousness, sprinkled with empathy for the position of men in 2018 and heavy dollops of ridicule of boorish male behaviour. Perry is knowledgeable without going the extra mile, and as a result The Descent of Man is as valid a review of masculinity as any well-intentioned and considered opinion on the subject. Continue reading