The belstaff barbour boys are in town
moncler girls puffed as their pride
Red winged tricker brogued media’s young blades
Edwin Selvedge* all the rage
canvass bags vacuous as your projection
look at me chum
I rent from Foxtons
strutting down Portobello
middle aged man’s hoxton!
Baker boy cap on mockney accent
But the Fear in your eyes
Shows you’re no Jason Statham
not grouse we shoot round here mate,
on my sink estate
Gentrification? Everything we hate
as we’re moved to the suburbs
priced out of town
along with its character, diversity, smile and culture
what once was our reality
is to you just so vulgar
*Jeans turned up to show white selvedge with red stitch
©MC Bolton 2014
Kensington MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind has been suspended by the Conservative party after being punk’d by Channel 4, who secretly filmed him showing great willingness to work for, and acquire information for, a fictional Chinese company.
The obvious question for residents of Kensington is ‘Will he still be my sole representative in parliament?’ The answer is less obvious, but if you live in North Kensington, you’ll understand completely: Rifkind not being in parliament would make absolutely no difference to most of his constituents.
Sir Malcolm, or Riffers to his friends in the numerous jobs he juggles, is nowhere to be seen in North Kensington and doesn’t hold surgeries for constituents to raise their problems and concerns with their representative. He did appear once that I know of, the day after the riots. Somebody who was at the meeting with him told me “he doesn’t care…he doesn’t know anything”.
With Malc as your MP, you might take solace in the fact that as a former Foreign Secretary, he might be able to represent your concerns about Britain’s foreign policy to ministers. But, no, Sir is pro-war, an armchair bomber, who replies to constituent letters of concern about war with what amount to fatuous press releases, steadfastly refusing to address any of their concerns head on. For half a day’s work he charges “somewhere in the region of £5,000 to £8,000” to give talks on the Middle East.
A constituent told me about her experience contacting Rifkind regarding the onslaughts on Gaza by Israel: “It was pointless. He was closed off and unresponsive, the letter I received was a standard template everyone I knew who had written to him had got. I felt as though he was brushing off my concerns”.
So, North Kensington is essentially left without representation in the UK parliament. In the C4 footage, SMR talks of the great amount of free time he is able to enjoy. Most constituency “events” take place during weekdays, he explains. Not commitments, not work, not engagement with the community, just events.
So what does MR MP do with the time he frees up by abstaining from representing us? Turns out he’s a freelancer – “I am self-employed – so nobody pays me a salary. I have to earn my income” he says despite the £67,000 he gets paid, by us, for being an MP. In his other jobs, which pay him three times his MP salary, Malc Talc cannot possibly do much, as he explained to the phoney Chinese company that he spends much of his time “reading and walking.” Great.
So, North Kensington, one of the most successful showcases for peaceful ethnic and cultural diversity on the planet, has a huge democratic deficit. It’d be nice to be represented, but for today we’ll just have to represent ourselves.
You can be skipping in Hyde Park, inspired by, and feeling like, Floyd Mayweather. But within a few short minutes, the mind can switch in a wonderful way.
Doing just this, the handle of my rope broke. I asked the lady at the nearby food stand if she had a screwdriver and she handed me a substitute knife with an apology. As I looked at the screw head and the wannabe screwdriver an older lady asked me how many I had done. I felt her warmth and willingness to engage. I answered her humbly with a number lower than I really had. Okay, I lied and I have no idea why. She then said something witty, I smiled and carried on. I fixed the rope and continued but that short experience had me thinking about the beautiful nature of people, especially early in the morning.
In my book, Read This On The Train, I encourage the reader to stay open to whoever might be sitting opposite them on public transport, to stay engaged with each other as human beings, not as separate units, competing against each other like boxers.
This lady, after the excess of the winter festivities, brought that principle back to me. I was inspired by her to nurture my true self, as I had been inspired by Mayweather to nurture my physical self.
I finished skipping and walked home via Queensway but I decided to see what would happen if I simply acknowledged my fellow human beings, each and every one, by saying ‘good morning’ all the way home, 1.1 miles.
At first I could see that because people didn’t expect it, they decided it had never happened and continued like I wasn’t there, although I could see their heads slightly turning with curiosity as I became history to them.
To turn around would probably present too much risk and possibility for them to deal with, in their otherwise autopilot morning rush hour routine. After about 20 people, I realised that it didn’t matter whether they were present enough to face the Good Morning Dandy and the possibility of it becoming a hostage / gunpoint situation with helicopters, swat teams and me ‘downed’. No, it wasn’t relevant at all. What mattered was that they heard me and came to grips with their own fears; l was just the messenger of a recognition of human dignity, from one soul to another.
After that realisation, I relaxed and my voice became more audible, confident yet not intrusive, for I am a man of sensitivity, and never aggressive. After 150 ‘Good Morning’s, and yes this is accurate, not like the white lie told to the kind lady in Hyde Park, I learned about the ego, stuff like: people feel more comfortable when they are not alone, so I received grateful replies from couples and, as I relaxed further, also from lone commuters, and I saw that this curious behaviour of saying ‘Good Morning’ to fellow earthlings has become alien to most people in the city.
Those 150 people whose day might have been changed by my foreign language can thank the warm hearted lady in Hyde Park on that chilly morning, and they can thank this Floyd for bringing some May weather to the English January.
Angel Lewis with Tom Charles
Breaking down our self-imposed barriers is the subject of my book Read This On The Train, buy it here, now. It’s not as cheap as a ‘Good Morning’, but it’s still a bargain.
I spoke to the MP George Galloway yesterday. I asked him if he would be able to help out with something in the community, for primary school children. Without hesitation, George replied “Sure, it would be a pleasure.” Before departing he told me he was swotting up for his appearance on Question Time. I asked what the subjects for debate were going to be, and he replied “Well, you never know”.
It turned out that a large part of the programme was given up to a seemingly coordinated attack on George Galloway, when an audience member abandoned the format of sticking to pre-agreed questions and accused Galloway of being responsible for a spike in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain, Continue reading