No Lions in England

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UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s latest offensive remarks triggered fresh calls for his sacking. But Johnson’s attitude is not exceptional. His callous comments on Libya are indicative of a mendacity towards the Middle East and North Africa that runs deep in the Conservative party and the UK’s wider political establishment.

At a fringe event for business people at the Conservative party’s annual conference, Johnson outlined his belief that Libyan city Sirte has the potential to emulate Dubai. He claimed to have met of “a group of UK business people, some wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte…all they have to do is clear the bodies away”. Johnson chuckled at his own wit. Continue reading

North Kensington Children Honoured

Two London-based community organisations honoured the young people of North Kensington at the weekend. At an event on Ladbroke Grove, local children affected by the 14th June Grenfell Tower fire and its aftermath showcased their creative skills and public speaking abilities.

The children were given a platform to reflect on their experiences of the summer after the Grenfell disaster. Many of them had benefited from trips away from West London, funded and organised by Baraka Community Association (BCA) and Worldwide Somali Students & Professionals (WSSP). The trips included a residential at Hindleap Warren, visits to Legoland, Chessington, Butlins and Thorpe Park.

Over a hundred days have now passed since the unprecedented fire on the Lancaster West estate, which claimed scores of lives, including friends of the children present.

The young people were set the task of designing posters to express their feelings experiences during summer 2017, presenting them to a panel of judges that included Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad. Contestants were judged on their artistic ability, literacy and presentation skills.

After much deliberation and disagreement, the cash prizes went to:

Third prize: Aisha, aged nine, for her poster ‘Asia, Africa’.

Aisha reflected on getting far away from North Kensington to Dubai, Kenya (which she described as ‘boring’ – sorry Kenya) and Somalia. Aisha gained the judges’ praise for her lively, confident presentation.

Aisha
Aisha, 9, with Emma Dent Coad MP

Second prize: Abdullahi M, aged nine, for his poster ‘My Sad but Amazing Summer’.

Abdullahi described the events of 14th June as they had unfolded for him, talking about his mother’s tears, and the united local community. He ended his presentation with the words “peace and love for the community of North Kensington”.

Abdullah
Abdullahi with Emma

First prize: Hussein, aged 13.

Hussein received first prize for his combination of a brilliant design and a very eloquent presentation, outlining how each section of his picture linked together, and explaining the abstractions to the audience and judges.

 

Winning Entry
‘Summer 2017’ by Hussein

The prizes were awarded by Emma Dent Coad MP, who hailed the organisations involved and the families in attendance, noting that they were doing “what we all want to do: making the most of ourselves and our children”.

The event showcased the effectiveness of well-established and well-connected community groups. Already up and running and filling in gaps in provision long before the Grenfell fire, these organisations were in place to provide much-needed support and relief when North Kensington was shattered by the events of June 14th. When government services were most needed, they were found wanting, but the community was able to provide some essential presence.

WSSP’s Director Kasim Ali said: “The aim was to help children cope with the Grenfell disaster by talking about it and expressing themselves artistically. At the same time they learned lifelong skills such as design, presentation and public speaking”.

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The other talented children taking part and so close to winning were:

  • Sahra
  • Maryama
  • Sharifa
  • Muna
  • Yasin
  • Ayman
  • Abdullahi E
  • Ibtisam
  • Abdirahman

 

 

As Abdullahi M said: “peace and love for the community of North Kensington”.

 

 

By Tom Charles

@tomhcharles

Aisha and the Sea

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Oh! Sea you are so powerful

I am so small

Waves rush past me,

like the fleeing

Gently receding, pulling sand over my toes

embedding me once more into this earth,

 

Innocent unpolluted air filling, cleansing my lungs

from the dark soot of pain

that clings to my soul

like limpets upon rock

for fleeting seconds

I forget that beacon of despair

it is washed from my mind,

feeling one with nature, the sea

 

Staring towards the horizon

reclaiming, restoring my hopes, my dreams

nightmares briefly extinguished

by this planet’s womb-like amniotic waters,

everything so perfect here

Mother smiling with her eyes

that sparkle again

twinkling like the sun’s glistening rays in the surf,

 

I am a child again!

No longer old before my time

Oh! Sea you are so beautiful

I am so small…

 

M.C. Bolton, September 2017

 

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The Mexican Effect: Exclusive Interview With Babe Ruth


A musical break from it all.  

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Carlos Santana, Prodigy, Grand Master FlashWhitesnake and Jellybean Benitez. What’s the connection?

 

The band Babe Ruth. 

 

 ♩ ‘Chico Fernandes, Sleepin’ on his gun’… ♪

 

I’m honoured to have been able to conduct this interview for Urban Dandy and for DJs and music lovers everywhere as it is very personal to me meeting with a group that contributed to such a joyful time in my childhood. In fact, the whole thing turned out to be more of an insightful and flowing discussion with lots of laughs and a journey down memory lane really, making sense of musical things that at the time I was too young to understand. After listening to over two hours of raw audio, time constraints forced us to edit down some of the gems we received. That, coupled with the compromised audio (my fault) made it a task to expeditiously deliver these wise and inspiring words, but luckily, in no way did this affect the essence of our interview with the legends. We hope you enjoy.

 

 

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

 

 

Janita Haan is the lead singer in the band. Along with David Punshon Keyboardist, the two of them make up a significant portion of Babe Ruth. Both of them co-wrote and/or performed major parts in the composition of a host of great songs they released including the classic of 1972 ‘The Mexican’. Not that it’s all about The Mexican but that song, in particular, is a very important part of the band’s identity. If you’re not familiar with the cultural reach of the genre fluid masterpiece, it’s high time you explored it further as it is a cultural study in and of itself.  Me: the song pierced my soul through a window called Hip Hop, for some it may have been Rock, Latin or maybe even a house mix. Yet the unintended world B Boy anthem was recorded here on UK soil, which makes it even more fascinating and dissident in its form, much in accord with the band itself-Babe Ruth.

 

 

I∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞I

 

 

 

 

Babe Jan

I∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞I

 

UDL: So where are you from?

 

Janita Haan: Im from England but my formative years were in California.

 

UDL: Do you think that had a lot of influence on your music?

 

Janita Haan: Oh yeah. I mean for me it was. I think I’d just finished high school but I wanted to sing, really wanted to sing, and around that time I was in the Bay area around Santana, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis,  Sly And The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane. It was lovely, it was just fantastic, musically for me, you’d get the feel of Candlestick Park, I used to bunk off school and go down with a frisbee to the park.

It was a magical time, especially when I came back to England the third Santana album had just come out, so all I had with me when I came back was the album to make me break my way through, (laughs)  I didn’t know anybody.

So I had to start from right at the bottom to make connections, I was only 18, it was pretty scary for me.

 

Candlestick Park – San Francisco

 

UDL: Was there a level of Intrigue about you coming from America to England? People are normally fascinated with someone being from somewhere else. Were you the American girl?

 

Janita Haan: Well, I suppose with California because I was a California hippy.  At that point, I was back with my English family and that freaked them out cos I was just this wild child. They kicked me out after a bit so I had to find my own way, that was a bit scary but I knew I wanted to sing. I came across some lovely people along the way. Once I came across this little studio I can’t remember where it was but they would allow me to come after sessions at night because I had to work to earn some money to pay my rent, but I hadn’t much left after that (laughs) I had about two quid to get food and everything which wasn’t much. Back in the day, the tubes were not like they are now, you could hop on and off. 

So this little studio place would let me go in after hours and practice with their mics, then I got enough confidence to answer ads in the Melody Maker. It was very scary I hadn’t been in a band before then. I answered an ad for a Band called March Hare, I nearly got the gig for that. I didn’t quite get it and the next one after that was for Shack lock… Babe Ruth used to be called Shack Lock. Dave Hewitt answered the phone and said ‘What are you like’? and I said I’m 5ft and I play the congas (laughs). Cos I hitched up and down California and one time I was out there with these Hells Angels and they had me play congas. So they came to… where did you come to, Finch House was it?

 

 

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Classifieds page from Melody Maker (70’s)

 

 

Dave Punshon: I think so, we turned up and all I remember is your tea set it was like really, really Mary Poppins, all quaint China and I thought ‘Wow! That’s ornate’.  Continue reading

I’m Spartacus

 

Herded into the arena

bloodied by poverty’s lash

sand soft between our toes

as we march into the stadium of despair

mentally chained by our delusion of freedom,

divided into race, faith, nation, class

then pitted against each other

For our rulers’ pleasure

 

But many refuse to fight

Us – the truly dangerous ones

instead pointing upwards to the audience

of those that truly despise and fear us

 

Yet you who plunder our homes, invade our streets,

Women who tightly clutch their handbags

staring at the pavement in terror

for surely we are all vagabonds, cutthroats and thieves!

Suited men who’s bowels loosen

when passing our urban-talking youth

who defend their postcode by the same extreme violence 

that the state metes out to them with impunity,

 

We who are crushed on every side

surrounded by avarice and greed

by disciples of the latest fad,

drinking alfresco skinny lattes on Westbourne Grove

the need to be scenes,

our wrath slowly being squeezed

accused of sour grapes, lacking aspiration,

Yet it’s our blood that makes your wine

with which you wet your lips

as you toss us your scraps,

we who slowly devour and destroy one another,

 

But Spartacus is rising

resurrected like a phoenix in the flames

our sight restored by tragedy

injustice the fire that burns brightly

inside compassionate indignant hearts,

shaking those who’s God is mammon

 

Yet it’s not your eye of the needle wealth we wish to pillage

but your fraudulent sense of privilege, entitlement, arrogance and ignorance

hiding in your bunker-like basements

whilst above, homes, communities are destroyed

 

as we stare at our Stalingrad-like monument,

united under the banner of hope and faith,

love for our children will ever be our shield,

God’s wrath will be stirred

by the death of his innocent ones

 

Millstones will be prepared,

the sea’s depth beckons

those that hide behind their cloak of guilt

for this slaughter ignited a fury in our hearts

we’ll stand against your legions

we’ve buried our dead

but we will never let you bury the truth…

 

 

LW2

M.C. Bolton, September 2017

 

Grenfell Rehousing Policy July 2017 / Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Disclaimer
Urban Dandy makes no claim to give legal representation of any kind and has no intention of giving advice in the field of law. All opinions are the author’s personal opinion and to be considered as just that, a personal opinion. No reference to anything written is to be deemed actual evidence and should be seen as a guideline to further investigate the nature and the result of the policy upon acceptance. We suggest that support or representation ,if any, should be supplied by accredited law experts. 

 

This document was recently published on the Home Connections website under the Royal Borough Of Kensington section. It attempts to clarify the councils intended mode of operation regarding rehousing the victims of the Grenfell disaster.

As odd as it seems, I fail to find a lack of integrity here. However, we feel that it’s the duty of everyone under social housing, surrounding the Lancaster West Estate in the w10/w11 area and beyond, to check this document for compliance.

Continue reading

Review: Matt Okine at Soho Theatre

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At first glance, it is difficult to imagine Matt Okine having the discipline and drive to rise in the early hours for three straight years to host a national radio breakfast show. His easy style and unflustered lyricism belie what must be a fierce work ethic and creative urge. But this is what Okine does: laziness is his mask, the lie that he uses to present his truth.

The Australian is much decorated and lauded for his acting and stand up, and is a serious all-rounder: he presents a cookery programme on TV and raps as part of Boilermakers. Okine’s success sees him sell out comedy shows wherever he performs and now he is back in London at Soho Theatre, ostensibly talking career changes, but there is much more simmering under the surface in his show ‘We Made You’.

The opening night at Soho saw Okine in full flow for a full hour. This was a comedian who delivers with clarity and panache. Virtually non-stop, the intensity of his performance was complemented by his laid-back style, giving him an authentic edge, sympathetic and apparently very real.

There was a conspicuous lack of confrontation during Okine’s hour on stage, with any aggression reserved for rants at potatoes, crabs and other sources of nourishment and irritation – food being his favourite subject. His charming, disarming ease with the audience meant the Soho Theatre was quickly relaxed, with plenty of laughing out loud, while Okine kept an emotional distance, never quite straying in to vulnerability, although he hinted at pain throughout the hour.

Matt Okine’s light touch works as a layer above an undercurrent of tension. He expressed a struggle between the real person and the personality adapting to the modern world and its absurdities. The silliness of mainstream popular culture formed the basis of Okine’s act: exotic crisp flavours, eight-hour binges on TV cookery programmes, social media and the rest. All this was done without criticism, Okine being the passive and innocent consumer, with the effect of him being far funnier than any comedian attempting to intellectually deconstruct consumer culture.

Okine occasionally juxtaposed his light-hearted observations with revelations of his inadequacies and insecurities: body image, hair loss, ethnic identity and facing his contradictory relationship with his father. What can you say and what can’t you say? Again, the tension between being authentic and adapting to modern life, with the mask of a media savvy, successful 30 something.

There is something of the nihilist in Okine. Or perhaps it is that he reveals a strange western digital age mass nihilism in which we have so little control over our lives and environments that we sink into the minutiae of our particular preferences and irritations as a way of avoiding the facts of our mortality and the moral bankruptcy and degradations of consumer society.

Whatever, he’s very funny, a natural, and this show is highly recommended.

See Matt Okine: We Made You, at Soho Theatre, London until 29th August.

http://www.mattokine.com/

http://www.sohotheatre.com/

 

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles