The Unholy Trinity & Writing in Kensington

The Un-holy Trinity

Writing about life in Kensington sometimes creates friction with Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC), the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Association (KCTMO) and the Westway Trust. The three constitute what has been referred to locally as the Unholy Trinity.

Roles & Responsibilities

RBKC is the local government, responsible for provision of many public services and dominated by councillors from the Conservative party, which retained control of the Town Hall by winning the local election in May 2018. For years the political leadership of RBKC has been dominated by moneyed property speculators who have sought to sell off North Kensington’s public assets, such as its library, youth club and college.

KCTMO is an Arms-Length Management Organisation and was given control of the borough’s 9,000 social housing properties from 1996. It was taken in-house, back to RBKC, after the Grenfell Tower fire; KCTMO staff now work in the same roles but use council, rather than TMO, email addresses. KCTMO is being maintained as a legal entity at a high cost to residents so that it can participate in the Grenfell inquiry.

The Westway Trust is responsible for ensuring the mile of land under the A40 flyover in North Kensington is used for the benefit of the local population who suffer from the noise, darkness and pollution imposed by the Westway.

 

 

 

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Power & Mortality

The three institutions form a power establishment in the north of the borough. Between them they have the keys to properties and can move families out of London; they hold the purse strings for many charities, small businesses and community projects. Senior positions at all three tend to be held by people with a capitalistic approach and a natural class bias for maintaining the status quo.

History has shown that their agendas overlap and, on their watch, Kensington is “the most unequal borough in Britain,” not an abstract fact: here in North Kensington we men live for 22 years fewer than the wealthier men in the south of the borough.

Writing in Kensington and possessing a modicum of socio-economic or political consciousness requires awareness of how the trinity impact the population.

Paradoxical

It is important to explain the phrase Unholy Trinity as it is a pronoun for three paradoxical institutions. All three are significant local employers: the council has well over 2,000 staff; KCTMO over 200 and Westway Trust approximately 100 (these figures do not include casual or contracted-in workers). They also provide vital services, sometimes effectively. Within each of the three organisations are fine and noble people, but the Trinity have not only failed to alleviate chronic poverty but have added to the misery in North Kensington.

Despite the misery, they carry on. The council has weathered the political storm after the Grenfell fire, mainly by playing silly and propagating corporate waffle about ‘change’ and ‘stronger communities’. Nobody in North Ken believes it, but they have no way to reject it. The government’s taskforce that oversees RBKC on behalf of the Home Secretary offered only token criticisms in its latest report which was a whitewash serving only to veil RBKC’s ineptitude. The property parasites of RBKC have proved ignorant and unteachable when it comes to the rich culture and dynamic potential of North Kensington making them less useful to the area than his fleas are to a dog.

KCTMO has been absorbed into the council, along with thousands of outstanding repair jobs it couldn’t carry out, despite £11 million a year of public money. And the Westway Trust’s 2018 keystone cops AGM was a mess, with allegations already carried over from previous years going unanswered. Every establishment, profiteering instinct of the decision makers within the Unholy Trinity leads them to mess up big time in North Kensington and it is not possible to shame them into improving.

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Look closely: KCTMO cover up

Many staff members at these institutions are comfortable with constructive criticism of their big bosses, and often agree, but others get jittery when local writers consistently, accurately identify the seriousness of the failings and when the finger of blame points steadily at those whose doctrines have done so much damage to the people they are paid to serve.

Lancaster West – Urban Dandy

Urban Dandy started off in 2011 covering art, music, local businesses and whatever else we felt like talking about. Jen, Angel and I were always philosophical, ear-to-the-street, socially and politically conscious types though.

The blog was conceived on Lancaster West estate, which probably set in train the trajectory Urban Dandy has taken. In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, in a climate of rage and truth, no issues were raised about our comments on the local power system. Now, in the post-Grenfell world, it’s different; people have adjusted their minds to circumstances that would have been unthinkable before 2017. Being sensitive to the times, it was inevitable that if we kept writing we’d come up against the Unholy Trinity.

 

 

 

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The Masque of Empathy

It is painful to write but what we see now in North Kensington is a gravy train about to smash into the buffers. Profiteers motivated by personal gain, not limited to the business or political classes, have cashed in on tragedy. Integrity has been trumped by fear of missing out, not helped by the panic-stricken local authority almost literally throwing money (£400 million and counting) at the community, to maintain the established order, rather than investing in people to transform standards of living and create opportunities.

Financial corruption in the third sector, corruption of the minds of those who are first to proclaim their piety, adds to the corruption so obvious in the upper echelons of the council and KCTMO. The perversions possibly peaked with the presence of the leader of the council on the monthly silent walk for Grenfell. Her deputy feels relaxed enough to poke fun at those who attend council meetings to demand justice. Eighteen months is an infinitude in politics.

‘Change’ at RBKC amounts to a masquerade of empathy for which they are sent on training courses, funded by residents.

The Masque of Anarchy

Back to the blog, and when Mark joined us, we had London’s greatest poet, the perfect foil for news stories and the op-eds. Philosophical, social and poetic. Perhaps something is stirring in England, but in Kensington, the Royal borough, the Unholy Trinity still decides the life chances of many families and the council has a democratic mandate for power.

What to do? Blogging, or citizen journalism, is the fourth estate in this borough. Temporarily, Urban Dandy is the only show in town outside of the social media echo chamber. We hope we won’t be alone for long though: others cannot be matched for their assiduousness; and one local blog takes the fight to the Unholy Trinity almost daily.

Rage, though it manifests in our words, was never the purpose of Urban Dandy and it won’t chew us up. The power system endures because it was designed to, that is a fact of life but we remain philosophical, knowing that big doors swing on small hinges.

Massacre

The second centenary of the Peterloo massacre is marked by Joyce Marlow’s brilliant, authoritative book. Making use of all that was published in Lancashire and across Britain at the time, she tracks the fear among the ruling elite of revolution in England and the spirited, non-violent call for dignified living conditions in Manchester that was turned into a massacre of its own people by the British army. The book also tells the story after the massacre as the population is subjugated by the state’s control of the courts, parliament, media and arms. In 2119, we hope historians researching the atrocity in North Kensington find our blog and recognise an honest account.

Stepping back and renewing is the early year theme of the poetry, articles and art on the blog, as we mop up the chaos of 2018 and look forward.

The anarchy we glimpsed in Summer 2017 has given way to the old order, and it is a great sadness that an alternative system for North Kensington has not been established. A mechanism to enable the community to make its own decisions in its own interests, which briefly seemed possible, is not even discussed any more. Squabbles and petty ambitions dominate North Kensington while the privileged, dividend-collectors at RBKC relax, bloated by their success. 

Like any logical article, even a stream of consciousness comes full circle. In this case back to the Unholy Trinity. We’ve ignored the murmurs of discontent about our work and started 2019 with an insider account of alleged Westway Trust corruption and a serious look at the abuse of the word ‘change’ by RBKC. We’ll write whatever we feel like writing about and might step back from covering North Kensington’s Unholy Trinity quagmire. But stepping back means having a better view of the whole picture, and their injustice will remain on our radar…

 

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

The Truth of the Urban Dandy

My name is Truth

I have stood since time’s beginning

Outside the hearts of man

Waiting for the invitation

a few will let me in

 

I am searched for by the flawed, the weak, written about by the poor

For only in humility

Can I enter through your door

 

Yet I can free you from delusions, false hope and empty dreams

From the world’s chicanery

All its crazy schemes

 

I am the small voice in the wilderness

A whisper in the breeze

be still, quiet, listen

For with me comes liberty…

 

© Mark Bolton

 

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France 2018, photo by Tom

Genesis January 2019

To truly capture the moment

realising time owns me

my master – enemy – friend

a paradoxical illusion

framework of dreams

mankind’s pathway to hope…

 

Reaching inwards

pulling apart ribs

to offer my heart

sacrifice to the universe

which deluded men pay no mind…

 

Building walls around their souls

constructing edifices to self

guided by pride, by fear

knowing not their fortresses are prisons,

prisms in reverse

 

Religion offering solace, order, comfort

ritualistic acts of piety

to a God who rends his cloak daily

at the futility of those

that are trying to earn salvation

through abstinence and deeds

 

Enlightenment obtained by grace

which brings change – shows mercy 

beyond comprehension dimension

even beyond time

yet in this moment

never beyond God’s transcendental love…

 

 

door to antiquity

Poetry by ©M.C. Bolton, January 2019

 

Art: Door to Antiquity by Ikram Awaale (instagram: ikram_awaale6)

 

 

Legion of the Damned

Forbidden to vocalise

what I see

state-controlled reality

usurping individual freedom

 

Plastic offended, weak minded

rising up in the pecking order

of those that wish to destroy civilisation

bully boys once bullied

using the state to bludgeon…

 

Shout loud – be heard

control the word

step out of line

phobe-isms thrown like hand grenades

into pronoun verbose bunkers of scholars

 

Your verisimilitude world

will crumble like stale cake

in the hands of a beggar

who sits on a heap of dung

manufactured by beetle-like scurriers

safe only in their own detritus

 

No humour or irony allowed

in your cowardly new world

where weak insipid men rule

legions of the damned

like Goths at the gates of Rome

 

Be aware of true freedom’s voice

slowly arising from the dust

destroying all in its path

as the worm of truth

released by God

devours all that is false

in both doctrine and policy

leaving naked those

that built upon sand

 

Arms raised, I leap into the sun

adding fuel to a fire

that will burn both bright and hot

forever more…

like an eagle i soar

 

Poetry by M.C. Bolton 2019

Art: Like an Eagle I Soar by Ikram Awaale (instagram.com/ikram_awaale6)

Boxing Clever

I just want to be a righteous man

bring love ‘n’ peace to where I can

cannot live by your twisted rules

made by those I see as fools

 

no matter your race, faith or creed,

accent, class, LGBT…

whatever you are is fine with me

Yer, we’re all being played

like a cheap violin

Same old tune – same old din!

 

Identity politics

fed by emotion

told what to think

deluded devotion

accusation – the new weapon of war

Thought Police now coming

to kick down your door

 

Utopia creators

mind mutilators

shifting sands of ideology

must control new technology

left-wing fascists? How sad

Political fashionistas chasing a fad

 

Into the sunset – slowly I ride

away from madness – brains that are fried!

This much I know – this much I’ve learned

lonely are the brave – respect is hard earned

 

I know my enemies – they come with a knife

know where I stand – they want my life!

You come as a friend – offer your hand

take away our freedom

give away our land

My faith in my God

will always be true

whatever my journey – it will carry me through

so all aboard this final last train

full of men and women

who’ve learned to live with their pain!

 

Like Lenny I see rabbits

running round inside my head

yesterday’s dreams, as George shoots him dead!

Like an Autumn leaf

crushed inside a small child’s hand

Nothing but dust – blown away like sand

My time is over – my time is done

this shy peaceful man – forever on the run…

 

 

©M.C. Bolton, November 2018

 

Armistice for the Soul

Flanders

Emptying the toy box of my heart

Old soldiers without limbs

Cars without wheels

Airplanes missing wings…

Such distant boyhood memories…

Wars fought – won – lost

What have I become?

My complex mind

Forever computing

the daily input of knowledge

as I seek truth

deep inside my core

refusing to be caught up

in this phony war…

 

A masquerade of lies

of conflicting ideologies, faith, values…

Peace pursued with aggression!

As I make my stand

in no man’s land

Shelled by both sides…

 

This war to end all wars

Vietnam – Troops wearing peace badges

Playing hippy music – smoking weed

Destroying with napalm…

All who oppose…

 

Fighting for each other

Brave men – Good men

Now the army of the disillusioned…

Like us all shuffling along

blinded by the fumes

of the meat grinding media machine…

My only agenda – to survive

Stay alive – not get stuck in the wire

dragged down – to drown in the mire

The last post a distant soundtrack

as I weep, tired, weary

understanding nothing

except my love for Indiana

my daughter – my bub!

Unconditional – strong

Unlike my faith in God

Whose love I doubt

Inverted pride mixed with fear…

 

Oh! to be set free

from such insanity

that grips – rages in my head…

Forever tormenting my mind

A prisoner of shame and guilt…

Wash me in your precious

blood, my saviour

Bind our wounds

Heal this broken land….

 

©M.C. Bolton, November 2018

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