June 14th

Our community has been painted as work-shy immigrants, sub-letting; it could not be further from the truth; we were eloquent, hard working…we deserve to be respected

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Urban Dandy is a North Kensington-based blog. It was born on the Lancaster West estate where the Grenfell Tower still stands. That estate, North Kensington and all of us who live here were forever changed on June 14th 2017. Our articles and poems from the aftermath of the fire can be found by clicking urbandandylondon.com/tag/grenfell-tower/ . We hope that all of our pieces on Grenfell convey some of the heartbreak experienced here in North Kensington, provide some context for the reader as well as serving as a tribute to the community we are proud to be a part of. 

 

Children
From St Thomas’ School newsletter

 

 

Questions

 

For example: why

and

1944

But

Silence

The Limits of Politics in the Shadow of Disaster

At al Manaar last week, Jeremy Corbyn focused on his ‘Another World Is Possible’ message. The visit to North Kensington was part of the strategy of taking Labour to the heart of communities to build grassroots support and pick up campaign volunteers. On both these macro and micro levels, Corbyn is underestimated by the media.

But in North Kensington, these are not our primary concerns. World peace and another world being possible don’t seem that important when there is no sign of justice for the crime at Grenfell Tower, when the Conservative council easily won the local election and when the survivors’ treatment has been appalling, surreal and bureaucratic.

Corbyn’s speech at the mosque was pleasant enough, but whoever wrote it failed to linger on the any specifics about the community response to the Grenfell Tower fire, the only positive in the nightmare. Where were his personal recollections? What are the implications for how another world could be moulded based on the collective efforts we saw here last year?

The situation in North Kensington is not one that powerful politicians can pay lip service to before heading back to the Commons or City Hall. It asks fundamental questions of how we deal with an appalling man-made disaster and how we see the future of this society.

Perhaps the words of Sadiq Khan, like Corbyn’s, are a tacit acknowledgment that London is over for many people who cannot thrive in a punitive property market. Nowhere is this more stark than in North Kensington. Where are the fresh ideas, beyond a call for survivors to be treated a bit better within the failed system? 

The Labour leaders should feel free to use their power to speak and act against the Conservatives and their deadly policies. Unlike the community, these politicians have a platform and a voice, but if Labour cannot seize the moment in North Kensington, then rather than creating false hope, they should leave it to the locals and focus elsewhere instead.   

 

 

We were abandoned…

It was the community that offered sanctuary to us

Ed, Grenfell Action Group

 

Big green hearts are in contrast to the derisory RBKC Council, the TMO, Theresa May and Sajid Javid. A desperate, grasping, corrupt political elite and their bureaucratic quislings.

What can be said about those whose symbols are on every lamppost, estate entrance, whose dead eyes stare out from the free newspapers? The Tory council just a human shield for Theresa May, the TMO likewise for the council. 

How do we tell our children that their rulers are hateful? It might be better to tell them: ‘Look at what you did last year, at how you supported each other’ or ‘Look at the community you are part of’.

Naughty schoolboys, written off by the system but handing out water to distressed people long into the night, kindness everywhere. The purity of children – their big hearts in contrast to their presumed superiors. Unity not an empty slogan to be manipulated and used as a tool for power, but as real as it gets…

Green

 

“Men aren’t gonna talk about it. They want to fix things, so they’re repressing their emotions.”

Rajaa Chellat, counselor for the My Shepherd therapy service.

Women led us on June 14th 2017, at Acklam Village and some of the other centres for relief, women led and men followed

We men want to fix or protect, but we can’t bring back 72 people, we couldn’t protect them…

On June 14th 2018 in North Kensington, just like last year, all we’ll have is each other.

 

 

Tom Charles for Urban Dandy

Poetry written and preformed by Mark Bolton

The Sword

Rog

 

Fake news

Fake tans

Fake views

Fake plans

No gender

No war

No race

No poor

Our freedom enforced by draconian laws!

 

Eden builders – Utopian agenda

creating a world where deep truth’s surrendered

Not mankind’s words,

it’s the heart that needs change

for out of its spring

hate speaketh – hate rages

 

Becoming like God

Your eternal delusion

Party line doctrine

causing internal confusion

Cognitive dissonance not a solution

 

This island ship,

a mixed crew of pirates,

no political alignment – allegiance,

or fear of the whips!

With big sticks in hand,

cruel sardonic quips

No time for the left,

less for the right

our beacon burns brightest

when it comes to the night

For the truly enlightened

won’t give up the fight…

 

M.C. Bolton, May 2018

 

Gentrification?

 

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

Writing/Poetry Workshop #2

IMG-20180403-WA0000_2
Photo from Baraka

During the Easter holidays, Urban Dandy held its second writing and poetry workshop for 20 children from across Kensington and Chelsea at Canalside House on Ladbroke Grove.

In collaboration with Baraka Community Association, Urban Dandy delivered two one-hour sessions. The first hour was on self-expression through writing with skill and purpose. The children discussed the importance of language, and the motivations behind the words they choose.

They looked at different types of writing, tone of voice and having a clear aim. The children also learned key techniques such as planning, finding a ‘hook’, writing with depth by backing up arguments and valuing and nurturing their own voices and opinions.

The young people then wrote their own pieces, which ranged from articles to adverts.

The second hour was a poetry workshop. The children heard from Urban Dandy’s Mark Bolton, who read some of his own poems and recited the famous ‘I Am Somali’, written by the poet Yam Yam. Mark outlined some of the techniques he employs in writing his poems, but again the emphasis was on the children’s expression of their own thoughts and feelings.

Each child then wrote and read out their own poem, with their styles ranging from conventional to acrostic to haiku, with the participants receiving warm applause. 

We will showcase some of the children’s work here soon. For more information on Urban Dandy’s workshops, contact us via our Facebook page.

 

Tom Charles

@tomhcharles

Man of Rags – Easter Story 2018

I wear this suit – this tie

to really mask the lie

that truly deep inside

I’m just a poor lowly simple man of rags!

 

Travelled up and down this land

this briefcase in my hand

full of sorrow, poverty and pain

seen soldiers asleep in doors

who once fought your foreign wars

Just a poor simple lowly man of rags…

 

Gazed upon children, used abused

to drown in drugs n’ alcohol confused

Just a poor lowly simple man of rags…

 

Heard the cries of a mother who’s lost her mind

her teenage son dead before his time

Just a poor lowly simple man of rags…

 

I walk these city streets

mankind sleeping at my feet

at night I see the dead

arising from their beds

then return back to their graves

like a vampire – to dawn, a slave…

Just a poor lowly simple man of rags…

 

Tomorrow I will die

hung from a tree so high

this poor lowly simple man of rags…

 

Yet these rags belong to you

that is very true

But with God I have arranged

your old clothing to be changed

into silk and linen garments fine

so for eternity we can dine

eat the bread – drink the wine

no longer poor lowly simple

men and women dressed in rags…

 

Christ.jpg
Photo by G

M.C.Bolton, March 2018

Exodus for the Soul

I seek a burning bush

deep inside this internal wilderness

blazing sun the canvas

upon which vultures circle

over dry bleached skulls

of the eternal lost

who’s spirits are forever imprisoned

in this arid haunt of demons and jackals

 

Oh! Lazarus salve my tongue

with just one drop of your tears

as slowly I wander amongst these ever-changing dunes

crawling over rocks that were once thrown

by men without pity or grace

along with memories of scorpion-like words

that once pierced my heart…

 

Yet still no ignited shrub

giving purpose – offering hope

to a man who’s fist clenches time’s sand

which slowly seeps through his fingers

like his dreams

blown into heavenly halls

by divine life-giving breath

my mind boiling like mutton

a feast for an old toothless lion

who has only his roar!

Like Moses searching for the promised land

that flows with milk and honey

always eluding me

 

Darkness falls – I play games with the stars

that have shone on greater men

in the distance I spy a dancing flame

surely it doth burn so bright

bringing light into the hidden places

where only the bravest soul dare venture…

 

20170213_114623

 

©M.C. Bolton, February 2018

Writing/Poetry Workshop with Local Children

 

During half-term, Urban Dandy delivered a writing and poetry workshop to children at North Kensington charity Baraka Community Association. Eighteen children from local primary and secondary schools attended and explored methods for self-expression through writing short articles and poems.

As it was the 14th of the month, children considered memories and feelings evoked by the Grenfell Tower fire, eight months on. The group mind mapped their experiences during and since the fire. They then shared their memories of that day and how they have seen it affect their community, from the surreal experience of attending school on the 14th June to how people coped over the long summer.

Producing a piece of writing, the young people were free to choose their subject. Many went for Grenfell, but others wrote on other aspects of their lives. In both cases, the focus was on expressing ideas and feelings from their own experiences, rather than conforming to ideas about what they should write.

As the workshop was designed to be off-curriculum, the children heard about finding their voices, how to have a real impact, identifying a ‘hook’ for their pieces and writing for an audience, not a teacher.

London’s finest poet, Mark Bolton, then explained the process of writing poetry, and his own poetic journey. He read out his first ever composition, followed by the much more recent Aisha and the Sea, which was written in the aftermath of the fire.

Inspired and encouraged to open up, the kids then set about writing their own poems, and the workshop ended with everybody reading out loud what they had produced.

A number of the children took their work away to develop it and complete it. We hope to be able to publish a few pieces on Urban Dandy soon…

Writing workshop 6

 

By Tom Charles