Peaches in blood: A recipe for cash

Amy Winehouse. Addict. Dead. Tragic.

Peaches Geldof. Addict. Dead. Tragic.

Pete Doherty. Addict. Not (yet?) dead.

And alive enough to prove the cliche that f***ed up junkies would prostitute their own mother if that could pay for their next fix.

Peaches in blood

There is no knowing who wrote her name and number in blood, but the person named isn’t here to confirm or deny. How very convenient when you’ve got something to sell.

I’m calling bullsh!t on this one.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with addiction (either being addicted themselves or living with someone who is/was) knows how addicts will use, abuse and manipulate anything to serve their purpose. It’s the a$$holery that comes with addiction.

Tragic? Nah. Sick.


International Whatever Day

For all the misandry-wrapped-up-as-feminism and other (often gimmicky) drivel barfed down timelines and news feeds everywhere for International Women’s Day, here’s some contemplative sh!t from my own (albeit medically intoxicated) mind:

Please don’t force feminine self-assertion down my (and presumably other people’s) throat(s); it’s not feminism, it’s insecurity — and it isn’t mine. Regardless of your gender, be who you are, own what you do and take full responsibility for both. Get laid, not screwed over. Own up to and accept consequences for your actions.

Happy Another-Day-In-Everyone’s-Life, b!tches. Don’t print it against a backdrop of a stock photograph you never paid for, just get on with it, already.

The future of London living is that for many it won’t exist

Once upon a time I enjoyed an above-average salary and life was affordable. I was married and the main breadwinner; my wages alone were sufficient to cover rent, bills and food. I didn’t actually enjoy the lifestyle, because I never got to live it – I was always working and there was never any time or money left for me. These days, as a freelancer, I don’t earn anywhere near as much as I used to before I ‘went it alone’ in both work and life, so life is significantly tougher in a financial sense. But I feel a happier person for it, so I’m not complaining. Not yet. But I fear what the future may hold.

My first eight or nine months as a freelancer went well, then the global financial crisis hit. Around the same time my marriage fell apart. After my separation and subsequent divorce, I spent some time working three jobs – two part-time minimum-wage jobs and my freelance biz – in order to be able to continue living in the one-bed flat I’d lived in throughout my marriage. That was unhealthy, to put it mildly; it would have been for the healthiest of people, let alone me and my obnoxious health issues. So after 10 years of having a reasonable amount of living and home-working space I moved to a tiny basement studio flat that wasn’t much cheaper than the one-bed place, but in a better location to commute into town, and besides, every little bit of saving helps, I thought; little did I foresee how cold, damp, dark and utterly depressive a basement could be, and combined with everything else about that place and its owner that turned out to be very, very wrong, I didn’t stay there for long.

Sharing the burden

Nowadays I live in a flatshare. The threshold from having a home entirely to yourself to a place where everything bar your bedroom is shared with others seemed very high beforehand, but as it turned out it wasn’t; in fact, I feel more at home where I live now than I’ve felt in the aforementioned places.

Non-Brits and even non-Londoners usually react with surprise when I tell them I live in shared accommodation; they tend to associate house-sharing with students. But the average flatsharer in London is not a student in his or her late teens or early twenties, the average London flatsharer is a thirty-something in full-time work (source: The Essential Guide to Flatsharing by Rupert Hunt).


An average UK wage would – after tax – just about cover an average London rent plus council tax and utility bills, and might just about stretch to cover the cost of commuting into work to earn that wage (though that would be pushing it), but it wouldn’t leave you enough money to then feed yourself. So unless you qualify for housing benefit, the only way to live in London is through sharing accommodation. (Of course one could choose to move out of London, but there just aren’t the jobs in the areas where rents are affordable – that’s why rents are so much lower there.)

Building works?

London needs homes, desperately, and within London there is plenty of space available to build new homes without the need to cut trees or concrete over parks, but in a free market without rent controls they are just not going to be built because there is more profit to be made in London’s housing crisis. And rent controls aren’t going to happen as long as the powers that be are among those who would be negatively affected by them.

In the meantime there are plenty of new structures being built everywhere throughout London, but only very few of them are homes. Some of those few homes are even labelled ‘affordable’, but ‘affordable’ means 20% below market value and for average and lower earners that is anything but affordable. Most of the (too few) homes being built in London serve the high-end market and a staggering 75% of them is sold overseas without even being advertised for sale in the UK. The vast majority of building projects visible in London, though, appear to involve office space, and as with residential properties most of it owned by overseas investors.

I have no objection against office buildings being built, provided new offices would bring new job vacancies to London for jobs that pay above-average wages sufficient cover the cost of living within commutable distance and commuting to said offices… and I am just not convinced that is happening. Moreover, while sources state that only 7-10% of London office space stands vacant, everywhere I go in London I see empty (often ugly) office buildings featuring unsightly signage offering office space to let; if indeed that is only 7-10% of all office space in London, London has far more office space than I could ever have imagined.

It doesn’t really matter whether the 7-10% figure is genuine or not, every and any Londoner will have seen plenty of office space standing empty for months if not years, and I don’t see why this couldn’t be temporarily or permanently converted into living spaces that are truly affordable to people on average and below-average incomes. Right now, London’s housing crisis is so acute, I don’t even see how private landlords would be financially disadvantaged if we took pressure off waiting lists for social housing and curbed homelessness in London.

Crisis point

Aside from the odd vanity project not enough is being done to ease London’s housing crisis and curtail London rent levels. London needs middle and lower income workers but said workers are being priced out of London. There is government money for over-the-top weapons programmes and infrastructure projects, but no money towards housing? I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that; I think it’s time the powers that be reveal their own personal and business interests in these matters, because they clearly don’t think or act in any interest of the greater public.

In London rents continue to rise and house and flat shares are making way for room shares. That step seems a hell of a lot greater to me than the one from living independently to sharing a home… and personally I am not sure I’ll be willing or able to make that step when the need arises, even with inventions like bed tents. Which probably means that within the next ten-or-so years I, too, will be priced out this city I love so dearly… unless, of course, something is done about the housing crisis. Can you see that happening? Sadly, I don’t.

North-West London, 2013

As posted on Path earlier today.

One thing I love about this neighbourhood is its diversity. You see and hear more of that in summer, when people live their lives more outdoors, or at least with their windows and doors open. The other night groups of young people were dancing Bollywood-style a few gardens down, yesterday featured cheesy Euro pop tunes from a Polish BBQ party further down, and this afternoon and evening the music and chitter chatter suggested someone was hosting a Yiddish party.

In amongst this, I sometimes have to laugh at my own ignorance… like this afternoon, when the Yiddish music was suddenly shortly interrupted by a tune rather more familiar to my ears: ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round…’ …because for all the ethnic variety, there is plenty of commonality everyone shares. Call it integration.

Plenty of folks deny there is any integration, because of the diversity of skin complexions on show down the High Road. Trust me, people do integrate here. They’re just integrating into 2013 London, which is different from 1963 London, which was different from 1913 London… people integrate into a ‘new normal’ in which there is simply more space for variety.

And however much brown and black people attempt to bleach their skins, while whites try various ways of darkening theirs, London (or any city for that matter) will never be as white and homogenous as it once was.

Just because none of us is likely to ever understand every single linguistic, religious or ethnic aspect of this modern society, doesn’t make that wrong, and most certainly doesn’t justify the intolerance, ridiculing or outright hate I’ve witnessed online just this weekend.

Which is what compelled me to write and share this from my humble abode in a cacophony – not clash! – of cultures. I wish folks would stop antagonising and creating problems that wouldn’t even exist if they hadn’t created them in their own narrow minds in the first place.

P.S. For people who think the above is ‘airy fairy’ and in denial of London or society’s issues, read again, because it’s not. There are plenty of issues that need addressing.

In fact, what I am saying is that there are enough issues already for anyone to put their shallow/narrow minds to creating even more problems by effectively making them up.

Try thinking in solutions rather than in problems.

Reason to kill

Two particular sections of news have been stuck in my head for weeks now. This one:
A man left the pub and went to a minimart nearby and got into an argument with Walters – who referred to the area outside the shop as the ‘front line’.…and this one:
Ms Howes said it had started after Simian thought Roach-Johnson had ‘looked at him funny’ at a car wash earlier on September 4. The group planned to lure Simian to Chalkhill Road, but when they realised he would not fall into the trap they turned their attention to Arron instead, the court heard.Both paragraphs come from different newspaper articles about murders (click on the images for links to the respective articles) and the circumstances that led to those murders taking place.

Apparently a shop forecourt is a ‘front line’ and anyone who happens to cross that while you’re there deserves to be killed, as does anyone who is related to someone who ‘looks at you funny’.

Hello Western civilisation – why don’t you shoot me for not being able to make sense of this at all. I just don’t get this, and I don’t think I ever want to.