Archive for April, 2010

So, who is the ethnic minority?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on April 26, 2010 by prekosifa

Last week I was listening to a debate on the radio about the worryingly increasing amount of teenage murders happening in London at the moment, this was on the back of a fifteen year old who was knifed to death on the previous weekend. The gentleman caller was asking for help to put an end to this problem, its solution he believed, lay in looking in a number of different areas like poverty, education and social issues. One important area he did touch upon, and one that I hadn’t heard in a long time, was history. For kids to understand and know where they come, enabling them to have pride in their past, will reflect on their behaviour and therefore their future. A long shot perhaps but in a world where nothing is for certain, many other things have been tried…and have all failed.

This got me to thinking about how the perception of ourselves, and thus our own importance, is reinforced, good or bad by what happens in the wider world around us. History is a case in point as when I was at school we learned all about Roman, Egyptian and Greek history. We also learned about British history and briefly, very briefly, touched upon slavery, and that was a mere paragraph in my text book, (thank you William Wilberforce!).  So in five years of studying history at the most important time of my life, in a Grammar school, the only thing I learned about black people was that we were slaves. The fact that I knew there must have been more to it was largely irrelevant, as was the fact that my dad was a constant source of knowledge about my own family’s long history. The simple fact was it didn’t get much respect in my wider world of the school classroom and so that feeling of being marginalised and unimportant was readily accepted from a very young age, and worst of all was done unwittingly.

But it is not only in history class where a young black boy can feel unimportant, Geography is perhaps a much clearer one. The map that most of us know and recognise from school is called the Mercator map, famous for its blatant inconsistencies that somehow managed to be overlooked by the ruling powers for almost 400 years. The map, first produced in 1569 was racially and geographically biased, most notably in its reduced sizing of continents like Africa and South America against Europe and Britain in particular. Obviously in those days information was scarce and knowledge of the wider world was limited in fact, most ‘learned’ English scholars believed in their being mythical beasts and monsters in these far off lands populated by a darker race of people. Zounds! No problem with any of that, but when the same map is still being used when I was at school over 400 years later…something is fucked up!
How important do you think black kids would feel if they realised just how big the continent of Africa was?, and if this truth was backed up everywhere, in school atlases, on news reports in McDonalds happy meals promotions! After all, in this day and age nothing is real until it is plastered over everything.

Interestingly, in 1974, a German historian and cartographer by the name of Dr Arno Peters produced a map that was not racially biased and was area accurate, that is, it showed the continents to be of a truer and  more proportional size. But this map was condemned from the start and was not widely published, why, because over educated scholars of the time decided against it. Just what were they afraid of?

Conspiracy theories abound and to be honest, the actual reasons I am not interested in. It is the effect of these illegal acts of knowledge falsification that I have a major issue with because the end result may just be a disassociated youth who has no interest in the world that he is in. To deny people the correct information must surely be wrong as it allows for the continued racial biases that we find in most areas of modern society today and allows for the continuation of such a system that is at its heart racially unfair. It is then, way too easy for terms like ‘ethnic minority’ to be banded about acquiring more meaning and relevance than they should have in the first place.

Looking at the Peters map, just who is the ethnic minority anyway?

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Gilrs will be girls…won’t they?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by prekosifa

Last Sunday, I decided to take advantage of the first signs of summer and take a trip to the park with my son and his friend. The park was packed full of like minded souls taking advantage of the hot sun and my young charges were happily playing on the swings and throwing stones at each other when a commotion on the far side of the children’s area grabbed our attention.

A group of youths were the cause of the uproar and in the centre two teenage lads were trading blows like they were on Saturday Fight Night!, at least, I thought it was 2 boys. Upon closer inspection I realised that one of the ‘boys’ was in fact a girl, but she was giving it all she got. The fight was split up by one of her friends and she took the opportunity to spit in the face of her male aggressor, before being urged to go in the other direction. The excitement over, everybody got back to what they were doing and pretty soon all was forgotten.

Had I just witnessed the new face of feminity?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person that believes that women belong in the kitchen, or indeed that there is a particular way in which men and women should act, but what I have noticed lately is a shift in the way that some females behave. Girls now are following in the footsteps of their male classroom counterparts when it comes to violence and straightforwardness. The rise of the ‘pornification’ of women in the media, has been matched by the rise of the laddette. The beer swilling, foul mouthed females who lurk until closing time in bars and clubs around the City, always ready to down a pint or two as quickly as possible and too eager to lay you out flat on your back if you say the wrong thing or stare for too long in their direction.

Just what is going on?

But maybe I am being unfair. Am I basing my opinion on what a woman should act like on an age old stereotype put in place by men way before my time? Am I indeed sexist in my approach and beliefs that it is normal for a woman to act demure and ‘princessly’, not being expected to paint a fence or change the wheel of a car, but will always look better in an apron or dressed to the nines in clothes created more for the male gaze than for any type of physical practicality? I admit that I came up in this male dominated world therefore hold some male dominated views and yet there still seemed something wrong with seeing a girl trade blows against a boy. In my opinion the boy should have known better, if that had been my son hitting a girl, I would have been more than disappointed. (But then again, if a girl was acting like a boy and started a fight against my son, I can’t say wholeheartedly that I would be angry with him if he gave her a bitch-slap!) .

You see to me if you act in a certain way, then you can’t really blame anyone for treating you in a certain way. It may just be that this rise in more masculine femininity has come on the back of a more feminine masculinity. Men are spending more and more on cosmetics and stuff to make you look and smell pretty than anytime before in history. Now, its certainly not the first time that men have dared to care for their appearance but the last time it wasn’t met by an equal shift by women in the opposite direction. In the past, when women were held further down than they are today, men were allowed to play whatever roles they wanted to, often donning ridiculous wigs, and horrific makeup, and looking like 17th century pimps! Today things seem to be changing but unfortunately the good is mixed with the not so good, encompassing behaviour like I witnessed in the park.

Logically thinking I suppose what we should see is a middle line where men and women act more or less the same, where women can stand on equal terms with a man, receiving an equal amount of acknowledgement. Maybe that is the effect of a changing world, maybe this is what this world needs to redress the huge imbalance that has occurred since time immemorial and so perhaps, maybe we are just going to have to get used to it. Now, I don’t think that we will see a blanket transformation of harder female types appearing on the horizon like zombies out of a Dario Argento film, it will be more a gradual thing taken up only by those who are eager to do so.

And so, as long as there are women out there happy to play the ‘stereotype’ that I have come to know and love, everything, in my world at least, will be copasetic!

If you want my advice…!

Posted in 1 with tags , , , on April 12, 2010 by prekosifa

Relationship taboos haunted me from when I was young. Being in the house with two older siblings and two older male cousins, I was given loads of ‘supposedly’ sage relationship advice that would steer me clear through the relationship minefield that would hit me as a teenager. ‘There are just certain things you don’t do’ is what they said in chorus, and the top three were;

You don’t sleep with your friend’s sister

You don’t sleep with your friends ex

You don’t sleep with your friend’s mother, (Aunties were okay though!)

I never asked why these taboos existed in the first place. I just took it on board that my family were just giving me the benefit of their vast experience.

The Sister
So for years you been hanging out with your best mate, going round his house, sharing his food and generally becoming that half brother hybrid he never had, you were always welcome through the door no matter what time of day or night. You even had his mom doing your ironing and fixing you sandwiches, and all of this would stay the same, as long as you didn’t take a second glance at his little sister.

Things used to be okay, back when she was still in primary school and then again when she was going through that awkward geeky stage trying to fit into her new body. But since her 16th birthday you couldn’t help but notice her. She sees you as the brother she can have sex with, you see her…, and that’s the problem, you see her, and all you do now is want her. At meal times she practices her flirting skills on you, the older man who should know better, but really and truly doesn’t at only 18. Next thing you know you’ve visited her secret place and are now secretly seeing each other. Now you have to tell your mate!

Just don’t do it was the advice I got and whether or not it is like the scenario described above, or just a drunken fumble behind the pub with your mates not so pretty twin…I was told to just stay away and I always adhered to this, well, almost always.

But what was the big deal. On one level isn’t your mate showing you no respect by basically saying that you are not good enough for her, a bit of a piss take. Or else he could be saying ‘I know what you are like with women, and you not very nice’, or he could be saying ‘I will get jealous if your time spent over at mine is not about me anymore’. Then again maybe he has it in his head that you have been watching his sister since she was thirteen! And to be honest, there is probably an element of truth in each of these statements, scary I know

The Ex
You’re best friend broke up with his woman and you were nominated to talk to her, and get him back in there. Or else your mate split up and you stayed friends with her because you were always friends. Whatever the reason you suddenly find yourself hanging out more and more with this person, at first talking about the one thing you had in common, your mate, and then deciding to stay as far away from this topic as possible and talk about everything else, instead. Problem because now you can really get into each others heads. On top of that because there is no sex, you spend all your quality time talking and doing other things together. Your mate doesn’t say anything, not because he isn’t bothered, but because he doesn’t know just how much time you have been spending at his old address. And lets face it, you’re not in a rush to tell him and she isn’t either…not yet anyway. So eventually the inevitable happens and that innocent hug goodbye at her door, ends in the two of you in the sack declaring undying love for each other in between thrusts! Sexual frustration has won the day and now you have to tell your mate that you might need a best man!

Just don’t do it. That was the advice I got from my friends and my older brothers. You see there is a secret code here and this is the ultimate no no. From a legal stand there is obviously nothing really wrong about it, but this falls more under the realm of a moral issue, and morally it is wrong. From your boys point of view, you must have been sweating on his missus the whole time they were together! From your point of view I think you were too, kinda, or is jealousy the motivator behind this one. Then again it could just be true love, and if it it is then anything you go through will all be worth it.

The Mother
Your mates mum is one of those darlings that just seems to get better with age. When you were thirteen it was obvious she had to remain the things that wet dreams are made of, and fourteen and fifteen weren’t much different either. But when you got to 16 you noticed that she noticed you. Her comments always related to your new size and bigger frame and she made constant references to you growing and maturing. Yes, my friend, she had seen you but you were still at that age where nothing could really happen. You didn’t know what to do anyway with a woman her age and everything she said could have just been innocent. So, you forget about her and she just becomes the topic of schoolboy memories when you chat with your other old school mates, the milf that got away!

So you are out drinking in a bar one night, years later, when a woman approaches you. It takes you a minute to realise that the woman standing in front of you is ‘Stifflers mom!’ One drink leads to another and before you know it, you’re bumping uglies wherever and whenever you can! Then you’ve got to tell your mate, or at least dodge him for the next few weeks. He won’t understand, may get angry, and will want to punch your lights out!

Just don’t do it. Yes, it is the ultimate schoolboy fantasy but people will get hurt in the fallout. As a teenager, if you are lucky enough, you can always claim ignorance and innocence of what was occurring (works in a court of law!), leaving you with amazing memories and a story to tell around the campfire! In reality, there is the age gap to contend with and the probable difference in tastes, but you know what? If you happy and you know it…fuck it! Your mate will understand and as long as you get him a Christmas present and tell him he doesn’t have to call you ‘dad’ after you’ve moved in, he should be cool…eventually.

I guess the point I am making is if something feels right, you should just go for it. There will always be those out there that disagree with what you want to do or thnk they should advise you on your life, and more often than not they have other issues going on that they are not dealing with. I never thought to ask my brothers what their advice was based on and it came to me, eventually, that the advice they saw fit to give me, just wasn’t worth the toilet paper it was written on!

Food is wonderful!

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on April 5, 2010 by prekosifa

This year was the first time in ages that I have looked forward to Easter. Not since I was a little boy have I celebrated this ‘holiday’, as sometime over the years its importance has been lost on me. Possibly because of the huge commercialization of the Easter egg, or maybe because of the strange and uncanny disappearance of the Easter bunny, who knows?

The truth is, since Christmas I have looked forward to any kind of public holiday, the reason being…food. You see at Christmas I cooked for my family, twelve greedy mouths salivating at the thought of a well prepared Christmas feast! I took on the challenge, struggled and laboured for hours in a hot kitchen and…drum roll please… succeeded in producing a meal Henry VIII would have been proud of. The praise I received afterwards made it all the more worthwhile and yes I did suffer from a bigger head than normal, but so what? Surely I deserved it. It was my way of grabbing the limelight for a few weeks and showing appreciation to my mother who had done the sane thing for years usually to no noticeable appreciation.

This got me onto something.

Trawling along the aisles of the supermarket, seeking inspiration for practice meals, I began to notice the crap that they put into frozen and canned foods. Ingesting bad chemicals and ‘code named’ secret ingredients cannot be good for us. When I buy an Apple pie I want 2 basic things, Apple, flour, sugar (but not too much), butter…you know the usual stuff. Not the crap they end up putting in it and that’s just the start. Take a look for yourselves sometime and see for yourself but before you decide to do something about it, if anything combine what we put inside us, with what we cover ourselves with, in the form of moisturising creams, body sprays and shampoos. Trust me, the findings are even worse. What is insanely criminal though, is the fact that we are willing accomplices in the battle to forego our own common sense for the sake of ease, the promise from a good ad campaign and the failure to be arsed enough to care enough about ourselves to check the small print! So what if that girl from friends has nice wavy hair, you will get nice wavy hair too if you put industrial thinner on your head! And lets not forget the aluminium in our aerosol deodorants… aluminium?…metal? No wonder my armpits feel so cold after I spray!

What is amazing to believe is how easy it is to make these things ourselves. Now I am not going down the route of a hippie greenie, I am just saying to think about it before you dismiss it. You just never know.

Anyway, I digress.

Fresh product would have to be the way forward from now on, taking inspiration from Jamie Oliver, the ‘Reggae Reggae’ sauce man and my mum. Cooking is cool with a glass of your favourite tipple and some 80’s tunes playing in the background. (My journey into the world of homemade moisturising creams and shampoos may be a topic for a future rant).

So we get to Easter and I decide now is the time to do that roast, make those veg and create a dessert of such greatness that it will be talked about within family circles for years…well at least until the next family gettogether! I created my menu, something simple this time, Turkey; roast carrots and baby sweet corn in olive oil; roasted new potatoes with crushed black pepper and sea salt; rhubarb and apple crumble with homemade ice cream or custard for dessert…perfect! (No starter, just have more potatoes!).

Next, I needed some guests. My son was with me this weekend so I invited some friends and family, not too many, just enough. Anyway I prepare this feast and guess what…nobody shows up! Well, not except for my son, who I guess was there by default, (if  he did have a choice, I honestly don’t know which way he would have gone!) Remarkably, he sat with me at the dining table and ate his food quite happily for a change, (he much prefers to sit in front of the TV with a tray on his lap and an absent expression on his face!). Now he was no fuss, he just got it down his neck. He passed on the dessert though instead preferring hot brownies and ice cream, (i think it was the rhubarb!).

Afterwards my cousin passed by with his family, a plesant surprise, and now my son had someone to play with and I ended up having a great evening, watching the TV, (The Clevland Show), whilst flicking peanuts at my cuz who kept falling asleep. In fact, it was just like being at home.

So now, I won’t take any opportunity for a public gathering lightly. These sacred days are too important to pass over and treat like a blight on the calendar, and an interference to our busy schedules. I may be quite late catching on to this but I now see that holidays are a time to sit back, relax and chill, really chill. To take a load off  and watch the world slowly go by, from a distance for a change.

With that thought, and with my belly grumbling and rumbling I’m now thinking about polishing off the leftovers and watching some television.

Hope you all had a Happy Easter.