How are you all doing with your Christmas shopping & decorating?

We don’t have a tree up yet.

Zero decorations, in fact.

We’re getting a bit of carpentry done at home next week… not the best timing, but it’s just how it’s worked out.

Hopefully, hopefully… we can decorate the house after that.

So… from the title of this blogpost, you may have guessed, there’s no Sunday 7 from me this week.

I’ve been feeling a little… un-Christmassy…un-fashiony… just moody I guess.

… more than that in fact: I’ve been feeling a little sad… over what exactly?

I wasn’t sure for a few days.

I think it’s been the combination of a horrible national news story; a tiny piece of household Threads-family ‘news’ and just the current state of affairs (i.e. Brexit) which seem to have opened the floodgates for a stream of unconscious thoughts and feelings from my 1970s childhood.

I think.

The heartbreaking news story of a 15 year old Syrian (refugee) school boy being ‘waterboarded’ by bullies, coincided with the news that my youngest son has being given the part of an Angel, in what will be his final school nativity, which  in conjunction with some of the very narrow minded Brexit rhetoric… have all served to bring back childhood memories of what it was like, for me, growing up here in 1970s Britain.

Uneasy feelings… of feeling fearful, outraged as well as memories of how my family was very matter of fact about the issue of racism.

At this point, I should state: not a single one us ever experienced anything truly horrific… and yet, there was an ‘every day’ kind of racism, which we all probably faced, at one time or another.

It was just the norm for us back then… and no doubt, the norm for most migrant families living here.

So… this is quite difficult to write: I’m struggling to bring any order to my thoughts… but perhaps in writing & sharing this, I can help rationalise all the feelings I am feeling, and move on from it.

It’s going to be a text laden piece I’m afraid, and if that’s not your cuppa, or you find the subject matter too eggy & uncomfortable… might be time to close your browser, round about… now!

The Early Years

I had a happy childhood.

At least that’s what I tell myself, and happy memories are genuinely the enduring ones.

But I was definitely aware of my differences… specifically, my differing skin colour… from a very early age.

My eldest brother is 11 years older than me, so when I was 4, he was a teen, wearing his DMs, listening to the likes of The Jam & The Undertones, and I thought he was cool-AF.

However, with his black rimmed NHS glasses, his slender ‘bean-pole’ frame, and much darker Asian skin tone than my own… I was aware he was a target.

There was a puny, cowardly boy (the same age as my brother, in his school-year) who lived on the corner of our street, who… when he was on his own… of course never said a single word to my brother.

But… he wasn’t always alone.

It was when he had the safety-net of his pack… his racist, bully mates… that they might dare to square up to my brother.

Thankfully, nothing truly terrible ever happened, it was more bark than bite.

But reading about the attack of the Syrian Boy, and his feelings following his harrowing experience… I was reminded of some of my own fears as a young child.

Reading the story, it almost felt like things had gone full circle.

As a primary school age kid, I knew the name Enoch Powell, I knew what he stood for, and would cross the road every time I saw a graffitied ‘NF’ (National Front) sign, as though, by walking past the graffiti, I would somehow come to harm.

I can remember feeling scared for my brother; scared every single time he left the house for his extra curricular clubs: whether it was Karate, or Air Cadets or going to a gig… I’d feel unsettled until I knew he was home, safe.

These were my fears, aged 4 or 5.

So… most of you who read this blog are in and around a similar age to me… you have kids, or are an Aunty to kids you love or indeed a God-Parent to children you adore: can you imagine any of those (young, infant aged) children feeling so anxious and worried about such a ‘grown-up’ political issue?

I never questioned it of course.

Why would I?

I was, after all, only 4.

Which brings me onto my next story… my very first encounter of prejudice, and feelings of outrage and injustice.

My birthday is in June.

So, by the December of my reception year I would have been 4.5 years old.

My reception teacher, Mrs Hay, was someone I adored.

{I mean… who doesn’t fall a little bit in love with their very first teacher?}

She had taught all 3 of my siblings before me, and was held in high regard, with great affection, in my household.

But… that Christmas at school, when parts/roles were issued for the all exciting Nativity, there were just two girls in my class who were overlooked for the much coveted part of an Angel.

Being a confident, assertive little girl, I squared up to my teacher, and bold as brass asked why myself, and Sam (the only Jamaican girl in my class) weren’t going to be angels as well?

Mrs Hay replied with a slightly perplexed shake of her head and a somewhat bemused smile that ‘darling, Angels are always blonde…”

At this point, my friend Sam’s silent tears started to trickle down her cheeks.

And regardless that my own eyes were indeed stinging… I swallowed hard and plucked up the courage to ask why Sharon, our friend – who was part of our trio (me, Sharon & Sam) was allowed to be an angel, given her hair was brown?

By now, Mrs Hay was clearly flustered and responded with a “mouse brown is a type of blonde, you know?”

But I knew what she was saying.

Sam knew what she was saying.

Sharon, who was standing with all the other Angels, attempting to look sympathetic whilst simultaneously being ecstatic at being given the part of an Angel, knew what Mrs Hay was saying as well.

The whole f*cking class knew exactly what was being said.

So I did the only thing my 4 year old brain could think to do… and I stared at my teacher.

I stared hard.

With a ‘Really…? is that the best you’ve got?” look.

You might be surprised to hear that I still have very fond memories of Mrs Hay.

That I don’t think of her as some mean old bitch.

Rather… it was just how things were then… it was the 70s.

And you just kind of had to put up with it.

It was an everyday, normalised type of prejudice, which was rife back then.

With not much thought or consideration given to what was being said, how it was being said, nor how it might make another person feel.

I didn’t tell my mum… nor anyone in my family about the incident…

… until a couple of years ago.

My mum was horrified and outraged and demanded to know why I hadn’t said anything at the time?

That she would have paid a visit to the school with her fierce tiger-mum hat on…

Which is probably exactly why I didn’t say anything.

Because even at the tender age of 4.5, I wanted to fight my own battles.

And in a way, I  guess I didn’t want to upset my family, nor did I want to tarnish Mrs Hay’s wonderful reputation within my household.

So… again, I’ll ask you: how would you feel if you knew a child of yours, or just any child you know… had to face this kind of prejudice at school, in this day and age, in 2018?

The reality is, it’s EXCEPTIONALLY UNLIKELY that anything similar could happen in this day and age… at least, not from the teaching staff.

And that’s called progress.


Fast Forward a Few Years…

And one final little story, from when I was 9 or 10, I can’t really place exactly how old I was… but I do remember we’d moved house, and had to walk farther to school, involving a long walk down a hill, alongside a busy road.

It was a good 5 years on from the mid-70s, and ‘everyday’ racism was… well, much less everyday.

Progress was being made… things were changing.

Changes for the better.

I’d been sailing through Primary School with no further direct prejudice/racist experiences.

My mum used to walk me to and from school, right to the bitter end of year 6… and we used to have some lovely chats on those walks.

She’d hold my hand, I’d skip alongside her, chirping away.

There would be bumper to bumper, stand-still traffic on the Wells Rd (Bristol) during rush hour… and we had to walk past a busy bus stop of  waiting commuters to get to the pedestrian crossing.

There was a young woman we passed daily, whom my mum very much admired, in the main, I think my mum had created a whole persona for the woman in her own mind, as a bright, beautiful, independent, working young lady.

My mum would point out to me how lovely she thought the woman’s make-up was, how pretty her dress was… but most of all my mum seemed to admire her long hair, which was always worn scraped back in to a high-pony tail, which was then braided with several, separate, little plaits.

My mum would try and persuade me to let her do my hair in that style.

And I think I probably let her.

However, on one occasion, as we were walking passed the bus-stop… the woman stepped back, and bumped into us.

Instead of apologising however, she turned to us, her face twisted and contorted in anger and she spat “Watch where you’re going, you stupid p*ki!”

What a shock.

I can’t remember what, if anything my mum responded with…

I can remember feeling flushed with anger.

I can remember feeling heartbroken for my mum, an intelligent, beautiful, proud woman.

I can remember that I stopped chirping and skipping along… instead walked in silence for a couple of minutes whilst squeezing my mum’s hand.

Eventually, mum squeezed my hand back, and told me “It’s like I always tell you… you can never judge a book by it’s cover.”

Mum never asked me to wear my hair in a high pony tail, braided into several, separate little plaits again.

That’s probably the worst bit of racism I’ve ever experienced, and it was pretty much (though not quite….) 40 years ago now.

So why am I telling you all this?  

Why am I remembering all of this now?

When the news story broke of the 15 year old Syrian boy, a recent migrant to the country…

… I was reminded that there are  kids today, still facing the same uneasy feelings (and worse) that I faced as a child in the 70s.

How can that be? It’s 2018!

Whilst I thought the world had changed for the better, that much progress had been made… and it has, there’s no denying the leaps which have been made…

… ultimately, the nasty rhetoric from our elected officials… from the ‘Leader of the Free World’ across the pond… has a lot to answer for.

After all… it trickles down, doesn’t it?

Without wishing to make light of it… it’s a bit like Miranda Priestly’s Cerulean Blue Monologue from the Devil Wear’s Prada, which explains perfectly, how something which you think has nothing to do with you, a decision made somewhere at the top… does, eventually, filter down into our every day lives, into our psyches.

In seemingly accepting what’s going on: whether it’s our elected officials ‘making fun’ of women in burkra’s, or in Trump’s inability to denounce white-nationalists who drove a car into a crowd of people…

…the extremists have been handed the mic: they have a voice again…

And it appears it’s a rather LOUD voice at that.

And those who are predisposed to “that” way of thinking anyway… appear to be more confident, more brazen with their intolerant views.

To me- and this is important – just to me, it’s my perspective here after all: it feels like slowly, slowly… but oh so despairingly, surely… a certain level of ‘everyday’ racism, everyday prejudice… call it what you will… is being normalised again.

It’s no where near as bad as the 70s…

I think.

I hope.

Rather… I know it’s not as bad.

Since my childhood, there are only a smattering of incidents I can recall which were a result of prejudice, but thankfully, nothing note worthy.

This blogpost isn’t meant to be a pity party by the way… not at all!!!

I’m simply sharing my current state of mind, current thoughts which have been lingering this week.

Although in writing this post, I’m already feeling relieved… unburdened.

And the thing is… Instagram has come into my life over the past couple of years.

Definitely a happy, fuzzy kind of place, with a supportive community of like minded women.

All of whom are size/colour/age-blind: a shared interest and passion for style and fashion unites us.

If only the rest of the country (& world) could be like that, eh?!

After all it’s 2018 and my half-Pakistani child is going to be an angel in his nativity.

{I won’t dwell on the fact that he was blond, and is now kind of mousy blond!}

I usually love to watch the Nativity, and have never gotten particularly teary or emotional whilst doing so.

Yet… this year, I can feel the lump in my throat forming already.

Obviously, given I’m now 47.5 years old… I have a lot more I could share on this subject.

But for now, I think I’m done.

If you’ve made it this far: thanks for reading & happy to chat if you fancy it?  Just leave a comment below.

I’ll get back to fashion next week.


Til then, hope you have a lovely week.