London is a struggle if you’re broke. London if you’re a broke immigrant, however, is unfathomably cruel. The Grenfell Tower fire is the most painful manifestation of this the capital has ever seen.
A few months ago, I awoke in the middle of the night to discover that my right arm was numb. This happened on four consecutive nights, by which point I was panicking, pleading with my body—not tonight. It didn’t cooperate. Why was this happening?
For the first time in decades, the British public have a clearly defined choice to make, one which involves a Labour party that is putting forward unashamedly left-of-centre policies. If we lived in a well-functioning democracy this would already have been common knowledge.
I am falling deeper, becoming more remote. I sense more haze, more flowers, more bees and then visions of the accident surface. The stench of diesel and red wine penetrates my nostrils. I see broken glass everywhere, and a fractured window open to the sky.
I had never been involved in group sex. My curiosity was always overruled by the fear of entering into a twilight world, where bored swingers, back-rubs and Michael Fassbender’s character in Shame hung around twitching in a side-street sauna. But this felt different.
Turning oneself into a financial asset through the transformative power of a screen is little more than a simulacrum of past modes of accruing status; and yet increasingly, this is the sole method of operating within the modern media.
My grandfather once told me that he heard the word ‘Paki’ at work so often he thought it was the name of a co-worker. This was in his first job, as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport, and he told me as passing comment, made while flicking through the channels on Sky TV – it landed deep.
While some cities do better jobs than others of encouraging that salad to be fully mixed, in many cities we see fragmented communities segregated down lines of culture and interest, operating alone in the same space.
The Stoodley Pike monument has stood on the ridge of the Pennines above the Calder Valley towns of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge since 1856, a thick finger of gritstone pushed from the moorland into the wind like a finger dipped into a cooling stream.
A few years ago, I briefly dated a man whose recent ex-girlfriend was the stuff of nightmares: an ethereal giantess and beauty, an artist and musician. He was telling me about one of their arguments. “And then came the baby voice,” he finished. Wait. What? What?