Drake’s More life; More like slow death…

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to feel that Drake and I have a relationship that’s becoming more dysfunctional than a parent reading Valley of the Dolls, at bedtime.  The inevitable peaks and troughs of a musician’s career, on the whole, tend not to shake the staunchest of fans.  But Drake’s musical stock, soaring at one moment and plummeting the next, is causing a confusion only comparable to that of the Middle Aged attempting to use self service checkouts.  Views, an album packed wall to wall with gems, marked Drake as a risk taker with an ear to the World.  It was (and is) a delightful honey coated, African Diasporic infused serving – and then there was More Life…

 

Just in case you were wondering, this is not the bit where I painstakingly review each song. (I’ve already lost the best part of an hour thanks to Spotify ‘New Releases’, God knows I can’t lose another.) But, right off the bat, I knew that More Life and I would likely get off to a rocky start.  Owing to its declaration of being not an album, but a playlist.  Like the word ‘curated’ and everything else that seems to have trickled down from the world according to Hipsters; the label felt like a cynical attempt to hoodwink listeners into believing the project was anything but, an insubstantial and hollow offering.  Or was that just me?

 

I believe I am not alone in wishing to unsee the horror of Madonna, gnawing at Drake’s lips like a rabid St Bernard.  But, perhaps the pair’s lip locking was less of a kiss and more of a symbolic baton passing.  Drake certainly seems to have taken on the Madonna approach to hit making.  The approach being: when in doubt, seek out an underground black subculture hello Vogue and liberally sprinkle it over said album playlist, all for added cool factor. In his defence Drake has given Grime artists; Giggs, Skepta and Sampha an introduction to the world stage, and I give him kudos for this.  But I can not help but think in songs like No Long Talk and KMT Drake’s aim is not necessarily to showcase the brilliance of British artists, but to let the world know he is now culturally evolved.

 

Six songs into the playlist, I began to think that scientists may finally have succeeded in their bid to make time travel a reality.  Spotify repeatedly skipped past my song choice of Madiba Riddim taking me back to 2016’s Too Good.  Nope, sorry my bad, they just sound exactly the same.  Blem, too seemed to be woven from the tired fabric of rehashing, with its remarkable similarities to the 2009 hit Find Your Love.  Another crushing let down were the opening lines of Gyalchester, which are as follows: ‘Hermes link, Ice blue mink’.  The disappointment of a latte made with one espresso shot, and not the two you requested, sprang to mind. (And those were just the good bits)

 

 

I’m just kidding there were plenty of highlights, for instance Young Thug’s verse on Sacrifices and um… * Sound of crickets * Let’s just put it this way; if you’re looking to be whined to, intermittently then, look no further as Drake does this beautifully on Nothings Into Somethings.  In fact, More Life sees Drake transform the monotone complaint into an Olympic sport, requiring nothing but persistence and dedication.

 

 

Sadly, they do not yet award championship rings for whinging, nor do they award them to those who struggled through Drake’s 22 newest songs.  I know you won’t believe me, but I actually like Drake (all evidence to the contrary).  Nothing will make me get up out of my seat faster than hearing the first notes of 10 Bands.  Mr Graham in case you had any doubt, in the words of Tyra Banks; ‘I was rooting for you’.  We were all rooting for you.  But unfortunately, for me, listening to More Life, was a trying ordeal, to say the least.  Sort of like going through the process of euthanasia, only to find that you are in fact, still living…

 

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a women’s right to Schmooze (hacks for aspiring hacks

As a board certified, membership card carrying commitment phobe, I have in the style of the Police, adopted a motto, which perfectly sums up my approach to making any type of social arrangement.  Unlike the integrity soaked, cuff carrying folks working in law enforcement, rarely am I called on to ‘protect and serve’ however the need to release myself from the cuffs of agreed plans does mean that on occasion I do have to ‘shirk and avoid’. It is not so much the fear of encountering the unknown that keeps me chained to the comfort of my grey corner suite.  But, enduring the Hades like heat of the Tube, only to arrive sweat soaked to a function at which few faces are recognisable, and those that are, embarrassingly fell victim to a poorly timed spell of late night Facebook ‘spring cleaning’ is a torturous prospect, to say the least.  Especially when you consider that the thrilling alternative involves a threesome involving myself, Ben and Jerry.

 

So it was, with an anxious heart that I chose to forgo the passive pleasures of sofa based vegetation, in favour of an evening filled with the terror that is ‘Putting yourself out there’, and on this occasion I am truly glad I did.

 

Last Thursday Women in Journalism in collaboration with City University put together a seminar promising to give the inside scoop on ‘How to be an Intern’, and boy did they deliver.  So here is my ham fisted attempt at a breakdown of the tips, tricks and info imparted by the panel, who were like literally more knowledgeable than a thousand Yodas.

 

It’s all about the Benjamin’s (or lack thereof)

 

The clinking, clanking sound of coins is a melody that organ grinder and monkey must dance to.   Leaving many young writers contending with the difficulties of participating in unpaid work, while trying to study, and most importantly live.  The consensus of the panel seemed to indicate that taking on unpaid ‘Work Experience’ rather than an ‘Internship’ may well be the more financially viable option of the two.  Given that Work Experience tends to last for the time bound period of two weeks, allowing aspiring journalists to avoid committing to what seems like an endless procession of days and months.

 

Like the closing arguments presented to a jury, the experts at hand suggested the tried and tested method of weighing things upIs it worth working for long term spells of no pay?  When perhaps you could gain valuable experience on a student paper.  Is it best to privilege getting experience at a national paper, when all that you might do is make tea? A local paper, may be just the thing, in terms of direct hands on experience.

 

Pick me! Pick me!

 

With regards to gaining a coveted place within one of the national graduate trainee schemes the panel were adamant that you know the paper and its writers.  They also mentioned making sure that you Twitter follow some of the journalists who write for the paper you are applying to.  (Preferably not a couple of weeks before).  When applying, it might work best to your advantage if all covering letters were addressed to the Editor concerned with this job, and not the previous. They also suggested that it was important for any prospective intern to show a commitment to journalism and not flippantly indicate to an employer that this is what you see yourself doing for, like today, or possibly until you, like make it as a conceptual artist.

 

I got the part!

 

If you are lucky enough to be taken on, the panel could not stress enough the virtues of not being ‘annoying’, and by this they meant not expecting to be ‘entertained’ or ‘babied’.  A little bit of waiting around, and thumb twiddling was entirely natural in the life of an intern, working in a busy London office.  What is most important is that you learn to thumb twiddle with a smile and a can do attitude.  Another bug bear were the interns who would write disparaging tweets and blog posts about their internship experiences.  This for obvious reasons is a big ‘no no’.  Journalism is a tiny industry, and I have been told that Journalists are particularly fragile, so the chances of you ever re-gaining employment after this type of outburst, would be very low indeed.

 

Take me on

 

During the seminar it was intimated that one of the key strengths of those taken on after Work Experience or an Internship, is the ability to come in with ideas, whether for articles or features.  It was also said that producing finished, pieces of writing (used or not) never failed to impress.  So it is a case of keyboards at the ready.

 

 The Blog is mightier than the sword

 

Finally, there was much positive discussion about Blogging.  The panel talked of, how Blogging not only showcased writing skills, but showed an ability to produce and upload content, Edit, Market and Design.  Can I get an Amen.

 

 

Kudos to the event’s organisers and panel, for attempting to clear the impenetrable fog of Internships and providing young journalists with a BuzzFeed worthy slew of hacks. Given all the confusion internships seem to cause, this seminar was certainly needed. In case you were wondering, I decided to reschedule my date with a tub of Dulce Delish for a different night, although this being me, there is always a possibility that I’ll be a now show.

 

 

 

 

Why I’m not a feminist

Much has been made of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s appointment as the first woman to take up the creative helm at Dior.  Chiuri, as artistic director of women’s couture, will now be a certified trendsetter and has wasted little time in putting an unmistakable female stamp on her debut 2017 Spring/Summer collection. The piece that’s got everyone and their parole officer talking is a t-shirt screaming the words ‘we should all be feminists’.  It seems that feminism, like markets, sandwiches and food vans, has been repackaged by a pair of over eager marketing grads. Hoping to pounce on the vacuous masses, all too ready to trade in the burden of their own opinions for a little branded indoctrination.  Chiuri’s designs are indicative of a West built on persistent assertions of self-manufactured delusion.  A woman designing clothes for other women is ‘progress’.  A $700 t-shirt means ‘empowerment’, apparently.

 

Since the 1960s, the West has meticulously tried to hammer home a sense that the material difference between the lives of Western women and those in the developing world lies in the idea of ‘Choice’.  Apparently thanks to the West being the forward thinkers that they are, I am at perfect liberty to hold down a high powered job, while also being a full-time mother.  I may drink as much as I please, with the caveat being that I must later willingly trot off to the gym for a work out.  On the weekends I have the freedom to be a domestic goddess, and because I am such a deity, I do this all while looking good. Yes, we Western women are some lucky ladies! We really do get to have it all…  Sorry I took a slight detour there, what I was actually getting at, is there is one choice I feel I’ve never been given; the choice not to be a feminist.

 

Now while I realise that this statement alone is enough to get me barred from the ‘International Ovary Committee’, it’s certainly worthy of discussion.  For many years I unquestioningly (or perhaps naively) referred to myself as a feminist.  I believed, erroneously, that feminism derived from the stand point of female equality and no other ideology (at that time) greater resonated with me.  Joining the fight for the equal rights of women, seemed a no-brainer, and since this long and difficult war, seems so far from victory here in 2017, still does.  The articles discussing the disparities in pay that still haunt women, along with those talking of our absence in fields such as Science and Tech are too numerous to go into.  Paired with first hand accounts of the unfair weight given to our perceived good (or bad) looks, should provide enough confirmation to any sensible person that Sexism’s persistent and ugly head, has not quite been laid to rest.

 

But, I believe I first heard the sound of alarm bells ringing in my head, about the closeted cause of Feminism, in 2011, after reading Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. Initially I felt the book would have been more accurately titled How to be a white woman, unhealthily obsessed with Lady Gaga.  Admittedly the book is a patchwork telling of her own female journey and this being the case, would inevitably come from a Caucasian perspective.  But the title of the book alludes to the shared experience of being ‘a woman’, which led me to ask if in fact Moran truly believed that her life as a white, middle class, journalist was in any way relatable to the vast majority of women across the globe?  And worse could her concern for women, be extended to those, whose ethnicity and religion meant that they would automatically fail at ‘being a woman’ according to her own definition?  My fears were later confirmed when she tweeted that she ‘literally couldn’t give a shit’ about the lack of diversity on the feminist favourite, television show, Girls.  Apparently Moran, like many other mainstream feminists, adhered to the silent code, that the spoils of any women’s revolution, were not to be shared with the tawnier members of the sex.  No surprises there then.  The whole episode certainly ended any sepia tainted vision of ‘intersectionality’, and ‘women of all races uniting against the spectre of patriarchy’ that I may secretly have held.

 

I realised that I had been bullied, brow beaten and eventually co-opted into a fight that was not my own, I had been duped into supporting a movement that ultimately held no benefits for black women.  Though cleverly concealed, Feminism is a symptom of the in-house, ongoing beef between the men and women of the First World.  In short the facilitators of white patriarchy, want a larger piece of the pie. Feminism, it seemed to me, did not so much want to tear down male rule, it resented its continued exclusion from it.  As Black women we find ourselves caught between the crosshairs of a foreign struggle.  In allowing ourselves to become human buffers, through our continued participation in protests, marches and meetings, we enable mainstream feminists to use us in turn as a smoke screen, tattooed with the false motto ‘we are doing this for all women.’

 

A case in point, were the Women’s Marches that sprung up faster than a starving cheetah spotting its prey, in opposition of Trump.  Apparently Big Ds comments about Blacks and Mexicans had been just about palatable to many women within the dominant society.  But what they couldn’t stomach, was Trump’s breakdown of the art of ‘Pussy Grabbing’.  I believe the words ‘Something absolutely must be done’ could be deciphered as the marching crowd stampeded over the abused body of Sandra Bland and the 13 victims of Daniel Holtzclaw.  I am still awaiting the feminist outrage that should naturally have arisen from the blatant abuse of women of colour by the Police.  Instead I heard only the painful sounds of crickets…

 

We should all be feminists… Really?

I’m sorry Mr Jackson…

Did anyone else hear the distant rumbles of disquiet emanating from the world of the perennial fake smile, also known as Acting?  If not, have your cups ready, because I’m about to serve, not Lovely’s piping hot tea, but a witch’s brew.  So apparently someone has like finally decided to say something about America’s involvement in the mass importation of foreign born Black Africans Actors; more specifically those from Britain.  That someone was Samuel L. Jackson, and I believe him to be…how shall I put it?  Displeased.  His gripe is, that much like America’s car industry, many of Black Hollywood’s meatiest roles are now being outsourced to cheaper foreign counterparts…or something like that.   With the the ‘facts’ out of the way (sort of), let me get right to the serious and sticky business of my thoughts on the matter…

While the stormy and difficult plight of the overprivileged nearly always rates highly on my personal barometer of concern.  The sympathy box, which I store right behind the last can of My heart bleeds soup; seems to be running curiously low.

For the record, as a Black Brit, the success of my peers across the pond, made me feel nothing but pride and excitement.  Until 12 Years a Slave…  That, is when I believe, I first thought that those in film were beginning to make bizarre and ultimately jarring choices behind the scenes.  Here we had two Brits one of Nigerian and the other of West Indian descent and a Kenyan born Mexican taking centre stage in telling the story of the African American experience.  While it is clear to me that (sadly) the common threads of Colonial Rule, Subjugation and the struggle for Autonomy run through the entirety of the African Diaspora.  The scars that have been etched on to our souls all differ slightly.  In truth, when I saw that Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta, would be played by British actors, I was deeply disturbed.  Europe seemed an awfully long way to go, in search of actors capable and willing to tell the stories of individuals, so deeply woven in to the fabric of Black America.

The question is; was Samuel L. Jackson right to call this out?  I’m going to say no and here is why.  Jackson has fixed his ire at Jordan Peele’s casting of Daniel Kaluuya in the masterpiece that is Get Out.  However the Hollywood fetish for exotic negroes, did not begin in Black film, and here I think Uncle Sam is guilty of being disingenuous.  Jackson knows very well that he, like many others who frequent the highest echelons of Black Hollywood, made a fatal mistake.  It is the same mistake made by every house negro that ever there was; believing that the preferential treatment he  received stemmed from a place of genuine regard.  That is the real problem here; the elites like no one, and foolish is the Black Actor who fails to realise that the exchange of African Americans for Black Brits is nothing more than a game of power.  Hollywood’s key players are much like slave owners who thought that an auction would be the best way to deal with a slave who got too big for his boots.  Their continental casting choices should serve as a reminder to Black Thespians everywhere, that Hollywood is not in fact ‘our’ house, but ‘theirs’.  It is all very well for John Boyega to brush aside Jackson’s comments, but my hope (though it is a vain one) is that he will come to the conclusion that if America can turn on its own, it will surely not spare the rod when it comes to outsiders.

There is another reason why Jackson’s comments trouble me.  They are a clear indication of the unhealthy dependency Black’s have on the elite.  Jackson is essentially saying that Massa is doing him wrong.  Hello, Massa has been doing the same thing for 400 years, and it pains me to hear a grown man whining.  Mr Jackson I put this to you, instead of relying on the very people who have shown nothing but contempt and disregard for you; start a revolution, start a production company, start a studio, start a film school.  Yes, I hear you, it won’t start out as big or as shiny as what they have over there.  But I can tell you one thing Mr Jackson; it will be ours…

My 2017 Lust List…

Now that we’re almost a quarter of the way through 2017, I am to put it delicately, testing the boundaries of what is and isn’t socially acceptable, in terms of arriving late to a party.  Though the party that fashion bloggers call a ‘wish list’ has slowed to a fizzle, with only the guests that no one knows staying to sup the last dregs of a generic bottle of Baileys.  I have decided to show up, with a Tesco Value packet of Cheese Balls in hand, and a list of this year’s lusts.

Fendi-Mini-Peekaboo.jpg

Crawling in at number five is the Fendi Peekaboo.  With luxury handbags I believe that women generally ‘oooh and ahover them.  But instead I have found myself ‘umm-ing and ah-ing’ over this one. Yes, I adore the uniqueness of its twist lock opening, and there is little doubt this bag is what happens when Classic and Modernity decide to mate.  My only concern however, is the spectre of ‘Value Holding’.  As long as you don’t drop a Classic Chanel bag off of Niagara Falls, you can pretty much guarantee you’ll get your money back; perhaps more. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure you can say the same of Fendi.  But that doesn’t make this bag any less adorable.  Damn you Karl.

pochette metis

Making a bold entrance at number four is the Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis.  Which is strange, because I took an oath (the oath of fabric) that I would never, ever purchase a bag in the Monogram Canvas.  Thanks to Nicolas Ghesqiere, I am now being forced to eat a mouthful of my own salted words.  Quite simply the Pochette Mettis is a beauty. It’s a pint sized briefcase with a handy strap and don’t get me started on the interior compartments.  What I’m not totally in love with is the zip opening stitched on the bag’s back, which to my eyes looks like a poorly stitched head wound.  Talk about putting ketchup on a sirloin…

kim k

Taking the midway spot at number three is the Kardashian sartorial stalwart the Balmain blazer.  Where to begin with this jacket, where to begin…  If you are shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle, then this jacket is your best friend.  It is a rare thing to find a jacket that can cover a not so small pair of breasts, cinches in at the waist and flares over your booty.  Making a curvy woman like myself, look like a goddess, rather than a fourth rate drag act is no mean feat.  Hats off to the chef; Olivier Rousteing you did this.  No draw backs here, but be prepared to keep this jacket under lock and key if you perchance have a sister or a mother.

neverfull.jpg

Narrowly missing out on first place is the ‘Working Woman’s’ favourite, the Louis Vuitton Neverfull.  Now that my schizophrenic on again, off again relationship with the house of Vuitton has been brought back into focus, let me tell you why I have decided to include this unremarkable bag.  Chiefly, because it is a workhorse and a throw-around.  The Throw-around bag; every girl needs one.  Or at least that’s how the commercial goes in my head.  But seriously the Neverfull is smart enough for the office, casual enough for the beach and not so luxurious that you don’t mind stashing your vile of hot sauce in it.  What can I say the Neverfull knows how to work it.  If only the PM came with a Rose Ballerine lining…

ashanti-chanel-boy-bag

At number one is a bag that needs no introduction, it is the Chanel Boy.  When it comes to this bag, words fail me.  Only a German could have introduced a handbag like this to the market, because it truly is an example of precision engineering.  Keeping Coco Chanel’s original hallmarks of elegance and utility; Karl Lagerfeld brought quilted leather and conspicuous consumption to a new generation, and we love him all the more for it.  Let’s hear it for Le Boy

Dearly Beloved Barbz

As the world, and when I say world, I mean Black Twitter attempts to pick its shock soaked jaw from the ground on which the career of Nikki Minaj now lays.  I find myself in an unadulterated serendipitous state of total and complete indifference.

 

Bypassing the tried and tested methods of good old fashioned murder, massacre and crucifixion; Remy Ma instead chose torture.  Teasing her victim, she painstakingly dismembered the body that once was the Minaj Legacy.  Cruelly scattering the charred and unrecognisable remains for all to see.  Though, of late, Nicki has been drug up and down the social media battle field more times than a piece of farm equipment at harvest time; I’m having trouble locating the balm of sisterly care, I am told exists within me.

 

For years Minaj has behaved like a Chihuahua, unaware of its size.  Snarling at other dogs regardless of their stature and fighting abilities.  Almost forgetting the inevitable circumstance would arise in which she would agitate a dog who would ultimately bark back.  But in this case, not only did Remy Ma bark, she bit, and did so savagely.

 

Let’s face it Barbz, you can wrap this situation up in a bow any way you want, but she had it coming. I’m no Taylor Swift fan, (if ever they held a ballot of women who should be voted of off the planet, I know who my ‘X’ would go to) but when Minaj tried to call out Swifty, because she felt overlooked by the VMAs, and then pretended she didn’t.  Few including myself leapt to her defence.  Why?  Because, though Nicki boldly declared she was speaking on behalf of Women of Colour, anybody with two brain cells knew Nicki Minaj was speaking on behalf of her-damn-self.  The only time Roman ever seems to find a voice to speak on issues regarding race is when it directly affects her.  Prosecution I refer you to her confrontation with Miley; her tweet based exposition of Iggy Azalea’s ghost-writers and her recent spat with Giuseppe Zanotti who apparently spurned her desire for a sartorial collaboration. The star’s protestations over the treatment of black women in the music industry all boil down, to the bitter soup of self interest; and when you take into consideration her consistently disrespectful, belittling and disdainful approach to the original Queen Bee; become at once laughable.

 

It is universally acknowledged that the emergence of a Chris Brown or an Usher is entirely dependent upon the existence of a fierce burning star like Michael Jackson.  Similarly, there would be no Nicki Minaj, without the wondrous multi-coloured be-wigged fabulosity of a Lil’ Kim.  No one is asking Onika to fall to her knees at the altar of Kim, in preparation of an hour of self-flagellation.  But a simple ‘thank you’ would be nice. Nicki snatched Kim’s wig off, like literally, snatched it off.  Along with everything else that made Kim the legend she is.  Instead of waiting for the torch to be passed, she stole it, not realising that eventually its flames would burn.

 

So, Dearly Beloved Barbz, I want you to remember the times of joy you shared together.  The jarringly, over-bright lipsticks; the wrongly matched foundation, the tooth decay, and the flipped implants.  Here lies the body of one who sang, who rapped and who sadly and untimely was Shethered.

I like my racists where I can see ‘em…

So apparently the general populous of the United States is now becoming wise to the possible draw backs of voting in a Pussy Grabbing President.  I have to say it wasn’t America’s brightest idea, but then again I don’t believe the invasions of Vietnam and Iraq were exactly shinning moments of brilliance either.  I suppose it maybe a little unfair to blame US citizens for their country’s involvement in illegal wars.  After all, when Americans turn up to the polls, there is no box to check ‘in the event you would/wouldn’t like War as an optional extra.’ However, voters were warned well in advance that this year’s Republican candidate wore Misogyny and Racism like a politically incorrect Halloween costume.

 

My opinions and I have, for the most part decided to sit this one out.  Much like the close girlfriend who whines about the apparent flaws of her mate, chooses to marry him anyway; only to learn of his infidelity.  America is now having an almighty; what were you thinking moment, and I’m afraid that I’m going to have to treat her, just as I would my annoying friend.

 

Trump’s 1970s inspired approach to the fairer sex seems to have gotten droves of Western women all riled up.  With a recent spate of Women’s Marches popping up state-wide.  The largest of which took place last month in Washington DC.  Ever afraid of missing a photo opportunity the luvvies were out in full force.  It was truly heart-warming to see the A-list challenging the rich and the privileged, before being escorted back to their heated Winnebago’s.  Forgive me Reader for my cynicism, I should know better, I am a woman after all.  But, would it be in anyway inaccurate to see this new anti- Trump coalition as an act of collective amnesia?

 

According to a CNN exit poll, 53% of white women who did vote, voted for a clearly beloved Trump.  A similarly strange case is that of the Assalis; a family of Syrian origin, who had long been settled in the US.  The family then found themselves facing deportation as a result of dear Donald’s travel ban. As it becomes clear that Americans who stood to lose the most at the hands of a Trump presidency willingly chose to vote against their own interests.  The picture of Trump as North America’s perennial bad guy appears to be a canvas made up entirely of grey.  Now, let’s get this clear, the creosote coloured Commander in Chief, is off the charts on the sexism and xenophobia scale.  But sadly many Trump voters seemingly forgot, the piercing bite that always follows the raising of a snake.

 

Reader you married him.  Choosing to walk down the aisle of international relations to a funeral dirge.  Luckily for me, I am located on the other Brexit polluted side of the pond. Now, not only will I get to see my own country slip into chaos, confusion and joy oh joy recession; but I will bear witness to Trump’s slow and painful undoing of the American Dream.  Popcorn and tissues at the ready; I think this is going to be a weepie.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/10/white-women-donald-trump-victory

Mad about Le Boy…

 

 

Presently I am in the deep and lustful throes of an unrequited love.  My object of desire, is certainly guilty of giving me the run-around.  For one I can never ever seem to get a hold of him, and secondly on the rare occasion that we do cross paths, there is a constant line of women waiting around the block for the chance to snap him up.  My prospective lover only frequents the most exclusive parts of town, and frankly I just don’t know if I can afford to take our imaginary liaison any further.

 

The man in question, is not really a man; but a Boy, sorry, Le Boy.  Which isn’t really a Boy, but a handbag by Chanel.  Got it?  The Boy, like so many of the best relationships, came into my life suddenly and unexpectedly.  Never fearful of commitment, my affection in Chanel bag world had always been fixed on the Classic Flap.  Ever since Karl threw some Cs on that bitch, I had believed myself sure that the battle for my heart had now been won.  That was of course until the day I first cast my infatuated eyes on Le Boy.

 

They say that love can do strange things to mortals.  Even the most intelligent of our kind find themselves rationalising away the million flaws of their beloved.  In my case I have found myself contemplating the parting of myself from the princely sum of £3480.  Unlike the other inhabitants living in the Metropolitan Borough of Blogging and YouTube; I do not have an inexplicable, inelastic income, which I can whimsically fritter away on designer goods.  I’m always left scratching my head after seeing many a video in which a YouTuber faithfully swears that they are ‘not rich’, ‘they work a normal job’ (If anyone knows of one of these mythical jobs please leave details in the comments section) and that they afford luxury by ‘not going out’.  Despite living a nearly identical lifestyle, I am still sans bag.

 

A lover’s jealousy is a terrible and dangerous thing.  Left unchecked it can lead to moments of temporary insanity and obsession. The Boy is my laptop, tablet and phone backdrop. I feel now would be a sensible time to seek medical assistance; perhaps a cardiologist might help. For each time I see the glimmering form of two golden Cs centred within a Lego inspired clasp, my heart unmistakably misses a beat.  Is it wrong dear reader, that the murky world of ‘Boy Bag Unboxings’ has become an illicit, late night pornographic treat?

 

I realise wholeheartedly that this simply cannot go on for much longer.  My paramour and I must declare our love openly, bringing the midnight activity of Pinterest stalking firmly to an end.  Or we must at last go our separate ways. Of our compatibility, I have little doubt.   I have full confidence that you’d be the perfect companion.  Changing weather and seasons could not dull your appeal.  The brightest sun, nor a brilliant moon would detract from your shine.

 

We’d be great for each other.  There I said it.  I want you more than all of the other useless, over- priced objects of beauty in the world.  I’m willing to pay the cost to make you mine.  After all a wise man once said: ‘You can’t put a price on love.’

‘Post Traumatic Wedding Syndrome’

Of late, the ritual of checking my mailbox has become an activity filled with feelings of anxiety and at times trepidation.  The two-week stomach churning wait for an ‘all clear’ medical test result, did not rank highly among my list of ‘life’s top ten fun things to do’.  Nor did an unnecessarily overwrought and frantic spell of obsession, over the arrival of a ‘dream job’ offer that never came.  Thinking that the highs and lows of of my Post-Traumatic stress had reached their apex, the music of Sesame Street playing as my personal theme tune, I sashayed over to the box. Only to encounter an envelope that would make my blood run cold.

 

I knew it was coming, but like so many of life’s vicissitudes I had put it firmly to the back of my mind.   There it lay sandwiched between thoughts of of Tesco’s opening hours, my ageing grandparents and the suitability of a pink fur coat for British spring time.  Left on my living room coffee table, carefully concealed within a shameful assortment of Topshop receipts its existence remained unacknowledged for two days straight… Until of course I decided to open it.  In the most flowery of words and ornate fonts my presence was requested to celebrate the marriage of one of my dearest friends.

 

Weddings are odd little affairs.  On one hand they provide us humans with a neat little ending of sorts, a storybook conclusion to years of dating.  But on the other they give validity to a gnawing and nagging examination of exactly what we’ve been doing with our lives and worse beg the question: ‘Why are you still single?’  Nowhere was my singledom more apparent, than in the invitations address.  Apparently ‘Your’ (meaning ‘my’) company had been requested.  I kept searching for the ‘plus guest’ nod, but apparently we singletons are to be doubly punished.  Not only are we expected to sit by on the Reserve’s Bench, while our closet friends declare their undying devotion to one another before God.  We must do so alone.  Our wedding attire stamped with a Scarlet ‘S’ for single, while all about us whisper of our tragedy and misfortune.

As you may well have gathered, I am expecting the absolute worst.  The mournful glances, the two handed interrogations from gloating couples and best of all having my hand held by well meaning Cloak Room attendants who softly utter the words ‘don’t leave it too late.’  (Yes, that did really happen.)  In order to counter the slings and arrows of being the sacrificial lamb at the centre of an unsolicited pity party, I will be attending the wedding in fancy dress.  No, not as the back end of a pantomime horse, in case you were wondering.  But as the glorious and resplendent Mrs O.  No one does dignity quite like Michelle Obama. I intend to sashay towards my church pew, clothed in a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress (which I don’t own) paired with a Chanel Boy (also a work in progress).  Completing the look with a top note of the other famous Mrs O.  Sunglasses please.

 

Luckily the wedding is not until June, giving me ample time to tick the missing items off my luxury shopping list.  Though already I can hear the demanding and shrill voices of justification; ‘you spent how much on a bag?’ I believe my top rated wedding rebuke is the one that goes something like this: ‘Tom and I used to spend like that, but now we have kids.’  It’s an oldie but nonetheless a goody.

 

I realise I am coming across as somewhat of a ‘Debbie Downer’.  But truly I am happy for my friend.  I’m elated, ecstatic if you will… over the moon, as they say.   I think that is what’s called over egging the custard Coran.  Perhaps you’re right.  Maybe I am a little jelly.  While my poor, miserable, single, self is stuck here calling Harrods to find out when my dream bag is in stock, planning a girl’s holiday and wondering if £1400 is too much for a jacket.  Couples the world over ask ‘why they can’t get their partner to clean the bathroom?’, ‘what happened to their joint account?’  And most pressing of all ‘Who ate the last biscuit?’  Yes, it truly is terrible being single…I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Now, I’m sure you’d all like to join me in a roast toast… ‘To the bride and groom…’

The Beautiful Black Man and the Beast

 

Without giving too much away, I’m now at the age where the group of friends (call it a pool if you will) I once had in my twenties, has now been whittled down to a puddle subjected to a Sub-Saharan summer’s day.  With the majority of my girlfriends having succumbed to the casualties of marriage and babies, I feel as though I have been left as the proverbial last (wo)man standing.  While I wish my friends nothing but the best, I can’t help but crave to have my own ample slice of the pie we call happiness.

Growing up in a quiet mostly White Middle Class suburb, I, along with my friends, hit life’s key markers.   University, travel, decent(ish) job, but as the token only Black girl in our group I seem to have taken home the coveted prize of also-ran in the game of love Monopoly.

The dearth of ‘Good Black Men’ and its effects on ‘Good Black Women’ is oft spoken about, and has (almost) become part of African Folklore.  Edging out ancient African proverbs espousing the wisdom of ‘de lion’ come new sayings speaking of the pain of ‘de single Black woman’!  Okay, I’m erring on the side of silly but you catch my drift.   To put it plainly; I simply cannot kiss anymore frogs.  The road to becoming someone’s better half has been pathed with rogues and vagabonds.  One experience in particular with a rogue (or was he vagabond?) disturbed me so deeply, I feel that I must share it.

I am certainly not in the habit of man bashing, but in the last few years I have developed a growing awareness of a mutant strain of men.  Their emergence seems directly linked to the popularity of one A$AP Rocky.  The men in question are defined by their aesthetic charms, the fitness of their bodies, the acquisition of stylised designer clothes, the delicate form of their features and to all this they add a generous sprinkling of self-absorption.  Even Narcissus would have to fight to get hold of a mirror in their presence!  Sound familiar at all?  Yes, my date had all the symptoms of one suffering from what I like to call Beautiful Black Man Syndrome.  Disclaimer:  my date, (let’s call him John) artfully concealed his true nature, in our earliest encounters.

I should have known that a romantic liaison with John would have been a miss- step of gargantuan proportions after our first (almost) date. A text sent kindly requesting he meet me at a location closer to my home town (I have no car) and a little further from his, was met with this response verbatim:  ‘I could but, I think it would be cheaper to have drinks here.’  I know right, hardly the stuff fairy tales are made of.  Make no mistake, I made sure that he felt my ire and for obvious reasons I declined his enticing cut price offer.

A later chance meeting in the office kitchen, meant that the wonderful John was able to explain away the many (many) faults of his text.  Inwardly I thought how many single, childless black men, holding a BA and a Masters with their own flat (and own hair) are there left in the world?  Of Course I caved, and I stood in line, like a dummy, for a second helping.

At his suggestion, I agreed, though unwillingly to meet at his local pub.  The pub was part of a chain, nation renowned for their cheap prices and sterile atmospheres.  In short it was the McDonalds of the beverage world. (Oh Coran, Coran, Coran).  A promise was made, that our next date would be of the extravagant/salubrious kind and since I didn’t have a car, John would foot the bill for my taxi home. His offer had all the appearance of what they call a ‘win, win situation’, or so I thought.

The evening began with an explosive and emotional foray into my date’s disappointment at a recent, but unsuccessful job interview.  With scenes rivalling that of a Greek Tragedy, arms flailed about the table as he repeatedly asked me ‘Do you know who they picked?  Do you know who they picked?’  Later he looked me dead in the eyes and uttered the following words: ‘I’m very fragile you know’.  Who doesn’t want a partner who leads with the masculine trait of fragility?  But don’t worry it gets better.  Apparently a great believer in the virtues of self-promotion, John felt no hesitation in telling me of his conviction that he was in fact the ‘total package’ and that though I had seen pictures of his six-pack on Instagram, it was ‘even better’ in real life.  Other high points included him calling me ‘not very bright’ asking me ‘what makes me moist?’ ‘Did I remind him of Jean-Michel Basquiat?’ and the question that every woman wants to hear on a first date ‘do you want to make a baby?’  I won’t even bother mentioning his mid date declaration of: ‘I really want to go and smoke weed’.  Of course I was invited back to his flat to partake of the illegal activity, but I took this final insult as my cue to exit.  My carriage awaited me, or so I thought.  John in the highest (or lowest) form of flakery now asked that since I had gotten paid on that day, and he didn’t get paid until the next month, could I now pay for my taxi home, and he would refund me the cost at a later date. There really are no words.  No like really, there are no words.

I’ve never been one to shy away from a little self-deprecation and though many laughs were had owing to the overwhelmingly bizarre nature of the date, as I settled the fare for my taxi ride home I could not help but feel an intense wave of sadness sweep over me.  Ignoring his obligatory ‘I had such a good time’ evening text it dawned on me that this man, beautiful as he thought he was, felt so comfortable and confident in offering me, this woman, absolutely nothing.  He wanted me to play the role of a sponge, soaked and stained in his own misery, frustration and delusion.  His declaration of fragility, obscured and overshadowed my femininity.  If he as the man in our union had committed himself to weakness, then by default I would have to draw on a strength that would sustain the both of us.  With strength bestowed unwillingly upon me, his natural conclusion was that I of course could fend for myself, hence the self -funded drive home.  My date had decided that he would play the part of one to be objectified, admired and fawned upon.  This would be his sole and meagre contribution to the evening; and in that moment I realised that the roles of Black men and Black women had been cruelly inverted.  He would not provide, nor would he mark himself as a pillar of dependency.  His frailty would be my burden to carry and protect, with his aesthetic raised above on a pedestal for my worship. In short he would take up the woman’s helm and I the man’s.

It was the bitterest of pills to swallow, but I suppose these are the inevitable results of a generation of men parented by MTV.  Clearly they have not yet received the memo that ‘cool’, as far as I’m aware, is a non-tangible asset.  As for me the search goes on…and on…and on.  There will always be a line around the block of frogs waiting to be kissed.  Only next time I’ll be sure they have my cab fare ready.