Theatre Royal – Poets’ Manifesto review (originally posted 21/3/13)

This Tuesday & Wednesday just gone (12/3 & 13/3) were the showings of Poets’ Manifesto. This was a youth production shown at the Theatre Royal at Stratford, East London, put together by Karlos Coleman and Kat Francois. I’ve been helping out with the production since January as & when I could, in between working full-time, blogging, keeping up a semblance of a social life and working on my story. I wasn’t able to make it to the Tuesday showing but I saw the Wednesday one. 



Poets’ Manifesto was about a world not very different to present-day London except for 1 crucial feature: poets and other creatively-minded people were exiled, segregated from normal society and forced to live in a ghetto/ underground part of the city. They’re believed to hold the power to bring down the law & order that  normal society runs on. This system is headed by a man known only as the Banisher, whose job is to ensure everyone adheres to their designated social roles whether they like it or not. Anyone who dares to voice dissent is banished, hence the poets’ underground world. However, the Banisher’s son & heir Noah is secretly a poet. Not just any poet but the Scribe, a poet who’s been secretly undermining the Banisher’s authority over the city, constantly outwitting his 4 henchmen (known as no.1, no.2, no.3 and no.4). Noah later encounters the inhabitants of the underground world – Rocket, his younger sister Melody and others, but also gets outed as a poet by his father! And gets banished!

Through all that action & drama, and the fact that the actors were all ordinary London youths not professional actors, they well and truly hit the nail on the head! It was a masterpiece, I loved it! They got a standing ovation from the audience, and I’m told they got one on the Tuesday showing too! I invited my friend to watch it, and he loved it too! It was all positives all round!


(The friend is KG Lester, founder of the WordLovers Society. It’s a writing club on the 1st floor of Clapton Library, held on the 2nd Tuesday & last Thursday of every month. Writers of all levels & types are welcome. I recommend it for aspiring writers, it certainly helped me. KG also does one-on-one writing tutoring sessions)


The only props they needed was a metal stand and two bunk bed frames. Oh yeah, and strips of masking tape with lines of poetry stuck all over the walls and floor. The poems were all the cast’s own. It was truly inspired how well they made use of the space of the stage, and the way they involved the audience… genius! During the poets’ rebellion they used blackboards to write down what they want changed in society, and got the audience to do the same! And they had little handheld blackboards for the audience to keep! Getting them involved in the action was pure genius, they loved it!


There was even a part when Rocket was telling a secret and told the audience to keep it quiet. He then went up to a little boy sitting right in the front and went, “Sssshhhhh.” That was absolutely spot-on. The whole audience was like, “Aaaawwww! Wasn’t that cute?”


Here’s mine. I didn’t write new government, but then I didn’t erase it either


Regarding the helping out, due to work I could only make a few rehearsals. It began some time near the beginning of January and it was surprising how quickly we managed to get through the whole process in just under 2 and a half months. The 1st & 2nd times were just the planning stages, thinking of a plot and playing games to get our brains working. Kat’s very much the kinaesthetic type, moving around a lot, as well as a fast talker. Some may think it’s crazy, but hey! Creativity is about going against convention. Ask the poets!


The 3rd time I went they’d already decided on a plot, along with characters, poems and a nearly complete script. In fact I wasn’t needed that time; that was only meant to be for the main characters but I wanted to make sure they didn’t forget about me. Just because I couldn’t be in the final product didn’t mean I was letting my contributions be ignored or forgotten! The last time was the Wednesday night, 13/3. I helped the other workers prepare the props, put out the boards, took photos of the last rehearsal, bought pizzas & drinks for the cast (5 pizzas for under £35, plus 1 free! Thanks Pizza Hut!), and finally helped with bringing the guests in.


That last part was hectic, especially since some guests were from the Youth Council (the hell is that?!?) and they were to be escorted to their own room! I didn’t even know my way round the place; there are so many back doors leading to so many different rooms and passageways. Luckily I got out of that by letting my helper do it. But we had to guess which ones were which, all the while dealing with all the other guests waiting to be let through to the stage. Phew!


I think it’s fair to say there was nothing about the show I didn’t enjoy. I’d definitely be glad to help out again.


GCSE dumped for E-Bac? (originally posted 7/2/13)

This morning I heard about the English government’s plans to scrap GCSE. It would, according to them, be replaced with an English version of the Baccalaureate (E-Bac). Apparently its purpose is to raise the academic standards of England, which everyone acknowledges have been dropping for decades.

(What follows is just my opinion. Remember, I’m in my mid 20s so I did GCSEs & A-levels)

There will be no real difference. All it amounts to is changing the name. It won’t result in any raising of standards because it will still completely fail to address the reasons for the poor standards. These reasons include but aren’t limited to:


  • Primary & secondary schools are boring. There was once a time when children had all kinds of extracurricular activities, like kayaking and martial arts. I’d have loved to do something like that! Now extracurricular activities are rare, and they still do much of the same things they’d do in school. This gives the impression that school is never-ending and you never get a rest from it. 
  • No freedom. Children are made to do subjects with no explanation of why they’re important (no, the “it’s to teach them necessary workplace skills” line doesn’t cut it for most), and leaves us with no real desire to succeed. If, for example, a 10yo girl wants to become a TV director and schools don’t teach that (which they don’t), what’s she to do? Just shut up and put up with a subject that holds no importance to her, and she may actively dislike. 
  • The media, more now than ever before, discourages children from academic pursuits. How many educational TV shows exist nowadays? And think about this – why should anyone want to spend 7 years in secondary school learning science & a further 7 years in uni doing medicine to become a doctor when David Beckham & Olly Murs*, for example, can just get on TV & get untold millions? Millions of pounds and fans, that is. 

*Or Pamela Anderson

Then there’s the fact that the media portrays yobs, gangstas, chavs and the rest as normal decent people. If children are made to believe parties are more enjoyable than algebra, it’ll take some work to convince them otherwise. And no-one is doing that work. 

    • Many teachers themselves don’t care about students. Of course this doesn’t apply to all teachers, maybe not even most, but enough to warrant mention. Teaching is just a job, for most it’s nothing to get passionate about. There are too few teachers willing to try to make the lessons fun, partially because some teachers actually don’t know that much about &/or dislike the subjects they teach (wtf?) and partially because some of them are just lazy. Some actively dislike the children, calling them idiots, failures, etc. and get away with it. 

The Inbetweeners‘ Mr Kennedy. He has an active dislike of most of his students, and if you think he’s kidding he assures you he is not

  • The goal of education. Children know the only reason for school nowadays is to learn skills to enter the workplace. Even if it did that well (which it doesn’t), why should children – who aren’t old enough to work – care about the workplace? Most of them don’t even know what they want to do when they are old enough to work, and the phenomenon of young adults going through life with no ambition or certainty of what to do is infamous. On top of that, the concept of making us “able to compete in the global market” is bantered around a lot, but why should the global market or the economy matter to us? What fulfillment can we get out of it? That’s conveniently left unanswered. 
  • The structure of the system. The fact that we have a difference in standards between public and private schools says it all. Private schools are paid for and thus guaranteed to give children good academic standing. Public schools, not so much. On top of that, GCSE grades are useless for the workplace. Even A-levels and uni degrees have lost much of their value. So what’s the point of school & uni? 
  • Parents’ failures. England has too pervasive a culture of people sleeping around, getting pregnant & not knowing how to raise the offspring, which often means they don’t see it as their responsibility to educate them. Education starts in the home but too many don’t understand that; they think that’s the schools’ & government’s job. Even for those parents who mean well, the cost of living has gone up so much that even with mum and dad working full-time they struggle to pay the bills which leaves them with precious little time & energy to teach their children anything valuable. Then there’s the booze-bingeing, drinking for the sake of getting drunk, which has been part of English culture for centuries. Despite the known medical effects of alcohol, it’s still seen as good fun for teens to get “smashed”, so drunk they don’t even know their way home let alone what 2 x 0 equals. 

Hooray for booze!!!

  • Ignorance of how to cater to children’s individual needs. It’s rather well documented now that all people have 3 main ways of learning: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) & kinaesthetic (touching/ feeling/ moving). Most people predominate in one style, usually visual but even so everyone relies on all 3 to some extent. No school in England trains teachers how to cater for all 3 types, only visual & auditory. This means some kids are left unable to “get a feel” for the subjects (if you tend to use phrases like this, it’s a good clue you’re probably kinaesthetic). 

For these reasons, and probably more, I don’t see how changing the GCSE for the E-Bac will make any difference to English children’s academic achievements. If anyone has opinions on this topic I invite discussion. 

REPOST: Bajan Sitcom To Hit UK Screens (originally posted 9/5/13)

(taken from today’s issue of The Voice newspaper, the UK’s most popular paper reporting on issues affecting the ‘black’ community of England. Can be viewed on their site at this link


A NEW Caribbean sitcom will make history next week, when it becomes the first Bajan series to be shown on UK television.

Keeping Up With The Joneses is a popular series from Barbados and will launch on The Africa Channel next Monday (May 13.)

The sitcom follows the Jones family, who reluctantly become the subjects of a reality show called Life & Times in the Caribbean. It requires that a camera crew follow the family around and film their every move.

Irving, the patriarch of the family, signs the contract to do the show against his wife Angela’s wishes. Now, the couple and their two children – 17-year-old daughter Tracy and 10-year-old son Nathan – have to co-exist, while looking good for the cameras, which results in embarrassing encounters and hilariously awkward TV moments.

Keeping Up With The Joneses attracted record audiences when it was aired by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation channel in 2011 and 2012, and became hugely popular in Barbados.

All 15 30-minute episodes will now air on The Africa Channel, bringing Caribbean flavour to UK screens.

Keeping Up With The Joneses will air daily from May 13 on The Africa Channel, Sky channel 209 and Virgin channel 828. Visit


Damn! I want to see that! But I can’t because I don’t have Virgin or Sky!!! I hope the website will be good and working.

How did misogyny begin?

 I admit, this post is not going to give a definitive answer. It’s speculative and incomplete, and I invite others to share any knowledge they have. This is just what I know about it…
Misogyny is the denigration of the female sex, the more common form of sexism. It can be – and is – manifested as disrespect, sexual objectification, violence, discrimination and/ or general belief in females as inferior. The technical definition is hatred but honestly I never see anyone who actually hates females*, at least not around me. It’s been around a long time, longer than the current globalised racism (which began when Europeans decided it was their right to conquer and rule the world, just over 500 years ago). Probably the only form of oppression that’s lasted longer and had more devastating effects is classism. It takes so many different forms all over the world:
* BUT the level of disrespect some men have for women can be pretty much the same as hatred.
  • Female foetuses being aborted just because they’re female in present-day Bangladesh and pre-Islamic  Arabia (though in Arabia they did it by burying newborn girls alive; they didn’t have abortion back then),
  • Kidnapping young girls from their families, also in present-day Bangladesh and pre-Islamic Arabia to balance out the male:female ratio. However, while Bengalis do it to each other, ancient Arabs did it to European and African women,
  • Women being forbidden to vote due to a belief they’re too stupid to make important decisions for their country in C19 & C20 (19th & 20th century) England,
  • Women and girls being called bitches, hos, sluts, gashes, etc, in present-day America & England by gangstafied men. Gangstafied is my shorthand for people, in this case men (usually young) & boys, who emulate contemporary rappers/ hip-hop artists,
  • School-age girls being forbidden from education in Taliban-run Afghanistan,
  • Headscarves being forbidden from public wear by Muslim women in present-day France,
  • The witch hunts & trials of C15-C18 (15th to 18th century) Europe and America,
  • ‘Black’ and mulatta women being regularly impregnated via rape by ‘white’ slavers in TAST-era America,
  • Women being called non-humans and/ or property by ancient Greek & Roman philosophers,
  • Women in general receiving less pay for the same job and same level of competence as their male counterparts in present-day English and American work places,
…and many many others. I would also include the global porn & prostitution industry (regardless of whether the women join voluntarily or not) because it promotes the image of women as nothing but passive receptacles of man-meat. Or anything shaped like it. The ultimate form of sexual objectification.
I admit, misogyny has me stumped. Why did so many men all over the world decide that women are to get worse treatment than men? Many historical reasons have been proposed:

  • The Judeo-Christian belief in Satan tempting Eve who then tempted Adam to eat from the forbidden tree,
  • The Greek myth of Pandora and the jar (not box) she must never open – but she did,
  • The Jewish mythical figure Lilith (the true 1st woman) who refused to let Adam lie on top of her during intercourse,

and others. I reckon those are all parts of the equation, but these are all myths that try to justify mistreatment of women. In order to justify a position you must first conceive then accept it, and the thing that seems to be missed is how that position was conceived in the first place, and why it became so accepted pretty much all over the world.

Some say misogyny is rooted more in fear than actual hatred of women. How true that is I don’t know. It would make sense if there were some kind of historical context in which this claim could be placed, like maybe matriarchs having authority that some men decided they wanted and were willing to overthrow & suppress the matriarchs to do it.   Recently I read an interesting book called Vagina by Naomi Wolf, and she posits that the vagina is a direct link to the female brain. When a woman’s vagina is healthy she is more intelligent, caring, creative, happy, etc, and when it’s unhealthy she becomes the opposite. It can become ‘unhealthy’ via verbal assaults on her femaleness (eg. being called bitch, ho and the rest) both deliberate and accidental, feeling ashamed of herself, normal day-to-day stressors, or even simple medical issues that interfere with proper neural function (as happened to Naomi herself). This would explain why when men in history sought to break women’s spirits they tended to do it through sexual assault of some kind. And, unfortunately, it often works much better than any other kind of assault. Men and women alike seem to instinctively (not consciously for the most part) know of this vagina-brain link, but only now it is gaining scientific explanation and recognition.
Considering all the things men have done to women throughout history, we men have a lot to answer for. To be honest I understand why some of them don’t like us. I think if we really cared about women we’d stop doing whatever in the list we do.

The horse meat scandal!!! (originally posted 21/2/13)

Note: I originally posted this on 21/2/13 so the info may be out of date. Plus, people may have forgotten about it)

Findus Beef Lasagne.

Cow meat content: 0 – 40%

Horse meat content: 60 – 100%

Everyone in England has heard of the horse meat scandal by now. It’s been in the news and on the radios for weeks now. Turns out meat that we thought was pig or sheep or chicken is in many cases any combination of those plus another Brits don’t eat willingly: HORSE.

Apparently because our meat’s been coming from all over the continent (Romania, France, Germany, Ireland) it may take a while to determine exactly where the horse meat came from. The answer so far seems to be horses stolen from Irish farms and/ or horses from mainland Europe being ground down into filler for other meats, and in some cases deliberately mislabelled as other red meats. With the sheer depth of this scandal I’m surprised Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver haven’t said anything yet.

Or should that be, we’ve not heard them say anything yet?

Mr Oliver, what have you to say

about the horse meat scandal?


Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall, what have you to say

about the horse meat scandal?


I admit, it doesn’t affect me much because I don’t eat conventional meat (not halal). However, I’m disgusted all the same. Not at the local butchers or anyone here because you can’t really blame them; if they’re being given meat and told it’s beef or pork what reason would they have to doubt it? The blame lies with whoever the rogue criminals are, trying to keep their costs down by duping a whole string of countries. This does, nevertheless, give local farmers a very firm leg to stand on; at least they know what they’re selling because they’ve seen and slaughtered it themselves.

One thing I’m kind of confused about is this: is this scandal so shocking because of the deceit involved, or because eating horse is just “not British”? Apparently this is not the 1st such horse meat scandal in England/ Britain; since the 1930s it’s merely been taboo/ unfashionable (but never illegal unless not listed).

If anyone has any comments on this please reply below.

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