Category Archives: London Life

Autumnal Adjusting

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autumnAutumn has hit the Rock, which I all find a tad confusing. Those leisurely days of summer, when the main issues were which party and/ or beach gathering to attend and if there were enough supplies of intoxicating means, are over. And then the weather does confusing things. One day it’s windy, wet, wear-your-wellies weather, a few days later flip flop wear is totally justified. Don´t get me wrong, flip flop weather in November is fan-fucking-tastic. I just wish there was a bit more consistency to it, ´cause since leaving London Town I got a tad out of touch with mercurial weather patterns.

I was just reminded that tonight is Guy Fawkes night. In case you´re not British, haven´t lived in the UK or haven´t seen the film V for Vendetta, on 5 November bonfires are lit across the UK to celebrate the failing of the gun powder plot, which was a conspiracy to kill King James I. The gun powder plot was very much set in a religious context as the conspirators were all catholics, who wanted to get rid of the protestant  king and replace him with a catholic head of state. Although the celebration of Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night, named after the member of the plot who was arrested while guarding  the explosives to kill the king, has lost much of its religious context, I´m not much into tribalism, religious or otherwise. And although I do like a good bonfire, as a republican I´m not quite sure why it’s jolly to celebrate we still have to deal with an entity like the monarchy in the 21st century. But who cares about that. The bonfires are just too pretty and tradition can be very soothing.

On a different note, I´m also quite desperate to get away, as with the arrival of the new season I´ve started suffering from island fever. I´m planning a massive winter escape to the Americas from January till May ,which is to keep me going.

Meanwhile man bites dog, ISIS keeps on spreading manufactured terror and former hero Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to a rather meagre 5 years for killing a person with dum dum bullets -those ones that explode upon impact- through a locked door. He is likely to only serve half of it. They call it justice. The prosecution is to appeal the verdict. I´m not saying that the judge has not been thorough in her ruling, it just seems that so-called justice has little to do with justice and the more with playing a game according to certain rules.

At the same time UK Prime Minister David Cameron continues to make an absolute twat of himself. I know by now that political leaders are not supposed to have a vision for our benefit, but at least they could pretend to make their form of showbiz look good, but helas. While Cameron is by no means a Eurosceptic he pretends he is, because that seems popular at the moment with the Eurosceptic UK Indepence Party, UKIP, on the rise in the polls and all that. He is trying really hard, or so we are to believe, to renegotiate the terms of EU membership. And in case you hadn’t heard, he is making a right mess out of it. As a EU citizen in London Town I was obviously very keen for the UK to remain a member state of the EU. Now, I ain´t too bothered. Not only because I escaped the meteorological and economic gloominess of the British Isles, but also because I think there is very little chance of the UK actually leaving the European Project. It´s not because I’m convinced a majority would vote to remain in. It´s because the ´powers that be´ wouldn’t have it, so it won´t be happening. In corporate sectors there is too much at stake. The markets don’t like radical change. Will London remain to be the financial power house if it’s no longer part of the EU?

First we have to see if the nations will actually get their referendum on EU membership as promised. Politicians have an abysmall record when it comes to keeping promises, so when twat Cameron is indeed voted back into power, if he´ll still be leader of the Conservatives, but that is another issue, it´s very likely he will forget all about any sort of plebiscite. Even if there will be referendum, I’m sure the establishment, which includes mainstream media, will go on a scaremongering campaign to deter the electorate from voting ‘out’. If that will not lead to the desired result, some irregularities will take place. I mean, what do we, the sheeple, know, about how free and fair our elections are. There is too much at stake for the elite forces for any member-country to leave the EU. If the UK leaves, which countries would follow?

I do hope I’m wrong about this and that the British people will be granted an EU exit if a majority were to vote in favour of it. I’ve just come rather cynical when it comes to democratic processes and the idea that the media are some sort of independent watchdog of democracy. It’s all bollocks, you see. I´m by no means less interested in the news and current affairs. It just instead of giving a Dark Fairy analysis of what I thought was genuine activity has just become analysis of the same issues through a different prism. And although the view might be darker, I’ve got the feeling a see a lot more clearly now.

And a belated Happy New Year to you all.

image: http://daviddukephotography.blogspot.com/

The Island in One’s Mind

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island2When I left London Town to settle on the Rock I moved from one island to another. From one that used to rule half the world to another much smaller one that used to be ruled by half the world. The weather and the quality of life might be a lot better on that smaller island, however, both pieces of land suffer from island mentality at different stages of severity, despite both countries being exposed to plenty of foreigners.

As former British colonies gained independence and initially all citizens of those lands were free to enter, live and work in Britain, the country has experienced a steady stream of migrants from all over the world. As Britain and its capital developed in the post-colonial era and the English language had become the lingua franca since the Second World War, not only people from former colonies flocked to the British Isles. Despite these foreign influences the UK still suffers from island mentality: calling continental Europe ´Europe´ as if the country weren’t part of it, but a continent on its own, having been a reluctant member of the EU since it joined the Union´s predecessor the EEC in 1973 and just wanting to do things differently believing it is still a superior force in the world.

 Malta has been ruled by several foreign powers including the British. Many Maltese almost seem proud to have been colonised by British folk, which I find, having parents from post-colonial states, rather peculiar. Despite a history of foreign rule, an influx of tourists from all corners of the globe and the presence of a considerable amount of migrants and foreign workers, quite a few of the natives suffer from proper island mentality. I guess they can´t help it. Although the place is small many people who were born and raised in a certain locality tend to stay there for the rest of their life. Dark Fairies are still considered rather exotic, attitudes are conservative to some- divorce got legalised only a few years ago and abortion is illegal- and provinciality is almost an art form.

 Island living can give you island fever and I was warned of this condition before moving to the Rock. I have submitted myself to something I called a hermit month, in which I don’t go out to increase focus and save some funds. So, without exploring the island further, engaging in few to no social events, my world has become particularly small as I work, live, do my shopping and go the gym within an area of less than 200m² (no joke). As my hermit month is coming to an end and I am in desperate need of some exploration, which will be happening throughout party month December, I’ve come to think that island mentality and island fever is not necessarily determined by place, but is mostly in the mind.

When I lived in that most vibrant City of Cities I suffered from the same phenomenon. London might not be an island, but it is a cosmopolitan bubble. London is not England or Great Britain, it’s an entity of its own, where its residents suffer from its own superiority complex and many don’t venture out to the peripheries. In the cosmopolitan bubble of London  there is also this urge to escape all the metropolitan action now and again.

 Island mentality might keep you safe, but often this is a false safety, which can lead to island fever. To the Dark Fairy life is about exploration and although one might have the need to retreat to an island of one´s own, I sure need to come off it, if only once in a while. Not only to keep my sense of sanity and fun, but also to keep exploring. The essence of progression and innovation is discovering and learning new things. So bollocks to island fever in the name of new Dark Fairy Adventures and let the exploration continue.

Tired of London, in Need of Sunny Life

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move2maltamarsaslokkmaltaThe quote “when a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life”  was famously uttered by Samuel Johnson, who was discussing with his friend and fellow writer James Boswell whether London is more attractive to the visitor or to the resident. Now, for more than a decade I have been a big fan of London and while others have come and gone, as the City of Cities is a highly transitional place, I stayed put for quite a while. Until recently that is.

I might be a(n almost) recovered news junkie, I still consume the diet offered by a small selection of UK newspapers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m looking in from the outside, but the UK seems even more gloomy than it did when I lived there only a couple of months ago. Gloom tends to dominate the news as apparently, like sex,  it sells. But what impact are stories on economic gloom including  a sluggish labour market, high youth unemployment, a squeezed middle, an increasing underclass and an inaccessible housing market in London topped off with average weather supposed to have on Londoners and other UK residents? It’s not only the UK that seems bleak. Other nations in Europe seem to be in crisis as well and the mighty US of A ain’t grooving as a super power should either. You almost wonder if all those people from outside Fort Europe, who are desperate to get in, got it all wrong. They’re having this idea of the fabulous West as if it were Eldorado. But Europe has been stagnant- if not declining- for quite some time while several nations in the East and the Global South are booming. I wonder if I had the same misconception about London. As the economic and cultural capital of Europe it sure is the place to be. Growing up as  a Dark Fairy in provincial and predominantly  white settings, arriving in the City of Cities was like arriving in this delicious haven of diversity and opportunities, where no one has to feel left out. The idea of that delicious haven of diversity and opportunities is true to a certain extent. Diverse with opportunities it certainly is, but one sure can feel left out. Not only is London one of the most expensive cities in Fort Europe, it also attracts a lot of people with plenty of talent and drive and if you lack behind it is easy to miss out.

As I arrived in Malta on a late Sunday morning I was shocked by how quiet it was on the streets and wondered if I’d done the right thing. But while adapting to my new rock of residence I was highly surprised by how little I thought of the place I just left behind. That place that always had a special place in my heart. Question of out of sight, out of mind?

Perhaps it was just a sign that it was really high time for me to go. I have always known that London is not for everyone and for a long time I felt it was most definitely for me. But times change and people change. London might be as vibrant as it was in Dr. Johnson’s age,  it now is an entirely different place. The Rock is so much smaller. Although international it lacks the cosmopolitan excitement and Dark Fairies are considered a tat more exotic. But I guess I was in high need of some economic and Mediterranean sunshine to wash away the tiredness I inflicted upon myself by means of London living. If the cliche is true that life’s a journey, I guess we should just keep on moving. And perhaps Johnson’s quote is not applicable to Dark Fairies after all.

image below: Jason Hawkes/guardian.com

Tower Bridge

Pedal Power and the Art of Resilience

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ijsfiets

Although I might sound like I was reared in the Sexy South of our fabulous town, when it comes to my daily commute and getting around in general I wear my Dutchness on my sleeve; think bike all the way, come rain come shine, day or night. Besides it being quick it appeals to my occasionally stingy nature as public transport is not only a bore, it cost far more than pedal power. The sky needs to fall on our heads – or roads not having been gritted at sub-zero temperature and being dangerously icy and/or slushy- for me to resort to public transport. But yesterday I just had it. Half way through my daily commute the strong icy, wind touched a certain nerve. I abandoned the road, parked my two-wheeled monster and continued the journey by public transport.

Winter is rather reluctant to make way for more spring-like weather as half the nation is emerged in snow and most areas suffer from what feels like sub-zero temperatures. It has been three years since I spent winter at the African Med and the notion of a winter with temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius has been squatting my mindset ever since and has little inclination of vacating. I’m telling you, I’m truly suffering. I was wondering whether not being willing to pedal come rain- come shine anymore has something to do with ‘growing up’, like you might get fed up with the backpacking experience after a certain age. Or maybe I can no longer ignore what effect the weather has on my constitution. As human animals we bear the sun and warmth scarcity of winter as there is the promise of waxing light and increasing temperatures a few months later. We no longer expect politicians to put their money where their pre-election mouth is, but if nature fails to deliver on its promises I, as a Dark Fairy creature, am quite at loss. Nature seems rather spooked out and global weather patterns are going cuckoo all over the place. Am I truly supposed to remain unaffected?

Then there is the economic climate which affects some more than others. Despite having limited my news diet considerably it’s not always easy to escape the economic doom and gloom.

Adversity, minor or major, is a pain in the ass to say the least. Within most belief system it is taken as true that adversity is to strengthen us and make us better people.

For quite a while I have had the desire to spend winter in warmer climates. This desire was reinforced when I got a taste of pleasant winter weather during my time at the Med. In the meantime ‘life got in the way’ while I didn’t stop whining about naff winters and unconvincing springs and summers.  Yet, if my pedal power and especially my mental resilience can no longer beat the weather it’s a sign that enough is enough. Something’s gotta give, something needs to change. I am to stop whining and work on Project Winter Escape. From this Project I am to draw energy and resilience; while I might be suffering now I am working on a brighter future which I am soon to enjoy. Adversity might be in our lives to strengthen us, it also might gives us that extra push for change. By lack of sunshine, warmer temperatures and upbeat economic news let us make provisions and practice resilience. Devise your own escape plan, either physically or mentally and let’s pedal on.

Project Winter Escapefiets bikini

woman on beach

On Skyfall and Fabulous Living

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31 October has many names; some call it All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. Some call it Samhain (say saveen or sowwen). My dear friend Rick from Lowlands country calls it his birthday and popular Anglo-Saxon culture calls it Halloween. For the Dark Fairy it’s a time to reflect on the results in her life and prepare the soil for a juicier harvest when the wheel has made another turn.

It might have been more than two years since I left the cultural desert called Alexandria. And even having recently moved back to Da Hood, close to the best cinema in South London I fail to express my love of film by watching magical creations of light on the silver screen. I’m a big Bond fan however, and have been looking forward to the latest instalment for quite some time. I’m not too much of a fan of crowed cinemas so I choose a midday screening – which was busy enough- to enjoy the fruit of some cinematic labour in celebration of 50 years of Bond, and boy, is it sweet. Even Adele’s theme song which I wasn’t too impressed with initially, fits perfectly well with the action, the cool, and the hidden humanity that is Bond.  Skyfall is a deliciously entertaining 21st century Bond, looking back at the old and introducing the new. It raises the issue of when the old are no longer considered the experienced ones but mastodons from a bygone age no longer suitable for current times. Q has become a young genius yet not infallible geek and Miss Moneypenny had a rather funky make over. Daniel Craig’s Bond is übercool, yet o-so hot as ever. Although the exotic locations are still part of the mix – Shanghai looking particularly spectacular- it’s very much a British based affair with London looking stately and gloomy. Skyfall, in my opinion the best Bond to date, is about actions having consequences, whether one regrets these actions or not. 

As I’m looking back and accepting the consequences of my (in)actions, I’m gearing up for another turn of the wheel. A wise woman taught me today that fabulous living is a state and a practice. Let’s get into the habit of tilting the soil and paying attention to the roots to produce the juiciest of fruits of charmed living.
Blessed Samhain  

 

The Greatest Show on Earth

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In the seven years of preparation I have always seen the Olympic Games as an expensive nuisance to the city rather than an honour. Costs went three times over budget and funds allocated to local sports facilities and the arts had been cut to feed the money sucking beast called the Olympic Games. Then someone decided to use the most uninspiring scribble ever to be designed as the logo for London 2012. The country went into recession while the preparation of the most expensive show on earth continued. The ticket lottery seemed a silly operation as a large proportion of tickets were alllocated to corporate sponsors and many ordinary people were left out. Then one day en route to work in a strategic part of the City leading to Tower Hill and further east, the Olympic lanes were taken into operation and a line of poles had been placed in the middle of the road with the result that I was stuck in traffic like I were a common motorised vehicle. That was truly taking the biscuit. Cyclist stuck in traffic, what is next, Boris Johnson becoming a socialist?! The 70-days torch relay could by no means get me into to the mood and G4S’ cock up and looming strikes of border and train staff were not helping either. But then on one hot summer’s day the Olympic flame past through my Hood. Everyone was so excited and it gave a perfect vibe of what my neighbourhood and this part of my beloved city has got to offer and why I love it so much. Was I about to catch the Olympic bug- finally?

Then Friday came, the day of the opening ceremony and I thought to feel a vibe of anticipation and excitement throughout the city, but maybe that was just me. The Big question was if London could truly match the spectacle we had witnessed in Beijing four years ago. An hour past midnight, more than four hours after the start of the opening ceremony I seemed to understand what they meant with the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’. It was spectacular, off-beat, funny, rock-and-roll, moving, inclusive, inspiring and just incredibly entertaining. The show led us from rural, pre-industrial times, to the achievements and pains of the Industrial Revolution with giant chimneys raising out of the ground and workers forging the five Olympic rings that rose up into the air and rained fireworks, continuing with the time of the suffragettes and the arrival of the Windrush. A tribute was paid to the NHS and British children’s literature, while agent double 0 seven, Mr. James Bond picked up the queen- played by herself!- from Buckingham palace to escort her by helicopter to the Olympic Stadium where she arrived by parachute while a choir of deaf kids sang the national anthem. Then there was David Beckham, too cool for school, cruising the Thames on a speed boat with young footballer Jade Bailey holding the Olympic torch. A musical medley featuring fabulous British tracks from across the decades was the soundtrack to a celebration of modern culture and our digital age with a tribute to the inventor of the world wide web Tim Berners-Lee. Rowan Atkinson had his moment as Mr. Bean and there was a moment of commemoration by means of a beautiful choreography of those who had passed over. As these people were unspecified it could have referred to those who lost their lives in the 7/7 bombings the day after London won the bid or the athletes who died in terrorist attack during the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. The Arctic Monkey’s brought some edge and rock and roll to the spectacle while Paul McCarthy brought the show to a close with the Beatles’ sing-along Hey Jude.

The parade of athletes was long, yet I was entertained by the outfits and I was pleasantly surprised about how good-looking many athletes are, while every team was accompanied by a young person holding a mysterious copper petal.

The flame was carried into the stadium by Steve Redgrave who ran past a guard of honour consisting of those responsible for the construction of the stadium. The lighting of the Olympic cauldron was truly remarkable. Seven young athletes who had been nominated by veterans like Kelly Holmes and Lynne Davies took over the flame from Steve Redgrave an ignited the copper petals that were now part of a beautiful work of art. Once all 204 petals representing the competing nations were ignited they rose and converged to form a cauldron containing the Olympic blaze.

Perhaps The Games are a big conspiracy between corporate enterprise, the government and the IOC at the expense of the woman and man in the street. Perhaps the ‘great honour’ is nothing but an illusion most of us bought into and which is costing us dearly. However, especially in these challenging times we need to be inspired, entertained and feel good about ourselves. The opening ceremony was a fabulous party showing us and the world that it is our diversity, our humour, our literature, our music, our film, our quirkiness, our edge and our athletes that make London and Britain great. I hope the Prime Minister and his croonies have paid attention and have been inspired too as current policies go against the celebration of inclusivity and acknowledgement that the future lies with the next generation.

Last night I was entertained, inspired and very proud to be a Londoner and as a non-Brit very proud to be part of British culture.

image: weblo.com

Get Up, Stand Up

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After a week in which the financial sector quite visibly reared its ugly head yet again, Nadal will no longer entertain us on the greenish grass of the All-England Club and Italy played the match of the year against Spain, my working life of a 70 hour work week has almost come to an end. Summer is still rather reluctant to manifest itself and since a year has past since I sat my final exams, I perhaps can no longer call myself a fresh graduate. In that year I have been able to experience what they mean with ‘tough market conditions’, that pursuing one’s ideal working life is a career in itself and that optimism can make you look like a d*ck. Graduate life one year on and where does one go from here. I’ve considered transferring myself to sunnier shores, where they charge lower rent and political leaders are less busy f*cking over the electorate. But where does one go if one loves the vibe and cultural inclusion of the City of Cities? A flight is often not the answer, so I’ll stick with it. Get up,stand up, stand up for your right to the good life and don’t let the climate get you down.