The Loneliness of Flat Sharing in London

One of my friends lives in Bermondsey and I visit him occasionally round on his ‘flat-sharing journey’.

I don’t know if it is a ‘London thing’, but people who share houses do not want speak to each other, other than to say a weak ‘Good Morning’, talk about rent, the rota to tidy the house, talk banally about work, discuss getting stuff for the garden or to communicate by passive aggressive notes scribbled on the communal table. There is no other variation. I have had this ‘conversation’ a million times.

You would think that you would learn new things from other flatmates, learn about the area you have moved in, maybe be taken out to somewhere local, have some friendship perhaps. Have some laughs would be nice. I suppose one reason why conversations are so fake, is that there are often no communal living rooms any more, and people just watch TV or do stuff in their rooms.

I had an experience recently, when a flatmate that I say a Good Morning to, didn’t even say anything to me whilst I was in a communal area, as ‘if I was not there’. Automatically I thought I had done something or he hated me!

When I travelled round the world, particularly in Australia, if we were congregating round the kitchen, we generally would speak, make new friendships, learn about the town we were in, and that sort of thing. It was like a ‘family away from family’. And in America, we would talk too. But no, we’re in Britain, and we have to be cold and unfriendly.

Now, I can understand a ‘neighbour-like’ experience when you live in the same tower block, and share communal stairways and live very privately, you have a kind of ‘distance’, but when you are in a rented flat, and you share bathrooms and kitchens, which is more ‘intimate’, one would expect a more friendlier, homelier feel.

In my experience, the lack of conversation is particularly noticeable when you get couples sharing a flat. Couples will appear to pretend the other couple is not there. Maybe it is a case of one person may be inclined to ‘fancy another flatmate’ which could be a problem to someone. Of course, in most cases, the couple in question is very happy as they are.

You could think perhaps that some couples, as often they share similar hobbies perhaps, could go out on a foursome round London and do something together, make lasting friendships. But no, in London, couples appear to refuse to mix with other flatmates. It feels like they want all the house to themselves, and we are a nuisance.

So, in this flat, we have this kind of ‘superficial relationship’, the ‘superficial hellos’ and the lack of real conversation. It is not just lonely, it just feels unnatural and inhuman. For people in a flat on their own, with other couples, it can get very lonely and/or boring. Many of us are far away from our own family and friends too. I tend to get on better with single people in flats, rather than couples, who seem to be locked in some kind of narrow ‘couple zone’.

And of course, when flatmates go, they never even leave any contact details. You are just nothing to them. The place they live in, is not a home, it is just a ‘base’, and that is it.

Maybe this is yet another British thing, that it is ‘not done’ to mix with other flatmates, even if you have loads in common. Right now, I don’t want to go back in the kitchen and have yet another ‘fake’ experience. I wonder what other cultures think about this behaviour.

UK: Sickle Cell: Black Blood Donors urgently wanted for NHS Blood Service

The NHS Blood Service urgently need 40,000 new black donors to help save the lives of patients with sickle cell disease.

To sign up, go to http://bit.ly/2rZVwib to book an appointment or you can call them on 0300 123 23 23

You will get FREE refreshments, crisps and biscuits. Let me know if you have booked an appointment!

I am a blood donor and I have helped countless people, and you can to. #imthere

Camden: Households refusing to leave unsafe towerblocks are being ‘Selfish’

Of course, it is annoying and inconvenient to be kicked out of your home so late, and not wondering where you will stay. It is an emergency situation, this is what happens. It is not ideal.

Should there be a fire, they will put firefighters at risk too, not to mention any visitors who would be up there with them. They are delaying any safety works being done to the properties. If it happened to me, yes, it would be inconvenient but it would be an ‘adventure’ and it would be interesting meeting other members of the block, particularly as many would not even know each other. Whatever happened to the ‘Blitz Spirit?’

One news article said that as much as 83 people are refusing to leave the tower blocks. They are being childish and inconsiderate. It is all ‘me, me’. Of course, the Council should have made the property safe in the first place, but that is another issue. The Council can force them to leave so there is no point whatsoever playing ‘stick in the mud’. They remind me of those people who get flooded and refuse to leave, despite the emergency services asking them to.

London: Visit to #Grenfelltower Rest Centre

KENSINGTON: I dropped off some donations to the Rest Centre to help the trauma victims’ mental health. The Red Cross volunteers were still there, manning desks, as well as several Grenfell Fire staff in Hi-Viz who were very helpful and friendly.

PHOTO (below): Wellbeing donations to the Rest Centre:

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The whole street had tributes and flowers. People put posters on postboxes, trees, by cashpoints, on rails, on shop windows and telephone boxes in order to ‘communicate’ to the community, as there appeared to be no proper community noticeboard, as far as I could see. Several members of the community had provided Offers of help by the Rest Centre on a wall which was nice. There was a really warm community spirit. Some people offered accommodation and food, while others offered help with free grant applications and legal advice. A stall was set up to give drinks and food to people, but though they gave some to us, we turned it down so that people who really needed it could have them. The Methodist church had many tributes by it and there was a marked boundary on the road by it, saying ‘press ban’.

You could smell a little bit of the burned building in the air.

There were many posters of missing people on shops and on windows outside houses. Some also had a photo of a missing long haired black and white chihuahua that was lost in the Fire. A young child who had survived the fire, was desperately looking for it and asked the public for help. (I have contacted various animal centres to see if they have seen it.

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Below: GRAFFITI spotted in the area

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UPDATE: I came back later in the Saturday evening to find out that, once again, a council flat in Bethnal Green had caught fire and I could see smoke from it in the air.

Homemade ‘Pirate Treasure’ Ice Lolly – Review

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I was inspired by the Caribbean and pirates to make this summer lolly. The dairy yoghurt symbolised ‘Europe’, the journey the Pirates came from, and ginger beer and bananas from the Caribbean. My father gave me some real ‘pirate treasure’ once and this ice lolly gives me memories of him too. The chocolate ‘coin’ is for the ‘treasure’. So, it was quite a fun one to make.

Ingredients (eyeball)

Natural Yoghurt
Honey
Ginger Beer
Mashed Banana
A chocolate coin (without the metal wrapping)
Optional: yellow food colouring (it can be a bit strong, so watch out)

Use an ice lolly mould (use more if you want to share). Store them in the freezer when you need them.

Mix the ingredients and add the chocolate coin afterwards and put in the freezer for a few hours.

REVIEW: 9/10 I probably used too much ginger beer (just go easy) which can make it a bit watery, but if you use less and mix the yoghurt and honey well, it will turn out very nice. The ginger beer really gives its Caribbean magic.

PS Hello to the Jamaican’s reading things (I am a huge fan of ginger too)

Kent: Passengers on South Eastern Railway take their dogs to work today

It is National #Takeyourdogtowork day which is great for mental health in the workplace, and gets the dog out too, and, of course, immensely spoiled.

I was pleased to see some railway passengers taking their beagle to work this morning, on my way to London Bridge. The lady took the dog after 10am and avoided the crowded rush hour so he was quite comfortable.

Hope to see more and more people take their dogs to work, perhaps more often than a day, to help animal welfare charities and reduce workplace stress and sickness. It also makes the workplace more fun and ‘human’.

To take part next year, keep a note of this website: https://bringyourdogtoworkday.co.uk/ for details.

England: “Because it’s Tradition”, we do weird & stupid things.

LONDON:

I always find that State Opening of Parliament fills me with nausea. We have this cringeworthy spectacle for an unelected woman to make a speech in Parliament, a supposed democratic institution. (hello?) Is it just me to thinks this is weird?. The mass media never talk about this. It is like the elephant in the room.

Then I also get annoyed that the soldiers in their bearskin hats are outside Parliament in a 32C heatwave, and are not being allowed to take them off ‘because of tradition’. It is just ‘not good form’ to do that. So soldiers are expected to faint instead. What kind of culture are we in? The class system is plain stupid. What kind of army leaders do we have? What, a ‘real soldier’ doesn’t take his bearskin off? The Queen didn’t seem bothered at all that they were very uncomfortable. Well, she is of a different generation. After all these years, they still make soldiers keep them on. Why don’t soldiers stand up to this nonsense – they are probably court martialled if they do, or bullied.

Even 91-year-olds like the Queen should not be out in a heatwave, on the ‘hottest day of the year’ and the NHS encourages us all to ‘check on their neighbours’ and to keep out of the sun from 11-3pm. Haven’t we forgotten that we are human? In countries like Spain, they have siestas for times like this, but no, we English go ‘out in the Midday Sun’ as the song says. And a lot of the time, we don’t even wear hats either to protect us from the high UV levels, which again, the Government warns us out. Some Brits have second degree burns because they don’t even use any sun protection, unlike people in other hot countries.

What about the emergency services who are inundated with people ignoring Government public health heatwave advice? Why don’t public health warnings apply supposed old people like the Queen? Why couldn’t the Queen just get Prince Charles do her job, at least she wouldn’t be out in the heat getting roasted? No, the Queen has to be out in a heatwave at 91 years old, ‘because it is tradition’, and even then, she’s stubborn enough to be out there during this time because ‘she wants to’.

I understand that the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, has been taken to hospital yet the Queen would appear to be at the State Opening of Parliament, instead of being with him during the day. And, after that, she even went to Ascot in the heatwave. All because she cannot upset ‘tradition’.

Horses should not be racing on the hottest day of the year either, and she is supposed to be a horsewoman. Horse.com advise “Know your horse and signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke can happen anytime your horse is exposed to excessive heat that his body cannot handle. Heatstroke can happen if exercising in hot conditions, but be aware that it can also happen if standing in a hot stall or trailer.” I am at a stables, we keep our horses cool, and none of them have even been out riding in the heat today. The racing industry can be appalling and greedy. The Queen should not be encouraging racing in this weather too. Why not have race times only in the cooler part of the day, or would that ‘not be tradition’? I would rather ‘blow tradition’ than have a sick horse to attend to. I don’t hear anything from the vets at Ascot, maybe they are gagged or are ‘enablers’ of the greedy racing industry in a heatwave, after all, they get a free day out at Ascot.

There comes a point in life that doing the ‘right thing’ is taking the time off work for family reasons, health reasons and animal welfare, this is more important than ‘being on show’. Some traditions are plain stupid, and even more so, in a heatwave. Being a younger generation than most of the old fogies who carry on making these stupid rules, I make my own stamp, by standing up to it and questioning it.

Some people who do ‘challenge things’, actually comes from kids. Recently a academy school banned kids from wearing shorts during a heatweave, so the boys wore skirts as a form of protest and got lots of media coverage. Why can’t boiling soldiers all together, in a band of brothers’. and make a stand, why can’t horse grooms make a stand for their horses? Even the journalists are made to wear suits in a heatwave, ‘for show’, which is ridiculous too. Sometimes were Brits are a bunch of wimps and won’t say boo to a goose!

We have to question our culture, but adults never seem to learn, and that’s a tradition too!

++ Note I am typing this in a library, keeping cool with fans.

Do I feel safe in London after the attacks?

No, I do not.

I believe the police when they say we are on Severe or Critical alert.I have seen that London is not safe.

We rarely get police walking along the streets due to red tape and cuts. I don’t see police do Stop and Searches though they do sometimes but I don’t see them doing this. There are no proper check points screening and checking motorists. The police tend to be out in their cars a lot, missing local intelligence.I feel sorry for them, as they have their hands tied by the ‘people at the top’.

The local media and Government tries to say #londonisopen, which is a bit of a PR stunt. It’s all very well carrying on ‘as normal’, but this can put our lives in danger. I certainly don’t trust our politicians. We have seen that these attackers target busy areas for maximum media coverage, so avoiding crowded places helps. Sometimes I forget about avoiding crowded places, and then, think about it afterwards. I try to avoid busy areas where there are few escape routes and I always take shoes that I can run in. Some people say, ‘you are letting them win’, I say, ‘I am winning, I am staying alive’.

I am a lot more vigilant now and I do report any suspicious behaviour to the police. Only a few weeks ago, I reported someone suspicious on the underground who was going from East London towards Westminster, a couple of weeks before the London attack. My friend kept on telling me, ‘there’s no need to report him’, but the police were glad that I did. He certainly looked out of place on the tube, particularly his reading matter. As soon as I saw his reading matter and his manner, I got off the tube train at once.

Once I helped a police inspector catch some car thieves at our local train station. The police were using our offices to spy on them. Though he was probably pi**ed off that I spotted them, and he didn’t, he did say they were up to no good and caught three males. I have a good sense of spotting shifty behaviour. We need to use our observational skills.We cannot be apathetic any more.

In the ideal world, I would prefer to wear an anti-stab vest in London or anti-knife collar round my neck, then if I was caught in some kind of stabbing spree, I would have a better chance of survival. These are quite expensive though, but I think they are worth it if you have the money. The thing is terrorism is so ‘random’ but there are places, that they always target and types of people.

A few days ago there was someone loading fireworks in Bermondsey, Southwark, and we wondered what was happening, and only last night, at the ridiculous hour of 1.30am I heard a serious of random gunshots or firework bangs,and I heard a police siren soon after. This is out of the norm at night. I am on edge, and I don’t safe but because of that, but I can be far more vigilant, and report unusual behaviour, this is something we can all do to combat terrorism. Maybe the nutter at Manchester could have been spotted earlier if people were vigilant. Prevention is better than cure, however, it doesn’t always work, as some people did report the London Bridge attackers to the police, but they somehow got through the net. At the end of the day, you can only try and do what is right, avoid busy areas and ones that ‘are likely to be terrorist targets’ as many of them follow a familiar pattern, particularly the copycats.

It is horrible that the UK has changed so much over the last decade. Things are different now, but we have to be awake to the new UK and learn to deal with it. Actually no city these days is safe from extremists. Sometimes avoiding busy and touristy places, is the key to survival now. Surviving is the best revenge to terrorists!

UK: It’s Bring Your Dog to Work Day on 23 June, 2017

Improve your wellbeing in the workplace and help raise money for animal welfare charities by bringing your dog to work on Friday. Bring some ‘pet therapy’ to help reduce workplace stress.

If you would like to take part see https://bringyourdogtoworkday.co.uk/ for details.

Bear mind in mind that it could be hot as here in the UK we are having a heatwave, so avoid taking it to work in a car or hot workplace etc.

Thanks to the list of fantastic Sponsors supporting this day :- https://bringyourdogtoworkday.co.uk/sponsor</em