A week to go

November 21, 2013

I move in a week. I was offered a housing association flat. It’s very nice. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it is a bit further away from the area I would prefer to live in but that’s it and that’s not a huge deal. It’s a secure tenancy, my own place that I can’t be chucked out from at the whim of a private landlord, not a high rise, it has huge rooms, it’s on the first floor which is perfect, my new neighbours seem nice, the bathroom and kitchen are nearly new, the rent is so cheap and I’ve had it painted and put in new flooring so it looks great. I should be so excited and pleased but instead I wish it wasn’t happening. I can’t find any enthusiasm for it at all.

I shouldn’t be so ungrateful. I want this to be over and just stay in my little flat without having to go through any of this. I’m worried I’ll hate the new flat and it was unwise to put all this money into it. I’m worried that I’ve forgotten really important things that I will kick myself about and that people will laugh at me about. I’m stressed and tired. I feel like I am haemorrhaging money. I’m worried I’m going to regret all these decisions that I keep having to make.

I need a plan of what I still need to pack so I can work out if I can have a day off. Still to do:

  • hall cupboard
  • last CDs
  • eight kitchens cupboards and one drawer
  • stereo and TV
  • desk drawers
  • computer
  • clothes and shoes
  • lamps
  • pictures


  • Thursday: get delivery, clean out fridge and microwave, hall cupboard, last CDs and one kitchen cupboard
  • Friday: take shoes to charity shop, go to supermarket, wash landlord’s dishes, four kitchen cupboards, get O to get boxes down from high cupboard
  • Saturday: clothes and shoes, pictures, lamps
  • Sunday: take clothes and shoes, pictures and lamps to new flat
  • Monday: three kitchen cupboards
  • Tuesday: stereo, desk drawers
  • Wednesay: last loads of washing, TV and computer, finish up anything left over


I’ll have to push some of one day into another day if I want a day off. Also need to get the cooker delivered one day which will be a wait down at the new flat plus should clean the bathroom. This is more than I thought oh god.


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June 10, 2013

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Racist man at the bus stop

July 13, 2009

Today I saw overt racism at a bus stop outside a supermarket. I live in an okay area in a large Scottish city. The majority of people are from a white background and that is what I am from too. There are several ethnic minority groups including people from mixed race, Asian, African and Afro-Carribean backgrounds.

I had come out of the supermarket behind a black 30-40 year old woman and a teenage black girl (I got the feeling this was her daughter from the way they acted together) and wandered behind them to the same bus stop. I was standing loss in my own thoughts and noticed that the adult woman was talking to another black woman of about the same age who was just in front of her inside the bus stop. I didn’t overhear what they were talking about as I was standing outside the bus stop.

I was lost in my own thoughts again for a few minutes until I heard “… go back to your own fucking country” from a white man who was about 40-50 years old and had the local accent. I was so shocked. One of the two older black woman said something short to him and then both stared ahead. They were between the white man and the young black girl who was staring at the ground. He kept on speaking and said “you’re fucking parasites, that’s what you are” and repeated that a few times. He also said the British government were “arseholes” to let “you people” emigrate to this country – I can’t remember his exact words here except those phrases. He also said other things and again I can’t remember the words exactly but that it was very aggressive and racist. I got the impression that he had been drinking from the way he moved. The two adult black women continued to stare straight ahead and ignore him. There was another white woman standing next to him and she was staring at him and moved away from him nearer to me. I caught her eye for a second as I was staring at him too.

I said that when I had noticed what this white¬† man had said that I was shocked but I was also sort of stunned as well. I was thinking “I have got to do something!” and “I have go to stand up for these women!” but I was afraid of this man. I was thinking that if I challenged him that he would start on me and that maybe nobody would stand up for me either. So all I did was glare at this man and I am so ashamed of that.

Then the bus came and the black women quickly picked up their bags and moved towards the bus. The white man kind of followed them and I thought he was going into this bus too and I thought “I have to tell the driver – make the driver not let this white man on”. I moved round the bus stop and got onto the bus stop behind the black woman who had already been at the bus stop when I arrived. I said “I am so sorry …” I didn’t know what to say but I wasn’t going to let myself chicken out again and say nothing. Surely saying nothing was worse. She said something “no, it’s alright, people say these things to us all the time, don’t worry” and I thought this is fucking appalling what has happened here. I then went up inside the bus and sat down. A white woman who was coming onto the bus after me was shouting at the white man and I didn’t hear what she said at first but it ended with “he’s a fucking idiot” and I was grateful to her that she said something. The black woman who was on her own sat next to the driver and the other black woman and her daughter sat near the front too. I wonder if that was for safety? To be near the driver and with lots of other people rather than at the back where there was more space. I’ve never had to think like that here when getting on a bus … that would be white priviledge. The racist white man didn’t get on the bus.

As I was sitting on the bus waiting for my stop to get off I couldn’t believe I hadn’t said anything to the racist white man. I had thought before that if something like that happened in front of me I would step up but it turned out I was too afraid for myself. As my stop got nearer I got up and stood near the door (that’s what everybody does in this particular city – it’s the convention for indicating to the driver that this is your stop) and so I was standing next to the black woman who was on her own. I glanced at her and looked away and then stepped up. I said to her, “I am sorry I didn’t stand up for you” and that said he had no right to say such things. She said again “don’t worry, he is entitled to say what he thinks” and I said “no, he isn’t entitled to say that”. She said something back that I can’t remember the exact words of but that meant that this is the way things are and I said “I’m sorry” again then thanked the driver and got off the bus.

I was crying as I got walked up the stairs to my flat. Partly out of anger and frustration and partly out of shame for my lack of action. It wasn’t even about me. What must it have been like for the teenage girl as she went home? After hearing such things from a random stranger. And most likely not for the first time. What was it like for her mother? Was she afraid for herself and her daughter? Is she forced to teach her daughter about racism and physical safety and a whole load of other issues that I can’t even imagine? What was it like for the other woman? Did my little spiel to her make the situation worse for her? I really hope not. Is this really something you can get used to? Should a person even have to get used to such things? I don’t know what it is like to experience overt racism like that and while I can imagine a little I have to respect that I can’t fully understand. I can be sure of the pretty general statement that what happened was not fucking on and should not happen.

This weekend I’ve been reading some articles about racism starting with Guest Post: The Fantasty of Being White on Shapely Prose and then the articles linked on Required Reading on The Angry Black Woman (link courtesy of SweetMachine via that Shapely Prose post). So I’ve read enough to know it isn’t up to the White Lady to rescue The Poor Black People but also that racism flourishes when it is unopposed. Perhaps I would have made the whole situation much worse if I had challenged the racist white man and escalated the verbal abuse to physical violence but I don’t think so. It was mid-afternoon in front of a lot of people and there was CCTV outside the supermarket. My instincts told me there was danger and that is what I obeyed but now I think I over-estimated it. I should have spoken up. I wish I had spoken up to him. Even if I had only said “no, you are wrong”. I wish I had shown support to those black women and my contempt of that white man.

Quote: friend envy

June 25, 2008

From Grazia, 26th May 2008, by Charlotte Ward:

If I’m honest – and, on this subject, it’s hard to be – I was experiencing a stab of friend envy. Why wasn’t I getting married? Would my boyfriend propose one day? And, maybe more importantly, how was all this “good news” going to change my relationship with these two friends?

As always, I hated myself for feeling that twinge of mean, because admitting you’re not over the proverbial moon when brilliant things happen to your best friends is a bit like saying you didn’t cry at Beaches, or that someone’s newborn is quite ugly, actually.

Friend envy isn’t new – we’ve been dealing with it in one form or another since we were kids – but the politics of how we treat it in our thirties are complex. For many of us, friends are the new family, so conflicts become so much more intense. And when they flare up, the feelings you have inevitably take you back to the playground.


In my twenties, I turned my green-eyed moments into a wake-up call – if a friend’s achievement shone a spotlight on my own insecurities, then I needed to pull myself up by the bootstraps and make changes to my life. When a journalist friend of mine, Jenny, got a dream job on a national paper while I was bored in my regional role, it made me apply for jobs in London. When one of my closest friends (and wobbly tum body-double), Laura, dropped a dress size (unveiling a stomach that would have made Liz Hurley cry) two weeks before we went on holiday to Ibiza it made me join a gym. And when my best friend Claire got married, just as I realised the guy I was with wasn’t The One, I found the courage to split up with Mr Wrong. But then, in each of those circumstances, it was clear what I needed to do to “catch up”, to stay in the gang.

In your thirties, the stakes are higher and life doesn’t always go your way. Jealousy can work the other way – ripping through a friendship, causing chaos and destruction. When children come into the equation, things can get especially prickly.


The adage is ancient, but it still resonates: “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends”, and maybe that’s why feeling jealousy makes us so uncomfortable. You pick your friends from the many women you meet. You tell them everything. You let your guard down faster than you would with a man. You think that they will be there forever – they won’t care if you get middle-age spread, they won’t cheat on you with their secretary, or leave you with the kids. Revealing so much to them makes you closer, but more vulnerable, too. So when something goes wrong and they suddenly become someone you envy as opposed to a mirror to your life, it’s natural to feel a little strange. But is it beause you genuinely want their life? Or is it simply because you’re terrified that with each new move they make – whether it’s the ring/mortgage/baby/promotion – they are moving further away from you?


There’s always a yin to the yang, and while one aspect of a friend’s life may seem desirable, they could be battling against other less perfect things, too – so you should always take time to listen and support them. […] One distant day in the future, I’ll catch up […] in the life stakes – I’ve realised it’s not a race. If envy does make an unexpected visit, I’m going to swallow down the lump in my throat and discard it from my mind. After all, as one friend says, “It’s the thoughts we act on, and not the ones we don’t, that make us who we are.”


April 16, 2008

I have bookmarked and tagged interesting articles on del.icio.us.

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January 8, 2006

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