We Are Ambassadors (A Change is Gonna Come)

Yesterday I attended an event at Waterstones Bham, called A Change is Gonna Come. The panel was made up of Patrice and Yasmin, authors that are included in the anthology. Having seen the book crop up on Twitter from the competition to the distribution of the book. I was interested to learn more about it. I’m going to summarise what I learnt below.

I love YA because it includes so many different genres and types of fiction that it can’t be easily defined. The best you can do is apply the title, Young Adult. Young Adult often explores the formation of identity and is about finding yourself. As a reader, you want a character that shares you experience and right now there don’t appear to be enough authentic BAME stories. While you don’t always want race to be the issue of the story, you don’t always want to read stories that completely leave you out.

Literature doesn’t always reflect the community and the hope is that it will inspire a new generation of writers to take the plunge and explore different stories. Stories like this will hopefully open up discussion and it is awesome that a publisher (Stripes) was passionate about this anthology. When you are of a different race, you can feel as though you are an ambassador. You have to have perfect manners, and dress right so that people don’t assume things about your race. You can feel you have a responsibility to write about your experiences but you shouldn’t be “held to your colour.”

The fear is that you will be pigeonholed and this will stop you telling the stories you want to tell. Books take you to places you have never been before.  When you are a young adult you are assumed to have agency over your life yet everyone else has control- your parents, teachers and other adults. YA is interesting because it influences the adults of the future.

There was more to the discussion but this is the bare bones of it. My hope is that with books like this being published, more will appear on bookshelves.

 

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Project #1 Crochet Shorts

Sometimes I get ideas for clothes in my mind but my skills and abilities don’t match the creations that exist in my imagination. Translation: I can’t make them. So, my goal is to attempt to work out how to make clothes. If you have seen my previous posts you will know I am a fan of Burlesque. The glittery, glamourous art form that includes encourages beautiful clothes. Corsets, bras, knickers and other items of delicate clothing.

The problem I often have is I’m ambitious about what I want to create, I get into difficulties and give up. So I hope keeping a record will help me. From Inception to Creation, I will try and include my thoughts, photographs and planning. If I have to admit defeat, then I will with dignity.

To begin with here is an image of a pair of lace shorts that fits the idea of what I want to create. These are from Cichic.

The shorts seem to include a bow, lining and lace covering. Having bought sixe 50 thread (not realising the bigger the number, the finer the thread,) I shall attempt to create the bow first. This will help me practice my crochet skills and make use of the thread.

Working with this thread for me is fiddly, but if I manage it I shall post a picture here.

(I would work to a pattern by the idea in my head fits different parts of individual patterns and different techniques. So it would be difficult to replicate if you are following this. If you manage it, bravo!)

I have no clue how long this project will take. Also I am aware that summer is nearly over, OK, totally over. So….yeah, these would be a bit out of place for the streets. They would be perfect for the stage though. *wink*

 

*I am a sort of beginner, or returner to crochet. If you have a better clue of how to tackle this project please get in touch. Also if you attempt to make lace shorts, or even manage it- get in touch.

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Single Girl’s Log- Part 2

‘That’s the trouble with agency work,’ Katie said, as I knocked back my vodka and coke. ‘They can let you go like…’

She clicked her finger.

‘Should you be drinking that, it’s one o’ clock in the afternoon?’ she asked.

‘Remember when you used to be fun?’ I asked her. Katie was a teacher now, dressed up in her snug floral dress and moccasins. She was the picture of femininity. We’d both studied the same English Literature course but she was sorted and settled. Meanwhile I was the car wreck, bouncing from job to job.

I had phoned the agency and Jackie had said that she’d contact me if any position came up. Translation: you’re toast in this town. There was no way they’d be offering me work anymore.

‘I should be getting back, I have marking…’ Katie began.

‘Yawn,’ I said.

‘It’s not too late to get your PGCE,’ she said, looking at me with big chocolate eyes that made me want to weep into my alcohol.

‘I’m hardly a positive example for the next generation. Aside from the fact I don’t know who I am, I can barely spell generation without spell check. I just want a job writing about beaches while lying on one.’

‘And I want an acting role on Hollyoaks. We all want to achieve the impossible.’

‘It could happen, girls just like me are flying over to faraway lands to pursue their dreams. Why not me?’

‘You’re twenty-five.’

‘I’m not elderly, just yet.’

‘By media standards you’re practically an OAP. Look, Bailey. I’ve always supported you, and I know you can achieve anything you set your mind to but…’

I didn’t want to hear the ‘but’ and that’s when he caught my eye. He looked exactly like Charlie Hunnam, except he was sporting a well-maintained quiff. He winked. And that my friends is how I met Jason.

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Pick Your War, Not Your Battles

“Well, why don’t you say it, you coward? You’re afraid to marry me. You’d rather live with that fool who can’t speak except to say yes and no and raise a passel of mealy-mouthed brats just like her.”- Gone With The Wind

I was the kid sitting in the corner of the classroom who wore odd socks and read books. I was the kid who no one understood. That’s how I liked it. I’m a year from entering my third decade and I’ve become entirely too comfortable to sit back and watch the world go by without making an impact. Yet it’s difficult because now to fit in you must stand out, to be different you need to be the same. It’s all double think- (read 1984.) Everyone’s an introvert now, everyone’s a ‘geek’ without truly knowing what it means.

I would often tell people I was weird and people would say, ‘you shouldn’t say that about yourself.’ Being weird is a compliment, it means you aren’t just a follower. Yet, being a square peg in a world inhabited by round pegs can get exhausting. A wise person once said to me, ‘if I ever get attacked, I didn’t go down without a fight. Remember that!’ Yet life happened and I went down but didn’t even notice.

I feel comfortable, don’t get me wrong. Maybe I like to complain- it’s a sport to me. I can’t live a life where I just accept everything. When I say pick your war, I mean- pick the goal that is most important to you- rather than just fighting tiny battles that mean nothing. I’m a big picture person, if you want to know all the tiny details that’s wrong with something, ask someone else. No, I see the end result, the vision of a journey but I can’t see all the individual steps to take me there.

I’ve developed a horrible habit of giving up, or not committing when life gets rough. When the going gets tough, I get going.

So I’m going to pick one goal and I’m going to fulfil it or at least work out why I’m having trouble staying on the path. For my own peace of mind, I have to figure myself out. Maybe I’m worrying unnecessarily although my CV looks like a patchwork quilt. When employers have asked why in the past, I want to snap ‘there was a recession.’ I do wonder though, am I flaky?

I am actually in a good mood today though. The sun is shining which is a rarity this summer. Also it’s the mother cluckin’ weekend in a few hours.

Peace x

Kimberly

 

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Single Girl’s Log- Part 1

1

You know when you’re a kid and you had to close your eyes to see the life you want? Well now, they have Instagram. Whole collections of photographs of white sandy beaches, lithe girls clad in delicate bikinis and clear waters as far as the eye can see. I slammed the laptop shut and then opened it again and peered at Toned Tanya, that was legit her name, who stared back at me from her selfie. Her shiny teeth shone, and her eyes glittered with excitement as she grinned at me.

‘Bailey, a word,’ I shut the laptop once more and span around in my chair to face Mr- call me Pete- Richards, my boss and jailer. Well, I guess that’s how it felt. Locked away in the office while the sun beamed down outside on the children free on their summer holidays.

‘Yes, sir,’ I said, gritting my teeth.

‘I told you, call-me-Pete,’ he said. He perched on the edge of my desk. ‘From the highest creative to the lowliest admin worker, we are a team. If one person doesn’t pull their weight, the entire system collapses. Understand?’

I nodded.

‘I managed to rescue this poor piece of correspondence before it was given to the client,’ he said, holding up a letter I had typed. ‘Grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, the wrong way of phrasing. This is piss poor.’

‘I…’ I began.

‘And you understand that I cannot allow you to bring down the reputation of an entire company. This isn’t the only problem we’ve had with your work. I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go.’

 

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The Outfit

I remember it well, the thump of You Can Leave Your Hat on, it’s hypnotic beat causing the girls to grind and sway their hips. Then came the great finale as bras were discarded, tassels were spun and we graduated to striptease masters.

This was a workshop run by a burlesque dancer and we were the hungry, the ones who desired to learn the art of tease. It was final year and I had dropped the long clung to puppy fat- ok let’s face it normal fat. A body that fit beautifully into the black corset purchased from Ann Summers that brought to mind, domination and submission games. A pair of shorts from New Look completed the ensemble and just grazed my thighs. Running up my legs were fishnet stockings held by suspenders.

My reasoning for discarded such an outfit, apart from the fact my thighs spread, breasts grew and my figure changed is the society, I had come to know. Burlesque was about sisterhood, body confidence and female sexuality. The atmosphere was electric as the audience whooped and cheered for which ever performer danced. A dancer could be sensual, sexy and yet camp and cheeky. She could have a personality as she winked at the captive crowd, bumping and grinding and as an aspiring dancer it transformed my idea of the female gaze. Could it be possible that girls could dance for each other?

Backstage was the toilets, as girls peeled down stockings and smudged postbox red across their lips. False eyelashes clogged the plughole, and glitter covered the sinks. It was a girl’s daydream. Here it seemed all you needed was a little imagination. My daydream didn’t burst, it dissolved like a rain cloud. It was as though there was a mask over the scene, girls who seemed to be mystical creatures on stage barely blinked in the newbies direction. The day it all fell apart like a poorly constructed garment was when I sat amongst a crowd that weren’t burlesque supporters.

They guffawed at flaws, mumbled insults behind their hands and barely applauded. The mystique that had been carefully built seemed to fade away. I watched the as girls who didn’t acknowledge my existence or who gave curt responses floundering in this less than supportive environment. Did these girls control their own image or was this an illusion? I walked out early although I had volunteered to be an usher, selling tassels to the uninterested audience. As I walked home, I could hear the clop of my shoes, and my heart grew heavier with each step.

I peeled off the black corset, tossed the shorts aside and considered the dream I had constructed that had been torn down. I made the decision to forget meetings and concentrated on the world beyond the clique. My daydreams of the burlesque world remain but the desire to belong has sadly died.

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Please, Theresa May, Don’t Take My Friend Away

Imagine picking up your rubbish bin and pouring the contents all over your neighbour’s lawn. Or better yet, slapping your neighbour across the face than asking them to help you.  Ok, maybe a little over dramatic. Yet, I feel that Brexit is not seen in the right way by Leave supporters, and no I’m not a Remoaner. See I believe there is strength in numbers and that actually looking after your allies is the best way to have a brighter future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that hot on the history of the EU. No doubt, I’m not the only one. But, ‘we need to get rid of them foreigners’ is not a particularly excellent argument for…well anything.
That was the problem I found during the referendum. The blatant racism and perhaps even xenophobic nature of some of the Leave voters. (Some) The idea that you have no need of help from anyone is ridiculous. So, why don’t I just take the advice of some white kid who spoke to me when I was younger and ‘go home.’ This IS my home. I don’t want to see it ruined or left weaker. Maybe this is a good thing but I can’t see it. I don’t believe we were educated enough about the EU to take such a serious vote anyway. We should have at least received a pamphlet.
The fun thing about the period of time we live in is that we have access to politics and their inner workings. We are made to feel so close to our politicians that we could almost reach out and touch them. There is the gif of Jeremy Corbyn, the meme of evil Theresa May. We are being taught that even though these people have such different lives from us, they are just like us. Except for the complete lack of touch with reality. How many grand a year do they earn again? It’s enough to make you weep. Besides this with the rise of technology meaning less jobs (blame the robots.) The recovery from the recession meaning that some of missed the boat of opportunity as we were just able to hang onto the life raft of zero-hour contracts and benefits. Some of us, well me are currently in employment. Yet, I feel a part of me is missing. The desire for revolution has been killed in me. I just want to survive.
Is it just me? Am I the only one who hoped for a better existence, pursued education and felt that there is a lack? That what you pursued was an illusion to benefit your ‘betters’ who still eat leg of lamb and roast vegetables while conversing about the place the poor ought to hold. I don’t have statistics and it isn’t that I couldn’t seek them out, I’ve just had enough of studies done on ‘young people.’ I’m about to enter my third decade, well next year and I’m still as lost as when I began this blog.
I’m expected to be grateful for the crumb from the rich man’s table. To be thankful for the little they allow me to possess and then I have my opportunities cut away.

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