Steve's F

Steve's F

Friday, 27 December 2013

the shape of my heart

This is what love looks like.
Rebuilding broken bridges and seeing things shift which I didn't even dare to dream about.

Truly the best and much, much brighter than me, my sun and my moon.




Thursday, 26 December 2013

Daniel's swansong

And so the end of an affair, and the same questions about why I make appalling choices.  In reality this ended ages ago, but there was still something about his pale blue eyes and how they twinkled when he laughed and how we each came alive, when with each other. I don't mean only sexually.

Sometimes, not often, maybe 3,  I've met a man I thought I could love. There have been others whom I thought I did but the infatuation passes. Or I did indeed love but not in a grown up whole hearted way. Then when they think they have nicely caged my beast and she won't run away or need feeding, or fucking or watering, they flirt with my best friend. They start treating me like a caged bird, rudeness replaces tenderness. The roughness around the edges becomes a cheesegrater to my emotions.

Apologies are thrown about like toffee. It's already too late. My heart turns to stone with finality.

 The lies start. The trying to make me jealous with butch Lesbian rugby players begins, when he accidentally on purpose leaves her picture open on his iPhone. Only he doesn't tell me she's gay. But I don't care. I'm not sexually jealous.

Then something in me recoils, I don't want to be caged. And I certainly don't put wedding rings or GPS satellites on anyone. Freedom to roam is integral, privacy is part of that. Then I realise we're just part of a tsunami of his incoming, that he needs constant distraction and avoidance to stop feeling the cancer of hypocrisy and lies his entire life is cloaked in.  And you (I) became part of that. Unwittingly we are the lie, love vanishes like the delicate crushed violet scent of a fragrant candle lingering the next day. It's just a memory and I crave it and stay, in spite of rudeness,  callousness and blurring all the boundaries between what I know and who I see, this insecure inadequacy standing in front of you.




Then love and desire turn to contempt swiftly, like milk left out over night. When my best friend says "You've been used," the truth slaps me hard in the face. Yes, that is what it was.

Actually I got to a place of resignation in myself, that I had the courage and saw this man's greatness, where perhaps none existed, because there was a gap or perhaps he projected something I think I lack, just for a moment. I stepped into the gap and allowed the vision to become real. But he never could own the reality, he couldn't live up to whatever reflected glory he aspired, I aspired him to.

How glad I am that I got out now, sent him back to his big, fake, God schmearing life, Kermit the frog and mewling family, now and not later.

Affairs. Remind me, not to have them anymore.

Fx





Tuesday, 24 December 2013

and so your sleeve got stained, cos you wore your heart on your sleeve. so Sing!

M: If I'm weird what are you because you are my mother therefore you must also be wird also weird people don't know they're weird and I knoe im weird isnt that weird?

F: Don't be horrid to me.
Is Friday good for lunch?  I'd like to see you and am going to Paris before you.  X

M: You know that painting with the translation of 'This Is Not a Pipe'?
Okay, that sounds cool. (Because it's December and cold?!)

F: What sounds cool sweetypops?  Ceci n'est pas une pipe.
Renee Magritte
Surrealist. French.  Where shall we go for lunch? Tryna book train. Don't be horrible. I have had to end sthng with smne I care about and I feel really sad.

M: Do you want to talk about it?

F: No. Too sad right now. Manchester 3pm? X

M: And sure you're sad now. But remember a time when you where purely happy? You'll feel like that again. But you'll also feel sad again. But the women you work with also feel sad yet they'll be happy soon. And one day you'll find a reason to be smile and cry at the same time and that's when you'll feel infinite. And it's a New Year a new start,  a new smile and a new life, right?
 I'm really bad at making people happy. Mostly because the language I speak is Obnoxious Awkwardalite.

F: YOU always make me happy. Nutter. X

M: Did you get the card + painting? It's really bad and looks like a seven year old swallowed Christmas and vomited all over a poor, innocent canvas. And why a partridge and pear tree? Why not a drunk aunt and cake crumb?

Nuts are delicious and very, VERY good for your health. ;)

F: He's an amazing incredible guy. Just confused and trapped in a yukky world.

M: Yes, well you're an incredible woman who helps people, nobody, not even the goverment will help! What goes around comes around. Someone will help you be happy, next year.
Joke No. 2 though might as well be No. 1. Wanna hear a joke?! The Government. Duh duh sche (awkward drumroll from someone who doesn't know anything about music... so Justin Bieber.)

F: Euww. Gimme Robbie.

M: But I'll be there at 3:30. And oh so you are also tired?  *crying at how lame drumroll* Ma will give me the gift of moving while sitting. AKA: car. So what you doing tonight? And why sad? You don't do love and men, remember? You must be tired. Early night!

F: Missed dinner gonna catch up with friends soon.
Carols at midnight (11pm for oldies really) with a really good friend. And another one and his gorgeous 12 yo girlie. Not as gorgeous  as you of course.
Not sad.
Not tired.
A bit low.
I really liked him.
Proper love.
Not just sex and fun like Jeremy.

M: Ask Izzy if she believes in the Bee Apocalypse because that's how you judge a person. If she transforms your life life Optomis Prime,  and gives you an answer as beautiful as Hayley Williams, then keep her. In a honeypot because Izzy rhymes with Busy. And bees are busy. And bees like honey. Mmm. And sing your heart out so your sleeve is stained because you wore your heart on your sleeve. And sing like you're in the shower because thats when you sing best.

F: WHAT are you on Reenz? Must finish hoovering.  Got a bunch of my waifs and strays coming for lunch 2moro. X

M: Oh and Happy unChristmas. I'm so original.

F: G'nite, my heart. X

M: *WET*


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Best Foot Forward...a winter's tale.

So Tuesday night,  off we trot with some friends to Anton Chernikov's fantastic event "How to be a social entrepreneur," organised by the very brilliant Michael Norton you know, Buzzbnk, CIVA all that good stuff. You must get there for their fascinating series of talks

Michael has an idea based on the talents in the bible: he wants to give us £20 and for us to return £30 having made a profit in a social enterprise in 6 weeks.

We have to team up with people we don't know in real life. Way outside my comfort zone, then.

I "win" Ben Ramsden the genius behind ethical underwearness company Pants to Poverty, the original pantrepreneur who says "we're Facebook friends. That doesn't count,"

 
 

Our *brilliant* idea is BFF or Best Foot Forward. With Michael's generous start up cash (repayable, Ts and Cs apply but we've signed up, anyway,) we're going to buy £20 of eco friendly cleaning products to shine your shoes. You know how *great* you feel when you step out in a new pair of shoes? That's the feeling we want to recreate for you, and in the process we want to rebuild fragmented social bonds and get excluded people involved, too.

Vulnerable women we work with, homeless women, young kids outside of mainstream education,  those who have been excluded from  society, will get paid to shine your shoes before that Christmas party, the all important board meeting, a really hot date so you can put your Best Foot Forward.  They also get a social enterprise in a box, to start their own enterprise empires.

It's by donation (minimum £5) and we're looking for a minimum of 5 pairs of shoes to buff up in a location  so if you and your colleagues fancy a special treat to put a spring in your step, Facebook us, call us, Tweet at us and watch this space as this becomes a million shoe march towards empowerment and shiny shoes!

@farahdamji
@Pantstopoverty

Above are 2 pairs of shoes.
Can you guess. ..

 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Letter to the editor of the Western Mail

letter to the editor
The Echo
The Western Mail
1 November 2013
Dear Sir
I understand that I have been the subject of many pages of newsprint in recent editions of the south Wales papers. I was not contacted, as claimed, by the journalist who wrote the piece so I ask you publish this letter in response. Indeed the first I heard of this was via email at about noon today, Thursday from a concerned friend. I have no message on my phone, or from my offices in London or Cardiff. I write not to challenge or deflect but from a place of humility.
With regards to my past. I make no bones about it. I don't lie about it and I have served my sentence and done my time. My last conviction was in 2008, when I pleaded guilty to allegations for which I was sentenced in 2010. I was not rehabilitated in prison, nice Asian women like me from upper middle class backgrounds and a culture of entitlement are not sympathetic in the eyes of the  tabloid media and women in general are demonised when we commit crimes, because we are the anti - woman.  We don't fit into society's definition of how we should be or how we ought to behave. My crimes and long dissertations by blameless journalists are all in the public domain.  Indeed I wrote a book about my life which doesn't shine a glowing light on my actions. I was a reprehensible, selfish, angry woman, utterly shattered by early life trauma and sexual violence. Fear, anger, addiction and self destruction were the drivers in my life.  I pleaded guilty and I dragged my demons into the light and I deal with them, on a daily basis. I live my life informed by what I have done and who I was. Kazuri, the company which I set up as a direct response to my own experiences, post prison was established in 2010 to provide sustainable housing for women ex offenders or those leaving domestic violence. I do not handle the finances of the company, all our financial controls are transparent and available on the website.  My rehabilitation is my daily life and how I treat others and the tangible difference I know our company makes to the lives of dozens of women.
A report launched by Kazuri in the Houses of Parliament and supported by parties from all sides on G4S and asylum housing led to direct action by the powerful Public Accounts Select Committee inquiry into asylum housing and their damning report on G4S published last week. Another report into women in the criminal justice system directly influenced NOMS and a later ministerial statement on women in prison.  It's because I have been there, I have locus and can articulate what it's really like and address the real issues such as 37% of women leaving prison homeless and 17 500 children being separated from their parents through incarceration.  Before my imprisonment, I didn't care, bad people did bad things and were caught and deserved it. During my prison sentence I came to terms with why I did what I did. I moved on.
I do not wish to run this project. We have an impressive team in south Wales.  I am the ideas and blue sky thinking person on the team. On board are the best specialists in regeneration, fundraising, social investment and construction working on this project.
The issue appears to be some confusion about an employer engagement event at Cardiff castle.  The matter has not been handled by me, but delegated to a member of our team in south Wales. However I take full responsibility.  She has been in contact with the castle directly, NOT Cardiff council. We were not aware until today that Cardiff City Council had anything to do with bookings for the castle so the press spokesman is entirely correct, he knows nothing about the booking. I have shown the emails from my colleague and replayed a phone message to the journalist who wrote the article confirming such a booking exists. This will be raised as a separate complaint to Cardiff City Council about their press policy and dissemination of inaccurate information.  Of course, we have a digital trail of emails and correspondence.
However I find it confusing why, when we are working closely with various ethical investors to bring £5m of social investment to Cardiff's most deprived communities that third sector agencies, especially those in the women's sector and Cardiff Third Sector Council in particular have tried so hard to undermine what we are doing.  Our project is an anti-housing association model, it takes away the dependency culture inflicted on vulnerable and excluded communities through top heavy commissioning and replaces it with local solutions, from the inside out. The program is to regenerate communities by refurbishing empty properties and employing women ex offenders, care leavers and those who have survived trauma and violence to gain an accredited qualification in construction and property maintenance. Personal renewal is mirrored by community regeneration.
Kazuri has been shortlisted for a prestigious Centre for Social Justice award recently and is up for a Women in Housing award next week. instead of attempting character assassinations of me personally, perhaps some of the agencies working with the same women might look inward and find solutions which work for the women we are serving, rather than trying to undermine an important and significant new model to bring social housing to the market. I would invite anyone to come and see the work we are doing in the community with excluded and sometimes very damaged women and judge that in the present, rather than my past failings, which have been many.
I am very grateful for  the support of some of the development agencies particularly Business in Focus and WCVA who have supported our project since the beginning. This project brings much needed development and significant investment to south Wales, with some of the most qualified experts in the field on board. I am not involved in the finances of the Welsh entity and our intention is to leave a thriving community of women who become social connectors, on a model based on love and heart values, creating abundance from the abandoned. This is my reparation, rehabilitation and my daily prayer.
Once again I invite any individual or agency to come and see the work we do, talk to the women we work with and help us to learn to create a new business model, owned by and for the Cardiff community.
Yours sincerely
Farah Damji Director
Coming Home Cardiff Ltd.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Musings

"I am the true vine"

Borders and crossings

Found this by Tove Jansson:
I love borders. August is the border between summer and autumn; it is the most beautiful month I know.Twilight is the border between day and night, and the shore is the border between sea and land. The border is longing: when both have fallen in love but still haven't said anything. The border is to be on the way. It is the way that is the most important thing.
Tove Jansson
Sometimes you know you are going to fall so hard and hurt so badly, you stop.
But borders are made for crossing.
So that space where two lives intersected with wild deep full frontal kissing facing the solemn stone of the Masonic lodge,  when your hands held my hair away from my face, but I don't mind, you could kiss me,  when there was no gap between us to let in any distraction. The boredom that pervades you couldn't   creep in. Our borders blurred. Everything felt possible. Universes and promises were made in the space between a breath.
And try as I might to throw you out of my thoughts, your memory pervades. And the feeling of something new and wanted and wanting more lingers. You weren't a two liner.
Somewhere between desire and longing that's where we reside.
"I want to live in full passion." You said, out loud.


Did you cast a spell, my love?

Middling

"Treasure the middles of things.  Make the middle the point." John P Shanley

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The King is Dead. Long live the King!


Sometimes I feel so happy,


Sometimes I feel so sad.

Sometimes I feel so happy,

But mostly you just make me mad.

Baby, you just make me mad.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.



Thought of you as my mountain top,

Thought of you as my peak.

Thought of you as everything,

I've had but couldn't keep.

I've had but couldn't keep.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.



If I could make the world as pure and strange as what I see,

I'd put you in the mirror,

I put in front of me.

I put in front of me.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.



Skip a life completely.

Stuff it in a cup.

She said, Money is like us in time,

It lies, but can't stand up.

Down for you is up."

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.



It was good what we did yesterday.

And I'd do it once again.

The fact that you are married,

Only proves, you're my best friend.

But it's truly, truly a sin.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale  blue eyes."

People are where the power lies.

People of Earth

The sky is open to the stars. Clouds roll over us night and day. Oceans rise and fall. Whatever you may have heard, this is our world, our place to be. Whatever you've been told, our flags fly free.

Our heart goes on forever.
People of Earth, remember.

I met a couple of visionaries last week. My experience of them reinforces what I knew, the power is in the people, people.
Not sociopathic corporations and corner cutting to drive maximum shareholder profits.

If you read nothing else this week read this

http://www.cluetrain.com/

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Passages of time

There's a tree in the park opposite me in Cardiff, Roath Park. A huge tree takes up most of the view from the bay window in the living  room. How strange, I told someone yesterday that this was starting to feel like home. Perhaps it is.  I notice how much the tree has changed, last week the leaves were still hanging on to green. This week they're copper tinged.

So much can happen in a week;  a dream coming close to fruition, missing someone I didn't really think I would, like the slow resignation to the changing of the seasons, realising the is a time for everything. I am the paradox of duty and desire .

So strange, you (I) can meet someone and get caught up in their slip stream. I want to see the world from their eyes, I want to feel the same temperature on my skin that they are feeling. I want to taste the world with their tongue. Then I pause and the thought of real intimacy after decades of faking it rather well or maybe even not being that clever, and thinking it was the real deal when it was something else  and I feel vulnerable.

We all have tricks, I suppose, to preclude  others getting really close, like sexual positions which don't allow your lover to look in your eyes, to allow yourself to go on autopilot in a relationship, playing out roles. Or zoning  out during a conversation, because you don't really want to be present for another person's pain.  Or perhaps their joy.

We live like fractals. Atomised experiences, then we meet someone whose mind overwhelms, and it's the puppies in the light syndrome. Can't bear it, don't know what to do with it.

But when you want to believe that this friendship, which is already more important and necessary than a love affair can make it. He asked, before we even met, "do you think we will make it?"

Dreams shatter on boulders of expectation everyday. How do I know. And why here and why now.
Light is falling, gentle tendrils of golden  layers descend on my glowing tree.  Sometimes I look at the tree and think, "where will I be in the winter, will my heart still feel a smile exhilarated?"

Will night's cold clutches extinguish the light that shines when two lives intersection and there is potential for what if...sometimes I feel too faded to take a chance to risk again.

People say time and again, you are so inspiring, look how much you do, look how far you have come. But the edge of the abyss is still just a breath away.

I melodramatise. I am happy. I am curious. We'll die another day.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Gone Fishin'

Well not literally obviously I would not know one end of a fishing rod from another.
I wonder who you are. Hundreds and hundreds of people look at my scratchings here every day. Even days and weeks when I abandon you and have a life offline.

I read Edward Snowden's girlfriend's blog. I wonder if she will recover from the pain and the trauma. Really truly loving someone is so fraught with risk. If governments were to risk assess falling in love I am sure it would carry a health warning. But who would trade it, for a moment, that feeling of drowning in another person, of feeling safe and loved and connected. Even if it lasts an hour or a few or an evening or a lifetime. I have met some extraordinary people this week, around doing proper actual work and not just talking about it, with really marginalised kids, Timebanking, ethical investing (not corporate rapists like G4S or Triodos, phoney ethical bank), a pretty mind blowing social entrepreneur, who doesn't realise how amazing and inspiring he is, a change agent who scrum manages huge companies and a polymath.

I'll tell you more. Maybe one day. I know I should write more, not dear diary entries, but proper writing and I hope to get enough of my life back to actually be able to HAVE a life again sometime very soon. Whoever you are, you hundreds and hundreds of you. It's nice to know you are there, maybe you remind me I am here too. Sometimes I log into the terror that is Facebook and the picture of my Dad who died three years ago comes up. It's so chilling and it it still makes my eyes smart.

There are days I wonder if what we leave behind makes any difference.
And there are weeks like this one that remind that all we have is love, really.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Happy Families!

Have you ever seen two people who look more like they wished they were anywhere but here.

Meet Lee Hanford, a director of G4S Care and Justice Solutions Ltd UK and long suffering cuckolded second wife.

How we play in our private lives, to the chagrin of many political and business leaders, is a reflection of how we behave in our public lives.

Lee is a lyin' cheatin' SOB. All promises and fast talk but the courage and backbone of a jellyfish or the main character from "Something Happened. "

Anyone thinking of going into Transforming Rehabilitation supply chains with G4S managed by Lee, beware unpaid invoices, a lot of fast talk and rhetorical rubbish about "do good things, make history."

History consigns bullshitters to the scrap heap of insignificance.  RIP.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Running up a ladder of shortlists..

Hot on the heels of Kazuri being shortlisted best charity in the Centre for Social Justice awards earlier this year, our Coming Home Cardiff initiative is recognised as a project that can change lives by Women In Housing.

I'm chuffed. Thanks, this means a lot. I don't really do things for recognition, I do things because they need to be done.

I spare the Oscar winner speech save to say may the best woman win.

Best Community / Training Project to Rebuild Women’s Lives

Sponsored by One Ark

1. Caroline Tosal-Suprun/Christine Partington House – Bolton at Home

2. Female Focus – City South Manchester Housing Trust & Manchester Active Voices

3. Farah Damji Coming Home Cardiff – Kazuri Group

4. Sonya Fitt/Family Intervention Programme – Luminus Group

5. Kathryn McClafferty/Grace Court, South Tyneside – Places for People

6. Claire Rogan/Steps to Success – Six Town Housing

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

I fight like a girl

Very strange day. 

Really felt the visceral hatred some women harbour for others. Women who hold power overt other women become masculinized. They lose their vulnerability and those core experiences and emotions that bind us to our humanity.

The nervous laughter, the furtive looks passing between each other to confirm their superiority, the empty space that lurks around them as they suck up air, death stars of gloom.

You know who you are. You can punch the air, send me stupid letters, send me anonymous texts, try and smash fragile plans on the boulders of your psychosis but I'll always win. Because the fight is not mine.

It is when you experience another woman's suffering as your own, when you eat her pain and drink her tears that injustice becomes more than a word.  You run your "correctional" department with the chutzpah of Hitler, the all seeing, marshmallow dumpling, fraying greying vengeful deity. You think you instil fear.  I pity you. You have no power, you're just another blunt tool in the patriarchy's trauma tool box, compartmentalised and sociopathic in your desire to punish.  You have no power. You are a bundle of fear.

I want nothing from you but to be wearing the boot that kicks in your face and the shower of rose petals falling to cover your wound and  make you whole again.

I fight like a girl.

Where did the justice go and when did we start to let hurt people hurt people?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Who are you killing?

Social death is the condition under which some people can be condemned to civil death, while the rest of us fail to care or even to notice. It is the condition under which entire groups of people may be exposed to disproportionate state violence, neglect, and/or exploitation, without provoking the concern or support of other members of the community.

Social death is both a condition of civil death and one of its effects; they amplify one another in a vicious circle that is difficult to interrupt. Together, civil death and social death name the position of those whose status is always already perceived as criminal and labelled as a “security threat.”'

From Lisa Guenther's blog on the California prison hunger strikes. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Open letter to Karen Ingala Smith, NIA

Open letter to Karen Ingala Smith

25 August 2013

Dear Karen

Thank you for your support of Kazuri Minds' project, Women versus The State (UK). This is a platform for women who have been let down by various services, austerity and the privatisation of social services which are now in the hands of brutalist companies, with no concept of a gendered approach. One such example is  Sexual Assault Rape Crisis Centres being run by security company G4S. I hope that Nia, which is a service I respect and admire will encourage your service users to send their stories for a book, which will be launched in the House of Lords early next year. Some stories are also being dramatised for the stage for Women of the World 2014. Kazuri is proud to be part of this women lead revolution harnessing creativity.

Until women are given a voice and gender mainstreaming is the basis for every policy, whether in the public, private or third sector, women will remain outsiders and unjustly affected.

I see you are concerned about a Twitter raucous that took place last night. As the director of Kazuri Homes, I take full responsibility and I apologise unreservedly if any offence was caused. I assure you it was not the intention of the young woman aged 23,  who composed the tweets. I am concerned however, at the level of abuse and tirade of taunts thrown her way. She stood up for someone who was being bullied and trolled. I applaud that. The fact that he is a man is irrelevant.

This was drawn to my attention late last night and this is the first opportunity I have had to look into this.

I have spoken to the member of my team to understand what happened. This is how I understand it.

All day yesterday, Ben Gunn was periodically attacked and (attacked back) by several women who claim to be feminists. Without getting into the details of what was said, the attacks on Ben Gunn became personal and a #murderben hashtag was created.

This is a crime and incitement to murder. Ben makes no secret of his past or that he is on life licence. However that had nothing to do with the work he does for a legal charity which examines miscarriages of justice which caused the dissenting tweets.

Ben is a friend of mine and  a supporter of the company I set up in 2010 as a result of my experiences of being an "offender." I was stigmatised, victimised and retraumatised. It seemed, even long after my prison sentence,  sometimes,  that I would never get beyond being a criminal. It took a lot of love and support from both women and men, to empower me to rebuild a life I valued and didn't want to desicrate.

Part of the ethos of the company is that we provide a judgement free space for people to breathe out and just be.

Some of the women Kazuri has worked have been convicted of violent crimes including murder and sexual violence against children. My personal prejudices have to be put to one side and in order to allow compassion and learning from women whose lives have been shattered by trauma and who may never recover. I have met women who have sexually violated their children and as a woman who was physically and sexually abused as a child, I was often violently sick when I read or heard their stories. It challenges my humanity on a daily basis, to try and hold this judgement free space and I don't pretend to do it all the time or to do it well.

Kazuri is not about judgement or taking sides. We neither condone or accept any form of violence against  women. However, the language used against Ben yesterday was unacceptable.

Name calling, shaming, words like dickhead and prick - have no place in the debate and will not end violence against women. I could only embark on a personal recovery journey by examining what was wrong in me and in the world around me- endemic misogyny and disadvantage against women- to try and change it. I am telling you this because the personal became political.

I was interested to see threats of complaints about the tweets from last night. These were made by men. So, a man doesn't like what an organisation which works with the most vulnerable women in society tweets and threatens to tell its funders. This is patriarchy at its best. The complaint will be reviewed by my board, but isn't this another way to create silos and prevent the empowerment of women, by divide and conquer?

When women like you and Caroline Craido Perez, who do so much for the empowerment of women appear to question why we dare, as an organisation to challenge this potted man hating version of feminism, I ask myself whether a society in which women supporting women can truly exist.

I'm surprised and disappointed by Caroline. She didn't like being trolled on Twitter but she condones it when her friends do it to others because they happen to be men. Given that she has built a considerable platform for herself from her vulnerability and subsequent defiance, I had hoped she would understand when she is being manipulated by agencies which aren't about women's empowerment.  If she now wishes to indulge in and support the Internet bullying of an organisation which  respects the rights of all people then this is her choice. Florence Nightingale must be proud. If Caroline doesn't agree with something, is it her God given right to demean it?

Why is it such a threat to feminists that other women defend someone's right NOT to be demeaned, despised and scorned, just because they are a man.

Planet Cath was abusive to Howard Johnson, a top legal advocate as well as Ben Gunn a former criminal. What the member of my team did was to hold up a mirror to that abuse.  I don't personally condone the use of profanities on social media in the public domain ( which is why my personal Twitter account is locked) but in this instance I understand why it was done.  To shock.  And make Planet Cath consider the impact of her language on others. Language can create worlds and words are spells.  It's the abc of parenting, if you tell a child she is naughty or bad, guaranteed, she will fulfil your prophecy.

Both Mr Johnson and Ben Gunn fell under the tarnished category of "men like you." I will not be an apologist for men in general but there is no such thing as "men like you" and within such narrowness  the dialogue, opportunity for debate and solutions is negated.  All the old prejudices of "feminazis" come flooding back and we are responsible, by not being able to contain our own prejudices against all men, for being the co authors of the hagiography  of the women's movement. Why can't women talk to other women with respect? We don't have to agree with each other.  Would men descend into this type of cat fight on Twitter?

Whatever we think of another person's actions and thoughts, whatever we feel about the gender persecution of women, slamming the door in the face of debate negates the possibility for finding a common space in which women are equal but different.

By being contentious and inflammatory, as Planet Cath is with  Ben and others, who she simply doesn't agree with,  we step into the bleeding  wound and exacerbate the problems.  By allowing a space for debate away from the cartoon of "ranty man hating feminist" we  create a possibility for something different. I know where I'd rather be.

Planet Cath's  debating tactics are questionable. I understand that @planetcath did not create the #murderben  hashtag, and I'm happy to clear up that misunderstanding. Equally clear is that her on line harassment,  libelling men as being rape apologists and woman haters, does serious harm to the vital work of empowering women and the supportive men who stand tall.

There are two sorts of women. There are those women who wallow in self pity and label men as rape apologists, poisoning any effort at dialogue and change. And then there are the others. We recognise the suffering and challenges of women but use this energy to bring about change and empowerment.

Kazuri has taken the issues of women in prison and women in asylum housing straight to the heart of government, with high profile events supported by male MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn and Geoffrey Robinson. A recent report on the G4S housing for asylum-seekers has contributed to an inquiry of G4S and Serco provision of housing under the COMPASS contract by Margaret Hodge MP's  public accounts committee and the National Audit Office.  This was with the direct support of Michael Turner QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association. A "man like you."

This outburst leaves me sad, because it perpetuates what most people believe about the feminist movement in Britain. It's ranty and shouty, it's man hating and it eats its young. If there is no room to challenge and grow, it's something that will kill itself.

I am also personally disappointed by Planet Cath because her efforts contributed to exposing that ridiculous fake Hope bakery last year, by 2 silly boys pretending to raise money for vulnerable women to bake cupcakes. They were covered in all the national press because they were at the front of the queue for a new iPhone which they were going to auction to kickstart their seedy venture. By women like Planet Cath and others standing up and facing off this blatant attempt to profit from the misery of women who had gone through domestic violence, we shut down their ambitions.  Women working with women have a much greater impact than when we're trying to tear each other apart. Women attacking other women because they don't agree with them is unacceptable.

I leave you with the wise words of my friend Selma James. Selma told me a long time ago, "avoid anyone who says they are a feminist. It's a label on a tin and we don't ever know what is really inside."

We will be making no further statement on this matter. I have asked for the Tweets which contained profanities or were factually incorrect to be taken down.

Kazuri will not be silenced on issues which matter and will continue to pull up discrepancies in the debates which matter to us. In the same way we hope the women's sector will continue to engage in a positive and challenging manner.

Farah Damji
Director
Kazuri Properties CiC

Saturday, 24 August 2013

bang bang gonna shoot you dead

Just got to love Aunty M



Perfect for writing a(nother) complaint to the PCC. 

Line 'em up and watch 'em fall. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Human behaviour

Rule Number One: write it all down.


"Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you."
JD Salinger

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Thinking the unthinkable

Reading Foucault on the pathology of mental health practitioners and psychologists to categorise, brand and define the criminal mind.


Why do we need an offender to take part in the chorus of disappointment and disapproval against him, so society can vindicate our condemnation and feel righteous?

Why do I think by making you "bad" I can be better and can we get off the weighing scales please.

A man told me he had a dream about sexually violating his daughter.  It was at a time of great instability for them both, he had removed her from the care of her alcoholic mother. I am disturbed by the image, I'm shocked he would tell me. I was abused by someone at that age. Do men have such dreams?

Two weeks later I'm on the underground heading south to pick up my daughter who's at a friend's. She's 11, hyper cool and fresh faced. I'm on the train with another man, someone whose stable influence on my life can be measured.  He defends some of the most outrageous allegations of crimes against children committed by those who are meant to protect them and look after them.

I tell my friend, who in spite of his middle class upbringing, loved by his parents and his career as a top criminal QC, is disgusted.

"That's very revealing. What was he trying to tell you? You know this is far too dangerous."

I am a bad picker of men he adds.

"No man dreams of that," his cool green gaze tells me what I know.

Who am I to judge another's pathology?

Monday, 5 August 2013

First light and fading

Summer peaks, teeters on the pinnacle of full blown beauty.
I always did love the moment just before the bloom turns, a kiss from the rose on the vine.
Its Light exudes a chalky glow and reminiscences of what was.
And what might be again.
Sometimes letting go is all it should be.
All a woman wants is someone who fits the curve of her soul.  A place where noise and traffic and expectations are excluded.
Who can love her so she can feel it not how he needs to.

 So she like the rose can bask in beauty and exhale.
Saturday. Turbulence. I ask a man who used to love me if he could love me again.
His answer is a word.
"Yes."
And sometimes knowing is just enough.
..................
Photo: somewhere in Ilford by my clever Uncle Barry who makes me read books.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Letter to an unknown friend


I write:

To be honest I don't know if I would have come to see you next weekend. The thought of true connection terrifies me. Its memory lives in me, in the same way a smooth pebble washed up by the tide holds the sea. It fascinates me and I yearn, like the pebble to be washed over and cleansed. To rejoin wholeness. 



 I'm still not sure what I would do with it. 

Easier to ache longingly and have meaningful interludes with meaningless men. Someone to hold onto and in whose broad arms to seek comfort when the night feels dark and scary... Someone easy to leave. Spare me from a man who leaves more than an imprint on the pillow next to me, in my bed. 


Easier to admire the soft curve of the smooth pebble from a distance displayed in an elegant arrangement on the mantlepiece, mememto mori to the courage to find love I used to have. It's deserted me. I'm a passion wounded flower. 



He replies: 

Jul 28, 2013 – 7:37am
"Or meaningless affairs with meaningful men who stretch their personal boundaries for you and contort their expectations like elastic bands, because they like the pain? Well we want it all don't we! We want our lover to be everything at every level, don't we? Isn't it easier to have it all in one package? Is an infinitely more desirable to have someone who can give us to domestic intimacy and unadulterated gorgeous cunt and cockishness."


Maybe. Summer rain  essential to clear the mind and wash off the stain of last night's meandering across to the dark side.  We do things we say we will never do. And then we do them again. 

Fiction is stranger than life.



Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Wounded Warriors

War's over.
A batallion of Wounded Warriors - prowling lupine smoking carnivores.  They meet at the intersection of pleasure / perversion where the next item on the menu gives way to hungry eyes and empty bellies. Depraved and wild with meaningless experiences.
Always seeking a thrill. I am not she...
Do new experiences make life worth living or are you just occupying some meanwhile space?
Where did all the men who have presence go, or did they ever exist? Is it some distant half remembered fairy tale? Eyes the colour of a high, noon sky and mist, pools of troubled consternation and doubt are grazed with desire and longing.
I can't save you. I can't reach you. My  courage is wholehearted.  I have the chutzpah to take a walk in your world but I love what I have, this studied safety I've sought for half a lifetime. Shall I bring you closer to me as you look inward? Shall I leave you to roam the plain and the pain and set you free?
You're fast asleep as I write this.  Giant in my bed,  how you make my space yours and how comfortable you are out of your bickering west London village. Here you can breathe out, you tell me.
The walls around your shrouded heart, keep me at bay and let me in. Love is fluid like water  cascading the tower of razor wire in the heat of the cruel July sun. Cooling.
Friendship crosses boundaries into another country.
Let's stay here a while.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Life is short

Saddened by the news of Jeremy Clarke's prostate cancer.  He announced it, I'm told, in good old fashioned drunken style at the Spectator summer party. I wasn't there to witness it, Jeremy is like a Catherine Wheel of energy and mania. Maybe 10 years ago I might have wanted to stick it out and suck up the glamour.

He's a funny soul, my Jezzer. The life and soul of the party. Yet so lonely and such a monk like existence with his mother in a mansion in  Devon. He has no real friends and no one challenges him when he's being a prize cock (often) or when he needs to just calm down and stop ventilating his own hype. I'd have respected him so much more of he hadn't lied to me about something petty major. Who knows we might still be together.

Jeremy has been on my mind a lot recently.  I'm not sure why.  I've gone months without thinking about him.  I let him into my life in a way I haven't, with a man for more than 10 years. I had to let him go. Freedom to roam came with stringent conditions. 

Yesterday, blazing sun. A new lover.

He's broken his sunglasses and we're about to get in the car and go for a long drive. We are looking at new ones for him. 

"Do you want to approve them..." then he catches himself and says "No, you're not my girlfriend. " We both break comfortable laughter.

"Can I have that on my tombstone, not your girlfriend?"

Scenarios are playing out in my mind, after he asks me, whether I want to be in another long term  relationship.  I'm not sure.  I love my space. But I miss the Sunday domesticity, like he and I had this morning waking up to someone in my bed who is more than a physical need or some deep attraction. The lover is like that and he asks a lot of questions about Jeremy.  Then he asks if I mind him asking. I don't, he doesn't hurt like a hang nail of disappointment and inevitability any longer.   There's a bag of clothes I must return to him...I need my space like the incoming tide needs the bed of sand as she caresses and careens up the dunes.

We navigate our way down to the sandy cove in west Wales and talk about lost loves. We lay our towels  on the stones and lie like starfish and the man, turns red and tans then burns. He goes into the sea, comes back gleaming like a dolphin, greying hair slicked back and eyes the colour of the sea.

There's a gentleness and a calmness I like when we're together.  But I wonder if that's enough. His last girlfriend is insanely jealous and passionate.  I can't do that anymore.  Love isn't about possession or control, any longer.  Love is about letting go and finding a safe space to just be. A different energy. 

I hope you get well Jeremy. Here's to good endings, my love.


 And to good beginnings with a man in whose eyes I can see glimmers of  eternity, even when we're back home from the sea.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Who knew

That having a man around the house could be such fun? Maybe new is getting old at last.

And when he leaves there's a sort of missingness...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

G4S not in my name

This from a woman who has just been granted leave to remain.  It may not necessarily seem like a big deal, I don't really like my living room curtains either. But when we consider she was moved hurriedly last week because G4S had not paid the landlord rent and she was about to be evicted through no fault of her own, when we consider she has a young baby and when we take into account that she has been raped and sexually assaulted, this is not acceptable.
Not in my name and not with my money G4S.

"it's regarding the curtain in my living room not shutting when you try to close it and I have reported this to G4S and cascade none of them are doing anything about it, on Sunday the 25 may some man was peeping through the windows because you could see one from outside and that really terrified me and scared and also I do not want to be burgled while me and my son are asleep because inside the living room is being exposed…. I am scared of coming to the living room at night to watch TV or have my dinner, please could you help me speak or email G4S about this I have done so with Sharon and spoken to Alison from G4S last week none of them is taking me serious …..I can not be living in fear in my own space and I am on strong antidepressants tablets, at the moment all this is making me jumpy, agitated and worked up. At least at night time one has to shut your curtains but I can not do that since I moved in on the 16 May and I have reported this to both G4S and cascade none of them is taking me serious at all,"

 

Surely would it not be more reasonable for G4S/Cascade to simply believe their refugee tenant and replace the curtains in the living room? Any further inspection or visit to replace the curtains should be arranged in advance with Ms XXXX to avoid any further invasions of her privacy.

For more information about Kazuri's report to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry on asylum please contact me through info@kazuri.org.uk

Friday, 24 May 2013

Why can't we live together.

Heard this after a very long time. The words got to me, especially in light of recent events in my personal life and in the streets of London in the name of false gods. Who said the personal  shouldn't be political? But it  so very is.



My life is   utterly weird. One day this week, I spent half the afternoon in Nancy Astor's old house being debriefed  (not literally) by the former head of procurement for the Ministry of Defense. Fascinating  irritating but brilliant man. One so steeped in establishment dogma yet able to think outside of the tick box.  This was followed by a talk by the COO of MOPAC. Helen Bailey is  what action man would  like if he was a woman, all sharp suits and agile, refracting  mind, I have a lot of respect for what Boris is achieving and her personal commitment. I liked her even more because she couldn't answer my question about whether police training around rape victims and in general was gender sensitive, so she said she would take it away and find out. But to say stop and search is still a legitimate tool in the prevention of crime is a bit dinosaur.

I feel  sorry for the G4S folk I see on the criminal justice circuit, the  Billy no mates,  desperately trying to make alliances because they are going to need bid candy for the large scale public sector contracts coming up such as the decimation sorry, privatization of probation . This won't help. Neither will a law suit against G4S, around violating and distributing confidential e mails and unpaid bills to third sector providers about which  I can't say much  at present, but will be public very soon.

We heard a few months ago about how G4S had been given the contract to run the SARC  (sexual assault referral centres) centres in the midlands. Again, women suffer because men want to profit  from our pain and this is another way the patriarchy sticks two fingers and engorged cock at everything that has been gained in training, a gendered lens and the expansion of understanding around women, trauma and violence. WHY have this bunch of thugs been given the contract? It's not alright to write fantastic bids and then not deliver services to the most fragile women in  society. It;s fraud, if it was me, I would be writing to you from HMP Holloway. Well I wouldn't but you know what I mean.

Look, do me a favor  if you hate me, like me, fan me, want to kill me, if I have ever entertained or horrified you, please consider signing this. I am getting quite ranty and community action in my old age. Baroness Damage of Whitechapel? I fear not. But it feels so freeing to operate from a place where money, power and fear are not the drivers.



Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Angel

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance, for the break that will make it ok, but there's always some reason to feel not good enough and it's hard at the end of the day...


Monday, 13 May 2013

Open letter to Vicky Pryce

Dear Vicky Pryce

I was asked to go on SKY news' Adam Boulton's lunchtime show to speak about how life might be for you, post release. I daren't assume and I avoid these media opportunities generally, but your case horrified and fascinated me. Thanks to modern technology and Skype we couldn't quite get it together but here are some things I wanted to say to you. that I wish someone had told me, so I knew how hard it was going to be.

First of all I know you are friends with my dismal aunty who claims to have brought down the lecherous venomous Stewart Hall. A shame she couldn't have done  something about the sexual abuse going on in her own family, right under her nose but I suppose she feels vindicated now. Beware of journalists, haggard old  brown ones bearing gifts and smelling of damp and opium, they are like poison.   Aunty Yazzmonster says you were driven mad by love. I think it was cold hearted revenge and old trauma, rearing their ugly Hydra heads.  Whatever it is , and who am I to judge, you have the chance to look at it and face it down. This is a chance not many women get, in a lifetime Vicky.

You'll never shake the tag of being an ex offender, a prisoner  a liar. You'll always be Huhne ex, like a boarding school moniker, Cameron minor, it's another way society strips women of our own identity, we are the chattels of the various men in the transitions of our lives.

As a woman, we are punished more  and more severely than men who commit identical crimes. When a man comes out, he can shake off  the  prison dust from his soles, bin the baggy clothes and get on with his life. Look at debonair Jonathan Aitken who had delusions of going back to parliament and is now the gentleman offender, elder statesman. Then there's Lord Ahmed who has handed in his  membership of the Labour party due to more allegations of  antisemitism  but they've wanted shot of him since his prison stint for texting and driving and killing.

You'll always have the stigma, prison never leaves you and for some people who have experienced trauma and come through a journey of self discovery, they find redemption in  campaigning for justice and showing up the glaring flaws in the system. We should be collectively ashamed of ourselves.  Six years after  the Corston Report, after endless campaigning by the Prison Reform Trust and the Howard League and others  there has been no significant change in the way women are treated in the criminal justice system. You'll be pleased to know Helen Grant MP is a justice minister tasked with  a review of the female estate and there is meant to be an announcement this summer. Don't hold your breath.

 I am working on an alternative custodial solution for women in the UK, which has an intensive therapeutic  intervention based on Judith Herman';s trauma recovery model and some of the brightest brains and most powerful people in the UK have  supported this and are on board. The University  of Nottingham is working on the metrics for working out the impact (social and financial) and this kind of work has never been done with female prisoners before, if you are interested in helping with crunching the justice reinvestment the economic side of this, prisonoimics, please get in touch with Chris Durkin who is leading on this.

You have the chance to  rebiography your life, through your writing  your creativity and your nerve. Grab it. Two short pieces of advice
1. Don't look back. You have done your time , you have paid the price  your future can be beautiful and you can make of it what you want.
2. Avoid becoming anyone's pet prisoner or project, the prison reform campaigners have an agenda which I believe is sinister;  if women's prisons are closed, they run out of self perpetuating jobs in overpaid executive positions, like the cartoon character that runs and runs and runs to the end of the cliff until there's no more cliff and he looks down and ... there's nothing but air. And he falls.

The time for action is now, it's not a time for more reports or more rhetoric  As a woman whose life was  seriously screwed up through sexual abuse, violence and self hatred, I  found my way back  because of the love of an  entire community, I wish you only love and peace in your heart.

If I can ever do anything at all, please get in touch.
In womanity

Farah x


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Carers or Captors? A report to the Home Affairs Select Committee on women asylum seekers and housing

Email to Stephen Small managing director,  G4S (UK) Care and Justice Services Ltd and Mrs Loraine Buckles,  wife of CEO Nick Buckles.

Via e mail

Dear Mr Small

I am inviting you to the launch of Kazuri's report on housing and asylum and particularly G4S contract with the UKBA. This will be held in parliament. I invite you in the interests of fairness because you are directly responsible for the UKBA /COMPASS contract and because G4S should be able to explain their position with regards to how they treat vulnerable asylum seeking women, in frankly appalling housing conditions.  We do hope that either you will attend or you will send a representative.  This is a save the date, a formal invitation will go out next week.

The home office is considering  sending a representative. We expect members of the Home Affairs  Committee to attend as they are hearing evidence that day.  I'm afraid you can't have sight of the report until the event. Once it is with the committee it is no longer ours to disseminate.

Mrs Buckles I do hope you will attend. Sometimes women have to stand up and stop it when our husbands, brothers, sons or lovers are perpetrating abuse, violence and trauma on other more vulnerable women. This is what G4S is doing, in its Compass housing contract and I'd like you to see it for yourself. There will be women present whose experiences are  cited as case studies. They  will give powerful testimony  about the abuse G4S has perpetrated on them and their families including harassment,  sexual abuse and neglect.

Kind regards

Farah Damji
__________________________

Final draft invitation 02052013

Jeremy Corbyn MP

invites you to a parliamentary event to mark the publication of Kazuri’s report to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry on asylum

 

“Captors or Carers?”

By Flo Krause, Nanki Chawla and Farah Damji 

Chaired by Imran Khan, human rights solicitor

With

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Sarah Teather MP

Julian Huppert MP

Geoffrey Robinson MP

 

Tuesday, 4th June 2013
House of Commons, between 1700 hrs and 1900 

 

The Panel discussion will centre on the conflicted role of housing providers in the private sector, for vulnerable women seeking asylum under the COMPASS contract, their pastoral care and the need for a gendered approach.  This report calls for a shift in policy and transparency in the tender process, procurement, design and delivery of all public services contracted out to the private sector from Government departments or their agencies.

 

 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Sometimes destroyed.

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”  —  Ernest Hemingway, author and journalist, Nobel laureate (1899-1961)

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Letting in the light.

More dharma less drama.

Prayers at Notre Dame. Some dreams refuse to grow old.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Prisoners as commodities in the race to incarcerate

I spent the day at HMP Eastwood Park yesterday. 

The work the dedicated CARAT staff and officers are doing to change lives makes a huge difference to the women particularly on the recovery wing where they are expected to be drug free and engage in steps towards recovery. I was there collecting data for a University in Wales we will be working with to analyse the effects of an intervention  Kazuri is piloting, working closely pre release and then in the community in decent housing owned and managed by Kazuri  if these women agree to stay drug free and engage in the community. Initially this will be piloted in Wales,  where because there is no women's prison,  women are being shunted around all over the country and reentry pathways are limited and don't appear to be working to meet the women's needs in a joined up,  coherent way. I was impressed with the work being done by Gwalia and the probation housing team to try to maintain social housing tenancies and private rented homes but I was shocked to hear housing associations read the newspapers to scour whether their tenants are incarcerated in order to try and get them to surrender their tenancies.  Platform 51 are working hard to engage the women in  Where's the logic in this?


I was moved by the  imprisoned women's support for what  Kazuri represent which is creating sustainable housing and rehabilitation pathways and one shy woman said to me that she felt she could never get a job,  be productive or hold a tenancy because she now had a criminal record and felt such shame.  Other women round the table nodded their heads in assent.
My heart went out to them but my mind refuses to acknowledge or believe that we can't change our present and redefine our future selves against a compelling version of our most brilliant potential. Elaine France,  very brilliant trainer and coach developed some resilience training for Kazuri for young women who have not worked or been made recently unemployed. We did this exercise with the prisoners and the sunlight shone through bars on the window for "what might be" and  flooded the room.
I left feeling more positive than I have in a long time.  Recent psychic vampires and people who want status, wealth or to be acknowledged for Doing Good Things have been dispatched under their rocks. The day flew by as it does when I get in my zone.  The program Kazuri is developing with probation, housing associations and social enterprise and charities already established and involved in good work with women prisoners and in the community,  we can all bring about sustainable change. 
However,  the real  issue lies at the heart of government policy.  Even in America which locks up the highest rate of its citizens,  there is an understanding by both parties that prison provides no solution and is an expensive pseudo prescriptive to entrenched problems.  But persuasive,  glamorous CEOs with shiny white teeth and flowing locks (remember what happened to Little Red Riding Hood)  cajole convince and con our elected representatives into building more prisons although the crime rate is falling and we need less prison places. We need to shift resources to where they're needed,  infrastructure and development projects,  learning,  skills and training to bring people out of poverty and multiple exclusion,  and stop lining the silk lined blood stained pockets of Mr Buckles' shareholders.
The article below is a powerful call for Justice Reinvestment,  but requires paying it forward which appears tricky for government as they attempt to abrogate the risks and the responsibility of all vulnerable people into the private sector.  Payment by what results? How many deaths in custody, how many incidents of self harm, how many more crime statistics?
If you cut me, I will bleed but my tears drown out  in an ocean your dogma and excuses.


A cautionary tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Remember who gets eaten in the end, Mr Buckles. 


"Most people don't realize that it costs, let's say $25,000 a year, to pay for the imprisonment of one person for a year (and that figure varies of course) and a lot more for solitary confinement.  Many people are in prison because they couldn't find jobs in their neighborhood except selling drugs.  Why not just find them a job that pays at least $25,000 a year and help rebuild communities instead of perpetuating the selling of drugs to feed the prison-industrial complex?One of the most promising concepts of recent years is that of Justice Reinvestment. This builds on the recognition that incarceration is not widely experienced by most sectors of society, but rather is heavily concentrated in disadvantaged communities of color. Geo-mapping studies have identified "million dollar blocks" in densely populated urban neighborhoods in Brooklyn, NY, and elsewhere, where taxpayers are spending $1 million annually to imprison people from just one of those city blocks. So this is not a problem of not having adequate resources, but rather how we use those resources to prevent and respond to crime. Justice Reinvestment is based on the premise that we should reduce the prison population and then reinvest savings to prevent crime and create opportunity in those neighborhoods.Suppose, for example, that we were able to reduce our excessive lengths of sentences for drugs and other offenses even by only 20 percent. So a five-year prison term would be shifted to four years. This would have no significant effect on the deterrent impact of the prison system or prospects for recidivism, but would free up that 20 percent of the $1 million of incarceration per block. So, we'd then be free to consider how to invest $200,000 in ways that might have an impact on reducing crime. This would not be a cure-all for the problems experienced by low-income communities, but it suggests that there are ways to redirect resources in ways that can begin to break away from the over-reliance on incarceration."

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Papercut people

"Relationships and marriages are transactions to misogynists and misandrists. For other people they are relationships."
The institutions of marriage and ownership are outdated rituals based on female economic dependency.   Everything has a value, every interaction changes you forever.  Why does it have to be "ever." A whole generation of women proclaimed their mothers "whore" to play the arched back switch blade tongue beast and have freedom to roam.
Even a papercut can be deep.


Friday, 19 April 2013

On betrayal

"An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind."

The Buddha

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Poem:Love, Allan Ginsberg.

"The weight of the world is love. 
Under the burden of solitude..."

We can only be hurt by that which we love.  Home is where you are.  I've never met someone like you. I only suffer if I need you. So I let go because it's simply easier than letting your pain and your passion reside in my heart.
Be bold and don't forget how bright your light shines in the darkness you've chosen to step into.

My life is weird.  From the depths of concentration,  to facing down the bitterness of betrayal and trying to swallow the hurt before it swallows me, to a phone call from a senior politician who's invited me to tea if he's not being whipped.

‘Even in destruction there is a right way and a wrong way – and there are limits.'
Thus speaks a young Russian terrorist in Albert Camus’ Les Justes.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Boston

“Bis vincit qui se vincit in Victoria” -(Syrus)

“He conquers twice who in the hour of conquest conquers himself.”

Hard to know what makes people act out such atrocities which damage the fragile psyche of the planet.

Stay strong Boston

Love
Ìnsomniac, Camden.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sex and the city

City life encourages speedy couplings followed by discovery, inverse of usual rituals. Many more openly gay pairs too. Lovely.

Madam Arcati

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Sap rising, spring stirring

You can't live in England and complain about the weather. We just become part of the grey drops of grey rain and grey sky which shroud us. That is until something unexpected shimmers unaware, like a fallen star in the hedgegrow. Like light, caught unaware.

Saw the engravings and watercolors of Georgio Morandi on Sunday at the Esotrick Collection in Islington on Sunday. Blank space on the paper symbolised solidity and sun baked stone walls. Furious but regimented cross hatchings became sinister shadow spaces. The space between shapes took on a greater significance than the "filled in." There's more than just taking up space.

There is meaning and value in everything, it reads on the exhibition cards, by reaching into the metaphysical.
Obsession is limiting and wastful intensity. Beautiful film,  a late quartet. How thrill and deep experience don't replace a constant movement towards a shared destination.  It's   a eulogy to slow decay and unlived awareness. Stories of lives untold. I don't understand hating something so much that you can destroy yourself to get a last look back and claws in for vengeance.

Stay drenched.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Letting go

When I lose myself and let go, some things extra ordinary always happen.

“Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing. There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except that there is one item less, one missing element. Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. Either way, there is a loss of control. Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before. The material falls away in onrushing experience. It peels off like skin from a molting snake. Of course to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss.” ― Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Feeling blessed.

Feeling all loved up interconnected and blessed. Maybe it was the sunshine that felt warm on winterised skin. Maybe it was the charm of the Welsh and their capacity to make anyone feel at home and welcome.  Maybe it's the possibility of something that's caught my attention in the corner of my eye.

I never really get it till I empty myself of all preconceptions and give away every last ounce. Then it comes back in abundance,  that elusive "it" whatever it is today;  joy, understanding,  compassion,  healing.

Often I need to exit my comfort zone to take myself on.

May you be safe and blessed.