Category Archives: Life

Poem 5

You claimed with all your might,
To know me better than,
The skies knows the kites,
You believed, deep within
You have figured me out,
But struggled to see the rivers,
Running down my spine,
Or the stony pathway to the castle,
Buried behind the forests,
Inside of my heart.
You were yet to discover,
The breeze my breath left,
On your skin,
Or the fingerprint marks,
That stained your bed sheets,
You tasted my snow storms,
You feared its form,
You ran away from my winter,
As you said it is too cold.
I watched you ran away,
Like a coward,
Before my spring able to come along,
And give you a bit of warmth.

The Dizzying Final Photos Taken by a Free Runner Who Fell to His Death

Johnny Turner fell tragically while climbing a block of flats in central London. He was 23, and leaves behind an impressive body of photography.

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ALL PHOTOS BY JOHNNY TURNER.

Johnny Turner was a talented free runner and photographer. He had a special “touch” when landing his jumps, balancing elegantly on thin rails or walls almost without making a sound. He also loved London’s architecture – from train lines to abandoned construction sites to tower blocks and housing estates – and photographed it obsessively. Johnny was able to combine these two passions in urban exploration, an activity that took him to parts of the capital most people never see.

“He was the type of person who would just ride his bike and do parkour so naturally, he came across these environments from an early age,” says Will, a friend of Johnny’s. “He grew up in Balham in south London, so he’s always been around places like Stockwell, Brixton, Clapham. I think that’s why he drew a connection with this type of architecture.”

In September 2019, Johnny fell to his death when climbing a block of flats in Waterloo. He was 23 years old.

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Urban exploration, also referred to as “urbex”, is the practice of entering or climbing a city’s uncharted buildings. It could be the top of a block of flats, an abandoned building site or in the case of Bradley L Garrett, who scaled the Shard in 2012 and brought the often nocturnal activity into the spotlight, one of its most iconic skyscrapers. Many “explorers” take photos of the views they encounter, often sharing on social media. London-based urban explorer Harry Gallagher, also known as @night.scape, has more than 240k followers on Instagram and posts shots from the sides of buildings and inside tunnels. Ally Law has earned over 3 million subscribers on Youtube with his urbex videos, and once broke into the Big Brother house. Viral videos of urban climbers like Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov, who run the YouTube channel On The Roofs, have also brought the activity to the mainstream. The hashtag “urbex” now has over 7.5 million entries on Instagram.

Like any extreme sport, urban exploration carries certain risks. Depending on the kind of building an explorer decides to climb, floors can be unsafe or even collapse, while bad weather conditions leave scaffolding wet and slippery. Abandoned buildings are littered with trip hazards that may be impossible to see in the dark, when many urban exploration missions take place. Entering a building without permission can also be considered trespassing, and in some cases punishable by law.

Roman, another of Johnny’s friends, says that he knew the risks involved with urban exploration and was respected within the community. “If you do it [urban exploring], it’s not necessarily dangerous, because with everything you do, there’s always calculated risks,” he says. “You’re not going to take a risk you know you’re not ready for.”

urban-exploration-londonTWO TOWER BLOCKS IN STOCKWELL, SOUTH WEST LONDON, NEAR WHERE JOHNNY GREW UP.

Johnny leaves behind a fascinating body of photography that shows London from a completely new perspective. One photo centres on two tower blocks in Stockwell, not far from where Johnny grew up. Another was taken on the Golden Lane housing estate, which he used to describe as the “hat” on top of the block. He also photographed the Wyndham and Comber estate in Camberwell, a popular training spot for parkour that featured in the music video for Goldie’s “Inner City Life” – his favourite song.

“Johnny found beauty in the grittiness of tower blocks,” says Will.

Johnny’s goal was to document these buildings before they disappeared. According to a study from the London Assembly, redevelopment projects between the years 2004 to 2014 led to a drop in social housing, and a huge increase in private housing. Many council estates and tower blocks that were not listed buildings were demolished. The most famous of these is the Heygate Estate, a housing estate in south London made up of more than 1,200 homes that was demolished between 2011 and 2014 as a part of a redevelopment plan for the Elephant and Castle area.

london-urban-explorerTHE “HAT” JOHNNY DESCRIBED ON THE TOP OF THE GOLDEN LANE HOUSING ESTATE.

“Johnny loved seeing the world from up there,” Roman says. “Maybe not 24/7 but 23/6, he was out there [exploring].”

It wouldn’t be unusual for Roman’s phone to ring at 2 AM and for it to be Johnny’s number. He would answer and listen to his friend enthuse about cycling to east London to “check out a new spot.” Sometimes, though, it was a struggle for Roman to keep up with Johnny. “He was the king of the blocks,” he says. Johnny’s friends hope to one day show his photos in an exhibition.

Johnny loved urban exploration despite the risks. But what is it about seeing London from often dangerous viewpoints that can be so inspiring? “For different people, it’s different reasons but the biggest one is simply that they are extremely beautiful and striking and carry a very powerful aesthetic experience,” says Barnabas Calder, an architecture historian from the University of Liverpool and author of the book Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism.

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Calder adds that London’s council housing is also interesting from a social history point of view. “Its [aim] was to improve the housing of ordinary people, and bring up the lowest standard of housing to the highest quality, in terms of technical performance and quantity of housing available.”

For Roman, urbex is about more than just a beautiful photo or even a building’s purpose. “As much as it’s about getting the view and sights it’s also a mission,” he says. “It’s a journey.”

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Pedro, another friend of Johnny’s, sums up why he thinks Johnny loved urban exploration.

“For Johnny, it wasn’t about being on a roof and doing dangerous things – despite what people may think,” he says. “It wasn’t even close to that. His passion was to document the constantly changing city.”

Originally article link: Vice Magazine

 

Behind the eye of a refugee.

Words: Melissa Johnson
Photography: The Guardian Newspaper

The British media continues to be unsuccessful with the representation of migrants, and one main reason behind this failure is the lack of diversity within the industry. Many journalists will and have agreed that the media industry is middle-class white male orientated and it’s one of the biggest issues of our generation, that needs to be tackled.

The majority of British media are white males. The figures shows that 94% of journalists are white, 86% of journalists have attended university, and 80% of editors were privately educated. More than half of leading journalists went to a private school making the figures 51%. Most ironically, 46% of bosses in the industry are uncomfortable with the level of diversity in their own news rooms.

Only 37% of senior radio roles are held by women and only 11% of journalists come from a working class background. However, the most upsetting figures show that only a small faction of 0.4% of journalists are muslim. It’s coming up to a new decade and these figures show that there needs to be drastic change very soon.

Many migrants, regardless if they are born and raised in the UK, or are here to seek asylum, find the representation of migrants somewhat inaccurate, non-existing or even in some cases offensive.

Abdulwahab Tahhan is a 31-year-old Syrian refugee who is now living in the UK. He’s currently studying media studies at UAL (London College of Communication) and has previous experience in media such as working as a researcher for NGOs and more. However, with his background and lack of ‘western qualifications’ he struggles to find a job in the UK in the media industry.

His story began in Dubai where he was born, but not long after his birth his family moved backed to Aleppo, Syria – his home country.

“There are no borders and people can cross if they wanted.”

Towards the end of 2012 Abdul left Syria permanently. By that time, it was about two years into the war, and he went to Turkey which is not too far from the boarder of Aleppo. “While we were filming the documentary called The Suffering Grasses in 2012, we interviewed a Turkish government official, where he explained with a map that there are no borders and people can cross if they wanted” said Abdul with a calm expression.

Watching the documentary and visually seeing Abdul talk about the war on screen which was supported with footage of civilians being attacked, gives you a good idea as to why Abdul felt like he needed to leave his home. However, his calm expression suggests that he has made peace with this decision.

“I felt like my views were not welcome, I’m against armed opposition. I’m pro peaceful resistance, pro peaceful protesting, I was protesting on the streets, I was filming too. I was against arming the uprising. It came to a point where I had to either carry a weapon and stand against what I believed in and become one of those who carried weapons, or become a media activist for one of those armed factions and I didn’t want to, or I had to leave.

It came to a point where I had to either carry a weapon and stand against what I believed in and become one of those who carried weapons, or become a media activist for one of those armed factions and I didn’t want to, or I had to leave.

Living in the Assad controlled area was not an option because I was wanted by the Assad government. I didn’t have many choices; Turkey seemed like the best option” he explains.

“If you’re rich you can bring your loved ones, if you’re not forget about it.”

The immigration laws are not friendly either, unless you come from a wealthy background, you are welcomed with open arms and pink flowers. However, in contrary to that if you do not, the door is shut. “If you’re rich you can bring your loved ones, but if you’re not, you can just forget about it.” Abdul was able to come to the UK through a student visa with a deposit of £2,500, once he arrived, he applied for asylum and was able to receive it.

Moving and settling down in the UK was a big step towards a war-free and safe future for Abdul, and there are expectations in regards to the people and the country itself. “The first thing that I noticed from the plane was, it was very green compared to Syria.”

The people however, were indifferent and slightly ignorant to the war that was happening in his homeland. “I remember meeting an Asian girl and she asked me where I was from and I said Syria, she asked where is Syria? I said it is next to Italy it’s very beautiful there, it has a lot of beautiful beaches. She wanted to go there but I hope she didn’t” he said as he nervously laughed.

People were not aware of the horrible war in Syria, and that a lot of refugees were putting their whole life on the line to make their way to Europe.

However, once the media started reporting and covering stories in regards to the amount of refugees trying to cross the borders, it was only then people became more aware. They started paying attention, but even so the only reason people decided to pay attention is because the situation involved them, on a now, more personal level.

“You either make it or you die trying.”

When Abdul wanted to have conversations and debates on the Syrian war he noticed a lot of people avoided the topic, or perhaps did not want to talk to him about it. He assumed that the reason behind people choosing not to talk to him about the war, maybe had to do with the fact that he was Syrian, and the other party was afraid to offend him in any way.

Although Abdul was not one of them, there are still many people who try to cross the border illegally. They risk their lives because they are desperate and are simply looking for a way out. They have no other option and don’t want to go back into a war zone. “You either make it or you die trying.”

Abdul has family members and friends who were not as lucky to be able to find a job and attempt to escape the war in a safer or legal way, illegal border crossing was their only option. “Some were successful, one person drowned in the ocean, most got caught.”

If Abdul was unable to find a job in Turkey, which then allowed him to come to the UK to seek Asylum, he says he would have taken the same drastic measures and would try crossing illegally to either go to Sweden or Germany.

Abdul has close to ginger short hair, light brown hazel eyes and a pale peachy skin tone. A stereotypical ‘European’ look, as he claims. When asked about if he was ever a victim of racism when he arrived in the UK, he said he wasn’t as people thought he was European and did not think he was Syrian. “A lot of people thought I was Italian, and have said I don’t look Syrian, some people even thought I was Jewish here.”

A friend has even said to him “you look European Maa sha’Allah”, – for those who do not know the meaning of Maa sha’Allah it is a term used in Arabic and Islam where it means ‘god has willed it’ to express appreciation, joy or praise – Abdul questions the reason as to why his friend would think looking European is something that should be praised.

Although Abdul was lucky enough not receive racism personally, he has witnessed that some of his friends and even students were not treated the same way. He’s even had an incident where one of his students was thrown food at.

“I remember I wanted to cross the road, I was living in Southampton with a guy, he was Mauritius and he was dark, I said let’s cross there are no cars, he said no we have to cross from the traffic lights, you can cross but people will shout at me because they see me as an immigrant.”

The media plays a huge role on people’s opinions on refugees, and depending on which news publication you choose to receive your news from it can impact your thoughts on refugees drastically. With tabloid publications, the readers pay to read it and live on it.

In some situations, the media can also lead to unrealistic expectations due to the coverage of rare exceptions. Most non-British people who live in the UK to seek asylum such as Abdul cannot find the stories covered relatable when that’s the exact purpose it should be.

According to Abdul and many like himself, what they’ve witnessed is the fixation of two extremes on opposite end of the spectrum and nothing in between. A story about a very successful immigrant or a child getting bullied. Although the stories about the successful immigrants are tend to be used for inspiration among a lot of people, but there is still lack of representation within the media.

“What I saw on the media is the fixation on the incredibly successful people, who for example a 13-year-old girl who speaks seven languages and has a double PhD from Cambridge and oxford who was a refugee, or someone who’s bullied.” For Abdul as a refugee even though he feels happy for those who have become successful, and sends out his thoughts and prayers for the bullied victims, he says he doesn’t see his story represented and for a lot of other refugees it’s the same situation. They fall in the middle of the two opposite extreme spectrums.

This is only when individuals are being reported on however, when it comes to the middle east and Syria for example, as someone who’s Syrian and have lived through the war in Syria, Abdul has noticed that the only two narratives that is portrayed is either ISIS or Assad. This is due to a lack of diversity within the media industry.

Working within the media industry in the past Abdul has realised that it’s not well structured, and believes the model of journalism in the UK is not fit for purpose anymore. As he disagrees with neutrality. “If you know for a fact that something is a lie you should be able to say they lied instead of they claimed. Once you keep repeating that then you’re just a parrot.” He says while portraying his frustration.

This situation makes him feel upset, and witnessed first-hand what happened in his home land, he watched as the Assad regime killed his friends and neighbours but only being able to report on it using the word ‘allegedly’ when he knows first-hand it has happened upsets him.

To be able to structure the media industry for the better, one thing that Abdul strongly believes that should change is the lack of diversity within the media, and journalists, reporters being able to report about their own home lands or people.

“When I was in Syria, I too thought that the BBC was the holy grail of journalism”

One issue this could lead to is the news story turning into a bias report, however Abdul explains in a calmly manner that it will be more quality reporting because you’ll send someone out there who knows the locals or at least understand them, understands the language and understands the culture. “What annoys me the most is I know a lot about my country and I’m really informed. But I’m not able to write or report about it because no one would hire me.”

The reason behind the unemployment of journalists who are refugees is seen to be the lack of ‘western qualifications’. It is seen by employers that western qualifications are ‘superior’ to eastern qualifications, therefore employers believe the journalist is not qualified enough. “When I was in Syria, I too thought that the BBC was the holy grail of journalism” says Abdul while laughing at his past self.

This is why the Refugee Journalism Project started, to help change the quality and diversity of reporting, there are not only journalists from Syria but also from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa and a lot of different places. It’s a project to help journalists who have immigrated to the UK for whatever reason and help them find a job in the media industry in the UK.

“But instead they have this celebrity war reporter who’s white, who knows nothing about the locals, nothing about the language and absolutely nothing about the culture.”

The BBC released a Panorama episode about ISIS brides and the person who was reporting on the topic in Syria was the journalist Stacey Dooley, she referred to the Islamic prayer gesture as the ‘ISIS salute’ even though the BBC later apologised for the mistake, and even deleted that section from the episode, Dooley herself has not apologised.

“The media industry needs diversity, people who are from different religions, cultures, background, so mistakes like Stacey Dooley’s doesn’t repeat itself,” explains Abdul with his brows crossed and serious face.

If the roles were to be switched around and a non-English speaker in an Arabic country was to report on Brexit, and if that journalist was to only interview Arabic speakers the quality of the reporting would be, in Abduls words, ‘utterly awful’.

The only people who can bring a change to this issue are the people in the decision rooms and they need to understand why diversity is important. Everyone thinks differently and everyone have their own way of approaching certain situations or issues.

Journalists from different backgrounds have different understandings, opinions and also connections to the world, and therefore there are stories they would want to cover where the audience would very much want to read about. This is why we need diversity within the new rooms.

Melissa Johnson.

The Floating Homes.

Photography: Myself

Words: Myself

“Living on a houseboat becomes this force that makes you live a sustainable lifestyle.”

Millicent Beesley and her partner Juliano Chapon have been living on a houseboat for only two months, but even in this short period of time, it’s visibly noticeable the changes it has brought into their life approach. It started off as a joke, and it later then became reality. “He told me I was a nutter when I mentioned I wanted to go for a houseboat viewing,” says Millie while laughing. Living on a houseboat is a change to your whole attitude towards your life, and not only beneficial to a minimalistic lifestyle and being close to nature but it also benefits the environment itself. “There’s a lot of things that come with the boat lifestyle, which we weren’t aware of but was very appealing to us” says Juliano.

Although the financial side is a big bonus, there are certain aspects of a boat lifestyle that attracted the couple. It’s living a minimal life; living with less stuff and consuming no more than they need or have to. “We are both engineers and our daily work is to figure out ways to deal with consuming less energy, such as designing a building that has less embodied carbon. This is a massive issue, perhaps the biggest issue of our generation. Everyone can – to an extent – buy and consume a lot less living in a flat, but when you’re living in a boat you are more forced to do it” explains Juliano.

“This is a massive issue, perhaps the biggest issue of our generation.”

Living in a developed G7 country does make it difficult to live a sustainable lifestyle, people can very easily and unknowingly fall into the trap of constant consumption, from buying a new phone to buying new clothes to simply forgetting to switch the lights off and showering every day, and then all of a sudden you’re killing the planet. “Living on a houseboat then becomes this force that makes you live a sustainable lifestyle,” explains Juliano while Millie nods her head in agreement. This lifestyle change does not only apeal for Millie and Juliano but to many other houseboat residents as well.

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Millie & Juliano on their boat.

Things that influence how to live a sustainable lifestyle is consumption, from the amount of plastic is bought, to how much water is used to even how much energy is consumed in someone’s everyday life. “When we got our first electricity bill it was about 200 kilowatts which is very small for a month consumed by two people. Compared to when I was living on my own in my house, I would consume up to a thousand kilowatts a month. So, I consumed five times more just to live. It doesn’t stop with electricity, because water is the same thing. We don’t realise it but just with flushing the toilet, so much drinkable water is used to simply wash our poo” Juliano says while laughing.

There’s energy spent in making the water potable, in other words to make it drinkable and there’s energy used to move it out into a water treatment plant and also to move it back to form it into drinkable water again. Therefore, all of this infrastructure that we need, which is important, because that is how we understand society requires a lot of energy. “It’s not the main reason why we chose to live on a boat, we are not eco warriors, but it does certainly make you feel better about the life choices and the decisions we make.”

Living on a boat – as everyone can imagine – can be very cramped up and Millie explains how, you become more aware of what you buy, and having less to choose from throws you into the deep end of consuming less. You become more conscious about what you will be able to fit into the boat and what you really need, and thus luxury becomes less of a priority. “As weird as it sounds, I’ve basically got a different head on my head when I go into shops now.”

Shopping and buying new things do have a positive mental impact on people, but when you don’t have any space, it doesn’t make you feel sad but rather happy that you don’t need to deal with the hassle of trying to find or make space for all these unnecessary things. “it’s almost like we’ve moved choice” says Millie.

“I was so foreign to the idea that people actually lived on boats, it blew my mind.”

Although living on a houseboat is eco-friendly, the lifestyle however may not be the right choice for everyone. A houseboat has certain aspects that needs to be thought about that no one would need to put second thought into or even consider if they were to live in a normal house. Juliano, comes from a country where narrow boats do not exist, brazil, and he describes his experience as “I was so foreign to the idea that people actually lived on boats, it blew my mind.”

He believes there are certain subtle things that come with the houseboat lifestyle that can be off putting and unnecessary for most. Therefore, there needs to be a certain type of desire and love for the lifestyle. “There are couple of things you have to think about that you normally wouldn’t, like refilling you water tank, and emptying the toilet. Things that you don’t have to do in a normal property” explains Millie as she stirs her coffee and laughs. Only have lived in a houseboat for a couple months, the couple are still learning and adapting their daily routine to this new lifestyle they have chosen for themselves. “We only just figured out winter,” jokingly explains Juliano.

In contrary to the ‘negative’ aspects, moving into a boat is almost like switching communities and living in a village in the middle of London. “We’re in a community, everybody knows each other, and we keep the mooring rent reduced by organising it in a way where the landlord has to talk with one person who was voted for within this community, and that person represents the whole mooring.” Having a lifestyle choice in common with somebody creates an automatic bond, even if it is with a complete stranger.

It would be difficult if someone was to move into a houseboat purely for financial ease, as there’s so much that will be incorporated into your daily life, it’s very like to frustrate you if you don’t necessarily enjoy it and it becomes more of an inconvenience rather than a daily norm.

Regardless of the lifestyle, financial aspects do play a huge role in whether somebody is willing to give up a luxurious lifestyle to an eco-friendlier one. It is a commonly known fact that the house prices, even just renting, is ridiculously expensive in London, thus a lot of Londoners have resorted in either moving towards outer London, or guardianship homes or for a more close-to-nature lifestyle chose to live on a houseboat.

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Inside the boat.

Many could argue buying a ‘normal’ house is far wiser than spending all the savings in your bank account on a boat, however it is definitely a lot cheaper. Especially when a £450k house is considered to be a reasonable and affordable price in London. Whereas a good condition houseboat price can differ between (depending on the size) £50k to £100k, which is still reasonably a lot cheaper compared to a normal property

However, that is not to say that living in a houseboat is completely cheap but is definitely the cheaper option. According to 2017 studies it has shown that there is approximately 60 per cent rise in registered boats. There are over ten thousand people living on a houseboat all across London.Moorings have never been this busy in London, and they’re struggling with water quantities. For those who are familiar with how locks work, every time someone uses a lock, a lot of water is lost from the system, and because there are so many boats moving through locks – due to the fact that people are choosing to live on houseboats – this means some locks are closed for weeks just to hold back the water.

The annual living cost can vary depending on the type of boat you own, if you want a mooring location or prefer on the move, the mooring location itself, Fuel, insurance, boat safety certificate and boat licence, general routine maintenance. Mooring prices varies depending on location if you are closer or in central London, then it will be a lot more expensive. But on average the mooring price is £2,000. This also indicates, as you are considered to be a resident, you will be paying council tax.

There is also a cheaper option to mooring, which is being on the move and only paying for a moving licence, where you would be moving your boat along the canal every couple week. Although, just like everything there is a downside to this, you don’t have a postcode, therefore this may mean saying goodbye to applying for a bank account or any form of credit.

Regardless if you are mooring or on the move every boat owner needs a boat licence where the cost differs from £510 to £1,100 per year, and this cost depends on the length size of your houseboat. Compared to a normal house a houseboat is exposed to not only more harsh weather conditions but also the risk of accidents and damage. Therefore, as well as the licence, insurance is a for a houseboat, which is about £200. 

However, regardless of the financial aspects or the eco-friendly lifestyle, the couple are both thrilled to be living on a houseboat. They’re happy to expand their family and continue to life on a boat if they were to have kids. “How fun would it be to grow up on a boat. As a child it would be wonderful.” Although living in a normal property with a child would be a lot easier and safer. “It’s fine if you were to drop your groceries in the water, but you can’t drop your child.” Most houseboat residents would rather prioritise the safety of their child and thus, more likely to move to a normal house if they were to have kids, and Millie and Juliano agree on this.

The short period of time Millie has lived in a houseboat has changed her thoughts and approach towards consumption, and space for the better. “If I was to live in a normal house again, my attitude towards it would be different.” Living on a houseboat does make you more conscious in regards to consumerism and the environmental impacts it has.     

Londoners are obsessed with property prices and finding the cheapest way to live, therefore, there are many Londoners who choose to live on a houseboat for a more affordable lifestyle. However, for someone who find comfort in what we consider a ‘normal lifestyle’ is to an extent a luxury, therefore moving to a houseboat purely on financial reasons will most definitely be a challenge. Millie and Juliano both who have a fairly above average income can easily afford a property, however, their main goal was the sustainable, minimalistic lifestyle and getting away from the consumerism trap that a lot of people who live in a developed country fall into. Even though, the financial aspects play a huge role in living in a houseboat, the lifestyle change is not for everyone.

Melissa Johnson

The fear of race within the music industry, most importantly – Grime.

“I’ve had more hate from my own race rather than I did from black people,” says 22-year-old Connor Cuttress, a grime artist who goes by his stage name, C Two. The musician is a mere part of a now huge mainstream industry, and has been making music for over a decade, he talks about his struggles and what it is like being a white grime artist within the grime industry. He often reflects this struggle in his own lyrics, such as the song ‘Big for your Boots’ where the lyrics say, ‘C Two’s this, C Two’s that, C Two’s shit, he thinks he’s black.”

“The go to hate speech of white people is C two you’re white, so why are you making black music, why do you believe you’re black. Keeping in mind I actually grew up in a very African orientated community I believe I’m a cultured white man, but my point is I acknowledge grime is black music but that does not mean if you’re a different race and have talent you’re not allowed to make this music, grime is an open, free for all.” The young artist who’s based in Liverpool was raised in a very African populated area, thus having a lot of black friends growing up is what influenced his journey in grime, “it was the year 2008 and I remember we were in the music room in school with my friend and he showed a track on his phone, it was a grime tune and I liked it a lot, the lyrics touched me, when I asked him who it was he said it was him, and then I thought to myself, if he could do it why can’t I? My journey pretty much started there.”

Born in East London from a mixture of Garage, Dancehall and Drum & Bass music, and entire new genre was created. Grime. When talking about Grime, the idea of Black British culture is a somewhat relative definition. It was a new sound, and the lyrics was influenced purely on self-experience of the artist. Other music that is considered as ‘black music’ such as Hip Hop, Reggae, jazz and blues share similar or even the same elements of grime, so how can we not say that Grime does not belong to the category of ‘black music’. It started off with young boys growing up in tower blocks and rusty council estates. However, since then it certainly has evolved from London pirate radios to the mainstream pop culture of London, reaching a wider audience. But does this mean Caucasian grime artists cannot further their careers within the industry, or is there a stereotype going around as to they’re less likely to be as successful as a black artist. But the main issue is, we are well aware of this topic yet are scared to talk about it. However, as Dan Hancox argues in his book ‘Inner City Pressures the Story of Grime’, “Grime is black music, even if it’s not always made by black people.”

C Two is only a part time artist who is making the most out of his talent, “I am confident in my talent, and I am only doing what I’m good at and that it making beats, making music.” Labelling a music genre as black music certainly does not mean it is purely for black people and blacks only, this is where a lot of people get confused and misunderstand the term, it is simply referring to the fact that people should acknowledge the genres origins, and it does not prohibit anyone from enjoying it or even taking part in it. Children from a very young age are exposed to pop culture, and parents unaware of how it programs them through race and even gender to embed the idea of the role they should play within society. “There’s an idea in society where people assume just because grime is black music that it’s for black people, and I have had more racism from my own race than any other, I’ve had knives pulled at me for just making black music. I am white as snow there’s no denying that, I do look in the mirror, but I certainly do not fit in with them because of the type of music I produce and make.” Says C Two.

Talking about race, and talking about the issues within the music industry that involves race is not something we should avoid but quite the contrary, we should not be afraid of it as it is not racist to argue about race.

 

A personal story behind the scream painting.

Simply just another ordinary day I thought to myself, a walk with my old man. Dragging my feet across the pier, hearing my footsteps get heavier and heavier, dying of boredom was simply a very possible thing for me at that exact moment. I must say though, what I would give to relive that day. I was about four years of age back then, my fathers’ big hands absolutely wrapping mine, holding me tightly as if he was scared to lose me. Looking back now, I think he just did not want to deal with the trouble of trying to find me, if I was to wonder off. No one really knows what goes on in a curious four-year olds mind, nor do we remember what went on in our own minds when we were four. We just had so many unanswered questions and fairy-tale like adventures.

He suddenly stopped and let go of my hand at that point, I was pretty surprised by this, I looked up as far as my short neck could reach and saw his eyes lost in the distance, without looking away or even blinking he then placed both hands on either on my head – his hands were bigger than my whole face and neck combined — one hand on each side, covering my ears and squeezing my cheeks and turned my head towards the edge of the ocean and whispered “look at the sky”. I was mesmerized by what I saw. In its literal sense, simply froze on the spot. A weird trembling feeling creeped up my legs starting from the tip of my toes. It was  a tremble of fear. But it was a fear you’d embrace and not look or run away from. The sky was blood shot red, angry, I remember thinking, why Is the sky so angry. I somehow always associated the skies with god, I assumed god was angry. What did the human race do to bring anger to god to simply make the bluest of skies to be covered in spilled ink of red.

London’s outlawed explorers.

Words: Melissa

Image: Tomer

In London it’s that time of the night. Even in a city that never sleeps there is a loophole time when young explorers can camouflage themselves within the shadows to avoid being spotted by passers-by. It’s bitterly cold and wet, but harsh weather is not a reason to pass up the chance to explore the rooftop of a block at the Barbican Centre. It hasn’t been explored before, untouched and waiting for an adventure to happen, it’s an opportunity which rarely comes around.

The outlawed explorers usually wear colourful Nike shoes with a good grip, to climb the rusty ladders, black balaclavas which are nearly as good a mask and black Nike hoodies that cover pretty much everything above shoulders except the eyes, blend in with the darkness but still look stylish for that perfect shot.

Maybe someone who lives in one of the nearby tower blocks near the Barbican woke up for a glass of water at night and, gazing out of their window, glimpsed a figure in black standing on the edge of a nearby building. Maybe they thought little of it, putting it down to an overactive imagination or simple tiredness. However, that crazy figure in black standing on the edge of a building very much exists, and there are more like them. They are ordinary people living double lives – normal nine-to-five worker during the day and an adrenaline lover, urban explorer by night.

Urban exploring – urbex for short – is the exploration of abandoned man-made structures, locations to which the general public would not have access. Climbing rooftops of famous buildings or even something as common as tower blocks is also a part of the game, and photographing and documenting these places plays a crucial role. As an urban explorer myself, believe me when I say that urbexing is a lot more than simply just a hobby. It is an escape, a way of life for those involved.

People have long been attracted and drawn to the mystery behind abandoned places and locations which are not easy to access. The origins of urban exploring date back to the 1970s with a group known as the Suicide Club in San Francisco, who are commonly accepted as the progenitors of modern urban exploration. Over recent years urbex has crept its way up to be one of London’s most desired and appealing mainstream pop culture.

However, fancy skyscrapers in the city are not the only desirable attraction for explorers who also seek out tower blocks in Hackney, Ladbroke Grove, and normal buildings in Shoreditch and even Camden. The ArcelorMittal Orbit, the 114.5-metre observation tower cum sculpture in the Olympic Park in Stratford has also been hit before, as has the West Ham football stadium.

Regardless of how bad the weather conditions make the view of the skyline look finding beauty in the city during the darkest hour of the night is an undeniable part of an urban explorers’ routine. Photography in a way beautifies what we would normally consider ugly if we saw it with our naked eye, and therefore photography simply frames the subject to beautification, and as Susan Sontag says, “nobody ever discovered ugliness through photographs.” Not many have the perks to experience and see the view of London’s skyline from that high up, thus it something to deeply value.

Urban exploration offers different things to different people. “I always liked photography but once I was introduced to urbex that’s when I truly started enjoying it” says the 19-year-old who goes by his Instagram name, ‘Newnotes’. Newnotes was introduced to urban exploration by a friend from school in October 2016. He has a full-time job and says urbex plays a huge role in his life, as a release from all the stress of work. As well, having access to views of London from a perspective which not many people see is something that he values, as well as the social aspect of king like-minded friends for Newnotes, and sharing with them the experiences and the views they get to see and photograph together.

Urban explorer who also lives a double life goes by his Instagram name ‘Kaizen’, he is a 19-year-old full time student and a part time photographer, he was introduced to urban exploring by a friend which then later on led him to go out in the midst of the night more regularly, he values the excitement of urbex. “The freedom that I get and the adrenaline that comes with it; like will we be caught or will we actually make it. I enjoy the uncertainty. And also looking down on people from above them reminds me just how small the world really, and how unimportant most of our worries are and this mindset helps me to relax.”

London and its burgeoning skyscrapers has been a prime playground for urban explorers. The giant blocks in the Canary Wharf financial district have certainly been a particular attraction and some explorers who were caught by police officers have even been banned from the area from 12 to 24 months and will be arrested if they go there. Urban exploring is not a criminal offence but it is a civil one, under the law of trespass. So explorers in London can explore buildings without the fear of being handcuffed and locked up in a cell. Newnotes says, “Every officer you meet is different, some will want to lock you up some will want to see your shots and then take a selfie on the edge.”

Urbex carries real dangers, particularly for younger people who try to emulate more experienced participants but without a proper understanding of the risks, while filming every step of their journey for to post on Instagram and YouTube.

There have been many deaths of explorers over the years. In 2017 a 44-year-old Eric Paul Janssen fell to his death from a ledge on the 20th floor from a luxury hotel in Chicago, reportedly while taking photographs. Christopher Serrano, a 25-year-old New York based explorer who went by the Instagram name ‘Heavy Mind’, died as he attempted to climb onto the roof of an F line train as it passed through Brooklyn. Jackson Coe, 25 who was known for doing backflips on top of skyscrapers was discovered dead at the back of six-floor building in the West Village in Manhattan, New York.

One of the best-known urban explorers on YouTube is Ally Law who has trespassed into the Big Brother House and Thorpe Park, where he climbed a rollercoaster and has also been banned from TV studios and theme parks across most of the UK. Many explorers have strong opinions on him, Mouse, who goes by his Instagram name ‘mousegreen.art’ believes the social media can encourage inexperienced explorers to take dangerous risks. “Ally Law and anyone who are doing these kinds of videos [Urbex YouTube videos] are fucking it for us. I don’t believe making viral videos with no regards for influencing other people is very sensible.”

As urbex has become more popular, the risk has grown of young and vulnerable people copying what they see on social media. Equally, some argue, the videos can be effectively a hand book on how to break into buildings for real criminals. Experienced explorers fear that this will lead to stricter laws and, perhaps, the criminalisation of their hobby. This has led them to a surprising and perhaps paradoxical understanding of the police and their position. Newnotes says: “It is important to always respect the police not just because they’re doing their job but because they’re normal people as much as us. It’s hard to respect someone who wants to arrest you however if you can you’re likely to walk away without any problems. However, the influx of new explorers who do not have this attitude often make the police’s life very hard making the police make more radical decisions.”

The Art of Forgiveness.

The art of forgiveness, so simple for some, yet a drastic struggle for the hatred dominated souls. Is it not in somewhat an excuse for the abusive behaviour, of the wrongdoer. Fostering hate is a lot easier than to simply just forgive the wrongdoing of your once loved one. What a strange world we live in to see the ones we devour with our hearts are to first strike a knife in your chest. You watch as once your enemies are the ones lifting you up healing your wounds. We unfortunately, are a part of a society that indulges us with a belief, that to be considered sane one must act against powerful feelings and simply suppress them. Being passionate with our emotions, enduring them to its full potential is known to be the definition of crazy. Though what does it matter to society because even the ones who walked through a traumatic hell fire in their  life, or just emotional overload are still expected to just play it cool.

yes, you guessed right. I am that girl with the worst temper, who shed tears over tiniest of issues. Forgiveness has never been my strong point, not even at this precise moment. I still hold on to my anger, hatred and disappear of certain people. I just can not accept or forget. Awaking in the midst of the dark night with sweat wetting my hair, and fear leaving me breathless of the nightmares I endure every night. The lack of sleep it results in thus relying on substance to simply be able to acquire a glimpse of sleep. How can society just expect me to play it cool?

Relying on substance to simply be able to acquire a glimpse of sleep.

When it comes to forgiving, it is not to say you’re simply fine with what was done, but to allow yourself a peace of mind. Unable to forgive one is purely the collection of the anger and rage, we must act on our powerful emotions, live to their full potential, thus to finally be able to move. We cannot just live life stuck in one portion of our timelines, that we cannot call living. Freedom is living. To free yourself from the burden, the baggage, to just let it all go we must then forgive. Sometimes we have to forgive not for the sake of the other but merely yourself. We come into this world alone, we shall die alone, remembering death and that all life on earth is one day to come to an end is crucial, as it is a reminder to not how to live ones life but how not to. Don’t live life based on hatred, as it brings nothing but misery. Forgive for the sake of yourself, and no other.