Five Years and Counting

Five years to this day, I wrote and published my first blog post. I still recall all too vividly how petrified I was to share my thoughts and words with the world; how I feared being met with rejection and ridicule. As afraid as I was to reveal myself to the world after years of hiding behind a carefully cultivated persona of the ‘intellectual academic,’ I had to take that risk. Continue reading

Face Equality

7586843F-87AB-47C2-9910-AB6E2EC37638Gender equality, race equality, disability rights, minority rights, etc., are all familiar concepts that inform the political, economic and social spheres of our society.

Less familiar perhaps, but no less important, is the principle of face equality, championed by organisations like Changing Faces, the UK’s leading charity for people with conditions or injuries that affect their appearance; and its sister organisation, Face Equality International. 

Face equality is about being treated fairly and equally whatever the appearance of one’s face or body. As someone who lives with a visible difference, face equality is particularly close to my heart and since this week is Face Equality Week I want to share something I wrote a few years ago and which reflects my personal philosophy on appearance, ability and the human essence: Continue reading

You Gotta Have Faith

 

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On Sunday night the British prime minister appeared on national television,  clenched fists on the desk as he spoke to the populace in what was his best Churchill impersonation yet. Never mind that Johnson doesn’t know how to comb his hair and needs a regular reminder to tuck in his shirt, who wouldn’t trust a man with such impossibly blond locks and deep blue eyes? He’s practically the embodiment of honesty and gravitas. Continue reading

Cleft Beauty

It’s Cleft Awareness Week and in honour of all beautiful clefties out there I am re-posting a blog I wrote a while ago.

Born Whole

Cute-Golden-Retriever-Puppy-640x400Some people get a happiness boost from watching YouTube clips with cute puppies and kittens.

As for me, I’ve never quite felt much love for furry creatures, perhaps because I’m extremely allergic to them, cats in particular.

If ever you wanted to kill me off without getting caught, a mixture of cat, dog and hyacinth will do the trick.

My parents and siblings all have furry pets these days, making any visit to their homes a health hazard for me, but perhaps that’s the whole point.

When my daughters ask for a puppy or kitten of their own, I say they’ve got to choose:

“It’s either me or the pet.”

Accepting defeat, they both vow to get not just cats and dogs when they grow up and have flown the nest, but horses and rabbits as well. I get the message.

No, furry creatures don’t make my day, but cleft…

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There’s No Going Back

I’ve stopped watching the government’s daily Covid-19 press briefings because they make me feel like I’m stuck in a Groundhog Day film script, and I know that script by heart for it never changes. One government minister’s presentation blends into another’s, they’re like robots, emitting pre-recorded sentences that no one bothers to update.

What was I thinking, holding out hope that the government would grow a backbone in the face of a pandemic that is claiming hundreds of lives a day across Britain? How naive was I to think that the prime minister’s illness and treatment in an NHS hospital might change him for the better? Continue reading

Life and Death

Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.     

Lao Tzu

Seven years ago, almost to the day, I sat next to my 91-year old grandmother as she drew her last breath. Three days earlier, I had flown from London to Stockholm to visit her at her flat where she’d lived alone since her husband passed away in 1987.

My trip had been planned for a month, long before my grandmother’s health deteriorated, but a few days before my departure, I was admitted to hospital with a suspected mini stroke. Forty-eight hours before my scheduled flight, I was discharged with orders to rest, but I insisted on travelling as planned, despite feeling very weak.

“Postpone your trip for a couple of weeks,” friends and family advised, but something in me just knew I couldn’t delay; I had to go now. Before I left the hospital, I asked the consultant neurologist if it was safe for me to fly, and he looked at me as if I was mad but, after a moment’s hesitation, he said as long as I took my blood-thinning medications, I should be alright. Continue reading

Don’t Fall for the Great Equaliser Myth

The British prime minister is currently in intensive care, being treated for complications arising from the Coronavirus and his underlings in the cabinet don’t waste a moment to pronounce publicly that Johnson’s case is proof that the Coronavirus is indiscriminate and that we’re all in this together.

That isn’t quite true, though, is it, for as journalists and writers like Afua Hirsch and Kenan Malik have shown in recent articles, not only are working-class people, the unemployed and the homeless more vulnerable to the effects of the virus but so too are people from the Black and Asian communities.

The first four doctors to die from Covid-19 in Britain were Muslim men from Asian and African backgrounds and, of the dozens of transport workers who’ve died after catching the virus on the job, a disproportionate number were black or Asian. Continue reading

Darkness and Light

 

Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.

Madeline L’Engle

We’re two weeks into Britain’s lockdown and my children’s home schooling experiment. This week, the 9-year old’s maths work involved measuring just about every piece of furniture in her bedroom, a task that was probably intended as a fun activity, but which turned into an almost obsessive project of measuring, calculating and scaling. At least it offered a momentary respite from my other obsession: the news. Continue reading