Girl of the World

I think I stepped on toes.

I told my little Greek man that I liked that we were apart.

I didn’t mean that I liked that we were apart per se just that I think we had something special that both of us were willing to travel 2000 miles back and forth, message, meet the parents etc. for.

Maybe my real message got lost in translation but there is something that I read by one of the wonderwomen of Telegraph columnists, (by no means a prize writer but more a dithering inconsequential insecure doornob) that she likes to message her boyfriend every day and when she tried to limit those messages she found that she disliked it but her boyfriend didn’t.

My boyfriend and I are honeymooners, having only been together a month, we are communicating in a relationship from the UK to Greece. And we communicate more than often. He is from Athens and I am from London. The whole race thing isn’t an issue we’ve broached yet. He’s a natural romantic. Thinks everything is rosy unless I talk about another guy and I have all the same opportunities at jobs that my white male compatriots have.

It’s so cute, I want to squeeze him.

I think everyone thinks I mention the race thing to make people feel guilty. I don’t I just recognise people’s taste may be to discriminate against me on the accounts they feel less comfortable with people of other races. I get on well because I am just so English. Caribbean culture isn’t that strong anyway.

Back to the point. I read this tumblr note that gave me an idea about us. That the reason we are so close is because we are at odds against surviving. We have to fight to exist and fight to be with each other. So that means the little conversations on Viber and Skype, we share more of ourselves because we can’t be together all the time.

I think the sexual encounters would confuse it all as it has in the past. I’m pretty good at the whole sex thing, not to toot my own horn. It’s pretty easy when you get the hang of it. No hint of complacency at all that is.

It’s just that I have always been independent. Although I think he is wonderful and gorgeous and very lovable, he has a tendency to be too protective. I have this sickening, ungrateful need to shout:

“I’ve survived without a man to protect me, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to fall apart in the next 5 minutes.”

Independence is a hard thing to give up when you have retained it for so long, and I’ve retained my independence untethered and uninhibited by the requests and restraints of a male for some time. In fact all the time, I don’t know a single guy or prospective boyfriend that has been able to rein in my willfulness. I am naturally untame-able. I wear my hair messy and my opinion on my sleeve. I like it this way.

So  maybe what I meant didn’t get lost in translation. In actual fact, I said what I meant. I mean that I like  my space. And him being a large distance away means I get to be a girlfriend, (not in cheating or anything so stoning-worthy) then I get to be myself, independent, self-sufficient, girl-of-the-world as well.

I mean let’s face it. The period of time I have to be an independent person, aimless and free isn’t exactly limitless. For a female, your days of freedom are numbered. Owned by parents, governed by some horrid relationship, encased and curbed by some job, and inhibited by our own need for companionship, freedom is something you hear about on the TV when they wax lyrical on the tenants of the glass ceiling and the axes that break it.

Honestly, it fills me with a great source of pride that I can lift and pack my own 25 kg boxes. I can travel on my own, in the UK and abroad, I can walk the streets at night, dress how I like, eat what I like and be as resourceful as I need to be to get things done. I feel like I’m a force of nature almost and it is my guilty pleasure.


Secrets and lies

My Dad told me something. He told me that as  people of West Indian descent, we have a job.

Our job is to mix, our job is to spread, and eventually our job is to die out. Why?

Too much has happened in our history. We were slaves. We were defined by our labour, transported and sold, to work, to build, to plant, we were animals, to be killed, decapitated, hunted for sport, tortured, raped and abused. We no longer belong because our culture was ripped from us. That’s why we assimilate so well. What culture we did have is somewhere between everywhere.

That’s what he told me. He told me this because I found a man that I care about. A man I think I might love. That man is white. When I imagined my future life, I always thought that I would date a man who was like me. A man of West Indian descent who considered himself English. Just like me. And we would have a little girl. Just like me. And life would continue. Just like mine.

Life knew better.

I tried. I did, but there is only so much you can give before you no longer exist. Only so much they can take away before you realise they aren’t worthy. I tried. I thought if I held on a little longer, things might change. But they didn’t. And now the one man who is good, is good like all the rest of his kind were good. And my kind? They were bad. Bad people. Selfish people. Mean people. They were my punishment for believing the fairytale.

So now I believe what my Dad told me. Now I must assimilate. Now I must die out. Remember my words if nothing else.

Cutting My Losses

My rules, not yours.

My game and my only child syndrome. I’ve played by other people’s rules for so long that I’ve forgotten what I want. Unfortunately a certain someone had to be the unlucky recipient of the new self-actualizing ethos I have engaged with.

The problem with most women and girls today, is that we sacrifice a little bit of ourselves every time they give in to the whim of society, not necessarily men but women as well. We look at ourselves as things to be viewed thereby seeing as Shakespeare has said that ‘All the world is a stage’. Being female isn’t easy, but also accepting that your standards aren’t peripheral parameters to be discarded when someone happens to seem appealing and deign to look in your direction is difficult. In some ways, they’re like New Years Resolutions; on paper they are both possible and attainable, but the likelihood is, that if you wanted to get something done, you wouldn’t have waited to New Years to do it.

There is a certain guy I’ve been speaking to on a regular basis but I was abroad and he was back in the UK. On the face of it, he is a focussed, sensible guy. His family structure leaves a lot to be desired but that is no indication of willingness to put in work for an actual relationship. We talked each week or more, some funny drunk texts and facebook chats, and we had some cute excursions around London. Seems perfect, right?

Well it is. For someone else. I can’t overlook the fact that he doesn’t take responsibility for some of the positions he’s found himself in terms of misbegotten sexual encounters. It may seem like a small thing to you but I asked him offhand if he missed me. He replied No. I said Ok, obviously incredibly disappointed. I hadn’t asked him in a serious manner, but he had replied in an incredibly bluntly so I assumed. He then tried to soften the blow but I’m not one to force a relationship when it is obvious that it is unrequited.

There are two problems here that are connected to what I believe is an age issue. This guy is too young to be considering the type of commitment that I would like. In fact he has made the commitment on various occasions, however it is not in my way to sit here and wait until he is ready. I’ve done the hard graft and now I want what I believe is perfect for me. So, he was either lying or he was telling the truth. If he lied, then he’s not the type of guy who’s mature enough to express his true feelings, or not witty enough to make this some type of banter to distract from the question. Or he told the truth, thereby I made a lucky escape.

He’s not that interesting either. I’ve met more talented conversationalists in my sleep.

Better luck next time.

The “Economy Question’s” mallet

I considered putting this blog into my political interventions blog simply because its content is basically politics and economics. It pretty much sums up the connection between the boom and bust capitalist cycle and an inherent southern syndrome but since it remains part of my travels I decided that since it is an observation I would give it pride of place on my travel blog.

The ‘Norwegian Vikings’; a drunken self-established naming ceremony I might add, made that classic elephant-in-the-room subject change to the Greek Economy. There is a reason for the capitalisation being that it is the most salient issue of the 21st century since 2008 because it is a somewhat determined by this North/South divide that has seen the development of right and left wing populist parties as the pathology of western democracies all over Europe. Quite simply, someone was going to be asked this question at some point, the fact that we had, or more correctly, my Greek friends had not been asked this question by the Dutch that we met at The Akropolis is staggering. It was inescapable.

Protests in Athens

The expected answer is one of anguish, anger and sorrow but having met a wonderful person or as my friends call it ‘Living my myth in Greece’, I realise that Greeks take much of the blame for their situation and may not know the ins and outs of the crisis, they have found it more difficult to pay bills and loans since 2008. However this is not really the point, I reference it as being something I find specifically important because it is something that Greeks, Irish, Italians, Spanish and Portuguese constantly have to field, everyone has become the liberal capitalist economist in recent times. Although I despise the use of ‘southern or latin temperament’ or ‘southern syndrome’ even though I have used it on this occasion, I find the practice insulting and condescending. It always seems to allude to the northern living boring cold hearted Europeans dictating to the rest about three hour siestas and coffee breaks. I have unfortunately also been guilty of this, but if you’d seen the way Greek Athenians drive and park you’d die of shock. The European Union project is about integration of culture not hegemony, it is seen too often that the thrifty North take precedence.

Modern Greeks have one hand firmly on their rich past but also one very much on the future. Most of all, through strife, they are a warm people, the sun as many a Greek has reminded me, warms their souls.  ‘The economy question’ is almost always the type of question and discussion that those in Southern countries, even those who are in the South side of the country dread. Mostly because the first thing that is assumed is that they can first of all, find a scapegoat. Immigration, loss of culture, the EU and supranational governance (the wicked governance from Brussels are all possible contentious issues. These problems are not specific to any member state but they are problems that all too charmingly common when you’re hearing excuses for the economic debacle that is Greece’s finances.

The problem is that this question is alarmingly common and it is all too easy for it to be blamed on the ‘Nazi’ German influence with little taken for responsibility but in all regards the point is that it seems honestly quite odd to suspect that any one Greek person has such a knowledge of their country’s finances that they can tell you in depth every inch of complex financial bailouts. So it might be best to leave such questions for an economists and ask the average Greek about inflation. Everybody can tell you how Souvlaki has increased in price.

Living my Greek Myth

Acropolis Ruins

Athens is a swathe of historical relevance. Athenians are a proud people, they are rightly  proud of their lineage. Greek children from a young age are exposed to language learning in after school language programs and their own ancient culture and technology including some semblance of Ancient Greek that became one of the first technologically and philosophically advanced cultures in the European world. A culture that spurred countless animation, TV series and film concepts throughout the world. 

The Archaeology Museum

When you arrive from the rigid bustling metropolis that is the English capital, to the sunny shores of Athens there is some evidence of the effects that the economic crisis has had on Greece. Staring through the windows of abandoned warehouses and automobile showrooms, dusty and forgotten, sinking slowly into the shrubs and grassland similar to the disheartening few scenes of the demise of Bridesmaids “Cake baby”. As you travel interminably onwards through the lazy warm breeze and the surrounding rounds hurtling from Athens International Airport, the shoreline is filled to bursting with glitzy, sprawling beach bars filled to capacity with revelling Greeks and the odd tourist burning in the heat of the slow setting sun on a May bank holiday. Incidentally  Greece is still backward enough that people other than bankers still get days off on Bank holidays. Therefore the staff are mostly students who are working for a little extra besides their studies. Opening and closing umbrellas, delivering drinks and adding to the conversations that drift overhead. It is the perfect summer day.

Parliamentary building, Athens

Here you see one of the oldest European cultures; the cradle of European civilisation. Its people are the remnants from that culture, that hearty way-of-life. It is warm and inviting, they almost live off and thrive off the sunshine like sunflowers they are drawn to it. Their music, is chilled, soulful dance and deep house rhythms reverberate from the bass-y speakers while they quietly bronze in the balmy heat as the first wisps of chilly winds roll off The Mediterranean Sea. This is a perfect picture devoid of the frantic scrabble for the patch of sunlight on overcrowded beaches filled with loud audacious residents and inflatable rafts and toys, screaming and crying children. It is as though a great calm has fallen over an entire people. As though they are all connected. So I will live like a Greek for a week because this is the type of place that begs for this. 

Myself and Alesanthros
Akrotiri, (Summer club) Athens

So to start off ones myth, I had to re-enact some scenes from Hercules and Xena the Warrior Princess because I would be bereft of the respect of my parents without it. I obviously visited the best and most famous Souvlaki joint in Athens, embarrassing myself asking for cutlery for the massive wrapped pitta of vegetable and meat, hot and steaming from the kitchens just behind me. Then off for the next couple of days to live with a friend and her family; to The Acropolis, the little winding streets of Plaka, the Archaeology Museum, and off to a weekend of frivolity in Gazi, the main clubbing district in Athens. I of course, threw myself head-first into impressing the locals with my Greek dancing, ingesting as many drinks as possible and trying to encourage relations between one friend and a friends brother. 

Ruins with Aikaterini Grigoriadou
Tse and I, Aegina Ferry

This is not a Mills and Boon but on impressing the locals with my Greek dance I attract the attention of a Greek guy, something akin to a Calvin Klein catwalk model, who is very impressed and later becomes my transnational boyfriend. However for that night, we dance to the Latin rhythms and Greek vibes before moving to the veranda for more romantic ablutions. As my friends say as we stumble in a drunken state home, I was living my Greek myth. Besides the romance of the place, it was a beautiful trip, filled with monuments and these hidden gems, bars and clubs that overlooked the wide illuminated expanse of the Athenian landscape and ports steeped in the history of conflict and immigration. Visiting the island of Aegina was a small-town delight of rural living and traditional Greek food and hospitality coupled with beautiful sea views and a care-worn coach that was surprising less hospitable and comfortable than those in Morocco. 

I feel as though I got my money’s worth, however it seems to me that if there were any delights of this nature that may need sampling in other countries. I may be unable to partake due to a previous engagement. Transnational relationships are so romantic though!

Cretan Dreams and Romance by the Sea

Sauntering down the narrow alleys and streets dimly lit from the depths of family restaurants boasting menus of fresh sea food and romanticised Mediterranean views. A blissful, wonderfully romantic scene to delve into the frightening depths of conspiracy, historical inaccuracy and the meaning of life. 

He is I believe, a kindred spirit, such a conversation was only natural in the balmy Kissamos air, surrounded by Greek locals tucking in to local delicacies or having a leisurely smoke watching the penultimate match of the Brazilian 2014 World Cup. 

The point is that besides the romantic atmosphere, this led to a weighty conversation about this World Order that we live in. We sit by, day in, day out, and we never question history and it’s role in our lives. There are events that have shaped our identity, our religion, beliefs, status, standing and even the way we see ourselves that happened so long ago that all we have are secondary accounts of them. I realise as I sit beside this 6ft 1in Athenian riot policemen who has the type of looks that Simon Cowell would pay millions to stick in a boy-band (regardless of actual talent) whilst remaining completely at home as a broody model for Abercombie and Fitch. I realise that I don’t believe that I deserve such a person. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not tall or blonde. I haven’t got perfect long hair or bouncy curls. I don’t really wear make-up and even if I did the combined cost is around a fiver. I’m not even slim. So my reality is one that I cannot accept because subconsciously I’ve been told that I am not worthy of such a person. 

However, these moments are not isolated to myself but take place on a global scale. One of the things we discussed was the influence that the US has on the world, how wars are started to fight for values that the American polity believe are important regardless of the consequences. It is not just how it effects the world but it is how we place ourselves according to their global importance. Or reactionary religion in society where the single-minded rampant need to base our lives on the wisdom of knowledge and sentiment designed for those more than 2000 years prior to our existence. We are born into a world shaped by the religious battles and conflicts that we found ourselves utterly embroiled in eventually taking our lives, our souls and tying us to a fight that began long before us in a never-ending cycle of unnecessary bloodshed. 

Even racial discrimination, slavery and colonisation can be explained as such. The slave trade created a new genetic strain of people determined by their enslaved status and so mixed that they literally created a new culture and a new brand of conflict. Slavery has shaped the geographical position and cultural identity of an entire set of people, either expressed as minorities or victims of circumstance. It has also eradicated entire cultures and created the type of world order that has produced a minority with an inordinate amount of power compared to the majority. Even Adventure Time, a supposed children’s show realises that explaining this may help the next generation to realise the mistakes of their forebears. 

History is often said to be written by the victor and the types of conspiracies we are talking about are based on no other discrimination but keeping power in the hands of the powerful. So how is it that we navigate a world where history is something we slowly learn about until it defines our present and our future? 

This is what I realised when sitting calmly on this balmy night in Kissamos. This is what we discussed. So many actions of the past determine our future, maybe evolution will give us the answer to why we don’t make new choices and we leave the choices that we most covet to those who covet nothing but themselves. 

The Independent Traveller

I always remember this phrase from Spanish classes ebecause I was constantly using it to surprise Spanish people, examiners and teachers: Soy hija unica or ‘I am an only child’.

Realistically christening the day I went on my first plane, or even the day I was first late for my flight and ended up having to pay for a new ticket is not really a big deal since I spend most of my time travelling on my own. Liverpool, Leicester, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Loughborough, and Liege. I have been to other places such as Bournemouth, Great Yarmouth, Brighton, Whitby, Sheffield, Stoke-on-trent (Keele), and Clacton-on-sea but with parents, family or friends. 

I’m always travelling about the place, but I felt specific trepidation stepping onto my first flight alone. Even the ticket checker on Stansted Express noticed I was on my own, venturing out into the wilds…

Enough with the amateur dramatics I hear you say!

I am one of those people that is not necessarily enamoured with photos, but for some reason I felt the need to document as many airplane-y movements as much as I possibly could, so rather obnoxiously as a result I have pictures in the queue for my ticket, sitting outside the departures, standing in a queue to board, whilst on the plane with Ryanair behind me, on the bus when we landed, and in the car when my friends came to pick me up. Ditto similar pictures in Belgium, Leicester and Liverpool. 

Apparently I’m that kind of traveller.

The one thing about travelling to Greece, was that out of the many people that were on the flight, I was probably one of maybe six or so tourists wherein the rest of the plane were Greeks travelling home. It was ridiculous because I was crazy excited so I must have looked like a crazy dwarf. 

It was the instant warmth of the other people in the Airport, being greeted by new friends and old, not to mention my first Greek beach bar where I sat surrounded by Greeks on their Bank holiday days off, sunning themselves with Greek tea and Coffee on a beautiful expanse of beach whilst children paddled in the water.

I earned this.

It was wonderful though, the freedom of complete independence, the idea that I would travel to a new country without any thought to my own safety or even what might greet me on the other side. I have so many friends off travelling the world and I just wanted to partake, be part of the bigger picture and that moment of freedom as I bordered that plane was my moment. A moment to do the impossible, go somewhere new, sample some history, some culture, listen to other languages, it was brilliant. 

I think this may be the beginning of something truly magical….