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6. Keeping Athena Company – Kate Weston

July 17, 2019

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-p2kw4-b82bec

We are back and it’s a belting episode with the fantastic Kate Weston. We speak about mental health, randy kittens and the stress of stand up comedy. Kate is one to watch as she is soon to drop a big announcement that WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT but you can hear it first if you find her on her Instagram and Twitter at @katelizweston. Enjoy!

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5. Keeping Athena Company – Verona Rose

July 1, 2019

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fgaiw-b6459c

In this episode I am joined by actor, writer, photographer, improviser and all-round diamond Verona Rose. Hailing from Southampton the London-based creative polymath and I chat about growing up in majority white areas, the DIY ways to getting your  work commissioned and finding your life partner via siblings.

You can find Verona on:

Website: www.veronarose.co.uk

Instagram: theveronarose

And watch out for her new show Fully Blown soon to be released on BBC3

4. Keeping Athena Company – Gavino di Vino

June 17, 2019

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-h68ka-b4c671

In this episode I am joined by Gavino di Vino. Gavino is an actor and writer I met in Edinburgh almost 4 years ago and we’ve been hanging out ever since. Gavino is one of the most intelligent people I know – he speaks five languages fluently (including Russian!), is phenomenally well versed in art, history and fashion. He’s a very cool guy to be around. Amongst a whole host of subjects we skip through identity, class, being a polyglot, hate crime, travel and festivals with saunas – which I did not know was a thing. 

Does Gavino look familiar? You’ve probably seen him already in this video that went viral and gained him a new set of fans from across the world.

More about Gavino:

Gavino di Vino is a London-based actor and writer. He was raised between Wirral and Wigan in the north west of England and has lived in London since 2014.

His play, AUNTIE, a tragicomedy about an African Hackney family, has been defined by The Guardian as ‘exuberantly idiosyncratic’, and he’s been featured as the face of a UK-wide campaign celebrating diversity for BBC, Perfect Day. Fluent in French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, he’s an internationally-focussed artist, working with Royal Academy of ArtsSoho House and Pushkin House.

 

Find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @Gavinodivino

3. Keeping Athena Company – Nathan Foad

June 4, 2019

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-j6six-b35f92

In Episode 3 I am joined by comedy screenwriter Nathan Foad. I’ve worked with Nathan and it’s always quality bants when he’s around so I couldn’t wait to break his fried plantain virginity and have a good old catch up about life. We talk about drama school, growing up in a chip shop and the glamour of WW2 evacuee children, amongst other things.

Watch out for the ‘c-word’ near the end if you are listening in the car with your kids, and yes, the babble you can hear in the background is the child who inspired this podcast. I won’t let the their reluctance to nap stop me from living my best life.

More about Nathan:

Nathan is a comedy writer and former bully’s wet dream. He has written things for Channel 4 and Sky, most recently scripting an episode of The Young Offenders for BBC3/RTE.

Originally from Newark-on-Trent, Nathan is a bravely gay person who writes about class, bodies and queerness. 

That makes it all sound quite worthy. Mostly it’s just jokes about his Mum.

2. Keeping Athena Company – Sinta Tantra

May 20, 2019

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-zeb3b-b1d9fe

Sinta Tantra is a contemporary artist who exhibits art all around the world. Our friendship started one summer in Camden, North London when she was asked by a very naive and clueless project manager to paint a 40m bridge…

Sinta pops round for a chat and we talk about how people can make sense of modern art when it’s often toilets and unmade beds to the naked eye and how our heritage influences our creativity. Of course, when south Asian, Caribbean, Indian and African DNA meet in a kitchen, we have to talk about food too.

Find Sinta on Instgram and Twitter (@sintatantra), her art is truly sensational. 

Also visit http://www.sintatantra.com

More about Sinta:

A British artist of Balinese descent, Sinta Tantra was born in New York in 1979. She studied in London at the Slade School of Fine Art (1999-2003) and at the Royal Academy Schools (2004-06). 

Highly regarded for her site-specific murals and installations in the public realm, commissions include; Facebook London (2018); Folkestone Triennial (2017) Newnham College, Cambridge University (2016); Songdo South Korea (2015); Royal British Society of Sculptors (2013); Liverpool Biennial (2012); Southbank Centre (2007). Tantra’s most notable public work includes a 300-metre long painted bridge commissioned for the 2012 Olympics, Canary Wharf, London. 

 

Solo shows include: Your Private Sky (Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London 2018); A House in Bali (ISA Art Advisory, Jakarta 2017), Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Pearl Lam Gallery, Hong Kong 2016) and Fantastic Chromatic (Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London 2015). International group shows include; Voyage to Indonesia, The World Bank, Washington (2018); Tetap Terang / Always Bright, ISA Jakarta 2018; High Noon, Accademia Belle Arti di Rome, Rome (2017), Quotidian, Pearl Lam Gallery, Shanghai (2017). A recipient of many awards including the British Council’s International Development Award (2014); and Deutsche Bank Award (2006), Tantra’s work has been featured in both UK and international press including The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Tate Shots, Architectural Digest, Wall Street International Magazine, The Jakarta Post, iD Indonesia, etc.

Exploring Conditions in South Africa

April 26, 2018

This is a thought provoking hour of discussion on post-Zuma South Africa. I am sharing it because it gave me food for thought and made me question my own understanding of the country as it stands right now:

It’s almost an hour so if you can’t listen to it here are some key points I digested from the conversation:

  • Zuma was problematic but it is the responsibility of the beneficiaries of Apartheid to do something about inequality in South Africa

A lot is made of the ineffectiveness of the ANC in reducing inequality (SA is one of the most unequal places in the planet) but how much are they supposed to achieve in 20 years when white supremacy was practiced for 300 years – and is still being practiced today? It is for the people who benefited economically and socially from those centuries of oppression to correct injustice. The SA government could be the least corrupt authority on earth, it would make no difference the efficacy of democracy if the people who lived good from apartheid do not concede their ill-gotten gains.  This means the money from reconstruction needs to come from rich whites and the few wealthy Coloureds and Africans – not the middle and lower classes.

  • Western complicity in Apartheid needs to be acknowledged

Both Thatcher and Reagan were happy endorsers of the regime, even if through ambivalence. Positioning Apartheid as an anomaly and not a system that western capitalism was entirely comfortable with puts countries on a moral high ground which is entirely undeserving. It also means the current economic practice in the country, which mirrors western capitalism, goes unchallenged.

  • How can we expect South Africa to be a socialist country if no other country in the world is?

This is an excellent point! Wealth redistribution and fairer economic policies sound great on paper, but those ideas couldn’t even win an election in the UK. We also know that socialism, particularly on the African continent, get’s undermined via the west’s steadfast commitment to  intervention and environmentally unsustainable practices. For example, having a workforce available who will accept low wages and industrial jobs which keep them in a cycle of poverty, damages the environment, but keeps business owners wealthy.

Before western presence, African nations practiced social and economic systems based on communalism, small states and harmony with natural resources.  The western model that presses nations to prioritise economic growth over economic parity, that also insists the state has a monopoly on violence will always fail South African and other transitional democracies.

  • Post apartheid deals were too generous – they avoided a race war but at what cost?

De Clerk was awarded the Nobel Peace prize alongside Mandela which is crazy when you think about it because he was an active participant in apartheid (and you don’t get more active than being the president!). So the tone was already set for post-apartheid politicking, acknowledging the centuries of injustice whilst not holding enough people to account for it. This can be seen as reasonable;  creating a wider divide would have been catastrophic. White south Africans who believed in apartheid had proven themselves to be depraved enough to fight a race war viciously,  and would have won as they had money, weapons, education and allies. And they had plenty of allies, don’t forget western capitalism had no problem with a segregated South Africa, western capitalism invented it. So the formation of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ was prescient on the perception of mercifulness on behalf of the Africans who white people had been kind enough to emancipate – which is how some people saw it.

 

Unless you’re on the side of white supremacy, you’re probably not going to win an election in Britain

May 12, 2017

 

It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

I am not saying Labour are perfect. Labour have not been impressive for the past few years. The fact is, JC’s leadership has done nothing to change this. He is pretty left wing. Even I disagree with a few points on the Labour 20 point economic plan (points 2, 3, 4, 10, and 19 if you’re interested).

However, despite my reservations, the Conservatives are there for the taking. They gained power in 2010 and 2015 positioning themselves as stronger on the economy, education and immigration. They promised small government, big society and prosperity for all. They have delivered on nothing.

Their successive governments form a long list of U-turns (1, 2, 3), broken manifesto commitments (4), public spending cuts and unsuccessful welfare reform. They have missed all their economic targets (5) and migration targets (6). Their 24/7 NHS proposals whipped staff into a frenzy unknown to modern British politics. Their education reforms have driven down government spending in schools (7), driven up inequality (8) and been deemed unsuccessful in achieving their objective to raise standards (9).

Council tenants unable to afford private housing are penalised via the bedroom tax. Benefit caps introduced in 2013 have not resulted in claimants moving into work (10) and use of food banks, a service barely in our political lexicon before 2010, escalates every year (11).

This is on top of rises in university tuition fees, VAT, stamp duty, business expenses and income tax for higher earners.

So why is it so hard to win the argument against them?

White supremacy is the one aspect of British life that a Conservative government will never threaten.

Of a population of around 63 million people, only 8-9% of individuals identify as non-white British. This section of the population is then further divided amongst racial, religious and cultural lines that segment it into insignificance. Outside of local and regional elections where concentrations of a BAME population can represent an influential voting bloc, non-white British voices are drowned out by a majority over-represented in media and politics, who can use their vote to express an otherwise suppressed ‘cultural anxiety’ (12).

Othering has worked since 1637 (13) and this principal has been used by every major party since to win elections. Time and time again the British public has proved they will permit personal financial or civil loss if you can make a vote for one party look advantageous for “white Britain” as a whole.

What’s worse, these deluded values are driven by the fear of immigration, not the reality of it. Some of the least diverse areas of the country voted for Brexit. Areas of the country drowning in EU funding voted for Brexit.

Everyone criticised the Brexit campaign for using straight up racism but I don’t recall many Remainers championing migration from people outside of the EU. They were largely silent when it was decided that non-EU immigrants could only settle in the UK if they earned more than £35,000 (14), £8,000 more than the national average. Now the rights of EU (read: white) citizens are under threat and suddenly migration becomes the great cause of the modern age. White supremacy is an issue that affects the left and right.

When the mere thought of the other is considered more harmful than actual economic loss, rational politics don’t cut the English mustard.

It is the privilege of the Labour Party leadership to think the moral high ground is enough. Re-distribution of wealth isn’t attractive to a British population who thinks it’s already in the right hands (the irony being, most of the top 20 richest Britons are immigrants). They don’t care about big business because they have no proximity to these faceless corporations. Besides, big corporations represent the dream – they should exploit the planet and it’s resources, it’s their supreme right. Why should big business pay for the NHS? It’s their money, they worked hard for their money, they’re not the enemy. It’s hard to picture Amazon as the enemy when brown faces and people with unpronounceable surnames are on the high streets of little Britain. Why is it Vodafone’s fault if a person can’t get a GP appointment? People have always been more offended by political correctness than some big company’s tax return.

The truth is, this country is scared. A massive section of the electorate would trade the NHS for the good ol’ days when their needs were prioritised, diversity quotas meant burning corks and playgrounds were death traps.

New Labour won in 1997 by the subtle triggering of ‘cool Britannia’ and fanning the embers of the financial service sector. People could deal with 1/10th of the Spice Girls being Afro-Caribbean because they had 95% mortgages and new cars. The electorate was made comfortable that their perceived superiority would continue unabashed. Now, there is no promise of wealth to distract them, so what do they do? They fall back into neo-conservatism; they would rather have no wealth than wealth that can be shared or taken from billionaires they are more willing to relate to than an immigrant.

The current ‘them’ and ‘us’ politics isn’t working for Labour because for Britain, ‘them’ isn’t defined as Starbucks or people who earn more than £80,000 a year. ‘Them’ is always going to imply people who are coming over here and taking jobs.

JC wants people to think like him. But you need an education for that which can’t be learnt in 5 weeks.

The ratings are in plain sight. The Conservatives run a terrible government but they have never been so popular. We need to stop scratching our heads over this. We need to wake up and smell the bigotry.

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9617519/37-coalition-climbdowns-u-turns-and-row-backs.html
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/28/coalition-u-turn-list-full
  3. http://www.lbc.co.uk/politics/parties/conservatives/theresa-may/theresas-u-turns-key-tory-policy-reversals/
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/yvette-cooper/election-promises-broken_b_7949232.html
  5. http://uk.businessinsider.com/this-is-why-george-osborne-misses-his-deficit-targets-over-and-over-again–and-why-he-might-keep-missing-them-2015-6
  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/25/we-dont-want-silly-promises-on-immigration-from-theresa-may—we/
  7. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8027
  8. http://www.smf.co.uk/publications/educational-inequalities-in-england-and-wales/
  9. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38157811
  10. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8717
  11. https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  12. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/white-working-class-trump-cultural-anxiety/525771/
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados_Slave_Code
  14. http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7264
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