things i might otherwise forget, 2016

here again. I’m writing this the same way I did last year, with my diary as my prompt. I’ll be throwing it away soon; but right now it fees like a precious thing.


london weekend, february/ conway wekend, october/dublin weekend, november

kim & elly and sarah’s birthday / john’s OAP party (lightbulbs and juanita and understanding what a special human he is)

mindfulness/a near-breakdown/weekend overtime

marlon james @ HOME/lisbon on 1 june/ jeremih and the EU referendum, the shock of waking up to a frightened and more hateful world on 24 june (120 messages, david cameron’s resignation speech, ralph’s email about changes to the book (‘I never thought this would happen…’)

5-mile bypass run & the pride and glee I saw in my dad

neeks’ & hassans beautiful wedding/katherine & micks wonderful wedding/ screening of they will have to kill us first

center parcs 5-9 august and recording our segment for mum’s video/carcassonne 12-19 august and coming home to mum’s 60th

editing in word, in london, in september/edale and sip/matias aquayo & the desdemonas on a sunday evening and being completely floored by it/ islam chipsy on a friday night & feeling  completely woken up by it/write for rights at st margarets/staying with nic & mark & rosie

sheffield/a root canal/coming home one monday night with two small kittens

alton towers/gourd painting and all the christmas things (at alice’s, at the stretford ski place, at work, at home)


“write about homesickness”

I’ve been away from home for eight days. since so much of that time has been spent with g, in a flurry of movement, in the midst of slowly unfurling intimacy, I forgot how it felt to miss something. the day kind of broke apart a few hours ago. he left to explore hexham, and I stayed, cradling tea still hot to the touch. I tested out a new self for a while, one who switched on the radio and stood out on the porch, looking out towards the fields, but then I shut the door and returned to the sofa. I texted my mother, because I had to, because I was far away and the burden of duty felt light all of a sudden, but that wasn’t it, or it wasn’t only it. I was wearing the clean clothes of home and remembering how good it felt to be alone. I lay down on the sofa, ducking out of the sun. Manchester’s noise, its every voice and point of escape, returned to me, remote and indistinct. and with it, the soft, familiar pricks of loneliness – a kindly pain that looked down on me and asked, how could you forget?

I thought about using a writing prompt to help dilute the feelings, concentrated as they were. but I gave up and thought of something else instead.

This morning it was flowers. first, the daffodils: three or four erupting out of the cracked earth near Trafford Park station. then, the streak of happiness I feel catching sight of a brightly coloured bouquet. I saw some last week and imagined them in our living room. me opening the blinds. letting the sunlight let them dazzle.

things i might forget, 2015

york in february / thessaloniki and meteora in march / manchester 10k with john et al. /  t-shirt screen printing at islington mill / steve roman’s walk / chester zoo / amsterdam with willow / mario kart on the wii u / going to bath in july (jane austen, an open-topped bus & the roman baths) / freedom from torture open evening / feeling crushed and lost for a while

smalldale avenue / uclan on thursdays / #refugeeswelcome in parliament square (light streaming, feet dangling) / dad’s 60th / third eye blind; miguel; chance the rapper




Toni Morrison’s eulogy of James Baldwin

Well, the season was always Christmas with you there and, like one aspect of that scenario, you did not neglect to bring at least three gifts. You gave me a language to dwell in, a gift so perfect it seems my own invention. I have been thinking your spoken and written thoughts for so long I believed they were mine. I have been seeing the world through your eyes for so long, I believed that clear clear view was my own. Even now, even here, I need you to tell me what I am feeling and how to articulate it. So I have pored again through the 6,895 pages of your published work to acknowledge the debt and thank you for the credit. No one possessed or inhabited language for me the way you did. You made American English honest – genuinely international. You exposed its secrets and reshaped it until it was truly modern dialogic, representative, humane. You stripped it of ease and false comfort and fake innocence and evasion and hypocrisy. And in place of deviousness was clarity. In place of soft plump lies was a lean, targeted power. In place of intellectual disingenuousness and what you called “exasperating egocentricity,” you gave us undecorated truth. You replaced lumbering platitudes with an upright elegance. You went into that forbidden territory and decolonized it, “robbed it of the jewel of its naivete,” and un-gated it for black people so that in your wake we could enter it, occupy it, restructure it in order to accommodate our complicated passion – not our vanities but our intricate, difficult, demanding beauty, our tragic, insistent knowledge, our lived reality, our sleek classical imagination – all the while refusing “to be defined by a language that has never been able to recognize [ us ].” In your hands language was handsome again. In your hands we saw how it was meant to be: neither bloodless nor bloody, and yet alive.

Bidisha & Gulwali Passarlay

I went to the Manchester Amnesty’s Literature Festival event yesterday afternoon – a conversation between Bidisha and Gulwali Passarlay on the theme of asylum and exile. Bidisha spoke at the same event two years ago, that time on the subject of Palestine, and it was memorable and thought-provoking; this time no less so. her questions, statements, thoughts and opinions paved the way for Gulwali’s responses to questions on his experience of seeking asylum in the UK as a child, the responsibility borne by Britain and the West for instability and crises in varying world regions, media angles and politics, human rights, colonialism, identity. I wish I could have recorded it so I could listen and learn, since these things are hard to comprehend and retain. instead I am going to add The Lightless Sky to my list of books to buy.

Two or three times they said it, but you could forget for all that you read in the papers: seeking asylum is a human right. the state of asylum is being criminalised, but seeking aslyum is a human right.