The quote was taken from the character Jean Slater (Gillian Wright), EastEnders, who leaves a devastating message for her family about her decision against having treatment for cancer.
Yesterday evening, my husband along with my son and daughter, were eating our meal while the soap drama, EastEnders was playing on TV in the background. As I ate and momentarily glimpsed at the program, I said how strange it was that when the first episode came out in 1985, I was intrigued by the character ‘Dirty Den’ to the point I could never miss an episode but after some months, I lost interest in the program. We went on to talk generally about the other soaps. Coronation Street was one I recalled, when we used to live in Manchester in the late 80s, seeing one of the actors enter the department store, Kendals in Deansgate. I remembered the staff and the way they greeted the actress with excitement.
As I continued talking, I noticed the character Patrick Trueman (played by the actor Rudolph Walker) appeared in a scene where he is hospital, looking quite ill. I wondered what was going on. Then in the next scene was another character, Jean Slater, doing a video call. The volume was not too low as I was able to listen to the family and the TV.
I was very moved to the point I was no longer listening to my talkative family as Jean, in a restrained and yet powerful monologue, expressed her concerns about her cancer returning and how she could not bear to go through treatment again. But what really locked my attention was her conclusion: ‘all we really have is today.’
Last week on Disney Plus, we watched the newly released animated movie called Soul. Without spoiling for those of you who have not seen the film, I would just say it was entertaining and heartwarming but again, the take-away message which remained in my mind: that life is meant to be lived as opposed to waiting for it to begin. Again, you only have today, it seemed to be saying.
This morning, I got up late (9:30 am…late for what?). My daughter promptly came into my room and said her father was upset.
‘Upset? Why?’ I said, ‘What’s wrong?’
She took a deep breath and looked away from me as if suddenly there was something interesting happening in the garden. ‘You know Daddy’s friend….’ She mentioned his name. ‘…he’s passed away…’
‘Noooo! That cannot be true! He spoke to him just a few days ago…. why didn’t he wake me up…?’ I was about to put on my dressing gown when my husband walked in, we stared at each other in silence.
My daughter and I sat on the bed whilst my husband sat in the chair opposite. His head was gripped by his hands. He talked and kept talking about his surprise and could not believe how Covid had ‘destroyed’ his friend. I was also speechless. I was aware that our friend was ill, but as he refused to name the illness when asked, we decided that he must have contracted the virus. The last time my husband spoke to him, two days ago, he sounded as though it was an effort for him to talk. My husband wanted to ask more questions about his illness but left it, telling himself he would call him again – which would have been today.
As we spoke of this friend and his connection to us as a family, Jean Slater’s shattering video message in EastEnders came rushing in my mind, as did the Walt Disney movie Soul.
It is something I must be mindful for the rest of this new year: there is a difference between having a life and living your life. I am aware of having this fantastic opportunity of being alive, yet I have been living it as though I still expect it to start!! I need to really know, that all I have is today. As my life reveals itself in the present, I must not allow it to disappear by allowing time to past right by, screwing away precious seconds of my life worrying about the future. Life must be lived, right now!
I’ve finished watching the last of the documentaries on celebrating ‘Nelson Mandela, One Hundred‘; I thought I knew all I needed to know about the man, about the country, about Apartheid, the tortures and the atrocities, but I was wrong.
This time around I realise just how close he was to all the saints we know and that probably (although not in my life time), he’ll be made a saint. I also learnt that my other idol, Maya Angelou died not too long after Mandela. I wondered if when she wrote the poem His Day is Done that some six months later, it would also apply somewhat, to herself.
His benevolence, tolerance and altruism reminded me that I still need to be more forgiving, to be a much better listener and more importantly, that it’s ok to have high standards, just as long as I realise to temper those standards when applying to people and situations.
What Mandela’s freedom did for me could almost be equated with being cleansed by the blood of Christ. If not for Mandela’s victory election, as a black person I would not have been able to live in South Africa and had all those incredible experiences. I am so grateful Nelson. Happy 100th and you should know, that we will never forget you.
I have just finished reading an obituary of Joe Jackson, father of The Jackson Five in The Guardian newspaper. But it is expected that such a monstrous article would focus on Joe’s lack of compassion and concentrate instead, on the cruelties he inflicted upon his ten children. Of course it would ignore that Joe had to feed his family on a paltry wage he received from working as a crane worker at a steel plant in Gary, Indiana; it would also ignore the everlasting poverty, the racism that was always there ready to inflict its hatred on anything which tried to be successful.
I guess what is probably frustrating for the author is how Joe was totally unapologetic and neither ashamed of his parenting methods. He was hard and unrelenting but as crude as he might have been, he basically did what he had to do.
I can understand Joe Jackson. If MJ were still alive, he would have been the same age as myself. My parents, in particular my father, was incredibly ambitious and persistent. He refused to accept that as he left the sugar plantation estate in the West Indies cutting cane, he did not leave for the UK so that I could become a typist or my brothers would be bus drivers. To him, education was the be-all and end-all. I was not allowed to go to parties, have boyfriends, my head had to be buried in books at all times. I can remember, gazing at my father with astonishment as he declared that he wanted me to go to University. Go to University? Was he for real?
Unfortunately, myself and my brothers experienced either lashings via the leather belt or had a copy of The Yellow Pages crashing down on our skulls! This happened several times to me and I decided that it was not going to happen again so I did what he wanted.
Yes, at the time I considered my father to be an unforgiving brute! He was aggressive towards my mother and his sisters. He did not suffer fools, whether they were as dark as he or any other colour. He was not scared. When the infamous Notting Hill riots took place some months after I was born, he participated. Clearly, depending on one’s point of view or politics, my Dad was far from perfect.
As a result of failing my exams and being really fed up of the whole thing, I mustered up the courage to confront my father and tell him that I wanted to go to work. My father was angry but accepted if I wanted this, then so be it but…whilst I lived under his roof and worked, he never gave up in continuously reminding me of the mistake I was making.
After a year of working at a job I found locally, I remember feeling bored, feeling how mundane and repetitive the job was. It was then, it occurred to me that if this was work or my future with regards to work, I did not want this. It was then, that my father’s ambition became my own. So while I worked I went to three evening classes per week. I did this for a year before applying as a mature student to a University. I never heard a whisper from my father again, instead I received his blessings and respect while I lived at the family house. And as for my mother, she played the ‘good cop’ to my father’s ‘bad cop’; she supported and loved his ambition and respected him as a good caretaker.
For those who want to crucify Joe Jackson for how he brought up his family, one thing that cannot be ignored, if Joe Jackson was not the parent he was, no matter how bad (Bad – such a great track) we most certainly would not have had the Jackson 5, we couldn’t have known Michael Jackson, and the latest Janet Jackson CD, the fantastic Unbreakable simply would not have existed.
I doff my cap to Mr Jackson, for his strength, his endurance, for his determination and ambition. It is clear that if he did not possess these qualities, the world would never have witnessed such a phenomenon as the Jackson Five which was and still is, the first of a kind.
I was talking to my husband this morning when I saw the banner running under the program on the TV. It said Winnie Mandela had passed away. This strong, defiant beautiful incredible activist is no longer with us. Her struggle had to be the toughest, fighting the oppressive apartheid system, immured in a jail cell and separated for years from her dearly beloved, the great Madiba – Nelson Mandela.
My slight contact with the Mother of the Nation was during the time I lived in Johannesburg in 1994. My husband and I owned a boutique in the Sandton area of Jo’berg and at some point Mrs Mandela visited the shop. Unfortunately I was not there but my manager was present. Another time when I almost was near is when we participated in a fashion show. The clothes from our boutique were used by the organisers to promote African wear and fashions. In fact, clothes were loaned from a number of shops.
Taking the clothes back stage to help with the models, I remember walking across the stage and someone calling out to me that Winnie is taking her place in the audience. I stopped to look. I could see in the distance, a woman wearing a long gown, her hair was a curly Afro and she was talking, smiling. When the lights went out and the show began, I took my seat in one of the front rows. It was a great show and I was pleased with the way our clothes were displayed and looked on the models. When the show had to come to an end, my manager went back stage to collect the clothes and I went to greet Mrs Mandela but when I got to where she sat, she had left.
Dear Winnie, you did what you came to do and made long-lasting achievements. You were truly a blessing to South Africans and will remain in their hearts forever. I offer my condolences to loved ones and know that your gentle soul now quietly rests.
Wow! I’m getting so many ‘reads’ on my Experiences: Moving to Scotland which I wrote some years ago. I guess readers are not just visiting because of the referendum that is taking place as I write this but I’ve received a number of visits as readers (in the past and present) are keen to see if my article is about the business of meeting black women in Scotland. A dating site? hmm! I don’t think so! But I’m sure as they read the blog or when they have finished reading, they realise that my article has nothing do with ‘dating’ but just as the title of my site states, it’s about my experiences of life, generally. The blog is about the time when my family and I lived in Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire, just outside Glasgow.
We didn’t spend a long time there as I had a longing for London. However, I was impressed with how friendly the Scots were and the embarrassing thing was I went there with the notion of not expecting anything, dare I say, of a standard ie., at the back of my mind, Glasgow would look ‘inferior’ to London but it did not. Living there was a great experience but it still did not match my London.
And while talking about Scotland, I wish them all the best, especially, if it’s a Yes. If it’s No, then I guess Alex Salmond has to go back to drawing board because I don’t believe he will give up.
I read the article A Firebrand Leader in the Making in today’s British Guardian. Before reading the blog, one of the bloggers inserted the YouTube clip which features the South African presenter Deborah Patta interviewing Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth league. I normally complain about how blacks are treated in the British media but viewing this clip, I’ve not come across anything as patronizing and contemptuous as this.
The presenter says in her intro that he is seen as a ‘buffoon’ and that it should be put to the ‘test’. Of course the whole point of the programme is for her to take the mick and to make him look a fool. The interesting thing is he comes across as a gentleman and does not rise to the bait.
Fine, he is not articulate (maybe English is not his first language!) and maybe he does not have a degree in Sociology so that he can give us a clear cut definition of class and where he thinks he belongs. But do we really expect him to get it 100% right! The white working class (British) moved out in droves to this new land in hope to emulate the lifestyles of their ‘betters’ in the old country but having lived in South Africa myself I was surprised, no shocked, in how the WWC lived in their big houses and pools with scared and anxious domestic staff. And yet the WWC managed to occupy management positions without having any qualifications whatsoever! Yeah maybe I was a tad jealous as I know occupying such positions back in the UK would have been impossible without qualifications so if you guys were able to get away with that, I don’t think it’s fair that you should expect much more from Malema.
Last Sunday (9/11/08) it was reported in one of the British tabloids that African Americans ‘really think that things will change – for them.’ Peggy Joseph who was at an Obama rally told a TV interviewer: “I won’t have to pay for my petrol anymore. I won’t have to work to pay my mortgage. He’s going to help me.” Somewhere else in Washington, near a popular market, Isaac Johnson was wandering around in a dream like state with tears running down his cheeks, repeating “We’ll get respect now, we’ll get our dream.” But will Obama actually do something for African Americans?
The Obama camp has help to put some distance between him and African American problems. “President-elect Obama did not put himself forward as an African-American president; he put himself as an American who happens to be black.” Said Colin Powell. The report went on to say that Obama cannot risk being too caught up with favouring blacks if he wants to still remain popular with the other multi-racial communities that put him into office. He also has no choice but to distance himself from the likes of Jesse Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan.
However, some blacks are already reporting that they are getting better tables at restaurants because maitres d’ think they may know the new president, so change is taking place. But joking aside, I do hope that everyone realises that how this job is going to be challenging and that not only does he need the support but also tolerance and understanding for those inevitable mistakes he will make.
Where were you when Barack Obama claimed victory and what were you doing?
Unfortunately I was fast asleep but at 5:30am, my husband switched on the light and shouted “He’s done it. The man has won!! I smiled briefly and nodded off back to sleep thinking I was still in a dream A few hours later, I woke up to see my husband still glued to the TV, and that’s when I realised it was for real. Obama, an African American, had won. I reminded my husband that he would be late for work. He told me about the interview with Gore Vidal and Oprah.
I’m now watching the TV, and at the same time checking my watch as I will have to leave for work but I wished I had the energy to stay up all night. But never mind, as I wrote else where on my blog, it is a great day. Let us know what you were up to when it was declared that Obama had won the Presidency.
What do you think of this story? As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, that I used to live in South Africa and always thought it dangerous to argue with whites as they were not used to dealing with ‘uppity’ blacks and could retaliate in a way that would not happen in the UK or the States. Friends of mine have been critical against the blacks who drank this ‘stew’ asking: are they that ‘docile’ that they should drink anything that looks suspicious? My response was blacks in this part of the world have almost been close to what I would call being ‘sedated’ when it comes to their approach to white people. I remember at times when blacks were spoken to by a white person they would always lower their eyes and never look into the white person’s eyes direct. But this disgusting incident should tell us volumes that South Africa still has an incredible long way to go.