kay scorah.

invisible + unheard = fearless.

Speaking up, dressing down

 

I’m just writing about me.
Wearing a dress.
A coral pink, lace, above-the-knee cocktail dress.

A woman writes about a dress. Nothing new there. But if you know me, it’s probably not exactly what you’d expect. And, no, I’m not going to draw parallels between the lacy-ness of the dress and the fragile state of the world, or tell you the deep and meaningful life lessons that you can learn from the colour of coral. You can do that if you want. This is not a “how to” blog, nor is it or a self-help piece. These are not the words of a wise leader. This is just a 64-year-old woman writing about a coral pink, lace cocktail dress the wearing of which almost made her cry.

In a shop in London a couple of weeks ago, walking rapidly past the “things I would never wear” rails, the dress caught my eye.
A dress designed with a slender-limbed 20-something in mind.
In my size.
I didn’t even try it on.
I just picked it up, took it to the counter and paid for it. (The assistant probably thought, hoped, that I was buying it for a grand-daughter.)

The first time that I put it on was to wear it to dinner on Wednesday evening with R and T at Carlito’s Place. Pink above-the-knee dress, bare legs and strappy sandals. I smiled to myself, and this is also when I almost cried, when I realised that this was the first time in more than 30 years that I’ve worn a short skirt without hiding my legs in leggings and ankle boots.

Going back even further, though, when I was young it was made very clear to me by pretty much everyone in my life that I was no oil painting. Whenever there was a conversation in school or college about which celeb each of us most resembled, I was usually assigned Robin Gibb from the Beegees, Buster Keaton or Donald Duck. I dressed and developed a personality to draw attention away from my flat chest, flat bum, thick legs. (My ankles are pretty much the same thickness as my thighs. In my stand-up comedy act I have a whole routine about how every time I lose weight I lose it from my tits, and every time I gain weight it goes on my ankles. If this goes on, by the time I am 70 I will be indistinguishable from a traffic cone.)

Between the ages of 27 and 32, I enjoyed a brief window of career-success-fuelled, delusional confidence in my appearance. I drove a Porsche 911 Targa, and because of that, I told myself, I could wear anything. After all, everyone was looking at the car, not me. And so in those years I shopped in Issey Miyake, Vivienne Westwood and Joseph, wore extravagant shoulder pads, short, tight skirts, leather trousers and parachute silk boiler suits. But when I left that life, and with it, the Porsche, I had a feeling that people’s gaze might have returned to me.

I have never allowed anyone else’s opinion to make me think I’m stupid, or stop me speaking out. Most of my friends and family will wince as they agree with that one. So why did I allow the opinion of others, or at least what I imagined to be their opinion, to so influence my physical self-image and what I wore? I think I know the answer; I have always spoken up because I have nothing to lose. I’m a woman – so the chances are that no-one is listening anyway. I have dressed down, because I’m a woman and the chances are that everyone is looking.

But now that I’m a single, 64-year-old woman, I’m truly invisible. I don’t need a Porsche to be sure that no-one is looking at me. And they’re probably still not listening. So I’ll continue to say what the fuck I want. I’ll wear the coral pink, lace, above-the-knee cocktail dress because no one but me is looking. And even if they are, I don’t give a shit. I love this dress. Even if it makes me cry.

You may ask, if no one is looking, and no one is listening, what does it matter what I say or what I wear? It matters because true, open expression is everything to me now. That true expression, beyond just words, makes me who I am. It is that, not the dress per se that moves me to tears. If impact on others follows, then that is their choice, not my job.

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The Suffradeads; voting rights for dead people.

(Warning 1 – contains arithmetic and arithmetic puns)

(Warning 2 – not funny)

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The EU referendum was held in the UK on 23rd June 2016.

The date on which the UK is set to leave the EU is 29th March 2019.

144 l_o_n_g weeks after the referendum.

A gross length of time in so many ways.

On 23rd June 2016, 17,410,742 people voted to leave the EU.

16,141,241 voted to remain in the EU

A majority of 1,269,501.

It’s a cheerful fact that an average of 12,000 people a week die in the UK, of whom approximately 10,000 are over 65.

That means that roughly 1,440,000 over 65s who were able to vote on 23rd June 2016 will be dead by 29th March 2019. (Sorry, friends).

64% of over 65s voted leave. So, that’s potentially 921600 dead Brexit voters between the referendum and the exit.

At the time of the referendum, the UK population of 15, 16 and 17 year-olds was approximately 2,106,000.

These people will almost all be eligible to vote by the time we leave the EU. They will be 18, 19 and 20 years old.

71% of 18-24 year-olds voted remain

So, roughly 1,495,260 18-to-20 year olds who would have voted remain will be leaving the EU.

To re-cap, on the leave date of 29th March 2019 the UK population will probably include:

17,410,742 leave voters minus 921,600 dead leave voters = 16,489,142 living leave voters, or 49%.

16,141,241 remain voters plus 1,495,260 newly eligible remain voters  = 17,636,501 living remain voters or 51%

A majority for remain of 1,147,359.

Seems fair that we leave the EU, right?

Seems fair that we don’t have a second referendum, right?

Yup.

Fair to dead people.

Not sure if you’re an immigrant or an expat? Take our simple test to find out.

If you’re one of the *232 million people living in a country that you were not born in, then you’re probably wondering where to draw the line between “ex-pat” and “immigrant”. (Unless you are a British person living anywhere overseas, or a French person living in South Kensington, in which case you have never even considered yourself to be anything other than an ex-pat). So we’ve developed a simple 2-minute quiz to help you out.

First, find photographs of the people running the country you’re currently living in. By this we mean politicians, business leaders and media owners. In reverse order.

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Now, take a look at our handy skin colour chart, and find **your skin colour.

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If you are the same colour as, or paler than, the ruling elite in the country you are in, CONGRATULATIONS!! You are an ex-pat.

If your skin is darker than that of the ruling elite then you’re an immigrant.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. If your skin is the same colour as or lighter than the ruling elite, AND you speak or attempt to speak the language of the country you are living in, then I’m afraid you’re an immigrant. Ex-pats know that they do not need to learn other languages because they only ever hold conversations with other expats, and don’t all the locals speak English/French/Dutch/Spanish anyway? (It has come to our attention that some expats do make the mistake of learning how to instruct the staff in the local language. This really isn’t necessary, and in our view is a rather vulgar show of sycophancy or condescension.)

There are also some rare instances (for example if you are an Irish person living in England) where you don’t need to decide whether you are an immigrant or an ex-pat, because most people in the country in which you reside don’t realise that the country you come from doesn’t belong to them.

Next week: Not sure if you’re racist or xenophobic? Maybe you are one of those lucky people who are both! Take our simple test to find out.

(*Daily Mail stat., so who knows what the real figure is.)

(** If you are Donald Trump or a member of the Simpson family, we’re sorry but your skin colour does not appear on this chart. We’re still working on the section for fictional characters.)

“5 Things You Must Do To Make Labour Unelectable”

Our ever popular series, “x things you should y about z”, returns with this insightful piece by Antonia Bleargh. Political Correspondent.

  1. Make sure that you persuade as many people as possible that there is no point whatsoever in voting because you are exactly the same as all the other parties. Did you know that between May 1997 and June 2001 Tony Blair’s government managed to reduce the number of people who could be bothered to vote from 71% to 59%! Yes, a massive 5 MILLION voters turned their backs on the electoral system in just 4 short years. Marvellous achievement!
  1. Don’t make this an indiscriminate cull. Take care to ensure that the people that you alienate most effectively are those who might have been most likely to vote for you. Just look at the sterling work that Labour carried out in this regard amongst young people; 51% of 18-24s voted in 1997 compared to just 37% in 2005. Again, a brilliant vote-losing strategy, precisely executed.
  1. Shake off all those poorly paid, needy types. Middle class lefties are almost impossible to get rid of (give them a couple of decent bottles of cut price Primitivo from Waitrose and they’ll soon forget about illegal wars and such trivia). Instead, focus on getting rid of working class voters by giving peerages to your posh media mates and continuing to keep decent housing unaffordable. New Labour leads the way again; “(Labour) has suffered a cataclysmic decline among working class voters.” John Trickett. May 2015. New Statesman.
  1. Make sure that you squabble amongst yourselves like ferrets in a sack. Bully the boys who dare to be a bit different by giving them girly nicknames like “Alice in Wonderland”.
  1. Remember, it’s more important to be in power than it is to represent the people.

    Antonia Bleargh. Political Correspondent. With apologies to John Tenniel

    Antonia Bleargh. Political Correspondent. With apologies to John Tenniel

Turning the Tables Conference November 29th 2019

*Standard diversity conference agenda:

Opening address: Trevor Philips or Trevor McDonald

Speakers:

1. middle-aged university educated white person without disability

2. middle-aged university educated white person without disability

3. middle-aged university educated white person without disability

4. middle-aged university educated white person without disability

5. middle-aged university educated white person without disability

6. middle-aged university educated white-ish person without disability

7. middle-aged university educated white person without disability

etc. etc. etc. etc.

Closing address: Trevor McDonald or Trevor Philips

Turning the Tables Conference line up:

Opening address:

Old white person. (Kay)

Speakers:

This inspiring selection of young thought and community leaders:TtTimagesupdate

Closing remarks:

All of the above.

If you want to learn how to do things differently, come and listen to 10 people aged between 16 and 26 whose lives have given them no choice but to do things differently.

At the Tabernacle Theatre, Notting Hill. November 29th 2019. Click here to read more or contact Kay.

* I kid you not. The speaker lineup for an upcoming high status “diversity” conference in London includes:

  • 5 white males
  • 8 white females
  • 1 white trans female
  • 1 anglo-asian male
  • Trevor Philips

On *throwing my toys out of the pram.

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I am a notorious hurler of playthings. It has often been said, both to me and about me, that I have “thrown my toys out of the pram”.

I have walked away from lucrative, prestigious and, yes, even interesting work for reasons that may seem strange, obscure or eccentric. Because of this I have been described as stubborn, unpredictable and, yes, that scary female thing, “hysterical”.

I admit that there have been times that I have walked away from relationships because I have let my ego prevail, and taken offence at some real or imagined slight. More often, though, my toy-throwing happens when I realise that I represent nothing more than a box that needs to be ticked. It happens when I suspect that I’m part of what I call a “seen to be” exercise, where those who are paying for my contribution have no intention of acting on the ideas that we generate or of solving the problems that surface.

Like a baby presented every day with the same toy, I get frustrated when nothing changes as a result of the work I do. Of course, I question my own contribution first, but then I begin to question the motives and values of the people I’m working with.

After more than 40 years in the business world, I should, perhaps, know better than to lose my shit over these things. The opposite is true. At 64, I’m more impatient than ever. I don’t have time for compromise or an appetite for doing the same thing in the hope of getting a different result. I am determined to raise the bar for the people I work with, not lower it.

So, to all those who have said of me that my behaviour is irrational and immature, and equally for those who secretly want to join me in my irrational immaturity, here are a few lines from this notorious toy-thrower to the toy-bringers:

(If you struggle with metaphors and analogies, you should probably stop reading now.)

– I’m throwing the toys out of the pram because they are taking up space. My toy-throwing makes space in my pram for new toys, and creates space into which I can grow.

– The toys that I throw out of my pram were never really MY toys, they were the toys that you wanted me to play with. At best, they were the toys that you thought that I wanted.

– I’ll be honest, I have thrown out your toys for my own amusement; to hear the sounds that the toys make as they hit the ground, to see what new toys I can create from the fragments of the old ones, to observe how the bringers of the toys will react to my rejecting their offerings….

– Playing with the same toys over and over again is not aiding my development, and I urgently need to learn new stuff. It certainly isn’t doing anything for you.

To those clients and collaborators that I’m working with today; thank you so much for constantly bringing new toys for me to play with, and a bigger pram to play in!

*For those of you not familiar with the expression, the online definition that I like the best is, “Behaving in a childish and petulant way; having a tantrum”.

Empathy Leaning

Empathy Leaning

Dad on the bus lowers his head

To be closer to little Florence

Who is reading, out loud, the pictures in her book

Outside the school gate, 4 p.m.

Side by side, shoulder touching shoulder,

Teenage schoolboys study the same screen

Teacher bends from the waist to bring her ear closer

As little Mari softly voices the fear

That no-one likes her.

 

Dancer D takes my weight, I take hers

We each pause for a while, simultaneously,

This need to rest may be hers, or it may be mine

Wobbly Wendy in first her free headstand

Yoga Paddy standing close enough

for her to sense that he is there

 

I will not let your voice go unheard,

Nor let you go through this alone.

I will not let you fall.

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(Inspired by @itsthelab The Lab #14)

(Images: 2 of my best “empathy leaning” buddies…)

 

 

Essex Road Revolution – Manifesto

1yASA07IR2yR6hir64fOrQI want to feel proud to be English.

I want us to be revered for the intelligence and thoughtfulness of all of our people, thanks to excellent education, free to everyone, designed to benefit all types of intelligence.

I long for us to be admired for our inventiveness and productivity, for our craft and creativity, for our willingness to listen and to learn.

I want England to be known throughout the world for the good health and vitality of all its people thanks to a well-funded National Health Service, “free at the point of delivery, based on clinical need, not the ability to pay”.

I crave home-grown, thought-provoking, ground-breaking, soul-nourishing literature, visual art, music, cinema and theatre. Something made by everyone. Something for everyone.

I dream of a time when our business and political leaders will be sought out to help those in need and find peaceful means to resolve conflict throughout the world.

I want “inclusive, open, welcoming and compassionate” to be the adjectives that others most associate with English people.

In my newly reborn country, I never, ever want to see a homeless person sleeping rough outside an empty, unused building.

I want a parliament with no “sides”, in which all representatives are there to serve their constituents, and to work alongside their colleagues to make the country and the world a more harmonious, equal place.

This is what I call taking my country back.

The Last Post. The Last Supper. The Last Stand. The Last Straw. The Last Resort.

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If you’re new to Essex Road Recipes, welcome. And goodbye.

The idea was born out of the wonderful collection of independent, specialist food stores around the corner from my flat in Islington, North London. There’s Steve Hatt for your fish, James Elliott for your meat and cheese, Raab’s the baker. And then there used to be The Market Garden for your fruit and vegetables and The New Rose pub for meeting your friends and neighbours. All quality. All with minimal plastic packaging. All staffed by people who know their stuff, who know their customers. People who have supported me through some tough times with banter, genuine concern, hugs and sharing.

This is the last Essex Road Recipes blog. You can say that you were there in March 2019 when I finally admitted that the project had failed. When my recipes on essexroadrecipes and my ranting on kayscorah collided, and I realised that my well-meaning, small scale social activism was pointless.

5 years ago, I started to improvise recipes around what looked good in these shops. 2 years ago I published a set of 50 improvised recipes.  My love of food and cooking grew and grew…

…as did my love for these people, my sense of belonging and being at home after 20 years living away. The North London banter in Raab’s, James Elliot and Steve Hatt is still guaranteed to cheer me up on the darkest of days, but I miss the Market Garden Family. I miss the New Rose Family. The owners of the land on which the Emery family ran the Market Garden for 20 years decided to terminate the lease in January. Apparently they were going to develop the site; luxury flats and 2 retail units, or so we were told when we petitioned the council to keep the shop open. Our petition failed.

Even now, 2 months after the shop closed, no planning permission has been applied for, and an estate agent’s sign is advertising the site to let as a popup retail opportunity. Meanwhile, homeless people sleep under the shelter of the abandoned shop.

The New Rose went out of business and now sits empty, boarded up with an intruder alarm constantly sounding. The group  of locals who used to hang out there, listen to one another and take care of the older ones, are scattered. In what used to be the beer garden there is a tent  where homeless people live.

What now? Now that the extremes of greed and poverty that seem to characterise my country  these days stare me in the face a few yards from my door? Now that I am politically orphaned; neither represented in parliament nor by my local council? Now that I feel powerless to effect even the smallest change? Now that I feel unseen and unheard? Should I succumb gratefully to a mind-numbing diet of reality TV and supermarket shopping? Or start a revolution?

Essex Road Recipes is no more. Watch this space for Essex Road Revolution.

 

That friend you can depend on. For Charlie.

August 26th 2011. I’d taken a little show I’d made to New York. Cast of 3, including me.  It was the opening night and I was shitting myself, to be honest.  We were onstage as the audience walked in. A mad looking bastard with white hair strolled in and took his seat in the middle of a row half way back. I squinted into the lights. Then I mouthed. “Charlie?” I had no idea he was even in town. He just waved.

That was Charlie all over. No ceremony. He was just there for you if he thought you might need him. No fuss.

2012. I moved back to London after almost 20 years away. Saw Charlie a few times. One night my phone rang, really late. It was Charlie. He was outside. He’d had a bit of a problem and needed somewhere to stay. I let him in, we had a drink and put the world to rights before he sloped off to the spare room like my drunk brother.

That was Charlie all over. No ceremony. He had a way of making me feel useful. No fuss.

Now he’s gone. He checked out Monday evening. No ceremony. No fuss.

To his family and all his other friends, lots of love. I’m going to try my best to be a bit more Charlie.11041713_10153155534832922_6090886241022825664_n (1)

 

Moon and sun

The moon once said to me,

“In my light, you will always be beautiful.”

She was a slender crescent, loved by all the sparkling stars.

She was full, round and blue. She was orange.

She was everything, and she was beautiful, too.

 

And then the sun came up, and I forgot about the moon.

 

The sun said, “I will shine, but you must hide away in the shade.

He said, “Let me show you all the things that are more beautiful than you.

“Let my light make clear your flaws, your scars, your wrinkles and your weaknesses.”

 

His brightness burned my eyes, his heat my skin,

and when he saw that I was cold, he hid behind a cloud.

 

At last, the sun sliding below the horizon, I heard his harsh voice call,

“I am leaving. Without me you are invisible.”

 

Then at my back, I heard the moon’s fierce whisper,

“No. Be gone, sun. Without you, she is invincible.”

 

Kay Scorah August 2018

I see. You see.

Crying. Too much mascara.

Elephants drinking in still water lake. Reflected.

North of England industrial skyline. Inverted.

What do you see?

Different experiences, different cultures, different context, different mood. How often do you stop to ask others what they see?

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Humans are so weird about food

Human A, “Aw, look at the cute little calf! It’s so adorable!”tumblr_msdoeqe14g1stlkgho1_500

Human B, “Yes, isn’t it!

Human B, “Want a beefburger?”

Human A, “Yes please!”

 

Human A, “Eeeek! Look! A spider. Someone kill it, please! I can’t stand spiders!”

Human B. “I’ve squashed the spider.”5-6-HOWARD-4live-spider-sample

Human A. “Thank you!”

Human B, “Want a spiderburger?”

Human A, “Yuk, Gross! Are you crazy?!”