On being mixed-race.

Just to make things clear and in case there are any objections, in this article ‘On being mixed-race,  ‘mixed-race’ is the term I choose to use, to own, to describe myself.

If you don’t like the term I’m sorry but it’s the one I’ve become used to and feel comfortable with. If ‘mixed heritage is your thing then that’s ok with me but as far as I’m concerned it’s too difficult to say if you’re drunk, which in my experience is when ‘Where are you from?’ type discussions tend to take place.

Anyway, the point is throughout my life as a mixed-race man ‘we’ have been ignored.

NOT, and this is important, ignored as far as insults are concerned. We have always had them and grown used to them. The Great British Public (for it is they) have never made any distinction about shading of skin colour or indeed where you are actually from. No, as far as they are concerned if you are off white you are a **** or even worse a ******. But that is not what I am here to talk about.

I just wanted to make the point that no-one (or at least rarely in my case) has ever asked aloud, what is it like to be mixed-race? Oh sure there has been the odd book about it (I have bought most of them) but nobody seems remotely interested in the experience. So, I thought might express one or two thoughts if you don’t mind.

First of all it ain’t been easy. (Upon saying this, THIS IS NOT A MOAN).

There is, as you might think (don’t forget, this is about me. I am not talking for other mixed-race people) a lot of confusion involving  identity.

Who am I? Where exactly do I belong?

The where do I belong? question I think was my first mistake. It is a question (in my case) based entirely on looks and colouring. The sort of mistake primitive man might make. Visual. Purely visual. Where is the rest of my tribe who should look like me? Mum doesn’t look like me. Dad doesn’t look like me. Thankfully you (ME) soon grow out of this BUT are constantly reminded of your difference by the ignorant.

The answer to the problem of identity is soon countered by making your own space.

Which is actually what everybody should be doing (not just the mixed-race) Leaving tribalism behind and saying this is me, this is my space because I am unique, there is no-one else like me etc, etc. This approach if we all took it would solve a lot of problems. Owning who you are. Important.

There was a moment in my life concerning identity I shall never forget which initially bought me to tears but after much thought I decided it wasn’t as wonderful as I thought.  It happened during the time I was training to be a Priest (CofE).

I happened to have been invited to a Rasta’s Reckoning (meeting) where to cut a long story short, I was embraced as though a long-lost brother and told…’Welcome home’. Perhaps naturally, I was touched and emotionally overcome. It was only after much thought I decided it wasn’t as helpful as I first thought and my ‘positive’ reaction actually a denial of who I was.

Being mixed-race can make you the subject of attention.

People are naturally curious and need their questions answered. ‘I don’t wish to be rude but…Where are you from? Really? I thought you were Spanish/Italian/Chinese? (it’s happened).

When I was a young man I was quite successful in the romance dept purely because of curiosity. This may sound awful, but I know for a fact that some women were only interested in me because of my colour, and they wanted to satisfy er…. Certain theories, (say no more).

Growing up as a mixed-race man has had a major downside. Rejection. Rejection by both sides of the argument which is worse. To be rejected by both black and white is initially devastating.

When that first hits you…that’s when you really feel alone. BUT. It will pass. As you get older and wiser your uniqueness kicks in and you realise you wonderful, beautiful and much-missed mum, was right.

‘You can hold your head up high. You can walk tall. You are different. Unique. Special. Always remember two different races of people came together to make you.’

Thanks mum. x

The (destructive) power of Prayer.

With all the love in the world…wake up and smell the coffee.

Refugee crisis

70 years on the throne

Being Nadhim Zahawi

Happy Birthday to me.

Well here we are then. The 74th Happy birthday to me.

yipee

And as usual, for me there is always the very odd feeling of ‘not being here’.

Is it really me that people (family) are greeting with a ‘happy birthday’ smile, a card (maybe) and sometimes a gift (a sugar bowl???). Why?

I have always found the idea of birthdays if not a little odd, to be honest more than scary. Apart from the strange disconnect described above, the birthday is really a counting down of time. Behind the smiling faces and best wishes is the knowledge that what they are really saying is…’Not long now…’.

Strangely, for me it’s not so much the passing of time, although I do find that difficult enough to handle, but more the feeling that I am, against my will, being slowly poisoned . That something, call it ‘age’, is being at the command of what we know as ‘genes’, being slowly released into my bloodstream.

To be totally honest I feel like an experiment ( lab-rat) that is coming to the end of its time.

That year by year as the poison accumulates another little bit of me breaks off. A piece of me decides that it has done its time and will now let itself be absorbed back into the soup of the decaying body, smug in the knowledge that it has done the work assigned to it and now it can have a well-deserved rest in oblivion until it is returned to its ‘real home’, the earth.

It’s a funny old thing this birthday thing.

Once I suppose ‘a necessary’ insomuch it was a  celebration to acknowledge the fact that you had made it through another year without starving to death. Or being eaten by a wild animal. Or dying painfully at the hands of a disease that usually comprised of pus and very large black spots. Survive all that and I guess I can understand the need for cake, even with candles.

Anyway here I am trying to put a brave face on it.

A recipient of a very nice card (just the one), a sugar bowl (?) some ‘happy birthdays’ (yet to arrive) from Facebook people I don’t really know (and let’s face it they are only doing what they are told by Zuckerberg. They actually and who can blame them, couldn’t care a toss).

And then it will be over. Much of a nothingness, gone. Everybody having performed their duty and interrupted a day when they have much more important things to do.

I think we had the right ideas about birthdays when we were younger. Birthdays were part of that ‘any excuse for a party’ lifestyle. Ignore the fact that you were another year closer to death and get obliterated by alcohol instead.

Happy birthday to me.

The (destructive) power of Prayer.

I guess one of the many reasons my career as a Priest in the Church of England was curtailed was my lack of faith.

Take prayer for instance. I came to realise the destructive power of prayer quite early on.

It didn’t take long for me to reason how unfair it all was. The jubilation and joy in the faces of those who found their requests granted and the sadness and despair in those who got nowhere. It was a bit like winning the lottery. Chance. Luck.

the stratfordian's art
The Last Resort’. 2022.
Oil on canvas. An observation on prayer.

Like a beggar on the streets who adopts a similar pose (kneeling, hands clasped) watching his or her hat fill (or not) with coins of the realm.

The trouble was in a lot of cases the despair was doubled because the failure of the prayer would often be put down to that terrible guilt-inducer ‘Lack of Faith’. And not just by the owner of the failed prayers but by those who felt themselves in favour with God. Of course, all dangerous nonsense.

And I was expected to sit there smiling and offering up ridiculous platitudes that made me want to gag. Crap such as, ‘Well now is obviously not the right time’ or ‘God has obviously decided that that is not the pathway He wants you to follow’ or perhaps worst of all, ‘God obviously has other plans for you’.

This Priest had no real answer but spewed out the nonsense anyway. AND sat there watching the courage of the unanswered as they swallowed their disappointment wondering what they had done to deserve this treatment (something in a past life perhaps?) and…AND amazingly carrying on not only with their lives but with their faith as well.

GO FIGURE.

Counting down the days.

The Stratfordian

I admit I do have a tendency to be a  bit over-dramatic but hey let’s face these are special times. With what’s going on in the world (at least what we know about) it’s a great time to get whatever is bothering you off your chest (before it’s too late).

So what’s bothering me…?

It’s the passage of time. But that’s nothing new. It’s always bothered me since I was a kid. How fast it all goes. One minute you are as I said a kid, the next you are a father with kids of your own. How did that happen?

Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is not only does it go too fast but, before you know it you’re close to the finishing line. Over. Done. And for what?

That’s how I feel right now. Near the end. Now don’t get me wrong this is not necessarily a complaint. I’m a little nervous but not scared. Apprehensive, yes but I’m of the school that thinks this is a journey of different stages so in a strange way I’m curious…even excited. Morbid to some I admit but this part of the journey (the living part) has been everything. Weird, frustrating, pointless (?), revealing, pleasurable (sex) plus a lot of other stuff that seemed to make it all worthwhile and by that I guess I mean, kids, offspring, children. No doubt they are THE THING that’s made it moderately worthwhile.

What’s brought this on?

Well a few years ago after a bout of breathlessness and a suspected heart attack (although that is now in doubt), I had some stents fitted. To cut a long (ish) story short – miraculous. I was back to er ‘normal’.

Cut too today…

The symptoms appear to have returned. Not as bad but they’re back. After a week or so of doing the typical male thing and ignoring them, I have been persuaded by you know who to book an appointment with the doctor.

So here we go again.. More stents? Big heart operation…watch this space.

I’m 73. No complaints.

OK. I’m not in the Ukraine or starving in some sun-scorched desert. I’m in the UK FFS with the only thing to worry about is the toad Boris Johnson (wash my mouth out with soap and water). I guess, like us all I’d like a bit more time. Selfish, I know but I’m trying to be honest. And as that’s the case, to be truthful I am a little scared of being fiddled about with again.

This has been a purely selfish post.

Confession time; Losing his faith (Part I)

CONFESSION TIME.

I have to admit that I get some perverse enjoyment from telling people that I am an ex-priest who has, from day one of holiness, been losing his faith.

One:  I like to see the confused look on their faces when they realise they are confronted with someone who has so easily dismissed something they have been searching for or at least been trying to understand for most of their adult life.

And two: It’s not true.

To cut to the chase.

I have most certainly lost my faith but most certainly not in (for want of a better word), *God.

My faith (if I ever really and truthfully, had any) is totally gone in the C of E.

I have stopped believing in the Church of England.

And if the truth were really to be known, the only reason that they (CofE) became part of my life in the first place is because, they were there.

Like some huge blockade, I had to go through them to get to where I thought I wanted to be. They were/are the self-appointed gatekeepers. Custom Control.

They’re the Ones who led me astray and attempted to clone me. They are the Ones who put their grubby hands upon me, dressed me up in outlandish costume, gave me a script to read and let me go blundering dangerously, like a bad actor into the community.

So I blame them.

I blame them from disallowing true exploration into what was calling me.

I blame them for leading me away from who I truly was/am.

I blame them for supplying me with a false narrative and indoctrinating me day in (especially on Sundays) and day out.

I now realise that organised faith systems are always based on abuse.

And I am ashamed to realise at this at such a late hour.

I am ashamed that I was part of a system that basically told innocent people that they were not good enough and their only chance at something called ‘redemption’ would be to change.

I am ashamed because I could and should been concentrating more on the uniqueness of what each person in their own right had to offer. I should have been building confidence in realities not wishy-washy, pie in the sky when you die remedies.

I should have been pushing ‘WORTH’ not ‘worthlessness’.

I am truly sorry…it won’t happen again.

THEOLOGY FOR ALL

 

*God. This will be in part II (maybe).

I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint

Facing up to it.

70 years on the throne

Short Poem: Happy Days.

Is there a price to comedy?

 

 

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