About

About

Welcome to my blog! I am a writer, photographer, food/ prop stylist and film maker. You can find recipes, photos, blog posts, films and videos here.

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Supper Club

Supper Club

The supper club is held in my home in London Fields, Hackney. It is like a dinner party in the tradition of a Vietnamese feast with homemade Vietnamese food.

Classes

Classes

Vietnamese food is about the balance of flavours, of sweet, salty and sour – there is no measuring device that can ever match your own taste buds.

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London Riot: Have Your Say – With BBC World News

Darrell

This week is definitely a different week. Neither did we expect what would happened to Tottenham on Saturday nor the events that unfolded into London, burning. (What happened on my road here) No one expected that one person who lit the first fire to turn it into a wild bush fire spreading like a disease. Nor did I expect to write about of this on a non political, food type blog but this week, we are faced with a problem we can no longer ignore.

Early this morning, I was asked by Robyn Bresnahan, a journalist and broadcaster on BBC World News to host a radio show in my flat.  I agreed and found myself opening the doors of my home to a loud, cocky and boisterous Darrell James, he didn’t like the dog jumping at his Armani jeans. He kind of scared the hell out of me when I opened the door after yesterday’s attacks on our street. He was black and he was wearing a cap and he was coming into my house.

Darrell fired off as soon as he entered, his thoughts on whats wrong with our society, why he thought these riots were happening and who was to blame and I listened for a while with the greatest of interest. He was fuelled with many opinions of why society, government and life has done so wrong for him and many young people in Britain.

We sat around a table, with 4 other contributors, Real and Sterling both youth workers, Monifa and my next door neighbour Sohail. We had an open discussion about what happened yesterday, what we thought, who we blamed and what there is to do about it. The discussion could have gone on for hours.

You can hear it here:
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/whys/whys_20110809-1230a.mp3

After the show, I continued to talk to Darrell because he made me very intrigued. Darrell partially explained how no one would ever listen to someone like him – ex convict, ex drug dealer and no good do-er. Darrell is now a consultant, a voice of youth and gang culture and often contributes to the BBC or other agencies. What changed you? I asked. My body just couldn’t cope with it anymore, he said. I was sent to prison at 29 and things like that change you. You think to yourself, what have you got? Nothing. Where are you going with this? Nowhere.

Darrell is now a 38 year old man and I can see the gentleness behind all the yell. Its the loud, opinionated, slightly aggressive thing that can scare or be misinterpreted. He got me to see beyond the guy in the hoodie (he wasn’t wearing one, but he might as well be). He pointed out how blind I was to what is going on in our society, not by bashing me but by pointing out to me that all this riot has always been there, just swept under the rug and now its come to the surface – we are shell shocked but its always been there. The harsh brash reality has finally hit us all.

I refused to be belittled for not knowing what actually goes on in estates, frankly, I just didn’t and don’t want to know. I grew up in them and I am entirely happy to have gotten out and he wasn’t going to make me feel guilty for my new middle class and blind realisation of estate culture – the one raging to be heard. But he made me realise something, that I didn’t care and now its biting me in the face.

Its people like you who they will listen to, people like you, not people like me. Help the kids, get the youth centres up again. Tell the government, your local MP to help the young people.

Well, yeah, thats a letter to parliament. Thats easy. As an average tax payer, its not as easy as that is it? But what would they do anyway? This stems in so many directions and layers are embedded.
We live in an interweb of generations and generations of a class system, prejudice, drugs, alcohol, lack of education, government cuts and the list goes on and on. Writing a letter is a simple start that anyone can do to contribute in numbers but doesn’t it just start from the beginning? From birth? Is it too late?

Sterling

Sterling, also a loud, opinionated and angry youth worker is from a maturer generation. He used the metaphor of Lord Of The Flies. If you let children loose, they become savages in any society and in any era of time. Something has to change.

There is a huge problem and these last few days have totally changed the city, the country and probably the world. What can we do but throw our hands, sigh with a huge weight on our shoulders and not knowing where to start? We are altogether now, united but are we going to forget? Sweep it under the rug again with our broom?

First we should listen. This is what we all agreed.

Monik & Real

Thank you to Robyn Bresnahan and Mark at BBC World News and for Sterling, Real, Monik and Darrell for turning my blind into such an insight.

Further Reading: Penny Red

  • Anonymous

    Think we need to stop spending millions of pounds abroad,and start spending it here.Police,Hospitals, all emergency services, are in need of cash injection.Why cant we create more jobs with some of the cash we waste.

  • Anonymous

    You’re mad.

    “He was black and wearing a cap” Lol.

    Even with the caveat of ‘after yesterday’ a comment like that really stinks.

    I guess your supper clubs tend not to have too many black attendees.

    SharkeySure

  • @Anonymous
    You are totally right.

    @SharkeySure
    I am yellow with a pair of chopsticks!

    Perhaps my post was written too hastyly but this was Darrell’s point – that people like me have presumptions of who he is and of many young people living in council estates – then brush them off. They are ignored and many “white” people especially of government are just saying how much of a disgrace they are and blaming them for being disgraceful when our society has created all of this.

    I have many races, nationalities and skin colour attend my supper clubs – from all different walks of life actually.

    I am sorry if you think my comment stinks, but I said it on purpose to my own detriment – because Darrell, the amazing man he is, made me see how my own ignorance is one of the factors that caused these riots.

    I am sorry you feel so negatively about it. This is not a political blog and I do not intend to discuss further – but this was my morning with the radio show and I am documenting what happened.

  • Anonymous

    RE: comment above: SharkeySure

    Think he didn´t get your creative license and referencing how people are seen. Plus this person took one comment and focused on it. The strange thing is, if your not in the same social position as someone it doesn´t mean you haven´t been there and it doesn´t take away your right to comment on it. This person did not make an intelligent judgment of the post and overlooked the fact that you hosted an event in your house!!!!! This wasn´t about judgment it was about trying to get passed judgment, sharkeysure didn´t get it

    F.M

  • Carla

    You know I have nothing against you as a person and that I find you lovely and fun.
    However, I was frankly appalled by your comment on Darrell’s presence on your doorstep.

    You have now explained in which tone it was meant and it does shed a different light on it, but I do feel you should have explained that in your post; as it is now it leans on plain racist and my reaction as well as that of many others has been “Had he been white would you have made the same comment considering a large part of the rioters were, indeed, white?”
    Forgive me if I’m inclined to believe you would have not.

    You are sharing with the internet your views, so I’d just like to suggest you are careful with what you write and thoughtful of how you put your points across especially when they revolve around such a topical subject – It’s from (wrongly or not) perceived attitudes like this that a lot of our problems as a society spark.

  • I think your honesty is refreshing. Perhaps many of us would be intimidated by a loud black guy in a cap turning up on our doorsteps, should we keep quiet but let our views inform our actions, or openly admit to our (misplaced) prejudices? I think you have to acknowledge prejudice and fear before you can conquer it.

  • @Carla
    Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me what you think and so constructively. You are absolutely right and I have to be much more careful with how I portray my posts. I would still have said what I said, but I should have painted the fuller picture.

    As this is not a political/ social blog (yet) I didn’t want it to be such a long winded thing and the radio show itself says a lot.

    Carla, I was so scared and frightened, not expecting a riot on my door step – and it happened, the rug pulled from under my safe middle class home.

    If a white so and so came knocking on my door, sayin’ this and dat innit bro – I would have also been terrified as I was when I was on the tube, a huge noise banged and I broke out in tears.

    I can imagine that I can become a very good friend of Darrell, and I have already text him about all these comments (because it is most important to me, what he thinks because this is about him)- he says, “they should hear what I say bout my own people”

    Somehow, the guy is a wise one and he tells me that when you tell the truth and how you see things, people don’t like it, cos its a bitter pill.

    I stand strongly by what I wrote, I felt scared, Robyn did not tell me who was coming. I would have been just as scared with a white guy except if he was trying to sell electricity!

    The only thing I did wrong here is that I didn’t paint the full picture.

    I hope to work with Darrell on many projects in the future. I have the utmost respect for him and what he does.

    @Fingers&Toes
    This was what I wanted to do, but I think I failed miserably. Must try harder next time x

  • A person’s views, correct or not, are formed by many things – by media,by what your parents and school and peers teach you, and from life experience.

    You’d just had a frightening experience which explains, even if it doesn’t justify, your initial reaction to Darrell (which you were honest enough to admit) and then you immediately went on to say how that reaction was misplaced.

    A brave and thought-provoking post – I enjoyed reading it.

  • @FM
    Thank you for seeing and reading in between the lines. It appears that many people just read that line and ran with it. However, it was my fault for not writing it properly. Thanks again.

    @Meemalee
    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Leluu

    Many thanks for your response, and its been interesting to read the responses of others as well.

    Firstly, whilst I stand by my original post, on reflection I was probably a little bit harsh.

    I must also praise your honesty in putting ‘your admission’ out there. Well played on that score.

    Lastly, I sit beside one of your supper guests in my day job, and apparently she’ll be with you this evening !!

    SharkeySure

  • its all down to the culture of the young you could give most of them a millon an they would still want to sell drugs an walk around like they got a stone in there shoe plus why riot when they dnt even vote

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I just wanted to address what the first comment said about money being spent overseas. The UK gives less than 0.7% of its GDP in overseas aid every year.
    This money has saved millions of lives – through vaccines, drugs or clean water, as well as seen more than 20 million children in Africa attend primary school in the last 5 years.
    I think for such a small amount of money thats pretty good value!

    Brie