Love runs the streets Paris Street Art

Any middle class white girl between the ages of 20 and 35 is super pumped for Friday. Friday is the day that we finally get the Amy Sherman-Palladino ending to Gilmore Girls, the show that meant so much to us in our formative years. Yes re-watching it in 2016 there is a seriously problematic treatment of race, the relationships are fucked and what the hell is up with Luke not telling Lorelai that he has a daughter – but it is nostalgia that I/we can’t shake.

But despite the Netflix powered build up, I can’t help fearing this Friday a little. At the moment we have videos of white supremacists (which we apparently have to call alt-right now to avoid hurting their feelings) doing Hitler salutes on mainstream news channels. There is unprecedented levels* of race based attacks in the UK and USA, the President elect has actively encouraged tension against minority groups, and the UK is still running full pelt towards the brick wall of Brexit. And on Friday, our glorious Gilmore Girls Friday, social media will be screaming about Rory’s job choices. BuzzFeed will have 18 quizzes so you can see if you are on Team Jess/Dean/Logan. Genuine grown up news sites will have light hearted opinion pieces about the revival, nudging it onto the front page to try and fill space. We will ignore the horror in the world in favour of something that feels hygge.

In the past I have been a massive advocate of turning off the news if it gets too much, protecting yourself and your mental health in the wake of terrorist attacks that were a little too close to home. But now? I keep wondering about how Londoners felt on the eve of the rise of Hitler in the years before World War Two. Did they bake cake to distract from the feeling of unease they felt when they read the newspaper? Did they throw a little too much effort into Christmas because ‘surely’ it isn’t as bad as they all say, someone will put a stop to it.

I might be overreacting, the Trump administration may not be world ending. But. But. What if they are? What if this is the point in history where we could be standing up, doing SOMETHING, and we are too busy using the #todayimgrateful hashtag to make the world seem a little lighter. I don’t mean to throw shade at anyone using the hashtag by the way, I understand the point and applaud the attempt to focus on the positive – but what if tomorrow Trump announces the Muslim register and we are being grateful for a good cup of tea?

I’m writing this because I feel truly impotent right now. I know that racism is not just a problem in America, it is 100% an issue in the UK too, and I don’t know what I can be doing to help. Retweeting is not enough. Sharing a status is not enough. Disagreeing when someone says something thoughtless is my jam, but waiting for mild levels of conversational cunt seems like a weak cop out. I hate how Brexit is dividing Europe (right at the moment when we need to have our shit together) but how can I actually influence change?

As we have seen from the last few referendums and elections, the social media bubble you are in is just an echo chamber. You surround yourself with people who think the same way you do, and then the big day arrives and your liberal castle crumbles around you. So how on earth do you reach people with a different opinion, how do you engage someone in a meaningful debate without searching for the ‘KKK London HQ’ on Citymapper. Actually I think that would be a bad idea. Don’t try to talk to the KKK. Or should we? Oh god I don’t even know anymore.

I know what will happen. I will watch Gilmore Girls on Friday and get entirely wrapped up in how ‘its not like it used to be’ and how neither of the girls has managed to have a functioning relationship in the intervening years. If this is the eve of World War three I will be discussing how Suki should be a Michelin starred chef and Michele should have been fired while the world burns around me. The way we live through binge watching and social media is the new opiate for the masses, and while we focus on the petty and the fluffy we are letting bad things happen. By doing nothing we are accepting the new status quo.

Any ideas?

*not unprecedented levels of racism, racism does not appear overnight – this current rhetoric is just allowing people to voice their bias as if it was mainstream and acceptable

South Kensington Tube Sign

I have to write this because writing is how I process these days. What happened in Paris is horrific, there are no words. This blog is meant to be a place where new London expats can get a high five, a kick up the butt or a hug; but today it’s about the scariest side of living in a major city. What do you do when terrorism is too close and all you want to do is hide?

Terrorism is such a tangible part of living in London. There is no sugar coating this, the current UK terror rating is ‘severe’ which means that an attack is highly likely.

Earlier this year a rumour went round social media that all met police had been called off holiday because an attack on London was imminent. I remember everyone in the office looking at each other helplessly because no one wanted to take action based on rumour and terror, and yet we were all scared. No one wanted to seem like they were overreacting by walking for an hour and half instead of catching the tube, but what can you do? If you catch the tube and something happens what then? It’s not like any of this is distant either, I work in Aldgate where one of the 7/7 bombings were just ten years ago. In London every ounce of terror is so close.

When you are in New Zealand and hear about acts of terrorism overseas your heart bleeds but you don’t change the way you live, you simply don’t think that it could happen to you. It’s partly that for all we like to dream big New Zealand is not a major world power so the likelihood of an attack on home soil is lessened. Probably the bigger reason though is that New Zealand is damn far away, it seems unimaginable that any terrorist would be bothered to fly all that way. In New Zealand you feel sorrow and disbelief but that terror does not take hold, that terror is a world away.

What can you do when all you dream of is moving to or living in London? The most kick ass, beautiful, confusing, fierce, creative, hard and amazing city; the concrete love of my life. Do you let terrorism stop you living your life, stop you dreaming? I don’t want to let fear stop me from going to the theatre. Stop me celebrating in crowds. Stop me taking the tube. If you let it, the fear of getting hurt, the fear of these immensely evil people could stop you leaving your front door.

What can you do when it seems too scary to leave your house? What did I do when all I wanted to do was stay inside and protect myself? I went out. I went out and had breakfast with a friend and made plans for the future. I got on a tube full of strangers and just stood there ignoring everyone like I would on any other day. I got on the tube even though it was the last thing I wanted to do because the terrorists can’t win, they can’t fucking control my life. In the face of terrorist acts like this all we can do is stand together, continue living and loving in London and plan for the future and hope. Hope that it will all be ok.