Monday, 15 September 2014


She had such passion - some thought it was meanness, even hatred but actually underneath that snarling, grumpy exterior was the softest ball of fluff you could ever wish for. Her hard exterior trying to stop people who would take her for granted. Love from Lacey is love well earned. 

It's always about her way. Not like Cagney - or obedient dogs. Lacey could punish you for days just for leaving the house to go to work. Born and raised in Hackney and Haringey she knew how to take care of herself. Foxes, cats, mice and birds didn't stand a chance. She would patrol her territory - often from roofs or  high walls, even the odd tree - making sure nothing she didn't allow came along. Of course when up high always with the pretence she then couldn't get down. Accompanied by loud howls and miaows. Her wicked sense of fun I'm sure. Suckering me in to tempt her with treats or cuddles. 

Her favourite games consist of stopping balls, catching mice on the stairs (or outside for real), running round and round in circles chasing grass or sticks in the garden and most of all stopping, lifting, manoeuvring washing machine grommets. 

For Lacey is no ordinary cat. Her love of cardboard boxes, killing things and howling loudly at 6am is all a ploy to hide the fact she is plotting to take over the world. Our cat. Our beautiful lady Lacey is the cleverest cat in the world. 

The amazing skill of pulling a balloon toward her using paws and teeth, the ability to take coins out of empty tissue boxes, the knowing look she gives if you have done just as she intended. The love and patience she shows her not so bright brother. But always with a swift paw around the chops if he goes too far. And then the skill to make it look like he started it. And don't be fooled by that gentle purr, the soft eyes and the roll over for a tummy stroke - enemy hand as a kitten taught her well - yours will be gone! 

As many a vet knows - the vet in Hackney said "never attempt to give this cat a tablet yourself". Our vet in Maidstone puts on her protective gloves just to lift her to the scales! 

And boy did she often find herself on the scales. A hefty cat she was for many years slowly wasting away before our eyes. Who knows how long that tumour was growing inside of her. And how it gradually took away the Lacey we  love so much. Till one day I can't look in her eyes anymore without knowing its time to say goodbye. 

That beautiful shy, timid kitten who I took home on FA Cup final day 2001. Not long after Michael Owen had consigned Arsenal to a glorious defeat. The kitten i gave butter each day from my finger so she would come out from hiding behind the bookshelf, or the chairs. The kitten that grew into a fierce companion who late at night or early mornings would sneak under the covers for cuddles. The tough exterior banished for those she knew loved her most. 

And now because we love her we shall let her go. The hardest thing I've ever had to do. And we shall take her role as Cagney's protector and bottom cleaner(!) - and I'll always be grateful that sunny May morning I made that call to Mare Street pet shop because everyone needed a Cagney AND a Lacey x

Thursday, 10 October 2013

An open letter to The Whitstable Times

Following the publication of your recent letter about Stonewall's advertising campaign I would like to take my right to respond.

I would like to start by saying that if the person writing the letter in question has the right to offend then certainly I have the right to be offended. As it happens I am less offended by the content of his letter (I live in Kent after all and encounter such homophobic views regularly) than I am by your papers chosen header.

Why am I so offended by 'Take heed, all you homosexual sinners'? Well to me it is deliberately designed to be provocative and if it was genuinely innocuous why not apologise instantly for any offence caused? Instead the diligent owner of your Twitter feed has consistently defended it as 'not your papers view' - clearly recognising it as an offensive view to hold! More importantly we seem to live in a society where you can say what you like as "freedom of speech". I'm not agin this freedom but I am against the freedom to express views which cause damage and harm. Racism, anti-disabled views, sexism, homophobia all fall in to this category. And unchecked they cause untold damage to our society. Did you know that 55% of young people say they've experienced homophobic bullying and suicide rates amongst the LGBT community are well above the national average?

Are these two things unrelated? I think not? Am I being extreme? I think not.

So yes Mr D Bryson has the right to his opinion and yes in our free society you have the right to publish that opinion, but why do it with such a damaging headline - why not simply state "Stonewall slogan upsets residents"?

In my ideal utopian world the letter wouldn't be published, Mr Bryson would hold his view but we wouldn't live in a society that tolerates and allowed such views to be expressed publicly - after all what is he spreading other than hatred by his extreme statements? And my message to any young people out there that have been upset and damaged by his views and your headline is - it's okay, I'm gay, I'm proud to be gay and you know what to the world - some people ARE gay so get over it!

Yours sincerely

Friday, 31 May 2013

The Big 4 0

They say it's just a number,
with that I can't disagree!
Hard though, don't you think
when in my head I'm still 23?

It's just it ends in zero
and takes me up another step.
It's like waiting for your hero -
I didn't think it would arrive just yet!

So, I'll find a few more hairs of grey
and all my bits will start to droop.
But I live my life without regret -
and have new dreams for which to shoot.

And, here it is - the happy day!
Thankfully arrived with little pain.
Though (I must confess) and say -
that could simply be due to champagne!!


 31 May 2013

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

We are a community!

As February comes to a close we finish celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month. Often History Month is used as a reminder about those LGBT people that played a part in our mainstream history. But for me it is more important to remember that as LGB&T people we have a shared history which is so important.

In 1969 a small bar in New York, the Stonewall Inn was raided by Police. A group of Trans women and a lesbian were the first to say 'enough is enough'. They were quickly joined by many others from the Gay Community and the Stonewall Riots were born.

In 1978 gay men started to die in San Francisco and no one really new why, it would be during the 80s that the impact of AIDS was truly felt all across the world.

In 1988 the Conservative Government created Section 28 which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

In 1992 Brighton holds it's first ever Pride.

In 2004 Civil Partnership became law.

These are just a few key events in our history.

History is important. It gives us a shared sense who we are and we learn from it to find out where we are going. Those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have a history of pain but also a history of triumph. A history of overcoming obstacles put against us, of fighting for our rights, of celebrating our sexuality, our gender and saying 'this is me' - respect me, respect who I am and who I want to be. Respect my right to love who I want to love.

This history - our own very distinct, very separate history that perhaps others won't understand - reminds me that we are a community for a reason. No we may not all have the same ideals, the same politics, the same taste in music! BUT we are drawn together in times of crisis and in times of joy, we know what it feels like to hide a part of ourselves. We know what it's like to be called disgusting, evil, abhorrent and abnormal. We know what it's like to watch friends be bullied, beaten, attacked and in some cases die. We know what it's like to turn to your friends and call them your family because your own family have rejected you.

And that's what we are - the LGB&T community, a family. Not always fitting, not always seeing eye to eye but knowing we've been on the same journey, we've got here in roughly the same way and that our history - our wonderful vibrant, colourful, eclectic history has helped us get here. So celebrate it, remember it, share it and tomorrow make some more!

After all that great gay rights activist Gandhi told us 'be the change you want to see in the world' - so that's what we've been doing year after year and long may it continue!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

What is equality?

So I'm a little angry, well actually I'm a bit furious. And when I get angry or annoyed I struggle to make sense and make myself understood.

'Typical woman' you may say, why not? I get called many things and it seems it's okay to use sexist, racist and stereotypical language nowadays - especially if your a comedian. So laugh away at my expense, it's okay - apparently.

I'm at a loss as to how we all suddenly stopped caring and how we all suddenly fail to understand what the word EQUALITY actually means. I can certainly tell you what it doesn't mean - it doesn't mean SAMENESS. You don't have to be the same or be treated the same to achieve equality. In fact it's the very thing you can't do as we aren't all the same.

Take a feather and take a rock. I want 100 grams of each. So I get my scales and I put on a rock - wow on it's own it weighs 100g. Okay I'll weigh a feather, well no that doesn't weigh the same does it? So I keep adding feathers till I get to 100g and the scales balance, they are now of equal status. BUT look there are hundreds of feathers to my one rock. Well I've had to treat the feathers differently to the rock to get equality of weight, does it matter? No not really cause in the end the outcome we wanted is achieved - they are both weighing 100g. And I'm not sure it really matters to the rock that it's alone whilst the feathers pile up.

So, is it right give protection in planning laws to gypsy and travellers? "No this means they get special treatment" you cry.

Is it right to offer adjustment at interview to disabled applicants? "No that means we haven't all been treated fairly" is the claim.

And so the list goes on that tries to justify why we shouldn't provide disadvantaged groups with equality of opportunity. Why we struggle to retain our positions of power as we're afraid of the difference that we don't understand.

I just wish people would take the time to understand what equality means, to not be afraid of being politically correct. We all get it wrong, we all have prejudice but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try every day to respect the things we don't understand. It isn't easy, it's bloody hard and it takes effort. But does that mean we shouldn't try?

There is a car sticker that says - "if you are not outraged - you are not paying attention". So yes, I am furious but more than that I'm outraged!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Acceptable Prejudice

We all like to think we know what prejudice is, we like to think we can notice it when it happens and would do our best to avoid it or hopefully stop it if it rears it's ugly head. Racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, inappropriate jokes about disability are all things we'd agree are wrong.

Interestingly this week I've seen two areas of life where suddenly we aren't so sure. Suddenly it seems there may be acceptable prejudice - after all we're all agreed aren't we - "chavs", benefits scroungers or travellers - they're simply not deserving of respect, of consideration, of understanding. Of trying to see their point of view?

BBC Breakfast entered in to the debate on "chavs", what it means and if it is working class prejudice. I may not be able to answer those questions, but I do know it's a word I don't use, a word that is tinged with intellectual and insidious snobbery, a word that quite simply judges someone else. I try to live my life without judgements. I don't always get it right - true I make comments about Eton Toffs, Tories and others that perhaps now I realise I should reconsider. Yet when we use the word 'chav' we are making a statement about who holds the power - WE consider them to be powerless, it is condescending, a way of looking down on them. I'm not sure 'Toff' has the same effect - I'm not sure who holds the power in that particular insult?

Benefits Scroungers - we all claim to know someone that is living the high life on tax payers money. But do we? Actually do you? And if one person slips through the net and manages to abuse the system - who is wrong the system or the person? Does this mean we have to label all people based on a perception of a minority?

But really to me the worst 'acceptable prejudice' that is rearing its head higher and higher is anti gypsy and traveller feeling. It is racism. No other way to call it. We make judgements based on assumptions, misunderstanding and group think. "Living near a traveller site will effect my house price", "they're all thieves", "they don't fit in our community". I'm guilty too - perhaps expecting some members of these communities to be more homophobic - but actually I have no evidence for this. In fact I have plenty of evidence that they aren't as all the travellers I know have never had a problem with my sexuality when actually plenty of others have.

It is a complex issue, I do understand that, but then again - is it? Or is that yet another excuse to allow the media to label, blame and make a mockery of a community, a culture that we don't quite understand and are perhaps a bit afraid of because of that?

So at the end of August when the residents of Dale Farm in Essex are evicted at a cost of over £8 million pounds because the council say it's Greenbelt land - question why at the same time, this same Council is selling land up the road to housing developers? At our peril do we sit back and watch the rights of any group be eroded, at our peril do we accept terms like 'Pikey' in to everyday language, at our peril do we think that there is any prejudice that is acceptable....

Friday, 11 March 2011

A timely reminder....

We live in a volatile world, the impact of our actions and our words often forgotten. What can be an ordinary day can be changed in a moment. What can be a good day can be destroyed in a second.

As a gay woman I know that homophobia exists, I know that the war against words, actions and hatred is far from over. But I also know that we've come a long way, that it happens rarely and that I can live my life mostly as I want to.

But not today. Today I received a timely reminder that we have to keep working, keep fighting and keep trying to be agents of change. Today I was simply returning to my car, parked next to a school when I was reminded that for our young people it can be a long journey to understanding and acceptance.

It was only words and we all know words don't really matter. Don't they? They certainly feel like they matter when they're being directed at you from a group of teenagers. They feel like they matter when they so quickly disempower you, shock you and yes upset you.

The question is where do the words come from and where do they lead to? Well I'm not convinced they were grounded in hatred. Rather lack of understanding, lack of education. From parents - perhaps? From lack of LGBT teaching in schools and the failure to challenge seemingly innocent abuse of the word gay - quite likely? And from the abject failure of our society to provide regular positive messages about the LGBT community - most definitely!

But where do these words lead? The concern is they will lead to hatred, fear and suspicion. That they will grow in to a regular occurrence. That they may turn in to violence. Or worse that they may be passed down to their children and beyond.

Part of the problem is the indifference people have to the quest for LGBT and really any equality. People think the world has improved, that it's all okay, that the fight is over. But if that were true why are people still afraid to declare their sexuality? It's not a private personal decision. It's fear, secrecy and implies we should all be ashamed. We must stand together and come out to help make change.

BUT we must also challenge homophobia wherever it happens. No I wasn't able to combat it directly with the young people this morning - I was disempowered. BUT I didn't let that stop me. I went in to the school, I contacted the Head Teacher, I suggested ways forward like speaking to Schools Out, or the Police. I won't be beaten or ashamed by being reminded that ignorance exists.

I will though be reminded that unless we stand together, unless every moment we hear homophobia we say no, unless we declare our sexuality we will never be empowered and we will never be able to finally be free to be ourselves without prejudice.