Common People

Why are you so angry? ….
As I listened to someone I care about very much, who has a heart that others could only dream of having, I found myself feeling so sad at becoming a part of what has hardened his heart so much in life. And yet I feel his love for me like a tidal wave. As though I am the key to giving him his little piece of happiness in this ungrateful world despite the fact that I became just as ungrateful as the rest. You deserve much better than me I have told him many times. But his response is always the same. “I love you. There isn’t better than you. You are the only girl in the world for me and it’s you or no one” And knowing him as I do, I know he means that. Even with his group of mates that he has known since they were kids I can feel his loneliness and sadness. If I fet lonely, his is on a whole other level because other than his mates and a couple of people in his family, he trusts absolutely no one.
Although complete opposites we were always loners who found each other.
I listened to him talk.

“People don’t give a shit about each other anymore. They are all in it for themselves. They pretend they aren’t but they are.
I mean It’s always been that way. Go all the way back in history. It’s not something new. But the difference is that years ago the oppressed looked out for each other. They all had nothing but they shared whatever they had, helped each other out and cared about each other. Now the oppressed all look different and can’t see their similarities beyond the surface. Divide and conquer has always been a well known way to keep the power. How much I hear people that have more in common than they might think seeing each other as enemies.
Who planted that seed? If we let them argue amongst themselves they won’t come knocking at the door of those whose fault it is.
There is such an anger that is directed towards me but I am not the enemy or the problem even if I am sold that way.  I would do anything for anyone.”

I know he would. I found myself thinking that sounds fair.
He has been given a label of something less. Don’t they say that if you tell someone they are a certain way for long enough they will start to believe it. I see someone who continues to fight very hard against that label. The really intelligent man who has so much more about him than most people I ever meet. We don’t always agree. I see the good in the world and he is more angry and frustrated.
But he just wants to be seen and be more than he is told. I know that feeling in a different way. But I have always seen him. And he knows that. I think it is part of the reason he loves me so much.

He continues…

“Years ago it was the upper class with their servants. That doesn’t exist now. Does it not?
If you believe that then you are one of the white middle class types who are completely oblivious to their privilege and have complete and utter influence in how our country looks.
Our self serving politicians who come from the same stock are only interested in being elected and re-elected and will jump in bed with anyone that provides the ticket to that. Giving the majority what they want and squeezing out the little man. Firstly it was that of the white working class man. Now it is the turn of ethnic minorities who live on the estates that they wish to regenerate. But not for those people. They won’t benefit from what that looks like. They will be pushed further out, losing their communities and having to spend more money in taking themselves to their lower paid jobs to make way for “affordable housing”. If ever there was a truly comical phrase that one is a classic. Affordable for who? Not them I can guarantee.
Maybe they will throw in a couple of social housing but they will have their own entrance which will sit outside of the other gated complex.
In short, those middle class white people who shout out they believe in equality and diversity get exactly what they want and celebrate their success by popping to the Colombian restaurant up the road which they love as it provides a little spice to their world and it’s just so cheap.
“How strange how it’s closing down?” Yep, that’s because they can no longer afford to live in your area or charge those cheap prices you so love.

We want better schools for our kids. The ones round here aren’t good enough… ok we will let you create your own with your friends. I want to ride my bike .. ok we will charge all the people we have pushed out of London more money to come and work in London and put in special cycle lanes for you to make the roads even more crowded for the people trying to get round London for work so that you can ride your bike to the coffee shop.

I drive around London all day every day. I see it all. Behind what those with closed eyes do not.
The parts of London that sit alongside each other. The haves and the have nots.
Those middle class types moving in and changing the landscape of what once was,  to something that fits with what they like. Gentrification.  Only retaining the little elements that they feel make it “the London experience” Food places that make them feel like they are travelling the world and immersing themselves in other cultures.
And yet their kids don’t mix. Why is that I wonder? Their  ignorance makes that inequality exist in a much more subtle and invisible way.

I found us pausing to talk about other stuff going on and was reminded of the spirit of how I’ve been brought up in helping each other out and being respectful.
This person who feels so detached from the world and forgotten by society continues to quietly carry on in a way that has always been his way. The flats we lived in together that he still lives in now, is full of older people that have lived there longer than we did. We moved in when we were in our early twenties and most of the people there have been there since they were. It’s always had that old style feel to it.
When I first moved in there was a family who lived upstairs with kids. Being on the ground floor we had our own little garden. So their kids and their little dog used to come down and play in there. Let themselves in through the gate. We didn’t mind. We were working and they liked having a paddling pool when it was hot. When we had our girl they used to come down and play with her. Made her laugh and not feel alone.
Upstairs the Polish fella who also has been there forever. Loves to moan and Plays piano. Very beautiful although it used to drive P mad because he was trying to catch some sleep from his shifts.
The old couple on either side that didn’t really have much but just seemed happy. There is a lesson to learn in that for sure. Looking for more is wonderful but sometimes more is covered in a gloss that when peeled away reveals something that is pretty cheap and worthless. I sure am being reminded very much in what really does have value, what my more might be able to drive and why my path was completely fucked up. Maybe it needed to be to find a little more to fight for those inequalities that I’ve seen ever since I was a kid. The ones that never sat right with me and I didn’t like.
Perhaps now I can stand up to those influentials who think they can push you over if you get in their way. Their ignorance and lack of awareness may continue to put them in a position of thinking they are entitled and better but I feel much more ready and willing to challenge them even if others aren’t and secretly want to be them or fit into their world. Perhaps if they find themselves accepted in it they might realise just how vapid it is.

I have realised even more of the strength of my convictions and my honesty in not being perfect or selfless or having all the answers. But I do have strong beliefs and a real desire to be a good person in this world that exists for all of us.   I like that about me. I may wholeheartedly believe in the power of love and dreams and magic but I am by no means vacuous or feeble. Deepness of thought is a gift as is finding those that have the ability or desire to share that. I constantly meet people from every single walk of life that show me that they exist and see beyond what their own world looks like and want there to be a real difference in this world where everyone’s dreams are not wasted.

As we continued to chat
I was reminded of P’s natural way in helping others without thinking about it. Despite thinking that others don’t give a shit. Nothing special as he would say. Just a normal and decent way to be. Normal for him. Driving the old people to their doctors appointments, or helping out the neighbour who is dying of cancer with jobs that need doing, or popping in to see the bereaved neighbour and having a cup of tea and a chat. Trying to do the right thing.
Someone queried “who set the limit on what is the right thing?”
The right thing can be so inconvenient to your own fun, happiness and pleasure.
In that most selfish moment of my life I found enormous happiness but it came at a cost and it wasn’t just to me. And I know it. I find myself now needing to make amends. To right my wrongs, to give more than I take.
There are people in this world who have been good and decent their whole lives. They haven’t stepped on or hurt others to get what they want and they have always looked out for others in front of themselves. They have taken responsibility for their part in this world and despite not getting anything back for being that way continue to do it because “it’s just common decency”.

Common .. a word that has been slung at me at lots of different times in my life like an insult. And yet I find myself wanting to attach myself to it more than ever. If common equates to giving a shit about others then I want to be part of that. Maybe it will always be the losing team on a superficial level but it’s feeling very much like the winning team when it comes to the important stuff.
And I remember how much fun and happy I have in that.
Simple happy is pretty epic.
Maybe I needed to see what glitters so that I could be reminded of the massive value in what does not.
Perhaps I will sparkle all the more in remembering that, which will eventually lead me back to my dreamy happy.
I hope so.


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