Leeds West Indian Carnival 2017

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It was the 50th year of the carnival, located in the Chapeltown area of Leeds, not far from my Granny’s house.

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Older than Notting Hill Carnival, but the meaning is the same – to celebrate the rich and varied culture of the West Indies region. Many moved to the UK years ago but have been faced with prejudice and even violence, and carnival is a chance to show to the Brits that it is a culture to love, not hate. Like Notting Hill, Chapeltown/Chapel Allerton was where West Indian communities thrived, and unlike Notting Hill this still remains the case.

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The costumes were insane, I have a lot of respect for those who danced all day in the heaviest ones.

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Also available was amazing food. Did I get jerk chicken? Of course I did (although I did consider the curried goat…)

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Although some may accuse white people attending of cultural appropriation, it is not the intention of carnival. Instead it is meant to bring everyone together in appreciation of a culture that is a part of Britain now as much as it is uniquely its own. Sure, white people made their own troops for the parade and it looked daft, but others joined in other troops and just had a blast without making it about themselves, or danced and enjoyed the music as I did.

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Best Bars in Barcelona

I started writing this post before the news of the attack. To target tourists, and a beautiful city, is horrible. But it should never put people off from having fun in this city – not that I think it ever will.

Tripode

Passeig del Born, 17

A small but nicely decorated bar – it quickly became my friend and I’s favourite due to never staying sober there for more than ten minutes. The cocktails are all great, but the best part were the staff who quickly made us feel at home, and were always happy to see us. Probably because we spent so much.

Pipa Club

Plaça Reial, 3

This one is a secret club, you have to pass the bouncer and go up stairs. But you are graciously welcomed and shown a seat. The cocktails aren’t cheap but very good – and their own recipes are always worth trying. The bar is huge with lots of rooms, and in the Gothic Quarter you’ll find people from all walks of life.

Nevermind

Carrer d’Escudellers Blancs, 3/Carrer dels Tallers, 68

Two of these bars (one in Raval and one in Gothic) but both essentially the same – except the Raval one also has a little skate rink to chill on. These punk themed bars I would have died to visit when I was a teen. It has a fun vibe and chilled out atmosphere – even with the music blaring into your eardrums.

Dow Jones

Carrer del Bruc, 97

A bar with a stock market theme – prices go up and down and crash and so on all night – so it kinda decides your tipple for you.

Espit Chupitos

Everywhere

These shot bars boast over 600 different shots – and some are quite outrageous. Think head massages, syringes, and many more. Not just flaming shots. Order with caution, or lack of shame.

Born Voraz

Carrer de la Princesa, 33

Really, this is a rooftop bar on top of the hotel next door to the restaurant (also a great place to eat) but it seems to be shared by both. Although the views of El Born aren’t much from above, it is still nice to enjoy the sunset or even the little pool up there.

Sub Rosa

Carrer d’en Rauric, 23

My sister would always insist people go to this bar, so if she’s reading this: LOOK I MENTIONED IT. But to be fair, it’s a nice little bar hidden away in the Gothic Quarter, and its happy hour prices are very nice indeed.

 

There are of course so many more, but these ones have seen me at my worst (or best).

Shakey Wakey

Slumville sunrise
Nobody cares or looks twice
Shine away in the morning
Across this place where I was born in
Every bruise, every flower
Illuminated by the dawning

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I decided to photograph Wakefield – at least the centre to try and capture its vibe accurately. Although it is not my favourite city in the world, it was where I grew up so will always be a part of me.

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The bus station

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The street Westgate is well known for its bar crawl “The Westgate Run”, and for being where all the clubs are. When I was 18 all the “safe/non dodgy” clubs were just on one side of the street, nowadays its more mixed up and the clubs I used to go to have closed down. I feel old.

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The infamous pie shop opens late on weekends, so most drunken locals end up there.

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Fernandes is possibly the most well-known bar in town. Popular with the middle aged functioning alcoholics.

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Our theatre – when I was a child a Christmas treat would be to see the pantomime with school, and my mum would take my sister and I to McDonald’s after (usually McDonald’s was a strict no)

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British people across the country were outraged when BHS went into administration.

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Grind cafes are found all over the city – it’s a chain, but why only found in Wakey I don’t know.

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The Polish population has increased over the years, which has resulted in great cafes and shops, as well as a more multicultural community, but also an increase in xenophobia *eye roll*.

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The cathedral, which is always easy to spot.

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When I was an awkward teenage punk, all the “alternative kids” would hang out outside the cathedral. Not as much these days.

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Trinity Walk shopping centre opened a few years ago – very clean looking, but still surrounded by less clean looking shops.

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Barbara Hepworth is a renowned artist from the city.

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Trinity Walk came at the expense of The Ridings shopping centre – although still functioning, its shops are constantly going out of business.

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Still have a Blockbusters…

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Despite some places being very run down, we also have plenty of trendy bars, cafes, and restaurants constantly opening.

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The yellow block of flats at the back is almost as recognisable in the area as the cathedral (the skyline is basically the cathedral and two of these block of flats).

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Although I criticise Wakefield a lot – most people do – it does have its charms. The people are friendly enough (most of the time), and it has its nice places, and all are very down to earth – no pretentious people welcome here. I just know I don’t want to settle here myself. But it’ll always be a home to me, even though every time I visit it has changed slightly, and will continue to do so.

Why nice guys are the biggest fuck boys

As seen on TV…

But seriously though, it would appear that beloved TV shows who present nice guys as the central character, perhaps unintentionally offer instead a fuckboy in disguise. And, in my opinion, the worst of fuckboys because it is they themselves who insist they are nice guys, and believe they are entitled to whichever girl they want (until the next pretty thing comes along and they quickly move on). They are seen as devoted, caring, and a romantic. But really, they are possessive, manipulative, and often not even that attached to the girl.

So who are the culprits?

(Warning – although most mentioned are well known shows, if you haven’t seen them there are spoilers at hand)

Ross – Friends

The most well known and criticised of them all. Whilst many of us grew up cheering on the Ross/Rachel relationship, now we are older and wiser, we realise just how possessive and manipulative Ross was. He idolised Rachel when they were in high school, and therefore believed he was entitled to her. That she gave up a career for him is now criticised. The post that inspired me to write this article even argues that Rachel’s relationship with Joey was much healthier – read here

Ted – How I Met Your Mother

The whole premise of this show was about how he found his true love – or so we thought. That aside, it has been questioned how the premise is essentially Ted telling his children about all the girls he banged and screwed over (at least, some of them), but he retells it as a long, deep quest for love. When really it is the ramblings of a guy with serious co-dependency issues. Nearly every girl he dates he declares could be the love of his life. And there are quite a few of them.

Gus – Love

I watched this recently as it is praised as a modern telling of love and dating. Well, Gus is constantly described as a nice guy but all I saw was him sleep with the main female character, and when she started to show an attachment to him he immediately became frustrated with her. Simply because another pretty girl wanted to sleep with him. He also went super creepy on one date and tried to follow the girl to the bathroom. In fact he tends to get creepy around women (especially women in groups), as though he is just going through puberty, not a man in his early thirties.

All male leads – The Big Bang Theory

They’re not even subtle in being a show about how nerdy guys who cannot talk to girls, all somehow magically end up with girls way out of their league. Even though they are rude to one another and the girls, are sexist, and at times downright perverted.  This post highlights just how downright dangerous TBBT attitude towards women is.

Larry – Orange is the New Black

Arguably presented as a fuckboy on purpose, unlike the other shows. Larry is first seen as totally supportive to say his fiance has been sent to prison. That is, until he realise he can use her situation to get his writing “career” finally off the ground. Then she cheats on him constantly so eventually he leaves her for her best friend. Fair’s fair. But even so, not a cool guy.

 

And why am I hating on these characters? Well to me, they mostly seem to be created by guys who see themselves in the characters: nerdy, not so cool in school, probably ignored by girls growing up. And this seems to be a kind of fantasy fulfilling, self-redemption: let the nerdy guy get the cool girl. Let him suddenly be desired by lots of cool girls. But it’s not wrong of the guy to screw the girls over, because he’s a nice guy, as we are constantly told. He deserves it, it would seem. And these are the guys girls are supposed to want to end up with, even though they are whiny, needy, rude, condescending, and will always be looking for a prettier girl.

And the danger of that, is that pop culture reflects our society, even helps shape it. If girls watching these shows are told that is what nice guys are: someone who will treat you like the love of their life until the next girl comes along, well, I’d rather have to deal with fuckboys. At least with them you and they know the truth. With nice guys they convince themselves that their actions are justified.

You Know You’re a Spoonie When…

Disclaimer: I know some people don’t like the term spoonie, because they find it belittling or that the spoon theory doesn’t fit their experiences. I also find it is not the best metaphor for my fatigue, because to me it sounds like you can plan and manage your energy resources whereas sometimes you can’t. But anyways, I like it as a term every chronic illness warrior recognises and can use. Also these are from my own experiences, but as any spoonie knows, everyone has a different experience.

Your pharmacist knows you, and treats you like a special customer

I’ve been given a nicer bag to carry my meds home in, and even trusted when the card machine wasn’t working to come and pay another day.

You start to learn about your specialists life

My specialists in Spain in particular, I learnt about my rheumatologist’s bad back, and his personal life. Frankly, it helps being on chatty terms with your doctors.

You eye up fancy pill boxes on Amazon

I have a bog standard one for am and pm, but you can get some with nice patterns and that look less like pill poxes. I’m thinking of buying one with a zip, as sometimes my current box can open and meds go everywhere when travelling.

You follow fellow spoonie blogs

It’s great to know there is a huge community out there, especially if you can’t make it out of the house. They are funny, relatable, touching, and eye opening to other people’s struggles.

You need to rest after breakfast

I hate waking up and knowing it’s going to be a tough day for fatigue. And that I struggle to be functioning before the afternoon, because I’ve ended up resting after breakfast or a shower and can’t move.

You’re at hand with medical advice when a friend is ill

And often painkillers or other at hand, you walking pharmacist you. In Spain I was the one friends would ask about registering at the doctors, or getting vaccinations.

You have doctors numbers saved onto your phone

And when, like me, you spend time in different places (or countries), the list is divided by location as well as type of doctor.

You’ve given up on webMD

No point worrying yourself when you’ll be seeing the doctor soon enough and can ask them. Plus with so many tests, anything concerning will pop up in the results.

You have gone over to someone’s house just to nap

Not on purpose (usually), but sometimes you get there and realise you cant keep your eyes open. They usually offer you a bed to lie on.

People always seem surprised at the amount of meds you take

And the “you must be rattling!” joke often follows.

You have days you are sick of being sick

Sometimes I can be at the pharmacy, the waiting room, or just as simple as taking my meds in the morning, and I get a sudden urge of being done with lupus. Find a cure already, I’m tired of having it being the biggest, most controlling thing in my life. Then I get on with my day, because there’s no point moping about things out of our control.

But you’ve also forgotten what “normal” is

This time next year I could be on next to zero meds. Which as exciting as that sounds, it’s also scary to think that could be a reality again. No funny side effects? Potential discharge from specialists? Is that normal life? Not to mention your daily aches and pains are so natural to you, you almost welcome them like an old friend. My dodgy joints are mine, I know how to take care of them.

And so many more…