The day I conquered Bloomsbury.

This is a short story resurrected from my first year of uni. It ought to work as a map of Bloomsbury.


 

It’s a warren up that side of town. I felt like Sherlock Holmes, sat looking at a map and learning the main arteries and funny little capillaries that had troubled me so long; like Dick Whittington, an alien in a city I’ve known all my life.

 

The squares – Tavistock goes down to Gordon, which across-ways leads to Torrington and if you go up, past the Faber buildings through the gap I often forget coming the other way, Russell Square. To walk the wrong way from Russell Square past the Brunswick Centre and end up in Bloomsbury Square. There’s a beautiful cinema near there, and I once discovered a delightful small bookshop on Lamb’s Conduit Street after getting hideously lost by the hospitals quarter. Reaping the rewards of time wasted.

 

There is a vague and ever-present sense around Bloomsbury that if I could only walk through, over, under the grandiose houses I could get to where I need to be. I often stand, waving my left arm to the front, knowing I need to be over there… and going the wrong way or down a side-street that leads to somewhere not-quite-right. And the tall, tall buildings with their crowning balustrades wink down at me whilst I walk in their ever present, lofty taunt. Just sometimes I cheat and get the tube from King’s Cross to Russell Square, though now I know I could walk down the Euston Road which runs down the edge of Bloomsbury Village and simply intersect where I need to be, at Gordon Road or Tavistock Place. Helpful names point me in the right direction. I often found myself at a street when I wanted to be at a square and knew I was near.

 

Today I walked with no purpose through Bloomsbury: I had nothing to be late for and enjoyed it all the more. I found that I knew the ways I often go better than I ever thought I’d know, further down through the Brunswick Centre, across Theobalds Road, into snickets and along all pavements. I was rewarded with streets where Boswell lived, Coram’s Fields, and plaques to George Orwell. The beauty of time has changed the streets from where orphans played or worked at Coram’s to where sick children heal at Great Ormond. I find a busy fish & chip shop and walk to a quiet statue, back up to Coram’s Fields and Russell Square, I sit, I eat.

 

Sometimes, I wander further afield with the purpose of getting lost. Holborn, Lincolns Inn; the pleasure of finding a nice restaurant on Goodge Street or across in Soho are promises that lure me to walk with my head held high – not to the sky but to the architecture. To walk all the way to Oxford Street and enter again a different, more populous world. But Bloomsbury – the confusing looking-glass world of literature and culture, where every house seems to have a blue plaque and every corner turned is a garden – Bloomsbury will always be the place to get lost. No matter how easily I think my destination can be found.

 

 

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Pascal’s Wager and panic attacks.

I’m falling back into the list. I can’t help it! After a bit of analysis last week with my therapist about what the list and my obsession with ‘actions’ in general means, I’m coming to understand my relationship with anxiety a bit better. That doesn’t mean I’m capable of dismissing my life outlook and my habits, though, and I’m finding it especially hard to dismiss my reasoned inability to veg out. Item six on the list: read some philosophy that engenders joy or happiness or purpose*.

I’ve never heard of Pascal’s Wager before. As a committed agnostic, it’s never been important to me who believes in what god/s or why as long as they act in a way that I can condone. Pascal has not challenged my agnosticism in the slightest HOWEVER his use of decision mathematics was new to me (having studied neither maths nor philosophy formally) and truly fascinating: it made me think of predestination as a mathematical probability rather than (an impossible) certainty, which is radically liberating when applied to everyday life (and deeply depressing when applied to profound global events, but I am here to work out my own problems, not America’s).

I’m really fighting with futility for now. Resigning my job was bad enough but then jeesh I got some bad news about a friend (it’s her bad news but we’ve been by her side for two years and I can’t understand how somebody would do that to her) and I have a four-week hiatus from uni and two weeks where I’m supposed to be in work and nobody else is (I have to work through the Easter holidays and most school staff get it off). I’m struggling to care about everything, struggling to see consequence as anything other than predetermined and struggling with the burden of an uncaring universe in an unfair system.

A great part of my belief in existentialism is grounded in absurdity and the chaotic indifference of the world. Assuming that the world is indifferent works in favour of decision mathematics as the results cannot be skewed by godlike force. If this is error, and a conscious force does hold ultimate power, its benevolence or malevolence are equally likely and therefore neutrally possible; we thus discount it from the calculations regardless of our own belief and follow the form of Pascal’s Wager. Assuming our situation is one where “reason can decide nothing”, or, for some reason (such as anxiety) our reason is impaired. Pascal’s reasoning focusses on god, and focusses on belief in god or gods, not as an empirical truth but as a logical prospect to hedge your bets regarding heaven or hell.

pascal
Pascal’s Wager as a decision matrix; citation as a hyperlink

The ‘infinite chaos’ Pascal describes could be god or any unknown interchangeably. The unknown future can be analysed in a wager much as the same way if we reduce our own ideas to binary decisions. Thus:

pascal - uni
Made in MS Word because this is a WordPress blog not a bloody Vice article

Assuming that circumstances can be taken out of the equation: I cannot change actions I have already committed, I cannot change the amount of work required, I cannot establish outcomes that have not yet been presented (eg social events that I have not yet been invited to, poor health which has not yet been manifested) and I cannot change whether I will be accepted onto an MA with either grade, I am using Pascal’s complex arguments and the decision matrix to ascertain what is most fruitful for me to believe: the most unique aspect of Pascal’s original wager is the focus on religion, which moves our wager’s focus from what will be to what I think will be. By removing probabilities and focussing on certainties, I can discover which binary holds superdominance and I can override the anxiety of failure and the crippling inertia it causes me by knowing for certain that the assumption I take holds the better outcome, even if it is wrong. I can act for my own best interest, even if the ‘best’ is unlikely.

In conclusion, the world remains a dark and terrible place and logically I am condemned to mediocrity as a purposeless drifter, but mathematically a so-called ‘destiny’ is manipulatable and, therefore, purpose can override the meaningless existence we snatched from the void. The genius of using Pascal’s Wager as opposed to other mathematical philosophies is that it shifts the focus of whether something is or is not to whether it is prudent to believe that it is or is not. This ought to help in alleviating anxieties and pushing the unproductive painful thoughts to the back of our minds.

TO-DO:

  • Go to the swimming pool twice this week.
  • Go to the library thrice this week.
  • Phone insurance company.
  • Buy groceries.
  • See your friends!! You cancelled on two sets of people last week and are ignoring an invite from another and your facebook messages.
  • Don’t look at the facebook messages. There are like 150, it’s not worth it. You have 68 unread texts. Maybe see the friends NEXT week?

*Full disclosure: I read about Pascal’s theories, not original source material. Thanks to Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy, Jostein Gaarder’s introductions to philosophy and religion and the NHS.

A Short Journal Entry

Last week, full of hope and promise, I made a list. I made a list of all of the small things I could do which might improve my mental health. There were 10 points (there are always 10 points on my lists): eat healthier, buy a radio so I can listen to music without shutting the world out, go swimming, get help. Nothing groundbreaking. I took it to my therapist, and she listened.

Then she told me everything on that list is an ‘action’, and I cried.

It transpires that I am having an existential crisis. Because I am pathetic and childish? No, because the world is a dark and terrible place with no meaning, there is no reason to live, capitalism is working against us all (unless you are Beyonce), and meaning can only be ascribed to anything by your relationship to it. God was invented by man. You are not important. Your very existence is at best futile. Mine too. So I am defining my own meaning by grasping for control of the forces of chaos that brought me here, in this society, at this time, attempting to understand and force my way through – and all of the time the abyss is watching me, waiting for me to fall backwards. I can’t go to work five days a week; I have panic attacks; I sleep for fourteen hours or three; my wonts are irrational; my ambitions are crumbling around my feet whilst I play useless party games and laugh about things I want to change. I can’t go on this way.

Here is my new list. It is not numbered, there are not a round number of points. They are achievable goals, they will help my mind grow healthy but will not impede its activity in other directions.

  • stop drinking. this is also to save my relationship, which is suffering under the strain of my pent up rage and overwhelming sadness, something no amount of nice, guilty breakfasts can apologise for.
  • finish one project. just one. there is one that has been there for years, as yet unfinished, that would be an achievement to myself.
  • prioritise my degree over everything. seeing friends, boyfriend, work, hobbies, fitness, reading for pleasure. it’s what makes me happy and what i want to spend my life doing.
  • buy a radio. did this one already – i was actually working on the last list!

I don’t want to die or I would have done by now. I want to live the best life, but ‘best’ is linear, is conformist, is self-serving. I am certain that it is impossible to be the ‘best’ and to be happy. Is that not the closest thing we can do to give meaning to the damnation that is our existence?

“Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.”

N4Uv2hW

 

[fiction] based on the dream I had last night.

She opens up, the crab woman. She opens from her areola the harsh, stiff claws that move with purpose. She is a woman, naked from the waist up and dancing, humping sensuously, as she unfurls her claw-breasts.

He is a man with the dark and orange ringed fluff of a large spider on his body, all over where the hairs should be. He sits back and watches deformed beauty, femininity, dance for him.

Are they my breasts, that spawn orange-pink exoskeleton legs? Can I touch his body without recoil, or see him without a scream? He is forcing himself on me. Sat down unmoving, he is forcing himself on me through fear. He knows that I am scared.

[fiction] I found this note on my phone and don’t remember writing it.

Voicemail.

The stage is dim. A suitcase stands by the sofa. The voicemail machine light flashes red on the cabinet. The clock on the back wall indicates 10:35pm. Offstage a door is unlocked, opened then slammed. The upstage door opens. Enter DECLAN, limply holding a dangling rose bouquet. and dragging a suitcase. He throws the roses onto the sofa and flicks on the light. Lights on STAGE RIGHT go up. He sees the suitcase and savagely kicks it. He sits, leans forward, rubs his temples. He sits up, crosses to the cabinet, and pours himself a [DRINK]. He downs it, then notices the flashing voicemail machine. He presses the button to hear the message, pours another drink, crosses back to sit on the sofa.

RECORDING: You have one new message.

Enter JESS through door at stage left, holding a phone. Gradual light fades up on STAGE LEFT; a clock indicates 7:00pm. She paces anxiously, uncertain whether to dial. She takes a deep breath in and hurriedly dials.

Declan pulls out a ring box from his jacket pocket and fiddles with it, drinking.

RECORDING: Message received today at seven oh two pm.

JESS: Hi, it’s me.

(Declan reacts to hearing her voice. He is frustrated but anxious.)

JESS: I know it’s seven o’clock so you’ll be driving to the airport now. I guess by the time you get this, you’ll know I’m not coming. (Beat.) That’s a bit weird.

Look Declan, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m not coming, I’m sorry about the holiday. You’re going to hate me, but I know about the proposal. I’ve seen the ring, I found it last week… It’s gorgeous. I was going to accept, I was so excited. But I… I’ve… been thinking and I don’t… feel… right. We’ve both felt like everything’s been going great, really great, with us just recently, but I don’t feel like this, like we, are… forever. We want different things. (Beat. With certainty:) We’re very different people.

(Her tone is conciliatory, but slightly insincere.)

I mean, you know if we got married or whatever, me not eating meat would irritate the life out of you. Cooking would be so frustrating for us both and it would be a really awkward home dynamic. And at work my hours are only going to get longer. You already hate it when I’m late home, how I’m exhausted and moody. That’ll only get worse. These are things I think about and it seems they don’t even bother you. We’re really different.

(Declan grows increasingly agitated and frustrated, shaking his head as if to dismiss what she’s saying. He tears at the rose petals.)

I think our relationship has only worked for us so far because we’ve only got this far, because we’ve not taken any bigger steps, if that makes sense? I want things to stop while everything between us is still good. I don’t want for us to risk things getting sour, and all this resentment growing, and then breaking up, relieved or happy to see the last of each other. I want us to end whilst you still love me.

(Beat.)

And while I, y’know…

(Pause)

Oh god.

(Pause)

Oh god, I can’t say… I won’t … lie. This isn’t about work, or cooking or dogs or anything stupid like that. Declan, I know. I found out. This is about 2008.

(Pause. These words have hit Declan like a slap in the face. Jess steels herself.)

At work today I had to scan in loads of closed files, to streamline the system before we move to the new building. So I was working my way through all these pages when suddenly there was your name. The file was… long, and I thought it was odd because you’d never mentioned needing a lawyer. So I just stopped and read through it. So, I know. I know it all.

(Horrified, Declan’s anxiety propels him from the sofa. The shredded roses and drink both spill. He is disoriented, panicking. )

I was just… in shock. I went to the toilets and I felt… totally disconnected, from you, from work from… everything. I just didn’t understand. I was shaking. I couldn’t understand. In my head there was a loop going round and round: “how could he how could he”. I felt like I was reliving Josh’s accident. What I read changed you. You became cretinous, negligent, monstrous. You became one of them who’d killed my brother, who’d shattered my life, my parents. But it changed me too. I became complicit, just by loving you. You made me feel repulsed by myself. I wanted to scrape off every bit of me that you had ever touched, that you had ever looked at, to peel back the layers of skin, to be clean from the stains you left on me.

(Declan stumbles to pour himself another drink. He spills it down himself.)

DECLAN: Shit, shit, shit.

JESS (continues over Declan): I told Julie I had a migraine and was going home. This sounds weird, but I drove to Dorking. They still live there. I had to… see what you’d done. I had to know it was real. I said it was part of client care; they gave me tea.

(Beat. Declan backs away from the machine, kicks suitcase.)

I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I mean, what the fuck were you doing? What the fuck was so important to get to that you were doing sixty on a bend in a residential area? And how could you keep it from me? I get it’s not like first date material but, fuck itDeclan, you were going to propose, you were going to propose to me, knowing about Josh? We nearly had a fucking life together. We might have had kids, and maybe you’d have driven them down to Brighton or Marwell Zoo or Alton Towers. But it would’ve always been false, somehow you’d have been lying, because there’s this unspoken little girl in your past who can’t do any of that. A girl whose parents yearn for a normal teenage argument, a day trip, or a panic over homework. For them, all that mundane, boring, matter of life stuff is fantasy. I don’t think you understand what you’ve done.

(Declan turns to suitcase, drags to centre stage, opens and pulls out Jess’ clothes.)

And me, what about me? I’d have just blindly kept trusting you, trusting in… I don’t know. Some naive sense that the people I know, the people I love are kind, responsible, thoughtful. But you’re not, Declan. You’re… selfish. Reckless. You… deceived me. I know what it’s like to have someone taken from you because people, people like you, can’t be fucking bothered to think of anyone else. You’ve taken someone.

(Declan holds the clothes to his face, smelling them. He crosses to the cabinet and grabs a pair of scissors he returns to the suitcase and begins to cut up all Jess’ clothes.)

I guess that for you it’s all in the past, you know? Josh died when I was nine, you hit Molly years ago… But that’s not how it works. You get back in the car, you keep driving, you sit through the trial, do what the court orders. But for us, for my parents, for me, for Dawn and Fraser… There’s more than one way of dying, Declan. Dawn and Fraser and little Molly are still breathing, yes, but they’re not… Even though she biologically survived you can see Molly’s ghost in her parents’ eyes. The life she could’ve had haunts them; it hovers in the pictures of before the accident, in how they speak to her, how they ask her questions as if they’re still hoping her empty face will fill with life again. The hope, that’s killing them. There’s no closure for us, Declan.

(Declan is tearing randomly at the clothes with the scissors. He is gasping.)

My childhood was filled with this absence, like Dawn and Fraser have now. After the accident Josh was almost more there than when he’d been alive. We wanted him back so much that whenever we did anything, anything he’d have enjoyed… You’ve inflicted this on someone else. Of all the wrong in the world this is my… this is unforgivable.

(Longer pause. Her voice is little, her fury spent, she almost pleads.)

It hurts me too Declan. It’s like you’re dead too. I’ve suddenly found out that the man I loved never existed.

(Declan is overcome, surrounded by material. He notices his thumb is bleeding; he sucks his thumb. Jess is regretful, confused.)

I wasn’t going to tell you. I was going to… make it normal. Break up because we wanted different things. Something ordinary. I don’t know where this came from.

(Jess sits down heavily, at stage right of her zone. They almost touch. Jess is exhausted.)

I can’t forget this… I can’t be with you. I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to talk to you. I’m going to come and get my bags and stuff tomorrow. I don’t want you to be there. You mustn’t be there.

Fuck you.

(He flinches.)

(Awkwardly:) Bye.

(Beat)

RECORDING: End of new messages. Press two to repeat, three to delete, five-five to call back, six to go to main menu, seven to hear these options again.

Silence. Jess cries silently. Declan’s face is hidden. Gradual fade to blackout.

[old rant] How the fuck do you expect us to afford uni?

To take out a student loan, you must agree to the terms and conditions, like any financial contract. However, the terms of the student loan state that you must agree to any retrospective changes made to the loan. What other financial obligation, ever, would change after you’ve already taken it out? Tracker mortgages, endowment investments and any volatile fiscal arrangement all operate within the parameters agreed to by both parties, in their success or to their detriment, the contract binds.

Let’s look at the alternatives to taking out a student loan: you could take out a bank loan. These are far more expensive than student loans, with much higher interest rates and you are required to pay them back immediately. You might be sponsored: in the US, where student fees are notably extortionate, many bright pupils are funded by companies who they then go and work for. There are very few programmes like this in the UK run by private companies, although it is possible to get funding through the army or certain branches of the NHS. There are very few of these, and they are only suitable if you are prepared to sign your life away before you know what for. You might have wealthy parents. This option is only for the select few: my daddy-kins certainly does not have a spare £27,000 to pay my tuition up-front, neither does my darling mummy have the dollar to give me all my spendoes whilst I’m here or to pay my accommodation costs. And there is always prison. I am seriously considering committing a crime that will get me 7 years and using that time to live rent-free, capitalising on our prison education system for my MA and PhD. It can’t possibly be worse than some London digs.

It is, for these reasons, not optional for most people to take a student loan if they want to enter higher education. Because of this, it is not optional to agree to the terms and conditions therein. It is not difficult for student debt to reach £50,000 nowadays, and knowing that we won’t have to pay it back until we have the money was the only reason some people (particularly those from less financially well-off backgrounds) accepted this horrendous state and went to university. What other occasion would you not simply let but encourage a young person to live beyond their means, to take on a mantle of debt as they are just entering life?

This is not a party political issue. How is it fair that any government can make a promise, a brutal ‘compromise’ and then go back on their word? Did you think it was excessive, that students were living it up, that the stories of only eating baked beans and dried noodles were cultural capital for gap yah kids? Let me tell you that this generation (like every other) is hardworking, determined and innovative, by and large. We have swallowed internships and ‘work experience’; we have earned and borrowed and some of us have taken from our parents, when they could give; we have agreed to your incredible deal under pressure – do not make it any worse for us by changing our terms.

The changing of the loans is not a student issue. It is a student example. I do not think that the government ought to operate as a private company: the state works for the good of the many, it protects us and we should hold it to different (although NOT lower) standards than the private sector. But this is the same issue as teachers’ and firemen’s pensions. This is the selling off of Royal Mail and the ending of free school meals for infants. This is a problem with the rich, who do not know the security these things give to the common working person.

Imagine not knowing that your pension is secure after having worked twenty-five years expecting it, especially in a role like fireman where your life is on the line daily, you require levels of specific training and fitness unfathomable to the normal person. You are under intense psychological pressure (I have never seen a mutilated dead body, or a desperate mother whose child is in a smashed-up car), and there is a time limit on the job you do. Perhaps some firemen can work past 50, but these brave souls ought to be able to relax into the physical changes of older life without fear that their terms of service are changing. And so firemen are striking for continuity.

Media coverage of strikes is appalling, with Unions like the RMT being painted as villains, dragons who won’t back down and are getting in the way of honest working people. In contrast, I regularly hear friends talking about finishing work at 9pm, not getting lunchbreaks, living below various poverty lines and, crucially, not being members of a Union. Anybody who looked at anything the striking tube workers said would know that it’s not money (not always, although many people ought to practise what they preach) but changes in contract that they were protesting. We would still have child labour, dangerous working environments and incredibly limited suffrage if not for the Unions and the collective power of those who actually do things. Working people.

To my mind, the government is exerting its power over the NUS – a well-functioning, high-profile Union which has a significant amount of members – as an example to us all. Nobody is immune from austerity (except people whose independent wealth happens to cushion them), nobody is immune to changes (except the bankers and journalists who remain unregulated), and they are making unquestionable, entirely legal changes. Students cannot strike, academics were striking just last year, and who has sympathy left to spare for the young?

Fundamentally, we the taxpayer are getting a worse deal if we let this happen. We the ordinary workers, we the working and middle-classes (for these changes affect everyone from dustmen to doctors) who keep the country running. We whose purchases are allegedly the lodestone of the whole economic system, whether they are taxed or helping growth of small companies or bringing big business to the UK. We who the welfare state is protecting – we are at risk of our basic right to get what we have agreed with the government (because what is a contract if not an agreement?) removed. MPs have forgotten their place – the reason they are waged is so that any man, regardless of his standing, may enter the House. The reason their wage is so high is to keep them above corruption. But they have forgotten, if they ever knew, what it is like to be young or vulnerable.

In the aftermath of everything we’ve been through and have yet to go through, let me ask on behalf of the younger generation who stand in solidarity with workers everywhere – how are we supposed to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when we’ve had our shoelaces taken away so that we don’t hang ourselves?

I will never be rich.

It was last night, as I watched a friend discard the top slice of a loaf of fancy sourdough, that I realised I will never be rich. That rich is an attitude; not a figure or a percentage, but an attitude to other people and your own money.

I am often accused of being a champagne socialist by my friends because, in the words of the FT, I know how to spend it. Because I have it in the first place, even. This same friend from last night has vocally disagreed with all of my politics, normally with the words “but that’s not fair” to argue with policies that would deprive him of nothing but what he might have, one day, to pull up those who would never have it otherwise. Although I buy ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ and have a good job and am white and middle-class it makes no discernible difference to my political views. I worked hard in my life, and so did my parents and my grandparents, but I check my privilege every day, and I know that I haven’t had to struggle like people of colour or people who are even one generation closer to working-class than myself.

My parents both come from incredibly working-class backgrounds and their attitudes to money couldn’t be more different. My dad loves the ‘stuff’ lifestyle: he drives a vintage Jaguar and has Bang and Olufsen everything and buys CDs to add to his collection whenever nobody is looking. But it means nothing to him. They’re just comforts. He wanted to spend the money my parents bought their first house with on a CD player, and just go on living like they were living. My dad doesn’t understand saving for rainy days because the day will never be as rainy as being an impoverished teenager whose future looks like a factory in Staffordshire; he will never again need a government grant to save him from that kind of life. And he supports governments that give grants to kids like him, because he knows that although he was intelligent and hardworking and he earned it there would have been no point in trying if he hadn’t had that support.

My mum, in contrast, worries about money, even though by her own admission she never needs to. She has savings (as long as she keeps an eye on my dad), she has out-earned her husband for most of their married life and her parents for almost all her professional life – she certainly isn’t going back to Bradford, ever. She is a magpie for those yellow reduced stickers in supermarkets and is generous with everyone except herself. She has thrown herself into middle-class life, baking artisan breads and being a responsible cyclist. Without any Joneses to keep up with or measure herself by she considers the money less important than the values she has got from being working class, and values the theatre and holidays and the freedom to do charity work.

I have working class attitudes.

  • If I have leftovers, I can’t throw them away – they will be refrigerated and cooked again or, if they won’t last another day, given to the homeless near my house or whatever friend I can persuade to come over. I eat things well after the recommended sell-by date.
  • I mend things. I fix everything. Laugh at the mental image of me darning black opaque tights alone in my room and going out for overpriced London cocktails in them later that day all you like, but I do it.
  • I look after my things. My granddad told me to polish my shoes every day, and I respect the pride he told me to take and the lessons that he gave me. The first time I out-earned my granddad was at the age of 15, and since then I have paid more heed to his advice than anyone else’s.
  • I am miserly when I shop: I eat cooking apples and reduced products as a matter of course. I wouldn’t buy anything before waiting a few months to see if it goes on sale. Often I won’t buy it until it is on sale.
  • I do not love money and I do not love to accrue money, although I am proud of myself when I manage to save and of my odd expensive possession.

I am lucky to have the money to do what I want – be it engaging in ‘stuff’ culture, buying gifts for friends or eating out too much – and I do it. This is a mix between the attitudes of my parents, and I live within my means and I practise what I preach.

I am a socialist, and a radical one. I couldn’t be anything else. Whilst I believe in the establishment and have faith in the BBC and law enforcement officers and Hansard and all  the silly things that make us British, I expect better of all of them, and of myself. The politics I favour would not make my life harder, it would merely make it less superior and myself more equal to all the common people – the people who I count myself one of, the people who struggle

My values are working-class, and I work for the best life not just I can live.