April 1, 2014

I used to work for a bully: images of the penguin from Batman and Baron Greenback of Danger Mouse come to mind – however he was just as repulsive as baron greenback is, using his job to bully and boss others around: always making unrealistic demands, sending out e-mail commands at unsocial hours (like 4am and 11pm) and whilst on “sick leave”. He provided a  poor unhealthy working condition, he communicated badly, he did not follow up requests or promises, but expected the world on a plate from me. The biggest irony is all of this occurred whilst working for the third sector– i am not at liberty to indicate the name of the organisation as that may compromise my employment status.

an incompetent bully
Many of the online websites state when you google-in “how to work for a jerk”, is “put up and shut up” or “apply for another job whilst trying to do all you can to head off the demands”
The reality is that the same bullies will try to malign your employment prospects with bad references when you attempt to leave. So you have to find other people willing to write a competent reference for you, and you have to avoid those employers that insist on a line manager’s reference. When looking at bullies in the workplace there are two types: the competent bully and the incompetent bully. The bully also tends to be very deferential, weasel-like to those above them in the hierarchy and rude to those below them. The thing with bullying is that each time the bully feels that he/she has “gotten away with it” the intensity of the bullying increases each time. So it has to be challenged as early as possible. Also the challenge should not be left to the victim or the “target” alone but also their colleagues. Bullies tend to use the same tactic with all people they encounter except those who pay them. The “head in the sand” approach does not work. But when it comes the point where you are in a situation where you are under fire without cause, you soon find yourself with no choice but to fight/take legal action or whatever to take down the bully before he/she wears you down psychologically/emotionally/ physically and you are unable to do the job that they pay you to do. Then you are further victimised for “lack of performance”. Of the two bullies, the incompetent bully is the easier to handle as they will score own goals whilst under pressure. The competent bully, tends to play it smooth on the outside, giving an air of grace and control, and even jocularity, yet they are near psychopathic on the inside, looking for opportunities to take advantage and having little self control when berating others. It requires more self control and discipline to challenge the competent bully for they are more likely to have done their homework before they embark upon their abusive tirades – but they too can be caught by their egotism and their arrogance. Employees have to make sure that they know the rules of employment law, their workplace employment rules and be willing to follow the rules to the letter: employment tribunals rule on the basis of first procedural justice, second natural justice. Employers also comply with bullies: some bullies are very good at convincing their employers that they are worth far more to them than their victims . Hence this reinforces the “rightness” of the bully.  Whatever happens do not give in to workplace bullying, and do not run away when it happens to you – some bullies are actually eventually grateful once they have been apprehended. This link has an in-depth view of the bully and his/her psychological motivations: Don’t give up!

the competent bully


A Hogun of Mali

January 18, 2013

A Hogun of Mali

UBELE – CONVERSATIONS on International Men’s Day

November 20, 2012

I was very privileged to be invited to join in with the Ubele men’s conversation on international men’s day 2012.  Held at the Guardian building in Islington Kings Cross here was a wonderful opportunity to meet, discuss, argue, agree and network with other professional Black men about the main issues facing us today in 2012. there were 20 of us in total, and we were split into three groups to come up with what were the main issue affecting Black men today. I met people who were in the creative industries, education, criminal justice, business management, international development, media communications and health.

We talked about a range of topics and experiences but what came out for me was the  agreement that there were two classes of Black people in Britain: the aspirational and the non aspirational Black families. Aspirational Black people send their children to the best schools that money can buy, have high expectations of their children and have the means and the strategies to ensure that their children meet those expectations. These parents are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that their children do not fail. They emphasize hard work, respect for elders, tradition, culture, education, self improvement, and more importantly, emotional self control and self discipline.

The non aspirational class do not have the same values nor do they have the means to ensure that their children are able to surpass their achievements. They get the most attention from the media and social commentators, especially in relation to crime, social unrest, underachievement, social exclusion and disaffection.

In my group, mentoring, education, asking the right questions, broken communities, leadership, individualism and family emerged as strong themes.

At the end of the day each group came up with a set of values and a vision for what we felt was the most important issue. Each group shared this with the wider forum and there was a wider discussion, over food and sat together in a circle. i was also fascinated by the conversations Black men were having. Several times i overheard the phrases “I have been here before”, “paralysis by analysis” and “(i don’t want to be part of another) talking shop that doesn’t go anywhere”. Another recurring theme that arose was identity; men that identified with being Black British, men that identified with being Caribbean (one man brought his Grenadian passport as his most treasured possession), men that identified with an African diaspora identity (some men had Africanized heir names and had made plans to work and live in African countries). As we conversed also there were two graphic design artists who drew up our ideas visually as ideograms on flipchart pads that we could observe.

We also had the opportunity to contribute to a Video Vox, where you had to speak for three minutes on an experience and some learning that you felt was important to pass on to young people.

This event energized me, it made me picture myself as part of a stream of like minded achieving people and helped me to see more clearly what my role might be in determining the future. The organizers thanked us for our contributions and assured us that there would many more events. I look forward to more Ubele.


Dudus coke sentenced; Ghettos, invisibility

June 11, 2012

Christopher “dudus”  Coke was very much a 21st century Robin Hood in Tivoli gardens, a ghetto within Kingston, Jamaica. His efforts caused the demise of Mr Golding’s premiership, as dudus operated within that constituency. But as the film below shows:

This is when justice is no justice – instead of working with him the dumb Jamaican government deport him, take his money and leave it to the usa to sentence him – well done jamaica, 51st state of the usa!

The case does raise questions, the question of government’s ability to manage in the 21st century, ghettoisation of a generation of people running concurrently with globalisation, a forgotten and discarded people who have to rely upon local gangster figures for food, education and in some cases basic housing and clothing. This case I am sure is repeated elsewhere in south and central america. one of the most famous was the drug baron Pablo Escobar, who at one time ran for state office in Colombia!

But Dudus was the leader of the “shower crew” the shower term referring to the bullet ridden bodies of their opponents. In spite of this, the Tivoli Gardens residents insist that he kept order better than the state paid officials.

The environment for this is created by a failure of government to provide and protect their citizens, especially the poor and disadvantaged, who will look for a hero figure in very tough times.

In my view some of this failure on the part of local and federal government is apparent in the St Ann’s area of Nottingham.’s,_Nottingham

Liza Mckenzie a Nottingham resident and researcher, highlighted over two years of social research on St Ann’s. You can hear her words in the attached link.

What struck me about the broadcast was the sense of otherness that she expresses about the generation of young Black men living in this area, they have no interest in joining the mainstream, they are forgotten and discarded, they are impoverished educationally, socially isolated, airbrushed out of political expression – meetings and forums are attended by women who themselves are impoverished by the situation.  Applications for work are subject to “post code discrimination” , especially for government and mainstream commercial jobs. Black men here have no outlet for self expression, as a young Black man in the ghetto the mainstream don’t want to see you or hear what you have to say:  there are too many factors entrenching the ghettoisation and too many hoops to jump through to escape the area.   So they accept this and survive as best within a community where your name and reputation is all you have. The police are seen as an occupying oppressive force, that stops men in their cars, that strangles their attempts at free enterprise. This is a ripe situation for a ganglord to emerge as the “don”. And Cameron says “we’re all in this together”. So much for the “Big Society”.

Christopher “Dudus” Coke

June 11, 2012

Dudus Coke

Pablo Escobar

June 11, 2012

Pablo Escobar

Pablo Escobar


August 7, 2011

Enjoying a relaxing evening at our London basement flat in
Seven Sisters, London.  All of a sudden the whirring of helicopters and scream of police sirens, and the sound of vans
rushing up the High Road, north bound.  Wifey takes a phone call from a friend – “have you heard, they are rioting on High Road
and there is a fire outside the police station. It’s on Sky News.”

Fumbling with the remote control – BBC news headline story is the shot down helicopter in Afghanistan and American casualties  Navy Seals– the guys who shot Bin Laden were the targets. Internet search –nothing yet apart from an obscure blog post. The news is definitely breaking. Sky News showing images of people running, a line of police with riot shields and helmets. A car and a bus set on fire. We have a friend who lives in the riot area – no news from him yet.

More sirens, louder whirring of helicopters, eventually the BBC picks up the story, a man was shot dead by the police on Thursday in broad daylight (as part of gun crime reduction Operation Trident), statements from the Mayor’s
office, the local MP who had earlier “appealed for calm” (obviously no one heard him), youth workers, residents, on the spot reporters (who had to stop as they were threatened by onlookers and protesters), police commanders. At 1am as
I loll off to sleep there are still reports of rioting, not in my area, sirens still going, helicopters whirring. Police say that units from  all over London are going in to contain the situation.

7:30 am the following Sunday morning, tenant Romero says he can’t get to work as all the buses and trains to Enfield are suspended. We offer to drop him to work, we have to take a diversion via New Road, Romero agrees.

On the way we see a burned out car blocking entry to High Road from Monument Road – northbound is totally blocked. Some buses are running. We are able to return via New Road from Enfield. We pass by Tottenham Hale Shopping Centre: the area is secured by police, no damage there, just some overturned bins on the surrounding streets.

9 am At Seven Sisters station there is activity at the bus stops:
some men trying to go to work to casual labouring, the men look Eastern European and their expressions are frantic – missing the time, coming late means a day without pay; women going to early morning cleaning jobs, some elegant West Indian middle aged ladies dressed up for church waiting for buses, even more elegant African women dressed up in traditional gowns with children also dressed up for church. In the southbound lane heading towards Stamford Hill, a volley of four police vans full of sweaty officers in riot gear speeds south, the last one has a shattered windshield.

I take a walk after we return home – go up to Tottenham Green – getting a Sunday paper I hear the asian male news agent telling a middle aged white lady that there are no Sunday times or tabloids as the vans refused to deliver to Tottenham, ” I don’t blame them”, he adds. I go past the green then to the burned out car, lots of people still around. Mainly photographers and
journalists, they go to the car then to the William Hill bookies, which was the only shop I can see that was damaged, the front door is kicked in and inside you can see smashed machines, though the counters are intact. I see the flashes and hear the snaps of the cameras. Further on I see the line of police behind and in front of vans some nervously clutching nightsticks and shields. Behind the police line i can see the damaged buildings, messy streets and blocked roads

Standing around are people wondering why they can’t walk to their friends houses or go to their businesses and churches. The police are resolute: no one is passing. I spot a BBC journalist clutching a handful of papers and reading into a microphone – it’s Anita Anand, she looks very small much smaller than I expect, but the oval face is very recognisable. She is talking to the sound man who also clutches papers. I see two broadcast vans further south of the police line, near the b urned out car –  the satellites are mounted on top and inside you can see men staring at television monitors amongst packed electrical equipment.
I can hear and see two men with Arriva bus company jackets talking, one says “I think we’re going to be on TV”. The police are not letting them through either. I saw no burning buildings or vehicles at this point, the people around were ordinary
citizens, it seems that the criminal element hides in the daylight. I can make out other journalists talking into phones and handhelds.

I walk back to the Marcus Garvey leisure centre: it’s business as usual, open for swimming and exercise classes.  My thoughts  ret urn to music: Gill Scott-heron’s classic “The revolution will not be televised” is not a reality here. What ever
attempted revolution that occurred last night in Tottenham was captured on camera: reported on television stations, on mobile phones, on street cameras, and soon to be posted on You Tube.


January 29, 2011

Arts Capital Building Programme Development

In 2002 The Arts Council embarked upon a capital development programme which resulted in the creation of two “flagship” visual arts venues: the Nottingham Contemporary and the New Arts Exchange. Both are multi million pound buildings built in the late Noughties which were reflective of the regional arts council’s vision of what Nottingham people wanted in terms of those arts visitors.  Of course before these premises were built no-one had the sense to ask the local artistic community and local people “what would you want for a premises showing contemporary art? What work do you want to be shown here in Nottingham?” The buildings both are cubic, ugly and represent the “white cube template” for exhibition space.The same steering groups that created these edifices did not create them for local artists, neither premises has a working studio space for artists to use.

The late artist Jacqueline Allen from the 2002 exhibition in EMACA

Neither steering group consulted with artists about the design of the new premises. No, they only catered for their funding bosses; build a cube.  In the creation of these buildings and their inhabiting organizations, there was the untold story of the demise of their parent arts organizations: in the case of Nottingham Contemporary, Bonnington Gallery at Nottingham Trent university, and Angel Row gallery of Nottingham City Council; In the case of the New Arts Exchange Arts Council funding was removed from Apna Arts and EMACA Visual Arts.  In all cases the managers of these parent organizations were removed or dismissed and their contributions airbrushed and whitened out of the history of arts development in the city. Hidden histories indeed.

Donovan Pennant from "Requeim" exhibition

Credit was instead given to the chairmen of the organizations who sold out the employees and their colleagues of the parent companies.  As for the true engineers of these edifices, the development workers, managers and administrators of the Arts Council who devised these plans (whilst at the same time giving dubious mealy mouthed assurances to their victims) did not succeed, most of them are retired and no longer working for the organization after a series of well deserved funding cuts.

viewing from an African cultural gallery in Gambia, 2009

Contrary to the web site link below both of the parent organizations Apna arts and EMACA   continue to operate today, in a much diminished form. So much for a career in the arts. The current staff in these places, as sincere as they are, have to contend with the uninviting and unwelcoming environments that exclude the very people they were intended to impress. For instance, many writers cite the New Arts Exchange as a space dedicated to Black and Asian arts, but this is not reflected in an “architecture award winning” black mausoleum box structure with no multicultural icons on the exterior, and with a café bar that cannot supply even a decent curry and roti. This is a premises that reflects the White coloniser vision for the Black artist and her community: put your work to death in a dark cubic prison. No Mr. Chairman, we won’t be celebrating Kwanzaa, Diwali, Eid Mubarak, Caribbean Carnival, and Black History month in your big black vault. You can keep your grey concrete walls, and grey floors with your high cold ceilings. Nottingham Contemporary unfortunately resembles a very large corrugated brass cubic shed.


January 29, 2011

USHER GALLERY: The Moment Of Privacy Has Passed

Last week I visited the Usher Gallery in Lincoln with a friend to see the exhibition “A Moment Of Privacy Has Passed” – a group show of the sketch books.  After a 90 minute journey by car to Lincoln, a beautiful town. After a warm welcome from the front of house worker, I was appalled at the result. Out of the 200 or so sketch books that were submitted with artist statements, the gallery selected about fifteen to be displayed and showcased.  These artists’ work was shown in glass boxes to be viewed in two upstairs rooms. You could not open the boxes to look further at the sketch books. The other artists’ work was displayed on shelves labelled with key fobs displaying numbers akin to prison labelling, their names and written statements were also ignored. These unfortunate artists were not contacted or told that their work would be treated in this way: the exhibition also did not supply a catalogue of artists who were exhibited and there was no publicity material. This I interpreted as contemptuous to the artists and the efforts they made to supply a statement and to post their sketchbooks. The Usher Gallery’s main selling point was that cross dressing Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry had submitted a sketchbook and it was on display with his statement.


December 22, 2010

From I was eleven years old i have had a passionate interest in astrology as a subject. It was inspired by a book that my sister Joy owned – it was left lying around the living room. When i grew up we had not much in the way of material things but there were many books in the house and I was always reading things – I was a bit of a geek, reading encyclopaedias, but by the time I was eleven I was looking for different things and i saw this book on astrology. i started to read it and I was fascinated by the different personalities and the signs. I had then to avoid the conflict with my sister as she was very possessive of her things so I had to earn my way to get to read the book by running errands for her at time to time. At this time my understanding was merely superficial and i was tying to compare and contrast my personality with the one that was written for people born in my month and date. It did not seem to fit me, this personality, this set of behavioural traits, attitudes and motives. I even tried to behave like that personality, but that did not work. My personality was far more rounded and it fit better with the sign in front. Later on i found that there were errors on the western system of allocating sun signs. This i shall come to later. I was also fascinated by how the astrologers allocated compatibility between the signs of the zodiac. Why were air signs compatible with other air signs followed by fire signs? What were tripilicities and quadruplicities? Why were Gemini and Virgos ruled by the same planet but were incompatible yet many people in the real world that I saw as both friends, lovers and married were combinations of Gemini and Virgos: Gemini man and virgo women, Virgo men married to Gemini women, Gemini and Virgo friendships for same and opposite sexes? But I grew older, went to school.
There was the influence of the church whilst i was at university – the bible said that astrologers were magicians and were not to be valued or considered. Astrology was “the devil’s work”, the work of heathens, this view was exemplified in the book of Daniel. But as i saw it astrology was a discipline based upon some kind of empirical observations, it had been around for many centuries before the bible was written and compiled.
Astrology was like a forbidden love affair for me, i was hopelessly in love with her, no matter I tried to do about what anyone else said i simply could not give her up. I was also driven by the question “why am I here?” and astrology was one of the mediums that i was using to explore this. So while i danced the dance of my time period of church exploration, I continued to pursue my interest in the subject. At the age of twenty eight I had a birth chart drawn up by a Romany heritage man, a Petulonegro. It was interesting, a bound document that I paid good money for. I read it and re-read it. I revised terms such as ascendant, mid-heaven, part of fortune. I bought a book on how to draw up birth charts, and i studied further. I was fascinated by the precision and the mathematics involved, the charting of the procession of planets around the earth and the influence of the luminaries on life on earth and through the personalities of the people inhabiting the earth.

Horary astrology in the western sense examined fate and consequence. I would read books that would say if your sun sign is in the eighth house, you will die young. I purchased and threw away books that said this stuff. I would ask myself where was the room for free will? I kept on studying western astrology books and I would seek out books on personality development and would buy them and study them at university.


I later discovered vedic astrology which accounted for the position of the sun signs using the wobble of the earth on its axis. Hence in vedic astrology the sun enters sagittarius around the 15th december, and capricorn, on 16th january. It also had more detailed ways of assessing the personality, which is based predominantly on the moon sign.


Through involvement with a spiritual culture society I met people who were practicing astrologers according to the vedic system, but they had substituted the names of the planets with kemetic derived names of deities, for example mercury in the western astrology system becomes Sebek