black lives matter

Good afternoon all!

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently – for once we have a tremendously decent excuse and we will come to that in the next post, where we will be starting a series of revisited recipes – I’m excited for that because we have a new logo and everything. It’s the little things that keep you going through life. It’s been a really, really rough couple of weeks, quite possibly the most challenging we’ve had to deal with as a couple since the time Paul ate more than his allocated 1/6th of the crisps, but we’ll get through together, as we always have.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, our problems pale in significance to the wider issues going on in the world at the moment. I have wanted to write a blog-post addressing our thoughts on this for a while but finding the time to do it justice, rather than dashing off some pat sentiment, has proven difficult. Now, with Paul in his temporary bed snoring like a stuck pig having his ‘afternoon nap’ and me with my ‘bedtime’ (3.30pm) gin and tonic (served in a pint glass, as that’s all we have) to soothe me, now is a good time. I’ll open with a strong caveat – I might be a decent writer, but some of this is hard to articulate and when your schtick is making crass cock jokes and typing out gnocchi recipes, it can be hard to switch gears. But let’s give it a go.

At the time of writing, we currently have protests on the streets of the United Kingdom in support of Black Lives Matter, part of the increasing movement to acknowledge and rectify the years and years of discrimination and prejudice felt and experienced by black people. It comes on the back of the murder – because that is what it was – of George Floyd, an American killed by a policeman who thought a proportionate response to someone allegedly using a counterfeit note to buy cigarettes was to kneel on his throat for nine minutes. Can you actually imagine that? His death proved to be the spark that has seen mass protests sweep across America and now, the UK.

I live in Newcastle and saw it for myself yesterday: a peaceful protest by those in support of Black Lives Matter and the wider issues, and the counter-protest by the knuckle-dragging idiots who were there to protect Grey’s Monument. Part of the recent protests has seen statues of slave traders torn down and as a result, our local rent-a-gobs were anxious the same fate might befall Grey’s Monument, one of the centre-points in our lovely city. Let me touch on why that alone is so stupid because boy, there’s two juicy reasons. Firstly, the statue is 135 foot in the air, and each and all of these counter-protestors looked as though they’d get out of breath blowing out a match, let alone scaling a monument. I’m presuming that based on the colour of their mottled, beetroot-red faces, and I’m more than aware of the irony. Secondly, the statue is there to commemorate Charles Grey, the Prime Minister whose government oversaw the abolition of slave labour across the empire. I mean, as statues at risk, that has to be one of the lowest, no? Doesn’t matter. I’m still itching for someone to push the statue of Cilla Black into the Mersey, but I appreciate that’s a personal vendetta and it’s quite a trek.

Anyway. The police who were there in case things kicked off had bottles and smoke grenades thrown at them, along with the arresting sight of these idiots doing Nazi salutes. You know, to honour our country and its freedoms. The mind-cracking sight of eighty Ben Sherman shirts straining as their owners performed Nazi salutes in front of a statue of a person who they were trying to defend because of his rich history of er, stopping the Nazis – well, it was quite something. Imagine the mental gymnastics needed to make that rationalisation work. The depressing thing is that the news is full of this nonsense rhetoric (and I’m guilty of it myself in this post) rather than the actual message that matters: #blacklivesmatter.

And yet, you say #blacklivesmatter, and one of the immediate rejoinders is that #alllivesmatter. I mean, of course they do. Does anyone genuinely doubt that? But it speaks to an incredibly fragile ego if you can’t see that for decades, all lives haven’t mattered and people have been treated differently, appallingly – whether through aggressions of being passed over for interviews to the extremes of George Floyd above. Skin colour is as inalterable as blinking or breathing but still, even in our ‘learned’ times, is used as a benchmark to measure people by. I’ve had the discouraging sight of people I thought were decent, clever folks all frothing at the bit on Facebook, Twitter et al, all trying to justify why the protests shouldn’t be happening, why they’re not needed, why they’re inappropriate. It’s disheartening yes, but all it does is underscore how important the protests are. People are so wedded to the idea that racism doesn’t exist anymore, that we’re living in some tolerant Arcadia, but that’s an easy position to take when you don’t need to bear witness to it – when it’s not happening to you. People puff up their feathers and get indignant about this – they say you’re not allowed to ‘say anything these days‘ because ‘people will get offended‘ and ‘snowflakes yadda yadda‘. It’s funny, you know: I’ve been writing for six years now, and I can count on one hand the number of complaints we’ve received about our content. Given my writing style is fairly near the knuckle, that’s fairly impressive – you’d think with things as ‘bad’ as they supposedly are, my inbox would be awash with people complaining. It isn’t. It’s almost as if by simply not being a dick, you’ll get by unscathed. Anyway, this got me thinking about my own experiences with discrimination.

I can, with my calloused hand over my barely beating heart, say that I have never really faced discrimination beyond the odd gasp of terror as I walk into an H&M and set about trying to find anything above an XL. Sheer bulk and strength (and sucking off the Head Bully) saw me sail through school with ne’ry a negative remark, despite my proclivities towards camp exclamations and a refusal to take part in team sports unless it was rugby and I had a decent chance of ending up with my face in someone’s sweaty bum. I had parents who were supportive but never intrusive, friends who put up with my nonsense and for the most part, employers who were never too prying. I sat and looked inwards about whether I’ve ever faced discrimination, or felt like I’ve missed out because of something I couldn’t change, and came up with nothing of note. Oh! I did once have someone suggest that a chair I had sat on should be burned in case the next person who sat in it got AIDS, but I took no offence: I knew it was a waiting game with him, and hey: he’s dead now, choked on his bile in more ways than one. But thirty five years I’ve been on the Earth and that’s the best example of discrimination that I can come up with, and if that’s not an example of privilege, I don’t know what it is.

I asked Paul what his experience was with discrimination and he’s much of the same, though pointed out something which I hadn’t considered – he feels that he’s experienced positive discrimination in the past, having applied for jobs which would (in the past) be seen as more female-centred: secretary, assistants and the like. Clearly this is a nonsense, but he was once told it would be ‘novel’ to have a male secretary. This in turn made me look at my own employment: up until a few years ago I was a P.A (personal assistant, not something cheap hanging off a bellend, though I confess that both work) in a law firm and honestly, people would start explaining their legal problems to me before acting utterly bewildered that I wasn’t a solicitor many times over. In the end, I used to joke that I could never afford the shoes to be a lawyer. Paul also mentioned that he thought people were nicer to him when he was skinny, but thought that may be more of a confidence thing rather than anything else. I know he experienced prejudice when he went to Cambridge, with people assuming he was there as the token council-estate kid rather than someone who earned his place. We talked about this way back in 2016, as it happens.

But that’s it. Neither of us has ever been held back by something we can’t change, not really. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a voice and show support. It may be that some of you – and I genuinely hope it isn’t many – decide that a cooking blog has no place to be making to be makingĀ grandiose political statements on life. But see, I disagree. It feels like the world is at a tipping point, where real positive change could and should be about to happen. Whilst twochubbycubs is only one tiny voice (two if I ever let Paul get a word in edgeways), if everyone who supported the current movement for change spoke up, the roar would become deafening and impossible to ignore. But perhaps you aren’t one for speaking up and protesting in the street – and some people simply aren’t, and there should be no shame in that. I’m not a fan of people being called out for not protesting loud enough or to the tune of the vocal. There’s a quote by the novelist Edith Wharton which said there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. It’s a great way of looking at things: you don’t need to be someone who goes out and loudly protests to make a difference – if you uphold the same values in how you go about your life, calling out discrimination, supporting those who need it, you’ll make as much of a difference. Whatever you do, do it right.

So, it goes almost without saying, we stand alongside the Black Lives Matter movement. And, just saying, we’re not terrible people to have standing by you simply because of the heat our jiggling bodies generate.

J&P

As an aside, twochubbycubs will be making a donation to the Black Lives Matter gofundme on the back of this post, as it doesn’t seem correct to collect the ad-revenue from this post.

As a further aside, I’m open to discussion on this – if anyone wants to tell me why I’m wrong, you’re more than welcome. I mean, I’ll utterly ignore you, because you’re clearly simple, but do have a try.