I Said

I said I wouldn’t publish anything on this point as other people could do it clearer and more eloquently. Ironic coming from a writer.

I said that people would understand my desire (and right) to internalise my feelings. They did. But I didn’t.

Why risk friendships, my job potentially and the investment in this platform to address something that touched me in a way that took me by surprise when I saw that video from Minneapolis, Minnesota? Not worth it, right?

Right?

Wrong.

I said I wouldn’t write this out on a notepad beforehand, so bear with me if the rest of this is quite short, quite long or something in between.

On May 26th, in the early hours, I was just mucking around on Twitter when someone I follow posted a 10 minute video from that evening. The time difference between the U.K. and U.S meant it was a very recent event. It showed an officer kneeling on the neck of a black man, as onlookers barracked the officer and his colleague who stood by. My focus was on the unseen man calling the police names, and not on the man begging for his life. I hadn’t even noticed, so commonplace was that kind of restraint against people who look like me.

It wasn’t until the onlookers pointed out that the man under knee had stopped moving that I realised what I was meant to be paying attention to all along and missed. After learning that his name was George Floyd and that he had died, I immediately put down my device and felt something I had not felt in a long, long time.

I felt different, because this was different. Yes, I’d seen the John Crawford III video, sighed at the details of the Breonna Taylor shooting, and had shaken my head at the Ahmaud Arbery killing a few weeks prior, but this was different. It was public, it was captured. It was clear. There was no mistaking what was there, and it lasted 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

The reaction, and global action demonstrated it was not only different, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. People had enough. We had enough. I had enough.

It forced us to look at ourselves and our role in what is a very real problem. No longer was the immediate reaction that of “Oh, here we go again” accompanied by rolling eyes 🙄

The way black people were regarded and treated was no longer unseen by everyone else. “Oh, so they weren’t lying or being paranoid” seemed to be the refrain. The natural instinct to push back against meaningful discussion was no longer there. Of course, the discussion, slogans and symbols are experiencing pushback now, and the “Ok, you’ve made your point now” eye-rolling has resumed, but with less force than before.

As for me, I was in the midst of structuring the following parts of the ‘Today’s Date’ story I was working on. That was May 26th. I haven’t touched it since.

For the best part of 2 months, I’ve felt that most of my writing up to now has been meaningless. Where was the strand of truth in my short stories? My short films, though I’m proud of them, stayed away from social issues I could speak best about. Why was that?

The truth was the exact reason I haven’t raised it in team meetings and wasn’t going to comment publicly: I didn’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable, and because the rawness of the moment meant I uncharacteristically couldn’t be sure how I could articulate it.

It caused me to think back to the times I was profiled by the police, the time I was jumped trying to help another black person who was targeted. Insensitive to outright racist comments, being spoken to differently to lighter people, being compared to animals in behaviour and looks, eyed with suspicion on the street, refused entry to establishments due to unstated ‘policy’, being spat at, spat on, and labelled aggressive when I raised a challenge on well… anything.

And, let’s not forget being fetishised. You can work that one out.

Basically, the usual.

So while I am blessed to be part of this moment in time, thankful for the family I’m from, grateful for my name, heritage and upbringing, I’ve forced myself to examine what I’m putting out there and the message I’m sending.

If my amazing white/non-black friends can show out, then so can I through my art.

If actor Charles Dale can accurately portray (unconscious) attitudes via the medium of verse, I can lift my head and use my God-given ability to speak to you all.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon my current work, or turn this into a socio-political platform, but I’m no longer going to shy away from that which matters to me now more than ever. I have a responsibility to people like me, people unlike me, my Queen and any children I have in future.

I said I wouldn’t, but that’s not the most responsible thing I said.

A ‘Brief’ Word

To those here in the U.K, I hope you’re having as good a Bank Holiday as is realistically possible right now. To the readers in the United States, have a good Memorial Day. To others around the world, the same sentiment applies… minus the Bank Holiday element 🤔

This post will be a brief one (“he says” 😂) as I only want to update you on a couple of things.

For those who have taken a few moments to read the two versions of ‘Today’s Date’ on this site, I thank you very much. The links will follow. It was only meant to be a one-off sweet tale showing positivity in these darkest and loneliest times. Plus it gave me the opportunity to experiment with a new structure…

But then proverbial wheels started turning, and I wondered what Simone had to say about all of this. So I explored her and her life, and discovered that there was probably a wider story I could tell while looking at other ways I can tell the story.

A word on this. You will see another 1-2 parts of ‘Today’s Date’ posted in here, then I’ll have a decision or two to make regarding what happens to the rest of it…

https://lanrefiction.com/2020/04/15/todays-date/

https://lanrefiction.com/2020/05/19/todays-date-simone/

The feedback has been largely positive and I’m touched by that, though only 2 people have been able to identify the pattern I utilised in Simone’s perspective 😉

Lastly, though I’ve posted them here, they are by no means the ‘finished article’ and will be amended on a regular basis. Hope you enjoy…

Thank you for reading, and remember to stay safe.

Today’s Date (Simone)

Poser! Another one! Every single time! Actually, not completely true. Then, it happened, like magic. His face popped up. Just like that. The smile. Genuine. Those eyes. Same as before. Simone studied his face. She had seen more handsome. And some more striking. She didn’t care. At all. Insignificant. Interesting guy. Jon was back! She clicked the chat. And quickly typed ‘Hi Jon’.

Well, it’s a start.

Simone sat back. And waited. Patiently. And hopeful. Quite the combination. Then came the message. His considered reply, ‘Simone, Hi’

Well, it’s a start.

She couldn’t judge. So laughed. Genuinely. Like before. Start to finish. In the last chat. A couple of weeks ago. Then he just disappeared. But his profile remained. So Simone waited. And chatted. Barely.

To men. And to women. The latter more stimulating. The former much less engaging. Joyce was very sharp. Mum’s favourite, too. And attractive. Very. Then… nothing. She was gone. Took Simone by surprise. She was actually quite gutted. Joyce was really cool. Better than Bob. No contest. None.

‘My angel!’. Bob’s first words. No doubt his routine. It didn’t get any better. Simone couldn’t even pretend. She was polite. Overly so? Probably. Hint sent. Hint not received. Because Bob carried on. His topless picture meaning nothing. Simone then messaged him. “I’m sorry, Bob”. He waited. Pause. She continued. And was polite. She let him down. “I don’t think we click”.

Bob got the message. So did Simone. Rude picture. Genitalia. Oh dear. Her instincts validated. Then Bob was gone. This time, by Simone’s click. An increasingly familiar occurrence.

Definitely not Joyce. Or Jon. Disappointing. And annoying. Lockdown online dating. Mum found it entertaining. Simone was not as amused. Her experience was typical. She considered deleting. Getting rid. Permanently. But no. She stopped herself. Words came to her. “Just a little bit longer!” And so it proved. Jon was back.

She remembered. Genuine. Interesting guy. Not a poser. With an awkward charm. Welcome relief from the pretenders. So she eagerly chatted. It was chilled. And fun. Enjoyable. Time flew. Like last time. Then Mum’s phone rang. And Simone took it upstairs. 

She sat back down. Her immediate focus. The chat. Jon. 

Still there. A new message. A few minutes old. Jon was asking her out. Or was going to. Before he disappeared. Simone thought. Hard. But briefly. An idea came! She got a bottle. Half filled with red wine. And took a photo. Posted through chat. To Jon. Received. Jon typed. A picture arrived. A dark beer can. It was from a website. Simone could forgive that 🤣. Video date made. New experience. Unique. Thanks, lockdown.

The morning came. Mum’s mocking had subsided. And she was very distracted. Looking outside the window. Examining the area. Missing life. Greatly. Simone observed. And felt guilty. She volunteered to cancel. Mum declined and went upstairs. Singing as she left. Simone adored her. Most did. Gloria.

Simone noticed. Her mobile rang. But she ignored it. As she had always done. Whenever hecalled her. Just this guy. They met. Once. A date. It started well. But something was off. So she ended it early. He seemed to understand. Then started calling. Weeks later. Regularly. Mostly ignored. She answered once. Told him to stop. Or she’d report the calls. She planned to anyway. And now reminded…

Clock check. Now. Simone sat. It was time. The video app ready. Simone was a proactive person. So made the call. Jon answered it. And smiled. Warmly. Simone, too. Maybe more relieved. Jon sounded nervous. But it was surprisingly endearing. The video date commenced. Very good time. Constant conversation. Laughter. And open. It flew by. They learned a lot. About all manner of things. Simone’s changing hair colour. Jon’s skipping rope. Red wine. Beer. Rubbish TV. Working from home. And Simone’s trouser mishap. You had to be there 🤷‍♀️

Simone had to go. Jon did, too. Team meeting. Work. Or something. Simone wasn’t concerned. She wanted date two. She knew that Jon agreed. So they made plans. Same again Friday. Done deal. Except…

Thursday happened. During the applause. Simone on the walkway.. Mum inside the front door. She was the dog first. Looking over the wall. With a leash. Thick fur. Beautiful. Simone melted. She then remembered. The owner was new. He had just moved in. And they hadn’t met. “Hello there, I’m-“. Simone stopped. Frozen. Stood there. Hand out stretched. She couldn’t believe it. Her new neighbour was Jon!

In front of her. Mere meters away. Next door. Disbelief! Right there. Quite noticeably tall. And deceptively good looking. His smile the main constant.

They personally reintroduced themselves. Simone’s hand lowered. Social distancing. Remember! They spoke. Again. And laughed. Mum went inside. Simone caught her smiling. The dog made excited noises. His name was Sandy. Matches his fur. Very nice. Cute.

An idea. A new one. This time from Jon. That they take a walk. Have date two now. Good plan. Spontaneous. Big positive. They exchanged numbers. Jon crossed the road. Sandy went along with him. Simone shut the door. Jon called her. She answered. Continuing. She walked. Onto the pavement. Staying on her side.

They walked opposite each other. In the same direction. Down the road. Keeping distance. Frustrating. Big time. Sandy in town. They reach the junction. The end of the road. And they both stopped. Simone looked surprised. Hardly hidden. Stunned. Possibly horrified. Across the road. The person clearly seen. The most unwelcome man now. Whom she met previously. It was him!…

Lanre (19/05/2020)

Open Forum 2: Update Me, Update You.

Firstly, many thanks to those here in the U.K. and around the world (America, France, China, India to name a few) who check in on this humble site.

Yes, I know it’s been a while, but even with the extra time provided to us over the last 7-8 weeks, I’ve found myself busy.

Mind you, this should not be interpreted as a complaint, as I’ve finally tapped into my creativity and some of the things I’ve promised/threatened to do over the last few years are finally taking shape. As well as a couple of things I had not planned for.

I want to extend thanks to those who read and commented on ‘Today’s Date’ on April 15th. I’ve always wanted to tell more stories using poetic form and the private feedback has been even better. The keen eyed among you have spotted that I amended the title slightly, which means there is more to come from this lockdown tale. I’m experimenting with more forms as well so hopefully that works out nicely.

This week, I finished and delivered a writing gig on Fiverr. Subject to any last minute snags, I should be able to start to build a profile. No needles will be moved at this stage (and any reward is negligible) but it’s more promising than this time last week.

This weekend, I will be writing a short (likely very short) sketch that WILL be realised at some point this year when it is safe to do so. Be on the lookout for something later this year that I’ll be a part of that- should it grow legs.

Another of my shorts will finally come to life later this year, as the commitment to produce it was re-affirmed.

If you’ve reached this stage, then I congratulate you and invite you to share any successes or wishes fulfilled during this period, as well as just a general update on your well-being. Please use the comment box below if you are so inclined.

Till then, please stay safe. Thank you for reading.

Today’s Date (Jon)

Eyes opened. Darkness to light,

Jon’s room back into sight,

“Ow, man!” was what he said,

Back in pain, the sofa no match for his bed.

 

Looking at the ceiling,

Slightly peeling,

And despite the lockdown,

Came a different feeling,

That could fill this small town.

 

A place Jon now calls home,

With a garden,

Where dog Sandy could roam,

Without needing a pardon.

 

Just as well, as those in charge,

Closed the park,

They could tell, numbers too large,

At the 1 week mark.

 

On most days,

In most ways,

Meant not doing much,

So as such,

Jon returned to a dating app,

That he once thought a trap.

 

The second he got there,

He immediately saw the hair,

Red as the day is long,

And a smile, so beautiful, it seemed wrong.

 

Simone was her name,

That had remained the same,

Maybe the account wasn’t fake?

Was there still a chance to take?

 

He decided to go for it,

Lest he lost his nerve,

And split.

 

But as he sat prepared,

Ready to press on,

A chat box appeared,

With the words “Hi Jon”

 

Pondering his own text,

A 😊 came next,

And Jon’s excitement grew,

He didn’t mean for it to,

But from his cap to his shoe,

Suddenly, there was nothing he couldn’t do.

 

Well, almost nothing…

 

When they spoke before,

Building a great rapport,

He delayed asking her out,

His mind filling with doubt.

 

In the midst of his move,

He lost his groove,

And when he finally came to it,

The lockdown hit.

 

All the while, he had a wish.

That this smile wasn’t a catfish.

But a chat with Will, his cynical friend,

And he decided that was the end.

 

A couple of weeks after,

With not much laughter,

The chat box is on screen,

And Jon is once again keen.

 

This time, he wasn’t going to fumble,

Or take the proverbial tumble,

He was going to reach for the sky,

And begin with “Simone. Hi”

 

Well, it’s a start 🤦‍♂️

 

The chat flowed, was natural,

And never slowed,

“I was going to ask you out” he confessed.

Simone stopped typing and Jon was stressed.

 

He was about to close the chat,

Feeling very flat,

At the prospect of being ghosted,

When a picture was posted.

 

A bottle of wine,

The label pretty fine.

Jon could understand,

So posted his drink, also unplanned.

 

All fear and pride were swallowed,

As contact details followed,

That chat was great,

Now Jon couldn’t wait,

To have that very first ‘date’…

 

From his nap, Jon was revived,

Having previously shaved,

And with Sandy well behaved,

The moment had arrived.

 

With a faster heartbeat,

And now sat in his seat,

The webcam was showing,

And the screen glowing.

 

Then time stood still,

With an accompanying chill,

Will’s words in mind,

His nerves fell behind,

 

What if this was a scam?

An elaborate sham?…

Ringing stopped his thought,

And as if he’d been caught,

He felt guilt,

For the doubt he built.

 

The video call ID,

Clear for Jon to see,

Put all doubts to bed,

He clicked to begin,

And go ahead.

 

Greeted by a that smile,

And a definite style,

Simone was very real,

Jon delighted by this reveal.

 

So, Jon and Simone finally met,

And neither would soon forget,

A welcome distraction,

With added attraction,

At least that’s how it seemed,

More than Jon could have dreamed.

 

Certainly not the last,

As they had such a blast,

Little did they know, when planning the next video call,

That after Thursday, it wasn’t to happen at all.

 

They were in for a big surprise,

One huge in size,

While clapping, their jaws hit the floor,

When they discovered, the other lived next door…

-Lanre (15/04/2020)

Extra Significance 🙏🏿🍫🐣

For those raised on Christian scripture, today represents that resurrection of Jesus Christ and the instruction given to the disciples (Matthew 28:1-20).

For others, it’s normally an opportunity to join up with family and enjoy a long weekend here or abroad.

And let’s not forget, Easter Eggs, and the Easter Bunny (who is hopefully out in full protective equipment this year 😉).

Whatever Easter means to you, I think we can agree that this year, it is just a tad different to those that came before it- certainly in the lifetime of most of us.

By and large, we are confined to our own dorms, technology and social media never more important than before, never more necessary. It’s as if some have been brought to realise that it can be used for real good, bridging gaps and helping each other more. Travel abroad never seeming more of an alien concept.

But one thing this period represents (and no more so than this year, and possibly a few others in the future, if we’re honest), is an opportunity for renewal. Whether you’re contemplating going back to that (food) item you gave up for Lent or considering what you will do going forward (in what can be called Resolution Part 2), we have an opportunity to reflect on where we are in our lives, and all being well, what we want to do, and where we want to go when we are on the other side of this.

What was that? Pub, you say? 🍺 🤣

Writing-aside, I’ve had the opportunity to meditate and examine myself (and didn’t even need a torch and full-length mirror to achieve it) as well as what I’ve learned- both serious and silly.

And this is where I’m inviting you to participate. Using the comment box below (if you so wish), let’s share what we have learned, either in terms of ourselves or facts- the sillier the better 😊 We can spread some Easter cheer (or is that Christmas? 🤔)

Thank you for reading, and Happy Easter.

Open Forum: Experience (Part 1)

Hello all,

This is what will likely be the first of a few open forums that deal with the current situation. Particularly our experience of social distancing, lockdown, self-isolation or however your country is dealing with things.

It is an open and inclusive forum and you are free to utilise the comments box to express yourself. Whether it be anecdotes or stories detailing your overall experience, exercises, recipes, TV or film suggestions, books or anything similar.

We’re also here for each other, so whatever your level of coping, hopefully something here can raise your spirits 😊

I don’t intend to censor anything (and please feel free to use pseudonyms, and pen names for the sake of privacy) but I am trusting that we will be supportive and act responsibly.

Hope this is useful to us.

Open goal?… How about Open Up?…

For the longest time, I’ve wished I had more hours in the day to dedicate to my writing and make my plans and ideas a reality.

‘If only I could work from home more, cut down on travel and use more of my free time to write short stories, write a novel perhaps, etc’ would be the thoughts crossing my mind, thus forming the reasons for being stuck in the middle of the creative road.

However, the very nature of our daily existence has changed (possibly forever), and at least for now, I work exclusively from home and I don’t travel unless it’s absolutely essential. I have all the time I’ve asked for, and until this weekend, I’ve not been writing like I should.

So, those reasons I identified earlier may not have been reasons after all. They could be seen as excuses. Have I become the literary equivalent of Fernando Torres against Manchester United in 2011 (or Ronny Rosenthal against Aston Villa in 1992 for those who want a more vintage reference) and missed an absolute sitter when it comes to converting the extra hours into fiction?

Given the overriding reasons for the extra hours, and the general concern, and tragedy it has fostered, perhaps the inability to get writing up to now can be explained.

In any event, I think it’s time to open up this platform again to those who have been interested in it, in my writing and for me to open it up to you.

What does that last bit mean? Well, each post has a comment section that I will be inviting you to use in relation to topics or comments I post or possibly just an open forum to express ourselves and spread kindness. I don’t have a fully formulated plan, but rather I’m being led by how I feel or what I see on my friends’ platforms.

I may also take a ‘straw poll’ and start to add broader topics to this page.

In addition, I will post every bit of writing I come up with henceforth and may also make authors out of all of you with interactive storytelling.

I don’t promise this will work, but I will try to ultimately make this platform about us, rather than just me. And I will try to assist in spreading a bit of hope and kindness during these trying times.

Thank you for reading.

* PS: I have no control over the ads that appear at the bottom or within any of my posts, so I apologise in advance if any of them are inappropriate given what is happening and ask you not to click them if you spot them *

Sorry, not that kind of Trading 🤣…

Shares and trading has always been a mystery to me. I looked at the pages and apps and it simply didn’t register.

Plus, I have all the luck of a bad chancer, so I would invariably choose unwisely.

However, my situation is not your situation, so if you fancy taking a look at a strong and reliable site, feast your eyes on…

https://forexvox.com/

Even better if you have knowledge of this sector.

And say that Lanre sent you.

It won’t get you anything extra, or me anything whatsoever, but I’ve always wanted to say that 🤣

Thanks for reading.