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Grenfell Tower One Year On: the black and sodium hours

Awake to watercolour-clear morning,
broad-brushed by faded
amber conflagration
seen from the kitchen window.

But through the lost,
the black and sodium hours
of the night,
cries for help,
desperate supplications shot skyward
into the never-silent hum of
the North Kensington sky, and

the arrhythmic beating
heart
of Community
watch helplessly
the monolith
shed its murderous
skin,
unshackling souls
taken too soon.


In the early hours of June 14th 2017, a devastating fire broke out in Grenfell Tower, North Kensington. The final death toll was set at 72. From the early hours immediately after the fire into the following days and nights, it was the local residents and community groups who coordinated the relief effort; ordinary people responding in an extraordinary way.
That day at work, I will never forget the sense of relief at seeing all of my students sat there in front of me, some of whom I knew to live in the immediate vicinity of Grenfell Tower.
As I walked the streets of Ladbroke G…
Recent posts

Atay Maghrebi: Hendrix Myths on The Road to Sidi Kaouki

The familiar washed-out and salt-tinged ocean air coloured the sky, lending it a soft pastel-blue light as I sat and tried to recall what I had been doing the day before.
I hadn’t been feeling one hundred percent since eating a weird tasting keftatagine in a Marrakech establishment (that shall remain nameless), but I was beginning to feel little more like myself after a few days of freshly cooked food at the Atlantic Hostel.
As I sat on the sofa at the highest point of the roof terrace, my red Moleskine in my hand, I spotted to my left a pile of blankets and thought nothing of it. That is, until it started moving and a young man who looked like an Amazigh version of Captain Jack Sparrow emerged, greeted me in French and stumbled down the stairs.

After a few coffees, I went searching for some light breakfast and a short walk away from the Hostel, on Rue de Hajjali, found Le Patisserie Driss. 
None of the pastries or cakes seemed to have a sign, but using a combination of pointing, F…

Yel Değirmenleri, Bodrum

After a week traversing Istanbul and the small city of Konya in early April 2018, I took an internal flight and headed to the coast in Bodrum.
On my first evening there I had noted the direction of the sunset as the whole of the sky became flooded with a beautiful orange light.
A couple of the days later, I walked up to what I could see was the highest vantage point in the vicinity by the Yel Değirmenleri, a group of 18th-century Greek windmills. The windmills are in a terrible state of repair with one Tripadvisor user lamenting it as a "waste and insult to the [city’s] past."
In almost any direction, the location commands views over Bodrum Bay or Gumbet Bay, and is perfect for capturing sunset over the landscape and Aegean Sea.
Playing with the manual settings on my Nikon D3300 (don’t ask me what I did) it seemed to capture a quite spectacular range of colours in raw mode.
For more, follow me on Instagram: @ayohcee.

Living for the Weekend: Queens Park Rangers

William Shakespeare once wrote “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” He wasn’t talking about watching Queens Park Rangers play against Aston Villa at Loftus Road, but due to the weather he might well have been.
I haven’t been to Villa Park in a long time and so I’ve tried to make a more concerted effort to see them play when they visit the capital – the last time was a hammering at the hands of Arsenal during a woeful season that almost saw them relegated.
On this occasion, a colleague, John, had spotted the fixture and managed to get tickets at the last minute. Unfortunately for us two Villa fans, we were in with the QPR supporters as the travelling Villa contingent had sold out the School End many weeks before.
On Saturday 18th November 2017, the weather had been nothing but appalling since the morning and with John caught in traffic in the Bermuda Triangle that is the Uxbridge Road on a Saturday afternoon, I was condemned to standing at the side of Ellerslie Road as the rain f…

Eminönü Kadıköy İskelesi, Istanbul

On my first day in Istanbul, at the start of April 2018, I decided that I would avoid the tourist cruises that navigate around the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. Instead I took a commuter ferry between Eminonu pier on the European side of the city to Üsküdar on the Asian side of the city.
The trip isn't too long, doesn't cost much with an Istanbulkart (the Istanbul version of London's Oyster Card) and has a small café for anyone in need of a çay top-up. Some of the ferries look particularly battered and bruised and some websites imply that a few were actually built on the Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
This photo was taken whilst I was deciding which ferry to randomly jump on. There had been intermittent rain all day which was trying to clear, leaving half of the sky behind the Galata tower cloudy and the other half much brighter, something even the water was reflecting. It was shot using a trusty Nikon D3300.
For more, follow me on Instagram: @ayohcee.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

In the mid-2000s I had read parts of Robert Macfarlane’s book Mountains of the Mind for a Masters Degree assignment on Percy Shelley’s ‘Mont Blanc’. I must admit, until he appeared on my Twitter feed with his ‘Words of the Day’ tweets having been retweeted by someone else, I’d almost forgotten how knowledgeable he is. 
How does this all link to a book by a completely different author? Well, Macfarlane and writer Julia Bird, decided that over the festive period they would run a Twitter-based, read-along reading group based around Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising.

The #DarkisReading and #ArtisRising hashtags were born.
The story, despite being written for a younger audience, is full of rich descriptions of landscapes and nature. Furthermore, Cooper seems particularly adept at recreating the otherworldliness of the snow-bound countryside: “The strange white world lay stroked by silence. No birds sang. The garden was no longer there, in this forested land. Nor were the out-buildings nor …

The Soundtrack to My 2017

Over the latter half of 2016 I had enjoyed curating a short playlist of songs that evoked a particular memory of a place or feeling at the time. The process itself was so interesting (never truly knowing which songs would still be melting my iPhone headphones many months later) that I thought I would repeat the process all over again in 2017, adding, deleting and re-adding to my Apple Music playlist over the course of the entire year.

As before, the criteria for inclusion was simple: the songs had to have spent a substantial amount of time getting played on my Apple Music account over the previous 12 months, whether they are from 2017 or not.
As for 2017, it was a lot less weird for me on a personal and professional level, but completely eclipsed 2016 in terms of bizarreness at times.

Right Stuff by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

I feel that over the two years, not only have I been guilty of neglecting Noel Gallagher’s solo material, but I feel there has been a bit of a tendency b…