Covid stories part 10 (Fathers day, family, Golliwogs, West Ham)

Sunday 21 June.

Well it’s over isn’t it? You might think so if you judge ‘it’ by the amount of cars on the road, and the amount of people who seem to have entirely given up on any semblance of social distancing.

This week felt like many others during lockdown, but for all that was pretty decent. Work seemed quite intense (Food and You going into the field in 3 weeks, much to-do about a forthcoming publication, perhaps more about that next week, am I going back to DWP?). Tennis with Joe — it’s always the trips to and from tennis that I love as much as the tennis. You can even see Carol partaking!

He was so proudly telling me he was back off to school tomorrow (Rebecka and Dan are key workers) and he will be in a class with Mr P, a year 5er, some year 4ers and some friends from his own year. Feels instinctively the right thing to do for him — he will go back three days a week and will get some socialisation even if they aren’t his besties. Carol and I have been eating better. Carol has made some absolutely belting lunches and evening meals, which have almost all being vegan (actually vegetarian, from the look of the feta cheese!)

The weather has been off and on. I haven’t run as much. I need to get outside exercise more. And go to sleep at a reasonable time. Quiz night on Wednesday triggered a set of events I’m still struggling with.

After the quiz, we moved on to topics around the recent BLM. There was some challenge going around on the excuses of ‘but that was of its time’ — discussions which seemed to try to justify ‘Golliwogs’ on the side of marmalade jars (which I remember well), that Alf Garnett was ‘satire’ just like Fawlty Towers. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh fuck.

History — and more importantly teaching — should surely be the practice of freedom of thought, to critically interrogate and ask questions about why things are the way they are. It should never be that traditional pedagogy, that banking model of education. The learner should be a co-creator of knowledge and moving back to history, it can be re-created, questioned, critiqued, re-invented. It is never static.

The follow-up from what seemed marginally intense (hearing someone you care for express those views, even if predictable, is still upsetting) proved perhaps even more painful. I received a message yesterday from someone I love so much and just burst quite uncontrollably into tears (and now I use Sertraline, I barely ever cry at all!). It’s quite hard writing about it, is it cathartic or is it perhaps a form of self-harm? And whilst it feels in some ways selfish and about me, their interpretation of family history is just so different to mine and it feels hard because it feels as if they want to be neutral (I kind of get that), but it feels so much like a betrayal of what happened and Carol and I experienced. It’s complex as all family stuff often is, and perhaps their neutrality is there to protect themselves from interrogating their childhood and adulthood. Or perhaps I’m guilty of missing the very point that I made above. Even family history is contested, experienced so differently. But it still hurts like fuck.

More positively, I received some unbelievably kind messages both before and after — quite separately to this. Jennifer must be the kindest, most selfless sister-in-law anyone could ever dream of having. And Jess sent me some gorgeous messages. She sent the most lovely Fathers Day card, with incredible homemade disaranno truffles.

And we’re meeting up for Fathers Day later on in the park too with Rebecka, Dan, Joe, Jess and Tom. What more could you ask for?

Final point — the Premier League was back this week. West Ham played last night. I am surprised it came back as I think I articulated before. It feels wrong. And not just because West Ham were as flaccid as they were before the break (they lost 2–0 and seem likely to be relegated). It feels like everyone is going through the motions.

But I smiled and felt proud. Ed sent me some beautiful whatsapps. To be called ‘influential’ in persuading my fairy godson to support West Ham (should I be proud or ashamed?!!), to still be talking about it when he is going grey … I love him. What a guy!

Still love The Clash, inequality, class, social security, food, stigma. Trustee @ Welfare Benefits Unit. 5ker. West Ham till I die.