Big People Talk #Timesup

Big People Talk

WI front room

When I was a child I remember my parents used to go into the sacred ‘front room’ and close the door when we had certain visitors. Well, I mean when they had visitors. Their friends and relatives would be shown into the best room and we, as children would be left outside.

If we dared to venture in to the room while they were talking we would be shooed out again especially if we dared to speak. It paid to be like the embossed flowery wallpaper – obviously there, but after a while unnoticed.

When we spoke it was like being at a tennis match, all heads turned to us and a chorus of dissent reached our ears. This was sometime accompanied by a slap if the interruption was way out of place.

The words that were slapped into our bare legs were invariably some variation of, “Big people are talking!”

As we retreated to the dining room or garden I think we children wondered how the ‘big people’ always got their own way and got to make all the decisions.

It came to me the other day that all those people are now gone or going. A friend was talking about the death of her father’s best friend. I recently attended the funeral of another friend’s father, there is death all around and it has sadly become an intimate associate in recent times. All the ‘big people’ I knew have gone or are currently going.

It hurts. It really hurts.

The most recent departure of a loved one has made me realise that we are the big people now. We have to support and comfort each other as we journey on. We have to make the decisions.

It does hurt, but we will make it through. Together.


At social family gatherings there are natural divisions between the youngest and the more mature folk. I now fall above the division line, and it reinforces the fact that I am seen as an adult who has to do adult things. This is a responsibility I was hidden from as a child. I did not have a rite of passage where I was inducted into adulthood by my parents.

My mother left abruptly, as death snatched her from my teenage life. My father lived a secluded existence in the remnants of the family where he limited his communications to directions and corrections.

As with most of my siblings growing up was a DIY affair, we didn’t have the assistance of self help manuals from books stores, we were tutored by the scars of our own mistakes. Our aunts and uncles faded away from our lives when their visits were frequently curtailed by the cold front erected by my father.

The coin has now flipped, I am on the other side and I see things I didn’t notice or have the words to speak about when I was younger, and so it’s time for this big person to talk.

That uncle who drinks too much and still has wandering hands, that aunt who wears too much perfume, always gets a food hangover after a party and exposes herself on purpose, these are the people we need to talk about, these are the people I need to talk about and thereby smooth the path for the new big people who are in line behind me.

I am responsible for what I see, I have a responsibility to talk now and not to bury the family secrets for another generation, for the next group people to personally and painfully uncover.


© Marjorie H Morgan 2018


Black Panther


I am a black panther. I have always had an affinity to this animal. I sensed its majesty ever since I was a child reading the discarded National Geographic magazines that my mother would bring home from her office cleaning job.

This is odd for me because I have never had a close acquaintance with domestic cats. I am now able to be in the same room as them without flinching as I did as a teenager. I’ve even held a cat or two for hours, but they are not my first choice of a favourite feline.

The black panther spoke to me from the first day I set eyes on it. If anyone asks what animal I align myself with most closely, it is always a big cat. Because of the time of my birth some assume I would choose a lion, but I always choose a black panther, always.

And now many people around the globe are choosing to identify with the Black Panther.

I knew this day would come. It was foretold by the spirits.

The spirits are never wrong.

The Black Panthers of American history were a foreshadow of the recently released film of a similar name. They resonated with the souls of black folks who, with single consciousness, saw themselves through their own eyes (W.E.B DuBois), so it is with this film, the Black Panther movie is a joy, a happiness, a homecoming.

I know this, and I haven’t even seen it yet.

I sense it, the way you sense that someone is looking at you. You know. You always know.

When you see the essence of yourself anywhere, you smile in recognition.

These past few years of cinematic offers have had me grinning from ear  to ear like a Cheshire cat, no, more like a black panther. The choice of films that see me, people like me, has risen. The stories, like life, are not always singing and dancing in the rain themes, there are real moments of the darkest sadness and contrasting beautiful times of sublime joy.

I won’t review all of my favourite films here, but I will list a few of the most memorable ones for me in the last five years:

Fruitvale Station (2013)

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Selma (2014)

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Creed (2015)

Fences (2016)

Loving (2016)

Birth of a Nation (2016)

A United Kingdom (2016)

Moonlight (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Queen of Katwe (2016)

Lion (2016)

Get Out (2017)

Kidnap (2017)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017)

Girls Trip (2017)

Mudbound (2017)

Hidden Figures (2017)

Black Panther (2018)

I have seen myself, I have met myself and my family on the road as I watched these films. In the moments that have flashed across the screen I have recalled the whispered stories of relatives who have passed on, the proud chest-bursting tales of achievements that only a few will ever know about (until they are shared more widely), I have recalled the names and the lives of the others who were not othered by me. These stories have always been told, but not always in the public arena.

To this end I have watched most of the aforementioned films many times. I will watch Black Panther more than once. This much I already know. I will revel in it as if I was Queen Cleopatra bathing in milk and honey. Luxuriating in the blackness of it all, in the oneness of being continually visible to myself.

People who are ‘other’ than me may view these films as ‘other’ but to me they are normal, like me. My blackness is normal, and I do not need anyone’s permission to repeatedly view this normality or honour it.

“Wakanda. We are home. My son it is your time. You get to decide what kind of king you are going to be.” (Black Panther, 2018)

I’ve waited my whole life for this time. I knew it was coming, it had to.

The black panther has a keen sense of the right time to make a move.

The time is now.

Wakanda for ever.

N.B. To those who complain that there are no or few white people in these films I have mentioned, please tell me where your indignation was hiding when the people of colour were missing from the screens and stages of the world in the all too recent past.

This is the present and it is good. I am Not Your Negro (2016). I am a Black Panther (2018). The time of Hidden Figures (2017) must fade.

© Marjorie H Morgan 2018

A Love Letter

I’ve had a long love affair with pens, paper, and books in particular.
Ever since I can remember I have been surrounded by paper in many forms. My home is filled with books – many of which I have read a number of times and even more that I haven’t got around to reading yet. Nevertheless I will still buy new books because I plan to get to them all at some stage, and because I like to look at them, to touch them, to be enveloped by the quality of the paper, the sound of the pages as they turn in my hand, the image of the different fonts on the page, and yes, the smell and intense sensual experience of older books.
Associated with my love of paper is my adoration of pens and other writing implements. I have a vast collection of both. They go together like hugs and kisses.
I have been known to swoon over the texture, weight and colour of paper and to wax lyrical on the smoothness of a certain fountain pen as it flows across the page in my hand. But love is like that, it’s unique to the person experiencing it and from the first flush of adoration it creates a lasting impression on the heart.
I still own books from my childhood. A few of them are now fragile but they will never be discarded for newer versions of the same text. I don’t need to say all the reasons why this is the case, suffice it to say that nothing can replace the first love. That’s a truth as old as time. My books have aged with me, and when I go back to them – although their words haven’t changed – I learn different things each time I visit their pages. Like lovers we fit together more comfortably as time moves us down the road of life.
Each book I have has its own story of creation from imagination to physical manifestation in my hand, and all the books I have are part of my life story. They have helped to shaped me into who I am today, some of them have affected me before I have read a whole chapter inside the covers that I hold in my hand. The words inside each book, the words on the carefully selected paper, the cover and binding, all these things add up to the physical weight of the volume that I have made part of my life’s journey; yet the particular arrangement of words on each page has an intangible weight that has the immense power to alter my whole way of being in the world, for with the consumption of each word I am changed.
Love does that, it changes a person.
Paper, books, and writing by hand are powerful lovers who have been faithful to me since I first met them.
I must admit that I occasionally have a dalliance with a keyboard or two, but I always return to my first solid loves who ignore my fleeting interests in the electronic imposters that flit in and out of my life. Books are faithful, they will allow you to pick them up where you left them and continue the intimate journey without personal censure or even a glance of disappointment.
The combination of paper and ink to form a book has a sense of being more permanent and faithful than an electronic version of the same information. As an information junkie it may seem strange to hear me say that I feel I can trust the physicality of paper forms more readily than I do the electronic information, but I’m sure you know that you also would rather a physical hug and kiss than an emoticon in a text message – that’s what books give: always more than you’d imagined, and they don’t hold back or leave their message open to misinterpretation. Everything they have to say is there, in front of you. Always available.
Birthday cards, letters in a lovers’ handwriting, certificates, ticket stubs and many other pieces of printed material appear in our lives and become keys to memories that can transport us with the merest touch.
Paper has the power to elicit emotions.
Think of a message in a bottle, a note tied to a balloon, a post card, or any scrap of paper with word-shaped images of the soul on them, and you’ll begin to remember, to understand the depth my love affair with paper.
I feel emotional when connected to paper, and I’m not ashamed to admit that when surrounded by books that I am in a blissful state.
Yes, paper, I love you. Thank you for being a constant in my life from childhood to this time. I am excited because I know we have so much more to share and experience together. You always reveal more than I could ever anticipate – even from myself. Thank you for making yourself open and available to my thoughtful meanderings and questions. You have helped me to find myself, I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.
I truly adore and am always enamoured by you,
Marjorie xxx

Dead and Breathing. Unity Theatre, Hope Place, Liverpool.

36414487-db3Dead and Breathing. Unity Theatre, Hope Place, Liverpool.

The European debut of Dead and Breathing by American playwright Chisa Hutchinson took place in the Unity Theatre, Liverpool on  7 February 2018.

This captivating 90 minute play is not afraid to tackle the big issues of life and death, gender, religion and everything in between. The main subject matters of terminal illness and assisted suicide are not what one would expect theatre goers to find humorous however, this two-hander play is full of sharp, dark humour admirably performed by the multi-award winning film and stage actress Lizan Mitchell, (whose credits include: The Wire, The Good Wife, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Kim Tatum (aka Mzz Kimberley) known for Summer in London, Cold Feet, and EastEnders.

At 68, Carolyn Whitlock (Lizan Mitchell) is a privileged older woman who has decided that she has had enough of life. She has spent her life using her wealth to gain her every advantage and so when she decides that she wants to arrange the timing of her own death, she starts looking for a willing participant to assist her in her plan. After two years in a hospice she returns to her home to die and quickly becomes dissatisfied when 16 hospice nurses refuse her offer to become a potential accomplice in her plan to end her life. Surprised that her skills of people manipulation fail her she discovers new hope of death when her new nurse Veronika (Kim Tatum) is prepared to consider to her proposal.

The two women engage in a tug of war negotiation over the right to die if the price is right and the concept of life as a gift when Carolyn offers Veronika her $87 million fortune and house as an incentive to perform the deed. Facing the temptation Veronika has to wrestle her Christian morality against the pampered Carolyn’s sense of entitlement.

The old Carolyn Whitlock becomes cantankerous and difficult when she finds herself working harder than she ever has in her life to get someone to help her to end her life, especially upon discovering that Veronika is transgender, where after Carolyn retreats to her privileged judgemental position pitted against her nurse.

This is a brilliant play full of dark humour that questions morality and mortality, where the theatre audience, along with the characters, learn about themselves and others.

Hutchinson’s words and the staging is important to but it is the on stage chemistry in the individual performances of Lizan Mitchell and Kim Tatum that vibrantly brings this play to life. The turn of a shoulder, the sharp look, the mesmerising changing of bed sheets, the unexpected softness that arrives on their faces in the middle of their morality battle are the extra highlights of this sublime performance.

It is for a combination of these reasons that the play ended with a standing ovation.

Dead and Breathing runs at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool until 17 Feb 2018 after which it will be performed in The Albany Theatre, London 20 Feb – 03 March 2018.


© Marjorie H Morgan 2018

Tweet. Reflect. Delete. HM Treasury tweets #FridayFact to celebrate tax payers contributions to ‘end slavery’

Tweet. Reflect. Delete.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 12.44.15Friday 9th February 2018. HM Treasury on Twitter: “Here’s today’s surprising #FridayFact. Millions of you helped to end the slave trade through your taxes.” @hmtreasury

“Did you know? In 1833, Britain used £20 million, 40% of its national budget, to buy freedom for all slaves in the Empire. The amount of money borrowed for the Slavery Abolition Act was so large that it wasn’t paid off until 2015. Which means that living British Citizens helped pay to end the slave trade.” @hmtreasury This tweet was posted on Friday 9th February 2018, and deleted overnight on Saturday 10th February 2018. HM Treasury quickly re-thought their position on sharing this data.

In a rapid backtrack the government department of HM Treasury appears to have decided that they were not, in fact, ready to open the debate on the colonial legacy that is the backbone of the British country. There has been a continual thread of unease and sensitivity about the role of the British Government and the British aristocracy in the slave trade. The 1833 Slavery Abolition Act was not the end of slavery, merely the means to introduce a way to end the abominable trade in enslaved human beings.

Historical records released in 2013 showed that some of the compensation paid to thousands of wealthy aristocratic families for the loss of their “property” was utilised to buy, build and refurbish many of the greatest properties currently found in the British countryside. The searchable database at University College London holds information on the estates and plantations in the British Caribbean and also traces ‘the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain’.

The #FridayFact tweet from @hmtreasury highlighted that £20 million of public money was paid as ‘compensation’ to ensure abolition. This was being paid by British Citizens until 2015. (£20 billion in current value.) Therefore this means descendants of enslaved people, amongst others, have been contributing to the wealth of those who enslaved their forebearers.

No reason has currently be given for the removal of the tweet, however it is not unreasonable to suggest that it was probably removed due to embarrassment following negative feedback of the ‘celebratory’ tweet.

This tweet, reflect, delete incident is relevant now for the same reasons the article on the H&M advert was written:, and it again raises the question about government payments for reparation: This, now missing tweet, reminds us of the scale of the British involvement in the trade of people as commodities:

Even with the recent revelation that the first Brit, aka ‘Cheddar Man’ had dark to black skin pigmentation, blue eyes, and dark coloured curly hair, the overall audience of ‘celebratory’ tweets like this one is aimed at the group of people with lighter pigmentation, that is now considered to be the defining feature of inhabitants of the northern section of Europe and America.

I have to wonder if the impending marriage of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry on the 19th May 2018 will encourage the press to reflect before tweeting and commenting with impunity or if this union is another reason for the increase in insensitivity of Government officials and press worldwide, as evidenced in the recent tweet of the Wisconsin’s Republican candidate for Congress.

As a British born descendant of Caribbean immigrants (with West African ancestors) I am incensed at the insensitivity of the original tweet as I have been a tax payer since 1977, and my parents were tax payers from the time of their arrival in the UK in the late 1950s, and have unknowingly contributed to the wealth of the oppressors of my own family and generations of ancestors. This perverse fact cannot be a cause of celebration for anyone with a similar ancestry to my own. This tweet is an affront to all BAME people in the UK, not just those with a Caribbean history.

Growing up as a minority in the UK racism was an always present, sad part of life. This incident shows that the history and sensibilities of the whole of the British population has not been considered before this tweet was shared. Black History Month does not just take place two months a year (February and October in some countries), it is a fact of life every day of the year for BAME people who are an integral part of British life, because we are British, and Black. We are not an enigma and it’s about time the Government realised this.

This tweet and the sharing of information about British taxpayers’ contributions to ‘end slavery’ is indicative of the overall tone of the incumbent hard right-wing Conservative Government who generally disregards and ignores the daily realities of people who are as British as the majority of them are, yet who largely remain invisible in thought and policy decisions because of their Empire origins.

The tweet, reflect, delete situation from HM Treasury is a perfect example of the depth of misunderstanding relating to the impact, legacy and the intersectionality of discussions on the subjects of colonialism, racism, reparations and slavery.

It is evidence that the perspective of marginalised citizens were not considered. This tweet was exclusive and offensive and the contemporary and historical nuance of it can be difficult for people to understand without considering the links of history that have created and contributed to the forced worldwide migration of millions of people.


© Marjorie H Morgan 2018

After … ’til death

(100 words story)

Not many people embrace death like Joan did. Andrew’s passing started her simultaneous love and fear affair with it.

Three months following Andrew’s burial, Joan made her first new friend; friends were not previously welcomed in the marital home.  After forty-six years of solitude she was rusty at small talk, especially with other men. Fortunately Simon was patient. However, Joan was impatient with herself and surprised Simon after six months with a lingering kiss that ended in morning coffee.

Loving life Joan didn’t want to die, her children wouldn’t understand her need for a separate grave from their father.

© Marjorie H Morgan 2018

Best Friends


Best Friends

Allen was scared. It was not the type of fear that resulted in an immediate desire to run for his life – although he had experienced that – this was an old, familiar fear that he thought he had left in his teenage years. This ancient, buried dread crawled up out of the ground and grasped his ankles without warning. All the fight had departed from him, so he just gave in and accepted it.

The message he received was the touch paper to this episode. That morning his own reaction surprised him. In fact for the past five years, he had believed that he’d stopped caring about other people’s opinions, then that name from the past appeared on his screen and had jolted him back in time, and he was newly confused and as nervous as a teenager about to go on a first date.

His sister had text him that she’d seen a friend of his in their home town. George.

George was not just any friend, George was his best friend. They were like two sides of a coin – always together. But it was obvious that they weren’t related because they looked so different, but they were still like twins with their behaviour, emerging teenage style and strong opinions about everything from what real music was, the best drugs and everything about sex. George’s unruly ginger hair was almost equal in size to Allen’s neatly trimmed afro, they also somehow managed to end up with similar clothes as well – probably due to the few shopping options in their small town, and the fact that their mothers often met in the High Street.

‘George,’ Allen said.

‘Yeah, mate.’ The reply was absentminded, easy and casual like everything between them.

‘D’you wanna go fishing tomorrow?’

‘Yeah. Why not? Got nothing else on.’

‘Cool. I’ll get the stuff ready tonight – we’ll have to go early like, alright?’

‘Sure. Whatever.’ George paused and looked up from the games console, ‘You’re so serious about fishing and I always get the best catch – every time! I don’t know why you keep trying so hard. I’m always gonna beat you.’

They laughed together, and Allen smiled because he knew George was right, as usual, he did get the biggest fish, but Allen didn’t care, he just like hanging out with George.

‘It’s funny!’ George observed, suddenly being unusually serious for his teenage self, ‘I’m better at things that you like doing, and you’re better at things that I like. We’re a right pair of wally’s!’ The statement was accompanied with his usual laughter aimed at Allen –  but not spitefully. They messed around, but not to permanently hurt each other. They never fell out for more than a day. That’s not what they did, not who they were.

They had left school with duplicate Technical Certificates and went into similar  apprenticeship jobs, so it was not unusual to see them together, at either parents’ house. They knew that they would have a meal saved for them every night whichever house they ended up in;  both sets of parents had informally adopted the other boy. The boys themselves hadn’t questioned it or expected anything else. They just continued the friendship that they had started when they met in the first term of secondary school.

As close as they were, they did have time apart when puberty and girlfriends appeared on the scene, but never more than a few evenings without seeing each other. They fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

‘Oh! Morning George,’ said Mrs Mason bumping into him outside the bathroom.

‘Morning, Mrs Mason.’ His slow response reflected his desire to still be asleep but he knew he couldn’t miss any more days at work, his attendance record was not as good as Allen’s who never missed a day.

‘I didn’t know you stayed over last night. You two must have got back late. Did you ring your mother?’

‘Yes, of course. Allen made me!’

‘Good. Don’t be late to work – that’s both of you! Best you both get up and get out quickly, it’s nearly 8 o’clock. See you two later?’

‘’Spect so. Bye.’

The conversations were reversed when Allen stayed at George’s house, with the exception that he didn’t have to be asked if he called home – he always did. He was always conscientious of other people’s feelings. At George’s he used the spare sleeping bag on the floor and George would use the pull out bed when he was at the Mason’s house.

Initially when Allen moved away for work they called and met up at weekends or went on holidays together and with other friends. They remained tight for years until Allen’s 25th birthday party in Birmingham.

After that George started calling Allen ‘Jester’ whenever he went home for the weekend, and then they started slipping out of each other’s lives without fanfare.

It was at a surprise encounter after three years before George suddenly said, ‘So, what’s this Jester’s bar you’re always at?’ It was like he was jabbing a knife at Allen’s chest.

‘What you talking about?’ Allen was surprised and confused.

‘The Jester, you plonker! Don’t act thick’

Everything was strained between them. There was no friendly greeting, just the verbal assault. George knew why things had changed, he had seen something new and found out a secret, but he never said anything before that Sunday years later.

Allen flushed. It was difficult for most people to see when he was embarrassed because of his dark complexion, but George knew him. He knew he’d hit a nerve, so he jabbed again.

‘At your 25th. When you were first in Brum, The Jester.’

Allen felt like a boxer suddenly on the ropes. He floundered.

What did George think? What did he really know? What did this mean to them?

Immediately Allen fully understood the silence that had grown between them.

‘One of your mates, from your work you said, the one with the pink shirt and way too neat hair, him, he said he’d see you at the ‘Jester as usual’. You didn’t know that I’d heard? Obviously …’

‘George … mate,’ Allen faltered to find the words he needed. But they evaporated from his throat before he could form them, and George threw his final combination blows that further winded Allen.

‘You could have told me! I thought I was your best mate. How could you?!’

‘George, I wanted to … I mean, I tried to … you know, say something, but …’

‘But what, Allen?! You couldn’t find the right time? Is that the excuse you’re going with?’

‘Well, yeah. But it’s not an excu …’

‘Oh, shut up!’ George’s face had reddened to complement the colour of his hair. He was shouting now. Allen was both sad and happy that he was with George and they were talking, well shouting at that exact moment, but it was a connection and he’d missed the familiar feel of being around someone who knew him before he’d started to discover himself. Of course he’d made new friends since moving to Birmingham, but they weren’t the right shape to fit into the best friend gap he held carefully in his chest.

‘It’s the weakest shitting excuse ever,’ George fumed. He had held his sadness quietly for years, and now he released it like a tornado. He wanted to explain how he’d missed Allen, but he had no-one to tell. His new mates didn’t understand people like Allen. They didn’t know he was … just Allen. Nothing else. Just Allen. His mate.

‘You just pissed off and said nothing. Like fucking blue mist! What was I supposed to think? What was I supposed to do?’

Allen realised he had been too busy looking from his cloudy side of life’s mirror to notice that George had been on the other side trying to get to him. Allen felt the tears on his face but didn’t know when they had started. He didn’t care. He was shaking on the inside and was afraid his organs were going to react to the disturbance and relocate in his body. Everything hurt like he’d been in a vehicle collision. ‘So, this is sadness,’ he mused. ‘It sucks.’

He instinctively knew he had just encountered a different kind of heart break to the one he had imagined would destroy him or the kind he felt when he broke up his short relationships. This new type of pain was core deep and one that even welding did not seem able to address. All he wanted to do was get back on the train and go to his flat in Birmingham, and close the door. His friendship had cracked into hundreds of splinter sharp pieces of honeycomb because he’d been distracted by himself.

Then, like a sudden break in the clouds, George’s face reverted to the face of his seventeen year old self and Allen felt a serge of hope and wiping his face awkwardly, he offered, ‘I didn’t know what you’d think if I told you the …’

George unexpectedly hardened his face immediately and scowled at his one-time friend, then he turned smartly on his heel and walked off throwing a parting comment over his shoulder, ‘You didn’t know? You didn’t know?! Like I said. Fucking excuses. All that time we spent together – for fuck’s sake, Allen! You’re a wanker! I though … I thought we were friends. How wrong was I?’

Allen again looked at the text  from his sister, ‘You never guess who I saw last week?! George. Your friend George from school. He’s back in town. He asked about you. I said you were fine, but said he should call you himself. He said he didn’t have your number (why???!), but gave me his for you to contact him. Here it is …’

So, Allen stared at his phone, and the words and numbers became hieroglyphics and cave paintings in his hand as he regressed to the nascent fear that pervaded his everyday decisions and routine self-presentation. He had finally chosen to be honest with himself in his third decade, but – like a teenager – he still cared what George thought of him. George who he had shared so many secrets with, George who was the brother he never had, the same George who had disappeared and taken a whole portion of Allen’s life with him. That George wanted to get in touch with him again.

Allen wondered if best friends remained best friends for life, and concluded that calling the number would answer that question for George, because Allen, the grown man with the sensitive teenager’s heart, had never removed the ‘best friend’ label from George’s name even when he was suffocating in fear.

© Marjorie H Morgan 2018