huel .

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or nutrition expert, so please bear this in mind and read this post critically. This post is not sponsored by Huel either, but gosh I wish it was!


It is ironic that I am posting about Huel this week because, for the first time in over a year, I am not having any. Between May 24th and the 30th, I am living on the rations of a Syrian refugee to raise money for a charity that supports them (https://www.rationchallenge.org.uk/megan-nightingale), so will not be consuming any Huel during this time. However, this process reminds me of how easy it is to take Huel (and other foods) for granted when living in the consumerist West. If you would like to share or donate to this cause, please do, but don’t feel obligated to if money is tight!

Every Hueligan out there consumes it differently, whether in terms of flavour or composition. The range of flavour options are seemingly endless, varying depending on the type of powder used (balanced or protein-based). Salted caramel, banana, strawberry, vanilla, coffee caramel, chocolate classic, coffee classic, berry, mint chocolate, cinnamon, peanut butter, gingerbread, cherry, mocha, pumpkin spice, original or unsweetened. Not to mention their ready meals and protein bars, though I have never tried those. Thankfully all Huel products are vegan, which reflects in my ability to consume all of them.

Personally, my Huel preference is a little unorthodox. I use their protein-based coffee caramel powder one scoop at a time. For a creamier consistency, I add two types of plant milk, chocolate soya and coconut, in a 50-50 ratio to this, shaking well. After a year of experimentation, I have concluded this to be a great combination for both texture and taste. And as I use it as both a breakfast meal replacement and projection from snacking, my diet has improved dramatically. 

However, Huel is pricey on its own, let alone with the addition of Alpro. At somewhere between £1.00 – £1.50 per two scoops (depending on subscription, student discount and multi-buy offers), it tallies beyond a homemade avocado on toast. For people with smaller incomes, myself included, it is a lot. But personally, I justify it for health reasons. As a vegan, it helps me improve my protein, B12, fatty acid and iron intake, four things vegans are liable to be deficient on. This is because, as formed upon natural ingredients (that contain all 26 essential vitamins and minerals), Huel describe their products as nutritionally complete. I have been consuming Huel for over a year and have felt profound health benefits, whether in terms of weight management, skin or mental health.

Results are subjective and susceptible to the placebo effect, though. I acknowledge marked improvements in my health and given the primary three ingredients in the powder I use are pea protein, flaxseed and brown rice, no wonder. However, to my knowledge, there are limited-to-no independent studies on the health benefits of Huel, a fact that they confirmed when I asked their team directly. So, despite Huel having been developed by nutrition experts, these are ultimately salaried by the same company that they are writing reports for, so take that information with a pinch of salt when reading what they tell you. Other than that, though, I cannot recommend Huel enough. I wish they would make their powder bag packaging recyclable, though. I hate contributing to landfill further when the planet is wrecked enough as is.


Referral Link (£10 off first order): https://huel.mention-me.com/m/ol/tz1gg-14e0bbcdea


cultism .

For the most part, movements defined as cults are often labelled as such to discredit them and create associations with manipulation and danger. Most have a charismatic figurehead, however, some cults outlive their leaders and develop into religions of their own right, according to some, though others label them as a cult regardless.

This idea has emerged in the modern world, prevalent in academia and popular culture alike, as extreme cases (for instance, Scientology) have shaped understanding. This coincides with the idea of New Religious Movements (NRMs) as perspective forms definition.

And despite growing secularism in the West, cults appeal to religious and non-religious people alike if in certain situations. For instance, vulnerability, purposelessness and loneliness are desirable characteristics for potential recruits of a cult as these can be exploited to immerse them into a new life.

Many know how Scientology was built upon self-help courses, and how anti-cult organisations have developed to de-radicalise members of terrorist cults. Much of this followed the events in Jonestown, South America, of a cult that committed mass suicide with cyanide-laced Kool Aid, whereby extreme events shaped media discourse.

Somewhat similarly, the Heaven’s Gate doomsday cult committed mass suicide (1997). They, alike to many doomsday cults, followed the Book of Revelations, though others, for instance, the Seventh Day Adventists, became legally recognised as religions as time progressed. Hence, time appears a key area of distinction between legal religions and cults, with popular culture or the state responsible for its label on a contextual basis.

However, it is important to note that cults are not always dangerous and manipulative. For instance, the Hare Krishnas are heavily involved with environmentalism and community support, for instance, by feeding vegetarian food to the homeless within ten miles of each temple (850 globally). And as much of the media are prone to sensationalisation, it is important to seek credible sources when researching religions and cults.


surgery from top to bottom .

Disclaimer: Article discusses gender confirmation surgery (GCS), hospitals and trauma.


I, like many, believe that transness is a spectrum. And that many question their gender identity and decide they aren’t trans then reconsider in future, or vice versa. Or may never fully know. And that’s okay.

But regardless of how certain or uncertain they are around their gender identity; many consider surgery to move towards feeling their authentic selves and/or reduce symptoms of gender dysphoria. Being ‘trans’ means existing within an umbrella, one where certain identities may resonate.

And we have discussed hormone replacement therapy in a previous article (bit.ly/3a3vC1Y), it is only fitting to move onto surgery now as trans folx seeking medical transition typically start hormones before undergoing surgery.

What options are available? Depending on the country and healthcare system, some procedures may be covered by the state, though many remain privatised. Facial feminisation surgery (FFS), for instance, is generally patient-funded. Meanwhile, top surgery for those reducing chest size is covered by public health in some countries, albeit waiting lists are often long and the process is heavily bureaucratised.

There is a lot of relevant information about surgical options online, some of which are listed at the bottom of this article. However, as someone who isn’t a healthcare professional, what I offer to you are my own experiences.

In June 2020, I underwent breast augmentation surgery in the UK. I am fortunate enough to have a student loan to fund this from, opting for private healthcare to reduce medical trauma, something that has deep roots within me. Also, due to extensive waiting list times with the National Health Service, I chose to go private to reduce gender dysphoria in the meantime, encourage positive results from surgery (based on age) and improve my quality of life. It was expensive but worth it to me, even if I am still struggling financially, almost a year later, as a result of it.

Regarding GCS, however, I rest at a crossroads. The cost of GCS from the private sphere is extortionate and unaffordable for me, and hospital trauma is at a place where I would not feel comfortable being an inpatient in an NHS ward for several weeks. And despite thinking about the issue in depth for many years, I am still unresolved about whether bottom surgery is right for me. I have a dysfunctional relationship with parts of my body, something that makes that decision more complicated.

So, where does that leave me? Somewhere I’ll probably be for a while, assuming I don’t reach a sudden and unexpected epiphany soon. Surgery in its various forms is something that many trans folx contemplate, consider and research due to its irreversible nature. While some remain steadfast on their need to undergo it, others negate some types for others (or none). And some lack the choice as a result of limited affluence and/or mitigating health factors that prevent them from being cleared for surgery.

Evidently, then, gender-related surgeries are a complicated topic in the modern world. One whose dimensions vary based on the person debating them. And one whose public funding should be further supported.


Resources

Gendered Intelligence Guide: www.genderedintelligence.co.uk/2012/11/17/17-15-02-A-Guide-For-Young-People.pdf

NHS Guide: www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/treatment/


prose is beautiful .

This post is a shrine to prose in all of its forms, showcasing poetry & lyrics closest to me. Some sections omitted. I have chosen these two works due to personal appreciation of their language, depth and/or meaning.


Browning, R. (1844) The Laboratory
 
Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly,
May gaze thro’ these faint smokes curling whitely,
As thou pliest thy trade in this devil’s-smithy—
Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?
 
...
 
Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste,
Pound at thy powder,—I am not in haste!
Better sit thus and observe thy strange things,
Than go where men wait me and dance at the King’s.
 
That in the mortar—you call it a gum?
Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come!
And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue,
Sure to taste sweetly,—is that poison too?
 
...
 
Quick—is it finished? The colour’s too grim!
Why not soft like the phial’s, enticing and dim?
Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir,
And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!
 
What a drop! She’s not little, no minion like me—
That’s why she ensnared him: this never will free
The soul from those masculine eyes,—say, “no!”
To that pulse’s magnificent come-and-go.
 
...
 
Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose;
It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close:
The delicate droplet, my whole fortune’s fee—
If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me?
 
Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill,
You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will!
But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings
Ere I know it—next moment I dance at the King’s!

Mathers, M. B. (2002) Lose Yourself
 
Look
If you had
One shot
Or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?
 
Yo

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin'

What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out
He's chokin', how, everybody's jokin' now
The clocks run out, times up, over, blaow

...
 
No more games, I'ma change what you call rage
Tear this motherfuckin' roof off like two dogs caged
I was playin' in the beginnin', the mood all changed
I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage

But I kept rhymin' and stepped right in the next cypher
Best believe somebody's payin' the Pied Piper
All the pain inside amplified by the
Fact that I can't get by with my nine to

Five and I can't provide the right type of
Life for my family 'cause man, these goddamn food stamps don't buy diapers
And its no movie, there's no Mekhi Phifer

This is my life and these times are so hard
And it's getting even harder tryna feed and water my seed, plus
Teeter totter, caught up between bein' a father and a prima donna
Baby mama drama, screamin' on her, too much

For me to wanna stay in one spot, another day of monotony's
Gotten me to the point, I'm like a snail I've got
To formulate a plot or end up in jail or shot
Success is my only motherfuckin' option, failure's not

Mom, I love you, but this trailer's got to go, I cannot grow old in Salem's Lot
So here I go, is my shot
Feet, fail me not, this may be the only opportunity that I got
 
...
 

political ideology .

Disclaimer: There are so many different types! Hence, the ones I discuss are far from a definitive list. And this post is succinct rather than verbose, or else we would need six parts!


Libertarianism – Authoritarianism

A false dichotomy? Perhaps. Libertarianism is, as the name suggests, pro-liberty. Individual freedom in society. This could take the social form, for instance, freedom to be out as gay, or in terms of the economic form, freedom of private corporations to operate without state involvement (the polar opposite of nationalisation?)

Meanwhile, authoritarianism. Centralised control by the state. In some cases, a dictatorship. Socially? Zero tolerance to disobedience. Economically, this could be state control of markets, transport and healthcare, also known as nationalised industry.

Evidently, there’s pros and cons of both. To me, I prefer economic authoritarianism and social libertarianism.


Socialism – Communism

Though individual definitions of the two vary, I like how Marx puts it. That socialism is the (early) lower-stage of communism. That means of production are controlled by workers, corporate property is abolished, and goods produced are equitably distributed according to the extent of one’s contribution.

That communism is the (late) upper-stage where individual needs are met according to ability, society is truly classless, and inequality is no more following a revolution where the bourgeoisie is overthrown (the dictatorship of the proletariat).


Conservativism – Liberalism

Conservativism, generally associated with the political right, in social terms, concerns traditional thinking and avoidance of social change. In economic terms, an ideology that supports private businesses and financial self-interest. 

Liberalism shares traits with Conservativism economically (laissez faire; free markets; privatisation; capitalism) and Libertarianism in terms of the social dimension, namely around individual rights, freedom and equality.


Nationalism – Internationalism

A spectrum that ranges from fascism (extreme nationalism) to patriotism, broad national pride, indifference and an international mindset. Whilst internationalism favours global co-operation, open borders & egalitarianism, nationalism involves national, local or community pride, segregation and discrimination. Pride can be shallow (Northern pride or supporting x football club), entrenched (fascism) or somewhere in the middle!


Reform – Revolution

Reformism is an ideology favoured by the majority of states and individuals at any one time (except for when a revolution is building up or actively occurring!). Reform maintains the status quo. It brings about minor social and economic changes within a society, for instance, in policy. Reform gently attempts to improve the situation that we currently have.

Revolutions, meanwhile, are primarily violent. They destroy the status quo, replacing it with an alternative. They are often figure-headed by a charismatic leader to achieve drastic societal change, for instance, Lenin. Whereas reformists believe in gradual change to improve society, revolutionaries support socially-extreme means for long-term perceived benefit to all in society. Naturally, there are strengths and weaknesses of both stances.


Anarchism – Absolutism

Anarchism, despite stereotypes, is not about chaos & lawlessness. Instead, it supports voluntary state abolition whilst supporting small-scale, decentralised communities; equity; anti-capitalist doctrine and bottom-up decision-making. Meanwhile, in stark contrast, absolutism involves the centralisation of power to a monarch or dictator.


fast fashion . the extended cut

Rewind a few decades and fast fashion was barely known of. In 2021, however, few people lie unaware. Almost everyone in the Western world has purchased something from a fast fashion company at some point, whether Primark in the UK, Target in America or UNIQLO in Japan. Clothing that, for the most part, has been produced in Asian factories and sweatshops.

Though some can be traced to Central and South America, most are marked as produced across the Pacific in countries such as China, Vietnam and Bangladesh; developing countries subject to the brunt of colonialism. An inconclusive list yet formed of several pertinent examples. However, cases exist in Europe and North America too, especially in conjunction with human trafficking and the use of a portable workforce by third party contractors.

Fast fashion principles present too in other sectors of the economy, namely electronic manufacturing. And we know of their catastrophic effects on humans and the environment alike. To touch upon human capital; the limited to non-existent pay, safety regulations, worker replaceability, long hours, lack of job security and unsuitable work environment. In terms of the environment; pollution in all forms, unsustainable resource extraction, clothing’s planned obsolescence and its impact upon landfill and climate change alike.

So why do we buy into brands we know feed into this global issue? Is it because we cannot afford ethical clothing brands? Because almost all companies, to some extent, engage in this, no matter how high-end? Because we want to be fashionable or appear bourgeois to those around us? 

We the consumers are the demand, unconsciously shaping the supply, levels of (over) production and manufacturing process to some extent. But it’s hard. We can try our best to buy clothes only when necessary; prioritising second hand and ethically-sourced clothing, whether from Depop or a charity shop, but that only helps somewhat as socks and lingerie don’t fit this framework.

Some change can be done on an individual level to improve conditions of workers, but much is controlled by capitalist elite driven by profit margins, cost-reduction and environmental disregard. And whilst many of us earn little, the market for high production cost, high retail price clothing will remain niche, exclusive and out of reach. The very conditions indispensable to worker’s fair treatment.

And even if those clothes were produced in a society that didn’t use slave labour and £0.50/hour sweatshop workers, there are still other issues. Issues that stand regardless of the corporation. The majority of modern clothing uses some form of plastic polymer, whether polyester, nylon or elastane; often near-impossible to recycle and constantly held as a finite source. And even natural materials such as denim have issues. The United Nations found that 10,000 litres of water are needed to make a single pair of jeans. And the dye run-off into rivers contributes to the destruction of aquatic life. It’s a bit of a lose-lose situation.

Our society has slowly turned in the direction of reversing systemic damage to the environment but hasn’t started running, walking or even stepping towards actually inciting change. The scale of destruction perpetrated by industrialism is vast, even unfathomable; and worsening each day. COVID may have temporarily halted the barrage but serves merely as a breather for the planet if we continue our current trajectory. And that’s just a fact.


animals, plants & veganism .

Disclaimer: I am not a qualified nutritionist or ecologist. For more information about either area, visit www.nutritionfacts.org and www.greenpeace.org


Ever since I was born, I loved trees beyond almost all else. The way that they stand through time, their age marked concentrically, steadfast for dozens, hundreds or thousands of years. As someone who couldn’t afford to venture abroad in childhood and adolescence, I haven’t met many of the oldest, but hope to one day. Their vastness eludes my understanding. We as individuals are but ants in pale contrast to their tenacity. 

Yet they are all dying. And we all contribute to that in some way, whether when using the toilet or buying that extra bookshelf. Paper, card and wood are all staples to life as we know it. And of the half-billion square kilometres of land on the earth, thirty percent are canvassed in trees. Beautiful souls that we cannot begin to understand the complexity of. 


We have all heard about the deforestation statistics that use football pitches as a measurement unit for rainforest destruction every year, month, week, day and hour. Most also know that the rainforest as a biome is the most bio-diverse. Inconceivably rich in medicine, oil, plant species, animal life and minerals. Not to mention the obvious, trees. And it’s the consumer demands of the West driving unsustainable crop production and resource extraction here. Which brings us to the topic of veganism.

The way that food chains work is that producers (organisms that create their own food) form the basis of life on all levels, for all animals, as nutritional matter passes up the chain, eventually reaching the carnivores at the top. Which begs the question: why is meat bad beyond moral concerns?

To rear animals, extract by-products and slaughter them, they require an over-abundance of food, maximising their meat output. Which sounds really crude and detached. Species that have been bred in such a way that they are unrecognisable from their natural ancestors. To the point where they would not survive in the natural environment anymore. Which is heart-breaking. Regardless of whether it is an organic, grass-fed cow (<3%) or factory-raised.

Not to mention global warming considerations such as methane output, or land requirement, or the effects of meat-based diets on the human physique. What else could explain why heart disease (featuring fatty arteries) is the leading cause of death in the West?

There are countless arguments against meat consumption, even if you try to overlook the gory, systemic and brutality of slaughterhouses. And the abysmal conditions experienced by dairy cows and egg-laying hens. The ones that survive, that is.

Plus, the UN Health Body has classified processed meats such as bacon, sausages and ham as class one carcinogens (cancer-causing substances), matching that of cigarettes, asbestos and arsenic. That bacon in the frying pan may smell and look appetising, but it kills you from the inside out. 


I love plants. They are tasty, easy to cook with and produce satisfying meals. Especially in 2021, where vegan food forms half of the supermarket. Though it is understandable when accessibility and cost affect low-income family ability to avoid meat, dairy and eggs. the way that corporations sell cheap-quality meat products for less than vegetarian and vegan alternatives to low-income families is, nonetheless, despicable.

Whether to placate big-meat and big-dairy conglomerates or sell surplus stock before its expiry, companies have much to answer for. Their unsustainable practices and marketing of unhealthy and straight-up toxic foods to folx with a lower budget. Plus, vegan brands marketing their food several times above the cost of meat should reconsider the value of human life in contrast to their profit margins. Their policies, ethos and approaches ebb insidiously. Unacceptably.

But it’s not just the working-class who suffer. It’s the animals, plants and the planet. Plant protein reigns supreme over animal protein any day of the year, nutritionally and personally.


marxism part 4 . commodity fetishism

Disclaimer: This post displays my personal understanding of commodity fetishism. It isn’t perfect nor complete, but instead provides an explanation suitable to a wide audience. For a more technical explanation of commodity fetishism, I would recommend looking at Marx’s writings, however, this post provides an informal and general explanation. Also, if you haven’t read this series in order, you probably should do as they make more sense that way! Part 1: (bit.ly/3nE1wqY)


This episode may make you feel targeted as it directly speaks to us as customers of consumerism. Though it’s always important to remember that it’s the TNCs that actively exploit us to pursue their self-interests, with us their collateral. 

As mentioned earlier in the series, commodities are products; articles of trade; people and inanimate objects that possess a ‘power’ or value greater than themselves. I’m a commodity and so are my material possessions. And we know what a fetish is. So, commodity fetishism is basically the desire, lust and want; feelings that go beyond the physical value of the product being fixated upon; the commodity. 


The base commodity is money. Physically, it’s just a piece of engraved paper, an ornate coin or a digit on a screen. But its nature as universal and infinite means gives it powers.

To quote some niche phrases, money doesn’t grow on trees (unless you grow up within an upper-class family), but money does make the world go around. Or the status associated to iPhones and MacBooks that supersedes its physical appearance; a slab of aluminium with some plastic and glass haphazardly welded on. Why else would someone spend as much on a MacBook as many people do on a second-hand car? They may look sleeker, but they won’t get you from A to B (other than getting you the directions!).

The ironic thing is that I own a MacBook (albeit, a second-hand one!) and can’t legally drive. It was extortionate but I appreciate its features, appearance and ease of use. How much of that love is based upon genuine physical appreciation, though? And how much is it based upon a desire to look professional, stylish and suave?

I suppress thinking about it because I probably know the answer deep down. Whether your prized (previously purchased) possession is a piece of technology, clothing, vehicle or jewellery; chances are a lot of that love can be associated to commodity fetishism. It’s a hard truth, but one that lots of us in the West can reluctantly relate to.


Marx, for starters, described how fetishism latches itself to ‘products of labour as soon as they are produced’. Like how an antique chair has sentimentality and great personal value compared with a budget one from IKEA, despite sharing similar physical properties. You can sit on both and they are formed of broadly the same materials. 

Meanwhile, Trotsky (a practitioner of Marxism) identified commodity fetishism as central to capitalist systems. After all, the psychological power of objects to human consumers is their selling factor. Without insatiable desire for non-essential items, few would be sold. Goggling dads in John Lewis eyeing fifty-inch plasma TVs. Students in Aldi looking up the off-brand botanical gins.

Hence, Marx informed us that a commodity contains essence and appearance, two elements that exist as a dialectic (contradiction) to fuel the product’s intrinsic power. A power that has made Steve Jobs very wealthy indeed.


xmas & the new year .


I don’t even need to mention what a weird year its been because you know that full well. In the UK, notably, COVID lockdowns and the Brexit negotiation fiasco. In America, COVID and Trump’s defeat in the elections (yay!). Globally, the continued decline of the environment whilst the wealth of the 1% accumulates.

Lockdown may have prevented us from practising consumerism in Primark, but, online retailers covered the gap for non-essential purchasers, ensuring that capital is still continuously extracted out of the hands of many. 

I struggle to draw inspiration to write when in my apartment, so this is the first time in five weeks I have written a blog article, and for once, right by the scheduled post-deadline! I like to sit by the window in multi-story coffee shops overlooking the high street to absorb everyday phenomena in the modern world. Bizarrely its quiet despite Christmas being only a week or so away. To be honest, I think the only people walking down the street outside are retail workers approaching the start of their shifts, today!

I guess the purpose of this post is to ramble nonchalantly about two particular celebrations. One that I’m not that fussed about as an agnostic. The other, however, significant in the sense of reflecting on the year and preparing for the next. We all hope that 2021 feels a bit faster than 2020 was!


The highlight for 2021 will be, assuming that its safe to travel, travelling to mainland Europe by train. My partner and I were going to visit the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany last Autumn, naturally postponed, necessary but disappointing. I have never left the UK before, so I anticipate visiting the coffee shops in Amsterdam, history in Cologne and Belgian waffle shops in Brussels! The last one is partly a jest but also genuine. I do adore Belgian waffles! But mostly want to enhance my understanding of the world beyond bits of England and Wales.

Being able to give is a beautiful thing. It’s just a shame that Christmas breeds extreme consumerism. Understandable from the build-up of excitement and fervour prodded by the festive tunes, ads and tumultuous, limited-edition flavoured coffees. I’m definitely captivated by the coffees. But there is more to it than that. 

I believe, controversially, that we are a product of the society that we live in. Big decisions made by corporations shape the decisions we make. And the amount of environmental damage done. We may have the option, if financially and situationally able, to buy and eat tofu, lentils and soy milk instead of animal products in our diets, and small lifestyle changes indeed have marginal impacts, but the companies we buy food from are often the same ones profiting from chicken, eggs and (animal) milk sales.

They are still the ones profiting. The ones packaging staple foods with layers and layers of unrecyclable plastics. And it is super problematic choosing more-environmentally-friendly alternatives when they are the ones with the high-end price tags.

Christmas may have religious significance to some groups, but it has been reappropriated by corporate tycoons to the detriment of lots that is good in the world. Hopefully, at least, we can use the New Year as a point of reflection and hope for mass social change. Yes, capitalism is good for the elites, but it leaves the 99% and the environment behind in its trail of devastation. Not the best system if we want to have a healthy environment to live in. 


apartment culture .

We recycle a lot. I mean, a lot, a lot. For every ‘black bin’ (landfill waste) we produce, we produce three bins of recyclables. We get through lots of cardboard and tin cans, so! It’s far from perfect, but we like to think that we do our best at home to minimise waste. The only food that gets binned is mouldy (rare), we re-use postal packaging material, infrequently buy clothes and repair any ripped seams. Most of our waste is food packaging which is difficult to avoid for any couple without a Waitrose household income.

Not to mention that we’re vegan. Me, almost entirely. My partner, strict veggie and flexi-vegan. Very stereotype-millennial hippy. Minus the upmarket decor and grocery list. Paying seven-hundred-or-so for a beautiful view in a 5m² one-room apartment by the river and city skyline. That’s gentrification for you. It’s the same price to rent a four-bed in the neighbouring borough, but here we’re in the middle of all the action. Zero commuter cost and all of the convenience.

The area we are in, mostly semi-gentrified industrial estate, was all post-slavery docklands in the 1980s; a time when Liverpool was a site of disarray, deprivation and squalor. Playparks razed down; mass redundancy of blue-collar, underpaid dock workers and massive political turmoil. Thatcher and the far-right looking down from their ivory tower towards the north whilst the far-left group Militant Tendency fought back from Liverpool’s council. The Tories’ least favourite city. One that was full of trade unionists; crumbling tower blocks; ‘managed decline’ and traditional working-class folk.

Fast-forward forty years and Liverpool has been rejuvenated. But at what cost? A minority of the city is like our area; indie bars, sleek apartment blocks, parking leases and Banksy-level street art. Very beautiful, admittedly. A contrast to the eighties for sure. But all the blue-collar folk pushed out of the area by extortionate housing prices, university students and the upper-middle class.

Where are they now? The few may have their private parking spaces, but the many are displaced elsewhere. We are super privileged to have enough means to live here. We are certainly the lowest-earning flat in this fifteen-hundred apartment complex. But we are still luckier than many in relativity.