IN CONVERSATION : TIA IN JAMAICA BLUE, CHELMSFORD

 

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Shoppers approach a corner of the new Bond Street complex in central Chelmsford.

 

AUDIO Coming soon

Tia sits down with me and discusses the Chelmsford and Britain she knows.


TRANSCRIPT

JO: you remind me of the way I met someone in … where was it? When I first went into Norwich … I was doing this … I was panicking … a bit like tonight except it was later and I hadn’t sorted out any accommodation … so I was going … you know … so I sat down … and … how old are you … if I may ask?

T: 20

JO: yes … someone like you who’s … I think she’s 20 … 20 or [ ] working in a bar … in Norwich … and had chosen not to go to university … unlike all her friends … I think her school was trying to force her into going to university .. I had better check that this is actually audible .. and she was … I have a strong suspicion she’s going to … she’s done half her interview ’cause the bar suddenly became really busy … when we were halfway through … but I have a strong suspicion you probably see the world a similar way ..

T: ok

JO: but you … as far as the listeners are concerned … is a mystery … it’s Tia, isn’t it?

T: yes …

JO: and I just met you because I walked into Jamaica Blue …

T: yes

JO: for my usual coffee or tea and panic to find a room … I was directed here by the people on the makeup in John Lewis …

T: yes … they’re regulars in here .. they love it … a lot of people from John Lewis … became regulars of here .. the coffee is really good … I love it … so ..

JO: how long have you worked here? It’s only a .. sort of a new … the whole .. in fact, this whole Bond Street complex is quite new, isn’t it?

T: yes … I’ve worked here for about two months now …

JO: yes

T: and the Bond Street complex has been open about a year

JO: yes

T: so it’s not that long …

JO: and we’re in Chelmsford, aren’t we?

T: yes …

JO: in central Chelmsford .. and have you lived here your whole life?

T: No … I’ve lived in Chelmsford since I was about 12. I’ve before that lived in … like … a more rural area …

JO: in Essex?

T: yes .. and before that …

JO: so you are a woman of Essex?

T: kind of … I was actually born in …

JO: my mother is a woman of Essex ..

T: sorry?

JO: my mother is a woman of Essex …

T: I’m kind of … kind of .. I was born in Australia .. and my Mum is Australian .. and we moved over here when I was about 3.5 … so … kind of ..

JO: yes …. what would you say … how would you say you feel? What’s your identity? How would you characterise yourself? Or don’t you think about it that much?

T: I don’t really think about it that much … don’t get me wrong .. I understand people’s needs to put a lot of things in boxes … but certain things that I don’t view as being important to categorise …

JO: no … that’s fair enough … I don’t think I every really thought about it until later on … I think a lot of people who think about it a lot are under some sort of pressure which makes them realise what their identity is .. for example .. an obvious one is if you move somewhere

T: yes

JO: that’s completely different … you suddenly realise what you are whereas if you are swimming in water, you don’t … fish don’t think about water …

T: yes, 100% ..

JO: I think that’s a phrase …

T: I get what you meant…

JO: yes … so I was … I was curious to see how a young woman in Chelmsford viewed things globally, nationally, and locally … you know … what’s the regional story? Is it the same thing that’s going on seemingly around the rest of the country? I told … I gave away to you I’m worried … you know about the state of …

T: yes

JO: the world … humans are in fairly big trouble …

T: 100% … I mean .. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I know everything about it all .. I only know what I can see and what I can see through my family and my friends and … you know … it’s terrible … terrible … you know … you’ve got … just like I said earlier … the gap between the rich and the poor only growing larger … the privatisation of the NHS .. continuously means that the poorer you are, the less healthcare you can get … like … take, for example, I have scoliosis and I have knock knees ..

JO: you have ..

T: I have scoliosis

JO: scoliosis

T: and I have knock knees ..

JO: yes

T: and I also have a defect with my feet .. which means that every year, I should get orthopaedic insoles updated and I should get the moulds for my feet done … and because ..

JO: so that will go with you … and support you as you …

T: exactly … because my feet basically need to be turned back and then supported as well … and because I can’t actually afford to do that any more … it’s been three years since I last had those updated … and … constant pain … do you know what I mean? It’s [ ]

JO: and you work .. I mean here presumably you are working on your feet most of the day?

T: yes … I’ve kind of learned to ignore it … you learn to ignore it … up to a point … but you get what I mean …

JO: yes

T: it’s loads of little things like that … and, you know, with spending cuts, in regards to police … the .. literally … like the stabbing and the murder rate in Chelmsford is just completely on the up … and you don’t fully have it hit home until it starts becoming people … the .. you know .. your friends know ..

JO: someone close to you ….

T: yes … I’ve never … I’ve been fortunate enough that it hasn’t been anyone who’s been immediately close to me but it’s been friends of mine … who have been stabbed and …

JO: and what’s the context for the stabbing? I mean I .. I think the first time I had this sort of a conversation with anyone was in Nottingham … Big Bad Nottingham ..

T: I’ve never been there

JO: no … I hadn’t … until recently .. I had a fantastic conversation with .. you’ll be able to hear the conversation in due course … with a fantastic woman, Sandra … I keep trying to call her Sandra … Sandra … she taught me how to speak correctly .. and she was mentioning the murder rate in Nottingham .. and said “yes … well, we’ve got a reputation .. you know .. for guns” …. because of the gun scene a few years ago … but she said that’s out of date … it’s knives now …

T: yes … it’s strange .. it doesn’t tend to be .. ’cause there’s a lot of murders …

JO: is it party …. is it party people just getting out of order with booze or is it … you just said ‘murders’ … you know … murders sounds like actually …

T: some of them are preconceived .. by the sounds of it .. I mean obviously I am not actually there for any of them … I couldn’t tell you the exact back story .. but to give you an example .. a month ago, there was a guy called John .. he used to be a regular at the [ ] and basically he was involved with the wrong people … he wasn’t a drug dealer himself .. but he was basically someone who would collect money for drug dealers … so that people who owed them … this big old burly guy would come along and say “give me the money”. And basically …

JO: effectively, a debt collector …

T: yes … obviously not in any means a legitimate debt collector … and there is a massive correlation between being involved with drugs and being shot or stabbed …

JO: ok

T: that happens .. fine … but basically that happened and the 16 year old boys somehow managed to get hold of a gun and they were people that this guy John had been to .. and he went on a night out …. he literally just walked down to Spa to go and get cigarettes .. they got out of the car and they shot him …

JO: so this is people who had been pursued by him for a debt …. watching his movements …

T: I don’t even think they were watching his movements …. by the sounds of it … because my friend [ ] ….

JO: but they knew who he was presumably …

T: yes … I think it was just literally … in the same place as him …

JO: opportunity …

T: so …

JO: eek … yes … I mean .. I can’t say I’m overly happy about people collecting debts on behalf of drug pushers …

T: 100%… 100% … I feel …

JO: but I am not happy about people shooting each other either …

T: I feel sorry for the families of both sides … the guy who was shot … obviously that’s a terrible thing to happen … and he had a great, big family and loads of friends around him .. but the mothers of the 16 year old boys who are never going to see them until they’re like well into their thirties …

JO: they’ve been apprehended and charged and all the rest of it, yes?

T: yes … the CCTV at Spa …they were literally just done on the spot …

JO: yes

T: and because the driver .. I can’t remember what her name was … but she didn’t know even that they had a gun .. or anything …

JO: bloody hell

T: it wasn’t even her car … it was her Dad’s car … so when John was shot, he was found dead later on that day … they arrested her Dad because he was in the car … and that was the numberplate that had come up

JO: yes

T: so she just basically told them everything … in order to get off herself scot-free .. so

JO: yes .. blimey … heavy ..

T: yes … and that’s the closest it’s been so far …

JO: and is it something .. something like .. would you … how would you describe it? Is it like a regular occurrence or?

T: it never was before but in the past six or seven months .. yes … you hear about ..

JO: what .. so it’s sort of once a …

T: not so much murders … the murders are still … or what you hear about, at least … fairly rare .. but the stabbings are happening at least once a fortnight …

JO: so if you were to go to an A&E and talk to [ ]

T: that would be a really good thing for you to do actually …

JO: the people who … presumably they’re recorded … admissions … you know ..what’s going on they would know roughly what injuries they were treating …

T: it would probably be way more than that … but I’m just going off what I used to hear from working in a bar … so …

JO: blimey …

T: because obviously … police spending cuts means there’s less of them patrolling and the example I gave …

JO: you think that is … so you think it’s sort of waiting to happen as soon as away the police presence

T: 100% … just the example that I gave you earlier … of the guy who was found with a knife on him … the door staff at [ ] had to restrain him for three hours … even though they were constantly badgering the police, saying “we need a unit” … and they were like “we’ve got more important things to do” … there’s not enough units … I get it … but why is the spending still being cut … especially in a growing city?

JO: what do you think the argument is about municipal or regional cuts? And national cuts? Why are they happening ?

T: they’re still trying to effectively fully rebalance what happened a few years ago with the recession … I’m guessing … I mean like I said … I don’t know fully everything about it … but that’s … do you know what? I just genuinely couldn’t figure out about why you just need to keep cutting something that’s so vital …. there are things you can cut back … the fat … a lot further up … than …

JO: what would you … what comes to mind? If you start to think about what you might …

T: well, first of all …

JO: ’cause we’re accepting that … I don’t necessarily … but for the purposes of this conversation for the moment, let’s accept that you have to find money somewhere … or cut money … what would you look to do, do you think … rather than cut [ ] … these are called frontline services, yes? Whether it’s health or fire services or police or whatever … so you wouldn’t … you wouldn’t be cutting …

T: no, I wouldn’t ..

JO: what comes to mind then?

T: first of all … start with … completely abolish the tax breaks that people who earn a mill and up get … because there’s not really any need for it … if you are earning that amount of money, an extra hundred thousand pounds is not going to be something you bat an eyelid to … [ ] quit that … that’s going to have a load more money that pumps back in … bring back more stringent rules in regards to drinking … so that there’s less strain on the NHS … because that is, I think … the last statistic I saw [ ] was about like 70% or something over the weekend is drink related incidents and that would help … like in Australia, for example, they have a law … past .. I think it was like 1:30 am … they can’t sell doubles .. and they won’t sell shots … little bits like that …

JO: what do you mean? They … what …at all?

T: yes … at all … they can’t sell … sell you like a double drink …

JO: did you say after a certain time …

T: yes

JO: so there’s … it’s still pretty … pretty free then … so .. up until 1:30, anything goes … but they intervene decisively at 1:30 am …

T: yes

JO: and actually that does seem to make some difference obviously

T: because 2 and 4 is when … when you are working behind a bar … you normally see the most ruckus … the most fights … the most whatever …

JO: and you’ve seen a bit of that …

T: yes … yes … I’ve been threatened myself over a bar … numerous times

JO: nice …

T: very scary …

JO: people threatening a … well, people threatening anyone … wrong … but threatening a young woman … lovely

T: yes

JO: classy

T: totally got paid enough to take that .. sorry I’ve completely gone off at a tangent .. I have a habit of doing that …

JO: that’s ok … it’s not that far off .. believe me … I am an expert … so .. you .. basically what we’re saying is the sorts of cuts that are being made are amongst the last thing you would look to do …

T: they’re the most vital … there needs to be tax breaks for people … I don’t know .. maybe just even for people under-21 … maybe under-25 as well … if that can possibly be done …

JO: you think youngsters are having a bit of a hard time …

T: yes … give you an example … I earn £1,200 a month … I take home probably about £1,050 … that doesn’t sound like much but when work out my rent … for where I live .. is about £600 … and then bills on top of that … and then any kind … a tiny bit of socialising which just keeps you that bit sane … on top of that … and then .. you know … other living costs like clothes .. [ ] when I wear them through on my knee … do you know what I mean?

JO: not a lot left at the end of the month, yes?

T: no, not at all … and if you did make that kind of tax break … that money would only make the economy better … because especially my age group and below are just spend, spend, spend, spend … if there’s more money to spend, there’s more money coming in to businesses … that’s better for the economy … do you know what I mean … it’s just … there’s so many … I love Labour ….

JO: it’s macroeconomics ..

T: I love Labour

JO: do you mean the Labour Party?

T: yes

JO: or the labour movement or … what do you mean? Why?

T: Just because it just seems to focus more on what in the long term would make a good difference … because if the younger generation are cared for a bit better … then that is only going to make the economy better … you get what I mean? Don’t get me wrong .. the older generations still need to be looked after … I’m not by any means saying one is more important … but statistically who are the highest spenders? Who are the ones who are saving ? Who are the ones who have mortgages ?

JO: yes

T: and … you know .. children and everything else to pay out for ..

JO: it is true …

T: yes

JO: there’s a lot of substance to that argument … how long have you been aware of sort of electoral politics as a venue for making change happen? ’cause a lot of … so it is said … a lot of young people are of the view that you can’t change anything through the electoral system … at least here … because it’s all … you know … “all politicians are the same” … do you know what I mean?

T: there’s always a lesser of two evils … don’t get me wrong … nine times out of ten when a politician tells you they’re going to do this, this, this, this … they won’t do all of it … but … you know … like … take America for example … both Donald and Hilary … neither were ideal candidates … but Hilary was definitely the lesser of two evils … like they’re now being led by a country where their President is teaching young boys to degrade women .. that’s just the foundation of like what’s going on … do you know what I mean? There’s always the lesser of two evils … whether you think all the politicians are the same or not …

JO: Do you think it’s true that all politicians are the same?

T: similar, some of them … but, I don’t know … once again … like I don’t know enough … about all of it to go and make a broad statement …

JO: it’s pretty hard, isn’t it … to .. there are 650 Mps and then you’ve got councillors, MEPs, district councillors, county councillors …

T: exactly

JO: how do you … how do you keep tabs on it all? But I would argue … I would argue Mps are certainly not all the same … certainly not … you know … there’s a vast difference between a Caroline Lucas or a Jeremy Corbyn and …

T: what’s the …

JO: we mentioned earlier …

T: Nigel Farage …

JO: yes

T: there’s a big difference …

JO: he’s popular down in Kent, I understand and in parts of … in fact, I did meet … I met in … in the North East … I think it was in Berwick … where I had a tea or a coffee .. the couple running the shop had … had time for Mr Farage … the perceived him to be sort of someone that was going to upset the applecart … and I think …

T: what does that mean ?

JO: he would overturn the current order … they were sick of the current order … they felt that the South … particularly London .. was basically ignoring their needs and had done for decades and I think she even said .. echoing a certain personality … “as far as I am concerned, we should just build a wall across the country and be done with them” …

T: building walls solves nothing … ok .. she may be in an area that is not being looked after … and I appreciate that ..

JO: this is true, yes …

T: yes … she lives in an area that is not being looked after … but …

JO: and I think .. I felt her heart was in the right place …

T: building a wall is just not going to solve anything … [ ] segregation does not in any means solve anything …

JO: yes agreed … Hi …

3rdP: [ ]

JO: ok …we’ll wrap up … so just to finish up … it’s all been really interesting …

T: thank you

JO: how much … if I said to you … one of the things I’m hoping to do in this series is work out what we’ve got to do … ’cause I think we’ve got some massive institutional changes to make … and also some massive physical changes to make …

T: yes

JO: so there’s a lot of work to be done …. and I’m also … I’m trying to clarify what that is … but I’m also trying to understand and share with people what powers they have … I think people are more powerful than they are perhaps given to understand or believe … do you think that’s true? What ..

T: I would definitely say so and I would definitely encourage you [ ] go and get that message across but I myself wouldn’t even really know how to do that in terms of just voting .. that’s all I would know how to do …

JO: yes .. good … so nothing comes to mind immediately … I mean I could say for example the money you spend has an effect … the money you don’t spend has an effect … where you spend it and how you spend it … that’s one power … yes .. that we all have, isn’t it? Things like boycotts …

T: yes

JO: not necessarily boycotts … there are positive things as well like supporting certain kinds of organisations and so on and so forth … buying clubs … forming businesses of a certain kind … so if you don’t like the businesses that are out there offering services and products, so form something better … these are all powers …

T: yes

JO: using different media sources … instead of the same old, same old ..

T: I definitely think if you could collate all of those and then basically get that out to the wider public … I think that would be brilliant

JO: yes .. cool

T: awesome …

JO: alright … I’ll get on with it ..

T: thank you

JO: thank you very much for your time …

T: best of luck then


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