discovering ebony

Thinking out loud.


Leave a comment

Trinity – The Father, Ghost and Whole disregard for young people.

“I can’t wait to start high school, I can finally wear trousers!”

- Ebony Montague, 11 years old.

My mother was adamant I attended “the best high school in Manchester”. She wanted me to be in an environment where my intelligence would be nurtured, and would excel in the presence of degree-educated adults; who would do everything in their power to give the best opportunities to their students.

I am 14, and I’m being heckled to “pull down that skirt!” by yet another member of female staff.

Looking back, I’m glad I continued in protest to the sexist nature of the school. With a Christian religion at it’s forefront, it was clear how the institution wanted to indoctrinate it’s young people.

“Skirts should be at a modest length to prevent unwanted attention from the male gaze”

Unfortunately I wasn’t nearly as politically interested back then, otherwise I would’ve asked in the name of feminism why the “male gaze” wasn’t being challenged, burned the skirt in front of her face and walked away in just my underwear.

Instead I boomed the rehearsed phrase “WILL YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M TIRED OF BEING VICTIMISED”, and stormed away defiantly to my next class.

Following her cue to retaliate, the teacher followed me into the classroom and tried to reason with me.

“If you have a problem, go and talk to my Mum” *insert big teen-agey sigh, folded arms and making no eye-contact*

“Ebony I didn’t mean to upset you, I just wanted to talk”.

My face burns with all the over-thinking. “These people are actually paid to give a damn about young people, yet I’m being attacked on what I wear? They must talk, and I must listen. What a joke.”

The class was Geography, so naturally my mind just implodes and I stupidly grind my back teeth instead until the teacher releases us.

 

I am 15, I’m in a hour long detention after being late more than 3 times that week.

“Ebony, why were you late this today?”

“Just was”

“Well there has to be a reason. Were you *insert generic reasons which clearly do not apply to me*?”

“I.Just.Was.”

Being asked by someone employed to know every known symptom to things that affect the young people in their custody, i.e. mental illnesses, this degree-holding individual was blind to notice that I was suffering from depression.

And fine, maybe because mental health wasn’t part of the PSHE curriculum, teachers also disregarded it. But any fool asking why I looked so tired every time we met, despite not arriving into school well into the afternoon, would conjure up some sort of analysis that something wasn’t right, and then acted upon it.

Instead the teachers were lazy, and shoved me in a room to do meaningless lines of promises to attend school on time, despite now having to leave an hour later, travel on bus for an hour to go home, in the dark, as it was winter.

 

I am 16, I am speaking with a Muslim friend who has been notified that despite the schools welcoming approach to all religions, a school rule was to be enforced that all Muslim girls were to wear the new head scarves (yep, they couldn’t even be bothered to say hijab), provided by the school, costing around an overpriced £12 for some shoddy material.

“What? Are you serious? They can’t do that!”

“Yeah, we have to wear them because coloured head scarves, even though only a few girls wear red rather than black, aren’t “school uniform friendly”

“Fucking evil bast- right, I’m setting up a Facebook page as a petition”

Why would you call yourself a C.of.E school and force every student to endure Christian services each morning if you were then prepared to bring in this? Why try to enforce your views on the beliefs of others, after accepting them as equals under your care?

But I guess that’s acceptable you see, the “all students must comply with the Christian ethos of the school” is probably somewhere in the small print of the school prospectus, makes them look good to Ofsted so they don’t appear discriminatory.

My face burned again, the ridiculous injustice against young people was so rife yet secluded that the school was no more than a hierarchy, both of adults and Christianity on top. This example of the sheer destruction of individuality for someone’s particular preference was an abomination of everything the school stood and still stands for. Young people are only at the forefront when it suited them –  to be shined and presented to Ofsted and potential funders, and then quickly stood in front of to peer through the legs of the teachers that proclaim to put them first.

There is so much more I could say on how my old  high school was so warped in it’s own beliefs that it’s young people didn’t stand a chance of being heard. Like how those with physical disabilities were assured the school could adhere to their needs, yet were isolated from fellow students and subject to bullying due to the archaic preservation of the original school building, which included stairs. Only was the issue later resolved with elevators – in 2012 when these students are long gone and were no use to them now.

Like the method of dealing with “troublesome students” resulted them in prison-like refuge for a full day, only to be entertained by the copying of school rules for the umpteen time, and an essay detailing why you were such a terrible student, why this didn’t agree with the rigid school rules and why Jesus wouldn’t approve of this.

This was then finished with the standard guilt-shaming of missing important work which you would have to catch up upon in your own time – to which no regard is taken on the mental effect this has on a young person, plus no investigation why this young person is in this situation in the first place.

And also, the lack of awareness for mental health, yet the championing abomination of students having under age sex – because getting pregnant is a lot worse than being suicidal.

I could literally recite every ridiculous sex-ed class, and the deep set embarrassment endured knowing that I had better things to be worried about than catching an STD with some imaginary boy. The shame inflicted for not completing homework on the human sexual organs as you instead cried in your desolate room proclaiming how badly you wanted to kill yourself was unbearable and unjustified.

“If you believed in God Ebony, maybe you’d be less depressed”

My Art therapist with a face like Rodney Copperbottom from that children’s film Robots, had his eyes bore into mine. I wanted to wipe that awful look from his face and smear it onto my paper. “There. That’s how I feel today. Like shit.”

I still can’t believe it took them that long to realise that I needed help. I was in the midst of revising for my final GCSE exams and they wanted to break up my routine with hour long silences with occasionally dialogue of:

“How do you feel?”

“Can I get you a tissue and glass of water?” 

This was supposedly the best school in Manchester. Ofsted proclaim it’s outstanding. Yet, with more than enough notice to persuade the students to behave and delegate the ‘good classrooms’ to inspect, they were none the wiser. My high school was manipulative to the core – I doubt it’d be something Jesus would do but, they most definitely used it as justification.

 

- Ebony Montage, 19 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

I’m Not Happy

Just like when I lived with my mum, my surroundings resemble my internal feelings. A fucking mess.

Honestly my flat is a pigsty, and has been for nearly 2 weeks. I’ve been living on my hard mouldy sofa, which is fixated in front of the TV, which lives through The News, a Hollyoaks Omnibus and Jeremy Kyle USA.

I can’t remember the last time I went to college. Neither could they, as my senior pastoral manager hasn’t returned any of my calls.

“Hi, my name is Ebony Montague. I’m a student at the college – can you put me through to Mr. H’s secretary?”

“Hi, it’s Ebony Montague (again). Is Mr. H available?”

Of course he isn’t. He’s a teacher. He also wasn’t paid to chase up students with long-term illnesses.

“Would you like me to take a message?”

Yeah, tell him to just give up. Tell him to stop trying to get me into college, stop trying to get me on track to actually finish my A levels because it’s not working. 3 years later and none of this is working.

No. Just tell him I rang.

I punch in the red button and slump back into the sofa. I’m hungry but nothing is in the fridge, and a concoction can’t be made from whatever is in the cupboards.

I’m tired, but I’ve slept over 10 hours and it’s getting dark outside. 2 weeks now and here I was with only a double-bill of Storage Hunters and my roll ups to keep me company.

 

The phone shook violently and the vibration made that annoying short-lived noise. The screen read “New Message Received: Mum”.

“Just got letta frm college, y u nt been goin in! what r u doin afta college? r u goin uni?”

Oh god. Not now.

I throw the phone on the table. I can’t be bothered explaining myself.

I hadn’t showered for a while, so I probably stank as much as I reeked self-pity. ‘d already been called up on this, and as much as I smiled and laughed at myself, I was shrugging on the inside. What did it matter? Just allow me to be depressed and sad already

I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t be like everyone else. In the sense of being capable of making it through a full day, being capable of not always drowning in fatigue and just being normal.

And yeah, I had some how managed to crawl through the front door, exchange few words to people and do something constructive with my days (like wash a fork to eat my take-away with). It just wasn’t enough, I was still mentally ill and in my eyes, it was just getting worse.

 

10 more hours pass and the phone goes again.

“Look ebony i dnt care what u do as long as ur happy! Love Mum xx”

Thanks, but I don’t know what to do, and I’m not happy.

Thanks, love you too.

 

 


Leave a comment

Theodore/Henry – The Second-Hand Smoker

If you’ve read this blog post, you’ll know about the second-hand smoker. My age roughly, similar issues. We get on well for the most part.

When I first moved into my own place, I was in Theo’s shadow a lot. I knew none of the other residents and had hardly any friends of my own. It was reassuring to know I had a guide with a map with “who to” and “who to not” talk to.

As you’re aware that with my depression, I often relapse. I literally can shut down with sheer ignorance to the surrounding environment, only to be too occupied by my dark thoughts.

“Look Ebony, you’re going to have to eat some time”

A plate of pasta drenched in tomato sauce accompanied by wimpy shreds of lettuce gleamed before me. I wasn’t hungry.

“I know it’s difficult to prevent yourself from getting this low, but you can come back out of it. Whether it’s when you’re hungry and have to go cook something, or have to have a shower – you’ll eventually snap out of it”.

He often over exerts himself in explanations and analysis that are completely unnecessary. I’ve had my fair share of counsellors and schooling, so “not now Theo”.

He rolls himself a cigarette and I’m inclined to join him. Instead I shuffle timidly towards his sofa and slump into a heavy mess.

He glanced over as if to start another intellectual rant about how depression was separate to who I was, and how he studied psychology so he “knew these things”. I rolled over and faced the back wall. I really wasn’t in the mood as I could already feel myself welling up, and I knew if Theo saw how moist my eyes were, he would just unintentionally set me off.

Some time had passed, probably 10 minutes or so, and I hear a soft muffled thump. Theo must’ve been on his bed, but then the sound of light clinking followed. I peer over my shoulder and he’s looking in the mirror. But not in that “Oh god is that a pimple?” type of way. He was holding the mirror in front, it capturing his profile to his shoulders, and looking at it sternly. Intensively, as if to find something.

He didn’t touch his hair, face or anything. He just stared straight on. When I think about it now, I don’t believe it was his reflection he was concerned with, not literally anyway. It was as if he was looking at Theo on the inside, trying to find an answer to a question long gone or at least unanswerable.

I roll back over, at the time it does concern me that I was bothering him and intruding on his own internal battles, but I was too lost to act upon my thoughts, and fell asleep.

 

Two wrongs don’t make a right, and therefore two negatives don’t do any good. That was us. We often clashed when we both had hit rock bottom – me being that annoying catalyst as always.

The last straw for me was when we actually raised our voices to each other. I haven’t had to raise my voice to someone since I was 16 and so you could naturally hear my sheepish bleat of dialogue break in an effort to sound intimidating.

It was over two girls being drunk outside his door, causing a residential nuisance and effectively him being penalised. There was a lot of screaming, shouting and furious rage that converted into things being thrown and broken.

Consumed with guilt, my apology was formed into cleaning the most part of Theo’s flat, and then leaving. We didn’t speak until a month later.

And that was because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t manage this stupid depression without involving and inflicting the same pain I feel on others. It wasn’t fair nor right. And with Theo, it just amplified. Inside himself he probably saw his own demons compressed and far away from reaching the surface. I did notice this in him, my admiration for his courage and strength was high, but I guess that can only last so long before some one like me throws a stone and shatters everything you worked so hard to control.

I wrote him and two other close friends the same letter, one of the closing lines were “I’m not a very good friend, no wonder Isobel didn’t want to stick around”.

Unfortunately it was interpreted as a suicide note (which I felt slightly offended by because if it was, it would’ve been written a lot more eloquently) and adults were involved.

I was given one of those patronizing pep talks that forced me to promise not to do it again. It made me feel that sharp guilt feeling again, when your mouth goes dry and your throat numb as if you’ve just dry-swallowed 100 capsules. I returned to my room defeated.

“But at least I got the point across.”

Theo had most definitely gotten the point by now, and had given up on all attempts to make peace. He ignored me and kept my camera tripod hostage for a whole month. I probably deserved it, like I said, I’m a shit friend.

We’re fine now. The friendship hiatus is over and it was a fresh start. Theo was now called Henry and I was on new medication. Things were on the up and it started to finally be manageable in conjunction to the depression.

Living here isn’t so bad. Everyone has their own issues, their own vices and virtues, and their own mirrors to reflect in. I suppose it just matters whether you like what you see.

 


3 Comments

It’s all quite exciting really.

If you’re a (surprisingly) avid fan of my tweets – you’ll be somewhat aware that I am finally an occupier of my own residency. Well, sort of.

I haven’t blog’d in a while – reasoning being: “I had to go through some shit”, “I’ve hit writer’s block” and “I’m far too drunk to type”.

Dad’s bodied is now engulfed within Manchester turf, showered with flowers and tears, all on New Year’s Eve – what a way to go out.

Naturally I reluctantly desired to spend the evening on a downer, so ended up chiming along to Big Ben, slurring words and consuming fancy cocktails, all before the clock struck 12.

As of now it’s been 3 whole months of my tenancy. I’m undecided how the remaining time period will pan out, but it is likely I will age here until I’m 22.

I’m surrounded by other young people with lives and past just as fucked up as mine. It’s quite comforting really.

So much has happened since I last wrote on here and not only do I fear not having the same flare for writing as a did, but also fear not including every drastic detail to keep my readers up to date will result in  future poorly written and thought out entries.

Alas, writer’s block.

Well I’m well. New medication, new side projects. It’s all quite exciting really.

That’s all I’ve got for now, hopefully I return with something of more substance.

CNV00023


1 Comment

The Acute Knowledge of the Adolescent

No wonder there are so many negative stereotypes of young people, our rights are literally being ripped from beneath us, and all we’re concerned with is how we ruined our nail polish, or how mummy and daddy won’t lend out £50 for the umpteen time, knowing full well they’ll never see it again.

In today’s world, a young person isn’t seen relatively useful until they turn 18. Our right to vote adds more substance to our existence however, we are still deterred from participating politically.

There has been a growing influx of young people becoming more politically aware and contributing to positive changes within their communities. Organisations such as Vinspired and Philip Lawrence Awards Network  are daily advocating this yet if we were to list connotations of young people, many would include “lazy, materialistic and foolish”.

To an extent, I agree. Being your average teenage with average teenage friends, streams of social networking timelines include pictures from that messy Friday night and angst-fuelled tweets about how one friend betrayed the other, because their boyfriend sent them a Snapchat. Etc etc. The strolling goes on, and quite frankly, I’m really bored of it.

However when I reflect on my own knowledge, it does seem to reach dead ends every now and then. I’m confident enough to stand on a soapbox in public and bellow the injustice against young people, how mental health services are near unhelpful and how traditional forms of education are not for everyone. But ask me about the European affairs, what was the last Shakespeare play I read/saw or even what my local council is doing right now to improve it’s community – I’d be stepping down from the box and ambling away shyly in defeat. I just don’t know.

Perhaps it’s my ignorance. Perhaps things are being weighted in importance of interest, those being quick, accessible and easy to condense listed in the Top 5. Or is our upbringing to blame?

I remember often in school lessons that say, a serious issue such as domestic violence, would be related to current pop-culture, almost in a patronizing demeanour to encourage the class to continue the discussion.

“So Chris Brown has just hit Rihanna. He claims she provoked him – who is to blame?”

The class uproar in response. Their facts and arguments bounce off all four walls with supporting evidence – from The Sun newspaper.

Gah, I’m not sure what it is. Bad habit I suppose. I’ll find the answer eventually.

In the meantime I shall be reading Edgar Allen Poe’s book of short stories and poems.


Leave a comment

Bracken

“You know, I read on the internet that dogs don’t have a sense of time! Which I think is some what true. Whenever Freya goes away to University, Bracken probably thinks she’s nipped out for a bit.”

iz and brax

She loved that bloody dog. Can’t blame her really, his wide doughy eyes and blank, yet loving, stare was very hard to resist.

He’s 8 years old now, slightly bigger – most likely due his greed. He has a tendency to whine, sneeze and “hold the fort” if food is present, whether it’s for dogs or not.

The first time I met Bracken, I was 14. We were at the original Narayan home. Bracken bounded and leapt with excitement in the prospect of someone new sharing food with him.

I awkwardly hold up the wriggling dog for a webcam photo. We both exchange a glance as if to say “really, Isobel?”

“Don’t you like dogs?”

“No, I do! I just haven’t really held one before”

The low resolution shot became my first Facebook photo. It shocked Iz to know I was still obedient to Myspace, so she took role of including me into the social networking site.

The next time I saw Bracken was without her. It was 3 years later and I was slightly bigger too. He, as always, bound and leapt to my waist and around my legs.

“Do you think he remembers me?”

“Most likely, each year we go up to the hills and he still gets excited – it must be the smell”

3 years is a long time to nip out for I bit.

Isobel’s dad showed me in to the new home, it reminded me of the perfect show room – clutter free walls, gleaming laminated floor leading to a sophisticated kitchen with the latest domestics.

“We have to apologize Ebony, things are still in boxes. We just haven’t gotten ’round to unpacking”

That’s understandable, I thought. And before I could say anything there he was, sitting on my toes looking to me for a response. I smiled: “no wonder she was so bloody found of him”.

 

me and brax

 


Leave a comment

A Vile Product of Welfare UK

If you’re somewhat addicted to trash TV as many of the population, gawping glassy-eyed and near drooling at the flashing colours and wondrous sounds, you will have tuned into (or at least tuned into the debate about) Benefits Street.

Another Channel 4 production set out to drastically highlight and ridicule the working class, for entertainment purposes. The programme documented many adults everyday lives, being solely dependent on the taxes of others to make ends meet.

So what’s the deal? They’re nothing but scroungers, right? How dare they sit on their arses all day, complaining they owe so much council tax when they haven’t bothered to waddle down the road to Job Centre. They can never find enough pennies to feed their kids, but enough blacken their lungs with cigarettes and ruin their livers with booze – and then still have the audacity to receive free NHS! The horror! Don’t even get me started on how they can afford wide flatscreen TV’s and the latest tech.

Oh, and don’t forget about them Gypsies, polluting OUR BRITAIN.

Naturally these are not my views, because they’re unproven, ignorant and simply bullshit. However, they were the views I conjured up from the various tweets during the show – and it horrified me. We are a First World country that have so much wealth and power to share, so much experience in obstacles and injustices we have overcome and worship patriarchy on a daily basis.

Yet, we continue to demonise those in need. We don’t take into consideration any personal circumstances or even the fact children are involved – who are not responsible  and are often left defenceless.

This hasn’t been the first time Channel 4 have agreed to fuel Daily (Junk) Mail and other forms of media that abuse their right of free speech.

*Sidenote – don’t bother proclaiming free speech because when you portray views that are racist, sexist, demonising and crude; you devalue the  meaning of ‘free speech’ and it becomes very cheap.

And that’s what these forms of media are – cheap. Cheap, quick and heartless pieces of trash that are there to enrage you about how easy someone else has got it; when you’re working 9-5, 5 days a week, and then some.

Well let me tell you something – you’re mad at the wrong people. 85 of the richest people in the world are as wealthy as half of the population. 85 FUCKING PEOPLE.

This is the real injustice – so grab your pitchforks and march on down to Westminster (an example, “obviously”).

Being on benefits isn’t something to be mocked on or ashamed of. Those who are using the state to support themselves do so at a last resort – we don’t choose to live each day to go hungry or stay in because we can’t afford transport fare.

And back to the young people – those of us who are estranged from they parent’s homes, suffering severely with mental and physical health issues and lack of hope, because we are constantly labelled as feral youth.

Is there any media coverage on how intelligent we are? How we have straight A grades and excel in extra-curricular activities? No, because we’re all Council-Housed-And-Violent – it’s what sells, because it’s affordable and cheap.

Well you know what, so be it. I would much rather be a product of the welfare state than be a middle-class silenced woman who has had their wealth inherited rather than earned. My hardships inspire others, my voice can be heard amongst, if not louder than the rest, much opposed to being polite, quite and hopelessly in the kitchen in the name of ‘lady-like’ manners. That isn’t going to make social change, so fuck that.

I am a Vile Product Of The Welfare UK – and I’m proud of it.

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 749 other followers