Just call me Keef.

My mother will be devastated when I tell you that I was brought up on a council estate. Last time I mentioned it, in company, she immediately dismissed it as my vivid imagination. Did I imagine all this too?

Mother’s birthplace, Springburn, Glasgow.

Childhood. Canning Town, East London.

Teenage Years. Roundshaw, Wallington.

Here comes Keef! Spital’s Cross Estate, Edenbridge.

I’m not telling you this to spite her, although I’ll admit to having mother issues. I want to tell you how much she has turned her life around to be a successful woman, living a very, very comfortable life in a highly exclusive, luxury five bedroom detached villa in Spain, near the beach, on a highly exclusive, luxury development (estate) with hundreds of other highly exclusive, luxury villas. You can also get a highly exclusive, luxury full english and una cerveza por favor for €3 in the Red Lion at the top of the road.

 Why on earth should me and my family be defined as ex-council for the rest of our lives? The old biddy is enjoying her life to the fullest. Actually she’d be more devastated about being described as an old biddy. #goooooal. Does she hide her past because she’s ashamed or is it just because she’s a snob? No, she keeps her mouth shut because of the snobbery in our society. I celebrate her success and I’m proud of the old pensioner! #Backofthenet

It gets worse because it’s not just the ex-council label that I wear, having recently discovered I have even more labels: ACEs, CSAs, trauma experienced, complex mental health needs and I’m sure there are many more that I haven’t heard of yet. I lost the sight in my right eye in 2002, there must be a label for that, surely. I have labels for lived experience of so many things, you would think I’m at least 182 years old.

Each label highlights a different one of my failings, differences and deficiencies, and apply to the parts of my life that I’d rather keep to myself. Excellent! You’re just adding to the trauma-experienced label by fuelling my anxiety, poor self-image, vulnerability and insecurities. Even better, my labels change the way people look at me and treat me. Thanks for that!

I’m labelled by the local council as ‘Red flag. Mental Health – visit in pairs’. Why assume that I’m violent and I’m putting them at risk? I’m agoraphobic! FFS! I’ll be quaking with fear under the table the minute the doorbell rings! They’ve never had to visit before, but I’m ready to dive under the table if they do.

On the records kept at my GP’s surgery I am labelled ‘Handle with care’ and I’m told to tell the telephonist ‘I’m one of Kate’s special patients’. Not because there’s a chance I will lose my shit in a fit of rage or psychosis. It’s because I’ve known my GP for 26 years and Kate knows that I only call her when I can’t cope and will be shitting myself about talking on the phone. I must check she’s put that on my notes and the staff don’t shit themselves when I call!

On the plus side, they don’t put me on hold, I can get an appointment same day and you should see the speed they usher me out of the waiting room. In pairs, obvs.

The way I’m labelled I’m an ex-council, one-eyed psycho jock brought up by Joseph Fritzel and I’ve never even been to that part of Austria, I’ve only ever had a city break in Vienna!

You can stick as many labels on me as you like. But, you can’t change who I am, regardless of what anyone thinks is wrong with me. If you want to describe me, how about?

Keef had a rough childhood, but she’s done alright for herself. She’s got a heart of gold and she’ll always help others whenever she can. She never judges; she is loyal, sincere, genuine, funny and she’s still got it!! She’s absolutely nothing like her Mother! Ever! Oh, Keef’s also an aspiring worldwide, bestselling author.

Bugger off! We can all aspire to be whoever we want to be. I’m probably going to be a household name with my own chat show and merch’. To hell with it, I might go all out and be an aspiring Insta’ Influencer. It’s my dream to dream and there’s no need to label me as delusional, narcissistic or a failure if I don’t meet my aspirations. Don’t piss on my chips!

The only time labels should apply is when they are in context. In a discussion about social housing in the 1970s, I’m ok with being referred to as ex-council. I see no point in changing the label to previous/former/one-time service user of the provision of social housing or lived experience of living below the poverty line. You’re still labelling me and only swapping one label for another. How about saying this? (Only when it’s in context.)

Keef grew up on a council estate.

My brother is the father of three girls, a fantastic golf player and he runs a pub. Prison has nothing to do with who he is now and he shouldn’t be labelled as an ex-prisoner. How about saying this? (Remember, only in context.)

“He’s been to prison”

Ok, I might be an ex-council, one-eyed psycho jock but I don’t want that to be how I’m seen by others. Give me that at least. I want people to look at me as an aspiring author and treat me like I’m Oprah Winfrey!

For that reason, when it comes to labels, I’m out. I couldn’t give a shit what the labels are, just don’t label me – ever!

I’m going to avoid labelling anyone and I’ll be referring to our friends in prison and our friends who have been to prison. But how will our friends in prison refer to each other on the landings?

Before I close, I need to put the record straight. My Mother is nothing like an old lady. She’s a very successful 72 year old woman who can knock up a banging paella. Or so I’m told; I still don’t believe her that sangria is meant to be three parts Smirnoff.

My son’s 21st 2016. My gorgeous Mummy, my brother, and Keef! Absolutely battered!

The morning after Mummy’s on it like a bonnet! #lastlaugh

Best wishes

FFS! Just call me Keef x

P.S Sorry Mum, I am very proud of you, innit doe.

2 thoughts on “Just call me Keef.

  1. Love the way you open up for everyone Kelly and it is inspiring for us all. It is an interesting question to ask why living on a Council Estate equates with failure and brings a so called stigma. Virtually all of Dagenham is a beautiful laid out Council Estate, a lot of the properaties were sold under the right to buy scheme but nevertheless it is a Council Estate and nothing wrong with the area, the housing and certainly not the residents. People always think of high rise pack them all in blocks that caused social problems as architects thought they were a great thing. I don’t care from where anyone comes or their background or “issues”. As long as they do not get all preachy when meeting someone whose life took a turn into prison and start the “I grew up in a family of 20 and my father left home before I was conceived and we all lived in one cardboard box with a damp lettuce leaf between us to last all week and it didn’t do me any harm” lecture (a la Four Yorkshiremen sketch) which gets right up my nose every time.
    So you will rename this call me Oprah from now on?

    Like

    1. We can learn so much from life on a council estate back then. Even the 1960’s tower block monstrosities fulfilled their purpose of vertical villages in their day. Guess what my next blog is about?? I still can’t decide between Oprah or Princess Megan.

      Like

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