ULEZ to expand London-wide in 2023

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will cover whole of Greater London from 29 August 2023.

Drivers will face a daily fee of £12.50 for using London’s roads from next year, as part of the mayor’s attempt to clean up the city’s toxic air and tackle the climate emergency.

“I think it’s another example of the mitigation of pollution being pushed on the people who can’t really afford it without alternative avenues being provided to them,” said Patrick Campbell, 40, a student who cycles to university every day.

“I think they’ve got the stick right but maybe not the carrot,” he added.

The expansion means five million more Londoners will breathe cleaner air, as shown by London Assembly’s report.

When announcing the newest expansion, Khan said: “The latest evidence shows that air pollution is making us sick from cradle to the grave. Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, dementia, and asthma. And it’s especially dangerous for children,” as reported by the Guardian.

The expansion of the ULEZ area will be accompanied by a brand new £110m scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, charities, and small businesses and sole traders.

But some people disagree with the mayor’s plan. The leaked results of a public consultation found 80% of people in the affected areas are opposed to the proposed expansion.

“It’s just revenue, like all the road closures,” said John Selby, 50, owner of 84 Autoparts on Holloway Road. “The traffic is worse now than it ever has been because they’ve closed off all the side roads.”

“If you make public transport a lot cheaper, like half the price, people will give up their cars because there’s a viable alternative,” he added. “I’m lucky I can afford to have a car and use public transport. People can’t afford both. Public transport is a fortune.”

Khan’s plan also includes the biggest ever expansion of the bus network in outer London, with new services and improvements that will add over one million further kilometres to the current network.

Link: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/ulez-to-expand-london-wide-in-2023/

Festive spirit lacking before Saturday’s Christmas event

By Gülsüm Bölük, Fatou Coulibaly, Sam Sorabjee, and Sara Valle-Martínez

Nag’s Head business owners in Holloway feel disconnected from the upcoming community Christmas event to be held this weekend.

Islington Council announced yesterday that a Festive Lights Event will take place in Nag’s Head Marketon Saturday, November 19, with Islington’s Mayor, Marian Spall, switching on the Christmas lights.

Little to none Christmas decorations at Nag’s Head. Photo by Sam Sorabjee

Councillor Santiago Bell-Bradford said: “The festive period is the perfect time to take advantage of Islington’s wonderful high streets and town centres.”

“Shopping locally is so important for our economy – every pound spent at a small business is worth three times more to the local economy than spending money at a chain, helping us to make Islington a more equal place,” he added in an Islington Council press release yesterday.

But local businesses think the Christmas festivities won’t have an effect on their sales.

Georgina George, 47, owner of Gina George Creation Station, a jewellery stall in Nag’s Head, said that she doubts that the Festive Lights Event will draw in customers.

Gina George in her jewellery stall at Nag’s Head. Photo by Sam Sorabjee

“It always happens here at the very last minute, so the last week [before Christmas] gets really busy. But there’s not much difference. Even if you have a busy week, it doesn’t work. It’s not for us,” she said.

The event will include a DJ, a Christmas crooner and a Drum Works and local school choir performances, as well as activities such as face painting and free mince pies and other refreshments.

Ismail Gamcekmez, 48, owner of a sweets and snacks stall said: “The event makes us excited but it does not affect our sales. Kids are not interested in what we sell, they prefer toys.”

Preparations for the advertised event have not started, with no decorations or advertisement on display four days before the event.

Link: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/festive-spirit-lacking-before-saturdays-christmas-event/

Warm beer? Industry workers speak out amid economic crisis

By Sara Valle-Martínez, Lauren Spencer and Gabriela Yorgova

Breweries might have to serve warm beer amid blackout warnings from the National Grid’s chief executive, and Holloway hospitality businesses are worried they might have to close down.

John Pettigrew said earlier this month Britain could be affected by the winter blackouts from 4pm to 7pm during January and February if the country is unable to import enough gas from Europe.

“If we have blackouts, we’re not even going to be able to open,” said Siobhan Croker, 35, manager of J D Wetherspoon branch by Highbury and Islington station.

“We’re not going to be able to bring in any money, staff are not going to be able to be paid. I’m a single parent as well so if I don’t have any money, I’ve got no food for the kids.”

Siobhan Croker, 35, helps run Islington’s JD Wetherspoons. Photo credit: Lauren Spencer

But not everybody shares the same concern.

Anastasia Patazaki, a bartender at The Famous Cock, disagreed. She said: “I haven’t heard a single person discussing the crisis,” Patazaki said, adding that old-fashioned ales are supposed to be served at cellar temperature.

The business department said that there are “no plans for the government to tell the public to reduce usage for the sake of energy supplies”.

The Famous Cock is located right outside Highbury and Islington station. Photo credit: Lauren Spencer

However, amidst ongoing debate of who should provide guidance to households and businesses, Cabinet Minister Nadhin Zahawi said it’s “only right that we plan for every scenario”.

Link: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/warm-beer-industry-workers-speak-out-amid-economic-crisis/

Cruel Hearts Club: The unstoppable punk rock super mums do it again

By Sara Valle-Martínez / Heading photo courtesy of cruelheartsclub.com

Cruel Hearts Club is what you didn’t know you needed. On stage they look like grungy Powerpuff Girls – three badass gals with an edge. Armed with their axe-guitar, sword-bass, earth-shattering drums, and almighty voices, they’re ready to blow your speakers and rock your world.

Edie Langley, singer of the band, said: “When it comes to our music and life, especially at the minute, I’ve definitely got to a point in my life where I don’t let anyone stand in my way.”

Edie believes is all about the attitude. She smells like Fantasy by Britney Spears and drinks her decaf coffee – contrast and all, she looks like a rockstar on a day-to-day basis.

Cruel Hearts Club sound like if Gwen Stefani had a baby with Courtney Love and decided to raise it punk rock. They’re equally experts in the baby-making and banger-music-making.

Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

The trio has put out four singles and an EP, Trash Love, in the last three years and, between them, they have seven children. They’re also planning on putting out a full album next year. Motherhood fuels their inspiration and energy.

“We’re going to be doing our first full album this year and next year. In five years from now I’d like to have at least two albums out and, hopefully by then, a really strong following,” Edie added, placing her heart-shaped pink sunnies on top of her head.

From the very beginning, they were told only people in their twenties can be played on the radio. But nothing can stop them.

They juggle their day-time jobs with packing healthy lunches for their kids, composing non-stop, and creating music videos in par with their boldness. Gabi (drums) is a piano teacher for children, Gita (vocals, guitar, bass, synth) is a full-time violinist and Edie is opening her own venue in Margate soon.

Edie Langley playing @ Old Blue Last. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

“There’s not denial that it’s hard. I’m not trying to pretend that women can do everything at once,” said Edie. “It’s a tricky time now with women trying to prove ourselves to do everything. But we’re also trying to share that we’re humans as well.”

Cruel Hearts Club was born when sisters Edie and Gita Langley were introduced by a mutual friend to pianist-turned-drummer Gabi Woo and the trio decided to turn their backs on their classical training.

Thus, in 2019, Cruel Hearts Cub were born. Using their ultra-super-musical-skills, they have dedicated their life to fighting bad music and the forces of the industry. Especially those who furrow their brow when they see women on stage.

“I work with Cruel Hearts Club, but I also find them incredibly inspiring,” said Verona Edo, 33, the band’s manager. “It’s so empowering to see them on stage.”

Gita Langley playing @ Old Blue Last. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Despite being released mid-Covid, their song Hey Compadre has already hit more than 12,000 streams on Spotify. If you liked that, you can’t miss their sublime and soul-clenching newest jams off their EP, Trash Love.

Their raw lyrics and headbanging beats make the tunes perfect for a sing-along all in all. Fans are devoted after seeing them live once. Even Sting loves them – he invited them to perform during his residency in The London Palladium last April.

“There’s just something so amazing about turning up to the Palladium every day and bringing your little bag to your dressing room,” Edie said, displaying her tooth gems when she smiles.

“Everyone – him, his family, and his team – are so kind and supporting. It gave us the boost that we needed.”

Cruel Hearts Club live @ Old Blue Last, London. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Armed with ability and ambition, Edie, Gita, and Gabi departed on their bitingly expressive and revolutionary UK Trash Love Tour a week later. It kicked off in the London, where fans enjoyed their anthem-like lyrics and punchy rhythms.

“They’re unique. They’re very good at involving the audience and you can tell there’s a lot of energy going on onstage,” said fan Louise Tilsley, 46, a primary school teacher who travelled all the way from Bristol to London to see the trio.

Now, Cruel Hearts Club have just finished setting every town on fire on their tour, but you can still join them this summer. Grab your combat boots and get ready for an unconventional old-school rock show! You’ll be speechless – and most probably voiceless – after their gig.

So, are you ready to jam like an animal, compadres?

Check the band’s official website for more information and upcoming tour dates: www.cruelheartsclub.com.

Friends of Wray Crescent: Being green and saving bees

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Wray Crescent in Islington, North London, fills up with sunshine on a Saturday morning. Ten neighbours gather, pushing wheelbarrows full of compost, digging the ground with their shovels, and chatting animatedly as they chug their cold cans of ginger beer.

They don’t miss a beat. They dry off the sweat on their foreheads before resuming the shovelling, the pushing, and the planting. They just want the park to look alive.

Sacha Austin, 56, a project manager for the Greater London Authority and secretary of the group: “The aim has always been to grow food for local people and also to increase biodiversity around the park.”

Photo by Matthias Cooper on Pexels.com

“There’s so much beauty in all of this,” she says as she walks through the park, proudly describing their achievements, pointing at their fruit hedges with blueberries, blackberries, and gooseberries; her muddy hands mushing the fragrant leaves of wild garlic between her fingers.

Friends of Wray Crescent Open Space (FoWCOS) is a group of residents who work together to improve the park. They spend over five hours every weekend working on their small vegetable garden, the flower beds and other small patches of land dotted around two hectares of land space.

In 2018, FoWCOS successfully filed a funding application with the support of Islington Council to the Mayor of London Greener Cities programme. They received £2,500 to kickstart their project. 

In 2021, they were awarded the Bees’ Needs Champions Award from the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for their flowerbeds that support pollinators.

Lois Harvey, 58, the treasurer of the group and leader of the bee project, said: “The main goal with the flower garden is to provide the bees with flowers that they love because over the last few years we’ve lost half of the bee population in this country. We’re doing everything what we can in this park to encourage bees and look after them.”

Map of Wray Crescent on mywray.gov.uk

Insects are pollinators of 80% of all plant species in Europe, including most fruits, vegetables, and some biofuel crops, according to Defra. Bees contribute directly to local food production from pollination to crop production and the wider environment.

The bees buzz between the multi-coloured flowers, collecting pollen, while the laughter of kids playing in the playground and the chatter of sunbathers fill the space. Ms Harvey says the objective is to expand her project with an eight-mile bee and butterfly trail all the way to Grenville Gardens.

The same green fields where green grows now were full of houses in the 1880s, as shown in an old map on their website. They’ve faced some challenges when planting because of the poor quality and thinness of the soil. But that hasn’t been the only challenge: the park was deserted during the pandemic.

“We used to have more regular meetings before Covid. Those have fallen down a bit, but we’re trying to get that going again” said Jonny Harvey, 58, who is Ms Austin’s partner. Besides being the chair of FoWCOS, he is a freelance tech journalist.

FoWCOS used to give the produce to Crouch Hill foodbank and decided to keep it local during the pandemic, providing two biweekly grocery bags full of self-grown produce to residents in need. But they welcome everyone to join them and encourage others to do the same in their local areas.

Photo by Michael Hodgins on Pexels.com

“When you work, you leave your flat, you get public transport, you go to your horrible office with the bosses and then you go back again and that’s your world and your world shrinks,” said Mr Harvey before throwing a frisbee to her cinnamon-coloured pit bull, Bonita, who prances around entertaining and bringing smiles to the children of FoWCOS.

“We’re dealing with generationally disruptive problems, which are having incredibly harmful consequences on whole communities, and the only way to make a difference, given that our politics are so broken, is to work together and build local communities,” he added, grabbing his shovel again. “So, I’d say do it; get involved.”

Paolo Nutini: Nothing bittersweet about the singer-songwriter’s return

By Sara Valle-Martínez

The Scottish boy with an Italian name is back!

After eight years of radio silence, Paolo Nutini announced he would be part of the line-up for different UK festivals like TRSNMT in Scotland and the legendary Knebworth, then he announced extra dates in Spain, Italy, France… And just a few days after a series of intimate shows was booked, he dropped two new songs.

That’s when people knew it: Paolo Nutini is back for good.

Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez

“It felt amazing seeing Paolo after such a long, long time. I’ve been following him since the age of seven, after being introduced by my parents,” said Jac Stoddard, 20, a full-time fashion promotion student living in London.

Tickets went on sale a few days before the concerts, which started in Sheffield before landing in London in 100 Club, right in the heart of Oxford Street.

100 Club is iconic – besides being the oldest independent venue worldwide, it is the spiritual home of the punk movement. It has hosted bands like the Sex PistolsOasis, or Muse

Now, Paolo Nutini fans will remember it as the place where they listened to his new songs for the very first time.

“The new album going to be amazing. It came as a surprise; all of a sudden!” said Tatiana Barone, 34, who works in marketing. “I already have a couple songs that I love, like the two new singles and one called Acid Eyes.”

Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez
Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez

The singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album comes out next July 1. Produced by Nutini himself, Dani Castelar, and Gavin FitzjohnLast Night in the Bittersweet is a 70-minute epic that spans the distance from classic rock to post-punk to hypnotic Krautrock, an experimental rock genre that developed in Germany.

Lose It, with its insistent Motorik rhythms raw beats, and Through the Echoes, which feels like an instant timeless classic, are the two first songs off the highly anticipated album. They are already available in all streaming platforms.

Acid Eyes, Afterneath, Petrified in Love, Radio, Desperation, Shine a Light and Writer are some of the new songs off the new album Nutini played for enthusiastic fans.

Nutini also played some of the oldies that fans have waited to experience live again: CandyPencil Full of Lead and Coming Up Easy, amongst other hits. The crowd sang the lyrics, he joked between songs, drinks came and went and song after song, the night came to a halt. All in all, he left people speechless all over again.

His vocal prowess and heartfelt lyrics are intact after all these years. Nutini can serenade a room full of people while looking like he’s alone in his bedroom, headphones on, makeshift microphone in hand, eyes closed, and vocal cords pulsating.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that he actually sings with his eyes closed, like he’s trying to forget people are staring and singing back; his soul on display as he gifts the audience a top-notch performance full of significance and good vibes.

“Like all his other music, I found it’s a perfect balance between sadness and happiness or a lot of energy and relaxation,” added Stoddard. “Overall, the experience was truly magical as you can hear how much the music means to Paolo in his voice and it could send a shiver down anyone’s spine.”

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

Over eight years have passed since Nutini released his critically acclaimed record, with gems like Iron Sky, a political song that features Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator; or Better Man, a ballad he wrote for his sister.

The new songs have a lot in store, with lyrics that feel like a private love letter; others that will inspire even those who were born with two left feet to dance, and melodies that are bound to become anthems like Candy did.

So, Paolo Nutini is back, fans are happy and the new record comes out next July 1. Who’s ready to Lose It for a little while?

Link to published story: https://verve-lmsu.com/paolo-nutini-nothing-bittersweet-about-the-singer-songwriters-return/

An ode to fangirls

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Being a fan is hard. As Caitlin Moran puts it in her book, How To Be Famous, there’s something incredibly intimate about consuming someone else’s art. The connection is even stronger when you’re a teenager exposed to any kind of stimuli.

It’s especially hard if you’re a girl. In an era where K-Pop has emerged leader of most fan groups, the diatribe of the “annoying fan” has come to life again and teenagers are alienated in judged because of their taste.

Photo by Vinu00edcius Caricatte on Pexels.com

“I think music is really important when you’re growing up,” said Katrin Ehrhardt, 34, a music fan who works as a chiropractor in Germany. “It can comfort you when you feel like no one else understands you.”

Music can help teenager define their place within society, as it provides a way to experience emotion in a non-confrontational way and to communicate feelings, as described by Musical U, an organisation that is fighting to chance musical training and understanding.

K-Pop band BTS, who have one of the biggest fanbases.

“Back [when I started listening to my favourite bands] I was a really shy girl and never wanted to stand out,” added Ms Ehrhardt, who now braves to go to concerts on her own. “I felt such comfort in their songs.”

Music can be a connection between the artists and the beholder. Oftentimes, this connection goes beyond that, and people find a safe haven on online chats, where they can discuss their feelings and views.

“I met a lot people through their music and I made some friends that I still have,” said Chiara Boccia, 30, a pub manager in London who met her best friend on a Simple Plan chat. “It was because of them that I started learning a different language and that’s why I live in England now.”

Deva Fernández, 30, was one of the users in the chat, too. They shared their love for eyeliner, Vans, and music. They felt the love Moran was talking about – the same that is supposed to be terribly wrong if you’re a teenage girl.

Ms Fernández’s seen her other favourite band, All Time Low, 41 times all over the world before she moved to Mexico a few years ago chasing her other love: film.

She said: “I listened to their music on repeat… My dream was to become friends with them.”

Fangirls are always ready to chant their favourite bands’ songs. Both Ms Fernández and Ms Boccia felt like these people whose photos hanged on their walls would understand their angst and pangs and moments of joy, too.

They helped them become who they are now. They don’t regret the money, the stress, the overnight queues, the places they’ve travelled to see their idols live and the friends they’ve made along the way.

“Boys love clever things cleverly, girls love foolish things foolishly,” ironically says Moran in her novel. 

“How awful it would be to love bands like teenage girls do? How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan? A girl.”

It’s time to change the narrative.

Be festival-ready in five

Festival season is nigh! Dust off your wellies, take your sunscreen, and ready those ears to see and listen to your favourite band this summer. From Glastonbury to Download, these tips will make sure you get all you need to take your experience to the max.

Almost 34 million people go to festivals in the UK every year, as published by statista.com. London had the highest music tourists spending figures in 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. But most people wonder what to take with them when they go to a festival.

The stress of running from stage to stage to catch all the live acts possible, the expensive food, the heat and the sludgy mud can be complicated to navigate without any prior experience. But fear not, this is the ultimate festival guide.

Reusable bottle

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Glastonbury is one of many festivals that plague the country when the sun comes back out and the temperature allows mid-riff showing and burnt shoulders. Some consider it as royalty, as it’s the longest running festival in the UK.

Marta Lumbierres, 32, who works as a volunteer in Glastonbury every summer, said: “I think a refillable water bottle is key. Festival season is always in summer, so it comes in handy.”

Bum bag

Photo by Phenyo Deluxe on Pexels.com

Passport, keys, protection, phone… you name it, a bum bag can take it. Pickpocketters won’t have it as easy if you hang it over your chest.

“Some people hate them, but it’s the best way of keeping everything secure in one place,” said Ivo Amadeu Netto, 30, a sales coordinator who’s travelled all over the world, from Brazil to the US via Germany, for concerts.


Photo by Felipe Ferreira on Pexels.com

Even though the UK is not renowned for its tropical weather, sunglasses are a must.

“If we are lucky, to protect from the sun, or from someone you don’t want to make eye contact with,” added Mr Netto.


Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

“Those who don’t wear their wellies are going to regret it,” said Ms Lumbierres.

“It doesn’t really matter where the festival is. North, South… If you’re going to a festival in the UK, grab your wellies!” said Marina Arraez, 37, who works in human resources. “I’m going to Scotland for a festival later this year and it’s the first thing I’m going to pack.”


Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Some festivals, like Slam Dunk, are a one-day event. Some others, like Reading and Leeds, require you to spend big money in hotels that blow up their prices to benefit from the hordes of people marching to the same event. If you are a little bit thrifty, there’s always the chance to camp.

“I know it may sound weird, but earplugs are key! Especially if you’re going to camp there. You don’t want to hear people having sex in the middle of the night… or be woken up by a drunken person. Let’s face it, everyone goes a little wild in festivals!” joked Justin Oliver, 25, a sales representative based in London.

So, are you ready for festival season?

What a ball-sy throwback to childhood!

By Sara Valle-Martínez

You can practically find anything in London, even things that you never thought you needed. There’re cat cafés, a junkyard full of neon signs, a tattoo shop with a fortune wheel and… a ball pit for adults.

Ballie Ballerson is in the heart of East London. The quirky and trendy streets of Shoreditch, with walls plastered in graffiti, chic neighbours with coloured hair and reconverted shipping containers in its famous Boxpark, is the right fit for this cocktail-bar-turned-playground.

“The whole premise of Ballie Ballerson is to let go of any of your adult inhibitions and really have the chance to have proper fun, just like when you were a child and didn’t have to think about tax, work and London rent prices,” said Saoirse Sullivan, a spokesperson from the venue.

Visitor enjoying the ball pits @ Ballie Ballerson. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

The dark high ceilings may fool you when you walk in, but as soon as you get your wristband, you’re ready to enter this immersive and drunken regression to childhood memories.

Two different ball pits are wedged between a VIP area full of brides-to-be and their bridesmaids and a bar where you can shake your hips and twirl around to the latest – and some of the greatest – hits.

“I think it’s a very cool place but if you really think about it, the club and the ball pit together is a stretch,” said Arnau Martinez, 25, trying to speak over the loud music. “Everyone’s drunk, so I can only imagine how many balls need replacing every week.”

Inside the ball pits, you can play your own scavenger’s game. You just need to wiggle in between the multicoloured spheres and rummage around. That’s if you survive the constant BPA-free plastic ball fight.

“I found a ring!” Mr Martinez said as he raised his hand to display the metal piece of jewellery. “Some other stuff, too – a pair of sunglasses, a shoe… Madness!”

But fear not! The balls are cleaned weekly by this teletubbiesque machine called Gobble Muffin – a perfect throwback to your childhood.

Visitor enjoying the ball pits @ Ballie Ballerson. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Security measures are also taken to ensure everyone’s safety. Security guards are planted all over the venue as well as at the entrance to the two ball pits – makeshift for impromptu photo sets.

The pastel colours of the smallest ball bit, covered in fake giant candy hearts with naughty messages and puns, is where most people make their debut as models. Drinks are not allowed inside the pits, but tipsy visitors prance like children, throwing the balls up in the air and raising their face towards the rainbow plastic rain.

“It’s great to feel like you are a child all over again. We’re adults, we have our jobs, but in places like this we can forget about everything,” said Gul Bozkart, 22, a salesperson who was celebrating her best friend’s birthday. Both held a cocktailed topped with cotton candy.

Tickets for Ballie Ballerson range between £5.50 to £17.50 on Saturdays and cocktails are around £10. Some of them are served in reusable and resealable plastic balls with blinking party lights inside.

OCD doesn’t stand for Organised and Calm, Dude!

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Stove is off. Touch it; make sure it’s not hot. Okay, that’s fine. And now the window. Just grab the handle. Shake it a little bit. Is it locked? Fine, let’s move on. Is the hair straightener off? Go upstairs; touch the plug. Yes. Okay, take pictures of it. One is not enough. Three – that’s better. Okay, and the front door?

“OCD, an acronym for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a form of extreme anxiety, fear and emotional overwhelm and if untreated this can lead to panic attacks as well as intrusive thoughts that hijack the rational belief system and result in paranoia,” said Dipti Tait, a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist based in London.

Neil Hilborn’s poem on OCD for Button Poetry.

To this day, the causes to this mental illness that affects 1.2% of the population are unknown. Some of the hypotheses are a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics and learnt behaviour, according to The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research.

Ellie Kime, the digital creator behind The Enthusiast, a shop, magazine and podcast that celebrates people and passions, said: “It’s very alienating and isolating. Although my OCD is relatively mild, it still alters the very fabric of my reality on a day-to-day basis. It angers and upsets me: if you can’t trust your own brain, what can you trust?”

There are several types of OCD. The most common ones are linked to organisation, contamination, intrusive thoughts, ruminations, and checking. That doesn’t mean they’re not interchangeable.

T-Shirt by Ellie Kime. Photo courtesy of the enthusiast.co

“Sometimes you tell yourself: ‘You know? Prison can’t be worse than this,” said Alex Sergent, a life entrepreneur in his forties. “You feel like you’re paralysed. It becomes quite scary, and you get stressed because you’re doing it. The average day I’d lose one hour.”

Alex’s compulsions are unusual OCD traits. He jots down notes and sets reminders for himself to mitigate the anxiety and chain of compulsive thoughts caused by the mental illness

“It’s this overwhelming sensation that you cannot escape,” he added.

It’s a common gag to see people online joking about “being OCD” because they’re clean and tidy or merely because they marinate in the beauty of symmetry.

Photo by Angela Roma on Pexels.com

“Being tidy and overly organised is not a mental health disorder,” explained Dipti Tait. “The way to know when someone has an OCD problem is when they have lost control over the basic functionality of their lives and, subsequently, their relationships and livelihoods may be suffering because of this.”

Most people find help through private therapists instead of relying on the services of the NHS, which some consider regimented and prescriptive. But not everyone can afford therapy to get tips to lead normal lives with this anxiety-riddled disease.

Next time you marvel in harmony, consider how it would feel to obsess over it.